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Better Living Through Alchemy

chapter 20.

He'd given up slamming doors when R.D. came into their lives. It was too many
times the small terrier was on his heels and it could prove painful, so he shut
it firmly instead of slamming it off its hinges... which was what he wanted
to do. He could breathe here, he could think. He could just stand here for a
few moments and sort through all this turmoil and all this rage. It was his
job to think things through; it was his job to put things in perspective. He
reached up and ground the heels of his hands against his temples. It was his
job to make sure Ed got everything he fucking wanted because everything had
been taken away from him. It was his job to be there to protect him, even from
himself. It was his fucking God given right to be Ed's goddamned lover!

He couldn't think here. In the bedroom, it was too close
and he could almost smell him, that fucking prince and his fucking girl-smelling
flowery cologne. He forced his hands down, took several deep breaths and headed
for the bathroom. He reached up and ripped his collar open, stopped in front
of the vanity and leaned his hands on the countertop. He pressed his fingertips
against the counter, pressing harder and harder, bending his fingers, willing
his fingers through it. If somehow he could just will these things inside him
twisting his stomach and guts into knots, he could breathe again, he could figure
this out. He raised his head slowly, looking at himself in the mirror. He didn't
see his eye because he never did; he never looked at himself when he
looked at himself. Instead, he saw a half oval shape of black felt that obscured
half of his face and the string that wrapped around his cheek. He didn't even
look human; he was a void, only half there. He forced his hand up and slammed
his palm against the mirror, covering that half of nothing and by doing so,
he was forced to look at what little remained of the man.

"He said he loved me, he told me to trust him,
he said that nothing was going on!" It ended on a half shout and he lashed out,
throwing his arm the length of the vanity, sweeping everything before it in
uncontrollable fury. A bottle of tonic and cologne scattered before his wrath,
the porcelain shaving mug and its brush bounced off the back tile and skittered
to the edge, toppling toward the tile floor. He made a halted motion to save
it, then he just watched. It struck on its handle and it snapped off easily,
flying in a different direction. It was heavy porcelain and the main cup didn't
break, but a large chip shattered at the lip and skittered behind the toilet.
The brush rolled away, coming to rest in a crevice of tile and grout.

It was broken. It was all broken and shattered. He felt
blind and he felt sick and he grabbed at his temples again, fingers threading
into his hair there and pulling. What was he supposed to do? What if it all
fell apart? He gritted his teeth, squeezing his eye shut. His knees felt beyond
his control and he stumbled back a step, then turned quickly and sat on the
toilet seat, struggling for air. It was so thick in there and so close.

I thought I had found, for all my life, I thought this was what I was waiting
for. What do I do NOW?

It was unlike himself; he had no answers.

What good is any of it? I thought I could make it right,
make it safe, make it the way it was supposed to be. I thought he would understand!

I knew him, but I didn't.

He's supposed to love me! He was the only one, I thought...
but that doesn't matter now, does it? He's a liar! He can't be a liar; he wasn't
supposed to be the liar! Why doesn't he know this? Doesn't he know what he is
to me?

Maybe you've shown him, but he's as blind as you.

He came to me! He came to my home, he pushed his way
in! I tried to tell him, he said he was willing! But he was a boy, he wasn't
a man, he only thought he was! Did you know that? Did you see inside of him
what he would become and did you want to use that?

Maybe it's been me all along.

His eye was stinging. He shoved his hand over it and leaned,
his forehead came in light contact with the edge of the vanity. The edge hurt,
but he stayed there, letting it support him because he no longer lacked the
will to support himself.

What did you expect?

He wanted to claw at his ears, but if he did that, he
would have to show his face, his miserable ruin of a face. Ed had been fifteen;
how could he show his face to anyone? They would look at him and they
would know. He was a scavenger, preying upon the pain and confusion of children.
In his hunger he consumed innocence, but Edward was never innocent, not really.
A child with eyes that jaded couldn't possibly be innocent.

Because you never gave him a chance to be.

The half cry startled him in the quiet of the bathroom.
He bit down hard on his lower lip to keep it in.

I am the bastard, there is no excuse. I can't say I
had to be, that I needed to do what had to be done. I can't deny that I hungered
for power and looked for any avenue to gain it, and in you walked, all spit
and fire and determination. How could anyone resist? But still, it's no excuse.
I wanted you; I took you and made you mine. I kept you at my side, I kept everyone
else away. I wanted to own you...

But it didn't quite work out that way.

What is it? What is it that you see there when you
look at him that you don't see in me? What can I do, what can I say? I have
no pride!

He slid back with a jerk and his back connected with the
wall on the opposite side of the toilet, he straightened up, turning his hidden
face to the ceiling.

Please, make it stop, make that the final kindness.
I can take everything else, if only you'll make it stop and when you go, take
all that you are with you. I'm nothing without motivation, Riza tried to tell
me. I took your life from you; I took your choices and your innocence, but it's
equivalent exchange, because I gave you mine in return.

He dropped his hands into his lap, his head still resting
against the tile, his eye still trained on the ceiling. He was called fire,
but really he was just an ember waiting for the air to breathe him to life.
He'd had it and lost it and found it again; he really was a lucky bastard, but
never in the ways that really mattered. He knew why it was hard to breathe in
this small place; because what had made it bearable was slowly ebbing away.

"Blow me out," he informed those who were listening, those
where were watching his fall, "Before you go, it's the only descent thing to
do."

His place in hell was assured.






I didn't do anything wrong!

The closing of the bedroom door jarred him into action.
He pushed off the wall and stood panting in the hallway, clenching and unclenching
his fist, wondering at this strange reaction. Why did he feet so unwelcome in
a place he'd come to know as his home? He started up the hall and stopped, turned
back toward the living room, but there were no answers there. Where was he supposed
to go? Roy was in the bedroom, what was he supposed to do?

I did nothing wrong!

He had every right to go anywhere he liked in his home,
he wasn't a stranger here! He lived here; he and Roy and R.D. He turned back
up the hall, then back to the living room; he literally turned circles looking
for a way out of somewhere he never wanted to leave.

You smell like him.

He found his hands on his neck, rubbing. He brushed at
his shirt and his sleeves. He whirled and strode up the hall, marched straight
to the bedroom door and reached for the knob. The tale tell click of claws on
hardwood told him R.D. had decided to follow him, but the little terrier stopped
a bit away and tilted his head.

"I'm going in there," he told the dog, "He can't stop
me. I live here, too."

There was noise from inside the room, muffled by the door
and sounding far away. It sounded like something breaking and he jerked his
hand back before it touched the knob. R.D. danced back a bit in alarm; he must
have heard the noise as well and he wagged his stub of a tail once in uncertainty
when Ed looked at him.

I wasn't really kissing him! He kissed me and it was...
I told him that I loved you... no, I said you loved me.

He cupped his hands over his nose and breathed deeply.
All he could smell was salt and oil and sweat.

I wouldn't have done anything, I swear! I didn't ask
him to like me, I don't know why he liked me the way he did. It didn't make
any sense; I'm loud and obnoxious, rude and tactless. People don't like me!

Only he did, better than he should have.

I didn't know that other people would like me that
way, it's only been you. No one but you!

He scrubbed his hands up and down his face, then jump
and held his breath. He thought he heard a noise from the bedroom again, but
if he had, it didn't sound again.

Open the door, shout at me, hit me; I don't care. I
live here too, you can't just shut me out like this...

He should go in there; he could say he thought he heard
a scream or that he heard something break. Those were good reasons, but he didn't
need reasons because he lived here and this was his home. He felt a brief
surprise at the feeling of fear blossoming in his chest.

He wouldn't make me leave. He couldn't, this is my
home.

Who was he trying to convince?

He listened hard, almost but not quite pressing his ear
to the door, but there was nothing now. He hated the sounds coming from that
room, the room where he should be but wasn't, but he wanted to hear them again
so he'd have his excuse.

When they didn't come, he retreated down to the room at
the end of the hall. This was Al's room, no matter where life took his brother
now; this would always be his room.

Save me.

Shameless; utterly and completely without shame. Don't
get him involved in this, don't mess up what he's got; let him have his good.
You can take it, you can take it, you've lived through worse.

When I thought I'd never come home and never see him
again...

And now here it is again, with only himself to blame.

We didn't do anything! He never touched me like you,
he never felt like you. I don't even know why he liked me.

The room was dark, only illuminated by the light from
the end of the hall and he moved into it, half heartedly pushing at the door
to close it. He stood beside the bed and he sat on the edge. It was strange
to be so empty and blank. He put his elbows on his knees and lowered his face
into his hands.

I didn't mean to let him kiss me the way he did, I
just didn't know what to do. He liked me and it was exciting. I wanted to ask
you about it, but I was afraid and then I was alone. If you love me so fucking
much, why am I the last person you think of anymore? You just know I'll be here
waiting? Is that loving someone, taking them for granted like that? I'm sorry!
He paid attention to me and the only person who ever paid attention to me like
that was you.

He was sure his automail joints where leaving impressions
on his cheek, so he dropped his hands and just leaned back until he was prone
on his brother’s bed.

He'd done it again, his own special brand of 'fuck-up-your-life'
alchemy. It came so easily to him it was a wonder he practiced the other type
at all. He stared toward the ceiling, not really being able to focus on it in
the darkness.

If he tells you to get out, will you go? Or will you
be that pathetic puppet you think he's made you into?

He knew the answer to that, his brows dipped down in the
center and he pressed his lips together tightly.

I don't want to go, I'm sorry! I wanted to tell you,
but you started shouting and I couldn't help it, I really didn't do anything!

He brought his hands up to his face again, laying his
fingers over his eyes, resting his palms on his cheeks.

So you’ll go back to that? Listen to yourself...
'I'm sorry!' Just like a fucking blubbering twelve year old. That's all I've
ever been to you, someone to garner apologies from. I'm always doing things
to apologize for; I'll just jot this one down on the list. 'Ed screws up the
only good thing he's ever had for himself.' That fits nicely with all my other
inadequacies. Fuck, fuck, FUCK. What do I do, Al? What do I do?

He waited in the dark for Al to give him the answers,
but Al was busy elsewhere and he was left to his own devices.

What is it that I've done? Why are you leaving me behind?
I'm not who I used to be, I can't stand still and run in place while you go
out to rule the world. I don't want to rule, I don't to follow; I just want
to live here with you. We have a chance, don't you see? Wasn't that enough pain
and terror for a lifetime? Why do you want more?

He turned onto his side, pulling his knees up toward his
stomach, the warm and cool of his hands resting over his face. He heard the
slight creak of the door hinges; he must not have shut it all the way. There
was a click-click across the floor and then a slight indention on the bed behind
him. One circle, two... then the little dog curled up, his side coming to rest
against Ed's lower back.

We love you! Why isn't that enough for you? Me and
Al, we made you our family because you didn't have any. Why wasn't that enough
for me? You gave me reasons to be who I am; good reasons. You gave me thirteen
little boys who have shown me that people do like me. Why couldn't I be content
with that?

R.D. gave a sigh and a snuffle. For a moment there was
the briefest touch of a cold, wet nose he could feel through his shirt, then
it was gone.

You love me; I said that to his face but I never told
him I loved you. Without you, why am I here? What's left for me? I didn't say
it because I didn't think I had to, it didn't matter if it was spoken aloud
because I knew and that was enough. He liked me and I wanted him to, I wanted
the attention because you never look only at me. I'm never the only thing on
your mind. Who told you to rule the world? Who said that's what you had to do?

He curled up tighter, wanting nothing more than to feel
nothing, but he'd never been good at that.

I just want what everyone else has, my home and my
family. Why is that such a selfish wish for me? Why is that always taken away?
I didn't attempt alchemy to have love this time. I was happy to take what I
could get, but something is wrong with me because I'm never content.

He opened his eyes behind his fingers.

And neither are you. We have to learn to be content
with what we have and I have to practice what I preach. I think I'm such a good
teacher, but in the end I'm a very lousy student.

Don't make me go.

I love you.


He wasn't aware he'd gotten up and moved until he was
once again standing in the bedroom proper. He reached up to finish pulling off
his shirt and let it drop to the floor, not bothering to toss it near the hamper.
He was so tired and he just didn't want to think anymore. There was nothing
more to think about, nothing left to drag himself over the coals for. He was
what he was and apparently it wasn't enough. He turned and sat down on the bed,
took off his boots and just sat like that for a while, looking at the pattern
on the throw rug beside the bed.

I've never had a selfless thought in my life, have
I? There's always been some ulterior motive, hasn't there? Everything I thought
I knew, thought I believed in... that was nothing.

When he had lived his life alone, holding everyone around
him at arms length, these questions were easy to ignore.

Even as you move ahead, you leave me better in your
wake. I should have known I wouldn't be able to hold your attention forever.

What was there to pride when there was nothing to be proud
over? He didn't want to rule the country for such a paltry thing, but it was
interesting how the same emotion could have two such distinct meanings. Pride
was nothing without power and even in power, he wanted nothing to do with pride.
But just let someone mention to him how outstanding the young alchemy professor
was, let them say he was a gifted addition to the academy staff. He had enough
pride then to move mountains and he didn't deserve it.

He is responsible for his own accomplishments. Even
if the position was of my making, I had nothing to do with it. He took it out
of my hands long ago, made it much more than it would have been otherwise. He's
brilliant, he doesn't need my help.

And he doesn't need my company.

And he doesn't need my love, because he can find that
on his own.

He doesn't need me.

What do you expect? I don't know, because in my eagerness
to be something you could be proud of, I lost sight of the reason I was doing
it in the first place.

Here I am, trying to lay everything at your feet again.

Save me.

Don't go.

I love you.


Why was taking responsibility for Al's life so much easier
than taking responsibility for his own? Now Al had handed him back his obligation,
he was the only one who has truly left his past behind for the promise of his
future.

Teach me, please. Show me how to do it, I don't think
I can. For every step I take forward, it feels like there is a current pushing
me back. It's so close I can taste it, but I can't get my hands on it. Push
it toward me.

A pathetic, selfish child, wanting everything handed to
him. Why? Because you worked so hard to get it all back? Does that make you
any more deserving of a handout than anyone else? You forgot who put you into
that position in the first place.

There are no excuses.

If I hold on with the automail, it will never get tired
and I can hold on forever.

If he created my life, then I let him. If he was the
only thing I've known, it's because that's how I wanted it to be. If he is the
master of my fate, I can think of crueler ones. I didn't do such a good job
at handling my own fate, did I?

He is my family, as much as Al.

He is my lover.

I don't need anyone else.

I don't want anyone else.

I have to tell you.

He uncurled, pushed himself up with his hands. R.D. jumped
up and watched him slide off the bed.

"Wish me luck," he said with a small smile at the little
dog, "I'm going to need it."

R.D. cocked his head and wagged his tail and Edward took
that as a true sign of a dog's good wishes. He opened the door and slipped into
the hallway, it was mere steps to stand outside the door to the rest of his
life. He curled his fingers, raised his hand to knock, but stopped before he
did.

What he had to say, he wasn't going to ask permission
to say it; that's not how he worked.

I don't have to lose myself to be with him. He accepts
me as I am... he always has. You'd think someone trying to run my life would
try to teach me better manners.

He grabbed the knob with his automail hand and twisted,
he could break the lock if he had to, but it wasn't locked and he pushed it
open. The door swung back on its hinges and stuck the wall behind it loudly.
They both jumped and stared at each other, Ed in his rumpled shirt and trousers,
Roy in his bare chest and military issue pants.

All that needed to be said hovered between them. A mere
few yards of words lie between what life was now and what it was going to be.
He'd traveled so many places before; he'd traveled to find that thing that would
make everything right again. He'd done it all before, he could do it all again.

"I don't want him!" it burst out of him. If he tried to
do this rationally, if he tried to be in control of what was pushing and shoving
to be heard, he wouldn't be able to tell him what he needed to hear.

"I love you, I don't want anyone else, I was telling him
that. I was letting him down easy because he is my friend and I wanted to keep
him as my friend. I let him kiss me; it wasn't the first time, but I never let
him touch me. That is only for you. He never touched my body, he never touched
my soul, he only touched my lips. I never let him in, there is already something
in here," he slapped his automail hand on his chest, "It's been there for a
long time, I'm not giving it up! You can't make me give it up, no matter what
you say. I love you, I fucking love you. That is enough for me; I'm going to
learn to take my own advice. I came all this way and I'll be damned if I'm going
back. You don't have to believe me; you don't have to trust me. I did stupid
things, but you should be used to that. I'm not asking you to excuse me, I'm
just asking you to think about it. Maybe trust me again? You can tell me what
you need to; I'll listen to anything you have to say, but while you are saying
it, I'll still love you," he trailed off then, suddenly feeling conspicuous
there in the doorway, begging for his life in a wrinkled shirt.

He waited for what seemed like forever and then the General
stood and walked toward him. He wasn't going to run this time; he was going
to hold his ground. He felt his muscles lock and his eyes widen as the General's
hands cupped his cheeks, slid back into his hair, then dropped to his shoulders.
The General's arms went around his back and pressed his chest to his own. Ed’s
chin was tilted up, resting on the General's shoulder. He wasn't sure if putting
his arms around him was what he should do, but he wanted to, so he did it anyway.

There were no words because after a few moments, none
were needed. The words were all done now. He felt the General's chest hitch
against his, he felt the press of the General's finger tips as he rubbed his
hands slowly up and down Ed's back. He felt the scrap of fabric as his untucked
shirt rode up and down his flesh. After a while, a few words came and he closed
his eyes.

"I'm so sorry," Roy whispered just behind his ear, "Did
I make you feel like that? Did I make you feel like you needed to look for something
else?"

"Maybe, but I shouldn't have. I think I was afraid. Sometimes
you are so hard to talk to. I know you are only trying to make the world right,"
he said whisper quiet himself, "I know better than to be selfish, at least I
should know better."

He knew, he knew! Roy let go of a sound that made
Ed's arms tighten around him.

"What? What did I say?" Ed's voice rose a bit. He went
up on his tiptoes and hooked his chin harder over Roy's shoulder. "What are
we doing? What are we going to do? You can't bring me this far and abandon me
now, I won't let you. I need you, you need me. We're just stuck like this, we
can't help it."

Ed made an almost squeak when Roy buried his face in the
side of his neck. His fingers worked worried circles next to Roy's spine.

"Why aren't you saying anything?" Ed pleaded, "You always
have something to say. You never let me just say what I want... I mean you do,
but you always have something to say back."

Roy shook his head, face still hidden. He couldn't speak
because it wouldn't be intelligible anyway. Ed was wound up enough without adding
anything to it. He was always thrived in strife; his guilt machine was well
oiled and fine tuned. He always waited eagerly for the next order of business
to feed into the fire in its belly, Roy would not be fuel.

"Roy," Ed appealed, "Just say something; I need to hear
you say something."

I will give you anything.

"I'm so glad you fucking love me," he managed, mumbled
against Ed's shoulder.

"You still believe me?" Ed's voice dipped low, "Even after
that, you believe me?"

I have to, because if I don't, I'll come apart.

"You know I do, I really do," Ed's voice gained volume
again, "I'm not as good at saying it like you are, I don't know how to make
it sound sincere like you do. I fail at being romantic; I'm not stupid enough
to think I don't, but I mean it, even if I can't say it like you need to hear
it. You need to give me some slack about it, you know what I mean," his voice
was dropping again into that embarrassed mumble he had mastered so well.

Roy nodded into his shoulder. Ed smelled like oil and
sweat; he smelled good. He began to back up, tugging Ed with him. He reached
out and snagged the door, checked the doorway for a wayward terrier, then he
shut it. Ed allowed himself to be turned and backed to the bed. He allowed himself
to be pushed over and when the General crawled up beside him and pulled him
close like a living rag-doll, he made no objections. In fact, he clutched back
on his own and tangled his brown covered legs with blue ones.

Ed watched the General look at him as they lay facing
one another, almost nose to nose.

"If you tell me to stop, I will," the General said, "I
am your creature and I lost sight of that. I didn't mean to, I took you for
granted. You are the one thing in my life that should never be taken from granted.
Not when you were taken from me so easily and you came back. How did I lose
sight of that? I shouldn't be asking you, I should know the answers myself,"
the General reached up and wound his fingers into Ed's bangs, rubbing them between
his fingers.

"No, it's okay, you can ask me," Ed said, "I want you
to ask me, I want to help and I want to know what's going on in your fat head.
We're both dick-heads, but if we can at least understand each other, then we
can warn the other one when they are doing the dick-head thing... or not," Ed
bit his lip.

The General laughed and when he did, everything, all of
it, just flew away. It was just Roy and it was just Ed and they were at home,
lying around on the bed.

He was at home, with his lover who was also part of
his family.

"I agree, we are both dick-heads, so what are we going
to do about it?" the General asked.

"I don't know, I don’t think it's something we can
really change," Ed said, "But at least we know it."

There was a little bit of silence then, but at least it
was companionable. Roy's hand moved along his side and his forehead came to
rest against his own.

"Thank you," Ed said suddenly, "I mean, for letting me
be who I am, even if it's not what you might want me to be. Besides Al, you're
the only one I give a damn about accepting me. Gah, I hate feeling embarrassed
about saying shit like this to you, I shouldn't be because we're lovers and
we're family. At least I can say this shit to you, I'm glad you didn't make
me leave."

The General jerked and Ed was once against pulled to his
chest. Whenever he tried the mushy stuff, Roy always got like this. It was embarrassing
and it was the most fucking wonderful thing ever.

"Time to come clean, since you are really putting me to
shame here," Roy said, his voice a little funny, "I was terrified you were going
to come in here and tell me you were leaving. I didn't know what I would do,
I really didn't. I can't think of my life without you in it," the General's
hug was tight and good. He was saying mushy stuff and it was okay, it was better
than okay.

"I thought you'd want me to leave," Ed said. It felt so
good to just talk about it, if they could just get it out and over with and
be done.

Roy just shook his head. Ed could feel the movement of
it buy his chin brushing back and forth across the top of his skull.

"No, you're stuck with me," Roy said, his voice still
slightly off, "If you had left I think I would have come and gotten you. I think
we would have had to flee the country because I'm sure roasting a Xingian to
death is some kind of crime."

Ed felt a wicked little thrill all up his spine and down
his chest and it settled in his crotch. It was a guilty sort of joy and he smiled
because the General couldn't see him. He was jealous! He was jealous
and that was great. Really, that was just the best thing Roy could have said...
ever.

"You like that don't you," Roy's voice no longer sounded
funny, "You're grinning like a loon, I can tell. All I have to do to make you
happy is mention murdering someone who has no fucking business touching you
in the first place?"

Damn it, why did he always know what was running
through Ed's brain. How did he fucking do that? All those times he claimed he
couldn't read minds? He was a fucking liar. Ed couldn't reward such blatant
lying.

"No," he said drawing it out, "I really wish you wouldn't
kill the Prince and make us both fugitives. I like this house, it has big closets."

"Again with the closets," the General sighed, "So, what
are you going to do about him?"

Ed went still; this must be some sort of test. Well, maybe
he deserved it and maybe his answer is something they both needed to hear.

"I won't see him anymore if you don't want me to," he
said, and it hurt because, damn it all he did like the scheming fucker, "I told
him we could just be friends and I told him if he didn't want that I would never
see him again. I really told him that, Roy."

"I know you did," the General murmured, "It's a hard call,
Ed. I don't want you to see him and that's my honest answer, but this is give
and take you know. If you don't want me to run for Prime Minister, you can tell
me that, too."

"I don't, but when I say that I feel so fucking selfish,"
Ed said quietly.

"Then we feel the same," Roy said, "We have to figure
out what we can live with and what we need to live without. If you want to continue
to see the Prince, I really can't say anything about it. All I can do is trust
you to do what is right, but you seem to be good at that. If you told him you
could only be friends, then that is good enough for me."

"If being Prime Minister is important to you, then ditto.
Only, could you do it less? You're never around anymore... I got lonely," Ed
confided, "Gah, how is it you make me say all this stupid stuff?" He leaned
forward to briefly hide his face against the General's chest.

The General gripped him by his hair and pulled his head
back with a gentle tug.

"I am sorry, you know, you and your brother at the most
important things in my life. I'm going to tell myself that every day so nothing
like this ever happens again. Do you forgive me?"

"Do you forgive me?"

They both took the kiss as a yes.

After that, clothes were shed, blankets were pulled back
and pillows were squashed. The need to touch and be close was almost overwhelming.

"Spring break is coming up," the General murmured against
his Ed's jaw. He peppered kisses there as well.

"Yeah," Ed said, "Three whole weeks of lying on the couch
in my underwear, I'm looking forward to it." He sighed and tilted his head back
to encourage kissing on his throat. The General was never slow on the uptake
of these hints.

"Let's go somewhere, just you and me. Maybe a lake and
a cabin, what do you think? We'll go away and clear our heads and come back
ready to face the world again."

"What about all your meetings?" Ed asked.

"Screw those," the General said, "I owe you, remember?
Let me make up to you Ed, tell me what you want to do. I'll do it." Ed's throat
worked under his lips.

"Okay then, just you and me. Not even R.D., you think
Havoc would watch him?"

"Better to ask Fuery, who actually knows something about
dogs."

"Right."

"Where am I taking you?"

"Surprise me."

"I think I can do that."

"Am I going to have to take a suit?"

"Why is that your first priority when we go somewhere?
What's wrong with a suit? You look damn good in a suit, it makes me want to
grope the fuck out of you in a dark corner."

"....really?"

"No, I'm just saying that. Yes, especially when your hair
is down. You're sexy Ed, suck it up. I have a hard time with you at functions
because I keep wanting to put my hands and mouth all over you."

The little pleased sound that came from Ed's throat worked
all kinds of chemistry in Roy's stomach. He pressed along Ed's side, drew lazy
circles on Ed's stomach with his fingers.

"You know, you ruined me. I bet there are a lot of women
out there who hate your guts."

"I don't care," the grin was almost blinding, "But listen
to that, damn, think much of yourself?"

"I never went without a date," Roy returned smugly, "Or
without Havoc's dates. I had them lined up at my office door, you saw it."

"Whoop de shit," Ed snorted.

"Jealous?" the General cooed.

"I don't think so! Unlike dick-headed, bastard, slacking
Colonels, I had a job to do! The only reason you had time to even look at women
is because you foisted everything off onto us," Ed pushed at the fingers on
his stomach; they were getting a little ticklish. He pushed them lower to get
them off the sensitive area.

"You were so jealous," the General said, tilted his head
down and caught Ed's earlobe between his lips.

"Was not, stoppit," Ed grumbled without any conviction,
"And even if I was, so what? You're jealous of His Royal Moochery, so we're
even," the note ended smugly.

"Ah, touché," the General said, the tip of his
tongue traveling the rim of Ed's ear.

Ed was smiling to himself and the General noticed when
he left the ear to kiss his temple. This whole painful mess, it has given Ed
something. He cupped his cheek and turned those smiling lips his way.

"Shit works out, huh?" Ed said, meeting his eyes, "When
we first got home I thought the world was ending, but now it's like... almost,
it's starting over."

Roy smiled himself; he stroked the pad of his thumb over
Ed's cheek.

"Hello, my name is Roy Mustang. I'm a General in the army
with a stable job and possible high political position. I'm in love with you,
will you stay around and keep me sane and grounded and let me make your life
good?"

Ed swallowed and licked his lips. He shifted, his cheeks
going pink and his eyes darting away.

"May... maybe. My name is Edward Elric. I'm a Professor
of Alchemy at the military academy. I've seen you around and uh... I'm in love
with you, too. We're both dick-heads, so we should get that right out in the
open so there are no surprises. Do you think I could live here and make this
my home and you my family along with my brother? That's what I really want;
I think you'd be good at it."

Roy pulled Ed over onto his side facing him again, tucked
him up against his chest and Ed pressed himself there, wanting the contact as
much as Roy wanted to give it.

"Yes," they said simultaneously.

Starting over.