I'll just leave my absence explained as: I bought a house.

I still feel like the past update schedule for Futurama though.

Chapter Forty-Seven

They ended up taking the back alley to get home. At first to be sure it was completely opened to Edward's range of travel. But as soon as Edward realized the alleyway was empty save for them and they were blocked from view by the tall fences of the homes, the alley was soon to present a new opportunity.

Ever since they had left the carnival, Edward could not deny that the walk home had become increasingly… unsettling.

Looking up at Roy, he frowned minutely in worry as he took in the tightly-wound posture. And Roy was trying to claim he was more than okay? Looking away again Edward's frown deepened as he stared idly at the gravel that covered the alley. How could he be claiming such a thing if he was wound this tightly with nerves? What could Roy need to talk to him about that could possibly make him this nervous?

Was Roy really this concerned about what his reaction would be?

Edward's expression relaxed into something more long-suffering, and he fought down a sigh. How many times, and in how many ways, and at times in not so many words, had he told Roy he wouldn't leave him?

This idiot.

No… this wouldn't do at all. If he let Roy continue on this path for too long, the man would be so highly strung with whatever nonsense he was currently worrying himself over, that Roy would hardly be in the correct mental state to have whatever conversation it was that he wanted to have.

He needed to snap Roy out of it.

Knowing that Roy would likely balk at his asking, he instead went about his plan of attack in his own underhanded way. Letting go of the plush sheep, he held instead onto the plastic bag that contained the remote control car. If he still knew his estimations in this, the bag should be his within minutes. And once that happened, Roy could do nothing about it.

Just as Edward suspected, Roy didn't even notice what he was doing. Not until it was too late and the bag dropped fully into his hand, startling Roy at the sudden absence of its weight.

"Mine!" Edward crowed in delight to the background of eager rustling into the plastic bag.

Roy was so thrown by what had just occurred, that he couldn't manage to find words until the plastic bag ended up discarded on someone's waste bin along the side of the alley - the box for the remote control car now firmly in Edward's eagerly unpacking hands. "And what if someone sees you?"

Edward shot him a brief laughing look, finally getting past all the tape on the box to begin pulling free all the cardboard flaps that guarded the interior packaging. "Roy, we're in an alley, in the middle of the afternoon. If anyone else is in here with us, they're bound to be drunk. And if they aren't, play it off as a magic trick. You're good at convincing people with utter bullshit."

Roy sent Edward a dirty look, not entirely sure that could be construed as a compliment. But nevertheless he did relax marginally, watching as Edward flung bits of brown packing paper through the air haphazardly and without care to the littering he was doing. "You're as bad as Hazel." He scolded half-heartedly and adjusting a glove to his hand, he quickly snapped to take care of the evidence.

Edward chuckled to himself, before a noise of success escaped him as he pulled free the car and its controller. "What can I say, it's your fault for introducing us." And turning towards Roy in question, he held up the objects in his hands. "How do I make it turn on? I never had toys like this as a kid."

Roy couldn't help but smile broadly in affectionate amusement at the plight. He wasn't sure that it would get old, this introducing Edward to all the things he'd missed out on as a child and as a result of having been dead and trapped in that office. "There'll be a switch on the underside of the car, and there should be a similar one on the controller."

Edward hummed to himself in concentration as he flipped both of them over, and spotting the red switches, he flicked them both to the 'on' position with a bright grin. Not wasting a moment, he sank down to set the remote control car upon the gravel, and straightening he took the controller in both hands where it took him only moments to discover how to make the car suddenly spurt forward with a clattering of gravel and reckless abandon.

"Don't let it get out of range." Roy cautioned as he watched the car speed off and around various tin cans that littered the gravel.

Edward laughed, and with a smug look towards Roy that the man didn't see, he careened the joystick around to cause the car to come hurtling back towards them. Straight for Roy.

"Edward…" Roy uttered with a note of uncertainty to his voice, before realizing that Edward had no intentions of not sending the car straight at his boots, and at the last moment had to dance aside. Rolling his eyes at Edward's snickering, he sent the ghost a glare while at the same time keeping a vague eye on where the object of terror was. "And you once wanted me to teach you how to drive."

"But Roy," Edward soothed with a wicked grin, "at least then you'd be in the car with me. Completely safe!"

"You should know, that doesn't make me feel at ease at all." Roy informed him drily.

Edward shook his head, still quietly chuckling to himself as he guided the remote control car back around in front of them where he practiced weaving it around various discarded items and trash bins. And it proved the very distraction he needed for Roy, because every time the man's posture became even remotely tense again, he'd careen the whirring vehicle straight at him.

He determined that he much preferred Roy's attempts at ballet and cursing to the nerves the man had been displaying earlier.

And despite what Roy tried to convince him of, he kept the car whirring at Roy's heels all the way into the backyard. Only once they were inside the house did he turn it off, setting the controller on the floor next to the car it commanded before straightening to meet whatever this was.

Roy was setting the plush sheep down onto the couch when Edward found him, and it was with an almost hysterical realization that his hands felt as if they might start shaking. It startled a laugh out of him, and he shook his head in disbelief at himself.

Edward's forehead pulled into a concerned frown as he came around to be next to the man, turning to lean back against the back of the couch, ducking his head over in front of Roy in order to cause the man's attention to shift to him. "Whatever it is, Roy…" he began gently, "I seriously doubt that it is worth turning yourself into a mess of nerves like you were doing. I wasn't that nervous when I was being chased around an island by my teacher's half-naked husband."

Roy spluttered wordlessly in wide-eyed shock.

Edward didn't remark on the gaping, though it did make him smile as he finished. "And I was a child. That shit's pretty scary when you're a kid."

"Who the fuck was this teacher of yours?!" Roy managed to get out at last, still wondering as to how Edward could say stuff like that with such a carefree attitude.

Edward grinned at him wickedly, "Izumi Curtis, remember?" But he waved his hand flippantly. "But you're missing my point, Roy."

"I'm sorry, I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that your alchemy teacher thought that having her half-naked husband chase you around an island was in any way appropriate." Roy defended as he drew back from the couch with a disbelieving shake of his head.

"Are you more offended at the actual situation, or the fact he was half-naked?" Edward's wicked grin turned positively feral as he tried not to laugh too hard at Roy's predicament.

"Both!" Roy flared up, before scowling at Edward, who seemed entirely too amused with this. "Fine then, what's your point?"

Edward's amusement faded as his grin softened into a fond smile as he tilted his head to watch Roy as the man gradually came back over to lean beside him against the couch. "My point is, is that I legitimately thought the guy was going to kill Alphonse and I. What you need to talk to me about, is there any risk of me killing you over it?"

Roy sobered instantly, and looking over at Edward with a weak smile, he shook his head. "At least, I hope not." Yet he let out a long sigh, and sank to the floor, the back of his hair sticking up everywhere against the rear of the couch. "I made you worry again, didn't I."

Edward immediately sank down next to him, and turning to look at the man, he offered a reassuring smile. "Just talk to me. I promise I'll listen, and if I feel it merits me killing you after all, I'll give you adequate warning to try running for it."

"You'd never make Grand that offer." Roy pointed out with a flicker of humor.

"I'm the only one allowed to threaten your life, Roy." Edward countered, but said nothing further. He could see Roy was trying to figure out what he wanted to say, and while the man was showing nerves again, these were a different, less damaging sort. So he stayed quiet, and waited patiently beside him.

Roy let out a slow breath, and turning to look at the ghost he met the concerned silver gaze that was watching him unwaveringly. "Do you remember when I told you that I was stopping the manwhoring, as you've so delicately been putting it?"

There were several things Edward wanted to say to that, yet the majority of them he felt were far too flippant for the way Roy was currently acting. They'd moved beyond the teasing line, and Edward knew that with very sudden certainty. So instead he merely nodded, nothing but calm as he replied, "you know I do."

Roy smiled faintly, yes, he supposed Edward would. The ghost had been understandably shocked and confused by the declaration. "I wasn't being entirely honest with you. Yes, everything about the manwhoring getting dangerous was true, but alone I doubt it would have been sufficient reasoning to actually make me abstain."

"You certainly managed to protect yourself well enough." Edward muttered, a frown pulling at his face as he thought back to the bloody sight that Roy had presented when he'd returned home. Yet none of the blood had belonged to Roy in the slightest. If that wasn't a recommendation for Roy's skills, he wasn't sure what else it could be.

Roy gave a quiet chuckle, surprising himself that he wasn't too nervous to do so. Nodding his head he shot Edward a fond look, "and do you remember, that same morning, when you accused me of being distracted?"

Edward shifted his legs underneath him so that he could sit sideways against the couch to look at the man. "Is it no longer an injustice to tell me? Is that what this is all about?"

"I didn't want to just…" Roy bit the inside of his lip in debate of his words before he continued hesitantly, "not right after that night. It didn't seem the right time, it didn't seem like I'd done enough to make up to you leaving you alone when I knew you wanted me to stay."

"Roy," Edward ventured gently, reaching a hand out towards the man's knee and hovering it there. "Please tell me you're done with that mission? You had nothing to make up for."

Roy met Edward's insistent eyes with a lopsided smile, "I think it's time I told you the whole truth. Just…"

"I won't go anywhere." Edward reassured him, and if anything, he shifted closer to the man so that their legs were nearly about to pass together.

Roy drew in a steadying breath, and despite it, felt light-headed from anticipation of what he was about to do. He was about to leave behind this last remnant of his old life, and it was a strange moment to realize just how much Edward had changed his life, and yet… it was time.

"I've fallen in love with you, Edward." He admitted softly, not looking away from the stunned apparition. "That night… I accepted that I had."

Edward could only stare at first, wide-eyed in shock, trying to convince himself that he'd heard Roy correctly. And slowly, ever so slowly, he managed to find his shaken voice. "You love me? You're in love with me?"

"Very much so." Roy answered with a soft smile, though he was, if anything, more nervous now that he'd confessed. Yet oddly, he barely even noticed it this time, such was his focus on Edward. He knew the ghost had absolutely no experience with this, and he still looked entirely taken aback. "I never thought I'd feel for anyone the way I do you."

Edward didn't know when his gaze had fallen to staring wide-eyed at his knees, but it suddenly jerked back up at those words as he felt his emotions crash in around him. All of them, at once – all of the joy and relief, all of the uncertainty and fear, and a yearning so abrupt that it nearly left him reeling.

That same yearning desire he'd felt before, the overwhelming need to know what it felt like to be touched by Roy. To be held by him. And the reminder that it could never happen, he would never be able to touch Roy, brought with it this time a wave of sadness coupled with a pain he'd never felt before. Had he still a body, he expected the pain he felt now would have been in his heart.

"But you can't even touch me." Edward replied despondently, his face falling as he shook his head and began to float to his feet, "I'm just a ghost."

"What in our history together could make you believe, that for even a second, that matters to me?" Roy frowned in confusion, and slowly, feeling that if he moved any faster he might spook the ghost, he stood as well to move within arm's reach of the ghost. "I realized something as I was trying to ignore how I felt for you, none of it fucking matters. I love you, and it doesn't have to make sense. Our existence together isn't exactly typical in the first place."

Edward tilted his head as he considered the man with confusion in his eyes, "you could be happy with just… this?" He asked uncertainly, reaching for Roy's hand, only to have their hands merge together without contact.

Roy looked down at their hands, understanding with a faint smile as he looked back up to Edward at the same time he curled his fingers as best he could tell around Edward's hand. "I may not be able to feel you, Edward, but I know you're there."

"I…" Edward broke off as he looked aside with barely tempered frustration, "I don't know what I feel. I've never felt this way about anyone else… but I don't know what it is. Before I met you I wasn't even aware I could feel this way."

"I wasn't either." Roy replied with wry irony in his voice, "you sure knocked that fence down." And as Edward met his gaze a bit reprovingly, he gave the ghost a lopsided, understanding smile, "I can't tell you what you feel, Edward. I can't tell you how to feel. That's something you'll have to figure out for yourself."

Edward bowed his head as he tried to ignore the twisting wrench of pain that took residence in his chest as he slowly shook his head. It didn't matter what he felt… he couldn't do this to Roy. Couldn't let Roy do this to himself. "I'm just a ghost." He repeated hollowly, "I can't let you waste your life loving me. You get a chance to live, and I care about you enough to want you to do that!"

"Then if you care about me that much," Roy ducked his head to try and catch Edward's gaze again, never once removing his hand from where Edward's still lingered towards him, "you'll forgive me when I say that you should know me well enough by now to know that this is never something I'd say to you lightly. Also when I say that you're incredibly fucking wrong to believe that loving you is a waste."

Edward met the eyes trying to seek his with apprehension, his expression tortured. "But Roy – "

"No." Roy cut him off firmly this time, his gaze narrowing. "If you're going to try arguing that point again, don't even bother. It won't work."

Edward managed a slight scowl at the reproach.

"I love you." Roy intoned firmly, "and believe me, I know that it's scary as all fuck – "

Bowing his head slightly again, Edward couldn't repress a faint smile, try as he did to hide it.

" – but I love you all the same." And Roy smiled back as reassuringly as he could, "whether or not one day you can return my feelings is for you to find out. Just know that I'm yours regardless, if ever you want to be mine."

Edward could feel his defenses beginning to fracture inside him, his efforts fruitless to seal them back together. Yet, he tried. Because how could he, someone wholly unable to give Roy everything the man deserved from love, be deserving of that love? Roy mattered to him desperately. How could he chain Roy to a life loving someone who could never embrace him?

"Talk to me, Edward." Roy spoke gently, his eyes never leaving that uncertain face. "Just because I love you doesn't mean I can't listen to you anymore."

"Can you understand the guilt, Roy?" Edward asked quietly, fixing his pained gaze on the man. "You deserve to have everything from the one you love. How can I be deserving of you if I can't be everything?"

"And you call me the idiot." Roy breathed out affectionately, smiling as Edward glared at him. Reaching out he hooked his fingers into the silvery locks, incorporeal, yes, but even as such it had never stopped him. It never would. "Edward, you're always telling me that it's not about me deserving you, that I have you. Can you not see that I feel the same? Can you not understand that if having a clichéd everything means I can't have you, I don't want it? That I want you, just as you are, to be that everything?"

Edward found himself rendered speechless, not only by the words which had struck a chord in him that resonated straight through to him, the edges of the guilt that had clenched at his heart beginning to loosen its grip; but by the sheer audacity of Roy using his own words against him. And it was that which led his widened eyes to crinkle up in laughter that quietly began to spill from him. "We've really switched roles," he got out as a growing warmth began to smother the shadows that had clenched his heart. "Haven't we."

"You were being a bit of an idiot, yes." Roy chuckled, his expression tender as he took a chance and stepped closer to Edward, his other hand rising to trace along that laughing face. "Are you through with the whole idiocy thing?"

Edward snorted in affront, and his laughter tapered off until he was gazing at Roy with something close to wonder in his eyes. "You really do love me, don't you."

It wasn't a question, but Roy answered it anyway with an affirmative nod.

Edward gave a faint, fleeting smile as his gaze cast towards the floor beside them. "I can't honestly say whether or not I feel the same for you." He reiterated with a hint of regret to his voice. "But I'm willing to try and figure my emotions out." And he raised his gaze back to Roy's with a steady determination. "If you're willing to support me. If you're certain I'm what you want."

"You know I am." Roy reassured as he leaned his forehead down to rest at the space where Edward's began, his hands still framing the ghost's face. "Edward Elric… you are by far the most amazing man I've ever met. And downright baffling."

Edward let out a noise of protest, his head tipping away so that he could frown reprovingly into Roy's smiling eyes.

"Were you really concerned about my not having sex anymore? You?" Roy teased with a growing grin.

Edward would have blushed, were he able, but as it was he settled for practicing a scowl on the aggravating man. "True. Even if you could touch me, let's not assume I'd let you."

Roy laughed at the claim, but as he leaned in to Edward's ear there was no laughter in his lowered voice, "you assume I wouldn't enjoy making you beg for me to touch you."

Edward nearly shivered in reflex, and as Roy straightened he found himself pinned by that look that had so often warmed him while at the same time seeming to obliterate everything else around them until his entire world had narrowed to the man. "You're very sure of your abilities." He managed to get out in a voice that sounded far too unsteady for his liking.

Roy smirked at him before moving his hands down towards Edward's, and as he did so his expression softened. "Edward, thank you for worrying about me... but know you're never a decision I'd make lightly. So take whatever time you need… don't decide lightly on me."

A serious light entered silvery eyes as Edward considered Roy with a solemn expression, and he slowly nodded just once. "I won't. You really do mean a great deal to me."

"I know," Roy smiled faintly then and drew away, "you fight too hard to protect me to make me believe otherwise." And this, he knew, was potentially one of the hardest parts he knew he had to do. He needed to give Edward space now, until the apparition sought him out again. So managing a stronger smile to brace himself, he continued, "in any case, I'm going to go see what I have in the freezer for dinner tonight."

Edward stood frozen to his spot as he watched Roy disappear into the kitchen, and as soon as the man had it felt as if all adrenaline inside him vanished at once, and he collapsed to his knees with a shuddering exhale. Raising one hand to his face he closed his eyes as his shoulders slumped in an emotional exhaustion.

Never, in his life or death, had he courted the idea that someone might fall in love with him. Never would he have thought that it would be Roy.

That man… Roy really had changed his entire life, from the moment they'd met. Roy had seen him, freed him, and become the only one in this vast world who he knew he'd stay beside until Roy's time was done. And even then, he still hoped fervently that Roy wouldn't leave him alone in an empty world. That'd they'd still be allowed to be together, by whatever power had created this existence for him.

Yes, there were people he loved in this world. Alphonse, Winry… even his father, for his part. Yes, he wanted to see them all again… but the thought of not having Roy by his side for any such length of time left him feeling a stabbing pain and the barest flutter of panic.

Roy meant everything to him. He knew that without any doubt in his soul.

Yet his soul harbored other doubts. Doubts about the meaning of the way Roy could make him feel… and he needed to be sure. Roy had clearly taken the time to think this through, and knowing he now held the man's love… he needed to be certain of how he felt. Anything less would be an insult and only hurt them both.

It was a bright yellow ball that bounced through his thigh and hit the back of the couch that startled him out of his own head. Blinking at it as it skittered this way and that through his legs as it lost its forward momentum he smiled faintly and plucked it up.

Hazel chirped in approval, and bounced on all four paws, snapping his tail as he chattered commandingly. He wasn't sure what was going on with his human or his invisible friend, but whatever it was, he didn't like the conflict he could sense in his friend, or the forced unyielding posture of his human – it made it very difficult to have a soft shoulder to sleep on.

"You like me even though you can't see me." Edward continued to smile, and obeying the clear commands to throw the ball again, he did.

Hazel immediately pounced on it, wrapping his body down around it before shooting a smug look towards the space he could sense his friend. Lifting himself off the ball he butted his head sharply against it to send it rolling off towards where his human had disappeared into the kitchen.

Edward blinked after it, before Hazel's chattering made him look down again. The squirrel was sitting on his haunches, looking every inch regal and affronted as he stared after where the ball had rolled off to. Edward only needed a few moments to understand, as a kid he'd often played fetch with Den, only to have the dog sometimes decide that it was more fun for him to fetch the ball. And looking off towards where Hazel had rolled the ball, he felt his chest tighten as he closed his eyes briefly.

"Sorry, Hazel." He said to the unhearing squirrel, "I can't right now."

And with a last apologetic look towards both the squirrel and the kitchen, he sprung up into the air to vanish through the ceiling and then quickly thereafter, the roof. Which was where he came to rest. Touching down to it he walked across the roofing tiles until he reached the topmost point, and once there he sat down, staring off into the sun as he let himself sink into reflection.

Still in the kitchen, Roy looked over as Hazel slowly scampered in, looking put out.

"Hey now," Roy soothed as his pet sat down next to the yellow ball and tapped at it dejectedly. "He'll play with you later, I'm sure."

Hazel huffed at him as his human walked over, and when Roy was close enough, he scampered his way up the nearest leg and into his human's arms where he tucked his face into the crook of one arm. As Roy's free hand came down to pet him he curled his tail around the wrist of the arm he rested in, and gave a morose chirp.

"I've never let you find a lady squirrel," and Roy tilted his head with a considering look before adding, "or a gent squirrel, let's be fair, so I know you won't understand when I say this stuff is a bit complicated. So be patient, Edward has a lot on his mind right now, and this time, I can't help him."

Looking towards where he'd left Edward, he smiled faintly, feeling a strange sadness as he saw the ghost was gone. Yet he didn't feel any panic that Edward wouldn't return when he was ready. Patting Hazel absently he slowly made his way out into the hallway again and into the sitting room.

Still no Edward.

Letting out a slow breath he walked over to the couch and sat down, Hazel still curled up in one arm. Reaching over with his free hand he picked up the telephone receiver which he tucked between his head and shoulder as he dialed. Once it began to ring he held it properly, his gaze resting on his confused pet.

It seemed that Hazel wasn't accustomed to not being able to put Edward at rights again.

After the fifth ring, the other line was picked up.


Roy couldn't help but smile at the sound of her voice, and he rested his head back against the couch cushions, closing his eyes. "You knew, didn't you." He accused, but fondly.

"Parents generally know everything," came Daphne's amused voice, "but enlighten me as to what act of brilliance I pulled off this time."

"I love Edward." Was all he replied, it was all that was needed.

There was a pause, almost too long of one, nearly smug in its length, before his mother replied sounding far too pleased with herself. "Finally! What with your quest to sleep with all of Amestris after all, I was worried. Mostly for Edward, he's a sweetheart, and you're an emotional blockhead."

Roy's eyes flew open in indignation, "I am not!"

Daphne's laughter rang clearly over the other line, "don't argue with your mother." And then there was another pause, before in a suspicious tone she asked, "you have told him, haven't you?"

Roy felt a warm smile creep onto his face, despite how turbulent the confession had been. "Yes, I told him."

"And you're calling me…" Daphne's voice trailed off in clear consideration of this, before she asked, "when?"

"About ten minutes ago." Roy answered quietly, his eyes closing again. "He… when he died he was a kid. He doesn't really have experience with emotions like this, he isn't sure how he feels."

Daphne was silent only long enough to be sure Roy wasn't going to add anything more, before replying in that firm, comforting tone that only mother's seemed able to create. "Roy, I want you to listen to me. Do not, for one second, doubt that Edward could love you back. Like how it was with you, it might take a while… so if you love him, don't waver from him for one second. Because that ghost of yours is willing to follow you for the rest of your life. And it's rarer than it should be to find someone willing to stay by your side forever."

"I couldn't waver if I tried. And I tried." Roy replied with a self-deprecating laugh, before shaking away the bitterness at those actions and opening his eyes again as he sat up straighter on the couch. "I just wanted you to know you can stop worrying about me. I found someone I love."

"Oh hun… I'm your mother. I'll always worry about you." But the smile was clearly evident in her voice. "You'll be okay, I promise. Especially with Edward there with you, that ghost… I don't worry about you as much as I once did, not since you have him."

"I'm supposed to protect him." Roy argued with a frown.

"We protect the ones we love, it's in our nature. Now I want you to do something for me."

"Yes?" Roy asked hesitantly, knowing better than to feel entirely at ease with a request from his mother.

"Get off the phone with me, in case Edward needs to talk to you. And when you see Edward again, take your cues from him."

"I'm not an idiot!" Roy informed her hotly, and he glared at the receiver as his mother's laughter came over the line. "Just be grateful I thought to tell you."

"We both know you only called me because you needed your mother's support."

Roy decided that the only way to respond to that was to promptly hang up on her. So he did.

"Honestly, where does she come up with that stuff?" Roy huffed and got up again, Hazel still cradled in his arm. "I truly hope that insanity only runs in her side of the family, I'd like to have a small hope at avoiding turning into her."

And settling Hazel on his shoulder he began to make his way upstairs. He'd been putting off the housework for a while, and right now in the maelstrom of thoughts and emotions, simply doing his laundry seemed like a port of haven.

He didn't see Edward again until long after he'd finished dinner.

Edward wasn't certain how long he'd been sitting on the roof. All he knew was that the sun had long set, and now a sheer covering of stars littered the sky. It was the opening and closing of the back door that broke him from the trance he'd fallen into. He knew Roy was down there, and that tug he'd been feeling to go back to the man only doubled at the knowledge.

Rising up from the roof he padded across it to look down to where Roy was standing on the steps of the porch, leaning back against the wall and just watching the night sky. And he was startled to realize that despite how badly he wanted to rejoin the man, he was nervous.

Did he even still belong? Did everything have to change now, because he didn't understand his own heart?

For what seemed eternity to him, he gathered what of his bravery he could find, clutching onto it desperately. And then, before he could talk himself out of it, he floated down to silently alight beside Roy on the steps.

"I had a feeling you were up there."

Edward startled at the sound of Roy's voice, so focused he'd been on trying to find his own.

Roy looked over, resting a warm gaze on the uncertain-looking ghost. "You okay?"

Edward opened his mouth to respond, but ended up biting down on his lower lip in clear indecision before focusing his gaze intently on the porch. "Are we?" He asked quietly, hesitantly, still not sure he wanted to be heard.

Roy's eyes widened in surprise, before they softened, and offering out a hand at Edward's side, he smiled. "No matter what happens between us, I want there to still be an us. In whatever fashion you choose." And he knew that some part of that was what Edward needed to hear, when a fleeting smile crossed the apparition's face.

For a time, they stood together silently, Roy's hand still in offering.

"I don't even know where to begin." Edward admitted softly, looking over at Roy now in carefully collected distress. "How did you figure it out? You've never loved anyone before either… have you?"

Roy met Edward's tumultuous expression with a tranquility he couldn't remember feeling before, and without looking away, he shook his head subtly. "Only you." He answered softly. "I wasn't sure, at first. But a man can only take so much of your unfair intelligence, sheer stubbornness, and selfless heart before he gives in and admits defeat. I realized that, despite whatever boundaries are between us, you're the one I want beside me through everything. Love, and life."

Edward looked away with a slightly flustered expression, although a smile was trying to break its way onto his face. With the way something inside him had soared at Roy's words, fighting the smile would be a losing battle in the end. "You're unfairly charming when you want to be."

"Honesty, my ghost." Roy chided fondly, "it'll make poets out of the most helpless of us men. Just be glad I left out the bits about how damnably attractive you are."

Edward sneaked a look at him, before looking away with an embarrassed laugh as he finally slipped his hand in with Roy's at his side. "Maybe we can get to that another day?" He ventured with uncommon shyness as he looked back up at Roy once more.

"If ever you're ready." Roy agreed gently, even as his heart skipped with hope at the words.

Edward nodded jerkily, a hesitant smile on his lips now as he searched Roy's gaze. "Just… stay beside me."

"I promised I'd support you." Roy reminded him, and turning away from the wall he kept his attention on Edward. It wasn't hard to do, not with how his ghost glowed so brightly in the darkness. "No matter what, I'm here for you."

Edward bowed his head in acceptance, before looking up with a smile and stepping away from the wall as well, leaving his hand melded with Roy's. "I think I owe Hazel a game, want to play with us?" He asked, hoping that this time, Roy would stay and help him play with the squirrel.

Roy chuckled at the suggestion, but nodded. "I think that's a fine idea, considering how baffled he was that you wouldn't play with him earlier."

They made their way inside together, not straying from the other's side as they located both Hazel's toys and Hazel himself. And soon they had settled down onto the first few stairs side by side, Roy leaning against the wall of the staircase as they took turns throwing bouncy balls against the front door for Hazel to chase after.

By the time they had tired Hazel and made their way upstairs to the bedroom, Edward felt much more at ease. It was only with some hesitation, that while Roy was in the bathroom, he climbed into the bed. Shoving away the prickles of nerves with accusations of them being foolish – Roy couldn't touch him even if he wanted the man to. Just a bit disgruntled, he tugged the blankets up around him to help make a prop for the book he grabbed.

When Roy exited the bathroom, he'd admit to feeling a measure of relief that Edward hadn't forsaken the bed. He'd been worried that the ghost would feel too uncomfortable to share the bed at the moment, so he carefully refrained from mentioning it as he walked over to climb in under the covers himself.

"Roy?" Edward asked quietly after the man had turned off the lamp on the bedside table, his hand resting in the hollow of the blankets created by their bodies.

Roy turned over onto his other side in order to blink up at the shining brilliance that was Edward, "yes?"

Edward set aside his book in that moment, and shifting so that he too lay beneath the blankets, he blinked contentedly across the space separating him from Roy. "I want you to know… I never thought I'd have a second reason to be glad I died."