In the spring, the land abounds with courtships of many things.
He stands alone, shaking like a leaf. He knew the day
would come, for most certainly it had to, but he hadn't though it would come
The teenagers regard each other much like rivals, but
wanting to be predator and prey. The girl, for all her youth, is already a master.
She tosses her long, light brown hair and glances away, feigning boredom; the
boy adopts a defense of casualness and shoves his hands in his pockets, also
turning his gaze away at something supposedly more interesting.
They don't speak for several moments, then she offers
a gesture, the boy shrugs, afraid yet to release the shield he so carefully
erected. She senses his hesitation and seems to ponder the moment, lacing her
fingers behind her, letting her budding bosom persuade him. He doesn't want
to look, but he does and turns his face away quickly, making a noncommittal
statement and taking half a step closer. The girl turns her face away again,
smiling at her web-weaving abilities and takes half a step away to see if he
The boy is brilliant, but easily led by his instincts;
he is fighting his intrigue, but doing it very poorly. The girl tightens the
noose with a flirtatious giggle which she tries to hide with her hand, but it
is only a ruse. The boy's shoulders relax and he pulls one hand out of his pocket,
rubs his nose and looks toward her, signifying his guarded acceptance. When
she walks away, he follows cautiously.
For a few moments, the Colonel can only breathe. He watches
Ed follow a teenage girl toward an attraction at the little fair set up in the
park across the street from his apartment.
You're the one who has awakened this in him. The
older man tells himself. He hears the clank of armor and half turns his head.
"Where did brother go," another voice asked, robed in
"I think he made a new friend," the Colonel smiles and
points, "why don't you go catch up to them."
"Ed made a friend," Al says in wonder. The Colonel is
taken aback for a moment and it saddens him a great deal, "it's not like him
to be friendly, ah, that didn't come out right," Al finished.
"I know what you mean," the Colonel says and smiles, "if
you keep standing here, you'll lose them in the crowd," he encourages the younger
"Right," Al says and heads down the mezzanine, insusceptible
to the stares around him, deaf to the comments of the questionability of wearing
armor in the new heat of the season.
It is the gift of youth to have this ability to adapt
so easily, to take lessons from the things and people around them and apply
them hesitantly, to see if they really work.
Loving Ed has given him confidence in areas where he was
lacking it, and Roy should be proud that Ed was applying his new-found abilities
with the practiced ease expected of a prodigy.
So why did it feel like his heart was cracking wide in
When you get older, you learn to cope with problems. It
was not a problem that shouldn't plague him; it is only order out of chaos.
Patterns are repeated and this is how life continues, it's a natural cycle that
has been proven with the test of time. He finds a bench alone, so he decides
to occupy it. He has brought along a book, knowing the young would be likely
to wander more than he cared to keep up. They will find him when they needed
him; he fingers the paperback's worn edges.
He turns his eyes to the pages, but the words don't hold
like they ought to. He wants to distract his mind from the feelings, but he
knows his mind will always defy him. It's not that it's a bad thing, its defiance
in the past had saved him many problems, its ability to ignore his feelings
is often something he should thank it for regularly, but his heart is too involved
this time and his emotions cower before its might. Brooding is an indulgence
of the aged, and he is more likened to them than the youth he surrounds his
life with, so he surrenders gracefully and let's the book lie lax in his fingers,
his mind turned to speculation as heart turned to hide.
He lets his mind ponder a possible future; still a part,
but never the whole again. It's a disturbing proposition, but he won't let it
put him off of what must be done. First loves are rarely last loves; even second
or third attempts can fall by the wayside. Will he still open the door on those
nights when the knock sounds desperate? Will he let a boy consume him and leave
him wanting in a wake of his own making?
Yes, of course.
Love should have no restriction. With restrictions it
isn't lasting, and he wants it to be lasting, even if he isn't the focus of
its affections. There will still be something there in the boy's chest for him,
he hopes it isn't wishful thinking, and he hopes he doesn't make it sound as
pitiful as he supposes.
To have something is better than nothing, that's what
they've always told him. He does believe them, because he's learning a lesson
here too, and as much as he might not like it, he is the one who needs it, because
to love such an ethereal being is risk worth the taking.
He does love him, he loves him very much, and because
he does he'll cope, that's what adults do.
Maybe the boy will see it someday when he's older and
he'll think back about what he must have done to the person he so relies on.
These very thoughts often plague the Colonel when he thinks back to his own
youth, but like it will be, as it was then, there will be nothing he can do
So the cycle goes, order from the chaos. The Colonel lifts
his book again and tries to read the words.
The boys found him later and they both looked happy. Ed
had an apple hanging out of his mouth. At the age to be always hungry...
Al was decorated with a balloon and some colorful streamers tied to the spikes
on his shoulders. Ed plopped down beside him, perhaps a little closer than he
should have in public, and laid his hand over the Colonel's where it lay on
the wooden bench. His gold eyes sought dark ones and Roy stared at them because
they spoke to him this time, telling him that Ed was happy, relaxed and glad
to see him, and the Colonel's admonishment of the display of affection in such
an open arena died on his lips. He glanced up to see Al planted firmly in front
of them, as if to shield this moment of intimacy from the rest of the world.
Roy found that lately, the younger Elric was making a place beside his brother
in his heart, because to love Ed was to love Al, for they were both parts of
one whole that made them who they are, and each would not be one without the
other. Who was Roy to resist it? The touch left as Ed scooted away to allow
for propriety. Al moved too and sat at the very end of the bench, scooted up
against his brother.
Roy tucked the book back in his pocket, folded his hands
in his lap and looked at them.
"Who was your friend," he asked.
Ed had a mouth full of apple.
"Her name is Millicent," Al said excitedly, "she's going
to be going to finishing school here in East City," he went on, "her father
is stationed in the west, Colonel Riverside."
"Colonel Riverside," Roy said, putting his fingers to
his chin and tilting his head back, "I know him, we met in Central a couple
of years ago, he's a good sort, this must be his oldest daughter."
Ed continued on with his apple.
"She was really nice," Al went on, "she was impressed
with brother when she found out he was the FullMetal Alchemist."
Roy looked at Ed who shrugged, not giving the apple any
"We are going to meet her sometime next week and show
her around," Al said, "she's never been here before."
"That was very generous of the two of you," the Colonel
said and looked away.
"It was brother's idea," Al said, "I was going to suggest
it but he beat me to it."
The Colonel stood and stretched, and looked back over
"I think I'll head in now, when you guys are done you
can come over," he said.
Ed stood too, tossed the apple core over his shoulder
and looked at Al.
"I want to see some more of the exhibits," Al said, "and
maybe Millicent is still around."
Ed patted his arm.
"See you at the dorms later?" Ed said.
"Sure," Al said, "have a good time," and the armor set
off, balloon fluttering merrily behind it and streamers curling down it's back.
Roy headed for home, Ed trailing behind him.
His inner thigh muscle jumped, and he sucked in a breath.
The tongue trailing over it paused as if to savor the reaction, then continued
on its way. A hand slid over the back of his shin and lifted his leg, the tongue
made a wet swipe of the back of his knee.
"You taste good," Ed murmured.
Roy answered with a rumble and closed his eyes as the
tongue began its journey down the rest of his leg.
He'd resisted at first after coming into the house, though
he wasn't sure why. He returned the kiss Ed had initiated in the living room,
but then moved away, picking up a book that was left on the coffee table and
returning it to the shelf. Ed had watched him, a little puzzled and unsure what
that was about, then seemed to sort over things in his mind. He reached back
and unplaited his braid, let his hair fall over his shoulders and then had stalked
him. He crowded him up against the bookcase and pulled down on his shoulders
to kiss him again and Roy's heart picked up double time. He had rested his hands
back against the shelves instead of on the boy in front of him, intrigued by
this more aggressive Ed.
This seemed to aggravate the boy, who kissed him harder
and pushed insistently against Roy's legs with his automail knee until Roy had
opened them, so Ed could lean into him, thrusting with his tongue into Roy's
mouth and the front of his thigh into Roy's crotch.
He was intoxicated like no alcohol could ever make him.
Ed seemed to respond, dragging, pulling, mouth demanding. Roy heard buttons
pop and strike the floor when Ed opened his shirt and he felt the bite of metal
fingers on his hip when Ed gripped him there, pulling him forward. Then the
delicious bump and grind had begun. Ed loved to dry hump. Roy wasn't sure why,
but Ed was like a perpetual motion machine in that department, rubbing himself
against Roy at any given opportunity he thought he could get away with, and
now was no exception. Roy felt the boy harden against his thigh and heard Ed
moan into his mouth. He released the bookcase finally and wrapped his arms around
Ed, which just made Ed grind harder, faster.
The bedroom was miles away and the trip was grueling.
Ed snarled and shoved him into the wall in the hall and his mouth clamped over
a nipple, tongue lashing. Then he was sucking, his flesh hand found Roy's offering
between his legs and rubbed him hard through the fabric. Roy choked out Ed's
name, head tilting back and striking the wall with a dull thud. He was trapped
and helpless for a few moments until the blond released him from his mouth
and hand, grabbing his arm and pulling him down the hall again.
Roy had never been naked first, but the moment they hit
the bedroom, Ed attacked his remaining clothing. Roy rushed to obey, fearing
the boy would rip and rend. He ended up standing naked before a fully clothed
Ed and feeling... vulnerable. Ed shrugged off his jacket and pulled off his
tank top. He shook his head after, and made his blond mane fly out, tumbling
down his back. Roy reached to help him, reaching for his belt, but Ed slapped
his hands away and pointed at the bed. Instead of feeling amused, Roy felt anxious
as he edged around the boy and found himself crawling onto the bed. He watched
Ed undress in jerky, rushed movements, eyes lingering on the boy's turgid cock
when he freed it. Then watched as Ed strode toward him and Roy felt himself
scrabble back against the pillows, soon Ed was on the bed, between his legs
and pushing them apart.
He was terrified and he didn't know why. Ed dragged his
hands up Roy's thighs, leaned over and mouthed the head of an erection that
Roy was surprised to find he had. It was sheer aggression, and there was no
time for romance. Roy let out a half startled shout when Ed caught the head
in his mouth and gave it a firm suck, Ed merely grinned wickedly and slid his
mouth down Roy's length, wrapping flesh digits around the base and applying
pressure with his tongue, pushing Roy into the roof of his mouth. The automail
hand pressed on Roy's left knee, forcing his legs wider and Ed grunted and pressed
Roy's cock further into his throat than he ever had before. Roy's breathing
was in quick panicked pants through his nose, he was positive his nails were
digging through the mattress and his wide eyes were fixed on a blond head between
his legs. He felt helpless, his throat was tight and his chest was tighter,
his stomach rolled.
Ed worked him mercilessly with his tongue and the faint
scraping of teeth, his fingers began to move up and his mouth moved down, slamming
into the boy's own lips with each bob of his head. The ache was becoming unbearable
and Roy arched involuntarily but Ed handled it with ease, sensing Roy's response
and moving with his lift of the hips so not to become gagged. When the light
collided with sound in Roy's brain and he offered his throat to the ceiling,
shaking and drenched in sweat of the actions, just as he reached the pinnacle,
Ed released him, but held the base and squeezed tight.
He wailed and thrashed and jerked his chin down and met
a pair of evil golden eyes, staring at him from the valley between his legs.
The boy smiled slowly, nosing his cock and letting it rest against his cheek.
"Talk to me," the thing between his legs husked, "I want
to hear you say something."
"Please!" the Colonel gasped, stomach muscles jumping,
"Oh, you can do better than that," his tormentor said.
"I need it, please!" the Colonel begged.
"You're really boring me here," the master of torture
said and cool metal fingers idly fingered tight, hot balls between Roy's legs.
"What do you want me to say!" the Colonel shrieked.
"Say something you think I'd like to hear," came the voice,
low and devilish, amused and yet not, "something to please me."
"You're getting really good at this," the Colonel whimpered,
"I think you should do it more often!"
This earned him a snort, but no suction.
"I love your hair!" the Colonel tried.
"Why thank you," came the impish chuckle.
"Dammit, Ed..." Roy started.
"NO," came the raw threat, then a tongue up the length
of Roy's erection, a tightening around the base of his cock and a tone that
made Roy's voice stick in his throat.
"You know what I want to hear," Gold eyes met his in challenge,
hard like amber and liquid like scotch.
"I love you," Roy said raggedly defeated, "I love you."
Ed fell to ravenous sucking.
Roy had a hand over his face, trying to control his breathing.
The boy had even swallowed.
He'd sat between Roy's legs, shaking hard at the end as
Roy struggled for breath and feared Ed might get sick all over him, but Ed had
conquered, as he always did. He leaned over and licked the long crease of where
Roy's thigh met his hip and he began to crawl up his body, dropping kisses as
he went. Roy had covered his face, afraid that tears were welling there. His
own chest still heaved, the release had been devastating, ripping into being
and forcing a scream from his throat. Now Ed was settling over him, kissing
up his neck, over his chin and along his jaw. A tongue lapped at his earlobe
and lips closed over it as Ed settled, his need to suckle something obviously
not abated just because Roy had come. Roy hazarded running his hand up the boy's
back and he realized Ed must have come with him, because the boy's cock was
soft now, pressed into his side. When Roy stroked his back, he wiggled in adorable
Ed-sated fashion and sucked on his earlobe faster.
Roy didn't know whether he wanted to cheer or cry.
He was a possession, utterly and completely owned.
The office was cheerful chaos.
"You were supposed to file this already," Havoc said waving
"It's not my job to file those papers," Fuery defended,
waving his own paper, "it's my job to file these papers!" he cried.
"I don't file papers!" Breda added to not feel left out.
Falman said nothing, because Falman had the day off.
Sharp clicks of boot heels cut off all paper waving activities.
"What seems to be the problem," the First Lieutenant asked.
Havoc and Fuery pointed at each other, and Breda used
both hands to point at both of them.
"This is late! Fuery didn't file it," Havoc cried.
"I don't file those papers," Fuery cried out again, "I
file these papers!" but he didn't wave them in demonstration because the First
Lieutenant would make the little mouth motion that meant she was displeased.
"I don't file things," Breda supplied helpfully, "but
I watch them file things, sometimes."
The First Lieutenant slowly turned her eyes on the Colonel
and the Colonel's own eyes got wide.
"I... uh... have you file things for me?" he said, hoping
he wasn't in trouble, but knew somehow he was.
He swallowed and the First Lieutenant slowly turned toward
him. At the big table, Havoc and Fuery had grabbed each other, and Breda was
saluting him and sinking below the table.
"YOU BASTARD!" The sound came flying through the door
and blew some papers off his desk.
"Major Elric," the Colonel half yelped, glanced at the
First Lieutenant and shrugged. He'd have to remember to get Ed some chocolate
and comics, and maybe some ice cream and whatever else he wanted, because he
had just saved his life.
Ed came charging in, got to his desk, did a half jump
and slammed a folder onto it as he came down. Al clanked in behind him, leather
hands balled into fists and pressed to the jagged joint line on his helmet that
served as his 'mouth'.
"You denied my expense reports last month," Ed screeched
and flailed, "on top of wanting me to risk my neck for every damn goose chase
you send me on, you want me to do it as a penniless pauper too," Ed wind milled
around in front of the desk, "you treat me like your own gawddamn personal delivery
boy! You set me up, you trip me, and then you laugh when I'm on the way down!
Now you want me to foot the bill for your ego trips as well and take food out
of my little brother's mouth..." Ed was scarlet.
"Al doesn't ea..." the Colonel started.
"How am I, a STATE CERTIFIED ALCHEMIST, supposed to work
under these conditions! There are laws! Laws to protect me from people like
you! I'll find them, hell I'll write the bill, I'll introduce it into parliament,
I'll lobby the gawddamn thing and push it through the representatives, because
I'm that damn persuasive, and then, then you unholy BASTARD, you'll be SORRY!"
and Ed stopped to pant.
"I don't think the taxpayers need to support your junk
food habits," the Colonel said calmly, "and you aren't very descriptive with
some of your expenditures. 'That thing I broke that made that guy mad' is not
how one requests the state to bail your ass out."
Ed gnashed his teeth, then drummed his hands on the desk
making everything jump entertainingly.
"I broke it in a course of a mission, I was running for
my LIFE," Ed hissed out and meet dark eyes in challenge.
"What was it then?" the Colonel asked.
"A thing," Ed said with a wild gesture, "Something, this
guy got all bent out of shape over it," Ed said.
The Colonel seemed to mull that over, he clicked and unclicked
a fancy silver pen he hand in one hand.
"What did the thing look like?" he asked.
Ed stopped, put a hand on his hip and waved the other
around in front of him.
"I don't know, it was all a blur," he said, "it was big
and brrrr... brown."
"Big and brown," the Colonel said.
"And it sort of... mooed," Ed said.
"It mooed?" the Colonel tilted his head.
"It was kind of like a cow," Ed said.
"You broke a cow," the Colonel stated.
"It was really lousy cover," Ed concluded.
"Poor cow," Al said behind him.
The Colonel propped his chin in his hand and clicked the
pen some more.
"I don't think the state need ought pay for your steak
dinners," the Colonel concluded.
Ed did an entertaining dance of rage and flailed about
some more, pointing and snarling. He grabbed his folder and slapped it on the
desk a few more times, then turned and saw the threesome at the big table staring
"A cow," Havoc said.
"Major, how could you?" Fuery sighed.
"I like steak," Breda said.
Ed made a threatening step in their direction and they
"Major, while I appreciate your frustration with this
current situation, the Colonel is only stating state policy," the First Lieutenant
Ed didn't glare at her. Frankly, she scared him.
"Perhaps you'd like to write up a formal complaint? We
have forms you can fill out," she continued.
"No thank you," Ed said, summoning up all the dignity
he could. He marched almost to the door before he broke and tore out of it like
a demon on wheels.
"Ah," the Colonel said, "sorry about that Alphonse."
"No it's ok," Al said, "but I think I better go catch
him before he chews up some scenery," and he dutifully trotted away and out
the door to chase down his brother.
The Colonel and the threesome at the table looked at each
"COW!" they all roared together and started to laugh.
The First Lieutenant heaved a little sigh and decided
that she should leave them to their own devices for a bit and let them calm
down before trying to make something out of nothing once again.
When the day drew to a close and everyone rushed to get
out the door, Second Lieutenant Havoc hung back just a little and sidled closer
to the Colonel. He checked once, then twice, to make sure they were a suitable
distant from the others and he leaned close, covering the side of his mouth
with his hand.
"That must be fun in bed," he joked quietly.
The Colonel looked at him surprised, then gratified.
"You have no idea," he said and grinned.
Havoc winked at him and left the office.
When the Colonel got home that night, there was a note
jammed into the door, he pulled it out and opened it up.
Rain check, it read, won't be over tonight.
No, it's not about the COW and thank you so much for making me tell that embarrassing
story in front of the assembled masses, they will torture me with it, but I
have ammo (you don't know what, so you'll have to sweat it out), I'll try to
be over tomorrow night early to make it up to you.
Roy turned a little circle on his stoop, he physically
turned a circle in confusion.
Ed wasn't coming over tonight? But it was Wednesday! He
was allowed to come over every night of the week!
At a loss, the Colonel fumbled the key and got himself
inside, still studying the note. There seemed to be no hidden meaning, no subtext
he could find. Ed was not coming over.
The Colonel made as if to show the note to someone standing
there. "He's not coming over," the Colonel said out loud, "what does he mean?
He always comes over, what am I suppose to do?" Roy lifted his arms and let
them flap down to his sides. He actually stood at loss in his own foyer for
a few moments.
"I know," he said again to his invisible companion, "I'll
go out! Yes, I'll go out. I used to go out all the time, there's a café
on the south end of the park with live music and good food, and I'll have dinner
there and something to drink and listen to the band, that's a splendid idea!"
The Colonel went to freshen up; he didn't want to look
good, he wanted to look damn fine. He hadn't been out in a while; he
needed to make people remember it was a privilege for him to be seen among them.
He decided to grace the public with his uniform; it always got him the most
attention, the best tables and the prettiest waitresses. So after an appropriate
primping, he left his apartment and strolled down the street. He waved off a
playful salute to some children who saluted him back, playing in the park. He
was aware of a gawky teenage girl following him for a bit and he saluted her
too before crossing the street near the south of the park. He read menu boards
and nodded at passersby who admired his uniform and contemplated if Ed would
appreciate trout almondine as much as he did, he could always eat here and drink
at the café with the live music.
But wait, Ed wasn't with him, so it hardly mattered. But
maybe he should wait for Ed to be with him so Ed could try trout almondine,
because the Colonel was sure he'd love it. But that was silly; he could always
bring Ed back later and have trout almondine again, while Ed had it for the
first time... but that wouldn't be as pleasurable for some reason. Roy's eyes
widened and he put a hand to his chin. The epitome of bachelorhood was having
a couple's crisis. Ed had broken him. It had finally happened; he cared about
stupid shit like sharing the fist experience of trout almondine with his lover.
Roy wavered on indecision that made his vision swim, until a smiling, dark-haired
waitress winked at him and nodded at an empty side walk table. Trout almondine
"We always end up at the park," Al said and laughed, tinny
and cheery, striding along beside Millicent as Ed lagged behind.
They'd made a circuit of the block on the other side of
the park, not as brightly lit and occupied, but Milly, as Al called her, had
wanted to see it. In fact, anything Milly suggested, Al charged off to do, every
now and again looking behind him to make sure Ed was following.
"He's dragging his feet again," she said, looking back
towards Ed, "I thought he wanted to come," she asked his brother.
"He said he did," Al stated, "but you know he's a state
alchemist and he has a lot on his mind," he said in Ed's defense.
"You're probably right," the girl said, then with a shy
smile she slipped her arm over Al's large metal one, "where should we go next?"
Al gave a tiny rattle of pleasure. She was so nice, so
kind and so pretty. She had big hazel eyes and some freckles dusted faintly
over her nose, she laughed so easily and smiled even easier. They both liked
the same authors, she knew who the Duke was and they had engaged in a deep discussion
of his latest ventures. Ed had sighed and hemmed and hawed and poked along behind
them the entire time. Al found himself wishing Ed had just gone to the Colonel's,
but then again, Al had asked him to come along.
"There's a man up the block who makes jewelry with alchemy,"
Al said, "some of his designs are really fascinating."
"Oooo," she said appreciatively, "let's go there!"
Al nodded and lead the way, Milly hanging onto his arm.
If he could feel it, he would have felt warm and fluttery, but he couldn't,
so he could just imagine he did.
They passed several cafés at the end of the park.
He was bored, he was so bored. All Al and that girl talked about was books Ed
hadn't read and things Ed didn't care about. He missed the Colonel, and it was
hot out, and he had to wear his jacket and gloves (well he didn't have to,
but he had to. He knew what he meant) and he'd seen all this same junk a
million times before.
He glanced over at the cafés as they passed them,
not really taking in any details, eyes skimming the mill of people and lights.
A flash of blue caught his eye, familiar in color and shade, and he looked a
little more closely. A woman, a waitress by the tray she had held casually to
her side, was blocking most of the view, but the crossed legs and black boots
and butt skirt of the uniform stood out, seated on the chair.
"I'll get him," Milly said and released Al's arm, turning
back and heading for Al's brother who seemed to be staring into one of the cafés.
She came right up to him but he didn't seem to notice, so she grabbed him by
the arm, noticing the same hardness she felt when she put her hand on Al. He
started and turned, looking at her with his big cat-yellow eyes.
"Come on, Ed," she said, "you're such a slowpoke."
The waitress was cute, but she wasn't blond, her eyes
weren't golden and she wasn't a petulant teenage boy glaring at him from across
a desk. He flirted because it was expected, but then cut it off abruptly asking
for his check. She seemed disappointed, nodding and moving away, clearing his
view of the sidewalk. There was Ed. A teenage girl was wrapped around his arm
and he was stammering as she tugged. The boy's head swung back around, eyes
widened as they met his lover's, but he let himself be pulled away, looking back
once quickly, before hurrying ahead.
Al stood with his hands on his hips as Milly delivered
his wayward brother to his side.
"You know you didn't have to come along," Al scolded.
Ed gaped and pulled himself free of Milly who let him
go just as quickly.
He started to give his own scalding reply, but Milly had
put her hand on Al's arm again and Al was looking at her. The Colonel was being
charming to a waitress in a café behind them, and he shoved his hands
in his pockets and snorted.
"Sorry," he growled, "just got a lot on my mind."
"Well try to cheer up," Al said, "you're being a downer."
"Yeah," Milly supplied, "Al and I are out to have fun."
Ed kept his mouth shut and plodded at their side, wishing
he was sitting in a café with the Colonel.
The bastard went out without me, and he was flirting!
See if I go over there anytime soon!
But what was the Colonel suppose to do? Sit at home and
pine while Ed was out with his brother?
Ed sighed. Fuck no.
It still stung him and the bastard would hear about it,
because Ed would have to go over there and tell him.
But I'm sleeping on the couch.
The Colonel thought of nothing, merely lifted his glass
to his lips and tossed back the rest of his drink. He stood, left money on the
table, wound around the other patrons making their way into the café
and stepped out onto the sidewalk. He hesitated a few moments, trying to decide
what to do next but he knew it even before he turned in the direction for home.
She was really cute and Ed must really like her to let
her hang on him like that.
He got home and didn't linger to do anything, he went
to bed alone and thought it was good practice.
Ed began to realize, as Milly and Al sat side by side
on a bench, Milly with an ice cream, Al with his good manners, that something
At first it was fluttery and wonderful, but then it was
abruptly sad and painful.
Al couldn't like a girl.
It wasn't because Al wasn't a nice person, he was the
BEST person and he deserved to be liked by everyone who met him, there was no
one better in the whole of this world than Alphonse Elric, and Edward Elric
would scream that from the rooftops of any place they ever went to, without
hesitation, if only to make the people there know what a shining example of
humanity they had walking among them.
He was a shining example, literally.
He was a suit of armor.
And he, his loving brother, had put him there.
He couldn't like Milly, because she might find out.
She might tell someone.
Then Edward Elric would die and take half of the goddamn
Amestris army with him before they took his brother away from him.
He turned away from them quickly and struggled to control
his breathing. It wasn't right, it wasn't fair, it wasn't equivalent.
It wasn't right for him to have what his brother couldn't. He looked up and
down the street, not knowing what it was he was looking for, and then he heard
Al call his name and it didn't matter. He turned around, put on the grin that
always hid his tears and walked over to the others and sat down on the bench.
He sat on his bed hugging a pillow, watching his brother
thumb through a few books on the table, trying to decide what he was going to
"Hey Al," he said quietly.
"Hmmm," his younger brother answered.
"We have to talk," Ed said, not wanting to talk. He'd
rather run from this and hide and never have this talk. His stomach rolled and
he swallowed hard.
"About what?" Al said.
"That girl Milly," Ed said dully, staring at the floor.
"Yeah, she's really nice," Al said, "I had a good time
this evening." He didn't look at his brother, he arranged the books on the table.
"You like her, huh?" Ed said quietly.
Al nodded. "Sure, I thought you did too."
"I did," Ed said, "she is nice, she was really nice to
"Tell me what you really want to say brother," Al said,
still not looking at him.
Ed struggled with his voice and his tears.
"You... you know you can't like her Al, because...
because of, what we are," he stuttered.
Al said nothing.
"I would give anything," Ed whispered, "anything to switch
places with you. You don't deserve this. Just because you loved mom, we shouldn't
have had to pay what we did, what YOU did, it should have been me and we both
know it. I want you to have all these things, and I want you to like that girl
and her to like you back," Ed wiped savagely at his face, "but all I'm good
for is making apologies. I will do anything to put you back the way you were,
I will do anything to make this right. It's not fair for me to have what you
don't have. We're a team, we're in this together, it's time I started remembering
just what it is we're looking for. I'm sorry, I know it's not enough, but I'm
going to make it better, just please believe in me a little bit longer." He
went quiet and swallowed hard, listening to his heart hammer against his ribs
and knowing that even if he were to rip it out and offer it up, it still wouldn't
Al was quiet for a while, and still didn't turn to look
Ed curled tighter around the pillow, watching the silent,
still back glint dully in the single bulb light hung over the table.
Then his brother spoke.
"Oh I knew that," Al said, "before you told me. I don't
want you to think I would be careless and let anyone find out. I was just being
friendly, and I liked her, but I don't like her as much as you think I do."
Sometimes Al was an awful liar.
"As for the other, what happened happened," Al said, "sometimes
it gets tiring repeating to you that I was there with you and guilty of the
exact same thing."
Ed opened his mouth to protest and Al whirled in his chair.
"NO," he said, "YOU listen. You think I'm the only one
who suffered, but I'm not. You sit over there cast in shadow except where the
light falls on your arm and leg, and in that way we are the same, we both gave
something up. What happened to you is not better or worse than what happened
to me, we both came out losers. I don't know why you always think I'm the one
who's worse off! I have my mind, I may not have my body, but I'll get that back,
I have faith in you. You're the one who bleeds whenever someone hits you and
you're the one who hurts when the weather gets cold. No, I can't share these
pains because I no longer feel them, but if this is a curse, it is not a wholly
bad one. If we did switch places, you would still be sorry, thinking I was the
worse off no matter what I said. You just need to stop Ed, and listen when I
tell you that I don't blame you for this body that I'm in. The only thing I
blame you for is making yourself miserable. You seem to think that guilt is
something precious to cling to, but it's not like that, brother. You have a
life too; there is no point in me being here if you want to live mine as well."
Ed buried his face in his pillow.
"I'm sorry I made you cry," Al said.
"We're just brothers," Al said, "and that's all I could
ever want us to be."
Thursday came and then Friday followed, because that is
order. But the Colonel had his own personal chaos for each night he slept alone.
Ed was conspicuous by his absence and he was only lucky that nothing suiting
his talents had come across Roy's desk that would have had him send the Second
Lieutenant searching. At first he was angry, he deserved better than this, after
all he'd done for the boy and after all they had said to each other... But if
he was in this for that reason, then it would cheapen it and make it nothing.
He knew that despite everything, when Ed had the courage to finally face him
and tell him what he didn't want to hear, offering his beautiful apologies,
that the Colonel would still bend to the point of breaking, no matter how much
this boy made shreds of his heart.
It was Saturday already and the Colonel wondered how long
it would take before he could manage to be entertained by a pair of smiling
eyes that weren't the color of fine scotch and a voice that wasn't on the verge
of breaking the hold adolescence still had on it. He hadn't planned on anything,
maybe cleaning out his closet, and was a bit surprised when the phone rang.
He stood and looked at it, hoping Ed was not going to do this to him by phone,
but he picked it up slowly. "Hello?"
"Colonel Mustang, sir?" a young voice asked, not the voice
he had expected, but one close enough to it.
"Alphonse?" the Colonel said back, wondering what would
make Ed's brother call him out of the blue.
"This is very awkward and I'm in the common area and can't
talk very freely," Al said quietly, "so I have to ask you not to ask me too
"Alright," Roy said.
"Could you come and get brother? He's really starting
to worry me," Al said, "I won't be there when you get here, but I left the dorm
room door unlocked. I told him I had some errands."
"I don't understand," the Colonel said.
"I know you don't," Al said, "but he's not staying away
because of you, he thinks he's doing it for me. He's so stubborn and I can talk
until I'm blue in the face plate, but sometimes, when he's like this, it does
no good. You know how guilty he can be... Hello Private Roser," Al ended pointedly.
"I'll be over as soon as I can, but we have to talk Al,"
"I know, I know," Al said, "I want you to know I'm really
glad this happened, I don't mean what's going on now, I mean having someone
to discuss him with, because he's really such a handful and sometimes I'm at
Roy chuckled. "I'm glad to know I can be there for you
too," he said.
The hand that touched his head was warm, not scratchy
like Al's leather and Ed blinked open his eyes. He hadn't noticed the Colonel's
weight when he sat on the side of the bed, but the touch had roused him quickly
enough, it was so achingly missed.
"What are you doing?" the Colonel asked.
For a minute Ed thought it might be a dream. He had dreams
about the Colonel, sometimes ones that made no sense, sometimes ones that made
him mad and sometimes ones that made him... other things. But they usually didn't
feel so real and their hands weren't so warm, and he couldn't smell sandalwood
and soap when he had them.
Ed sat half way up and pushed down the blanket, he started
to reach for Roy's face, but then he stopped and let his hand drop.
"What are you doing here?" Ed asked bewildered.
"Your brother called me," he said he was worried.
Ed closed his eyes and sighed.
What could have possibly happened? Surely this wasn't
over rejection by a girl he knew for a few days.
"Should I start out by apologizing?" Ed asked, "because
I think I should, I should have called you, I'm so stupid."
"Just tell me what happened," the Colonel said patiently.
"Al really liked that girl, and I told him that he couldn't,"
Ed said and then he leaned forward slowly and pressed his head to Roy's chest.
Roy sat stunned for a long moment, then he raised his
hand and cupped the back of the blond head.
It wasn't that Ed liked her, it was that Al had
liked her, and like the over protective elder brother was, and because of
the secret they had to hide, Ed had stayed with Al, pushing everything aside.
It hurt a bit to think that Ed could put him off like that, but he understood
because that is the way Ed worked. To be the focus of that much devotion, that
much love must sometimes be a tiring thing, even for someone like Alphonse,
whose armor was not big enough to hold his heart.
Roy found himself wishing for some of Al's burden when
two arms, one warm and one cool, reached for him. He pulled Ed against him and
laid his cheek on top of his head.
"Sometimes you really are quite silly," the Colonel said
against blond strands, "all you had to do was call me and tell me what was
happening. I would appreciate it if you'd let me in a little, you know I just
want to help you."
"I know," Ed said miserably against his chest.
"I know you are used to only having your brother, and
there is no one more grateful than me that you have him, but you have me now
too," he tilted Ed's face up, "and I want to help and be there for you, but
I can't if you won't let me," Roy stroked his thumb over one cheek, "we're in
this together now. Not just you and not just me, but Al too, I want to help
him as well. I know how special he is to you and that makes him special to me,
but Ed, you are... more than special to me," the Roy chuckled a bit, "I can
be your 'Ed'."
"That would make me Al," Ed said.
"Oh my god yes, because we all know if there were two
Eds in the world it would explode!" the Colonel said merrily, dark eyes flashing.
"You bastard," Ed grumbled, and tried to push away.
"If I'm Ed now, does this mean I can have a blatant disregard
for any protocol and an aversion to authority so strong I could cut through
steel with it," the Colonel cackled wickedly, pushing Ed down on the bed.
"You're a bastard," Ed hissed and struggled, kicking in
"Yeah I know," Roy said, "but since I'm Ed and you're
Al, I can't kiss you, because that would be gross," and he released the gaping
blond and stood up.
Ed bolted upright in the bed.
"I don't want to be Al," Ed cried, "this is a stupid game!"
"Too late," Roy said, straightening his uniform.
Ed struggled out of the bed and leapt over to the Colonel
glaring up at him.
"You can't be me, for one thing you're too ta..." He caught
himself, but not before he saw the evil gleam in the Colonel's eye.
"Who are you calling so gigantic they can't be a pipsqueak
alchemist," the Colonel chortled evilly.
Ed was so flabbergasted he forgot to flail and the Colonel
caught hold of him, pulled him close and kissed him. When Ed could breath again
he pushed back and snorted.
"That was really pathetic," the boy said, "If you are
going to try your hand in impersonation comedy, you have really got to get your
delivery down," he said loftily.