I'm going to die here. The realization was a cold, slippery thing that crawled up his spine, settling in the pit of his stomach. Blood was spattered across the floor, the only thing in this room that wasn't a bleary gray. It was dried now, he was sure, but he couldn't quite focus enough to tell.
All that existed was agony. Strung up by his wrists in heavy iron shackles, he was pretty sure that by now at least one was dislocated. The balls of his feet brushed the floor, not nearly enough to take the pressure off the sharp manacles that bit into his skin. He might have cried if he could have dredged up the tears to do so.
Roy coughed, a rasping, guttering sound, as sickly as he was. It wracked his body until he cried out at the extra pressure on his wrists, gasping with the effort it took to stifle the onslaught that threatened to follow. He struggled to stretch enough to press his feet to the floor, desperate to take some of the weight off his abused shoulders and arms, but it was all for naught.
He wasn't even sure how long he'd been here. It had been brutal at first, beatings that kept him passed out much of the time. In a cruel twist of fate, one of them had been an alchemist who spent much of his time trying to master the use of Roy's gloves. Eventually, they succeeded, and though he had no idea the extent of the damage, one eye was still nearly seared shut from the burns. As the weeks wore on, his captors seemed to lose interest, relegating more and more of his time to passive torment. He craved sleep, respite, even death if it would only ease the pain that never truly went away.
He was going to die here, and he almost welcomed it. The dank air in his cell crowded against burns and wounds alike, threatening to suffocate in all its weight. He closed his good eye, head hanging as he waited.
Roy hardly noticed the distant explosion, yells and gunfire somewhere else in the prison. The sounds drew closer, but he could not find the strength to lift his head any longer. Enemy soldiers ran by his cell, and only when he watched them fly back against the wall, driven by bright flashes of light, and chased by debris, did he dare look up.
Like this, Ed looked like something dredged up from hell. Golden hair had slipped from it's ponytail, hanging ragged and bloody around his shoulders. He clapped his hands together, and the expression on his face as mismatched fingers pressed against the concrete was fury defined. His lips twisted in a vindictive sneer, and he was shouting something Roy couldn't make out amidst the explosions that followed.
The building was eerily silent when it was over, and Roy wondered if Edward had really found the strength to finish them all off. The sickly expression on the young man's face was answer enough as he transmuted the bars of Roy's cell. Golden eyes, liquid and burnished in the shadowy light, widened as they regarded Roy.
"Fuck," Ed cursed, hastily closing the distance between them. His voice was almost frantic as he called out, "Talk to me, Mustang."
His mouth was dry, too much for words, but he managed a pained moan that crept off his lips. It seemed answer enough for Edward, who was busily transmuting the floor beneath them. He felt it raise up under his feet, taking the weight off his wrists, and he was too far gone to care about the pain wracked sob that tore its way from his throat.
"Don't you dare die on me, Mustang," Ed growled. Roy wasn't aware of what came next, only that suddenly there were no more iron rings around his wrists. Ed's arms wrapped around his bare waist, dragging him off the makeshift pedestal.
"Just hang in there, you hear me?" Ed was holding up the entirety of his weight, easing them both to the ground. The side of his face that wasn't still burned rested against Ed's human shoulder, an arm around his back keeping him upright. He struggled to look up, to sort out why they were sitting on the floor and not leaving, but the world was already blurring around the edges.
"Just a little longer. There's help on the way." Everything was fading, and Roy hadn't the strength to stop it. Only the steady thumping of Ed's heart against the side of his face, the soft, determined murmur of the words he couldn't make out, kept him grounded. He gave himself up to the darkness wondering why he'd never noticed how lilting Ed's voice was.
Roy woke up sometime later, immediately wishing he hadn't. He was…somewhere, in the back of a truck perhaps. The metal flooring bounced beneath him as they drove, each jostling motion magnified by the pain he was already in. He gritted his teeth, but even clenching his jaw only hurt worse.
"Hey, you're still alive." Ed's voice was close, enough that he felt the need to pry his good eye open. The face that peered down at his was haunted, his eyes empty, his smile too bright. Blood and dirt matted hair clung to his cheeks, and Roy was sure he'd never seen anything so beautiful.
Roy tried to say something, a 'what took so long,' a thank you, anything at all. His lips were parched, and his throat worse, and all that came out was another hacking cough that rattled him to the core, making him hiss in pain. It was only when he'd settled once more that he noticed Ed's hand on his shoulder.
"Easy," Ed murmured, seemingly putting aside the inherent friction between them. Roy groaned in agony as that same hand wormed beneath his head, lifting it slightly. Ed held a canteen to his lips, and Roy might have smiled at the awkward, put upon expression on the man's face if he hadn't been in so much pain.
The water was tepid, but it was heaven to his parched throat. He tried instinctively to gulp it down, making a sound suspiciously like a whine when Edward pulled the canteen away. "I didn't hunt you down and rescue you just so you could drown your sorry ass."
"Thirsty," Roy managed, the words clawing at his throat so much that he cringed as he spoke them. It was enough to sway Ed, though, who only rolled his eyes and held the canteen back to Roy's lips.
After a few moments, the mouth of the bottle was pulled away once more. Roy felt himself drifting, and just barely noticed the subtle shift in Ed's body. His head was eased back, left to rest against Ed's human leg. Ed himself was doing an admirable job of trying to look like he hadn't done it on purpose, and in fact hadn't noticed Roy's head pillowed in his lap at all. He stared at the nondescript metal wall of the truck, absently tugging his coat up a bit around Roy's shoulders.
Roy swallowed and coughed some more, miserable and sore and still inches away from giving up. Ed frowned down at him, the corners of his eyes crinkling with concern. Whatever he was thinking about, all that came out was, "Don't you dare fucking die in my lap, Mustang."
He might have laughed. He wanted to laugh at the absurdity of the whole situation. Captured and nearly killed and then rescued by Edward Elric of all people was not ridiculous enough, but to be half asleep in his lap was nothing short of ludicrous.
Still, he couldn't deny that anything was more comfortable than where he'd just come from. Ed had that look again, something almost frightening he'd only caught a glimpse of in the prison. Ed glanced down at Roy with murderous eyes, like what he'd seen behind those walls had loosed a demon. Roy could just make out something about having gotten his gloves back for him and he was sure he didn't want to know what Ed was admitting to having done to the alchemist who'd taken them.
The anger in his expression faded almost immediately, and Roy knew that look. He'd seen it many times during the war, had worn it himself, the face of a soldier forced into something awful. He wished there was something he could do, some measure of solace he could give, but he owed his life to that guilt Ed was willing to bear.
He thought to apologize, but the word was scattered across his broken psyche. It fixed nothing, could not offer back what this had taken from Edward. Before he could cobble together some small measure of his gratitude, the truck lurched to a jerky stop. He was jostled near the point of tears, though Ed help him steady to buffer the worst of it.
"Guess we're at the hospital," Ed grumbled, making no move to get up.
The doors at the back of the truck swung open, letting in more light. Roy blinked, trying to make out the faces of Ed's accomplices, but it was to no avail. He didn't recognize them, though the blue uniforms were familiar, even with his vision blurred by fatigue and indeterminate damage. Two others appeared, blocking the opening of the truck. They were dressed in white and bearing what was probably a stretcher.
Roy gritted his teeth, trying to sit up because he'd had quite enough of being humiliated over the last… however long it had been. Damaged and ill though he might be, he could still walk. He was determined to prove as much but metal fingers curled around his shoulder, pinning him in place pitifully easily.
"Are you some kind of idiot? Hold still," Ed barked, molten eyes narrowing at him.
"I can walk," Roy rasped out, seeking to hang onto one last little shred of dignity. He stared beseechingly at Edward as best he could as he tried to focus with his one good eye. Edward only scowled, utterly unmoved.
"I'm sure you can, but you're not going to. Trust me, I've spent plenty of time in hospitals and they're really not big on letting you go anywhere on your own two feet if they can wrestle you into a wheelchair or a stretcher," he murmured wryly. His expression had taken on a sympathetic edge, though he did not let Roy up.
"Fine," Roy finally muttered. He might have added something snarky about the trouble Ed got himself into on a regular basis to be so well acquainted with the ways of hospital staff. He might have said a great many things if moving his mouth didn't pull viciously at the burned side of his face.
"You're not going to try to get up when I let you go, are you?" Ed asked blandly. For the first time, Roy noticed the shadows smudged beneath his eyes, a product of what were probably many sleep deprived nights. Ed looked nearly as bedraggled as Roy felt and in the face of that, he just didn't have it in him to argue anymore.
He shook his head, trying to avoid moving his lips again. It pulled at his abused shoulders and aggravated the headache he hadn't even noticed in the face of all his other injuries. His hair edged over burnt flesh and Roy groaned miserably, his good eye sliding shut against the agonizing feeling.
Ed let go of him finally, lifting the hand from his shoulder in favor of delicately sweeping his bangs back away from the burn. It wasn't the only one, but it was the worst of them, the most recent. Still raw and agonizing, even the gentle brush of Ed's fingers near it made him cringe, anticipating the sharp pain that usually followed.
"I gotta call Hawkeye and let her know where we are. Don't go dying while I'm gone or something fucking stupid like that." Ed lingered for a moment longer as Roy was carefully pulled from the truck and onto a stretcher. With Roy safely out of the vehicle, and presumably in good hands, he hopped out of the truck stretching achy joints. Roy wasn't sure how long they'd been in that truck, but it occurred to him then that Ed had probably stayed there, leaned against the side of the truck, offering himself up as a human pillow.
He told himself that it was gratitude that made him compliant. He lay out on the stretcher, and everything still hurt, but at least it wasn't slats of steel underneath his spine. Roy clenched his teeth as he turned his head, watching Edward disappear.