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Better Living Through Alchemy

chapter 24.

"Alphonse, I didn't expect you to stop by today," the Colonel said as she came back into her office, her dog at her heels, a file in her hands. She stopped and tilted her head, her slight smile never leaving her face.

"Something's different," she said, "you've cut your hair."

In that very instant, Al's mind was suddenly flooded with the squeal of the steno-pool. I love what you've done with your hair! Private A would say to Private B. It's so darling and short! It must be very easy to manage! they'd titter. His former budding manliness fled squealing like a steno-pool secretary itself and Al reached up and slapped the back of his neck. Tried to stop the heat in his cheeks and please, oh please, don't let him mumble.

"Oh, yeah," he mumbled anyway, "what do you think?"

"I like it," the Colonel said, making her way over to her desk, "It's very..."

Darling! Al's mind screamed.

"Professional," she said. "It's a good look for a young business man."

"Well, that's what I thought, too," Al lied. "I thought it was time I looked my age," he emphasized, ignoring her 'young business man' remark.

Riza nodded, lying the file on her desk, she stepped over to him and reached up to neaten his collar.

"Just so," she said softly. "Did you have an errand in this part of town?" she asked.

The last remnants of whatever age-edifying feeling the shorning of his hair had left him fled before her touch on his shirt. It was all he could do not to duck his head and shuffle his feet.

"I... no, not really," he confessed, one tiny lie was one too many to her in his book.

She brushed down the front of his vest and then smiled up into his eyes.

"You came to see me then?" she seemed rather pleased at the random visit.

"No, I came to see Hayate," he tried to joke, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

She laughed and moved away then, he caught himself before reaching for her, she was at work after all.

"Hayate has more of a social life than I do," she countered. "He's very popular you know, he has quite the circle of admirers."

Hayate, for his part, was rather oblivious to the fact Al was a visitor for his royal self. He had already lain down on his pillow and showed no inclination to get up and be attentive of his guest.

"What are you going to do with the rest of your day?" she asked.

You mean besides hang around and moon over you?

"Since I'm in town I might as well pick up a few things, browse a book store, meet you for dinner?" he said, shoving his hands into his pockets and smiling.

"I get off promptly at 5:30," she said with a graceful nod.

He wandered back into the hall, heading for the stairs. Lieutenant Harper passed him in the hall on the way back to the office, stopped and turned around.

"Alphonse?" she asked and he turned to smile at her, nod his head.

"Wow, you cut your hair," she grinned. "It looks good on you, makes you look older."

He bounced down the stairs after that.


Roy almost brained himself on the dashboard and reached up quickly to grab the edge of the windshield.

"Fuck!" Ed shrieked, yet again and the little roadster shimmied in anger and missed gear offense. They sat idling for a moment.

Ed struggled with the gear shift and managed to get it back in neutral, he grit his teeth, jammed the clutch to the floor but then for some inexplicable reason hit the gas. The roadster roared in place and Roy yelped and felt his ass get about a foot of clearance off the seat.

"Yeah, ok don't say it," Ed yelled over the noise "That was stupid. I'll get it, I'll get it," the tip of his tongue was sticking out of the corner of his mouth and despite the situation and facial stubble Roy wanted to grope him in the back seat.

With some grunts and the fortification of a few extra swear words, Ed got the roadster off and moving again. They were on a small gravel and dirt road that seemed to circle the lake. It seemed like a nice, quiet place to let Ed grind a few gears on the rental car. But Ed's inexperience, coupled with the pitted and bumpy road was not falling in line with the idyllic driving lesson Roy had planned. In his version, Ed struggled but prevailed, was rather pleased with himself and turned cuddly, (Ed often did this when he was feeling accomplished. Nothing turned Roy on more than a confident Ed achieving a personal goal). Then they had mind shattering sex in the back seat.

That was the plan.

Instead, as many of their plans went, it was all askew and frenzied. Ed managed to get the car into second gear rather successfully and the scenery started to fly by, perhaps a little faster than Roy would like. By another successful gear change, they were close to 40 mph and Roy sat back a little nervously and tried not to grip the dashboard or hand brake or anything else in a panicky way lest Ed got offended. But just the look on Ed's face was enough to make Roy decide that flirting with his life in a speeding roadster with the Fullmetal Alchemist was worth it.

The grin on Ed's jaw was razor. His ponytail waved as his banner and his flag behind him. He looked... jaunty, one hand resting on the wheel, the other on the gear shift, eyes trained straight ahead. He must have caught Roy looking at him out of the corner of his eye because he turned his head and winked.

Roy couldn't help himself. He wasn't sure how his hand found it's way onto Ed's thigh. He would swear on a stack of bibles it was never his intention to feel Ed up while he was doing 40 down a windy gravel road around a lake.

But he did it all the same.

At first it seemed like a good idea to Ed, too. He was adrenaline stoked and feeling cocky and proud. They shared a hard, quick kiss so Ed could get his eyes back on the road.

Roy's hand crept over to press and massage Ed's inner thigh, and Roy was sure Ed was purring, but he couldn't be heard over the roar of the wind. He leaned over a bit more, nipping at Ed's shoulder, (lightly because of the automail, but he was always certain Ed felt it) and moved his fingers up Ed's thigh to rub the sides of his knuckles lightly against his crotch.

This would be where the plans took a ghastly turn in the wrong direction. Edward jumped, just a little, but he also reacted and neither of them noticed for a few vital moments that the gas pedal suddenly went all the way to the floor. Instead, they were grinning at each other like loons.

The General, just as he was about to practice his technique of trying to remove Ed's tonsils without the need for surgery, happened to glance at the road.

Panic is a notorious procrastinator. When it first registers, the first thing it does is send all the vital organs on a brief coffee break. The most notable slackers around the water cooler are, of course, the vocal chords and the thought process. They both take their time, because they are underappreciated and deserve this break, before finally meandering back to their desks to answer the wildly blinking red phones of doom.

It's usually too late by this point to take a memo and run it all they way up to cerebrum central and tap politely on the inner General's office door, lest he be up to something naughty with the figment Edwards yet again.

While the logical part of the brain milled outside an office door, wondering if it would be all right to just walk on in and take a camera, the less organized and more physical side of the brain decided now was the time to take action into it's own hand. The vocal chords owed it a favor, so now it was going to cash in.

"BRAKE!" the General screamed, more or less right into Ed's ear and Ed flailed before jamming his foot onto the clutch and trying to shy away from a busted eardrum, and in doing so, wrenching the steering wheel far, far to the left and off what little road there was to begin with and onto what seemed to be a grassy slope.

"NO, NO THE OTHER BRAKE!" the General shouted and more or less threw himself, head first into the floorboard, trying to jam the pedal down with both hands. By now, Ed's panic center had shot off the first memo to his cerebrum central, and at the helm there was an Edward but also an advisory Al, so Ed reacted a bit faster than Roy, lifting his automail foot and bringing it right down on top of Roy's hands on the brake pedal.

Roy, of course, jerked up and slammed the back of his head on the underside of the steering wheel, causing the visual unit to report to cerebrum central that there were stars in the floorboard of the roadster, and who knew? The digit recon unit was reporting back at the same time, they were certain that Armageddon was reigning supreme in each and every finger Roy possessed. Their advise consisted of suggesting that the inner General shriek a lot and then pout for attention, or a hospital, or possibly both.

The visual unit turned on the waterworks, to see if they could get rid of the sparklies and the General heeded the advise of the inner General and shrieked and tried to chew through Ed's automail leg to free his flattened appendages.

It was then Ed's vocal chords got switched back on.

"LAKE!" Ed said, then the pressure was off Roy's hand and Roy could have kissed him, only Ed seemed to be trying to crawl over the front seat and into the back. Well, that wasn't right, who was going to drive the car now?

Just when Roy was about to make a snarky and exasperated comment about somebody steering the car there was a sudden hard and jarring thump, then a strange gurgling sound and the engine sputtered and died. This was fine with Roy, his head was really pounding and the sudden silence was nice.

"Roy!" Ed's voice was all high and squeaky, it was really amusing, and Roy wanted to make a comment on that too, but Ed interrupted him again.

"Come on! Come on! It's sinking!" Ed shrieked. He then reached over the front seat and grabbed Roy by the back of his collar and heaved.

Roy was unceremoniously dragged over the front seat and into the back. Ed kept a firm grip on him, even when Roy tried to swat his hand and ended up swatting his automail wrist, which made his bruised, (and possibly mangled and broken digits) ache anew, and he went limp and whined. The automail sure had it out for him today. Edward grunted, heaved him again and that was when Roy noticed all the water around them, and it seemed to be getting higher, was there a flood and he hadn't noticed?

"Here goes nothing," Ed said behind him and took a deep breath. "You know I swim about as well as you sing, and we both know that is not at all. Take a deep breath."

Roy wondered why his head was buzzing and blinked a few times to clear his vision.

"I never claimed I could sing," he mumbled, his semi-concussion euphoria starting to fade. "What... are we in the lake?"

"Brilliant, Einstein," Ed snorted, "and the longer we fuck around here the deeper we're getting, we're going in!" And Ed stepped off the back of the car, Roy's collar still gripped tightly in his automail hand.

"Ein-who?" Roy got out before going under.


Hayate strained at the end of his leash, panting eagerly toward the doorway his mistress had disappeared into.

"No Hayate, no dogs in the coffee shop," Al said good naturedly. "Let's find a table on the sidewalk, ok? She'll be back in a minute."

Hayate reluctantly conceded Al's semi-dominion in the absence of his true leader and trotted dutifully at Al's heels to a small ornate rod iron bistro table and chair set. Al sat in one of the chairs and Hayate sat at his feet, looking back toward the shop Riza had disappeared into.

"I wish Sophie would walk on a leash," Al mused aloud. "I feel bad about leaving her on her own, but then again, she doesn't seem to mind." He smiled at the little black and white dog, and Hayate wagged his tail.

Al leaned over to be conspiratorially close to the little dog and Hayate lifted his nose to sniff at Al's chin then give it a lick.

"You know, if things go well you're going to have to learn to get along with Sophie," he said in a near whisper. "I would really appreciate any help you could give me to that end. I know putting up with a cat might seem like a terrible burden, but in the end I think you'll reap the benefits. With both of us we could afford a place with a proper yard..." Al trailed off as Riza emerged from the coffee shop, two white porcelain latte mugs in her hands. She spotted him and smiled and headed over. Behind her trotted one of the shop attendants with a bowl.

Riza sat a mug in front of him.

"With vanilla powder, as you like it," she said and then sat down her own mug. She took the bowl form the shopkeeper, nodded her thanks and sat it down in front of Hayate.

"A bit of coffee and warm milk, as you like it," she told the small dog. Then she took her own seat.

Al lifted his mug and inhaled, closing his eyes for a moment, then took a cautious sip to test temperature.

"So what were you and Hayate conspiring about when I came out of the shop?" Riza gently teased. "I hope it's not about where he should be hiding soup bones again."

"Nothing like that, we're reformed now, aren't we Hayate?" Al said.

Hayate paused in his rhythmic lapping to wag his tail at the sound of his name, then, satisfied that obligation was settled, returned to his bowl of milk-coffee.

Riza settled back in her chair, she too used her latte as aromatherapy before risking her tongue to the heat.

"We should go somewhere this weekend," Al said. "There are plenty of tour books in the bookstore on the square, we could find a local attraction."

"Or an Inn and make the night of it," Riza said.

"We... we could do that," Al nodded.

An Inn...

Make the night of it...

All the hairs on the back of his recently bared neck began to stand on end, (not that they could stand very far, being as short as they were now). He and Riza, together, alone, all night, in an Inn. He took a very large sip of his latte and then held his breath to keep from yelping as the inside of his mouth reached an oven-like temperature.

"There are some nice bed and breakfasts not to far outside of East City," Riza said. "I've read about them in the travel and leisure section of the paper."

She'd been reading about Inns. She probably had a favorite picked out. They were going to an Inn where they would be alone, together, all night. Al nudged the needle on the stuck record in his mind.

Alone, all night, together, in an Inn.

"Did you find one you liked?" he asked, opening his mouth to let his tongue have some air, it was sweating it seemed.

"I did," she nodded. "I read about one called The Cumberland, it's about an hour or so south of East City, in the hill district of Hopeswell."

Al, of course, had been to most places, and had probably passed through Hopeswell at some point in his well traveled youth, but he couldn't find a mental file on it, it was probably just a place to stare at from a moving passenger car.

"It's located at a historical site," Riza continued. "It has many hiking trails, they offer horseback riding; it seems very peaceful."

Al smiled and tried his latte again, finding it acceptable and only slightly stinging to his already singed mouth.

"I take it I can find their number in the paper?" he asked.

"I saved the clipping," Riza said, her own latte of great interest to her.

It's almost like she'd planned it.


Ed lay sprawled on his back in the grass on the slope, but Roy was sitting up, leaning back on his hands and looking at the butt of the roadster, the only thing still visible of the car with it's nose in the lake.

"Did you like that car?" Roy finally asked the sprawled young man behind him.

"Sure, I really liked it. I liked that the top went down and I liked the spokes on the hubcaps, what was not to like? It's even a nice color," Ed returned.

"Good, because I'm pretty sure the company I rented it from isn't going to want it back. It looks like we just bought you a car," Roy said.

Ed sat straight up. Just from lying flat to upright, just like that. Roy suppressed a jealous grumble. No rolling onto his side and using his hands to push up from Edward, (or flailing like a turtle until he was offered a hand up).

"My car?" Ed said in a small voice.

"Yes," Roy said. "If we can get it out of the lake and get it to run again. I guess if we can't you can always use it as a planter..."

Ed was suddenly up on his feet. Just like that, from sitting upright to up on his feet, like one fluid motion. How was he doing that? There must be some trick to that, because the General wasn't that old, and he had to get onto his knees and put his hand on the edge of the desk, or take someone's hand and then get to his feet. Maybe there was some kind of spring mechanism in the automail that Roy didn't know about, designed to propel one to their feet when needed.

The General's eyes widened when Edward turned to him with a large manic grin and held out both hands.

"Come on, get up," he crowed. "I have to get my car out of the lake!"

"I think that's easier said that done," Roy snorted, taking Ed's hands and being hauled to his feet.

"Oh ye of little faith," Ed grinned and wiggled his fingers before rubbing his palms together. "With enough motivation I've seen ants move mountains. So if I get it out, I get to keep it, right?"

"Ed, what do you think you're going to do with it? The engine probably has a good foot or so of mud shoved into it, the leather will be all water damaged," Roy waved his hands at the car. "If you want a car that badly, you can call the one at home your car..."

"Not the same," Ed said. "This is mine. Now stand back," Ed laced his fingers and cracked his knuckles, "It's been a long time since I've had to be creative with transmuting."

That was enough incentive for Roy to climb the slope all the way up to the road.

Ed paced back and forth for a moment on the bank, before going still and then clapping his hands. He held them there, templed and upright, his elbows straight out to either side of him. For all his faithlessness, here lie his faith. A religion of science, a belief in himself; a church with no congregation but a fanatical leader and an almost godly power.

He knelt and laid his hands on the ground. There was a long, unbroken silence and Roy shifted from foot to foot, waiting and watching. As he was about to call down to Ed and ask him if his transmuter was broken, (and wondered if Ed could come up with some smartass comeback. Probably not, Ed was never good at one liners.), the lake around the car began to ripple and churn.

The roadster began to rock back and forth slowly and Ed seemed to be doing the same thing on the bank. They swayed together, then Ed seemed to lean backward, as he did so the butt of the roadster rose up, just barely and the water almost looked like it was boiling. Ed leaned forward, then back again, hard and the roadster lurched and then there was a loud sucking sound. The sound grew in volume and the hair on Roy's arms began to stand up. It made him think of cheap whores for some reason. A whole chorus of them, standing on a street corner in too short, too tight skirts; their painted lips puckered. Of course, his mind pulled up the association to one very drunken, post-academy graduation night. Later on Maes assured him that despite what his eyes had told him, in reality there had only been two prostitutes and one of them kissed like a lamprey.

He'd had a hickey for a month.

What jarred him back to the situation at hand was the air being filled with an overwhelming 'pop'. Just like that, 'pop'. And the little roadster came free of it's muddy prison and shot back out onto the grassy slope, landing on it's wheels and rattling loudly.

You would think that would be that, but it wasn't. Instead, the roadster began to roll right back toward the water, and Roy pointed and raised his voice in a half exclamation when a giant grass hand appeared before the car and stopped it in it's tracks. After a moment the roadster began to roll backwards, leaving the hand where it stood to slowly and alchemically melt back into the ground. The grassy slope suddenly turned into a reflection of the lake itself as it rippled and waved in an imitation of the water. At each crest of a green 'wave', the roadster was pushed a little further up the slope; until finally it came to rest on the road and Roy walked over to it, leaned inside and pulled the handbrake up.

From the bank Ed let out a whoop and Roy looked up to see him bounding up the slope. Once he reached the road, he threw himself over the roadster's hood and sighed.

"My car!" He lifted his head to grin at Roy. "I can't wait to tell Al, he'll be so jealous," and Ed let out a little evil giggle that was so very unlike him Roy wondered if the whole driving experience hadn't unhinged him somehow. And how unfair that would be when in truth, it should be Roy getting to act like a moron, he'd had the head injury, after all.

"I'm sure Al will be thrilled for you have a mildewy, non-working car," Roy said, hands on hips. "How do you think we're going to get this back to the cabin? And for that matter, what are we going to drive home?"

"What does it matter?" Ed purred and rolled over onto his back, still stretched out partially on the hood. "We still have more than a week left, you'll think of something, you always do," then Ed pushed up and let his eyes go to half mast.

"Let's have sex in my car," he said, voice going to just this side of husky.

Roy blinked a couple of times, looked around, then looked at Ed again. He wasn't going to say 'with me' this time, because obviously it was with him, (and he was the only other person around). What really frightened him was his own, sudden, hesitation.

"The car's all wet," Roy said, waving at it.

"So?" Ed said and slid off the hood and just leaned against the car. "So are we, but you know what? I can fix all that." Ed straightened up, held out his hands. "Observe, nothing up my sleeves," then he clapped, "and presto, chango!" He put his hands on his own chest and a sudden fine mist of water flew off him in all directions. It shimmered for a moment around him, before dropping to the ground. He grinned at Roy.

"The trick is not letting the transmutation touch your skin," he said with a wink. He then rubbed his hands together and gave the roadster the manic eye and Roy stepped back, not like it would have mattered if he'd gotten any wetter.

The roadster received the same water shaking as it's new owner and it even seemed to shimmy like a dog that had took a dip in the lake rather than being a car that got driven into the lake, which was what it was.

Roy was polite enough to clap, after all, it was a fine display of delicate transmuting.

"Your turn," Ed said cheerfully and waved him over. How could Roy resist that smile and the all over almost-bounce of happiness Ed was vibrating with? He walked over and put his arms around Ed and Ed grinned, clapped his hands behind Roy's back and made him dry.

"That's pretty handy," Roy purred next to his ear. "Something you learned on the road?"

"Yes," Ed said, pressing and molding to Roy's body. "I was always getting rained on or car splashed, it was very useful."

"Kept Al from rusting?" Roy murmured and caught an earlobe between his lips.

"Yes," Ed said and squirmed a bit.

Roy backed Ed against his car, ran one hand up to the back of his neck to grip and hold him, then the other down his side to his hip. Edward made no protest at all, in fact he whimpered enticingly and arched his hips against Roy's. Roy felt the bristle of Ed's facial hair against his cheek and sighed. Still, it was a small price to pay for getting put his hands and mouth anywhere he pleased, and Ed would shave it off once they got home; so he could endure it for now.

The next phase was getting the door open, the seat pulled up and negotiating their way into the back seat.

"It's a good thing being a soldier has made me so adaptable," Roy grunted as they both jockeyed for position. Roy grabbed Ed and maneuvered him around until he was on his hands and knees, his butt nestled against Roy's crotch.

"You think you're adaptable?" Ed snorted. "You whine when you get a hang nail and we are away from home and away from your clippers. You won't just yank it out with your teeth, like I do, that is adaptable," and Ed nodded and then ground his rump against Roy's crotch.

Roy gave him one quickly, hard thrust against his backside then wrapped his arms around Edward, going for his belt buckle.

"Not all of us are masochists," the elder alchemist panted. "And not all of us like the taste of blood, especially not our own. The way you suck on your finger after you've done that is downright gruesome." Roy pulled the belt open and worked on the button and zipper.

"You do that so it doesn't get infected," Ed panted, rocking back and forth a bit, making it difficult for Roy to concentrate. "It's not like I do that all the time, if there are clippers handy, I use those."

"We should get an extra travel set and keep them in the glove box of the car," Roy said when he could think again. "Then neither of us will be without them."

"You mean in the glove box with your tissues, comb, mirror, cologne, and spare razor? You think they would fit?" Ed wiggled his hips as Roy began to tug his pants down over his hips. Roy then grabbed his boxers and gave them a yank before fishing in his own pocket for the bottle of lube he'd remembered to bring with them.

"I'm sure some compromise could be reached," Roy growled, undoing his own pants before opening the small bottle and wetting his fingers. "Everything in that glove box is practical."

"I think you should just get a purse," Ed said, then yelped a little and turned to glare over his shoulder.

"Ooops," Roy said, "fingers slipped."

"I'll slip you one right into...," but Ed trailed off, eyes half closing. "Slip them a little to the left," he panted after a bit and licked his lips.

Roy smiled slowly and moved to accommodate. With his free hand he pushed Ed's shirt up his back and leaned over to lick up his bared spine. Ed made a delicious little sound and pushed back a bit.

"You know, if we were in the sedan at home doing this we'd have more room," Roy murmured against Ed's skin, pressing and spreading with his fingers firmly buried. Roy's other hand slid around Edward's side to his belly and then down. He casually fingered the head of Ed's erection before gripping it loosely. He began to move the fingers inside Ed in the same motion he stroked Ed's cock.

Ed just whimpered in response. He reached up with his automail hand and gripped the back of the driver's seat, his other hand gripped the edge of the ragtop that was folded back. He raised himself up a bit and pushed back again and Roy groaned and slowly pulled his fingers free, released his cock and reached up to grip Ed's hips.

Roy guided him, back and down, right into his lap. Ed gasped out and curled his spine when the head of Roy's own cock seated against his anus and Roy nudged but didn't press to enter. Ed licked his lips and waited, schooling his breathing. Roy's fingers pressed tightly; he dug in with his thumbs, working them back and forth slowly, and he held Ed there, suspended and trembling.

"You know what? We're going to fuck in your car," Roy leaned forward and hissed in the blond's ear.

"Oh yessss," Edward groaned and gripped the door frame harder, tried to push himself down onto Roy's cock. But the General tightened his grip and held him off.

"In the back seat, out in the open, by a lake," the General continued. He lipped Ed's earlobe. "It's leather, hand stitched, down stuffed. It's a really nice car."

Ed's eyes rolled back and he shook. He tried to speak, perhaps coherently, but it only came out as a gurgle. So instead, to express his interest in participating in this erotic activity the General was suggesting; he grunted and tried to shove himself down, yet again.

Roy didn't quite catch him this time, but he halted his progress. Roy took several deep breaths for control. Ed groaned and snarled, tried to overcome the grip Roy had on his waist.

They fought like this for a moment, but Roy was at a clear disadvantage. He'd given over years ago. Ed conquered him, overwhelmed him; sank onto him, coming upright. Ed's back touched his chest and Roy wrapped both arms around him, held him; deep inside him at the same time. Ed shook his head, his ponytail slapping Roy in the face and Roy's hand dropped, over Ed's stomach, down between his legs. He gripped him, taking Ed's cock by the base, wrapping his fingers around it firmly. Ed dropped his chin to his chest; grabbed the back of the front seat, Roy used his grip to guide Ed up. Ed gasped, rising up on his knees and then Roy used the same grip to guide Ed down and Ed sank back into his lap.

Here was where Ed surrendered; only in this. Roy pressed his face into his lover's back; stroking and goading, teasing and guiding. Ed moved to the pace Roy set for him, complaining bitterly, but acquiesing all the same. But Roy's control began to slip, in a desperate attempt to try and keep the upper hand in the situation, Roy ground his nose into Ed's spine. He rather hoped the pain of trying to crush all the cartilage in his nose would be enough to keep him from letting Ed bounce in his lap, which seemed to be what Ed wanted to do. It wasn't enough however and Ed began to use Roy's thighs like a high tension diving board.

In accordance with the terms of Roy's imminent surrender, Roy signed over all rights to move his hand in a languid up and down fashion. His wrist was handed over to Ed's steel grip and his people tried to negotiate a pace with Ed's people, but it just wasn't working out. It seemed the terms of Ed's cease-fire was a non-conditional thing. Roy was sized up, sorted out and put to work in the capacity best deemed for his prisoner of Ed status; and that capacity was to provide an orgasm not only worthy of his new ruler, but to be quick about doing it.

Seeking any sort of truce at this point was futile and the General flailed around for his own hand hold on the car. The leader of Ed, (who, ironically enough, was called 'Ed'), made it clear he had a zero tolerance policy when it came to not getting off and Roy, a mere peon in the new Elric Army, was put on double-time for the rest of his stint as trampoline with a dick.

When he came, it was to the loud and frantic orders of his leader who was currently broadcasting his rapture at the top of his lungs across the lake.


"How are we going to get it back to the cabin, let alone back to Central?" the General asked later, lying on his back in the grass of the slope, arms folded behind his head.

"At the moment, I don't really care," Ed sighed. Then he stretched and rolled up onto his side, facing Roy, he rested his cheek in his palm, elbow serving as a prop. He gave Roy a lazy, satisfied smile when the General turned his head to look at him.

"You look sated," Roy grinned and preened, just a bit. "I guess I still got it."

"What you really have is me," Ed said with a laugh. "You know, the guy who thinks you walk on water only you didn't hear that from his lips."

Roy felt like he could carry the damn car back to Central after that. But instead he got to his feet, pulled Ed to his own feet. They walked to the top of the gravel road where they had a brief, directional inspired skirmish and a little bit of finger pointing and a who's who about how the car got into the lake.

Several hours later not only had they found the town, but gotten a ride to the nearest garage and then had another ride in the back of a truck to where the roadster had been left. Roy sat on a handkerchief in the back of the pick-up, because his pants were linen, he pointed out and Ed rolled his eyes. Ed was amazed that Roy could keep his ass on the tiny square of cloth the whole way back.

They got the roadster hitched up with a chain and Ed climbed in to steer it while the pick-up truck was used to tow it. Only the pick-up truck stalled before they reached the gravel road and they all had to get out and the pick-up had to be unhitched and pushed to the paved road. There it was tinkered with by its owner while Roy and Ed stood by and offered all sorts of unhelpful advice. They both had the audacity to blink in surprise when the man got the pick-up cranked, climbed in it and drove off leaving them standing there. They had been helpful, dammit, and if the man couldn't take a joke about his butt crack showing while he was hanging inside the hood of his pick-up, well they didn't need him anyway.

Roy complained a little about that to Ed, reiterating that Ed needed to study up on 'tact' more and low-brow humor less; but he conceded he knew Ed just couldn't help himself at certain times and was willing to forgive and forget this little incident because they were on vacation and Ed ought to be able to get away with a few things.

"You push, I'll steer," Ed said, hopping into the roadster and giving Roy a bright grin. "It will be easy, this car is much smaller than that truck and we pushed it all the way to the road."

"It was easy because there were three of us pushing it, now we are down to two and suddenly we're down to one in the pushing department," Roy said, folding his arms.

"Well who is going to steer it when it starts moving?" Ed asked.

"Get out and push from that side with your hand on the steering wheel," the General said, walking up to the passenger side of the car. "When we get it up to the road maybe we can flag down someone."

Ed snorted, but got out and shut the door. He stood for a moment, hands on hips, figuring out how he was going to push and steer. He put a hand over the door frame and the other on the steering wheel and looked at Roy.

"This is awkward, I don't think I can push and steer, and I'm lighter than you, I should get in and steer while you push," he informed him.

"I can't push this by myself," Roy argued. "I know you're eager to drive it, but trust me when I say that driving it while it's moving under it's own power will be much more satisfying then driving it under my power, which won't be much unless you help."

Ed grumbled but nodded, and watched as Roy reached in to jiggle the gear shift. Then Roy opened the side door, slide in, hooked his leg over the gear shift and pushed down on the clutch, having done that he could move the stick to neutral and the car began to roll... backwards.

It rolled right over Ed's left foot, thankfully, before Roy managed to get it stopped again. It was at this time, after Ed stopped yelling about his foot, that they both decided that picking on the only human in shouting distance with a pick-up truck had been a bad idea.

"Let's just walk back to somewhere we can get a ride back to the cabins and tomorrow I'll use the phone at the tavern and call someone, I don't know who. Maybe Havoc, he's under my command and won't snitch on me if I blubber and beg to be rescued from this godforsaken, beautiful countryside!" the General informed Ed while waving his arms around.

"What?! I don't want to go home yet, we still got a lot of vacation days left!" Ed argued, waving his own arms around. "I'm not ready to go back yet, I'm still unwinding, I'm tight as a watch spring, ask anyone! All my students asked me if I was going to have a nice, long, relaxing break and I said yes! I'm going to have a nice, long, relaxing break even if it kills you," Ed said, pointing now in lieu of waving.

The General put his hands on his hips, mouth turning down at the side in a frown. He studied Ed but kept his mouth shut. They both knew good and well the real reason they were here to 'unwind'. But bringing it up would accomplish nothing. Ed fell silent too, and turned to look off down the road. Roy moved forward then, dropped his arm over Ed's shoulder and indulged in a brief nosing of the top of Ed's head.

"Isn't it nice that all of this trauma is about a car?" Roy asked, and gave Ed's shoulder a squeeze. "Just a car?"

"Yeah," Ed said with a nod. "If you look up 'it could have been worse' in the thesaurus I bet it has a picture of every damn one of us. Come on, if the town was that way then the cabins are this way," and he started down the road.

"Every damn one of us and then some," Roy agreed, falling into step beside him before stopping and turning around. "Are you sure town was that way?" he said after a moment.


10 days later.

Ed flopped face down onto the bed and squirmed all around on it, nosing pillows and tugging on the comforter.

"Did you miss me?" he asked the headboard. "I missed you, I bet it was lonely here for you, all the other bed sets in different rooms and none of you could move."

Roy rolled his eyes and dumped his suitcase on the floor.

Ed sat up, rolled his shoulders and reached up to scratch his beard. Roy shuddered and turned to go back out into the hall so he didn't have to watch. He went back to pay the cab driver and get the final bags. It was odd to be in this foyer with R.D. not dancing at his heels. He'd have to fetch the dog first thing tomorrow and then he'd truly be home.

Ed had sprawled back out on the bed when Roy brought in the last of the bags and he still wasn't shaved. For some reason, Roy had it in his mind that the moment they'd crossed the threshold of their home, one of two things would happen. For one, all the hair on Ed's face would miraculously fall out in the foyer hallway, causing Roy to have to sweep and not complain about it for once, or, two, Ed would immediately go to the bathroom and shave.

Neither had happened so far, but it was still early yet and Roy held out hope. He wouldn't mind sweeping the bedroom floor either if it meant Ed would be beard-free.

"Come lay on the bed with me," Ed said. "Didn't you miss it? It missed you."

"If I do that, who is going to unpack?" Roy said. "It will still be there when we get ready for bed. Say, are you going to take a shower and shave?" he added hopefully.

"I guess so," Ed said, stretching, his arms over his head. "But I have a couple of days before break is over," he reached up to scratch at his chin again. "Come on, what's wrong? We had fourteen days off and we had sex almost eighteen times, tired of me now? Don't like the Ed in bed association anymore?" but Ed grinned, knowing the truth to be anything but.

Roy refrained from asserting it wasn't Ed in bed that bothered him, but the possibility of rug burn between his legs every time Ed got aggressive with his mouth. Or the fact his shoulders where covered with tiny puncture wounds from every time Ed decided to kiss him there and stab his with that hair above his lip.

"Why the sudden fascination with the facial hair?" Roy let slip out. Ed lifted his head from the bed and frowned at Roy. At least Roy thought he was frowning, it was hard to tell since Ed's mouth was lost in the fur jungle.

"What do you mean?" Ed said. "It's not a fascination. It's natural, it just grows there unless I cut it off, same as you."

"But you've never let it grow before," Roy said, checking himself to keep the whine out of his voice. "You said you were letting it grow for vacation, you're not planning on keep it, are you?" he also managed to keep the horror of the prospect out of his voice as well.

Ed sat up again, leaning back on his hands and crossed his legs.

"You know what I think?" he asked his General. "I think you have issues with me looking my age, that's what I think," and Ed stuck his nose in the air. "I'm going to keep it," he informed Roy's pale visage. "I'm going to clean it up and wear it like many scholars used to wear it," he reached up to stroke the beard, then pinned Roy with his eyes and grinned wickedly. "You know, just around my lips and chin, what is that called? A goatee?"

Roy had been on his knees before this man before. In surrender, in desire, but this would be the first time in supplication.. if it came to that.

"I don't think it would suit you," Roy managed with some dignity. "It's not about your age, we all know you're an adult now, Edward."

"But you don't like it," the man on his bed laughed.

There was a man on his bed and it made Roy's head swim a moment in consternation.

"The beard? No. Your age? Yes. You've matured, come of age like a fine wine. We are on equal footing and I like that very much," the General said smoothly.

"Oh spoken like the Master Bullshitter I've known and loved all this time," Ed said, flopping back on the bed again. "Well you can whimper all you like, the beard stays."

"It scratches!" Roy blustered. "It's prickly and when you kiss me it's like kissing the rug we wipe our feet on at the back door! It's the wrong color! How can you have hair that color on your head and not on your face? You don't eat neatly enough to warrant it, I can tell you five separate occasions when you had food caught in it! It makes you look..."

"Older?" Ed interrupted.

"Shaggy!" the General finished out.

"Staying," Ed sang out, not even bothering to lift his head.

"Oh my god, please shave it off, I just bought you a car for godsake!" Roy begged. The time for shamelessness was upon him.

"It's a non-working car," Ed pointed out, "because you made me drive in into a lake, don't deny it."

"It was an accident, because I was smitten with you, because you looked so happy I just had to touch you! That should count for something," Roy wheedled.

"It's very nice, but not nice enough for me to make friends with the razor again," Ed crosses his arms behind his head. "Sorry Roy, but the Professor is on his way to respectability, not only for his intellect, but for his beard as well." Ed reached up to stroke it again, then lifted his head and gave Roy a smirk. At least Roy thought it was a smirk, it was hard to tell.

Roy picked up his suitcase, dropped it on the bed and opened it. He began to unpack it, moving around the room silently and quickly, putting his life back in order as best he could.

"You're only efficient when you're ticked off," Ed said as he walked past.

Still Roy said nothing. He nudged Ed's suitcase up against Ed's wardrobe with his foot and, nose in air, strode into the bathroom. He started the tub and began to peel out of his traveling clothes. Ed appeared in the doorway, (or was it the mountain man of Borneo? Roy was hard pressed to tell the difference) and leaned on the jamb, watching him.

Roy got into the tub and slide down, putting his heels up on the side of the tub, to either side of the faucet and let his chin sink in as well.

"If you're not talking to me that just means I get more air-time to talk to you," Ed said. "Even if it means just talking at you. I get enough talk you see, I have twenty-three people that are just dying to talk to me, non-stop if I'd let them."

Roy looked at Ed sidelong, then away.

"I bet the boys will think it's great," Ed said, turning to look at himself in the mirror and lifting his chin. "They all go on about how they wish they were old enough to have one." That seemed to appeal to Ed and he preened to himself, turning to study his profile.

Roy rolled his eyes and wiggled his toes, he groped around for the soap and began to lather up his wash cloth.

"Are you really not speaking to me?" Ed finally said.

Roy sliced his eyes back Ed's way, then sighed, blowing little bubbles into the bathwater. He lifted his chin to keep soapy water out of his mouth.

"Because you know, you're too old to pout," Ed gave a sage nod.

Roy's eyebrow did the angry 'v' thing and he slumped back down, snorting water this time.

"Maybe it's time you grew a beard," Ed said, turning and walking out of the bathroom. "So we'll remember who the mature one is around here."