The true test of any relationship is it's awkwardness.
They seem to have it in spades. Ed's move back to Central meant fetching his things from where he had them in storage, only to store them again in the city while he looked for housing he could afford. For the time being he camped on Roy's couch.
Newly declared feelings did not instant bed fellows make; and there were many nights in the beginning they sat talking in the living room come bedroom before Roy retired to his own room for the night and Ed toyed constantly with the idea of sneaking in there.
But sneaking in to do what? For himself, Ed knew he was a variable virgin in the realm of same sex escapades, and while he wanted desperately to be educated, just the thought of asking Roy made him shrink to half his size in internal embarrassment, and yes, begrudgingly, he admitted that that would be rather small.
Still, he was all for a slow courtship, and Roy seemed to be of the same mind. It was a few days after their declarations that they actually kissed. For Ed it was a rushed affair, he gripped Roy by the front of his uniform before he went out the door and yanked him down to a more acceptable level before grinding his lips on the appropriate place on Roy's face. At least, he thought it was the appropriate place, his eyes were closed so it was hard to tell. But Roy made the best of the situation and soon turned it into what Ed had intended it to be in the first place, and when Roy pulled back Ed felt a little stunned and new.
He'd never gotten hard from a kiss before.
The rest of the day had been one long distraction. It aggravated Ed to no end, he had to get his own place, and soon, if just so he could think properly. What was all that about? Rubbing lips made the front of his pants all happy. Was that magic or some shit? Did Roy use alchemy on him? What was that all about? He wasn't easy. Every girl he eventually took to the sack had to earn it. After all, he was the celebrity, a former state Alchemist, and one of the most famous. He could have any woman he wanted, (except the fucking Colonel, who while technically wasn't a woman, was still the same thing. He'd wear the Colonel down even if it took fifty years, thankfully, it only took ten), so it wasn't like he just handed it out.
It really irritated him that he did have ten years of experience and Roy could look at him and drop his voice a little and Ed squirmed. The fuck. Ed wasn't sixteen anymore, Roy was graying and had love handles, this was not some wild, desperate crush...or was it? Could it be that this was all a hold over from ten years ago? That was an unsettling thought.
He really had to get a place of his own where he could have some alone time to work this out.
But Roy was absolutely no help. Roy was gracious, solicitous, attentive. He hid the classified section of the newspaper, he often hinted that it would be little to no trouble to add a spare room to the house. He just didn't see the need for Ed to have his own place. It was a waste of money, and Ed didn't drive and Roy had a car, and just a dozen little things. Ed had no dishes, furniture, flatware, towels...whatever! Ed got it, Ed had nothing that ever spoke of a single existence of any great length that didn't involve a girl's apartment or bachelor hotel living.
And here he was again, not getting anything accomplished. He was starting to feel like a lump. He had to get a job and soon, camping in Roy's house waiting for him to get home from work was not his ideal way to be spending his days. Maybe he should do something around the house, after all, he was pretty much being put up here for free and he hated to feel like a freeloader. Maybe he should cook dinner. Yeah he should cook dinner and have it ready by the time Roy got home. That was if Roy had anything edible in the house. Roy's kitchen was usually the worst kind of wasteland. Even the roaches had moved on or starve. He should go and buy some groceries. Roy ate out all the time, and that couldn't be good, and while Ed wasn't the cook Al was, he was passable and he'd picked up a few things in his day. Roy would probably be happy if Ed cooked him dinner. Roy might take that as some kind of sign Ed was settling in though. Still, a good home-cooked meal was what Roy needed.
What the fuck.
Why the fuck should he be cooking that bastard a home-cooked meal like some kind of fucking housewife? Was that Roy's master plan? Roy wanted him around the house to cook and clean and eventually have sex, (Ed hoped). What. The. Fuck. Ed housewifed for no man! No just any man either, for no woman! Hell he never housewifed, he wasn't a wife, he wasn't even a girl! How dare the bastard do this to him and stick him here in this house like he had nothing better to do! He wouldn't have a home-cooked meal waiting for him tonight but a good old fashioned ass stomping. That's pretty much what he deserved, pulling this shit, after ten years, all that grief just to get free maid service. That utter bastard.
He stormed off to Roy's study to look for the evening paper again. Roy read it like it was some sort of life instruction guide, and then it promptly disappeared. It was some great Roy Mustang conspiracy to keep him there in the house out in the suburbs. When the paper failed to turn up, he went to his suitcase and dug out the scrap of paper with the last known phone number Al had been near and dialed it up. He learned, that as usual, Al had already moved on. The herbalist let Ed know just what an amazing man his brother was, and how it wasn't fair to try and hold him there in that one place when the world might need him. How selfless he was, how compassionate, if only there were more men in the world like Alphonse Elric, it would be a better place to be.
Ed hung up the phone and wondered where Al was and who he was bullshitting now. It just wasn't fair, Al could get a girl, screw her for a week until the need to screw something had faded, make up some grandiose tale of saving the world and waltz right out the door and they all fucking loved him. Ed could study like there was no tomorrow, spend whole days in the lab or library without sleep doing his own part to save the world and he was a insensitive, unthinking, thoughtless bastard. At least, according to Cheryl.
Well he showed all of them, after all, he'd snagged the most eligible bachelor in the whole of Central. The man whose mere reputation caused woman to swoon all across the continent. Well, that was his impression when he was younger, no, it was still good. Ed had done very well for himself. Roy wouldn't think he was being a jerk when he was gone for days or weeks pursuing knowledge. Roy wouldn't make him meet any relatives or spend money on frivolous things like flowers and restaurants. Roy wouldn't expect him to listen to what he had to say when what he was saying was dead boring. Roy wouldn't ask him those trick questions about what made him look fat or thin, (he NEVER got that right). Roy could appreciate him for his mind, not just his looks or his wallet. He was set for life.
With a man.
Roy Mustang was a man.
Ed was sure that in all these years he hadn't failed to notice this. Roy being male, after all, pretty much all the time. And Ed was a man. Ed knew he was a man because he'd handled all the equipment and was in working order. So, Roy was a man, Ed was a man and neither of them was a woman. Into this equation Ed wanted to introduce sex. Now, until this moment, that seemed like the thing to do, have sex with Roy and pretty much be around Roy for the rest of his natural days. And it wasn't like he was stupid, of course he knew was sex between two men would be like. There would be a guy on top and a guy on bottom and it would be like, well there were orifices and both of them had them. Tab A, slot b, yes that was how it worked, but did that make the man on the slot b side...less of a man?
It struck him funny that he hadn't really thought this through as much as he thought he had. In fact, what would being with another man entail other than eating and drinking and sex? Which one of them would do the laundry? In Ed's various relationships, (the term used very loosely), it always seemed the girls were eager to do the things like laundry, and cook, and pick out where they were going, what he was wearing, who their mutual friends would be. Ed just sort of assumed that was the female job. At least, they all seemed to be highly trained in these details of life.
So what were they going to do? They were both guys, how would the laundry get done? Ed could cook well enough he supposed, but what about all the other things like cleaning the toilet? Ed tapped his chin. Roy's house looked clean enough, everything was always in order. The toilet was always clean. Roy never smelled so besides taking baths he must do laundry. Well, that was alright then, Roy could do the girl things that often baffled Ed. Did that make Roy slot b? Ed's eyebrows rose.
This was going to need some serious discussion. Perhaps a research paper or two. Since he was the self-proclaimed provider of food, he figured it wouldn't hurt to have a meal waiting for Roy when he got home.
So he went to make one.
Only, there was no food in Roy's house. Not a spec that Ed could find, other than ground coffee. How the hell did the man eat? Ed tried to think back on all his past visits, and as he did, he realized that whenever they did eat, it was always take out. In fact, he'd accused Roy of snobbery for always eating out. And here he was stuck without a car and now way to go get any food, did Roy take that into account when stranding him here in the first place?
Fucking suburbs, fucking general.
Now of course, he was starving.
"What the HELL was I suppose to eat trapped out here in the middle of the fucking boonies?! You and I are going to have a talk about this and everything else I had time to stew over while I sat here and starved! I got a lot of questions, we got a lot of parameters to go over. I'm thinking for starters we need to figure out the tab a, slot b business and another thing, how is it you do laundry? Don't you need a machine for that?"
Roy stood and blinked at Ed who looked unbalanced and disheveled in his front walk way.
"Let me take you to dinner," he offered in lieu of any answers, because he wasn't really sure what it was Ed was wanting an answer to.
"Ok," Ed said, "I'll find my boots, but this isn't over," and he disappeared back into the living room.
Roy wasn't sure what was started in order that it should be over. Obviously leaving Ed along to brood during the daylight hours was a bad idea. Then it hit him.
He was taking Ed to dinner.
He was actually going to go out in public, with Edward, to a restaurant. They would sit at a table and have conversation and they could talk about all manner of things, not just Ed's latest failed shack-up. It would be refreshing, to have actual conversation with Ed. It's something he thought about more often than he liked, and here he was, taking Ed out. He looked forward to it.
Ed slammed back into the hallway, askew but dressed, he hastily put his hair up in a sloppy ponytail and gave Roy a flat mouthed frown.
"Let's go, and nothing frou-frou, I hate smarmy trendy-assed places," Ed yanked the door open and stomped down the walk.
No, really, Roy thought, this was going to be wonderful.
Alright, no chair pulling for Ed.
Ed sat and immediately began to fiddle with the things on the table. He pushed his rolled napkin with silverware back and forth, he changed the position of the salt and pepper shaker caddy, he inspected the little white bread plate and rubbed at what seemed to be an imaginary spot.
"I'm sorry, I forgot there is nothing to eat in the house. We'll stop on the way back and make sure to get some things for tomorrow..." Roy said.
"About that," Ed returned, ceasing his table examination, "I was thinking maybe I should just go ahead and get a furnished rented room in town until I can get a place."
"Ah," Roy said, fingering his own napkin roll, "well that is certainly an option. You could go into the office with me in the morning and make your inquiries from there. I'm sure it won't be to difficult and we can move you in tomorrow night if you like..."
"So you want to be rid of me," Ed said.
"What? No," Roy said, surprised. "I don't want to be rid of you. You're the one who brought it up. I can imagine it must be pretty boring for you at the house all day, at least in the city you'll be able to get to places easily enough."
Ed rubbed his face, folded his arms and sat back in his chair. The waiter delivered menus at that point and glasses of water. Roy took a moment to down some of his, then opened the menu flat on the table. Ed didn't open his menu, he just rocked back and forth in the chair, arms folded, hands in armpits.
"I don't know what it is I'm suppose to be doing," Ed finally said. "When you're not there I have all these crazy thoughts that I don't have when you're around," he admitted. "Like I spent all day today thinking about how you wanted to trap me in that house to be at your beck and call, and who cleaned the toilet?" He laughed at himself a little. "I thought about you being a man, and it's not like I don't know that, so don't take that wrong, but I thought about...us. You know, both men, together."
"Are you having second thoughts?" Roy said quietly, "I can understand if you are, truly Edward. You have had the most remarkable childhood and maybe you think of me as a safety net of some sort, and I think it's perfectly normal that you thought there was something more..."
"Shut the fuck up," Ed hissed. "No, there are no second thoughts, no I'm not looking for an out, I know this is what I want and will you quit with this noble bullshit." Ed shifted in his chair, unfolded his arms and put his hands on the table, leaning forward a bit. "I just wonder about things. All this time not having you I spent in the company of girls. Girls like to take care of things, in fact, they took care of everything. I guess I should have appreciated it more at the time. So I feel a little lost because all these small details I hadn't sweated all came rushing in; and maybe I'm being stupid but I can't help it. I try to see the big picture," Ed gestured with his arms, "and our big picture comes down to how do we negotiate this thing we've started? Where do I fit? Where do you fit? Where do we start? I've waited long enough, I want some starting to go on. And yes, how do we have sex?" Ed glanced down at the table, "I wonder about that, too."
The waiter chose that moment to come back and Ed hastily snapped his menu open realizing he was behind and Roy probably already knew what he wanted. As Roy told the waiter his order, Ed found that even though he was hungry, it wasn't exactly food he was hungry for; it was knowledge that maybe Roy had all the answers or was just as confused as he was. In the end he just jammed his finger at a dish and practically threw the menu at the waiter to make him go away.
Roy watched the waiters retreating back, then looked at Ed and smiled. He leaned forward over the table a bit, in a conspiratorial fashion and Ed leaned forward, too, ready to have the wisdom of men living with men imparted to him.
"Well, for starters, I have a maid," Roy told him. "So, in essence, I have a girl who will sweat all that small stuff, like cleaning the toilets." Roy leaned back then, sighed a bit. "As for the other," he said, "I didn't mean to trap you at the house, I guess I didn't think about it to much. It's definitely not my intention to keep you at my beck and call, but having you close? I won't deny that I enjoy that. I like knowing where you are and what you are doing instead of you dropping on out of the blue and wallowing on my couch. So I'm guilty of that, at least. For us being men together? I guess it depends on how you want to present us, together. If you'd rather not make it a matter of public concern I can appreciate that. Discretion is not a crime and is sometimes a boon. Men together is not exactly an accepted norm of our society, I can understand some hesitance to acknowledge that sort of relationship in mixed company."
"You've had your head up to many politician's asses," Ed sighed. "I feel like a fucking hypocrite for even thinking something like that," he reached up to worry the flap of his rolled napkin. "I'm not ashamed, I don't care what the world thinks. If I did that, then maybe Al and I wouldn't be here today, the way we are now. Maybe we would have withered away. But you know, what is your opinion on it? I don't want to do anything to compromise you and I'll do whatever it is I need to do to keep that from happening."
Ed felt a nudge on his flesh foot, then another, then a foot pressed itself between his and the general was smiling at him.
"We'll do fine," Roy said. "Like all new things, it will just take some getting use to, we'll find what works for us. I feel a little slow, but I think I've finally twigged onto that tab a, slot b business you were on about earlier."
"You can't say it isn't something we shouldn't talk about, I mean, well I mean I guess I want to know? I mean where you think my role in that would be? Ah, this is fucking embarrassing, I hate you for putting me in this position where I gotta ask," Ed savaged his napkin a bit and glanced up at Roy.
"I love you for asking," Roy said serenely, "and for the record I have no more clue than you do. I think we should just take this one day at a time. Everything is a rush with you, but I understand why."
"Ok, ok then," Ed said, sounding relieved. "So I thought about it some more and I guess I'll take you up on your offer to move in. But I'm fixing up that spare room the way I like it and I'm transmuting a shed out back so I can have an at home lab. I guess the boys at Central HQ will be ok with me being civilian now, won't they? What do they pay civilian contractors now anyways? I ain't giving it away."
"I think I can work something out," Roy said, leaning back as the waiter returned carrying food and setting it on the table in front of them. "I think some of them will be rather pleased you decided to lower your standards enough to work with them again."
Ed gave a wry smile.
"I've lowered my standards a lot these last few days," he teased, then sobered a little. "I don't think I'll ever regret it."
"I'll see that you won't," Roy said.
In order to avoid further sentimentality they both turned to the plate in front of them and started to eat.