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Play on Nerds

chapter 4. Discretion Is The Better Part of Variety

Edward takes a seat at the small cafe near the Westinghouse Inn and allows himself a brief moment to let the thought I don't think that bastard colonel can remember the name of his date run through his head. As he watches the pair more and more, he grows more convinced of this fact—the various vocal prompts and cues here and there ("your name is quite lovely, is it a common one?" and "good evening, General someone-or-other, this is my date..." to which he trails off expectantly, but the young lady never offers her name), and once the Colonel had tried surreptitiously to glance at his address book underneath the table, though that could have meant anything.

Ed views this not only as retribution, but also as an opportunity. He takes the time whilst ordering some inane form of food and drink to study Mustang, observe the polite way he sits with his hands folded and his back straight; he does not start on his soup until his date receives hers, he cuts his steak with perfect ease—Ed always, always managed to make a mess whenever he tried to cut meat, and he figured he should have been better at it given his sensei's occupation—and when the meal is finished, the man stacks up the plates gracefully, all the while never missing a beat in his date's conversation.

Ed envisions himself in the young lady's position and bursts out laughing, spraying rice all over the adjacent chairs and a very miffed waiter.

It was so stupid, so utterly insane. He wasn't a girl, and that bastard colonel most definitely wouldn't listen to anything he had to say, especially if it was pointless. Ed wolfs down his food hastily, glancing from time to time at the pair diagonally opposite him in the room.

Ed had heard Havoc say, once, that the Colonel always looked bored whenever he went out on his dates, but Mustang does not look bored now. He is not enthralled by what the nondescript brunette is saying, but he does not look as though he'd rather be somewhere else. He looks...as though he is laughing wholeheartedly at the woman on the inside, as though she was jumping through hoops or doing some sort of inadvertant trick to amuse him. Ed knows that look, because he has been on the receiving end of it for years.

Hurt, kill maim, he thinks, hands twitching and ripping the tablecloth slightly, but he stills with some effort. No. It's okay. I'm just gonna ruin his date so he's gotta go home early. And when he's at home, I'll...I'll, er, get my watch back.

How he will get his watch back will be an issue that he will address when faced with it, but not right now.

Ed claps his hands together as silently as possible, and, pretending to drop his fork, plants them squarely on the floor.

The alchemical reaction makes the floor rumble violently; he hits his head on the bottom of the table but ignores the pain, hurriedly scrambling back into his chair to observe his results. The Colonel and his date look as confused as the rest of the diners; they are holding onto each other's arms across the table for balance and looking around for the cause of the disturbance. Ed meets Mustang's dark eyes once—they widen slightly in recognition and the teen chances a jaunty wave—before looking down and pretending to focus all of his energy into ensuring that his drink remain upright. The rumbling stops eventually, and after a panicked disarray for a few minutes, in which the manager of the cafe tries frantically to retain his patrons but loses the greater part of them due to the 'fluke earthquake', Ed looks upward to see his progress.

The damned woman is still there. Ed has to commend her guts—it was no mean feat to remain in the same place where a minor earthquake had occured—but did she have to cling to that bastard's arms like that? Of course not. Ed wouldn't have been so scared—pissed, maybe, but definitely not scared.

He throws himself back into his chair with a huff, folding his arms across his chest. This wasn't working how he had wanted it to at all.

"Sir? Would you like a refill on your drink? Or perhaps you'd care for dessert?" The manager is standing beside him, suddenly, probably noticing his mood and thinking him ready to desert the place like everyone else had. Ed growls at him.

"No. Leave me alone. And, uh, bring me the check."

"Of course, sir, right away."

When the sniveling creature is gone, Ed claps his hands together silently again. He doesn't bother with the fork act, however, simply drops underneath the tablecloth again, this time sending the crackling blue reaction across the room to the Colonel's table, causing it to bump twice, jerkily.

An exclamation of distress informs him that his mission was a success—if he were to muck up that bimbo's expensive dress, surely she'd leave in a huff. Girls were weird about clothes, weren't they?

He jumps up—hits his head on the table again, but no pains no gains, right?—and surveys his damage.

His original intent was to simply mess up the young lady's dress and send her back to wherever she came from in indignant tears, but it seems he was a bit overzealous in his attempt; it is true that the miss is covered with a fair amount of wine and vegetables, but Colonel Mustang had gotten quite messy, as well.

Oh, well, Ed thinks, shrugging and digging around in his pockets for some cash to pay his bill. He can always take a shower or something when we get back to his place.

Ed stops and frowns at the bills in his hand. When had it gotten to be 'we' instead of just 'him'? Well, it was true that he wanted his watch back, but he wasn't going to hope for a repeat of that other night, he wouldn't allow it. It was that bastard's fault; he was the one who had some apologizing to do, he was the one who was going to have to work extra hard to work himself back into Ed's good graces...so why the hell did the blonde feel as though he was acting like nothing more than a child trying desperately to earn the slightest sign of affection?

He very nearly misses the two of them as they head out the door, so intent is he on his current train of thought.

Both of them? Wait a minute, waitaminute, they're not supposed to be together! They're supposed to go back to their own respective homes and I'm supposed to waylay that bastard at his apartment and make him tell me just what exactly his problem is—I mean, get my watch back, yeah, my watch!

Edward throws his entire pocket's worth of money—damn, that waiter was getting a big tip tonight—down on the table and rushes out the door, earning him curious looks from the few remaining couples who had braved the 'earthquake' and the 'aftershock'.

"We'll go to my house, it's shorter from here," the woman is saying as Ed trails them, hiding behind trees and lampposts to cover his shadow. "I'm not certain, but I think I may have some clothes you can change into. They're quite old, though."

"Perfect," Mustang says jovially. "Who says retro isn't in style?"

To which the woman giggles and Ed rolls his eyes—this guy was so unbelieveably lame; why couldn't somebody cooler be blessed with his good looks instead?

He nearly loses them again as he stops and gapes at the fact that yes, he did indeed find the Colonel hopelessly attractive, and yes, it was rather strange of him to be thinking of another, much older man that way—he has to run to catch up with them, and hides himself behind a low wall as the two of them enter a large, brightly lit house. The heifer was young, but she seemed to be doing quite well for herself—perhaps she had another, less credible job on the side, though that last thought was probably just wishful thinking on Ed's part.

He frowns and considers going back to his dorm, telling Al what exactly had happened—he had promised to tell his brother the truth, regardless of the night's events, and he would, dammit—and requesting Hawkeye to bring his watch to him tomorrow; she would probably be all too eager if it meant that Ed wouldn't be seeing the Colonel anymore—but he shakes his head firmly and sneaks onto the property, glancing through all of the lit windows to find his quarry.

He has to climb a cherry blossom tree to find them, which he does with some difficulty—the tree was tall dammit, he wasn't...that other thing—and hides himself in the lush greenery adequately; there is a full moon that is nearly as bright as daylight, but the angle at which the moon is raised gives him added cover as opposed to exposure. He settles himself comfortably and leans in closer to view with growing horror the scene that is unfolding before him.

At first Edward cannot understand what they are doing.

The two of them are locked, standing in the center of the room and grappling with each furiously—Ed can only take his own personal experience of being in a situation like that and automatically assumes they are fighting; he is just about to burst in through the window and give his assistance (to which one, he is not sure) when the two of them shift a bit to the side. They are not fighting—the woman's blouse flying off to land on a lamp is enough proof of that—they are kissing.

Ed grips the tree tightly as the world starts spinning abruptly—too fast, it was just like that night, everything was happening too fast; he couldn't absorb it all at once, and he was drowning in that turbulent sea of logic clashing with emotion—and feels a branch crack under his automail; a spiky knot on the tree digs into his flesh hand and the pain is enough to ground him for the time being.

He honestly cannot think of the reason he stays.

He doesn't want to witness this; he wants to climb down right now and curl up in a hole on the ground, closing his ears and his eyes until the past two days become nothing more than a bad dream, but it is no good, because the damage has already been done—that bastard promised, promised that he'd stop chasing after giggling floozies and look only at Ed; that he could do whatever wanted to Ed, as long as he stopped doing it with girls—but from now on, the image of the two of them locked in that passionate embrace will remain tattooed inside his skull like scripture.

He can only watch with an unhealthy amount of perversity as clothes are shed and abandoned to various corners of the room; the woman's skirt ends up landing atop the curtain rod, and she looks over for a moment to see where it went; Ed curses and remembers to duck just in time, nearly falling out of the tree. He has never seen a naked woman before, excepting the multitude of books he had read in his youth when he was attempting to create one; that had been in a strictly clinical sense, this was different—books couldn't describe the slim tone of calves or the way long hair floated around slender shoulders when it was released from a simple yet elegant bun; couldn't begin to describe how fingernails hooked into a broad back or how a long neck arched back when a particularly sensitive area was tongued. The female body is strangely foreign to him, and while he cannot deny its appeal, he also cannot deny that he somewhat quickly abandons his review of the woman's anatomy in favor of eyeing Colonel Mustang.

God.

Which means it must be something remarkable indeed, because Edward Elric has never used the name of any deity in either seriousness or vanity, but he feels compelled to do it now. He and the bastard have done something closely akin to having sex—so he thinks, at least, that's what he's read—but he has never seen the other man naked, couldn't even imagine it, really; he was always so professional and to the point, something so intimate and informal would be about as believeable as a snowstorm in Ishbal.

How painfully appropriate, he thinks then, baring his teeth unpleasantly, that the first time I'd ever get to see that bastard's body would be when he was having sex with someone else.

Yet he cannot tear his eyes away from the sight—well-built and perfectly proportional, yet scarred in several places that clothing easily hides, broad in the shoulders yet narrow in the hips; his legs are long for someone of his height, his stomach is flat and there is a narrow line of black hair that starts from his navel and spreads to his legs, forming an irresistable dark cloud; Edward stares into it as though it is a black hole. He then stares down between his own legs for a moment in a sort of numb disbelief, then back through the window to the Colonel again.

Am I...bigger than he is?

The inanity is forced out of his head, however, as Mustang and his evening partner make their way, still groping at each other fervently, over to the bed. Ed cannot breathe, cannot think, can only watch the process wide-eyed and unaware that is he shaking.

Kisses are exchanged and hands are travelling experimentally up and down varying sectors of their bodies; the brunette's back arches as fingers pierce the area between her thighs—Ed's eyes widen even further and some sort of surprised grunt escapes his lips; how the hell could that be pleasant? it looked pretty fucking painful—and her mouth opens wide, but the thick glass and growing breeze prevents the sound from traveling any farther than the bedroom.

Edward doesn't remember how long he sits in that tree; he marks the time by the distance it takes for gentle lips and tongues to turn into impatient teeth—he knows it is enough time to discern that he is cold and for some reason his pants are too tight, but he will not move; he will bear witness to these unforgivable and agonizing events.

He watches with fatal curiosity as the Colonel mounts the woman, head bowed and dark hair obscuring his face.

Ed sees double for a minute—in one eye is the scene that is playing out now, but in the other plays the events from two nights ago, though fuzzy and disjointed—and it takes him a moment to recover, swaying slightly, a hand going to his face. It was the same, and yet it was different—with this woman, Mustang is being fast and fierce, yet he takes the time to claim every inch of her; mouth, neck, breasts, all the way down to the soles of her feet then back up to her abdomen—he claims the moist pink chasm between her legs as he thrusts in, deeply.

With Ed, there had been nothing of the sort. Mustang had been downright patient, nearly disinterested; he went where he was encouraged without hesitation, but never bothered to explore himself—he did not perform clumsily from impatience, and his eyes did not blaze with barely contained need like they did now. It had been, when one thought about it, something resembling a staged play—the actors stepped up, said their lines and did their parts, then bowed to each other gracefully and departed backstage when it was over.

And Edward doesn't like staged. He likes impromptu improvisation and living for the moment; hates dancing like a marionette while someone else controls the strings. He won't be leashed, rather...he'll do the leashing himself.

The pair of bedmates are pounding into each other with startling ferocity—again, Ed finds himself wondering how people could find such a violent-looking pastime enjoyable—faces flushed and brows drawn in intent; both of them have closed their eyes, and the brunette's mouth is stretched open; it looks as though the Colonel is clenching his jaw shut with effort.

See, it's like this, Ed tells himself, biting on his thumbnail as he leans closer towards the window without realizing it. The Colonel is, all name puns aside, a wild horse that won't be tamed. But I don't have to break him to get him to see things my way—rather, all I've got to do is lure him into a corner and lasso him from there. I told myself that I shouldn't have to do anything about this situation, that he ought to apologize and come crawling back to me, but no—that's too easy. It's easier for him to drown me out in the endless sea of estrogen lined up at his doorstep if I just back off and let him. No, I'll make it harder on that bastard—I'll keep reminding him of that night where I was just the butt of a bad joke.

He sighs then, feeling an unwanted prickling start up in the backs of his eyes. It wasn't as though Lieutenant Hawkeye and Al were wrong about it. I thought everyone was telling me to forget about it because they didn't want me to get hurt, but...I guess they just noticed before I did that he'd never look at me that way, that he doesn't really like me at all.

But...that wasn't right, either.

From there, several things happen at once. Inside the house, Mustang and his date reach orgasm at the same time—the brunette cries out loud enough for Ed to hear, but the dark-haired man opens his jaw a mere fraction to let out some inaudible noise—as Ed remembers suddenly a look that Mustang had shot him right before swallowing him whole—hungry and heated and hunting, soft and lazy and wryly understanding, possessive to a hideous fault and always laughing infinitely at some unknown joke—and he leans in too far— more like falling than leaning—bonking his head loudly on the window glass, and falling out of the tree.

There is a noise that sounds like the crack of a gunshot, sharp pain a moment later tells Edward that it was indeed the sound of his skull splitting against a rock; he howls loudly enough for the neighborhood dogs to start barking and for someone to yell an obscenity out their bedroom window; the world starts to grow fuzzy around the edges, and while he ought to be concerned about potential head injuries, he is a bit too flustered to care.

I just watched Colonel Mustang have sex with a strange woman while hiding in a tree outside her house. What the fuck?

He struggles to sit upright, but his head hurts too much. The back of his head is growing wet; is it raining, or had he perhaps started to sweat up in that tree?

And while that bastard may or may not want to...do stuff...with me, I've decided that I don't care, because I like what I like, and I don't have any problems going after it. So I'm gonna wear that asshole down, tire him out...so that I can slip that lasso easily around his arrogant neck.

The wetness is blood, he is mildly shocked to discover, the liquid nearly black in the moonlight. Cherry blossom petals are floating around him as there is a clacking noise and the tree above him shudders violently.

I can figure out...how he feels about me...and how I feel...about him...later... I lied to Hawkeye...just that once...

Petals are falling on his cheeks, his nose, his eyelids that are slowly slipping closed.

...just that once, that bastard...did look...at me.

The thought is enough to relax him into a quiet blackness.