A/N: This fic is slightly AU, diverging from the storyline after the end of the series. (I haven't seen the movie yet, but I gather it picks up where the series left off.) Other than that, I am trying to stay true to the series, so if you find any errors in that respect, feel free to point them out. The tentative update schedule for this fic is once a week on Sunday. I'll do my best to stick to that.
Warnings: Yaoi, RoyEd eventually. They just work so well, don't they? Possible violence in later chapters, still waffling on that.
Disclaimer: Full Metal Alchemist does not belong, in any way, shape or form to me. I would however be willing to sell my soul, and possibly my cat, for one Edward Elric. 3
:Conversion - Chapter 1:
Edward leaned his head against the window and sighed, breath making a faint cloud on the glass. He watched the land outside sail by, leeched of color by the gray sky and the steady drizzle of rain that seemed to be following him wherever he went. The glass was cold against his skin and he knew it wouldn't be long before the rain turned to snow. A few more weeks would see the land under a white blanket. He didn't mind winter really, even if it did make travel more difficult. There was a quiet sort of peace unique to the winter months that he enjoyed.
The train to Boston was a bit busier than he was used to, crowded full of people heading to the city for some reason or another. The steady hum of conversation over the familiar sounds of the train was grating on his nerves and starting to give him a headache. At least he had been able to keep the seats to himself so far by propping his feet up on the bench across from him and glowering at any passerby who paused too long. Though he was going to have a tough time keeping it up if they picked up any more people at the next station. Knowing his luck, he'd get stuck with some fluff-head bent on starting a conversation. Ed shuddered.
Pulling out his pocket watch, Edward flipped it open, then sighed and tucked it away. They would reach the next station soon, and then it would be at least an hour and a half more to Boston. Turning back to the window, he watched his breath fog the glass for a few moments, then on impulse reached up and traced a simple transmutation circle with a gloved finger. He stared at it for a moment, then closed his eyes and touched his hand to it.
Nothing ever did, and feeling slightly annoyed with himself, Edward wiped it away. He sank down in his seat and stared at his shoes sourly. Why he kept trying alchemy was beyond him. It didn't work in this world, and he knew it. Maybe it was desperation because nothing else had worked either. Ed had traveled the world the last five years and worked with some of the most brilliant scientists in the world, but he wasn't a single step closer to getting home than he was when he started.
It was hard not to get discouraged. Sometimes it felt like everything was happening all over again and Ed was chasing another tenuous dream that kept slipping just out of reach. Time after time solid theories and encouraging research led to nothing at all. Edward knew he should stop getting his hopes up, but it was hard not to. Just as it was equally hard not to let the repeated failures get to him.
Edward was jarred from his thoughts by a screeching of brakes as the train shuddered and slowed, preparing for the upcoming stop. Leaning back, Ed closed his eyes and summoned a picture of Alphonse in his mind's eye. His smile, his eyes, the roundness of his face. Probably not so round anymore. Al would have lost that baby fat by now. He watched his brother in his mind, smiling slightly. That was why he did it. Why he kept chasing shadows and following false leads. He did it because one of them just might lead him back to his little brother some day. That thought alone was worth everything he had gone through. The hope that he might one day see his brother whole again.
"Hey shorty, mind if I sit here?"
Eyes snapping open, Edward rounded on the unfortunate man who had asked that question. "Just who are you calling so short that he-" Ed choked on his words and trailed off, staring at the man in front of him. It felt as though the world had dropped out under him as he stared into very familiar dark eyes. It couldn't be. Edward's mouth moved soundlessly for a moment before he managed to croak out, "Colonel? Roy Mustang?"
Dark eyebrows shot up and the man who looked so much like Mustang cocked his head. "Have...we met?" he asked uncertainly.
Edward blinked at him and sank down into his chair, feeling weak. Of course it wasn't Mustang. His father had mentioned the possibility of there being people on this world who looked like their counterparts on his own. He supposed it was only a matter of time until he ran into someone he recognized. "Sorry," he said, pulling his feet off the seat opposite to give the man a place to sit. "I mistook you for someone I know."
The man settled across from him, regarding the younger man curiously. He really did look like the colonel, Ed mused, still feeling a little off balance. Same face, same eyes. The hair was a little longer, tied back into a short ponytail, but that was the only real difference. The man quirked an eyebrow at him in a manner that was very Mustang. "If you thought I was someone else, how did you know my name?"
Edward gaped at him and received a level stare in return. As if the situation wasn't strange enough, did they really have to have the same name? Honestly. "Your name is Roy Mustang?" Mustang smiled slightly and nodded, making a noise of agreement. "That's...odd." Edward said slowly, suddenly wishing the man would go away.
The smiled widened just a fraction into a very familiar smirk, looking more than a little amused. Ed scowled. The man was insufferable in any incarnation. "And you are?"
Ed blinked and sighed, realizing he wasn't going to get out of a conversation. "Edward Elric," he said shortly, hoping the man would get the point and shut up.
No such luck. "Nice to meet you Edward." He leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees and pinning Ed with an intent stare that he knew very well. It was the stare that said "You aren't getting out of this, so don't even try." He sighed and returned the stare with a sullen glare that didn't seem to faze Mustang in the slightest. "Now I don't suppose you'd mind telling me how you know me?"
"It's a long story," Ed said with a sigh. "You wouldn't believe me anyway." Which was very true.
"Well, we still have a good hour and a half to Boston so I think I have more than enough time to listen to a long story. As for whether or not I'll believe you..." he shrugged. "I can't really say until you tell me, can I?"
Edward glared at him, but Mustang just smiled and sat back, waiting. Oh hell, who was he kidding? He'd never win a contest of wills with that man. Not that he would ever admit that out loud. "You'll think I'm nuts," he grumbled irritably. He pressed his hands together, warm flesh against cold metal beneath his gloves. He glanced up at Mustang. Why not? Worst case, the man would just write him off as a crazy. "What would you say if I told you I wasn't from this world?"
That earned him a raised eyebrow. "As in...a Martian?"
Ed had to laugh at that. "Not quite. I'm still human, just not from this world. I traveled here through the Gate in order to save my brother. In the the world I come from, there's a man who looks just like you. Also named Roy Mustang." Ed picked at his glove, peering at the other man from under his bangs, but Mustang said nothing, nodding for him to continue.
After a moment of consideration he pulled off his right glove, holding out the hand for Roy to inspect. "It's called automail," he told him, curling the metal fingers around Mustang's when the other man touched it. To his credit, his only response was a slight widening of his eyes. "Or rather, a poor imitation. I was only sixteen when I first arrived here and once I grew a little the automail I had needed replacing, so I did the best I could with what I had." That had been a nightmare. Trying to imitate what Winry had made him when he had never payed much attention to how automail was built was no easy task. The end product was serviceable, but by no means up to par with what he was used to.
He withdrew his hand, slipping his glove back into place. "I guess the best place to start would be the beginning." Edward sighed, looking into the dark eyes of the colonel-but-not. "Have you ever heard of alchemy?"
"And here I am." Edward said with a sigh. His throat felt raw and dry and he swallowed with a grimace. Hazards of talking nonstop for over an hour he supposed. Mustang was silent as he had been for nearly the entire story, eyes distant and thoughtful. Ed was actually surprised the man had let him get through the entire thing. Even he had to admit it sounded like the ravings of a lunatic as far as the people of this world were concerned.
When it became apparent that Mustang wasn't going to say anything immediately, Ed turned his attention to the window, blinking when he realized they were already in Boston. The train was crawling along, and while Edward couldn't see the station yet, he knew it would probably only be a few minutes more.
He glanced back at Mustang, frowning when he realized the man was watching him, that damnable smirk on his face. "What?"
"I was just thinking. That colonel of yours was quite a man, wasn't he?"
Edward rolled his eyes. If an ego was a physical thing, Mustang's would probably be smothering him right about now. "Yeah," he admitted reluctantly. "He was something. Wouldn't surprise me one bit if he was Fuhrer by now." The smirk widened, and Ed scowled. "Doesn't change the fact that he's a bastard though, and so are you."
Mustang laughed at that, shaking his head with a genuine smile. "Very forward with your opinions, aren't you?" Before Ed could answer, the other man nodded to the window. "Looks like we're here."
Edward blinked and looked out the window, watching as the train pulled into the station. Boston. He wasn't even sure why he was there, except that he had needed to get out of New York. The last thing he wanted was to be trapped in that city for another winter, even if he was at something of loose ends. There was nothing promising at the moment that he hadn't already pursued. So, on a whim that morning he had decided to pack his bags and go somewhere else. He hadn't even decided where until he had gotten to the train station.
He stood up and grabbed his suitcase from where he had tucked it under the seat, waiting until the car cleared a little before making his way off the train as Mustang trailed behind him. The sudden shock of cold air as he stepped onto the platform caught him by surprise, and he pulled his coat tighter around him. Edward paused, feeling a little lost. It was the first time he had ever been to Boston and he wasn't really sure where he was going.
Mustang seemed to notice his hesitation and took his arm and led him off the platform and into the terminal, leaning in so he could be heard over all the noise. "Where are you staying?" he asked.
Ed stared down at the polished floor then looked up with a shrug."I hadn't thought that far ahead, actually." That earned him a raised eyebrow and in a burst of childishness Edward stuck his tongue out at the older man. "I kinda left suddenly, don't look at me like that!"
Mustang smirked and Edward scowled, briefly entertaining the merits of kicking the other man. Hard. "You can stay with me if you like."
Ed blinked, not sure he had heard quite right. "Huh?"
"I said you can stay with me if you like," Mustang repeated, leading him down another set of stairs and holding open the door for Edward as they stepped into the cold October air again. "I've got more than enough room for a guest, and honestly," he looked at Edward and grinned. "You've got me curious."
"Curious enough that you're willing to take a stranger home with you? I could be lying you know." Edward mentally kicked himself. Way to go, moron. You get offered a free place to stay, and you argue with him. Genius.
"Maybe," Mustang said, giving him a sidelong look. "Do you realize you called me 'Colonel' four times while you were telling me your story? Well, three. Once I believe it was 'Colonel bastard.'" He smirked.
Puzzled, Edward cocked his head and tried to remember. Had he really? He shrugged and offered a half-smile. "Sorry. I guess I wasn't thinking."
"I know," Mustang said without looking at him, eyes scanning the street for something. After a moment he looked over at Edward. "Which is what, among other things, convinced me that you weren't just spinning me a tale."
Edward was about to ask just what those other things were when a black car pulled up beside them. An older man climbed out, nodding to Mustang. "Well?" he said, waving in return and then looking at Ed. "What do you say?"
Looking down at his shoes, Edward considered. Staying with the colonel-but-not would be strange, to say the least. He frowned, mind working furiously. There was always the possibility that this Mustang and the one he knew were connected somehow. In fact, he would be willing to bet on it. Which meant he might be able to tap into that connection somehow to get home. It was a long shot, he knew that, but it was worth trying. Besides, who was he to say no to a free place to crash? Edward shrugged and grinned. "Why not?"
Mustang seemed pleased by this. He opened the car door for Ed, who slid into the back seat, stowing his suitcase by his feet. The door slammed shut and Mustang climbed in the other side. Once they were settled, he nodded to the driver. "This is Evan. Evan, this is Edward Elric, he'll be staying with us for a while."
The man nodded politely to him, not taking his eyes off the road as he pulled away from the train station. "A pleasure Mr. Elric."
"Ed, please." He said automatically. He hated being called Mr. Elric. That was his father, not him.
"Evan looks out for me, don't you?" Mustang said.
There was a long-suffering sigh from the front seat, and Edward grinned. He knew that sigh. Had heard it from Hawkeye on numerous occasions. It was the sigh that wondered how one ever managed to put up with a certain dark-haired egomaniac. "I do what I can, sir." Mustang grinned and winked at Edward, who found himself smiling back. The man's good humor was infectious. Maybe he wasn't quite the bastard the Roy Mustang he knew was.
The rest of the trip passed in silence, and Edward turned his attention to the world outside the window. The steady drizzle that had followed him from New York seemed to be letting up, he realized, even though the clouds still hung dark and heavy in the sky. Even in the grey light the trees were dazzling shades of red and gold, a sudden gust of wind sweeping leaves from branches as he watched.
Edward glanced over at Mustang, then back out the window. He wasn't sure yet what he would have to do to use the connection between the two. He was certain enough that he would need this Mustang's help to do it, though he didn't think it would be too hard to convince the man. He already seemed genuinely curious about the whole thing as it was. Ed smiled at nothing in particular, suddenly feeling better than he had in ages. Maybe, just maybe, he was finally on to something.
It obviously wasn't far to Mustang's home, because after only a few minutes the car pulled into the drive of a large estate. Edward gaped, turning to glance at the dark-haired man. "You live here?" he asked, incredulous.
The question was met with a smirk. "I told you I had plenty of room."
Edward rolled his eyes. "A bit of an understatement, I think. How many people live in that monstrosity anyway?" Monstrosity was really the only word for the large manor, Ed decided and he peered out the window. He had a sneaking suspicion someone could get lost in there and die of starvation before they found the way out.
"Five," Ed repeated flatly, turning to stare at the other man, who seemed amused by his reaction. "You have got to be joking, Mustang. What a fantastic waste of space."
An elegant shrug and a smile. "Myself, Evan, the maid, the cook, and Kara. Evan is of the opinion I should get married and have legions of children to fill the place out a bit," he said with a wry smile. "Since that isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future, we keep most of the house closed up."
Edward tried to picture Roy Mustang as a family man, but couldn't. Too strange a notion, that. "Who's Kara?" he asked as the car rumbled to a stop.
"My niece," Mustang said, nodding his thanks to Evan as the older man opened the door for him. Edward didn't bother to wait for the man to come around to his side, he hated letting people do things for him. Grabbing his suitcase, he pushed open the door and got out, closing it behind him and coming around to stand with Mustang, still staring at the building looming above him. Damn, but that was a huge house.
"She visiting?" Ed asked, following the other man up the walk.
Mustang shook his head. "No. Her parents died in an accident last year," he sighed, looking suddenly sad and Ed shifted uncomfortably. He hadn't meant to stumble into awkward territory. After a moment Mustang shook his head and smiled slightly. "Having her around certainly makes things livelier."
As if on cue, there was a happy squeal as a dark-haired blur darted around the side of the building and attached itself to Mustang's leg. Ed grinned as the blur resolved itself into a little girl, four, maybe five years old, beaming up at her uncle and babbling happily. She was practically covered in mud from head to toe, but it didn't seem to bother Mustang in the slightest as he picked her up, settling the girl against his hip. "You didn't give Emily too much trouble while I was gone, did you?"
"No!" She chirped, donning that innocent look of a child who had, indeed, been a great deal of trouble but would certainly never admit it.
"She's been an absolute terror," Ed looked up to see a plump, middle-aged woman appear around the corner. She smiled at the little girl with obvious affection, then sighed in exasperation. "Oh Kara, you're getting him absolutely filthy."
She reached out to take the girl, but Mustang waved her off with a smile. "I don't mind, I can always change later. Say hello to our guest, Kara."
Edward smiled as bright green eyes turned on him. She clung to Mustang and smiled shyly at Ed. "Hello."
"Hello," he returned, smile widening when she tried to hide behind her uncle's shoulder. Cute kid.
She peered at him for a moment more from the safety of her uncle's arms before turning to Mustang and saying in a loud whisper. "She's pretty."
Edward took back his previous assessment. She was most certainly not cute. He growled, both at the comment and Mustang's surprised laugh. Taking a deep breath, Ed told himself that she was just a kid and didn't know any better. Just because his hair was long didn't mean he looked like a girl, anyway. Did it? He scowled at the little girl, who was looking back and forth between him and her uncle, confused.
Mustang looked over at him and grinned widely. "Edward is a boy, sweetheart."
"Oh." Kara looked back at Edward thoughtfully, who forcefully reminded himself that killing children was generally frowned up. After a moment she smiled brightly at him and announced, "You're still pretty."
Ed stared. "Um." He looked at Mustang, who's shoulders were shaking with suppressed laughter, then back to the girl in his arms. "Thanks," he said, not really sure if he should take it as a compliment or an insult.
She seemed content with that as Mustang passed her back over to the woman. "Get her cleaned up, would you Emily?" He looked back at Edward as she disappeared into the house, a wide smirk on his lips.
"Stop laughing at me you bastard," Ed growled, and if possible, the smirk only grew.
"I wouldn't dream of it."