The day after the reevaluation exam for State Alchemists was when one Edward Elric learned of the war in Lior.
That same day, he and Colonel Roy Mustang became lovers. Ed laid in bed, blinking up at a now familiar ceiling as the nightmare still clung to him. When putting the events together, he wasn't sure with he rued more. His hand passed over his face, rubbing at sleepy eyes.
"Bad memory," Ed retorted, looking over at the Colonel. "Why the hell aren't you in bed?"
Roy flipped a page, looking almost blindly at the book in his hands. "Same reason," he replied blandly. "Memories." His voice was so casual, as if the memory of burning Ishvalites to death didn't bother him. "You haven't thrown up yet."
"Keeping it as an option," he muttered, turning his head away. His hair was so golden when clean. There had been a time that hair had been stiff with human blood. Ed had been frightened that the blood would never get out and that he would walk around with evidence he had slaughtered human beings; his hair had been caked that badly.
He heard Roy put down the book and get up. The Colonel tilted his head back towards him, cupping his cheek gently. He studied that half-healed look deep in Ed's eyes while he rubbed the boy's soft skin with his thumb. As if it was natural, Roy leaned down, zooming in on his lips.
"Kiss me and lose those lips," Ed warned calmly.
Roy stopped, startled. Slowly, he released Ed's face. "Of course," he said, climbing into bed next to the boy. "Then good night."
The first time the Colonel had tried this tactic, Ed had been greatly pissed at what looked like a "roll over and forget about it" technique. In his angered yelling, he had spilled the entire dream to the man. Ed hunkered down under the covers, turning to watch Roy's back. This wasn't the first, or even the tenth time that the Colonel had used the tactic in the two months Ed had been back from the war. Sad thing was that it worked every. Damn. Time.
"I told you about Rose, right?" Ed paused, listening to Roy's supposedly disinterested breathing fill the room. "Remember, when I first went to Lior about the fake Philosopher's Stone? She was still there. Had been hiding in an abandoned house when the soldiers found her. Rose was... she was terrified. She kept looking back at the house. I had to look..."
Roy turned around, facing the boy. Ed looked up, knowing he'd see an intensely listening look on the Colonel's face. The next part... he had never said it in such an intimate situation before. A report was one thing. He could verbally report what happened and be distant about it for the moment. But...
"Children." Ed took a deep breath, trying to get the strangled note out of his voice. "She had been protecting children. An order was given... all those children were slaughtered. Rose was executed as an example." His shoulders started shaking as he remembered those tiny bodies... faces twisted in fear... all the blood...
Sometimes, the Colonel just held him until his muscles quieted down into exhausted sleep. Other times, they forced sleep out with now-experienced hands and wet tongue. This time, Roy brushed the lackluster bangs out of Ed's face. "What do you want me to do?" he asked, his voice quietly intense.
Ed shrugged, trying to pull back the fa—ade of who he used to be around him. "How about nothing, Colonel?" he told him, his voice straining to be normal. "My problem. I'm a big boy." He emphasized the words "big boy" to remind Roy of the four centimeters he had grown recently.
Roy continued playing with Ed's hair. "Are you sure?"
He would not cry again, damn it! "Yeah." Ed turned onto his other side, sliding his legs around so the automail limb and flesh leg would be comfortable. He knew he was trembling when the Colonel pressed his body up against Ed's backside, holding him close. His skin felt chilled, but Roy was so warm... it felt so nice...
When Ed had gotten to Lior, his first thought had been that the only change was that it was so very quiet. There weren't sounds of gunshots or even of people living. The eerie silence followed him as he went to find the military encampment.
On his way, he stumbled into a young boy. He had the dark skin all the other citizens of Lior had, thus marking him as living there. The boy couldn't have been more than ten, and was barely shorter than Ed. He had jumped back quickly, pointing the rifle that was too big for his hands at Ed.
"I remember you," he had said, his voice trembling. "The heretic that almost killed the Head Priest."
Ed lifted his hands, his heart pounding. The boy could have easily shot him then. "Um..."
"Why won't you leave us alone?!" The gun shook at him wildly. Ed watched the boy shake the rifle at him, his eyes drawn to the finger curled around the trigger. He started to clap his hands together when he heard the gunshot.
He didn't think he had been shot at first. There was no pain... just his heart beating frantically in his ears. The boy had slumped to the ground, his eyes wide with surprise.
Ed had been ushered away by the officer that shot the boy, not allowing him to see if the child lived or died. It wasn't until later that night, on his first patrol, that he saw the boy again. He was barely breathing, and in great pain. The boy's eyes slit up to look up at Ed hatefully. He tried to raise the rifle at his side, but it was too much weight.
"Why don't you kill me?" he had said weakly. "I'm dying anyway."
Al and Ed had been studying when Roy and Lieutenant Hawkeye had knocked on the door to their room. Ed had been the one to open the door, but Hawkeye had brushed right past him and immediately ordered Al to leave the Colonel and the elder Elric to their talk, and she would fill him in during the time. The boy had no doubts the woman had done exactly that, and most likely right down to how Roy would react to the thought of someone he cared for being thrown into a battlefield. True, he had never talked to his younger brother about his relationship with the Colonel, but he was almost certain that Hawkeye had told Al that the two men were most likely going to go at it like bunnies.
Well, maybe not in those words. Or maybe so. Ed had no idea what sort of sense of humor Hawkeye had.
Roy had told him bluntly that Ed hadn't fixed the problem in Lior, and there was a war going on. Since he was an active State Alchemist, Ed was most likely going to be given a brief idea about his automatic rank as Major and how it would effect those he would be commanding, as well as who he reported to on the battlefield.
"So why are you telling me?" Ed had asked. "Why isn't someone else here instead?"
At that time, Roy had answered it with a strangely awkward kiss.
After two months at the war, Ed was discharged from the military. He stood before the Furher in Central, giving his report and being forced to surrender his pocket watch. There was a catch to it, of course. If a military psychologist pronounced him sane enough for war, he could get his qualification back.
And all the psychologists said that being with family would be the best thing for him at that point. That was how Ed found himself riding in a private car (or, as Ed thought, an expensive part of the train meant to relieve the military's guilt) to East City. There had been some discussion about space, but it was decided that he would live with Al at Lieutenant Hawkeye's place.
The braid laid over his shoulder, and he stared at the ends. His hair just kept growing. But that's what happens when a person is alive, right? It shimmered in the sun light, all gold and brown strands. His eyes picked out a few reddish strands here and there. The more he looked, the more he found.
He tried plucking the strands at first, but it messed up his braid, knotting the hair. Finally, he clapped his hands together, and pulled his hair back with his flesh hand. His automail, now transmuted into a blade, rested on his neck.
It was interesting. A cut up, and all that hair was gone. Down... he remembered how easily the automail blade sliced into flesh, the memory going all the way back to the ten year old kid. Ed felt warmth on his neck, but he withdrew the blade and transmuted it back to a normal arm.
A few minutes later, he found himself being picked up by a joyful Al. "Nii-san!" the armor crowed, carefully hugging Ed. "I'm so happy to see you!"
Roy's entire staff had managed to turn out to see him arrive. The Colonel himself was standing there, giving the boy a single nod. Combined with the look in his eyes, Ed had to look away, flushed. He heard someone walk up beside him and Al. That same someone slapped a handkerchief against the back of his neck.
Ed turn slightly to see Hawkeye standing there, a disapproving look on her face. Slowly, he took the cloth from her, and stared down at the shiny red stain.
"Nii-san, is that..." He felt armored fingers touch the back of his neck, coming back smeared with blood.
"Hello, Winry. No, no, I'm doing fine. How's Al doing? Oh. Oh. Don't worry, Winry. The old bag will probably live another twenty years. She's too tough to die from a flu. Hey! W-Winry! Okay, okay, I won't call her an old bag. Yeah, I'm still living with the Colonel. I hope everything gets set up over there soon. Sure, I'll be around when Al calls. Miss you too, Winry." Ed put the phone down, rubbing at his sore ear. He still wasn't used to being on the phone for any amount of time, especially the kind of calls Winry liked to do. She was fond of talking his ear off in an attempt to pull some chuckles out of him.
It was so boring when the Colonel had to go to work. If Ed hadn't been discharged and his watch confiscated, he probably would have gone to immerse himself in alchemy tomes. Being discharged from the military due to emotional distress really sucked sometimes, Ed thought sourly as he traced the scar on his cheek with his left hand. It started about at his nose and went horizontally across his face, almost right under his left eye.
The woman hadn't really meant to slice Ed open. It had been execution day, and all the prisoners were being marched into the field to be shot at and later displayed as examples to the revolutionaries in Lior. Rose had taken her fate almost gracefully, her face still a little stunned. The woman behind Rose had fought the entire way up, and had managed to grab a dagger from one of the guards. Ed had tried to stop her, but the blade had dug deeply into his face, ripping a wound almost to the bone.
Ed purposely lowered himself to his knees as the memory went on, and placed one hand to his mouth. She had been practically on top of him when she slit her own throat. The amount of blood... bile raised to the back of his throat, and he swallowed back salty saliva quickly in the hopes of settling his stomach. He sat there on his knees for several moments, caught in the horror of the memory.
"I won't be an example!" He could still hear her voice wailing in his ear. "I'll choose how I die." Ed swallowed again, the salty taste becoming more and more powerful.
Ed was getting very good at cleaning up vomit on the floor before Roy came home.
Within two weeks of living with Hawkeye, Ed knew exactly when she was extremely pissed off. She would come home from the office, get dressed in a pair of sweats and one of her black undershirts, put her holsters on without bothering with a jacket, and stomp back out to the shooting range. Hawkeye apparently didn't care if Al or Ed followed her, and sometimes used it as a place to talk to them in private.
Ed watched as the Lieutenant raised her gun with her left hand. It was always amazing at the grouping she got with that hand. It looked like one small hole. No matter which hand she started with, she always seemed to do the same thing. Hawkeye would aim at the top left side with the first hand, switch and aim at the bottom right side, then use both guns to aim at the middle. After her gun clicked empty, she switched to her right hand. Her groupings were getting better with her right hand, tighter.
Before using both hands, the Lieutenant paused, then took off her ear protection. Ed took that as a sign that she wanted to talk.
"Colonel Mustang is putting through papers to transfer you to his care, and to transfer back to Central." She started to reload her guns swiftly, not looking at Ed.
Hawkeye stopped, looking at her target. "And I don't want him to," she said simply. "He has many enemies in Central, and the potential relationship between the two of you could be extremely damaging."
Ed looked away. "It's not a relationship."
Hawkeye gave him a glare, and replaced her ear protection. When her groupings started being all over the target with her left hand, Ed knew it was time to leave.
Ed had been living with Roy in Central for just four days when Winry called.
"E-Ed." Her voice trembled on a thick and husky note.
"U-uh, Winry, is something wrong?"
She sniffed. "Granny Pinako. S-she's sick. Really really sick."
Instantly, he sat up. "Winry, is everything okay? What did the doctor say? Geez, I better get over there to help out..."
"Ed. I already called Al. He said that he and Lieutenant Hawkeye would help me out."
Ed froze, blinking at the floor. "But Winry, I can really help you out. I don't need to stay here. Military psychologists are everywhere."
"You should stay with Colonel Mustang. Al told me about your... um... relationship with him. I don't mind, I don't mind! Really! It's just... I thought you should know. That..."
"Winry, I can't just stay here and not help."
"I know. But... Ed, Al told me about what Colonel Mustang has done for the two of you. I just... want you to be healthy."
"I better go. Customer." Click.
Gracia wiped at her daughter's messy chin as Elysia squirmed in her seat. Ed watched the sight with a smile as Hughes joined in the battle to get their daughter clean. When her lunch had finally been cleaned off her chin, Elysia giggled and dashed out towards the yard.
"She has a lot of energy," Ed offered as the two adults leaned back, exhausted. "So, why did you drag me over here?"
"Little things Mustang has said," Hughes answered, taking off his glasses to clean the lenses. "About your sleeping habits. And, uh, the sudden lack of a sex life between the two of you."
Ed let out a small squeak, eyes flicking over to Gracia. She got up to get some tea to drink, acting as if she had heard all of this before. "Uh, well, you know, I shouldn't talk about it while your wife and daughter and..."
The older man let out a laugh, sliding his glasses back on. "Elysia's going over to a friend's house to play, and Gracia's the one that convinced me that I should actually talk to you about this. She knows Mustang about as well as I do."
"And the both of us don't want to see you two unhappy," Gracia said, putting down a mug in front of Ed with one hand as she picked up the dirty dishes with her other hand. "Maas may be a little too honest at times, but he means the best."
"Ahahah..." Hughes placed a hand behind his head, blushing slightly. "Though, really. Is everything okay between you and Roy?"
Ed picked up the mug, not wanting to look up at them. "You know, I've been looking at girls recently," he said, trying to be casual. "But not guys. I... in order to be in a relationship with the Colonel, I have to be attracted to him, right? But damn it, I'm not... I'm not..." The word didn't want to come out.
Hughes sighed, his chair squeaking ever so slightly as he leaned back. "Neither is Roy, Ed." He held up his hand at the boy's surprised look. "Hear me out. He looks only at girls too. But after the war in Ishval... Ed, it's perfectly natural to want to remind yourself that you're alive after seeing a lot of people die. Sex in response to death, whether the memory of it or the actual thing, is normal. And I know Roy loves you."
"What?" Ed tried his best not to spit the tea in Hughes's and Gracia's faces.
The woman nodded. "Edward, you love your brother, don't you?"
"Yeah, but I'd never do that with Al. I don't see..."
Hughes curled his fingers around his own mug of tea. "The first time I saw Roy after the war in Ishval, he was trying to prove to himself that he was alive. The difference was I don't love him like that, and even if I did, I had Gracia." He patted his wife's arm, glowing with the happiness that was always around when he talked about Gracia or Elysia. "I didn't let him take it as far as you two have gone."
"People love other people different ways." Gracia shrugged. "I love Maas romantically. I love Elysia because she's my daughter. I love you and Al because you're almost my children."
"I love you and Al the same way Gracia does," Hughes said. "And I love Roy as a friend. Same word. It just comes with different things with different people."
Ed's cheeks couldn't get any redder. "I don't think that's how it is with Roy..."
"He made someone transfer him from East back to Central so he could watch you and have the best care for you, didn't he?" Gracia took the mug away from Ed before he cracked it. "He cares for you in his own way. Whether you believe it's love or not is up to you."
There had to be a way out of this conversation. No wonder most kids hated having the sex talk with their parents. "I... uh... have to go." Ed started to stand. "Um..." His eyes flicked over to the clock. "I don't want to be late to the shrink appointment. You know, have to get my watch back and everything." He turned to bolt, not listening to Hughes offer to throw his sixteenth birthday and Elysia's fourth birthday part at his house as he rushed out of that embarrassing talk.
Love. What a stupid concept.
The psychologist appointments never went well. Ed muttered dark things under his breath as he stomped into the room he shared with Roy. At this rate he was never going to get that damned watch and his qualification back before he grew old and wrinkled and that was just NOT acceptable.
Roy looked up from his book as Ed started kicking the bedpost with his metal foot. "For the last time," he said testily, "you do not kick at my bed. That is, unless you want to sleep on the floor.
Ed raised a choice metal finger at Roy, still grumbling. "Not had a good day. Don't start."
"Hughes told me he had that talk with you today."
That stopped Ed from going through with another kick. "Don't tell me he..."
Roy arched an eyebrow. "Told me that we probably love each other, but we're not in love with each other? Most likely. He doesn't pull any punches with me either, Edward." He flipped a page as if he was reading. "He had assumed we had gotten to anal sex." The Colonel made a face at the thought, and flipped another page.
"So we haven't. So what." Ed sat down heavily on the bed. "Maybe if we did, we really would be gay."
"It sounds like that bothers you."
"It does!" Ed glared at the man. "You don't have a little brother that you have to explain this to." He looked away, paling slightly. What would he say once Al came back from Rizenbul? How in the world would he explain the relationship to him?
"And most psychologists frown on homosexuality." Roy got up, looking down at the boy. "That's what it's about. You're so damned focused on getting your watch back that nothing else matters."
Ed looked up at him fiercely. "I want to get Al and my bodies back. There's nothing else that could matter."
The Colonel grabbed him, hauling Ed to his feet. "If any psychologist heard that, you wouldn't ever be getting your qualification back," he hissed. "I know how much you love your brother, but you push yourself too far for him. Maybe nothing else matters to you. But damn it, Edward, when you take away the sex you're like a little brother to me. I don't want to see you hurt."
Ed looked up at him, a slightly disgusted look on his face. "If that's how you think of me, why the hell are you screwing me?"
Roy slowly released Ed's shirt, sighing. "That day when I heard you would be shipped off to Lior... there was a good chance you would die or be discharged the way you were. Frankly, I was scared. I'm used to the people I care for being directly under my control or in a place where they won't have to be in that position. And the romantic inside still equates sex with love."
"I never pegged you for a romantic. A pervert, yes."
The sudden laugh took Ed off guard. "I may date around, Edward, but you are only the second person I've had a sexual relationship with."
"You know I don't believe it."
"I do know. However, it doesn't matter." Roy cupped Ed's face, his face soft.
This time, the kiss was gentle and experienced. Ed held on to the Colonel's jacket with a firm grim as he kissed back, his eyes closing slowly. Roy always was kind with him, never teasing for too long. He unzipped his pants slowly, stroking the boy to full hardness. His hand moved constantly, not stopping until Ed arched his back as the orgasm took him.
Ed laid back on the bed, a lazy smile on his face. "You're just a pervert, aren't you." The things he wanted to say... about the love Roy felt for him... about his own ambiguous feelings... they could wait. Needling the Colonel came first.
Roy snorted, climbing into bed next to him. "Maybe. At least I have a partner that doesn't care." He silenced whatever the boy was about to say with another kiss, undoing Ed's shirt.
Their relationship was weird, but maybe it didn't matter. Ed gasped as Roy nibbled his way down his left arm, his thoughts scattering. Just maybe... it helped Ed heal a little.