The Devil You Know

Edward Elric stood on the doorstep, looking at the handle as if it might attack him, shred him, tear apart the tender lines that marked his one fleshy palm. There was no going back, not after he touched it, after he turned it, after the gravity of the room tugged him in and grounded him in the moment. There was no going back after he stepped into candlelight and cigarette smoke, no going back after cheap music and awkward banter.

He wondered why he was here, if it was the talk of the tobacco and virgins that brought him, or that complete and utter aloofness just enticed him just enough to bring him to this slightly raised step with the crack down the middle. He could see the shadow inside, moving around, drifting from one end of the room to the other, the sound of footsteps so close to the close...before moving away, fading into the obscurity of a kitchen, or a bedroom, or... just something. Somewhere.

The metal arm was raised, poised, stalling before he could knock, could rap, could beckon. What if Havoc didn't want to see him? What he read too much into the remark? What if it was all a big fucking joke? What if he looked at him, saw nothing but a child, saw the tiny little alchemist that everyone teased him about being, and laughed in his face?

Or, even more frightening, what if he did invite him in, share the wine, drop soft hungry lips down onto his neck? What if the hands moved over his body, smelling sweetly of tobacco, tasting of ghosts as they slid into the alchemist's mouth, past his lips, down over his tongue?

What if he took him to bed? What if he took him to bed and robbed him of his clothes, and saw just how much of a blushing little virgin he was? What if he trailed fingers...what if he...

God...and then...

He shivered, coughing, and held his breath as he rapped his knuckles against the door. Waiting. Waiting games that made his breath puff out in the chilled dusk of an evening that wasn't quite spring yet. Waiting, as he heard the shuffle of feet, the pounding and the curses, of shadows muffled by dark blue of curtains.

They match his eyes...I wonder if that's intentional.

The knob, golden and round and interrupted only by a keyhole, turned slowly. Edward had already started to back away, to turn with heavy footsteps (one always heavier than the other), and moved down the steps to get away, to hide, to be free before he could get caught. He was nearly down to the sidewalk, almost to that point where he could look casual and almost believable ("It was a coincidence, really! Funny how someone knocks while I'm just innocently walking down the street, huh?"), when he heard a dooming cough behind him.


Edward's narrow shoulders went up as he stopped in midstep, one foot still held awkward in the air. Why was the hair standing up on the back of his neck, and why were his cheeks red? It took a quick moment to compose himself, to plaster a cocky smirk over his lips as he turned around, facing a rather shirtless Havoc standing in the doorway.

Were those silk pajama pants? Were they really? He would have pegged Havoc for someone who slept in the nude. But... but his hair was still perfect, if a spiked frontal supernova could be considered "perfect".

"I just wanted to talk to you about some reports I have to write," came the easy, smooth lie, and Edward smiled from his place on the safe sidewalk. From here, he could barely see the ripple of a tight abdomen, or the way the pants hung low on strong hipbones, or the way there was a visible dusting of glittering hair from beneath the dimple of a navel—

Stop it, Ed. Eyes above the waist. Higher. Yeah. Shoulders are, indeed, a safe, neutral territory.

Havoc looked behind him, back into the darkness of his house, interspersed only by the shadow of dancing low light, a candle, or a few of them. The cigarette that had been dangling from his lips was removed for a moment, a few low, whispered words exchanged, before blue eyes found Edward once more. "I would...but I have a guest right now. You understand...?"

Oh. The pants, the candles, the dark rooms so early in the evening. Edward nodded, fighting the urge to kick the rock that was by his foot, fighting all flushes that threatened to jump into his cheeks, fighting the disappointment that wanted to throttle him. "Oh, sure. No problem." He flashed him a hollow smile, filled it with sarcasm to give it life before he started to walk way. "So, I'll see you tomorrow, then. Try not to stay up too late past your bedtime."

There were whispers behind him, words exchanged in a frantic flurry of hisses and low notes. He didn't care what Havoc and his little girlfriend were talking about; he needed to get out of here before he lost all sense of dignity completely. He had come here on a dare to himself, and now, now...

"You're welcome to stay," Havoc called, but Edward's bitter laugh and wave of his hand was all the response that he got. Away. Away, away, away from Havoc and his girl toy, and—

"I never knew you were one to do childish pranks like knock and run away, Fullmetal."

The young alchemist stopped for the second time that night in midstep, same foot caught and tied in midair as he heard that deeper, older voice cutting through the air, an arrow to his ear. He wasn't sure what he was expecting when he turned around, wasn't sure of the idea his mind was already setting up, but it was hardly this vision of... of...

Mustang... and his arm wrapped around Havoc's nude stomach, tugging him back possessively, his smirking lips poised against one shoulder, kissing it softly?

Edward coughed, uncomfortable in the way his mouth was just hanging open, unconsciously worried that a lightning bug might mistake it for a home. He slammed it shut and swallowed the rock that was in his throat. The damn Colonel... and Havoc? Together? That was the girlfriend? That was who the pants were for? That? That?!

Mustang smirked, his fingers drumming off the smoker's skin. "Well, are you going to stand out there all night, drooling, while people think you're some sort of pervert, or are you going to come in?" His lips caught in short blond hair, blowing against it for a moment, before the pink tip of his tongue became acquainted with the bottom of Jean's earlobe. "Havoc told me about your encounter with the cigarettes."

Shoulders rose, hackles bristling, and Edward went into a defensive mode before he could stop it. "Before you get the wrong id—"

"Come inside," the men said entwined, their voices a siren to any weary ship, especially one that had never docked before. Mustang disappeared first, leaving Havoc in the doorway, standing there with a little smirk.

"You came all this way," he murmured. "Might as well come the last few yards, right?" And with a cloud of white, menthol smoke, the house swallowed Havoc as well.

Edward lingered out in the dying dusk, the birds traded for toads, the whirring of the occasional mosquito. Two shadows moved behind the curtains, each one distinct but merging together in a silhouette of arms and lips (or was it his imagination?). The street was getting cool, the moon threatening to give birth in the sky, and he had little else to do tonight.

Two for the price of one wasn't bad, either.

Within moments (heartbeats, really), the house swallowed Edward, too, determined not to let any of them go until the sun crested the rooftops once more.