sky dark

Better Living Through Alchemy

chapter 9.

"Gee, Professor. You're really flighty today," Gavin said mildly when Ed handed
the boy someone else's graded paper again.

"That is some way to address your Professor," Ed said,
rifling through the stack in his hand for the correct paper. "There are too
many 'G' names in this class."

"There's just me and Greg," Gavin said helpfully.

"I have the wrong paper too," Tom said timidly and held
it up.

Edward threw his arms into the air and waved the stack

"Seth, save me," he said and the boy promptly jumped up,
went over and took the stack for distribution.

"What's your problem?" Daniel laughed as Ed trudged back
to his desk.

The Professor sat, pushed at his glasses and sniffed.

"I'm a very busy man," he said. "I don't think you appreciate
all the work that goes into getting your vacuous little minds to absorb knowledge.
There is some staff meeting today as well; Alphonse's birthday is next week
and a very large party is being planned. I have a lot on my plate."

"Are we going to get to meet him?" Boyd asked from the
back of the room.

"Who?" the Professor asked.

"Alphonse," Richard helped. "The Armored Alchemist!"

"He's the Theorem Alchemist," Ed said, "you really want
to meet him?"

"Will he bring his armor?" Duffy asked excitedly.

"No, no," Ed said and shook his head. "He doesn't do that

Or have to live it anymore, thank... someone.

"What's a theorem?" Daniel asked.

"It's a theory," the Professor said. "My little brother
is a genius," the Professor puffed up, "his theories are being published in
alchemic texts."

"He uses alchemy to write theories?" Bernard said and
scratched his head. "Can you use alchemy to write book reports?"

"No," the Professor said. "He writes theories about alchemy.
He writes about the speculative process or turning one thing into another."

"But you can do that without having to read about it,"
Daniel said.

"I have to understand how something works, that's why
we go over ingredients and formulas," the Professor said. "For instance, I don't
know how a car engine works, so I wouldn't make a very good engine were I to
transmute one."

"A car engine has pistons," Duffy said.

"It has a transmission too," Seth added.

"But how does a piston work, what does a transmission
do?" the Professor said.

The boys chewed their lips in silence, glancing at each

"If I know a bird can fly because it has hollow bones
and wings, then can I transmute wings on myself?" Gavin asked.

"While possible, it is not something you would want to
do, and human transmutation is illegal," the Professor said seriously.

Hypocrite... you always swore you'd never say 'don't
do what I do, do what I tell you to.'

The bell rang, cutting short all further musings, and
Edward sent them off with a curt wave and a 'no homework tonight', which put
smiles on their faces as they all went out the door.

"Professor Elric," Miss Bloom called cheerfully and raised
her hand to him, "I saved a seat for you," she indicated the empty chair beside

Ed put on a forced smile and went over to sit beside the
young woman, laying his notebook on the table and nodding to some of the others
who nodded to him in acknowledgement. Miss Bloom was a 'floating' teacher's
aide and had come into his classroom on a few occasions to help him with some
of the more mundane chores of teaching. He had been very relieved to turn over
all ditto machine wrangling to her and credited her with his savings on white
gloves. She was however, next to himself, the youngest person on staff. He supposed
she considered them steadfast comrades because of this and she followed him
around at any staff gathering like a duckling follows the mother duck. It was
a bit embarrassing. Some of the older teachers would hide smiles behind their
hands and Edward was always mortified.

He wanted to fling out that he was unavailable, that he
had his life long partner in the form of a very upstanding General and was quite
happy, thank you very much, but discretion had been every other word out of
Roy's mouth when Ed had taken the position. They had agreed that discretion
was the key and really, it wasn't anyone's business for that matter. Only, he
sometimes wanted people to know, especially on occasions like this, when it
might save him from having to deal with the social awkwardness of a crush.

Not that he was crush worthy; he wasn't sure what the
young woman's motives were, to be exact. He tried to stop her when she jumped
up to get him a glass of water and sighed when Mrs. Hall across the table smiled
at him. Thankfully, the Dean appeared then and parked his considerable girth
at the end of the boardroom table. He fished out his pocket watch and nodded
before tucking it back in the watch pocket on his vest.

"Thank everyone for being on time," and he nodded directly
at Ed, who scowled. Forget three lousy meetings and they never let you live
it down. He was still new to this teaching thing; they should cut him some slack.

"Alright then," the Dean said. He opened the folder that
his secretary placed in front of him and pulled his glasses from his inner jacket
pocket, forcing them down over the broad bridge of his nose. "Let's see here,
first order of business will be the school football team's need for new pads,"
the Dean looked up at Professor Taylor. Professor Taylor stood, immaculate in
his sweats and perfect hair, and flashed his most winning smile.

"We have a good team this year," he said and looked at
the others like how could they expect any less. "I'm very confident we'll do
well in the pre and post season, so I expect to see everyone in the stands,"
he gave a little laugh and shook his head like he was immensely amused with

Ed just despised the man. He could feel his teeth grinding
together the longer the man spoke about his coaching skills, his achievements
and his own concerns about the safety of the boys. Oh well, he finally mentioned
the boys at least. Ed looked sidelong as Miss Bloom who was looking at Professor
Taylor in pretty much the same way she looked at him and that irked him just
a little, but it had been a mistake, because she caught him looking, batted
her eyelashes and smiled at him, scooting a little closer.

"Football pads are expensive," the Dean said at the end
of Taylor's speech. "Appropriating the funds for you means cutting something

"Well what is there that could be cut," Taylor asked.

The Dean fingered his chins for a moment and finally offered

"There is the annual exhibition," the Dean said. "We didn't
get a lot of parental participation last year..."

"But that's when I showcase the more promising band talent
outside the stadium," Dr. Thaxton interjected.

"Oh, what do they need it for," Taylor said. "They can
just play fight songs at the games. There's plenty of parental participation
there, and Jimmy and Sally can show off for mommy and daddy marching down the
football field."

"The garden club always has their tea social to raise
money for the botanical trip each year at the exhibition," Mrs. Wilton said.
"Without that money, it might not be possible for everyone to go."

"Can't they go over to the woods behind the soccer field
and look at plants there?" Taylor asked, giving her a condescending smile. "Really
Katherine, boys going to look at flowers?"

"I think we should have a big alchemy exhibition at this
year's event," a new voice said down the table, "that would be a big draw. The
FullMetal Alchemist would be willing to perform."

All eyes turned to him. Taylor sneered, but Thaxton and
Wilton looked hopeful.

"I know a few other alchemists who might be willing to
do it for the benefit of the school," Ed said, elbows on table, fingers laced.
"I know this is the first year of alchemy class at this Academy and I'm a brand
new recruit, but I'd love to do what I can to help." He gave Taylor a rather
sharp smile, then glanced down at the Dean.

The Dean's job was to make sure everyone had sufficient
funding to feed the eager young minds of tomorrow. Already, he was calculating
what sort of draw could be taken from the possibility of an alchemy demonstration
held on school grounds.

"Some of the clubs could set up booths. With that kind
of draw, everyone stands to earn a little class spending money," Professor Sutton,
the head of the geography department said.

"This could work to your advantage as well, Taylor. You
could get your boys to do something as well and earn some money, or ask for
donations," the Dean laced his fingers over his belly and smiled. "I'll send
out the usual alumni requests, but if luck is with you, we could also parlay
the money into other new sporting equipment. I think Professor Elric has a grand

The table started to chatter and Ed felt a slow smile.
Taylor sank back down into his chair and nodded to the Dean but cut Edward a
look. It didn't matter, many of the others were now discussing their plans,
nodding at Ed and smiling. He rather liked the feeling; it was almost like being
in the big office again with Breda slapping him on the back, Fuery sharing his
muffins, Havoc making jokes and Falman offering advice. He was becoming part
of a group again and... it was nice.

"I think I'll put Professor Elric in charge of the organization,"
the Dean said from his end of the table. "Everyone arrange meetings with him
with your suggestions and ideas. He'll be able to present me with a list of
expected expenditures and things needed to make this happen. We'll also need
a date and literature. Professor Elric, I trust you to handle all of this for

Edward despised being part of a group, he worked much
better on his own. Why had he opened his fucking big mouth?

Edward jogged up the stairs to the administration floor,
grumbling to himself and making a mental checklist of the things he was going
to need to be an event coordinator. As he headed down the hall, he saw a lone
figure standing and looking up at a large wall map that detailed the territories
of Amestris. As he got closer, he noticed the strange clothes the woman wore.
She had long, straight, black hair to the middle of her back, caught up at the
sides and pinned at the back of her head with an elaborate silver serpent pin.
She was wearing a long, black robe that was belted in a wide, red, satin sash.
Peeking from beneath the high collared robe, was shiny black pants that gathered
at the ankle and black slippers. Edward noted that they were Xingian in design
and wondered what a lone woman would be doing standing in the hallway of the
military administration floor.

He walked directly behind her and slowed. He thought maybe
he should question her credentials, ask to see her visitors badge, find out
who she was looking for. After all, Roy worked on this floor and where the hell
were the guards that usually manned the upper hallway? So he stopped and cleared
his throat rather loudly.

When she turned, his eyebrows rose, for she was not a
she at all. The two young men regarded each other quizzically for long
moments and then the Xingian man broke into a large grin.

"It's so nice to see a non-uniformed face, it's rather
refreshing," he said and advanced on Ed. "Are you lost as well, we could wander
the complex together."

"I'm not lost," Ed said, taking a step back. "I'm known
around here, but I've never seen you before. What are you doing here? Where
did you come from?"

"I'm looking at a map," the man said unhelpfully, "and
I'm from Xing. You must be very cloistered not to recognize this, as my appearance
is very charming and very helpful."

Ed sputtered and scowled.

"I know you're a Xingian, I meant where did you come from
in here? You said you were lost? Were you on a tour or something? Where
you at a meeting? You don't have a visitors pass," Ed tapped the breast of his
own vest. "That's a little suspicious."

"Oh, I am not a suspicious person," the man grinned merrily.
"I came from a large meeting room, many people were there, but it was very boring.
I decided to take a tour of the building. Since you are known here, why don't
you show me the more interesting rooms?"

"Some of the rooms are off limits," Ed said. "You shouldn't
be just wandering around, what kind of meeting were you in? You might as well
follow me to the General's office, maybe he can sort out this mess."

"I would be happy to follow you, a General's office sounds
like an interesting place to tour," the man said, falling into step beside Ed.
Ed ignored the fact his head barely cleared the man's shoulder.

"It's not a tour," Ed said. "It's a fact finding mission.
To find out who the hell you are and why the hell you're wandering around the

"Oh, I'm Ling," the man said. "I was wandering the halls
because I got lost."

"You're about as helpful as a nosebleed," Ed groused.

"I've never known those to be helpful, just messy," Ling
said cheerfully as Edward led him down the hall.

The General wasn't in his office. As a matter of fact,
no one was in his office.

"This is rather odd," Ed said. "I wonder where they've
all gotten off too."

"There is a large meeting in a large room somewhere in
this building," Ling said, "maybe he is there."

"This is the same meeting you were at?" Ed asked.

"I don't know, perhaps," Ling said. "I do not know what
the General's like, could you describe him?"

"He's about your height," Ed said, "and he's wearing a
blue uniform."

"We are back at the nosebleed part of this conversation,"
Ling said. "Everyone here has on a blue uniform."

"I know that," Ed snapped, "let me finish a thought! He's
got black hair and dark eyes..."

"So do I," Ling chirped.

"He's got a lot of yellow stripes and stars on his shoulders,"
Ed growled.

Ling turned his head back and forth and looked at his

"I have failed you," he sighed, "I am not the General."

"I know that!" Ed yelled.

He pushed past Ling and back out into the hall. He heard
voices at the far end and sighed in relief to see Roy and Havoc heading his
way. They seemed to be discussing something urgently and peering into each doorway
as they headed in the direction of the office.

Ling was suddenly at his shoulder.

"Those are men from the meeting," Ling said. "They are
both in blue uniforms with yellow stripes and stars. One of them has black hair
and dark eyes," he added.

Ed turned and scowled at him, and Roy suddenly called

"Your Highness, we've been searching everywhere for you.
Your retainers are very worried," he said.

Ed turned and furrowed his brow at Roy.

"Oh, hello," Ling said. "Fancy seeing you again. We are
touring a General's office," he stated. "This is my new friend, but I don't
know his name even though I have given him mine. He's rather rude and short,
but I like him anyway. How are you?"

"This is Edward Elric," Roy said, rushing up and snatching
Ed back as the blond's face had started to turn dark. "He's an instructor at
the military academy," Roy said a bit strained as he struggled to hold Ed in
place by his shoulders.

"Your Highness, why did you wander off?" Havoc asked.
"That whole meeting was for your benefit, to welcome you as the representative
for the Xingian embassy."

"It was rather stuffy in the room and I got bored," Ling
said simply. "This building is very spacious. I have no doubt I could have wandered
quite a while if I hadn't run into Edward Elric. He was showing me this office."

"Lieutenant Colonel, why don't you escort Prince Ling
back to the meeting, I need to have a word with Ed," the General gritted out,
dragging Ed into his office.

"Aw, I wanted to get to know him better," the Prince said
as Havoc half bowed and gestured for the man to lead him. "Well if the meeting
was arranged for me, I suppose I should attend."

"That would be the idea," Havoc coaxed, "right this way."

The General smiled and planted a hand on Ed's face, shoving
him back and closing the door of his office.

"Breathe," Roy said, smiling. "It's alright. The Prince
is pretty blunt, as we've all found out," Roy grinned.

"It's just the perfect topper to my splendid day,"
Ed said sourly and started to scowl, but Roy's mouth found his and covered it.
Ed found he couldn't argue with that and kissed him back.

"You know," Ed purred when Roy pulled back, "I had fantasies
about you and this office and that desk."

"As very inviting as that is," Roy whispered, "I'm afraid
I have to get back to that meeting. You can languish on the couch and pine for
me though."

Ed laughed and Roy put an arm around his shoulders, drawing
him deeper into the office.

"I want to hear all about your splendid day when I get
back," Roy said.

"Try to keep it short," Ed wheedled, "I really want to
get home."

They stopped in front of the big desk and Roy released
Ed with a sigh.

"Have you talked to Gracia about Al's party today?" Ed
asked. "I really want this to come off without a hitch. I also need to tell
you about the exhibition," Ed sighed.

"A party sounds splendid, who is Al? I also enjoy exhibitions,"
a voice said behind them.

Roy and Edward both jumped and whirled, and the Prince
grinned at them with a raised hand.

"Hello," he said cheerfully, "I would like to attend your
party and exhibition," he nodded.

"How the hell did you get in here?" Ed screeched.

"Through the door," Ling said guilelessly.

Roy grabbed Ed around the waist, grunting and forcing
a smile over the struggling blond's head.

"Weren't you heading back to the meeting, your Highness?"
he asked.

"I was, but your office seemed more interesting, especially
with Edward Elric in it," Ling said and nodded pleasantly.

"Where is Lieutenant Colonel Havoc?" Roy asked and physically
put himself between lover and Prince.

"That tall blond fellow thinks I am in the bathroom,
but there was a window there with a ledge. It wasn't very wide, but simple enough
to walk along. I went in a window at the far end of the hall," the Prince pointed.
"then I came back here."

"You walked on a ledge on the outside of the building?"
Roy gaped. "We're three floors up!"

"I'm not afraid of heights," the Prince said and clasped
his hands behind his back.

"You're a nutcase," Ed said and stilled, so Roy released
him. He brushed himself down and snorted. "All the Xingian royalty must be inbred."

Roy winced but the Prince just smiled and tilted his head.

"When is the party so I may inform my secretary to remind
me of the date," Ling prompted.

"Who says you are invited?" Ed challenged.

"Of course you are invited," Roy said loudly and gave
Ed a look when he whirled to glare at him.

"I am very eager to learn all about Amestris custom and
culture, it will better further relations between our countries, don't you think
General?" the Prince never changed from his pleasantly smiling expression.

"Very astute, your Highness, just the sort of attitude
a good ambassador should have," the General said.

"But it's a birthday party for my brother, he may not
want you to attend," Ed said haughtily. "He doesn't even know you."

"Of course he would want me to attend," Ling said. "I'm
a Prince; he will be honored to have royalty among his guests. I will graciously
lend him my presence so later he may brag to his friends."

Ed would have liked to tell Ling just where he could stuff
his royal presence, but Roy's hand fell heavily on his shoulder and Roy himself
moved over to the Xingian man.

"Alphonse will be very honored, your Highness," Roy said.
"Now let me escort you back to our meeting."

"I'm thinking an academy instructor would be an excellent
cultural liaison," the Prince said. "I would consider it your very much pleasure
to assign him to escort me about the city."

Ed's jaw slammed into the floor with enough force to make
the furniture jump.

"We'll talk about that in the meeting," Roy insisted
with a smile on his face.

"Very well," the Prince said. "This meeting seems very
important to you and as a gentleman and royalty, I should be gracious of my
host's intentions. I will allow you to escort me back," Ling said magnanimously.

Just then, the door flew open and Havoc stood framed in
it, panting. He closed his eyes in relief and hung his head.

"We're heading back now, Lieutenant Colonel," the General
said placatingly.

"It was a pleasure to meet you," the Prince said to the
Professor, who stood back scowling like a blond wolverine, "and how pleasant
for me to allow you to be my personal escort around the city." Ling turned and
walked past Roy, and Havoc moved out of his way to allow him into the hall.

Only a hard look from Roy stilled Ed's vocal chords, then
a sympathetic smile and wink was offered. Ed let himself be mollified and flopped
onto the couch to await his lover's release from the infernal meeting so they
could go home.

They stopped at the deli and Ed ran in to get dinner for
both of them. Roy had resigned himself to eating noodles with meat sauce every
other day for the rest of his life or fighting Ed off his plate.

Ed climbed back in the car, carefully setting the box
between them.

"Okay so, I was in this board meeting," Ed said, starting
up where he'd left off when they arrived at the deli, "and that bastard Taylor
decides that nobody but the sports department rates."

"The horror," the General said.

Ed gave him a flat look for a moment and the General grinned.

"Okay, haha," Ed said, "There was talk of the school not
having its annual exhibition so the money could be given to Taylor for football
pads, but the other clubs depend on the exhibition to raise money for their
club outings, and that fucker Taylor wants to take that away. I spoke up and
said we could make the exhibition a better event this year, I suggested that
we could hold an alchemy demonstration," he continued. "I mean, I can whip up
a couple of large sculptures for them to ooh and aah over and you can roast
something. Maybe I can talk Al into doing something as well, but that's when
the bastard Dean decided I should be in charge of the whole damn event." Ed

"I'm afraid I have to decline," the General said softly,
eye straight ahead as usual when he drove.

"What?" Ed yelped. "But I need you! Besides, your popularity
is slipping. Most of the kids in my class hadn't even heard of The Flame Alchemist
and the other half only know you as their Dad's boss."

"My control isn't what it used to be," Roy said a little

"So you've gotten rusty, that's not a problem," Ed said
smoothly. "We can practice in the back yard."

The General's hands worked the steering wheel a moment,
squeezing and rubbing with his thumbs.

"Practice in the back yard isn't going to help, Ed," he
said finally.

"Roy, I need you, you're one of the flashiest alchemists
around," Ed cajoled. "The kids will be very impressed and their parents will
remember you as being The Flame Alchemist, and they are the ones with the money.
You used to light Havoc's cigarettes while they were hanging out of his mouth."
Ed leaned toward him. "I'll help, I'll make it worth your while," he purred.

Roy took a couple of deep breaths and never looked toward
Ed once, keeping his eyes on the road.

"I lit Havoc's cigarettes when I had depth perception,"
the General finally said. "That only comes with two eyes."

Ed blinked in surprise and leaned back. He wasn't quite
sure what to say in that moment. Only now was it occurring to him that since
his time back, he'd never seen Roy practice any alchemy. Surely that was a mistake,
but his memory was known to be pretty accurate. He shifted in embarrassed silence,
now. He, of all people, should have realized this.

"I'm sorry," Ed said after a few moments, "I didn't think,
Roy. I'm really sorry."

"It's alright, Ed," Roy said and smiled. "I'm flattered
you thought of me when planning your exhibition. I'm sorry to have to disappoint
you; I'll make a donation in lieu of my participation, if that's acceptable."

Ed nodded and pulled his bottom lip in, looking out the
passenger side window. Although there had been some initial argument over the
eye patch in bed with them, Ed just accepted it now. It was a part of Roy, he
was particular about it. Ed had given up, for the most part, asking for the
right to see his whole face without the black oval covering most of his cheek.
A couple of times when Ed had woken first and it had been skewed in the night
as the General slept, he'd tried to ease it over and see what lay beneath it,
but the General was sensitive to touch in that area, probably from the practice
of making sure the patch stayed in place. Ed was always thwarted when he either
rolled over or woke up. It reminded Ed that the General has said that one day
Ed would be allowed to take the patch, but it was not an issue to press right
now, with Roy forcing a smile and staring straight ahead.

"Your driving is fine," Ed ventured, "that requires depth

"It's a little different," Roy said. "I just keep a good
distance between myself and the person in front of me."

Ed nodded and reached over to tangle his fingers in a
uniform sleeve, which that provoked a genuine smile.

"I really wanted to see you dance again," Ed said and
laid his head back on the seat.

"Dance?" Roy said, risking a quick sidelong look at his

"You were always such a showman," Ed said. "You'd spin
and throw your arms out, your butt skirt would flair, it was great," he finished
with a little embarrassed grin. "I always thought you were cool."

Roy laughed and relaxed, his grin fluid and easy.

"The Flame was cool? Isn't that a contradiction?" Roy

"What did I know," Ed returned, "I was thirteen and you
were cool. When you're thirteen, everything is cool."

"Those kids are rubbing off on you," the General laughed.

When they got home, Ed carried dinner to the kitchen while Roy took R.D. out.

When the General came in with his little black and white
shadow, Ed had dinner unpacked, the table set and the tea pitcher in his hand.

"You never told me what you said to that Prince about
me being his personal escort," Ed said. "You told him to stick his head up his
ass, right?"

The General went over and wrapped an arm around Ed's waist,
kissing him soundly.

"Dinner smells great," he said, unbuttoning his uniform
jacket, shrugging it off and hanging it over the back of his chair.

"Roy," Ed said, "you told him where to stick it, right?"
A golden eyebrow rose.

"I'm exhausted, let's discuss it later," the General smiled.
"Don't worry, you don't think I'd order you to do something like that."

Ed smiled, set the pitcher down on the table and slid
into his chair.

"Good," Ed said. "I'm not military anymore at any rate,
and I'd hate to have to kick your ass from here to Xing, along with his."

The General just gave him another smile.

Ed had been predatory since dinner when he'd leaned across
the table, offering noodles on the end of his fork and then just watched Roy
take them. His gaze hovered right at the smoldering point, intense and thoughtful.
It had followed Roy to the living room, where he took up position on the couch
like a big cat, with his chin propped on the armrest. He slowly scratched at
a throw pillow with one of his steel fingers, making a sound that was low and
lingering in the stillness of the room while Roy tried to read his paper. It
was just a hint of annoying, enough to keep Roy glancing in his direction, which
is of course what he wanted. The General began to feel that feeling in the pit
of his stomach. Edward stretched then and rolled onto his back, laying there
where Roy couldn't see his expression. Edward had become very savvy at luring
his prey close enough to strike.

So when he finally stood, stretched and made a production
of shaking out his hair before stalking toward the hallway, Roy tried his best
to resist, knowing this for what it was: a coy dominance struggle in the making.
He wondered what he'd have to do to be allowed to rest tonight and tried to
put off his fate until after the political section, but by then, Edward had
been gone for a good five minutes and when he was left alone at times when he
felt like this, the conquering could be excruciatingly slow. He would feel the
need for vengeance, because his mate was denying him. So, in surrender, the
General abandoned his paper and stood, telling himself to face this fate head
on, because nothing would deter Edward now that he'd made his decision. In this,
his determination was a damning thing to Roy.

He padded slowly down the hallway and his hand hovered
briefly on the doorknob, but he knew it was inevitable. He'd best put in an
appearance. An Edward scorned was a Roy sleeping on the couch later, and he
surely didn't want that. When he pushed open the door, the room was dark and
there was a brief rustle on the bed. Moonlight dabbled in the window, cast crooked
shadows across the floor and hovered nervously at the edges of the sheets.

"Took your goddamn time," a voice growled, low and husky
from the darkness, "I guess I'm losing my appeal now that you can have it whenever
you want."

"Such nonsense," the General whispered, moving into the
room proper, "I'm here and ready for my penance, I know I should have followed
you sooner."

"Not good enough," the voice said, dropping from growl
to mere menace, "if you want to lie beside me, there are things you'll have
to do now."

The General licked his lips, every nerve beginning to

"You know I am your creature, I don't know why you think
I'll object. Tell me what you want, if it's in my power, it's yours," he said

"I hate your clothes," the voice offered.

The General began to remove them, not in hurried, jerking
motions of eagerness, but with a slow slide born of age and grace. He let them
pool, piece by piece, on the floor at his feet until he stood bare, with only
the shadow to clothe him. He lifted his eye and took in the silhouette on the
bed that was sitting up now. When he heard the slide of sheets on bare skin,
his cock stirred and he willed it to be calm yet. This predator took great glee
in signs of weakness, and a quick hard-on was like baring his throat.

"That's better," the voice conceded, "but still not good
enough. I need more than just your naked body, as much as I appreciate it. You
may come and sit on the bed beside me now, but only sitting up, and if I touch
you, you have to be still. Can you do that?" the voice murmured.

"I can do whatever you wish of me," Roy murmured. "You
know you hold my soul as well as my heart," he moved slowly toward the bed.

Golden eyes flashed then, picking up the moonlight as
they traveled his body, causing him undesirable goose bumps, but what was he
to do? He was a helpless thing before this man and he sat slowly on the edge
of the bed beside Ed's knees, waiting to see how accountable Edward was going
to hold him for his actions, for not immediately following the offering made
so blatant in the living room.

"Very good," Edward said. Roy felt him shift and then
there was a cool slide down his back, a metallic finger tracing the edge of
his spine. He couldn't move, he was forbidden to move, so he bit down hard on
his lower lip and willed his mind to focus on that, as the finger stopped at
the crest of his ass and drew a lazy circle.

"You're being so compliant this evening, so obedient.
I wonder what I've done to warrant your very good behavior," Edward's voice
was both punishing and promising. Roy swallowed hard and wondered if he was
allowed to speak. Speech was movement and movement was forbidden, if he did
forbidden things, Edward would get angry and perhaps stop this delightful torture.
He didn't want it to end before it even began.

"Scoot back some and lie down on the bed," Edward's voice
urged him, "get as comfortable as you like, my General," he purred.

Roy scooted back and then slowly lowered himself cross
wise on the bed. Edward had moved his feet helpfully and was now sitting on
his knees, watching hungrily. He reached out when Roy was prone and his flesh
hand hovered above Roy's now obvious erection, but he curled his fingers suddenly
and pulled his hand away.

"No," he said, "no, I'll not touch you yet, at least not
there, or with this hand," and so he slid his metal finger from Roy's navel
to the divot in his throat. Roy fought hard to keep from swallowing and pressing
his body upward to this wanted, hard touch. Edward leaned over him then, his
lips brushing the nub of Roy's nipple. His tongue came out slowly to make a
friend of it and then to make a lover of it. He made his noises that worked
their way through every vein in Roy's body, setting him ablaze, as he could
not set anything ablaze with fire or alchemy. It was sheer hell, lying silent
and unmoving while this man, his lover, his life, touched him and tasted him
and groaned, reveling in his mastery and control. Roy allowed himself a grit
of his teeth at least, he could do it with his lips closed, and he felt the
first trickle of sweat on the back of his neck. He longed to rub it in the sheets
and be rid of it. Finally, Edward took mercy on him, lifting his treacherous,
hot mouth and cold, metal hand, to reach up and push back his heavy, golden
bangs and give a little pant.

Evil child, evil man, as cruel a master as any Roy had
known and the only one allowed to be so close to his very essence.

"I want you to touch yourself," the shadow above him hissed,
"and I want you to make it nice and slow. I want you to show me how much you
like it when I tell you to do these things, I want to hear my name on your lips
as you grip your cock and I want to hear what you want to do to me while you
stroke it," the voice in the velvet blackness instructed. "Can you do that for
me, General?" it questioned.

"I am your creature," he barely got out of his throat,
"if you wanted me to pull my heart out of my chest and give it to you, then
it would be yours..."

Roy reached down, only to have his hand stopped before
he actually touched his turgid cock. The voice returned, haunting and seeking.

"And yet, you hold from me that damn eye patch," it challenged,
"give it to me now, right now, I want it. If you give it to me, I will touch
you and cry your name and do as you ask of me. Let me have it, General," the
demon bargained.

He drew several heavy breaths and closed his remaining
eye tight. Damn him, damn him to heaven, damn him to hell. He knew better than
to ask this! Why was he always like this?! Why did he always make these childish,
irrational demands just when Roy was at his weakest to resist him? Fucking brilliant,
manipulative little shit is what he was, and he learned so at Roy's own feet.
Damn him for this and damn him for making Roy even think of being free of the
patch and being pleasured beyond endurance for doing so. Damn him and love him.
He would eventually have to let him win, but not tonight and maybe not even
while he lived. Edward could have his eye patch at his funeral.

"No," the General grated out. "I refuse," he gasped.

"Have it your way then," the voice was heavy with disappointment
and he knew the golden eyes had watched him intensely, "but you better make
this damn good, General. It better be a show I remember the rest of my days,"
Edward growled.

"Let go of my hand," the General said and Edward released
him, but moved up closer, until his knees touched he General's side.

"Bend your knees and put you feet flat on the bed," Edward
commanded and helpless to him, the General obeyed. He ran his palm down the
length of his cock and curled his fingers over his balls.

Edward's flesh hand rested on his knee and his metal hand
rested on his shoulder. The points of contact they made on his skin burned and
froze, sending agonizing prickles along his nerves. The General pressed his
own balls a moment, before moving his hand back up, trailing his fingertips
up his hardness, to the head and curling them around it, stroking the pad of
his thumb over his slit. He heard Edward take a deep breath and could feel the
heat and intent of Edward's gaze on his hand and his cock as he pressed the
slit, stroking it and swallowing hard. Edward might be his master, his predator
and his conqueror, but he would not just go quietly; he would pull the man down
with him.

He slowly began to slide his curled fingers downward,
splaying his hand at the base, with fingertips over his balls. Then, with slowness
agonizing to himself, he curled his fingers around his cock again and dragged
them upwards. His eye fought hard to make out Edward's features in the gloom,
and he saw the tongue that snaked out to wet Edward's lips as he felt the increasing
press of his fingers. He began the slow torture again: down and back up, his
own breath catching in his throat, an unwanted moan escaping him. Edward was
restless now, shifting on his knees, fighting for his own control, and the General
smiled a wicked smile as he stroked again, down and up. He let his moan come
easily this time, watching it rack raw over Edward's body. The younger man cringed
from it and pressed Roy's knee further to the side.

Roy's free hand was flattened on his stomach and it too
moved downward slowly, fingers dragging though dense, black curls that lay tight
and rough above his cock. He tilted his knees even further apart without the
pressure of Ed's hand, and his second hand passed his first, sliding beneath
his balls to lift them. He raised his head to watch his own handiwork and Edward
better, but Edward had no glance to spare for his face. His lips were parted
now, he was riveted and so the General began to move faster and moan louder.

Up and down, both hands pulled and squeezed. He lifted
his hips, tilted back his head and he opened his mouth, "Edward, ah god, Ed,
sweet god..." he closed his eye, "ah Edward, so good like this..."

Edward's fingers tightened almost painfully on his shoulder,
the hand on his knee began to move its palm in a circular motion on his kneecap
and his breathing was becoming erratic.

"Do you know what I want to do to you?" the General husked,
"You should know, I always want to do it to you. I love to hear you scream,
I love to see you claw the sheets. You're so fucking beautiful when I'm fucking
you," the General growled. "I know you want me on you this instant, this second.
Tell me I lie," he hissed.

Edward swallowed and Roy felt a definite tremble though
his fingers.

"Not a lie," Ed whispered raggedly.

Roy tightened his grip and picked up his pace.

"If you don't release me, I can't do that," the General
crooned, "if you leave me like this, imagining you and jerking myself raw, I
can't fuck you. You want me to fuck you, don't you?" he coaxed.

"Damn you, stop it, I want... I want... this... not you..."
Edward fought him, he always fought him.

"No, you want me, you want me inside you. Release me,
Edward," the General persisted, "or I'm going to come before I get to satisfy
you," he growled.

Ed threw his head back and Roy looked at Ed's own cock
at attention. Edward struggled with himself, grimacing as he pushed and pulled
on Roy's knee hard. Roy never let up his pace, in fact he increased it, and
no longer tried to school his pants or groans.

"AH! God, I'm close," he managed to get out, "and I'm
imagining you now. It's good like this. Better inside you, but I can do it like
this to your image..." the General gasped.

Edward's hands left his shoulder and knee, grabbed Roy's
hands on his cock and balls, and pulled them, "Let GO," he commanded in a snarl.
Roy obeyed immediately, chest heaving, swallowing hard.

"Get the fuck on ME," Edward commanded, unfolding himself
and falling to his back, spreading his legs wide, "Do it NOW," he howled.

Roy chuckled low and wicked, heaved himself up right and
crawled between Ed's legs. He stretched over him for the oil on the bedside

"NOW," Ed's hands gripped his hips hard, but Roy would
never be tempted to harm him, even at his insistence, so Edward was forced to
buck and writhe to three fingers for a few moments while he was prepared.

Then the General sat up on is knees and slid his hands
behind Edward's. He lifted, folded and hooked them over his shoulders, then
his own trembling hands guided himself against Edward's cleft. He dragged out
the moment, sliding the swollen head of his cock down the slope; Edward screamed
and railed at him, but the power struggle had been lost.

Roy wasn't a General for nothing.

He gained entrance and then pushed slowly, feeling his
lover relax all around him, accepting him. It was as it always was: bliss beyond
knowing and he began to pump. One hand raised and gripped Edward's knee, the
other hand lowered and gripped Edward's cock, and Ed threw his arms out to his
sides (it was just his habit to do this; he did it ever time Roy rode him)
as he slammed his head over and over into the pillow.

CAN'T I WIN?!" he howled and writhed and sobbed.

"Simple," Roy snarled, "Age before beauty, you know the
rules," the General growled.

He rode Ed with an ever increasing pace and the blond
howled insults, sobbed endearments and came all over his own stomach, dragging
the General over with him. When they both lay panting in the aftermath, Edward
shoved at him, then clung to him, and Roy grinned before soon falling asleep.

Roy sprung it on him the next morning when they were on
the thoroughfare and Ed couldn't get away.

"I think it's a very good idea for you to show the Prince
around the city," the General said. "Take him to lunch, you'd be doing me a
great favor."

"WHAT?!" Ed exploded. "I hardly think so, if you like
him so much, YOU do it," he snarled.

"He was quite adamant that he wanted you to escort him,"
the General continued calmly. "I did offer him Havoc, and Havoc will back me
up on that, but he insisted on you."

"You can't order me to do it," Ed hissed. "So I have to

"No, I can't and I wouldn't..." the General said and gave
Ed a sidelong glance.

"But..." Ed inserted for him.

"The Dean will," the General said solemnly.

"YOU FUCKIN' BASTARD," Ed shrieked. "You set me up! Your
own lover! You offered me to that Xingian bastard like offering a crying baby
a rattle! I can't believe this! OH you are so not getting any for a LONG, LONG
time!" Ed shook his fist in Roy's direction. "I hope you enjoyed last night,
and you just... you fuckin' did that to me knowing you were going to do THIS
to me," Ed slammed himself back against the seat. "I hate you," he spat.

They pulled up in front of the academy. Ed snatched his
briefcase up off the floorboard, unbuckled his seat belt and the General gripped
his arm, yanking him close.

"You bastard," his lover growled.

"But a bastard you'll still give tongue to," the General
said and kissed him, then let him escape through the open car door.

The Professor glanced up from his desk to see the class
looking toward the door, so he looked too. His face darkened with a scowl.

"Hello," the Prince said. "I've come to see your credentials
as an instructor."

The Professor jumped up from his desk and opened his mouth,
but managed to rein himself in at the last possible second. Instead, he stalked
toward the grinning man in the Xingian robes and pushed him out the door.

"Daniel," the Professor said. "I need to speak to this
gentleman in the hall. I expect everyone to be quiet and continue their
studying while I do so."

Then the Professor went out the door and pulled it shut
with a little slam.

"Great," Daniel sighed. "Make me the snitch."

"You can't just come walking into my class," Ed said low
and heatedly in the hall. "I'm working and my students do not need to be disturbed."

"I wasn't disturbing them," the Prince smiled. "I was
merely observing. It was several moments before any of them saw me. Tell me
what you teach." He grinned merrily and clasped his hands behind his back.

"I teach alchemy," Ed started. "Wait a minute. How did
you even get in here and where is your visitor's badge? You can't just wander
the halls as you like, we have rules! Don't they have rules where you come from?"

"Well they do," Ling said. "But I make them. I rarely
follow them, rules are so constricting, don't you think?"

Ed started to open his mouth, but that is when he noticed
the woman. Slight and lovely, her black hair was pulled behind her head in a
tight ponytail. Her ornate robes were black like the prince's, but embroidered
heavily in black thread with whirling pattern of dragons. Ed gaped at her; he'd
neither heard her approach nor even realized she was there to begin with.

"This is one of my retainers," the Prince said. "Her name
is Ran Fan. This is Edward Elric," he said, turning slightly to the woman.

She gave Edward a formal, half bow, then looked up at
the Prince.

"Your Highness," she said softly. "You shouldn't be wandering
away on your own. I ask you humbly to return with me to our rooms."

"Edward Elric is taking me to lunch," the Prince announced.
"You may come too."

"Very well then," she said. "I will be most glad to escort
you and the Professor."

"Wait a minute," Ed said waving his hands back and forth.
"I didn't say anything about taking anyone to lunch! I'm a busy man; I have
an event to coordinate!" He liked the word 'coordinate', it sounded more important
than 'plan'.

"You can do that after lunch," the Prince said. "It is
your very much pleasure to take us to lunch," Ed was informed. "We were informed
it would be so."

Ran Fan nodded agreement to her Prince's words.

Roy Mustang was going to pay for this, yes he was. He
was going to pay and pay and pay. When he was through paying? He'd pay some

"Fine," Ed hissed. "I'll meet you on the front steps at
noon. Now excuse me, I have a class to teach," he emphasized.

"I'll help you," the Prince said, moving to follow him
in the door. "Your students could benefit greatly from the tutorage of a Prince."

"No," Ed said. "You can't help me. I mean, I don't need
your help. Just go with..." but Ed stopped because the woman was gone.

Ed turned a complete circle, but it was almost as if she
had never been there. He looked at the Prince with his mouth hanging open.

"There are many things we can teach each other," the Prince
said. "I will allow you to introduce me to your students; I will even allow
them to speak with me."

Ed scowled and yanked the classroom door open, stomping
in. The Prince followed behind and pulled the door shut.

Alphonse cleaned out his desk slowly. He lingered over
the task far longer than necessary and for the briefest of moments he considered,
just considered, asking the Colonel to extend his contract another year.

The military was, in many respects, like his family. They
were always there for him and they had provided for him in his time of need.
They had made his life neat and orderly and efficient.

The thought of being truly on his own was rather alien
to Al. He had been part of a unit, whether it was he and his brother, or he
and his fellow officers, for all his life. He considered himself a bit of a
hypocrite, alternately wanting to be on his own, but still wanting to be watched
over in some aspect. Well he had Ed for the 'watch over' part. His elder brother
did it with zealous glee and wouldn't deprive him of that.

At the end of next week, he would be on a train for Central.
He was being accompanied by the Colonel, who was attending the birthday party
his brother and the General were throwing, so he was at least glad for that.
Getting to ride on the train with the Colonel was a wonderful bonus. It was
probably the best birthday present he could have, inadvertently delivered into
his lap by said Pirate and brother.

Ed had sounded frazzled on the phone last night. He had
spilled out all his extra duties at school and his sudden cultural attaché
assignment. He apologized repeatedly that the 'Xingian mooching bastard' would
be at his party, but Al had assured him it was quite alright and that he even
looked forward to meeting an actual Prince. Ed had just groaned and said that
was playing right into that 'insufferable sneaky Xingian bastard's' hands. From
the way Ed complained about him, it sounded a lot like Ed complaining about
the Pirate. Ed must like the man and be in complete denial about it. He never
surrendered gracefully to friendships; the person wishing to be his friend had
to beat him into it.

Despite the fact that he would be a free man in a week
and a half's time, Alphonse still had a lot of projects on the table. He and
the Colonel had already decided which of the projects he would be hired on to
finish and which he would turn over to Parkerson in the labs department. They
were really all his pets and he didn't like the fact he had to give some of
them up, but that was a sacrifice to his freedom. Freedom never came cheaply.

Nothing had ever come cheaply, to be honest. It was just
as well. He stood up and carried the file folder box out of his tiny office
and down the hall to the big office, bringing it over to Pharr who was sitting
at the big table. He lingered in front of the mail cabinet.

"We're going to miss you around here," Pharr said. "It
won't be the same."

"Don't say that," Al said. "I'll still be working here,
it's not like I'll be gone for good."

"It's only a matter of time," Pharr said. "You're too
smart to cool your heels around this old office. There are plenty of opportunities
and new ventures waiting out there for the likes of you. You'll be eighteen,
sir, that's a big time in your life."

Al smiled at the man and sat down across from him.

"But there is one good thing about it," Pharr said, grinning.

"What's that?" Al asked.

"I can call you 'Al'," Pharr laughed.

Ling handed Edward the bill, leaned down and kissed him
soundly on his right cheek. Ed's hand flew up to cover the area, then he scrubbed
it hard with his glove, scowling.

"What the hell was that for!?" he snapped.

"That is a custom in my country, when someone provides
you with a meal," the Prince smiled pleasantly and inclined his head.

"Well that's not how we do things here," Ed groused. "Keep
your foreign lips to yourself... she's not going to kiss me too, is she?" Ed
looked warily at Ran Fan.

"Oh, she can if she likes, I don't mind," the Prince said.

"I do!" Ed exclaimed. "Look, you want to know about Amestris
culture, here's the first clue: don't go around kissing everyone!"

"Really? That's a pity, what an unfriendly culture," the
Prince turned and frowned at Ran Fan. She bowed her head a bit.

"I'm supposed to pay for it all?" Ed asked, waving the
check. "You're a Prince, aren't you rich or something?"

"That may be, but our currency is not accepted here,"
Ling said. "You don't mind, do you?" He tilted his head.

Ed grumbled and fished out his wallet, leaving cens with
ample tip on the table.

"What I mind is filling out a requisition form, because
the state is paying for your mooching ass, not me," he snorted.

They both stood staring at him, the Prince grinning like
a loon and the woman unreadable.

"Well okay then," Ed said. "I'll be going."

"Tomorrow we'd like to try a different restaurant," the
Prince said. "Perhaps a moving picture show. We've heard many good things about
them, haven't we?" he looked again to Ran Fan.

She just nodded solemnly.

"What? What? No, I took you to lunch, " Ed said. "So that's
it. I've got a class to teach and an event..."

"To coordinate, yes I know," Ling said. "What moving picture
show do you recommend?"

"I'm not the one to ask," Ed said. "Ask Havoc, he goes
all the time now that he's got a girlfriend," Ed waved them off. "I'm going
now," he reminded them.

They stood and watched him walk off.

"To what clan do you attribute this custom of a kiss in
thanks for a meal?" Ran Fan said, the corner of her mouth tilting up slightly.

"To the clan of his irresistible charm. You know how I
am with temptation," the Prince returned.

"No, it's how temptation is with you, Highness," Ran Fan
said smoothly. "You are its veritable slave; it's such a disgrace for royalty."

The Prince shrugged easily and tilted his head toward

"What will you do with me?" he asked.

"The same thing I always do with you," she returned. "Follow
you and make sure you don't get killed. As for the other, who am I to question."

"Just think," the Prince said, starting off, Ran Fan falling
into step slightly behind and to his left, "all the other consorts would be
jealous, and they are women."

"You have this disturbing habit to be led by things you
shouldn't," Ran Fan sighed.

"Do I make your life hard?" the Prince asked.

"No Highness, you make it interesting."

Ling smirked and hailed them a cab.