A/n: Fullmetal marathons make me do crazy things. Oneshots are for distracted people such as myself, and AU is my middle name. Pretend the Fairy Godmother stepped in and made Alphonse a real boy. If I screwed up the timeline, it's because I'm lazy and don't want to go back and do the math. So, let's just blame all this on my sinus infection. Anyway, I'm truly sorry for this one; humor me.
Rating: T - because slash makes me all sadistic and happy, and I'm also a little notorious for being a potty-mouth.
Disclaimer: If I owned Fullmetal Alchemist, I wouldn't be writing fanfictions based on it's characters. Bite me.
It wasn't really an everyday thing to see a look of absolute terror on Edward Elric's face. Sure, there had been revulsion, hatred, shock, disbelief, maybe even a little fear in his face when he had first truly found out about what had happened in Ishbal. All of that was completely understandable - even Mustang himself felt the same way about the atrocities he helped commit in Ishbal. The Fullmetal Alchemist had a way of reacting to something so dramatically, his face not only held his own emotion, but everyone else's. It was something Mustang had always noticed about Edward - everything hit home with him, even if he had never been exposed to anything of the sort.
He was more human than most people who had all their limbs intact.
Maybe that's what had drawn him in the first place - the humanity. Even in Edward's darkest hours, the most selfish points of his life, the boy managed to encompass more compassion than the common nun. It was amazing. Though, Edward's life so far was a sob story within itself, so that was surely the culprit for his intense feelings for other people. He understood the pain of other's on a level Mustang couldn't even start to understand.
But now, that wasn't the point. Now it was about Edward's pain, and he had plenty of it. Even after the strong, brick-wall-of-a-front he had built up, Mustang always knew when something got to the boy; he was just a teenager, after all. Eighteen was not an easy age by any means, and Mustang was constantly impressed, again and again, by the strong-willed determination that burned interminably in those golden eyes, despite the obstacles he and his brother fell over, again and again. Honestly, he had been expecting this eventually - a breakdown of epic proportions, only because the boy had been running full steam since the moment he became a State Alchemist.
Their relationship, as complicated and indescribable as it was, managed to continue, even with Edward's overly large mouth and it's included vocabulary, and Mustang's own traits. It had started with another ridiculous day of Edward being at headquarters, doing what he considered a waste of precious time he could be doing some other mission - paperwork. Now thinking about it, Mustang couldn't really remember who had started it. But did it matter? Over the past six months of a loud, obnoxious, and impossible relationship, just barely kept under wraps, Mustang had learned more than he thought he would about what was underneath the prickly exterior of Edward Elric, whether he saw it or was just able to judge the inside from the outside, he knew a breakdown would have to come.
Just like gravity - what goes up must come down. Or maybe even Equivalent Exchange - Edward would've hated that analogy, though.
Regardless of laws or tendencies, Mustang was waiting for it. Lately, it was becoming more noticeable. He had thought it was coming after the Leore incident. What with the entire towns' disappearance, the bounty on his head, and then his father showing up after ten years, he was sure that Edward would crack. But somehow, like he always did, he held it together, for two more years, surprisingly. At least until his brother's body returned.
Maybe it was pure coincidence that Mustang happened to be thinking about this as he finished up some last minute paperwork, still in his uniform, sitting stiffly on his couch. Stacks of signed documents and boxes of classified research were piled up on the floor, the coffee table, and the end table closest to him. In his annoyance, he had even managed to get six paper cuts, trying so hard to finish the work quickly and get it out of his hair. He was exhausted. There had been a huge fiasco at work, something about Lab work files gone missing and three people disappearing from the Intelligence department. Needless to say, it was an agonizingly long day at the office, and it was one of the few times he wished he had a wife to cook for him and play hostess for an evening.
Or maybe a maid would do just as fine.
He was chuckling to himself at this thought, when there were three weak knocks on the door. He probably wouldn't have heard them, had he not been in the living room; they were so quiet. His pocket watch, which lay open on a clear spot of the coffee table, told him it was five minutes to midnight. But the time meant nothing - if it was something military related, it didn't matter how close to early morning or late night it was.
But the knock would've been strident, not weak and quiet like that. He carefully stood up and stepped gingerly over the neatly stacked piles, and went to the door. When he opened it, he was a little taken aback.
It was Edward. And he had never actually come to Mustang's house on his own will before, so his presence enough was a shock. But then, he saw the boy's face.
Just as it was mentioned before, it wasn't an everyday thing to see a look of absolute terror on Edward's face. But it wasn't just terror. Weariness, deep exhaustion, was hanging black under his eyes in heavy arcs, depression on the set of his mouth, the uncontrollable tremor of his brows. His face was broken in a way that was worse than physical ailment.
And Mustang just knew. He didn't ask questions, say a greeting, even say his name. He just reached down, took his left hand - his real hand - and pulled him inside as gently as he could manage. He felt like the warm summer air alone would break the poor boy if he stood in it any longer.
Even though he's been waiting for this, he had to force away the shock that seemed inevitable. The last time he had talked to Edward, had been the previous day. The boy had been planning on going back to Resembool to see how Alphonse was recovering - having a body was still a shock on the poor kid - and get his Automail adjusted. Mustang still wasn't too clear on what had happened when Al's body was brought back, but he was sure Edward had been too afraid to use the Stone for anymore than returning his brother's soul to it's body. It had only been two months since it had happened, and since the moment Edward came into his office, telling him the news, the boy had been plunging into a downward spiral.
At first, he thought that it was just out of relief. Edward had been working nonstop, barely sleeping, completely obsessed with saving his brother. It had been like that for nearly seven years. And now, with his brother saved and his mission complete, he was just slowing down, taking a break.
But as Mustang led him to the sofa adjacent to the couch - that wasn't stacked with paperwork - he saw that was not the case. Edward was shaking so hard, he almost thought about taking him to the hospital. The shivering riveted his entire body, his hand literally vibrating in Mustang's. A breakdown of epic proportions - he didn't count on it being this physical.
Out of both fear that he had lost him, and his strong feelings for the boy, he put his hand against Edward's cheek, making those golden eyes lock with his coal-gray ones. The intelligence was still there, Edward was still there, but the agony was twisting it viciously. He wasn't losing it neurologically, just emotionally. He felt a small bit of relief.
"Ed. Talk to me," Mustang said, rubbing soothing circles into the boy's cheek. "I thought you were going to Resembool."
He shook his head. "I can't go there."
"Why not?" Mustang asked, trying to sound as calm as possible. Edward needed an anchor right now. By god, he was going to be a strong one.
"I…I don't know what's…happening to me," Edward said breathlessly, his breathing labored. "I can't…go there…like this."
"What's going on? Tell me what's happening." He watched the boy carefully as his eyes squinted shut and he attempted to control his breathing. When he opened them again, his breathing still just as uncontrollable, they were watering.
"I don't…I don't know," He whispered. He gave another violent shudder, closing his eyes once more, letting his head droop down. With a shaky sigh, he worked to control his wild lungs, hands curling into fists in his lap.
"Let me go get you some water," Mustang said softly, pulling his hand from the boy's face and starting to stand. But a shaking hand snatched his wrist and pulled him back.
"Please don't leave me," Edward pleaded, something Mustang had never heard come from those lips, even in sex. The words had been rushed, all gushing out in one breath. He looked into those eyes and saw panic. Real, pure panic. "I need you."
Mustang's heart skipped an entire beat, and then went on pumping blood, as if nothing had happened. Just like the pleading, he never thought he would hear those words come from Edward, of all people. This was serious. He knew that now. Edward was really panicking. From what, he had not a clue. He wasn't a doctor of any sort, so he really didn't even know what to do to calm down a eighteen-year-old in the height of what appeared to be a panic attack.
So he did what came natural.
In several swift movements, he sat down next to the boy, shifted towards him, and pulled his shaking form against his chest, leaning back against the arm rest. He knew it shocked Edward, but apparently not enough to stop the shivering. Within a few seconds, the boy got a grip on what had just happened, and burrowed closer, taking fistfuls of blue uniform into his quivering hands.
And they stayed that way for what seemed like hours. It probably was hours, actually. The shaking subsided after about twenty minutes of Mustang's hug-therapy, but it was very obvious that the boy was not ready to let go. He held onto the General as if he were afraid he would disappear right under his fingertips. Honestly, Mustang had no problem holding Edward like this. He had always felt as though he cared more for the boy than he should, more than Edward cared for him. But now this opened a lot of locked doors.
Mustang was the one Edward ran to. He picked Mustang over his brother. But maybe that made it sound worse. It really just made sense for Edward to go to him - his brother was still dealing with his own problems. There was no way that confused kid could deal with his and then his older brother's issues. And anyway, they were in a relationship, though Mustang had been doubting it as of late. But this now just solidified the opposite of Mustang's fears. Edward did care, did value him, did want this relationship. Maybe it was just the steadily increasing depression that had made him so distant over the past month.
He would have to ask about that later on.
"I'm sorry," Came a muffled voice from his chest.
Mustang looked down at the blonde head resting against his chest. "For what?"
"For showing up here, all in a panic. You were busy," Edward said, so quietly, he had to strain to hear all the words. He knew that Edward could see the obnoxious piles of paperwork from where he was.
Mustang tilted the boy's face up so those red, tired eyes met his. "You know I don't care."
Edward stared at him for a moment, then scooted up Mustang's chest, and touched his lips to the General's, his lips quivering slightly. Mustang really hadn't seen it coming, but he was pleased, nonetheless - Edward had actually initiated the kiss, something he hadn't done in a few weeks. Even though this breakdown was scaring both of them, maybe it would turn out to be beneficial for their relationship. He kissed the boy back, trying to soothe his shaking lips with his tongue, rubbing his hands gently up and down his back. Somehow, Edward's gloves had found a way off and Mustang flinched when he felt cold metal press against his neck.
The boy started to pull his Automail hand away, suddenly realizing how cold it had to be for him, but Mustang gripped his Automail hand and pushed it back up against his neck. He broke the kiss for just a moment, repeating against the other's lips, "You know I don't care."
Honestly, though he would never admit it out loud, he really liked Edward having Automail. It was just another aspect of the boy that he had learned to enjoy, not to mention it made the sex quite interesting. Though Edward would apologize a million times when it's cold surface made him flinch, Mustang had eventually decided that verbally telling Edward it was okay he had Automail was impossible, so he would just have to convince the boy by actions.
"I should go," He said, breaking away from the kiss, his face still an inch from Mustang's.
"And why do you think that?" Mustang asked skeptically.
"Because you look tired. And I'm taking up your time acting like a little kid. I'm sorry," He whispered, closing his eyes and setting his forehead against Mustang's. Then he started to pull away, but he found white gloves wrapped tightly around his wrists.
"Dammit, Fullmetal, when are you going to realize?" Mustang growled, genuinely irritated now.
"What?" Edward asked, looking so tired, and so disoriented.
"I want you here. I don't want you to leave," He said, as if it were blaringly obvious. And he thought it was. He wouldn't stop heaving through all that paper work for anyone else, even Hawkeye. If Edward had shown up, panic-attack-free, he still would've left the paperwork. Just because.
The look in Edward's eyes was nothing short of priceless. Somehow, through that exhaustion, he managed to look utterly shocked to his core. Sure, it wasn't everyday that Mustang threw around words like that…but he had thought he made all this obvious without words.
Perhaps Edward needed more reassurance than that.
And if Mustang knew anything about the boy, he knew that Edward would never ask for it - that went against his very nature.
"I really…I really thought you were fed up with me," Edward choked out, planting his hands on Mustang's chest and sitting upright, straddling the man's hips. "I just…"
"Fed up with you?" Mustang repeated blankly. Apparently he needed more than just reassurance - he needed immediately action, substantial proof that Mustang was there, unconditionally, without needing to be asked. "You fool."
Edward just blinked and gave him a miserable look - it was nearly pitiful.
"When are you going to get it through that unusually thick skull of yours? I'm here, end of story. You don't have to apologize - I care about you. Apparently, more so than you're aware of." He paused, lifting Edward's slowly sinking chin with a finger. "Why can't you see that?"
"I feel so useless now," He croaked. And those eyes. Mustang had never seen his eyes like that. Ever. It was scary. They looked like the eyes of a man devoid of purpose, dreams, ambition - everything that made him human. He almost wanted to shake the kid until he rattled that look out of his eye sockets.
"Dammit, you're not useless," Mustang said louder than intended, which earned a flinch and a blink of the eyes, which immediately drove that haunted look away, thank god. "I know you feel like you don't have a purpose now, but think about what you've accomplished at such a young age." He shook his head, hearing the incredulity in his voice. "Most people would kill for your talent."
Edward looked down at Mustang's stomach, trying to hide his face.
"Just because your great search for the Stone has ended, doesn't mean your life does too," He continued, having to lift the boy's face once more. "You now have your brother, flesh and blood. You have a family in Resembool. You have friends here. And you have me."
"You don't even have to stay in the military, if you didn't want to," He added, smirking at the image in his head, Edward ceremoniously throwing his pocket watch into a trashcan after having transmuted it into a metal figurine of a dog.
"No, I'm going to stay in the military," Edward said, hoarse still.
This surprised Mustang. "Why?"
"I first joined because I just wanted access to research and permission to do my own experiments, but now I've become ensnared. I feel like maybe I can continue doing good, just like before, when Al was still in the armor." He paused, finally looking Mustang in the eye. "And I don't want to leave you."
Mustang blinked. "You wouldn't be leaving me."
"How else would we explain why I come over here so often?" A tired, but true smile spread over his face, but it was short-lived. He was more than tired at this point. He was about to simply lose consciousness.
"Honestly, I thought you were getting tired of this relationship, what with your recent attitude towards all of this…" He trailed off, quirking a brow.
"Dammit, Roy, copy and paste everything you just said to me about caring and shit," He growled. He blinked a few times, his eyes getting heavier and heavier. "Um, can I crash here tonight? I don't think I'll…"
"Make it back?" Mustang supplied when his words trailed off and never finished. He had slid back down, his head falling solidly against the man's chest. "It's fine, Ed."
"Thanks," He murmured. "For everything, really."
"You know I don't care," Mustang smirked, pulling out the band in Edward's braid, the hair falling slowly, spilling out over his neck and shoulders, fanning lazily on blue uniform.
"Someday, you're going to…" Edward mumbled moodily.
Mustang sighed. So, the breakdown didn't last too long. He felt cold relief wash strangely warm over him. He was so worried that Ed was going to continuing heading for depression, even after this immense breakdown, but joking was a good sign. He had had to talk to many disturbed soldiers in his time served, and while Edward was anything but a soldier, he was suffering from the same dilemma - what the hell do I do now?
As Edward drifted quickly off to sleep, he eyed his paperwork scornfully. If he got up early enough, maybe he could finish it, or maybe he could just not finish and get yelled at by Hawkeye the next day. Neither options sounded good, but he was so incredibly comfortable, his exhausted lover completely unconscious, nuzzled into his chest, a familiar weight against his body, a familiar smell in his nose, making him drowsy. Then, belatedly, as he used alchemy to kill the lights and kicked off his boots, he realized it was Friday night, possibly Saturday morning.
I don't really know where the inspiration for this came from. I used to hate this pairing, but now I've fallen in love with it, even though I should be growing out of Anime by now.
I'm never growing up.
Hah, anyway, hoped you enjoyed this.