Chapter Forty-Eight


After only two blocks, Ed passed a large group of soldiers that were set to be sent east to fight against the rebellion. He slowed his pace before stopping altogether and staring at them, but not really thinking about them or the war that they'd soon be fighting in. He was breathing heavily from his sudden and quick dash, and leaned back against a telephone pole to catch his breath. Despite the fact that his body was now at rest, his mind was still racing. Roy. Roy was alive. Roy was at the hospital. Roy. Roy. Roy. A part of him seemed to be screaming in protest at the delay, but his rational mind was starting to take part and it was telling him to slow down because he was going about this all wrong.

Ed studied the soldiers as they received their orders from a strong-looking woman. He was pretty sure she would have kicked any of their asses should any of them dare to breathe without her permission. She was probably a good leader... like Roy...

Roy! Roy! Roy! Have to see Roy! his mind insisted, but Ed pushed the insistent voice away, if only for the moment, and glanced back at Central Headquarters, mentally kicking himself. He'd acted on pure impulse—pure, simple impulse. That wasn't something a good leader did. Good leaders didn't just run off like little kids whenever they wanted to. This was not the way to show how mature and trustworthy he could be.

Fuck trustworthy! Fuck mature! Roy is ALIVE! ALIVE! DO YOU HEAR ME? his mind was screaming. You have to go to him. Now! Have to see him, have to touch him, have to be sure this is real!

"Damnit," he growled, earning the reproachful look of a passing elderly woman. He muttered an apology and looked in the direction of the hospital. Roy was there. He was alive and he was there... ten minutes away at the most... but... but, there were his subordinates to think about. He needed them. After he visited Roy, he'd still need them. He needed their trust, needed their help, and he couldn't have that if he wasn't responsible, if they couldn't trust him.

Closing his eyes, Ed fought with himself, fought with the desperate voice inside of him that urged him on to the hospital, that cried out in protest at having this long awaited reunion postponed. He wanted to give in, but he couldn't. Roy would have to wait an extra hour while he made things right with his subordinates.

Turning back, Ed headed toward headquarters at a swift walk. This wasn't the hardest thing he'd ever done, but it was close, so very close. He needed to see Roy with his whole being, needed to see for himself that Roy was alive, that he was going to be okay. But he had to trust that if Roy really was in that hospital, then he wasn't going to disappear in an hour or two. He'd still be there when Ed could make it there.

And so, back through the military grounds he went, then through the large entry doors. He got some curious stares from the guards and from some others who had seen him run past not long before, but he ignored them. What they thought of him didn't matter. He wasn't here for them.

As he stepped up next to the closed door of his office, Ed tightened his ponytail, brushed at his uniform, took a deep breath, then let it out slowly as he opened the door and walked back into the office.

They were still there; and, as one collective group, they turned and looked at him with unreadable expressions. Clearing his throat in embarrassment, Ed closed the door behind him, then walked to his desk and sat down. He glanced down at the newspaper, knowing he'd need to say something, and also knowing that he was not one for smooth talking or elegant statements.

Looking up at them, he said, "Sorry." Ed paused, trying to come up with something a little more substantial. "I forgot myself. What did you want to talk about?" Ed wasn't sure if that was enough or not, but it would have to do.

They glanced at each other, then looked at Breda, who had started to take a bite of his doughnut. "What?" he asked, his mouth full.

"You're the one who brought this to our attention first," Hawkeye said. "You should be the one to lead." As the rest of them nodded in agreement, Breda scowled slightly, swallowed what was in his mouth, then pointed the half-eaten doughnut at Ed.

"That could'a been a stupid thing; running off like that," he said in disapproval.

"I know," Ed said, inwardly itching to snap back his excuses and reasons, but he kept his emotions in check. It was important that he remain calm and collected.

"What if that article had been'a fake?" Breda punctuated the sentence by taking another bite of the doughnut. Ed opened his mouth, ready to throw 'calm and collected' out the window and defend himself, then he closed it as he caught what Breda had said. Breda had said 'what if', as if he already knew that the article was genuine.

"How do you know it's not a fake?" Ed asked cautiously.

"I stopped at the hospital before coming here," Breda said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, then finished off the doughnut.

Ed leaned forward, eager now. The insistent voice prodding him from the back of his mind, needing to know if Roy was okay, needing to see him and touch him and...

"And how is he?" Ed asked more calmly than he felt.

Breda shrugged. "I didn't get to see him. He's on the secured floor. You know, the place Fuery was taken right after his accident?" Ed nodded slowly, not liking what he was hearing. If Roy was being kept under guard, then Ed would only be able to visit him if he was with someone who ranked higher than colonel.

"But he's alive for sure?" Ed asked, insistent now.

"As far as I could tell. That old, red-headed bitch, Tabitha Crenshaw, wouldn't tell me much, but I think it's safe to say that he's alive." Breda snatched another doughnut out of the box on the coffee table and sat back, obviously finished.

"I don't think the military would tell the press he was alive, if he wasn't," Havoc put in. "It would just make them look like dumb-assess." Ed smiled, knowing that Havoc was right. If military representatives had met with the press in such a straight-forward way, then it had to be true.

Ed glanced down at the paper, then back up again, and said quietly, "I want to see him."

Hawkeye gave him a sympathetic look. "We all would like to see him, but he's under guard, and the only people who can see him are superior officers and family."

Ed thought it over; trying to come up with strategies to break into Roy's room undetected, then sighed heavily. If he was caught, that wouldn't go over so well with his superiors or with his subordinates. All this being mature and sensible stuff sucked ass, and he'd say as much too if he didn't think it would cause problems for him.

"Do you think it would be a problem if I just went down to the hospital and asked around anyway?" Ed asked more calmly than he felt. He wanted to just tell them he was going down there and they couldn't stop him, but he thought this was the most polite way to get what he wanted without causing a problem.

"Depends," Havoc said. "If you go down there and cause a scene, and throw a fit because they won't let you in, then yeah, it's a problem."

Ed frowned in annoyance and watched as Hawkeye looked at him and whispered, "Jean..." Ed thought he'd been nice and polite. Would it kill Havoc to be the same?

Havoc returned her look. "What?" he asked defensively.

Hawkeye shook her head as if warning him off of something, then looked at Ed. "I doubt it will be a problem if you just go down there and talk with them, but don't expect that they'll let you in. They probably won't."

"And don't break in," Breda put in.

"Or beat anyone up," Falman said from where he'd been watching the conversation without previous comment.

"Or blow anything up," Havoc grunted.

Ed smoothed out the annoyance he knew was on his face and muttered, "I'll... behave..." Or, at least, he'd try. If he had to break in, then he'd just be sure to do it in a way that they'd never find out. No big deal.

He looked at each of them, trying to gauge what was going on with them. He wasn't always the best at reading people, but he didn't want to leave until he was sure his earlier lapse of control had been forgiven. He needed them too much to lose them, especially on something that could have been avoided.

"Well?" Havoc asked irritably.

"Well what?" Ed responded.

"You going to go, or what?"

Ed stood. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm going," he said calmly, even as his mind yelled at him to get the hell out of that office to see Roy. He looked at them again, then added, "I'm... I'm sorry. I know I said it before, but I am. I didn't mean to just take off like that."

Hawkeye gave him a small smile. "You came back rather quickly. I think, under the circumstances, we can understand." Perhaps she could be that forgiving, maybe even Falman could be too. Unfortunately, Havoc looked anything but forgiving, and Breda looked as if he would let it slide, but wasn't too happy about it.

"Thanks," Ed said. There wasn't much more he could do now anyway. He'd apologized and they'd all talked. Whatever Havoc or Breda might think about him right now would have to be repaired more in the future, or perhaps time would take care of it. But Ed had done all he could and right now if he didn't get to that hospital, Ed was sure he'd explode.

And so, with that, Ed walked out of the room and down the hall. He didn't run this time, but kept a steady pace that took him out of Central Headquarters a lot slower than last time, but in a more mature manner. He resisted the urge to start running once he was out on the sidewalk, instead pulling out a cigarette and lighting up as he kept up the pretense that he was dignified in some way.

Several blocks and three cigarettes later, Ed found himself walking through the main hallway of the hospital's high-security wing. As he approached the desk, Ed instantly recognized the two women behind the counter. The first was the young, brunette woman he recognized from when Fuery had been in the hospital. Only at that time she'd worked on a less secured floor they'd moved him to later in his stay. Ed was a little embarrassed that he still didn't know her name. The second was an older woman with fiery-red hair, and what must have been three coatings of makeup on her face. Tabitha Crenshaw. Ed remembered her from the last time he'd been on this floor, but only knew her name from Breda today.

It was the younger woman who saw him first. She grinned at the sight of him. "Well, hello, stranger. It's been quite a while."

"Yeah, it has," Ed said, returning her smile. He liked her, and not just because she thought he was good looking. She was so nice and friendly. Hopefully he'd be able to get some information from her about Roy. "I didn't know you worked this floor."

"I transferred here a while ago. Better hours and pay."

Ed nodded, and tried to ignore the fact that the older woman was now looking at him suspiciously. She obviously didn't like him, but that was fine since he didn't really like her either. Better to just ignore her for now and try to get the younger one to talk.

"I'm actually here to see someone," he said, wanting to get down to business. The back of his mind was still screaming at him, telling him he had to find some way to see Roy. No matter what it took, he had to make it happen. And he would try. But Ed also didn't want to do anything reckless. He'd already said he wouldn't, had already worked to get his subordinates to trust him. He had to keep that trust, but restraining himself now that he was here felt like agony.

"Colonel Mustang?" she asked knowingly.

Just hearing Roy's name sent the voice in the back of his head into overdrive, and he felt himself starting to sweat uncomfortably under his uniform. He wanted to yell out, 'Yes, lady! Mustang! Colonel Roy fucking Mustang! I'm here to see him, so tell me where he is before I break into every damned room to find him!' But he held himself back with an effort and instead grinned and touched his cheeks and forehead.

"Is it written on my face?" he asked more casually than he felt. If he played this right, maybe she'd answer his questions; and maybe, just maybe, he'd get her to let him see Roy.

She laughed in amusement and shook her head. "No, but I remember that you and he used to visit the same patient."

The older lady—Nurse Crenshaw—stepped up, eying Ed critically. "You're a lieutenant colonel," she said, stating the obvious.

"Yes," Ed confirmed. "I'm Lieutenant Colonel Edward Elric, and I'd like to see Colonel Mustang, if I can." Then added a belated "ma'am" in an effort to try sweetening her up.

"You family?" she asked, though by her tone Ed suspected she already knew the answer.

"I..." he began, then trailed off. No... he wasn't technically family, but Roy was his lover... Ed swallowed, suddenly realizing that no matter where this relationship took them, they would never be considered 'family' by outside forces. Even if what they had could be known by everyone, legally they weren't anything. They were just two men living together in the same apartment who just happened to be sharing the same bed. Never mind that they had all the same feelings any two people of the opposite sex could have with each other.

"No..." he said quietly, feeling a wave of depression and disappointment wash over him. This wasn't going to work. Ed might have been able to get some information out of the younger girl, but this woman... there would be no getting past her.

"Only family and superior officers are allowed to visit patients on this floor," Crenshaw said bluntly with no hint of remorse that she had to turn him away. In fact, there seemed to be a twinge of satisfaction over the fact that, no matter his rank or how important he might be outside of this hospital wing, she could tell him to get lost and have the full backing of the military. The younger woman was looking at him with a bit of pity, but she said nothing. Ed almost wished she would, but he knew it wouldn't make a difference.

Ed clenched his fists and gritted his teeth, holding in the tirade of anger and frustration that was welled up inside of him. Roy was here! On this floor! And this bitch was keeping them apart. He breathed in a slow, deep breath, then another. Causing a scene here would only backfire on him. He'd known there was a possibility they wouldn't let him in, that he wouldn't get to see Roy, but...



He'd find a way. He'd go outside, have a smoke, and think about how he was going to do this. There had to be a way!

"Yeah... okay," he said dejectedly.

"If there's nothing else, you'll have to leave," Crenshaw said briskly.

"Yeah. Thanks," Ed muttered.

He was about to turn and leave, when the younger woman's eyes widened slightly as if she'd just remembered something. "What did you say your name was again?" she asked.

"Edward Elric."

"Fullmetal Alchemist Edward Elric?" she asked. Ed blinked in surprise, but nodded. The young woman turned to Crenshaw and said, "Don't we have that letter from that general from East City?"

The older woman frowned deeply, then began going through some papers before pulling a paper from an envelope and reading it over. She looked at Ed, then back at the letter, then back at Ed again.

"You know General Grumman?" she asked shortly.

Ed shook his head in confusion, not sure what this had to do with anything. "I've never met him, but I know Colonel Mustang worked under him for a time."

Crenshaw grunted, pulled out a sealed letter, and handed it to Ed without a word. He opened it, curious as to what it said, then read it over quickly.

Lieutenant Colonel Elric,

I have written the hospital and given my express
permission for you to visit Colonel Mustang, as a
favor to my dear sister, whom I have heard you
have been most kind to.


Ed read and reread the letter in disbelief. General Grumman's sister... Their landlady! Of course! He'd known that she was related to General Grumman, but it hadn't really been of any importance to him before, so he hadn't even thought about it until now. Ed grinned widely as he read the letter again. He'd have to do something extra special for that woman!

Taking a look at the page behind the short letter, Ed found a formal document with Grumman's permission neatly typed. He suspected it was a copy of the letter Nurse Tabitha Crenshaw held in her hand. He folded the letter and slipped it into a pocket inside his jacket, but kept the letter of permission out, then looked up at the nurse expectantly.

"Which room is Ro—Colonel Mustang's?" he asked, quickly covering his excitement induced slip. Crenshaw scowled, obviously displeased at having her strict rules circumvented.

"Picture ID first," she said briskly. After producing his identification, Crenshaw looked over it, scowled deeper, then took the letter of permission Ed held and read over it quickly before adding a note with her signature at the bottom. "He's in room 638," she grunted, then thrust the paper back at him. "Show this to the guards."

Ed wiped his hand—which was sweating and almost shaking with excitement—on his jacket, then took back the paper with a nod, glancing at the younger nurse who was smiling now. She winked at him, which made him smile more. He didn't think she knew about him and Roy, but he could tell that she was genuinely glad that this had worked out.

"Thanks," he said to her in a soft voice, then turned and started down the hall at a brisk walk. It was all he could do not to run, but he didn't want to cause a scene where anything out of the ordinary could be seen as suspicious. Anything suspicious might delay him seeing Roy; and, if that happened, Ed thought he might explode. So he walked as fast as his legs would take him, glancing at the numbers on the doors as he passed.

Time seemed to slow down when he wanted it to speed up. His feet weren't moving fast enough, the doors were going by too slowly, the air seemed stale and hard to breathe, even though he could feel it lightly moving against his skin as he rushed forward. And then, finally, Ed found the door he was looking for. As he approached, Ed slowed his step. There were two sets of guards at the door, and none of them looked particularly friendly. They all had the look of four strict men, very determined to do their job to the letter of the law.

One of them—a tall, well-built sergeant with dark skin and short cropped hair—stepped forward as it became clear that Ed was heading for them. The man looked Ed over quickly, and it seemed as if he was torn between reacting to Ed by his age or by his rank. Finally the sergeant stopped, saluted, then dropped his hand and said, "Sir, is there something my men and I can do for you?"

"I'm here to see Colonel Mustang," Ed said without preamble. His body temperature was rising in nervousness and excitement. This man was in his way, was delaying his reunion with Roy, and what he really wanted to do was tell the man to fuck off, but he reminded himself... protocol... be mature... act your rank, if not your age...

The sergeant's eyes flicked to the stars and stripes on Ed's shoulder, then looked back into Ed's eyes. "I'm sorry, sir. Unfortunately, I can't allow that."

Ed took in a deep breath through his nose, holding back the string of obscenities and instead holding out the letter. "General Grumman from Eastern Headquarters has given permission."

Taking the letter, the sergeant scanned it quickly, pressed his lips together, then looked back at Ed. "I'll have to confirm this, sir. Please wait here." Without waiting for an answer, the man walked quickly the way Ed had come. It was an effort not to clench his fists or grit his teeth in pure frustration. The signatures were right there! Even the bitch at the nurse's station had signed it! Why couldn't they just get the fuck out of his way?

He looked at the other guards, who quickly glanced away from him and stared straight ahead. Ed grunted and started to pace, no longer able to hold in all the energy pent up inside of him. He'd had enough of this being calm and mature shit. Roy was right beyond that door. After all this time, Ed would finally be able to see him and touch him... maybe even throttle him for causing him all this anguish! But here he was, stopped at the very end because of rules, regulations, and mother-fucking red tape.

Still, Ed couldn't fault the sergeant either. The man was doing his job. He was charged to protect Roy, and he was doing that to the best of his ability. There was a small part of Ed that did feel grateful, but it was outweighed at the moment by his annoyance.

"Sir?" Ed spun around to see that the sergeant had returned. "I have confirmed with General Grumman that this indeed came from him." The sergeant held the document out to Ed, which he took, folded, and slipped in his jacket with the other letter.

"I can go in now?" Ed asked, knowing he sounded annoyed and impatient, but not caring anymore.

"Yes, sir," the sergeant said with a calm patience that grated on Ed's nerves.

Ed nodded and turned toward the door. Excitement was coursing through every vein in his body and he felt a slight tremor in his hand as he reached out and grasped the door handle. His heart beat quickly inside his chest and his stomach felt like butterflies were fluttering around inside, making him feel slightly nauseated. And then, with a quick breath, Ed opened the door and walked inside, shutting the door quickly behind him.

The room was dimly lit, and his eyes took a moment to adjust. Ed instantly focused on the bed; or, rather, the man in the bed. Roy laid there with eyes closed and a book lying open on his stomach. His hair was tousled the way Ed remembered it always being first thing in the morning. It was such an intimate detail that Ed smiled a little, and then a lump formed in his throat and his eyes burned, making him blink quickly.

Roy... it was Roy, and he was alive! Gratitude and relief flooded over him, making him feel a little weak after the pent up feelings of excitement and anxiety. Ed swallowed, wanting to clear his throat, but also not wanting to wake Roy if he was asleep.

He needn't have worried about it because a moment later, without opening his eyes, Roy said, "Whoever you are, go away. I don't have anything to say." He sounded tired and a little weary, like someone who had been asked the same question over and over again by an obnoxious child. Yet, despite that, Ed felt elated to hear Roy's voice again. It had been so long...

Stepping forward, Ed couldn't keep a smile off his face as he said, "With all due respect, sir—I refuse." Instantly, Roy's eyes popped open and he glanced over in surprise and disbelief to where Ed was standing.

"Ed..." Roy whispered, almost as if he doubted what his eyes were telling him was true. His gaze moved over Ed's body hungrily, like a starving man or one left too long out in the desert only to be offered an oasis flowing over with pure water. Ed brought his hand up in a salute with a smile, then blinked again. This brought a small smile from Roy and he said, "I love it when you salute me."

"Pervert," Ed said fondly. Ed saluting Roy had been a little bit of a kink, something associated with foreplay, since Ed usually balked at the idea of saluting Roy seriously; but now the salute felt like something a little more personal and private, something that spoke volumes about how Ed felt. Roy looked over Ed again, his eyes resting on Ed's shoulders, then his smile faltered for just a moment before it came back.

"Come here," Roy commanded softly. Ed dropped his hand and instantly moved the rest of the way to the bed. Roy looked him over again, and this time Ed could detect a glint of worry in those dark eyes; worry, and something else that he couldn't quite make out. Ed began to lean down, eager to feel Roy's lips against his own, then stopped when Roy gave a slight shake of the head and glanced toward the door, then back at Ed with a meaningful look.

Ed understood instantly and stood up straight, resentful at being denied this most basic thing, but also knowing that Roy was right. Someone walking in at the wrong moment could be a disaster for them both.

"You're the last person I expected to see here," Roy said, not in displeasure and definitely curious. "They weren't allowing anyone to come see me, and have been keeping all outside information from me."

With a sigh, Ed pulled up a chair and sat down beside the bed. "We didn't even know you were here until today."

Roy nodded thoughtfully. "I've been here the whole time; at least, that I know of. They've been very secretive. Haven't let me make any phone calls, or leave the room at all. For a while I think they were debating on whether or not to just let me die, but it seems like they thought they'd be able to get more use out of me alive than dead. And by the time they realized I wasn't going to talk, too many people knew I was alive. Eventually something would leak out unless they forcibly silenced everyone. Apparently they thought that was too messy of a solution to cover up my death."

As Roy talked Ed felt a kernel of anger begin to develop inside of him. The military might have gone ahead and just let Roy die? He pressed his lips together, working hard not to interrupt, then finally said, "Who? Who was it that was keeping you here? Who would have let you die?" Ed could hear the fury in his tone, but it was hard to hold it back. There was a long moment where Roy silently studied Ed's face, then reached out and touched the stars and stripes on Ed's shoulder.

"Tell me about this," Roy said, obviously changing the subject. "Why are you a lieutenant colonel? Who promoted you?"

Ed narrowed his eyes angrily. Just like Roy! To change the subject when he didn't want to tell something. Well... two could play at that game... Ed reached up and took Roy's hand, holding it in his own for a moment, then squeezed it and set it back on the bed.

"The military just released news of you to the press today. Does that mean you'll be moved off this floor soon, or even be released to go home?" Roy gave Ed a look of annoyance, most likely at having his questioning parried by the same type of evasion, then sighed.

"Either is possible," he said vaguely. "What's been happening with my office and with the military while I've been cooped up in here? What news is there on the civil war in the east? Who's been filling in for me while I've been gone?"

Ed's anger flared and he felt blood rush to his face as he realized that the only thing they were doing was verbally evading each other. He very nearly bit out an angry retort just to put a stop to it, but instead he stood up, turned his back on Roy and folded his arms. He would not be drawn into an argument. Not here. Not now. He was going to remain calm... calm... He closed his eyes, letting the worst of the anger pass, then turned to look at Roy—who looked as though he was steeling himself for an outburst from Ed.

"I was so worried about you," Ed finally said in a soft tone. He would be calm. He would keep his voice down. He was not going to fight. Not here. Not now. Not after it had been so long since they'd seen each other. "You were gone and I didn't know if you were alive or dead. The last time we spoke before I went to Dublith... we fought. I don't want to fight now."

Roy frowned and studied Ed warily, then gave a wry smile. "I don't want to fight either. It just seems to come naturally to us, doesn't it?"

Ed sat back down. "I'm still annoyed that you're keeping things from me, but..." He thought about all the time that Roy had been gone and how much he'd missed him. All the things Ed had done wrong while trying to do right, and all that he'd learned from it. He also thought about what he'd learned from the strategy class he was currently taking and about what his teacher, Jacobs, had taught him so far.

"But I understand," Ed finally finished. "I don't like it, but I understand. Just..." He stopped, trying to decide the best way to say what he wanted to say, then said, "Just, remember that I'm not a kid anymore. You can't protect me. I'm an adult, and I'm a soldier, just like you. If I can do something, let me do it. Let me be part of the team."

Roy gave Ed a wary look, then glanced up at the ceiling silently for a time before saying, "I'm sorry I worried you."

That was all Ed was going to get, and he knew it, but at least he'd said what he'd wanted to say without starting a fight. Only time would tell if anything would change. Perhaps Roy was worried that Ed wasn't trustworthy enough, but Ed would show him that he'd changed, that he was still changing. He could be trusted. He'd just have to prove it.

"Yeah well... don't do it again," Ed muttered.

Roy smiled, then glanced over at Ed. "There is so much I want to say, so much I..." He trailed off and his eyes traveled longingly over Ed's body. "But there will be time for that later."

Ed nodded, understanding. There was so much he also wanted to say, and so much he wanted to do, but he could wait until Roy wasn't being watched so closely. At least he knew that Roy was alive, and that was enough for now.

"I need to rest," Roy said wearily, closing his eyes for a moment, then opening them slowly to look back at Ed. His voice was strained and exhausted. There was also a note of regret there. "Will you come back again?"

"Yeah," Ed said softly. He hesitated before standing up. I want you... I need you... I think I might even love you... Ed thought as he looked down at Roy. He wanted to say all those things, but who knew who might be listening. And so, instead of speaking, Ed gave Roy another salute, hoping that Roy might read some of his thoughts in that one small action. There was a small smile, then Roy brought his fingertips to his forehead for a brief moment, returning the gesture.

Dropping his hand, Ed turned on his heel and walked out of the room. He didn't acknowledge the guards as he left, nor did he look toward the nurses on his way out. His mind was too full of the far-too-brief meeting he'd had with Roy.

At first, all he could think about was touching Roy and being with him. He thought about when Roy would be released and they'd be able to be alone with each other to talk and touch freely, then his thoughts went over all the questions he should have asked about Roy's health. Where had Roy been shot? How well was he recovering? Was anything permanently damaged? And then, finally, his mind slowly turned to the actual conversation.

Someone in the military, perhaps a lot of someones, wanted Roy dead. Ed stopped as he reached the sidewalk and pulled out a cigarette. He lit up, took a drag, and exhaled slowly as he thought. He needed to find out who it was who wanted to kill Roy, needed to find out who had shot him in the first place, especially if it was someone in the military. Ed wasn't about to lose Roy again. He would protect Roy, even if the fucking bastard didn't want him to.

Roy stared at the door for a long time after Ed left. Their reunion hadn't been everything he'd dreamt about for most of the time he'd been shut up here. Of course, most of those dreams had involved both of them on the hospital bed, lips locked, cocks rubbing together, and noises of pleasurable moans—or any variety of those things—which were completely out of the question given the current situation. But on a realistic level it had at least been acceptable.

Ed didn't seem to be pissed off anymore about the fight they'd had before he'd left, which was a plus for Roy since a pissed off Ed could be troublesome and unreliable. And even though Ed seemed upset at still being kept in the dark, he was taking it rather well.

Almost too well, Roy thought, and closed his eyes, bringing up the memory of the Ed who had just visited him. Slightly taller, with hair pulled back into a high ponytail, and the rank of lieutenant colonel sitting on his shoulders, Ed looked physically different, but it wasn't just that. There was a maturity to Ed's eyes that hadn't quite been there before. He was learning and growing on an emotional and mental level. He even held himself a little differently; the way someone with authority would hold themselves.

And the way Ed had handled himself had also been different. Roy had seen the quick and expected anger play out over Ed's face, and he'd watched as Ed had forced himself to remain calm and collected. It had been a valiant effort, and while not perfect, it was commendable and much better than Ed would have done before.

Roy could feel himself starting to sink into the recesses of sleep. The pain medication left him constantly drowsy, but he struggled to stay awake as his mind was consumed by thoughts of Ed. So many differences, and yet the change in rank... that stuck out in Roy's mind with a sharpness that almost pained him.

There was no way Ed had earned the rank. He wasn't a leader of men. And the idea of Ed buying his promotion was almost laughable—the same with it being given as a gift for some favor. Whatever had brought this about, Roy was sure Ed was in great danger. He needed to get out of this damned hospital and find out what was going on. He needed to protect his interests, his goals, his subordinates, and his lover. Roy felt urgency sink into him and grip him tightly for a moment before he finally let his body and mind relax, and lost himself to the blissful nothingness of sleep.


I have to admit I'm very excited to get this chapter out. I have been waiting a long time (as have some of you!) for the moment when Roy and Ed would see each other again, and for when Roy would be reintroduced back into the story. I never meant for it to take quite so long before bringing him back, but really I just hadn't realized that it would take so many chapters to get through everything I wanted to get through before I brought him back.

But anyway, like I said, I'm excited to finally have this out to you. I have been extremely busy of late, but I do still continue to work on this story. I'd like to thank all of you for your patience and also those of you who have sent encouraging comments. I can't say when I'll update again, life keeps me head-spinningly busy right now, but there will be more to come in the future.