Just Like You
Henrika- I honestly don't know where this one came from. First Ed was playing the poor little victim and then he was...well, you'll see. I still see this as an Ed/Roy (not really a friendship) more of a weird mix of commander/subordinate and a type of familiar understanding.
Done with finals! Hurray! I'm currently sitting in my home, safe and sound and looking forward to Christmas. And torturing Ed over the holidays. May see about typing up some sort of a holiday fic (I have some interesting ideas) but we'll see.
As for this,Enjoy and Review!
There was a dull, blank look in the golden downcast eyes as they studied a point somewhere beyond the carpet in front of Colonel Mustang's couch. The Colonel sat behind his desk, looking over the report his subordinate had handed him with growing concern. It detailed the events that his trackers had missed for the few weeks they had lost count of the movements of the golden-haired prodigy.
Words failed the elder man for one of the few times in his life as his eyes scanned hastily along the efficient descriptions that told of blood and death and pain and a near fatal injury and a horrible choice. There was a suit of armor outside his door, Mustang knew, that was hastily shifting his feet. He had looked worried when he turned his brother over to the Colonel's purview, even going so far as to draw the Colonel aside and beg the man to figure out was wrong with his brother.
"Well Full Metal, it appears you've had quite a mission this time." He said calmly, trying to maintain the cool demeanor that usually worked so well with the boy.
The blonde didn't respond, just continued to study that distant point beyond the floor, his body slightly hunched over.
"How are your injuries? I only received the hospital report this morning." He cursed the ineffectuality of the post and the fact that it had taken so long for someone to connect the dots enough to contact him.
Again he received silence from the couch, though he thought he caught the faint sign of a wince and he was sure that he saw the faintly pink edge of a stained bandage before Edward tugged up the collar of his jacket.
"You realize that the point of giving me your report is to recount your experiences verbally." He finally resorted to sarcasm and felt his concern rise even more as even that failed to get a rise out of the normally excitable young man.
And when he did speak, finally, and more quietly than Roy had ever heard him, it scared the man more than if his subordinate would have yelled at the top of his lungs. "You were right. Tucker was right. They were all right. I'm just like them."
"I'm selfish. I use people. There's blood on my hands, even more than them probably." He whispered, his eyes taking on a hollow look as he moved his gaze to his interlaced fingers. "I perverted and killed my…mother. My brother is trapped in an unfeeling body because of me. I sold myself to the military. I became a worthless dog who can't even the save the most defenseless people. I…." But he'd stopped as Roy rose from his desk and knelt as his side. Though Roy could tell from the deadened look in his eyes that he still hadn't quite recognized his commanding officer.
"Edward?" He waited until the eyes met his own and suppressed his shudder at them. "What happened?"
"Just a dog of the military. My leash belongs to them…you. Just say the word and I attack at your command. Just a dog. A no-good dog."
Mustang stood, gently drawing the young man to his feet as he went. His hands fell to Edward's waistband, his hands brushing along the edge. Edward didn't give any motion at the action, though his eyes finally managed to focus on Roy's gloved hands.
Roy brushed his hands along the young man's waistband until his fingers ran into the chain hooked to his belt. He gently drew out the silver pocket-watch, prized symbol of the State Alchemists.
Mustang tugged gently on the chain to his watch and Ed was forced to follow obediently.
"A dog, yes. You accepted that the moment you accepted this." He tugged on the watch again and led Ed to his desk, where he pushed the blonde into his chair. Ed tried to lower his eyes again, but with Mustang kneeling one-kneed on the floor before him, it caused him to look directly into the penetrating, deep, dark jet of Mustang's eyes. "You accepted that you would be forced to do our dirty work. You accepted the possibility that you could die. You accepted that you could be forced to kill." He drew Edward's flesh hand out and forced his fingers to splay outwards. He placed the watch there, but left his hand over it.
"You accepted this. You and only you. It doesn't matter whether you did it for your brother or to help the people. You accepted what being the military's dog meant."
"Your name is Full Metal."
"I…. There was a little girl. Her father was creating chimeras." Roy sucked in a breath through his teeth as quietly as he could as he remembered just how much the Tucker case had affected the young man before him. "I didn't want…couldn't let…I wouldn't let it happen again. We fought. I didn't want to in front of her, but she was right there and there was nothing that I could do." Ed was speeding up, his breath hitching in a dangerous parody of a sob. "She was crying out to her father and yelling at me. She called me a 'bad man' and begged me to stop. She ran to him and I froze. I froze and he, her father, he…"
"Ed." The clarity had returned to the boy's eyes with a sick intensity, along with a ring of tears that were weighing heavily on the golden lashes.
"He went through her to get to me. He killed her to try to kill me. HE MURDERED HIS OWN DAUGHTER JUST TO WOUND ME!" Edward tried to stand, but Mustang forced him down again. The tears finally gained enough weight to fall and did so freely. "She died in my arms. She died right there and he was still swinging at me. I…I didn't want him to die." His tone changed, becoming something painfully malicious. "I wanted him to suffer."
"And did you make him?" Mustang asked.
"Just like them. They told me I was just like them and I didn't want to believe it."
"I broke his fingers so he couldn't hold chalk. I took every single one of his fingers and pushed them back until they snapped."
Mustang swallowed thickly. The horrors of the battlefield, of torture, of pain were really no mystery to him, but when coming from the person in front of him…
"I couldn't kill him. Not with that little girl's blood on my hands. I tied his hands and feet and gagged him. I wanted to leave him. I wanted him to rot there as he looked at what he had done to his own daughter. But that would have been unfair to her. I found a sheet, laid it over her. Left the house and went out to the river. It was night and it was cold, but I wanted the blood off. I went to the town. Told the doctor what happened. He gathered up some people; called the military officer in town. Nice guy." The comment seemed so out of place that Ed actually had to stop. He looked disoriented for a moment before he started talking again. "I told them what happened and they took them both away. I went back to the hotel and Al wondered why I was soaking wet when it wasn't raining outside. There's your report. That's what I accepted." Hysteria edged his words, but he made no move to do anything but sit there and stare as his tears stained Mustang's uniform cuff a darker shade of blue.
Mustang closed Edward's fingers over the watch in his hand. "Yes, that's what you accepted."
"Leash and all." Edward said softly.
"Leash and all." Mustang agreed. "But you know…" He fished in his own pocket until he drew out an identical silver watch and chain. "You're not the only one who wears the military's collar."
Edward lightly traced the worn lines of Roy's watch with his auto-mail, his left occupied with clutching his own.
"So alike." He paused for a long moment. "I…wanted so badly to be able to save her."
"I tried really hard."
"And I still failed. I failed again."
"Yes, you did."
"There are limits to everything. Limits to how long you can transmute before you risk a rebound. Limits to how long you can stay awake before you just pass out from exhaustion. Limits to how many papers you can sign in a day." He smiled and was relieved when Edward smiled as well. "Limits to how many people you can save. Limits to just how much you can do for others. Limits to what anyone can do. There are limits Full Metal and sometimes you just can't reach beyond them."
Roy could see Edward struggling with that. "But…" He winced suddenly, letting his watch slip to the side of his leg to clutch at his chest. "It hurts." He said, leaning so his forehead touched Roy's own. And Mustang knew that Edward wasn't just talking about his chest.
He dropped his own watch and wrapped his arms awkwardly around Edward. "I know." More than I ever wanted you to. "I know."
Henrika- I don't think there is any sign of Roy's watch other than that first time that he flashed it at the Rockbell's after the human transmutation. I figure it's still there, just hidden away so Roy isn't reminded of that responsibility and guilt constantly. And Ed, well, he sort of snapped on me. Did that fit for his character?