Title: Coconut Skins
Pairing/Character(s): Pre-Havoc/Ed, past Ed/Winry
Word Count: 1006
Summary: Post-manga, slightly AU. Ed wonders, not for the first time, just why it is that he survived.
Notes: For rueme, who prompted me with Havoc/Ed and the song "Coconut Skins" by Damien Rice on a recent meme. Sadly, I could only find a live version to link to. Sorry about that! ^^;
you can sit on chimneys
put some fire up your ass
no need to know what you're doing or waiting for
but if anyone should ask…
tell them i've been lickin' coconut skins
and we've been hanging out
tell them god just dropped by to forgive our sins
and relieve us our doubt
-Damien Rice, "Coconut Skins"
It was funny. Save the world, and suddenly everyone assumed you had your life together, like you're just as fan-fucking-tastic as the eight foot bronze statue of you standing out in front of the new Central headquarters. Some days, Ed just wanted to point out that people were missing the bigger picture. For fuck's sake, birds shit on that thing. How fantastic could it be?
He walked by it every day he bothered to go into work (and the days he bothered were getting less and less), and every time he saw it, his stomach flopped, acid burning at his throat.
Ed didn't deserve the credit. Ed didn't want the credit.
Really, if he was honest, he'd admit that he didn't even know why he was in Central. It was like he woke up one morning with two real arms, one numb beneath Winry's back, her hair tickling his nose, and life had just stalled.
That she could tell just by looking at him – Ed wasn't sure how he felt about that. She'd held his wrist for the briefest moment, thin, callused fingers playing at the still too-sensitive, too-new flesh, and told him that what really mattered was that he was where he wanted to be.
"And if you want to come back," she'd said, "I guess that would be okay, too."
Three weeks into his new life, a job sitting behind a desk and signing forms for shit for brains officers who'd just never know what it was like to do anything for themselves, and Ed couldn't see more than five minutes ahead of himself.
"Major Elric?" Mustang poked his head out of the office, deigning to show his face for the first time that day. He gave Ed a look, the corner of his mouth twitching down, and said, "Go to lunch."
"You're ordering me to go eat?" Ed scoffed. "That's backwards."
"Edward," Mustang began, "you are backwards. Lunch. Now – and it had better last the full hour!"
"How'm I backwards, that's what I wanna know," Ed grumbled, shoving the last of his paperwork back into his inbox and kicking out of his chair. He made certain to be as noisy as humanly possible.
Didn't matter, though. Mustang's door was already closed again.
Lunch, that was all, just a straight shoot to the mess hall, across the fucking parade grounds. He'd see the statue, sure, but if he had half a brain, he'd stare at his feet instead.
Ed liked to think he knew himself pretty well. When he got to the stretch of pavement that would carry him straight through the courtyard that housed the abomination, he instinctively looked to the right.
His image in bronze stared back unflinchingly.
Ed wasn't surprised.
His brain took the typical route, spitting shit, that thing is ugly in various permutations over and over, a reel run on repeat with a twist of masochism urging it on. His feet went likewise, stumbling down a similar path that ended with his fist braced against the idol's hip.
There was just something wrong with a world that chose its heroes from the living, he decided.
"Hey, boss, mind moving over?"
Ed looked back, neck craned. Havoc was in his wheelchair, paused not a foot behind him. Ed stepped away, jammed his hands in his pockets. "Hey, Lieutenant."
"I'm not even in the military anymore," Havoc pointed out. Then, he pulled his cigarette from his mouth, bracing the stick between two fingers, the whole of it burnt all the way down to the filter. "Nice statue, yeah?" Havoc said, and wheeled himself a little closer so he could snub the butt out on one big bronze shoe.
It was, without a doubt, the single most beautiful act of vandalism Ed had ever seen.
"What?" Havoc gave him a sidelong glance, flicking the butt off to the side. Ed saw it fall out of the corner of his eye, hitting just where the pavement met the grass. "Don't tell me you're sensitive about this thing?" Havoc grinned, laughing.
"No," Ed said, "not really. S'pretty ugly."
They both looked up, right to the top of it, where the little antenna hair stood a foot upwards from the head. "Yeah," Havoc said. "It is that."
"So, I—" Fuck, Ed could practically feel the word vomit bubbling up his throat, "I really fucking hate that thing. How stupid are these people, building a statue like – like that? What the hell?"
"My thoughts exactly," Havoc said, and Ed stared. "I always thought General Armstrong should've gotten it," he explained. "Her tits immortalized in bronze would've been a thing of beauty."
"But." Ed couldn't wrap his mind around that. Not Armstrong's tits. He pretty much got that part. But – how did it not matter? "Doesn't it bother you?" he asked. "You do all this shit. And. Like." How to say it?
"Get none of the glory?" Havoc guessed. "Boss, it's not really like that."
"What's it like, then?" Ed demanded, because for the life of him, he couldn't see it. It was like Havoc was seeing a completely separate picture, a completely separate world, and Ed was so stuck on the details he couldn't make it out.
"It's like retiring," Havoc said blandly. "What're you doing, working for Mustang again, anyway?"
And for the first time, Ed found himself with an answer to that question, not quite caring that it was too simple by half to convey the truth: "I got bored."
Havoc gave him a curious look, head tilted to the side. Then he grabbed the wheels of his chair, pushing off toward the main path. "You goin' to lunch?"
Startled, Ed took a step after him. "Yes. I. Yeah."
Hand raised in the air, Havoc called back, "Come on, then. My treat. Welcome back to the doghouse, boss."
As though it was completely natural, Ed found himself jogging forward, grabbing the handles of Havoc's wheelchair, and rolling him along. "Sure," he said, the word touched with a levity that startled him. "Sounds good."