Henrika- Well, I'm rather proud of this little one-shot. It walks the line of a yaoi at some points, but I left it as merely an Ed/Roy friendship. If you would like to see it as more, than that's your perogative. I repeat that this is friendship. Good? Good.
On another note, thank you so much to all my loyal reviewers, people who have me on their favorites list, and people who have me on their watch list. I am so glad that I have been able to make so many people happy with my writing. i hope to continue to do so for a long time. Somewhere along that vein, I've pointed out that I'm in college, but so far I have had little to no trouble finding time to write (though I'm a bit lazy about typing and posting. Heh.) Expect me to try to post some of my backlogged stories here in the near future (by backlog I mean stories that are in my various notebooks that I haven't had time to type up.)
Finally! Read, Review, and Enjoy!
"Mud alchemist! Bad enough they send you along with me, but mud? How pathetic is that?"
"His actual title was the Earth Alchemist, Edward." Mustang pointed out, but Ed plowed on without hearing him.
"And honestly, who hides their array on a sock? A sock!"
"It did take us awhile to find it."
Ed bristled, finally pausing in his rant long enough to note Mustang's presence. "Not that you were helping out any by shouting instructions from the sidelines. Why did you come along anyways?"
"For your information, I was searching for the source of the array. And I came along because I felt you could use the back-up with your brother out of town." Edward looked down, his ranting cut off by the reminder. Mustang took the silence to ask the boy a question that had been bugging him. "Why didn't you go with him? You have leave built up. It wouldn't have been a problem."
Ed just nodded without really acknowledging the question, opening the door to the office.
"Ed?" Mustang asked softly, but a voice interrupted him.
"Welcome back sir, Edward." Hawkeye said. She eyed their appearance. "I believe showers are in order for you two."
Roy finally took notice of his mud-caked uniform. Ed was even worse off, his entire body covered in wet dirt. Roy scratched his head, grimacing when mud flaked off. "Heh. Point taken Lieutenant. Come along Full Metal."
"Are you kidding me?" Ed moved to slap his hands together, but Mustang's hand caught his wrist.
"Don't bother with alchemy for something so small." The elder man said sagely.
And Ed uncharacteristically didn't argue, his hands falling limp to his sides. Mustang could have sworn he heard the boy mutter, "Sensei", under his breath. Roy decided to leave it for the moment and beckoned the boy in the direction of the showers.
The walk was silent. Roy surreptitiously checked Edward's expression through the corner of his eye. The blonde was simply shuffling along, his eyes fixed on the ground in front of him. Mustang debated on whether to confront him about his sudden personality change, but they arrived at the showers before he decided. The room was empty, something he was thankful for.
Roy walked to the corner of the room, stripping off the upper half of his uniform. He tossed the shirt and jacket into a washer, pulling two clean uniforms and towels from a shelf. "Go ahead and throw your things in the washer." He instructed, setting the clean things aside and pulling on two of the shower taps. "It's a good thing you aren't wearing your cloak. I wouldn't be particularly fond of a pink uniform. Ed?" The boy hadn't moved from the door, but Roy's words seemed to spark him into motion.
"Yeah." He responded latently, flicking open the clasp on his outer jacket and kicking off his boots. He chucked the jacket in the washer and seemed fully ready to step into the shower with the rest of his clothes still on.
"You know that you can put the rest of your clothes in the washer, right?'
"Then…" Mustang stepped out of his pants as if to demonstrate; which left him in just his black boxers. For a moment, he chalked Ed's hesitation up to shyness (which was why he remained partially clothed), but somehow that didn't seem to fit the situation. And then he caught Ed's confused stare, the boy looking at him with the same intense expression Mustang had come to associate with the boy studying. "Something wrong?"
Ed stepped closer, the same look still on his face. "Burn scars?"
Roy sighed, turning to face the boy full on. "Go ahead." He said, giving the permission Ed didn't want to ask for.
"I didn't think you…" The blonde trailed off, scrutinizing the strip of puckered flesh that ran along Mustang's side.
"Rebounds do happen to all of us." Ed flinched away as Mustang spoke, as if he had forgotten that he was looking at a living person, not a diagram in a book. He walked around to Roy's back, his metal foot clicking hollowly against the royal blue tile.
"And this?" It was Mustang's turn to flinch as he felt a slightly callused thumb trace a line slowly over his back.
"Shrapnel…wound." Roy's breath hitched unintentionally at the cautious touch, the gentle probing igniting the dulled nerves. He shied forward, slipping under the warm spray. He turned around quickly, the water already matting down his bangs. Ed's hand hung in the air in the same place, a look Roy couldn't define on his face. It was a unique mix of shock, curiosity, horror, pity, and what looked like shared sympathy. It then shifted to embarrassment, the boy's cheeks pinking from something other than the gathering steam.
"Sorry." He said quickly, again moving as if he intended to shower in his clothes. But Roy caught the mismatched, muddy shoulders and drew the boy back, forcibly walking him over to the washer.
"Shirt off Full metal." He loosened his hold on the blonde, but when Ed showed no indication of moving, he grasped the edge of the boy's shirt and pulled up. He couldn't see Ed's face, but the boy struggled for a moment, unwilling to let himself be uncovered. "Edward." He said the name softly, again drawing the boy back against his chest, hoping he wouldn't mind the dampness.
Tiny bits of mud began to litter the floor, but the movement in the room finally stilled and Roy was able to draw the black tank top from the lithe frame. And see why Ed had been so reluctant.
He knew Edward didn't like exposing his auto-mail, even though the prosthetic limbs were becoming more common and accepted. The ragged scars from both the transmutation that had taken his arm and the surgery that had replaced it shone translucently pale over the highly- wound muscle they were stretched over. Roy took a moment to marvel at the smooth transition the steel made into the flesh. The arm itself was fascinating, the Rockbell girl's dedication clearly showing in the meticulous attention to every detail that made the metal look remotely human. But it wasn't these scars that caught his attention. "What happened?" He fingered the edges of a set of bandages that covered part of Ed's torso. Then another thought occurred to Roy. "You went on a mission while you were injured?" He accused, berating himself for not noticing.
Ed broke the loose hold of the man's arms; watching with detached interest as he took his shirt from Roy's hands and placed it in the washer. He removed his belt and pants as well and gave them the same treatment; setting his pocket-watch on top of the uniform Mustang has set aside. As an afterthought, he hooked his thumb in his red hair tie and shook his braid loose so that his hair cascaded messily down his back, mud falling in large globs on the floor. Clad only in his blue boxers and black under-shorts, he stepped into the shower. The water began to run a dirty pink as it swirled into the drain around his feet and the younger alchemist began unraveling the bandages until they slipped from his body. "It was an accident. He…"
Mustang gently drew the shorter man forth from under the droplets, kneeling so he could better examine the four gashes across the boy's chest that were in the process of healing. "He, as in your brother?" Ed nodded. "So how did this happen?"
"It was an accident." The tone was muted despite the echo, showing deference to the man's command that he normally didn't spare. "We were sparring and I didn't block a hit I usually turn back at him. The metal on the gauntlet part of his fist had gotten a bit ragged and it caused these." Mustang traced the edges of the wounds with his index finger. Ed hissed slightly as the probing hit a sensitive spot. He continued, "He felt awful about it, even though it wasn't his fault. So I sent him back to Risembool so I knew he'd be protected, but so he wouldn't have to see me hurt everyday and feel bad about it."
"Ah." Roy continued his exploration. "And you took a mission because…?" Ed winced, sucking in a breath through his teeth. "Sorry."
"S'okay. Shower?" A metal finger flicked some dried mud off Roy's shoulder.
"Soon. Answer the question." He thumbed the thick scars over the auto-mail leg port, and then stood to rub the mud from the flesh shoulder, uncovering the pearlescent straight line from Ed's battle with Prisoner 48. Ed simply looked on at the ministrations, examining his own imperfections through Roy's discoveries.
"You asked." Edward said, shuddering from something that wasn't pain. He idly wondered when was the last time someone had touched him, the last time he had let someone touch him. He opened his eyes, not remembering when he had closed them and saw the surprised look on Roy's face.
"Just because I asked?"
Ed nodded. "Yeah."
"You never cease to amaze me…with your idiocy Edward." The insult was said without bite and they both smiled.
"Learned from one of the best." Ed remarked. "Now take a shower. I'm starting to lose my sense of smell." Roy playfully chucked a bar of soap at the shorter man, which Ed caught handily. "You wash my back, I'll wash yours, isn't that how it goes?" Roy nodded, ducking under the spray, enjoying the heat as the water drew muddy rivulets down his sides.
"Equivalent exchange." He said as he felt a warm hand begin to scrub his back, the serious moment slipping into something more comfortable. When finally clean, he returned the favor, grateful that Ed didn't seem to min his fascination as he ran his hands over and over through the long blonde hair.
It seemed to Roy as if here they weren't commanding officer and subordinate, weren't casual enemies, weren't dog and master. The strength in each touch seemed to indicate caring, an equal footing, something that was beyond camaraderie.
It was friendship.
Epilogue- "Much better." Hawkeye said as the pair entered the room. They were both clad in clean blue uniforms, Ed's hair bound up in a ponytail that fell halfway down his back.
"Geez, what took you so long? You've been gone for hours. We were beginning to think you'd both drowned in there or something." Havoc winked, but the smile dropped off his face as he saw Ed turn to Roy and smile at him. He had just enough sense to start running as Ed rolled up the sleeve over his right arm and Roy began to put on his gloves.
Henrika- Look what Havoc got for thinking dirty things. Heehee. I don't support or not-support yaoi, I just have never found the need to write it. Hope you liked it anyways, both sides of the spectrum alike.