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Paper in Fire

epilogue

He could hear the phone ringing as he unlocked the door, so Roy Mustang hurried inside away from the early Spring cold, put down his suitcases, and answered it.

"Mustang—Elric residence," he said, and smirked at the sound of that. He and Ed had only been living together for about a month, and with all the traveling Roy had been doing on the campaign trail lately he was rarely home, so the words still tasted new and delicious.

"May I speak with Edward Elric please?" a familiar baritone asked confidently.

"He's not able to come to the phone right now," Roy returned, the sound of the shower cueing Roy to his lover's whereabouts. He wracked his brain to match that voice to a name, then gave up. "May I ask who's calling?"

"This is Mike Roach, Prime Minister Thomas' personal secretary. Edward and I met briefly today in his office."

Ah yes, he knew that voice was familiar. Roy frowned. How did he end up on a first name basis with Ed? The man was a notorious player. "Would you like to leave a message?"

"Most certainly. Pursuant to the permanent contract we discussed this afternoon, I was wondering if he would like to join me for dinner and give me a chance to change his mind about taking it. I'm sure the Prime Minister's office could sweeten the deal to his satisfaction. All he has to do is name his terms."

Roy's frown deepened. "I'll be sure to pass along your message; however Mr. Elric has no interest in a permanent position in any capacity at this time. His services are for hire strictly on a freelance basis. Furthermore, he prefers to conduct business professionally from his office, not socially from a restaurant."

"Well, to be honest, business isn't all that I had in mind to conduct," the other man said, the smirk obvious in his tone, and Roy realized that Roach hadn't recognized his voice either. Knowing the other man's affluent background, he had likely mistaken Roy for a manservant. Well, it had been nearly six months since last they'd spoken, and Roy was supposed to be out of Central at the moment.

"Oh, is that so?" Roy rubbed his fingers against his thumb reflexively. "Perhaps you weren't aware, but Mr. Elric is currently in a committed relationship . . ."

"I thought perhaps Mr. Elric would enjoy a little innocent social interaction while General Mustang is out of town, and since the man's not due back to Central until the end of the week, young Edward might enjoy spending some time in the company of . . ."

"With me." Roy ended firmly.

Dead silence. Then, a nervous, "Oh. Roy. Home, are you?"

"Yes Mike. And just so you know, I don't take kindly to poachers. Consider this a friendly warning. Your next warning will be decidedly unfriendly, and will involve a practical demonstration of my alchemical expertise."

The dial tone was Roy's only response. Mission accomplished. And just in time, as the rattling pipes announced that his shower was over and a clean, refreshed Edward was soon to make an appearance.

Roy peered up from the bottom of the stairs, and sure enough, Edward did indeed appear, a towel slung low around his hips, another rubbing at his damp hair.

"Roy! You're back early! How were things out in West Armpit, or where ever the hell it was that you were campaigning?"

"Same old thing. Smile a few smiles, shake a few hands, reassure a few nervous people that all is well, and that I am their best bet to keep it that way."

"I thought I heard the phone just now."

"You did. Mike Roach called. Something about dinner and a permanent contract."

"I already told him I wasn't interested. In either. The guy's a total sleaze ball. Kind of reminds me of you," Ed grinned down at him cheekily.

"Ah, so you don't have a date for the evening Fullmetal?"

"Quite the contrary General, I do," Edward said, smiling broadly. "Now get your ass up here so I can greet you properly."

The General didn't need an engraved invitation. He was up the stairs and had the towel off his lover in no time flat.

"I'm thinking dinner on the Boardwalk. Later. You know how I love showing you off."

"Not your publicity shot, Mustang."

"Dining in it is, then, my dear Fullmetal. Just like the good old days."

Ah, it was so good to be home at last.