Pairings: Roy/Al, Ed/Al, various others implied
Warnings: Implied semi-con, AU.
Summary: “Let’s go, Al.” Ed holds out his hand. From his higher position on the hill, with the sun behind him, the brightness is blinding. Roy talks to Hawkeye about his experiences with the Elric brothers, and tries to regain something he never had. Concluding part of the Futilities Arc, so read the previous parts if you want this to make sense. Heavily AU.
Dedication: to youkofujima, wonderful artist and all around fabulous person. I can't believe I haven't written anything for you yet. ♥
Notes: Beta-ed by uber-beta blademistress. Thank you for putting up with my folly as a writer.
Music: Radiohead - Where You End and I Begin. Lyrics are hugely fitting, and of course the fic is named after it.
Previous Parts: Everything You Want
South of the River, East of the Sun
Or maybe it’s something else entirely that signifies ultimate devotion.
It took a long, long time for Roy to work up the courage for confession, penance, to open his mouth and say it out loud -
“I think…I think Ed is mistreating his brother.”
- and watch as the hardened, sad look in Hawkeye’s eyes shifts into something soft and surprised.
They pack in one day and are out of the country in a week. Ed doesn’t explain, but he doesn’t really have to. Al can always tell when his brother is getting antsy.
It’s nothing external. He knows this because Ed hasn’t been outside this tiny, isolated town in weeks, only leaving the house to get food.
The last, wistful thought he has – looking back at the burning wreckage of their temporary home – is for the books they can’t carry.
“Let’s go, Al.” Ed holds out his hand. From his higher position on the hill, with the sun behind him, the brightness is blinding. He looks more than human.
Roy knows where the Elrics have gone. Any political novice knows the only place that would accept them unquestioningly and shield them against an Amestrian Fuhrer.
The Fullmetal Alchemist must have really made an impression on the new Emperor while he was there last.
He misses them both terribly, and for terrible reasons. The dreams of Al are never filled with the day to day routines of their time together. Always, Al on his knees, eager and pliant; Al’s soft voice gasping out his name; Al who never said no –
And still, he can’t forget Edward’s eyes, cold and hard.
“This is why you are a criminal.”
They sit at the dinner table as the autumn winds rage outside. Ed smiles at him from across the table and says, gently -
"He raped you, didn't he?"
Al doesn't know how to reply. Something in him wants to think harder about it, but the part that always agrees with everything Ed says takes over - as it always does, eventually.
He grasps for words to explain how he feels, but it's a futile exercise. Ed's fine brows draw down in a curious mix of annoyance and distress, and Al's heart inevitably twists at the wrinkle that appears on his brother's forehead. Agreement proclaims a quick and brutal victory in the silent war in his mind.
Al smiles and nods.
A tiny crease appears between Hawkeye’s fine brows. “But surely, Edward is mentally compromised as well? Otherwise he wouldn’t drag Alphonse all the way across the desert again.”
“Oh no, you misunderstood, Captain,” Roy says with a chuckle. “Al is quite functional.”
Ed is in a bad mood. He’s too careful, too doting to take it out on Al, but it’s obvious. They have lunch in fragile silence. There’s no good food in winter out here, mainly potatoes and some kind of radish. Ed’s a lousy cook, too, but he cares, and that’s enough.
Afterwards, Ed takes his hands across their tiny, beaten up table and stares at his face, eyes like twin suns. Al doesn’t blink.
“Mustang will be looking for us soon.”
Distressed and unsure of the proper response, he tries a smile. “Really?”
This is evidently the wrong reaction. Ed frowns, his hold on Al’s hands tightening to the point of pain. It’s unconscious, because his brother would never hurt him.
“You won’t leave me, Al.”
He does blink, then, in confusion. “Of course not, brother. What are you saying?”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be okay,” Ed beams, practically glowing. He doesn’t loosen his hold.
He never notices the bruising.
In the winter, Roy takes a vacation and goes to Resembul, looking for ghosts. Winry Rockbell stares at him from the doorway for a moment, eyes hard.
“No, I haven’t seen them. Not for years.”
She slams the door in his face. It’s the least he deserves.
It’s spring. Al knows this because Ed goes out walking and comes back with flowers. Sometimes he tucks one into Al’s hair – long now, tied into a low ponytail – with an embarrassed flush and a grin.
There is a letter. It’s not signed or addressed, but it doesn’t have to be.
I haven’t forgiven you yet.
The note disappears in a familiar crackle of flame. Roy smiles, bitterly. Neither have I.
Ed takes him for walks in the summer. They go past fields of wheat and corn, the farmers calling out greetings in Xingian, their eyes thinned into smiles, tanned backs glistening in the sun. Some stop working to wave. Grinning broadly, Ed waves back at everyone and replies in stumbling, halting Xingian. He’s learning fast.
One bright-eyed young man smiles hugely at Al after greeting Ed. It gives him pause.
There’s something – I have to – He frowns, torn between responses.
“Be polite, Al,” Ed says quietly.
Al smiles back and says hello, like he’s told.
fin. (Futility would be better, perhaps)
(For real, this time.)
Author's Note: Hey, I'm alive! Remember this series? I did promise to write a follow-up after the way Infection ended, so here it is. Sorry it's so...short. And fucked up. For Victory 3 next up.