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Better Living Through Alchemy

chapter 23.

It was nearly dusk the first time they set foot on the dock at the end of the path that lead to the lake from the cabin; and they almost didn't make it that far. Ed was still flushed and he wrestled the hem of his tank top out of Roy's grasp and pushed the shoulder of it back up.

"We had to get out so the maid could make up the bed and change the sheets," the General purred, hooking his chin over Ed's shoulder. "We can go back in a few minutes, she'll be gone."

"I hope you tipped her really well," Ed muttered, looking out at the lake. "Otherwise we better not show our faces up at that tavern on the main road again."

"I'm sure she's the soul of discretion," the General said, lips adoring Ed's ear lobe. "She didn't see that much."

"You mean that much of you," Ed growled. "Why is there a hook in the ceiling of that cabin and why did you bring a coil of rope in one of your suitcases?"

"Well, it is a honeymoon suite, after all," the General purred.

There were a few more minutes of Roy pawing and Ed squirming before the lake in front of them caught and held their attention. In the late afternoon sun it was a serene shimmer of blue with flashes of light all the way across to the opposite shore. A light breeze rippled the water around the dock and lifted the ends of Ed's messy ponytail. Roy lifted his chin and wrapped his arms around the younger man, and pulled him back to lean on his chest.

Neither seemed willing to speak and break the sudden bubble of calm that surrounded them. So instead, Ed lifted his hand and rubbed Roy's arm around him and Roy nosed the top of Ed's head.

There was a splash somewhere off to their left and Roy turned quickly to look in that direction.

"What do you think that was?" he asked when Ed turned to look as well.

"Just a fish," Ed said, tilting his head back to look up at Roy.

"Oh, right," the General said with a nod. "I guess there are fish here."

"Yeah," Ed said slowly, "what, with it being a lake and all."

"Don't get smart," the General huffed. "Not all of us are hicks like you."

"You know, you think that bothers me, but it doesn't," Ed said airily. "It means that I grew up knowing how to do things on my own and not having someone wait on me hand and foot. That means everything I have I earned and it wasn't handed to me."

"I didn't have anything handed to me," Roy snorted. "I worked hard in school and the academy to get where I am."

"Did you do your own laundry?" Ed asked.

"No," Roy answered.

"Uh huh," Ed nodded. "Did you cook your own meals?"

"No," Roy answered, "But neither did you, Mrs. Rockbell did it."

"Touché, touché," Ed agreed. "Did you have to walk to school, five miles, up hill both ways?"

Roy gave him a wry look and flattened hir motth ouu.

"In the snow?" Ed " continued.

"Did you just age thirty years while we've been standing here?" the General asked.

"Pansy assed city-boy," Ed teased.

Roy gave him a shove, right on the shoulder. It was meant playfully, but Ed teetered to the side, did a sudden flailing of his arms and toppled off the end of the dock into the water.

"Whoopsie," the General said, peering over the end, this wasn't the intent, but Ed should be able to take what he dished out. The water here must be over Ed's head, not a hard feat that, being as Ed was so... diminutive. But when a blond head didn't bob back up to the surface almost immediately, the General got to thinking. Ed should be a good swimmer, having grown up in the country around a bunch of ponds, (filled with weeds, that's why this lake water didn't phase him. Roy always swam in a pool, where you could see the bottom and any sort of thing that might be lurking there to brush against your leg underwater, like Maes.) but then again, Ed hadn't been half steel at the time.

Roy dropped to his knees and plunged his arm into the lake and began to feel around, he'd jump in if he had to, he really would! After a few moments of desperate groping he began to psyche himself up when he heard a slogging sound beside the dock. As he watched the blond head he'd been hoping to grab came into view.

Ed emerged from the depths, one stride at a time and reminded Roy, vaguely, of a b-horror movie he'd seen once about a creature living at the bottom or a lake... or a lagoon, or something like that. When Ed reached the shore he lifted his automail arm straight up in the air. A cascade of lake water rushed out of it, over his face and down his neck. He then sat down on the gangway of the dock, leaned back and lifted his automail leg. Similarly, water rushed out of that appendage as well.

"I'm sorry," Roy said. "I didn't mean to push you in and then I forgot that about the fact you probably can't swim very well being part steel... please don't push me in, these pants are linen, they'll never come clean."

But Ed wasn't looking like he was seeking revenge, in fact, it was just the opposite.

"Wow, Mustang," the Professor said quietly, "that's two for two on the same trip."

"Beg pardon?" Roy said, still fearing for his linen trousers and eyeing the lake water nervously.

"You didn't remember I was half steel?" Ed said, with a funny little lilt to his voice he immediately cleared his throat trying to hide.

"No, I didn't even think about it," Roy said with a shrug. "I thought you'd be a good swimmer, being a bumpkin and all..." he gave a hopeful little teasing grin.

"I think I want to have sex, right here, right now," Ed muttered.

Roy did one of his little turns in confusion, wondering who this was and where Ed had gone. Finally he got out: "With me?"

"Yeah, with you," Ed had already gone all sultry and Roy wondered if there was some better way to see if he was really awake other than pinching his arm. There didn't seem to be, so he did it and proved to himself that he was, indeed, awake and this wasn't some lust addled fantasy.

He watched as Ed climbed up onto the gangway and started toward him. It was a funny feeling, being caught flat-footed. Your lover actually giving into one of your most secret and depraved desires, sex in almost-public. Why, anyone could happen by and see him shagging Ed's brains out on the dock. What would people think? Why would he care? Ed was gorgeous and he didn't get to brag much.

"Let me help you out of these things," Ed purred, sidling right up to him, starting to unbutton his shirt. "You don't look good in this flower shirt anyways."

"They're ferns," Roy muttered dazedly.

"Whatever," Ed said, pushing the shirt open and off Roy's shoulders and starting on his belt buckle. Roy watched him, licking his lips and already stretching the fabric of his briefs.

"I know," Ed cooed, "let's skinny dip, we can do it in the lake."

"Ok," Roy said agreeably, eagerly, and he started plucking at Ed's wet clothes. "If that's what you want, beautiful, that's what you'll get. You know I'm the man that can give you what you need where you need it, I'm always willing to accommodate."

"Roy, I'm horny, not feeling slutty, refrain from the porn novel talk, ok?" Ed said.

Now Ed was ruining the fantasy.

"Don't look at me like that," Ed continued. "I found your stash under the bathroom sink inside the old bromo box."

"And read it," Roy supplied.

"Well yeah," Ed countered, "it was porn after all."

Roy gripped Ed's wet tank top and pulled it over his head, then reached back as Ed undid his zipper and removed the tie from Ed's hair. He toed out of his sandals and stepped out of his trousers when they hit the dock. Ed pushed his shorts down and kicked them aside. Last, but not least, Ed grabbed the waistband of Roy's long briefs and kneeled as he pulled them down Roy's legs. Roy's cock tapped him on the nose and Ed grinned.

"It's always so happy to see me," he said.

"Of course," the General purred. "It always has a good time at your place."

Ed snorted and stood back up, they stood face to face, au natural on a dock, on a lake practically in the middle of nowhere.

Ed tried to climb Roy like a tree. He got his arms around his shoulders, his mouth locked over Roy's and threw his flesh leg up to hook over Roy's hip. Roy staggered backwards under the assault and managed to kiss back. Ed pulled back then and grinned at him, lowered his leg.

"Pants won't get wet now," he smiled.

"What?" Roy asked, flushed and panting a bit.

Ed pushed him off the dock into the lake.


Roy had flailed himself into the shallows, stood panting and looking wounded and betrayed. That had changed to amazement and lust when Ed dropped off the side of the dock to join him there.

"Idiot," his lover mumbled, molding to his side. "I'm still horny."

There was no need to respond with words. Roy half turned and wrapped himself around the shorter man, this time he plundered with mouth and tongue and they rocked back and forth, holding each other in the water. Roy began to push Ed down, but when Ed sat in the lake, it came up to his chin. Shallower shallows were called for and they worked their way toward the shore between trying to tongue each others tonsils.

They sat again, but Ed jumped and squirmed around.

"There's a rock trying to get up my ass!" he complained, so they had to scoot around, (but not to close to those funny weed things underwater, Roy shied immediately from those), to find a good place where they could sit and no stray masonry found it's way into Ed's rump.

Roy straddled Ed's lap, cupping his cheeks and trying once again to suck Ed's tongue out and Ed, for his part made lots of encouraging noises. Ed tried to lift his right hand but struggled with it for a moment and when he lifted it the finger joints and palm of the automail were coated in mud.

"I think I'm sinking," he said.

"Maybe you should have stayed on the rock," Roy panted.

Ed shook his hand furiously which made him rather distracted in returning Roy's kisses.

"Just leave it," Roy encouraged, "when it dries it will be easier to get off."

"It feels weird," Ed complained as Roy abandoned his mouth and headed for the side of his neck.

"How can if feel weird?" Roy murmured there, brushing his lips up and down the muscle that connected Ed's neck to his shoulder. "It's automail, you said it doesn't feel anything."

"Yeah, well," Ed said, "but that doesn't mean it doesn't feel anything."

"That makes no sense," Roy said, sliding his tongue over Ed's shoulder, "either it does or it doesn't, which is it?"

"It's hard to say, I mean you'd think it wouldn't, but then shit gets all jammed up in it and it does," Ed grumbled.

This wasn't working out as planned at all, here Ed was being prissy about the hunk of steel hanging off his shoulder when he should already have his knees up to his shoulders and encouraging Roy to do it like he meant it. So to help that process along, Roy reached between them and helped himself to Ed's erection, wrapping his fingers around it snugly. This helped to shut Ed up about the automail at least. Roy gave a few hearty strokes to stoke the fire so to speak, and all seemed fine until Ed scowled.

"Ow," he said.

"Ow?" Roy returned. This was a new take on encouraging sex noises, but Ed was nothing if not innovative.

"Yeah, ow, hold up," Ed said, reaching to grab Roy's wrist.

"What's the problem?" Roy panted.

"We're in the water, I guess it's washing stuff away," Ed mumbled, eyes darting to the side. "I mean, usually I'm all drippy and uh... you use that when you rub?"

"Oooooh," Roy said. Yes, that made sense, the lake water was robbing Ed of his pre-cum, which could be used as a handy lube substitute in the early stages of stroking Ed to the breaking point. This could be a problem.

"We didn't bring any lube with us," Roy whined.

"No, it's ok," Ed soothed, "I can make some." And he clapped to demonstrate.

"You know the composition of lube?" Roy said, amazed again at his resourceful lover, would Ed's wonders never cease?

"It can't be too hard," Ed reasoned. "It's just slick, clear stuff...like sap!" Ed pointed at a tree right on the shoreline. "I can get some from the roots there." He wiggled out from under Roy and stood to slog through the water toward the tree. Roy would have protested, but the sight of Ed, naked and erect wading toward the shore was quite a sight.

Ed clapped his hands and put them on the bank, probably intending to bring some roots of the tree to the surface. The dirt of the bank broke as the roots supposedly surged upwards. The tree decided to protest this and began to tilt forward.

"Ed!" Roy called, alarmed, but Ed had also seen the predicament and lifted his hands from the ground quickly.

They stood and looked at each other for a moment.

"Ok, it's ok, I can find something else," Ed said and moved up to the bank. He clapped his hands and put them into a patch of weeds growing there, after a moment he was heading back over to Roy with something cupped in his palms. Roy looked down at the offering in Ed's hands when Ed held it out to him.

"Here, take it," Ed said almost bouncing in place. "It's weed sap or something, it should do."

Roy cupped his own palms and Ed let the liquid pool from his hand into Roy's.

"If this is weed juice how do you know we won't have some kind of allergic reaction to this?" Roy questioned, but Ed was already sitting in the water again.

"It's fine! It's not a weed that would make you itch, I know what they look like, come on!"

Ed's wish was generally his command and he saw no reason to buck that now. He kneeled carefully so he didn't spill the liquid in his hands. Ed leaned back in the water, holding himself up on his elbows to keep his head out and lifted his knees. It was a beautiful invitation as far as Roy was concerned, but there was one drawback. Ed's inviting bits were still underwater.

"Now what?" Ed lamented.

"I'm going to put this handful of liquid in the water, what do you think? Get up on your knees and stick your goods into the open air," Roy ordered.

"You're so pushy when you're horny," Ed grinned and flipped over, getting up on his hands and knees. He gasped loudly when Roy's fingers parted him and put his home-made lube to work.

Whatever juice Ed had sucked out of a bunch of weeds seemed to be working. Roy's fingers eased inside just as smoothly as if they'd had the store bought stuff. Roy had always heard of breakfast being better when you were out in the wilds, but never lubricant, this had to be some kind of first.

Ed tried to go down on his elbows, but got a mouthful of lake water for his trouble and Roy wondered if it would be rude not to kiss him until after Ed had a chance to brush his teeth. Ed groaned and gripped the fingers Roy had inside him tightly and Roy decided to leave coherent thought behind.


It was like nothing he'd had before. Oh sure, he'd had Ed before, innumerable times. But never with the breeze through his hair, or the sun on his back or his lover's melodious cry echoing through the trees...

"OW, what the fuck?! Hold up!" Ed cried.

"Buh?" Roy got out, gripping Ed's hips tightly. He listened for further encouragement and was rewarded.

"DAMN, Roy, hold up!" Ed yelled, then surged forward, pulling himself off Roy's cock and out of Roy's grip.

Roy thrust a few more times into empty air, his fingers still crooked as if holding onto something. He seemed to be having some sort of interruption denial. Ed on the other hand was rubbing his butt and giving the General dirty looks over his shoulder. It took Roy a few moments to realize what had happened.

"What? What? What's happened?" he rushed out and made grabby motions with his crooked fingers. "What are you doing?" he asked with wide eyes.

"It hurt," Ed complained. "It was starting to burn... did you use that stuff I gave you?"

"Yes," Roy said breathlessly, "I used it, come back, come back now."

"No," Ed whined. "I think all the water splashing on us washed it away." And to protect himself from Roy still sporadically thrusting hips, he turned around and sat down in the water.

Roy made a throaty sound that sounded almost like a squeaky door hinge, then hung his head.

"I'm sorry," Ed sympathized, "maybe we should wait until we get back to the cabin."

"Wait?" Roy said, head jerking up. "Wait?" He looked down at his erection, then back up at Ed. "Let's just move up onto the bank."

"No," Ed said, wrinkling his nose. "It's gravely and kind of sandy and I don't want sand in unmentionable places, forget it."

"But you said you wanted to have sex," Roy gurgled, "you said you wanted it right here and right now. You're a cock-tease, once a cock-tease, always a cock-tease!"

"It's not my fuckin' fault the lube is water-soluble!" Ed snorted. "I guess maybe I should have realized that seeing as how I made it's composition but I wasn't thinking straight because I was preoccupied with the thought of you riding me like your namesake!"

Roy's eyes almost crossed.

"Don't talk like that when you aren't letting me have any!" he howled. "That's not fair! Cock-tease!" And he pointed at Edward with a shaky finger.

Ed didn't dignify him with a response, instead he showed Roy his tongue.

"Ok fine, that will work!" Roy said with a flail. "Bring it on!"

"Gross fuck no!" Ed countered. "You just had that up my ass, no fuckin' way in hell am I putting my mouth on that, here you can do mine!" And Ed flopped back and threw his legs in the air.

"No, no, no, look I'm washing it off!" Roy grabbed himself and pushed his erection under the water and rubbed it back and forth furiously...he almost didn't stop. "You're the one who wanted sex, I'm the one who made you want it, you blow me!"

"No! You're the one who should be on me like the ripped, blond sex-god you always tell me I am, now get over here!" Ed said and pointed at his bobbing cock.

"Flip you for it!" Roy challenged. But a wade over to the dock to feel around in his pants revealed no change.

"Loser!" Ed taunted from the shallows, legs still up and knees bent.

"We were coming to the fucking lake, I didn't think I'd be paying admission to the Ed-is-a-cock-tease-show so I didn't bring any money!" Roy snarled back.

"You complete ass!" Ed growled and flipped over and began picking up rocks. "Let's just find a little flat rock and use that!"

Roy slogged over to help him look and to make sure Ed didn't find some miraculous double-headed rock he could cheat with. They both picked up rocks and threw the rejects off into the lake. And picked and threw and picked and threw.

After a bit they were sitting side by side in the shallows tossing rocks they pulled up with their toes deeper into the water.

"The maid should be gone by now," Roy said, watching Ed examine a rock he'd manage to pry up with his automail toes.

"Probably," Ed said distractedly, then dismissed the rock and gave it a toss further out.

"You could probably throw it further with the automail," Roy said, pulling up his knees and resting his chin on them.

"Nah, not really," Ed said. "I'm a lefty by necessity, and I've gotten good at it. When I try to throw with the automail I throw like a girl."

"We can do it twice tonight for missing out on sex in the lake," Roy offered. "We could use the rope again."

Ed looked at him and snorted.

"What do you mean twice to make up? We did it twice before we came down here, I think it will be ok to skip this session. Did you just bring me out here to fuck me at every opportunity?"

"It's not like you're complaining," Roy returned. "And you've been rather helpful with that agenda with all this initiation you've been taking. I wasn't aware there were limitations."

"I wasn't aware there was a quota," Ed said wryly.

"Yeah, there is, and we're behind schedule," Roy said. "Come on, I'll feed you so you can keep your strength up."

"And to think, I gave up the military for this," Ed said, getting to his feet.


"She said she liked my hair this way," Al said, eyeing the chair. It was a fine chair, black leather, low backed with big buttons sewn into it. It had a shiny metal base it was sitting upon and a bar to comfortably accommodate your feet. It was designed to move up and down by a pedal and lever. As far as chairs went, it was quite fancy.

"Let me tell you a little something about women," Lieutenant Pharr said, giving Al a pat on the back. Now that Al was no longer in the military, and no longer outranked First Lieutenant Clayton Pharr, a little back patting was allowed.

"They're going to tell you what they think you want to hear, even someone like the Colonel," Pharr said, taking Al by the shoulders and turning him toward the mirror behind the chair.

"I don't think the Colonel would do that," Al huffed a bit, looking at the man's reflection. "She's not like that. She's honest and straightforward in everything she does."

"That's just infatuation talking. Listen, Riza Hawkeye is a woman, rank not withstanding. Moreover, she's the type of woman who has never really practiced the womanly virtues, if you know what I mean. She's never had to, at least not until now." Pharr grinned at Al's confused expression in the mirror.

"Ok, she has been with men," Pharr said, "but to what extent? She had a fling with General Mustang once, that's true, but it never went anywhere. She's had a date or two since then, but along came Alphonse Elric and everything changed."

"What do you mean?" Al said plaintively.

"Well you didn't see it of course, you weren't there to see it, but tell me Al, since you've been back, how many dates has she been on that weren't with you?"

Al opened his mouth and his jaw hung there in space for a"moment. He ran to his mental filing cabinet and looked under the largest of them all, entitled 'Colonel Hawkeye'. He looked in the 'Potential Rivals and People to Eliminate Folder'. It was rather small, practically non-existent. The last folder there had been for Macklin Tolbert, but that had been a misfiling. All in all the section was bare. His mouth snapped shut.

"Exactly," Clayton said. "Now, see, this 'womanly virtues' thing I'm talking about. Colonel Hawkeye is not a willing participant. She missed out on all those meetings the girls have about how to keep your man happy. She's not here to care if she keeps a man happy or not, after all, she gets to boss them around, she doesn't have to worry about them being happy. Well she does, but not in the sense that she wants them to think about her in any other way but as their commanding officer. All that goes right out the window with you my friend," Clayton clapped Al's shoulder again.

"With you it's a brand new strategy. The battlefield is set, but it's not a battle she's out to win. That confuses her, because she's career military, she didn't expect this love monkey wrench to be throw into her orderly life."

Al blushed delightedly from nose to neck. "Love?" he said.

Clayton turned him back around and backed him into the chair. Al's knees hit the front of the seat and he sat, but not all the way back. He perched right on the edge and looked up at the First Lieutenant, his eyes still showing trepidation.

"Well, or a reasonably good approximation," Clayton told him. "Now, since you are in a good position, and I'm not saying to exploit that, it's time to take the proverbial bull by the horns. You repeatedly moaned to me when I used to set you up on dates that all the women treated you like a kid. Well, you were a kid, but this," and Clayton reached behind Al, snagged up his ponytail, then let the silky mass trail over Al's shoulder, "didn't help dispel that image."

Al shifted a little uncomfortably. Clayton Pharr was a man he'd known for a number of years. He met him when Riza had first come to the East and picked him to be in her staff. He was intelligent, congenial, a good problem solver. He was also a bit of a womanizer, and Alphonse saw that early on. But for all his flaws, First Lieutenant Pharr had always been there for him. His nervousness began to dispel, it was easy to overlook a bit of chauvinism when it was coming from someone you knew had your bests interests at heart. And First Lieutenant Pharr had always had his back.

"Ok, you're right," Al agreed, on a certain level anyway. "Let's cut this off."

Pharr grinned and turned and waved.

"Hey Sam, my boy here is ready," he said and stepped back, jamming his hands into this trouser pockets.

Al also couldn't shake the feeling Pharr was a little proud of him, that was a bit bewildering but warming. He wasn't used to having an adopted elder brother, but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense, back when Ed was gone and all.

When the barber moved behind him and lifted his ponytail he tensed all over, but Clayton winked at him and he held himself still.

Soon his neck began to feel a draft.


Day four.

Roy purred as his back was scratched. It felt wonderful, almost like some bristly loofa half naked native girls scrubbed you with while you languished in the warm tropical currents in the crystal clear pool under the waterfall. At least, that was how his brain translated it in his dream. But when he finally opened his eyes he realized that it wasn't a half naked native girl, but a wholly naked unshaven lover's chin.

Ed had given up shaving the second day in. With the rate his facial hair was coming in, it was a wonder the hair on his head wasn't down to the back of his knees.

Ed had his automail arm draped over Roy's waist and was rubbing his stubbled chin in little circles across Roy's shoulders and muttering in his sleep. Roy couldn't really make out the mumbles, but smiled when the thought he heard his name mixed into them. He stretched and yawned and scratched and waited for Ed to wake up. Roy thought lazily of a nice breakfast and a refreshing drive through the countryside around the lake. Maybe they'd find a nice spot to stop and hike about and have sex outdoors, this time with proper store-bought lube he'd be sure to have in his pocket. Ed still needed to make up for the sex-in-the-lake fiasco and was woefully behind quota.

But Ed took time off seriously. Roy wasn't sure how long he lay there hoping for Ed to wake up on his own, and when he didn't Roy provided helpful prodding and small kicks to his shins, but still, Ed slept on. Roy even wiggled out of his grip and got off the bed, but this just caused Ed to grumble sleepily and attack Roy's vacated pillow before curling up, pillow between teeth and settling back down again.

"Bacon," Roy crooned. "Sausage, pancakes... no, french toast," Roy whispered in Ed's ear.

Ed made an inquisitive little sound and smacked his lips, but his eyes remained shut.

Roy studied Ed's beard stubbed jaw and chin. Despite the golden shade of the hair on Ed's head, the beard itself was rather brown. He had a good bit above his lip, down around the sides of his mouth and from his chin up both sides of his jaw. Many people said that a change in a lover's appearance could charge up a couple's sex life. Roy considered their sex life charged enough on it's own, thank you very much, (because his reputation wasn't just rumor), without the help of Ed's face being... fuzzy.

It was a bit disconcerting, and Roy found himself wondering just why he was taking such an active dislike to Ed with facial hair. He of course told himself that it wasn't the 'age' issue, of course it wasn't. Edward was now a man, in his early twenties and conducted himself as such. The General was very proud of the man that Edward Elric was becoming. He'd always been confident and strong, but in his chosen profession he was learning many valuable new things, like compromise.

Children had a tendency to be the best teachers. Especially those who had lost their own childhood.

Still, just because Edward was growing up; no, had grown up, didn't mean he needed to look the part.

The General worked his jaw; maybe Edward was right; maybe he was a pedophile. He sat over onto his hip, looking down at the young man sucking on the corner of a pillow in a heart shaped bed in a honeymoon suite log cabin on an idyllic lake. If he was a pedophile, then why hadn't he looked at other boys? Why had it been all women up until Ed walked onto the scene? It stands to logic that if he was a pedophile, he should have been pedoing long before Edward came to throw chaos into his life. So why was it Edward and not some other fetching young man? There were several around; or maybe they were just too old for him. Roy felt a little twinge of alarm; was he a pedo all along and just didn't know it because there were no twelve-year-old army recruits at the time?

But wait, it wasn't the twelve-year-old Edward that made him shift uncomfortably in his desk chair, that had been the fifteen-year-old, should he feel better about that? After all, fifteen-year-olds were older than twelve-year-olds by a margin of three whole years, so that should be alright, shouldn't it?

Somewhere in the middle of this internal dissertation on his pedophilic tendencies Edward had opened his eyes. He lay with one eyebrow raised, studying his lover.

"Good morning! Let me take you out for breakfast, why don't you go shower and shave," Roy said brightly, hopping off the bed.

Edward stretched and rolled over, dangled one leg off the side of the bed for a few moments and yawned.

"You know, I don't think you've had enough vacations to know how to act during one," Ed said, eyeing Roy drowsily. "You're way to fucking cheerful for this early in the morning. It's almost like we're going to work."

"Nothing wrong with being up early and ready to start the day," Roy said, opening the closet and surveying it's contents. "I thought I might let you try driving today..."

He'd barely got the words out when Ed was up and off the bed and striding into the bathroom. Ed didn't waste much time in there, either. Roy had barely gotten dressed when Ed opened the door and a burst of steam heralded his entrance back into the main room. He too, came over to the closet and gave his wardrobe the eye. He hadn't shaved.

"Did you brush your teeth?" Roy asked casually.

Ed gave him a funny look as he reached in the closet for a shirt, then he suddenly flashed his teeth, baring them in a bit of a snarl.

"I see you washed your hair," Roy commented, nudging a pair of nice slacks toward Ed's hand.

"I washed my ass, too," Ed said, snatching a different pair of pants from the closet, "is there a point to this?"

Roy pointed vaguely at his own chin.

"I think you forgot to shave," he pointed out helpfully.

"Oooh," Ed said with a nod. "Right, I forgot and I'm not going to remember anytime soon," and he went to get fresh linens and dress.

"I need your driving gloves," Ed said once he was fully dressed. Roy tore his gaze away from Ed's prickly cheeks.

"Why?" Roy asked.

"You said you were going to teach me to drive, you're not backing out, are you?" Ed leaned forward a little, his brows making an evil 'v' shape and the corners of his mouth turning down. Coupled with his golden eyes he looked almost demonic, Roy could see why his academy nickname was 'Divine Retribution.'

"No, of course not," Roy said, "I just don't know why you want my driving gloves."

"For driving, of course," Ed said in a tone that clearly denoted that surely Roy realized Ed didn't have his own driving gloves because as of yet, he didn't drive.

"You'll stretch them, your hands are ... wide," Roy said, frowning.

"What?! My hands aren't fat! None of me is fat!" Ed huffed.

"I didn't say that, I said they were wide. The automail will stretch them, they're leather," Roy said, pointing.

"No it won't, my hands aren't fat, automail can't be fat. Look, it's not any bigger than my other hand... Winry wouldn't make fat automail, are you nuts or something? You better never let her hear you say that," Ed huffed.

"I'm not going to tell her, so if she finds out..." He gave Ed a meaningful look.

"Shouldn't I have a scarf and some goggles?" Ed asked.

"I don't know, are you planning to make the car fly?" Roy said. "Because if you are, I think I might be considering backing out."

Ed snorted and then dashed to the door and pulled it open.

"Let's go!" he grinned and hopped out onto the porch. "Give me the keys!"

Roy sauntered after him, keys still firmly in his pocket. Edward bouncing in excitement was certainly a lovely sight as long as Roy didn't linger on the whiskers on Edward's face.

"I'm driving to breakfast, and then after that we'll find a nice deserted road and get you going with the basics," he told his grinning lover.

"Ok, fair enough, I'm starving... for some reason I want french toast," and Ed hopped over the porch railing and trotted over to the roadster.


Al poked his head into the office and then eased through the door, pulling it quietly shut behind him. No one was really about and that was just as well as far as he was concerned. He wished he'd stopped in the men's room on the way up and checked himself in the mirror at least one more time. A superstitious feel to the back of his head still revealed a bare neck and close clipped hair line.

He waited several nervous moments, hovering before Riza's desk before he loosened up enough to walk over to the window and glance out. He caught his half reflection in the polished glass and turned his head to profile, lifting his eyebrow and squaring his jaw.

Indeed losing the hair seem to have... matured him, refined him like a good wine. He felt virile and, dare he say it? Manly. It seemed that with the shortening of his locks some inner male-ness that had theretofore been suppressed by his ponytail sprang to the surface and gave him the desired aging effect he'd been longing for all this time.

Surely Riza would agree. She would be impressed, (and he always wanted to impress her), and perhaps feel better about being seen on his arm. Not that she seemed to mind being seen on his arm, ponytail not withstanding, but still, at least to his own mind, he felt that he'd bettered himself for her eyes.

He felt older.

He heard the door open behind him and turned around.


Ed lifted his chin and studied himself in the rear view mirror. They were sitting on a gravel road, the top of the roadster down. He was full of breakfast and he was in the driver's seat. Life was good.

"It makes me look older," he suddenly purred. "Sophisticated, learned. I like this look."

Roy rubbed the bridge of his nose and looked anywhere but at his preening lover. He has his own views on sophisticated and learned and neither of them involved Ed growing a bristle brush on his face.

"Right," Roy interjected. "Ok, this is the gear shift," and he put his hand over the balled end of the lever sticking up from the floorboard.

"Don't you think it makes me look older?" Ed pressed.

"Driving a car? Yes, I'm sure that will make you look older," Roy evaded.

Ed opened his mouth again, but Roy jumped ahead.

"Left square pedal is the clutch, right square pedal is the break, the long pedal is the gas," he rushed ahead. "This is the hand brake, this is the gear shift, the big dial right in front of you is the speedometer."

Ed's gaze was darting back and forth as Roy spoke and pointed, he was nodding slightly and his fingers strayed over the hand brake and up to the gear shift, settling over the back of Roy's hand as it still rested there.

"This is how you put the car in gear. The 'R' is for reverse... but you know that," and Roy grinned and Ed reddened slightly under all that damnable facial hair and snorted. "This is neutral, this is first gear, second gear, third gear and so on," Roy said. "You will need to press the clutch before changing gears and you determine the changing of the gears by the sound of the engine, did you pay attention like I told you to when we were driving over here?"

"Yes, yes," Ed said impatiently.

"I guess it's good that's the side your automail is on or we could call you a real lead foot," and Roy grinned at his own joke. "Get it?"

Ed looked at him blankly.

"You don't get it do you?" Roy said, disappointed that his comedic genius was always so underappreciated.

"Can I crank it now?" Ed said.

"Fine," Roy sighed. "Put your foot on the brake and your other foot on the clutch, then crank it. After you get it cranked put your hand on the hand brake and push the button, ease up on it then push it down."

Ed pressed the brake and clutch almost to the floor, grabbed the keys and turned them with enough force that Roy thought they would twist in the ignition. Then he grabbed the hand brake, jerked it up and slammed it down and returned both hands to the wheel and gave Roy a cocky grin that went straight to Roy's groin.

"Ok," Roy said, "that's done. Now you're going to ease up on the brake. Clutch to the floor, right foot on the gas. Put the gear shift in first gear and start easing up on the clutch. As the clutch comes up we'll start moving a little bit, that's fine."

Ed kept nodding and he gripped the gear shift. His eyes darted to Roy's in a moment of doubt, but then he set his jaw, (his hair encrusted jaw), and managed to wiggle the stick into first gear. He cautiously tapped the gas once and the car made a shudder and an eager sound. Ed seemed to shiver all over at it and then he began to lift his foot from the clutch.