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Better Living Through Alchemy

chapter 7.

R.D. went into the bedroom, the house was quiet and the
smells were few. He pranced at the side of the bed and ran to the foot where
a trunk sat, butted up against the footboard. He hopped up onto it and rose
up on his hind legs, resting his front paws on the top of the footboard. He
gathered himself and cleared it, landing on the end of the bed, his slight weight
made no real impression on the mattress.

The occupant of the bed was lying face down and made no
acknowledgement of his presence. He smelled strange and subdued as R.D. edged
up slowly near his knee, but not too close. He laid out on his tummy with ears
up, but flopped over at the tops, waiting for the voice that grumbled to speak
to him. He tilted his head back and forth, but no voice raised or lowered in
pitch was offered in his direction. He laid his head on his outstretched front
legs and wagged his tail back and forth a few times, hoping to attract attention.
When that didn't work, he began to scoot, wigging back and forth up the comforter
toward the top of the body lying on the bed.

He got parallel to the face and slowly, red-rimmed eyes
opened and regarded him dully. He wagged his tail frantically and scooted forward
again, then stretched out with his neck and the tip of his tongue briefly washed
the end of a nose.

"So you still like me, huh?" a voice said, raw with grief
and other untold things. "Shows what a worthless thing you really are."

R.D. scooted closer since the voice wasn't shrill; it
sounded weighed down and tired. This time, the tongue touched a chin and was
rewarded with the warmth and weight of a hand settling on his small, furred
back. It rubbed him once or twice and then stilled.

"Stupid dog," his blond snack-giver said. "Nuisance,"
he whispered and swallowed, his hand beginning to rub again.

R.D. laid his head back down on his outstretched front
legs. He'd better watch this one until the other one got home.


The silence of the drive extended into the station where
they both knew good and well there would be no train leaving at this hour. He
stood back as Alphonse checked anyway and bought a ticket for the following
morning. As the money changed hands, Roy's hopes of getting Alphonse to go back
with him and speak with his brother dwindled.

Alphonse made his way back over to Roy slowly, ticket
clutched in his fingers and suitcase hitting the side of his knee. He seemed
lost in that moment, swimming in whatever it was lying behind his eyes. He turned
to look at an empty bench against the station wall and then started toward it
when Roy's hand closed around his arm.

"You don't think I'm going to leave you here all night
on a bench," Roy said quietly, "that I refuse to do."

"Not going back," Alphonse said hoarsely, "so what do
you suggest."

Roy released his arm and took his shoulders, steering
him back out into the cold night air. They stood on the outer bricks of the
station for a moment and then Roy moved them forward, across the street and
into a hotel standing there. Alphonse stood quietly by his side as Roy secured
a room and key, taking the boy's shoulders again and leading him to it, unlocking
it and reaching in to turn on the light so Alphonse didn't have to go into another
new situation in darkness.

Alphonse dropped the suitcase and moved to sit on the
side of the bed. He laced his fingers, hands hanging between his knees; he didn't
raise his eyes to Roy's face.

Roy stood for a moment, then moved forward slowly and
put his hand on the top of that dark blond head and rubbed. Alphonse made a
ragged sound, but didn't move to stop him.

"I know, Alphonse," he said quietly, "I know it hurts.
I want you to think about this long and hard before you get on the train in
the morning. Edward is your only family, shutting him out is like shutting part
of yourself out." Alphonse jerked his head from beneath the touch then and Roy
knew any attempt to try and coax the boy back to talk to his brother was the
offense of 'taking Edward's side' now. He sighed and stuck his hand back in
his coat pocket.

"Will you call me at least, when you get to East City?"
Roy said, "To let me know you made it back alright?"

"Yes," Alphonse said lowly. "You know I will, what is
between he and I isn't between you and I, Pirate," he offered.

"That's not true, but we'll leave it for now," Roy said.
"Alphonse, I'd like to stay, but you know that I can't."

Alphonse gave a curt nod and stood, shrugging out of his
coat.

"I know that," he said trying hard not to sound bitter,
"I understand your relationship with him is different than mine. It's okay,
I'm fine, you better go back."

Helplessness is a hateful thing in the mind of a General.
He so wanted to knock heads together and it didn't really matter whose at this
point. They were determined in their beautiful and tragic way to tear him to
pieces, because truly he was in a moment that he didn't know which way to turn.
Alphonse sat on the bed again and toed off his shoes; he stopped and looked
at Roy.

"Call me," the General said, "it takes about forty-five
minutes to get home from the city," he continued, "so when I leave, if you want
to call me, (to come and get you, to bring you back home so we can fix this,
to let me help)
, you need to wait that long at least."

"I'll call you from East City," Alphonse said dully, "so
don't expect to hear from me for a couple of days."

Roy turned for the door and left, not trusting himself
with any more words. It may seem arrogant on his part, (and it's not like
he hadn't been accused of it before)
, but it wouldn't do for Alphonse to
hear him beg.

For Alphonse, he would sympathize and glower and threaten.

It was for Edward that he would beg.


He was welcomed home despite it, and watched the little
terrier trot toward the bedroom and back to him several times. The General turned
off the lights in the living room and den as he made his way through the quiet
house. He stood in the doorway looking at the silhouette on the bed, watched
R.D.'s trick of using the trunk to hop up onto the high bed. The puppy then
paced on the bed, between Ed's prone form and the edge, looking toward Roy.

Roy moved into the room, unbuttoning his cuffs as he did
so, going to the dresser for his pajamas. When he was ready, he went for Ed's
pajamas, carrying them to the bed, laying them at the foot of it. He ran his
hand up Ed's back, hooked his hand over Ed's shoulder and rolled him back onto
his side. He slid his other hand beneath Ed's other shoulder and sat him up.

He put his hand behind Ed's head, pulling his forehead
against his chest as he undid the tie holding his ponytail, then he sat his
lover back up. He was not surprised at the behavior, the total listlessness,
the silence and non-resistance. It was how Ed coped in matters of the heart
and Roy had unfortunately seen it before. He'd often held a silent and unresponsive
fifteen year old against his chest, struggling for the right way to provoke
him into life.

He tried to think back to what he did those times as he
bunched his hands in the bottom of Ed's sweater and drew it up. Ed did react
enough to lift his arms, but the General had to stop half way through and gently
work the sweater loose when it snagged on an automail arm. After that, it went
fairly quickly and he shooed R.D. to the end of the bed, tugging the covers
down and laying Edward back down on his pillow. He rounded to his side of the
bed and got in, shut off the bedside light and lay back in the dark and silence
as R.D. turned a few circles at the foot of the bed and settled down.

Roy knew sleep would have to be coaxed to him and settled
with resignation. Ed moved, violently and suddenly, turning on his side toward
Roy and Roy reacted instinctively, almost curling up, startled. Edward's flesh
arm came down across his chest and his head ground into his shoulder and Roy
forced himself to be still and to wait, without words.

"Make that sound," Edward whispered hoarse and harsh.

Sound? Oh yes, that noise. That rumbling Roy could never
help whenever sad, gold eyes where on him, when words were only salt on open
wounds, no matter how gentle or how softly they were delivered. He took a deep
breath and found he had no difficulty in remembering or releasing it. Edward's
fingers dug into his chest, painfully over the bruise they'd left there earlier,
but Edward could have that; he could have whatever he wanted. Edward drew painful
breaths and kept moving and shifting, his pain was mobile and seeking. It was
becoming too much for Roy as well and he rolled to face Edward, circling him
in his arms, pulling him hard against his body. He held on tight as the form
against him writhed in torment of his emotion's own making. Roy moved his hand
up, fisted it in blond hair and pressed Edward's forehead to the base of his
throat. Edward thrust his automail leg between Roy's and hooked it there, his
flesh hand moved under Roy's arm, up his back and hooked over his shoulder.

It's all right Edward, give in and let it out before you
drown.

Roy endured the attempts to have his flesh molded with
his lover's and finally, in their honest and raw fashion, the sobs came. They
continued for a while, the small body shaking with each exclamation of sorrow
wrung from it and half formed words hung like a low miasma just above the bed.
Roy's pajama top and bare neck were bathed in grief and Roy clutched tighter,
knowing it was probably painful but cravingly welcomed. When only hollow gasps
and heavy breathing kept company between them, the General spoke.

"You need to get some sleep, Ed," he said, forcing reason
over comfort. "You have class in the morning."

"Why did you take him away," barely audible and choked,
"you should have made him stay. I hate you," the General was informed.

"You hate me all the time," the General informed him,
tone still seeking calm in the sea of emotion that Edward wanted to drown him
in, "but he can't afford to. Go to sleep, Ed."

It wasn't until sometime later that the grip in his pajama
top slackened, but not enough to lose its clinging hold. The General closed
his eye at last and tried to follow his lover under.


Edward was already up and out of bed when the alarm clock
went off on Roy's side of the bed. Roy fumbled with it, shutting it off and
lying for a moment or two. He tried vainly to somehow will his lost sleep to
catch up with him before he got out of bed, but it was not to be. He sat up
and threw the covers back, swinging his feet off the side of the bed and stepping
down into his house shoes.

He saw the light under the bathroom door and headed for
it, pausing to listen before putting his hand against it and pressing. It hadn't
been shut all the way and swung back with a slight creak.

Edward was standing at the vanity, hands balled into fists
on its surface and his head down, leaning over the wash basin. He could no longer
hide in his bangs, but his loose hair was trailing over his shoulders and down
his back. Roy moved to his side silently, got down the shaving mug and powder,
leaned around Ed for a moment to turn on the tap and then worked the powder
into lather with the brush in the mug.

He reached over and gently took Ed's chin, raised his
face and turned it toward him, using the brush to lather up Ed's chin, lower
cheeks and upper lip. Ed didn't resist him, didn't raise his eyes to Roy's,
or try to pull his chin away. Roy released him and applied his own shaving foam,
then opened the vanity drawer and took out both of their razors. It was another
new thing Edward had come home with, this need to shave. Before, he'd always
watched Roy perform the ritual, studying him thoughtfully and closely while
he stroked the razor over his face. Edward had done it a time or two himself,
before he really needed to do it, just to see what it felt like. Just to have
a gleaming of the adult male world.

Edward picked up the razor from the counter and looked
at himself in the mirror while thumbing the head of it back and forth with an
automail thumb before he raised it and slowly started to shave. Roy watched
him as he did tilted his head back and did his under chin first, then he moved
to his cheeks and upper chin. With the pad of his thumb on his nose, he tilted
his head back again and did his upper lip. That is where he ceased to use Roy's
teachings, for Roy had never shaved his upper lip like that.

Who had taught Ed to shave like that? Roy felt in that
moment what Alphonse must feel a hundred fold. Why wouldn't Ed tell him?

He shouldn't ponder over it, so he set to shaving his
own face as Ed brushed his teeth. He waited for Ed to finish and move to the
end of the vanity to brush his hair before he brushed his own teeth. After,
he got down his hair tonic, wet his hands with it and ran them over his own
head, combing it out and fingering the bangs as he'd done for as long as he
could remember. Edward was tying off his ponytail as he finished up, and then
brushed by him on his way out of the bathroom.

Roy stopped him, wiped his hands clear of tonic, wet them
again with cologne and slapped Edward's cheeks. This was how they usually exited
the bathroom, followed by a kiss. Roy waited and Edward leaned forward then,
up on his toes, and pressed his lips to Roy's. Roy put his arms around him,
pulling him against his chest. Their routine didn't usually go this way, but
it was a special circumstance. Roy rumbled and Edward sighed as Roy leaned against
the vanity and just held him for a few moments longer.

They went as one back into the bedroom proper. Roy went
to the closet, removed his dress shirt and uniform, and laid them on the bed.
Then he went back for Edward's dress shirt, vest and pants, laying them on the
bed as well. Edward put out clean linens and socks for them both and they pulled
out of their sleepwear and into their working wear.

Roy helped Edward with his suit jacket and then in the
hall he helped him with his winter coat. He'd taken care of R.D. beforehand
and the little dog was dancing at their feet, whining softly. R.D. was smart
and knew the routine, but it didn't mean he liked to be alone all day.

Roy went first to warm up the car while Ed checked to
make sure he had everything in his briefcase. He kept R.D. back with his foot
as he exited the house and locked the door. He then hurried down the walk to
the waiting automobile and climbed in.


Edward looked up at the unscheduled stop and then over
at Roy as he parked.

"It won't take a moment and this way I'll know you at
least ate something today," the General said before getting out of the car heading
into the small bakery at the edge of town that they sometimes went to on Sunday
mornings for hot rolls and coffee. The General returned and handed over a small
paper cup that was warm in Ed's flesh hand and fished out of the paper bag a
berry-stuffed muffin. He pulled the paper wrapper off the bottom and broke the
muffin in half before setting it in a napkin and putting it in Ed's lap.

"What is this?" Ed said softly, "Why are you treating
me like I'm three?"

Roy just overlooked the remark and cranked the car, putting
it into gear and navigating them back out onto the road. He said nothing at
all, merely pointing them in the direction of the city and pressing the pedal
with his foot.

By the time they pulled into the headquarters complex,
the napkin held only crumbs and the paper cup was empty.


This isn't fair to my boys. I cannot do this to them.
Ed stood in the doorway of the classroom. He was early, no students had arrived
yet; the halls were quiet and empty.

He looked at the empty desks, the smooth, gray walls and
his own desk at the front of the class framed by a large blackboard bolted to
the walls. It was like a big box, why had he not noticed before? He had to do
something with it. How could he be expected to stimulate his students if they
sat in this plain, gray box day in and day out?

He couldn't take it today, being inside this thing. He
put his hand on the doorjamb as if to prevent himself from entering the room,
even though he knew he must. The room's only good feature was across the far
wall: six large rectangular windows that opened out to the back of the school
and soccer field. The back parking lot could also be seen; that expanse of concrete
that not many a car ever sat upon. When someone did park back there, he'd find
the some of the boys at the window, speculating on car make and ownership.

His own eyes strayed to the lot and the greenery around
it.

I don't need you either!

He shouldn't be thinking about that right now, he couldn't
think about it. He wasn't allowed to think about it until he got in the car
to go home that evening. He'd promised Roy, he'd promised himself and he was
now promising the boys.

He took a breath, walked in to his desk and stood beside
it. He suddenly opened the top drawer and fished out his supply cabinet key,
walked to the cabinet, opened it, took out a box of chalk and pocketed it before
closing and locking the cabinet again.

He heard a noise and looked back to see one of the boys
coming in and heading for his desk near the back of the room. It was Thomas
Pine, called Tom, and he was always in first because his father worked for the
Academy maintenance department. The man had introduced himself in the hall,
snatching off his cap and shaking Ed's hand like he was meeting the prime minister.
He told Ed how much Tom liked his class, how much he was learning and how proud
he was of his son. Tom could be an alchemist and maybe work for the state, not
be a glorified janitor like his old man.

That was the day Ed really understood what the job was
going to mean to him.

"Morning Tom," he said and raised his hand to the boy.

"Morning Professor," the boy smiled and raised his hand
back.

He would give Tom the chance to be an alchemist. He had
made mistakes at an early age; here he could try to make sure something like
that never happened to any child again.


Everyone was told to keep their coats on. They formed
a line and followed the Professor down the hall, out the door and around to
the back lot; there were no cars parked there today. The Professor made them
stand side by side along the back part of the lot. He took a box of chalk out
of his pocket and marched down the line handing it out. Near the end he started
to run out, so some of them had to break their chalk in half. Then he returned
to stand in front of them, hands on hips. He knelt down on the ground and sat
on his knees, making a motion with his hand for them to do the same, and they
all sank to their knees in the cold on the hard concrete of the parking lot.

"Today," the Professor said, resting his hands on his
knees and holding his own piece of chalk, "we're going to draw an array and
transmute a toy horse."

The boys all bounced excitedly and some chatter started
up, but the Professor raised an eyebrow and it died down.

"I want you to imagine a toy horse in your mind," the
Professor said, "how its head looks and how its neck is attached to its body.
What it's made of, if it has hinged joints. What color is it? How big is it?
What does it feel like when you hold it in your hands?"

The Professor raised his hand and pointed to his eyes
and then closed them. Soon the entirety of the class was also in darkness as
they all strained to see the details of a toy horse.

"Alright now, got the image and how it's put together?"
the Professor asked.

There were a few tentative nods, but most were firm and
eager nods. Fingers twitched and sticks of chalk were rolled restlessly between
them.

"Open your eyes," the Professor told them and they did,
blinking to focus, then focusing them on the Professor.

The Professor held up his stick of chalk and the boys
did the same. That earned them a slight smile, something they hadn't seen all
morning from the man, which made them relax a bit more.

"Okay, I want you to draw a circle. Its circumference
should be about the width of a dinner plate," Edward knew speaking in exact
measurements would be lost on them, yet he knew visuals would be the best way
to teach them. He made his own outer circle with well-practiced ease and then
waited a moment.

"Now, using your thumb," he held up his own, "measure
in about the length of it and draw an inner circle." He demonstrated, laying
the base of his thumb on the outer circle and then pressing it flat on the concrete,
making a chalk mark and drawing the inner circle as easily as the outer. He
didn't need the thumb measure, but once again, the boys would need reference.

He walked them through the rest of it, the large center
triangle, the three smaller triangles, the small, thin triangle between the
circle rings and the upper tip of the large triangle. It was an array brilliantly
perfected. For the beginner, its simple lines were easy to conduct energy through
and for the advanced, it was a powerful tool capable of blinding precision.
His little brother's array... how many times had he seen it drawn on paper,
in chalk, scratched into dust and dirt and desperation? He wasn't aware of how
long he sat there on his knees, transfixed by his brother's genius. There was
an uncomfortable clearing of throat and he glanced up, puzzled for a moment
at this neat line of uniformed boys, sitting on their knees.

I can't do this to them, I promised! Even though they
don't know it!

"Sorry," the Professor said. He rose to his feet, indicating
for them to do the same. He waited until they had all complied, then he
started at the end of the line, walking slowly, head down, studying each array
he passed. Only twice did he bend down to smudge out a line with his fingers
and make quick chalk strokes to correct the array, showing each boy where the
flaw was and how to correct it.

He walked toward them now, passing between Boyd and
Gavin to the lawn just beyond the curb of the lot. He clapped his hands and
knelt, slapping them to the ground. The ground shuddered and erupted in a small
upheaval, making a mound of fresh dirt. The Professor stood again and dusted
off his gloved hands.

"Everyone get a double handful of dirt and place it in
the middle of your array," he told them, scooping up the first double handful
and walking back to his array.

With that done, he returned to his own array and knelt.
The boys followed suit, all eyes riveted on him, all breaths held.

But then the Professor sat back on his butt and he crossed
his legs Indian style, watching them. Slowly, one by one, the boys followed
suit. They were young enough to be comfortable anywhere, even on the cold concrete
of a parking lot behind the academy.

"Tell me why you want to be an alchemist," the Professor
said, "I really want to know."

Several heads turn to their neighbor; there was general
fidgeting and changing of positions. Then a hand shot into the air and Edward
smiled at the class motivator as he nodded toward Seth. The boy reached up to
reflexively straighten his glasses, his method of gathering the courage to speak.
"I want to be an alchemist because alchemists are important people who can do
important things."

Many others followed, Edward nodding at each hand raised.
Because it was 'cool', (he surmised that everything important was cool when
you where thirteen, why hadn't he known that? Oh wait, Roy had been grudgingly
cool then)
, because it was power, for their father, mother, or other family
member; to make things easier, to build buildings, to be a state alchemist and
an officer.

To help people.

The Professor pointed at Tom Pine after he said it. "That
is why I did it, too."

To help my mother (but it was no help, it was only
pain), and to help my brother, (whose pain was my fault to begin with)

But inadvertently along the way, because he could clap
his hands and make things happen, he helped others, too. It wasn't his original
intent, but it was appreciated all the same. He was never quite sure what to
make of his popularity at first, because it all came so easily to him that it
almost felt like a cheat. Later of course, he learned to use it as he learned
to use all things. It was never a hindrance once he'd mastered fame.

Many of the boys were looking at Tom now, who looked self-conscious
and huddled in on himself a bit. He remembered another young boy, younger than
Tom, huddled with his fists on his knees and his eyes uncertain on his elder
brother, with an array to bring back happiness.

But emotions are not arrays, because arrays are science.

I will tell him, if he will let me. I will tell him
everything.

Science is not emotion, because emotions are not logical,
but logic was not in Alphonse's eyes last night. There was only pain that he,
his elder brother, had once again delivered.

I am a fool.

Roy was right; Alphonse's void was not absolution. Alphonse's
forgiveness was. He could not forgive Edward unless he remembered
Edward.

"How do you make drawing a circle like that look so easy,"
one of the brave fellows in the line up before the silent Professor with the
drawn face finally asked.

He shook himself free. He could fix this. He could make
it all right again with his brother.

"Because I've drawn a million of the damn things," the
Professor drawled, whatever haunting his face those few moments earlier, fleeing.
"I could draw them in my sleep. I've drawn them, sight unseen, upside down with
my hands tied behind my back."

"No way," Richard Timbers challenged.

The Professor put his hands behind his back and leaned
back enough so the chalk could touch the concrete behind him. He started to
draw, and stopped a moment, turning the array upside down in his mind.

Damn I'm out of practice, they will rib me to death
if I don't do this right!

Twenty-three pairs of eyes watched for any sign of weakness,
especially Daniel's eyes. That boy was a pride and a thorn in one, but he felt
fairly certain what he drew would work if activated. He spread his arms and
grinned in triumph as Richard jumped up and ran over to look behind his back.
He gave a low whistle.

"Professor," he said, "you rule."

"Rule what?" the Professor asked.


Listen to ME

Alphonse shut his eyes tight, the sway of the train jarring
him against the passenger car wall.

Pretending you don't hear me isn't going to work,
Al snarled, Running away isn't either! How can you leave him like that? How
could you say those things! You need him as much as I ever did! You need him
MORE! I really wish now that brother had gotten a better bargain on his six
years! I'm ashamed to be your possible psychiatric hospital commitment now!

You heard him, too! He doesn't want to share anything
with us! Why are you defending him,
Alphonse cried, He's denying you
too!

No he's not, he's protecting you! Maybe he's a little
ashamed and afraid to tell you what happened, it's not exactly pretty, you know,

Al said exasperated. I could show you if you would quit blocking me. You
know, I think I'm starting to figure you out. It's taken awhile because we are
too much alike, but I have some observations on you,
the armor said.

Oh do tell, Alphonse sneered, it's not like
I can stop you now, is it?

I'm starting to work out that somehow in this last
six years, we've turned into a fact gathering, logical stagnation.
Al said.
Alphonse gasped and then shut his mouth quickly.

We are too busy looking for the reason for the circumstance
to see the circumstance itself. We have managed, no wait, YOU have managed,
to become clinical to the point of a negative sphincter factor in every way
shape and form. Even your crush on Colonel Hawkeye is measured in absolutes,

the armor put its hands on its hips. No wonder I had to wade though mountains
of cranial monotony to ever get to the surface. It's a wonder we can interact
with society at all!

Alphonse just gaped at the empty seat across from him.

You are all about facts and nothing about commitment,
Al said.

What are you talking about? Alphonse cried, scrabbling
desperately for equilibrium, I am committed to everything!

It's not brother who is the control freak, it's YOU,
Al snorted, You are organized to the point of anal supremacy. You categorize
your sock drawer! I can't believe we spent fifteen minutes comparing shades
of black! You sort your mail as if it were high explosives waiting to go off
at one wrong move! You line your pencils up and make sure they are all the same
length! There is commitment and then there is the way you do it,
Al windmilled
his arms.

I've never met anyone who actually thought of an array
to make freckles symmetrical, but YOU did! Our brother is hurting! You did that
to him, not me! And you want to know why? Because you want all the facts and
none of the burden! That's right, you want the science and not the heart and
that is just wrong,
Al said. That is why you've pretended I don't exist,
that is why you have shut me off from showing you anything that matters, that
is why you can do that to Brother when you know why he's not telling you anything!
He doesn't have to tell you anything!
Al cried.

Alphonse shut his eyes tight, slouching down hard in the
seat.

You already know everything, but you're scared! You're
scared,
Al said, and I understand that. You didn't have Brother at your
side, you didn't have brother there to try and make things right. You had you
and the Colonel, but that's not the same as having someone who shared everything
with you, heart and soul. You missed out and I'm really sorry, really I am.
You needed brother too, and you have the chance now, I don't know why you won't
take it.

Alphonse felt the hot trail of wetness down his cheek
and opened his eyes slowly to the armor that sat across from him on the bench,
its hands on its knees, watching him intently.

"I'm jealous," Alphonse said, "of myself."

There is no reason to be, Al said. It hurts
but we lived through it once already, we know what to expect.

"Will I ever have any say at all, ever again?" Alphonse
asked.

We won't be like this anymore, Al said, We'll
be singular, not plural.

"I didn't mean to hurt him," Alphonse apologized, "I really
didn't, I do love him."

I know, Al said. He was going about it all the
wrong way as usual, don't beat yourself up over it too much. He's just like
that, here to make our lives complex.

Alphonse had to smile despite himself.

"I want what you and he had," Alphonse said.

The armor held out its hands.


She'd tried to politely ignore the young man muttering
to himself at the back of the car. She sincerely thought it was really none
of her business and that he must have a lot on his mind to be talking to himself
like that, even to changing his pitch and his tone, almost as if he were trying
to be two people.

All right, it was a little unnerving. At least there were
a few other people in the car with them, so if he got up and started making
trouble she wouldn't have to deal with him alone. She had been trying to concentrate
on the book in her lap when she glanced up at him again, this time because he
had gone silent and she wondered if he'd finally gone to sleep, but instead
he was staring at the empty seat in front of him. He suddenly raised his arms,
hands out flat and palms down, he stretched them to the empty seat and lowered
them, looking for all the world like he saw someone there he was giving his
hands to.

Then he seemed to convulse. His head threw back to strike
the seat behind him sharply and he abruptly slumped to the side, falling over
on the seat and rolling to the floor. She jumped up and ran to get the conductor
as the other passengers around her gaped.


"On your knees," the Professor crowed, getting back onto
his own. The boys all immediately copied him.

"Listen up," he commanded, "don't expect to get it on
your first try. Hell, don't even expect to transmute on your first try. Don't
worry if it looks wonky, don't worry if it falls apart and don't seize up in
the middle of your transmutation and get a face full of dirt. I've done it before,
no fun. Take a deep breath," he told them.

The all took one and they all held it.

"Reach inside yourself, find that place in you that is
the will to turn dirt into art," he instructed. "Remember how your horse
is constructed," he reminded.

"When you put your hands on your circle you're going to
push your will into the array, you are going to make the array obey your command,"
he said. "Don't be coy, don't be shy, show it who is the boss," he grinned.

He held his hands straight up above his head and laughed
when they all followed suit, some of them starting to turn a little blue.

"Breathe, it's alchemy, not brain surgery," he told them,
not trying to stop the grin, "now... TRANSMUTE!" he slammed his hand down on
the circle. The sound of flesh on stone sounded down the line before him. White
and blue and green and purple and every color a boy could think of leapt from
the multitude of small arrays. The air charged and crackled with ozone, the
smell assaulted their nostrils and clung to their clothes. Static made frizzy
mops of well-combed hair, cracks and pops mingled with excited shouts and cries.

Twenty-three young minds driven by one man, intent on
making their dreams come true, carried on the back of a toy horse.


He rolled over and sighed, blinked his eyes open and squinted
at the brightness. What time was it? When did the train get in? Why didn't he
remember getting home?

"Lieutenant Colonel?" a voice asked softly.

He turned his head, squinting and lifting his eyebrows
in surprise. A young woman in uniform smiled at him.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

He knew her, Second Lieutenant Margaret Cape, she worked
in the infirmary, but why was she here? Were they dating? Oh no... did he get
lucky and not remember it? He blinked his eyes open further and took in the
white walls and overhead lamps. No he was in the infirmary. Did he get lucky
in the infirmary?

"Becky, call up to Colonel Hawkeye's office, let her know
he's awake," Lieutenant Cape said to someone across the room.

"Why am I here?" Al said groggily.

"You collapsed on the train, sir. They brought you in
by car from the emergency stop the train made," she said. "How is your head?"

"It's fine," Al mumbled, "I just feel a little drained
is all." He shifted up in the pillows and worked to push himself into a sitting
position. Lieutenant Cape helped him sit up and then went to get him a glass
of water. Al rubbed his face and looked around. Besides him, there was one other
occupant of the infirmary, but they had a curtain around their bed, probably
sleeping.

He wasn't sure why he was here, but frankly he wasn't
too worried at the moment. He was in some sort of blissful suspension, some
strange place that made him feel light and whole. He wasn't one to mess with
something that wasn't broken. The door to the infirmary opened and the Colonel
came in, trailed by First Lieutenant Pharr. Her face took on a look of relief
to see him sitting up in the bed and that made him feel warm and happy. Pharr
broke into a big grin and Al grinned back.

"Good to see you awake, Lieutenant Colonel," the Colonel
said, "you had us a bit worried."

"What is with falling over on train benches and smacking
your head on the floor," Pharr teased gently. "You should get more sleep."

"I don't know what happened," Al said, "the last I remember..."
he trailed off.

Don't go, please let me try to explain!

I don't need you either!

I'd take all this pain from both of you if I could.

"I need to call brother," Al said faintly.

"Alphonse?" the Colonel said, she always called him Alphonse
when she was being other than his commanding officer. He raised his eyes to
her. She was still so beautiful. When he would come into the office with brother,
she was always the first person he sought out.

"I really need to call him," Al said again, "he'll be
worried, and the... General, I need to speak to him, too."

"Is everything alright? I distinctly remember your leave
was for two weeks, yet here you are back before the first week is out," the
Colonel said.

"Everything is fine," Al said. "I remember everything."


They sat in a big huddle on the grass. Of the twenty-three
attempts, twelve of the horses survived. Thirteen if you counted the Professor's.

The Professor was critically surveying each horse. Their
misshapen heads, their crooked legs and their questionable construction, he
was also grinning ear to ear.

"You lot did amazingly well," he said, looking at the
assembled faces. "Even the horses that were half formed or crumbled right away,
you still transmuted them. You ALL transmuted on your first try, that's an accomplishment."

The boys all shifted and grinned and ducked their heads,
pleased that their professor was happy.

"Did you transmute on your very first try?" Seth asked,
eager for knowledge for the archive.

"No," the Professor said, "I got a face full of dirt,"
and he grinned.

"Whose is best?" Bernard asked.

The Professor rubbed his chin, looked at the offerings
and picked up one that could stand by itself and had a fairly normal head. He
stood it in his palm and looked at the crowd.

"This one, who made it," he asked.

Boyd Harding shyly raised his hand from the back of the
group, cheeks flushed and small pleased smile.

"Boyd wins!" the Professor said and everyone cheered.

Edward was ecstatic, his jock could transmute.


The bell cut their revelry short and they all jumped up,
rushing for the doors with the Professor in the lead. They pelted down the hall
much to the startled stares of the other students leaving their classrooms to
head for their next lesson.

The Professor got the door open, held it and directed
the mad rush of boys in, watching them grab their packs and satchels and lunches.

"Read chapter fourteen," he yelled to the mass of bodies
all trying to get out the door at once, "and everyone gets a passing grade today,"
he yelled after them as they rushed down the hall.

He watched until they blended in with the other students
in the hall, then pulled back into the room, shut the door and put his hands
on his hips. He surveyed his empty classroom for a moment or two and then threw
his arms in the air.

"I can teach!" he yelled to no one in particular.


The Colonel was sitting beside his bed in a chair that
Lieutenant Pharr had fetched for her. Pharr stood at the end of the bed, hands
folded behind his back, smiling.

"I met you when I was eleven and twelve," Al said. "But
the first time I was eleven. Brother and I had stopped the man on the train
who was going to hold General Hakuro hostage in a prisoner exchange," Al screwed
up his face, "I don't remember his name at the moment, but he had an automail
arm like brother."

"His name was Bard," the Colonel supplied.

"Right," Al said grinning, "that was it. We met Falman
and Lieutenant Colonel Hughes on that trip too," Al smiled a little sadly. "I'm
able to miss him now," he said.

"We all miss him," the Colonel said. "What about the second
time you met me for the first time?" she prodded softly.

"That was after brother disappeared," Al said, "and I'd
finished my training with teacher." Al gave another sad smile. "She passed away
not long after I came back here."

The Colonel nodded.

"The General was a Major General then, but he helped me
with the entrance exam, he sponsored me," Al said. He then smiled broadly. "He
really took me in, I mean, he was always nice to me, but I thought it was because
of brother. It was because of me, wasn't it?"

"The General is very fond of you," the Colonel said with
her slight smile.

"I'm really fond of him too, and he's a great Pirate,"
Al grinned, "I like that nickname."

Pharr grinned at the Colonel and winked.

"He likes it too," the Colonel looked over at Pharr. "If
you don't mind First Lieutenant, could you be persuaded to go and get us some
dinner? Not the mess hall, this calls for something special."

"Noodles," Al appealed with his eyes.

"I'd be honored, Colonel. Noodles it is," Pharr grinned.
"I know just the place."

"Meat sauce," Al sucked in his bottom lip.

"I'm very familiar with your eating habits, sir," Pharr
grinned, "as we frequent Brio's every Wednesday night," he winked.

"Yes," Al said and pointed, "and you set me up with girls!"

The Colonel looked off to the side a moment, the corner
of her mouth quirking up and Pharr just outright laughed. He then saluted the
both of them.

"Celebratory dinner on me," he said cheerfully and took
his leave.


Edward slid into the car, dumping his briefcase on the
floor and grabbing the seat belt to hook it up. He looked windblown and chafed
a bit in the cheeks, and he reached up to rub his right shoulder as he rolled
them.

Then he did the most amazing thing. He looked at Roy and
grinned.

Roy blinked. He hadn't thought to be seeing that for a
while. He opened his mouth to speak, but Edward beat him to it.

"They all transmuted, Roy. All of them," he gushed excitedly.
"Every last one of them on their first attempt, I couldn't believe it! It was
just clay horses, but some of them were actually horse shaped and could stand
up on their own. I taught them Al's basic array and they all did it. Guess what?
My football player made the best one. I couldn't believe it, they are all studying
and doing what I tell them to do." Edward was practically bouncing in his seat
and Roy couldn't help his own grin, he pulled the car away from the curb.

"I'm going to fix things with Al," Edward said then. "I'm
going to tell him whatever he wants to know, nothing held back." He looked over
at Roy then.

"You know I support you," the General said. "You don't
know how glad I am to hear you reach that decision. I don't know why I ever
doubt you, you always come around."

"I thought about what you said, about absolution," Edward
was more subdued now. "Why is it you can say the most painful things to me and
then they make sense? I'd really like you to teach me that form of verbal alchemy,
because it's simply astonishing."

Roy looked at him and winked and Edward snorted and rolled
his shoulders again.

"Which brings up another point," Edward said. "I doubt
Al is going to talk to me willingly, so please help me spring a trap."

"I am your creature," the General said with a laugh. "I
will gladly pillage and plunder and ensnare at your command," he gave a slight
bow of his head.

"Well it will be easy," Ed said. "All you have to do is
get him on the phone."

"That I can do for you, my master," the General grinned.

"I like this master thing, let's try it in bed," the blond
laughed.

"We already have, any time you want to climb on top,"
the General snorted as he made the turn for the thoroughfare.

There was a class in a military academy where a former
state alchemist taught. They had managed to do in one hour what it would normally
take the General days, if not weeks, to do. They had lifted Edward's spirit
from the floor.

The General owed them his thanks.


Al was alone with the Colonel; this made him both pleased
and nervous. He was both new and used to the feeling this way and it was a little
disconcerting. She was regarding him with her slight smile and calling him Alphonse,
this made him absurdly pleased and he felt a stirring. He then felt panic over
the stirring because it wasn't the sort of stirring he should be having with
her sitting right there beside him in a chair. He cast about for something to
distract himself with, a new, yet old random memory to throw out and turn his
thoughts and conversation from this feeling in the pit of his stomach that was
planning a campaign for regions lower.

"Alphonse, is something wrong?" she asked, one brow lifting
slightly.

He tried to school his expression and just plunged ahead
and opened his mouth.

"Hey," he said feebly, "did the Colonel really have V.D.
that time? It's escaping me," he gave a shaky smile, realized what he'd just
asked and covered his face with his hands. Doomed, he was doomed.

He heard her laugh. It was a lovely sound, breathless
for a moment, but not smothered. He dared to peek at her through his fingers
and he went breathless himself at the sight of the smile. Not her usual, slight,
companionable offering, but a genuine smile. He caught a glimpse of her teeth
and she wrinkled her nose just a touch. It brought a bit of color to her cheeks
and her eyes crinkled at the edges.

I made you laugh.

He lowered his hands slowly, offering his own smile in
return and she shook her head at him.

"No Alphonse, he didn't. If you do remember the culprits,
please don't inform him. That has been a well-guarded secret for many years
now. We don't wish to have the General incarcerated for murder," she leaned
back in the chair and pulled her bottom lip in just slightly, her smile still
lingering. "I haven't thought about that in years," she said and gave a little
sigh.

"I can congratulate you properly on your promotion now,"
Al said brightly. "I know you'll be a Brigadier General soon."

"I thank you," she said, all poise and graciousness. "I
would have liked to have made rank before you left my service. The success rate
of your missions reflects well on me," she said and smiled at him again, that
wonderful smile.

Al sputtered at this compliment and cursed the heat he
felt in his cheeks.

"Colonel, your accomplishments are your own," he said.
"With your good counsel and fact gathering skills, it's easy to complete assignments
for you. You have them half-completed when you hand them over."

"I assume we could sit around trading compliments all
night if we worked at it," she said, reaching up and unbuttoning the top button
of her collar as she crossed her legs, getting comfortable. "Let's talk about
your upcoming birthday. Have you decided what you are going to do when you resign?"

His eyes were glued to her fingers at her throat. He trailed
them with his eyes back down to her lap where she laced them with her other
hand, but he then realized what he was doing and his eyes flew back to her face
where he found her tilting her head a bit, looking questioning. She had asked
him something. She had asked him something and he hadn't heard a word because
she had been unbuttoning the top button of her uniform jacket.

"Uh..." he said intelligently.

"Are you still considering your own business?" she prompted
kindly.

"Yes," Al said with a rush of relief. "Also working for
you, on a contractual basis. That is the plan. Brother isn't on board yet, but
he will be. I'll just sweet talk him a little and if that fails, I'll just I'll
sic the General on him. Sometimes it's almost too easy, the way we can bushwhack
him. We really ought to feel more shame."

She laughed again and Al couldn't help but laugh along
with her. It was a rare occurrence in the days of his youth, when he towered
over his life and spoke with echoes. She was so serious then, but it was serious
times. Her ease with the situation, sitting with him in the infirmary, sharing
his new old life again; it was one of the warmest feelings in his life.

"Thank you," he said simply. "For always being there,
Colonel. For what was then and then what was then again, and what is now," he
bit his lip, "did that make sense?"

"Brilliantly," she said. "You're welcome."

"Maybe I should hire you as my translator," Al sighed.
"Brother is so literal it's going to be like we are speaking a foreign language
until I get all these memories synched," he frowned. "It's a very odd sensation
having two tens and two elevens and so on."

"I can only imagine," the Colonel said. "Are you alright
with it?"

"I will be," Al said and tilted his head to the side.
"I have some bones to pick with brother now that I know which bones to snap.
I clearly didn't know quite how to deal with him, I bet he's in for a shock."

"He will be happy and yet difficult," the Colonel said.

"You know him too well," Al said wryly. "I've never known
anyone to work harder at being happily miserable in my life."

She leaned forward then and put her hand on the back of
his where it rested on the bed, giving it a fond pat. His stirring was back,
all that hard won distraction banished in a light tap on the back of his hand.

"I'll see about getting you some medals," she said. "I
mean that with the up most sincerity. You've always had the patience of a saint
and the brother who could drive a saint to murder."

"As a role model he excelled in teaching me that if we
don't get caught, we won't get caught," Al said.

"Truly a man with sterling convictions," the Colonel said
solemnly.

"Who never got convicted," Al agreed.

When Pharr walked in with dinner, they were laughing again.


Dinner was from the deli. R.D. got half a sandwich when
Ed's mouth got busy with the General's and wasn't paying attention to his hand
hanging off the side of the couch.

"I would so love to carry you to the bathroom," the General
husked, "but if I did, you'd have to carry me to the bedroom and put ointment
on my back."

"The sentiment is appreciated," his lover growled, "I
think I can make it to the bathroom despite the boner."

The General could give him a hand up off the couch and
grope him on the way to the bathroom, however. He in turn could grope the General's
ass when he leaned over to turn on the taps in the tub.

Edward's sweater was on the floor and Edward's fingers
were working the buttons of Roy's shirt when the phone rang. They both sighed.
There was no more ignoring the phone for sex in their household unless they
were actually engaged in sex. The General kissed his lover soundly and hurried
to the den, calling over his shoulder to get in the tub, he'd make it quick.

Ed shrugged and stripped and had just started to put his
foot in the water when Roy called down the hall, "Wait a minute, get in here,
it's Al!"

Ed wrapped a towel around his waist and came running to
the den, where the General smiled at him and held out the phone. He took the
receiver with a bit of trepidation, but Roy's smile was reassuring and he put
it to his ear.

"Al," Ed started immediately, "I'm so sorry, I'm really
so sorry. You were right and I was being selfish, but I swear to you it wasn't
about control! I wanted..."

"Brother, brother, brother," Al kept interjecting, "brother,
it's okay!"

"No, it's not okay," Ed pressed on, "I wasn't thinking.
I know you're going to say 'Like usual', but I really thought I was doing you
a favor. I see now that it wasn't much of a favor and I'm not asking you to
understand why I did it..."

"Brother, brother, brother," Al tried again. "BROTHER!"

Ed winched a little and squinting up one eye, glanced
at Roy.

"Did that get your attention? Good," Al said. "When we
went to Risembool to get Winry to repair your arm after the dark man, whose
name escapes me, destroyed your arm? You let Major Armstrong put me in the cattle
car... wait... it was sheep."

Ed blinked for a moment, furrowed his brows, then smoothed
them.

"That wasn't my fault," he cried, now that he remembered
what Al was on about, "he said it was cheaper and he already had you loaded
on the train. I wanted to come back to there with you!"

"Not only that," Al continued, "when I got put off the
train by accident, you didn't even notice!"

"I'm sorry! I noticed, but Armstrong wouldn't let me jump
off the train because it was moving! I really wanted to, he made me wait until
the next stop and by the time we got back, you'd been pilfered! There are really
a lot of dishonest people out in those parts, I was really appalled." Edward
put his hand on his hip and his towel sagged low; the General appreciated the
crest of his butt cheeks.

"I'm just amazed I got my body back at all," Al said,
"seeing as how the other one got so little regard from you," he sniffed.

"Now wait just a minute," Edward scowled, "how can you..."
he stopped, he looked slowly up at Roy, his eyes widening.

"At least you got all the parts," Al said when Ed went
silent.

"AL," Ed shrieked and bounced in place. "You remember!"

"Took you long enough," his little brother said wryly
over the phone.

Roy appreciated the towel pooled on floor around Edward's
feet even more after the bounce.


Edward was naked, but wrapped in blankets and stuffed
into Roy's desk chair with the heating pad over his shoulder. He'd been there
for almost two hours and Roy was asleep on the den couch by the window.

He was whispering things in the dimness of the room with
his little brother. They had always shared things in the dark; it's just now
his eyes were trained on the figured curled up on a couch, waiting for him.

They were about talked-out anyway and Al was taking the
train back to Central as soon as he could, which meant two days, possibly three
at most and his brother would be back.

"I should go," Ed whispered, "Roy's asleep on the den
couch. He'll get a crick in his neck."

"Okay," Al whispered back, "we'll go over more when I
get there. You aren't off the hook yet just because my subconscious decided
to mug me."

"I have no doubt," Ed grinned, "whatever you want Al,
just ask, it's yours."

"I just want my brother," Al said, "and I've got that.
Goodnight Ed."

"Night Al," Ed said, and waited to hear the click on the
other end before he hung up the phone.

Roy blinked his eyes open and looked at Ed, unfocused
a moment, before yawning. R.D. hopped down from the end of the couch where he'd
been sleeping by Roy's feet and did an impatient dance as Roy sat up and scratched
his head, grumbling at the little dog.

"Go on to bed, I'll take R.D. out and be in shortly,"
Roy leveled himself up off the couch. "Was it a good talk?"

Ed nodded and stepped forward to lean against him for
a long moment. Roy stroked his blanket covered back.

"Go on, you'll get cold and your shoulder is bothering
you. R.D.'s going to burst if I don't take him out," Roy coaxed. Edward stepped
back and let Roy precede him out of the den.

"I know, I know," the General was telling the black and
white jumping bean, "you would let me get your leash on if you had to go out
that badly."

Edward watched for a moment before heading to the bedroom.
He stood by his side of the bed for a long moment before just climbing in, blankets
a fair trade for pajamas, he figured. He pushed under the heavy comforter and
nuzzled into his pillow.

Sometimes, every now and again, life cut him a break.

The General and R.D. reappeared not long after and the
General began to undress for the night. He started for his dresser to get his
pajamas.

"Sleep naked," a soft voice whispered behind him. He smiled
then, turned around, went over and climbed onto the bed.

"Oh wait," the voice whispered again, "go get my automail
socks out of the bathroom."

Not quite the mood killer it could have been, considering
Roy didn't want to cuddle with cold automail. He hurried on his errand and returned,
climbing up onto the bed, shoving under the covers and assisting in getting
the socks into place.

"I'll be glad when winter is over," Ed grumbled, letting
Roy tie off the tie on the shoulder. He scowled at R.D. turning circles at the
foot of the bed, but Roy's voice brought his gaze back to the man.

"I don't know," the General said, scooting into Ed's blanket
cocoon with him, "I rather like being buried under piles of blankets with you."

"There is that," Ed's voice dropped a bit when Roy's bare
stomach rubbed against his. They were lying face to face and Ed lifted his automail
leg, draping it over Roy's upturned hip. Roy smiled at him, leaned forward to
take his mouth and ran his hand down Edward's stomach, pushing his fingers into
blond curls and over Edward's cock, fingers wrapping around it.

Edward groaned and returned the favor, his flesh and seeking
and finding Roy, already half hard. For a while, this lazy stroke of fingers
and thrusts of tongue is all either of them wanted. Ed was very compliant when
Roy finally tugged his hand away and pushed on his shoulder to roll him onto
his back.

The only thing Roy had on Edward was height. Edward was
broader, heavier and more defined. His body was still toned even though his
days of endless chase were over and Roy took the time to trace his fingertips
down Edward's chest, onto the flat of his stomach.

"Leave my belly button alone," his lover griped and the
General snickered. Roy scooted down on the bed and began to trail his lips along
the path his fingertips had forged. Edward was the definition of arousal for
him. He stretched as Roy kissed him, opening his legs wider and sighing heavily.
Roy rested his cheek on Edward's stomach; he had pushed the blankets down, and
was fingering a blond curl to one side of Edward's erection. Edward's stomach
quivered under him and he blond shifted again, automail hand stroking lightly
over Roy's head, down the back of his neck and over his shoulder. It was cool
through the sock, but not uncomfortably so, and actually felt rather good on
Roy's skin.

"What are you doing down there?" Edward murmured, drawing
lazy circles with an automail finger on Roy's shoulder.

"Savoring," the General husked. He let his fingertips
brush down the side of Ed's cock and then cupped his balls. He stroked the pad
of his thumb over them, as he trapped them and pressed them upwards. Edward
rewarded him with a moan.

"Damn you are a sexy beast," the General husked. "Male
and erotic," the General turned and dragged his tongue over Ed's stomach. It
jumped and quivered. "Your voice is such a turn on when it gets strained and
husky," the General told him, "your scent is musky and metallic. You're still
so solid, even if all you do is browbeat a bunch of thirteen year olds into
transmuting toy horses all day. These damn blond curls," the General stuck
his nose in them briefly and inhaled deeply, "drive me batshit."

"Fuck," Edward whined and arched his hips, "you trying
to talk me into cumming? It might work," he panted.

"I thought it might be a pleasant change of pace, although
it is phenomenally hard to keep my hands and mouth off of you," Roy kissed a
slow trail from just below Ed's navel to the edge of his curls.

"Do both," Ed encouraged with a whine.

Roy kissed along the edge of the curls the top of the
thigh closest to him. He opened his mouth and slid it down, then pulled Ed's
legs wider and trailed his tongue over the soft inner thigh.

Ed hitched in a deep breath and arched his back, pressing
his head back into the pillow. Roy's lips left his inner thigh; there was a
broad tongue sweep across his cock, then down and over his balls. Ed fisted
his hand in the comforter and pulled hard, it came untucked from the bottom
of the bed and when it moved upwards, it slid R.D. into Roy's side. The puppy's
cold, wet nose poked him there and he jumped and leaned up.

"What?" Ed cried, "What's wrong?"

"You pulled R.D. onto me and his nose is cold," Roy chuckled.
Ed lifted his head, he'd forgotten about the dog.

"Put him out," Ed said, pushing up on his elbows and flipping
the covers over himself. Roy blinked.

"What are you doing," Roy suddenly laughed, "R.D. doesn't
care if you're naked!"

Ed turned red, scowled and shifted a bit.

"I can't do it if he's watching," he finally mumbled.

Roy gaped up at him, then started laughing harder.

"You're not serious," he got out between bouts of hilarity.
"He's just a dog, who's he gonna tell," and the General got choked then in snorting
giggles.

"I know," Ed growled, embarrassed. "I just can't... it's
like a kid watching."

Roy howled in laughter, leaned down and pressed his forehead
to Ed's stomach, body shaking.

"You are such a bastard," Ed hissed. "Now put him out
before I get soft."

Roy got up, tried to speak but couldn't for the snickering,
scooped R.D. up, deposited him in the hall and closed the door.

"Our son is in the hall, can we please have sex now,"
Roy got out before finding himself just too hilarious and collapsing over on
the bed, laughing hard. Ed shot him a bird with each hand.

Roy grabbed the blankets, jerked them off of Ed's body
and leaned down. He took a deep breath, puffed his cheeks and blew a raspberry
right into Ed's navel. Now Ed was howling in laughter and in the hall R.D. joined
them for a few moments.

"Bastard, shit General," Ed sobbed, "I'm so fucking horny
I could die and you want to be a comedian. I was fuckin' getting off on your
goddamn sweet talk," the blond sniffled.

"Wasn't sweet talk. Okay, it was," the General grinned
and dropped several kisses on Ed's stomach. "I'm sorry, beautiful."

"Don't call me that," Ed huffed, "I like sexy beast better."

Roy growled then, a very deep sound and Edward answered
with an equally deep groan. He arched his back and his lover's mouth took the
head of his cock. A tongue dragged over the slit and then he was engulfed in
warm, wet heat. Damn, Roy could give a blowjob. The right amount of pressure,
the tongue press to the roof of his mouth, the alternate deep throat with shallower,
quicker pulls. He allowed Ed to thrust up, going up on his elbows to accommodate
and regulate how far Edward pressed himself inside. He gripped Ed's balls, rolling
them in his palm and pressing them in rhythm to his suction.

Edward talked to him, deep growled encouragement, high-pitched
obscenities and his name bantered. It was Edward's habit not to call on any
ethereal higher being; he just made Roy the substitute for it. He pulled off
completely the first time Edward climbed close enough to release and Edward
cursed him roundly and damned his parentage. In punishment, the General mouthed
his balls and inner thighs, ignoring his weeping cock.

"Nonono," Edward sobbed. "Damn you!" He shifted his hips
all around, making it difficult to do anything properly, so Roy just leaned
up on his elbows and let him writhe for a moment. When he realized Roy wasn't
touching him, he whined and sucked his lower lip, giving the most gorgeous,
pitiful look.

Roy leaned over and kissed his cock and Ed trembled, trying
to hold still but to no avail.

"What do you want?" Ed wailed. "You know I'll do it! I'll
let you call me mare this time, PLEASE ROY," he sobbed.

Roy grinned and took him in again and Edward thanked him
by coming within the first five seconds. Roy rolled him around in his mouth
for a moment or two longer, then sat up and got the oil bottle. Edward watched
him with slitted eyes, then threw a pillow down beside his hip and rolled over
onto it. Roy opened the bottle, but sat it slowly down on the bedside table,
unused for a moment.

"You're a complete brat," Roy said with a grin.

"Huh?" Edward said, still climax glazed, he turned his
head to look at him.

Roy smacked his upturned ass with a resounding whap and
Edward howled in humiliated appreciation as he tried to fuck the pillow into
submission.


Roy rolled them onto their sides. He hadn't withdrawn
yet and Ed's reddened backside was pressed against his hips. Edward was limp
and drenched, panting raggedly and still moaning lowly over his tender butt
cheeks every time Roy shifted a bit and rubbed against them. Roy was equally
drenched, also gulping for air and he buried his face in the curve of Edward's
neck, shaking as he tried to regain his composure. It was a while before either
could speak.

"That was just fuckin' hot," Ed managed first. "I think
I like your dirty talk."

"Thought you said it was sweet talk," Roy said, muffled
against his shoulder.

"No one with a cock like that has anything sweet about
them," Ed groaned and tightened briefly on the part of Roy's body still inside
him.

"Oh god, don't do that," Roy gulped and shook, still sensitive
after his hard climax. He felt a tremor of dread when he heard a ragged, yet
mischievous laugh.

"Ed... AH!" Roy said, arching back too late. Edward tightened
down hard and Roy writhed in the limited fashion he could, but couldn't pull
out.

"This is just like dogs," Ed chortled evilly. "They get
stuck like this, who's the dog of the military now?"

"We are R.D.'s parents after all," Roy grated out before
Edward seemed to vise grip him tighter. He whined and begged for mercy.

But he just couldn't help himself. He was his own worst
enemy, truly.

"In this position," Roy stammered when he could, "it makes
you the bitch."

Edward snarled and seemed to be able to get into negative
ratios when it came to the sphincter factor.

"If you squeeze it off," Roy gasped, "you'll have to raise
R.D. alone without his father," Roy thought the lack of blood getting to the
brain in his dick was making him delirious. Yes, that must be it. Why would
he go to the trouble of infuriating people who could so easily kick his ass
if he wasn't?

Ed was glaring at him over his shoulder.

"You really have a death wish or something tonight," he
rasped out.

"They do call this the 'little death'," Roy managed to
wheeze.

Edward's expression turned into a smirk.

"Well," he said, evil glint in his eye, "I think I'm feeling
a little homicidal now."

He suddenly moved forward a bit and then back into Roy,
his butt hitting the General in the stomach. Roy let out a little whoosh of
breath and then a ragged moan.

"Fuck," Ed said. "I think I might be a serial killer,
in fact," he groaned and began to move himself steadily, listening to the pathetic
cries of his victim and enjoying the writhing of his death throes against his
back.