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There was nothing more petulant on the face of the planet than Edward Elric when he felt he was owed something. It wasn't a thing that happened often or for any great length of time, but once in a while, when the fancy hit and he was feeling particularly full of himself; that tiny forbidden thought would slip in and nestle there to make a nest of wants.

Edward Elric didn't considered himself a person of many wants or needs for that matter. He was, after all, doing penance and the one thing the penitent didn't excel in was wishing for what wasn't forthcoming by nature. But there was a new complication to his already complicated existence and that had come in the form of a man with an ambitious nature.

If anything could be said about the pairing, it was that the Colonel was bad for him in all the right ways.

When he was up, the Colonel was adversarial. When he was down, the Colonel was smugly optimistic. When he was adventurous, the Colonel was opportunistically greedy.

When he was horny, the Colonel had been surprisingly accommodating.

It was all working out rather well from an outsiders prospective; but he was not on the outside, he was very much on the in, and from where he stood it sure looked like the Colonel was getting all the cream without having to shell out for the cow.

After all, his virginity should be worth something, right? Right? Equivalence demanded it.

Maybe he should make up a list of what he thought was fair trade for being in the Colonel's bed; being all moany and sweaty and... getting off, but if he looked at it like that, then was it really the Colonel who was getting the cream?

But the Colonel certainly seemed to like it, especially when he was noisy, and the Colonel liked to feel up his butt and bite his shoulders, and put his hands all over Ed's... but that was just to get Ed ready for when the Colonel put his...

He flailed around a little, knocking things off his desk and causing Al to look up at him from a book he'd been reading.

He quickly bent over to retrieve his fallen papers and Al wavered on shutting his book. Ed tried not to make any eye contact with his brother and give himself away, because if he did, he would have to play '20 telling questions' with Al, and he didn't feel like giving up the goods just yet.

This was his new secret, sin, complication, he wasn't sure which, but he wanted to keep it all to himself until it festered enough he could have a good, honest rant about it. That's how Al usually got to hear things, to make a blushing confession now would just confuse matters.

"What are you doing?"Al asked, keeping his tone perfectly innocent, but Ed knew, there lurking under all that Al-ness, was the world's biggest busy body just waiting for the opportunity to have a meaningful and enlightening discussion.

"Nothing, stuff, y'know! What does it look like I'm doing?! I got paper and pens and books, and you know I always have that stuff and here it is at my desk where I'm sitting, it's just nothing, like always," Ed exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air.

"Well I would hope it was at least something," Al said, sounding a little put out because his attempts at giving his brother wise counsel were being thwarted. "If all you're doing all day with these books and 'stuff' is nothing, we're sure spinning our wheels now, aren't we?"

OOOooo Al could get in a good barb, he was like a master.

"You know what I mean," Ed retaliated, why oh why had Al gotten all the verbosity and ammunition to back it up in the family? He never thought of good comebacks until like a week later.

"Didn't you say you had to go and see the Colonel today?" Al ventured.

"Yeah, so what of it?!" Ed yelped, anxiety rising. He scrambled around on his desk like he knew what he was doing, at least it was good camoflage if nothing else.

"Well I wish you'd go and see him already and get it out of your system, it sure is making you snappy," Al huffed.

"Snappy, I ain't snappy! ARGH, that's such a girl-word, you got that from Winry," Ed accused. "I don't snappy at people, I have conversations. Long, drawn out conversations that get things done! I don't snappy at nobody, don't go saying words like snappy to other guys, they'll think you're funny!"

"Like being an disembodied, unbroken teenage voice in a suit of empty seven foot armor isn't enough," Al stated. "I think I got the corner on the 'funny' market, and I don't mean 'ha ha' funny, either."

"OH rub that IN," Ed shrieked, jumping up and knocking his chair over. "Just for that I WILL go see the Colonel!" And he started for the door, stopped, turned around and came back over to pick his chair up and gave Al the most put-upon expression he could muster.

Al, of course, offered his usual and only expression and Ed lingered a moment, waiting to see if Al had anything further to say, or he really was just going to let Ed boil in guilt for the rest of the day.

"I don't think words like snappy will make people think I'm funny," Al said. "And by funny, do you mean gay?"

"NO, because no one here is gay! This is the military, there is no gay in the military, it's in the handbook! I think gay is just a convoluted concept anyways, who's to say what defines gay?! I need to look into that maybe and write some brilliant paper and clear that up! Gay is a label and labels are bad! So if anyone says you are gay, flatten them Al!"

"Who said I was gay?" Al asked curiously.

"Nobody, I'm just saying, if they did, you can beat them until they are putty," Ed pointed out.

"I would never beat anyone into putty," Al said. "You sure seem to have a problem with this, you want to talk about it?"

"NO, I'm late!" Ed shrieked and ran for the door. It was a trap, it had been a trap all along! Al was trying to worm information out of him he wasn't ready to part with.

Al watched his sibling try to squeeze out the doorway between the door and the frame before he go it open enough to get through it. If Al had an eyebrow, it would be raised, but he didn't have an eyebrow, so instead he put his finger over his eye hole and tilted it upwards. It was unfortunately lost on Ed, who'd managed to escape his questioning. Al had to let him win every now and again.


The Colonel actually smiled when he opened the door and was downright, infuriatingly pleasant.

"Fullmetal, this is a surprise," he said and stood back to let Ed in. Ed milled a moment, before admitting defeat and walking into the man's apartment. The closing of the door behind him sounded like what surrender should sound like and he winced when the man's hand touched his back.

"Is something wrong?" the Colonel asked and Ed just snorted loudly. He wasn't going to have telling conversations with Al and he sure as hell wasn't going to have telling conversations with the Colonel, at least not in his living room.

"No, yes, I don't know, maybe," Ed conceded.

The Colonel pursed his lips and Ed almost grabbed him by the collar and yanked him down so he could lick and chew on them, because they looked great like that. But that would be admitting even more defeat and the fact the bastard was... taller than he needed to be. So he just wiggled his fingers and stood there, thinking of all the demands he was going to make before taking off even his jacket.

"Do you want some coffee?" the Colonel asked. This was the common theme, Ed came over, they had coffee, they talked about whatever then the pawing started.

"No I want...," but what did he want?

The Colonel waited, his expression open and friendly and Ed shifted all around, jammed his hands into his pockets.

"I want you to tell me what my virginity is worth," Ed suddenly flung out.

If the Colonel was taken at all by surprise, he didn't show it. Instead he sucked his bottom lip in, clasped his hands behind his back and gave a short nod.

"I see," he said. "Let's discuss this over coffee," and he turned to head for the kitchen. Ed fell into step behind him. It was a little amazing, really, that for one he could say it out loud, and for two the Colonel didn't point and laugh at him.

"I don't mean it like you know, you have to buy it or anything," Ed clarified as they entered the kitchen. He took up his usual station with his back against the counter to watch the Colonel make the coffee. "Because I know what that comes across like, I ain't looking for a handout or anything, I just want to know what you think I should be getting for my side of the deal. It's like a deal, isn't it?"

"I don't see it as a deal," the Colonel said, filling the pot with water and the coffee into the top of the percolator. "I think saying we have a deal makes this impersonal and a bit cold, don't you?"

"Oh," Ed said, gripping the counter and rubbing his fingertips against it. "I guess, yeah, but I don't mean it like that either, I mean, it's pretty damn personal. You know about this stuff and I don't, and I guess I have to trust you since I let you... I'm just saying you should be imparting some information on just what I can expect out of this. Because I don't like not knowing something when I can know it. I just think you should tell me what I should be wanting," and he bit his lip and studied the tile on the Colonel's kitchen floor.

"Edward," the Colonel said, using the first of his two given names. It made him squirm and hunch his shoulders, because the Colonel only used this name when they were in bed or being otherwise mushy and as much as Ed though the mushy was growing on him, it was just another one of those things he didn't want to admit yet.

"I can't tell you what you want, no one can tell you that, not even Al," the Colonel said with a small smile.

"But I don't know what I want," Ed confessed miserably. "I mean, I have these ideas, but I don't know what to do about them and I don't want to tell you because they are probably stupid. I don't know what I'm suppose to be doing. I want to do what I'm suppose to be doing in... in this thing."

The Colonel merely nodded and got down the coffee mugs. Ed's coffee mug was the one with the crack winding it's way from the base toward the bottom of the handle. It was a heavy white porcelain mug that had started to tint a bit toward yellow. The Colonel's own mug had a chip in the lip and the Colonel never switched up on him, preferring to take the risk himself. It was just one of those little things that made Ed like him so much. It wasn't just one big thing, and Ed realized it was good like that, because he always got to discover something new.

"I think you are doing an excellent job with this 'thing', so no worries there, but just because you brought it up, I'm thinking maybe there is something more I should be doing?" the Colonel asked, retrieving cream from the fridge and sugar from the cupboard.

Ed shrugged, pushing his hands back into his pockets and leaning harder into the counter.

"No, you're great," he risked a glance at the older man. "I can't ask for anymore, I know you're putting your ass on the line, I know that," Ed sighed.

"Tell me, Edward," the Colonel prodded gently and Ed was weak against it. Who would have thought it? Hell, he even pointed and laughed at himself in his own damn head because all the man had to do was drop his voice and sound sincere and Ed just crumbled. He was pathetic. Pathetic and hopeless and floundering, because he just couldn't put it into words properly. He wanted, he yearned, and he has no idea how to express it. He looked up suddenly as the Colonel came to stand in front of him.

The Colonel reached up slowly, threaded his hands into Ed's bangs, then pushed them through the hair on his temple. One hand lingered there, the pad of the Colonel's thumb rubbing back and forth slowly on the top of Ed's ear. The other hand moved back, fingers curling to cup his head, his braid being worked between two fingers. Ed took a step closer without realizing it and he felt the Colonel's breath on the top of his head before he felt the Colonel's nose.

"You mean a lot to me," the Colonel said. "It means even more to me when you come to me and let me help."

Ed felt his eyes close, he tilted his forehead against the Colonel's chest. The Colonel was moving the fingers on the back of his head slowly and it felt good.

"You're special," the Colonel said softly. "You're vibrant and alive, and you make everything brighter, you do that for me, you let me see through your eyes."

Ed lifted a hand, his own fingers curled against the Colonel's shirt and this time it was the Colonel who took a step forward. The counter bit into his back a little, but he didn't care. The Colonel was pressed all along his front, and he liked that, that was something he wanted.

"If everyone had your fire, your will, your humanity and determination," the Colonel was saying, "there would be nothing this planet couldn't accomplish."

Why was he saying all these things? All these things that made Ed feel hot and shaky and proud and embarrassed? Did he mean them? He sounded like he did.

"You know I want what is best for you, right? I want to see you get everything you want," the Colonel said and Ed dropped his head back, eyes opening just a crack. The Colonel looked different. His eyes were also half closed, but his look was so intense that Ed wondered what he was really seeing, and then Ed wondered if he really cared. The Colonel began to lower his face over Ed's own.

"You make me see myself in a way I never imagined," the Colonel whispered. "You make me be something I never thought I would want to be."

"Is that bad?" he heard himself ask and wonder at the low, breathy sound of it.

"That's a complicated question, Edward," the Colonel said, hovering just over the boy's parted lips. "Let's not talk in terms of good or bad, let's just stick with want and need."

"What I want," Edward said.

"What I need," the Colonel answered and then cut off any further response by covering Ed's mouth with his own.


To kiss him was to taste all that desperation. To drink it in and let it stew within you and hold it for him and maybe let him have some freedom. He wasn't good at reciprocating yet, he was still new and raw and hungry. He tended to want to rush to the end, not knowing how to savor anything, because he'd never had anything to savor in his life.

Here he was again; wanting to be taught the most carnal of things in the most innocent of fashions. He was a contradiction to himself and as desirable as anything on the planet; more so than most. The Colonel released his mouth, moved his own lips over the boy's cheek, then along his jaw and buried his lust in the side of the boy's neck.. Edward groaned and arched against him, rubbing his most direct want right against the Colonel's thigh and no power, alchemic or secular, would keep the Colonel from answering this most basic of form of want. It played right into his own insatiable need. His very own demon dwelling there under all this good intention. He could justify this until the end of time, and never make it right; but it didn't matter because nothing was right for either of them. Nothing would ever be realistic or complacent or pat. No answer would be easy, no goal would be within reach, so what could they do really? What could they do but want and need and claw and scrape for anything thrown their way.

He pulled himself from the haven of the boy's flesh, heard Ed panting against his chest and felt Ed thrusting against his thigh.

"Can I, Ed? Can I take you into the bedroom?" he asked, because Ed seemed to be wanting to make decisions about what he could have and not have. The boy nodded, looking dazed. The Colonel released him only long enough to snatch the coffee pot and dump it wholly into the sink and shut the stove top off. Then he took the boy by his hand, stopped and lifted it to his lips, gently kissing the back of white covered steel knuckles.

"What are you doing?" Ed said, cheeks lighting up, but he didn't try to tug his hand away, like he usually did.

"I've never given you a proper courtship, have I?" the Colonel murmured. "I've never taken you to dinner or to see a play. I've never brought you little gifts or sent you notes in the middle of the day."

"I don't care," Ed said, looking to the side. "That's girl nonsense, I don't need that."

"Maybe I do," the Colonel said and that made Ed look at him again and he smiled. "Is it selfish of me to want to woo you?"

"Nu...no," Ed admitted behind the glow of his embarrassment, "You can do what you want to, I don't care," he admitted, finding Roy's collar fascinating.

The Colonel gave a gentle tug then and Ed followed, his steel fingers curled in the Colonel's own and when they got to the bedroom the Colonel stopped again, just inside the door.

"I don't want you to think that this is all there is to it," he said and turned to meet Ed's eyes. "If things were different and we could be open," he sighed and gave a small, sad smile, "well, there would be many things we would do together. I could show you more than what we have now."

Ed was sure that he could fry eggs on his cheeks. It was so hard to look at the Colonel, but when he was smiling like that and squeezing his fingers, (he could almost feel it, he just knew somehow the Colonel was gently pressing and releasing his metal digits), how could he look away.

"I know," he mumbled. "I know what you mean, I know why we can't, I just know. It's ok, we both know."

The Colonel pulled him close then and just rubbed up and down his back slowly while looking at his face and Ed did look away then, but to justify it he pressed his face to the man's shoulder.

"I was amazed and thrilled when you came to me," the Colonel whispered in the ear he could get to. "I had no idea you were interested. I rather thought you might be more inclined for female company considering your lovely mechanic."

"I like her alright," Ed said muffled into fabric, "just not like this. It was kind of a shock you, uh, were so... willing. I thought for sure you liked girls."

"I like girls," the Colonel said with a nod, then he moved, drawing Ed with him and Ed lost his hiding place against the man's shoulder, "but I appreciate beauty in all it's forms. You really don't have any idea, do you Ed? You don't know how attractive you are, and not just physically."

Ed closed his eyes to avoid having to squint against the brilliant red that painted his cheeks. He felt the Colonel's hands on the clasp of his jacket, then the jacket rustled down his arms and he relaxed his hands to let it slide off onto the floor. His shirt followed quickly and then his belt was loose. It stopped there and fingers closed on either side of his waist, traveled up his sides. Warm lips pressed on what skin was left on his right shoulder between his neck and steel.

"Don't...don't just say things to butter me up," Ed muttered, his own hands moving to clench in the Colonel's clothing. He blinked in surprise as they did it, because he couldn't remember telling them to; but then it seemed like a good idea and when he tugged the Colonel obeyed. His shirt joined Ed's on the floor and then the Colonel sat on the bed side and slipped a finger though one of Ed's belt loops to pull him close. He wrapped his arms around the boy, rested the bottom of his chin on Ed's chest, looking up at him.

"I do not butter people up," the Colonel informed him. "I grease wheels, but that is business and it doesn't mix with this."

"Oh right," Ed said, now looking down at him frankly. "It's the same thing, only non-dairy."

The Colonel grinned, then tilted his face down and kissed Ed's stomach and Ed remembered in a rush exactly where they were and why they were there. The Colonel further helped his recollection by undoing the button on his pants and then tucking his fingers in the waist band and encouraged them downwards. Then the Colonel remembered Ed's boots. He turned Ed, sat him on the bed and pushed him onto his back, the lifted one leg, worked the boot off, lifted the other to repeat, then pulled Ed back up, stood him again and pushed his pants down. Ed's boxers decided to be lonely for his pants and so they made the journey with them to Ed's ankles. Ed then put his hands on the Colonel's shoulders and lifted one foot shaking it until his co-Dependant garments fell free and then kicked them away with his other foot.

Here he was naked in the Colonel's bedroom, yet again. This was another of his wants, the unvoiced ones and the Colonel kept saying all these things. He always said nice things, but never quite like these things and Ed found he was sorta starting to understand exactly what he did want. The Colonel made a low sound and it traveled straight to Ed's cock, and Ed's cocked leaned toward the Colonel and would have whimpered if it had a voice. But since it didn't, and Ed did, he spoke up for it.

"How do you do this?" Ed asked. "Do you make everyone feel like this? Is this why girls like you?"

The Colonel was kneading on Ed's bare hips now, his black eyes looked lazy when he tilted his face up to look into the boy's eyes again.

"I don't care about how I make other people feel, just how I make you feel," he said and then seemed to look a little perplexed with himself, but it smoothed out. He began to lean back, and as he did so he pulled on Ed, having Ed climb up onto the bed, straddling him. He kept urging Ed up until Ed was straddling the Colonel's head and gripping the comforter, looking down between them quizzically and sucking on his bottom lip.

"I'm finding more and more it's all about you," the Colonel said cryptically before he lifted his head and extended his tongue to lick up the length of Ed's cock. Ed gasped and curled his spine downwards and the Colonel gripped his ass then, pressing and squeezing before licking again. When the Colonel pressed his ass downward, Ed obeyed. But the tongue left his cock and instead curled sinuously around one of his balls. It was shocking to feel a touch there, especially by something other than his own hand. The Colonel had touched him there before, it was true, but usually as only an extension of stroking Ed's cock. When the Colonel's lips closed over the ball he had been tonging, the world opened anew for Edward Elric and he yodeled his joy of this discovery.

The Colonel gripped his hips again, tightly, and this was probably a good idea because Ed wanted to buck and hard. The Colonel was probably in fear for his nose, so Ed didn't hold his captivity against him. But it was hard to just hang there and take it and not be able to just wallow in it. He wanted to grind himself against the Colonel's face he wanted to thrust hard and he really didn't care where he thrust into. Another reason for the Colonel to fear for his nostrils.

For how long the man tortured him like this; licking and sucking, alternating back and forth and reminding Ed he had two balls, the blond did not know. He couldn't time between groans or spare a glance at the clock between sobs. His begging was no way to measure time because it was uneven, breathy and stilted. The Colonel, the bastard Colonel was making noises of his own. Deep grunts and half growls, wet sounds, throaty chuckles. It all mixed up in the miasma of sensation that rippled around the room like heat mirages and Ed thought for sure he might just be caught in the mist of some insane, heat-induced euphoric illusion.

Ed realized after a moment of intense hallucination where he seemed to be flying, that he was suddenly lying on his back. He felt very alone there, staring at the Colonel's ceiling, until the Colonel came into view. He smiled down at Ed and Ed immediately shot up a hand to grab at him. But the Colonel was an expert in fending off grabby hands and he seemed to be doing something. Ed whimpered and decided if he couldn't grab the Colonel, he could certainly grab his own dick and maybe take care of some of the buzzing in his ears. But the Colonel make a tsking sound and stopped him and Ed slid back and forth on the comforter shrieking incoherent sexual rage while the Colonel held one of his hands prisoner.

"I know," the Colonel murmured in an amused way and moved between Ed's legs, he released Ed's hand and then slid his hand around Ed's thigh, lifting it, hooking Ed's knee over his shoulder.

"If you fuckin' know then get on with it already," the boy snarled. The Colonel reached to run his fingers lightly down the boy's inner thigh, back over his tight and sensitive balls and a bit lower. Ed squeezed his eyes shut and threw his body back in a high arch, gripping the bedding under him. He blinked his eyes open when he heard the Colonel give a ragged gasp and tilted his chin toward his chest to look at the man.

The Colonel met eyes with him briefly, then leaned away a bit, reaching for his bedside table. Ed pushed up on his elbows, one knee still over the Colonel's shoulder. The Colonel leaned back and again Ed felt his touch. He licked his lips and swallowed, slowly lowered himself onto his back again as the Colonel's fingers found and pressed his anus. He had to concentrate now, he had to relax. He had to do all the things the Colonel had taught him to do if he wanted this to be good. And he did want it to be good, this was on his list of definite wants. In fact, it was edging toward his list of downright demands and he wasn't sure how he felt about that. It seemed selfish, all this heat and tactile stimulus; all this pleasure and pain and he couldn't hand it over to Al. But the though cut off as the Colonel pressed his finger slowly pass the ring of muscle and Ed had to let go of everything to relax.


The arch of his body, the flush that ran from his cheeks to his chest. The way he immediately relaxed to the invasion of fingers, the way he kept licking his lips.

It was getting hard to concentrate.

Roy scooted forward, because truth be told his own restraint was reaching it's limits. When he was sure he had the boy ready, and eager and just this side of demanding, he moved to ease some of his own demand.

Ed always tightened at first, Roy would always stop and let him breath, let him coach himself through the first few moments of joining. It was only when Ed gave a signal, a slight arch, a tug with his hand, that the Colonel knew it was alright to proceed. This time it was a smile, a slight smile tugging at the corner of the boy's mouth that made everything right in Roy's world.

"That's more like it," Ed said and Roy suppressed a laugh, encouraged and excited his new-to-love lover seemed to be taking more things in stride.

"Glad to know this is how you like it," Roy murmured and moved again and watched Ed's face tilt back again and watched him suck in his lower lip. "You are gorgeous like this," Roy said before he realized it and wished he could have slapped a hand over his mouth.

Gold eyes pinned him and Ed's mouth began a downward tilt and Roy tried to head off the pending indignant outburst, but it was to late.

"Not gorgeous! That's for girls," Ed snarled and in doing so, clenched himself up in aggravation. Then his eyes got a little big and Roy's fingers got squeezed a bit. Ed looked at Roy, as if somehow Roy had the explanation for this sudden turn of events. Roy was, of course, the encyclopedia sexual; at least it seemed that way when dealing with Edward, bedrooms and the removal of clothing.

Roy, as way of definition, wiggled his eyebrows, grinned and slowly pulled his fingers away.

"I'm sorry you don't like the word, but the definition holds true, suck it up Edward, you're a looker," the Colonel said as lined himself up. Edward snorted with indignation, but Roy noticed he didn't move an inch and licked his lips several times and studied the ceiling.

He would be the death of Roy Mustang, oh yes he could. Whether from sex or being clubbed to death with automail, it really didn't matter. Roy would die by either form of violence happily.

The whole mood changed the moment the head of the Colonel's cock nudge for entrance into Edward's body. They both went silent, and while the Colonel could afford to tense, Edward could not. So the Colonel cooed to him and rubbed his stomach and Edward let him get away with it and shut his eyes and breathed deeply.

The moment lasted an eternity, an enormity, and then with a single slow thrust it flew to light speed. It never mattered the resolution made before the act was committed, neither of them could ever keep to the commitment. Not with all this noise and flesh and lust. Not with the cries of praise, wordless perhaps but meanings clear, flung haphazardly about. Not with the sensations that nothing else on earth could imitate. Not without the other, each had their priorities.

And when completion came, it was always a long, slow sink back to earth.


The Colonel always enjoyed his Edward rag-doll after sex was particularly satisfying. He was so pleasant and malleable, he even purred when scritched lightly.

"I take it that was alright?" Roy said, he couldn't help teasing the boy, wringing these little compliments out of him after he was sated, because Edward would bite his tongue off to say them when he wasn't sex-drunk.

"Was great," the flopping teenager assured him, letting himself be gathered up against Roy's chest. "Really great, you keep getting better," and Edward patted his arm in a lazy and vague way and sighed again in a languid fashion.

"Ah thank you," Roy said, taking this back handed compliment, which isn't really what he wanted, but knowing it was going to be all he was going to get.

"Don't mention it," Edward said, and yawned. "I know how you are, you gotta hear it with your ears because seeing is believing isn't in the Roy Mustang handbook."

"Oh really, you've been reading my handbook, have you?" the Colonel said, amused. "Where did you get a handbook?"

"What woman around here doesn't have one?" Edward snorted faintly. "They just leave laying around everywhere, word is you get around and they want the unwary to be forewarned and forearmed."

"I'm nothing to be wary of," the Colonel said, easing the boy down in the pillows. "I'm every inch the gentleman."

"Right. That is why your number is next to the 'Beaver King' note on the stall in the bar right off base," Ed murmured, eyes closing.

"Oh, Beaver King is new, not sure if I like that," the Colonel mused.

"Shouldn't date someone who's so easy," Ed managed to get out, heading off a snore, "no telling what I might pick up."

The Colonel leaned over him, blocking everything else out. It was like a Colonel tent or lean-to or something. He found he didn't mind the prospect of sleeping under it.

"This was your bright idea, not mine," the Colonel reminded him with a slightly wicked smile Ed could barely see through the haze of soon-to-be-sleep.

"Yeah, what was I thinking," the boy countered. "Temporary insanity."

"Superior judgment," the Colonel sniffed.

"So why the fuck ain't I a general yet?" Edward got out a laugh and in the next moment let out a snore and the Colonel eased down by the boy's side and propped his cheek in his palm, elbow on the bed.

"Probably for the same reasons I'm not," the Colonel mused. "You're not doing the right people."

But he'd be damned if he'd tell Edward the right people to do.