Amestris needs you!
The following known anti-state terrorists are armed and dangerous. Do not approach! Report any sightings immediately to your local barracks.
"Where did you get this, then?" asked Greed, waving the flyer.
"Deli," said Heinkel. "They had 'em on the counter next to the fancy mints."
Perched at the back of his own mind, Ling watched the action and skimmed over the leaflet.
Edward Elric, State Alchemist
White male, sixteen years of age
long blond hair, may be worn in a pony tail
Last seen in the company of:
White male, approximately forty-five
short blond hair, moustache, spectacles
White male, thirty-five to forty
short dark hair, sideburns, hirsute
"How come you're muscular and I'm large?" griped Darius, leaning over Greed's shoulder to look. "Makes me sound like a fatass. This is all solid." He drummed his chest with a fist. "Idiots."
"Why aren't I mentioned?" said Greed. Okay, he thought to himself and to Ling, so technically, it might be a good thing that Wrath and the others have no idea where I am, but damn if it doesn't irritate the shit out of me. I'm Greed! I'm charismatic! People are supposed to notice me! People are idiots. Somewhere at the back of their shared mind, Ling smirked and made sure Greed noticed him doing it. You can shut up, too, prince, added Greed crabbily. That's your royal ass they're ignoring.
That was a good point. Ling pouted. If you don't appreciate my body, then just hand it back. Greed just snorted.
Darius shook his head. After several months of travel together, everyone was pretty much used to Greed spacing out to bicker internally with his brain's annoying roommate.
"What's up?" Ed wandered out of the bushes, a grass stalk poking out of the side of his mouth. He reached up and grabbed the flyer from Heinkel's hand. As he started reading, Darius and Heinkel exchanged looks.
"Four — foot — what? Bullshit! Who the hell wrote this?"
Look at him, thought Ling to himself. Anger suited Ed. He flushed, he cartwheeled his arms, he pouted adorably. Ling mentally undressed him and imagined him in the same state of rage while naked, his muscles taut, the square of his hips, his lovely round butt. In Ling's mind, he made naked angry Ed hard as a diamond too, his cock flushed and sticking out into the breeze. Ling had never really considered the penis a particularly attractive body part before, but Ed really did have a very pretty cock.
Oh, sorry, said Ling silkily, could you hear me thinking all that?
"Right, minions," said Greed. "Team Greed meeting. We're stuck in the woods in a park right in the middle of this dump of a city. It's broad daylight, there are soldiers all over town, and we need to get out of here discreetly. Any ideas?"
"Team Greeling," said Ed. "We voted. Ling gets a vote."
"I don't remember voting," said Darius.
"You were reading a newspaper at the time," said Heinkel. "I raised your arm for you so the conversation would be over quicker."
"It's Team Greed. You all work for me, including the prince. Especially the prince."
"I can see this topic is key to us getting out of here," said Heinkel, "but I just wanna say — you kids remember when we said no urban areas? This situation'd be why."
"We were out. Of. Coffee," said Ed, shaking his head as if this justified everything. That was another entertaining thing about Ed, Ling thought. The way he'd crawl out of his tent in the morning, crazy-haired and non-verbal unless you counted the grunts, to brew the pot of disgusting black liquid that would turn him into a human being.
"You're good with the getaways, Fullmetal," said Darius. "Why don't you alchemy a car so it looks fucking stupid like you did last time?"
"Alchemise. Or transmute," said Ed. "Alchemy isn't a verb. But yeah. I guess I could."
"Make a tunnel out of town!" said Greed. "An alchemy tunnel." Ling rolled his eyes internally, and Greed tutted out loud.
Heinkel pinched his nose between finger and thumb. "This town would already have sewers."
Ed nodded, chin propped on one hand. "That's actually a decent idea. We could try and get out through the sewers. Okay, two things. How do we get ourselves to a manhole cover without being spotted, and how do we find our way out?"
Greed pointed at Heinkel. "Big cat. Aren't cats supposed to be great at finding their way places?"
"You mean 'cause I can smell when we're near a town? Kiddo, when I'm down a sewer I'm not going to smell anything but sewer."
I'm good at that sort of thing, said Ling brightly to Greed.
"Ling's good at that sort of thing," said Ed.
I'll know when we're getting out of a populated area by the flow of qi, added Ling.
"He'll know when we're out in the boonies because of those weird ninja people-sensing skills," said Ed.
"How do we get to a sewer entrance without being spotted?" asked Darius.
I've been trained by my clan's finest warriors to move around undetected, said Ling.
"We should get Ling to help. Show the guy a bill and he can vanish into smoke," said Ed.
"That's not very nice," said Ling. "I'm saving your rear, you should show a bit of politeness."
"That was quick," said Ed. He grinned.
At the back of Ling's mind, Greed stretched and put his hands behind his head.
In the quiet of the afternoon, it was actually all rather easy. The city was old, the streets narrow. It took some concentration to tune out the teeming life behind the building fronts, to search out the quiet places, but Ling managed it. Although not without some interruption.
Ooh, drawled Greed in Ling's head, very nice. Why don't you show me how you do that little trick later? Ling exhaled and ignored him. He pointed silently down a wide lane. Ed and the chimerae followed him. It was amazing how quiet they could all be given the amount of noise they habitually made.
The sensing of qi is not a little trick, it's a noble discipline passed down the generations, Ling replied sniffily in his mind. You can't learn it in five minutes.
In front of him, Ed pumped his fist in the air. Ah, they'd found a manhole cover. Ling perked up and managed to get himself over to where Ed was standing just in time to see the fireworks. The blue crackle of lightning, the pull of force, the remoulding of matter — Amestrian alchemy was always a treat to watch, and Ed's was his absolute favourite. This transmutation was a simple little thing — a clap, and a line of blue light flashing around the manhole cover. Ed's grand, purposeful gestures and joyful grin made it worth watching anyway.
Ed pulled off the cover and let them descend one by one. Ling went first, jumping straight down to the floor. He regretted it as he landed in a pool of filthy water, splashing his boots and pants with stuff he really didn't want to think about. Ling had made use of sewers before, but he always seemed to forget just how special they smelled. Still, it was almost pleasantly stimulating to be overpowered by one's senses, even if in such a nasty way. Bodily sensations were so dulled when he was watching Greed from the passenger seat of his own mind. Was that how it felt to be Alphonse, he wondered?
Darius descended the metal ladder Ling had ignored, a lit hurricane lamp hanging off one beefy forearm. Heinkel followed him. When they were down, Ed climbed in, shut the cover and resealed it with a quick clap, and then, bless his competitive soul, jumped straight down off the ladder to land in a crouch. Everyone got splashed.
Heinkel lifted his glasses up and wiped gunk out of one eye. "If I get conjunctivitis, Fullmetal, you're getting my medical bill."
"From jail after the doctor turns you in?" Darius asked.
"Huh, good point. That didn't really make sense. Okay, Fullmetal, I'll just kick your ass instead."
Ed waved his hands. "My bad, my bad." Ling guessed this was supposed to be an apology. "Pfft," muttered Ed audibly as he followed Ling down the tunnel, "whining about mud in your eye."
An hour later, they exited the sewer outside town via alchemically conjured staircase. Then they had a three hour hike through the fields to look forward to, to reach some woods where they could pitch camp. This was a sterling opportunity for Ling to rediscover some more bodily sensations: the ache of the rucksack which it was apparently his turn to carry pulling at his back, sore feet from boots that were absolutely not designed for walking in (Ling missed his slippers very much), the prickle of unwashed sweat making his clothes chafe. The novelty of these things wore off really, really fast. At least Ling knew from Greed's mutterings at the back of his mind that it bothered him too. Greed seemed a little better at feeling things when Ling was in control than the other way around. Perhaps his strange soul was more designed for it? At any rate, it was gratifying when Ling wanted him to share his discomfort, but less pleasant at — other times. There were some sensations that Ling was rather unwilling to share.
Once in the woods, they began the long and tedious tramp around for what Darius and Heinkel judged a suitable campsite. Ling was not looking forward to being conscripted into the business of pitching camp. He was starting to get the feeling that Greed was leaving him in control deliberately to show him how annoying it all was when you were in the driving seat. Are you doing this deliberately? Ling asked him. No comment, kid, Greed replied. But his cackling laugh was the only answer needed.
Today, however, turned out to be a good day. Darius spotted a small hut half-obscured by undergrowth. It was a good size — perhaps it had belonged to some hunter? Ed broke the rusty lock. The cabin hadn't been occupied for a good while, except, apparently, by a large and fertile family of spiders. The webs were everywhere and a fat inch of dust coated the floor.
Heinkel turned from the doorway to sneeze. "Dust allergy again?" asked Darius. "Hey Fullmetal, clean it up with alchemy."
Ed huffed out a breath and blew his bangs up, then made a disgusted noise. "You guys just assume alchemy can do anything like freaking fairy dust. Do I have to explain again about conservation of matter and energy in a closed system?"
"Not unless I'm having trouble getting to sleep," said Heinkel. "JFDI."
"What's that stand for?" asked Ling.
"Just Fucking Do It," said Darius.
Ed scowled, but still clapped and dropped to a crouch. A wind picked up and blew sharply past them into the cabin. A cloud of dust and soot whooshed out of the top of the chimney rather spectacularly — and just as they were all looking up, a storm of dust blew straight out of the cabin door, right into everyone's faces.
Heinkel's coughing fit lasted three minutes. "My bad, my bad, sorry guys," said Ed as he frantically waved his hands to try and dissipate the dust.
"Get the dust off with alchemy!" said Ling, brushing at his now-grey suit. "Do that vibrating thing."
"Don't do that vibrating thing," said Darius. "At least not to me or Hein. The prince probably likes it."
Oh yes. The vibrating transmutation got dust and mud off beautifully, but the rapid buzz was inclined to be a bit, well, stimulating. Ling honestly couldn't say he minded, given they were alone in the woods and everything.
"Oh yeah," said Heinkel. "That reminds me. There's not much wood in there. We'll go get wood and supper, you kids get that fire going."
"All right," said Ling brightly. "I expect that'll take you at least an hour. Right?"
But Darius and Heinkel were already striding off into the woods.
The wood in the cabin was damp, so Ed did another little transmutation that made steam rise from the logs and sticks. The two of them crouched by the fireplace in the cold hut, making a little pyramid with scraps of bark at the centre, working outwards to small twigs and then branches of increasing size.
"Light it with alchemy," said Ling.
Ed rolled his eyes and punched him lightly on the upper arm.
"No, really," said Ling, "I'm not joking. Your colonel can light all those fires, why don't you just do that?"
Ed growled under his breath. "It is — not — that — simple. Fucksake!" So touchy. "First of all, you still need a spark — Mustang has these friction gloves that make a spark when you snap your fingers."
"That's fine," said Ling, "we've got matches." There was obviously some reason Ed couldn't replicate the transmutation, but it was just too much fun to get him all riled up. "Sorry, I interrupted. What was the second thing?"
Ed looked at him with violence in his eyes for a moment — then he just shook his head and snorted. "Stop trying to push my buttons," he said. He dug the camping matches out of his coat pocket, peeled the wax coating off one with a thumbnail, and lit the pile of dry scraps at the little pyramid's centre. "Ass," he said without much rancour, and bumped his shoulder against Ling's.
Ling bumped back. "But I'm short on entertainment, you know." He put his head on Ed's shoulder and watched the fire begin to catch. Really, to be honest, he just wanted to talk. To bump shoulders with Ed, to joke, to share the endless, useless thoughts that rattled around his mind during his time as a spectator.
Unfortunately, his penis didn't agree with him on this. As far as it was concerned, there was only one sensible plan, and that was to take all Ed's clothes off and then rub himself all over him.
"Ow," muttered Ed. Ling lifted his head and looked at him.
Ed cycled his shoulders and sighed. "Freaking shoulder brace," he muttered, reaching around to press and massage at the muscle above his right shoulder blade.
"Is it bothering you?" asked Ling. "Let me help." He put two fingers to the back of Ed's neck.
Five minutes later, Ed was shirtless and lying on his stomach by the fire, blankets tucked around him, as Ling straddled him. Ling felt for the pressure point either side of his shoulder blades, and pushed it firmly with both thumbs. Ed's skin was warm. Under Ling's hands, he let out a snuffling sigh, and it vibrated all the way up Ling's arms. Ling never felt so alive and so centred as he did at these times, with energy still pulsing through his system from the long walk, and a delicious human body under him. It had been lovely of Darius and Heinkel to offer to clear out of camp and give Ed and Ling some catch up time together. Really, they were much more thoughtful than they pretended.
Ling moved slowly down Ed's spine. He stopped around the centre, closed his eyes, and felt for another pressure point. Was that it? Probably. Roughly about there. He'd never been any good at sensing the flow of qi within a single human body. That was probably why he had lasted only a single afternoon as a rentanjutsu student. Well, either that or because he'd put a toad in his teacher's hat.
"That spot's done," said Ed grouchily. "Do my shoulders more, they're still tight."
"Quiet, you," said Ling. "I'm stimulating your du mai, your governing vessel." Or at least, he was doing a vague imitation of someone doing that. Well, Ed seemed more relaxed. Maybe Ling was better at this than he thought?
Ed snorted. "Is that what you're calling it today?"
"No," said Ling with great dignity, "it's not a euphemism, it's a pathway of energy that runs through your body. From here" — he ran a light finger down Ed's spine from neck to tailbone — "to here. If the flow is interrupted, it makes you ill." And if the flow was stimulated, it made you — excited. Well, allegedly, but it was worth a shot.
Ed twitched a little at the tickle, and flexed his shoulders. "I know you know nothing about medical alchemy, you know."
"So?" said Ling, moving his hands down to knead the small of Ed's back. "I was taught to do this based on sound medical principles. Is it, or is it not, a good massage?"
"'Sgood," muttered Ed into his folded arms. He'd better not go to sleep.
Ling smiled, and slipped his hands around Ed's waist to undo his belt. Ed's breath quickened. "I'll need to take these down so I can do your butt and legs," said Ling briskly.
Ed growled and lifted his hips. Ling chuckled, and undid Ed's trousers. As he slid them down, he was delighted to note that Ed was getting hard. He made sure to help things along by brushing Ed's dick very lightly with the side of his hand as he pulled his boxers out and down.
Ling moved on to Ed's buttocks and kneaded them for a while. This had nothing to do with vessels or the flow of qi, although if Ed asked Ling was confident he could make something up off the top of his head. In fact, this had no real massage-related purpose at all, other than the fact that he really liked Ed's butt. It was tight and round and high, like a nice ripe little peach. Ed was starting to make voiceless little noises and to rub his hips up and down on the blankets. Time to move along. It was so nice to have time to invest in this! He was reaping the benefits of his hard work getting Greed to co-operate. And Greed was so quiet, too. Much as Ling had to admit he enjoyed an audience, the nights when Greed liked to offer running commentary could get immensely annoying. And while he didn't mind the watching part, he wasn't so happy that Greed could feel some of these things.
Ling kneaded the muscles of Ed's thighs and swept his thumbs up and down the skin of his inner thighs. Ed inched his legs apart a bit. Ling tilted his hands inward — and kept his thumbs there, rubbing up and down so lightly as to just tickle.
Ed gave an aggravated, furious groan and turned his head to glare at Ling. "Right, that's not hot any more now, it's just fucking annoying. You know," he said, "you could have just asked me if you wanted to fool around. What's with all the teasing shit?"
"I like the teasing shit," said Ling brightly, chucking Ed under the chin with one thumb. Ed made a half-hearted attempt to bite him. Ling grinned and put his index finger to Ed's lips. Ed snapped again, and Ling whisked his finger out of the way. Ed snorted. Ling smiled. On the third try, Ed managed to nip the end of Ling's finger. Ling squeaked — and then suddenly he was on his back. Ed had surged up without warning and flipped him, and now was awkwardly straddling him, pants around his ankles. He hung over Ling, pinning him down by the upper arms, grinning like a loon. Then, without a word, he started efficiently, roughly peeling Ling out of his clothes.
The jacket went first. Then Ed found the side zip and the hidden catches of Greed's sleeveless shirt, pulled it open, and left it like that. He moved down, and Ling lifted his hips so Ed could shove his pants to just above his knees, pinning his legs.
This tendency of Ed's to take control was new, and very welcome. At first, Ed had been excitable, fumbling and very easily pleased. This had come in very handy during their first few encounters, because Ling's previous experience of sex with a male partner had been entirely theoretical, limited to occasionally leafing through some rather enlightening pillowbooks with his concubine Yin over yellow tea and mooncakes. Ling hadn't always been certain he was doing entirely brilliantly — it wasn't his fault if his girls had given him very high standards — but Ed had responded beautifully, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, to any new kind of touch.
Ed was, however, apparently a very fast learner. Ling could give him that: he'd been a fast learner himself, back in the day. Now Ling was nearly naked and Ed was lowering himself over him, propping himself up on his automail arm. Ed lined his hips up with Ling's, spat on his left hand, and took a firm hold of both their cocks.
No more big-eyed virgin, thought Ling, as Ed fixed him with a determined and slightly predatory look, then started to rock his hips and pump. But really, Ling couldn't be too regretful about the loss.