“I can’t believe I’m stuck down here with you of all people!” Ed had been mopey all day. Him and Mustang had been assigned to patrol the Central City sewers on the lookout for terrorists.
Mustang would be lying if he said this is where he wanted to be, but you don’t see him complaining about it.
“Fullmetal, let’s just get this shift done and then we can both go home.”
“Fine.” Ed huffed.
If anyone could attempt to talk the raging teen down it was Mustang. Their relationship had taken an interesting turn. Not only did Edward respect Mustang now but in return, they both trusted each other. It had grown slowly. Ed realized that Mustang actually cared for his subordinates contrary to the mask he wore. Mustang realized that Edward wasn’t just hot-headed all the time. That when put into difficult situations his brain worked a thousand times faster than anyone he’d met. That the teen was skilled in alchemy far beyond what anyone should be. Admiration had been seen in each other.
And with this admiration, a new friendship was born. No longer at each other’s throats, this gave way to bickering out of good nature. Relying on one another’s opinions and seeing the value in each other never before seen.
Ed now knew that Mustang could strategize better than anyone. Edward still beat him at chess though. Mustang refused to sacrifice pieces. Actually forming a plan had been Mustang’s greatest strength for Edward. No longer did the teen run blindly into situations. No longer was he in the hospital every other week. Now it seemed he only went a few times a year. Something Al was so appreciative of that he sent Mustang a handwritten letter.
The whole team had seen the change in them. No longer did Ed come in with a scowl. Now he was making jokes the whole way through the office. Asking how everyone had been. Smiling some of the brightest smiles anyone had ever seen.
Mustang was no longer a grey cloud when Edwards reports came due. Now it seemed the other way around. When the Elric’s were away chasing down a lead the Colonel became quite dull. When Edward strolled back into his office and slapped the report down (on time now) Mustang couldn’t help but smile. The sheer jubilation that rolled off Edward was infectious.
Not to say that neither party still had their dark moments. Ed could be swallowed by guilt some days. Barley eating, barley sleeping. He would stumble into the office looking half dead. Feeling as if the world had given up on him. Another dead end. Another day with Al stuck in his body. Once he opened up Roy.
He had come into the office. Cheeks shallow and eyes dark. It had been about a week since Roy had last seen him. He plopped down on the couch and made one statement.
“I don’t even care if I get my arm or leg back at this point Colonel. I just want Al to whole again.” The desperation had pushed Ed over the edge. No longer did he care about his own pain and mistakes he just wanted to right his mistake with Alphonse.
“Edward, if anyone can do it, it’s you. You’re drive. You’re relentlessness. Al will be in his body again. We all have full faith in you.” Roy said the words sincerely because he truly believed them. When he thought about the future Al was always in his real body, no longer the hulking suit of armor. Edward looked up at him. He nodded. When he lay down on the couch Mustang knew he would be there for a while. He quietly excused himself and saw Hawkeye.
“I need the sign Lieutenant.” Hawkeye smiled at him and handed him the sign they had made when they realized that Ed didn’t get the rest he needed. When it became bad enough they would find him limping into Roy’s office to collapse on the couch. Only then did he seem to rest his best.
The mock sign read “Do Not Disturb. State Alchemists at Work.”
Mustang wasn’t the perfect picture of health either. Some nights the memories of Ishval came back with such force he was sure he was still there. That his other life was just a dream. That the sand, blood and sun would be there for him in the morning. While Roy kept his problems to himself, Edward could see when they took the toll. The Colonel would look like he was lost in some faraway place, never to return. Edward would make some tea, set up the chessboard and just start talking. Somewhere throughout the ritual Roy would return. He would laugh at Ed’s antics and his eyes would shine again. They never talked about Ishval, but Roy was always grateful.
Now as they searched the sewers together a familiar silence fell. Not awkward in each other’s company they kept their eyes and ears open looking for any sign of the mysterious terrorists.
A sound alerted them at the end of the tunnel.
“Finally,” Ed bolted off in pursuit.
“Wait! Fullmetal it might be a trap!” Mustang exclaimed but the teen was already almost to the end. Mustang was struggling to keep up. Then he heard a rumble, followed by a resonating boom. A startled shriek followed shortly after. When Roy turned the corner he understood why. The floor had given way. A gaping hole lay in the middle of the room. The thundering current below swiftly moving along. Mustang searched everywhere. No sign of Ed.
“Shit,” he mumbled. If Ed fell into that… Mustang knew he couldn’t swim. Most people with automail couldn’t. The weight is too heavy to pull against. Mustang took one breath and dove in. The water was black and cold. He looked for any sign of the young alchemist.
There! A flash of metal. He dove deeper and grabbed ahold of the metal arm. Kicking with all his strength. It felt like trying to lift a bag of cement out of the water. Mustang knew most of the weight was from the automail, Ed was too small to weigh this much. When Mustang reached the top of the water he struggled to get to the edge. Edward wasn’t moving. He knew he couldn’t lift Ed onto the platform at this angle. He weighed too much.
“Shit shit shit, Edward stay with me!” Mustang was in a panic. The teen’s eyes were glazed over, lids half-closed. His mouth open slightly. Mustang had ahold of his torso now, trying to steady him.
“Edward! You don’t get to die on me!” Mustang flipped open the release lever on his arm.
“Fuck, you’re gonna hate me for this.” He flipped the lever and disconnected the arm. It dropped into the water and sank like a rock. Ed’s body made a slight jump at the disconnection but no scream followed. No jerk, no Ed asking for some space while the pain subsided. Alarm welled up in Roy. With a final heave, he hefted Ed onto the platform. He put his head next to his chest, listening for any sign of life. No heartbeat, no breath. Mustang started CPR.
“Edward!” one, two three, “You hear me? You’ve got to get Al’s body back! You aren’t done here yet!” twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, “You aren’t done by a long shot! You’ve got so much to live for so wake the fuck up!” *snap* Shit, one of his ribs broke. Mustang knew he might be overdoing it but he couldn’t stop. He could not sit here with a lifeless Edward Elric. It could NOT end this way. He wouldn’t let it. Pinch his nose shut and breathe into him. Keep compressions.
Mustang didn’t know how long he did CPR, but his arms were aching and sweat was falling off his face.
“Fullmetal! Wake up!!” This was so unfair. Ed had so much left to live for. So much to do and see. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end. Tears started falling down Roy’s face. How unfair had Ed’s whole life been to him? He closed his eyes, still counting out the compressions.
A gasp, followed by choking. Roy’s eyes snapped open. Edward was retching up water. He turned the teen onto his side. Water spewed out of him, followed by ragged gasps.
“Ed!” Mustang moved closer to his face, wiping his hair from his eyes. The aureate eyes that had laid their dull and lifeless now shone. Ed was voraciously trying to get air back into his lungs. When he regained himself some he went to sit back only to realize as he almost fell that he was short an arm. Mustang held him up.
“Dammit.” Ed tried to take a large breath in only to feel a sharp pain. He clutched at his side.
“What the hell happened? Did I break a rib? Where is my arm?” Mustang was almost in shock. He was sure that he had lost Ed. Now he was talking and looking at him.
“You uh, fell from up there.” Mustang pointed to the cavity in the ceiling. Ed followed his gaze and looked up. Then he looked down into the rushing water.
“Oh.” Ed was stumped. How had he broken a rib and lost his arm from falling? The pieces started to click together. The way Roy looked at him like he was unreal, the pain in his chest, his missing metal limb.
“Ooh. I, didn’t fall here. I fell in there.” Ed looked again to the dark water. Then back at Mustang.
“You saved me?” It was a question, not out of disbelief but out of warmth. Mustang had risked his own life to haul Ed out of that water. Roy had no idea what lay down in there and no idea that’d he be even able to find him, but he did it anyway. Like a reflex.
“Yeah, I.. I didn’t think you were coming back.” The words struck Ed like a train. He hadn’t just gone unconscious. He had died. Edward was used to close calls but nothing like this. Nothing so simple as a sewer patrol had not only threatened his life but taken it. Ed looked at Mustang. Mustang was still staring at him like if he blinked he’d disappear.
“You saved me.” This time it was a fact. Mustang not only saved him, but he’d also literally revived him. Mustang grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him in for a hug. Ed was shaking and Mustang was warm. There Ed wrapped his arm around him and clung. Mustang was still crying. The shock that he had died chilled Ed to his bones. This was where he needed to stay for a moment. Wrapped up in the man who meant more to him than his own father. The man that had saved his life years ago. The man that told him to move forward. The man that joked and laughed with him. Who he bickered with and confided in on multiple occasions. Who risked his life with him. Who helped unveil mysteries and set him on the path he was on now. Roy Mustang was more than just a superior officer. Roy was the father that Ed had never had.