Abort, Retry, Fail (at Life)

There was time, Roy Mustang recalled somewhat sourly, when he had been the envy of Central for more than one reason. His prowess with women, of course, had been rather unfortunately overexaggerated all along (cause ONE girl to stand up a General and that was the thanks you got!), so that part he didn't miss—and lord help him if the rumors did start circulating again, Edward would have his balls in short order. What he did miss, was well—

Once, he had been skilled alchemically. Not a researcher's dream date, no; but admired for his showiness and revered on the battlefield. Then Edward Elric had come along, and besides being able to transmute his entire ARM into a three foot spike of nastiness, he'd single-handedly managed to take down that rebel faction in Orlintown by dropping a lake on someone. Edward Elric, "People's Alchemist"; after Orlintown, "People's Army".

Similarly once, Roy had been known for his cunning. And again, not that he was a genius, but people had known him as the go-to guy for clever strategy, or at least bridge night. Then there was Edward Elric, sitting cross-legged in his office, casually debating cryptography with one of the brightest men in the field while putting a ten thousand piece jigsaw puzzle together backwards. The latter had been Roy's fault—he'd been the smart ass who had to comment it was lame to use the picture on the front of the box. Edward had replied there were three faults in it anyway, and that was probably the reason the office had not been able to complete it in the two weeks they'd worked on it.

Edward finished the whole thing that afternoon, by the way.

It was like that with everything, everything he touched. Creative outlets? Roy dabbled a little in ceramic firing (and etching and engraving, for little things like personalized lighters), but Edward transmuted masterpieces practically in his sleep. Roy could always tell when something was broken, because it came back gilded and vine-covered, better than new. Cooking? Okay, so neither of them really cared about that part, but when Edward could be arsed to cook at least his cakes never turned out burned (the oven was the one sort of fire Roy had never learned to control). And the sex—Roy was good in the bedroom, sure, that part of the old base rumors were true, but fuck, like anything could compare to having Edward in the sack. He could lie back on the bed and just shimmy and Roy would be ready to hair-trigger, like a clueless young cadet on leave in the Perfumed Quarter. Course, that was arguably more of Roy's failing than anything else, but dammit, that was the whole problem. Edward had come into his life, taken over his life; and sometimes Roy wondered what was left of it for him. He walked down the street, and people said "there goes that lucky bastard—of all the dogs, Elric picked him."

He wondered also sometimes just what made him so special. Maybe someday, he wouldn't be.

"Mmm, morning," Ed rumbled and rolled over into his shoulder, interrupting darker thoughts for the moment, and ground his nose sleepily into Roy's armpit. (That was one thing, he supposed; at least he'd always be taller. For what little it was worth—Ed bent him over a desk when he was pleased with him, and transmuted him into the floor when he wasn't.)

"Howdja sleep?"

"Not enough," Roy admitted truthfully. Neither had Edward. See back to the part where the sex was great; Ed had driven him crazy half the night with the things he could do with his hands, even the automail. Especially the automail.

"Hnnn, me neither," Ed yawned, and Roy thought for the moment he was going back to sleep. Then his eyelashes fluttered and he squirmed again. "Sorry about the dam."

"Pardon?" Roy blinked. That was another thing Edward was master of—the nonsequiter.

"Orlintown. Dam. Have to go back, fix it better." He looked sleepily guilty.

Roy snorted and pressed a kiss into his lover's hair. "Already took care of it. The Construction Alchemist reinforced it two days ago."

"Oh," Ed sighed. He flung an arm over heavily, knocked a bit of the wind out of Roy. Automail. Roy grunted and squirmed in discomfort.

"What brought that up?" he asked. "Four days later."

"Jus' remembered," Ed said. "That's all."

"Had a dream?" Code for nightmare. Edward never admitted to having any of those.

"Kind of," his partner said. Paused.

"What was it?" Roy asked gently when it was clear nothing else was forcoming. He stroked Ed's flank. "Ed?"

Ed sighed and pressed into him ever-so-slightly; in Edward Elric language, "hug me hard, now". He obliged, awkwardly considering they were facing each other, and waited for the man to speak.

"...dreamed you were gone," Ed said, and his voice was strangely tight. "Cause you were pissed at me."

"What?" Roy blinked.

"'Bout the dam," Ed sighed. He sounded a little more awake now, and worried. "You aren't pissed, are you? Cause how was I supposed to know that was a surrender flag, I thought it was a gun, it's not my fault the guy got in the way of my transmutation, and anyway, who puts a dam in a stupid place like that anyhow—"

Too many words for this early in the morning. Roy titled Ed's head up and caught his lips, hoping after the fact that his morning breath wasn't too bad.

It apparently was, but not enough to kill the rant for good; Ed made a face and picked up right where he'd left off. "You can ask Al, he saw the whole thing, he can tell you that fault line was there to begin with."

"Yes," Roy said, amused. "But not the fifteen others that followed it." Ed sputtered for a moment, outraged; then sagged back against him, defeated.

"Just glad you didn't disappear on me," he sighed into Roy's chest. "Cause I would have to kick your ass for that."

"Why?" Roy asked, genuinely curious.

"Why what?"

"Why would you care, if I disappeared?" he asked. It was a strange thing to ask, at ass-early in the morning when they probably should be sleeping, but then, there had been stranger pillow talk with Edward Elric. On one particularly memorable occasion, they had spent the entire day debating Xing/Creta border control and immigration policy, owing to an unusual stain on a hotel room ceiling.

"What kind of stupid-ass question is that?" Edward snorted, but leaned again into his front. "You know why."

Roy rolled his eyes. Trust Fullmetal to hedge.

"Let's pretend I don't," Roy said dryly. "Why then?"

"You know. Stuff." Ed said, sounding uncomfortable.

"Stuff," Roy repeated.

"Look, you know I'm not good at this crap!" Ed growled into his chest. His breath was hot against Roy's skin. "It's too early for this bs."

"Agreed," Roy sighed, and closed his eyes again. Another thing he wondered at. Anyone else pestering Edward Elric at—what, did the clock say six am?!—was liable to earn themselves a sudden and very violent death. Excepting of course, Alphonse Elric, who got away with walking into their house at ungodly hours (and generally started cleaning, and bemoaning the fact that Roy and Ed didn't).

He'd thought they were done after that, but then, unexpectedly, just as he on the cusp of dozing off again, Edward raised his voice.

"I'd miss you remembering stuff for me," Ed murmured.


"Like the dam." Edward said, and squeezed him just a little. "I forgot. Like an idiot. You always remember for me."

Roy smirked a little, though he was still oddly touched. "Well, it is my job. National security, disaster aversion, well being of the people, all that."

Ed snorted and thumped him again with the automail. "Yeah, yeah, mine Fuhrer," he mocked. "You just did it to save my bacon."

"Thanks," Ed added, after a moment's silence.

"You're welcome," Roy smiled. It wasn't often Edward offered praise up like that. Sometimes, that made it all the sweeter.

"And you talk to me," Ed continued, still sounding slightly reluctant. "You don't have an issue with me knowing what's going on. Some people—Intel was pissed at me cause I figured out the stupid code they were using. I tried to tell them, it was too easy, how the fuck do they expect Drachma not to know what we're doing when we practically write it in crayon—"

"Ed, it took eight cryptographers half a year to come up with that encryption method," Roy said, trying subtlely to hint at the real problem—how there had been accusations that Edward had actually infiltrated the bureau, because 'surely, no one can be that good'. He had had to suppress the outcry personally, keep the complaint from surfacing. Some people would never be comfortable with Edward's true brilliance, would be unreasonably jealous of it.

People like himself, he realized uncomfortably.

"I was impressed you figured it out," he said instead. "The revisions gave us a much stronger code, in the end."

Ed visibly preened at that. "Al did most of it," he said, though—another thing that was admirable about him; in the end, he always did give credit where credit was due. "I'm better at taking things apart than putting them back together."

"So the hallway lamp noticed," Roy said drolly, and received a friendly swat for his trouble.

"Bastard," Ed complained, but twined fingers with him anyway. "You did get me a better one, though."

"Anything would be better than 'shards'," Roy pointed out.

"Oh, hush," Ed grumbled, and shifted moodily against the mattress. "Anyway, that's why I'd be mad if you were gone."

"Because we wouldn't have a hall light?" Roy blinked.

"No, sheesh! Do I have to spell it out for you!? You remember shit for me, you clean up after me; you don't get pissed when I ignore you cause I'm in the lab."

"I ignore you sometimes, too—"

"Yeah, but when I need you, you're there. You don't flake out and get stuck in a book, you remind me to eat. You remind me to go to work. You remind me to be a person."

Ed tilted his head up, and suddenly Roy was drowning in wide, gorgeous eyes.

"You keep the world together," Ed sighed, and for once, that kind of comment had nothing to do with his office. Funny, he had spent all that time thinking about how much Ed had bested him. He had never considered that he might bring the best out in Edward.

"Thank you," Roy whispered back, and meant it.

Neither spoke for a few long seconds, just lay there, drifting. Then Ed roused himself a little, pressed an open-mouthed kiss to Roy's chest.

"So yeah. You're useful, I like you," Ed hummed, and nibbled at his neck. "Hey, if you behave yourself, who knows—maybe I'll even keep you around," he said haughtily.

Roy laughed. "You do realize this is my house?"

"Yeah well, details." Ed smiled. "Like I said, you're useful."

Smiling, Roy rose up and rolled them over so he could prove just how 'useful' he really was.