It was a whirlwind romance, there's no other way to describe it. When he turned 19, he went back to Central looking strange and alone without his brother at his side. He walked into the office like he had in the old days, only not as tall and not as hard, with a graceful sweep of ponytail over one shoulder and a long brown coat, having given up the red one when his brother returned. He was simply amazing and simply beautiful and he was back.
"Edward is off doing whatever he's doing in Xing with the Prince," he said, "and I got tired of it, so I came here hoping you could help me out, give me some work, some distraction. I don't want to reenlist, but surely there is something I can do for you Major General," he'd said, wearing his smile and his innocence and his charm as easily as his coat.
There were several things that flashed through the Major General's mind at that moment. He'd seen the newly restored flesh of the ten year old, his bright hopeful eyes, his breathless smile. He'd seen the grim determination of the twelve year old, wearing his emotions like bandages when he'd finally figured out who Roy was and come to him for aid in his quest for his brother. He'd seen the love and pure joy on the face of the fourteen year old when his brother had wrapped his arms around him, sobbing his name and several other things into his ear having been delivered home, but he hadn't seen him since and wasn't prepared for this.
Alphonse moved to the desk, finger toying briefly with a knick knack that sat on the edge. He turned those eyes and that charming smile on the Major General, raising an eyebrow.
"Dinner tonight," the Major General said, "we'll talk."
Roy was amazed he got that much out.
Dinner was a swirl of color, sound and the smell of flowers that were potted all around the brick veranda on the outside of the café. A man and woman played soft instruments and sang a soft song, and Al's eyes kept darting between them and the Major General, regaling him with his travels in Xing and the many exotic things there. Things enough to hold the interest of Edward (like the Prince, Roy guessed), but the younger Elric had hungered for what he thought of as home. He'd always been the one to long for the past while the elder pushed them relentlessly into the future.
"Where are you staying?" the Major General heard himself ask.
"A hotel," Alphonse replied lightly, "since I'm not sure where I'll be from one week to the next. I thought I would get a chance to leave that behind, but with Edward it was impossible, he'll never slow down, no matter what happens."
"That won't do. I have a guest room, at least it might be some semblance of stability while we figure out just what to do with you, Alphonse," the Major General said, "it would be my pleasure. I'd be glad to have some company."
I know what I would like to do with you, shamefully, but I'm old, broken and half blind now, and you've known me from boyhood, so I'll take companionship and fantasies if you'll let me.
"I'd like that," Alphonse said with surprising warmth, "I'd like that very much."
In the weeks that followed, the Major General begged, borrowed and stole minor assignments, anything to keep that brilliant mind occupied and the company close. Although never properly certified, (the parliament seemed to gloss over that now) they easily granted special dispensation to the younger Elric, and the Major General thrilled in each report that crossed his desk in Al's neat and crisp penmanship, as well as each night spent with books or chess or the phonograph and a fine wine.
Plus, Alphonse could cook like Angels must cook! The Major General was sure of this. Alphonse did so with obvious pleasure and always seemed so pleased when the Major General complemented him.
"I can't help but notice," Al said one night over a magnificent chicken dish with perfection for side items, "that you don't go out anymore. Surely the ladies aren't put off by the eye patch, I think it just makes you look dashing."
So desperate to keep Alphonse with him, Roy didn't lean over the table and run his fingers into the dark gold mass that hung on the younger man's shoulders or press his lips to that smiling mouth as he wanted to for those words. Instead, he smiled himself and chuckled.
"I'm older now, it's not as important I suppose," Roy said, "I find one of your homemade meals and a chance at a good chess game to be more of a draw than dancing the old dance of 'he said she said' with frivolous small talk," he shrugged, "middle age is catching up to me."
Alphonse looked at him like he hadn't before and smiled, leaning forward a bit, only somehow it seemed warmer than before. "I'm really glad, because I like it too, just like this, the two of us and the discussions and dinner. I really look forward to coming home to it at the end of the day."
The Major General's heart did a little flip flop and he handed it over whether Alphonse realized it or not.
Cause for celebration was any little thing they ran across. A new journal, a shockingly good and inexpensive wine, a new book, a letter from Edward complete with a photo of him all swathed up in a colorful jacket and head scarf, with a grinning Ling at his back, hand raised in a wave. Any little thing would have them talking for hours and soon that lead to walks together in the park and the appreciation of the café musicians. It was just happy and together and it was peace for them both, which they had always sought and had only barely grasped.
The Major General hungered and cursed himself for it, longed and lashed himself for it. Alphonse wasn't here for that, he was here for company and no matter what his traitorous heart said; he was just misinterpreting those looks. Alphonse couldn't possibly want more than what they had. The Major General was just glad he had what they did, because it was more than he had ever had before and he wasn't about to mess it up.
That evening when they came in, both rain-soaked and laughing, peeling out of their wet layers in the foyer, Alphonse had reached up to touch his bangs, plastered to his forehead, and the Major General had gone still. Alphonse's finger traced the edge of his eye patch as the Major General trembled and swallowed, then he leaned up and kissed him lightly, right at the corner of his mouth and the Major General turned his head quickly, caught those lips and offered himself as he'd never offered before. He put his entire being into that press of lips to this marvelous creature that had stumbled back into his life, who he'd go on his knees to keep. He offered and he waited.
Intoxication on the finest wine is nothing in comparison...
Alphonse turned his head and tilted it, the white expanse of his neck was then conquered by a hungry mouth, hands captured his shoulders for later study.
You have no inclination of your hold on me at this moment...
Alphonse surrendered each article of clothing with beautiful grace, plucking at the buttons of the Major General's own uniform jacket, but making no move to take it. He seemed to sense the need in the Major General's eye and trailing lips.
I will never let you regret this, I will make this a cherished moment...
He lowered Alphonse to the bed slowly, stood looking down at him, reaching then with shaking fingers for his clothing, pushing them off with none of the grace Alphonse showed earlier, only discerning Alphonse with his eye and panting softly.
How is it that you would want me...
Alphonse reached up to him, smiling.
"Finally," he said, "you made me wait so long. I wasn't sure you wanted this, so I decided finally to just chance it."
The Major General lowered himself, shaking slightly, into those waiting arms and Alphonse pulled him close, sighing against his temple. He couldn't believe it, his ears must be deceiving him, or finally he has slipped into madness. Alphonse then trailed a hand slowly down his back and a foot slowly up the side of his leg as he kissed his ear and cheek and temple. The fire the Major General thought he'd lost with his eye rekindled in his belly and he knew only the want of making this slender from below him know pleasure as best as he could make it.
In the quiet after, of soft pants and gentle touches, of quite almost tears and fears of being alone vanquished, Alphonse put a hand on his cheek and met his solitary dark eye.
"There was one thing constant for as long as I can remember, that was there even when I wasn't in flesh, but always wanted, and that was home. It wasn't the same for Ed, even after we took back all we had lost, I never forgot it. I always thought about, even when it seemed I didn't, but we'd burned what we knew as home and there was no going back, not after all we'd lived and all we'd seen. But the constant, it was always there, even when I couldn't remember, and thought I should follow brother. I did for a while, and while I love him, more than anything on the planet really, it was time to stop living for him and start living with him. When I decided that was what I really wanted, I decided to come home," Al leaned up and kissed him and the Major General wrapped his arms around him and pulled him closer.
"You were the constant," Alphonse said, "always there when we needed you, even when we thought we didn't. You know what that makes you?" he questioned softly.
"What?" the Major General said, soft and raw, "what does it make me?"
"It makes you home," Alphonse whispered, and then the rest was taken by the Major General as he kissed him once again.