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 Ed arrives back two months later than planned, with a liberal sprinkling of freckles over the bridge of his nose and a certain grace about him that certainly hadn’t been there the last time Roy saw him. Six months ago, hair and eyes a brilliant gold, vermillion coat switched out for a waistcoat that was in theory less eye-catching but, still, never failed to take Roy’s breath away. A sardonic smile and a careless wave over his shoulder; the faintest trace of his scent- leather, metal, oil, the sun on tarmac, not that Roy cared- whipping behind on the wind as he shut the train door behind him and disappeared from view.

Six months later, and here he is. Achilles, returning from the war. Apollo, smelling of summer and sand and so much more than Roy will ever know.

Roy’s had a while to accept his fate: that Edward Elric will never look at him and see colour, thousands of colours; the whole spectrum laid out before him in some bizarre and wonderful dreamland. Years, in fact.

The universe is cruel. Roy thinks about that as he smiles, greets Ed smoothly, makes a joke about his height and watches the fireworks from behind the wall of his own posture. He thinks about how utterly, utterly forsaken he feels, has felt, for three damn years, as he graciously asks how the trip to Xing was, and then he thinks about how hard it is, to sit here and do nothing, while the love of his life grins brightly and leans across the desk with his eyes blazing: “Fucking incredible, Mustang, you have no idea-,”

Roy folds his arms in front of him and gives himself over to Ed’s voice. What else was there?

 

Riza raises an eyebrow at him when Ed leaves, kicking the door shut behind him as he always does- did- voice cheerfully loud on the other side (“Hey, Al, you done now? Why’d we have to make a detour, anyway-? Okay, let’s go get food. Then I’m gonna need to see Winry, I fucked my leg up sparring with Lan Fan-,”) until it fades, and there is an Elric-shaped hole in the office. Roy raises his eyebrows back at her, and she shakes her head.

“You’re going to need to tell him at some point, sir,” she says mildly, and Roy swallows, looks down at his hands on the table top. Says nothing.

In the other room, Havoc sighs loudly and leans back in his chair. “Damn,” he says, “been a while since we saw the boss, huh?”

“Our little Fullmetal Alchemist is all grown up,” says Breda, nodding solemnly. Havoc snorts and kicks him in the ankle.

“Don’t let him hear you say that.”

 

It’s fate, of course, damn it, that when Roy walks into his foster mother’s bar later that evening, Ed is leaning on the polished counter, staring contemplatively into his drink. Roy freezes in the doorway, half of his brain screaming shit! and the other half closing its eyes, heaving a sigh in resignation: of course.

Madam Christmas, pulling drinks from behind the bar with a ruthless kind of efficiency that tends to make everyone in her immediate vicinity feel incredibly small and inferior, meets Roy’s eyes from across the room, and her gaze says what will you do now, Roy-boy?

He shuts the door behind him, and slides onto the stool next to Ed.

“Fancy meeting you here,” he says, and Madam Christmas slides him a pint with a chuckle.

Ed looks up quicker than Roy would have thought possible, had he not spent a not-insignificant amount of time with the alchemist in question. His eyes are, at first, molten gold and dangerous, until he registers Roy’s face and relaxes, expression turning immediately bored.

“Shoulda known you’d turn up at some point,” he remarks, and drains the amber-coloured liquid in his glass. Not quite the same shade as his eyes; just a touch too dark, perhaps…

Roy needs to stop thinking about Ed’s eyes. He’s been telling himself that for years, now, but especially today; after six months of no contact, whatsoever, seeing Ed now is sudden and raw and brings a fresh pain- a fresh longing, god damn it- that makes it even more crucial for Roy to just move on.

Moving on, he’s discovered over the years, is more than a little difficult when the person you’re supposed to be moving on from is the very same who introduced all the colours in the world to your life. 

Roy remembers. How could he forget?

 

The Promised Day, the underground room, the sight of Ed spinning, eyes flashing, to meet Roy’s eyes amidst the overwhelming tide of mannequin soldiers blocking their path; Roy snapped his fingers before he had time to register the sonic boom inside his chest as Ed’s eyes fastened on his- and the flame was red, orange, leaping gold-

Beautiful.

Ed’s grin, wide, as he span to face Roy, hair flying, savage. And Roy marvelled.
 Edward Elric, Riza had told him before, was blond. His eyes were Xerxian yellow. His coat, red. The majority of the rest of his outfit? Black.

But it was so much more than that.

Everyone was born colour-blind, greyscale. That was what they said, what they were taught. That when you meet your soulmate, that’s when, suddenly, all the colours in the world are yours. Roy had seen it before, of course; he’d been there when Maes met his soon-to-be-wife Gracia, when Riza met her queerplatonic Rebecca. He’d seen it, seen the sudden realisation, the wide eyes, the parted lips, the sheer amazement painted across their faces- and yet. And yet. Never him. Never, never him.

Until now, apparently.

Maes had tried to describe it to him, before. He said it was a warmth that fell over you like a wave, and when you opened your eyes, you could see. But how do you describe colours to someone who’s never seen them?

Roy understood, then.

The red of Ed’s coat was so deep, so vivid; the flames dancing, roaring around them, the flood of heat; there was so much- and Riza, beside him, her eyes widening as she realised because she and Roy were bound by more than blood and mere friendship; of course she knew. The blonde sweep of her hair, the liquid brown of her eyes, the pale blue of her jacket. The shining metallic gun in her hand was the only thing that had remained unchanged.

And they were fighting. And Roy had to say something, anything, and the only thought in his head drowned out all of it, the colours, the leaping rush of Ed, Ed, Ed. It said: He’s sixteen. He’s your subordinate. Do you really think he sees it too?

Of course he didn’t. If Roy was Ed’s- soulmate, then he’d know about it. Something like that, Ed wouldn’t stay quiet about; his entire being was destruction and sparks and ferocity.

So Roy swallowed his words. Tore his eyes away, because what was he supposed to do? Tell him? No. Ed had a goal- and so did Roy. There was no time to sit down and have a chat: so, Fullmetal, it appears that you’re my soulmate. What do you want to do about it?
Roy didn’t even want to imagine how that exchange would go.

They were in the middle of quite literally attempting to prevent the apocalypse, and every second they had counted.

So that was that. Life went on.

Ed retrieved Alphonse’s body. Ed quit the military. Ed got on a train. Ed travelled the world. Occasionally, they would hear from him, when he remembered to write. Mostly, Alphonse was the diligent one, sending cheerful and excited letters to the office about his latest discovery, and at the end, a quick note- P.S. Ed probably hasn’t written you yet, so I’ll let you know that last I heard, he was off wreaking havoc in the mountainous regions of Creta, or something of the sort.
And it was fairly easy to track his location anyway; every now and then something big would be destroyed in some major city or another, or there would be reports of the ex-Fullmetal Alchemist singlehandedly dismantling an underground drug trade or saving an entire village from a group of corrupt soldiers.
 It seemed that even without his alchemy, Ed was still the same short-tempered (literally; Roy decided to save that one for use whenever he next saw him) , pure hearted warrior that he’d always been.
That was comforting. Despite the obvious danger- Ed being unable to defend himself quite as successfully as he could when a sharp weapon was a mere clap away, being the main risk- it was comforting to know that Ed hadn’t changed all that much.

And Roy still saw in colour.

 

 

Today was no different. The bar, polished oak and the glinting rows of bottles, dark green and purple glass sitting dusty or shining, depending on popularity, on the shelves behind the counter, and Ed’s nonchalant-yet-dark expression as he leaned one elbow on the wood and regarded Roy as if he was a mildly-interesting, slow-going lab experiment.

“Why is that?” he asks, taking a sip of his drink. Ed’s brows lower.

“Because you’re like a bad fuckin’ penny, Roy Mustang,” he says, and turns to face resolutely forwards in his seat.

“Ah,” says Roy, and then, “speaking of pennies- you still haven’t returned the money you owe me.”

“And you still haven’t made good on your promise to become Fuhrer,” Ed mutters. “You want your cash, get your fucking ass in gear. Jeez.”

Madam Christmas swipes Ed’s glass and replaces it with another one, full to the brim with the same amber coloured substance as before. Ed chugs half of it, and sets it back down, drawing alchemical symbols idly in the condensation clouding the glass.

“I suppose that’s fair.”

God damn it, the words are right there. Right on the tip of his tongue. Edward, I have something to tell you.

He could even make some jokes about it, incorporate a snide comment about Ed’s height into the explanation- but what good would it do? He can’t. He can’t.

“What are you drinking?” he asks, instead, and Ed studied his drink for a second before replying.

“No idea,” he says, “doesn’t taste like the shit Ling kept forcing on me in Xing, though, so I’m good.”

Ah, yes. Xing. Roy can imagine Ed there, in the sun and the lights, surrounded in the silks and the tapestries of the royal courts; yes, Roy can imagine Ed thriving there.

“Did you learn anything? You went to study Alkahestry, didn’t you?”

Ed’s eyes brighten at the change in topic, and he leans forward, bracing his hands on the surface of the bar.

hell yes,” he says, “it’s fucking incredible- alchemy, alkahestry, alchimeia- which is the shit they teach in Creta, by the way- it’s all the same premise, just…different branches. Shapes by different cultures, I guess- a lot of the stories and formulas are the same, just spoken differently; woven into different stories. And the energy, that’s new, too.” He shakes his head, and Roy is drawn, caught, sunk. Ed is mesmerising. Always has been, and probably always will be, Roy is done for.

“May, the kid with the braids- well, she’s, like, fifteen now, but you get what I mean-she was trying to teach me about that Dragon’s Pulse shit. The concept is pretty fucking simple but- I mean, in theory, it doesn’t use the Gate, right? Which is why May and Scar could use it back when Father, the asshole, disabled our alchemy that one time. So, theoretically speaking, I should be able to use it, too.”

He pauses to take a breath, and Roy imagines it; Ed, kneeling, hands pressed to the floor like old times, surrounded by the rising blue lights, the crackle of energy: alchemy. Ed, getting his power back.

“You could use alchemy again?” Roy asks, barely daring to believe it. This is- huge. Roy remembers losing his sight, so soon after finding the colours, and his stomach twists. To Ed, losing his alchemy must be like that- except a thousand times worse. Alchemy was everything to Ed. Roy knows that he’d do it again; sacrifice it all again in a heartbeat, because it was for Al, and nothing means more to him than his little brother- but Roy also knows that it hurts him. Being given this kind of hope…Roy can’t imagine what that’s like to him.

Ed shrugs, swipes a finger through the circle of moisture under his glass. “I dunno. Theoretically, yeah. But- alkahestry is…it’s…the circles, the whole idea of taking energy from some mystical stream containing the life force of our planet- it’s fairly easy to understand, once you get past the fact that it’s, like, complete bullshit, but putting it into practice is less than simple. Like I said, May tried to teach me. No dice.”

“You’ll get it,” Roy says, and he means it. “You’re a genius, Edward- and I’ve seen what you’re like when you really want something. You’ll get it.”

Ed eyes him suspiciously, and Roy realises that that was probably extremely out of character for him, in Ed’s eyes.

“You really mean that?” His eyebrow is quirked, his mouth sceptical. Roy shakes his head.

“Of course I do,” he says, “I’ve been a first-hand witness to quite a few of the astounding and until-then-impossible feats that you’ve performed. You defeated a god. You brought Alphonse’s body back. At twelve years old, you passed the State Alchemist examination. It’s really not that much of a stretch to see you mastering alkahestry, after everything else you’ve done.”

“Yeah,” says Ed slowly, “but you were blind for two of the things you just mentioned. So you weren’t exactly a first-hand witness. Just saying.”

Exasperation is something Roy has felt numerous times, over the years, and being exasperated with Edward Elric is not a new feeling, either. Still, the sensation is as keen as ever. Roy had forgotten how much determination one needed to get through a conversation with Ed.

“After everything motivational and inspiring that I just said,” Roy says, “that’s what you chose to pick up on?”

Ed raises his glass to him with a sarcastic grin, and drains the rest of his drink. The long tanned column of his throat is a tantalising possibility, and also a no go zone, Roy.

But he can’t quite stop himself from looking, and he can’t quite stop himself from staying, here, with Ed; after a while they migrate to an empty booth, and Roy finds himself buying them another round while Ed demonstrates the finer details of alkahestry with several diagrams scribbled on pieces of scrap paper, and Roy finds himself falling, further and further. Falling in the capital L word that he wasn’t supposed to think, or say, or admit to.

Funny question. Is he in love with Ed because he’s Roy’s soulmate, or is Ed his soulmate because Roy’s in love with him?

Roy’s never been one for deep philosophical thoughts. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first, the universe playing matchmaker, or…?

Back when he first saw them, the colours, he hadn’t really registered, at first, what that could mean for them. Because he knew, from Riza, that soulmates didn’t have to be romantic. And they were in the middle of the end of the world, and suddenly there were a lot more important things to worry about- namely, discovering his status as a human sacrifice and the subsequent struggle that followed.
So he hadn’t- thought about it, at least, not that. The colours, he couldn’t help but think about, because they were everywhere; startling and otherworldly and even though he’d known that, eventually, he would probably get to see them, it hadn’t prepared him for actually experiencing it. The sudden burst of life, the myriad of shades and hues and all that vivid detail that he’d lived for so long lacking.

The colours, he couldn’t be distracted from. The implication- of talking about it, of actually sharing it, of, what, of living together? Him and Ed?- had escaped him, for those brief hours and the days that followed, what with the rush of the entire government being destabilised, and someone had to take control. And the civilians and the damaged buildings, and the injured and the dead, and negotiations with the bordering countries and the insurgencies all around from rebel groups who thought the Homunculi had had the right idea, after all- he’d been busy, to say the least.

And after everything had calmed down…nothing had changed. Everything had changed. The whole world was different, but Ed was still the same- alchemy-less, yes; scared and trying not to show it, yes; unsure of how to proceed now that his one and only goal in life had been accomplished once and for all, yes…but still, he was the same. Determined. Fiercely protective of his brother; he stayed by his side in the hospital for weeks, refusing to leave him on his own. When he’d resigned, throwing his watch down onto the desk as he’d done once before, looking into Roy’s eyes with that intense, fiery gaze and saying calmly, “It was good knowin’ you, Mustang. Even if you are a pretentious bastard,” Roy had seen that same old pillar of pure steel, all the way to his core, shining deep in his eyes and he knew that the Fullmetal Alchemist may not be a dog of the military anymore, but he would never stop being a hero.
Ed had stalked out of the room, and he’d slammed the door behind him, as usual, and he’d left something behind, some gaping wound that they all felt, and maybe he felt it too, because after that he came back. Not permanently, but he came back, to visit, or just to hang around and annoy Breda and talk about books with Sheska- his parting words to Roy had seemed like a goodbye, but really…really, he hadn’t let go at all. And besides, he hadn’t given Roy his money back yet.

Roy was thankful for that. More thankful than he ever wanted to admit.


And now…

Now, Roy knew that he was in love with Ed, and he also knew that there was no way, no way in heaven or hell, that Ed would ever, ever-

“What do you think of soulmates?” Ed asks suddenly, abruptly, and Roy almost knocks over his drink.

“What?” he asks, unable to think of anything more intelligent to say. Ed sends him a piercing glare, then drops his head, staring fixedly at his stack of ink-scrawled napkins, cheeks heating.

“Soulmates,” he repeats, “your thoughts, Mustang.”

“I…think it’s interesting,” says Roy, slowly, “the concept, I mean. Having your partner chosen for you, supposedly before birth- it almost seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? How much free will is involved? Do we get to choose for ourselves? It’s intriguing.”

Roy distinctly remembers thinking that he wasn’t a fan of deep philosophical discussion, and yet, here he is.

Ed frowns at his napkins.

“Huh,” he says, “I never…I never thought about it like that. I just thought, like, since I- don’t- I haven’t…you know. I was thinking maybe not everyone gets one, you know? I don’t know.”

“Now I’m confused,” says Roy, trying desperately not to reel from what Ed has just said; he doesn’t have one? Has never had one? He’s still young, of course; Roy was well into his twenties when he- but then, that just makes it more definite that Ed doesn’t, won’t feel that way for him… “What do you know?”

Ed scowls at him, eyes flashing up across the table, a hint of his old wolfish nature. “Shut the fuck up, you know what I mean. Have you…you know?”

Roy raises an eyebrow. “I don’t see how that’s any of your business.”

Ed deflates, and Roy has never seen him look so- dull. So empty. “You have, then,” he mutters, “I knew it. I just thought, since you sleep around so much, maybe you haven’t- but I guess I was wrong. As per fuckin’ usual. It’s Hawkeye, isn’t it?”

Roy- splutters. “I- don’t sleep around. You do realise most of that was just rumours to make it easier for my information network to move freely, don’t you? And no, even if I did have a soulmate, which I don’t, it wouldn’t be lieutenant Hawkeye, because she already has one herself!”

Ed looks taken aback.

“What?” he says blankly. Roy is beginning to regret staying at the bar for so long.

“You heard me.”

“So- wait, who’s Hawkeye’s? I always thought- you guys are so close, I mean-,”

“Rebecca Catalina.”

“Oh.” Ed looks at his nearly empty glass contemplatively. “I guess that makes sense. Are they platonic? Winry’s platonic soulmates with Al. It’s kinda cute, actually. They’ve been seeing colour since they were little kids. Everyone expected ‘em to get married, but- obviously it’s not like that.”

“I- yes.” Roy says, slightly bewildered, still trying to take in all the new information. The bar is slowly emptying; Madam Christmas is shooting them glances from where she stands, ruler of all she surveys, behind the bar, arms folded. One of the girls Roy grew up with is kicking a group of rowdy, drunk students out at the front door.

The lamps are burning low; the room is filled with the gentle smell of smoke, both from cigarette stubs crumpled in ashtrays dotted around the tables and booths, and from the open fire in the far corner. Ed’s freckles are fading; Roy will be sad to see them go. There are a smattering of them over his nose, a few dusted on his cheeks. Like this, hair bleached several shades lighter from the desert sun and skin even more tanned than usual, he looks like the incarnation of summer, the very essence of Helios himself.

Ed takes another drink, and leans back in his chair.

Roy wonders if he should say something.

Then he wonders if he would ever be able to stop himself.

 “Just because you haven’t met yours yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” Roy tells him, “you’re still young, Ed. You have time.”

Maes always used to tell him that he talked too much. In his head, Roy raises his glass to his friend. There you go, Maes, he thinks dryly, you were right. I can’t keep my damn mouth shut.

Ed closes his eyes.

“That’s what Al said,” he mutters, tipping his head back, “s’ easy for him to say, though. He’s got his.”

Roy…doesn’t know what to say to that. Luckily, Ed prevents him from having to make a reply.

“I should get goin’,” he says, opening his eyes, “Got a train to catch tomorrow.”

“Oh?” Roy asks, “Where to this time?”

Ed shrugs. “Who knows,” he says lazily, “Might go to Briggs, say hi to General Armstrong. Or not. Might go to Creta. Might explore the Xerxes ruins some more. Hell, I might even go back to Resembool.” He sits up straighter, runs a hand through his hair. “I just- I can’t just settle down, like Al wants me to, you know? It’s like, we saved the world, we did all that shit. And now I gotta have something to do or I’ll go fucking crazy.”

Roy understands that, at least. Trying to fit back into the same old routine as before feels wrong, somehow, as if they should be out hunting down serial killers and taking down a corrupt government instead of sitting at their desks filing paperwork. Still. Roy would rather have this than another apocalypse- but he understands. For Ed, sitting around doing nothing must be the worst thing he can think of.

Ed slides out of the booth, and Roy follows him. Together, they walk to the door, and it feels- natural. Comfortable. Roy can almost forget about this whole damn soulmate thing, because just talking to Ed feels easy, now, and that’s all that he can ask, really, isn’t it?

If it wasn’t for the colours, maybe Roy could pretend that they’re just two people, out for drinks, and now they’re going their separate ways.

If it wasn’t for the colours.

The air is cool outside; Ed shivers and tugs his coat tighter around his shoulders- he’s wearing brown, Roy notices, brown and white; the muted colours look good on him. They make his hair look even more like spun gold.

The street lamps cast pools of liquid orange light onto the pavement as they walk, pleasantly inebriated, not to the point of feeling drunk, but not quite sober, either. It’s a buzz, a warm, enveloping buzz that holds Roy afloat and makes him think that maybe things won’t be so bad, after all.

“I don’t – look at people that way,” Ed says suddenly, gaze fixed on the silvery pavement, hands deep in his pockets. Roy looks at him, unsure if he should say something.

“In what way?” He ventures. Ed looks down and to the side.

“Like…romance. You know. I don’t know. I don’t- think about people like that. Well, mostly, anyway. Sometimes if I know them, like really know them; sometimes if I’ve been through shit with them and we’re close then…I don’t know.  I dunno why I’m telling you this, Mustang.”

His voice is painfully honest. Roy feels like he should tell him, right now, no hesitation. He should just say it. The words are there, he just has to find them. He hesitates anyway. This thing between them, this comradeship, feels a little too new, a little to breakable.

“A soulmate doesn’t have to be romantic,” Roy reminds him, quietly. Ed bites his lip.

“Yeah,” he says, “I know. I just- shit. Shit. This has really fucked with my head, you know that?”
He half-laughs, still smelling faintly of summer, but now his eyes are afraid. Roy has seen Ed angry, has seen him savage, has seen him determined and broken and cocksure and confident and hopeless and despairing; he’s seen Ed wild-eyed and young and scared… but never like this. Never with this strange combination of uncertainty, of fear, or longing hiding in his eyes.

Roy is almost too scared to ask. “What has?”

This, Mustang. Us. Talking. Laughing. You asking me stupid questions about alkahestry, because you’re a fucking idiot. Me answering them, because I’m a fucking idiot. This.”

He’s stopped walking. Roy stops, too. Ed’s voice is bitter, and desperately unsure.

Roy swallows.

“This doesn’t have to be anything, Ed,” he says, “It’s okay to have friends, you know.”

Fuck you. I have friends. Are we friends?” Ed asks. Roy falters- that’s a good question. Are they? Roy doesn’t know if he would call it that; they’ve been through so much and a lot of the time they’ve hated each other’s very beings, but they fought on the same side and Roy, at least, feels not a small amount of fondness for the strange creature that is Edward Elric.

That could just be his own bias talking, though.

“I- don’t know,” he says, truthfully, “If that’s what you want, then, yes.”

Ed laughs again, harsh and unknowable. “Roy,” he says, as if testing it out. “I don’t fucking know what I want.”

He drags his eyes up from the ground at the same time as Roy.

Their gazes meet.

There is a moment of silence- Roy thinks, oh.

And Ed stumbles back, eyes widening. “Holy shit!”

A car whips past and Roy steps forwards, ready to catch him, pull him back from the edge of the pavement; Ed skitters away, head whipping around as he spins, “holy motherfucking shit!”

“What?” Roy asks, feeling suddenly panicked, “Ed- what-?”

“Orange,” Ed whispers, hands flying out of his pockets as he points at the circle cast by the glow of the streetlamp. His fingers are shaking, almost imperceptibly.  “The light is fucking orange.”

Another heartbeat of silence, crisp and pure.

Oh.

“You- see it?”

Ed laughs again, wild and half hysterical; he spins around again, hair flying, a storm of gold, “see it? Yeah, Roy, I fucking see it, I fucking see this- this-,” he breaks off, staring at his own hands, turning them over in front of him; Roy doesn’t blame him, this is his first time seeing his own skin tone-

What does this mean?

Ed’s eyes, meeting his; Roy already knows what this means, of course he does, he just can’t bring himself to admit it because admitting it will make it real…

“Holy shit,” Ed whispers again, staring down at his coat sleeves, head jerking up as his eyes come to rest on Roy, Roy’s blue uniform, Roy’s stunned face. “Holy- shit-,”

“Are you alright?”

Roy realises that that’s a stupid question as soon as it’s left his lips, but he can’t take it back now, and besides what else is there to say? His hands are hovering in the air in front of him, still a little outstretched as if reaching out to Ed; he blinks at them and lowers them to his sides again.

Alright? What the fuck kind of question is that? You- I- it- fuck!”

Well. Roy can’t argue with that sentiment.

Ed takes a step forwards, eyes flickering to meet Roy’s, pulling away just as fast; his cheeks flush slightly and he swallows, hard. Roy doesn’t know what to do, what to say; how is any of this happening right now? They’re in the middle of a street, for god’s sake, he doesn’t even know what time it is-

Ed looks up, and Roy sees the familiar spark of determination settle in his irises.

“You know when I said I- sometimes- feel- that,” he says, slowly. Roy nods. “I’m- well, shit, Roy, we went through a lot together, you know?” He takes a breath, and another step forwards.
“I mean, I fucking hated you for most of it, and I know for a fact that the feeling was mutual, but- I mean, I feel like I know you, now. All your shit, and the way you act like a cocky fucking bastard when really, you’re just kind of- a dork, actually, and- hell, tonight was a perfect example of you not being a complete asshole for once, and. I guess. I don’t fucking make the rules; whatever cosmic fucking matchmaker that sets this shit up must fucking hate me and I don’t blame ‘em, to be honest, I’ve never given the universe anythin’ less than hell, but- I mean-,”

Roy reaches forwards, and brushes a strand of Ed’s hair behind his ear. Ed stops talking.

“Edward,” says Roy, very seriously, “I started seeing colours three years ago.”

Ed opens his mouth again, batting Ry’s hand away. “And I get that, okay, you bastard! I get that you’ve already got a nice fucking soulmate and a life and I get that you don’t want to be standing hre right now listening to m bullshit, and you know what, I definitely fucking wish that didn’t  fucking happen and that I could take it all back, alright, I get it-,”

Ed,” Roy says, shaking his head, waiting to touch him again but stopping himself, because this was important and he wasn’t about to ruin it all, “I started seeing colours three years ago, on the promised Day. It was underground, in that room with the big doors; we were being attacked by the soldier mannequins. Do you remember?”

Ed nods, slowly, frowning, cheeks still blazing, looking like he’s about to say more, and Roy almost trips over his words trying to get them out in time.

“Riza and I arrived, and you were in the middle of fighting- you turned around and saw me, and you smiled, and our eyes met- and that’s when it happened. In the middle of the fight. I snapped my fingers, and I could see the colour of the flames.”

To demonstrate, he presses his palms together, snaps his fingers. The flame, carefully controlled, dances on the tip of his index finger. Ed stares at it, and it is reflected in his pupils, red on black in a sea of gold.

“What-?” Ed stops, falters, before he finished his sentence, and Roy looks at him, this young man, the saviour of the entire known world, and thinks, I am very much in love with you, and I don’t care whether or not Fate has dictated it this way or if this is all some great coincidence; I don’t care which came first. None of that matters. Not right now.

“It’s you, Ed,” he says, and there is no mask, now, he speaks as sincerely as he possibly can, as earnestly as he has ever been, “it’s always been you.”

Ed stares up at him with fire in his eyes, and breathes out.

The wind whistles between them, strangely cold for such a mild season, and Roy shivers involuntarily. Ed nods, head dipping so that his hair falls into his eyes.

“Your eyes have blue in them,” he says at last, “I always thought they were just- dark. Guess I was still limited to, like, two shades back then, though.”

Roy- smiles, slowly. Ed turns back to face up the street, and, after a pause, starts walking again.

“C’mon then,” he calls over his shoulder, “it’s fucking cold, and I do actually have to get on a train at like, seven tomorrow morning.”

Roy catches up, walking beside him, aware that Ed has grown, now, that his head comes up to Roy’s chin.

“I hear Creta is very nice, this season,” he says conversationally, stepping through a pool of warm lamplight. Their shoes echo softly on the pavement. The street is quiet, and above them, the sky is streaked bruise-like with blues, purples and dark, dark inky black. Stars wink from the sea of warring hues, tiny diamonds hanging suspended above them, and Ed reaches up, takes hold of Roy’s hand.

Without replying, Roy laces his fingers with Ed’s, and the two of them walk together, arms brushing, as they walk and talk amidst all the colours in the universe.