Paper in Fire

chapter 1.

Roy Mustang sat in his office the next morning, greatly anticipating the arrival of his youngest subordinate. His evening had gone fairly well, all things considered. When Shanice failed to return his call, Roy had called her again to see if she had received his earlier message. Much to his surprise, he was confronted by the woman in a state of high piss—off. It took a lot of smooth talking to first calm her down, then get her to relate what had happened, and finally to persuade her to go out with him that evening after all. She now mistakenly believed that he was just as much in the dark as to what had happened as she was. Unfortunately, it was all too obvious to Roy who the culprit was. Major Pain indeed.

The older man sighed. He and Edward had an understanding, and he knew the kid understood the parameters. He had agreed, after all. Roy wasn't looking forward to this, but he had to remind the boy that rules were rules, and the younger man had overstepped the set boundaries.

As he so often did, Roy wondered once again if perhaps getting involved with Edward had been a mistake. The kid was so young, just seventeen years old now, and had been only sixteen, fresh from achieving his long strived for goal, when they had entered into their arrangement. Ed hadn't confided the details of how the brothers had succeeded in returning Alphonse' soul to his natural body, and Roy had not pressed him. The now Brigadier General and his personal staff had had their own secrets to keep surrounding the disappearance of Furher King Bradley, and more pressing matters to attend to, like the breakdown of military rule and the restructuring of Amestris' government.

Thinking back, Roy shuddered when he recalled just how close he had come to getting his brains blown out by Frank Archer. If Riza Hawkeye had shown up just one second later, Roy's daring coup would have been prematurely aborted by a bullet in his head. In the aftermath, Mustang and his command had all managed to emerge unscathed, both physically and professionally. Maes had been able to come out of hiding when the threat to his wife and daughter's lives posed by his being alive was eliminated along with the homunculus Furher and its master. In fact, his testimony at the hearing, backing up the prearranged story of their failure to foil a plot to assassinate King Bradley, had been instrumental in keeping Roy and his staff from being summarily court—martialed.

In the midst of all the upheaval and uncertainty, Roy and Ed had just sort of happened. Roy had noticed the covert looks that kid had been casting his way for some time, and finally decided to indulge him. After all, Edward was very attractive, and Roy was a notorious predator. It had been a tremendous boost to his already over—inflated ego to be the centre of that wild, intelligent, beautiful creature's attention. The problem was in the taming.

Edward had some pretty conservative ideas about what a relationship should involve Roy discovered. While there was no doubt that the initial affair had a lot to do with an over abundance of uncontrolled hormonal urges, as time went on it became clear to Roy the boy was confusing his adolescent crush with deeper feelings. This was a not totally unforeseen, but unwelcome development for the older man. Edward was uncomfortable with the fact that Roy continued to see other people, and Roy was uncomfortable with Edward's blossoming territoriality. So the newly promoted Brigadier General did what he did best — assessed the situation, considered all variables, evaluated his options, and then manipulated the shit out of all apparent weaknesses to his benefit. He knew that Edward was honest to a fault, loyal, and very idealistic. He was the People's Alchemist for some very good reasons, even leaving out the fact of his alchemic genius. What worked in Roy's favor was the boy's self acknowledged lack of social maturity, and the fact that he trusted the older man implicitly. Roy used all this to his advantage, and introduced 'The Rules.'

While the power of the Furhership was now much diminished compared to the time of Bradley's reign, it was still the pinnacle of the military hierarchy, and still Roy Mustang's penultimate goal. The military was now under the control of the newly created, democratically elected Parliament however, with the Prime Minister at its head. Political power was still Roy Mustang's ultimate goal, and he considered it even more attainable now, as the top seat of government had become an elected position. Roy Mustang prided himself on his ability to confidently navigate any social situation, affairs of state included. In these high stakes popularity contests, image was everything, and admitting to regularly fucking his 16—year—old subordinate would definitely not contribute to the image Roy wanted to project.

So Roy convinced Edward that Rule Number One had to be that no one could know about them. He reasoned that Ed was in his command, and fraternizing was frowned on by the Brass. Their affair could appear to be the result of coercion by a superior officer against a much younger subordinate, and that would negatively affect Roy's chances for promotion. Of course, the younger man had not been happy about it, but had acknowledged the necessity of discretion to support Roy and his career. After all, Roy had supported the Elrics in their search for the Stone. Ed considered it equivalent exchange.

After that one all important rule was accepted, Roy introduced others to support it. The next one was that Roy would continue to see other people, and Edward couldn't interfere. Roy pointed out that he had to keep up appearances, or suspicions would be raised. The third rule stated that Ed was also not allowed to expect any kind of commitment from Roy. Their arrangement was sex only, and nothing more. Roy believed that last one was really in Ed's own best interests. The kid needed to know that he could never be anything more than a casual bed partner to the older man. Roy eased that one through by pointing out that Ed was still young, and although Roy was his first, he would likely not be his last lover. Roy knew that Edward's feelings couldn't be serious right now, he was only seventeen. This was a crush, nothing more, and it wouldn't last forever.

Things had been rolling along smoothly for quite some time, but now it looked like that was about to change. As much as he enjoyed their exploits, Roy wondered if perhaps it was time to break it off with the little blond. He'd have to see how their meeting went. Depending on what happened today, he might be forced to end it with the teen, in the interest of self preservation.