It was unusual to see the General devote so much of himself to anything.
Every day, he'd rush through his paperwork, finishing everything before lunch (a feat in and of itself, but a miracle when it came to Mustang). Then he'd punch out and disappear deep into the shelves of the library.
Many of the officers were surprised in his sudden change of behavior, most of all Riza, who had become rather worried. Roy never liked to work. What made him want to do so now?
She'd asked him once, but he waved it off, saying something about having "more important things to do," and though the answer was cryptic she had only second-guessed him once, then went about her business.
Fullmetal, on the other hand, couldn't be more happy. None of the incessant name calling and fighting and best of all, no short jokes. Still, it perplexed him as to why their banter had worn down. He asked Riza, but she gave him the same response as the General, along with a worried look.
Everything was perfect.
Roy put the chalk down on the table, next to the phone, dusted off his hands and stood.
Earlier that morning, he'd called in sick at the office and asked Hawkeye to send Fullmetal by to give him his report, which was long overdue.
Ed had grudgingly agreed to go with a little urging from Riza's gun. He huffed, then shuffled out of the office and toward the main entrance, in the direction of Roy's flat.
Knock, knock, pound, came the unmistakable noise of Ed's metal hand on wood.
The door opened just as Ed was about to knock again.
"Here's the stupid report, General," he said, holding out the sheaf of papers.
"Come in, Fullmetal."
"Hey, I don't want to get your- ... you don't look sick." A glare.
"I'm not. If you please..." Roy trailed off, moving away from the door and leaving Edward on the landing, semi-confused.
The blonde alchemist stepped in anyway and followed Roy. He looked around the corner to where the man was standing, next to a large and complex circle on the floor. One glance, then a double-take and stare told him what it was.
A circle for human transmutation.
"What the hell is this?" he asked vehemently, pointing to the offending chalk drawing.
"Surely you must recognise it, Fullmetal," Roy responded.
"Of course I do. What do I look like, an idiot?"
Roy bit back the urge to rise to the bait, simply shaking his head and shuffing toward Edward.
"General... what are you trying to do? You're being stupid!"
His head inclined in a nod, Roy gave a dry chuckle. "Yes, I know I am. Don't worry... everything is going to be fine."
And with that, Edward slumped, knocked unconsicous by a well placed hit to the neck.
Roy was mildly surprised at how much Fullmetal weighed, then dismissed it, remembering his metal limbs.
He put the boy in the center of the circle, careful not to smudge any of the lines, then stepped back out, pinching the bridge of his nose. With a sigh, he cast a gaze at the blonde, then dropped to his knees and activated the reaction.
The light gleamed, glowing brighter gold with every second. It crackled with sheer energy as it enveloped the small figure that was Ed.
Roy couldn't see what was happening- the light was too bright- but he knew what was going on. He could almost sense Ed's automail limbs dissapating.
A searing pain woke Ed, enough so that he gaped at what he saw. His automail was being deconstructed! The alchemy reached his leg and arm ports, taking them apart as well. He grimaced and squeezed his eyes shut, fighting down the urge to scream. He failed, and a harsh yelp leapt from his throat.
And then... it was over. No more pain... no more light...
For some reason, he was staring at Roy's stucco ceiling. He groaned and pushed himself up, body shaking slightly and mind confused. He was about to put his hand to his head when he noticed that it was the color of skin.
Why is my automail-
"Holy shit!" Ed was looking at his right hand. Flesh. Completely human. He moved his leg. He could feel the fabric of his pants against his skin. SKIN.
"Holy shit," he said again, now shifting his gaze to Roy. "Mustang, how did you-"
The other alchemist was lying on the floor, limp and looking as though he was sleeping.
"Oi, General, don't tell me you fell asleep.
Edward scrabbled over to Roy's limp form, quickly looking him over. He put a hand over the General's mouth. No breath. No rise and fall of chest. Ed shifted his hand to Roy's neck.
"Oh, shit. No! Come on, please, no!"
Ed's whole body was shaking now. His hands were the worst. He tried to calm himself down by talking.
"There's gotta be a way to... I'll use alchemy!" But something in his mind whispered there's not enough time. You can't find the right things that fast.
Ed swallowed, trying to figure out something to do. Finally, he jumped up and nearly knocked over the phone, fingers tremoring as he dialed. He spouted as much information as he could at the medic on the other end of the line, finishing with a "hurry!" then went back to Roy.
By the time they get here, it'll be too late. NO! There's gotta be something.
That something clicked. Almost mechanically, Ed adjusted Roy's bigger body so he was laying on his back. He folded his hands together, put them in the middle of Roy's chest and pushed down as hard as he could.
A sickening crack followed.
Ed grimaced, feeling the general's ribs give way, but he gulped and continued. Thirty compressions...
He tilted Roy's head back, hesitated, then bent down and breathed into his mouth twice.
Again, pushed on Roy's chest, willing the man's heart to start up again.
Two more breaths.
Ed's vision began to become bleary and tears splashed onto his working hands.
You can't be dead. I swore I was gonna kill you, but I never meant it... come on, I don't want you to die...
Two more breaths. Ed wiped his eyes and started more compressions.
"Damn it... he's not dead," the blonde said hoarsely, tears once more clouding his vision. "You can't be dead."
Two more breaths.
"Come on... Roy... please... I- I need you."
Ten minutes later, Edward collapsed, out of breath and nearly delirious, onto Roy's chest. His vision was still blurred by tears and he pounded his fist weakly, trying to get Roy to wake up.
"Please, no... you have to get up. You can't die."
Two minutes later, the medics found them like that.
Edward had seen the paper laying next to the phone when the medics took him out of the house. Seeing his name, he grabbed for it.
He hadn't opened it until after the funeral.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
And if I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take
Under the scribbled lines was a note.
Work toward the sun, Fullmetal. You're not close enough to melt your wings yet.
There was another little scribble that had been crossed out, written sort of sideways on the edge of the paper.
It read: I love you.
"You bastard," Ed whispered to the headstone. "You're just gonna leave me here without even a goodbye to my face? I always knew I hated you."
Warm tears trekked down his cheeks as he turned his face to the ground and closed his eyes, glad there was no one here to see him cry.
Suddenly, a warm hand touched his cheek, wiping away his tears. "Fullmetal... Edward. I'd never leave you behind."
Ed slowly reached up to touch the hand, but all he felt was his own skin. He lifted his head...
but no one was there.