Bandit- Next chapter, blah blah. You'll all hate me at the end… Oh no, I'll be havin' death threats sent my way. ;p I couldn't help it, okay? It will get better!… Maybe…

Ed- ….! What did you do, Bandit?

Roy- You… bitch.

Bandit- XD; Oops?

Disclaimer- If I did, I'd retire at age twenty…

(A/N)- No comment. Just don't flame me for the end… ;p Oh, and because is gay, I won't be answering reviews on my story anymore. (whines) As much as I'd love to rebel, I don't want to get kicked off, so I'll deal with it… grudgingly. XD And the reason this chapter was so stinking late… Well, truthfully I was afraid my FMA inspiration died on me and that this story be on stand still. I don't know, but the need to write has died due to home problems. But luckily, Ed and Roy both got fed up with my sorry ass and took matter into their own hands, making me sleepwalk and finishing the story themselves…. Okay, not really, but they did make me type. So everyone give my muses (and the people who bugged me constantly to finish. XD You all know who you are) a big thank you. XD This story LIVES!

(Message from the beta: Hey…Becci here, I'm Plushie's beta, and I just wanted to pop up and put in a little message. Mainly to say that Shayla worked really hard to get this chapter out, writer's block is an utter bitch, and I think she did really well in conquering it. And second thing is, I know all of you want to read this story as much as I did, so I beta'ed it as fast as I could…which means I possibly might have slacking on my own 'job' and missed a couple of typing errors…if I have, I apologize, and I promise I'll try not to let it happen again, m'kay? And seriously, don't kill her. Let's just trust in what Plushie has in store, right:D)

"Sir, mind telling me why you're three hours late to work?"

Roy was no man by any means to push around, and even he couldn't help but flinch away from Hawkeye's disapproving gaze. "I had some errands to run?" he said sheepishly, trying to look like he hadn't been sneaking to his office.

Her eyes narrowed slightly, but the effect was enough to make her superior sweat. "Fuhrer, that didn't work ten years ago and it doesn't work now."

"Can you blame me for trying?"

Hawkeye continued to glare, not impressed with humor. Roy sighed quietly and hung his head. "Right, paperwork." Being as calm as possible, the Fuhrer walked past his secretary to his office. "I'll get right on it, of course."

As soon as he heard the trigger click, Roy dodged into his office, slamming the door shut in time with the bullet whizzing toward where his ass had been moments before. "It's treason to shoot at the Fuhrer!" he shouted from the safety of his room, being careful to stay away from the door. He still needed to fill in the previous bullet holes.

The woman didn't answer, and she didn't need to. Her silence said it all.

When some sense of calm returned, Roy turned around to survey the mess on his desk. Indeed, a formidable pile lay waiting for his signature, causing the Flame Alchemist to grimace. Years of climbing his way to the top, and he still could hardly stand the notion of paperwork.

'The pile won't make itself shrink…' he thought ruefully. 'Might as well get started on it..'

He walked to his chair and sat down, convincing himself he needed at least a good five minutes to get situated and allow the leather to warm up. When that was done, he grudgingly moved the papers directly in front of him, shook his head, and then moved them upward so they were almost to the edge of the desk. 'No, that won't do.' He shoved them completely to the side, watching with some smug fashion when they came close to teetering over and into the trashcan. 'Much better.'

"Sir, you need those documents finished by noon. I suggest you get to it, since you were out running errands." Roy immediately pulled the pile back toward him and signed the first paper without so much as glancing at it. He could practically feel Hawkeye's angry glare on him, despite that fact she was on the other side of the door.

"How does she do that?" he mumbled. Only she could pull off being respectful and smug at the same time.

Slowly but surely, the pile of documents began to shrink, and a new pile of finished ones sat off to the side of his chair. To his credit, Roy was able to sign maybe one hundred documents until a creeping sensation assaulted the back of his mind. Something barked at him to stop playing around and start remembering the day's events. Roy wasn't willing to give in that easily.

"There's nothing to think about," he lied to himself easily. "She wasn't real." Saying the words out loud helped cement the truth; soon he was able to push the ill-omened feeling away and get back to work. "Maybe I'll take Caleb and Ed out for lunch once I'm done," he mused to himself, tossing another paper out of his way so he could reach for another. "Well, if I can actually finish all these…" Being on lock-down was a major setback, especially with a trigger-happy subordinate.

A knock on the door happily interrupted his thoughts and a sadistic grinning blonde head poked through. "Heard ya got grounded," Ed chirped, not looking the least bit sympathetic toward Roy's dilemma. "So decided to help you with your boredom." Another head poked out, this one much smaller and innocent.

"Hi daddy!" Caleb squeezed through the ajar door with ease and launched himself across the room, onto Roy's lap. "Mommy said I could help you with your work!"

Roy looked down at the child in his lap, suppressing a remark he knew Ed wouldn't like. "Did he now?" Roy hoisted his son on top of the desk and gave him a mock-stern look. "Well, helping the Fuhrer is a big responsibility. Are you sure you can do it?"

Caleb dropped his smile and nodded gravely, taking everything his father said seriously. "Yes sir."

"You are getting older, so I guess it's only fair to let you help out and prove your worth." Roy kept his expression blank and passive, but the twinkle in his eyes almost made Caleb giggle. Luckily, the boy seemed to have inherited his father's emotional mask. He kept his face as serious as Roy.

'Not bad for a four-year-old,' Roy thought, pride practically bursting his mind apart. "Alright, subordinate. I expect you to take these papers," he motioned to the signed documents, "to your Aunt Riza. Don't let your mother help you." Roy leaned in close so it would seem like only Caleb would be able to hear him. "You mother's a spy and is determined to take the papers away, so be careful subordinate."

Caleb's eyes widened comically as Ed sputtered at the door. "MOMMY CAN'T BE A SPY!" Realizing Ed could hear him, the boy lowered his voice and repeated his sentence. "Mommy can't be a spy!"

'I will kill him!' Ed seethed, body twitching. The only reason Roy was still breathing was because Ed didn't want his son to see all the ways to disfigure a human body.

"I'm afraid so… I'm sorry Caleb, but your mother is the enemy right now." Roy spoke in grave tones and ignored his son's shocked and distraught face. "You have your assignment. Get those papers to your aunt so Daddy can get out of here and help Mommy."

The boy, who'd looked ready to cry a moment ago, brightened up and asked eagerly, "You'll help Mommy?"

"Of course. I don't want your mother being a spy. So you have to get the papers to Aunt Riza. Then she'll let me out and I can get Ed back to normal."

Caleb cheered and jumped off the table, giving his father a sloppy, but enthusiastic salute. "Yes sir!"


As soon as Caleb was out the door-- tossing his mother a look of extreme grief-- Ed marched over to Roy with murder in his golden eyes. "Bastard, that was low," he growled.

"Ah, but it did make today that much more interesting."


Roy smirked up at Ed. "You know you love me."

"Times like these I forget why…" Instead of doing any bodily harm to Roy, Ed took his son's place on the desk and sighed, any anger draining out of him. "Where were you, Roy? Hawkeye was ready to bathe in your blood when you didn't show up with me."

The indirect mention of the graveyard incident sent Roy's mind spiraling head first into shock and depression. Roy had to use the full extent of control so as not to show his panicking emotions. "Just to the--"

"Graveyard," Ed finished for him. His eyes locked with the Fuhrer's, watching his lover come dangerously close to giving into his surprise. But it was enough. When living with Roy, you learned to look for the chance of emotion, instead of the actual emotion itself. The true trick was watching if Roy didn't give anything away. "I thought you might go… to see for yourself."

"That's idiocy," Roy countered, already knowing he'd been caught.

"Roy…" Ed sighed and jumped off the table, only to stand close to the alchemist. "It's probably a good thing you did. Now you know Shayla… she never made it." It still was hard for Ed to say it completely, a dilemma Roy understood completely.

"I know Ed…" Roy stood up, looking down at Ed quietly. "I never meant to worry you like this…"

Ed had to smile at that, no matter how sad he was. "Yeah well, you do a damn good job of it anyway," he teased.

"So I'm forgiven?"

Ed snorted. "Dumbass, you were never in trouble." He reached up to touch Roy's face, grinning ruefully. "It might take a bit more convincing before Hawkeye forgives you…"

With a sigh, Roy pulled Ed into his arms, just wanting to be close to the other man. "She'll forgive me. She always does," he whispered quietly, hugging Ed closer and almost painfully.


Something was wrong; Ed could feel it by the way Roy held him. The tenseness in his shoulders and the close to bruising power behind the embrace all screamed of a problem Roy wasn't willing to tell. As much as Ed wanted to ask what was really bothering him, a part of him didn't want to know. It… scared him.

"Don't worry about it," Ed sighed, leaning his head on the other's shoulder. "Everything will be fine." Whether he said this to comfort Roy or himself, neither was sure.

In complete depression, a figure sat out with darkness, her only companion. "I can't believe he'd rather…" Her sentence was choked off by a suppressed sob, tears almost leaking out of her orange eyes. No, she wouldn't cry, not now.

She couldn't remember how long she'd been sitting there; time seemed to be the least of her worries. All she could think of was how Roy turned his back and walked out the cemetery, giving the cold shoulder to her, to Edward, to reality. Out of everyone, she'd expected Roy to be the first to see the flaws in his world and escape.

But part of Shayla remained in denial, convinced the bastard of a Colonel would be walking through the portal any time now with a huge smirk on his face, chiding her for not believing her Colonel; all she had to do was wait, and then they could get Hughes out and save Ed. 'Be patient!' it begged her. 'You can't give up now!'

As much as she wanted-- needed --to believe this, reality broke in and showed her the unforgiving truth. Roy wasn't coming back. He'd already made his decision, and no amount of begging or crying would change his mind. She couldn't confront him even if she wanted to. Deception had somehow cut her off from the memory, and the farthest she could go was the cemetery grave. What good would that do her now when Roy would almost certainly never come back? He had a son and another Ed waiting for him in his perfect world. He had an obligation to his unreality, after all.

"Damn you…" she hissed. "Damn you! DAMN YOU!"

The strength within her shattered into pieces, leaving her on her own. The voice inside her grieved and died, now knowing Shayla had entirely given up. For the first time since they'd been in the realm, there was no hope left in the Ishbalan woman.

It was over. She couldn't keep believing with no one there beside her. She knew finding Hughes would accomplish nothing. Chances were he too was ensnared by the enchantment of his own wants and desires come to life. And going after Ed alone would not only be suicide, but pointless. She'd been stuck in her own fantasy for a while, and Deception and Ed could be anywhere by now. It was possible... No, probable that Ed wasn't even alive.

'I believed in him…' She'd given him her trust, and now she could see the real truth. In the end, Mustang didn't give a damn about anyone but himself. Everything else was irrelevant, including Edward.

Shayla gave into her misery and broke down crying, her wails echoing inside the realm.

"Daddy! Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Da--"

"Caleb!" Ed shouted, annoyed, "Just calm down! Your dad will be up in a minute!"

"But Daddy has to tell me my story!" the boy whined from the stairs, two wide golden eyes peering at both parents accusingly. "He promised!"

"Caleb…" Ed warned. No longer able to read, he slammed the book down and got out of his chair. "I said he'll be there! If you haven't gotten your PJ's on…" He heard his son giggle loudly and run up the stairs. "I will cut Havoc into pieces for the candy…"

"Calm down… Caleb deserved a treat, especially after putting up with his aunts and uncles at Headquarters," Roy muttered, not bothering to look up from his book.

"Yeah, well…" Roy was right, of course. Caleb always behaved, so he shouldn't be getting riled up about it. "I remember when my voice could make you cower," Ed addressed Mustang wistfully.

Roy snickered at his lover's aggravation in amusement. "Really, Ed. He's a child."

Ed growled back at him, ripping his glasses off in a huff and hopped back into his chair. "Well, I'd rather our kid not grow up into some wild child like I was."

"So you admit you were highly unmanageable when younger?"

"Don't push it. I'm still angry about the 'spy' thing."

A smile flashed across the older man's face. "I should get upstairs before Caleb decides to become a real menace. Then we'll never get him to sleep." He got up and stretched, turning toward Ed. "Why don't you join me? He falls asleep faster if you're holding him…"

Ed felt the answer yes rising in his throat, but something held it back; some unseen force told him he shouldn't. To hide his hesitation, Ed stood up from his chair again and headed to the kitchen. "No, you should spend some time alone with him," he said, oddly quiet. "Being Fuhrer keeps you away…" The golden haired man turned his head around and grinned brazenly. "It'll be good for ya." Roy should be allowed to have Caleb to himself once in a while…

Roy raised an eyebrow but only nodded in acceptance. "Alright then…" With a small smile, the man turned and started his accent up the stairs. "And if you're going to go into the kitchen, be a good wife and whip me up something…" He had just enough time to dodge the pillow thrown at him. "Now Edward, no need to get violent."

"Get your ass upstairs, bastard!" Ed called out, not sounding the least bit angry.

The Fuhrer chuckled while continuing up, already hearing a sudden scurry of two feet. A dark haired head peered out the corner of his bedroom door, delighted by the sight of his father. "Daddy!"

"You better be in your pajamas, young man," Roy smirked, and the child giggled as he ran back inside the his room.

"I did! See?" Caleb proudly showed off his 'pajamas', which happened to be nothing more than a large t-shirt Ed had cut the bottom half off of. Despite all the money Roy brought in, Ed (who'd traveled much and had learned to make due with what he had) stubbornly refused to spoil his child in any way, and that included clothing. But Caleb loved anything Ed made for him, and so rejected any real nightwear given to him by his aunts and uncles.

Roy shook his head at Caleb's eagerness; he could tell it would take a while to calm the boy down so he could sleep. "Alright then, subordinate. Into bed."

"Yes sir!" His son did his usual sloppy salute, then raced toward his bed, laughing with glee.

"You are really hyper, you know that?" Roy commented dryly. He too made his way over to the bed as Caleb hurriedly slid under the covers. "This is the last time we let Uncle Havoc give you candy this late in the day."

"Awwww…" Finally wiggling his way into a sitting position, the boy looked up at his father and pouted. "I like candy…"

Roy ruffled his son's messy hair. "Yes, but Mommy doesn't."

"Oh…" He frowned. This confused him; Uncle Havoc had once told Caleb candy was yummy and good, and after tasting some the boy had agreed, asking for more. But if his mother didn't like it, that usually meant that something was bad. And his mother had a way of making things disappear when he didn't like them. So as a good son, he should stay away from bad things, right? Besides, Uncle Havoc was known to be wrong sometimes. In fact, Ed would make a point of telling him not to listen to his smoker Uncle.

So this basically meant that Uncle Havoc was wrong and candy was bad, and he should stay away from it, not only to keep himself away from bad things… but also to make his mother proud of his grown up choice.

Caleb paused, coming to some sort of decision. "Well then, I don't like it either," he told Roy.

Mustang could do nothing but snicker at that. "Oh now really? You want to be exactly like your mother? Why not me?" he complained in false shock. "I thought you liked your father."

"I do!" Caleb looked distressed at disappointing his parent, biting his lower lip. "But Mommy made me promise not to be like him or you…" The child still didn't understand what Ed had meant. "Why is that?" he asked.

"Because you're not Mommy or Daddy; you're Caleb. So there's no point in trying to be us," Roy explained, shrugging a bit.

"But…" The kid tried finding words to clarify himself. "But I came from you and Mommy, right? So doesn't that make us the same?"

Roy was completely convinced Caleb had inherited his mother's ability to leave him flabbergasted at times. "Yes… you come from me and Ed… but that doesn't mean you are us. You're--" The Fuhrer furrowed his brow in thought. "You're both me and Ed put together…." At Caleb's unresponsive stare, Roy tried again. "Remember the chocolate Havoc gave you?"

"Yeah." Caleb's face lit up, then soon turned dark. "Candy is bad."

"Well, there are many kinds of chocolate… like white chocolate and dark chocolate, okay?"


"If you mix them together, you get something more… muddy looking, but," Roy waved that off. "That part is not important. What is important is it's not white or dark chocolate. It's now muddy chocolate. Do you understand?"

"Yes." Caleb immediately said.

"No you don't." Roy grinned and ruffled the boy's hair once more. "Don't worry too much about it. But your mother is right. I don't want you acting like us, subordinate."

"Okay…" He still didn't really get the gist of it, but trusted his father's words. "… so does this mean I have to like candy?"

"If you don't, I'll be forced to find another son to obey my every whim," Roy deadpanned.

"I like candy!"

"Good boy."

Both father and son shared a grin until Roy pulled the covers over his son gently. "Alright, time to sleep."

"You still need to tell me a story…."

Roy sighed good naturedly, rearranging himself on the bed and smiled. "Fine, what story do you want?"

Caleb snuggled toward the warmth of his father. "The one when you were with the white-haired lady. Those are my favorites."

"…" His breath caught painfully in his throat. Dark eyes stared into golden innocent ones, and Roy found the ache he'd pushed back coming for him, full force. "You mean… Shayla?" 'Please say no….'

Caleb nodded eagerly. "Yeah, the pretty one that you met and traveled with!"

"I tell you stories about her?"

A nod. "Yeah, you tell me about your special adventures every night… but I'm not supposed to tell Mommy, remember?" The boy looked up at his father apprehensively. "Don't you remember Daddy?"

'No, I don't remember. I don't want to remember. There's nothing to remember, damnit!'

"What… adventures did I tell you about?" He tried to pass it off as unimportant. "Just so I can remember which one to tell you next…"

Caleb sat up and thought hard. "Umm…. Well, last night you told me about when you, Shayla and Mommy went back in time and found Mommy when he was as small as me!" The boy nodded before continuing with, "And then you told me about the time when Shayla turned into an angel and stopped time!" His eyes practically glowed with excitement as he told Roy this. "I like that one the best right now."

He had to keep calm. It was vital that he keep calm…. "Well then. I think I know what story to tell you." 'Of course I would tell him stories about Shayla,' Roy forced himself to think logically. 'Why wouldn't I? She doesn't deserve to be forgotten…'

Like you're trying to forget her now?

Resolutely, Roy ignored this voice, keeping his expression dead as possible without worrying his son. "Alright then. I know a story for you."

"Yay!" Caleb cried out in happiness and would've flown out the bed if the covers didn't keep him down. "Yay for Shayla!"

"Keep it down Caleb. Mommy can't know the stories I tell you." Roy took a deep, calming breath; if he could get though a quick made-up story with Shayla in it, the boy would be happy and he'd go and tell Ed everything: about the graveyard incident, not remembering Caleb's name… get it all off his chest. Yes, he could do it. Then he could end this before it got more out of hand. "Ready?"


Deep breath. "Okay, you know about… the Dream Alchemist, right?"

A frown settled on Caleb's face. "He tried to hurt you and Mommy." The glare on his face made Roy pause; Caleb certainly knew how to impersonate Roy's expressions at times. "I don't like him," he said earnestly.

"Yes he is. He's very mean. And even though we were about to defeat him…" Roy leaned in closer, eyes glittering in both false intenseness and true fear. "One time he almost got us."

The boy gaped, sitting straight up. "Nuh uh!"

Despite his earlier terror, Roy allowed himself to get into the story. "Yes. He sent us to a false place where…" Abruptly he stopped, face paling. "He sent us to a place where we believed everything was real."

'Stop haunting me… just let me forget.'

Caleb didn't notice his father's dilemma and eagerly shook his head. "Really? Wow… What was it like?"

"Just like the real world. Only nothing was real. Everything was really fake and we didn't know it." Roy didn't feel like he was speaking anymore; no, it wasn't him. The voice was speaking through him, and this time it wouldn't let Roy look away from what was in front of him. "He split us up in our own little worlds were everything was perfect so we wouldn't know we were being tricked…"

"How did you get out, Daddy?"

"Shayla came and got me."

Caleb's smile widened. "She saved you?"

'She tried, but she failed.'

"Yes, she did. She managed to show me the lies and convince me to leave."

'I didn't want to believe her, so I turned and looked the other way.'

Close to busting from excitement, the boy scooted closer and asked, "And then you saved Mommy and Uncle Hughes, right?" Caleb didn't even wait for an answer, already his imagination creating a perfect ending. "Yeah, and then you defeated the Dream Alchemist to save all the souls of the people!"

'I let them all die… Ed.'

"Caleb… Daddy's really tired today. Is it okay if we cut it short for tonight?" Roy asked faintly, his eyes glazing over. He no longer looked at Caleb; all he could picture her face, distraught and betrayed at the graveyard. "I'll tell you two stories tomorrow."

Unlike before, the boy heard the obvious strain in the man's voice. "Okay…" he said quietly, and made sure he was completely under the covers once again. He wouldn't press it. The boy often noticed his father grew uncomfortable after telling him these stories, and it made Caleb sad to know his father may have nightmares about the evil Dream Alchemist taking over the world.

"I'm sorry about the story," the man apologized seriously. "I'll make the next one better."

Caleb shook his head, the golden hairs spraying everywhere. "No! You tell cool stories!… I liked that one. You were about to get out of the fake world and get back to Mommy."

"Caleb…" Roy didn't look his son in the eyes, fingers playing with a lone string from the bedspread. "Do you know there was a fake Caleb in my dream?"

"Really?" The boy's eyes widened comically, surprised to hear his father continue. "Did he look like me?"

"Yes, he looked exactly like you," Roy smiled. "I had to leave him… so I could get back home…" He took in a calming breath. "And he was very sad… He wanted me to stay, but I couldn't."

"Oh…" Squinting in thought, Caleb's golden eyes seemed to reflect the sorrow the other hid so well. "Well… he wasn't real right? You want the real Caleb… which is me!" With an enthusiastic grin so very much like Ed's, he pointed to himself. "So you did good Daddy! You can't be with fake people."

"I know… but it still made me sad."

"Because he was a lot like me, even though he wasn't me. It's like with me and you and the muddy chocolate… right?"

Roy managed one last true laugh. "Yes, that's it exactly."

Good, he had made his father smile. Mission accomplished. Smiling, the boy held out his arms, a silent plea that Roy understood.

His insides beginning to shake, Roy bent down to give his only son a hug and kiss on the forehead, feeling the familiar sting of sadness bite at his heart. "I love you, Caleb," Roy expressed openly, meaning every word. "I'm glad you're my son."

"Of course you're glad! Mommy would get mad at you if you didn't," giggled Caleb as he hugged back tightly, his short arms only able to cling to Roy's neck.

Roy smirked. "Yes, he would be…" With a sigh of regret, Roy released Caleb and tucked him in. "Now get some sleep… you've had quite the day, subordinate."

As if on cue, the lack of sleep on his young body began to take effect, causing Caleb's eyes to flutter. "I'm not sleepy," he insisted, then yawning loudly.

"Of course you're not." He half-wished Caleb wasn't sleepy, just so he wouldn't have to leave the room. "The yawn was just to trick me. Smart."

The boy giggled again, eyes starting to shut. "Yeah, I fooled you!" Another yawn.

"Yes, you did. You fooled me." He got off the bed and walked backwards, keeping his eyes on the child. "…Goodnight, Caleb," he said, pausing on at the door. He'd never thought this would be so hard.

"Night Daddy," Caleb mumbled while turning on his side. "Love you and Mommy."

"… Love you too." He hesitated, then with a defeated sigh closed the door while keeping the sorrow inside. There would be time to grieve later.

"Ah, so he's finally in bed?" Ed heard Roy come down the stairs. "You two were loud. What type of 'stories' are you feeding our child?" He grinned jokingly while he finished making his and Roy's sandwich, waiting for Roy to slap him with a comeback. "…… Roy?" The golden haired man frowned slightly. 'Heh, guess he didn't hear me.' Ed shrugged and went into the reading room with the snacks in tow.

Roy had taken up residence on the couch again, book in his lap and eyes seemingly staring off into space blankly. He didn't acknowledge Ed's presence or even move the slightest bit.

"… Hey, why are you in brooding mode?" Ed half-joked again, hoping for a reaction. Instead he got nothing, and the odd silence wiped the smile off his face. "Okay, you're in a strange mood," he grumbled. When his lover refused to answer again, he sighed and went over to sit next to Roy, sandwiches forgotten. "Alright, spill."

Finally, the Fuhrer turned his eyes on Ed but still didn't say anything. He just stared at Ed as his dark pupils racked up and down the planes the face, memorizing every feature.

"…Roy?" By now Ed could tell something was up, and Roy's silence made him worry. "What's wrong?" His eyes slid up the stairway. "Caleb's fine, right?" His entire frame stiffened up as a barrage of unpleasant thoughts came at him. Was Caleb sick? Did he hurt himself somehow? And why the hell wasn't Roy telling him anything?

Roy let out a hollow chuckle, closing his eyes tiredly. "Of course he is. Why wouldn't he be?" The laugh died quickly as if it had never been there, and he returned to staring.

"Oh…" The longer Roy stared, the more Ed felt the urge to either fidget or lash out. "Would you mind not looking at me like that?" he said irritably.

"And how is that?" Roy asked quietly, his eyes staring right into Ed's.

Ed sighed. "I don't know… like this is the last time you're gonna see me or something…"

The elder of the two rose an eyebrow slowly. "Really?" His tone was blank as his face.

"Yes really. What the hell is wrong with you?" If Roy's plan had been to piss Ed off, he was close to fulfilling it. Roy hadn't acted this distant in a very long time, and Ed was already remembering how annoying it could be.

"… Nothing really." Roy offered him a fake smile that would fool anyone but Ed. "I'm just thinking about going out for a while. Just for a quick drink."

"Oh, you're not sneaking out that easily." Ed narrowed his eyes. "We have a few bottles of wine and beer in the fridge. There's no need to go out."

The other wasn't deterred. "It's more for the atmosphere than the drinks," he replied easily. "I just need time to think."

"You can think here!"

"You're determined to be difficult, I see."

Ed felt his temper explode. "Roy, just fuckin' tell me what's going on? You've been acting strange ever since you found out Shayla's been dead!" Despite his anger, the secret dread he'd been feeling climbed back up his throat. This strange behavior was beginning to unnerve him.

A spark lit up the darkened eyes before going out like a smothered fire. "I just have much on my mind, that's all Edward."

"Bullshit." Ed stood up and faced Roy directly, arms folded so he didn't just punch him. "You might have a lot on your mind, but it's more than that. I can tell. Damn it, I've been living with you for years, Roy. You can tell me things."

"… You really want me to tell you what's going on?"

Finally he was getting somewhere. "Yes!" Ed said, relieved. At least he could get to the bottom of this…

"Alright then." Roy stood up as well and slowly made his way over to the doorway, keeping his back to Ed at all times. "This is quite simply, none of your concern, Edward. And I'd appreciate if you learned when to keep your nose out of my business."

"…" Ed looked as if he'd been slapped. "What did you say?" His voice wavered dangerously. "Wha--"

The Fuhrer sighed in pure annoyance. "You never were good at listening, were you? Do you want me to spell it out for you, too?" His voice took on a light sneering quality. "I don't need you nagging me, Edward. I want to be alone, away from you, so I can think in peace. Or is that a lot to ask?"


"Oh? Now you don't want to talk about it?" Roy looked over his shoulder, eyes cold. "Or do you have something to say? If you do, say it now because I have places to go that don't include you in them."

His head lowered and golden strands spilled over his forehead to hide his eyes. "You bastard…" he hissed out.

"Wonderful comeback." Roy smirked. "I expected as much."

"… Get out."

"What? I can't he--"


Roy blinked at him. "So now I have your permission?"

Ed picked up the sandwich he'd made for Roy and hurled it at him. "GET OUT, YOU BASTARD! I SAID OUT!" In a complete rage, he grabbed anything he could and just threw blindly. "YOU WANT SOME ALONE TIME? FINE! DON'T YOU EVER COME BACK HERE, YOU HEAR ME?"

He betrayed no emotion and just watched Ed throw pillows, laps, reading books… The sandwich crashed into a wall, causing the contents to splatter everywhere. "You really need to control your temper." His voice was as bland as his face.

Light erupted in the room, and the next thing Roy knew, he was pushed against the wall with a blade a hair's width away from slitting his throat.

Ed's hard breathing filled the room, his head screaming for him to calm down before he did something he'd regret. But the pain in his heart demanded blood. Every question and demand pressed against his lips to be voiced… This couldn't be Roy. Roy would never hurt him like this. This was a lie.

Time ticked by until he managed to force out one lone question that spoke volumes. "W-why?"

During those brief seconds, Roy had been completely still. "Why what?" A thin eyebrow rose.

Ed's blade began to shake and came close to nicking him. "Why are you doing this!" he choked out. "Damn you, Roy! I just want to help you! So why…" His voice gave out on him. "This isn't like you… this isn't you! The Roy I know would never do this!"

"You can't help me, Edward," Roy said slowly so the other would understand every word. "I don't love you anymore."

Golden eyes widened in confusion. "What?"

"This is all a lie… and I can't live it anymore. I don't want to. This love is fake. I don't love you. I never did, and now I realize that." Roy kept his tone completely civil. If not for the harsh words, he could've been talking about the weather. "So I'm leaving."

This was enough to shock Ed into silence. The expression on his face was one of pure astonishment and pain. His arm transmuted back into his metal arm while he stepped slowly back, a look of misery pasted onto his expression.

Roy had enough of this. "I'm sorry, Edward," he said truthfully. "But I can't keep lying to us both. It's not fair to anyone… especially not Caleb." He started on his way to the front door.

Ed snapped out a disgusted laugh. "Yes, and you leaving is gonna make him feel so much more relieved!" His brain wasn't computing this well.

"Like I said, I'm sorry."

"Roy, you can't do this! Not to him! You don't love me, fine!" Ed sprinted after him. "But Caleb loves you! He fuckin' needs you!"

His lie couldn't hold out against this truth. "Well, he'll have to deal without me. I can't stay here."

"ROY!" Ed stopped in front of Mustang, blocking his movement. "Can't we…" He took in a shuddering breath, eyes starting to water. "Please, can't we talk about this? What did I do? Tell me… we can work this out… I know we can." Almost timidly he put a hand on Roy's shoulder. "If you want an apology, then I'm sorry. I don't even care what it is now."

"…" Roy looked at him without remorse.

Now his voice broke out of him, and Ed flung himself on Roy's chest, crying. "Damn it, Roy, I'm sorry! Okay? Is that what you want?"

Gently, Roy pulled Ed away from himself. "You haven't done anything wrong," he whispered, and it looked almost like he was crying too. But his eyes were clear and full of resolve. "I'm sorry this happened. You have no idea how sorry I am for doing this to you and Caleb."

Edward continued to sob, hands trying to cling to Roy's jacket. "Then why are you doing this! Roy, please… I love you! Don't… just don't walk out of my life! Damn you, tell me why!" This was all happening too fast for him… too fast. Ed wasn't even aware of the words spouting out of his mouth. He just babbled as his mind shut down and the world took on a surreal quality where only Roy was his anchor.

There was no answer to give him. Either he wouldn't believe it or the truth would kill him. So Roy remained quiet, his hand reaching out to wipe away some of the fallen tears.

When the other quieted somewhat, only hiccups and shudders escaping now, he gave Ed a tight hug and spoke into his ear, "You'll make it through this. You're stronger than me, and I want you to know it… Take care of Caleb." With a kiss on the cheek, Roy let go for the last time and walked out the door, shutting it closed.

Ed fell to the floor as his heart was ripped out and stolen by the only man he loved.

She couldn't make herself move. The crying was over, but even now she sat close to the portal as if it was her lifeline. Not that leaving would make a difference. As far as she saw it, this was game over.

"Get off your lazy ass, you bitch," Shayla snarled at herself in pure anger. "There must be something you can still do!" Her mind and the darkness laughed at her words. "Well, if you don't move, you die! Is that what you want?" It was as if her body now had a stubborn personality. Shayla realized she was arguing with her body and broke out into hysteric laughter, tears pricking her eyes. "I've lost it!" She crowed. "Oh Kayamna, what is wrong with me!"

Calling out to her goddess effectively put a damper on her laughter. She slumped back into a depression. The tears kept coming, but she'd long ago gave up wiping them away. Now they just came and went as time wore on.

Shayla wanted comfort, now more than ever. She wanted someone to come to her and tell her everything would turn out fine in the end. Even if it wasn't the truth, the woman needed something to hold onto so she wouldn't break more than she had already.

"Mother would comfort me," she said dully, looking out into black space. Her fantasy mother would hold and cradle her like an infant is that's what she wanted. All she had to do was go back. It wouldn't be hard. Shayla could see the portals; in fact, she could make out her dream portal right then, a bit to the right, calling for her to return to the safety and calm that she longed for.

It was too tempting to think about. "How long have I been sitting here?" she asked herself instead. "I should move… I need to move. I can't stay here forever." The female Ishbalan's body thought differently, since it still didn't budge.

'Or maybe time hasn't past at all… I could've just come out of the portal and I wouldn't realize it… and that could mean there will still be time to save Ed.'

The enticing thought stuck to her brain like lint. "If Roy won't do anything, that doesn't mean I can't at least try," she said softly. Awkwardly, she forced her feet out in front of her and pressed up with her hands. Slowly, her body gave into the demands and obeyed. Within a few tiring seconds, Shayla was back on her wobbling feet. "Even if I die… I can't leave him. He's my friend." The lump in her throat swelled as these thoughts led her back to Roy's betrayal. "No! No more crying." It was time to put it behind her. She could let it out later. "Alright, Ed, I'm gonna get you or die trying." Picking a random direction, she started out on her search.

"I'd prefer you didn't die, Angel Alchemist," Roy mused out loud as he poked his head through the portal. "Well, nice to see this place hasn't changed." The rest of his body followed as he came up close to his friend.

Shayla shrieked out in surprise, whirling around. "ROY!" She tackled him with a hug, the tears free-falling from her face. Her heart almost burst right there, the shock of seeing the Colonel enough to send her into a heart attack.

Then she pulled back and promptly punched him in the face. "You mother fuckin' jackass! I hope Ed makes you beg for forgiveness!" She hissed. After that, she returned to hugging him, her happiness not to be deterred.

Roy had expected this type of welcome, so bore the punch because he deserved every hit he got. "I'm sorry… I am," he said seriously and returned the hug, cheek swelling up. But Roy clung to the pain and to Shayla, because they were both among the few things he knew were real.

"You can be sorry later." All her previous agony dead, Shayla nodded her head in agreement with herself. "We need to save Ed. I don't know how long I've been here, but if we don't hurry…" Forcing herself to give Roy room to breathe, the Ishbalan stepped back. Her body buzzed, and the need to find Ed took up every corner of her brain. They had to find him, now.

Roy nodded back. "Right, the portal. Do you have any idea what direction they headed?" He tried not to think about how long he'd been gone and how Ed could very well be dead. It wouldn't do well to think with that mindset right then. 'Stay focused…'

She had already started jogging. "No, but I'm not gonna let that stop me!" She motioned for him to follow and took off. "If we just stand still, we'll never find them!"

Roy went after her. "We could be heading in the wrong direction! And what about Hughes?"

"We'll find him," she said calmly. "And Hughes will have to wait for now."

The Colonel was quickly silenced by Shayla's undying devotion and sudden return of confidence. "You foolish girl," he muttered with a smile. "Alright, but if Ed asks why we were late, I'm gonna blame part of it on you terrible sense of direction."

"Bastard, you got nerve!" Shayla laughed. Even though they were most likely heading in the wrong direction or toward their death, it was fine. None of it bothered her in the least. 'We'll die together… how corny,' she told herself. The Colonel came through, just like he always did.

'Ed, we're coming to get you.'

"How much farther do you think, Edward?"

The blonde teen grinned at his companion. "Well, I can sorta sense it now," he admitted. "It won't be long before we get there." He was tired of looking, but if it made him happy… Ed would keep searching.

Robert snorted at Ed's enthusiasm. "Heh."

"You got a problem?" Ed frowned, golden eyes flashing dangerously. "I don't see you doing much!"

The red haired man flinched, then snarled, "At least I don't behave like some love-sick puppy!" His next words were howls of pain after Ed decked him one with his metal arm.

Deception watched all this with mild amusement. "I suggest you two get along," he said softly, and both men immediately stopped their quarrel. "We might need to be prepared, since those three have escaped their prisons."

Ed turned to him, frowning deeply. "Will they become a problem?" He cracked his knuckles. "Cause you know I don't mind taking care of them," he added, smirking. Oh yes, he needed to let off some energy.

A smile that could almost be called kind graced Deception's face, and Ed felt a blush creep on his face. "Edward, you need not worry about Roy and the others." A hiss erupted from the smaller man at the mention of that name, and Deception's smile widened. "They can't catch up to us at all, and even if they did… I would take care of them."

"Not fair…" Ed pouted and looked away. "I think I owe the bastard a blade in the gut." The very thought of Mustang brought up rage that the golden eyed teen could barely contain. He half-wished Roy would appear so he could kill the man slowly… make him bleed like a stuffed pig and laugh as he stripped all the pride away. "I hate him…" he seethed.

"I also have a score to settle," Robert piped in so Ed wouldn't get all the attention.

The Dream Alchemist watched them both carefully. "I know, I know…" And he did know, more than either could imagine. "And they'll get their just rewards." He looked Ed in the eyes now and held his gaze. "I promise you this."

Ed blushed harder and smiled softly. "Sorry, just that--"

He placed an arm around Edward and kissed his forehead. "No need to apologize. Soon we'll find your body portal, and then…"

"You'll get everything you deserve," Ed smiled and snuggled a bit closer, enjoying the warmth given to him. "Those fuckin' alchemists will pay. I'll make sure of that." 'For you,' he added to himself.

"Yes," Deception replied, and his eyes looked at the top of Ed's head with amusement. "I know, Edward."

:D Okay, hope the Ed/Roy breakup part wasn't too cheesy, though my beta told me thousands of times it wasn't. XD I won't bug you with end notes. Just go ahead and bask in the realization the story didn't die and I'm working on the next chapter! Praise me and my beta, people.