Notes: Sorry for the late update. I have reasons but let's not bore you with those, shall we? Thanks to everyone who has bothered to review: Xx-Master-ExX, aprun, RuByMoOn17, KuRoI-iNu, Althe, Das Blume, ctt, Rogue Shadow, andSozuki
DISCLAIMER: Not mine
WARNING: Male/male pairing (Roy/Ed)
Chapter Two: The Realization
An idle hand was the devil's plaything.
Roy found himself evaluating the phrase side by side to a yellow black-spotted butterfly which was breezing past his face with the easiest leisure. The way the small lepidopteran fluttered its flimsy wings was –for some reasons– fascinating to his idle mind. It was erratic, yet pleasantly constant in its inconsistency if one did bother to keenly observe. The name 'butterfly' sure was insulting for such sophisticatedly-contradictive, fine-looking creature. Flies were nuisance, an unsightly carrier of many ingestion illnesses, and even though butter was by many reasons irreplaceable, it remained solidified milk fat nonetheless. The equation resulted an inapt answer, nothing equivalent.
But perhaps it would be interesting to see if the 'butter' 'fly' had also the capability to melt like ordinary butter did. Roy raised a gloved hand to the air and was about to shape a nice little fire when his prey flapped its wings quicker in a sudden haste, as if sensing the imminent danger its watcher soon might bring if it were to take its time around.
The devil's plaything, indeed.
He grinned sourly at the thought and puffed a slow gust of air at the insect, watching it scurry away with half-interest. Lethargy was becoming an acute syndrome for him the last few days and it only became more critical along with the increasing height of paperwork on his desk. A threat from Hawkeye's gun might be a fast, effective cure, but unfortunately the first lieutenant was currently on a leave to attend a family's wedding.
A small 'woof!' rose from his side and Roy tilted his head, regarding the white-and-black creature slouching languidly next to him. Another smile, less sarcastic and more relaxed, curved his lips as he put his hand on the furry back. Black Hayate yawned in response, staring at him with half-lidded but observant eyes which began to drift shut with each stroke the man graciously gave to the back of his neck. It was nice to know that there was someone –or something– that cared to share his passion of midday indolence.
Leaning back to the warm tree bark behind him, the Colonel let out his own lazy yawn, slightly foggy eyes observing what vista laid before them in the slightest of curiosity. At times like this, the world seemed to have paused at a stagnant halt, as if taking its time leisurely to appraise the effort it had made since dawn broke. Not a single human soul could be seen in the vicinity and the only sound available was the occasional rustle of Black Hayate shifting his position. Emptiness, apparently, was the peerless quality of a summer afternoon and he found in the static tedium a peculiar sense of contentment nothing else could offer. There was a sort of beauty in it, accentuated by the warm dormant air, slowly but steadily lulling him to thick slumber.
But all of a sudden, the haunting tranquility was disrupted by another sound and voices in the distance. Roy opened one eye to observe quietly as the sound grew clearer –a faint echo of footsteps and subtler murmurs. From the entrance of the military library, two figures of striking dissimilarity appeared and the man could feel his other eye also fling open to appreciate the sight. One was a heavy build of armor, shiny under the intense sunlight, and the other was a slighter boy anyone could have mistaken as a twelve year-old. They were engaged in a marginal discussion he was not able to hear from his sanctuary under the oak tree.
Then, a realization hit him like a cold wave piercing the tranquil warmth. There was a reason for his astonishing fondness of lethargy, and it was –quite unexpectedly if not odd enough– in the form of a blond young man of fifteen summers. Roy had managed to discover the Elric brothers' routine to cross the headquarter courtyard at noontime, presumably to have their lunch. Since then, a habit to sit under the oak tree at those hours, staring to nothing in particular, had developed in him.
The fact that he had a daily need of seeing the older one of the brothers to fill alone was strange. Many would call it abnormal, but up to this point, he had the slightest care in the world for rumors. He was contented only to see the sun-kissed golden hair that was pulled into a loose braid excel everything else nearby, or just the warmth in the boy's quiet smile even though it was not as bright as it once had been.
Roy snickered under the shade. Yes, perhaps his addiction was unhealthy, but he needed to see the Fullmetal.
Softer yet clearer footfalls on thick grasses set his alarm off and he turned to his left, noticing Havoc standing just next to the tree. The flaxen-haired man also had his eyes set on the brothers, contemplation apparent in them. Roy's gaze flickered to the other man's hand, at a small plate of minced meat balanced on three fingers.
"An interesting scenery, no?"
He looked up to Havoc apathetically, aware of the little quirk on his subordinate's lips but preferring to ignore it. The cigarette sagged even lower when a conspicuous grin began to take a shape and Havoc dropped to his knees beside him, placing the plate in front of the wagging-tailed Black Hayate.
"You know what, Colonel," the second lieutenant started once more, a thoughtful hand set under his chin, "it isn't wise to ignore your paperwork. Farman is complaining that he has to put the new ones on the floor now that you haven't worked on the older papers."
"Give him my condolences," Roy shot back sarcastically, plucking the cigarette out of Havoc's mouth to have his own share of tobacco. The smoke stiflingly filled his lungs and he had to resist the force to unimpressively cough in front of his underling. Smoking had never been his habit, but it seemed interesting to just annoy Mr. I-know-a-secret-about-you Havoc. Or probably it reminded him –even so slightly– to Hughes.
Again the Colonel leaned back to the tree, partly listening to Black Hayate finishing its lunch while his eyes discreetly following the Elric brothers disappearing around a corner. He had not thought about Hughes so much these few days since his mind was occupied by a more pressing, fresher topic regarding the Fullmetal. Still when he did, it was vivid and painful, a harsh realization that he was now alone without the other man's presence. Sometimes he wondered what the late Mayor –no, Brigadier General– would have said about the accusation of him molesting Edward. He would have laughed, perhaps, but Roy knew that Maes would never doubt or suspect him like most of his subordinates.
Havoc was still grinning, his amused gaze fixed on his superior's varying countenance. A dry brown leaf fell onto the raven-haired man's head and he removed it with the slightest ease, tilting his head a bit to a side and said with a laugh in his eyes, "But, Colonel, she is coming back tomorrow. It is best not to give her a reason to use her gun, right?"
Roy growled dangerously in his throat; he was treated like a child –almost like how Hughes often treated him– and he did not appreciate it –not if it was not Hughes. He pulled the cigarette out of his mouth to slip between his fingers and tossed it to the thin air. A sharp flick of a thumb against the third finger set the half-length of cigar on flame into grey ashes as he watched them fall like abandoned memories. His voice was harsh, commanding, a pungent taste in it when he turned a pair of sharp dark eyes to Havoc.
"Let's do it then."
Sometimes it was best to forget.
A city was not the most pleasant place to be, Edward reflected, particularly at night when no one kindhearted seemed to care that a boy was trudging his lonely way along a dark deserted alley.
The thought compelled a contemptuous snort to leave his throat. It was absurd. Despite his glaring lack of height, he was positively a fifteen year-old, also a definitely qualified alchemist in that matter. Defending himself had never been a problem before, and the Fullmetal did not see a reason to start worrying now. Exceptions always occurred, of course, but it was not like he had never gone through this sort of circumstances – at least according to what Al had told him to be his past. From those stories, it had always ended well.
But he did not like Central City. The sun shone too brightly at daylight but when night descended, every part of the city would be covered with a thin veil of mist, which did extremely well in obscuring his line of sight especially at this kind of narrow ominous-looking alley. Still it was his own fault for leaving a borrowed book at the barrack and Al was too kind to refuse a lady who was renting a room next to theirs and requiring help to watch for her sick puppy while she had to leave for work.
The point was, nothing could have gone wrong. It was fairly common and he had been taking this road for the past four weeks if they were not out of city for work. Hard to denied though, that the alley was eerie and the cold weather obviously did nothing to help.
Edward cringed; his automail seemed to deliver a colder wave throughout his body. A small fire would be nice, but his current skill did not permit him to transform anything into the flaming source of heat. That and trying to transform fire from pure nothing was a deviation from the law of equivalence. Worse, fire and flames reminded him to a certain colonel.
Inwardly he groaned, his feet kept trudging heavily. Just the right thought to raise more issues. Al had been trying to convince him that the Colonel would never do such thing, but how did he suppose to trust someone else's saying when he could not even trust the only memory he still owned? He had met Mustang once in a cloudy morning on his way to the library and the look on the man's face made him uncomfortable and, not to mention, alarmed. Al had accused him of being overreacting but Ed did not think that had been the case.
Trying to remember any bit of his past had been a hell but trying to forget that memory was nothing but the hellhole itself.
In the middle of his deep contemplation, suddenly the sound of footsteps reached his ears. Ed cast a wary glance around and caught a shadow obscured by mist approaching from ahead of him. The sound was intermittent –probably just another drunken man that often wandered at the alley after scoring several empty glasses at a nearby bar– but he voted for a precaution and clasped both of his palms in front of his chest.
Very true. Exceptions always occurred. It was a drunken man but not just another drunken man. Ed could feel an uncomfortable feeling along with fear began to take hostage of his heart.
Colonel Roy Mustang focused his eyes at him for a moment, obviously surprised by the appearance of a fifteen year-old boy that late of night. "Fullmetal?"
Ed was just about to do something –anything, screaming, running, hurting, even killing the Colonel– when the sound of a gunshot spoiled the silent night. At the next second, he felt a strong arm pushed him to the wall, smell of vodka stuffed his lungs, and his alarm went wild inside his brain at once. The vile and only memory he had sprung to life, almost like a movie it replaying itself in front of his eyes, of the same hand pushing him to the cold floor, lips trailing, teeth biting along his body, and the man having his way roughly with him. He gritted his teeth, suppressing a terrified scream, and looked around for a way to escape from both the Colonel and the shooter when his back bumped with the wall.
But his vision did not swarm like what had happened in his memory. His head should have made a rough collision with the hard surface of the wall, but it did not. Ed opened his eyes and discovered that it would if not for a hand softening the impact by winding itself around his blond hair. The surprise from the protective act came to him vaguely and was immediately pushed to the back of his mind since the matters at his hand now were already critical enough.
A tap of his palms together and his automail had just turned into a sharp blade when another gunshot echoed, followed by a strangled moan from the man in front of him. Ed released himself from the Colonel's arms and instantly leapt forward to hunt a shadow he had seen moving a moment ago behind a tall heap of crates. Suddenly there was another sound of gunshot from the opposite direction and a searing pain surfaced on his cheek, something warm trickling down from the fresh wound down to his chin. Still he kept running but then discovered that his target had disappeared.
Astonishment deluged him but Edward was quick to recover and immediately turned around. Because of the mist, his eyes could only do as much as distinguishing a silhouette of someone aiming a gun at him from a distance, the Colonel still leaning to the wall with a hand clutching his waist. The blond boy growled; he was brave but not stupid enough to charge ahead blindly to an armed opponent in a narrow battlefield like this. But he didn't have another choice, did he?
Ed was hovering between saving himself and risking a rash attack when suddenly a sharp sound of fingers flicking rang in the silence and flames were kindled on the assaulter's long coat. The Fullmetal spared a glance at the Colonel before committing his own alchemy by pressing his palms to the wall and crafted a fine confinement for his attacker. Once it was finished, he rushed forward and found that he only managed to confine the burning coat, its wearer nowhere to be found.
'What the hell?'
Nothing but thick silence replied to his unvoiced curse. Ed stared at the extinguishing flames and what still remained of the coat –it was a dark ordinary coat one could find at every cheap store, the wearer could be of both sexes. Absentmindedly he put his hand on the wall and restore everything back.
Now to the main problem.
He turned around and walked warily to where the now unconscious Colonel still lay. It was preferable to leave the man there, but not after he had done something like trying to shield his subordinate from bullets and suffered the wound himself. Said subordinate was not fond of the Colonel and in the middle of trying to avoid meeting him in every shape and form but to be in debt was nothing Ed would have.
Halting next to the man still with an air of complete vigilance, the Fullmetal observed him quietly for a while, judging what he should do with the other being unconscious either from the wound or just because he was drunk. Ed poked the limp hand gingerly with his feet but the Colonel did not stir awake. Only the hand would move and fall to his side, revealing the dark blue uniform stained by darker shades of blood around the waist. Ed winced at the sight; the bullet must have hit its target after all.
Or probably the wrong target, he was not sure. But the thought made him feel uneasy and he stared again for a long time at the man he could only remember as his rapist.
Until the next chapter
Added Notes: I'm still looking for a beta-reader. Anyone willing to help me? Thank you for reading! Please review!