Genre: Angst—but it's fluffy, romantic angst!
Warnings: No real spoilers, but takes place toward the end of the series.
Summary: He didn't know if Ed had come to him for comfort simply because he was there, or if there was something more behind it.
Fullmetal had brought him outside to talk, but now that they were here, the boy was strangely silent, staring off toward the lights that came from the town's main street—the town's only street, as far as Roy could tell. "Was there something you wanted?"
He didn't answer at first, and Roy wondered if he'd even heard. Then he said, without turning, "Why did you come after us?"
The older man frowned. "I told you—"
"Yeah, 'cause you were pissed at us, I know." Edward tipped his head back, looking up at the stars. Dressed in black as he was, his head and hands were the only things that didn't blend in with the night, giving him an eerily disembodied look. "But—why? Why's it matter so much that we didn't come to you? S'not like we'd made a habit of it before."
"I know." Roy sighed, and looked up as well. So many stars, out here in the country. "And that's mostly my fault, I think. I didn't exactly encourage you. Still . . . I would have thought you would have known you could trust me."
"Didn't know what to think. I dunno. Maybe if we had stopped to think, we would have come to you, but . . . it happened so fast, and the Fuhrer was there, and the homunculi, and . . . I was so scared, I couldn't think."
Roy looked back down at this quiet admission, and saw that the boy's eyes were closed, and his hands were clenched into fists at his sides.
"So much had happened and so much could happen, that I grabbed onto the one thing I knew we'd have to do, and that meant coming here. I was too scared to think beyond that."
"I'm not surprised you were scared. I'm still not sure what exactly happened back in Liore—and I realize you're probably not going to tell me—but I think most people would be terrified."
Edward was silent for a time. He lowered his head, and, turned away as he was, his hair now hid his expression. "Why'd you come after us?"
Roy suppressed an exasperated sigh. Just what was this kid pushing at? "Because I was worried about you, you ungrateful brat. Yes, I was angry that you hadn't come to me, but mostly, I was worried, and considering what had just happened, I doubt anyone could blame me."
He made a sound, something that wasn't quite a laugh. "Mustang?" he said after a moment. "Could . . . you do me a favor? It's—it's nothing much, only take a moment or two. . . ."
Roy frowned again, this time in concern. "If I can. Fullmetal—Ed—is everything all right?" Stupid question, but he didn't have anything else.
"Yeah. Yeah, it's fine. It's. . . ." He tensed, his shoulders hunching. Then he turned suddenly, grabbed the front of the other man's uniform and—
—Put his head down between his hands.
"Could you—just—" the mumble was barely intelligible, "—just hold me a moment? Just for a moment, that's all. . . ."
Roy's arm were already half-raised from reflex, so he slowly wrapped them around the boy pressed against his chest—no, not a boy. He was young, and scared, but he was no longer a boy, not after everything he'd seen and done.
Roy settled his arms and tilted his cheek to the blond hair. The teen was so tense he was shaking, fine shutters with every breath. "You don't get much physical contact, do you." He thought back, and it seemed to him that in addition to going completely covered from the neck down, Edward had always kept a five-foot radius of personal space that only his brother could enter—his armored brother.
Edward shook his head, his hair rasping against the older man's cheek.
"We're built for it, you know. Human beings have a need for physical contact."
"I don't like most people touching me, it's—I dunno, maybe my skin's more sensitive, maybe I'm just not used to it, but I don't like it, it's awkward, it's—"
"Ed." Smiling, Roy moved one hand to the back of the young man's head. "It was just an observation."
He let his breath out in a pant and ground his forehead into Roy's chest.
He started swaying because Edward was so tense, hoping that the gentle movement would encourage the young man to relax. But when Edward started swaying with him, matching his movements instead of simply letting himself be moved, it became a dance. Roy rubbed a hand down the teen's back, and nudged him into a slow circle, dancing to the insects and frogs and a dozen other night sounds he couldn't put a name to.
Edward sighed, and did relax, enough to drop his arms and settle them around the older man's waist. After a moment Roy realized the young man was humming, so quietly that at first it had been lost among the night sounds. It sounded like an old folk song, something about endings and beginnings. He stroked a hand thoughtfully down the thick golden braid, then joined in.
It would be wrong to say he forgot whom he held. He could never mistake Edward. But as they stood there, humming to each other and dancing to the rhythm of their own heartbeats, everything else ceased to exist. The military, the difference in their ages, social mores, their pasts—none of it mattered. He didn't know if Ed had come to him for comfort simply because he was there, or if there was something more behind it. Even that didn't matter, although a crush would certainly explain some of Edward's past behavior. Roy smiled to himself and stroked the young man's hair again.
They came to the end of the song, and gradually swayed to a stop. Ed's hands were beneath his uniform jacket, warm and cool against his lower back. He rubbed the teen's back and just held him, enjoying the closeness. It wasn't often that he got to experience moments like these.
Edward sighed and hunched his shoulders, and Roy recognized the desire to stay dueling with the knowledge that he should leave. The young man pulled back a little, his arms still around the older man and his head still bowed.
"Thanks for—well." He looked up now, shyly, his head still tipped forward. "Just—thanks."
"Edward. . . ." Roy caught the teen's chin and tilted his head back so they could look at each other properly, and whatever he'd been about to say died in his throat. He'd gotten used to the boy, and somewhere along the way, had stopped seeing him. Those lines of tension had no business on such a young face. His eyes, always striking, were a beautiful platinum in the moonlight, but old, so very old. He remembered thinking much the same thing when an exhausted twelve-year-old had stood before his desk after facing down a serial killer. Somehow in the intervening years he'd lost track of this, had let himself be distracted by the outwardly childish behavior. This person hadn't been a boy for some time. "Take care of yourself, okay?"
Edward grinned, though the expression lacked its usual confrontational edge. "Isn't that what I'm best at?"
Roy quirked a smile in return but shook his head. "No. You're excellent at taking care of everyone else. But. . . ." He caressed the young man's chin with his thumb, and was struck by the irony that someone who seemed so old still barely needed to shave. "Sometimes I worry that you forget about yourself. So take care, all right?"
"Yeah. You, too, Colonel Shit."
He chuckled. "I really ought to ding you for insubordination."
"Little late for that now."
He pulled the teen back into an embrace, pressing his face to his hair. Edward hugged him for a moment, almost too tightly to be comfortable with that metal arm digging into his side, then pulled back.
Roy watched him retreat back into the Rockbell's shop, then tilted his head back and looked up at the stars, humming an old folk tune under his breath.