"For the thousandth time, Al," Ed hissed out of the side of his mouth. "You don't have to come with me on this. You should be safe back at home!"

In the dimness, crouched on the opposite side of the doorway from Ed, his brother shot him a deeply reproachful look. "How can you even say that, Brother?" he hissed back. "It's Ross. She needs help. How can you say I shouldn't come along?"

"Of course she needs help, that's what I'm doing here!" Ed whispered fiercely. "But you aren't a State Alchemist, Al—you aren't even in the military. This is my job, I don't need my little brother tagging along and mucking it up."

"Mucking it up?" Al's voice rose indignantly. "How many messes did I pull you out of on our journey, Brother? I may not have a fancy title, but I'm just as much an alchemist as you are, and in case you've forgotten, I can still kick your ass!"

"That's not the point!" Ed scowled across the doorway at his little brother. "The point is that this guy is dangerous. A rogue alchemist, a real loose cannon! Who knows what he's capable of? You could get hurt!"

"So could you!"

Ed scoffed. "I can take care of myself, Al, that's not a problem. But in case you hadn't forgotten, you're not a suit of armor any more! You can get hurt now, and that's exactly why you should have stayed home!"

Despite the dangerous, creaky surroundings, Al couldn't help but roll his eyes. Typical Ed; overprotective, hypocritical, condescending, and for some reason fundamentally incapable of treating Al as an equal. When they were done with this mission. Al was definitely going to have to treat Ed to another 'practice' sparring session. But bruising up Ed right before attempting an ambush on a dangerous rogue Alchemist would just be counterproductive.

Al took a deep breath. "Well, it's too late for that, I'm here now," he reminded his brother. When Ed began to marshal another objection, Al quickly changed the subject; "And anyway, what's important right now is Lieutenant Ross! It's been hours since she went missing, who knows what that alchemist could be doing to her? We need to hurry!"

Ed nodded grimly, and Al blew out his breath, focusing on the situation at hand. Over the last few months, a half a dozen or more women had gone missing from the streets of Central. All young, attractive—and until recently, none of them had been found by the authorities. At last they'd finally turned up three of the missing; two in comas, the third completely amnesiac. But the lack of obvious wounds or trauma pointed at an alchemical source.

Someone had been kidnapping women to use as guinea pigs in alchemical experiments. Al felt a grim frown tug at his own mouth. The military's Intelligence department had narrowed the suspects down to one Alchemist, Charles Girond—briefly Certified for his work in animal husbandry, but failed all subsequent recertification exams. His psychological profile suggested him, his line of research offered ample uses for human subjects, and he'd dropped out of sight years ago. The military police had turned up a dozen abandoned, disused laboratories, before finally narrowing it down to this location.

And the latest woman reported missing, who had vanished in this area, had been Lieutenant Maria Ross.

Ed had volunteered for the mission as soon as he'd heard. Al often insisted on following his brother on missions anyway, much to Ed's annoyance and consternation, but this time Al would not be deterred. Maria Ross was a good person, a good friend to both of them; they had never forgotten the debt they owed her. The thought of her alone, scared, in the power of some crazy Alchemist, was unbearable to both of them.

He glanced across the doorway at Ed, who returned his determined look with an emphatic nod.

"Let's go in," he muttered.

"Right," Al whispered.

As one, they rose from their half-concealed crouches by the doorway and whirled to face the heavy metal door blocking the way into the hidden sanctuary. Ed clapped, and slammed his hands against the doors; they nearly blew inwards as the metal hastily retreated from his hands. Without waiting for Ed's approval, Al ducked in through the widening hole, trusting the smoke to cover him.

Behind the door was a long flight of dark stairs, and Al leapt lightly down it. He was weaponless, but tensed and ready to take on any opponent he faced. Behind him, he heard Ed cursing and clattering on the stairs, and grinned to himself; who's too slow this time, Brother? I'll have this all taken care of before you can get into the line of fire...

He skidded to a halt at the bottom of the stairs, nearly falling flat on his face. After a moment, Ed came tumbling down the stairs after him, nearly landing on top of him. "Al! Dammit, don't run ahead like that..."

He stopped, too, and they both stared at the tableau they faced.

Lieutenant Ross stood in an open area near the base of the stairs, under the dubious light provided by a single bare bulb. Her uniform was neat, her face was intent, and she held her gun trained in a steady two-handed grip towards a moaning huddle of sprawled gray a few paces away. Her head swiveled towards the stairs at the sound of the horrific crash, but her stern frown melted into a smile as she recognized them.

"Major Elric! Alphonse!" She let go of her gun with one hand, and half-turned to salute them, but her aim didn't waver. "Situation is contained, sirs! The prisoner is secured!"

Ed shouldered his way past a shocked Al, and stepped down onto the concrete floor. "I, ah, I see that it is," he choked out, stunned by the unexpectedness of the scene they'd tumbled into it. "Reinforcements should be on their way pretty soon, now that we've.... Um... Lieutenant... are you all right?"

She saluted again. "No injuries, sir!" Then her hand dropped, and her smile deepened. "Very glad you arrived, though, Sir. I wasn't quite sure what to do about the situation here."

"Situation?" Slowly, Al straightened up from his battle crouch, feeling more than a little foolish. "What kind of, uh, situation?"

With her free hand, Ross waved towards the far side of the large, concrete room, largely cloaked in shadows. "I'm afraid I don't know anything about alchemy." She shot the two of them an apologetic look. "I was unsure how to safely handle his... um... apparatus." She coughed. "I had no way of being sure that anything I did wouldn't cause it to... come to life, you see."

"No problem, just leave that to me," Ed said, beginning to recover his poise. His voice had deepened by half an octave, and Al had to roll his eyes and stifle a snort at his blatant attempt to sound grownup and competent. He ruined his own swagger, however, by hesitating, and looking doubtfully from Girond to Ross to back again. "Er... will you be able to handle him...?"

"Oh, yes," Ross sniffed indignantly, turning a stern glare on the crumpled figure. "He made the most indecent advances towards me. Shameful! And he refused to take 'no' for an answer. Insisted that I would change my mind soon enough. If that's the way he acts towards women normally, he has no right to complain about being loveless! I swear, men these days!"

"Er... of course not," Ed said, backing hastily away as though the spillover energy from her outraged glare might burn him. Of course, Ed had expressed similar complaints about his back luck with women himself, Al thought; but since he'd never seen his brother make more than a half-hearted attempt to meet girls anyway, he rather thought it was Ed's own fault.

Ed laughed nervously, in the face of Ross's suspicious look. "We'll just go... see about those arrays, shall we?" He hurried away.

"So now it's we?" Al muttered under his breath, following Ed's hasty retreat.

The reinforcements arrived while Ed and Al were still arranging sufficient light to see by in the darkened corner. A pair of steely-eyed military policemen relieved Ross on guarding Girond, and a handful more began to fan out, searching the rest of the lair. The brothers largely ignored them; finding out what Girond had done to the women was necessary before any attempt to help them could succeed, and Girond himself was in no shape to answer any questions.

Al crouched down next to one of the arrays in the far corner, squinting in the low light. He could almost make out the pattern of lines, but there were some symbols on the far side, nearly right up against the wall, that he couldn't make out. The array was somehow... not what he was expecting. Empty of function, somehow.

"Huh." A few yards over to his left, Ed was bending down for a similar inspection of another array. "Shoddy work, that's what this looks like. Built up over a bunch of trials, do you think? You can hardly tell where the power's supposed to go... all these cross-connections... What d'you make of it, Al?"

"Not sure. There's some funny writing around the edge here, let me check it out..." With a grimace, careful not to smudge or obscure any of the symbols, he stepped closed over the borders of the array. "But it doesn't look like any chimera array I've ever seen before."

"Well, the girls they found weren't chimeras, were they?" Ed said in a supercilious tone. "So that can't have been what he was after."

"The ones they found weren't chimeras. Duh, Brother," Al pointed out acidly. Behind him, Ed huffed in annoyance at the correction. Al bent over, squinting at the funny symbols in the dark. He needed a notebook, or maybe a camera for this. The problem was, in certain was this didn't look like a finished array at all. It just looked like a mechanism to direct a signal originating from somewhere else... maybe from another array...?

"I'm going to fire this one up, see where it goes," Ed unexpectedly announced behind him. Alarmed, Al stood up quickly and whirled around, just in time to see Ed kneel down and put his hands on the array before him. The lines lit up with electric power, zigzagging inside and around the circle; too late, Al saw the channel connecting the two arrays, as the white light raced towards him...

"Wait, Brother, don—"

A flash, and then nothing.


As the half-conscious mumble left his lips, Al blinked his eyes open to see a blank, white slate in front of his eyes. Where...?

The last thing he remembered was the basement of the lab. Ross, the Alchemist.... the arrays, the funny symbols... Ed...

He groaned. His head still felt fuzzy and aching, but it didn't take more brainpower than he currently commanded to put two and two together. "Broth', you idiot," he mumbled again, a little more clearly this time.

"Oh, that's nice. I've been waiting for you to wake up for hours, and that's all the thanks I get?"

"'s your fault anyway." Inwardly, Al heaved a sigh of relief at the sound of the familiar, acidic voice. With difficulty, he rolled over on his side, so that he could glare at his brother properly.

A golden shape wavered in his vision, and Al blinked, squinted. Then caught his breath.

It was his brother... wasn't it? It surely wasn't anyone else, sitting by his bedside, holding his hand. But it was his brother as he'd never seen him before. The fluorescent lights rolled off his hair, setting it glowing with a luminescence reserved for kings. His skin was pale, austere, and somehow enticing. He looked tired; strain and worry had settled over his features, granting them an aura of maturity and strength. Bags and shadows enhanced his wide, breathtaking eyes; worry lines enhancing strong, full, eminently kissable lips...

Something was very wrong here. Al's eyes widened, and he caught his breath; he blurted it out on a "What the... heck happened, Brother?"

Ed winced; his expression turned guilty, haunted. "It was... my fault. I'm sorry, Al. Basic array safety... but then, you should have known better than to stand in the middle of a goddamned array without even knowing what it was for..."

"Yes, and you should have known better than to activate it!" Al shot back. Strangely reluctant to release his brother's hand, he tried to push himself into a seated position with just the one hand. Gravity proved unhelpful. "But... I'm not... I'm not... a chimera, am I?" Discreetly, he tried to look down the length of his body, saw nothing amiss.

"No, no. Of course not. Don't be an idiot." Ed frowned down at him; it drew his mouth into an enticing pout, lower lip sticking out just a little more than the upper... Al blinked, and tried to focus on Ed's eyes, instead. Oh. No. Bad idea.

Somewhere behind the haze of luminous gold, he heard Ed go on talking. "I... we finally got Girond talking. He wasn't trying to make chimeras at all. He was trying to..." Ed grimaced, looking away, and the mesmerizing spell was broken. Al blinked, shaken. "He was trying to find an alchemical way to make women fall in love with him. Only, um, it wasn't love he was after. Exactly. It was more, um, um..."

Al felt his jaw drop in dismay. "But... wait... Brother, I'm not... with him.... am I?" Horrified, he searched back in his mind for the glimpses he'd had of Girond: unshaven. Unwashed. Thoroughly repulsive.

"No, no!" Ed waved his automail hand, in emphasis of his word; his flailing was constrained by his firm grip on Al's other hand. It was a very charming effect, overall. "No, uh... apparently the... effect is directed at the user... he was still trying to find a way to target... I think I'd better start from the beginning."

"I think you'd better," Al said faintly, head swimming.

Ed grimaced again, tugging at Al's... heart, he decided firmly; then Ed began talking. "Girond used to raise animals, right? He already knew how to use alchemy to adjust the... hormones, or something... of animals. So one day he got the bright idea that he could use that on humans, instead. To make women, um, go for him. Because no woman in her right mind would want to get near him any other time, naturally..."

"Naturally," Al echoed, hollowly.

"So that's why he was kidnapping attractive women. To try and get them to... um. But anyway, apparently he had trouble getting them to like him, and not just anyone. That's what he was working on when we... when Ross got the drop on him. That's what the second array was for, to fixate the, er, subject. On the, the alchemist standing in the other array. The, um.... the same array I..." He trailed off, and bit his lip, looking woeful.

Al felt the blood drain from his face, and he stared at Ed in disbelief. "But..." he sputtered. His mind seized on one hopeful detail. "But you weren't actually in the array... right? So it wouldn't work, would it?" he said.

"Well," Ed said uncomfortably, addressing the floor again. "I wasn't. But then when the array lit up, and you yelled, I, well, I tried to get to you. So I... uh, I was in the array at the most critical time, anyway. Apparently."

Al moaned, and covered his eyes. His head seemed to swim with the implications of Ed's confession. So somehow, Al had wound up in the middle of some kind of hormone-boosting array, designed to induce sexual attraction towards... Ed, apparently. To make matters worse, his head was dumbfounded, but his body seemed to think this was a great idea. Or more specifically, Ed was a great idea.

Before this, Al had not been terribly interested in... sex, or romance of any kind. At first he'd been too young for it, reclaiming his new body just before the cusp of puberty, and then... well, watching Ed's disastrous failures at any kind of romance seemed to prove that sex was just too much trouble anyway. He hadn't really seen the point in it...

But he was beginning to see the point of it now. Ed had talked around the subject, but there could be no mistaken the heated flush suffusing his skin, the tingling in his fingers, face, and toes... the growing tightness in his groin. And Ed was right there, oh shit, Ed.

Al blinked his eyes open for an experimental glance, then hastily squeezed them shut again. Ed was more than attractive; he was radiant. How had he never noticed how compelling, how purely aesthetically attractive Edward was before this? It was boggling how girls weren't falling all over themselves for the opportunity to date him, to kiss those firm, worried lips, to run their hands through his aurelic hair, touch his magnetic skin, there and there...

"This," he said shakily, opening his eyes again, "sucks."

"Oh, you have no idea," Ed agreed immediately, with a heartfelt groan in his voice. Al writhed, under the hospital sheets. Even Ed's voice was vibrant with attraction, expression, vital energy... the subtle vibrato undertones, like having liquid sex poured in your ears... Al gulped, and hastily tried to force his mind elsewhere. Must focus.

"We've got to find some way to fix it," Al said firmly. pushing down a whimper of disappointment at the thought. "I don't know how much use I'll be, at this rate... well, at least you're still clear-headed. I mean, clear-minded. I mean, thinking won't be too hard. I mean..."

"Well, uh, about that," Ed cleared his throat, looking nervous. He was avoiding looking at Al, too, Al noticed, in his guilty surreptitious sideways glances. "Girond... said... well, he said that he designed the array to work both ways. Because he was apparently having some trouble himself, with... well, never mind. But I wouldn't, um... I wouldn't count on me being clear-headed anytime soon either. Or clear-minded, either."

Silence fell between them for a moment, thick with pheromones and doom.

Al swallowed, with difficulty, and reigned in his traitorous emotions. "We can resist this," he said firmly.

"Yeah," Ed agreed hoarsely.

"I mean, we're alchemists. We aren't ruled by the irrational demands of our bodies."

"No way."

"As long as we know what's going on, and resist with all our willpower, we'll be fine."


"I mean, after all we went through to get our bodies back, this is just an inconvenience, right?"


His inspiration ran out. He and Ed stared at each other, for several heartbeats.

It was hard to say which of them moved first. It seemed that Ed's automail hand closed on the front of his hospital gown at the same time his hand tangled in Ed's hair, yanking each other forward to meet halfway in a violent clash of lips and tongues. An electric shock seemed to pass between their mouths, like a plug hitting a socket, and they simultaneously moaned in relief and delight.

He lost himself in trying to devour Ed's mouth, suck on his tongue. Ed tasted like, well, himself, but somehow it was more intoxicating than any taste Al had had the fortune to encounter since becoming human. His arm encircled the back of Ed's neck, crushing him forward. The brush of Ed's damp, silky hair over the bare skin of his arm made him moan with desire; the shocking heat of Ed's skin against his elbow, his lips, his tongue... his eyes fluttered closed in ecstasy, and he panted thickly through the haze.

"You have no fucking idea," Ed was saying, and Al could barely make out the words through the mesmerizing hum of his voice. "No idea how hard the last few hours have been."

"Huh?" Al got out, brilliantly.

"Watching you sleep," Ed mumbled. He tore his lips away from Al, and kissed his way down Al's jaw, finally sucking on his neck. Al trembled, and had to let his head loll back, inviting. "Looking so fucking gorgeous I could kill myself. Did you know, when you sleep, you look like a goddamn fucking angel? Your skin is so soft. Like a baby's. Or a girl's. I tried to let go of your hand, but I couldn't. Hurt too much just to try."

"Brother—" Al managed to focus through the heat, catching only a few words of Ed's tirade. "—-you're the one who sounds like a girl, at least right now."

"Your hair is so soft," Ed went on, as if he hadn't heard at all. Prompted, he rubbed his face against it, sending a shiver down Al's spine. "Fucking gorgeous, that's what it is, like sunbeams, and that little warm flush drove me fucking crazy..."

"Brother, shut up." With difficulty, Al managed to wrench Ed's mouth back around to meet with his. Ed's weird poetic streak was echoing his own line of thought a little too closely; it reminded him of how bizarre this whole situation was, and right now he didn't want to be reminded. He just wanted to kiss Ed, to press their bodies together, long lines of warmth down their front; tangling their hands, their limbs together, rocking, rocking...

Noises at the door of the hospital room, a rattling crash, and then an irate female voice, brought them back to their senses. With a wrenching gasp, they managed to force their lips apart; Al fell back onto the hospital sheets, head hitting the pillow with a thump. Ed sat bolt upright on his chair, hands at his collar, rearranging his shirt into some semblance of decency just before the door swung open and the nurse successfully maneuvered her cart inside.

Ed and Al's secret, unvoiced hope of dismissing the nurse quickly and getting back to their business withered and died as the nurse was followed; first my Maria Ross, then by the Intelligence officer who had charged the mission, and then by Roy Mustang.

Nature had no more effective anti-aphrodisiac than having your commanding officer walk in on you unexpectedly, and Ed cleared his throat loudly as he fought the flush in his cheeks and pushed down the other... visible signs of his arousal. But by the dry raise of Mustang's eyebrow, and the sarcastic twist of his mouth, Ed wasn't entirely sure he'd succeeded.

"Are we interrupting anything?" Mustang asked pleasantly. Ed flushed again, all his efforts at control going to waste.

"No... I was just.... checking on Al," he mumbled.

"A very thorough inspection," Mustang remarked. "That for some reason required you to divest him of his clothes."

"Well... I was... worried!" Ed flailed. "I mean, he had a, he suddenly... He asked me to check on him," he added defensively. Al rapidly nodded corroboration.

"Oh?" Mustang glanced lazily between them. "Is there something wrong that you'd want to report to the nurse, Fullmetal? Alphonse?"

Ed twitched, and mumbled something incoherent. Mustang regarded him steadily for a moment, then shrugged. "I would have thought you'd definitely want treatment from a medical professional, who has somewhat better equipment to offer than a tongue. Ah well."

Ed choked, and Al turned bright red. Fortunately, somehow, both Ross and the nurse missed this little play. As the nurse began a quick check of Al's vital signs, Ross and Mustang settled into the chairs on the other side of the bed. Ed took one glance at the smooth, luminous skin of Al's chest that revealed, made a strangled squeaking noise, and whirled around so rapidly on the bedside stool that he almost fell off.

"All of Girond's victims have been accounted for," Mustang reported, as the nurse ran her checks. "We found another in a coma, another amnesiac, and two who had apparently escaped his captivity but were unwilling to go to the police—out of what was, apparently, embarrassment." He cleared his throat.

"One of them had apparently taken refuge at a convent," Ross added, at a pause in Mustang's speech.

"However, not everyone was equally... affected... by Girond's array," Mustang continued. "Hopefully, your brother will be one of the luckier ones. I'll stop by again, Fullmetal, when I have more news to report; but in the meantime, there are matters I must attend to."

Ed couldn't say he was sorry to see him go, even if it did leave them alone with the terrifying nurse, and temptation. Though not, thankfully, both in one person.

"Hmmm," the nurse said to Al, scribbling something down on a chart. "You're blood pressure's a little high, lovie. And you have a bit of a fever. Anything else feel wrong, right now? Anyplace that feels, hot, or swollen, or tender?"

"Not... anything I'd complain about, no," Alphonse choked out. The nurse made a few tsking noises, then shook her head.

"Well, until the blood tests come back, there's nothing more we can do for him right now," she announced to Ed. "But we'll need to keep him under continuous observation over the next few days."

Dismay surged through Ed, and he shot his glance over to see an equal look of dismay on Al's face.

"Um, I don't need," Al began, but Ed quickly overruled him. "Er, I could do that."

The nurse's eyebrows show up, and she gave a suspicious sniff. "Dearie, I'm sure you could, but you aren't a trained medical professional."

"But I am an alchemical expert," Ed explained eagerly. "And since my brother's... injuries are alchemically inflicted, I can't think of anyone better than myself to monitor his condition, or to intervene if necessary." He did his best to sound grown-up, competent, and most importantly, authoritative.

He wasn't entirely sure how well he succeeded, given the way the nurse's lips pursed, but at least she relented. "Well... all right, if you insist. But he'll still need checkups from licensed medical personnel regularly, do you hear me? And whatever you do," her face turned stern and forbidding, "don't let him get out of that bed!"

"Ma'am," Ed promised her, "I'll do my very best."

The hospital door, once closed, proved remarkably soundproof. There were curtains on the inside of the observation window, which could render it opaque from the outside. Housekeeping came by every few hours to change the sheets on the hospital bed. And to add the crowning touch, the cabinets lining the far side of the little room yielded up an ample supply of both latex gloves and lube.

The world, Edward suspected, was definitely conspiring. Whether it was conspiring against him, or in his favor, he hadn't quite worked out yet, but it was definitely conspiring.

The brothers stared at each other across the hospital bed's rails, at an impasse. Finally, Ed's nerve broke, and so did the stalemate.

"We can't do this," he observed sadly.

"I know," Al agreed, miserably.

"We're brothers," Ed observed, unnecessarily.

"I know," Al sighed tiredly.

"I mean... that would be just about every kind of bad there is, you know? Not just incest, but homosexual incest? With my little brother, for Christ's sake, it's just not right. I shouldn't be getting all hot and brothered over my little brother, alchemy or no alchemy," Ed admitted unwisely.

"You're right," Al said woodenly. "....wait, hot and what?"

"It's the worst," Ed repeated obsessively.

"The absolute worst," Al agreed superlatively.

"It's been taboo for, for forever. Every culture's got some variation on it. It's inborn, isn't it? There's gotta be a good, scientific reason for it. Incest is bad for the gene pool. Makes two-headed babies, and all that. And homosexuality, I mean, well, what can you say. It's unnatural, that's all there is to it, it's wrong." Ed eyed the hospital bed. Was it just his imagination, or was this thing adjustable?

A glum silence fell between them. Al's hands picked at the edge of the sheets.

"On the other hand..." Al forced out, with great effort. "That... I mean... the incest thing doesn't really apply, does it? Since we're both boys... we wouldn't be having babies anyway... so the gene pool... I mean wouldn't..."

Ed stared at him for a long moment, trying to process the words. Al wilted.

"It was just a thought..." he mumbled.

"Okay," Ed said.

"I mean, I... what?" Al looked blank.

Ed didn't stop for a longer explanation. He lunged across the bed, overturning the side-tray on the way, and his mouth met Al's halfway there. The heat and urgency of his kiss, and the hands clumsily pawing at the neck of Al's hospital gown, was apparently explanation enough.

For long moments they merely grappled with each other, purposeless instinctive movements driven by mutual need, but finally Ed began to come to some semblance of a rhythm. He, at least had some idea of what he was about; his magazines and pictures, oh-so-carefully hidden from his innocent little brother's prying eyes, had given him a lot better idea of how sex between men was supposed to work than sex between men and women.

Rolling on top of Al, centering on him, he lined up their groins and began to thrust, carefully. Al groaned, underneath him, sweet music to his ears. After a moment he managed to pause in this hypnotic activity long enough to reach down between them and yank open his pants and underwear, releasing his hardened member blessed freedom. Thrust again. Oh, that was much nicer. Sweet friction, heat, the rolling rhythmic movements. What could possibly better?

Well, maybe...

"I want to fuck you," he whispered against Al's lips, hands roving ceaselessly over Al's arms and chest. With great difficulty, he tore himself panting away from Al's face and began to wriggle downward, laying feverish open-mouthed kisses against the thin hospital gown all the way. He abandoned the assault on Al's clothes for above, instead diving down to cleverly undermine the target from below, running his flesh and metal palms up the side of Al's legs to knead his ass.

"How come you just assume you're going to be the one to fuck me?" Al demanded irascibly, although the effect was somewhat spoiled by his ecstatic writhing under Ed's mouth and hands. "How come I don't get to—ungh!—fuck you? You th-think that just because I was the one in the array, I'm gonna be the, uh, uhn, woman here?"

"Brat, it's cause I'm the older brother and I say so," Ed snarled, muffled around a mouthful of Al's clothes. Finally, after much trial and error, he managed to sink his teeth into the offending garment and yank it away from Al's skin, spitting it off to the side and out of the way. Al's cock was revealed beneath, bobbing up in all its red-flushed, vein-pulsing, madly twitching glory; Ed's eyes devoured the sight and holy fuck, he didn't think he'd ever drooled so hard in his life.

Al started to raise his head again, for some further insult or argument, but this time Ed got the jump on him; dropped his head down and ran his tongue up the underside of Al's cock. Al shouted something unintelligible, head dropping back onto the pillow and hips thrusting urgently into the air. Ed grinned fiercely, at the effect, and grabbing Al's ass with both hands, pulled himself up high enough to take Al's cock in his mouth.

"Because," he mumbled around his mouthful, carefully keeping his teeth clear, "I say so."

A moment's pause, and then a mumbled, breathless, "Okay," came from the head of the bed. Ed laughed in victory, and nearly choked. He hastily lifted his head, which provoked a heart-breaking and cock-stirring whimper of protest, and began kissing his way up Al's stomach again.

"Don't worry, I'll take care of you," he whispered, voice roughened by lust. Al wrapped his legs obligingly around Ed's torso, digging his heels into Ed's back and thrusting his groin insistently into Ed's. "I've read books about this sorta thing, I've got it all covered, there's lube over in the cabinet in the corner. I'm gonna screw you so hard..."

"Wait, wait, Brother," Al was saying, chiming over Ed's monologue, and Ed stumbled to a confused halt. Al was biting his lip, sweat trickling down his face and neck, and looked... strained. "We have a problem."

"What problem?" Ed said, trying to work on this with a brain that was slowly steaming into mush.

"The lube is in the cabinet in the corner."

"....shit." The difficulties this posed were obvious; the thought of tearing himself away from Al's enticing, addicting skin, and going all the way across the room was a journey of Odyssean proportions. For a moment Ed entertained the thought of skipping the lube—Al would kill him—or skipping the fucking—hell, he'd kill himself. Decisions, decisions.

But the Fullmetal Alchemist was not called a prodigy for nothing; after a few moments of mindless, confused rubbing, a solution presented itself in Ed's mind. "I know," he said breathlessly, yanking upwards and tugging on Al's shoulders, "you just hold onto me... keep your legs around my waist, and we'll both go over there." He finished with his idea and smiled triumphantly.

Al did not seem convinced. "Brother! You promised you would keep me in bed!"

"Oh, well, this still counts, as bed, I mean, it does..." Ed trailed off weakly. Al was glaring up at him, blazing bronze eyes in a hectic flush of aroused color, and Ed felt his self-control crumbling. "Dammit, Al..."

"What if the nurse comes in and sees me out of bed?" Al demanded, most unfairly, Ed thought.

"If the nurse comes in I think we'll have other problems, Al!"

Al still glared. "You're the one who wants the lube," he panted out. "YOU go get it."

"No, YOU'RE the one who's going to want it," Ed grumbled, but his brother's expression promised death and even more dire consequences—like abstinence—- if he didn't get his ass in gear. Slowly, painfully, he pulled away from Al's entirely hypocritical grip; his skin cried out in loss as it tasted cold hospital air instead of warm, sweaty flesh. Damn, damn he just had to get this over with as soon as possible.

He slid hurriedly from the bed, fly still wide open and painfully hard member hanging out, and very nearly tripped over his own pant legs for what would have been a disastrous meeting with the floor. Muttering curses under his breath, he hopped the interminable few steps across the room to the cabinet, which he wrestled open with clumsy hands. He banged the edge of the cabinet door into his nose, saw stars, and had to blink away tears before he could focus on the contents.

There was the lube, thank god, and the gloves. Did he need the gloves? They didn't have any condoms, well not that Al was going to pregnant, and not like either of them had diseases, but still, it would make concealment and cleanup easier later and...

"Brother?" Al's voice sounded sweetly from the bed, and Ed's head wrenched involuntarily to the sound of his voice. Al was sitting up in the bed, amidst a sprawl of tangled sheets; his hospital gown was falling down off his shoulders, revealing pale soft skin and vivid red marks that Ed didn't even remember leaving there. It gaped open around the hips, too, revealing two long, slender legs, and...

Al pouted. "Are you coming?" he asked, and Ed nearly did.

Ed had no idea how he got back across the room. Maybe he had grown wings. But at least he still remembered the lube, nearly crushed in his automail hand.

He crashed into the bed and Al again, nearly crushing his little brother under automail limbs before he shifted them off to the side with a breathless apology. Al just smiled up at him, smoothing one hand up Ed's left arm and thrusting hopefully upward again with his hips. Ed took the hint, and also Al.

He ended up getting more lube on Al than in him, due to a parasitic inability to stop running his hands over his brother's body long enough to prepare him properly. Al could not stop breathlessly laughing, except when touches to his cock or his ass made him gasp and moan in a most enticing fashion.

The giggling annoyed him for some obscure reason, though he couldn't bring himself to really be angry at Al at a time like this. But he was far more satisfied, and more than a little smug, when his two careful fingers in Al's ass found just the right angle to turn all Al's noises into ecstatic, throaty shouts. Ed grinned triumph, withdrew his hand and wiped it—shakily—on the bedsheets.

He had no idea from what Herculean store of self-control he had managed not to embarass himself prematurely in all this liquid sex, for all the frenzied half-conscious rubbing his right hand had been doing while his left was occupied. It was some bizarre side-effect of the array, maybe, not only inducing him to have sex with Al but also limiting his options to, in fact, sex with Al. It was a deeply worrying thought and one he resolved to give all due consideration and attention. Later.

He pulled Al up on the bed, his brother's thighs wrapped around his own hips, and after one more heated desperate look at his brother's eyes-closed, open-mouthed expression, began to push his way in.

Much later, he revised.

He thought he ought to give Al time to adjust; he certainly needed time himself, but All began to wriggle and call for him to thrust well before he would have thought. Without too much coaxing, he hitched his brother's hips up higher and began to push in, finding the same rolling rhythm from before. The flights of poetry from earlier had vanished in the heat of the moment—thank god—but it occurred to him, looking down over his brother's body, that he'd never seen anyone—or any thing—- quite so beautiful as this.

It also occurred to him to check if the bed really was adjustable. If so, it could save them a whole wealth of pains.

His climax, when it came, was almost an anticlimax; a burst of white light that flooded his spine, locked his limbs in place while he shuddered with release. When it let him go, he collapsed panting on his brother's stomach, still buried tightly inside him. Floating and giddy, like he'd just snuck some alcohol.

It was Al's incessant scrabbling and whining that finally stirred him again, to shift out of Al's body with a pained hiss for both of them, and groggily take Al's much neglected cock in hand (and mouth) again. Warned by Al's increasingly strangled yelps, Ed managed to successfully avoid having his brother come in his mouth, though he did make up for it by nearly coming in Ed's eyes.

"Fuck," Ed panted, as he crawled shakily up the hospital bed to flop down next to his brother. "All that, and I'm still horny. Shit, how long do you think this damn array is supposed to last?" Already, running a hand over his brother's sweat—and come-dampened chest, he could feel the first stirrings of interest returning, and his breath quickened with anticipation. And dread. "We really are going to have to figure out a way to get rid of this."

"Mmmm." Al sounded vaguely agreeing, vaguely muzzy. "But not just yet."

"Why not?"

His brother abruptly rolled on top of him, pinning Ed's limbs down with greater skill, if not greater weight, and grinned down on him. "Because," he said a touch maliciously. "It's my turn to top next. I hope you saved some of that lube, Brother."

The bed, as it turned out, really was adjustable.

Fortunately, Al was discharged from the hospital after a few days with orders of strict bed rest and house arrest with which he was only too happy to comply. Less fortunately, Ed was not excused from his duties for the next few weeks to take care of him.

He ran late to work pretty much constantly as a result of the brothers' subsequent efforts to christen every single room in their house with the name of an independent sex act. They ran out of rooms before running out of invention, and were now starting on the major appliances.

"We really," Ed panted, kissing his way across Al's chest one sunny afternoon, "really need to get working on a cure for this array, Al."

"Uh huh," a distracted Al agreed. "Pass the lube, Brother."

At the end of the second week, apparently giving up on forcing Ed to come into work on time, Mustang came around to their house instead. Fortunately, he caught them in a rare moment of quiet and also clothing, so they were able to greet him sociably enough.

"I just came around to let you know," Mustang said, glancing from one brother to the other, "that Girond's military tribunal will begin next week, and Fullmetal, you are expected and required to attend. Alphonse, you may accompany him if you like, as your testimony in front of the jury will be required to make the charges of assault, unapproved and unsafe modification of human beings, and aggravated sexual harassment stick."

Al frowned, going over the list in his head. "Wait, adjustment? Not transmutation? And why not aggravated assault? Didn't he put those poor women into comas?"

"Ah, but the effects were only temporary, so legally it only counts as a chemical adjustment." He returned their blank looks with one of surprise. "Hadn't you heard? But of course, you ran spectacularly late to that briefing."

His sarcasm withered, and Ed reddened and cleared his throat. "Heard what?" he asked, and suppressed a cough.

"All of the victims recovered to a normal or near-normal state within a week of their transmutation. The last one woke up with no ill effects last week. Apparently, the alchemical modification was only intended to last a few days."

"A few days?" Al choked out. He and Ed exchanged a suffused look.

"Indeed. According to his own testimony, Girond intended to play the field, or as he put it, 'have the run of the stables.'" Roy's voice was dry with disapproval. "In fact, he was encountering difficulty in causing an altered chemical state that would last more than a few hours, before the body's natural homeostasis kicked in."

"Ah," Ed said awkwardly, "ah. Oh, well..."

"Colonel," Al broke in, "does that mean I can come with Brother to the whole trial? Because honestly, I feel fine, and unless there are any long-lasting side-effects you haven't told us about..." He trailed off invitingly.

"None at all that we've encountered so far, unless you've experienced bouts of amnesia that you hadn't reported to your doctor." Al shook his head at Mustang's inquiring look, and the older man shrugged. "Then I can see no reason why not. Perhaps with your added presence as incentive, Fullmetal will not run so very reliably late. The predictability of the routine is getting boring. I look forward to some variety in my life again."

Standing, Mustang offered a handshake, which only Al accepted, and let himself out. That left the brothers, staring at each other across the coffee table which had been next on their list, alphabetically, after the bureau.

"Well," Ed said.

"Well," said Al.

"I, uh, guess this means we don't have to be looking for a cure for the array after all?" Ed offered, sheepishly, after a minute.

"No..." Al said slowly. "It looks like we'd have to find a cure for nature."

A silence fell between them, as they each tried to work out the implications of this discovery.

"Well," Al said at last, again, "I just want you to know that I blame you for corrupting me, Brother."

"Me?" Ed said indignantly. "Who was all over who in the hospital bed? Seems to me like you were the one who made the first move!"

"Yes, but I wouldn't have known what to do if not for those dirty magazines you kept in our bedroom," Al shot back.

"Yeah, well... hey! You weren't supposed to know about those!" Ed sputtered, turning red. "And what were you doing going through my underwear drawer anyway, huh? Pervert."

"Looking for my underwear that you'd stolen, and what did you want with it in the first place? Pervert yourself!"

"I didn't—-! You—-!" Ed flailed around for a suitably stinging retort, face going beet red. "Oh, fuck this, Al, this whole conversation is making me really horny. Can't we just go back to what we were doing before?"

"Yeah, me too," Al admitted, and the coffee table did get its christening after all.

Sometime later, though, when the silence had returned between them, Al sighed, staring up at their ceiling, and said; "We can't ignore the outside world forever, Brother. Sooner or later we're going to have to leave this hourse."

"That's true," Ed said glumly. He traced one finger along Al's bare shoulder, and then brightened. "Well," he said, "on the bright side, there's a whole lot more rooms at Central HQ to try out. If we can get everyone to clear out..."

Al laughed.