Fullmetal Alchemist Fan Fiction ❯ It is What it is ❯ Only Human ( Chapter 4 )
(((No Alphonse this chapter, but I'm not just gonna leave everybody hanging on what's going on on his end. It's just that I am mainly focusing on Edward for the time being. Also, there are a few Royai teasers in this chapter, so there's that. :D;;;))
(ALSO, if anybody is wondering, I've decided that this fanfiction is going to be sticking to Brotherhood canon(since I've spent so much time writing FMA 03 fanfictions, though I am probably using a bit of inspiration from both series.)
WARNING: THERE IS A TRIGGER WARNING FOR SELF-HARM NEAR THE END OF THIS CHAPTER.
That aside, I know that in this chapter at first glance Edward might seem to grow attached a little fast in, but I'm not going to have him be all huggy or anything with them right now, so it's not really, it's more just in his head and thoughts than in behaviors. And you may not believe me, but I grow attached to people really easily and fast at times (depending on who it is of course to a degree), but I get upset at the same time, because I'm afraid of them being turned off by me(a fear of abandonment, I believe that Edward would be afraid to grow attached to Roy or even Riza, and eventually he would realize that it was because he didn't want them to leave him the way Hohenheim did), and I'll obsessively wonder what they really think of me. I don't like being hated.) I have never had to roleplay mother, father, and child before, but I most certainly did have two people I saw as parental figures in my life.
I felt confliction because my real father is dead(he died when I was 11, but even before that I never really had the chance to grow attached to him, and I undeniably resent him a bit, because of some of the things my mom has told me. Though my father was flawed, and I do believe he loved me, but he wasn't capable of taking care of me and he and my mother were divorced. Though my mother hasn't been the most present in the emotional aspect of my life. (to be sadly frank, she's more like Dante from FMA 2003 at times), so while my situation isn't exactly the same, I'm basing what I wrote in this off a lot of my own experiences(only difference being that Edward DOES get his happy ending, unlike me), so please be mindful. While Edward is not going to have my exact thought process all the time, certain thoughts he has will mirror some of my own about certain experiences.
This is probably total crap, but I have been writing this chapter for about two days straight so I hope it turned out well.
"Edward, wake up." Edward awoke to Riza shaking him on the shoulder. Immediately, he flinched in pain, before he opened his eyes, squinting up at her and Roy.
"Huh...?" he uttered groggily.
"We're here. Come on." Roy said.
"Oh..." Edward yawned, getting up. "Alright, let me get my stuff."
He reached down, picking up his briefcase from underneath the seat, before following after them.
As they got off the train, he noticed it was dark out, a quarter-moon shining in the sky. Stars were twinkling.
"What time is it...?" he wondered aloud.
"I believe it's somewhere around 9 or 10." Riza mused. "Or at least that's the time we figured we would arrive."
"What are you guys doing here anyway...?" Edward wanted to know. "There's no way you're out here just to do a report."
"Of course not." Mustang didn't look back at him. "Apparently, there have been rumors of some military conspirists causing some trouble in Kreta, though I highly doubt there's any credance to it. We get these kind of claims all the time."
"Sorry, but I have a hard time believing you'd go through all the trouble of coming out here yourself, instead of just getting somebody else to do it for you. Sounds a little fishy to me, Colonel..." Edward didn't hesitate to state his doubts.
"If you must know, I'm here because I have some old friends in Kreta." Roy said. "So I thought it would be nice to pay them a visit while I'm at it."
"In reality, he just wanted to avoid his paperwork." Riza deadpanned.
"Oh, that's why...!" Edward snickered, everything piecing together.
"Hey, paperwork isn't fun, you know. And I am here for more than just that." Roy directed his statement more at Riza, trying to act as casual as possible, though not denying that part of it was true.
"Right..." Edward mocked, clearly not believing him.
He followed them into darker territory where the street lights faded out. He began to feel uneasy. "If this becomes a repeat of Wisteria, I swear I'm going to kill you..."
"Now, now, Fullmetal, no need to be rude. After all, you're getting free food and living expenses, aren't you?" Roy grinned, teasingly, as Riza turned on a flashlight. "You should be grateful."
"I was manipulated by you! Why the hell should I be grateful for that?!" Edward retorted, before changing the subject. "So where is this stupid town, anyway? As far as I can tell, there's nothing here."
"That's because we're not there yet. Give or take, we've still got about another twenty minutes of walking left before we get there."
"Great..." Edward groaned. He was still so tired. And since he'd forgotten to eat at the cafeteria, he'd been a whole day without eating, so his hunger pains certainly weren't helping him feel any better either.
"What's the matter?" Roy turned back, noticing him dragging behind. "Pick up the pace. We don't have all night."
"Easy for you to say..." Edward grumbled, feeling his legs dragging again as he struggled to keep up. "I bet you had a full meal before you left..."
"Maybe you should have thought about food while you were dawdling in your room." Roy said.
"It slipped my mind, okay?!" Edward glared.
"By the way, there are pit holes around here, so watch where you're-" Roy started to say, but was cut off midsentence by Edward.
"Ack!" The boy hissed, as his foot slipped into one of the said holes. He fell down, face first into the dirt below him. He clinched his fists.
"Gee, thanks for the warning!" he growled out, spitting out some dirt that had fallen into his mouth. Roy and Riza turned to see him struggling to get up.
"You should be watching where you're stepping with or without a warning. Don't get mad at me because you failed to keep an eye on your surroundings." Roy said simply.
"Hey, it's not my fault I can barely see anything back here!" Edward retorted.
"Well, perhaps you should have asked for a flashlight," Roy pointed out. "or stayed up here with the rest of us."
Edward's eyes widened a bit, before he looked away, muttering in a slightly pouty voice. "I didn't think you'd give me one..."
"Are you okay?" Riza held out a hand to Edward.
"Yeah, I think so. My leg hurts a little now, but I should be fine." Edward didn't take her hand, and instead proceeded to get up on his own.
"Here, try be more careful this time, okay?" Riza handed Edward a flashlight.
"Alright..." Edward muttered, before they started walking again. He began to make sure to watch where he was stepping after that, avoiding the occational pit holes in the ground.
Moments later, Roy handed him a snack bar.
"Huh?" Edward looked up, a bit surprised.
"Eat that. It may not be a lot, but it should keep you going for a little while."
"Oh..." Edward averted his gaze, bashfully. "thanks..."
"Don't mention it." Roy didn't look back at him.
The rest of the walk was mostly silent, before they finally reached their destination.
At first glance, it appeared to be rather large with numerous buildings and houses lining the streets. Yet, the town was only dimly lit, so it was hard to make out what all there was. Edward and Riza put up their flash lights, and that's when Roy spoke up at last.
"Follow my lead and remember what I said about aliases." he told them, barely above a whisper.
"Understood." Riza nodded.
Edward realized just then that he'd also forgot to decide on an alias. However, right as he started to debate on the matter, he stopped in his tracks, noticing a child standing beside a building a little ways away over, looking straight at him. From a distance, the boy seemed to be about the same age as him. He had white hair, a black hoodie and dark skin tight pants with short red boots. Yet despite his white hair, he didn't appear to be Ishvalan.
The boy appeared to be glaring, and Edward would be lying if he didn't find it a little irksome. What's his problem?
"What's wrong?" Riza asked, as she and Roy noticed he had stopped stopped walking. Roy turned to look back at Edward. The blonde glanced over at them for a moment, and then back at the spot where the other boy had been, which was now empty.
"No," Edward shook his head after a moment, before moving to catch up with them. "It's nothing."
If they had seen the child, they apparently hadn't found him to be a threat or anything of the sort.
Eventually, they entered a restaurant.
Aside from the round wooden tables, there was a bar up front where people could sit to eat. Behind it, stood a man wiping down the surface.
At hearing them come in, he smiled. His short curly hair shown bright orange and his light skin was covered by freckles. He appeared to be in his early thirties. "Good evening. We'll soon be closing, so... Alistair?!"
The man's emerald eyes widened as if he had just seen a good friend he hadn't seen in years.
"Caspar! How've been you doing?" Roy grinned, approaching him.
"Good! What's it been? Ten years or so?" Caspar asked.
"Eleven or twelve, if I'm not mistaken. I happened to be in the town and decided to drop by. Hope you don't mind."
"No, not at all! I'm glad you did. It's been rather hectic for me lately, so it's nice to see an old face after so long."
Edward could tell that Riza probably felt just as lost as he did, but he almost felt bad for Caspar, because Roy was a huge charmer and good as hell at putting on an act.
"So, who are they?" Caspar inquired, referring to Edward and Riza.
"Call me Elizabeth." Riza said.
Edward just then realized again he'd forgot to come up with an alias. After a moment, Roy took the initiative.
"And this is Alfred." Roy introduced Edward with an alias he made up.
Alfred?! Edward wanted to sock Mustang in the face, for choosing an alias for him.
"Ohhh," Caspar looked at him with a mischevious look. "does that mean you finally got a girl friend?"
Before either Roy or Riza could respond, Edward smirked.
"As a matter of fact, they're married." he said.
Roy approached his side. "Yes, and this our son."
Edward choked on his spit.
Roy was satisfied at seeing the expression on the boy's face. He reached out, patting Edward on the head, grinning. "He's a rather troublesome one too sometimes."
Since Edward was... short for his age, it made the story believable without question.
"Just shut up, okay...?" Glaring off to the side, Edward cursed himself for not seeing it coming, and for running right into that trap.
Caspar laughed at little. "That's what kids are good for. But you can't help but love 'em. Man, I really am happy for you, Alastair. I always told you that you should find somebody. Let me know when you're ready to order."
"So how's your relationship with Cassie been going?" Roy asked, as the others sat up at the bar, followed by himself. Edward was sitting in between Riza and Roy. There were menus sitting at each of their places. Riza had opened hers and had began skimming over it, followed by Edward.
"...She and I broke up years ago." Caspar's eyes narrowed slightly. His tone was one of somebody who'd long since accepted things, even though their experience was still very painful.
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Did something happen?" Roy gazed at him.
"No, not really. One day, she just left with no real explanation... I think she may have just felt insecure about herself or maybe she got tired of me. It's a little hard from time to time, because I keep wishing she would come back to help look after our children and just to be by my side again, but I guess it can't be helped... And it's not all that bad, my kids mean the world to me, after all. Come to think of it, they're probably about your age, Alfred."
Edward looked up him. At hearing his story, a part of him couldn't help but be reminded of his mother, and all the years she'd spent waiting for Hohenheim to come back; All the years Alphonse and he himself had not only watched her suffer in waiting, but also the time they waited for him theirselves.
Catching the attention of everybody around him, he clinched his fists, slightly crinkling up the menu with his automail hand. "I'm sure it's painful going through that, but if she can't see what has before her, and she's turned her back on you when you need her the most..., then she isn't worth having around...!"
Edward bit his lip, letting his bangs shadow his eyes, his shoulders tense. Riza placed a hand on his back in a gentle manner, as a subtle gesture to get him to calm down. And after a moment, it worked. Edward began to relax at the touch, which had vaguely reminded him of his mother's. A warmth and calmness that he hadn't felt in so many years suddenly enveloped him.
"I can tell you've been through a lot." Caspar smiled sadly. "I don't know what all you've seen or exerienced and I won't ask. Breakups are hard to deal with sometimes. But just know this. Whether or not you're able to keep even a portion of a relationship with that specific person, there are always people around you who care whether you see it or not, kid. Why, right now, you've got two loving parents right next to you."
Immediately, the warmth was gone and Edward felt sick. Casper really didn't know anything at all. Riza and Roy weren't his parents, and Roy probably hated him. He shouldn't have been feeling happy about anything, because after the week was over, it would all be done with and irrelevant.
Riza could see the loneliness in Edward's eyes at the mention of parents, and figured that saying something at the moment would only make things more painful for him. She could never replace the mother that he had lost, after all.
"It's good to see you're moving forward with your life and taking a stance that some can't, Caspar." Roy spoke up, before Riza or Edward could say anything. He didn't want to make things any more awkward for Edward than they already were.
"It is hard sometimes, but I'm doing the best I can, you know...?" Caspar said.
"That's all we can do, really." Riza offered softly, barely above a whisper. There was a feint hint of sadness in her eyes as she continued. "When we face painful experiences... We often try to rationalize them, whether or not there's a logical reason for it. Yet, even though it doesn't necessarily make what happened in the past okay, I will always believe that we can work for a better future."
Roy know without a doubt what she was referring to.
The Ishvalan Massacre.
Perhaps it was an extreme event to compare to a relationship breakup, but for somebody who'd went through it first-hand, anything could serve of as a reminder to the hell that had taken place back then.
It wasn't something they could ever just forget about, after all. It was always in the back of their minds, plaguing both their waking moments and their nightmares. Likewise, it had left its fair share of scars in the hearts of so many people involved, on both sides.
Even though what happened in the past was wrong on all levels, however, they would keep going, and work so the same thing never had the chance to happen again. It was why she followed Roy, because they both believed in that same vision.
Roy nor Edward said anything.
"Yep. Take it a day at a time, I tell myself." Caspar smiled a bit, having no clue of the true thoughts going through their mind.
"I'm ready to order now, if that's okay." Riza then said, after smiling a bit.
"Of course." Caspar responded kindly, getting a piece of paper and a pen.
"I'd like to have one of your garden salads, a side of fruit and a couple deviled eggs. Sweet tea for the drink, please." Riza decided, not particularly in the mood for meat.
"Alright." Caspar nodded, before turning to look at Mustang.
"I'll have a pork cutlet, and a tomato basil soup. Sweet tea for me as well." Mustang said.
After writing down the two orders, he looked to Edward. "What about you, Alfred?"
When Edward didn't respond, Roy and Riza looked over at him.
"What's wrong?" Roy asked. Though the words were ones of concern, they were distant, and spoken in a cold tone.
"I don't want anything..." Edward muttered in a bitter voice. His anxiety was beginning to get to him again, especially after he had started to think about Hohenheim. Roy and Riza exchanged glances before Riza spoke up again.
"You need to eat something, even if it's just a little." She tried to encourage him. Even though Edward had eaten a granola bar, she knew it was better for him to have more on his stomach than just that.
After a minute, Edward gave in, his hunger getting the best of him.
"...Can I get a pork cutlet...?" he asked, before other choices came to mind. "Oh, some spaghetti, a baked potato with butter, a side of vegetable soup, a cheesecake, and a lemonade. No ice."
"Uh... Is he going to be able to eat all that?" Caspar looked at Roy and Riza with uncertainty. Before either of them could speak, Edward did.
"Hey, I may not look it, but I can stomache a lot, pal." He said, not particularly fond of being doubted. "Besides, other than the granola bar he gave me a little while ago, I haven't had anything to eat for about whole a day, because I had been traveling around with my- a buddy of mine and as soon as I got back, Dear ol' Dad here decided to blackmail me into coming along on this stupid trip." Edward pointed accusingly at Mustang.
Words couldn't express how odd and wierd calling Roy his dad felt.
"I gave you an hour's warning, you should have been ready long before then." Roy said, not seeing a problem, until Riza offered him a bit of a glare.
"Well, maybe you should have just left me home if you have such an issue with it!" Edward retorted beneath his breath. He wasn't particularly in the greatest of moods. "I still don't even know why you brought me here..."
"Hey, hey, no fighting." Caspar gave a quirky smile. "I'll start cooking this right away, alright? I'll be back shortly."
When Caspar stepped into a door in the back, Roy felt Riza's eyes on him. He knew that if he didn't tell his true feelings, Riza wouldn't let him live it down.
"I'm doing this because I felt like it..." He turned to look Edward straight in the face. "And whether or not you believe me is your own perogative, but I'm not doing this for some manipulative gain, nor to make myself look good. I brought you along simply because I wanted to."
Edward's eyes widened as he met his gaze. He swallowed a painful lump in his throat.
There was that feeling again...
A warm yet terribly painful yearning for a connection.
A connection that should never exist to begin with.
"Simple, huh...? I always thought you had it out for me, you bastard." He could only look away, pitifully, almost as if he felt guilty.
The one time he had hoped Roy really was using him somehow happened to be the one time his intentions were actually genuine. The irony was sadly hilarious.
"I don't hate you, if that's what you mean." Roy murmured.
Neither him nor Riza pressed for Edward to respond.
"Alright, here it is. Hope y'all enjoy." Caspar had finally finished making the food and brought it to them.
Upon reaching for the sharp knife placed in front of him to slice his pork cutlet, Edward became hypersensative to the cuts on his arm, feeling temptation rising again. But he forced himself to push back the urge just like earlier that day. He told himself he had to wait until later.
Decidedly, he turned his focus back to the food.
Riza and Roy began to eat theirs, but couldn't help but watch in some amusement as he started to gorge down his.
"Woah, you weren't kidding when you said you could stomach a lot, kid!" Caspar was amazed. Edward kept scoffing down one bite after another. It was like he was barely even chewing!
"People have nicknamed him the bottomless pit back at home." Roy offered.
"I can see why." Caspar laughed.
"It's always kind of amusing to see it in action." Riza added.
"Hey, I'm right here, you know!" Edward feigned a pout, not particularly liking his food habits being poked fun at, before he continued eating. He finished most of it within a matter of minutes, at least until he got to the vegetable soup, noticing the peas.
"Good job as always Caspar. You always were a great cook." Roy grinned, almost finished with his pork cutlet, noticing how it was perfectly tender, unlike in some places where the pork cutlets were too tough to even chew that well.
"Yes, I can tell you put a lot of effort into your meal preparation." Riza noted, after taking a bite of a deviled egg, looking down at the salad. Even something as simple as that, and Caspar had made sure the lettuce was finely chopped up, so it would be easier to stir in dressing, which simply wasn't something that most restaurants did. It showed that he had devotion to his work and that he was willing to take his time to make the customers happy.
"Well, thank you." Caspar blushed a little.
"If my husband could cook this well, I might would fall for him even more." Riza glanced to the side at Roy.
"Hey, I can cook!" Roy retorted defensively.
"By cooking, do you mean blowing up microwavable dinners?" Riza deadpanned. Roy stiffened. One day when everybody had been using the microwave in the breakroom back in Eastern Command, Roy had got the brilliant idea to rub it their faces that he could cook his food faster than the microwave by using his flames, and as a result, the bowl exploded, causing macaroni and cheese to go everywhere. Even today there was still resadue from it left behind.
Hughes, who was covered in cheese at the time, had patted him on the shoulder and told him, "Word of advice for the future, you should really rely on a microwave more often, Roy. Or better yet... get yourself a wife that's good at cooking, so she can do it for you."
"That was one time, okay?" Roy flushed in embarassment.
Edward began to snicker at the thought. If had been anywhere else, he would have asked for full details on it, but seeing as he could only guess why and how Roy had managed to blow up a table dinner, it somehow made it all the more hilarious.
"No offense, honey, but you're useless in the kitchen." Riza said flatly, finishing her egg.
Even though there weren't any ill intentions behind it, Roy began to sulk. "Well, that was harsh..."
Yet part of him knew it was true. Making complex meals simply wasn't his forte. He was far better with making deductions, logical reasoning and giving orders, not house work or meal prep.
"It's okay, Dad." Edward chimed in, giving a small grin. "We all have things we aren't good at."
He immediately recieved a glare from Mustang.
"What are you doing?" Riza asked, noticing that Edward had got a paper towel and was slowly picking at his vegetable soup. Some peas sat on the paper towel.
Edward looked back up at her, before returning his gaze to his paper towel.
"I'm picking out the peas." He explained.
"Eat them." Roy told him, a bit sternly. "They're good for you."
"I don't want to. I hate them." Edward muttered.
"There aren't even that many."
"I don't care. Peas make me sick." Edward glared daggers at the tiny green vegetables. Roy sighed, about to say something else, but Caspar spoke up, smiling at Edward, before Roy could continue. "It's okay, just between you and me, I can't stand them either."
"See...!" Edward smirked, looking triumphant.
"Back me up here, Elizabeth!" Roy looked to Riza.
"Sorry, but I'm on their side." Riza looked away.
"Well, gee... Thanks for the support..." Roy heaved another sigh, feeling like he was the only one who liked peas. It was ironic considering how much Edward liked food, and how much Riza and Caspar enjoyed cooking.
"Don't mention it." Riza said.
"So how's business been lately?" Roy asked, as he began to use his spoon to take sips of the Tomato basil soup.
"It's been kind of slow lately." Caspar answered. "People keep telling me I should get a different job, but cooking is my life, and seeing the smiles of the people who do still come in here... it makes me happier than any other job could. I couldn't just tear myself away from that, you know?"
"Never let others tell you how you should live your life. If it's what makes you happy and you're fortunate enough to have the choice to choose, then don't let that opportunity go to waste." Roy told him. "Are Luci and Danyon still working here?"
"Yeah, they are." Caspar said. "But Luci has been kind of sick lately, and Danyon had to leave early."
"I see. I'll have to stop by again tomorrow and at least say hello to Danyon." Roy said.
"You definitely should. I'm sure he'd love to see you." Caspar replied.
"Alas, we're going to have to leave soon, for tonight, because we need to rent an inn room." Mustang started to get up.
"What are you talking about? Don't go and waste your money one of those expensive rooms. A good friend of mine is out of town and I'm sure he wouldn't mind you staying there for a week or so."
"No, we couldn't..." Roy tried to passively wave off the offer.
"I insist. It's not that far from here, and I'm about to close up shop anyway, so I don't mind driving you down there. Just give me a few minutes, alright?"
"Well, if you're sure, we'd really appreciate it." Roy smiled politely.
It wasn't that much longer before everybody had finished their meals and Roy payed the bill. Soon after, Caspar wiped down the bar and tables, locking the door and then led them out to his car.
"I really am glad you could visit, Alistair. It's good to see you're doing well." Caspar said to Roy after everybody had got in the car and he was driving down the road.
"And you as well." Roy said.
"So what brought you out here, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Things were becoming a bit hectic at home, you see, so I figured I might as well come out here to get away for a while." Roy gave half of the truth.
"Well, whatever the reason, you're always welcome here." Caspar grinned. "Your wife and kid too."
Roy returned the gesture. "Thanks, Caspar."
"Ah, it's no problem. That's what friends are for, right?"
Soon, Caspar pulled into a drive way. From the outside, or what they could make out, it looked to be a fairly decent sized house.
"Now, I do have two warnings," Caspar told them, opening the car door. "There's only one bedroom, but the guy has four beds, so you should be fine. Also, there's not really a lot of food around here, so you'll probably have to go to the store down the road to get some."
"Understood." Roy said, as he followed Caspar up onto the porch, alongside the others.
Reaching into his pocket, Caspar pulled out a key, sticking it into the key hole to unlock the front door.
After turning on the lights, and briefly looking around the house, he handed the key to Riza, who was closest to him. She thanked him.
"I don't want to keep you all awake, so I'll go ahead and leave. But if you have a problem or question, just call me. It's the same number as it's always been." Caspar gave Roy a light pat on the shoulder as he passed by him. "Now, I have to get back to make sure my kids haven't got themselves into trouble."
"Your help has been most appreciated, Caspar." Roy said politely.
"Yeah, thanks, pops." Edward echoed with a grin, waving.
Riza simply gave a light bow of her head.
"Hey, come back by sometime if you can." Caspar offered a wave as he headed back to his car.
"Of course." Riza said.
"Will do." Roy smirked, before following the others into the house, closing the door behind him.
When they reached the bedroom, Edward immediately kicked off his shoes, threw down his briefcase and plopped down on the bed, which was slightly unkempt. "Finally. A warm soft bed. Maybe I can actually get some rest now, as long as somebody doesn't decide he's going to leave as soon as we got here."
It was obvious that he was referring to Roy. However, Roy surprisingly ignored his statement.
"Aren't you going to change first or something?" He asked him, even though he wasn't that interested.
"Not right now, I'm too tired." Edward murmured. However, while it was true that he was tired, exhausted in fact, now that he was in bed, he ironically felt restless. Something inside of him even began to feel guilty for having eaten anything that night, which was a thought that occationally bothered him after eating meals. Alphonse was stuck without a body and couldn't consume or taste anything. But Edward didn't have that problem and could eat as much as he wanted, he could enjoy meals. Yet he knew that he had no choice. If he stopped eating, he wouldn't be in shape to do research, or to fight back against enemies. He knew that he had to eat to stay strong and healthy, for Alphonse.
But even then, it didn't stop the guilt. Aside from that, in one single day of being around Roy and Riza, a small part of him had began to long for things that he'd given up along with his home back in Resembool. As much as he wanted to avoid thinking about it, his time with them had been enjoyable to a degree.
Even small things like Roy trying to get him to eat his peas mirrored things like Trisha and others trying to get him to drink his milk. As such, the days events had been an endless reminder of the past he'd left behind.
The past that he wasn't supposed to ever go back to.
Roy's words to him continually echoed in his head.
"I'm doing this because I felt like it. And whether or not you believe me is your own perogative, but I'm not doing this for some manipulative gain, nor to make myself look good. I brought you along simply because I wanted to."
What had he meant by that? Surely, it was just an act.
But Edward knew it was not. Yet he just didn't want to believe it, because it would be a threat to the barriers he'd built around his heart.
He wasn't supposed to grow attached...!
But watching Roy and Riza banter over cooking and paperwork and occationally joining in himself had made him laugh for real.
The rare moment that Roy had shown him kindness of any sort had made him desire a connection with him.
The moment that Riza had rubbed his back had genuinely put him at ease at least for a little while.
Seeing a different side to Riza and Roy than he was used to had made him want to get closer to them.
And posing as their son had made a small part of him want it to be true.
What made it so painful was that the cherade wasn't meant to last. After the week was over, it wouldn't even matter any more. Roy would go back to barely sparing him a single glance, and both him and Riza would hardly even act like it even happened.
But, despite himself, he wanted it to last.
He couldn't believe just how impressionable he really was in the end. Just one day and it had the ability to make him feel like this. It made him sick.
He was even weaker than he thought he was.
He started to find himself hating Hohenheim more than ever. If he had stayed, Edward was sure that he wouldn't have been feeling the confliction that he was at the moment.
He remembered all the times he'd wondered what it could have been like to have a normal father that hadn't ran off on his family.
Yet then he remembered all the times Trisha had looked so sad when the man was mentioned.
Feeling his mother's hand grow limp in his.
In the end, even more than Hohenheim, he hated himself more than anything for being unable to help or save her when it came down to it.
And his mother wasn't the only one he'd failed to save.
There was Nina too.
All of that was aside from the suffering Alphonse had had to go through because of him.
Perhaps, it was the mix of both fatigue and restlessness getting to him, disquietude driving his thoughts in a million different directions, but he couldn't stop the way he was feeling. His arms were starting to itch again, anxiety consuming him, and he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep until he was able to release his pent up frustration. So, when he felt that nobody was looking, he grabbed one of the packs of bandage wrap, a black long sleeve shirt and a pair of beige nylon shorts from his briefcase, and headed straight to the bathroom. Once inside, he locked the door behind him and turned on the lights.
Just a few.
He needed at least a few.
Heading to the sink, he took off his jacket and shirt, taking the razor blade out of his pocket. The metal of the blade glistened in the light. Holding his arm over the sink, he dragged the tip of the tiny weapon across his skin. The all too familiar stinging sensation set in, giving him a slight rush. He hadn't cut in a while, so finally getting back to it offered some level of comfort alone.
As blood oozed from the slit, he wondered briefly what Roy and Riza would think if they found out. They would most certainly be disappointed in him, especially Roy.
Alphonse definitely wouldn't be happy either and would be upset with him for not relying on him, Izumi would be pissed about it, and might even beat the hell out of him, and Winry would be hurt bad by it, and would probably cry if she found out. Even so, he couldn't bring himself to ignore the urge anymore.
After all, it wasn't like they could ever understand.
It was a way of distraction, yet a way to feel at the same time. He didn't have to think that much when he was focusing on the pain. Euphoria was the best way to describe it.
It was addictive - the sting, the feeling of dragging the razor over his skin, the sensation of being in control that it offered, as well as the blood. Especially the blood.
Watching the crimson flowing down his arm, it was like an alternative to crying and letting his emotions out that he couldn't explain and it never failed to entrance him.
And the things he didn't even know how to or want to verbalize didn't have to be expressed through words, because advocating through the blade was much easier and required a lot less effort anyway.
He slashed again and again, the notion of 'just a few' quickly turning into dozens. Blood had covered his arm flowing down into the sink. A few of the cuts were a little deeper than intended, but not deep enough for him to worry about.
Finally after a while, a bit lightheaded at that point, he stopped, his arm feeling weak. He turned on the water, rinsing out the sink and off his arm, hissing at the pain. Some of the blood had dried, so he decidedly left those parts alone. Afterwards, he opened up his bandage wrap.
It was at that moment that there was a knock on the door. He stiffened as Roy's voice spoke from outside the room:
"Fullmetal, are you almost done? You've been in there for about an hour. "
A whole hour?
"...Yeah, I'll be out a minute." Edward said, lacking his usual snarkiness.
"Hurry it up, You not the only one here, you know."
"I said I'll be out in a minute, okay?! Don't rush me...!" Edward grumbled, as he fumbled to get the bandage wrap around his arm. After tucking the end of the wrap underneath another part of it, he washed off his blade, before slowly working his black long sleeve shirt on, hissing a bit and he changed into the shorts. The sleeves of the shirt were long and baggy enough to hide his bandages.
Sticking the razor blade back into his pocket, he picked up his jacket, as well as his other clothes, and exited the room. He passed by Roy with a scowl. "There, are you happy now?"
"Very much so. Thank you." Roy said in an irritated tone, glaring a bit, before going into the bathroom.
Edward came into the bedroom, noticing that the bedding had been replaced. However, he payed it no mind, and laid down anyway, throwing down his clothes beside his bed.
"Edward," Riza, who had noticed him come in, sat down on his bedside a minute later, catching his attention. "do you mind if I ask you something?"
"What is it?" Edward drawled, tiredly glancing up at her.
Riza was silent for a moment, as she thought of a way to word her question without sounding too intrusive or insensitive. She doubted that Edward would really open up to her, but she had to ask anyway. Her mind wouldn't rest in ease until she at least tried. "Earlier..., when you got upset, and started talking about Caspar's ex turning her back on him, were you... thinking about your father?"
"That bastard is not my father." Edward said, bitterly, speaking in a tone that Riza rarely ever heard from him. It was filled with sheer pain and resentment. And she could tell that even then, he was holding back. "He ditched us with hardly a glance... And Mom was always suffering because of him. She spent all that time waiting for him until she was on her death bed, yet he didn't even come to her funeral."
He clinched his fists. "Al may be able to forgive him, but I can't, not after everything he put us through."
"Do you... ever wish you could have had a normal relationship with him...?" Riza wanted to know.
Edward was silent for a moment in question, thinking about the same thing he had earlier.
Despite how much he hated Hohenheim, he admittedly didn't remember him all that well, so a certain part of him wondered what it could have been like if he had a chance to build a connection with him, how things would have been like if Hohenheim hadn't turned his back on his family. A certain part of him couldn't help but wish that he and his brother could have had a normal relationship with him, just like they had had with their mother until she died.
Even if he had came back at some point, he would have accepted him with open arms in the end if it meant his mother's happiness, but he knew it was too late for that. His mother was long gone, so if he came back and tried to forge a bond with him or his brother now, it would never, for an instant, be as close as it could have been otherwise.
"Well..., sometimes I wonder what it could have been like if he'd stuck around. There are even times that I don't want to hate him, but he knew how Mom felt... How we felt... We needed him more than anything, and he left anyway. Nothing can ever make that okay..."
Riza she reached over, pulling a few loose strands of hair out of Edward's face. "I imagine that processing abandonment must be very painful to go through, especially when it's somebody you wanted to trust... Somebody you should have been able to look to for support... I'm sure it gets lonely..."
She looked away. She didn't understand everything Edward was going through from personal experience, because she hadn't been abandoned. But she had lost her mother at a young age, and that had been hard enough to understand, especially since she was so young at the time.
Edward didn't respond, which gave her the answer she needed.
Roy had exited the bathroom and had been standing near the door to hear most of their conversation.
He was in a similar situation to Riza. His parents had died when he was very young, but he had been fortunate enough to be taken in and rasied by his paternal aunt(Madame Christmas). Yet, often, the question still arose in his mind: What could it have been like? What if they had been by my side to this day?
However, he had never been one for comforting others, so he decided to stay quiet.
"There's nothing I can say that will make what happened okay, and I couldn't even begin to imagine all the struggles that you and Alphonse have had to face throughout your life." Riza gave Edward a reassuring smile, before continuing. "But..., even though it may not seem like it, you two do have a family, even if it isn't through blood relations."
Just then, Edward felt a pain in his chest. But he smiled lightly, telling himself to not believe her. "Thanks... Mom..."
However, his voice cracked and there was a lump in his throat because he needed to cry. It was so painstakingly obvious to both Roy and Riza, but Edward refused to let it out.
Riza gave a pained smile, before exchanging a glance with Roy, who's usual calm and collected eyes were disheartened and tortured. He obviously wanted to do something, but there was nothing he felt he could do without making it worse.
It wasn't long before Edward surprisingly felt himself drift off to sleep.
"When it comes down to it, it's easy to forget that he's still just a kid..." Roy mumbled after some time, gazing over at Edward's sleeping face which looked uncharacteristically innocent.
"Yes, it is." Riza murmured. "But in the end, both he and his brother are... they're only..."
"Human. Just like us." Roy finished the sentence for her, as he gave a sad smile after a moment, before he looked back up at her. "Good night, Hawkeye."
Riza gave a sly smirk. "Good night..., Alastair."
"Hey, since we're gonna be husband and wife this week, how about a little kiss?"
"Go to bed, sir."
A/N: ROYAI FTW. XD
I hope this angsty shit fest chapter is satisfying to the readers.
I tried my best, but this took me forever.