bob_fish: (OTP chaps)
[personal profile] bob_fish
Title: The Phoney War, Chapter Ten: Flashpoint
Setting: Fullmetal Alchemist, mangaverse, post-series, slight ending AU.
Characters: Roy/Ed, Havoc/Rebecca, Riza/Miles, Al, Winry, ensemble.
Rating: NC-17 overall, this chapter a mere PG-13
Word count: 8163 this chapter
Summary: Two years on from the Promised Day. Amestris is without a Fuhrer, the military is teetering on the brink of civil war, and Team Mustang search urgently for the opposition's secret alchemical weapon. Any day now could be the first day of the war, and everyone is feeling the pressure. So is it any wonder that Ed and Roy's growing friendship just kindasorta combusted on them?
Notes: Direct sequel to No Small Injury. Illustrated by me, betaed and edited by [livejournal.com profile] enemytosleep and [livejournal.com profile] a_big_apple.

Chapter One: Blue Monday | Chapter Two: Make Your Mind Up Time | Chapter Three: Something Stupid | Chapter Four: Two Plus Two
Chapter Five: Inbetween Days | Interlude: Test Drive | Chapter Six: Go the Distance | Chapter Seven: A Grin Without a Cat
Chapter Eight: the Home Front | Interlude - TGIF | Chapter Nine: Charm Offensive



“You know what your problem is, Roy?” Hughes raised his beer glass and gestured with his pinkie finger. Roy narrowed his eyes at him.

“No, I really don’t,” he said. “Lucky for me you’re about to tell me in great detail.”

“I am, indeed,” said Hughes. “Your problem, Roy, is that you’re stuck.”

He just let that one sit for a moment, taking a pull on his beer and looking Roy in the eye. Roy refused to give Hughes the set-up line for his big speech. Instead he said nothing. He looked across the square, watched the passers-by in the May sunshine.

Hughes, of course, continued, just as if Roy had said what do you mean? or do go on. “How many relationships have you had that have gone over the three month mark?”

Ah, this again. Roy leaned back in his chair and pretended to think about it, ready to give Hughes a little shit about this. “One? Two?” He took a sip of beer and ostentatiously checked out the couple two tables over. “Does regular fucking count here?”

Hughes rolled his eyes. “Stop it. I have a serious point to make -“

“- About how marriage is the pinnacle of human happiness, it will ensure I achieve all other life goals, and by the way, your wife looks gorgeous pregnant -”

“- a point about you. In fact.”

“A point about me about that.”

“So what are your goals? Apart from the one we can’t mention at a street café?”

“Isn’t that one enough?”

“Why does that one have to consume everything else?”

“I’m twenty-five, Hughes, where’s the fire?”

“You’ll be forty-five and exactly the same if you don’t watch out.”

Roy pinched the bridge of his nose. “What brought on this unannounced, non-consensual therapy session?”

Hughes shrugged and grinned. Roy shook his head. Hughes always had to just launch into serious things without warning. Of course, the problem with Roy knowing this was that Hughes took it to be a licence to launch.

“What do you want, though? You want to settle down with someone?”

“I hadn’t thought about it.”

“I know you have.” Hughes had trapped him, of course: a dozen drunken conversations back in Academy, the beautiful future.

Roy looked at him, looked out at the sunny street, looked back. This was a conversation for two in the morning, not for a summer’s evening.

“What changed?” asked Hughes.

“You know what changed,” Roy said.

“Yes,” said Hughes, “but. I can’t work out if given the Grand Plan you just don’t want to give hostages to fortune, or if you think you have to kick yourself out of the Human Club for misbehaviour.”

There was a long silence. Roy’s summer mood was far from him now. There was a sick weight in the air, in Roy’s stomach.

Roy took a breath in and out. He looked at Hughes. He said, “I don’t know which. Does that help?”

“One more question,” said Hughes, “then we can talk about football. Do you think I shouldn’t be starting a family?”

Roy managed not to flinch. Hughes’ tone was firm, shut down. He wasn’t asking Roy if this was the right thing; Hughes brought to his family the same devastating certainty with which he approached all his endeavours.

Roy looked at the bowl of sugar cubes on their table, at the rings left on the top by other people’s cups. “Of course not.”

He meant it, and he knew the hypocrisy of the thing, and it changed nothing. He still couldn’t square his opinion of Hughes and his view of himself, and he still couldn’t reimagine that former, private future.

***


The officers’ bathrooms at HQ always let you down if you were getting ready to go out on the town. They were cramped, the mirrors were tiny, and the lighting sucked so much that one time, Rebecca had gone out with so much blusher on she’d looked like a showroom dummy.

She smoothed down her dress and twirled experimentally. “You sure it’s not too short?”

Riza popped her head out of the cubicle she was changing in, and shook her head curtly. “Still not too short.” She emphasised still by just a fraction. “Why are you worried? I thought the point was to show your legs off to the groom.”

Rebecca nodded. “Right. Just checking. Again.” She turned to the mirror, reached into the front of her dress and readjusted the neckline. “What about the cleavage? Not enough, too much or just right?”

The lock of Riza’s cubicle rattled, and then she emerged again, to dutifully inspect the cleavage. “The right amount.”

Rebecca was short on time, so she ignored her instinct that Riza was saying whatever it took. She twirled again and smoothed down her skirt. “How about the thigh holster? Can you see the line of it?”

“Practically undetectable,” said Riza. “Don’t forget to keep your champagne in your left hand so you can draw with your right.”

“Duh,” said Rebecca.

***


Of course Havoc’s hair wouldn’t lay flat. The one time you want to look that slick is your wedding day, right? But it was too late now to fix now. He was up front in a function room in city hall, with Breda standing next to him, and behind him on rows of chairs were his boss, his mom, his friends, comrades, and soon-to be in-laws.

“Am I jittering?” he whispered to Breda. “Stop me if I’m jittering.”

“You just started.”

“Well, you’re tapping your foot. It’s making me nervous. More nervous.”

“What if we both look ahead and stop fidgeting?”

“Good plan. You got the rings?”

“Yes. They’re still in my pocket. It’s amazing how I managed not to lose them since the last time you asked, two minutes ago.”

“Great, great. Okay, just one more thing. Do I smell like elevator?” Breda shook his head, and Havoc took a deep breath. The city hall’s service elevator had had a vaguely dank smell to it. It was not the most glamorous way to arrive at your own wedding, but it turned out the city hall had thirty grand, imposing and impassable marble steps out front, and that they didn’t take well to offers of alchemical remodelling. Havoc would have loved to have fought that one all the way, but they’d only had a week to plan this wedding, and there was a real war to be fought beyond it. He could lean on city hall after the coup, provided that Mustang made it and he made it and they weren’t all dead, or sitting in jail cells twiddling their thumbs waiting for the firing squad.

Now he really was nervous. Dammit.

And right there, the pianist in the corner started up. The chattering started to die down. Havoc’s system got another, frankly unnecessary adrenaline shot. He managed to keep looking ahead for another few seconds, then he couldn’t help himself: he turned his head and swivelled a bit and saw Rebecca.

Her dress was white and kind of slinky and it showed her knees. There was a big red flower in her hair and a smile on her face like she was about to bust out crying. Havoc blinked himself. Dry eyes, deep breath, stay cool.

She reached the front, and sat in the empty chair next to him, and slipped her hand into his. They looked at each other; he squeezed her hand. Then they both looked ahead, and the big room got very quiet.

***


The ceremony was, frankly, a blur. It was short; or maybe Rebecca’s nerves just made it seem that way. Afterwards, Rebecca just remembered how she’d stumbled through stage fright for the very first time in her life. She repeated a bunch of words. She stared into Jean’s lovely blue eyes. At the end they kissed for a good few seconds to the crowd’s applause, before they remembered that both their moms were sitting six feet away.

A quick ride in a weird smelling elevator later, then they were in the pub three doors along holding glasses of fizzy wine, and it was done. There was a ring on her finger. Wow, Rebecca thought, watching the crowd chuckle dutifully at one of her dad’s bad jokes. We’re married.

“And now,” Breda said, when her dad was finally done with the cute childhood anecdotes, “you might want to clear a large space for this next part, because it involves leaving Captains Havoc and Catalina in charge of a sabre.”

Jean narrowed his eyes at Breda. Riza and Maria brought out the table with the fruit cake Jean’s mom had brought. Jean and Rebecca made their way out front. Mustang stepped out of the crowd holding a sabre. He offered to Jean with a grin and an unnecessary raised eyebrow. Jean took it; Rebecca crouched and put her hand over his.

Jean aimed the sword at the cake, experimentally. “Okay,” he said. “There is really no way this situation could possibly go wrong.”

There were a few whoops of laughter. Rebecca said, “At least we got through the important part first. If we trash this cake and maim a couple bystanders, at least we get to go to jail as husband and wife.”

The laughter was a bit more uncomfortable this time. Good job, Rebecca thought to herself. You had to mention jail.

“Cut the cake already,” someone shouted.

Jean grinned and tilted his wrist, and there, the cake was cut, without a single casualty. And it was delicious, too.

***




***


“Just look at everyone,” Al said to Ed. “It’s great. I can’t remember the last time I saw everyone in such a good mood.”

Ed looked around the room. “Hawkeye’s dancing,” he said. And she was, shimmying with Catalina to some goofy song that everyone there over thirty seemed to go crazy for. “It was a good time for a party, I guess. Give everyone a chance to blow off some steam. Before, you know.”

Al exhaled. “I guess that would be why. One last big fling, huh?”

“I guess.”

“Well, that’s the mood killed,” said Al. “I’m going to the bar. You want another glass?”

“For sure.” After Al got up, Ed looked around the room some more. Hawkeye and Catalina were still on the dance floor. So was Fuery, and he was surprisingly good on his feet. Catalina’s father was slapping Havoc on the back; Miles and the rest of the ex-Briggs contingent were sitting at a table in the corner, laughing their asses off. And four tables over, Roy was chatting to Ross. He had two shirt buttons popped and his sleeves rolled up: relaxed mode.

He always did that first thing when he got in the door, Ed thought. He pictured Roy slinging his jacket neatly over the arm of the couch, then running a hand through his hair. Ed felt expansive, a little tipsy. Roy looked happy, he thought, at least in this moment. Those brief flashing grins were Roy’s real smiles, not the game face.

I kissed you in a library, Ed thought, suddenly. Then, I like you. Saying the words in his head gave him a little rush of delight. He did it again. I like you, I like you, I like you. How amazing was that? That Ed had discovered Roy the human being behind his public self, that distant and fascinating acquaintance. Ed had found Roy; then they’d found that they liked each other. And Ed liked him a lot! He was funny, he meant what he said, he had beautiful eyes and Ed felt like he could fuck him forever and never get tired of it. It just felt right, all of it, so right that Ed almost didn’t notice it sometimes. Sure, this thing between them was supposed to be casual. But it wasn’t so much anymore, was it? Ed thought of the alchemy lessons, the long talks in the night. He thought of how he spent more nights at Roy’s place than in his own bed. They were being pulled towards each other without any effort at all, as if some law of physics was involved. All Ed had to do was observe.

***


After he’d had two glasses of wine and at least one conversation with every person in the room, Roy found himself alone for a moment, and realised he was dog-tired. Havoc and Catalina would be heading out soon, though; he wanted to stay to see them off. He got up, and as he headed for the pub’s back door and some fresh air, Ed caught his eye.

And few moments after he’d stepped outside, there was Ed: bumping shoulders with him, flushed with wine and cheerfulness, grinning delightedly, beautiful.

“So,” said Ed, “you want to head home after this?”

Roy raised an eyebrow. “How many glasses?”

Ed shrugged, and the smile mostly dropped away. “I got two metal limbs, I get buzzed easily.” He reached out and casually cupped Roy's cheek. One corner of Ed's mouth lifted; the pad of his thumb stroked the skin under Roy's eye. "You look tired," he said.

Something jolted inside Roy, a little rush of alarm. He turned his cheek away, not quite knowing why.

“Oh,” Ed said. “Public. Forgot.” He shrugged again. “My bad.”

Roy shook his head. “It’s fine. No one can see us here. Besides, I’m not sure how secret we are; I have a feeling half the office knows by now.” We. Roy’s insides rolled again.

“Okay then,” said Ed, and kissed him. A soft, long kiss and a cool automail hand on the back of his neck. And when they parted, and Ed looked at him, Roy knew beyond doubt what was wrong.

Ed frowned at him. “Is something up?”

He should say nothing, he thought. Roy shook his head. He hadn’t hidden it well enough. “Nothing.” They should both just carry on, pretend this wasn’t happening. This wasn’t the time.

“No, what’s up?” Ed smiled at him again. “I don’t mind, just say.”

“No - no, it’s fine. It’s probably not a good night for you to come over, I’m sorry. We’ll talk another time -” And Roy turned away and would have walked out and escaped it all, if Ed’s hand hadn’t closed on his arm.

“What?” Ed said. “What?” Ed's eyes had turned wretched, his mouth set. He was starting to realise what was coming. It hurt Roy’s chest to look at him, but he forced himself.

It was awful, but now it had to be done. Roy said quietly, "We've got a problem, haven't we?"

Ed's mouth set into a line. He said nothing for a moment. His hand pressed Roy's cheek. "Look -" he started, then paused, seemed to catch himself. "I didn't start this out planning to -" He stopped short again, and took his hand away.

"This is my fault," said Roy. "I've been a complete idiot.” He looked down, shut his eyes for the moment. “No, sorry. Look, this just isn’t the time. We can have this conversation - after everything. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

Ed was staring at him, he could feel it. “No, say the rest,” he said. “You got halfway.”

And now Ed was going to get hurt. Meeting his eyes was unpleasant, but Roy did it. “This wasn’t a good idea.”

“You want us to stop?” He had hurt Ed already. “You don’t act like it.”

Roy shook his head. “That’s not the point. This can’t go anywhere.”

“Why not?” said Ed. His voice was firm, flat. “What?” Ed frowned at him furiously. “So - you think I like you too much, and that’s it, just like that?”

"I think -" Roy started. And then he stopped, because he didn't know what he thought. He shook his head. "I'm sorry, Ed. I've dealt with this very badly -"

“Why can’t this go anywhere?” Ed tumbled the words out quickly. “Let’s just do it.” Out of nowhere, he grinned, energetic and desperate, and his eyes stayed sad. “I know it’s a bad time, I know you’ve got more important shit to do, but. You - we - if.” He inhaled. “I like you and you like me and I think we should just go for it. I don’t care how hard you have to work, or if it’s dangerous, or if we have to be apart sometimes. I’m fine if -”

“We talked about this at the start, Ed.” Roy hardened his expression, went for the game face after all. It was all out now, and his path was clear. “I thought you were mature enough to -“

“What do you want to do?"

“This was never realistically -“

“What do you want to do?" Ed sounded young, repeating himself. Young and hurt and angry.

"It's not about what -"

"Yes, yes it is. Fuck, so, we're in the middle of the end of the world, okay! So you should know even more what you want, what's important, when it’s all at risk! Just tell me, fuck, tell me what you want, what's so hard about that?"

What did Roy want? He wanted a lot of things that he shouldn’t want, and he wasn’t going to get. He couldn't say it. Somehow, his hands had found their way to Ed's shoulders, and they tightened, and he froze and pulled in a breath.

Ed put his hands in Roy's hair and kissed him, as if that was just what naturally happened when Roy’s hands were on his shoulders. And Roy kissed back, because that was what naturally happened when Ed kissed him.

The kiss made both of them calmer. Ed pulled back and looked at Roy after a while. His hands slid down to Roy’s shoulders, and he seemed like he was waiting, miserable. Roy felt like there was a lump of something cold and painful sitting at the bottom of his ribcage. He knew that in his carelessness, he had let this happen to both of them. He’d fallen hard, and that was exactly how it felt: like falling onto concrete and dragging someone else down with him. Because he couldn’t do this.

He took a step back, until they were too far away to touch. He didn’t say anything. He tried to look cold.

It didn’t work. Ed’s eyebrows scrunched together and his eyes went wider. “Do you want to be with me?” asked Ed.

“Yes,” said Roy quietly, because they both knew anyway. “But -”

“So why wouldn’t you even try?”

Roy wanted, of course, to reach out and touch Ed and pull him to him. He didn’t. He thought of a dozen things to say, none of them right. He looked down.

There was a long and horrible pause. Then Roy heard himself break it. “Because. You deserve better.”

Ed said, low and angry, “What the hell does that mean?”

“It means that -“ Roy really had no idea what he was going to say. “That you’re a good person.” He sucked in a breath. No, shit. “That’s not what I meant,” he added quickly. “What I mean is, is you’re young, and I’ve already got a goal I can’t give up, and if, if, if we get through this revolution, this war, then I’m going to be so damn busy with it that there’ll be no time for anything else. And you deserve much more than that. More than I’m going to be able to give you.”

“Bullshit,” said Ed. “More bullshit.”

Roy snapped his head up and looked him in the eye. “It’s just the truth,” he said. “It doesn’t get any less true because it’s hard to hear.”

Ed stayed still for a moment, then he looked down and breathed harshly. Roy braced himself for the explosion, for Ed to walk out or scream in his face or even punch him in the eye. This was horrible and it was inevitable. Roy should have known himself and Ed better, should have known things would end up like this, should have never let it start. And now Ed was hurt, and Roy had hurt him. This should be the last time he ever did this to anyone. He -

“Why,” Ed said quietly, “are you the only person in the revolution who has to be alone?” His head was still down.

Roy knew immediately that Ed had to have the question wrong. But he couldn’t tell how. “The people working for me -" he tried. “They came on board of their own free will, and I ask a fuck of a lot of them, they’ve sacrificed enough for me, of course they have the right to whatever happiness -”

“Then why not you? How are you different? What makes you so fucking special?”

“I’m not alone,” Roy said, ignoring him. “I have a family. I have Riza. I have my people.”

“I know. You’re not stupid enough to send them away, so why me?”

“Because I refuse to drag you into my generation’s mess!”

Ed threw his hands out to the sides. “You see this uniform? I’m in this mess and you know why? It’s not because you recruited me, either. I could have left, Al could have left, you know why we stayed? ‘Cause it’s the right thing to do. Because we give a damn about what happens to this country, because we’re people and we live here and we want to help fix this goddamn mess. But you know what I don’t get? How making yourself miserable gets you one inch closer to fixing it.”

Roy opened his mouth. Ed glared at him, big-eyed. He sucked in one shaky breath. Then Ed’s right fist hit the wall, and as Roy jumped Ed was already out the door and gone.

Roy pulled in a breath, let it out. Again. He touched the corners of his eyes, and found them dry. Then he turned and walked back inside.

The crowd was clustered around the door in a horseshoe, cheering and applauding. Roy strode to the front, just in time to see Catalina hop into Havoc’s lap, shoes in one hand. He spun, and, cheek to cheek, they gave the crowd a victory salute. Roy grinned and waved, and the crowd whooped, and Breda held the door open and waved them out like a butler. Then they were gone out into the night, married, off to a fancy hotel room and a fragment of the joy they deserved.

Inside the pub, the crowd dispersed. Ed wasn’t among them. Roy saw Riza, her arm around Miles’ waist. He tucked a bit of hair behind her ear and she leaned into it, happy and ordinary. Now Roy did feel the corners of his eyes stinging. He had the sudden impulse to tap Riza on the shoulder, to take her to the bar and confide the whole wretched thing. She would be there for him, as always. He could confess his mistakes, they could remind each other of the pact they shared, of the plan that always took precedence over private fulfilment.

She turned around, looked him right in the eye, and cocked her head in question. And he instantly knew he couldn’t do that to her. She deserved her piece of happiness too; but she sometimes didn’t think so, and he’d be damned if he was going to remind her of that. He raised his hand, and gave her his best boyish grin. She cocked her head again - she saw through the smile, of course - but then she waved, and nodded, and turned away again.

Roy walked home alone in the warm summer night: tipsy, melancholy, and only a little self-pitying.

***


Havoc was woken, slowly, by Rebecca moving around on the bed. He shoved his face back into the pillow, thinking vaguely about work.

Rebecca’s hand ruffled his hair. “Go back to sleep, honey.”

“What time is it?”

“Doesn’t matter. We’ve got the day off.” She pressed a kiss to his forehead.

He smiled without opening his eyes. “Oh, yeah.” His hand wandered over the warm, smooth skin of her back, her side, her butt. "Can I persuade you back into bed for a while?"

"You can persuade me anywhere, honey," she said, and slotted herself into his arms.

They stayed like that for a while, but Havoc didn't really sleep. Becky fell asleep almost immediately, spooning back into him. Havoc curled his arm around her belly and enjoyed the warm skin of her back, the crisp, fancy-hotel sheets, the rare chance to lay around and just be there. Life was funny. Two years ago, he'd checked into this exact hotel room, up in Central for the weekend to visit his old army buddies. He'd thought he was invalided out for good; he'd had no idea what he was going to do with the rest of his life. Now that he looked back on that time, he could see how he'd found things piece by piece. Opening up the throttle on his car for the first time, feeling the wind and the speed and the road peeling away behind him, and thinking I can go wherever I like. A job that needed doing, and that no one else to do, and that, it turned out, he was really pretty good at. A beautiful, funny girl who liked him enough to wear stilettos for his first day back at work; a girl he could talk to like he'd known her all her life; a girl who could obliterate a rifle target and rock a little black dress; a girl who looked at him like she couldn't believe her luck; who looked at him the way he looked at her.

And now here he was, married: very, very happily married if he could go by the first twenty four hours.

The future might be pretty fucking uncertain, but the present was pretty damn good.

Rebecca stirred next to him, stretched like a cat. "Hello, wife," Havoc said.

She sat up and ruffled his hair. "Hello, husband. I'm gonna order up a coffee, you want one?"

Havoc considered it. "I might. I don't know, maybe I could sleep more. It's not like we get the chance much."

"Hey, go for it. Yesterday was pretty exhausting, and today we’ve got a whole day in a hotel suite with nothing to do but order room service and be merry.” She wiggled her eyebrows at him. "That was an innuendo, by the way."

"I got it," said Havoc, and pulled her in for a good morning kiss. When they pulled away, Rebecca came back in and gave him a quick peck on the nose. Then she hopped off the bed.

Havoc closed his eyes again for a moment, then opened them. He turned onto his back, decided he was awake now for sure, and hauled himself up in bed. He glanced over to get an eyeful of his lovely, naked wife.

Rebecca was standing by the door of the hotel room, the morning paper in her hands. She was staring at it. She did not look happy.

“Becky?”

She looked up, then walked over to the bed without saying anything.

The newspaper landed on his lap, a little too hard. Havoc picked it up, turned it over.

The headline said World’s End Stars Jailed. Controversial show banned, director and actors charged with inciting treason.

“The World’s End Revue,” Havoc murmured. “The cabaret? Treason?”

“Well,” Rebecca said, “shit.”

She joined him on the bed. He spread the paper out, and together they read the whole story. It had happened last night, right around when they cut the cake.

“Hakuro’s charging people with treason now?” Havoc sighed forcefully. “This is stepping over the line so far, the line’s in another county.”

“Plus, acting like he’s Fuhrer already,” said Rebecca. “That can’t be good news.”

Havoc thumbed the sleep out of his eyes, wrapped an arm around her waist and gave her a little squeeze. “I guess it’s a work day after all. You think we can get that room service breakfast to go?”

***


“But how can we? We don’t even know where the Homunculus is right now!” Al was nearly shouting. Outside of a fight, Havoc didn’t think he’d ever heard the kid raise his voice in anger.

“Because - ah, Captains Havoc and Catalina.” Mustang turned to them. “I see you heard. I’ve opened this up for five minutes’ debate. Permission to speak freely and frankly.”

“We’re in minute three,” Hawkeye said. “Major Miles, you were next.”

“Thank you,” said Miles. “Look, regardless of the Homunculus situation, we’ll need to take action.” People made room for Havoc and Rebecca around the big meeting table. Someone passed Rebecca a chair. “Hakuro is calling Brigadier General Mustang’s bluff. If he doesn’t move, he’ll look weak. Hakuro knows how much military support we’re gaining, and he knows that if Mustang doesn’t act, it’ll make Hakuro look like the stronger leader.”

“Captain Ross,” said Hawkeye, pointing.

“Yes,” said Ross. “And if the Brigadier General doesn’t act on this, he could lose a lot of the people’s support too. You saw those pamphlets I passed around, and the papers. That’s just how far the protest has got this morning. The World’s End Revue are turning into heroes.”

Fuery raised his hand. “There was graffiti on Parget Bridge this morning. Free Harry Valentina. Someone must have done it overnight.”

“We saw that too,” said Ed.

“People are taking risks, real risks, to speak up about this,” Ross said. “We’ve actually got the power to do something about it. If it looks like we aren’t prepared to take those risks ourselves -” She shrugged.

Rebecca stuck her hand up. “Am I missing something here? I mean, we came in late and all. Why are we even debating this? Why wouldn’t the Brigadier General just step in and get them freed?”

“It’s a debate,” Hawkeye said, “because if Brigadier General Mustang does this, the provisional government is done. It loses its last scrap of credibility, the pact with Hakuro is broken, and we have to move for power. Immediately.”

“Well, Hakuro broke the pact already,” Havoc said. “Remember when he had my wife’s roomie murdered? Remember the gangs, and the assassins, and the freaking baby Homunculus? He’s playing chicken with us, he’s been doing it for months. Why wouldn’t we -” He stopped himself. “Okay, wait. We are missing something, aren’t we?”

“Yes,” said Hawkeye. “We’ve speculated as to why Hakuro might have done this now, and our best answer is, he’s gained confidence. We think he knows the location of Chrysalis and the Homunculus. They might even be back in Amestris. He’s close to gaining an unthinkable firepower advantage.”

“So why not just the full coup already? Why not sic the Homunculus on us right now?”

“We’ve been over that. He can’t have possession of it yet. But he’s losing military support fast, and he needs to take some action while he’s still a credible candidate for Fuhrer.”

“So, again, why are we debating this?” Rebecca threw her hands up. “Let’s get him before he gets ahold of his secret creepy alchemy weapon!”

“Because we’re not there yet!” Mustang said. He leaned forward, frowning furiously. “Two more weeks, just two, and we could have been in a position to take power without a drop of blood spilled. We're working on South and West, and we're getting somewhere. But if we take power tomorrow there’ll be civil war in the West, there could be civil war in the South. Not to mention that, as Major Hawkeye says, the Homunculus has to be close. If he got a hold of it while we were still fighting him -"

“The casualties could be huge,” Ed said. “To give you an idea - some of you saw the last Homunculus in action. The rest of you got to experience what it was capable of. This Homunculus is smaller, but it’s more mobile. And it’s totally under the influence of its handler, but even he can’t control the scale of its attack once he’s sicced it on someone. Imagine a four year old kid with the power to level a city. This thing changes everything. It’s got to be our first priority. It -”

“Five minutes,” said Hawkeye. “The floor is closed. As you were.”

Ed tapped two fingers to his forehead. “Permission to speak freely!”

“Not granted,” said Mustang. “The floor is closed, Major Elric.”

Ed glared. The room was silent for a moment.

“Thank you, everyone,” said Mustang. “Major Hawkeye, Major Miles, Captain Havoc: stay where you are. The rest of you are dismissed for now.”

Rebecca squeezed his shoulder as she left with the rest of them. After Fuery had filed out last and shut the door, Havoc said, “A hundred cenz says a few people are gluing their ears to the partition wall.”

Mustang ran a hand through his hair. “It’s not important. They’ll find out within the hour anyway, when we have to hand the order down.”

“So,” said Miles, “what options are on the table?”

“First option: we do nothing. Leaving aside questions of injustice, the practical risks are that the Brigadier General will look weak to the military and lose the public’s trust. And then there’s the high chance that Hakuro might gain charge of the Homunculus before we can,” Hawkeye said. “The advantage is that the provisional government might last a little longer. We could continue in our holding pattern and prioritise locating and targeting the Homunculus.”

“Or, second option. We free the World’s End Revue Seven and ride the surge in support for a few days until we can move for power cleanly. The risk is still very great that Hakuro might obtain custody of the creature before then, in which case we’d be looking at a bloody battle and probable defeat. The potential gain is that if we’re lucky, we can have our bloodless coup.” She paused for a moment. “Final option. We move directly for power. The risk here is probable civil war. We don’t have enough military backing to avoid it. The advantage here is that this option carries the least risk of Hakuro gaining the Homunculus before we move.” She shrugged fractionally. “It’s still a substantial chance, of course, but it’s the best we have. Does that cover everything, sir?”

“Yes, Major.” Mustang pinched the bridge of his nose. “That was admirably thorough.”

The room was silent for a long moment. Havoc massaged his temple with one thumb, trying to think it through. Any way they sliced it, they could be screwed. “Okay,” he said. “I’m probably still missing something here. But it seems to me like do nothing is the option that will most definitely screw us over. In my opinion, sir, we’ve got to man up and take the risk.”

“I agree,” said Miles. “And there’s another angle we could look at this from. What are the risks and advantages of what Hakuro’s done, from his perspective?”

“Advantage,” Mustang said, “he knows we both wanted to avoid a war. Myself more than him, apparently. He’s playing on that, hoping he can humiliate me.”

“Risk,” Hawkeye said, “the general public start seeing him as a tyrant.”

“The Amestrian people are used to tyrants,” Mustang said. “I’d imagine he’s banking on that and believes they’ll see him as a strong leader. From what I can see, he’s got that wrong for a start.” He waved at the pamphlets and newspaper clippings littering the table. “The people have had a taste of freedom, these past two years. It looks like a lot of them like it enough to risk their necks for it. The wind’s changing in Amestris. The people are ready for something new.”

“Advantage,” said Hawkeye, “this is a lower risk way to challenge your authority. This way, he can look like he’s taking charge, with the good that does him, but still play for time until he gets charge of the Homunculus.”

“Risk,” said Havoc. “He knows we can pull off a coup, because we did it already. We’ve got form.”

Mustang held a hand up. “All right,” he said, “do nothing is off the table. Major Miles, after we’re done here, I want you to take an armoured car and ten soldiers to the Central Regional Correctional Facility, obtain the release of Harry Valentina and her colleagues, and have them escorted to Safe House B. We’re moving for power. The remaining question is how long a countdown we set. Opinions?”

“Twenty-four hours,” said Miles.

“A week,” said Havoc.

Hawkeye looked at Mustang. She said, “Why not play it both ways? You said the wind was changing in this country. My sense is that Hakuro still doesn’t realise how fast it’s changing. If we wait more than a day, he’ll be expecting a week.”

“How long should we wait, in your view?” said Mustang.

“Long enough for the mood to shift and support to swing our way, but not a moment longer, to minimise the chance that the Homunculus is in play. Forty-eight hours?”

Mustang rested his hands on his chin for a moment, and looked down. “Forty-eight hours.” He raised his chin, then pushed back his chair and stood. Miles and Hawkeye followed him up; Havoc set his shoulders. “It’s an order. Major Hawkeye, set the clock.”

Hawkeye snapped a salute. “Sir.”

Mustang raised a hand. “One last thing. You all realise, don’t you, how severe a risk we’re taking? These are far from ideal conditions. I’ll expect you all to check and double-check our contingency plans for retreat. If I’m taken out of action, command reverts to Major Hawkeye, then Major Miles, then Captain Havoc.”

Havoc snorted nervously. “We all better start praying I don’t end up in charge of the revolution.”

Miles twitched a grin. Mustang and Hawkeye stayed stony faced. Tough room. Havoc realised, belatedly, how very bad a sign it was that the Chief, for the first time in Havoc’s hearing or memory, had acknowledged the possibility that they could get killed doing this.

In single file, they headed back into the main office. The crowd of Mustang’s department frantically attempted to stop milling around obviously and look busy. Then, as Hawkeye walked over to her desk, they gradually all stilled again and just watched her.

The silence in the office was heavy and absolute as Hawkeye picked up the little alarm clock from her desk. She flipped on the alarm switch with a demonstrative gesture. She set the hour hand to four, the minute hand to eight. She raised the clock, then placed it on her desk.

Mustang stepped forward and looked around the room. Rebecca had found her way over to Havoc, and she put her hand to the back of his neck.

Mustang said, “I’ll be counting on all of you.” That was all. But that voice, that tone, took Havoc back: back to the day two months after his transfer to Mustang's unit, when the Chief had sat him down in the back office to tell him what they were really aiming for.

Every soldier in the room, from Miles to Ed, snapped to attention and saluted in unison.

***


Roy debriefed with Riza at his mother's place, and walked home watchfully, with his gloves on. It was past eleven by the time he got in, and he hadn't had dinner. There were eggs in the icebox for an omelette, but on due consideration, he found that he couldn't be bothered. He put a couple of slices of bread under the grill and slumped at the kitchen table. They had checked and refreshed the plans exhaustively; now the details swam uselessly in Roy's head as he tried to wind down. The flat was so damn quiet. How odd it was to sit in the middle of his mundane clutter, knowing what was coming. The eggs in the icebox were stamped with a date a week from now. There'd be a new government by then. Perhaps it would be Roy. Perhaps he would be dead.

If only that conversation with Ed could have been avoided. Right now, they both could use the relief, the respite, the pleasure of each other's company. They could have worried about the meaning of it all after the revolution. Roy thought of the smell and the warmth of Ed's skin after a shower. He thought of his forthrightness, his unexpected patience as a teacher, of the athletic grace of his movements and the muscular swiftness of his mind. He felt sick with it all. This was why he'd tried not to make a habit of attaching to people. Now he'd given Ed and himself a broken heart to nurse. On the plus side, at least now Roy wasn't ruminating about the coup. But those things Ed had said, last night: could they be right? Why not try? True, it might fail, and that would cause them both pain - but weren't they both in pain now? The thought of putting a name to the sweet and nameless thing between them was uncomfortable, frightening even. Roy was a hypocrite, but perhaps there was nothing to be done about it. And in any case, Ed had left. Today, they hadn't spoken privately. It was over, most likely. Ed would never again come here to debate theory and leave candy wrappers on the study floor and eat takeout and pin Roy delightfully to his own bed.

A smell drifted through the room: burning bread. Roy swore, and retrieved the toast. It was beyond scraping. Roy threw it in the garbage. He removed himself to his bedroom, to lie face down on his bed in his shirtsleeves, and try and sulk himself to sleep.

***


Ed felt like a creep, looking up at Roy’s window from the dark street. He felt like an idiot. But, he asked himself, how would he feel tomorrow if he didn’t go up? He’d say his piece, he thought. And then if Roy didn’t want him there, he’d leave right away. If Ed had learnt anything from the last time he'd lived through a great battle and the time before it, it was make sure you say your piece while you've got the chance. He'd bickered aimlessly with Greed and then they'd never spoken again; he'd assumed Hohenheim would be around to bug him forever, and he'd been wrong.

Roy opened the door: eyes shadowed, hair ruffled, in his shirt sleeves, just like it was any night. Then Ed noticed he was wearing the glove.

“Just me,” Ed said. “Sorry about this.”

Roy folded his arms and just looked at him. He was staring Ed down, but all Ed could think was that he looked tired and sad.

“I wanted to see you,” Ed said.

Roy stepped aside and opened the door wider. “I have an early start,” he said. “As I’m sure you’ve guessed.”

Inside, they stood facing one another. Ed stuffed his hands in his pockets. He said, “Look. I know I shouldn’t have come here. I just don’t want to leave on a bum note, what with everything. You know?”

“It’s okay,” Roy said. He smiled and put out a hand. “Friends?”

Ed just stared at the hand. Friends? Was that really how Roy felt about this thing that they had, the way their brains tuned to the same frequency, better and better with every meeting? It sure sounded like friendship. Friendship plus sex: that was what it was supposed to be. Ed couldn’t articulate what it was that illuminated it into a whole that was more than its parts. He felt like he wanted to open his chest and show Roy this feeling, to heave it out and say look at this, this is what I’m talking about. Don’t you have this exact thing too?

The hand was still held out. Ed shook his head. “I know it’s probably over,” he said. “I just - I came here to say some stuff. Because of what's going down the day after tomorrow. There were things I didn't say to people before the Promised Day, and after - well, they died, and, I've got some regrets about not saying those things."

Roy turned his face away for a moment. He said, “Are you sure you won’t regret saying them too? Sometimes it’s better. Not to.”

“It won’t take long. If you don’t want me to talk, I can go.”

Roy’s voice was low. “I really don’t,” he said.

Ed looked at Roy, and his chest hurt, and then Roy put his hands on Ed’s shoulders and hauled him forward, and Ed met him halfway. They kissed until they couldn’t breathe, and Roy walked them backwards, and Ed had them both mostly naked before they hit the edge of the bed.

Afterwards, they lay tangled together quietly. After a while, Ed said in Roy’s ear, “You’re not doing a very good job of pushing me away.”

“I guess not.” Roy stroked a warm hand down the skin of Ed’s back.

“Do you think it’s going to make you better at your job, being on your own? Because it won’t.”

Roy pulled back, looked Ed in the eye. “Do we have to talk about this now?”

“Yes. Because if I die, or if you die, or whatever, I’m going to feel like a dick if we never talked about this.” Ed pulled in a breath and looked at Roy, but Roy didn’t say anything. “Can I say it? It won't even take long.”

Roy nodded.

“Okay. I thought about it all last night, and today. If you don’t want to be with me it’s not gonna happen. I get that. I'm not expecting anything. But, it’s not about me, am I right? You won’t be with anyone.”

Roy had gone still next to him. “That’s probably right.”

“You’ve got the goals you’ve got because you fucked up. So you’ve put everything else on ice, right? I was the same.”

“Yes,” said Roy. “But you reached your goal. Mine might take my whole life.”

“So you’re putting everything else on hold forever. Is that it?”

Roy shrugged. “That may well be it.”

Ed swallowed. “Okay. Then this is what I wanted to say. You have to live in the world to do some good in it, Roy. Distancing yourself from people isn’t going to make you a better human being, it’s going to make you a crappier one.”

Roy was silent for a moment. “Hughes used to say that,” he said. “Incessantly.”

“Well,” said Ed, “I agree with him.”

Roy shook his head. He laughed, but there wasn’t any malice in it. “So, you’re giving me the benefit of your life experience?”

Ed went up on one elbow. He poked Roy in the shoulder. “Don’t patronise me, you aging pervert!”

Roy just laughed again.

“Actually,” said Ed, “I got that one from my old man. Who had about three centuries of life experience, so suck on that.”

That stopped Roy short.

Ed said, “He said to Al one time, revenge doesn’t lead anywhere, even when it’s revenge against yourself. And he should know. He’d fucked up even bigger than either of us did.”

Roy was quiet for another moment. He put his hand into Ed’s hair and stroked it. Ed relaxed a little, and after another moment he put his cheek on Roy’s chest. Now the tension had gone out of him, and Roy’s skin smelled good, and he felt like he was home.

Roy said, “He was a remarkable man. I wish I’d had the chance to know him better.”

Ed said, “Me too.” And he meant it.

They didn’t talk again for a long time. They lay in each other’s arms, and dozed. When they woke, Roy said, “Will you stay?”

“Yeah,” Ed said.

“I’ll get us some glasses of water,” said Roy. He kissed Ed on the forehead and went out.

When he returned with the water and handed one glass to Ed, Ed said, “Will you try this for real, with me? After the day after tomorrow, if it all works out, whatever.”

Roy pulled in a breath, and he frowned, and he seemed to draw inwards for a moment.

He looked at Ed.

“Yes,” he said. “I’ll try, for real. With you.”

They slept in each others’ arms, slotted together with satisfying rightness. As he drifted off, Ed heard Roy’s heartbeat and imagined his heart muscle, squeezing in rhythm, pumping the blood around his body.

They had one more day.


On to the next chapter!

Date: 2012-09-20 10:00 pm (UTC)
enemytosleep: girl with chin in hand, sighing and looking sad (Lucy Sigh)
From: [personal profile] enemytosleep
Chapter 10 brought to you with the perfect amount of cleavage.

Date: 2012-09-20 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Rebecca aims to please.

Date: 2012-09-20 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] havocmangawip.livejournal.com
What a treat after a long week of classes. More later. For now? Squeeeeeee!

Date: 2012-09-20 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
\o/ It's taken me so long to finish this thing! <3 Thanks for being patient.

Date: 2012-09-20 11:26 pm (UTC)
ext_7375: Tsuzuki, OMG yaaaay. (Default)
From: [identity profile] japanimecrazed.livejournal.com
This is great! I loved the wedding, and Roy and Ed's conversations. I'm looking forward to the final chapters!

Date: 2012-09-20 11:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Thank you! <3 Glad you enjoyed.

Date: 2012-09-21 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lunaria-kitty.livejournal.com
Yay update! :D *does ridiculous little happy dance*

Love the flashback moment with Hughes at the beginning.

Jean and Becky's wedding was so very adorably them and I loved every moment of it. It was good to see everyone having fun before all hell breaks loose.

This is such a political mess, I love it! *laughs* Angry!Al was great, I almost wish we could have seen more of that. And I laughed hard at Havoc's hoping he's not the one left in charge, even though it was a tense serious moment. (I love Havoc. You write him so well. <3)

Ed and Roy made me sad--I kinda had a feeling this was coming, but I'm glad Ed was persistent Roy's agreed to give it a try afterward. Also loved the bit about Hohenheim and Ed admitting that he does miss him. <3

I have so much love for this series. Glad to hear there'll be more soon! :D

(Also, kitteh music is the best kind! <3)

Date: 2012-09-21 03:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Yay, glad you enjoyed so many things!

Angry Al is fun to write because it doesn't happen so often. And Roy needs people to challenge him sometimes. In a weird way, the added pressure of everything being about to explode is probably helpful for making people focus on the important stuff. XD


(They are noisy kittehs so it's a good job I like it <3)

Date: 2012-09-21 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sky-dark.livejournal.com
*drags hands down face* why can't there be more? The almost break-up was riviting or however that is spelled. It's almost frightening when Ed's the voice of reason; I'm sure Roy doesn't know what to make of all of it. Ed is suppose to be the emotional ticking time-bomb; but Roy is, as always, beautifully in self-denial for the good of god-knows-what.

Date: 2012-09-21 07:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed.

Ed is the voice of reason a lot in this fic, if it's not what to name the cat. XD Yes, Roy's attitude sort of doesn't serve any practical good. I imagined he had a sort of unexamined mental block about serious relationships for the reasons mentioned, and was somewhat shocked to find out that he was accidentally in one, and with someone who saw through him at that (despite being a ridiculous amount younger than him). Poor Roy's dignity.

Date: 2012-09-21 04:03 am (UTC)
ext_9946: (Default)
From: [identity profile] forochel.livejournal.com
SHRIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKS AN UPDATE!


God, I love this series so much. The politics! The state of war! The intriguing! The little human moments! HURRAY THEY GOT MARRIED. My nose totally got all sour when I read the scene with Ed & Roy at the wedding party. I'm so glad you resolved it within this chapter, honestly.

Date: 2012-09-21 07:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Thank you!

I had to resolve it in this chapter, honestly! I couldn't leave it hanging like that (and neither could Ed).

Date: 2012-09-21 05:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
I wish you could've seen my face when I glanced at my F-list during a breather at work and went full on :O and then full-on :D for fifteen seconds straight at the office.

I will come back and gush properly when I have regrouped some brain cells!! *______* For now, to make a long story short, I love everything. Everything.

Date: 2012-09-21 07:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
I am excited for regrouped brain cells and gushing! Glad you enjoyed. \o/

Date: 2012-09-23 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
…so now you know why I often want to gush all over fics and then can never set aside enough time to do it properly. XD

Date: 2012-09-23 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Oh my goodness me! You wrote me an essay! ;;;_;;; <3 <3 <3

Date: 2012-09-26 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
There's a possibility that this is my brain's way of telling me it misses doing schoolwork.

There's also a possibility that I am clinically insane. XD''

♥ :DDDDD

Date: 2012-09-22 05:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lazylamia.livejournal.com
I think that Roy should take a page from Jean/Becky book and stop wasting his time trying to push Ed away - it won’t do any good for both of them.
Great chapter – but only one more to go in this fic. I hope that’s not the end of Ed/Roy adventures is this verse

Date: 2012-09-22 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Well, Ed won the argument in the end. XD

Thanks, glad you enjoyed! The end is in sight, but there's a five-chapter sequel and it's in progress. It's shorter and much of it's done so I hope to get it out asap and not to tax my lovely regular readers' patience again. XD

Date: 2012-09-23 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stultiloquentia.livejournal.com
*runs around in circles*

*plops*

*reads*

Damn, your writing is such a pleasure. I'm so grateful for your Ed characterization; I love him so much. His maturity, his boldness and knack for learning from his mistakes keep catching me by surprise. I have realized this is not because he's OOC; he's in fact gloriously in character; it's because I read a lot of fanfic and watch TV and am therefore conditioned to expect all adult protagonists to have the relationship skills of 14-year-olds.

OTOH, the fact that you gave them that nice moment makes me think your plot outline is set to deliver a whumping any minute now.

Date: 2012-09-23 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
\o/

So glad you're still reading and enjoying! This thing has taken me two years to finish so it is awesome to still have patient readers on board.

Ed's post-canon maturity is a big thing of mine. By the latter half of the manga he's really grown up a ton, and he continues to grow. He and Al have a ton of moral authority, maturity and good sense for people so young, and it's partly Ed being this grounded and mature that makes this pairing work for me. Sometimes I feel like romance plots both fandom and pro create silly obstacles (e.g. huge misunderstanding out of nowhere, with neither party thinking to just have an adult conversation). I enjoy it more when, if there are obstacles, they arise out of more human, character-driven stuff about just learning to be in a relationship with someone!

>_> Plotty plot is about to be plotty for sure. There's a five chapter sequel to this fic, and I'm nearly done on chapter three.

Part I/II

Date: 2012-09-23 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
THINGS THAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS CHAPTER
a short essay/outline by Tierfal

1. The Hughes flashback. I believe I may have mentioned at some point that your Hughes is brilliant – the perfect mixture of bright and manic and deadly smart. And I think he brings out a very beautiful, cynical-but-reluctantly-trying-to-hope strain in your Roy more than any other character.
a. This. Damn. Line: “What brought on this unannounced, non-consensual therapy session?” Which just so happens to be perfect. XD
b. THIS LINE: “I can’t work out if given the Grand Plan you just don’t want to give hostages to fortune, or if you think you have to kick yourself out of the Human Club for misbehaviour.” Which is perfect in an entirely different way.
c. Hughes brought to his family the same devastating certainty with which he approached all his endeavours. I LOVE this observation about him – and I also really love that the sheer compunction to make a decision and go is something I'd never really noticed that Hughes and Ed have in common. Which then, I think, illuminates Roy/Ed. Daaaaaaaaaamn. :D

2. Rebecca getting married in a short dress with a flower in her hair I am so in love
a. I absolutely adore how calmly indulgent Riza is about Rebecca's appearance paranoia. And I love how much that implies about their relationship without ever taking up a word of the chapter. :D
b. Havoc and his not-flat-lying hair and the fact that obviously Rebecca wouldn't care. ♥
c. “It’s amazing how I managed not to lose them since the last time you asked, two minutes ago.” Dear Breda, have I told you today that I love you? Because I do.
d. ELEVATOR. And the occasionally vocalized tone of: He could lean on city hall after the coup, provided that Mustang made it and he made it and they weren’t all dead, or sitting in jail cells twiddling their thumbs waiting for the firing squad that runs through the whole chapter – the sense of impending doom, or impending potential-doom, and the careful wryness that seems to be the way all of them cope. I love the lulz it provides, and I love the tension, and most of all I love what that says about the entirety of Roy's team.
e. BOTH OF THEM TRYING NOT TO CRY AUGH I'M SO THEY'RE JUST IT'S SO FUCKING CUTE *weeps*
f. before they remembered that both their moms were sitting six feet away. YES THIS HAHAHA
g. ajkfdjskfldasj the illustrationnnnnnnn ♥♥♥♥

3. All of the aftermath, and the way that all of the characters' beautifully full and individual arcs weave through it.
a. “Hawkeye’s dancing,” YES THIS. PLEASE. THANK YOU.
b. some goofy song that everyone there over thirty seemed to go crazy for – I love when the generational gap is present, just not problematic. XDD
c. “Well, that’s the mood killed,” said Al. “I’m going to the bar. You want another glass?” I heart your Al so hard there are no words. :'D
d. relaxed mode. / He always did that first thing when he got in the door – NNNNNFFFF that Ed has categorized Roy's modes in his head, first off; and secondly that this is a feature of your gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous Roy.
e. God, Ed's whole 'I like you' revelation-y paragraph just… kills me. So. Wonderful. So earnest and sweet and tentative and scientific-logical and *flails* x)

4. GOD THE SCENE WITH ROY AND ED JUST OW MY SOUL IT'S HEMORRHAGING
a. Something jolted inside Roy, a little rush of alarm. He turned his cheek away, not quite knowing why. *weeping*
b. He should say nothing, he thought. Roy shook his head. He hadn’t hidden it well enough. “Nothing.” They should both just carry on, pretend this wasn’t happening. This wasn’t the time. *weeping*
c. “No - no, it’s fine. It’s probably not a good night for you to come over, I’m sorry. We’ll talk another time -” *weeping*
d. I won't just quote every line of the escalation back at you, even if I want to, hahaha – Roy trying to back out; Ed refusing to back down; crossed wires; not the time; Roy manning up because he has to; the way he shuts himself off to Ed for the first time in tens and tens of thousands of words; the way Ed won't let him dodge his own feelings.

Part II/III, actually

Date: 2012-09-23 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
e. as if that was just what naturally happened when Roy’s hands were on his shoulders. And Roy kissed back, because that was what naturally happened when Ed kissed him. *weeping*
f. He’d fallen hard, and that was exactly how it felt: like falling onto concrete and dragging someone else down with him. *WEEPING*
g. He took a step back, until they were too far away to touch. He didn’t say anything. He tried to look cold. *WEEPING*
h. Hero!Ed with his hero's soul. I just. ♥
i. and a fragment of the joy they deserved – *lying on the floor sobbing into the carpet*
j. I love that Roy lets Riza go, which quietly and rather unequivocally proves everything Ed just said.

5. GAH HAVOC/REBECCA NEWLYWEDS SCENE
a. The whole description of Rebecca encapsulates all of her awesome sexy wonderfulness, but this: a girl who looked at him like she couldn't believe her luck; who looked at him the way he looked at her. …just. ;_________; *OTPs for an eternity*
b. As a corollary to (a), I love that one of the things this fic does is put into relief just what a worthy character(/person) Havoc is – he gets very overshadowed by Roy, and that's played for comedy in the show, but throughout the entire series, he is an amazing guy who fate shits on every now and again. And there needs to be more fic where he gets his well-deserved happy ending. c: …or at least happy relationship; I'm still on the edge of my seat for the rest of this. XD
c. She wiggled her eyebrows at him. "That was an innuendo, by the way." I will never get tired of scenes of nerd!love. Or of not-very-subtle innuendo. XD
d. GODDAMNIT HAKURO I'MMA SHANK YOU MYSELF IF NO ONE ELSE DOES.

6. The way you write political scenes makes me, quite frankly, freakin' jealous – everyone has a unique and uniquely intelligent angle and opinion; I always envision you sitting down and turning over every single complicated facet of the situation and determining the best course of action. And that sensibility – that you've done the logistical work that all of the characters are doing in the scene – makes these scenes so real. It is absolutely fucking fantastic.
a. ROSS!!! ♥
b. MILES!!! ♥
c. Oh my Gawd the agony in my chest every time Ed pipes up, every time Roy does, every time I have to face the fact that they're in the same room and think about what they're feeling when Havoc doesn't even know to be looking for it.
d. This is very embarrassing, but I read NSI so long ago and got so OTP-ally caught up in the Roy/Ed and the political posturing that I had actually… briefly… forgotten… about the homunculus. And now I'm twice as excited, because that plotline was amazing, and the stakes just shot up even higher. \o/
e. Every soldier in the room, from Miles to Ed, snapped to attention and saluted in unison. I. Love. Your. Expanded. Team. So. Much. ♥

…maybe that's more like II-and-a-half?

Date: 2012-09-23 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
7. Something in me expected them to back down or find a way to weasel around the confrontation. I am so glad you went for it – it's terrifying and AWESOME.
a. The eggs in the icebox were stamped with a date a week from now. There'd be a new government by then. Perhaps it would be Roy. Perhaps he would be dead. This is so fucking amazing. Also, Roy, baby, LET ME HOLD YOU~
b. He felt like an idiot. But, he asked himself, how would he feel tomorrow if he didn’t go up? This. This is ED. Doing it because it makes sense and it's right and at that point why would you do anything else? x3
c. He'd bickered aimlessly with Greed and then they'd never spoken again; he'd assumed Hohenheim would be around to bug him forever, and he'd been wrong. This made me suffer beautifully. XD
d. OMG ROY, TRYING THE FRIEND-ZONE? REALLY?? -____-
e. He felt like he wanted to open his chest and show Roy this feeling, to heave it out and say look at this, this is what I’m talking about. Don’t you have this exact thing too? ajkfjdklsajfklds ♥
f. Ed looked at Roy, and his chest hurt, and then Roy put his hands on Ed’s shoulders and hauled him forward, and Ed met him halfway. This is kind of their entire relationship to me, and I love it more than mere words can express.
g. “Actually,” said Ed, “I got that one from my old man. Who had about three centuries of life experience, so suck on that.” / That stopped Roy short. I was going to say "new favorite line", because it's deep and hilarious at the same time, but I have too many favorite lines to narrow it down. XD I LOVE when Hohenheim sticks with Ed like this, whatever anyone says.
h. jfkslajfklsjaflsa d'awwwwwwww. :3

THE END

Re: …maybe that's more like II-and-a-half?

Date: 2012-09-23 10:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
7. a) I know, poor Roy. Writing him makes me want to give him a hug sometimes.
c) Ed was so mean and angry about Hoho in NSI that I really appreciate getting him to this place where he grieves him and wishes he'd made it so they could get to know each other properly. In canon, Al does get this chance to get to know his father pretty well during the Hiding Out in Lior winter (which I really, really want there to be fic about, particularly Rose's huge goober crush on Winry). So I kind of like the idea that Ed knows him a bit through Al's stories (now he's calm enough to hear them) and the more he hears, the more he grieves. ;_; Hoho was a pretty cool guy.
d) Roy's trying to be the grown-up, parting on good terms and all. It was tough writing this to make it clear that part of what's going on is that Ed knows full well that Roy's crazy about him, and is frustrated that he's ending things to be mean to himself or out of misplaced nobility or something.
f) One of my favourite things about writing this get together has been following up extended UST with the two of them just colliding and finding that they're pulled together so powerfully that it's tough to do anything but go with it. They're both such powerful personalities and (for me, through my biased shipping goggles XD) such a good fit for each other.
g) Poor Hoho, it took him about three centuries to learn that cutting himself off from the world to devote himself to the big was fruitless and not helping him get anything done faster. It's so sad that love propelled him to finding the big solution, but that this also, totally unforeseen, lost him his last bit of time with Trisha and left the boys rudderless and orphaned with a huge pile of alchemy textbooks. But I do find it hilarious that Ed has progressed to the stage of quoting Hoho to win arguments. <3 Hoho would be so proud he would probably start crying, and Ed would be all "gah, I don't know where to look, don't do that, ghost dad!"

THANKS SO SO SO MUCH for this epic lovely sweet review. <3 *ego swells*

Re: …maybe that's more like II-and-a-half?

Date: 2012-09-26 04:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
(which I really, really want there to be fic about, particularly Rose's huge goober crush on Winry)
Okay über-want the whole thing but yes especially this. That scene. With the bath. And the sharing the clothes. And. Just. Honestly, a lot of the reason I've never been able to get into Ed/Win is that she has so much chemistry with every single one of the girls, and then I see her with Ed and am like, "…is that it?" XDDDD

The first time I watched through Brotherhood, I was really focused on the plot and was still reconciling him with 2003's Hohenheim. When I started to revisit episodes with him in them, I just… fell in love. And then wept at the end. XD

is frustrated that he's ending things to be mean to himself or out of misplaced nobility or something.
"Misplaced nobility" has got to be Roy's relationship strategy in a nutshell! Poor babies. ♥

One of my favourite things about writing this get together has been following up extended UST with the two of them just colliding and finding that they're pulled together so powerfully that it's tough to do anything but go with it. They're both such powerful personalities and (for me, through my biased shipping goggles XD) such a good fit for each other.
Dying because all of this is EXACTLY how I feel about them. Which I'm sure comes as a tremendous surprise to you, since of course we never seem to agree about anything in the FMA headcanon department. XD'''

…do you guys have ho hos on your side of the pond? I can't remember whether I saw them. I'm Photoshopping Hohenheim onto one in my head right now. I think I may need a psychiatric evaluation. XD Or some sleep

But I do find it hilarious that Ed has progressed to the stage of quoting Hoho to win arguments. <3 Hoho would be so proud he would probably start crying, and Ed would be all "gah, I don't know where to look, don't do that, ghost dad!"
Soooooooo adoooooorable ♥

You are SO TOTALLY WELCOME! :3 ♥

Re: …maybe that's more like II-and-a-half?

Date: 2012-09-27 10:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Manga/Brotherhood Hoho is so lovable! Such a goober, and when you find out what he's been through it's so sad. He has such a long life and really he's only happy during the Trisha years and his time after he's freed and pre-Homuculusgate in Xerxes. And his greatest parenting mistake arises out of trying to do the right thing.

We don't have hohos but I've heard of them through American media!

Re: Part II/III, actually

Date: 2012-09-23 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
4. Yes! It makes me so happy and squeeful that you're seeing and enjoying in this fic the exact things I wanted to say! Sometimes it's easier to be kind to someone else than to be kind to yourself. And yes, Ed really does have a hero's soul, what a lovely phrase. <3

5. Yes, Havoc is a total hero! Sometimes in fic he's written for comedy or as the doofus to Roy's suave, but he has his own hero's journey (which parallels Ed's, and Al's, and Ran Fan's). Also, he's totally hot. Someone (who is not a sexy deadly homunculus) needs to tap that!

6. Thanks so so much, what a compliment! I do nerd the shit out of the political stuff - it's fun! It's kind of brain-breaking too because everyone's so competent that it's difficult to get them into trouble. I send stuff to my betas going "is there anything they've missed? Are they being smart enough?" I love Team Mustang, though. They're all so distinct. And I loved expanding the team, it's fun seeing what Miles and Ross and Ed and Al bring to the tachi party.

Re: Part II/III, actually

Date: 2012-09-26 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
Ahhhh! I'm delighted I could return the favor, since you always do with mine! :3

jkfldjslkaaaaaaa Havoc. ♥; It wasn't until [livejournal.com profile] icequeenrex was fangirling him during one of many FMA discussions that it really occurred to me what a BAMF he is, haha. XD And damn if the "Leave me behind" scene isn't one of the most sob-worthy of the entire SERIES. ;___;

Also, he's totally hot. Someone (who is not a sexy deadly homunculus) needs to tap that!
I… I love you. Like, a lot. XD *produces bouquet of roses*

because everyone's so competent that it's difficult to get them into trouble
This is thing #4,500,324 that I love about your fic – crap happens because there is shit going down, not because somebody veered OOC and did something stupid.

OMFG Miles in this series just just just—

…um… I am so, so, so sorry; I had afternoon coffee later than usual at work and am sort of teetering between regular nighttime tiredness and the caffeine crash, and the combination is making me loopy. XD

Re: Part II/III, actually

Date: 2012-09-27 10:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Oh yes, god, that scene. ;;;_;;; And him and Riza afterwards, talking about what a sap Roy is and whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. It's so cathartic to write about Havoc putting his life back together and getting happy. He deserves it!

Haha, there was this one time in NSI where Riza was going to call Roy with vital info and she actually passed a phone box and thought about Hughes and then was all "nah, I'll call him in the morning" and then got chased by assassins. *mortified.gif* [livejournal.com profile] cornerofmadness very gently pointed out that she had picked up the Idiot Ball big time. I couldn't believe I hadn't spotted it, facepalmed forever and then edited that scene on LJ and Ao3 when I joined Ao3, so it's possible you never saw the original doof version. Now she tries to call him and he doesn't pick up because he's popped to the corner shop or something. My beta and I have learnt from the experience, and when we're editing for plot holes we often say No More Phone Booths!

I love Miles! <3

Re: Part II/III, actually

Date: 2012-10-13 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
I have a tendency to get distracted from the main plot of my fics trying to make sure everyone on Team Mustang is okay and happy and coping with all of their respective traumatic experiences, because… because I just love them too much. XDDD

I REMEMBER THAT AUTHOR'S NOTE! I read the fixed version on AO3, yeah, but I read the note and was like, "…oh is editing what most people do when they mess up? Rather than just, y'know, whistling innocently and hoping no one will notice?" XDDD

we often say No More Phone Booths!
And now I want to write a Doctor Who crossover
NO, TIERFAL. NO.

Re: Part II/III, actually

Date: 2012-10-13 10:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Haha, I actually in general tend to leave the terrible mistakes in my fics where they are. There are a whole ton of things that could be edited for various reasons (and if a reader specifically suggested an edit for a good reason I would definitely consider it), but so far I tend only to go there either for silly one or two word errors that are very easy fixes (which I tend to just fix quietly when I spot them) or for big plot holes. I think that scene is the only major change I've ever made to a fic after posting. But it was just such a big facepalm-y mistake, and it's so important to the story's suspense and credibility that everyone on Team Mustang is very much competent and on the case as they are in canon ... Anyway, it was pretty satisfying to find a reasonable fix for that error.

Re: Part II/III, actually

Date: 2012-10-23 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
I'm totally too lazy ever to fix anything except typos and coding errors, hahaha. XD Writing a scene a second time is my single LEAST-favorite thing about writing in general, so I tend to dodge major edits even when I know I'm sabotaging myself. XDDDD

It's a great fix, too, with terrifying Hughes parallels to boot! I have a whole squee-rant about what a perfect example Hughes's death is of how the best narrative tragedies are the ones that are avoidable, where they almost escape their fate, and... yes. XD I need a "Danger: Geek" icon. XD

Re: Part II/III, actually

Date: 2012-10-24 10:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Haha, the terrifying Hughes parallels were unintentionally there in the original version, so I'm glad I found a way to make hay with them!

I'm a big fan of inevitability on the proper tragedy front, but I don't know if Hughes' death is tragic in the classical sense. He's a good guy and does everything right, he's not brought down by his own faults so much as by a slow-moving phone operator and that he hesitates at a moment when any of us would hesitate (apart from Roy and Riza apparently, I love them both for responding to this trick of Envy's by obliterating him without blinking XD).

But quibbles aside, I think you're right in the sense that deaths of the Hughes kind (mid-canon, sympathetic character, devastates others, catalyses plot movement, drives the rest of the narrative) do work really well when they're nearly near misses. I seem to remember Jenny Calendar going out this way on Buffy - you think she's gotten away, and then boom, out of nowhere she's killed really quickly and brutally and you're left gawping. Actually, now I think to it, Joss Whedon LOVES this trope. Also, it's really easy to root for a very competent character and really believe they can get out of this, and then it's all the more shocking to the system when actually, they don't.

(ETA: this is my nerding icon XD)
Edited Date: 2012-10-24 10:38 am (UTC)

Re: Part I/II

Date: 2012-09-23 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
1. I love writing Hughes! I don't get to so often because of, you know, the whole dead thing. Ed and Hughes have a lot of similarities in the total conviction department. I feel like Roy needs that in his life the way that Riza needs Roy's optimism. It's like a chain letter of encouragement or something. XD

2. \o/ Yay! This is totally what I was going for, all of it. It's so nice to hear.

3. I had fun writing the tachi partying (they don't get enough time to kick back!), and Ed's "y old people like this song?"

4. So glad it worked! I sweated and nerded a lot about this and about this Roy's relationship issues with [livejournal.com profile] a_big_apple. Loving Ed doesn't just make things easy and right for him, it brings up a whole lot of scary stuff that he doesn't quite know what to do with. He can't condemn Hughes, and he can't feel unconflicted about embracing a potential future with someone.

Re: Part I/II

Date: 2012-09-26 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
RIGHT?! I roped him into two fics deus-ex-machinally this month. Because I am shameless. And that's what AUs are for. And my GOD, the man's dialogue is fun! XD

It's like a chain letter of encouragement or something. XD
This is the cutest ever! And totally true. :D

Ed's "y old people like this song?"
I really really really need fanwork about Ed discovering the internet! XDDDDDD

I loved that it's kind of… because they don't have any doubts about what it is that they're scared. :c I think emotions are scary when they're that powerful, and especially for a pair of individuals who are so used to crushing down what they want in order to do what they think is right… just… yes.

Re: Part I/II

Date: 2012-09-27 10:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Yes, big stuff like that is scary! Riza in canon definitely doesn't think she's allowed private happiness and fulfilment - in the rare moments when she opens up about it, she's quite frighteningly brutal about it. I've seen Roy written sharing this attitude. He doesn't live in a 110% spartan manner, but he does push himself too hard and it's easy to imagine him avoiding certain kinds of intimacy without thinking about it too much. I thought and discussed about this a lot, and imagined that Riza's attitude could shift slowly given exposure to new perspectives, although the person and the perspective would have to be pretty special. Roy, meanwhile, gives his heart to people 110% when he gives it, so it's easy to imagine that he'd cross the boundaries he's set with Ed without meaning to or realising until it's too late. Then he has to worry about whether he's allowed this or not, which is an issue because he's not a religious man, so there's no supreme moral authority banging a gavel and saying "yes, you can" or "no, you can't". He does have Riza. But he can't ask her without making her reconsider her own happiness.

I really question myself rambling on about the background to it all like this! Sometimes it's better to let the fic stand alone, writers' meta on their own stuff can be quite offputting sometimes.

Re: Part I/II

Date: 2012-10-13 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tierfal.livejournal.com
I AGREE COMPLETELY WITH ALL OF THIS. And I think Roy would be so much less conflicted in general if there was someone yay/nay-ing all of his decisions; I never quite thought about it in those terms, but he kind of applies the order-following soldier mentality to his personal life in a way that's… a bit scary, really. Gaaahhhhh so many feelings—! And I think that's part of why he relied on Hughes so heavily (you hit this in the later chapters and I swear I will answer those comments eventually too! XD) – Hughes doesn't doubt the way Roy does; I think he trusts his own emotions a thousand times more than Roy ever will. And then this sort of circles back to the Hughes-and-Ed parallels you and I have poked at, and…

*more FMA flailing all over the place*

Ohhh, but… well, my philosophy tends to be that too much fussing to qualify the fic in advance is a bit annoying, but… this part I love – you sent the words out on their own, I read them, I told you what I thought while I was reading them, you're telling me what you were thinking when you wrote them, discussion, revelation, marvelousness—! ^^ But then that's also sort of me as a writer-reader; I love hearing about other people's process and headcanon and the background that went into the final product. :D

Re: Part I/II

Date: 2012-10-13 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bob_fish.livejournal.com
Yes, I feel like Hughes offered him a really healthy perspective on both treating himself a little better and on intimacy. And absolutely, Ed and Hughes share that quality of trusting their own feelings and just going for it.

I'm glad it's enhancing for you! I do really enjoy chatting about process both on my fics and other people's, especially when the discussion is as congenial as this. <3

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