Disclaimer: It owns me, not the other way around.

All of Roy's dialogue belongs to ZaKai, the rest is mine.

Our schedules still don't meet up, so I'll be posting my half first. ZaKai's to follow shortly ;D

Chapter 11

An hour after he first awoke, Edward opened his eyes to find Winry sitting in a chair drawn close to his bed. He recognized his arm lying in her lap as she worked intently. A small, soft smile came unbidden to his face as he silently watched her work.

Throughout his life, Winry had been there. Annoying at times and down right brutal with a wrench, she was still a constant in his life. She was forever concerned about his well being in the most volatile way, but for all the terrorizing and yelling she held a special place in his heart.

He'd never, ever, even on his death bed, tell her that.

The moments passed without disruption. Winry working with complete concentration on her task and him languidly watching her sure hands move. It wasn't until she dropped a screw to bounce on the floor, did she notice that he was awake.

"Edward? How long have you been awake?" she wondered.

He could only shift his head slightly and blink tiredly in answer. His whole body felt abused and achy.

"Hm, are you in pain?" she wondered. Winry lifted his auto-mail out of her lap and placed it on the bedside table, carefully making sure that it wouldn't crash to the floor before she turned her attention to him.

Ed thought about that. He felt a lot of things right now, but was it pain per se? Might not be right now, but he could tell that this tingly, floating feeling wouldn't last forever, so he tilted his head slightly in affirmative.

"Okay, I'll go get something for you. We're reducing your dose, though. You'll have a few days to rest up, and then we'll attach your arm."

While Winry spoke, his eyes closed, weary from his ordeal. He barely heard the door open to his room and then he knew no more.

They had him up and on his feet the next day despite his grumpy, scratchy-voiced complaining. He made one circuit around his bedroom, down the hall to the washroom, where he had a rest using the toilet and then back to bed. That little bit of effort left him winded and exhausted to the point that he hit the pillow in a deep sleep. Four hours later, he was shaken awake and made to walk the same route. Before he was allowed to fall asleep again, he was given a lightly spiced beef broth and a glass of orange juice.

For the rest of the day and into the next he was made to get out of bed, stiff and sore, to walk and move. It was hell. But Ed knew that it was for his benefit, so he tried really hard to curb his forked tongue when all it wanted to do was hiss and flicker at those around him. He kept his mouth shut, walked, ate, and slept as the evil women he called family dictated. By the end of the third day, his walk didn't cause him to fall into a sleep almost immediately. He counted it as progress.

Through it all, his interrupted sleep and forced marching, he thought about Roy. Their first time together kept playing itself out in his minds eye. He began to wonder what Roy would do once he got his letter. Would he write back or just ignore him? With the way things had been going between them he wasn't sure anymore what Roy would do.

And he really wanted to call, even though he was groggery all the time, but he didn't know what Roy might do then. The fact that he'd even agreed to let Ed call was a privilege he wasn't willing to risk. When—if he heard from Roy; that would be the sign that he could ring him up. Until then however, he had walking, sleeping, eating and more walking to deal with.

Five days after his corrective surgery, Ed got his arm back. It felt even worse then the procedure to fix the port. His nerves burned along his entire body as he re-accustomed himself with the arm. Through the debilitating pain he wondered what had happened to his letter and if Roy had gotten it yet. Would Roy answer him? And Al wouldn't let him forget it, either.

"I think you should just call him," said Al. Ed growled low in his throat. "I mean, you need to work on your communication at some point, why not now?"

"'Cause…I'm…not…fuck off," panted Ed through gritted teeth. Why did Al have to start this now of all times? He had been patient. He held his tongue. Why did Al have to jump on his literary frayed nerves at a time like this? While he was stuck in bed and hurting over having his arm back, Al had to badger him with this now? If ever his New Year's resolution was tested… He was irritable and in pain, Al knew that!

"Al…leave me alone," said Ed, barely getting the words out. He turned his face into the pillow already soaked through with sweat; turning away from his brother.

"Roy should have gotten your letter by now—"

"Seriously, Al…leave me alone," pleaded Ed. He really didn't want to have to kill his brother after all the hard work he did to get his body back. He rolled his head back to look at Al sitting on the chair that was permanently drawn up to his bed.

"Alphonse, you know better," Pinako's stern reprimand came from the door to their room. Al reluctantly left his seat and made his way over to Pinako. The murmur of conversation washed over Ed in a buzz of sound and then they were gone. He could feel the approaching fever and dreaded it. He hated getting fevers. He hated being weak. He hated that he was missing Roy so much… He really did miss him so much…

The letter came late two days later. Being rural meant that the post arrived by carriage late in the evenings. Even racked with fever, Ed was being made to walk around the house. So it was while Ed—with Al at his left elbow for support—was heading into the kitchen that he saw the vivid green post carriage pull up to the house by two large Clydesdales.

Almost immediately, Ed's heart was in his throat. It was insane to hope that Roy had mailed him back, but he couldn't stop himself from wishing so hard. Ed stopped where he was and watched through the window as an older man leapt to the ground nimbly. Winry, who was outside hosing down Den, looked up at the man's call.

Al looked at him curiously then out the window. "Here, sit in the chair," directed Al, herding him to the side.

"He didn't mail me, Al. I know he didn't," mumbled Ed as he shuffled to the chair and slowly eased himself down with a sigh. He pulled the fat, woolen sweater tight against his chest as a wave of shivers began again.

"I'll be right back," said Al as he left through the front door.

Ed leaned to the side, watching through the window as the three of them spoke. After a moment some post was placed into Al's hands. His heart thudded heavily in sick anticipation. Roy didn't mail him, he didn't. He was sure of it. Winry pointed out over the far hillside causing Al and the postman to look in that direction. He wondered what she could be telling them. Al then lifted his hand, the one containing the post and motioned in the same direction as his other hand snaked around Winry's waist.

His eyes were glued to the letters in Al's hand. He tried not to hope, to really hope, that in that small stack of post there might be one for him. Roy wouldn't write back. He wouldn't. Ed was sure of it. Roy had said so many things…but then, on the phone, it didn't sound like he wouldn't…but maybe since he had time to think about he didn't want to be with him.

Al and Winry waved the postman off, exchanged a quick kiss, then Winry went back to cleaning Den and Al started for the house. Ed felt sick to his stomach as he watched Al pick through the scant bits of mail. When Al stepped onto the deck, Ed could no longer see him. Within the next moment, the front door opened. Ed looked up at Al's face for any clue that Roy had mailed him, even though he knew that Roy hadn't.

Pausing on the threshold, Al frowned at one letter held up close to his face as if he didn't trust the address on the front. Ed felt his hopes plummet. If there really had been mail from Roy, Al would be loud and happy and bouncing all over the place. Since he was doing none of that, he knew that he was only being foolish. He knew that Roy wouldn't mail him. It was stupid to get his hopes up like that.

"What is it?" asked Ed, hiding his disappointment. Al looked over at him, then back at the letter.

"It's from the military. Looks rather impressive… Maybe you didn't sign something," said Al as he crossed the front room, holding out the letter to him.

Ed took it in his hands and also studied the front of the envelope. The typed address stated that 'Major Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist' was the recipient of this letter and that 'Central Military Headquarters' was the sender. A slow stomach turn made another circuit through his tummy as he turned the envelope over and began to work the letter open. A single piece of paper was neatly folded up inside.

Pulling the page free, Ed placed the envelope in his lap and opened the letter. He was aware that Al moved behind him to read over his shoulder and shot a quick look up at him before turning his full attention to the official letterhead on the top of the page.

Rockbell Automail

C/O: Major Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist

Rizembool East

Central Military Headquarters

C/O: Roy Mustang, Flame Alchemist

Division 352

Central City

Ed's brain momentarily fizzled out at the sight of Roy's name. Then he was thinking hard and fast. If Roy had mailed him like this, on official paper, then he must have changed his mind and didn't want to have him call or write anymore. He knew it might happen, but to actually see evidence of it was…hard.

Forcing himself to finish reading, Ed dropped his eyes to the body of the letter.

Fullmetal –

I am glad to hear that you made it to Rizembool safely. Please don't worry about my well being. I'm fine. You should be worrying about resting and recovering.

Yes, your brother makes excellent coffee.

When will your surgery be performed? Is there anything you need that the military can provide?

I will look forward to hearing from you by phone when you're recovered sufficiently enough. The military requests that you recover quickly so that you can return to your regular military duties.


"Roy's pretty funny when he wants to be," said Al.

Ed blinked at the letter, frowned, and then looked up at Al leaning on the back of his chair. "What do you mean?" he asked. There was nothing within that letter that was funny. It was kinda disheartening. Roy was widening the gap between them to monumental proportions. How the hell did Al get 'funny' out of this?

"He's made it look all business-like so he could mail it to you without paying," said Al with a chuckle.

"What?" Ed looked back down at the letter, rereading it. He supposed that it didn't necessarily sound like Roy was putting distance between them. And Roy did say that he wanted him to call in the last few lines. That couldn't be all bad. "Maybe…" conceded Ed, feeling ungracious towards Al since he figured out Roy faster then he did. And the bastard said Al's coffee really was good.

He'd have to talk to Al about learning how to make it like the bastard like it. There was no way he was going to let Roy remember Al's coffee if he could make something even better.

"Al. I want to call him," Ed suddenly said in to the silence. He glanced over his shoulder at his brother. "Can you make the phone go to my room?"

"Okay," said Al, a large smile on his pleased face. "Let's get you settled first and then I can get to work on the phone."

It was almost eight o'clock by the time Al finally got a dial tone in the phone next to his bedside table. While Al was working on the phone, Ed worked on his return letter to Roy. He didn't have fancy paper so he used lined paper that he found in his room. At the very bottom of the letter, Ed decided that what he'd say next would be encrypted with a simple letter substitution code, so he wrote the key at the top. Then proceeded to encrypt what he had to say next.

Do you blame me for being blind and not seeing how stupid I've been? I've been watching Winry and Al. How come we could never talk without talking. I think that's because I suck.

After he finished, it just looked like a mess of letters, but he was sure that Roy would figure it out pretty easily. It wasn't like he chose a hard encryption code. Roy's letter lay next to him on top of the sheets. A slow smile spread across his face as he took the envelope Roy used and after folding his letter, placed it inside. He sealed the letter with alchemy and drew a line through his address, saying 'Return to Sender' in big letters.

The fever was making him tired and chilled again. All he wanted to do was go to sleep, but he couldn't until he talked to Roy first. As soon as Al cleaned up his mess, Ed chased Al out of the room with his eyes, the letter in his lap, and the phone on the bed. Immediately after the door closed, Ed lifted the receiver to his ear and began to dial Roy's number in Central.

As soon as he heard the ringing in his ear, Ed almost hung up. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk to Roy, because he did, it was because he was scared about how, or what he should or shouldn't say. He had given no thought to what he wanted to talk to Roy about. He even wondered if they would have anything to talk about after all that had happened between them.

By the fourth ring, Ed thought that even though it wasn't that late, that maybe Roy was asleep. By the sixth ring he thought that perhaps Roy wasn't at home—that is, until Roy picked up and answered with a tired, "Mustang."

"Hey…" said Ed, wincing at how small and weak his voice sounded. "Were you sleeping?" Roy sounded about as wiped as he felt.

"No, just getting home actually," Roy said, perking up somewhat. "How are you feeling?"

"Like hell warmed over. How about you?" wondered Ed, trying to keep things nice and light. There were so many things he wanted to ask, so many things he wanted to talk about…but he was certain that Roy wouldn't appreciate any of it. In his mind eye he could see Roy smirking at him, or perhaps even looking up for a bit of fun between the sheets, making him smile.

"Just another day in paradise," said Roy sarcastically.

Ed snorted into the phone. Roy showed his odd sense of humor in strange ways sometimes, and this was one of them. "I got your letter—so cheap!" said Ed, smiling wider at the letter in his lap. He unfolded Roy's letter to glance over Roy's obsessively neat signature while over the phone, he could hear Roy settling on the bed with a little squeak that the mattress always did if you moved too quickly.

"Well you know the State Alchemist motto, Ed: 'For the people.' I was just letting the military be of service."

"Oh, was that what you were doing?" said Ed sarcastically, raising his eyebrow even though Roy couldn't see it. "So, did my array work or was it a bust?" wondered Ed. He was enjoying this phone call so far. As much as he didn't want to, he began to hope.

"Bust," said Roy. Ed nodded to himself. He figured as much. He was in a lot of pain when he'd thought up those arrays. "Sorry," added Roy, sounding for all the world like he wished they had. "Did the surgery go well?"

"Hm, oh well," said Ed with a sigh. It would have been neat if the array would have worked, but it didn't really bother him that it didn't. "The surgery was...not something I ever want to repeat. But, I got my arm back, but I can't really move it very well yet. Pinako says that's to be expected given all they had to do. It's up in the air—well, it'll take—" Ed stopped himself. Last time he tried to hide his problems, Roy had gotten mad at him. He wasn't planning on letting that happen ever again. "No, you know what, it's a bit fucked up actually. I'm not sure if it'll be the same...only time will tell."

"I see," said Roy. There was silence on the line for a long moment. Ed could almost feel the guilt that Roy must be feeling from here. He had to set the man straight— "Well, they're very good mechanics. I'm sure you'll have a good chance at being in top shape soon."

"You know, at the end, I've started to think about the beginning. About me, about you. I recognize more how much of a child I've been... How the fuck did you ever stand me? But, I do recognize something else, you feel guilty, even Al told me so. But I don't blame you, Roy, I really don't. So don't take this on yourself."

His attempt at banishing Roy's guilt was met with stillness. He couldn't even begin to figure out what might be going through Roy's head at the moment other then maybe denial that what he said had any weight. He knew how hard it was to listen to others when all you wanted to do was beat yourself up.

"Roy?" asked Ed, waiting to hear Roy's voice. Silence. "You still there?" he wondered, thinking that perhaps the line might have gotten cut, but he was sure he could hear Roy breathing. "Did I freak you out? What? Don't like when I say mature stuff?" Ed gently teased. "Bastard..." he mumbled fondly.

"Ah... no... that's not it..." stammered Roy, sounding thoroughly out of his element.

"Then what? Was I wrong? Did I make an ass out of myself—not that that's anything new, or anything." Ed waited for several more moments.

"I'm glad you don't blame me," said Roy lowly.

"Why would you even think that I would?"

Roy sighed massively, his breath making the speaker in the phone buzz with noise. "Because... I was driving. It was my fault we were arguing... I should have been paying more attention to the road. I should have tried harder to find someone to drive. I knew that I wasn't..."

"Yeah..." agreed Ed, nodding his head slightly and staring through the dark window. He could recognize all the things that he used to do with regards to losing Al's body. The blame, the self hatred; the daily torture that would somehow make things right again. "I know about making mistakes and blaming yourself, but you didn't want the crash to happen, so you don't—can't—take that on yourself, you'll go crazy...like I almost did before you found me all those years ago... That changed my life you know..."

He couldn't begin to wonder what his life would have been like without Roy coming to Pinako's house the day after their 'accident'. Wherever he and Al would have ended up, Ed was sure that it wouldn't have been a good place to be.

"You should know... it wasn't a selfless act," Roy finally said, his voice tense and tight. "I got a great mark on my record for finding such a talented alchemist. I'm happy that my selfishness could change your life, but you were the one that really got yourself into the military. You proved yourself. You could have done it all without me..."

"Yeah, I know..." That is, if Ed would have even have thought about joining the military…he doubted that that would have occurred to him if Roy hadn't shown up. "But if you hadn't of come along...I would have become so depressed I'm sure I would have just given up."

Ed was suddenly interrupted by a large yawn that stretched his jaw to the breaking point and made his eyes water. That was it, he had reached his stopping point for today. Much too soon, but if he continued like this, he would be sure to fall asleep. "Fuck, it's past my bedtime... What's today?" he wondered. He was already thinking about calling tomorrow. If it was the weekend he could call during the day. If it was still somewhere in the week, he'd have to wait until the evening.

"Wednesday," said Roy instantly.

"Ah, right, I can't tell anymore. Can I call you again? Maybe tomorrow, if my damn fever will let up," asked Ed, shifting his body downward on the bed so that it creaked in complaint. As soon as he hung up he was going to fall asleep.

"Sure," agreed Roy softly.

"Okay, I'll write soon too and try not to be so messy this time. I have drugs now," boasted Ed, although they weren't near as strong as what he had in the hospital and it was more like medicine for his fever then actual pain killers. He needed to get reacquainted with his nerves without the interference of drugs. Once he had attunded himself with his arm, he was going on some heavy narcotic, anit-rejection drugs to help with this body's healing process.

"Alright. I hope you recover soon..." said Roy, sounding for all the world like he was going to just wallow in guilt as soon as he got off the phone.

"What?" asked Ed, suspicious. "Stop that! I'll have to smack you if you keep that up..." warned Ed. He wouldn't let Roy fall down the same guilt-path that he had walked if he could help it.

"Good night, Ed," said Roy instead of answering him.

Ed snorted. Of course, Roy would never just say what was on his mind. But he didn't have the energy to sort Roy out. "Yeah, night Roy." He stayed on the phone a few moments more after the connection ended from Roy's side. "Miss you," he whispered as he replaced the receiver.

The next morning found Ed being awoken as Winry came to his room with his breakfast on a tray. Barely awake, Ed glared at her suspiciously. This would be the first time since getting his auto-mail ports as a child that she had brought him anything.

"What do you want?" growled Ed with his sleep-roughened voice. He uncurled his body and cautiously stretched his toes in one direction and his fingertips in the other.

Winry stopped mid-step, halfway to his bed, making the china tinkle together lightly. "What makes you think I want anything?" snapped Winry, frowning at him over a mug of something warm.

Ed eased himself into a sitting position. Mornings always left him stiff and slow to get moving. All his injuries hurt the most in the morning too. Ed threw her the most insipid look he could. "You're joking, right? 'What makes me think you want anything'?" he repeated. "How about the fact that you've brought me breakfast when I could have used it like a week ago."

He watched Winry struggle to put aside whatever it was she wanted to say to that until she smiled as sweetly as she could. Ed narrowed his eyes, thoroughly not impressed.

"I heard from Al that you called Mr. Mustang last night," said Winry, finally approaching his bed, placing the tray on the covers near Ed's hip. Ed quickly looked over the contents of the tray; toast, tea, some red jam and a big, fucking huge, glass of milk. She took the seat next to his bed, brushing her coveralls of some imaginary dirt. Taking a large breath, she looked up into his eyes and waited.

Ed looked into Winry's over eager eyes and raised an eyebrow questioningly. He had no idea what the hell she might be after, but didn't appreciate the underlying thought. With a shrug of his shoulder, Ed reached out for the tea cup. Food didn't appeal to him right at the moment; his fever still had a firm grip on his body. But for now, Winry was faster the he was, as she slapped his hand smartly away.

"Dammit—what!" snapped Ed, pulling his hand back with a glare.

"So…" prompted Winry, smiling now.

"'So' what? What do you want you auto-mail freak!"

"Tell me what happened," said Winry with a happy bounce on the chair. "You know, what did you say to one another?"

"Stuff. Can I eat now?" Ed reached out for the tea again. He actually got his fingers around the handle before he was slapped away again. "Stuff, stuff, we said stuff, geez Winry! If you're not going to let me have any of this—move, so I can go downstairs." Beneath the covers, Ed shifted his leg, knocking the tray slightly.

"No, no, you can't!" Winry, leaned forward out of her chair and pushed him back by his chest. "I just want to know if you need help," she explained.

"Help? I don't want help. Can I go now?" growled Ed, brushing her hands off of him. Ed had to spread his legs for balance as Winry fell forward slightly.

It was really Winry's fault. He was injured, he couldn't be held accountable for what had happened.

The loud, shattering sound of china smashing on the floor, spilling the contents of his breakfast everywhere, made the struggling occupants of the bed freeze in horror. Then Winry's eyes got all huge and evil like they did just before she started throwing tools around.

It was screaming and ranting and Ed winded up getting his head knocked on the headboard a few times. All Ed could do was curl up and cover his head. Al must not be putting out because Winry was being evil right now. But then that didn't seem right. If Al wasn't putting out, that means there must be something wrong with him. When he asked Al that after his brother had pried Winry off of him, Winry holding the phone from his bedside table in one hand, and the empty milk bottle in the other, Al declared him concussed and made him rest quietly.

Winry took the phone in retaliation for not telling him anything and for breaking the china.

It wasn't his fault.

He sulked the rest of the day in his room, peeved that he wouldn't be able to call Roy tonight.

The following week went by slowly. Ed began to sneak around the house in the dead of night since he spent the days in his room to avoid Winry. Each time he passed by the phone in the front room, he debated with himself endlessly on whether he should call Roy even if it did wake him, but in the end he always decided that he wouldn't be that selfish.

On one particularly warm night, Ed decided that it was time he go talk to mom. Pulling down Al's jacket from the hook by the door, Ed opened the door silently. The crickets were singing and the night was dark without the moon. But he didn't need light to find his way to the cemetery.

The walk was the most strenuous thing he'd done since the accident. The usually fifteen minute walk turned into a forty minute shuffle. But he didn't care. Soon enough the cemetery came into view.

"Hey, mom," Ed said into the darkness, the crickets halting their calls at the sound of his voice. "Miss you."

Slowly, using his mother's headstone as support, Ed lowered himself down to the grass, pulling the jacket around him. What faint lights he could see from distant farmsteads did little to lend any illumination to his position. But he was fine with that.

"Mom? I've been seeing someone. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, but with everything else, I've been busy in Central. I bet Al's told you though." He fell silent, pulling the jacket even tighter around his body. Now that he wasn't moving, the chill in the air was starting to affect him strongly.

Ed sighed. He couldn't stay much longer or else he'd risk his health. He sure as hell didn't want to rack up any more time in bed then he was already forced to do. With another sigh, Ed pushed on the headstone to stand on wobbly legs. It might have been a bad idea to come out here alone…

"I really love him, mom. I think you'd like him a lot. Once I'm all better, I'll come and see you again." Ed patted the headstone in farewell, then started for home. It was time to try and make nice with Winry in order to get the phone back.

Another week went by before Ed got a reply from Roy by mail. He eagerly tore through the envelope addressed to himself and missing postage. There was a huge grin on his face from the post office's official stamp declaring 'insufficient postage' on the front. He pulled out the letter and began to read.

Ed –

Using the military's stationary was not cheap. This is cheap. (By the way, great idea on putting your letter in and doing 'return to sender'. I'll have to remember that one.)

Ed had to agree with Roy there. This was pretty cheap. He wasn't sure if he could think of anything to top this.

I don't think you ever did tell me that was a good day, but I assumed by the far away look you had after we were done... wrestling… that you'd had a pretty good time. I'm glad you told me, though.

You're not missing a lot here in Central. Everything is as dull and boring as normal—normal being relative to when you're not here. I've healed up enough that tonight is the last night I'll be on pain medication. The doctor seems to think that the knee will be fine, though it will always be a little on the weak side, so I'm not to over do things.

As for your code, one must stop talking long enough to 'talk without talking'. And yes, you do suck, but I enjoy every minute of it. I didn't know Al and Winry were the types to let people watch them.

When are you coming home?

- Roy

P.S. Don't tell Hawkeye I'm drinking with my pain killers tonight or she'll kill me.

Ed stared at the last line in complete disbelief. After all that had happened, Roy was drinking. Again?

"Fuck," he hissed under his breath. He knew that Roy should be getting home soon, since it was Friday and all. Hobbling through the house, Ed found his confiscated phone and took it back with him to his bedroom. Winry wasn't around to stop him and he had to talk with Roy now. If he got in trouble later, then so be it. Al was sitting at their shared desk pouring over some new book, but he wanted to be alone for this call. "Al! Scram," barked Ed, using the phone to point to the door.

Al turned in his seat and raised an eyebrow, shrugged and took his book with him out into the hall, closing the door behind him. It took only moments to fix the phone, get settled on the bed and dial Roy's number. He picked up the letter as the phone began to ring, reading it over again. Not only had Roy been drinking he made a perverted crack about what he'd said in his last letter.

"Mustang," said Roy simply.

"Humph! You had to pick out the one word in all that and make it perverted! And what the hell are you fucking thinking of—drinking!" demanded Ed, not bothering with pleasantries this time around. He glared at the far wall, wishing that Roy could see his anger right now.

"Ed? Well, good evening to you too," said Roy dryly, the smile evident in his voice.

"Tch...yeah, yeah...how's the bastard tonight? Miss me?" wondered Ed cheekily, trying to force his anger aside. The more he heard Roy's voice the less he wanted to spend his energy on being angry and starting a fight.

"I always miss you..." muttered Roy. He supposed that Roy hadn't meant for him to hear, but he had. His anger was completely gone now. He wondered if that was on purpose, but then, Roy didn't sound like he was trying to lead him around by the nose. "You must have gotten my letter..." wondered Roy, sounding mortified.

"Yes, I got your letter," said Ed, rolling his eyes. His anger replaced with annoyance. And Roy called him irresponsible. "What goes through your head sometimes? Mixing pain killers with liquor? You're insane. I'll have to punish you," growled Ed, lacing his voice with his intent to cause bodily harm…and then his voice cracked right at the end; ruining it. Stupid fever was still affecting him slightly. Ed sagged into the pillows, lying on his back. Figures…

Roy coughed. Ed was fully prepared to have to deal with Roy's teasing. "I won't lie... I actually can't remember everything I put in the letter, but from what I do remember, I think I'd rather not know what all I said..." said Roy humorously. Ed pressed his lips into a thin line. The man needed a babysitter in the worse way.

"Anyway, I wasn't drinking a lot. When I got out of the hospital I drank a lot more with a higher dose and I lived through it, but you know the lieutenant, she... talked me out of it... That night was just... sort of a fluke." At least Roy had the grace to sound embarrassed about it all.

"Okay, it better be!" said Ed with as much disapproval as he could summon. But then maybe Roy was only doing that because he hadn't called in a while… "Sorry I haven't been able to call...er...Winry...is such a bitch sometimes"

"I'm sure she has your best interest at heart..." said Roy, but Ed could tell he didn't believe one word that he just said.

"No, she doesn't! I swear her fucking goal in life is to make me as miserable as she can as fast as she can. It like a fucking art form for her!"

"And I'm sure you're a perfect angel?" quipped Roy.

Ed just sat on his bed in some sort of stunned bubble. In his mind he could see Roy sitting across from him behind his desk with that fucking annoying smirk of his tugging at his lips. With only a few words Roy had pushed all his buttons as once. He hated it. But… Closing his mouth with a click of his teeth, Ed said in the flattest most inexpressive voice, "Very fucking funny, bastard. How very fucking original and droll you are today. I'm laughing myself silly."

"When are you returning to Central?" asked Roy. Bastard wasn't even aware that he had gotten Ed all riled up. He could hear Winry's screechy voice outside his door, yelling for Alphonse.

"That's up to the bitch..." mumbled Ed into the phone.

"I can hear you, Edward!" hollered Winry through the door.

Ed rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Tch, she stole the phone from me. She knows I hate milk. Why did she give it to me? It's not my fault it...fell on the floor..." groused Ed, leaning back against the headboard. He hadn't meant for his leg to kick the tray to the floor. She totally freaked out on him for no reason.

"Well, Ed, you can choose how you react to your situation. You can keep thinking about how horrible your situation is and act like a shithead which will only make the situation more miserable or you can tell yourself that even though it's frustrating you're going to make the best of it and choose to act pleasant. Which will make your stay there easier to handle," said Roy, as if he'd been saying this all along…which was just strange.

"Huh…" grunted Ed, blinking at the covers on his bed as he tried to sort that out. "Can I speak to Roy please; I think I don't have the right house..."

The line was quite for only a moment. "Sorry..." Roy said, sounding uneasy. "How are you feeling?"

"Fine, except for certain irritants," said Ed, thinking of Winry's many mood swings the past few days. "I think if this goes on too long, I'll run away." That was a promising thought. Ed was already thinking about logistics of the get-away. What'd he need, when would be the best time to go.

"I have a feeling you wouldn't get too far," said Roy, interrupting his planning.

"Says you! I happen to be doing very well. I've even walked up to see mom..." Ed didn't want to mention, though, that even he knew how stupid that was. But he wasn't going to let Roy get a chance to say so. "And no one knew I had even left," he let pride for his accomplishment come through his voice.


Frowning, Ed began to wonder if he hadn't done as good enough job of hiding his own foolishness from Roy. Maybe he had picked up on his stupidness and was about to rag him out any minute now.

"Ed..." said Roy. Ed waited uneasily. "I'm... I'm sorry for being such an asshole..."

It took a moment to understand what Roy said. It was so different from what he was expecting that he momentarily forgot to respond. "What brought that on? Did I make it sound like you were being one?" asked Ed uncertainly.

Roy sighed into the phone. "No... I just wanted—needed—to say it because... well, I miss you... and I've thought a lot about us lately... about how you wanted to stay friends even though... we're not really 'us' anymore... I think I'd like that..." said Roy hesitatingly.

It was like Ed didn't dare to hope. His mind rang with those words; 'I miss you', 'thinking about us lately', and 'we're not really "us" anymore'. Ed ran his eyes around the room, dazedly. It was almost like, finally, Roy was starting to see that being apart was wrong. Unconsciously, his left hand tightened around the receiver as a vice seemed to squeeze just as hard around his chest.

"And since we both know what an ass I am, I just thought I'd apologize up front about it before we go any further."

"Roy..." began Ed, then faltered. He sighed. What could he do but accept Roy's apology. "I accept. And even if you said 'no' I'd still call or write or when I get back, be waiting on your doorstep. I...I know you don't want to hear it, but I don't want this to be over. I miss you so much it hurts sometimes," said Ed softly. Right now he'd almost do the unthinkable again just to have Roy in the room with him. Damn, it was over four months ago that Roy had last held him. Thinking about it now, how it felt when Roy had his arms around him, holding him close. That was what he secretly wanted.

"I dreamed that you were with me the day I left the hospital. I would have sworn to anything that you were with me in the night. I could feel your warmth, your arm. I don't want that to stay only a dream. It...can't." Ed frowned at himself. It sounded so…pathetic, but he couldn't help it. He needed Roy like he needed food or air. It was—it just was! He could hardly explain it to himself, let alone try to explain it to Roy or anyone else.

Roy sighed once more, loud enough that the speaker buzzed slightly. "I never want to hurt you again... I thought... I thought I was in control; thought that I'd never do something like that to you..." confessed Roy, his voice breaking. Ed widened his eyes as large as they could go at the sound of it.

"But I wasn't in control. I never was... I know now that I was just putting off the inevitable. I..." Ed swallowed hard when he heard Roy's voice dropped alarmingly. "Care for you with all my heart... but... I'm afra—I don't want to hurt you again... I couldn't bear it..." finished Roy.

"A-are you crying?" wondered Ed softly. He suddenly wished that Roy was with him right now, so that he could see what Roy was feeling.

"No..." Roy whispered after a long moment of silence.

"Geez, Roy..." Ed looked up at the ceiling, trying and failing, to get his emotions under control. This whole conversation had his emotions going one way, only to take a dramatic swing the other way in the next instant. "Are you saying you lo—like me too? Not like friends, but more then friends?" asked Ed, trying to figure out exactly what was being said.

"I..." stammered Roy breathlessly, a tremor in his voice. "I... I have to go... I'm sorry..."

Ed sat there stupidly listening to the dial tone in his ear. Trapping the phone against his shoulder, Ed reached out and depressed the hook, ending the call from his side. Why did Roy…just leave all of a sudden? What did it mean? What was he missing? Why couldn't he just know what Roy was thinking? Why did it have to be so hard to get information from him?

Ed dealt in facts; numbers or equations. These emotions and feelings were hard to know what to do with. Most of the time he just did the first thing that came to him, be it striking someone or yelling profanities when he was pissed off. But this, this was hard! He had to think now, since he didn't want to always react. But it was hard and Roy wasn't making it any easier. Just when he thought he had some sort of idea about Roy, some new variable popped into the equation and messed up the end result.

As he was thinking all this, his fingers were already working to dial Roy's number. He needed answers and the only way he was going to get any was by talking to Roy. The first phone call was so much better, so much easier to understand what was happening. The phone began to ring in his ear, so he transferred the receiver to his left hand and waited.

And waited.

After almost twenty rings, Ed stopped counting. The sound became one long buzz in his head. The longer Roy didn't pick up the more agitated he became. How could Roy just leave like that? After something like five minutes of the mind numbing sound, Ed placed the receiver on the cradle. Roy didn't want to talk to him. But he needed to talk to Roy…so, how to get him on the phone…

Hawkeye's face came to mind, but he'd rather not have to pull that card if he could help it. He needed someone to go over to Roy's house to make him answer the phone. Ed groaned aloud. He was dense sometimes.

Picking up the phone again, Ed dialed another number hurriedly. This time it was answered relatively quickly.

"Hello, Gleeson residence," a youthful voice said.

"Hey, is this Isaac?" asked Ed, knowing that it was.

"Uh-huh! That's me!" the boy said.

"Can I speak to your mom real quick," Ed said before the boy could launch into one of his rambling stories. The phone was exchanged without incident and then Mrs. Gleeson was greeting him. Without preamble, Ed said, "I need a huge favor, please. I need you to go next door and tell Mustang to answer his phone within the next five minutes. Can you do that? Oh, and tell him if he doesn't I'll tell Hawkeye. Please," begged Ed.

"Of course, Ed," Mrs. Gleeson said. There was a question in her voice, but she didn't ask and Ed didn't offer. With a mumbled thanks, Ed hung up. Now he had to wait. He gave, what he figured, was enough time to walk between the houses before he dialed Roy's place again.

It was several more moments of ringing until Roy picked up the phone. "Insistent brat..." growled Roy crossly.

"You can't just leave like that! Roy! I mean, you have to tell me what you meant by that. Please!" Ed implored Roy. He needed answers, not these half formed ideas, or comments that Roy always did.

"Dammit, Ed," cursed Roy in aggravation. "What do you want me to say? Do you want me to beg you to come home to me because I can't bear being without your touch? Do you want me to tell you that I dream of you at night and see you in various rooms of my apartment when I'm awake? Do you want me to tell you that I'm in love with you? That I need you more than food or water or air; more than life itself?"

"Yes..." said Ed in a breathless rush. Roy did care for him… He really did.

"Then..." said Roy after a long pause. "You've already heard it..." Roy said with a disturbing, defeated tone to his voice.

"Shit," hissed Ed, frowning hard. That wasn't what he thought it should be like. "I'm taking the train tomorrow. I need to see you!" said Ed determined. Whenever he thought about what love should look like he saw Al and Winry. Roy didn't sound happy about it at all.

"No..." said Roy softly. "You're not well enough. I don't want you to chance hurting yourself."

"Yeah, but, you sound like someone just died. If you...love someone...like..." Ed paused. He knew he had to say it back, so he should just do it already! "Fucking hell—like I fucking love you!" shouted Ed. He could only say it fast, before his mind caught up to what was happening. "It shouldn't be like that! It should be happy and shit, like Al and Winry! I need to see you. It'll be months yet before they'll let me leave, so I'll just sneak out like before. By the time they figure it out, I'll be well on my way. I can stay with you, and we can work this out. We can start new, take it slow."

"I said 'no'!" snapped Roy, The Commander. "You will 'not' leave Rizembool! You have to recover—"

"Roy, I need to see you," said Ed again. He wasn't going to let Roy get off this phone until he understood that he was going to be coming to Central whether he liked it or not. "I'm fine, I can make it. I'm better—"

"Ed!" snapped Roy. Ed closed his mouth, waiting. "I... I'll come to you..." said Roy softly. "I told you, I couldn't bear it if I hurt you again, and if you got hurt coming to see me, it would be the same..."

"You will?" asked Ed, not really believing that Roy was actually going to do this.

"Yes..." replied Roy, sounding doubtful and slightly lost. There was a pause to breathe. "Yes, I will," said Roy, with conviction this time. Ed smiled uncertainly. "I'll... I'll leave tonight."

"You will?" wondered Ed, still not wholly convinced that Roy was telling him the truth here.

"Yes," Roy said in a rush. "I..." There was a hesitant pause. "Do you... I... You... How do you..." stammered Roy. Ed blinked to hear how agitated Roy was. "About me...? Do you...?"

Ed closed his eyes and shook his head in puzzlement. It sounded like Roy wanted to know how he felt about him. "Er... Do I love you back?" he wondered, but didn't give Roy a chance to answer. "I must admit that I'm confused about love, but I know I need you even though you piss me off, and push my buttons, but I need you, so yeah, I do. Will I get to see you on Sunday? For real? What about work? You'll get in trouble—but I can't say as I care as long as I get to see you. Get here fast," finished Ed in a rush.

There was a silence on the line, then Roy said, "I won't be able to stay long. I have to be back by Wednesday, but... talk to your brother. Tell him I'm coming, and tell him I want to take you with me when I leave." Roy stumbled to a stop once more. Ed opened his mouth to say something, but then Roy continued. "That is... if you want to come back with me..." said Roy, hesitantly.

"What...?" Ed wasn't sure if he should trust his hearing, because he was sure that Roy had just asked him to live with him! "Yes," said Ed quickly, before Roy could take it back. "I want to go with you!" Ed lifted the receiver away from his mouth. "Al! Get yer butt up here!" he yelled at the closed door. He turned his attention back to the phone. "You sure it's okay? I mean—to stay with you? I get to see you everyday?"

"Yeah..." agreed Roy kindly. "If you're willing to take the chance... I want to promise I'll never get angry again like I did that morning... but..." Ed held his breath. "But I can promise that I'll try very hard..."

"Come fast, Roy," said Ed, dismissing the anger issue for a later time. "I'll be waiting."

"Watch for me," Roy said, sounding the happiest Ed had heard in a long time.

"Right!" agreed Ed, determined that it would work out.

"What are you yelling for?" wondered Al, opening the door to the bedroom and frowning at him. Before Ed could answer he heard the phone go dead. He replaced the receiver and smiled up at his brother.

--To Be Continued—

Please review! And don't forget to watch for ZaKai's version that will be posted shortly.