Set immediately after the Promised Day. Slightly AU as this 'verse got jossed by the final chapters of the manga. Direct sequel to One Foot in Front of the Other, Wilderness Tips and the other Camping Trip of Doom stories.

bob fish

Onwards and Upwards

part 0 of Wrong Turn Universe

Of course he came through the window.

Ed must have dozed off. One moment, he was looking vaguely out the window at the rooftops, at the thin coils of smoke drifting up. They hadn't put out all the fires yet. Was it still the same day? Ed was feeling a little fuzzy. Then he must have shut his eyes for a moment, because suddenly the window was already open, and Ling was sitting on the ledge, one foot up on the sill, the other one dangling. He was barefoot, holding his boots in one hand.

Ed blinked.

Ling hopped soundlessly to the floor and in a moment, he was perching on the edge of Ed's bed. The breeze ruffled his bangs.

"Don't wake Al," Ed said. "He's pretty wiped."

Ling leant forward. For a moment, Ed thought that this was going to be the most inappropriately timed booty call in Ling's long history of inappropriate booty calls.

"Still here, huh?"

Ling said, quietly, "We've had to secure faster transport. The Emperor's sicker. If we don't get back in time, it will all have been for nothing."

Ling's left hand was on Ed's knee. Ed took it and brought it up to look at the clean skin where his tattoo had been. The pad of his thumb stroked Ling's knuckles. "What's it like having the place to yourself again?"

Ling shut his eyes for a moment. "It's so quiet in here now. I'd forgotten what it was like."

"Greed did good by us. The idiot."

Ling nodded, and took a deep breath. "How is Alphonse?"

Ed took a breath. "Well, he's in one piece. That's pretty awesome. He's sleeping a lot. He's malnourished and his immune system's through the floor. They're pumping him full of stuff ... Granny's already been on the phone, she wants to just kidnap us both and drag us home."

Ling looked over at Al, sleeping on his side in the next bed. "He's so small. I can't quite believe it's him."

"He's taller than he looks. He's just skinny. He'll fill out."

Ling's hand squeezed Ed's. "And what about you?"

Ed shrugged. "I'm cool. We saved the country, we kicked that thing's ass, we got Al's body back."

Ling's gaze drifted down, to Ed's empty right shoulder socket, the bandages covering the smashed brace. "Your father. Your arm, your leg ..."

Ed shrugged again. His chest felt tight. "I'm sorry about Fuu."

Ling's eyes got wide. His lips flattened together for a moment. "It's hard. Isn't it?"

Ed shrugged.

Ling put his other hand to Ed's shoulder. He squeezed it a bit and stroked his thumb across the skin. Then he closed his eyes for a moment and did that thing of his, where he breathed out forcefully through his nose and then drew a slow breath in at the mouth until his chest expanded. Ed felt his mouth twitching up at the corners.

Ling opened his eyes, and now they were wide and serious. "Ed. Don't try to get your arm and leg back."

Ed hadn't seen that one coming. He just frowned and listened.

"You've gained so much. Is it worth risking? You never let yourself think about failure, but a gambler should know when to leave the table, right?"

Ed laughed shortly, and lifted the stump of his right shoulder. "How d'you think I got this in the first place? I could have told you that years back, jackass. I tried to tell you — "

Ling shook his head. "I owe too many people too much, now. I don't have the luxury — "

Ed took a breath. "D'you wish you hadn't?"

"If I become Emperor, perhaps I won't."

"So become Emperor."

"I intend to."

"You better. If you don't, I'll cross the desert on a freaking racing camel or whatever and I'll turn up at your house and kick your ass."

"Palace," said Ling. "It's technically more of a palace than a house."


"Promise. Do you?"

"What? Oh, the arm and leg." Ed huffed a breath out. "Yeah. I mean no. I already thought that. It's fine. I can just bear with it. It's not so bad. The arm's pretty cool."

Ling smiled at him. "And you have a good mechanic. You'll have to ask her very nicely to make you a new one."

"Yeah, she'll love that. She can empty my wallet for the rest of my life now."

"Ah, how romantic —"

"Shut up."

"You should make a promise about that, too."

"Shut up."

"So I know that you won't chicken out."

"What?" Ed raised his voice, then hastily lowered it. "I never chicken out. Stop trying to push my buttons, asshole." He tugged on Ling's hand. Ling let himself be pulled forward, and flopped neatly into Ed's lap, chin propped up on his elbows on Ed's chest.

They looked at each other, eye to eye. Ed licked his lips. "D'you have to go in a minute?"

"Ten minutes," said Ling. He lifted his hips, then vaulted first one leg and then the other to land between Ed's legs. "That's about as long as I can trust Chang to refrain from starting a fight. After that, Ran Fan will probably roll her off the roof in a trash can, then come down and scowl at me and wave her pointy metal arm. She's very scary when she's cross."

"You still got the goods?"

Ling put his head on one side quizzically for a moment, then said, "Ah, the stone." He patted his pocket. "Don't worry. We'll be on our guard. If the Chang girl tries anything, she'll be entering Xing in shackles." He scratched the back of his neck with his free hand. "I've asked her to be a court rentanjutsu advisor. She's terribly powerful, I think she'd be good at it. Ten minutes, then?"

Ed grinned. "We have to be totally quiet. I mean it, Al's asleep right there." Ling nodded. He put his hand to the back of Ed's head, thumb just behind one ear, and pulled him in.

They kissed hard, and it made Ed so dizzy that he just had to lie back on the pillows and let Ling do most of the work. He put a hand under Ling's shirt and clutched at his back while Ling pulled his hospital pyjamas down and got his own pants undone. Ling fumbled his cock out, spat on his hand and stroked them both together firm and steady. Ed kissed him to keep him quiet while they both strained together, and jerked his hips up into Ling's weight.

It didn't take long. Ed might have drifted off for a moment or two afterwards. When he came back to himself, Ling was pressed into his side, as happy, boneless and useless as a cat in a patch of sunshine. Ed got a flannel and dabbed at his hospital shirt. Finished, he put his nose in Ling's hair and inhaled. He kissed his hairline, once, then put his hand in Ling's bangs and messed them up.

"Ran Fan will be missing me," murmured Ling.

"Don't make her worry."

Ling shook his head and smiled. "She takes good care of me."

Ed patted his cheek with his knuckles. "Well, you should return the favour."

Ling nodded. "She's — " he sighed. "Whatever happens, she and I will meet it together."

Ed frowned at him fiercely. "But what's gonna happen is —"

"That I'll become Emperor." Ling's smile was broad and cunning. And was that a hint of -?

"You know, I kind of think he did rub off on you."

"Ah? Maybe it's not all bad, though?" Ling lifted himself off Ed and sprang lightly to his feet by the bed. He picked up his boots and hung them round his neck by the laces.

This was the moment, then. Ed sat up a bit, and tried to think of something to say, and felt himself going pink.

Ling looked at him for a moment, a dangerously sappy expression all over his dumb, sweet face. Then he leaned forward, took Ed's face in both hands, and kissed the hell out of him. The boots knocked against Ed's chest. When Ling pulled away, he murmured into Ed's mouth, "We'll meet again". Then, before Ed could catch his breath to say anything back, he'd turned, run lightly to the window, and jumped upwards, presumably to start scaling the building like a spider.

Ed took a few breaths, and scrunched his face up. He unscrunched it, and glanced over at Al's bed.

Al was still lying on his side, but now his eyes were open, huge and round.

Ed pulled an involuntary face so hard that he felt like his mouth had turned itself inside out.

Al's mouth curved. The smile went from nervous to amazed. Then it narrowed and took on a decidedly evil cast.

Ed hadn't seen his brother crack an evil smile in six years.

Al laughed. The laugh was hoarse, and it didn't echo, but it was much, much more familiar. Then he just shook his head.

"Shut up," said Ed.