A Matter of Trust

He knew the Rockbell kitchen well enough by now that he could navigate it one-handed—which, fortunately, he didn't have to do right now—and in the dark. Just enough light filtered in through the kitchen windows to show up dim outlines, and that was all he needed to sneak over to the cupboards and open them quietly, rummaging around for something to tide him over till morning.

"It seems there's a prowler in the kitchen," came a voice out of the darkness.

Ed jerked, banged his head against the cupboard door, bit down on his tongue and a curse and whirled around. He recognized that voice, and he had not been looking forward to seeing the owner of it.

There was a snap in the darkness, and a flare of light quickly resolved itself into a candle at the end of the table. Roy Mustang was seated facing him, elbows folded on the table and looking quite comfortably settled.

"Colonel, uh, how long have you been here?" he blurted, and immediately cursed his lack of guile. Oh no, that didn't sound suspicious or guilty at all. "What are you doing here, anyway?" he accused.

Mustang ignored both of his questions, lacing his gloved fingers together and watching him over the top of them. The light played off him, glinting on the points of metal on his uniform and leaving the rest cast in ambiguous shadow. "You didn't come in for dinner," he commented.

Ed shifted, and then leaned back against the counter. He didn't want to talk to Roy; he'd skipped out on dinner for that very reason. But apparently his commanding officer had seen through the maneuver, and laid an ambush for him in the kitchen. "Yeah, well, I had stuff to do," he said noncommittally.

"Such as?"

He sputtered a bit, trying to come up with a good excuse, before managing "That's none of your business."

Roy studied him without a word, and Ed gripped the edge of the counter behind him with both hands. The flickering candlelight only illuminated half of Roy's features, throwing his expressionless visage into relief. But his eyes, his eyes were pools of shadow—and damn those eyes, the way they made him feel, scared and belligerent and excited all at once.

He couldn't afford this. Not now. Not any more.

"I believe, Fullmetal, that we need to have a talk," Roy said quietly.

Ed set his jaw. The use of his title, in combination with that commanding tone, did not encourage objection. "Not now," he said.

"Now," Roy said firmly. "It's taken me this long to corner you once. I'm sure if I let you go, you'll find some other devious place to escape to come morning."

Uneasily, Ed glanced at the ceiling. Roy's men were all camped outside, but there was still Winry and Pinako and Al all sleeping. Or in Al's case, not sleeping. Ed most definitely did not want them to overhear what he and Roy had to say to each other. "I don't wanna wake anyone up." There was almost certainly going to be yelling involved.

Roy lowered his hands. "Then let us go to a place where we won't disturb them," he said.

"Fine," Ed snapped, and reluctantly abandoned the plan of escape. After thinking for a moment, he pushed away from the counter and headed for the hallway. Roy unfolded from his seat with a consummate grace, and followed.

Down the hall, to the left, and down to the end of the hall, in the wing of the house not usually used for residential purposes. Ed transmuted the lock on the door open with barely a tremor of guilt; he could fix before anyone could come and find it in the morning. And it wasn't as if he hadn't been in here before, after all.

He found the lights as Roy followed him in, but didn't turn them all the way on; only enough to illuminate the room with a pale white glow. Roy closed the door behind him without being told, and raised an eyebrow at the surroundings. "Here?" he said skeptically.

Ed shrugged. "It's as good as any other place," he said. "It's away from the bedrooms, and it's soundproofed, at least mostly. Can't have unexpected noises disturbing you in the middle of surgery, after all. Nobody will hear us here."

Roy's eyes were on him again, giving Ed that itching, squirming sensation in his guts and heat in his face; to shake it off, he looked away and walked around the familiar room. "I got my automail here," he said, rather unnecessarily, voice meditative.

The operating theater filled him with an odd mixture of nostalgia and discomfort. He'd come here every day, for a while; it was homey. Filled with memories of unbearable pain, but homey. Nothing looked different from how it had five years ago, really. The lights, the table, the standing trays; the counters covered in surgical instruments, the cupboards stuffed with automail parts.

He completed his circuit, coming back to stand in front of Roy, and finally managed to look his superior officer in the eye. "So what did you want to talk about, Colonel?" he said, in a challenging, guarded tone.

He was only partly surprised when in answer, Roy's hands landed on his shoulders, yanking him near and in position for Roy to dive down for a kiss. His lips met the Colonel's, the velvet heat overtook him, and he was lost. As he always was.

How he'd gotten himself into this unbelievable affair with the Colonel, Ed still wasn't sure, but he'd never regretted it. Well, that wasn't quite true; he'd often cursed the Colonel's name and his own foolishness the next day, or the next week, when tiredness or soreness ate at him or thoughts of Roy's mouth and body and eyes plagued him when his mind was supposed to be on business.

But all that melted away under the force of Roy's attention now; and while consciously he knew it had only been a few weeks since the last time, so much had happened since then, so much had changed. So much was different, and he could feel the watchful tension in the kiss... in both of their kisses, that they couldn't ignore.

I can't afford to lose myself now. Not even to Roy. Too much... there's too much at stake.

Too much to lose.

But one thing was for certain; he'd rather do this with Roy than answer his damned inquisition. It was bad enough that Al couldn't keep his metaphorical mouth shut—he'd nearly blown everything, all their secrets there by the river—without Ed slipping up and finishing the job.

Perhaps Roy felt the reservation in his kiss, because he ended it a moment later; Edward had to grab the man's jacket collar and yank him back down to reclaim it.

"Is this what you meant by 'talking'?" Ed said breathlessly, even as he struggled fruitlessly with the catches on Roy's uniform. Roy wasn't being particularly helpful, pushing Ed's hands aside impatiently to attend to the younger man's clothes instead.

"No. I meant talking," Roy replied, jerking open Ed's shirt and pulling it over his arms in a brisk manner. Working it off occupied his hands for a moment, and it was enough to give Roy time to undo his belt buckle and yank the belt free. "But first things first."

A draft of cold air hit Ed's skin, and he realized that he was losing his clothes and protection a lot faster than Roy, who barely had his collar undone. He reached for Roy, opening his mouth to protest, but Roy swiftly grabbed his hands, flesh and automail both, and held them up and away as he kissed Ed senseless again.

Slowly, Ed let the fight drain out of him. The kiss was hot, powerful, domineering; Ed suspected that was going to be the theme for the evening. Roy had something in mind, and Ed had long since learned that there was no point in fighting with him over it. Roy was—damn him—far more experienced at this sort of thing, and going along with him pretty much guaranteed a mind-blowing climax.

The double standard bothered him, a little. A lot. That he would willingly give in to Roy on this most intimate of levels when he fought so hard to maintain his autonomy, his safe distance in everything else was something he preferred not to think about most of the time. And when he was with Roy, he quickly found that he didn't have to think about anything at all.

So, with willingness if not with grace, he allowed Roy to take charge; stepped obediently out of his pants when Roy guided him, then his underwear. Completely naked, it was hard to say what more made his hair stand on end and his skin shiver; the cold air of the room, or Roy's eyes moving appreciatively up and down over his body.

"Aren't you gonna get undressed?" he asked, his voice slightly unsteady despite his attempts at nonchalance. Roy's hands, gloveless, slid down over his shoulders and arms to his flanks, pressing hard enough to leave marks; but although they left heat in the wake of their passage, Ed only shivered more.

Roy smiled. "In due time," he said. "Turn around."

Swallowing slightly, Ed did. He was not surprised at all when Roy took hold of his wrists and brought them behind his back, tucking his forearms so that each hand touched the opposite elbow. For a moment, Roy just held him there, and Ed swallowed again, harder, as the position—the possession—- sent an undeniable flush of heat down his stomach.

"Tonight," Roy breathed in his ear, tickling the hairs on the back of his neck, "there will be no safe word. Do you understand?"

He paused, expectantly, and Ed tried to think over the pounding of his heart. They'd always had a safe word in their play before, although Ed had only used it once, the first time, to be sure that Roy really would. Since then, though, he'd scorned them; no matter the temptation, he was determined to tough it out rather than cry uncle. What could Roy have in mind, that was bad enough that he didn't want to risk Ed chickening out on him?

Ed took hold of his thoughts with a stern jerk. He was no girl, to break with a little rough handling. Roy wasn't going to kill him, or otherwise cripple him; he could have done that just as easily back at the river. And for anything else... well, for anything else he'd be fine. He nodded.

"Good." Roy kissed his left shoulder, at the junction of shoulder and neck, then pulled his crossed arms up behind his back. Roy shifted behind him, and Ed heard him fumbling with something over to the side. His hands returned, and began winding his arms in firm, cool straps of what felt like smooth leather.

Ed couldn't help but start slightly, not at being restrained but at the familiarity of the restraints themselves. They were the straps that Winry and Pinako used to restrain the working limb to the table, to keep a patient from jerking around and causing damage to themselves during the operation process. Ed knew from experience just how strong they were, but he couldn't keep from inhaling sharply, when Roy finished off the last loop, and flexing his arms against them.

Roy's hands slid up his arms, over his shoulders, and then ran down his front; Ed blew out his breath suddenly, going up on his toes involuntarily when that searing touch brushed low over his stomach. Roy took pity on his unspoken request, and closed his hand over Ed's stiffening cock to give it a slow, satisfying stroke.

A hiss escaped Ed's clenched teeth. This room was soundproofed, yes, but habit forced him to be as quiet as possible. It was something Roy took as a challenge, he knew; to force him to let go of his reserve and shout the roof down. That certainly seemed to be Roy's aim from the way he teased him, cool fingers playing with the head of his cock before covering it with the heat of his palm again. Ed had to bite down on his lip to quiet the moan that wanted to escape him then.

All too soon, though, Roy was letting go of him and stepping back; Ed sagged in relief and disappointment. "Come on," Roy said, taking hold of his upper arm and tugging him along. Ed braced himself, and followed.

Roy led him to the table, which was just what Ed had been afraid of; nevertheless he allowed Roy to help him climb onto it—no easy feat with his hands tied behind his back—and balance, kneeling, on the end. His only relief was that Roy hadn't tried to force him to lie down on the table. That would have been just too weird.

He might have liked to protest when Roy's hands forced his knees to spread, almost to the edges of the table, and threaded the straps at the edge of the table behind his knees to secure him firmly in place. He might have, but he couldn't find the words.

There are no safe words. Not tonight.

Finished with the restraints, Roy looked up to meet his eyes, and smiled at him. It was a compelling smile, as dangerous as it was exciting, and Ed almost forgot to be irritated that even with him kneeling on top of the table like this, they were almost exactly eye to eye. "So are you going to get naked already," he said, to try and shake off the compelling gaze. "Are you going to fuck me or are you just going to look?"

Roy only smiled wider, and his hands caressed Ed's out-spread thighs, before giving him a pat on the hip and moving away. "Not quite yet," he said.

To Ed's confusion and frustration, he moved away again, this time circling behind the table. Ed craned his neck to try and follow his progress, but that only gave him a crick in his shoulder, so with a muttered curse he had to try and turn straight to work it out.

Without warning, something dropped over his eyes from behind. "Hey, what're you—" he exclaimed, starting forward, but Roy's hands just took ahold of his head and held it in place while he continued wrapping layers of what felt like bandages around Ed's eyes. Ed sighed and resigned himself, closing his eyes so Roy could pull the gauzy material firmly against his skin. "Have you got some kind of medical fetish?" he complained, and heard Roy's chuckle.

"Just making do with what's available," Roy said smoothly, and Ed scowled. He didn't particularly like blindfolds; he couldn't see what Roy was up to, where the bastard was, what he was planning to do next, and was left waiting in the dark winding tighter with anticipation. Unfortunately for him, Roy loved them, for the very same reasons.

Ed sighed. Well, now that he was thoroughly trussed up like a turkey and blindfolded, Roy ought to be satisfied. He was expecting at least some more kisses or petting to follow this step, so he was disconcerted when Roy stepped away, instead, leaving him waiting.

Nervously, he tilted his head this way and that, trying to pinpoint Roy's location by sound. There was some rustling, ahead of him—or was that to his right?—and something clinked quietly. He thought he heard some cabinet doors open and close quietly, which definitely did not reassure him, and more rustling. Then, the unmistakable sound of an alchemical reaction.

Fuck, that couldn't be anything good. Ed bit his lip, and tensed his arms against the straps. Just in case Roy was up to something really weird, he wanted to have an emergency plan handy.

Unfortunately, although he was strong, the straps were designed with the power of automail in mind, and they held firm. Ed forced himself to relax, instead, and wait for new developments.

"You don't trust me," Roy said, voice right next to his ear. Ed nearly bit his tongue off.

"What the hell!" he yelled, as he tried to get his racing heart back under control. Roy stroked one hand down his back, drawing through the sheen of sweat that was beginning to grow on his skin. Then stepped away again, leaving Ed bereft. "Don't sneak up on me like that, you bastard!"

"It bothers me quite a bit," Roy went on, ignoring Ed as though he hadn't spoken, "why you don't."

"I do trust you," Ed said, almost under his breath, "d'you think I let my enemies strip me naked and tie me up?"

"Yes, it's a mystery," Roy agreed smoothly, now from somewhere to his right. "You'll trust me with your body, with your pleasure... even with your life."

Edward shivered. That damn double standard; so Roy had noticed it too. Roy continued. "But there's still so much you hold back from me. Things you consider more important than your body—than even your life."

"Like what?" Ed said cautiously. He didn't really like where this conversation was going.

"Like your brother."

Ed tensed up immediately, all his defenses brought back on the alert. "What does Al have to do with this?!"

"I'm not a fool, Edward," Roy said, footsteps coming back in front of him. He heard several unidentified objects hitting the table beside him. "I've known you long enough to know how you operate. Your brother has everything to do with this. If there's something you're trying to protect from me, it has to do with him."

Ed started to protest, to come up with some likely excuse, but before he could, a splash of searing cold his his chest and made him gasp. "What—"

Drops of the icy liquid ran down his torso, cutting tracts in the glowing heat of his skin. The smell hit his nose a few seconds later, telling him what his eyes couldn't: alcohol. "Fuck, you really do have a medical fetish, don't you?"

"Or maybe you do," Roy said smugly, following the declaration with another cold splash on his belly that made him shiver or curse. "You certainly seem to be enjoying this."

Ed would have liked to protest that his reaction had nothing to do with the medical setting, when Roy's hand closed on his erection again—wet with the icy sting of alcohol, damn him!—- and transformed his voice into a guttural moan. He couldn't keep from thrusting forward desperately, despite the strain it put on his thighs—it had been weeks, and he was only sixteen, and that was it Roy was officially inhuman. "You're a sadist," he accused instead, voice tight and strained.

"Mmmm." Roy didn't bother to deny this, but his hair—soft and ticklish and hot in the wake of the quickly evaporating alcohol—brushed over Ed's chest, and a moment later his mouth closed over Ed's nipple.

Ed gasped and whined, and barely managed to bite back a more vocal shout. His hands clenched behind his back, and his hips jerked. He never would have imagined, experimenting on himself when he masturbated, that his nipples could be so sensitive; that was a girl thing, wasn't it?

Apparently not, or at least not when it was Roy doing it; the heat and suction, and the daring scrape of Roy's teeth over the tip, seemed to set up a fiery circuit between his chest and his groin. Ed's head swam with the dual sensation, and he didn't think he could have seen straight even with the blindfold off.

Just as he was beginning to tense up, body reaching for the edge of orgasm, Roy withdrew both mouth and hand, leaving Ed gasping and desperate.

He said a couple of uncomplimentary things about Roy's ancestry which he couldn't quite remember later, but it only made Roy laugh. "You must have been a terrible patient," Roy said.

Ed would have blinked, if he could, at this sudden non sequitor. "What makes you think that?" he grumbled.

"Just a guess, knowing you. Your stubborn pig-headedness, for one thing. Your foul mouth, for another, although I suppose you might tone that down around your family—"

"Ha," Ed said. "Not likely. Gramma Pinako taught me all the swear words I know."

"Really? Quite a formidable lady," Roy said idly. "And last but not least, your unwillingness to take your medicine."

Ed gasped; Roy's hand was resting idly on his other nipple, tweaking it between finger and thumb and sending trails of sensation down his side that made him whine and writhe. "I'm n—not that bad to my doctors," he got out, in his defense.

"Is that so," Roy said, and withdrew his hand. Ed held his breath, suddenly worried that he might have offended Roy, although he didn't sound upset. "In that case, perhaps it would help if you thought of me as Doctor Mustang."

"You really do have a medical feti—" Ed began, but choked off when the alcohol returned, this time bringing an icy burn to his right nipple. "Aahhh—Well for one thing my doctors don't fuckin' blindfold me!"

"I thought it would be easier for you," Roy said seriously, and then there was a soft something rubbing briskly at his nipple, where the alcohol had passed.

A sudden spike of anxiety went through Edward's head, just then. Because alcohol by itself was one thing, but alcohol plus cotton meant—The hand and the cotton disappeared, and there was a slight clink as Roy picked something off the table. "Wai, wait Roy," he gasped out, as anxiety threatened to turn into panic. "What are you do—"

Before he could finish, an excruciating pain shot through his chest. He really did scream, this time, before he could brace himself against it. For an instant, the pain filled his universe, turning the blackness behind his eyes red; for a moment he was sent backwards in time, to other days of this room, this table, with needles biting his flesh, seeking out his nerves...

Then he came back to himself, gasping for breath, the taste of copper still faintly on his tongue. He was shuddering faintly, and he leaned gratefully into the hands on his shoulders that were supporting him, moving in soothing caresses over his skin.

"Even now you trust me," Roy murmured, the words barely penetrating the fog over his brain. "Even if I cause you pain, you trust me with your body, with your life, but not with your secrets. Not with your dreams. Not with your soul."

Ed gasped for breath. His nipple was burning like a small sun, sending arcing roots of pain in all directions; down his stomach to his groin, up through his armpit to his automail. He ought to be angry with Roy, he knew, ought to be struggling free and ripping the man's head off, but he couldn't bear to pull away from the comforting hands. "What reason have I got to trust you?" he said hoarsely. "You hid stuff from us. Stuff we needed to know. All you do is make trouble for us, use us for your own ambitions... How am I supposed to trust you?"

"Trust me," Roy repeated, stressing the word, even as his hands began to caress lower on Ed's body, "as you would your doctors, Ed. That even if I do things to you—both of you—that are unpleasant, I have your best interests in mind. Trust that I do care about you, Edward, and that even if I hurt you, it's only so that I can help you in the end."

Ed made a rude noise. Roy sighed, and in the next moment Ed's breath caught as Roy's skillful hands found his flagging erection.

Within moments, pleasure and pain began warring for dominance, with his body as the battlefield. It was strange, but arousal seemed to be mating with endorphins, and—it wasn't that he hurt any less, but somehow it didn't bother him as much. In fact, it was even starting to feel—not that bad. No more painful than bruises or scrapes he got while sparring with Al, just... more.

"And like a doctor," Roy said, even as his hands continued to drive Ed slowly insane, "I can't help you if you don't come to me. Or if you don't tell me what's wrong. I want to help you, Ed, but I can't, not if you won't tell me what's wrong with Al."

"I can't," Ed gasped, terror spiking in him again at the thought of anything happening to Al, anything happening because he couldn't keep his mouth shut. "It's too big, it's too bad—I can't tell anyone, not even you, please don't make me tell you—"

Roy's hands were busy, so it was his mouth that sealed over Ed's, cutting off his words. The kiss was not gentle, but it silenced him effectively, even when Roy pulled away.

"I didn't ask you to tell me," Roy said, his voice mild but stern despite that. "This isn't an interrogation, Edward, and I'm not trying to torture information out of you."

"Then what is it?" Ed asked, completely scattered. "...punishment?"

Roy sighed again. "Not that, either," he said. "Merely—a demonstration."

"Of what?"

Roy didn't answer, but that was just as well, because Ed was finding it harder and harder to hold onto coherence. He wanted to come, needed to—he'd come close to the edge once that night already, and it was harder and harder to hold onto his self control. "Roy—" he found himself gasping. "I'm—I'm going to—"


—that inveterate sadist


He muffled Ed's protests with his mouth, and his lips lingered almost apologetically even as Ed squirmed desperately, seeking just a little bit of friction, just a little more stimulation—

He jumped at the feel of alcohol poured over his left nipple, too, quickly followed by the scrub of cotton. "Oh, no," he gasped. "Roy, don't—don't you dare—stop!" He frantically cast his mind back for the safeword, the words he could say to make this end... before remembering too late that there were none. That this was not an interrogation, and there were no right words he could say to make it stop.

"Trust me," Roy said, and the needle went in.

He'd been expecting it to hurt, and it did. But he hadn't expected it to feel so good, as well. The sharpness of the needle hit him like an electric jolt, flooding his already endorphin-soaked systems and overloading all his nerves. Roy touched his straining cock, just once, and that light touch was all it took; he jerked, and came hard, all over Roy's hand.

Things went rather fuzzy for a few minutes, floating in a cloud of bliss as he slumped into Roy's supporting hands. He didn't even object when Roy pushed him backwards, easing him flat on the table—Well, almost flat, since his hands were still tied behind his back. His thighs and knees began to protest the position almost immediately, but Roy leaned over and loosened the straps, allowing him to pull Ed's feet out from under him and straighten his legs out more comfortably.

There was a tug at his temples, and suddenly the blindfold was off. Roy was leaning over him, oddly blurry—it gave him a slight jump of mortification when he realized why that was, as Roy thumbed away a tear from the corner of his eye. "There," he said, with an odd mix of tenderness and satisfaction. "That wasn't that bad, was it?"

Ed shook his head, dislodging another tear, although it occurred to him in retrospect that Roy wasn't really asking, just telling. And isn't that just typical? he thought.

"With that out of the way," Roy continued, "I hope you won't terribly mind..." He held something up in Ed's field of vision, but took it away again before Ed could blink it into focus. The table vibrated slightly as Roy hoisted himself onto it, and settled himself between Ed's legs, but Ed couldn't really shake off the post-orgasm lassitude enough to care.

The mystery was solved a few moments later, though, when a pair of lube-slick fingers touched him between his legs. Ed rolled his eyes; it had certainly taken Roy long enough to work around to this point. He wasn't objecting, though, lifting his hips into Roy's fingers, encouraging him to go deeper. "You are the kinkiest damn bastard I've ever met," he mumbled.

"I doubt that," Roy said, voice beginning to go breathless and distorted from lust. "I'm sure you've met men with more elaborate kinks than I; you simply never inquired too closely about what they were."

"Oh, ple-ease!" Ed gasped, what started out as sarcasm turning into earnest begging as Roy's curled fingers encountered his prostate. "Fuck! Roy!"

"That's the idea," Roy murmured, twisting his hand slightly; Ed clenched his muscles, trying to drive himself deeper onto Roy's hand. It was too soon even for his libido to reawaken itself, but that didn't stop it from feeling so damn good. "It's been weeks, you know, and I've been watching you squirm so sexily all evening."

"That was your fault, not mine!" Ed snapped, flashing a glare up at his older lover. Roy just responded with a smug smirk, and a twist of his hand that left Ed gasping. He bared his teeth at his insufferable lover, even as his traitorous body twitched with emptiness and need.

Roy resettled himself on the tabletop, hitching up Edward's ass to rest on his thighs, and began pushing his way in. Ed let his head roll back, giving his neck a rest as the shadowy ceiling filled his vision. If he wasn't getting hard again, it certainly wasn't for lack of enthusiasm on Roy's part, as he settled into a comfortable rolling pace.

Before long, though, Roy's thrusts were putting a crick in Edward's neck, and he made the effort to lift his head and focus on Roy again. The man still had his uniform on, to Ed's annoyance, with only the fly of his pants undone to let him fuck Ed into the table. Ed considered the pros and cons of transmuting Roy's uniform into a stuffed animal at the earliest opportunity; there was sure to be someone in this house that would appreciate it.

A glint of metal on Roy's broad chest caught his attention, and Ed squinted in the poor light to focus on it. The familiar neat row of Roy's medals, the ones he had been awarded for Ishvar, Ed already knew. Roy had told them about him once, when Ed had gotten him sufficiently drunk. He wore them as trophies of shame and remembrance, not of glory, but he wore them with meaning nonetheless.

There were gaps in the row. Ed squinted at them, trying to tell for sure when Roy kept moving around like that. Two of the medals from the end of the row were missing. This was significant, Ed was sure, although he couldn't gather his lust-scattered wits to know why.

Seized with a sudden suspicion, Ed raised his head enough to look down at his own naked chest. Ah jeez, it made his nipples hurt more just to look at them, angry red and abused, with lines of blood showing about the edges of the intruding metal. But the twin gleam of gold from either side only confirmed his suspicion. Where had the gold for these come from, after all? That made him feel strangely—

"Roy," he gasped, meaning to ask his lover about it; but Roy was not listening. He surged suddenly forward, driving further into Edward than before, and Ed let out a strangled yell as the new depth of angle brought Roy's cock in contact with his prostate. Oh fuck that's it yes, was the only thought to cross his mind for a few endless moments following that. "Roy!"

As though Edward's voice had been some trigger for him, Roy's body stiffened as he came, hands digging hard into Ed's human arm and scraping uselessly at the metal one.

After a long moment, the tension went out of him and Roy collapsed—although not, thankfully, directly onto Ed's chest. With some nudging from Edward, and a couple of well placed adjectives, Roy bestirred himself to unfasten the straps from Ed's legs, and reached around his back to loosen the ones binding his arms, letting him work his way free.

"You are such a manipulative prick," Edward breathed into Roy's shoulder, even as he wrapped his arms—carefully—around Roy's shoulders.

"Still you won't trust me, Edward?" Roy murmured into his shoulder. The question had a plaintive sound.

"I do trust you," Ed admitted, with a seriousness that surprised even him. "I—trust you more than pretty much anyone else in the world. But that's not enough."

"Even Al?" Roy inquired sarcastically, and Ed half-shrugged.

"I—" He stopped, chewed on his lip for a moment, then sighed. "I love Al more than anything," he said. "I'd give the world for him. I'd die for him, to make him happy. I know I can trust that he wouldn't betray me. But I'm not sure... I can trust... him not to go off and do something stupid by himself. Lately he's been..."

Ed trailed off. Roy rubbed his shoulder, comfortingly. "You can come to me, Ed," he urged him. "You can come to me over anything. I mean that."

Ed nodded, accepting this. Then immediately shook his head fiercely. "Not this," he said. "It's too big for you or for anyone. It's not that I think you won't help me. Maybe I did before, but not anymore. But I don't think you can help me with this. It's something only I can do, and it's something I've got to do alone. Does that make sense?"

"Ed, I seriously doubt that there's anything that's so big that you couldn't use my considerable talents in dealing with it," Roy told him deadpan.

Ed scowled, and swatted Roy's shoulder with his automail. "Just trust me on this, will you?" he said in a tight voice. "If—Okay, if I think of anything you can do for me, I'll come to you. But in the meantime, just... Just keep the military off my back. That's all I need."

Roy nodded, accepting this partial victory for what it was. Ed felt a surge of relief that Roy apparently wasn't going to press for anything more.

Roy shifted around, beginning to pull himself apart from Edward in preparation for getting up. He wasn't prepared for Edward to tighten his arm and leg around him, keeping him close. "Wait," Edward said. "Where are you going?"

Arrested in mid-motion, Roy blinked down at him. "To clean up? To bed? To get something to eat?" he hazarded.

"But..." Ed trailed off. He supposed he was acting stupid; he just didn't want to be alone right now.

Didn't want to be left alone to think about the tasks that, for all his brave words, he didn't at all think he was up to handling. Between the Philosopher's Stone and the homunculi, he was in over his head two or three times over. Al couldn't help him out of this one; Al was half of his problem on this one, and his little brother's increasingly erratic behavior lately was worrying him.

He wanted nothing more than to latch onto some suitably competent adult and beg to help, for a lifeline. But he couldn't delude himself into thinking that an adult—especially not this adult—was anything more than an overgrown kid. Or worse, that he and they were all nothing more than people and each and every one of them was as poorly equipped to deal with their problems as he was.

The fewer people he dragged into this impending disaster, the better it would be for everyone. Edward knew perfectly well he was going to have to face this alone.

But not yet. Please, not just yet.

"Well, come back quickly, then," he said aggressively. "You did me hard and I didn't get to come. You owe me one."

Reluctantly, he eased his grip, and turned to flop on his back onto the cold, uncomfortable table. This was a piss-poor place for a post-coital snuggle, anyway. And his chest hurt like crazy, now that he wasn't being distracted by sex. He scowled. Damn the man and his crazy kinks, anyway.

To his surprise, instead of getting up, Roy curled around him again. "Well," he said. "I don't have to be anywhere until late in the morning, tomorrow, and Hawkeye has given up on keeping me awake on train rides. And as for cleanliness and food, while they are both important, neither one has to be dealt with at just this moment. We have, after all, all night."

Ed stared at him in surprise for a moment. Then he laughed.