A/N: Its been a LONG time, welcome back gang.
Chapter 28: Come and Find Me
Immaturity aside he had taken great care to rebuild what he had very successfully tried to sabotage. His grades were up, his standing as a leader in the Interfraternity Council was strong and his research had earned him the cost of tuition for the rest of his senior year. That's where the inherent problem began. Roy stared intensely at what was in front of him despite not really seeing anything at all. Apparently, you can't build anything worth a damn without tempting someone to come and knock it down.
Looking out at the rain coated road he brushed away the paramedic's hands and continued to stare at the chaos in front of him.
Rewind. What if they could rewind back to the beginning and erase every wrong turn that guided them to this point?
1 WEEK PRIOR…
Summer was gone and now the fall festivities of his sophomore year of college were in full swing. The traditional response to the kickoff of their first home game had drawn hundreds of current and former students to the stadium parking lot. Personally, Ed wasn't the biggest fan of the game of football, but he knew a good reason to drink when he saw one. Last spring, he had helped Winry coach a little league baseball team, but that was about as far as his devotion to organized sports went. The only benefit of college football was the overall social acceptance of drinking before noon.
Heymans was currently manning the grill because no one questioned a fat man's ability to cook. A delicious aroma of sizzling sausage and bacon kept the Alpha Chi boys circling like vultures. They had come to develop a good relationship with the other fraternity and an exchange of food for beer quickly created a joint tailgating operation. Social gatherings like this had once been the bane of his existence but even he couldn't deny a sense of belonging amongst friends. Joining a fraternity to piss off his father had been something of a catalyst to finding himself.
"I didn't know they let geezers come to these events." Roy shouted out to his longtime friend as Maes Hughes appeared from amongst the crowd.
Maes had an uncanny grin stretched across his face. "Ah brothers! A beautiful day for football!"
Edward braced for it and sure enough Maes whipped out his wallet and forced honeymoon pictures of him and his wife Gracia. Before he could disengage the barage Maes stopped and looked around as if broken from his trance. "You know Gracia was trying to find Winry, thought she might be with you?" He amended looking at Edward questioningly.
"No." Ed crossed his arms over his chest feeling the eyes of his brothers baring down on him. "She's probably with her sorority sisters."
The drinking had kept him company but Maes comment made him set his can of beer back down. Edward frowned because he knew his answer wasn't the truth. Winry was supposed to meet him over an hour ago. Grabbing his phone, he sent her a quick message and felt a sinking feeling as a string of notices suddenly began to pop up.
"Trouble in paradise?" Roy mocked.
Edward stared at his phone. "Shut up Mustang." He read through them quickly, his stomach uneasy with guilt.
Where are you? I told the girls to go ahead, are you on your way?
The next string of texts confirmed it, she was pissed. From the time stamps he was also fucked seeing as these should have come through hours ago.
You better be in a ditch somewhere.
Walking up to the tailgate by myself.
Bringing my wrench.
"I was supposed to pick up Winry." Edward deadpanned as he watched a shit eating grin appear on his fraternity brothers face. "Muck it up bastard; you've made a career out of being a dick." Edward lashed back.
"That I have and yet here we are and there she is." Roy purred ruthlessly.
Hughes let out a delighted "Winry, we were just talking about you."
"Aw hell." Ed mumbled under his breath as he turned around slowly to face his girlfriend.
Winry finished giving Hughes a hug before setting her glare on him. Edward patted his sides awkwardly as if putting out a fire. "You made it." He managed stupidly.
It occurred to him to shut his mouth and take it, but while he thought it, he found he did not have the capacity to follow through with it. "Right, crisis averted."
A flush spread across her cheeks and while Edward thought for sure she might hit him he found that he was more troubled when she just shook her head and walked away without another word. "Girls." He mumbled under his breath. Someone hit him upside the back of his head, "Ah! What was that for?"
"For being an idiot." Hughes glared at him, "She's pissed you know."
"I hadn't noticed." Edward replied sarcastically, his temper in rare form.
Mustang began to chuckle as Hughes walked away from them.
"Because this is so funny." Ed retorted.
"Touchy, touchy." Mustang held up his hands, "For once I'm just glad its not me in the dog house."
"Isn't Riza at some wedding with the new pledge?" Edward roasted his fraternity brother.
Roy shrugged his shoulders as if it didn't particularly bother him. "Riza's not my girlfriend anymore. She can do whatever she pleases."
Ed glowered at his brother for a moment wishing he had gotten the upper hand of something but Roy was rubber this morning. With a frown he stared off in the direction Winry had stormed off in, it didn't have to be complicated. Maybe he could just let her walk away and not follow. Let her cool down enough to come to here senses enough to realize this was all some stupid misunderstanding and there didn't need to be blame.
"Come on, let's get some food and drink in you; you're cranky." Roy amended looking at him with amusement.
Edward reluctantly accepted because his stomach was growling and his conscious was too busy reprimanding his poor behavior. Nothing like a little booze to shut it up.
Snap. Winry looked at the broken pencil in her hand and the dark mark it left on her paper. For a simple error it looked entirely too angry and forced. Sighing she closed her textbook and looked around the library. The place was nearly empty, and the clock told her it was time to pack up and go.
A lot had happened since she first started school in Central. Enough that she was sitting at a study table trying in vain to pretend she wasn't missing out on all the fun. Most of her problems had to do with a certain amber eyed boy who at the moment was driving her crazy. Dating your best friend wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. In this moment she needed a friend, a support system and instead she got a boyfriend ripe with jealousy.
Pushing the bangs out of her face she cleaned up her work area and decided the walk home might release all the pent-up frustration she was feeling. Edward never apologized for not picking her up for the tailgate and his drunk dials had been insulting to say the least. Edward was headstrong and stubborn. Neither of these things were new, but as of the present she felt them wearing her patience thin. Maybe the next time he needed maintenance she could make him remember just who she was. The thought brought a slightly wicked smile to her face.
Adjusting the straps of her backpack, Winry considered calling a sister to pick her up but the night was cool and the walk didn't seem so daunting. Stumbling a bit on an uneven patch of sidewalk Winry paused long enough to hear the continued sound of footsteps behind her. Quickening her pace Winry focused on the dimly lit pathway to the sorority house. It was past dusk and while she had plenty of time to get to the house before darkness set in, she was all too aware that someone was following her. A sly glance over her shoulder revealed he was bigger than she was. Winry began to imagine the scenario and was satisfied that he might be big but the wrench at the bottom of her bag could knock the sense out of just about anyone. Winry would not be playing the victim tonight.
All the stores of rage, hurt and pure exhaustion began to pool and intertwine. The sound of his shoes on the sidewalk matched her pace and suddenly Winry was angry. Angry that he was Ishvalan, angry that he scared her and angry that she had been too focused on Edward to just get a ride to avoid all of it.
Whirling around Winry pulled at her bag, ready to grab her trusty tool. "Are you following me?"
He stopped in his tracks.
Winry frowned, her hands clutching her bag as she realized who it was. "My roommates are waiting up for me."
His chin lowered making the scars on his face almost deepen in the shadows. "I'm not going to hurt you."
His current stance seemed to send a different message. "Then why are you following me?"
"I knew I'd run into you here- but you look…you look just like her," the man said.
Winry squirmed under his stare wondering how long he had been looking. "Like who?"
His red eyes pierced her like fire in the night.
He spoke in a gravelly voice. "Doctor Rockbell… she was your mother, wasn't she?"
There was something dangerous about the way he moved closer and the string of veins that bulged around his neck. It should have frightened her, but she was breathless with curiosity. "She was."
Scar suddenly reached out and pulled her close enough that she could feel his breath on her face. "Do you know what they did?" He hissed out from between clenched teeth.
Winry tried to find her anger but it was like someone had pulled the air of her sails. She sank under his glare forgetting about the large wrench protruding from her backpack.
Scar leaned away from her as they turned to see a red Mustang roll up, a male driver leaning over the passenger seat.
"Edward." She sighed in relief, but it was short lived.
His stared between the two of them; eyes full of questions. Winry almost laughed at that; he could grab a number at this point. But her silence seemed to jolt him into action as he jumped out of the car.
"You probably want to take your hands off my girlfriend." He enunciated the final word with the slamming shut of his car door.
Scar took a step backwards, his eyes flashing towards Winry one last time before he turned around and began to walk away.
"Hey!" Ed began to trail after him when Winry grabbed his arm.
"Don't." The last thing they needed was a fight.
"I'm going to need a lot more than don't." He glared off after Scar, his words slipping out through gritted teeth.
She must have waited too long because he was now giving her that look.
"He's in one of my classes." She offered, not keen to disclose the details of their interaction.
"What are you doing out here alone? After everything that happened last year are you really this dumb?"
Winry took the shot, it was a low blow and fired right back. "Should I have called you to come pick me up?"
Disbelief and a bit of annoyance was written all over his face. "Sounds like a sane idea to me."
"Because you're so reliable." She insisted. "I'd rather walk."
Edward pinched the bridge of his nose, exhaling loudly. "And you call me stubborn. You're lucky I saw you two. Just get in the car, I'm driving you home."
When she didn't follow he pointed to the vehicle like she needed the prompt. Winry made sure to avoid eye contact as she followed him to his car. There was no need to give him the satisfaction that he had somehow saved her. It felt humbling and possessive in ways that didn't sit well on her.
As for her encounter she wasn't sure Edward could help her. There was a mystery scarred man who was a key to something Winry wasn't sure she wanted unlocked, but the pursuit of it was consuming.
The drive was short, but the silence festered and throbbed between them. "I think he knew my parents Ed, he said I look like my mother." Winry admitted at last.
Edward grunted, sending her a look before turning back to the road. "Seemed a little more intimate than that."
"Did I look like I was enjoying myself?" Winry struck back. Her emotions were a pinball machine and he was throwing up every lever.
"You really think this guy followed you just to say you look like your mother?" He muttered something about he guy being a creep.
"He asked me if I knew what my parents did. Did he know them in Ishval?" The Ishvalan War had seen the slaughter of thousands of Ishvalan people and judging by the scars on his face he was no stranger to it.
"Or you're just being naive and this guy is looking for a way to get to you." Edward offered, his eyes narrowed.
"Just take me home."
They didn't speak and when he finally pulled up outside the sorority house she kept her chin down so he wouldn't see the effort it took not to cry. There was nothing more to say.
Morning brought no messages on her phone and no word from Edward which let her mind drift to the other man. Winry felt anxious about encountering him in class and wished things with Edward didn't feel so strained.
As if to taunt her the Ishvalan came in late, choosing a spot closest to the exit and burning a hole through the back of her head with his glare. Wanting to clear the air Winry nearly jumped from her seat when class was dismissed. Pushing through the crowd she bolted after him catching his arm in her haste. "Wait!"
He paused and for the first time Winry wondered if it was better to let sleeping dogs lay. "Alright." She steeled her nerves. "You have my attention. How did you know my parents?"
Scar dropped his gaze to the ground before pushing up the sleeve of his shirt to showcase an arm full of tattoos and another horrible scar that ran around the top of his bicep. "This."
Winry stared at the damaged tissue, "I don't understand."
His tongue flitted out, wetting his dry lips. "Look closer."
"I don't understand. They were doctors there, is that how you know them, were you hurt?" Winry stared at the scarred tissue on his arm and back to the x across his face.
"Who do you think did this?"
Winry didn't like the implications behind his tone. Her parents would never harm a living soul, they were good doctors. "They could never had done that, your lying."
"The Ishvalan war, maybe you should read about it." He retorted harshly before turning and walking away.
Winry felt her face heat with emotion. Racing after him she cut him off, forcing him to face her. "They died to save those people in Ishval."
There was a glimpse of something terrifying and mad in his eyes. "You think their death relieves them of what they've done? I know what they did and one day the whole world will know."
The thought of anyone hating her parents felt cruel and unusual. "What could they have done to you to make you hate them?"
Scar's face twisted, the corners of his mouth into a wicked grimace. "They let my brother die and then attached his arm to mine." He growled out in disgust. "They watched as hundreds of helpless women and children were murdered. And yet here you are, the daughter of those sick doctors, pursuing a degree in medicine. You don't think this is twisted? I will make sure you crawl back into whatever backwoods hole you and your family came out of. The truth is coming Rockbell and I cannot wait to be the one to deliver it."
Winry felt like someone had doused her with cold water. "I don't believe you, they would have never done that." She whispered but even as the words came out of her mouth she felt sick.
"You can't hide from the truth; I've been watching you. Your parents took my brother's life and left me with these scars while a young man sits and rots in a mental institute while you play sorority girl and doctor."
"What are you talking about?"
"Does the name Kimbley ring a bell?"
Winry froze, this time feeling a real sense of dread as memories too close to the surface began to ebb their way into her thoughts.
"Like I said, I've been watching."
Winry Rockbell just might be the most infuriating woman he had ever met. She was stubborn to a fault and boy did she have a knack for attracting trouble. He noted that he should probably count himself among that category, but he didn't venture too far down that road. Winry had become his best friend and he couldn't stand the thought of her hurting anymore. Between the two of them they had had their share of ups and downs. Currently their lows were bottoming out and Edward needed something to pick them up.
It was the annual date night and really the anniversary of the first time he had felt something stronger than friendship towards Winry. There was no way to top Hughes proposal to Gracia but he firmly believed he could at least recreate some of the magic he and Winry had shared.
Of course, he should have anticipated nothing would go according to plan. Instead of recreating magic Edward realized the night had turned into a hot mess of good intentions gone awry. First and foremost, Winry picked the wrong tie. The Kappa Delta girls lined up and when he spied the tie dangling from her hand he nearly gagged. His gaze shifted over to one of the new pledges, a transfer from Xing who now turned his hungry eyes on the blonde girl holding out his tie in confusion. So he hadn't remembered to text her a picture of his new tie, that seemed trivial. shouldn't she have recognized it? Instead he had to deal with some obnoxious pledge fawning over his girlfriend while he sat on the sidelines.
He focused on creating a mental checklist of the all the disgusting chores he would force upon this ungrateful pledge and… "What the fuck Ling?!"
Ling shrugged his shoulders as he grinned from the mud hole he had tackled Winry in. Ed could hear the protest of his gears in his automail fist as he watched Ling look over the curves that were undeniable under her mud soaked clothing. Instead of having the decency to reprimand the kid, Ed was furious at the way she laughed it off and continued on.
Mercifully Denny and Maria had won. Ed didn't think he could stomach the greedy look on Lings face for much longer.
Edward flopped down on his girlfriend's bed, looking at her from behind his hair.
Winry looked bemused as she carefully pulled out a new set of clothing, her muddy clothing dangerously close to touching her precious tools scattered over the desk. "You're jealous?"
"No." He corrected her despite the air of truth in it. "I'm not anything right now."
Winry rolled her eyes at him. "Whatever, I'm going to get showered and then we can get some food in you." She hesitated at the doorway looking a little gleeful. "Listen, if he hadn't have pulled me into the mud we might have won Edward and then I would have actually had to go out with the guy."
Ed grumbled because despite his feelings he agreed a date between the two of them sounded much worse. Looking around he found himself examining the contents of Winry and Marias room. Maria was neat and orderly while Winry had several small clutters that looked more like controlled chaos than organization. Sneaking a peak under her bed he noticed a crinkled-up paper just barely peaking out from under the bed. Bored he poked at it with his finger until it rolled out onto the floor. Unfolding the paper, it dawned on him that it was a note and when he began reading he wished he hadn't. "He's here, closer than you think…"
Staring at the page he was more perturbed by the scribbled web of notes in Winry's handwriting. The dots that connected Kimbley and the Ishvalan to her parents and back to her. The fear on her face, the man with the scars, the horrible events of that fucking dance. He wasn't sure how long he had been staring the paper before she finally walked in on him.
Maybe he should have ignored it, it would have been easier to pretend she hadn't hidden something like this from him. "You must really think you're clever."
He could see the recognition dawn on her face. "Edward." She almost sighed his name as if he were disappointing her.
"You were never going to tell me about this, were you?"
Winry just stared. "What was I supposed to say?"
Edward bared his teeth. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Apparently, you can't trust me."
"This is why I didn't tell you, I knew you would overreact."
"Oh, that's rich. I'm overreacting because you kept quiet about some sickko stalking you? Tell me how this is overacting after what happened last year? You do realize that both Hughes and I were shot in that incident, right? Come on Nancy Drew you must realize that its not just you in this equation. Tell me you're not this stupid!"
Winry visibly winced and he almost wished he hadn't said it like that. This was not the night he had planned and right now he couldn't look at Winry the same. "I have to go."
"You can't just leave after saying something like that Edward!" She nearly screamed as if there were other, terrible things lingering on her breath.
"If I don't I'm going to do or say something we'll both regret."
Winry's face turned even redder, her eyes narrowing. "Is that a threat Edward?"
He could hear the childishness in his footsteps and the rift he was forming when he stomped out of her room and out of the house. For once he didn't want to touch her, he didn't want to speak to her and he couldn't look her in the face. It was too painful to admit that he was scared and hurt that she didn't trust him. It was better to look away and pretend there was nothing there at all.
"She okay?" Riza asked over the phone.
Rebecca sighed and Riza could almost see the roll of her eyes. "Whatever they fought about she won't talk about it. I bet he's jealous the new pledge flirted with her during the date night event."
"Think it's serious?"
Rebecca scoffed, "Who knows, but less about that and more about you and the other new pledge brother. Seems like I need to get one myself."
Riza looked carefully over her shoulder to check that Patrick was still paying for gas inside the station. "Listen we're just friends."
"I'm not buying it, you wouldn't do this if you weren't at least a little bit interested in him."
"Listen just keep an eye out on Winry she's been off lately, not just about that stupid Fullmetal twerp."
"On it. And you enjoy some Mr. Hiscock if you catch my-"
"I'm hanging up now."
Riza didn't have long to ponder her friend's theories before Patrick returned and they were on their way. The trip had taken more than five hours, but they had finally arrived at the modest but well-maintained Hiscock family home. Riza still had a bout of hiccups from laughing so hard; Patrick had a sense of humor that rivaled even Jean. But all humor vanished upon sight of his family home and Riza realized what this all meant. Two nights spent with Patrick and his family, she could do this…she was going to do this. Riza blushed as Patrick's family directed them to the guest bedroom. This room had one bed and from the looks on their faces they were under the impression Riza was more than a wedding date. It made her feel uneasy; this had not been her intention upon accepting his invitation. Patrick placed their luggage next to the dresser and finally turned around with a sheepish look on his handsome face.
"I'm sorry about that; it's just been awhile since I've brought a girl home."
He must have noticed the way Riza was eying the bed because he grinned. Holding up his hands he laughed "No funny business, promise. In fact-" He gestured to the floor, "I'll be staying right here."
"Good, because I wasn't going to be sleeping on the floor." Riza maintained.
Patrick grinned, "I'm glad you came."
"I'm surprised I came." She admitted truthfully. "But I'm glad."
The next day was busy as they tried to either stay out of the way or help. Riza felt a bit nervous as she studied the dark navy dress that fit her curves snugly. With a sudden pang, Riza realized she had originally planned to wear this to Roy's acceptance gala. He was being honored with his new research, the research he had started with her father. And you're wearing it to a wedding with his fraternity brother.
Ignoring the judging voice inside her head she doubled checked that the high back on her dress covered her back properly before smoothing her hair back into an elegant twist. Tonight, was not about her, it was about celebrating a love story. Actually, this would be her second wedding in less than a year. Guess it was bound to start at some point. The weddings, the moving, the babies and the whole idea that they were not getting any younger bubbled to the surface before she smartly let it simmer back down.
The wedding ceremony itself was short but sentimental and Riza enjoyed the way Patrick cleared his throat as if to keep the emotion at bay. It was the reception that had her grinning from ear to ear. The Hiscock family did not disappoint. It wasn't hard to see where Patrick got his easygoing humor from. Patrick's father was a wealth of jokes, keeping the room tied up into knots of laughter. Riza found herself smiling and as easy as Patrick had come into her life it seemed his family somehow had too. Reluctantly she danced and then one dance turned into a night of twirling and on more than one occasion she could feel his breath on her neck and she swore she felt his lips there too.
By the end of the night her cheeks were flushed and everything had mellowed into an easy flow. Patrick's family was full of good conversation and a heap of laughs. Their accommodating nature made her feel at ease and like she'd known them her whole life.
When it was just the two of them back up in his room Riza couldn't keep the smirk off her face. "Now I know where you get your sense of humor from."
Patrick raised an eyebrow, "You're not enjoying yourself, are you? I'd hate to think this was anything but painful for you."
Riza let out a contented sigh before sinking against his side as they sat next to one another on his bed. It had been a long day and the booze was slowly unwinding those barriers she had wrapped herself up in. As she let her eyes close she felt his lips on hers and froze. Maybe she shouldn't have compared it, but there was no denying as the flash of so many kisses before. Roy Mustang had planted so many of them it was hard to believe these weren't his. Maybe it could be this easy; that Roy was just a man…a man who could be replaced.
His hand brushed her cheek before cupping her chin, forcing her to make eye contact.
She whispered his name as if he might answer her secret plea. "Patrick."
Oh, why the hell not?
They were entangled then, his mouth over hers, arms wrapping around one another. This was more like it and it almost seemed unfair that she should have only one layer of clothes while he must feel so constricted in his. Pulling open his jacket she watched as it slipped easily to the floor. Then his shirt seemed restricting so she figured she should help him out of that too.
He turned her around and began to unzip her dress when she heard him suck in a breath. Riza knew exactly what had gained his full attention.
"What is this?" He stammered in confusion, his fingers just barely touching the scarred tissue.
An icy chill doused the flames and whatever was left simmered. Riza wrapped her arms protectively around her torso. "I…its nothing."
They stared at each other the fog seeming to disappear until finally Riza found her voice, "Think we've had too much to drink. Should probably get some rest."
Patrick looked longingly at her and Riza thought about the how simple it would be to slip into this skin. The body of a girl who didn't have scars on her back; the body of a normal college girl with a loving family waiting just below. Instead she pretended she hadn't seen it because longing was a look she knew only too well.
He looked crushed and confused but didn't push the issue. The next morning brought with it a lot of realities that looked a whole lot uglier in the light. Patrick looked tired and maybe a bit uncomfortable but that could have been from sleeping on the floor. Either way Riza felt better once they had packed their belongings and were on the road.
Patrick gave her a long look as he pulled the last of her bags from his car. "You don't feel the same do you."
It was the right thing to do but it never quite felt that way.
Riza sighed, "I'm sorry Patrick, I tried."
He nodded, "Did I push you too hard?"
Feeling cruel she shook her head, "No. You were perfect, I just can't be with you when I…"
"When you're in love with someone else right?" He finished.
Riza pushed a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. "Something like that."
It had been a sobering night in which he would have grabbed for a bottle to drown out his poor decisions, but he had been trying to turn a new leaf. Riza had moved on and he knew that he needed to try. Those girls had meant very little and sober he didn't like how he saw himself through their eyes. They didn't understand the pain of growing up without parents and they certainly didn't know about his aunt and his many "sisters". Riza knew those things, she knew more about him than he could ever share with another. The thought of having to explain those things to someone new felt exhausting and unnecessary. But it was becoming increasingly apparent that unless he moved on he was going to lose a friend. Those thoughts fell heavy like a hammer, nailing every painful truth into place.
All this spare time had allowed him more time in his position as president of the IFC and it had given him ample work time on his project, but it felt hollow. Bertrund Hawkeye had allowed his work to consume his life but at least he had a life at some point. Roy had no delusions about the way his Aunt and her ladies huffed at his pouting and refused to meet his gaze. He would find no sympathy for his mistakes in a brothel full of damaged goods.
Tonight however, he was in control, tonight he was having a good time with his brothers and not a drop of alcohol had touched his lips. This was the night he swept thoughts of Riza and him someplace where they might remain forgotten and unattached. Place all that love into a space which would stand guarded to even himself because it plagued him with failure. That was until Riza was standing directly in front of him. For a moment he didn't believe it and if it wasn't for the coke in his hand instead of a beer he wouldn't have.
She didn't say a word, just a squeeze of his hand and then she was off in the direction of his room. Roy followed because of what he saw in her eyes. When she locked the door behind him he wondered if sobriety had been a good decision.
Riza pulled her hoodie over her head and began to unlatch her bra before he could even catch his breath. She was breathing hard, her hair hanging around her face casting shadows of doubt into his conscious. "What are you- "
She looked regal with conviction, her body exposed to him now. "Just look at me."
Roy knew now was not the time to question her. "Always have."
"Have you?" She noticeably swallowed. "And you still think I'm beautiful?"
Something clicked into place and Roy knew exactly why his ex-girlfriend was standing bare in front of him. Patrick was a dead man. "Where is he now?"
Riza shook her head, "He didn't do anything. We didn't do anything."
She was asking him to do something here and he wasn't sure he fully understood the gravity of the situation. Picking up her hoodie he offered it back to her like an olive branch. He'd rather have her in his life as a friend than nothing at all. He needed to remember his mistakes, he needed to remember that he didn't deserve someone like her.
Riza grabbed her clothes from his hand before letting them drop purposely to the floor. They stared at each other, each desperately hoping the other would move. Roy wasn't sure who kissed the other first; he just knew they had been walking the line for such a long damn time. Her scent, her taste and even the feeling of her skin on his brought back that first summer when they explored every inch of each other. When she had come barefoot into his room in the middle of the night and he had greeted her with curiosity and excitement. It had been a revelation in its time, but this, this felt like so much more. They knew every part and yet every sensation reminded him with extraordinary accuracy just how good it all felt. When it was over she let him trace the marks on her skin and brush away the tears as they fell.
"What do we do now?" He asked into the silence.
Riza closed her eyes, the tear tracks still along her cheeks as she rested her head against his chest. "Sleep."
Alex was pledge master and part of that involved passing out chores or duties requested by active members. He handed Breda the current list, his own mind a bit uneasy about delegating out these requests.
"High heel leaf raking, blindfolded haircuts, and condiment cocktails?" Breda shrugged his shoulders, "Seems like a typical list to me, what's the problem?"
"I get the feeling that Ling and Patrick are being singled out from the rest of our pledges. Most of these requests were worded for either one or the other."
Breda shook his head, "Probably has nothing to do with Ling hitting on Fullmetal's girl or Riza briefly going out with Patrick."
Alex frowned, "I worry if we let this go on we are going to lose them."
"If anyone can keep our pledges in line it's you Alex." Breda said with confidence.
Alex nodded but couldn't help but disagree completely. He often felt like he had rushed to put back his pieces and now they felt clunky and unnatural.
So when he took the pledges to the gym with him he decided to take a moment to check in with someone who also was heart sick.
"I know." Patrick looked grim and exhausted as he sat defeated on a bench, a set of weights lying forgotten on the floor. "I never stood a chance."
Alex thought about the idea of chance and how a New Years eve had changed everything. "That's not true."
"Isn't it though?" He let his head drop backwards, his chin lifted towards the ceiling. "I just thought maybe if she was away from this place, away from him… she might be able to feel something different."
Alex stiffened as he caught sight of a familiar black-haired man in the mirror. The slicked curl and careful smirk were already burned into his mind without ever needing a physical apparition. "We can run from our past, but it seems to catch up with us sooner or later."
Patrick looked back down at the weights, "I don't want you to go easy on me because you feel sorry for me."
Alex rather thought he was done feeling sorry altogether. "No sympathy from me my dear brother, just a common acknowledgement and understanding."
He almost turned around, desperate to following the retreating form of a man he once loved. That chapter of his life was so vast he was mistaken to believe it held as much weight to Garfiel as it had to him. Maybe he was just a small blip on his tapestry of magical conquests. That made Alex feel small in a world where he had always felt awfully big. So Alex picked up the heaviest set of weights and lifted until the pain in his muscles drowned out his heart.
She was back in a dark basement, the dank smell overwhelming as the voices whispered all around her. Winry squirmed in the chair, the binding of ropes keeping her chained to a hard surface. She gasped in surprise her eyes blinking at the light suddenly surrounding her. Sitting up in her bed she exhaled, slowly releasing the covers of her bed from the tight grip of her hands. The bedding was damp with her perspiration while her heart hammered against her rib cage.
It was just a nightmare. A nightmare she hadn't had for a long time. The lump in her throat became unbearable as she gasped for breath between sobs it seemed like she couldn't fill her lungs properly. Her heart was breaking and as tough as she pretended to be the anxiety had worn her thin.
If she was being honest she wanted nothing more than to hear Edwards voice. Like an addict needing a hit she felt the withdrawal, the gap he left too large. Stumbling out of bed she grabbed her coat off her desk chair before the crumpled-up paper caught her eye. He had been so angry with her over it, something she conceded was partly her fault. Letting the jacket fall back into place she realized she couldn't run to him and the thought fell heavy on her shoulders.
So she showered, ignored the looks her sisters sent her way and went to work with her eyes down.
Sam was always good at sensing her mood. He didn't pry, just turned the volume of the stereo up and let the garage fill with its angered words and deep rock chords.
After what must have been a few hours Tony emerged, his face red with effort as he tried to wave to get their attention. Sam obliged first by turning down the music and then by crossing his arms across his chest.
"Tell your friends not to call here, this is a place of work not a Sam hotline." He remarked gruffly.
Sam rolled his eyes for her benefit before heading inside the office. It couldn't have been more than a minute before he was back out rushing in her direction. His expression flickered from delighted to nervous and back again. "We gotta go."
Winry put her hands on her hips, "Go where?"
Sam grabbed her by the hand leading her out towards the parking lot. "Rose is at the hospital."
Winry sucked in a breath. "What?!"
"Can't believe I didn't hear my cell." He muttered under his breath.
Winry stopped in her tracks. "I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what's going on."
Sam looked amused, "Rocky, she's having the baby."
Sam was in such a hurry that Winry didn't have time to ask why Rose would think he needed to know. Her mind began to map out the pieces of the puzzle, each one slowing coming together. Seemed like there was a lot she had missed while wallowing in her own problems.
Tonight, they were the sober brothers and their first task was proving to be a challenge. Edward had Ling up against the house, his hands fisting into his shirt, a menacing look contorting his features.
"Say it again asshole." Ed growled.
"Easy Fullmetal." Roy put his hands out, a quick glance letting Havoc know they might have to physically intervene.
Ling half laughed but chocked on it as Edward pushed his metal arm across his throat.
"Woah!" Jean rushed forward, this was more than a drunken fight.
Edward spit on the ground barely missing Ling as Roy dragged him back. "Watch it Elric, Lings a brother now."
"Like I care!" Edward roared, "The filthy bastards been talking to Winry."
"Someone ought to." Ling admitted with a smirk though his hand was still rubbing at his neck.
Havoc rolled his eyes, "Cool it Ling, that's his girlfriend."
"That's not what I hear." Ling's grin widened.
Some idiots don't know when to shut up Jean thought and self-reflected that he fell into that category more often than not. "Inside." He ordered, "We are going inside so Fullmetal doesn't kill you."
Once he had safely maneuvered Ling inside he watched as the kid passed out on the couch. After checking vital signs, he shook his head. "Hey Alex!" He shouted at the large brother sitting on the couch, "Mind keeping an eye on him?"
"As pledge master it would be my honor and-"
"Perfect." Havoc cut him off and headed back out to join Roy.
The strained voices made him falter, staying out of sight for the moment.
"You can't say you love someone and then walk out on them." Roy spoke calmly.
Edward laughed manically, "That's rich. You, you giving me love advice?"
"Not love advice, life advice."
"Go. Fuck. Yourself." Edward enunciated but Jean could tell it was forced. "How's that for advice?"
"You might have to if you screwed things up with Winry. No clue why that girl seems to like a little twerp like you."
Jean decided it was time to intervene when he heard bodies hit the ground. Ed didn't stand much of a chance and from the blood coming from his nose he was a bit too late. Roy shook out his fist, "Wish you hadn't of made me do that."
Edward roared back but lost his footing and plummeted towards the ground. Roy caught his shoulder, keeping him upright.
"Easy there killer."
Edward tried to fight off his help. "Geroff me."
"With pleasure." Roy motioned Jean over, "Little help here?"
With some extra help he and Roy managed to get him to the bathroom before Edward began to puke. Maybe the alcohol was wearing off some. "Lets get some ice and sleep." He directed Edward to the house.
"Don't wanna be sick." Ed moaned as he clutched his nose.
"Better up and out than sick and festering." Roy pushed him towards the bathroom again. "Come on Elric we're not cleaning puke off the floor when the bathroom is right there."
Edward nodded the fight already drained out of him. "Call Winry."
Jean rolled his eyes, "Not a good idea boss man."
Heymans emerged from the kitchen looking thoroughly disgruntled. "Someone raided the fridge!"
They managed to set Edward up at the toilet right before he began to heave.
"How can you think about food right now?" Jean wrinkled his nose trying to block out the sound of retching, maybe they should have called Winry so she could deal with the collateral of whatever fight they'd had.
Heymans belched loudly before gesturing to Ling passed out on the couch and Edward moaning in the bathroom. "Listen they need some food in their bellies, just like I do."
"Don't do it." Havoc grimaced knowing what was about to happen even before it did.
Breda scratched as his chin before smirking. "Totem Jean, get us some food."
Totem was a hierarchy of brotherhood and their status of seniority but right now it felt like a bullshit way to bully someone into doing their bidding. "Jokes on you Breda I don't have a car."
Roy finished retying Edwards ponytail his face scrunched up in distaste. He pointed a warning finger at Jean, "He doesn't get to know about this."
"What?" Jean pretended to be innocent, "That his big brother cares about him enough to hold his hair back?"
"Like I said, he doesn't need to know. I've got a rep to maintain and id like him to remember I was the one who punched him for being a moron." Roy brightened for a moment, "I haven't had a lick to drink might as well make a pit stop and get the boys some food."
"Turning over a new leaf?" Jean said with mock sincerity.
Roy obliged with tip of an imaginary hat, "Let's say I'm feeling rather charitable after some good fortune this weekend."
They were soaked by the time they got into Roy's Jeep, the sudden downpour at least forcing some of their unwanted party guests to disperse. There was a lot to talk about and he was glad for the moment of clarity between him and one of his more honest friends.
They were too busy catching up on recent events to notice the car behind them was riding their bumper. When it suddenly swerved and sped up into the lane next to them Roy muttered a few curse words before throwing up his left hand in aggravation. Slowing down he motioned for them to pass but the car simply slowed and maintained its course on the two-lane road. "What the hell is this car doing?"
Jean leaned forward in an attempt to see, but between the darkness and the downpour he couldn't quite figure out how he knew that car. Just as he caught a glimpse of dark hair and the color red Roy beat him to it.
Jean gripped the dash as he careened around Roy to confirm. "Roll your window down!" He ordered his brother. "What the hell are you doing?!" He shouted towards his former girlfriend as the window lowered, rain now spraying into the cab.
She swerved nearly sending them off into the ditch. "Fuck." Roy clutched the wheel. "Get off the damn road!" He roared, hoping to shout some sense into the dumb girl.
Jean felt sick, was it his imagination or was she laughing?
"Let's play!" she screamed in delight.
Roy tried to slow down again but she followed suit swerving again into their lane. "Fuck."
"Just pull over." Jean ground out, "She won't quit." He had played deadly games with her before.
Just then there were headlights rounding the corner and before they could process their predicament there was squealing breaks and with a jerk of the wheel he knew they were no longer on the road.
It was too much. Too much noise, too many lights and far too many nerves firing off at once. Pain blooming from every orifice of his body and it was crippling. Jean's body weight pinned him against the seatbelt and after a few ragged breaths he realized they were hanging upside down. The blood in his head began to pulse as bile stirred in his throat. Jean could close his eyes, he could just close them for a little bit. His mind was racing but his body lay motionless despite his determination to move it. It seemed almost easier if he just let the world drown out in his head. But there was that voice again, that incessant voice and the name that rang through his ears was his own.
"Jean." Roy croaked, his throat feeling clenched and sore.
His friend hung against his seatbelt, the material holding his limp, dangling form. The passenger door was dented in and Roy could barely make out where it ended, and Jeans legs began. He blinked his eyes against the blurry haze that kept seeping back in.
"Jean." He growled out once more, but his friend remained silent and unmoving. Reaching down he released his own seatbelt and smashed down onto the ceiling. Gritting his teeth, he thrashed around coughing as smoke began to fill the car. "Jean! Come on." He pleaded as his own body protested. He pulled himself closer to his friend, unbuckling the seat belt. Havoc crashed onto him; his torso pushing Roy back against the broken windshield.
There were flashes of pain and moments where it blinded him to the point of exhaustion. But the smell of gasoline brought him to his senses. This was on him; he needed to fix this. There were other cars on the road because their headlights fought the night in different directions, but all Roy registered was the sound of rain and his own ragged breathing as he struggled to free them from the wreck.