jackilyn hughes

Fun, Easy Ways to Fall More In Love

"You might not think holding his hand, catching his eye across the room, and calling him Baby are a big deal, but new research shows the undeniable power little gestures like these have."—Cosmo

Edward Elric was not known for his social prowess, or his ability to woo or romance (he left all of that nonsense up to Roy). Something Edward was known for was doing nonsensical things when he was bored. Unfortunately, no one was there this time to tell Ed reading that magazine was a nonsensical thing to do.

The magazine told him he was doing it all wrong. First, it said he was boring. Then, it said he was bad in bed. Next, it said he was inconsiderate. After that, it told him he was gullible.

At first, Ed casually thought nothing of it, but soon he was quite pointedly not taking it seriously. Eventually, Ed got so paranoid that the magazine was right that he saw evidence backing it up everywhere. Ed stayed quiet most of the time, always worried he'd say something inadvertently hurtful. He was put off sex a little, because he thought he'd likely prove himself inadequate. But then he nixed those, because didn't being quiet make him more boring, and after all didn't practice make perfect? And then again, if you practiced it wrong, you learned it wrong, and things were hard to UN—learn.

In a pathetically short amount of time, Ed found himself searching out the magazine. After all, the point of highlighting his flaws was so that it could help him fix them. Ed quickly read through the whole magazine multiple times, impatiently skipping over all the advertisements (mostly for makeup or bras etc; it was a mag meant for girls after all). Finally, Ed decided on a game plan, and set about following the magazine's advice to being a better girlfr boyfrie partner.

Talk him up. When you're out together with friends, casually mention a random thing he does well [...] Couples who put each other on a pedestal are happier in the long run than pairs who don't idealize each other.

The Colonel and his men went out to the bar often, usually when Havoc had lost another girlfriend or they were celebrating someone's promotion or Havoc hadn't lost his girlfriend yet... The whole group was regulars at both the bar near HQ and the one a few streets into the city from Maes's house.

This time it was Havoc. He'd lost his girlfriend again. After a few rounds, he gladly detailed the whole affair. Her name was Lily, she'd left him for some asshat who was better looking than him, and the two were already happily planning their wedding for next June.

Gloomily, Havoc declared, "At least I can hate this guy. It's better than when the Colonel stole 'em." Ed seized his chance with a relish, and while 'casual' wasn't really something Ed did very well, looking back he thought he'd done okay.

"Well," he said with a shrug, twirling the olive garnish in his martini (Roy had bought it for him, because he liked them but he'd never be caught dead ordering one) with a gloved pinky. "It's probably not Roy's fault, they probably just all new he was great in bed."

There. That was casual, right? The whole table was giving him a weird look, but he'd done it right, right? Ed twitched. No, of course he hadn't done it right. Everyone knew Roy was good in bed; he was a sex fiend, he bragged about it himself. And even if Roy was arrogant and boastful about it, sex wasn't something he was actually proud of himself for.

Awkwardly, the conversation started up again and Ed brooded over his olive garnish. He'd have to try again.

Tweak your routine. [...] When you change things around so you're not running on autopilot, you'll be more aware of every moment you spend together, which helps you find new opportunities to connect.

Their daily routine was simple, and usually mutually exclusive. Roy woke up early, went to work, avoided paperwork, and went to the fancy deli down the street for lunch, stayed a little late because he'd slacked all day, and then went home and made himself a simple but delectable dinner. Ed woke up late, ate a breakfast bigger than he was, went either to the public library with Al or to the state library without, studied, forgot about lunch, got home late, and had something quick for dinner before falling asleep. They had sex on the weekends and sometimes (if Ed got up early enough) they groped in the showers. Every other day once in a while, Roy would take off a little early from work and steal Ed away from the library and take him home and ravage him. That was always nice.

But for a change, as the article had suggested, Ed was going to take off early today, and he was going to drag Roy away from his desk and Hawkeye's watchful gaze, and maybe Ed would even get to do some ravaging of his own. After all, the article never said he wasn't allowed to hit two birds with one stone.

However, the real plan was to not talk about alchemy tonight.

At six o'clock, the sun still shining in the late summer sky, Ed set off toward Central HQ at a brisk pace (he'd meant to go earlier, but got caught up). Ed's hands were stuffed into the pockets of his leather pants and he kicked a pebble in front of him nervously.

Would Roy be annoyed? They had this sort of silent agreement that Roy knew what he was doing and Ed didn't, and therefore didn't it make sense that Roy should just lead the way? But that magazine had said differently, and shown him that he needed to be more active in a relationship that was going to go somewhere.

Confidently (because he did everything that way, not because he felt it), Ed marched up to Roy's floor and into the outer office.

"Major Elric," Lieutenant Hawkeye said in surprise. "You're not scheduled to report in today."

"Uh, yeah," Ed agreed. "I'm just here for..." He trailed off embarrassedly, gesturing vaguely toward Roy's door. Acknowledging the relationship he had with Roy out loud still made Ed blush, even though probably the whole friggin' country knew by now. Aborting his gesture to scratch the back of his neck, Ed shuffled into Roy's office.

"Edward?" Roy was just as surprised to see him as Hawkeye had been, and he paused in his paperwork signing to look at Ed warily with his shoulders slightly tensed and his pen still poised.

"I hope you didn't slack off too much today," Ed told him. It was easy to recognize that little glint of light in the corners of his eyes and the way Roy's eyebrows drew together just barely in the way that meant Roy (ha! for once) didn't know what was going on.

"Why is that?"

"'Cause if you did, you're gonna have to come in early tomorrow." Ed held the office door open for Roy, and hopefully that was a big enough hint because saying the words 'come on, let's go home' always made Ed feel like a ball of cheesy cliché. Quietly, Roy set down his pen and followed him out.

They walked home in silence, and when Roy tried to hold his hand Ed put it in his pocket. Public displays of affection still made Ed twitch, and he avoided them at all costs. Often, Roy tricked him into some, but mostly respected Ed's squeamishness.

At home, Ed led Roy into the living room and sat him down on the couch. He took Roy's gloves and jacket off for him, and set them over the back of the sofa. Then he meandered into the kitchen and came back out when he had a mug of hot coffee for Roy, which he handed over without stealing any of.

Roy followed him into the kitchen, steaming cup held close to his chest. He sat at the table and watched as Edward began to cook. They had small conversation while Ed mixed ingredients together, stirred, etc. When he was done, Ed set the table and served Roy before sitting down himself.

"I didn't know you could cook," Roy murmured after taking a bite. Ed grinned.

"Yeah, it's —" just like alchemy "...easy."

The whole night followed the same vein. Roy would mention something and it would remind Ed of alchemy, or he would think of an easy way to explain or understand something using an alchemic metaphor, or he would think of something funny that could only be amusing to you if you were an alchemist.

The article said 'fun, easy ways to fall more in love' so why was this so hard, and why was Ed so miserable? Roy was beginning to look concerned, and eventually Ed gave up and took Roy upstairs so that neither of them would be thinking about it.

When Roy fell asleep, Ed stayed up quietly playing with his lover's hair. He stared morosely off into space. He wasn't very good at this tweaking his routine thing. He wasn't really very good at any of it.

Did that mean he wasn't a good boyfriend?

Ed possessively squeezed Roy closer to him and buried his face in the silky black strands his fingers were laced in. He didn't ever want to let go.

He'd just have to try harder.

Notice stuff about him. And then tell him.

Roy hummed in the shower. He took his coffee with one sugar and one cream, and always teased Ed about his milk thing. Roy never ate breakfast not because he didn't have time, but because he was never hungry in the mornings (except for sex). He always put his left boot on first.

Roy's eyes always glittered mischievously when he said something he knew was clever. He'd always be a teenager at heart, even despite all the horrors he'd been through, and sometimes it was so easy to tell. Roy's sense of loyalty made golden retrievers jealous.

Roy was an idealist and a romantic, but mostly a romantic. He liked wooing; buying flowers and chocolates, and taking you out to fancy dinners and to the movies, and buying you things because they reminded him of you. He liked trying to impress you, and complimenting you. He liked saying 'I love you' and he liked even better to mean it. Even though Ed never said it back, Roy still said it as often as Ed would let him, because it made him happy to do so.

Things like cooking and cleaning gave Roy thinking time, and he did them when he was stressed out. At times such as these, Roy was less interested in sex and more interested in cuddling. Ed always complained about it, but he could always see that look in Roy's eyes (when it came) that said Roy just wanted to hold someone and be needed. And Ed didn't have any problem needing Roy.

Roy loved to sit in front of the fire and read bad science fiction novels. Roy loved to sit in front of the fire, full stop. He liked books and reading almost as much as Ed did, although he had more eclectic tastes. Roy was quirky with his reading. Every time, before getting a book, Roy would run his fingers along all the spines in his bookshelf, even if he already knew where the one he was looking for was. He held the books in some ridiculous fancy way when he read them, and when asked why he did that he said it was comfortable. He always smoothed his hand over the words when he turned a page.

Roy was a much more generous lover than Ed would ever have guessed. Roy's ultimate goal was always making sure Ed felt as good as Roy could possibly make him, and sex was always the one thing Roy didn't manipulate. He'd manipulate Ed into sex, and convince him something new and kinky was his idea in the first place, but once they got to the actual sex part, nothing was ever expected out of Ed. The first time, Roy was so slow and gentle and good that Ed was sure he was going to die.

It was Roy's gentlemanliness in the bedroom that Ed chose to 'notice', and Roy smiled softly at him across the pillow.

"I'm not normally like that," he said.

Celebrate good news in a big way. Give him a quarterback—style whack on the butt, open a bottle of bubbly, and ask for details [...] The best couples aren't just supportive but also genuinely interested and thrilled when good things happen to each other.

That Roy's yearly assessment was up soon was a simple matter of coincidental convenience that Ed planned to fully take advantage of. Obviously, Roy was going to pass and pass well, as he always did.

The assessment came and went, and Roy got back his review, saying he was just as amazing as always and stroking his ego so much Ed wanted to gag. He held it back because the rest of the night, he knew, he'd be stroking that ego just as much.

Ed didn't do anything huge; he just took Roy out to a bar and planned to foot the bill. It wasn't one they were regulars at, so when they walked in quite a few eyes followed them up to the bar — after all Fullmetal and Flame having a few drinks at your usual place was kind of a big deal, if you were a civilian.

"See, Mary," someone said. "We all told you they were together." Ed blushed a little, but tried to ignore it as he gestured for Roy to go find them a seat. He added a look that said 'and make it private too, you bastard', and then turned back around to order their drinks. He was supremely annoyed to find that the bar came pretty far up his chest.

The barkeep was a pretty young lady, maybe only two or three years older than Ed's nineteen. She had her brown hair pulled back in a curly ponytail and she wore jeans underneath the bar's uniform t—shirt.

"Talisker 16, double, on the rocks," he told her. She raised an eyebrow and he gave her a wry smile back that said, 'yes, I am well aware of how poor I will be when I walk out of here, and yes, it's all his fault'.

"Anything else?" The bartender grinned, leaning on the counter. Ed grimaced. Here it was. Time to suck it up. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat.

"A dirty martini, please," he said shamefully. "Four olives." She looked a little surprised, but made him one anyway, and soon he was forging his way toward the table his lover had chosen, gratified along the way to overhear that some people assumed the martini was for Roy.

At the table, Roy gratefully took his scotch and sipped blissfully. He smirked at Ed's drink, asking, "Did she laugh?"

"Shut up," Ed snapped back. "It's not my fault it's a fucking yuppie's drink. Leave me alone." Sulkily, Ed twirled his garnish stick around in the cocktail glass and leaned his head on his hand, elbow on the table.

"What outstanding etiquette you have," Roy murmured. With a grin, he plucked the stick from Ed's fingers and stole one of his olives.

Quickly, the duo sailed through their second and third drinks, and Ed soon switched from the martinis to his usual regular, porter ale. Courteously, Roy also changed his order to a much less expensive whiskey. Embarrassingly, they ended up dancing and singing and laughing with some civilians and Roy and Ed both received phone numbers from several women. When they got home, they immediately fell to the couch to continue the celebration there, and again when they reached the bedroom.

All in all, Ed thought, it had gone over well. Hopefully, this time he hadn't been inadequate.

Challenge him to a race. A spontaneous sprint [...] instantly boosts your bond. New, stimulating situations get couples feeling more in love.

When Ed woke up in the morning on Saturday (it was the only day he ever managed to wake up before Roy, sometimes), he got the magazine out from its hiding place between the pages of the phone book underneath the bedside table. He flipped to the article he was following, and updated himself.

A race? What could he and Roy race each other to? Chewing his lip with thought and nerves, Ed climbed back into bed and snuggled close to his lover. A race...

When Roy's eyes opened fifteen minutes later, they were bleary and soft and Ed loved him so much he had to kiss him before anything else could happen. They broke for air, and Ed said, "First one to the coffee machine gets the first two cups," and ricocheted out from under the covers and through the bedroom door toward the staircase.

Hot on his heels, Roy took the steps down two at a time and caught up with Ed quickly. Ed jumped over the couch (Roy ran into it and then had to go around) and skidded into the kitchen, slowing himself down by grabbing onto the doorway. Roy raced in after him and, just as Ed was about to reach the counter, he picked up his younger lover and threw the blonde over his shoulder, holding him there with a hand on his lower back.

"This is definitely not fair," Ed protested flatly. "You cheated, you bastard."

Just to live up to that title, Roy put cream in Ed's coffee.

On cold nights, warm up his side of the bed with your body heat before he crawls in.

While the night wasn't exactly cold, it was early fall and by now the leaves were starting to turn and the windows were being kept closed, so Ed felt it would be okay to try the warm—up—the—bed thing. He wasn't sure how well it would work, because he was a lot smaller than Roy; on top of that only half of his body actually gave off body heat, while the other half leached it away. Ed reasoned that anything was worth trying once, though, so while Roy was in the bathroom brushing his teeth, Ed rolled over to his side of the bed.

Quietly, Ed listened to the water run and Roy spit out toothpaste. Then the toilet flush and the water run again for Roy to wash his hands. The bathroom light snapped off with a click and Roy's sock-footsteps were soft as he made his way across the hall.

Roy raised an eyebrow at Ed as he changed into his pajamas — simple loose drawstring sweatpants, and when winter really got going he'd add an undershirt.

"Are we switching sides tonight, or something?" he wondered, tying his drawstring and sidling up to the bed where Ed was laying (he was really fond of his side, and was preparing to fight Ed for it if need be).

"No," Ed assured him, scooting over back to his own pillow. He didn't notice much of a change in temperature, and his heart sank a little. "I was trying to warm your side up for you, but," he averted his eyes and clinked his Automail fingers unconsciously, "I don't think it worked very well."

Roy slid into bed and wrapped a strong arm around Ed's waist, pulling him close. He took Ed's mouth in a deep kiss, and then murmured against his mouth, "I guess we'll just have to warm up the bed some other way, then, won't we?" and Ed smiled.

While he's showering, steal his robe and towel... and anything else he can cover up with. Love thrives on sexy mischievous deeds.

Ed grinned when he read that, and happily made Roy very late for work.

While you're walking through a crowd, draw his arm closer and tighter around you. This triggers his protective, connective instincts.

Roy had successfully extracted Ed from the library again this evening, and they were walking home together in the just—dying sunlight. It was the sidewalk's version of rush hour; couples walking out to dinner, small groups heading to bars, teenagers to parks with their friends.

Ed was really uncomfortable with publicly displaying his affection, for Roy or for anyone else. He didn't like showing off to strangers how he felt, or allowing other people into a relationship by making them a witness to it. He wanted him—and—Roy to belong to just him and Roy.

But Roy liked PDA just as much as he liked being romantic. He liked to show off to the world that he was not single, he was with this person and they were his. He always pushed the envelope when they were out (he'd done that with sex, too, always tickling at the waist of Ed's pants, his fingers saying I want to go further. Can we go further yet?), brushing the back of his hand against the back of Ed's. Ed never grabbed on, though, so eventually Roy would put his hand in his pocket instead.

Today, Ed was going to hold hands with Roy. In public. As soon as Roy's hand brushed his, Ed was going to grab it, and he wasn't going to let go until they were home if he had a nervous breakdown while doing it. In fact, as per the article, he was going to put Roy's arm around him. He knew that'd probably make walking a little awkward, but he could deal. He could try to.

When Roy's hand did brush his, as was expected, Ed jumped despite the inevitability of it. Swallowing hard and glancing nervously about — he hated people oh god did he ever — Ed grabbed Roy's hand and laced their fingers together and stepped a little closer and kept his eyes firmly on the sidewalk, ignoring the way he suddenly felt like every being ever was staring straight into his back.

Even more annoying was the cheerfulness Ed could feel wafting off of Roy like some sort of drug smoke.

Even worse, though, was when some fat douchebag to the right said to his companion, "Those fucking toe—touchers shouldn't be allowed out."

Ed immediately dropped Roy's hand as if he'd been burned and rushed off, ignoring Roy's pleas to forget what the jerk had said come back please we can just ignore all of them Ed come on please. Ed went home in a great hurry, leaving Roy a little way behind to glare at anyone who so much as glanced at either of them.

Ed slammed his way upstairs and yanked the magazine out from the phonebook, the huge book dropping on his toes without acknowledgement. Ed ripped the article from the magazine and tore it into as many tiny pieces as he possibly could. Then he stomped on them and screamed at them and threw them haphazardly into the waste paper basket in the corner of the room.

Defeated, Ed sank to his knees on the carpeted floor by the bed and stared at his hands, because apparently he just sucked. He couldn't give a compliment worth shit (not that he tried that often), he was selfish and one-tracked (gimme books, gimme alchemy), something about him made Roy think he had to be gentle all the time (that had to be annoying), the best thing he could think of to celebrate was drinking (how immature of him), he called his lover names (bastard, cheater, asshole, shithead...), he was cold and half-there (who wanted broken goods?), and — newly discovered — he was PDA-incapable.

All in all, a bad date, a bad lay, and a bad boyfriend.

Ed bit his lip and held back his emotions so they didn't have a chance to manifest physically (he'd be even less appealing if he started sniveling over his own inadequacies) and didn't look up when Roy came into the bedroom. Roy knelt in front of him and slowly lifted his chin.

"Ed —" Roy started, but Ed cut him off without meaning to.

"I love you." Roy blinked at him in shock. Ed felt sick, but when Roy kissed him he didn't anymore.

"I love you, too," he purred in Ed's ear, and Ed clung to him (he usually never did that unless something really awesome was happening in bed), his gloved hands curling into fists on Roy's uniform jacket and holding on tight.

"I love you," Ed repeated, and buried his face in Roy's neck. "I love you."

There. There. Why couldn't this falling more in love thing have been that easy to begin with?

Ed took deep breaths of Roy's unique scent, and pressed himself close and closed his eyes and said, "I love you."