You Jump First
By Fae Elric, the Steel Alchemist
A/N: This was inspired by a real-life story that my friend's mom briefly told me about the other day that took place in WWII (I think). The only big difference that I can tell you about at this point is that the couple in the real-life version was hetero, and well, this one's not. (As if you people didn't already know that. If you can read a summary, you can figure out what's going to happen. Kinda.)
Disclaimer: I in no way own the real thing, but I do own this little story you're about to read. I kinda wish that it would happen to me… key word there being "kinda". You'll see.
There were about fifteen hundred passengers aboard the ferry that day. Two of them, both of them State Alchemists, as it were, stood at the railing, looking down into the impossibly blue depths of the sea. The shorter of the two, a blonde named Edward, thought that the sea reminded him of his lover's eyes: a blue almost as dark as obsidian, but warm and inviting nonetheless.
Said man stood beside him, thinking that the sunlight reflecting off the dark water reminded him of Edward's eyes. Fiery, golden, intense.
Ed hoisted himself up onto the lowest rung on the railings. "Hey, Roy, check that out!" Roy's eyes followed the path of Ed's outstretched arm. Dolphins were swimming next to the boat, jumping and flipping out of the water with ease. He smiled at the carefree-ness of it all. Here he was, standing on a ferry out in the middle of the sea with his golden lover under the warm sunlight. Nothing could get better.
Well, maybe they could, actually.
Roy's hand traveled down to his pocket for the millionth time that day. He had never felt so nervous about anything in his entire life.
It must have showed on his normally impassive face. "Anything wrong, Roy?" Ed asked. "You look kinda nervous about something."
"Huh? No," he said quickly, almost defensively. "I-I just don't want you to fall off the edge of the boat, that's all." He offered a somewhat weak smile.
Fullmetal smiled back at him; any fool could see that there was nothing but love shining in those aureate eyes. "Don't worry. The only way I'm getting in that water is if you jump first."
Roy's smile grew more confident. You see? He's completely in love with you, a voice remarked in his mind.
I know, Roy told it while returning his gaze to the cerulean waters below. But that doesn't change anything.
The voice sighed. Still nervous?
Naturally. I've never done this before. I don't have any idea what he's going to say.
You shouldn't worry, the voice said. It'll be fine.
I hope you're right.
Of course I'm right. I am part of you, after all.
Flame's lips twisted into an amused smirk. But the voice was right. Everything would turn out all right. He would see to that.
Fiddling once more with the white gold ring in his pocket, Roy turned to Edward. "Hey, I've got a question for you."
Ed lifted his eyes to meet Roy's. "Hm? What is it?"
Fervently wishing that his heart would stop pounding so fast, he asked, "Edward, will you--" An air-splitting explosion drowned out the rest of his sentence. Smoke was billowing out from the middle of the ship. Many of the passengers began stampeding their way to the lifeboats, crowding around them, determined to get off the ferry alive in case it were to go down.
"What the hell was that?" Edward yelled over the screaming passengers.
"I don't know, but it sounded like it came from the storage rooms below deck," Roy told him. He pushed his way through the crowd (keeping a firm grip on Edward's hand) towards a lower ranking sailor who was making his way back to the control room. "You there!" he shouted. "What just happened?"
"I'm sorry sir," the man said. "But I'm not at liberty to discuss it with civilians."
Roy's face contorted in anger at being so blatantly defied. He whipped out his pocket watch and nearly shoved it in the sailor's face. "Look, dammit! I'm Colonel Roy Mustang, Flame Alchemist. Tell me what just happened!"
The sailor shifted his eyes uncertainly between Roy and Ed, who had also brought out his pocket watch, before finally admitting, "It's the Ishaballan extremists, sir. They were somehow able to smuggle barrels of heavy water on board the ship and detonate them."
"Heavy water? What the hell is that?" Roy demanded.
"Water has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen," Edward answered, "but heavy water has an isotope of hydrogen's called deuterium, changing it from H2O to D2O. It's called 'heavy water' because it's more dense than water. Heavy water is highly explosive; I read somewhere about being able to make a bomb out of it." He turned to the sailor. "How bad is the damage? Is there any chance that we can fix it?"
The sailor shook his head. "I'm afraid not. Even if you could, you wouldn't be able to reach the damage that's been done. The storage rooms are too flooded, and the water is quickly spreading." He looked them both squarely in the eye. "The ship's sinking, and there's nothing anyone can do about it." His words hung heavy in the air. Without another word, he saluted the State Alchemists and made his way to the control room.
"What do we do now?" Edward asked numbly.
Roy looked around the deck and saw that there were too many people and not enough lifeboats for all of them. "I don't know, Ed. We won't be able to get into a lifeboat, I can tell you that much."
"Then we'll have to jump," Ed decided. He began to pull Roy back over to the railing. As they reached the spot where they had been standing only moments before, Roy said, "Ed… I can't swim."
"You've got to be kidding me!" he yelled. Roy could only shake his head. "What do we do know?"
The raven-haired man pondered a moment, coming to a decision fairly quickly. "You jump first," he said. "I'll jump in after you. That way, it'll be easier for you to help me."
Edward swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat as he flung his arms around Roy's neck and held him tight. "We're going to make it out of this okay, aren't we?"
Roy brought his arms up around Ed's waist. "You're going to be just fine, Edward," he said, giving him a quick kiss. He wished it didn't have to be this way, but it was the only way he could hope to save him. "Now go." Edward reluctantly unwound his arms from around his lover and climbed onto the railing. Roy watched sadly as Fullmetal dived gracefully into the water that had already claimed more than a few lives. He could hear the ship groaning as it took on more water, the support beams already beginning to crack.
Ed resurfaced, gasping for the breath the impact on the water had stolen from him. "Roy!" he called. "Jump!"
He watched in horror as Roy shook his head. "I'm sorry, Edward," he told him. "I'm not jumping. If you tried to help me swim we'd both drown. I'm not going to let that happen."
"Don't be an idiot!" Edward shouted at him. "Get down here!"
"I'm not going, Ed. I want you to be able to live, at least."
"No!" Ed screamed. "I--" The words caught in his throat, but he could hear them clearer than anything in his mind. I don't want to live without you, bastard!
Roy winced visibly as another explosion rocked the boat. "Ed, get out of here! If you're still here when this thing goes down, you'll get sucked down, too!"
Gritting his teeth, Ed exclaimed, "Then I'm not going anywhere!" If that's what it takes to stay with you, then I don't care. I don't care!
"You idiot! There's a boat right over there!" Roy pointed to one of the lifeboats that was about a hundred meters away from Ed. "Get the hell out of here!"
"I told you, I'm not leaving!"
"So you'll stay with me and leave your brother? You're the only family he has, Ed! How can he regain what you've lost if you're not there beside him? If you won't take care of each other, no one will!"
Edward felt his eyes fill with unwanted tears. "But--"
"You've got legs, Ed! Get up and use them!" Roy hated to plead, but there was only a little time left before the ship was completely destroyed. "Keep moving forward! Don't look back! Never look back!" He felt the sting of tears, the sting that he hadn't felt in years. He pulled out an ignition glove from his back pocket and slipped it on, placing his fingers in the snapping position. "If you don't move, I'll make you move!"
Edward looked up at him… and knew without a doubt what he was saying was the truth. He knew that look in his love's eyes; it was the look that said, "I'll stop at nothing, not even death." He bowed his head, allowing a single tear to escape. There would be time for that later. For now, he had to move.
"I'll… I'll tell Al that you said hello, okay?"
Roy nodded, knowing that this was as close to a goodbye that he was going to get. "Give everyone back at Central my best, all right?"
Edward only nodded numbly, his throat closed too tightly to speak. And, without a single glance back, he turned and swam towards the little lifeboat that was being rowed quickly away from the sinking ferry.
Roy watched desolately as Edward was pulled into the lifeboat. Then he, too, turned and faced the fires created by the heavy water. If there was a chance that any of the barrels hadn't been detonated, then there was also a chance that an even bigger explosion would occur at any time. He walked slowly, calmly, towards the inferno burning its way outwards. He lifted his hand and snapped in one grand, final gesture. The flames instantly leaped to three times their height as the last barrel of heavy water was discharged. Roy was tossed backwards, the force of the blast forcing him over the railing and into the water. He only had a moment to wonder about how strangely beautiful the fires were before the crushing black oblivion claimed him.
Edward never looked back, not even when he felt the shockwaves of the final explosion.
Not even when he knew that Roy was gone.
They knew him by his golden hair and empty eyes. He didn't say much to anyone, only enough to let them know that no, he wasn't hurt. He was fine.
At least, he would be. Maybe.
A few passengers recognized him as the boy with that stunning man. He didn't even have the will to tell them that he was no boy; he had just turned twenty a few months ago. He only knew that he wanted to die, because then maybe the feeling of his heart, his soul, being ripped to shreds every fucking minute would stop.
They had landed on shore two days beforehand, but Edward didn't feel like phoning Al and telling him where he was. He knew it was selfish of him to let his only family worry like that, but he didn't care. He had just lost the one person who had meant the most to him. He didn't feel like any Hero of the People. He felt…empty.
He was sitting on the shore with his knees pulled up to his chest when a girl of roughly his age sat down next to him. "Here," she said, handing him a roll. "I haven't seen you eat much since we got here."
"Thanks," he murmured. He tore off a small bite and pushed it into his mouth. He didn't feel like eating either, but he knew that if he didn't eat at least a little bit this girl wouldn't leave him alone.
"My name's Aon, by the way," she said brightly.
"Aon, huh? I'm Edward." He stared out at the sea forlornly.
She chuckled. "I know who you are, Mr. Fullmetal Alchemist, Hero of the People. I was just making sure you were taking care of yourself."
Edward sighed. "I guess I haven't been doing a good job of that the past couple of days, have I?" he mused. "I haven't felt like moving at all. I… lost someone very dear to me on the damn boat."
"I figured as much." Aon drew her tan fingers through her long, dark brown hair. "I've seen that look on quite a few people around here, and their stories are all the same."
Ed snorted quietly. "I very much doubt that my story is the same as theirs." He paused before continuing, very hesitantly, "The one I lost told me he couldn't swim, so I should jump off the boat first to help him when he jumped after me." His throat closed up once more, restricting his voice.
Aon stared out at the waves, acting as if completely entranced by them. "Strong breeze, isn't it? Picks up sand and all kinds of stuff."
Edward murmured his agreement as he ran the back of his left hand over his watery eyes.
"You don't have to tell me what happened if you don't want to, Edward," Aon said softly.
"No, it's okay. You're really the only person I've talked this long to in a good while. So I jumped in the water, but when I looked back up at him, he told me wasn't jumping. He only wanted me to get away, even if it meant that he would have to stay behind." I should have known, though, Edward thought. He only told me, "You're going to be just fine," not, "We're going to be just fine." "He's probably dead; I know he caused that last explosion, the really big one."
Aon pondered a moment, her eyebrows furrowing together. "Wait, did this guy of yours have black hair? Dark eyes?"
"Yeah. Why?" Ed asked, wondering if this was one of the colonel's famous ex-girlfriends.
"Some of the other guys went out early this morning to see if there were any other survivors. They actually found someone; it was a man, probably around fourteen years older than you. They said he looked just like the Flame Alchemist-- hey, where are you going?"
Edward had leapt to his feet, sprinting as fast as he could back towards the small house the other survivors used as their temporary HQ until relatives came to get them. There's no way! It couldn't be…could it? Could he have actually made it?
His feet pounded up the porch steps as he slammed his fist on the doorframe. "Hey! Anyone in there?"
An older lady pulled the door open. "Could you please be quiet, sir?" she asked, slightly annoyed that this young man would come barging in, making enough noise to wake the dead. "We've got a patient in here. The search party found him just this morning and he needs some quiet if he's going to get any sleep."
"I completely understand that, ma'am, but can I just see him for a minute?" Please, just let me in! I won't be able to know for sure unless I see who it is…
The elderly woman eyed him for a moment, then nodded to herself. There was something about this young man that she rather liked; she could see that he was deeply in love with someone, possibly the one they had brought in this morning. The poor boy looked as if he were about to fall apart. "All right, but only for a few minutes. And you have to be quiet!" she said, holding the door open for him.
Edward smiled for the first time since the day the boat sank; he hugged the old woman briefly. "Thank you so much!" he grinned, hurrying towards the back of the house, where he knew they kept those in need of medical treatment.
He rounded the corner, not knowing what to expect.
His heart stopped; his brain shut down completely, with the exception of one word.
He was there.
He was alive. Edward could see his chest moving up and down as he slept.
The old woman spoke up from behind him. "It seems that the propellers, instead of sucking him in when he fell into the water, swung him around and back to the surface. They found him barely clinging to a piece of the wreckage."
Her words fell on deaf ears, though, as Edward knelt by Roy's bedside and took one of his hands into his own. "Roy," he whispered. "Roy Mustang, you crazy-ass bastard, it's me."
Roy stirred, slowly opening his eyes and blinking them to adjust to the light. "That you, Ed?"
"What the hell do you think, dumbass?"
Roy smiled a fraction. "Yeah, that's my Ed. How you holding up, kid?"
"I'm fine," Ed told him. "I'm not the one who almost drowned after nearly blowing himself up."
He shrugged. "I was only doing what needed to be done."
"What needed to be done…" Ed echoed hollowly, bowing his head so that his forehead touched their joined hands. "Do you have any idea what you put me through?" he asked softly, unshed tears finally able to flow freely. "I wanted to die."
Roy turned his hand so that he was able to lift Ed's chin. "And now I'm asking you to live. With me. Forever." He reached into his pocket and held up the white gold ring in his left hand. "What do you say? Marry me?"
Edward could only smile as the tears burned paths down his cheeks. "Of course, you asshole."
"And that, dear children, is how Uncle Roy proposed," Edward concluded. Ten years later, the two of them sat on their front porch with Al (restored to his natural body, of course), Winry, and their three children, all of whom were an exact replica of either Al, Ed, or Winry.
"Eew!" The two little boys cringed. "Mushy stuff."
Winry blew her nose for the hundredth time. "Every time, Ed, every time you tell that story it gets to me. It's so--"
"Heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, and uplifting that you can't help but cry," Al, Ed, and Roy chorused simultaneously. "We know."
Winry huffed indignantly. "Well, fine, be that way. Kids, say goodbye to Uncle Ed and Uncle Roy."
"Bye, Uncles!" the boys said together before racing off to the car, debating over who would get to ride shotgun.
"Boys!" Winry called. "Neither of you are-- oh, who am I kidding, the don't listen very well. Reminds me of two boys I used to know," she said, fixing Ed and Al with a very pointed glare.
Ed raised his hands, palm-up, in feigned innocence. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Winry only rolled her eyes. Al laughed.
Trisha, their youngest child and only daughter, said, "Well, I like that story, Uncle Ed."
Ed smiled warmly at the child named after his mother. "Thanks, Trish. Maybe I'll tell it again someday, hm?"
"Don't forget," Roy added, "that when your future husband proposes to you, it's best to call him either a 'crazy-ass bastard' or an 'asshole'."
"Or both," Ed said.
"Oh, you two," Winry sighed exasperatedly. "You'll be the death of me, I swear. Teaching my children cuss words…" She picked up Trisha as she and Al made their way over to their car.
Ed and Roy stood on the porch and waved until they couldn't see the car anymore. As Roy pulled Ed close to him and wrapped his arms around the blonde, he said, "There's something I've been meaning to ask you about, Ed. You still haven't forgiven me for that, have you?"
"Nope," Ed replied, twirling the white gold band around his finger.
"Any chance of forgiveness in the future?"
Roy could only smile.
A/N: The only other difference was that the couple in the real-life version was already engaged. I have no idea about the details of how they met up again, only that the woman couldn't swim, so she tricked her fiancé into jumping first to save his life. If you want more details than that, tell me so in a review, and I'd be happy to get back to you. Also, did anyone catch the girl's name? Aon? "Noa" spelled backwards? I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've seen pictures of Noa, and I needed a female character on the fly, so there you go. Noa's alter. (looks at clock) Holy shit! 12:45! I've got to get to bed…