To speedfanatic05: You know Edward all too well. But how could he be happy like this, given his fiery fighting personality? Luckily, that is just what keeps him moving forward...
To Here Strikes Dawn: Thank you for the review, and I'm so glad you're enjoying the story! Ed is just too resilient to keep down for too long. He always fights back and this makes for a great story, including when he fights back with Roy, but that always has been their thing!
To alchemyfreak42: I can speak just a little bit! Life has had me studying other things though unfortunately ಠ_ಠ Thank you for your review! I'm glad you love the story!
I'd just like to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone! If you celebrate it! If not then Happy Holidays! I celebrate Yule but I thought this would be a great Christmas present for everyone, Jyxxie finally posting the next chapter! I didn't mean for it to take so long. Much work though OTL;
*spreading the juniper and pine and smacking people who mistake my poinsettia for mistletoe like srsly are you people that dumb*
"Rockbell Automail, Alphonse speaking."
"Geez Al didn't you get married yet?"
"Brother! No I didn't. I told you, when I do, you'll be my best man. I can't have the wedding without you!"
"And I can actually see the wedding too," Ed said with a weak laugh, Al not missing his tone at all.
"Ed, is everything okay?"
"Yeah, Al. I'm just...still tripping a little bit. That's to be expected right?"
"Not too...badly," Ed murmured. "I-I mean I think I should be better by now...it's been weeks since the coma...but.."
"C'mon Ed, share," Al said in a tone that was both serious and playful.
"Roy keeps making me read. I don't know how much more of it I can take."
"Reading?" Al's surprise could easily be heard over the phone. "You love to read! Unless...you just don't like translating so much into Dorset, for him?"
"No I'd do that for him all day! It's just...I still have trouble sorting everything out...it kind of blurs together."
"Oh," Alphonse said understandingly. "He's still trying to have you do paperwork, huh?"
"No, Al," Ed said quietly after a few moments' silence. "It's not just paperwork. Books, signs, everything is nearly impossible to read."
"What?" Alphonse nearly dropped the phone. "What-how-was it that bad when I was still there?!"
"I didn't...try to read much. The words were clear to me immediately after getting my senses back, but...the more stressful everything became, the harder it became to read."
"And Roy knows, right?"
"Yeah, he knows. And he keeps asking me to work on it. It's not getting easier, Al. I get a headache every time I have to do it and I've started hiding the stuff he wants me to read but how do you hide a whole library?!"
"Brother, calm down," Al urged as he could hear the stress in Ed's voice. "Have you tried seeing someone else about it?"
"So they can call me a goddamn idiot?!"
"Nobody is going to think less of you for some mental trauma you have no control over, Ed."
"But I do have control over it! Al it's been so long since the damn alleyway I shouldn't still slip back there!"
It was Al's turn to silently pause before speaking.
"You still slip back to the alleyway?"
"Mostly in-in my dreams," Ed admitted shamefully. "But sometimes I...for no reason at all...and Al I end up on the floor or crying or shaking... I'm afraid to go out in public-what if it happens at the wrong time-what if I end up getting Roy hurt-what if someone says I'm mentally unfit and they try to take Roy away from me?!"
"Number one, Nobody could take Roy away from you-not only would you not let them, but neither would Riza," Al reassured his borderline-panicking brother. "Number two, you're not going to get yourself or Roy hurt, because your sixth sense will stop-"
"It didn't stop me from walking us into traffic, Al! Hope saved our life not me!"
"You-" Al's jaw dropped as he realized that Ed almost had gotten them both injured or worse. He frowned as he heard Ed's wheezing between sniffling. "Brother, you have to calm down."
"He relies on me Al but I can't-I can't-I'm-I'm terrible-I can't-"
"Brother! Come on, you've snapped yourself out of this before!" Al felt terrible for not being there to help his brother; he could do nothing useful over the phone.
"I-I'm s-sorry Al I-I j-just ha-ate what I've become," Ed sobbed as he tried pathetically to regain his breathing. "I was y-your strong brother y-your big brother a-and now I'm just a comp-plete mental wreck!"
"Ed! Calm down!" Al cried, finally having some effect as his harsh tone stung Ed's ear. "You don't have to suffer alone, you know. There are people whose job is to help people with problems like yours, Ed."
"What Al a-a psychiatrist? Are they gonna tell me it's okay to be afraid of bright lights and every noise? Or of-of going outside? Of going to sleep?"
"Other people have problems like you do, Ed. Psychiatrists are more than able to help people get through those problems. Please brother, I don't like it when you're in pain. You should talk to someone about it. If not a psychiatrist, then Riza. But you need to realize that you're not alone. We're all here for you, Ed. We're all willing to help."
"Y-yeah Al," Ed sniffled, exhaling shakily. "O-okay. Um, Roy's calling me now. I'm gonna go."
"Alright Ed," Al said with a sad smile. "Call again anytime, okay?"
"Yeah. Bye Al." Ed hung up, curling up at the desk with his head in his hands.
Roy hadn't called for him.
Ed just couldn't talk to his brother anymore.
His heart ached when he went over how sad Al sounded-
Al had even asked Ed to see a therapist.
"How far have I fallen..."
"Ooh, Ed." I wrap my arm around Ed as he decides to join me on the couch where I've been lazily sitting with my Braille novel.
A month and I don't even have it halfway done yet.
I am improving in my reading speed, but much like Edward always seemed to do, I get lost in my thoughts and leave the book so easily.
Memories constantly play in my mind; all of the fun times I'd had at work and with friends off the books as well, and I even miss sneaking a view of Riza's ass while doing paperwork.
Imagination lets me escape my dull blank vision and return to work, and it usually goes the way I want because I am making it up in my mind, but at times I change it up and enter the facility wearing nothing but my pants and military skirt.
That one always gets me laughing.
"How are you feeling?"
Dorset arrives to my thigh, as he's laying snuggled up against me. I can picture this in my mind's eye and it's so adorable, but I keep that thought to myself.
We're getting low on food.
"Do you want to go out?"
Yeah. I'll go get Hope ready.
Ed leaves to put Hope's harness on her. She's officially been trained as a seeing eye animal, and she's been a great aid on our trips outside-not that she wasn't before, and I would never tell Ed, but I do feel safer with her than just Ed alone...because when we go out is when he usually suffers from anxiety and his mental regressions.
I'm proud of him, though. With the exception of those few times while we're out, Ed hardly has any trouble at all. The only thing that still occasionally plagues him is sleep.
He jumps up awake most nights. Usually it's just for a trip to the bathroom, but sometimes I have to wake him from a nightmare and let him know where he is and quell his shaking.
He rarely comments on it, simply lays back down with me and uses my company to safely return to sleep.
After the trauma and the stress of the alleyway, the coma, and the alienation of his senses, though; I think he's doing damn well.
Although it seems like he spends less time at my side than before...perhaps he is growing more independent with his senses?
As long as he doesn't go on with life without me. I mean, I gave him my senses so that he could-but I don't think I could stand being without him.
I hope he still thinks of me when he's off doing normal person things...
Ed led Roy and Hope out the front door, Roy holding onto the faithful wolf's harness. She led him down the few stairs like a pro, like Ed used to do, and followed the metal shopping cart as Ed walked along.
"Oh, it feels wonderful today," Roy's voice broke through the silence as they traveled toward the store. "It's so warm out! The sun feels amazing on my skin. Winter and spring took forever to get through."
Not to mention everything that happened in between, Ed tapped in reply, glad at least that Roy was finally happy.
"Yeah, it was a rocky couple of months, but we're doing pretty damn good aren't we?"
"We don't have a choice," Ed said quietly, dropping the basket in alarm as a car horn blared near them in the road. He grit his teeth and shakily picked the basket back up, scolding himself for such a wimpy reaction-but was relieved to see Roy didn't notice it.
"Is it beautiful out, Ed? Are there clouds in the sky?"
Yeah. It's...nice out. Ed's hesitation was so obvious that Roy couldn't help but comment.
"Are you enjoying it?"
Of course, Ed lied. I'm watching the birds.
"I liked to do that sometimes," Roy admitted with a smile. "And to listen to their songs."
All at once their conversation grew quiet again as Ed began walking, Hope dutifully following Ed and Roy in turn pulled along by the harness.
Ed was doing anything but bird watching. He was on constant alert for the sounds of cars approaching, always tense for a sudden honk; he was watching for anything loud-dogs that could bark, babies that could cry, children that could scream, anything disruptive to-to what? His hand wandered to his head as he slowed and tried to figure out what he was trying to keep peaceful, why it had to be made so ideal for him.
"I can't tame the world," Ed mumbled, realizing his hand was there and pulling it away before it could be noticed. "I have to tame my own mind."
Roy had told him recently how glad he was, that Ed had fewer stresses and regressions.
Truth be told, Ed had more than he could count but he was trying to keep himself away from Roy's scope of touch when he was home.
He didn't want Roy to catch him feeling depressed and crying for no reason. Nor find the blond having another vision-to-reality lapse as he got lost in his mind, leaving him to stumble or trip and fall and just curl up, wondering why he kept getting back up.
Hope would often run from Roy when she heard Ed having trouble, and he couldn't get her to go away until he felt better. He would usually tell Roy that Hope just needed a trip outside to do her business, even though it hurt him to lie to Roy so much.
But that smile of Roy's was worth it. The peaceful contentment when Ed snuggled with him and told him all was well-Ed couldn't bear to dash it with any tales of his repeated mental failings.
Even if it did whittle at what little happiness Ed had been struggling to find for so long.
"Hey Ed I hate to say it but uh, we're almost there right?"
Startled out of his thoughts, Ed silently cursed himself before answering.
One more block. Are you okay?
"I'm pulling an Edward," Roy admitted. "I'm didn't have to go until after we left, but now I feel like my bladder is loaded. What the hell?"
The confusion on Roy's face and in his words broke through Ed's guilt enough to allow him a rare laugh. He snuck his hand to just below Roy's tummy and poked, earning a noise of distress.
"Hey, knock it off! It's really full!"
Upon arrival, Ed quickly found the restroom and led Hope to it, Roy following as slowly as he could. Ed was reminded of his initial train trip when he first learned to drink through a straw and nearly burst his own bladder through enthusiasm and stubbornness, and he couldn't help but smile as he shuttled the sizeable group into the bathroom meant only for one.
"You're still in here aren't you? Ed, you know I don't need help for this."
You sound just like I did. Do you want privacy?
"Perhaps a bit more room..."
We'll wait for you outside.
Ed had to remind himself that Roy was more capable than he had been when he was without senses, as Roy at least had touch to help guide him. Touch to feel the fur of Hope's coat, which Ed could only imagine as he placed a hand reassuringly on her head.
Was it bad that despite Roy and Hope with him, Ed was still afraid to be out in public? Not that somebody would try to bother him, but that his mind or nerves might betray him again and make him look certifiably admissible to the psychiatric ward.
Ed didn't clue in to the sound of bumping and shuffling until the bathroom door opened to reveal Roy with a comical expression of relief.
"It's harder to find the door than you realize!"
Try finding the bathroom in a strange house!
"When did this happen?!"
When you sent me to Winry's house for my automail repair.
"You made it in time, didn't you?"
Only for me to piss on my automail because I missed the toilet.
Roy burst into laughter, ignoring the shove from Ed that knocked him backward against the wall. "I wish I could have seen that!"
You know she hit me on the head when I did it? As if I did it on purpose!
"Did she have to re-service your automail?"
No but she didn't even wait until I had my pants up to clean it off!
Roy laughed and put his arm around Ed's shoulders. "You always embarrass yourself somehow."
All because I was blind as a bat, Ed returned with Dorset jokingly.
"Blind as my Edward," Roy said affectionately, his hand able to feel Ed's face flush red as he brushed those golden bangs back.
We didn't finish shopping yet, Ed tapped shakily.
"Silly Edward, we didn't even start! Come on, I wrote the list, nice and big letters, you can follow it easily!"
"No, Roy, you didn't..." Ed whined. "A list?! You jerk..."
Roy handed it to Edward who actually stopped and stared at it. There, forming a collage from multiple magazine and sales ads, was a visual pictorial list of all of the fruits, vegetables, bread, toiletries, and other things that Roy generally purchased in a week's time. He stared at it in wonderment, knowing he would have no trouble at all following the guide.
"I may have asked Riza to make that for me," he admitted. "You don't think it's too..."
No, Ed replied before Roy could insinuate any of the various adjectives Ed had already attributed to himself. He was struck with awe not only by the accommodating gesture, but also how Roy continued to ingeniously find more workarounds for Ed's disabilities. It's perfect, Roy. I'll have no trouble reading this list.
"Good! I had to pay her for that, you know."
"Yeah. She made me do her dishes while she glued everything to the paper."
It's about time you do some work.
"I remember when you tried to do the dishes," Roy said with a smile. "You were more full of soap than the sink, you were just too adorable for words."
Don't call me adorable, Ed tapped back with a pout that could only be described as such.
"But you were! And you still are! I can't help that you are, Edward."
Come on let's get our food. Ed pushed around his basket while identifying the things on the list, Hope faithfully keeping Roy right at his side.
"You know what I didn't put on that list? I forgot how crazy you went over it. You should get some."
"Chocolate!" Roy chuckled. "You almost went into a chocolate coma at the ice cream shop."
"Oh hell chocolate," Ed murmured with a lick of his lips. "Chocolate would...oh I need some."
"Are you going to get some of it?"
Yes I am. Ed licked his lips, suddenly craving a taste of that delectable substance. But let's get what's on the list first.
"Afraid you'll have one taste of chocolate and forget all else?" Roy chuckled.
Or end up spending all of our money on it.
"I really did fall for a chocoholic, didn't I? Oh man you're gonna get as fat as Breda!"
Go to hell! Ed gave Roy a gentle shove. I couldn't get that big if I tried!
"If you keep eating double portions of ice cream and hot dogs you will!" Roy laughed, but it died down quickly as he received no reply from his partner. "...Edward?"
Would you still... Ed put his free thumb in the waistline of his pants, which were still plenty loose despite having an elastic waistband. Would you still like me if I did get fat?
"What?! Edward why would you-" Roy sighed and pulled Ed into his arms, his voice carrying over to Edward the disbelief in his heart. "I will love you no matter what, you idiot. Whether you're completely disabled and five hundred pounds overweight and stuck in a wheelchair, or the skinniest and shortest human on this earth."
Ed's face met Roy's shoulder as he lowered it in embarrassment, the heat transferring from his cheeks through to Roy's skin.
Stop trying to patronize me, Roy.
"I'm not! I really mean it, Edward! I don't mind if you're underweight, overweight, scrawny or buff. As long as you're happy. And with me. Besides," he added with a lower voice in a lewd tone; "There's nothing wrong with having love handles or some cushion for the pushin'."
Ed tore away from Roy with a face so red that he rivaled the nearby beets. He turned back to find Roy with an innocent smile on his face, but simply yanked him along for the shopping.
"Aw, Ed," Roy began in a tone of mock hurt; "Don't tell me that was too much for you."
You're a pervert.
"You knew this since I told you who I was."
So you advertise it in the middle of a store?
"Were there people watching us?"
I don't know.
"Does.. public affection bother you that much, Edward?"
No. I don't think so. Ed's arms wrapped around Roy's waist as if to prove his point to Roy; though he wondered if maybe he wasn't trying to convince himself.
"I'm sorry," Roy murmured; "I'll watch what I say while we're out, okay?"
Stop treating me like I'm immature.
"I'm treating you like a person who has feelings and preferences, you idiot. Now you stop being so damn argumentative and just tell me what you want, okay?"
Ed turned his gaze to the people around him; he received only one glance for the two men holding each other in the market, but it was merely a smile. He returned his attention to the man in his arms, tapping out a message to Roy's lower back.
I don't mind public affection. But I'd prefer anything perverted to come just as Dorset okay? I don't want to advertise what we do or don't do, and besides, aren't you supposed to be a distinguished gentleman?
"At one time I was. Now I'm a disabled retiree housewife," Roy said with a chuckle; "So who the hell cares what they think of me?"
I do. Ed pulled away and handed the list to Roy as he tried to assemble the mixed fragments of thoughts interrupted by his own emotionally struggling mind. I love you whether you're this housewife or the respectable Colonel Mustang. But I do prefer you to be at least a little dignified, especially in public.
"Like you always were?" Roy squeezed Edward's Dorset-delivering hand with a warm smile. "Wish granted. I'll behave in public, and we'll look good doing it."
Ed ducked his head downward with a weak smile, despite Roy not being able to see it anyway.
Are you upset?
"What? Why would I be?" The shock on Roy's face caught Ed off guard as he shifted his weight nervously.
That I'm being so particular. That I'm asking you to compromise.
"Compromise? Ed, to an extent, a relationship is built on compromise. Two people coming together with different thoughts and views and likes and dislikes. They have to meet in the middle somewhere. Do you really think that asking me to treat you with respect in public is making me feel stifled? I'm only glad you finally told me to shut up before I crossed a line that I didn't know was there." Roy carefully set down the shopping list in their cart and took Ed's hands in his own. "Don't ever feel afraid to tell me if something is bothering you, okay?"
"Like how badly I'm broken?" Ed whispered, placing his head against Roy's. "I'm trying, Roy. Really I am."
"Good," Roy replied to his silence with a warmth in his voice that set Ed at ease yet again. "Shall we finish our shopping? Perhaps we can go out for ice cream when we're finished."
Only if it's chocolate, Ed replied to Roy with a growing smile.
"Well, miracles can happen. You will drink milk, as long as it contains chocolate!"
Ed snorted in laughter and gave Roy a shove, gasping and grabbing for Roy just a bit too late as the man lost balance and fell into a bin of watermelons. Just as Hope stood in her hind legs and leaned her head into the bin to nudge his hand, he burst into laughter.
"One disagreement and he puts me out for sale. So much for compromise!"
"Oh stop being a drama queen," Ed chuckled, pulling Roy to his feet again. Let's finish our shopping, Mustang.
"Of course, Fullmetal. Lead the way."