sky dark

Better Living Through Alchemy

chapter 30.

"Just what is it you know about straightening collars and fixing ties, exactly?" the voice was amused and the man stood still for the attention.

"Shuddup, I know what I know. I know how to clean up even if I don't do it often, this is a fucking wedding, y'know."

"I assume we'll mind our language?"

"Yeah, fuck, I mean I will! Ok, you look presentable."

He smiled and reached to cup his lover's cheek. The younger man's eyes roamed his face and as always were drawn to left side.

"Still not used to it?"

Ed flushed bright red.

"It's not that," he said. "I just... you didn't sleep well last night."

Roy smiled and shook his head.

"Nerves, you know, it's a wedding, right?"

Ed snorted and let him get away with it.

Two eyes. Roy had two eyes again.

The nurse made a tsking sound and Roy gave him a look that told him he'd say more later, then he woefully tugged his hospital gown free of Ed's grip and limped back to his own bed.

The nurse looked between them, and then followed Roy back to his bed. Ed could hear her murmuring softly and Roy's answering murmur. She busied herself a bit, came over to make sure Ed was tucked in and he ignored her.

He kept trying to push her out of the door with his gaze. She needed to get the fuck out of the room because he had to talk to Roy. He had to find out what the fuck went on and why... WHY did Roy have another eye?

It wasn't even the same color as his good eye.

Eventually she did leave, it seemed like hours. And the way she kept hovering more on Roy's side of the room and Ed could hear the soft murmuring of their voices. He was taken, the General was fucking taken and he didn't care if she was a woman he'd kick her ass.

He really would, when he could move again.

After the door shut he counted to ten; then: "Get over here."

He heard the soft slide of sheets, the padding of feet on the floor and Roy hovered over him again and Ed squinted and then stared hard. He had his normal eye, his deep, dark, black eye and this...other one. It wasn't dark and it gave his face this strange, uneven look. It looked sort of muddy brown-green.

"Before you even ask, I don't now why," Roy said softly. "And don't get excited, you'll get loud and bring her back in here," he sat again on the side of the bed.

"Roy, did you ask?" Ed said slowly. "Did you ask the Gate for this?"

"No," Roy said, almost vehemently. "You said I should clear my mind. I did! I know I did, and I've heard what you've said about your past. I listen. That is the thing that took your arm and leg. For the life of me, Ed, if I had asked for anything, it would have been that. I swear."

"I know, I believe you," Ed shifted a bit, winced and Roy moved to help him, made that little sound in his chest and he gently moved Ed to get him more comfortable. It was the sound, more than the repositioning that made Ed relax.

"So, does it work? I mean its like the Gate to do this, but then make it just ornamental," Ed said. "And even then, to make it another color," he sighed.

"It works," Roy said. He ran his hand lightly over Ed's chest. "It's odd, looking in the mirror, but it works. Al was thinking the same things, only he wouldn't say anything to me about it. I take it that this Gate doesn't give things out for free."

"No, it doesn't work like that, and the price of anything it gives is always to high," Ed sighed. "But it took that woman, so maybe... I don't know. I can't second guess that thing, no one can."

Roy claimed Ed's hand again, held it in his own, stroked his thumb back and forth slowly over the back of it, then turned it over and stroked over the wrist.

"That array, the one on the floor of the opera house. The homunculus said it turned armor into flesh," Roy said quietly.

"That's what it was for," Ed said, just as quiet, momentarily distracted from staring at Roy's face to look down at Roy stroking his hand.

"Is that why you went there? To do that? To turn Al back into a flesh and blood creature?" Roy asked.

"Originally? No, I went there to get Al, the homunculi had taken him. There was a woman named Dante, she wanted to use Al to free her soul from a rotting body and put it into a new one," Ed said.

"It's obvious she didn't succeed. So what happened, why did you make the array?" Roy slid his thumb up into the palm of Ed's hand and Ed's fingers reflexively closed over it.

"Al sacrificed himself to save me," Ed mumbled. "Envy, well for a lack of a better term, he killed me. No there is no better term, that's exactly what he did, he pushed his arm through my chest. I died. I died and went to the Gate," Ed said. "I have the memory of it, I know that's what happened."

Roy took a few deep breaths as he tightened his fingers around Ed's hand.

"So Al was the Philosopher’s Stone, and he used himself to bring you back," Roy said. "To bring you back whole and not as one of those things."

"Only by being the stone could he have done it," Ed nodded. "But when he did it, he exhausted himself and vanished into the Gate. That is where his body was, anyways. I don't know if the Gate would have allowed his soul to re-enter his body, though."

"So then you made the array," Roy prodded gently.

"I made the array and offered myself in exchange for Al's body and soul," Ed nodded. "Al was restored and I moved on through the Gate to the place I told you about, the other world," he finished.

Roy went silent, still studying Ed's hand intently.

"I did what I had to do, I didn't want to leave you behind, but I had no choice," Ed said. "Al is my brother, he's my only family. I did what I had to do for Al."

"You'd do it again," Roy murmured.

"In a heartbeat," Ed sighed.

"Alphonse is lucky to have a brother like you," Roy said, loosening his grip on Ed's hand a bit and looking up at him, a half smile on his face.

"All I could think about in those moments was Al," Ed said. "I just reacted, because all of it had been for Al and I couldn't leave it like that. I couldn't let Al suffer in my place."

"Ed, you don't have to justify it to me," Roy said gently.

Ed shifted uncomfortably and tightened his own grip on Roy's thumb. He didn't meet the General's eyes (that, too, was still uncomfortable because of the many possible implications),and he didn't know what else to say.

Eventually the General stood up and Ed made a small complaining sound as he tugged his hand free.

"You need to rest, and I'm tired, too. Let's get some sleep," he leaned over and kissed Ed once, not lingering, then shuffled off toward his bed.

Ed lay there for a while, sleep coming no where near his brain. With slow deliberation he began to shove at his sheets. He freed one leg, and then the other and he gripped the bed rail with his only hand and agonizingly pulled himself into an upright position. It took many moments of schooling his breathing before he was able to turn both legs off the side of the bed and then slide to put his feet on the floor. His vision swam the moment he was upright and he had to grip the rail hard and tight for long moments before he could focus again.

He took a shuffling step forward, then another. He released the rail of the bed when he was forced to and just kept his eyes trained on the other bed just beyond the curtain. He'd dealt with worse in less favorable conditions. He really wished his body would do that hyper-adrenaline thing when there wasn't any danger, that would be sweet. But no, once his body figured out no one was trying to shoot him, or stab him, or eat him it completely wussed out and complained about every little ache and pain. Never mind he had a bruise the size of a small country along his back and ribs, his body, in general, was just a whiner.

Roy turned his head to look at him before he got all the way there. He raised his eyebrows and sat up.

"Ed, what are you doing? You shouldn't be up, have you seen yourself? You look like you're about to pass out!" The General slid out of his bed hastily and hurried forward to support him.

"Oh, I'm really surprised you're rushing over to help, usually when I'm about to pass out you just stand there and stare at me until it's too late," Ed said, then winced when Roy took hold of his arm.

"You're never going to let me live that down, are you? Never mind you were just back from the dead." Roy's bed was closer to them, so he maneuvered Ed there and sat him down on the edge.

"What are you doing getting up and walking around like that?" Roy demanded.

"Don't want to be over there and you way over here," Ed said petulantly.

"How old are you again?" Roy said, exasperated.

"Still younger than you...I want to be in the same bed with you," Ed said, dropping his eyes.

"Ed you're just one massive bruise, I could hurt you by just touching you, what if I roll into you or something?"

Ed remained stubbornly silent.

"Fine, then let's get you in here," Roy knew there would be no arguing with an Ed who refused to argue; so he moved to help Ed get into the bed proper.

"No sneaking to the other bed when I'm asleep," Ed warned, wincing as he slid and prodded and shifted to get comfortable, or at least as comfortable as he could be considering he really was one massive bruise.

After he got Ed settled as best he could, Roy climbed onto the bed. He froze every time Ed sucked in a breath or wrinkled his nose. It took a good half an hour before Roy could just lie down himself and he held himself away from Ed's side.

"I didn't say I would do it for you because I never want to be in that situation, where I would have to," Ed blurted out.

Ah, this is what it's about.

"Ed, I don't want you to ever do anything like that for me. Never on account of me, ok? You look exhausted, go to sleep," Roy sighed, the bed rail digging into his back.

"I love you just as much as I love Al, maybe not in the same way, but just as much," Ed plunged on.

"Ed..." Roy started.

"All that...stuff you said to me, about never being alone again? I feel all that too, for you. I never want to be where you aren't, ever again. I mean not like we need to be together twenty four hours or nothing, because that's just crazy and we'd kill each other within the first eight, but I don't want to be somewhere that I know, when I get home, you won't be there," Ed opened his eyes again.

The General reached over and stroked his thumb over Ed's bottom lip.

"Fuck, just fuck," Ed sighed.

"Your perpetual guilt machine is an amazing device, it will never run out of fuel and it will never be destroyed. I suppose I should just try to appreciate it for what it is," the General sighed.

"Screw you," Ed huffed.

"Not in your condition, now go to sleep," the General ordered gently.

Ed closed his eyes, not like he intended to obey or anything, but with Roy, right there beside him, it was insidiously easy to get drowsy. And he obeyed, whether he liked it or not.

"You look very handsome in formal wear, I really like the tails on the jacket, " the bastard purred behind him as Ed went to check his neck tie in the mirror.

"Yeah, yeah," Ed said, fussing with the points of his arrow tipped collar above the silk tie around his throat. "The buttons on those gray gloves are really tiny, you'll have to help me with them."

"My pleasure, " the General murmured. Ed watched him in the mirror. Roy lifted the trailing end of Ed's pony tail and pressed it to his lips.

"Hey, none of that," Ed swallowed and turned his head pulling the ponytail out of Roy's grip. "We don't have time."

Roy fetched the gloves and they stood facing each other while Ed slipped them on. Then Roy stepped closer and concentrated on the tiny button on the wrist of the glove, or at least he pretended to. He kept inching closer and closer so he could supposedly buttoned Ed's glove. He arched his hips into Ed's when he felt he was close enough.

"What are you doing?!" Ed softly wailed, stepping back. "Don't give me a boner! We'll be late! We can't be late, this is important!"

Roy sighed dramatically.

"Why do you get horny when we have things to do? Why don't you get horny on Sundays instead of sleeping under the newspaper on the couch with a bowl of chips on your stomach and your dog between your legs? That's the time to get horny!" Ed bustled away, going for his handkerchief that was lying on top of the chest of drawers.

"R.D. is suppose to make me horny?" Roy grimaced.

"What? NO! Stoppit, we'll be late!" Ed fled the room then and Roy smiled, shoved his hands in his pocket and strolled out the door to follow him.

They all kept murmuring right behind the curtain. Al stuck his head around the curtain once and then ducked back quickly.

"OK, what the fuck are you guys plotting over there?" Ed finally snarled. "I've been in this dump three whole fucking days and I'm bored out of my skull. Instead of being over here entertaining me and fawning over my every word because I'm injured y'know, your over there playing espionage with Roy! I know, I'll just get up and come over there and join the party," Ed threatened. Getting him to stay in the bed was taking some doing.

"No, no!" Al called quickly, then pushed the curtain all the way aside. "We're just talking about the discharge from the hospital," Al conceded.

"I'm being discharged?!" Ed said excitedly.

"Well, not you," Al said with a tight smile.


"Brother, Brother, Brother, PLEASE don't shout anymore! The nurses all give us funny looks and snub us in the hall," Al came hurrying over. "Don't worry, I'll be here and Roy is going to visit as much as..."

Ed reached out and grabbed Al with the only appendage he had for grabbing things.

But then Roy was there, gently extracting Al's shirt from Ed's fingers. Ed snarled and growled and grabbed onto Roy's hand instead.

"Edward," Roy said calmly, "I was in far better condition than you when they brought us in. I'm being discharged because I don't have to be carried to the bathroom and I don't threaten the nursing staff with physical violence over sponge baths."

Ed continued to snarl like a blond, three legged jackal and he even bared his teeth.

"I have things to attend to. For one I have to inspect the area and make sure it was properly sealed and there are no signs of the fugitive homunculus we met in the underground city. I also have a political rally to attend, because I don't want to be out of the public eye for very long with a bid for the Prime Minister's seat in the works," he let Ed keep the death grip on his fingers.

Ed's snarl slacked off and in its place came a look of baffled confusion and then a halting, wounded sort of understanding.

"Al, can you give us a few moments?" the General asked.

Al nodded once, then slipped out, pulling the door shut behind him.

"Political rally?" Ed said, making no attempt to disguise the hurt.

"Edward, you're not in any danger, you're recovering nicely," Roy said. "I've been working on this for a long time, we both have effort invested in this. I think, and my publicist thinks now is a very good time to put in as many appearances as I can, considering what just happened."

"Publicist? Is that who you were on the phone will all yesterday?" Ed said.

"Yes, any publicity is good publicity," Roy nodded.

"This is because of what I said about Al, about the Gate and the stone and when we were there before. Because of the array," Ed said.

"No, Ed, it's not."

"Yes it is, you're holding that against me."

"It's not, why would I do something as petty and ridiculous as that? Edward, you know what I'm saying makes perfect sense. Especially the part about wanting to make sure Gluttony is not roaming around."

"I agree with the Gluttony part," Ed said tightly, "but it is. You're hurt, you're jealous. You think I love Al more than I love you. You don't think I'd be willing to make the same sacrifice."

"You know what? You're being ridiculous and unreasonable and I'm not going to have this discussion. We both know, and you have even agreed, that if I really meant to win this election I need to do what it takes. This is what it takes."

"Even over me? That's it, isn't it? Now that I said that about Al, I'm not on the priority list anymore, isn't that right?"

"Of all the insanely infantile things you could say," Roy snarled. "You're not a child anymore. You have no reason to be behaving this way. As if I would hold your love of your brother in any sort of jealous regard is just unimaginable. I love your brother, too, in case you haven't noticed."

"Just go on and do what you want to do Roy! You're going to do it anyways! I'll be fine, I don't need you here. I can take care of myself. Al doesn't even have to stay here. I'm used to it, you know? I'm used to it, so just get the fuck out already. I want to go to sleep."

Roy caught him by the chin then, forced him to turn his head and look at him. Look at this strange, new Roy, with two mismatched eyes and a scowl.

Ed set his jaw, stubbornly and kept his eyes on Roy's.

Roy's look evened out, softened. He sighed and leaned forward. Not even Armstrong could hold Ed back when Roy wanted to kiss him and he wanted to be kissed. They did that for a moment or two and Roy's grip on his chin turned to a caress. When Roy pulled back they tilted foreheads together.

"Sorry," Ed mumbled, "I'm all nerves."

"I'm sorry, too," Roy said, "I absolutely swear I will be here every night to eat dinner with you, besides, you won't be in here to much longer. A few more days, the end of the week you can probably go home," he reassured.

Ed gave large, pitiful sighs the entire time Roy and Al went through all the preparations to take Roy home. Roy went home at precisely 5:12 in the afternoon. He was back by 7:18, he came striding into the room and looked his lover square in the eye.

"I can't sleep alone," he said.

Ed grinned like all the world was in love and scooted over slowly to make room on the bed.

"You look tired, you haven't been sleeping well lately," Ed said as he paused by the passenger side of the car for Roy to unlock the door.

"I heard you the first time you brought that up, and I said it's just nerves, it will be fine," he gave Ed a kiss on the end of his nose and held the door open for him.

"But it's not just this last couple of days...," Ed began then he got in the car when Roy nodded his head and the general shut him in. He watched Roy walk around the front of the car and straighten his cuffs before climbing in himself.

"You got the directions?" Ed asked again.

Roy patted his jacket pocket and fished out the key from his pants to start the car.

"You know where we're going, right?" Ed fussed with his own cuffs and reached up to flip his ponytail over his shoulder.

"I have a pretty good idea," the general reassured him.

"You having bad dreams again?" Ed ventured.

Roy cranked the car and put it in reverse, turning to look over his shoulder as he backed down the drive.

They didn't talk about it really, the new eye. Ed thought maybe it was for the best that they didn't really make it a topic of discussion regularly. But he did live with the man, love with the man, sleep with the man, and he knew there were things Roy wasn't telling him.

Roy hadn't been teasing that night in the hospital, several months earlier, he really couldn't sleep alone. They always slept closely, usually Roy spooned to Ed's back, an arm draped lightly over Ed's waist. But now, it was if he couldn't get close enough, and the hug was more like a clutch and sometimes he would tense and breathe very hard against the back of Ed's neck. How could Roy think Ed didn't notice?

"When are you going to tell me what you're seeing?" Ed said as Roy put the car in drive and headed to the stop sign at the end of the street.

The Gate does nothing without a price. And even though this was an unintentional thing, it was anything but a gift. They didn't speak about why the exchange might have been made, or whose eye was now occupying what use to be an empty place in Roy's face.

"I've always had bad dreams," Roy finally said, staring straight ahead. "You know that."

"Yes, but you've been having them more frequently lately. They seemed to have tapered off somewhat before... yeah, well, they did. Now they seem to be back to make up for lost time," Ed murmured.

"They are just bad dreams, they make no sense," Roy said, turning on the blinker to signal a turn onto the thoroughfare. "I forget them in the morning."

Ed remembered the urge to look. To search every inch of Roy's pale skin for any sign of redness, of a mark, of a serpent. But, of course, there was none, as he knew there wouldn't be and he felt ashamed of himself afterwards, but he still had to look.

The Gate had taken a woman, given an eye and instilled doubt. The doubt, to Ed's mind, was the cruelest thing by far it could have done.

"You're being awfully calm about this," Roy said with a half smile, and Ed started wondering what he could possibly mean by it.

Taking what awfully calm? The fact you mumble in your sleep in languages that are half dead and you try to climb into my skin with me and you shudder and groan in the middle of the night and I have to lie awake and listen to it?

"You were more agitated as you planned his birthday," Roy grinned, "but here you are about to watch him married off and you aren't even twitching an eye. I'm proud of you."

He's talking about the wedding!

Damn you, fuck you, hate you Gate.

"Yeah, so? I figure what's the point of freaking out? I'm just his older brother, not his mother," Ed grumbled.

"Be still my heart! Have you finally managed to cut the apron strings?" Roy grinned merrily, but his eyes never left the road.

"Fuck you, just because I happen to care about my little brother," Ed slouched in the seat.

"No, no! We all thought your insanely overprotective streak was adorable," Roy laughed.

"Just drive and plug your pie hole, Mustang," Ed snorted loudly.

"You have visitors," Al said, leaning in the doorway, smiling.

"Granny and...and... Winry?" Ed swallowed.

Al said nothing, just grinned and ducked out, then swung the door wide to let them in.

Seth poked his head in, only to be pushed in by Daniel. Eric, Duffy and Richard brought up the rear and they all slunk into the room, looking around nervously and lined up at the foot of Ed's bed and shifted all around, elbowing and shouldering each other.

Behind them came Miss Bloom, a large potted plant in her hand, a smile on her face and a sweater over her arm.

"I'll just take this opportunity to pop out for some lunch," Al said in a cheerful 'leaving you to your fate' tone. "You guys can keep him company for me while I'm gone."

"Well be glad to," Miss Bloom simpered. Al kept his plastered smile in place and then ducked out the door before Ed's glare of death reached him.

"Oh Professor Elric, we all miss you at the academy," Miss Bloom sang out and came over to set the plant on the beside table. She sat it right on top of Ed's notebook that he'd asked Al to bring to him so he could scribbled down everything that happened before he forgot.

"The boys have been very concerned, so I thought we'd make a nice visit to cheer you up and speed along your recovery," she twittered.

Ed stared at the boys, and they all stared back at him.

"Oh... that's uh, thoughtful," he said.

"Boys," Miss Bloom gestured.

Daniel elbowed Duffy hard in the ribs and he in turn took his aggression out on Eric, by stepping on the instep of his foot. Eric muffled his cry and gave Richard and shove in the arm and Richard kneed Seth in the butt and Seth shuffled forward and stuck an envelope in Ed's face.

Ed would have reached up to take it, but it was, as luck would have it, on his right side. So he had to reach across his body, and when he did Seth's eyes grew the size of basketballs and he turned a little pale.

"Thank you, Seth," Ed said, noting the look. "I just had a little accident, I'll be fine," he quickly reassured.

The other boys caught Seth's look and Ed groaned inwardly at the sudden look of intense curiosity on Daniel's face.

"You're arm is gone, cool!" Daniel said.

"Daniel Stanton, that is far from cool! The Professor was injured in a covert military operation!" Miss Bloom said in her most scolding manner.

"How did you lose it?!"





"All of the above," Ed said, trying to open the sealed envelope one handed.

"Did it hurt?" Seth wibbled, nibbling at his fingertips.

"Were you scared?" Duffy asked wide eyed.

"Did you kick their ass? Ooops, sorry," Daniel said, cringing a bit from Miss Bloom's stare.

"Was it really a covert military operation?" Richard gushed.

"Are you insured?" Eric inquired.

"I wonder just how covert it was, considering you all seem to know about it," Ed said, finally shoving the corner of the envelope into his mouth and picking at the seam of the flap with his finger.

"It was in the paper, I have it in my Fullmetal Alchemist scrapbook," Seth said. "It was a very interesting article written by Withmore Seltzer. You know, he usually writes with to much sensationalism, but this was pretty sensational. However, the article lacked any real substance other than mentioning your name as being called in from the reserves. I didn't know there was an Alchemists Reserves Unit."

Well, neither did Ed. Nice spin, Roy, nice spin.

"Tell us what really happened," Daniel pressed.

"No way," Ed said, muffled by envelope. "There is a really scary Colonel named Hawkeye who'd kick my ass from here to Drachma and back, then she'd serve up my balls to...," Ed glanced over at Miss Bloom, "uh, sorry."

Miss Bloom smiled in a strained polite way and tugged a little at her collar.

"My goodness, you boys and all your questions. I'm sure the Professor would rather hear how your studies were going. I'm only giving them text book assignments you understand. This has brought to the attention that we need another qualified alchemy teacher on staff, especially if you get called away on... missions," and Miss Bloom tugged at her collar again and her eyes traveled up and down his sheet covered body and Ed felt positiviely naked.

"So, how goes your studies?" Ed drawled, spitting out the envelope and scowling at it.

The boys all shuffled a bit and hemmed and hawed over nothing and that was good enough for Ed.

Miss Bloom suddenly reached right into his lap, picked up the envelope and opened it neatly, edged the card out just enough so Ed could take it and returned it to his lap. Her knuckles almost touched him and he tried hard to sink into the mattress.

Ed managed to wiggle the card free of the envelope after he was sure Miss Bloom wasn't going to try to touch him again and he laid the card on his lap and flipped it open. It was pretty standard get well card, but every corner of the inside was filled with names. Someone had even drawn a flamel on it.

"This is great, thanks," Ed said, looking up and smiling.

The boys all shuffled around and studied their shoes. Finally Daniel spoke up.

"Hurry up and come back, it's dead boring in class now," he said, not meeting Ed's eyes.

It was the nicest get well wish he'd ever gotten.

"We've missed the turn," Ed said, "let me see the direction card."

"We haven't, for the umpteenth time, we're going the right way," Roy said, exasperated.

"I think we've gone too far! Why won't you let me see the damn card? You're lost and you don't want to admit it!" Ed groused.

Roy dug the card out of his pocket and shoved it in Ed's face, then gripped the steering wheel with both hands and snorted.

Ed studied the card intently, then looked at every road sign for the next mile and a half.

"Well?" Roy demanded.

"I got Oberton confused with Oakton," Ed said loftily, folded his arms and looked out his window.

"So, Al's getting married," Roy said. "I have complex feelings about this. I know Al isn't really my son, but it feels that way, a bit," he looked over at Ed.

"I'm happy, I am," Ed said. "One of us needs to do it right, you know, carry on the family name. Won't be me," he glanced at Roy and gave a lopsided grin.

"Did you want kids, Ed?" Roy asked. "I never thought about it for myself, but what about you, did you see yourself with a family?"

"Al is my family, you are my family. Winry and Granny, they are my family. I have lots of family," Ed nodded. "If Al wants to add to it, I'm happy, but I don't really feel the need myself."

"Well, we don't want the fine family name of Elric to slip away," Roy said with a small smile. "That is, if Al wants kids. I think Al would make a fine father, his problem, of course, is he married the military in a the form of a woman, and I'm not to sure how that would sit with her."

"What about the fine name of Mustang? You never talk about your family...I've never asked," and Ed felt another twinge, a gear on the machine set to a higher number.

"There are other Mustangs," Roy said. "There really isn't much to talk about," he continued. "My parents have been gone for a while."

"I'm sorry, I didn't know," Ed turned to look at him. "That's really selfish of me, that I never asked."

"Ed, you and Al, you're all the family I need," Roy thumbed the steering wheel, bent his head to check an overhead road sign. "I never thought I'd have a family, but I do. That's more than enough for me...this is our turn," the General put the blinker on and slowed.

It was a fine, large, gothic structure of untold years. It loomed over them, stretching toward the heavens with it's massive white columns and bronze ornamentation of things with wings beseeching the skies.

Ed noticed Breda hiding off to the side of one column sipping from a flask. He noticed them, capped his flask and hurried to join them.

"There is a sweet set up out back," he said. "They already got the kegs lined up under this big tent. As soon as we get this crap out of the way we can really get to the business."

"This 'crap' is a wedding," Ed said, following Roy to the giant mahogany double doors.

"It's a two-for-one, so there should be plenty of booze," Breda crowed as the General got one of the doors open after several hard tugs and he followed them into the church.

As predicted, at the end of the week, Ed got to go home. He went home with instructions, restrictions and medication, all of which he promptly forgot the moment Roy helped him hobble into the foyer.

"I'm home," Ed said in a funny little squeaky voice that made Roy grin like an idiot.

Ed wanted to shuffle around the living room aimlessly and Roy could not dissuade him, so he stood leaning in the arch as Ed carefully examined everything he'd seen a million times before. Then R.D. realized something was up in the house and came charging through his dog door. Roy heard the hurried clicking on dog nails on hard wood and watched the little terrier beeline right by him and into the living room to start running circles around Ed's feet.

"R.D., I'm home," Ed squeaked again and the tone was just right to send R.D. into a spasm of yapping joy.

Ed couldn't quite bend over to pet him, so R.D. helpfully jumped up onto the couch, but he was dancing back and forth so much, Ed couldn't lay a hand on him. Finally Ed gave up, hobbled by Roy smiling up at him and started for the den, R.D. at his heels.

"Edward, the house hasn't changed in the week you've been gone. Come on, let's get you back in bed," the General coaxed gently.

"No, I've been in bed for a week, I'm fine," Ed insisted, making it to the doorway of the den. "I just want to check things out, see if you've rearranged anything or left any dirty dishes laying around. You know you're bad about that, you leave them laying around all the time, I always see them just lying there," Ed said shuffling into the den.

"Ok, so why don't you pick them up and take them to the kitchen?" Roy asked, leaning on the den doorjamb, arms crossed.

"Why should I? They're your dirty dishes," Ed said.

He would tire out in a bit, the least Roy could do was indulge him a slow crawl through the house. He was recovering nicely, still sore as hell from the bruising, but all the other little things that caused worry were pretty much on the road to recovery. Roy was thankful Ed really did seem to have as hard a head as everyone teased him about.

Ed came back out of the den and headed down the hall toward the kitchen. It was then, when they'd been home less than half an hour that the doorbell chimed. Roy looked at Ed and raised his eyebrows and Ed frowned and nodded toward the door.

Roy went to answer it, stepped back, gave a little half bow and looked down the hall at Ed, smiling. Ed made a small pitiful sound in the back of his throat.

"ED!" Winry Rockbell yelled, fist not clenching the strap of the case over her shoulder, clenched. "What have you done now?! Do you know what it's like getting these phone calls? You never tell me anything! It's your life long mission to keep me in the dark! Why were you in the hospital? What could you possibly be doing now that you're a teacher to get your ARM RIPPED OFF?!" and she bared her teeth.

She stepped into the hallway and Ed looked at Roy with nothing short of terror in his eyes.

"The General's not going to save you, he knew I was coming," she growled.

Ed gasped in wounded betrayal and looked at Roy.

"Even though you have sold me out, I still love you," he told the man.

"I'm sorry, but I didn't know how to bring it up," the General sympathized. "If it makes you feel any better, I didn't call her, Al did."

Ed gasped again.

Winry leaned down to pet R.D. who stood perfectly still for her. Even R.D. seem to have chosen sides, and he wasn't hedging his bets.

Ed, despite Winry being in the same direction, started to shuffle toward the General with his flesh arm outstretched.

"Don't leave me alone with the mean lady," he pleaded.

"I'm going to go and pay for her taxi," Roy said, slipping out the door.

"Thank you General Mustang," Winry said with a smile that didn't reach her eyes. She let the case she was carrying over her shoulder hit the floor and she pushed up her sleeves.

Ed tried to put himself in reverse and was doing a slow 180 degree turn to go away from Winry now, but as it was, if he was lucky he just might beat a turtle in a foot race.

"The first order of business," Winry said with manic glee, "is to get you into bed."

She walked right up to him, turned him back toward her, butted her shoulder into his stomach and hefted him up over her shoulder. She then walked down the hall with him and turned into the bedroom.

Playing dead didn't help Ed one little bit.

"There are people here I don't know," Ed murmured, standing between the General and Breda at the last pew in the enormous church.

"They're so far away, how can you tell?" Roy said, squinting his eyes toward the little knot of people up near the front of the church.

"I can just tell," Ed said, glancing over at Breda and wrinkling his nose. "Fuck sakes, Heymans. Al's getting married, at least you could have taken that relic of the last century to the cleaners."

Breda looked dispassionate, as he was often wont to do and shrugged.

"Hey, it's clean, I only wore it once last year and it's been in the back of my closet ever since," he said and nodded sagely in the manner that suggested he knew when he suit was clean.

"I'm glad I've never seen you with a woman who wasn't made of ink on paper, it's just as well you stay out of the gene pool," Ed snorted. "Havoc is here getting the same thing done to him, you better hope Sarah doesn't get a good look at you, she'll toss you ass out those big holy doors, then where's your free beer? Nowhere, that's what I say," the Ed stuck his nose in the air and looked side long at Roy. The General was wearing an ear to ear grin.

"Havoc said I could wear anything I wanted to his wedding, ain't my fault Al had to go and decide they needed to do it at the same time," Breda looked at Roy to, in the 'why can't you control him?' sort of way. Roy refused to meet his eyes.

"Maybe those are Sarah's relatives," Roy pondered. "Let's go introduce ourselves."

"Why?" Ed asked. "Something special about them?"

"Yeah," Breda chimed in, "they do tricks or something?"

Then Ed and Breda both grinned and elbowed each other. The General sighed.

They were all briefly saved by the arrival of Falman and Abigail, both in somber grey fabric and all laced and straight lines.

"We don't know those people up there," Ed said to Falman, "go find out who they are."

"Is this some sort of routine inquiry? Is there no security on the premises?" Falman asked.

"Ed, don't get Falman all stiff, it's his day off, he's here to enjoy the wedding, like everyone else," the General said.

"You mean you're suppose to enjoy these things?" Breda asked with fake astonishment, "So all these years I've been doing this wrong?"

"That is the most unique definition of enjoy I've ever heard," Ed muttered.

Then he and Breda elbowed each other again.

Fuery arrived a short time later and almost bought an elevator pass before the General intervened. Then as a sort of wary point guard, the General took Ed by the arm and led him down the isle toward the group at the other end.

"Hey, hey, hey," Breda called after them, "I didn't know this was a three-for-one, you guys are starting kinda early," he chortled. "You're supposed to wait for the organ music and the little kid to throw girly flower pedals at your feet."

Ed wrested his arm away from Roy and charged back down the isle. Breda yelped and took off through the foyer and off to the right, disappearing out of sight. The sounds of Ed's dress show heels on the marble entry way rang through the church like thunder and everyone left standing there steadfastly avoided looking at the people in the front of the church.

After a few moments the General heaved a large sigh and went to make sure Ed wasn't committing murder on holy ground.

The elections were tomorrow. No one could decide where they should listen for the results. The usual bar didn't seem fitting for the General to hear the news he was going to be sworn in as the nations new Prime Minister. The General lived to far out in the boonies for his house to be wrecked with the drunken revelry to follow the announcement. Havoc lived in the dorm, so did Breda; so did Fuery and Falman for that matter. Hawkeye lived in East City, which was a couple of days away by train, so her place was right out.

Ed just listened to them plot and scheme and plan and wonder if he was listening to what the rest of his life would be like.

He would be the...the what? Husband? Wife? Lover? Consort? Concubine of the Prime Minister?

The Embarrassment most likely.

The General was looking at him, he summoned a smile.

"Any suggestions?" Roy asked.

Before Ed could speak, Havoc broke in.

"Hey, we can rent out the restaurant where Sarah works," he said, and there was a approving mumur from the assembled crew of friends and campaign workers.

Roy kept his eyes on Ed.

"Sounds good to me," Ed nodded.

The General came to him, took him by the elbow.

"Excuse us a moment," Roy said, smooth as silk and neatly steered Ed off into another room, pausing to pull the door shut behind him. Ed took a few more steps into the room, turning to face Roy who now stood with his back to the door.

"Reservations?" Roy said, tilting his head slightly and looking off to the side. "I don't suppose I would blame you, even though it seems late at this point. But that's on my head, too. It's not like I gave you much of a choice."

"Well you know how it is," Ed shrugged, tucked his hands into his back pockets and tilted his head to the side, "now that it will be said and done I think of all the things I should have said in the first place. I think about all the implications, all the ways this can come back on you, on me, on Al. It's a big step, maybe I didn't understand exactly how huge a climb it was going to be, maybe I didn't realize what exactly I was going to give up."

Roy let his head tilt back against the door and looked at the cracked plaster over his head. It ran in an interesting zigzagged line toward the light fixture in the middle of the ceiling.

"Look, I can make it work, I'm good at making things work," Ed said. "I don't want you to think I'm backing out now after coming this far, it's not like that. This is me and you, in this together, forever. I don't do anything by halves."

"I know that," the General said, still studying the ceiling. "You put a lot of faith in me, I don't want to disappoint you. I'm not sure where I got caught up in this. I also know, it took a lot for me to earn the faith you put in me. That was sort of a fuel I guess, not an excuse. I know this is not what you would have asked of me, but I'm good at thinking for other people as I've found out over all this time you've been with me. I still haven't learned my lesson, have I?"

"I don't think you ever will," Ed gave another shrug, an easier one, he smiled. "Whenever I start to think about how hard it is to be with you sometimes, I think about how much harder it was to be without you other times. I never want to go back to that. So, when I decided you were it for me, I knew there were going to be things I'd just have to swallow. Because you are a hard man General, but you're not hard to love."

The General pushed off the door and within two strides had the Professor in his arms.

"I can't do this on my own, no matter what anyone might think. If you couldn't... if it was to much, I'd give it all up," the General whispered right by his ear.

"You'd give up saving the world?" the Professor asked, his voice a bit breathless, his hands roaming up the General's arms toward his shoulders.

"Gluttony didn't eat you," the General said with a sudden, wicked grin. "Screw the rest of the world, I saved mine," and he kissed him. Wet, hard, deep. His arms tightened around the small of the Professor's back, arched him hard until their hips were all but melded together.

The Professor's fingers massaged lazy circle into the General's shoulders.

"Why the fuck do you know just what to say?" Ed whispered, tilting his face up as he did so, his eyes already sliding half shut as he watched Roy lower his face toward his.

The General didn't answers, instead his mouth covered Ed's once again and his hips began to grind in a slow circle. Ed pulled his head back, licked his lips.

"Tell me what we've got; we found it didn't we? Remember?" he asked.

"This is as real as it gets, Ed," the General said, low and husky, his hand slid down then; past Ed's waist and rested on the crest of his butt. When he ducked his head to kiss this time, he extended his tongue and Ed opened his mouth, already groaning in anticipation.

The click of the door handle and the creak of the springs didn't stop Roy. He latched over Ed's mouth like glue to paper and Ed raised his eyebrows and let his tongue be bullied by the invader. Ed did however turn his eyes sidelong to see who was standing in the doorway, watching them.

"General," Fuery said faintly, sounding like he might pass out. Roy jerked his face away then, turned to look at the man.

"Be right there," he said, pasting on his pleasant smile. Fuery was an adult now by any stretch of the means, but Roy still kid-gloved him as he always had. Roy squeezed Ed's ass anyways.

"We'll pick this up when we get home tonight," he voice spoke with much promise and Ed gave him a dry hump to tide him over before releasing him back to destiny.

The General returned to the group with a disheveled Ed and a scowling Breda following along behind him. Ed and Breda kept snapping looks at each other, then at the back of the General's head and when they came to a stop, Ed and Breda looked for all the world like naughty school boys.

"I would think," the General grumbled, "that you would want to conduct yourselves with a bit more decorum. After all this day is very important to your brother," and he eyed Ed who ducked his head, "and your best friend," he finished off, turning to level his gaze on Breda. Breda snorted and put his hands in his pockets.

As if summoned by his very name, Alphonse appeared out of a side door toward the back of the church. He looked around and broke into a huge grin and hurried toward the group.

"Al," Ed cried behind Roy, then pushed around him to meet his brother. The two grabbed hands and for a brief moment, Roy thought they might dance in a circle; but they refrained and stood grinning at each other.

"When I heard someone in the foyer was strangling someone else in the foyer I knew you were here," Al gushed.

"Of course we're here," Ed returned excitably, "we're even early. Roy was lousy at the directions, but somehow I managed to get us here despite him."

Al released Ed's hands and then grabbed his brother and hugged him tight, rocking him side to side. Ed could barely be seen over Alphonse's shoulder and his words were muffled against his brother's collar bone.

"I'm just so glad you're here," Al said, his voice sounding a bit high and strained and Roy decided to leap in and try to keep Al from dissolving into a girl by crying or something equally unmanly.

"I'm just so glad you're happy," Ed said, in the same timbre as Al and Roy concluded that perhaps, unbeknownst to them all, the Elrics were really sisters.

"How can they be so gay for each other and yet not be?" Breda said with a shake of the head.

"They're brothers!" Fuery hissed in scarlet outraged.

"Doesn't make them any less gay yet not for each other," Breda snorted.

"I believe the man has a point," Roy sighed, watching the two of them attempt to rock each other, but their rhythm was all off. They looked like high school sophomores at their first dance together.

"'s not gay," Fuery sputtered, "It's just brotherly love, there's nothing wrong with it," he flailed his arms a bit.

"Well at least Al isn't grabbing Ed's butt like the General always does," Breda nodded.

"I like grabbing Ed's butt," Roy said, clasping his hands behind his back, "Ed has an extraordinary backside. Tight, sort of bubble shaped, and the sounds he makes..."

"Ok I was sort of on your team there for a bit," Breda said, turning away, "but now I'm gonna go over here and pick Fuery up off the carpet. Enjoy your perversions alone, sir."

The General nodded, noticing that somehow Falman had already made it way down to the front of the church with his date in tow. Amazing how fast and silently the man could move, really, he was wasting himself at a desk job.

The General stepped around Breda who was slapping Fuery's cheeks and shaking him by the collar and advanced on the two brothers, still locked in a hug. The General tapped Al's shoulder.

"Mind if I cut in?" he asked.

Al pried Ed off and transferred him over to the General, where Ed clung to him like a sloth and Al rubbed his brother's back.

"He's always so emotional," Al said, looking up at the General. Roy winced when Ed's automail fingers dug into his back.

"Well," the General managed to wheeze out as Edward proceeded to try and decompress his lungs, "you know he's always had a weak spot for you. He's not the type to be emotional about just anything. I think we can cut him a little slack this time," and the General forced a grin and patted Ed's shoulder praying his spine wouldn't snap before Ed released him.

"I guess so," Al said, smiling. His name was called and he turned away then, went down the isle toward the other people in the church.

"For that you get to live," Ed growled against Roy's chest and pried his knuckles from between one of Roy's vertebrae.

One by one they filtered out, and he took the General's hand as they were the last to leave. There were some raised hands in the parking lot, waves that were uncertain, but Ed returned them all and stood by as Roy opened the car door for him.

It has been a reasonable night. The food and drinks, the ballons and hats, the tally and results.

You think you know someone, and then you have to say something to them. Something that will be both profound and comforting, something to if not make it all better, at least to make it seem like it might turn out ok in the end.

"It was really close," Ed said, studying Roy's profile as he pulled the car out of the parking lot onto the main road. "It really seemed like their might have been a run off."

Roy spared him a glance and a smile. Ed tried to read more, but the General turned his head again, eyes forward.

"It was pretty close," Roy said with a nod, but didn't say anything further.

What made the comforting part harder, at least for Ed, was the fact he was glad the new Prime Minister was not Roy. In fact, he had restrained himself from letting out a whoop of relief when the final numbers were in and the announcement sang out tinny and loud on the radio that had center stage at their little gathering.

"Look, you don't have to move offices! You're still a General!" Ed then flashed his infamous grin, the grin he used to reassure his little brother, to try and fool his superior officer. His grin that was suppose to fix things, (but in reality, only covered them up).

The General said nothing.

There were several moments of awkward silence. The Professor studied his hands in his lap and alternately glanced up at the road. There was little to see except the car lights flashing by them going to opposite direction.

"You know, I'm really not very good at this," Ed finally said. "I want to make it all better, but I don't know how. I don't know how to boister people with only words and my own confidence. I'm just me, and I believe in you, I still think you did save the world," he glanced at Roy then. "Maybe that isn't enough, in light of tonight. I know how hard you worked for this, and I know how bad it is to lose. Even if our experiences aren't the same, I still know that pain, and I'm sorry. I love you and I want to fix it, but I'm not sure how."

The General's hand fell over his, where it rested on the car seat between them. He squeezed Ed's hand and cleared his throat. He didn't really say anything, but he didn't let go of Ed's hand, either.

When they got to the house the General pulled his coat off and hung it in the closet, he then turned into the living room, hitting the light switch and heading over to the bar. Ed stood under the living room arch, watching him, his own coat hanging over his arms.

The General poured himself a scotch, and even know he knew Ed never partook of his favorite drink, the held up a second glass and tilted his head as if in question.

"Yes," Ed said, walking into the living room, dumping his coat on the couch as he went.

He was glad that Roy was only his. He was entirely to glad the man's dreams, hopes and aspirations came tumbling down at his feet this night. He was, without doubt the most despicable and two-faced lover any General could ever have, and he didn't deserve someone like Roy.

The General poured him a healthy dose, pressed the glass into his metal hand, then turned to lean his back against the bar and practically killed his own glass in one shot. Ed sniffed at his, held his breath and took a drink. He tried hard not to wince and gag, but managed to anyways and he thought he caught the ghost of a half smile on the General's profile.

Roy looked into the glass, tilting it toward him, then took a deep breath and let it go slowly.

"Tonight fucking sucked," the General said.

And here he was, in all his turmoil, trying to comfort Ed. Because frankly, the General never said anything sucked (he often said fucking, however).

"No, I fucking suck," Ed burst out. "I fucking suck like starved babies at a boob convention. I suck so much that I could be a threat to small children or animals nearby that might get caught in the vacuum. I should never be allowed to have anyone good around me because I manage to create this black hole of suckiness and everyone just swooshes in and gets the suck I suck all over them and that makes things just suck even more..."

The General was looking at him oddly.

"I'm sorry that my sucky need to have you all to myself somehow caused this to happen," Ed continued. "I didn't... I didn't want you to be Prime Minister, so... yeah, so this is what happened," then Ed killed the rest of his scotch in penance because he knew it was going to kill him. He staggered toward the couch gagging and dropped onto it.

And then...the General laughed. He put his hands over his eyes and then threw his head back and laughed. He shook his head, pointed at Ed, poured himself another scotch, but then couldn't drink it right away because he has to laugh some more.

Ed grumbled but didn't really object. He just waited for Roy to get over this bout of hysteria, then condemn him good and proper and make him sleep in the spare bedroom.

Roy took another drink of his scotch, turned and sat the glass on the bar, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and then shook his head one more time.

"You are just priceless," the General said, looking over at the man looking like a sorry heap on the couch. "Absolutely priceless."

Not sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing, Ed held his peace.

The General walked over and offered his hand. The Professor reached up slowly to take it and didn't resist when the General pulled him to his feet. Roy looped his arm over Ed's shoulder and turned him toward the doorway.

"Do you think I didn't know that, Ed?" the General kissed his temple and gave him the nudge to start walking. "Not the part where you somehow made me lose the election. I'm really impressed that you got out there and campaigned for my opposition so well, or that you somehow managed to rig the vote boxes, very clever. They always say keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

"You don't have to mock me," Ed growled as he was guided down the hall and turned into the bedroom.

"They left out the part where it says keep your lovers under you," the General nipped at his ear and Ed pushed away a little.

"I don't get this, why aren't you mad at me?" Ed questioned, then did a little hop-step to avoid stepping on R.D. who came skidding into the bedroom behind them.

"Edward when has my being mad at you ever accomplished anything?" Roy said, navigating the sudden tangle of lover and dog and shrugging his suit jacket off his shoulders. He opened his closet, stepped half into it and rummaged for a hanger.

Ed watched his back, watched as he started working out of his vest, then untying his tie. He didn't say anything. Roy was never one for a strict economy of words. Sure, he didn't feel the need to fill up a space with his voice; but even for him, this was quiet.

Of course he was quiet. He was upset, he had to be, how couldn't he be? Ed reached up to rub the back of his neck. Since his younger brother had found someone else to occupy his ever waking thought he rarely took the time to beam good advice directly into Ed's brain nowadays. Ed was left to flop around on his own, very much a fish out of water in the comforting words department.

He groped for something to say to the man he loved; something that wasn't a thinly disguised attempt to get Roy to tell him what to say to make Roy feel better. Dammit, how old did he have to be before he could do these things on his own? R.D. was sitting by the closet as Roy continued to undress, watching Ed, tilting his head back and forth and Ed kept expecting the little terrier to pipe up and give Ed the prode in the right direction. He half turned away in self disgust; so he was so inadequate as a human being he had to seek a dog’s advice? Ridiculous, but he gave R.D. another glance anyways.

The General was in his skivvies now, and they stepped back out of the closet and closed the door. He gave Ed a look as he headed for the bathroom.

"Aren't you going to get ready for bed?" the General asked, "It's getting pretty late."

"Yeah," Ed nodded absently, but he sat on the end of the bed after Roy disappeared from view.

So he could just say nothing. After all, Roy wasn't acting upset; but that was just like Roy, to try to spare Ed everything. It was a bad habit he'd picked up when Ed was still just a kid and had yet to shake it. It aggravated Ed as much as it drew him to the man. He then wondered if he'd ever be old enough for Roy to shake it, and part of him kind of hoped Roy never did. But by saying nothing, well, what kind of support was that? His very own inner Ed rapped on the inside of his skull and nastily informed him that by wishing a loss on the General he wasn't supportive at all, not at any time during the entire ordeal.

His very own inner Ed informed him what a selfish bastard he really was. And his inner Al wasn't around to scold his inner Ed.

"I'm not a coward," he growled to himself, "and I am supportive." He pushed himself up off the bed and headed for the bathroom, he grabbed the doorjamb on either side and leaned in; he started to say something but the General, who was leaning on the vanity, jerked his head up and looked at him. He didn't look ok.

And he suddenly knew he didn't need words. All he needed to do was to release the doorjamb, walk the few feet separating himself from Roy and wrap his arms around him; which was precisely what he did.

Roy didn't feel a need for words either. He turned his face as Ed came against his chest and pressed his forehead to Ed's temple and inhaled deeply.

Once upon a time, what seemed like forever ago now, Ed had told Roy a fairy tale of a strange world and the shadow of people who were not who he thought they were. A tale of a place where he'd spent six years in a waking dream, wanting nothing more than to come home to all he knew. And as he spun this tale of hope and despair, Roy had held him and rocked him. He remembered it, because even though he never said it, just the simple act of holding someone close and swaying back and forth had been a lifeline to him. It was the thing that reached through the darkness of those memories and gave him the courage to get them out into the open, so he didn't have to suffer them alone.

He remembered the general's arms around him, rocking him.

So he started to sway, lightly, to and fro and the general was stiff at first, but he soon caught the motion and they stood like that, on the tile floor of the bathroom, holding and rocking. And it was there, as he was the one holding out the lifeline that he found his voice to speak, and he hoped his words would help.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered below the general's ear. "You deserved that position; they have no idea what they’ve lost. But I do. I know what they've denied themselves, and I thank ...well I'm not sure who to thank, but I do, everyday. I thank whatever that I as able to get back and be with you and be beside you. But more importantly, because you could be beside me. Because this is where I feel safe; you are the man who saved my world."

The general lifted his hands and cupped Ed's cheeks and pressed his forehead to Ed's and met Ed's eyes with his miss-matched ones.

"Thank you," Roy whispered. "I want that to be all that matters to me."

Now you don't see you do.

The prince was there, suddenly, inexplicably; right there at Ed's side. Ed jumped a little and this made Roy look to see what was wrong. Then Roy was scowling and Ed wasn't sure what to feel. He hadn't seen the prince in a while.

"General Mustang," the prince purred and gave a deep flourishing bow, "Professor Elric," the prince continued, and straightened up only to give another deep flourishing bow.

"Your highness," the general returned, never to be outdone. He inclined his head and Ed looked back and forth between them. Both the prince and the general were looking at him now.

"Well, free food and booze are involved, I'm not surprised you showed up," Ed snorted and like that the tension eased and the three of them stood there watching Alphonse speak to Riza's relatives near the front of the church.

"I was invited," the prince said, speaking lowly and leaning toward Ed's ear when he noticed the general's arm fall heavily across Ed's shoulder and Ed winced but said nothing.

The prince gave the general's arm a look, let his gaze travel the length of it to the general's profile and the general turned to look at him behind Ed's head and although he said nothing, his eyes informed the prince to back the fuck; or not as the situation presented itself. In that case, the general's eyes told the prince, he would be happy to help the prince contributed to the atmosphere of Al and Riza's (and Havoc and Sarah's, but damn that was a long sentence) wedding by providing additional lighting. In the way a torch provided additional ambient lighting. Only it wouldn't be a torch, it would be the prince, or some such because Roy's eyes lost their train of thought by being distracted from the prince to Ed who was just now figuring out there was a non-verbal threat going on behind his back.

"Stop it," Ed growled, "this is Al's wedding for fuck sake."

"So it's alright for you to throttle Breda in the vestibule, but it's not alright for me to promise the prince a fiery death if he so much as breaths on you in the foyer?" the general grumbled, wrinkling his nose and turning away from the prince.

"Breda called me and you ga...," but Ed stopped himself, because the prince was standing right there. "I'll tell you later when the royal snop isn't around."

A servant appeared at Ling's side and whispered in his ear so softly neither the general or Ed could make out what was being said no matter how hard they listened or try to edge closer discreetly to overhear.

The servant went away and Roy and Ed waiting for the prince to tell them what that was all about, but the prince merely clasped his hands behind his back and offered his usual telling smile that told nothing at all. The general and the professor turned away to huddle up and try to figure out just what the prince might be up to, and when neither could decide they turned back to him.

"That's some get up," Ed remarked casually over the prince's silk finery, "you look like a girl."

"In my country we wearing garments suited to the occasion. A marriage is a bonding, a union between a man and a woman. Here, embroidered on my clothing are many koi, a symbol of plenty and fertility," the prince solemnly pointed out.

"You are just fucked with analogies, you know that?" Ed crossed his arms. "I bet I could say anything and you'd find some way of comparing it to some obscure meaning in your country."

"I can't help it you lack tradition," the prince said and brushed down his tunic front.

"We have plenty of tradition," Ed said airily. "Were I come from we have festivals for everything. Corn, wheat, cows," Ed ticked off his fingers, " apples..."

"Most of your traditions are food based, I see," the prince said rubbing his chin.

"This wedding ceremony is traditional," the general offered. It seemed he'd manage to overcome his inability to speak to the prince without growling.

"Right, this is traditional, everyone gets married this way, everyone here that is, not in your country," and Ed was back to being smug, he folded his arms and grinned at the general.

The general was looking at him with a small smile pulling the corner of his mouth. Ed puffed his chest out a bit, he liked being looked at his way.

Then the church doors behind them opened and in streamed Xingian men, all dressed in bright silks, four sets of them, each bearing a tub carried on bars that rested on their shoulders. They paraded past the prince, the general and the professor standing there in the foyers. Falman, Breda and Fuery regarded them from the bench they had appropriated about half way down the church isle. Alphonse stared at them from the front of the church, then made placating gestures at his future in-relatives. The other people, who must be attached to either Havoc or Sarah also watched.

"We've never found out just who they are, have we?" Ed said out of the side of his mouth to Roy.

The tubs were deposited next to the altar and Alphonse and the other people up front crowded forward to see. Falman, Breda and Fuery all stood up and leaned over the pew in front of them, but they were to far away to get a good look. Roy and Ed turned to look at the prince.

"It's a wedding gift," the prince said with an easy shrug of his shoulders. "I'm afraid I will be journeying for home by this time tomorrow, and I wasn't sure where else to present it."

"You're going back to Xing?" Ed asked, and felt funny that this long awaited news didn't bring him the euphoria he once thought it would.

"A new ambassador will be taking my place," the prince said, eyes closed, smile similarly closed. "I would have told you sooner, but you've been rather inaccessible of late."

Roy suddenly slapped Ed on the shoulder.

"Admitting my curiosity is piqued is an understatement," the general said. "I have to see what's in the tubs." He walked away down the isle, leaving Ed there with the prince and a chance to speak alone. The man never ran dry of good deeds.

"Yeah about that," as the general got out of hearing range, "you know why. I mean things like that need time to simmer down, it's not like I was going to avoid you forever," then Ed heaved a sigh. "But I guess since you're running home now that Roy can be no more use to you I just won't get the chance."

"To continue avoiding me?" Ling questioned, smile still in place.

"Right, you've made it to easy, being in another country and all," Ed grinned back. "Well you can always have your servants write me letters."

The two young men stood side by side and regarded each other for long moments.

"Um, this might sound weird, but...thanks. In a lot of ways what you did made me see some shit I was taking for granted and it was also...flattering? So, yeah, thanks and all. You started out as a major pain in my ass and managed to turn into a half way respectable friends sort of thing. Don't make anything of that, I'm just saying," Ed finished off.

"Thank you for being my cultural liaison and a sober reminder that anything in life is worth working hard to achieve, even if the end result is not what you would have wanted," Ling turned to look toward the front of the church where everyone was gathered around the tubs.

"I hope your brother likes fish," the prince said. The servants all filed back up the main isle, slid past Ling and Ed silently and went out the door.

"He likes fried fish ok I guess," Ed said with a shrug, "you brought him fish? He's got like a cat, he's likely to have a billion if he and Riza get a house or something."

At the head of the church, Roy had his arm over Al's shoulder and they were both peering down into one of the tubs. Al was pointing something out.

"Things are well with you then? You and your General?" the prince asked softly.

"It could have been bad, and it was, but then it wasn't," Ed turned to look into the prince's face. "I love him," he said simply.

They stood and regarded the congregation around the tubs another moment.

"Well then I've just supplied him with very high dollar cat food," the prince said and turned toward the door.

"Hey wait, where are you going?" Ed said and almost reached out, but stopped himself.

"All my questions have been answered," the prince said with his usual touch of enigma, bowed to the Professor and slipped out the door.

Losing and winning were all a part of life. Sometimes you can just grit your teeth and bear it, sometimes you need that shoulder to lean on, and sometimes you need to other half of your soul telling you that you are the only thing that matters in his world.

Roy walked Ed backwards out of the bathroom, stopped as they neared the bed to kiss him. He took his time, even though these lips were well known to him. He traced them with his own, tugged gently at the bottom lip with his teeth, then opened his mouth over Ed's and stroked them with his tongue before seeking entrance.

Ed answered as best he could, stepping into Roy as he was kissed, pressing his shirt covered chest to Roy's bare chest and running his hands up Roy's sides. Roy held his face captive, his large palms warm against Ed's cheeks, his fingers rubbing absent circles just below Ed's ears.

To Ed, it was almost like floating. Being weightless and airborne, no gravity, no earthly cares to hold you on to the ground. There was only Roy and his warmth to suspend him and let him just drift free of everything that came before this kiss.

At parting it took a moment for them both to realize they were still grounded and Roy pressed his advantage again, walking Ed backwards until his knees hit the bed and he sat, then Roy just continued to lean into him, forcing him onto his back. Roy planted his hands to either side of Ed's head and held himself up, arms locked straight and just looked down at him. His eyes traveled from Ed's hair line, down his nose, over his throat, down the front of his shirt and stopped about mid-chest and moved back up.

"You know what I look like," Ed said, cheeks red. He wet his lips and averted his eyes, but seemed to force them back to Roy's face. "I know what you look like. We've been lovers for years. So why is it you still look at me like this?"

"I'm fairly certain one day, you'll understand," Roy said, pushing back and standing himself up before leaning over to start on the buttons of Ed's vest.

Ed didn't move to help, but Roy managed to get his vest unbuttoned and pushed open, next he unbuttoned Ed's shirt, pulled it out of his pants and spread it open. He then undid the buckle of Ed's belt and his trouser button and all the buttons down the fly. Ed kept waiting for him to start removing everything he'd so carefully undone. But he didn't; instead he lowered his head and extended his tongue and dragged it over Ed's bare nipple. Ed jerked as if he'd touched a live wire.

"Wa...wait," Ed said, already breathless and Roy let himself feel a bit smug. "Wait a fucking minute, this isn't about me, this is about you. I'm the one who's suppose to be supportive now, I'm the one who's suppose to be making you feel better. I love you, I don't want you to be upset. You're doing all of this to make me feel better, what about you?"

"What about me?" Roy answered lowly. "God Ed, don't you know by now? It's you, just you that makes me feel better. The fact you are with me, want me, that you let me do this. That is my solace, you're like a damn gift. Yes, I'm upset. I lost in front of the entire nation. All that effort, all that work and for what? You think it was wasted? It wasn't. It's right here, when will you ever believe me?" And to stall the inevitable denial Roy leaned up and covered his mouth again, kissed him like he wanted to melt into him and when he let Ed breath again, Ed didn't try to protest, he tried only to get oxygen.

It didn't last long.

"I'm on a learning curve here," Ed gasped out, but Roy decided kissing his way down Ed's sternum was more interesting than listening to him babble. "I'm trying to be comforting you know, and I was thinking that being comforting with sex would seem kind of shallow, like I didn't know what to say or anything and while it's true that I don't know what to say, I think I ought to know what to say. I'm just not a really sensitive person, I don't care what Al thinks and I know that sometimes I just tend to ride rough shod right over everyone’s feelings, and while I think it's a bit girly to be otherwise I do realize maybe I'm a little to blaise about it. I mean come on, it's not like I've had the best of social upbringings. I had really terrible influences, y'know, the gate, homunculi, you, and all of that through my formative years. I think, on the whole, after everything I went thought it's just a wonder I'm not in some padded room somewhere drooling into my oatmeaaaaalllllll....fuck what are you doing?" Ed struggled to push up on his elbows, but the shirt he still had across his shoulders pulled tight and hampered him.

Roy raised his head a bit and gave Ed a lazy smirk.

"Edward, why are you asking redundant questions at a time like this?" then he went back to his previous task of giving Ed's cock a tongue bath. Ed's cock seemed very excited by this and had stiffened up helpfully and seemingly was raising itself toward Roy's mouth.

Ed straightened his legs, pointed his toes, started to twist and arch. Roy wrapped his hand around the base of Ed's cock and gave him reverse friction. He pulled up with his fingers as he descended with his mouth and vice versa. Ed crossed his eyes and started to struggle upright, but Roy bunched his free hand in Ed's shirt and it pulled and stretched and held him prisoner pretty effectively.

"DAMMIT, Roy, dammit," Ed tried to roll back and forth, but the white cloth kept him immobile. He was helpless to his lover's hands, mouth and whims and it was oddly exciting. Sure, they'd done it before, with butt-ugly ties, but this more spontaneous restraint was... exhilarating.

Roy began to work on Ed's pants. He was between Ed's legs, so he only got them down to just under Ed's butt cheeks. This felt weird and a little uncomfortable as they were rolled up just under his ass, but no amount of squirming got him any relief and Roy refused to help.

One hand still tangled in Ed's shirt, Roy trailed the over Ed's lower stomach and brushed through curls and handled Ed's cock in a very familiar way. Ed gasped and flopped back on the bed, but he couldn't even arch his hips up right because of his fucking clothing still on him, being used in an most expert bondage fashion by his sadist lover.

"I suppose, if you really want to make me feel better, you could always beg," Roy crooned, leaned over him again and tongued his navel.

"Like hell, wait for it to freeze over," Ed snarled and jerked, but couldn't get any leeway. "Y'know I wanted to do the sensitive thing and talk about your feelings. See? I listen to Al, it just takes time to sit in there before I can actually utilize it as knowledge. But no, you seem to prefer me trapped on the bed under you."

That startled Roy into abandoning his slow tongue trek back to Ed's cock and look up at him.

"Wait, are you asking me if I'd rather talk about my feelings or have you half naked and erect under me? Is this a trick question?" Roy boggled. "For the love of God, Ed, just get used to the fact that you're extraordinarily attractive and unbelievably sexy to me and let me rub my self all over you before sticking myself inside you."

Ed looked at him, poked the inside of his cheek with his tongue and shrugged.

"Well ok, if you're going to put it that way," Ed said.

"Let me put it a better way," Roy purred. "I want you so hard you're dripping, I want to tease you until you think you will die, but I'll hold you there, on the edge of death and I think I might like to use my tongue on you. You like that, you turn almost purple when I do that, and even thought you think it's disgusting, you love it. Then, when I have you there, knowing you would beg me," and he shrugged off Ed's sudden snort, "I would undo my pants, which are at the moment admittedly tight. I would let the head of my cock, probably also dripping by this point, brush lightly up and down over your anus as I held your cheeks apart. I'd watch you pull at the sheets, and try to offer yourself up. Pull that gorgeous body taunt, all for me. Fuck Ed, it makes me insane, and when I'd reached the point of no return, I would press my cock slowly into your tight, hot ass and I'd watch your entire body do a rolling spasm and relaxing. Then I'd just fuck you through the mattress and listen to you howl my name. My masterpiece and symphony." He licked his lips and watched his lovers face. Ed was decidedly rosy.

" what are you waiting for?" Ed prompted.

Roy moved his free hand, splaying his fingers and watching them as he dragged them over Ed's cock, down to his balls and he pressed his palm there, rubbed in a slow circle.

"Oh fuck, you mean it about the begging," Ed whined.

"I do," Roy returned with a husky laugh. "My name on your lips, followed by many expletives and then a resentful shout about fucking you or letting you come, oh yes, Edward, I mean every word."

Ed struggled then, really struggled. A seam ripped audibly, but his clothing held him and then Roy pressed his body all along Ed's, using his weight to keep the younger man pinned. Ed could feel the rough cloth of Roy's trousers between his legs, over his cock, he could also feel the hardness of Roy's own erection there, on the inside of his thigh. He thrashed and gnashed his teeth at the man above him.

"You're not being very co-operative," Roy murmured to him, then he rolled slightly to the side, but still keeping Ed effectively pinned and slid his hand down Ed's stomach, back over his cock, below his balls and between his butt cheeks. He pressed there, rubbed in a slow circle and Ed half shrieked and tried to head butt him, but he pulled his head away just in time to avoid it.

Ed then snapped his jaw shut, obviously he was feeling rebellious enough to try and deny Roy his shouts, Roy kept rubbing and pressing, he brought his knee up to nudge at Ed's balls, watched Ed's cock bounce against Ed's own lower stomach; he watched Ed's cheeks, neck and chest get red. Ed screwed his eyes shut now and he strained, god he pulled his beautiful body to quivering and he tried to free one of his arms. Roy was just mesmerized. How could another human be this magnificent? How was it even possible? He leaned down, lapped at Ed's shoulder, tasting him, taking deep breaths to draw in his scent and revelled in the feel of Ed's muscles, quivering all along his body.

Oh yes, he could die happy like this.

He moved his hand back to Ed's cock, gripped it and squeezed. That took some of the fight out of Ed, who turned his attentions to trying to buck in Roy's grip. He opened his eyes then, glared hard enough to push Roy out of the room if glares could be solid and gave a ragged gasp. The first real sound he'd uttered.

"My name?" Roy prompted and gave Ed a stroke. Ed half wailed, tried to bite it off and suddenly went slack, flopping his head back.

"FUCK YOU ROY!" He shrieked. "OK FINE... Let me out of my fucking clothes and then get the hell ON ME, THERE ARE YOU HAPPY?!" He added for emphasis.

"Despite the spirit crushing loss of an electoral seat I've been working on for years? Yes, very happy to be here, with you and be like this, with you. I'm not letting you go, but I will fuck you cross-eyed, I promise," then he had the audacity to grin.

"I don't want to beg," Ed begged, "why do you want to humiliate me like that?"

"What's humiliating about it?" Roy asked and wondered how he was going to reach the lube and keep Ed immobile enough so he didn't escape, "it's just you and me. We're lovers and we share everything, remember?"

Roy took a chance, released Ed for a moment to lunge at the bedside table. Luck was with him, he managed to snatch the lube and flatten Ed under him before Ed could roll away. There was some scuffling and growling, but Roy got his knee between Ed's legs again and he was already half lying on Ed's trailing shirt. In fact, now the shirt was drawn tighter, because when Ed tried to roll away, he exposed more of it from under him. Roy was very opportunistic.

Roy mouthed the lube open, tucked it under his chin to squeeze some into his hand. Ed's eyes got big and he tried to grind his ass into the mattress, but Roy let the lube bottle drop on his chest. It rolled toward his stomach, leaving a bit of a trail and Ed would have complained, except Roy was shoving his hand back into Ed's trousers and Ed knew he had one destination in mind.

Ed was still tight, and warm. The lube made him slick. He clenched on Roy's fingers as they one by one invaded. He made awful, animalist guttural sounds as Roy unerringly found the place that drove him insane. He tossed his head and tried to spread his trapped legs. He beat his heels on the beside, the clawed at the sheets and pulled as much as he could.

"'re...a bastard," Ed gulped and sobbed, pounded his head on the mattress.

"Is that any way to treat me?" Roy cooed.


..sleep...sometime," Ed said, trying to make it sound dire, but only making it sound pitiful.

"Come on now Ed, no pain, no gain," Roy teased, then dipped his head to lick at Ed's nipple.

Ed made several lovely and comical facial distortions, but then he opened his eyes wide, and looked Roy in the face. He was flushed from head to toe, he was glistening from sweat and his bangs where sticking to his cheeks.

"Roy, please, I need you," he said softly and simply, and Roy Mustang was totally undone.

The role reversal was instantaneous. Roy helped Ed out of his clothes, helped Ed undress him, he let himself be pulled into Ed's arms, he let Ed grip his erection and guide him and he let Ed arch to take him inside in one slow, strong, deft thrust. And, when the time came, Edward called his name and he almost wept.

Roy and Ed were escorted to the first bench on the groom's side of the church. They settled side by side and Ed kept looking over his shoulder as more people filed in. The military uniforms were out in force and the church was being inundated by blue. He suddenly turned around and sat ramrod straight and stares straight forward. Roy looked sidelong at him curiously, but then felt a large presence at his back. It felt akin to the way a mouse must feel when it suddenly realized a cat was breathing down it's neck. The next moment a hand landed on his shoulder, (and on Ed's) and threatened to tip he and Ed into one another.

"What a joyous occasion, I feel as thought he were one of my own," a voice boomed behind them. Then the pew behind them gave an audible screech, creaking as if under some incredible weight.

"Alex," Roy said smoothly, trying to ignore his broken shoulder, he was sure it wasn't broken no matter what his body was frantically trying to tell him. "It's so good of you to come, I know Alphonse will be thrilled."

"For such two good people to find one another; it's as if the very heavens are laying a blessing upon us," the large man sighed. He then leaned forward and squeezed Edward's similarly broken shoulder in a companionable way. "I know this means a lot to you as well," Armstrong rumbled in Ed's ear, "the culmination of all the hard struggles you lads went through in your youth. Now a blessed union, and proof yet again that darkness never prevails."

"It's great to see you Alex," Ed managed to grate out. "It means a lot to me as well that you managed to be here." Roy knew Ed wasn't one for niceties, if he said it, he meant it.

After that it was general chit chat, both with Armstrong and anyone else of their acquaintance that happened near. There was a 'who do you think those people are' guessing game, as well as a match to see who could crane their neck around the farthest before it snapped.

Ed felt a little dizzy at all the people, then he felt a warm gratitude as the pews kept filling up. His brother and the Colonel were good people; and people responded in kind. Somehow, some way, his brother or the Colonel had touched every one of these souls filling up the benches, either personally or by obligation, and Ed felt proud for his brother. And he felt happy; he'd never get tired of feeling happy.

A man in a black tuxedo appeared through a side door, climbed the steps and went to the massive organ centered behind the altar. The altar itself was drowned in flowers and once the man seated himself at the organ, the foliage swallowed him.

A sudden hush descended on the crowd as the pipes began to sound. Slow and simple the tune started out, growing in volume until it swelled the very rafters of the church. It was a vibrant tune and it lifted each person it touched, reminding them of why they were here.

Ed noticed that Breda had disappeared, and a whispered inquiry to Roy brought him the information that Breda was Havoc's best man, and as such, would be standing at his side at the start of the ceremony. At about that time a young boy appeared, dressed in choir robes and seemed to pick Ed out right away. He came over and leaned politely to whisper into Ed's ear.

"Sir, your brother would like to see you in the vestible," he whispered and message given, he quickly hurried away.

Ed looked at Roy and Roy smiled and nodded. It was a bit embarrassing to Ed to get up and make his way all the way back to the rear of the church and the vestible off the foyer entrance.

Al met him with a hug. He was pulled inside, brushed down, straightened up and had a red rose tucked into his button hole.

"What is all this?" Ed asked, slightly baffled. "Al?"

"Best man, brother, who else do you think I'd get?" Al grinned. A man of Al's acquaintance named Pharr winked at Ed over Al's shoulder.

"What? I mean, just now? Why didn't you tell me about this?" Ed floundered. "What am I suppose to do?"

"I didn't tell you because of this precise reason, you panic, then you worry yourself to death needlessly over the simplest of things," Al said matter of factly. Pharr came forward then, he showed Ed a lovely ring, diamond encrusted and beautifully etched. He then tucked it into Ed's tuxedo pocket and grinned.

"Now brother, all you have to do, other than stand beside me while I get married, is to pull that ring out of your pocket when the priest asks for it, ok? That's all you have to do," Al smoothed Ed's lapels again.

"You should have warned me," Ed said, wringing his hands. "It seems simple enough," Ed patted his pocket frantically, laying his hand over the ring. "I guess it will be ok," he patted the pocket again, checking for the ring again. "All I have to do is stand there?" he asked.

"Deep breaths brother," Al reassured him.

"It will be fine," Pharr grinned.

So there he was, standing slightly behind Al and to his left. He kept darting glances at Riza, who looked so very different. All in white, looking just as nervous as he felt and looking at his brother who was standing beside her with a look Ed had never seen on her face before.

There was another couple at the altar, and Breda kept giving him looks from his side. Sarah was grinning and Havoc looked pale and wobbly, Sarah kept grabbing his elbow as if to boister him up. She even winked at Ed when she caught him looking. He couldn't help his own half grin in return. She was a force to be reckoned with and Ed didn't know where to be happy or a little scared for Havoc.

He almost missed his cue, but managed to get the ring out, not fumble it and place it in the priest's hand when it was asked of him. He listened to the final verses being read, and unbidden, he turned his head and looked at Roy, who was sitting almost right behind him, in the first row.

When the priest pronounced the couple, Roy mouthed 'I do' to him, and Ed, caught in the moment had to be tugged away by his newly wed brother.

Ed tried to swim back through the exiting mass at the church. But instead, Pharr steered him toward a waiting car.

"Don't worry, you can catch up at the reception," he told Ed, stuffing him in and jumping in himself. Ed turned to look out the rear window, hoping to see Roy in the vast sea of blue and black, but then the car cranked and lurched forward and Ed turned back around and sat down.

The drove for a while until they came to an old farmstead, and behind it, rising toward the sky was a large white tent. Chairs were lined up, tables where spread and a band was warming up on the portable stage. It reminded him of the party he and Roy had thrown Al for his birthday a while ago and he looked at the man beside him and wondered why he wasn't Roy, then the turned and looked out the rear window again, hoping to see their car.

They got out at the tent, he was immediately whisked to Al's side and was starting to feel a bit lost.

"Oh no, where's the General?" Al questioned, "We can't start without him, he has to make the toast. I don't anyone else, we'll wait," and Ed almost kissed him for it. Ed became one of the scouts sent out to find Roy, but instead he was one of the ones summoned back after Roy had been procured. By this time, the tent was crowded and while he was near the front, he was at the fringes. He could barely see Roy through the crush, but he heard him as he made the toast.

"Friends, you know why you're here. Now that Alphonse and Riza are married, our world domination is assured, so let us raise our glasses..." Of course, there was a lot of laughter and Roy didn't make any motion to quelch it.

When Roy left the makeshirt podium Ed finally took the initiative to squeeze through he crowd. He saw Roy stop and look around, then notice him and head in his direction.

He thought he would burst, he thought he would suffocate. He wanted to be with Roy, he wanted to hear Roy speak to just him, he wanted to feel Roy's hand on his back. And then finally Roy was there in front of him, and Roy smiled at him and grabbed his hands.

"Do you want to say something?" Roy asked.

"I do, too," Ed rushed out and Roy looked startled and then he looked warm and serene and he pulled Ed to his side and held him there with an arm over his shoulders.

"I actually meant did you want a turn making a toast for your brother and sister-in-law, but never mind, I think I'll be selfish a bit and save all your words just for me," he said, leaning down to speak in Ed's ear.

Ed barely heard the rest of the people to speak, he kept leaning on Roy's side and watching his profile as Roy paid attention. He laughed when Roy did, smiled when Roy did, but for him in the midst of it all there was only Roy.

Roy moved them, found them a good table as the crowd at the microphone wound down and the band prepared to play. Parqay tiles had been laid out on the grass to create a dance floor and Al and Riza, Sarah and Havoc were escorted out to stand in the center of it.

A slow dance was the first dance of the evening, and the newly weds has the floor all to themselves. Roy covered Ed's hand as they sat side by side watching and Ed watched his brother with his new wife; and watched Riza with her new husband. It made him feel complete as never before. He'd done it, he'd really done it. There really would be a happily ever after.

The next song wasn't so slow, and Al and Riza fled from Sarah and Havoc as they showed the wedding attendees just what swing was all about. They were joined then, by several other young officers and their dates and Ed stood up to speak to Al as he left the dance floor with Riza on his arm. But Sarah took that as an invitation to come running over, pratically leap on Ed and drag him onto the tiles.

"I want my parents to see me dance with a celebrity at my wedding!" She told him loudly and half strangled him and pretty much puppet-mastered him for a couple of verses before Havoc rescued him and he fled back to the safety of the grass. Wine and beer were being passed around and Al snagged Ed and excused them for a moment, dragging his brother out of the tent and a few feet away so they could hear each other speak.

"Al, this is great, this is more than great," Ed gushed. "It's been wonderful, I'm so happy, you look great, Riza looks beautiful, it's all so great." It was, it really was, it was all so wonderful and the way it should be, it was everything he wanted for Al.

Al yanked him hard against his chest, held him tightly for long moments.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you. No one, anywhere has a brother like you," Al said and Ed ground his face into Al's shoulder and Al let him stay there until he could stop the tears and they could return to the party in progress.

And the party progressed and progressed, until finally some people has to be carried away, and others had to be lured away, but with all good things, it call came winding down. In the aftermath of overturned chairs, a littered field and a deserted stage a few people still sat. Havoc had produced, seemingly from no where a radio, and with some jury rigging they had it neatly hooked up to the General's car battery. He and Sarah, Al and Riza, Breda and Fuery all sat in the merry wreckage that had been a wedding receiption as Havoc fiddled with a knob and tried to tune in a radio station.

"We could all just pile in the car and go back to town," Breda suggested, "and find an open bar."

"Riza and I are leaving in the morning," Al said, "we can't be out so late, or drink anymore."

"I'd rather not start my honeymoon with a hangover," Riza said from her perch on Al's lap.

"All the best parties produce hangovers," Sarah informed them with pink cheeks and a sloppy smile, "where are we going again? We're going somewhere, it will still be there when we finally get there."

"We're going to the shore baby," Havoc said, ear pressed to the radio, "where we can lounge around for a whole week and doing nothing."

"Is that what we're doing?" Sarah said and blinked, she was straddling a chair, sitting backwards on it, resting her arms over the chair back.

The radio crackled to life and Havoc grinned and tried to pat himself on the back, he beckoned to Sarah who hopped up, kicked her chair over, ran over and grabbed his hand and proceeded to be whirled away.

"She's not human I tell you," Breda said, elbow on table, chin in palm, "she'll be rip roaring to go tomorrow morning just like she ain't drank a keg and a half of beer by herself. I wish I knew what the secret was, I'd buy it off her."

Ed sat by Roy's side, very close, leaning on him as Roy had an arm draped over his shoulders. They were both quiet, Roy occasionally sipped from a wine glass, Ed just had a small smile on his face.

"Brother, everything alright?" Al asked.

"Fucking perfect, ah crap, I said I wasn't going to curse, sorry Al," Ed said.

"If we could, we'd do this for you," Riza said and everyone got a little quiet themselves, even Havoc and Sarah slowed down and stood holding each other and swaying.

"We appreciate the gesture," the general said and raised his wine glass, then he sat it aside and caught Ed's chin, turned Ed's face to his and kissed him.

Ed blinked for a moment, then let his eyes slide shut.

They had each other, a ceremony really didn't matter. Roy pulled back, then stroked Ed's bottom lip with his thumb.

"We already know this is for life, as much as I'd like to give Ed this kind of celebration with all his family and friends; this is enough. We've had our celebration vicariously through yours. So thanks to you, the Elrics and the Havocs, for allowing us to be part of your special day."

Ed licked his lips, but really couldn't follow that up.

The radio saved him.

Someday, when I'm awfully low, and the world is cold, I can feel a glow thinking of you, and the way you look, tonight

The General got to his feet, he took Ed's hand in his and pulled him up as well. He lead Ed out to the middle of the dance floor, Havoc and Sarah gave way and it was just the two of them there, together.

Yes you're lovely, with your smile so warm, and your cheeks so soft, there is nothing for me but to love you, and the way you look tonight.

"I'm not good at this," Ed said, starting to look down at his feet as Roy put a hand on his waist and held his other hand out.

"It's alright, I am, just follow me," Roy said.

"To the ends of the world, and even after that," Ed answered.

With each word your tenderness grows, tearing my fear apart... And that laugh that wrinkles your nose, it touches my foolish heart.

It was easier than he thought, Roy led him carefully, but he really already knew the way. The made a circuit of the tiles once, then Al and Riza joined them.

Lovely ... Never, ever change. Keep that breathless charm. Won't you please arrange it ?

'Cause I love you ... Just the way you look tonight.

They came to a slow stop, Ed still leaning against Roy.

Everything he was and everything he would be were all right here in this man's arms.

Just the way you look tonight.

It wasn't only for Al and Riza or Havoc or Sarah or the magnitudes of people in the world, this one or the other one.

It was also for him.

This was his happy ending.