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Manga-verse, post ch. 102. Ed helps Roy cope with the fallout of the promised day.
The Rockbell house was something of a minefield. They'd picked it up quite a bit out of consideration, but there still tended to be forgotten pieces of automail and just—things scattered about. Although Roy was confident that once he learned to maneuver here, he could probably handle anywhere.
He swung his newly-acquired cane in a small arc, and tried to guess by sound and feel what was in front of his feet.
Small table or chair. Couch, or upholstered chair. Something metal. And finally, clear space. Roy took a cautious step into the room, then another.
Something—a curl of the rug, a discarded piece of clothing—caught his foot, and sent him sprawling.
"Break anything?" came Ed's voice from the next room.
"No," he ground out, shoving some unknown object that had bruised his arm to the side and pushing himself upright. It wasn't the first time he'd stumbled today, and he was sure it wouldn't be the last.
Roy rubbed a hand over his new bruise as he listened to Ed walk over and kneel down in front of him. "You'll get the hang of it," the young man assured him.
He sighed, wishing he had the same confidence. Logically, he knew it was only a matter of time, but right now he felt like he would never cope. He raised his face toward Ed's approximate location, and forced himself to voice what he feared was true. "I'm . . . pathetic, aren't I."
"Yeah." Fingers brushed through his hair with a sort of awkward tenderness. "But you're allowed."
One corner of his mouth twitched up in appreciation for the honesty. The last thing he wanted was platitudes.
"But hey, this is nothing," Ed continued. "Remember how pathetic I was when we first met?"
"What I remember from that meeting was the look in your eyes. The one that said you weren't going to let anything stop you." He would never be able to do that again, to get a person's measure with just a glance.
"Yeah, but that was 'cause of you, 'cause of the chance you gave me. Before that, I pretty much had the market cornered on pathetic."
The older man snorted, something that wasn't quite a laugh. "Yeah, I guess you did." He didn't say that he hated this. Hated being pathetic, hated being dependent, hated what his life had been reduced to.
"Don't worry. If you ever get that pathetic, I'll be sure to give you a swift kick in the ass. Only right to return the favor, right?"
That made him smile. Elric-brand reassurance.
"In the mean time, give yourself a break, okay? You've kinda earned the right to be a bit pathetic."
Roy closed his useless eyes and sighed. Then he leaned forward, using Ed's voice and hand to find his shoulder. Just for now, he gave in and stopped trying, and let himself be supported. Ed pressed a cheek to his hair and rubbed his back, and let the moment of weakness go unremarked.
Finally Roy gathered up his pride—which had been bruised, but not broken—and pulled back. He smiled his thanks, and hated that he couldn't know if Ed was returning the gesture. That kind of silent communication was lost to him now. Hesitantly, he lifted a hand to the young man's face.
The loose hair whispered against his hand as Ed turned into his fingers. The features he knew so well still seemed a bit foreign by touch alone, but that was improving. He traced the scar Ed had gotten earlier in the year, during a dangerous ploy to capture a homunculus. It seemed like a lifetime ago.
"You know, you still owe me five hundred and twenty cenz."
"Eh." He shrugged, the movement bumping the other man's arm. "You're not running the country yet."
He laughed. The confidence in that statement was so casual, so matter-of-fact that, in that moment, Roy believed it himself.
"Well. I better get on that them." He found his cane, and climbed to his feet. "But first things first, right?"
"Yeah." Ed bounced up, and Roy could hear the grin in his voice. "We need a fuhrer who doesn't trip over his own feet."
He took a swat at the young man as he listened to the easy laughter, allowing himself a small, pleased smile when the blow connected.
Ed squeezed his arm, then stepped back just far enough to let Roy find his way.
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