Edward was unhappy with the circumstance, but not unhappy
with the result. Roy was just fucking hot in his uniform, he always had
been. He coyly admired his lover from across the room, sighing heavily and plaintively,
pretending to stare down at the comforter, but glancing up at the General to
see when he was looking.
Roy looked over at him, offered him an apologetic smile
and lift of his eyebrow.
"Including yesterday, but not the weekend, I've been out
of the office for four days," Roy said, "and while you deserve for me to take
the next ten years off, we have to eat. Plus, I have to see if the office is
still standing, my curiosity is piqued."
Ed felt an unexpected rush of warmth. He was truly home
now and Roy was talking about the office; not an office Edward had ever seen
of course, but his mind strayed back to a small office and an apartment on the
"Surely it won't fall apart that easily," Ed said with
Roy snorted and fiddled with his butt skirt.
"First, I have to make the rounds and see if Breda has
insulted anybody, then I have to see if Fuery has found someone new to take
advantage of him, and then I have to make sure Falman hasn't seized up in a
corner because someone forgot to follow protocol, although he is getting better
at it. He actually let a misfiling go the other day, he didn't sniffle around
the office all day taking it personally," the General said.
Edward laughed, each face passing over his thoughts as
Roy spoke them. He had missed them too, and wanted to see them again when things
"What about Havoc," Ed asked, "you left him out."
"I don't have to worry about Havoc anymore," and Roy sounded
very proud, "he's a Lieutenant Colonel now, I let him do most of the lead work."
"Hawkeye?" Ed said.
"Edward, think about who you're asking me about. Do you
think Colonel Hawkeye still has to baby-sit me? No, she is on her way
up. She is the epitome of Military Perfection, she's as efficient and deadly
a Colonel as the big brass could ever hope to have, and she will be transferred
out of my office soon, I'm sure, but not before she terrorizes her replacement
into keeping me in my place. Her proficiency in all things is quite beautiful
and terrible, and she still looks like a statue that speaks occasionally. She's
totally unreadable, I think even to Al sometimes and that is a feat." Roy shook
his head, "She is the most incredible and frustrating woman I've ever dealt
with," Roy continued.
"Even in bed?" Ed teased.
"Now in bed it was different, and I'm not a kiss and tell,"
"Aw, come on, you can tell me just a little," Ed laughed.
"No," Roy said, "that is between Hawkeye and myself and
will remain there. When she handed me my walking papers, I though she was...reading...me
the...." Roy trailed off and stiffened.
Oh, he'd just handed Edward his head on a platter.
"SHE DUMPED YOU, THE GREAT ROY MUSTANG?! LOVER
OF WOMEN?!" the blond on the bed howled in laughter, "Hell Roy, I would have
given my left arm to see that!" Ed chortled in evil glee.
"It can be arranged," his lover growled, tugging at the
front of his collar.
"That's rich, that is just rich," Ed leaned back, sighing
in self satisfied smugness.
"The Rockbells will be here tomorrow," Roy reminded him
suddenly, causing Edward to blanch and scowl.
"HA," the General said and strolled to the door, pausing
to reach back and run his hands under his butt skirt, lift it and lean forward
a little to present Edward with his ass.
"I'd kick it and kiss it better if you'd bring it over
here," Edward challenged and threw a pillow.
"No thanks, I saw the way you almost throttled Alphonse,
I think I'll pass. Maybe if you beg me, I'll come back and kiss you goodbye
before I leave," the General said breezily, "but only if you beg me nicely."
"I'll give you a blowjob," Ed returned.
The General turned around and went over to the bed, leaned
in, grabbed Ed's hand, pinned it to he headboard and proceeded to swab his throat
out with his tongue. When he pulled back, Ed was glazed and blinking rapidly.
He sighed heavily and didn't attempt to grab Roy when his hand was freed.
"I'll be back to kiss you goodbye before I go," Roy informed
him with a tap on his nose, then turned and jauntily went out the door.
A phone call had been made. Roy had carried him into his
den, which excited Edward for a strange reason, and settled him comfortably
in the big leather chair that sat before his desk. Edward immediately began
snooping through drawers and Roy had to pry a compass out of his hand and move
some other things out of reach while Edward complained in grunts and half growls.
Alphonse came behind dutifully and smiled at them, picked up the phone and began
dialing a number. Edward gave up his pillaging and sat there grinning like a
damn fool, looking all around.
"There's a couch in here," he had pointed out to Roy,
as if Roy hadn't moved the couch in here himself, "it's the one from your apartment,"
Edward continued in glee, "it looks good over there by the window. You have
art on the walls, how the fuck did that happen? Must have been Hawkeye, and
that's a throw rug? This General gig must pay well. Are those blinds wooden
over on the window?"
Roy looked at him, puzzled and bemused, and looked around
the room himself. He'd always considered it comfortable, but nothing dramatic.
"So now you're the Interior Decorating Alchemist?" he'd
asked with a smirk; but Edward's answering attack was cut short by Alphonse
proffering the phone receiver to his brother.
"It's Winry," Alphonse said with a smile and Edward hesitated.
Alphonse shook he receiver back and forth, "she's very excited and wants to
talk to you," Al said as Edward arched an eyebrow and eyed the receiver like
it was a snake. Al stroked the receiver once as if to show Ed it wouldn't bite
him, "You should say hello, brother, it's been a long time," Alphonse coaxed
gently and then insistently shoved the receiver in Ed's face, sliding it over
to his ear.
Ed made no move to actually take it, but he wet his lips
and sort of gingerly put his ear against it, tentatively saying "Hello?"
After a moment, Ed's expression gentled and he smiled
a little. "Don't cry, it's okay. I'm fine, really. I'm sorry I scared you that
Then he was quiet a bit more. "You were wonderful," Ed
glanced at Roy, "the General found me straight away, I missed you too." He reached
up and touched the receiver with one finger and Alphonse seemed eager to give
it to him, but he turned his gaze on Alphonse and dropped his hand. Alphonse
Al then smiled at Roy and gave a little shrug of his shoulders,
and Roy smiled back, happy that the family was complete again. The Rockbells
and Elrics weren't really related, but the boys were close to their hearts as
if they were kin.
Edward's expression changed a bit as he furrowed his eyebrows
and bit his bottom lip. He gave Al a nervous glance and mouthed: 'Automail'.
Alphonse gave him a little helpless shrug and Edward glanced over at Roy, who
raised his eyebrow back.
"About that, see, there were these circumstances..." Ed
began, then grimaced, "It's not like it was something I wanted to give up! NO,
it wasn't willingly!" Ed scowled, "I did NOT sell them! Why would I fucking
sell them?! I need them to walk and grab things, you know! And punch people,
yes. I'm not goddamn reckless!"
Now Ed was all agitated and scooting around in the chair.
Al had to keep repositioning the phone while Edward grimaced and winced and
squinted his eye nearest the receiver. He gave Alphonse an irritated look and
Al's mouth pulled down on one side. He gestured with his free hand, palm up,
as if to say 'what could he do?'
"If you would just..." Ed's voice was growing in volume,
"NO, look..." his face was starting to turn red and Roy felt a little alarmed,
but Alphonse just kept glancing over at Roy and smiling reassuringly, and no
matter how far Edward leaned away from the receiver, he kept it right against
his brother's ear. Edward was developing an eye tic.
"HA! It came apart right at the elbow! Shoddy! Built to
last! Don't you come at me with that bullshit!" Edward howled. He glanced at
Roy and turned his face away as if that meant Roy wouldn't be able to hear him
anymore "I don't want to talk about it. NO! You can if you think you're man
enough..." Then his eyes got huge, " OH SHIT, I DIDN'T MEAN IT, DON'T TAKE IT
LIKE THAT!" he wailed, turning huge eyes on his younger brother who was leaning
back from the receiver now as far as he could and yet still keep it pressed
to Edward's ear. Edward decided to go with self-preservation tactics. "LET ME
SPEAK TO GRANNY!" he begged and kicked his foot.
Roy bit the inside of his cheek and turned away, wouldn't
do for Ed to see him grinning at this point. Edward was batting at Alphonse
now who kept parrying with his free hand neatly.
Edward panted hard for a moment, then swallowed again
and the rolled his eyes toward the receiver, shaking his head.
"She's yelling," he told Al and scratched the side of
his nose. Then a smile came to rest on his face again, as his voice calmed and
he leaned into the receiver a little. Al sighed and tried to grab his hand to
make him take it, but Edward shoved his hand under his thigh.
"Hi Granny," he said, looking at Al again with a half
wicked grin. Al flattened his mouth and gave Roy a baleful look. Roy wondered
what he'd done this time, because as far as he knew, he was standing way over
here minding his own eavesdropping business.
"I'm still taller than you," Edward said with a half laugh,
"I missed you too," he repeated for her as his eyes dropped to his lap, "I'm
sorry to have worried you," he said in very gentle tones. He listened for a
few moments without speaking at all, shifting and glancing at Al. Then he looked
away, working his finger in idle circles on the chair arm and looking a little
uncomfortable. "Thank you," he said to the receiver with a lot of emotion he
tried to hide by sucking on the inside of his cheek. He tilted his head into
the phone once more. "He's here, you want to speak to him? I want to see you
as soon as I can, too," Ed looked at Al. "She wants to talk to you, Al," and
he turned his head and leaned away from the phone.
Alphonse took the receiver back and put it up to his ear,
beginning a conversation to do with travel arrangements and the location of
the General's house. Roy looked back over at Ed who offered him a smile and
leaned back in the chair. He looked truly content and relaxed. There was something
different about the way he wore his emotions now, something genuine, but there
were some things missing that if Roy took the time to ponder it, he thought
he knew what those things were.
But Edward was home, plain and simple and he had everything
he set out to achieve at the tender age of twelve. (Well maybe he hadn't
set out to achieve Roy, but he had him none the less) Edward finally looked
at peace with himself and the world, and for that, Roy Mustang would have walked
through fire, and often did.
"So we'll see you in three days," Alphonse's cheerful
voice broke the General's musings, "I'm looking forward to it, and I know brother
is too, he'll love to see you and Winry."
Edward fixed Roy with a hard stare and leaned forward
a little as if to convey urgency.
"Fucking hide me!" he pleaded and made a grabby motion
toward Roy with his hand.
Alphonse laughed and said goodbye, batting at his brother.
He hung up and gave himself a little shake, making his ponytail swing as he
grinned at the General and his sibling.
"It's so good to hear Granny's voice," Al said, "she sounded
"Well yeah, it was good to speak to Granny," Ed said,
"I'm glad we called her."
"Winry sounded so happy, she was really worried. I love
it hear Winry's voice when she's happy," Al continued.
"Yeah," Ed sneered, "her voice makes me want to take a
sharpened pencil and shove it into my ear through to my brain, because let me
tell you, it would probably hurt a lot less."
The General grinned and put his hands on his hips.
"She's a lovely young lady, Edward," he said with mischief
in his eye.
"If you like homicidal, wrench-wielding maniacs I guess,"
Roy strode into the kitchen, tugging on his cuffs and
reaching up to make sure his patch was straight. It was nice out and the sunlight
streamed though the large arched windows over the loveseat along the back kitchen
wall. Alphonse looked up from the stove and grinned, sporting his usual short
sleeves and ponytail. Roy grinned back.
"His majesty is languishing about in the master bedroom,
Alphonse," the General said, "I'm sure he is awaiting your pleasure and his
breakfast." He gave a mock bow and gestured toward the hall.
Al shook his head and chuckled, shuffling the pan on the
eye of the stove.
"Well he's just going to be lazing around all day and
you're going into the office, so you get breakfast first." Al lifted and tilted
the frying pan over a plate on the counter, sliding two sunny-side up eggs onto
it beside toast and bacon.
"You made breakfast for me?" this made the General positively
giddy; no one ever cooked for him. Well, Edward had tried in the past, and was
reasonably good if Roy wanted noodles or something fried to an unrecognizable
mass (it was fried, so it tasted good anyway), but this was a real treat. Alphonse
was a good cook and would sometimes indulge his Pirate on the weekends he stayed
over, but getting breakfast on something as mundane as a weekday was a luxury
he could easily grow to live with. He wouldn't complain at all! Roy sat down
at his table, already set for his use with silver ware, butter dish, and salt
and pepper shakers. It had been a while since he'd used it, really no need with
his bachelor existence. He'd been in the habit of eating in the living room
with the coffee table as a resting point for the deli wrappers that covered
his dinners most nights.
Alphonse served him up with a flourish, a smile and a
cup of coffee with cream, just as he liked. The boy always remembered; it was
always so gratifying that he did, it was bliss. Roy leaned over the plate, almost
as if to guard it. He almost looped his arm around it, but then he remembered
Ed was in the bedroom and no matter how long his reach might have seemed in
the past when there was something on Roy's plate he wanted, it couldn't reach
that far. The smell was so divine, he almost thought it a shame to eat
such a lovely meal. Maybe he should preserve it somehow to show to Edward later,
because if he was going to be the bread winner, Edward was going to have to
learn to cook just like this, or better if possible. Then his mind skipped to
an even better idea: with Edward as very tempting bait, maybe he could finally
convince Alphonse to move in here, the house was plenty large enough for all
three of them. Besides his bedroom, the den, living room, kitchen and Al's room,
the rest of the house sat empty. There had been no good reason to fill it; well,
one of the vacant rooms would be filled today. When he heard of the Rockbell
ladies' impending visit, he'd ordered another bed set which was supposed to
be delivered and set up by this evening. He glanced over at Alphonse who was
now working on a mountain of food for his elder brother.
"Some delivery men will bring in bed furniture today,"
Roy said, "Just direct them to one of the empty rooms to set it up."
"There are four empty rooms, which one do you want it
in?" Al asked, looking over his shoulder.
"Just whichever you'd like your family to sleep in," Roy
said, "it matters not to me," then he picked up a piece of toast, hesitated
and gestured with it, "Alphonse, about last night, on the phone..." he started.
"I knew this would come up, I was waiting for it," Al
said not looking at the General, instead peeling an orange to section up for
his brother, "but it wasn't you that gave it away, it was Ed, earlier," Al continued.
"Well of course," the General said quietly, "he's not
very good at hiding anything, even the things he wants to, but he expressed
some concerns to me about..."
"I know," Al interrupted, arranging the orange wedges
on the plate in a symmetrical fashion, "he made it clear to me he wasn't ready
to share it with me as well and I'm confused as to why. Life is just life and
you live it the way you see fit, you just try to be happy," Al said.
"You are remarkably understanding," the General said,
"and you've always been so observant it sometimes makes my skin crawl," he said
with a half smile, "I will tell him you know, if you'd like me too," he finished.
"I think maybe you better," Al said, butting toast wedges
up against the orange pinwheel, "I can already tell we have a few major battles
ahead, what with him telling me I couldn't date right off the bat when I'd only
known him for all of a few hours. He's very highly opinionated in regards to
me, I can already tell. He has some strange idea in his head that I'm this person
he has to take care of, but look at him, and not just because he's missing his
limbs- he's hiding things from both of us and he won't just give anything up
willingly. It's aggravating," Al broke some eggs into a bowl for scrambling.
For some reason, he didn't know why, he just knew Ed liked them that
way instead of fried. He just knew. These things he knew, but didn't
know, had been coming more and more frequently since Ed came back.
"He's always been like that," the General said, making
a merry mess of his egg yolks with a toast point, "And why am I not surprised
you have him already figured out?" he chuckled, "You're just a wonder, Alphonse."
"He's easier and harder. I have these pre-set expectations
and he's slowly meeting them one by one. I have my observations now and theories
being tested, but the results aren't unfavorable. I have this place in my head,
this place that remembers things I never knew to begin with," Alphonse added
some butter to the heating frying pan, "That place coincides with all the slamming-door
looks that you and everyone at the office give me when I venture into the great
unknown territory of the before. One day I will become a master of torture
and get some concrete answers. I'll torture Feury first, because he'll be the
easiest to break." All whipped the eggs in the bowl with a fork and added some
The General almost choked on his coffee and set his cup
down. He wiped his mouth with the napkin, not sure what to broach on the subject.
"It's alright Pirate, enjoy your breakfast. I've gone
this long with being a mushroom; I can go a bit longer. Brother is home now,
so let's just concentrate on that for a while, but here is another thing: You
hear me? You hear me call him 'Brother'? Like that's his name? Well that's another
item from the things I never lived, yet know are solid facts. I've always called
him Edward in every thought I had of him. When I had to address him directly,
in ever theory I jotted down that contained a method of finding him, in every
conversation spoken aloud on the subject of him, he was always 'Edward'. But
now the name Edward, or Ed if I think about it, is reserved for when I need
to get a point across. He's just 'Brother' now." Al shrugged, "Funny how that
worked out the moment I saw him."
The General just smiled and made a lot of appreciative
sounds eating his toast.
"HUNGRY," came hurtling down the hall, around the doorframe
and ruffled Alphonse's hair.
"'Impatient Jerk' is leaping to mind, too," Alphonse said.
The General had once again tried to drink his coffee and
nearly drown in it.
The General opened the door to his office, leaned in and
had a look around. Havoc looked up from his seat behind the General's very own
desk where he had sat to organize the daily paperwork and lifted an eyebrow
at him. Breda half turned in his chair and cast him a questioning look that
wanted details on the woman who had kept him out of the office for four days
(and wouldn't he just tilt right out of that chair if the General told that
this particular woman would gut him for calling him a woman), while Feury
lit up like a street lamp in the approaching dusk and stood half way out of
his chair with his hands on the table. Roy was always amused (and flattered)
by Feury's devotion and admiration. Though he seemed a bit old for it now, Roy
hoped he never outgrew it. Falman did the most amazing bit of quivering with
just his nostrils and his mouth flattened slightly. It was a remarkable amount
of facial expression that Roy had worked on this long and hard for years, and
he felt gratified. Colonel Hawkeye was rare in attendance this early in the
morning anymore. She had her own budding staff to deal with and Roy knew, sooner
or later, she'd break down and tell him about an impending transfer. It felt
funny and it hurt, but it also felt wonderful and happy. However, he wouldn't
deny that it felt relieving, because as much as he admired the woman,
he could use a goddamn break. All in all, life was now grand again and he wished
he could share just how grand it was with the rest of them, but Edward had tugged
on his collar and asked of him a favor.
I want to tell them all that you are back, it will
make them so happy, the General said.
I know, I want to see them all, but for right now,
Edward tugged on the General's collar a little, his fingers still lingering
there from where he grabbed it during the first goodbye kiss, I just want
to be with you and Alphonse. I want to get myself back together, literally.
If you told them, they would want to come and see me, and I'm grateful, I really
am, but this is good right now. This is what I want right now. Can you wait
a little, would you mind?
He'd asked so damn nicely that Roy figured Alphonse had
coached him. How could he say no to that? He acquiesced and took another kiss
or two (or three) as payment for his silence and now here he was, the
second happiest moment in his entire life and he couldn't share it.
Second happiest? a blond in his head questioned,
mouth drawing down.
The first happiest is when someone said three little
words to me in a hayloft, the General said to the threatening frown.
Kisses four, five, six and seven had followed that.
"Are you just going to hang in the doorway, sir, or are
you waiting on applause for showing up for work?" Havoc said and rolled his
toothpick to the opposite side of his mouth.
The Lieutenant Colonel had developed a very Hawkeye-like
attitude to Roy's work ethics and it was very... annoying, but not undeserved,
he supposed. It was'nt like practicing Hawkeye's methods of General wrangling
was a bad thing, in fact, Havoc stood to benefit from it in the long run, so
Roy had played the better man and let him get away with it. Well not let him
per se, Havoc had become wickedly sharp once he realized he was destined for
greatness and had whet his wit and his tongue against the then Major General
in anticipation, so Roy figured he should really just be used to it by now.
Roy made a flourish with his right hand in acknowledgement
of Havoc's wit. He then straightened and walked in a few paces, spread his arms
wide, clapped his hands together, templed them and held them to his chin. He
squinted with his one good eye at the ceiling a moment, then dropped his arms
and looped them behind his back, lacing his fingers.
"Tell me," he said, now that they had all riveted to him
and his display of posturing for dominance which males often did, especially
him, "what happens when your life's ambitions have been reached?" he said casually,
"What happens when the single most obtainable goal in your imagination has been
not only met, but exceeded, and you're left raw and bleeding in it's wake, never
thinking it would happen, because you were sure you'd made that one goal just
that side of unattainable?" he took a few more paces toward his desk, which
was bigger than any desk had a right to be. It had a marble top because he was
a General, and a resting place for a sliver pen, lovingly enshrined in a specially
made glass case, because it had finally, truly, died. "What then," he asked
his assembled forces, "tell me, what is left?"
"I need to thank the great hallelujah," Breda said, "because
man, I didn't think you'd EVER start dating again. This must be one incredible
piece of ass to have your peacock tail swaggering all over the office like the
old days. Oh you have to spill, you so have to spill," he chortled, then as
an afterthought, "sir."
"The next unattainable goal," Feury said, pretending Breda
didn't exist, "You always said that the sky's the limit. I remember the speech
you gave to our class in boot camp after burning down half the rec hall, it
was magnificent, I've never forgotten it," Feury saluted, "and good to have
you back, sir!"
"You didn't file any vacation request forms, sir," Falman
said in a trying to be friendly and welcoming back way, but failing miserably,
"and you've thrown me off schedule because I've had to leave the file folder
in the slot on top of the cabinets."
Roy unclasped his hands and bounced a little on the balls
of his feet, and then pointed to his stalwart men, one by one.
"Almost, but not quite, Breda. As I told someone else
recently, I don't kiss and tell," his finger swung to Feury, "You're a damn
fine addition to my team and I will never willingly you let go," he informed
the boy, now man, who was a Second Lieutenant and watched him practically wiggle
in glee. His digit then tracked its way to Falman, who stiffened visibly at
the onslaught, "I'm sorry that I've messed with your routine and I appreciate
the attempt at a welcome back. I'll have Havoc fill them all out for me post
haste," he said. Then, speaking of Havoc, (and having Havoc close to speak to)
the General put one hand on his hip and turned back to regard him, still sitting
in the General's own chair behind the General's own desk.
"Now that we've heard from the voyeur, the fan club and..."
he stopped for a moment, "Falman," Havoc concluded, "let me say that while I'm
glad you finally decided to grace us with your presence, you have made me a
very busy man and I will now take my paperwork-induced wrath out on you. I think
you should let us know when the urge to be a complete slacker hits you so we
can be prepared in advance. I take it that no amount of huffing and sighing
is going to make you spill your guts, but I know for a fact you will tell the
Colonel, because you still like your life. I'm exceedingly jealous that she
rates an explanation and I don't, but I'll let it go for now with the anticipatory
evil glee that these backlogs of reports are going to make your eye fall out
of your skull and roll around on your marble topped desk, sir."
"My god, man," the General said, clearly impressed, "the
Colonel HAS gotten her hooks into you. She is a force more deadly than I ever
Havoc, with his elbows on the desk, spread his hands in
a helpless gesture and rolled his toothpick again.
"It's hard not to pay attention when she keeps lovingly
stroking the pistol at her side," Havoc said.
"Feel my pain," the General said, "Now get your ass out
of my chair and away from my desk. I'm still the top dog here and you have yet
to be able to out posture me," the General raised his eyebrow, tilted his head
Havoc grinned, stood and backed from the chair, bowing
toward it and making a sweep of his arm.
"It's only a matter of time," he promised, "but for now,
I shall let you have the bigger balls and smellier butt, sir." He bowed his
head in mock surrender.
"Ha, ha, ha," the General said and took his position of
honor, immediately slouching in his chair, "bring it on gentlemen, I'm not afraid...
I'm not afraid."
Havoc leaned over and nudged the first stack of paperwork
toward him. The General whined.
Boredom was evil, especially if it wore the face of Edward
Elric. At first it had been pleasant, he was fed a very large breakfast and
fawned on by his little brother and that made him happy. Then the General coming
to say goodbye for the day had dampened it a little and Alphonse announced that
he had to do something terribly important on the other side of the house. As
a matter of fact, he had to go outside the house and clear around to
the other side, and might not be back for a good fifteen minutes. Edward thought
it a little odd that Al would just announce it like that, but then he was happy
again because he could kiss the General goodbye a lot, and grope him.
After the General had managed to wiggle himself free,
Alphonse came back and set up house on the bed, bringing Ed a lot of books.
That was interesting for a bit, but Ed didn't need to read books anymore, not
like he used to, so he pushed them aside and wiggled his toes, but his foot
didn't hold his attention very long either. He was feeling playful and giddy
because those emotions had been cooped up too long, and now that they had broken
their pen and were running free, there was no stopping them. He began tugging
on the end of Al's ponytail. Al would swat at him and shake his head and snort,
because he was writing furiously in a little journal. Edward waited at intervals
before going for the long sweep of dark gold hair hanging down his little brother's
back again, doing it enough times that Alphonse scooted out of his reach, so
then the teasing had to become verbal.
"What are you doing?" Edward asked.
"Writing in my journal," Alphonse said in tones that knew
he knew Edward knew exactly what he was doing.
"What are you writing about?" Edward prompted.
"Things that have been happening, some observations, some
notes for a report I have due," Alphonse said.
"Are you writing about me?" Edward said, flopping over
on the pillows, stretching and trying to catch the edge of Alphonse's shirt
but not quite making it.
"Yes, you're in here," Alphonse said in that 'You're borderline
annoying me right now' tone.
"What are you saying?" Edward pressed and hitched himself
down a little, still trying to catch hold of Alphonse's shirt.
"It's my journal, it's private," Al informed him, scooting
a little further away.
"You can tell me," Edward said, "I won't tell anyone.
I can keep a secret," he reached and poked Alphonse in the back with his toes.
"No you can't," Alphonse said, "I can tell just by looking
at you how lousy you are at keeping secrets," he never looked in Ed's direction,
but reached behind him and tried to poke the offending foot with his pencil.
"Aw come on, it's something bad isn't it, that's why you
won't tell me, " Edward teased, "you're writing bad things about you big brother,
you should be ashamed."
"I'm not going to tell you, you'll just have to stew.
They may be bad or they may be good, I'll guess you'll never know," Alphonse
teased right back.
"You picked up a mean streak," Edward said, "you used
to tell me everything. Who taught you to be stingy, I'd like to kick their ass,"
he said with a mock huff.
"You'd just like to kick ass," Alphonse said, "for the
fun of it, you have that type of personality. No one taught me how to tease
you, I picked that up on my own."
"I liked you better before," Edward groused, "when you
thought I was the greatest thing on the planet. I guess all good things come
to an end, I just wish I'd been around more to see it."
"Colonel Hawkeye is the greatest thing on the planet,"
Alphonse said and then seemed to blush and hunch over his journal, "I mean,
the Pirate is, but you're back now, I'm sure you will take over soon."
Edward raised an eyebrow. Well, well, well... what was
this? That sounded just like a certain other teenage Alchemist having random
thoughts about a dastardly dark-haired Colonel. Edward knew a crush, he'd harbored
one for a year or two before a fateful night in the bastard's kitchen, but here
was Alphonse, following in his footsteps. He was amused and a little alarmed.
Riza Hawkeye wasn't the type to gently push aside a young boy's heated glances
and mumbled confessions; he didn't want Alphonse to get hurt, but that wouldn't
keep him from teasing him about it.
"You like Hawkeye," Edward said sing song, "have you told
"NO," Alphonse said, cheeks ablaze, "don't be silly, I
don't like her like that," he rushed on, "I just admire her is all. She's
smart and self assured and she's a Colonel and people respect her, so I wish
to emulate her is all. I mean not like be her or anything," Al said.
"Because you're too busy trying to be me," Ed interjected
gleefully, "and it's so cute!" he added.
"Shut up!" Alphonse snorted then grimaced, "See? You make
say very rude things, you're such a bad influence, Winry was right!"
"Winry wouldn't know right if it bit her on the ass, and
believe me, that's all the action she would get. No man in their right mind
would come near that without a death wish and a will all made out in advance,"
Edward huffed, stretching out and looking at the ceiling.
"That is so mean," Alphonse said, "she was worried for
you, she cried over you at that stupid funeral. I don't know why you're so mean
to her," Al groused.
"She came to my funeral," Ed said, "she probably waited
until you were all gone to screech about having to bury such fine automail.
Hell, if I was actually in there, she'd have probably dug me back up with her
bare hands and snatched it off my body to take home and enshrine the goddamn
stuff," Ed snorted.
Alphonse turned around and popped Edward loudly on his
stub. Edward yelped and they both stared at each other, then Alphonse threw
his hands in the air.
"NOW see what you made me do! I am never prone to physical
confrontation! I swear, around you I lose all decorum!" he accused.
"You could be plenty physical when you needed to," Edward
yelled back, rubbing the smarting spot on his thigh, "You would chortle gleefully
while you kicked my ass and dangled me out windows, telling me the whole time
it was for my own good!"
Alphonse quieted then and lowered his arms, fixing Ed
with such an intense stare that Edward scooted back against the headboard.
"You're going to tell me things," Alphonse Elric said,
soft and low, "things no one else will tell me, because you're here now and
I want to know. There will be no hiding things to protect my feelings anymore,"
Alphonse Elric grinned a grin and Edward Elric swallowed hard. He'd never seen
such a look on anyone's face, it was a look meant to nullify and petrify simultaneously,
it was meant to stun its victim into submission, like how a poisonous spider
bites its prey and pumps it with venom before moving in for the kill. It was
a look that Edward Elric would see in his dreams for years to come, and nothing,
not even the memory of the faces of sneering Sins would top it. He pressed himself
hard against the headboard and heard a frightened whine. He concluded that it
had escaped from his belly and that he could feel his recently dropped balls
trying to climb back up into his body.
Alphonse leaned toward him then, one hand on the bed.
The grin was still there, but now it was getting closer and Edward scrabbled
with his one hand and one leg but could not force his matter through the headboard.
He wondered if he could claw an alchemic array with his fingernails on the
headboard in time, but it was looking more and more unlikely the closer Alphonse
"It won't be so bad, brother," Alphonse said, voice belying
the putrefying evil curve that was this grin from hell, "it will be just like
Edward Elric did the only thing he could think of to do,
he had a spasm, windmilled and screamed.
"I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM," he shrieked, "AND THE
GENERAL ISN'T HERE WHY ISN'T HE HERE NEVERMIND YOU'LL HAVE TO TAKE ME!"
Alphonse blinked and the grin went away. He looked bemused
and sat back a little.
"Well there is no need to shout," Al said, sliding off
the bed and holding out his arms, "Come on, let's go."
Of course fate decreed that the furniture show up as Ed
was on the can. Al went to let them in and then changed his mind three times
about which room the furniture was to go into, so Ed was left to sit and ponder
in an appropriate place to do so.
Alphonse was smart, much smarter than Ed himself he gave
in grudgingly, but obviously the General had been able to withhold information.
His brother had what no other being had ever had before, he had gotten to start
over. So was it really safe and wise for the Alphonse of now to remember the
Alphonse of before? Alphonse had two lives, running parallel to each other from
the age of ten on, and just from the differences Ed had already run into, he
knew that Al's experiences outside of Ed's influences were vastly different.
As much as that hurt, here was an Alphonse who had grown up on his own. Not
that he wasn't magnificent of course, but he was different. He didn't
ask Ed's opinion, he didn't take Ed's teasing with only good humor to show for
it, he didn't run to Ed with questions immediately (in fact, only when he
figured out Ed was helpless, trapped and the only one who could answer his questions,
had he broached that), he didn't look to Ed first. He looked... to Roy.
He'd looked to Roy, saluted Roy in the living room when
they saw each other in the flesh again at long last. He'd run to Roy when Ed's
presence had confused him when they'd first tried to talk and he turned to Roy
in every decision they had made since Ed had gotten back. It was his 'Pirate'
he deferred to in a way achingly familiar when the word 'Brother' used to leave
his lips first, but that shouldn't bother Ed. After all, he wasn't here and
he should be grateful that Al has someone as wonderful as Roy to look out for
him in Ed's absence, right? He rubbed his knee in agitation. That's not really
what he was trying to figure out was it? No, he was trying to figure out how
dangerous it might be if Al did regain his memories. He would have to
talk to... Roy about it. It seemed they were both running to him now.
He was chewing his lip when the bathroom door opened.
He jumped and almost yelled "Occupied!" but then remembered it was just Alphonse
and that he was done ages ago. As Al grunted and helped him hop from the bathroom,
Edward found he didn't want to return to the four walls of inner turmoil-inducing
dilemma that the bedroom could be, since he had little to do than sit there
among Roy cologne-scented pillows. So, "Take me to the den." he said. Al had
looked at him, but then nodded and they got about halfway down the hall before
Ed over balanced himself and smashed them into the wall. Some negotiating and
rearranging followed, and off they went again for a few feet, only to hit the
wall once more. Alphonse was a bit taller than Ed, but Ed was broader and heavier,
and his arm was on the wrong side of his body to be of any help, like say hooking
over his little brother's shoulders. Alphonse propped him on the wall, stood
back and rubbed his chin, then he took his elder brother's shoulders and pressed
down. Ed protested to begin with, but wasn't in a good position to maintain
it and was soon sitting on his ass on the hardwood floor. Al then turned him
around, got one hand under the arm that had an armpit, the other lightly gripped
the automail port and Alphonse dragged his brother backwards down the hall,
sliding him on his ass.
They proceeded down the long hall in this manner and Ed
complained the entire time, but they made it to the den and with some hoisting
and straining on Al's part, they even got Ed up into the big leather chair that
sat before the desk. That is when they discovered it had wheels and they both
grumbled over it, but at least if they needed it, they would have the knowledge
now. Edward looked around the room and then at his brother and sighed.
"Bored of the bedroom?" Al asked with a smile, "let's
find something for you to do and I'll go make you some lunch," he offered.
Edward nodded and sort of pushed himself around in the
chair. He spied a familiar wooden box, sitting on the credenza under the big
"Hey I know," Ed said, "let's play the phonograph."
Al turned to look at the phonograph in its place of honor.
He was a little uneasy about it, it was one of the few things the General showed
a true possessiveness over, especially one certain disc in the collection that
must have been pressed from the rarest materials on earth, from the way the
General handled it and had, without trying to seem obsessive, asked Alphonse
not to touch.
"I don't know," Al said hesitantly, "the General is very
fond of it and he doesn't really like for me to touch it. Let's do something
else," he looked at Ed hopefully.
"No, it will be fine," Ed reassured, "I've used it before.
If you're nervous, bring it over here to the desk and I'll work it."
"I can work it," Al huffed. Ed wasn't the only prodigy
in the family, "it's just... okay, fine," Al walked over to where the phonograph
sat and opened the lid. It was very plain. Its crank had a porcelain handle,
but the flowers that were painted on it were worn off in a couple of distinct
spots. Alphonse remembered the first time he'd turned the crank and how he'd
tried to match his palm and the thick of his thumb with the spots the General
had worn on it. The box the discs themselves were in was one of Alphonse's own
alchemic creations and was just tall enough so only enough of the discs stuck
over the top to get a good grip. It was solid and wooden and it had some fanciful
flames running along its edges that weren't very good, but the General had been
very pleased when he'd received the box for his birthday. Alphonse of then,
thirteen years old, had watched the General take all the discs out of the old
holder and place them one by one in the new one. Then Alphonse cranked the handle
and they played the special disc that made the General look soft and sad after
a while. Alphonse had liked the song at the start, but by the end he wished
they'd never listened to it because of the way it made his Pirate look.
Al felt in a way he had more of a right to work it than
Ed, he fingered the top of the discs.
"Play that song the bastard likes," Ed said behind him,
"you know the one, he used to listen to it all the time. The one that woman
sings, about blue skies."
Well naturally, Ed would hone in on just the song Alphonse
had just remembered disliking. It was that disc. Better to just lie than
argue with him.
"I don't know what you mean," he plucked a disc out at
random, carefully avoiding that disc in the back, "he listens to this
quite a bit," Al unsleeved it, put it carefully on the turntable and began to
crank the handle.
Ed wrinkled his nose as the swing jazz filled up the room,
cocked his head, listened and shrugged. Al figured this was a sign of approval.
So, Edward had heard the phonograph before. He knew what it was to the General
and he had cranked the crank as well. Would there ever be anything in Alphonse's
life that Ed hadn't done first? Al rubbed the back of his neck and scolded
himself. Really, it's not like they were in a competition, they were brothers
and Edward was the eldest and had done things first. It used to be that Alphonse
preened when he was compared to his legendary elder brother, but now that his
brother was all too flesh and blood and there, in the General's house, so familiar
with the General's things, so familiar with the General in a way that
"I'll get lunch," Al said briskly and strode out of the
room before Ed had a chance to object.
The Colonel stopped by just before the General was leaving
to go home. She came in and chased Havoc out with her eyes, then approached
the big desk and snapped a salute. The General stood, snapped a salute back
and they looked at each other for long moments. He finally broke the silence.
"You spoke to Al," the General asked.
"I did, sir," the Colonel said, "I am relieved that Edward
has been retrieved safely," she said.
"It's a miracle," the General said, "and no one retrieved
him, he did it all on his own," then he leaned forward a little, "he's asked
me to keep it under wraps for the moment. I know he doesn't mean it as any slight
to anyone, especially not to someone who cared for his little brother in his
"I would never impute his intentions, sir. After all,
as he has taught us all, Edward Elric knows what is good for Edward Elric. Returning
from the dead is no small feat," she was still beautiful and hard, but not as
hard as she had been, and her eyes showed her gratitude for Roy's bit of explanation.
"I'm sure Edward wouldn't mind if you knew," the
General furthered, "I know that Alphonse's trust is well placed. After all,
you've held my own life in your very capable hands more than once," He allowed
himself a smile, "You'll be leaving me for the East soon," he continued and
held up a hand to silence her when she moved her mouth to speak, "and my congratulations
are in order to you, no one deserves it more, but I will miss you very much
around here. It won't be the same."
"Sir," she said, then looked up at him, "and sir, I'm
happy for you. That Edward has come back... to you," she said it carefully,
schooled the emotion just right so it was not much of a breech of her self maintained
"Colonel, I would kiss you," the General said, "but then
you'd write me up and Falman would have more work, so I'll refrain."
She snapped her razor salute again.
"Good evening, General," she said and turned to go.
"And to you Colonel," Roy said as she walked away.
He danced in the front door, humming. The music had waved
through the mail slot as he approached the house. She had laughed huskily and
told him in that silky voice that he was just the thing she needed to chase
the blues away. Oh how he believed her and what a nice way to come home and
OH MY GOD, my phonograph! Then, even as she tried to soothe him, he was dashing
down the hall while a movie of a very drunk, very beautiful, fifteen year old
was playing through his head, having been abandoned by his brother and wearing
his uniform like a five-year-old girl wears her mother's dress. He'd been so
alluring and so flushed, but all of Roy's discs were all over the floor and
the living room had been nothing short of Armageddon.
He stopped in the doorway of the den, panting, afraid
to look really, but knowing he had no choice. Ed and Alphonse blinked up at
him from where they sat on the floor, both on cushions they had pulled off the
couch, a chessboard between them. The den was a bit messy, books were opened
and it looked like Alphonse had suffered one of his infamous theory-writing
seizures, because little stacks of paper were also on the floor, but arranged
so neatly as to be the tidiest mess the General had ever seen. Dirty dishes
that held the remainder of lunch sat abandoned on the coffee table and Ed had
a cigar clenched in his teeth. Roy raised his eyebrow, but then remembered he
had a box from a few years ago stashed in one of the desk drawers. Why Ed was
clenching it in his teeth, Roy did not know. The phonograph looked fine, though.
No discs where scattered about, it all looked so... homey and natural.
Alphonse sat up on his knees suddenly, reached down and
moved a chess piece. "Checkmate", he said casually, climbing to his feet. He
crossed over to Roy in the doorway, smiled and pushed past him. Roy turned and
watched him walk down the hall toward his room, then looked back at Ed, but
Ed was scowling at the chessboard as he bounced the cigar up and down in the
corner of his mouth like a yoyo, so Roy stepped into the den and retrieved the
"How does he always fuckin' do that," Ed mumbled, but
not directly at the General, so Roy shrugged and carried the dirty dishes to
the kitchen, putting them in the sink. Then remembered he still had his coat
on and shrugged it off, heading for the foyer, meeting up with Alphonse in the
hallway. Alphonse had his shoulder case and smiled pleasantly enough, still
not saying anything. Neither one of them had extended a greeting home, which
was a bit odd, and Al went and knelt in the den, gathering up his papers.
"Well good evening, you two," the General called down
the hall from where he was hanging his coat, "I'm home in case you missed my
entrance the first time," he furthered.
"Evening!" Ed called out and knocked over his King on
"Evening!" Alphonse called out, snapping his shoulder
case up and climbing to his feet again.
Roy went back to the den and clapped his hands together,
looking at the brothers. They looked at him, then at each other for a few moments,
then away again.
"Well, are we having dinner?" the General asked, feeling
as if he'd walked in on something other than what it appeared and felt the need
to speak out loud to worm his way in. Ed shrugged and plucked the cigar from
his mouth, tossing it at the coffee table. Al half smiled.
"I have a report due," Al said, "now that you're back,
I think I'm going to head for the dorms," he looked over at Ed when his elder
sibling made a protesting noise, "I can't get anything done here because the
attention whore won't let me, so I leave him this evening to you, General. I
know that Winry and Granny will be here tomorrow and I'll come over once I've
handed in my report. Could you possibly go in late and stay with him until one
or the other of us arrive?"
Edward snorted behind him, and shifted around on his couch
pillow to face them better.
"Some way to refer to your older brother, I told you I
would help you write your report if you recall, but that didn't satisfy you.
You're the one who suggested you beat me at chess several times," Ed sniffed,
"and did," he grumbled.
So it wasn't perfect, but it was a start. Alphonse was
different, Edward was different, they were going to have to get used to each
other again and that was just the way it was going to be. Time apart was a great
way to get to know your feelings, Roy knew he'd become an expert on this in
the last six years, so he clapped Alphonse on the shoulder and nodded.
"I'm pretty much a big cheese now and can go into the
office when I want, so that will be fine Alphonse, just call..." he started.
"And let you know when I'm coming," Alphonse finished
for him with a smile, "Of course General, just like always."
Roy squeezed his shoulder and Alphonse turned to Ed, offering
a smile that said he was sorry to go (but not too much) and raised his hand.
"I'll see you tomorrow, brother," he said and Edward began
a series of scoots using his heel and the sofa cushion. Roy and Al just stood
and watched him while he got up pretty good speed. He managed to get over to
where they were and grab Al around the leg with his arm, and Al realized he'd
gotten himself into a trap. For the next few minutes, Roy stood back grinning
while Alphonse dragged Edward from the den, into the hall and down to the front
door, grunting the entire time he did.
He finally won his freedom by whining and trying to slam
Ed's arm in the front door. When he was gone, Ed sighed heavily, looked at Roy
with many pitiful expressions and Roy sighed as well. "You need a bath," He
"You think I smell," Ed replied.
It was the true measure of the man.
Where Edward had fit so neatly under his chin before,
Edward's hair now tickled his nose, he had to drape his legs farther over the
side of the tub and it was a more of a weight against his chest, but he didn't
mind. No, he would never complain at all.
It was a nod to his maturity that was only natural with
the passage of time.
Roy was a man of authority. He was used to being in command,
but now his hands were being directed. The flush was still there, but it had
different meaning on the young man's cheeks and the moans where heavier, the
need more pronounced. Sexual maturity looked good on Edward Elric and the way
he gripped Roy's wrist tightly and directed the action while he got a leisurely
bathtub hand job was almost as erotic as the act itself.
In the lazy afterwards, Edward tilted his head back on
Roy's shoulder, on his left side, and eyed the patch.
"Tell me what happened," Edward said. Roy knew he would
eventually have had to give an explanation and now was as good a time as any.
He told Edward of a mansion and a child and a monster, of a wine cellar and
blood and fire. He told him of the rage and the horror and the helplessness,
and why he had that long scar on his shoulder. He haltingly told him of a small,
lifeless body he clutched as he stumbled through the fire, that tiny child who
in the end had been his savior at the price of his own short life.
Then, when freedom of the nightmare was gained, like every
good nightmare should, it came again in the form of a twisted mad man and a
gunshot. He really didn't remember much after that, until the hospital and the
pain and the loss and the grief. He didn't spare many details on those things;
he'd already lived them enough. Edward was quiet as he had been through the
whole stumbling explanation, gently rubbing his fingers around the arm resting
around his abdomen and trailing them down to the hand lying on his stomach.
He turned his forehead against Roy's jaw and sighed.
"I wish that I had been there for you, to protect you
like I promised," he said softly.
"You were off doing what needed to be done, the same as
I was. You didn't go back on your promise, Edward, you never have and you never
will," Roy murmured, his own fingers moving slowly back and forth over Edward's
belly, "You went off and found us Alphonse," he continued, "and we're all richer
Edward lifted his hand then, reaching up and back, fingertips
pressed to the eye patch. Roy immediately turned his head and reached up to
brush Edward's hand away.
"It's funny to wear it in the tub, take it off," Edward
"No," Roy returned and tightened his jaw.
"Why not, take it off," Edward continued, "you're not
going to be able to sleep in it."
It then occurred to Roy that since Edward's return, he
hadn't slept with him. The first couple of days, Edward had been exhausted and
Roy had slept in Alphonse's room to let the young man rest undisturbed. Then
Alphonse himself had been there every night since until tonight, sleeping at
his brother's side, and Roy hadn't begrudged them the comfort of each other's
presence. But tonight, for the first time since his return, Roy would be sleeping
at his lover's side. He didn't turn his face back to Edward's hand and he made
no reply to Edward's statement, he'd just have to try it and see how it worked
out, if he could sleep with it.
"Why won't you show me," Edward asked suddenly, "why,
do you think I'd turn away?"
Roy mulled that over, but he knew the answers. It was
his personal demon. It wasn't something you just gave the world, all this darkness
and inner turmoil, it wasn't something that should be shown the light.
Behind his eye patch lurked a monster, one that spouted philosophy and ran a
country and murdered his best friend and snapped the neck of his own child.
He still lurked there and if Roy let Edward see him, then he might lose sight
of Edward too, and that he would never allow to happen; never again. Behind
his monster was a man, desperate and frightened, who knew he'd taken on too
much and the only thing that saved him was the sacrifice of angels. Behind the
man were memories, of pain and hospitals, hopelessness and longing, and the
sense of utter desolation at what his life had become, because at the time,
all of it meant nothing, for the want of one blond haired boy who'd run off
into the sunset, and that was selfishness he'd never show the world.
The General wasn't allowed to be selfish and his eye patch
reminded him of that, so if the time ever came again, all he'd have to do is
let himself feel it against his cheek, and in that moment he could let go of
As he sat in the tub, with the water cooling and everything
leaning against his chest, he had no words to tell him and so he let his silence
settle between them and prayed that Edward let it go. But, he reminded himself
as he thought of who he was thinking about, that wouldn't be enough, for Edward
was the personification of determination who had conquered personal demons and
to a man like him, Roy's might mean nothing, so he tried to reason out some
way to satisfy him and keep his eye patch at the same time.
"I don't have to give you everything, Edward," he said
and marveled at his selfishness. It was truly a flaw that he shouldn't be allowed.
The same nod to Edward's maturity saved him once again.
"I understand," Edward said, lowering his hand, "maybe
one day you'll let me see and let me share what you're hiding."
It was always the angels to his rescue, the General thought
wryly. Why, he'd never understand.