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chapter 1.

The longest day was any day he was in class. Particularly Alchemy.

His day always started off the same. He would be roused out of bed by his mother, he'd wash, put on his uniform and head downstairs to the kitchen. There, his father would almost have breakfast on the table. Then he, his mother and father would sit and eat breakfast and talk about the day to come. Schedules, plans, who was going to bring him home from school, (if both parents had appointments in the afternoon), maybe what they might do on the weekend.

Five days a week, except on holidays. He found comfort in the routine. His mother was a very structured person. Nothing out of place, no contingency unplanned for, everything in an orderly fashion. His father was more or less the same, but in a softer way. His father could be spontaneous, (much to his mother's delight and frustration), scattered a bit at times, (but only when he was really busy), but on the whole it was easy to tell his father hung on his mother's every word, and that was just fine in his world, because his mother was amazing.

He paused outside the door of beginning alchemy and waited for Chris and Larry so the three of them could sit in the back, pass notes and uses their text books as shields for the comics Larry perpetually had in his book satchel. This was his own structure and routine, the plan seldom varied. Unless, of course, it was an audit day. On those days, when the professor made the rounds of the classrooms, their teacher was especially sharp eyed and stern. Larry was fearful of having any of his precious 'Gomba, King of the Warrior Sled Drivers from Northendia' confiscated, and could not be persuaded by woo or threat to bring them out of his bag.

It's not like alchemy would have even been on his schedule. It was not an elective he wanted to take, but his mother's serious but hushed tones had persuaded him otherwise. It would mean a lot to his father; his family in particular seem to have a tradition. He didn't understand why is was so important to inflict the tradition on him; after all his own father had said he needed to be himself and that meant he needed to do the things that interested him. But he knew his mother was right.

He never wanted to disappoint his father. Or, even if it was grudgingly, his uncle.

They took their usual seats at their usual time but could tell immediately something was up. Their teacher, Mr. Lancaster, (the former Flint Alchemist), was busting around on his desk and kept glancing toward the door as people filed through. This just reeked of audit. He let his head thump back on the back of his desk chair and Chris blew his bangs out of his eyes.

"Great, looks like the Professor is gonna make us all behave today and he never even stays more than a minute," Larry grumbled.

"I wish he'd do another demonstration, that would be kinda cool if he came and did something like that," Chris said, stretching and slouching in his seat, folding his arms. "Why don't you ask him?" Chris said, turning to look at him.

"No way," Charles shoved his satchel under his desk and propped his elbows onto it. He leaned his chin in his hands and took note that the huge clock above the chalk board didn't move any faster just because he was watching it. "You know what I told you, I don't want him to think I want to do this. You ask him."

"I'm not asking him, he's scary," Chris said, wrinkling his nose.

"Kinda unfair asking us to ask him, ain't it, Elric?" Larry grinned.

"Don't call me that," Alphonse Elric's son snorted, "I can't help it Divine Retribution is my uncle, I just got born into it."

"Sucks to be you," Chris quipped, but then Mr. Lancaster hissed for silence and the professor strode into the room.


The general looked mournfully into his haven of solitude. Why the bathroom needed renovations, he'd just couldn't fathom. It wasn't like he and Edward were expanding the family. It wasn't like Edward's outraged sense of interior decoration, (of which he had none), had finally taken offense at the out-of-date tile work and last year's colors. No, he claimed to be doing it for Roy.

"But I like the bathroom the way it is," the general had whined, knowing it would do him no good.

"Roy, you spend an obnoxious amount of time in there," Ed said, waving him off. "Al and I thought it would be nice to make it more comfortable for you. I know you like to read in there, drink in there, you've even smoked the occasional cigar in there. What's the harm? Al is happy to do it, and I've wanted to hire him for sometime now. How does it look that my own brother is an alchemic contractor and I haven't had him out to re-do something in the house. You'll like it, Al's a genius."

Since Riza's promotion had moved her family back to Central; Ed had slipped right back into his big brother role. Actually, Roy enjoyed Al and his family being so close because Ed enjoyed it so much.

"We don't have to have Al over to re-do anything in the house," Roy said, even thought the bathroom battle was lost, it wasn't like him to just accept and move on. He always had to go down swinging. "Al is here every other Sunday for dinner, just like we're over at their house every other Sunday for dinner."

"Are you saying you think Al's work is inferior to a regular contractor?" Ed asked, hands on hips, mouth set in a tight line.

"What? How am I inferring that by just saying I don't think the bathroom needs renovated," Roy sighed in exasperation. "You're doing it again, you have told me to tell you when you're doing it, and you're doing it."

"I'm not doing it," Ed said with a jut of his jaw. "If I were doing it, I'd know it. I watch out for it now. I don't do it often anymore, I have it under control."

"Spoken like a true drunk who fell off the wagon, because trust me; you're doing it," Roy said.

Ed got his little twitch and he had to take a few moments to compose himself. Roy started to speak but Ed held up his hand for silence. Ed pointed at Roy once or twice then raised his head and pressed his lips, but finally spoke.

"Ok, tell me how I was doing it?" Ed prompted.

"I'm so proud of you," the general purred. "I know those court ordered anger management classes were years ago, but you've come such a long way."

Ed tapped his foot, clenching and unclenching his automail fist, he gave Roy a very tight smile, turned on his heel and disappeared off into another part of the house. Roy watched him go, pulled the newspaper from under his arm and retreated into the bathroom and shut the door. Ah, peace.


The woman standing in the head of the alchemy department's office was unknown to his staff but very known to the professor himself.

"Ran Fan," the professor said, almost sounding half startled when he came to greet his visitor. "It's been a long time...oh..." he bowed when she did and the two boys standing at her side bowed as well. "These must be Ling's sons...?"

The new dean of the academy, Frederick Tully, (who tried to purport himself as the 'go to guy', but in reality was always running to the senior staff, like the professor himself when a 'situation' arose), had excitedly waved Ed into his office a few weeks ago and shoved into his hand an official looking packet with some stylized xingian lettering on the outside.

"It's a letter from the xingian royal house," Tully all but purred. "They are wishing to send two princes here to the academy for training, specifically in alchemy. Your name was mentioned several times."

Tully was a resourceful man, a true money maker. It was good and bad. Good as in the academy never lacked funds it seemed, bad as in every motive the man had was grounded in commercialism and how to turn a profit. The lingering scent of money must have been clinging to the envelope the way he kept restraining himself from not snatching it back out of the Ed's hand.

"Ling...bred?" Edward said, didn't curl his lip, but instead unfolded the ornate paper pouch and looked at the letter inside. It was hard to tell if it was penned by the prince or one of his many servants with only his scrawl at the bottom. Ed suspected it was more the latter as the letter itself was neat and precise. It was as the Dean said, a marked request for the sons of the honorable Ling Yao, 12th son of the current emperor ( and producer of grandsons for said emperor), to enter the Bradley Military Academy to study academics, cultural interactions, but most specifically; alchemy. And said alchemy was to be taught to them by the famous former state alchemist, Edward Elric, as these were princes and not the normal military bred riff raff, (or so the letter implied).

"Just imagine the prestige, Professor Elric," Tully twittered, wringing his hands.

Edward pursed his lips. The last time he'd seen the prince had been at a state function a few years back. He never once mentioned a wife, or children. In fact, he'd been the same insufferable grinning mooch he'd been the first time he'd come into the professor's life, (secretly the professor hoped he never outgrew his need to almost but not quite flirt because the general was so possessive and horny afterwards).

"They'll have to go to regular classes, but I think maybe, if you responded I could offer some private tutoring, well he just might go for it," Ed folded the letter and handed it back to Tully. He wondered if he should warn the dean about what a pinch penny the prince was, and then decided not to, it would be fun seeing the dean jump through the hoops for a carrot he might not get.

Tully plucked the letter from his fingers so fast, Ed didn't see him do it.

"You are such a delight to work with, Professor," the dean gushed, "all those rumors were completely unfounded," and then he rushed off almost to fast for Ed to see.

The sons of Ling Yao, eh? Well it wasn't like the prince probably had any actual time invested in their upbringing. They probably had all sorts of ninja-nannies, like Ran Fan, so they would be polite and well behaved. It shouldn't be to much trouble, and well, Ling was his friend.

Ran Fan graciously bowed her head again, indicated the two boys beside her. They were identical, from their glossy black pony tails to the toes of their ornate slippers. Identical black eyes, identical sharp noses, identical pointed chins and then, much to the professor's horror, identical infernal grins.

They looked like twin mini Lings.

"Professor, I am honored to introduce Prince Shunzhi and Prince Shing Yao, of the Xingian Royal House. They are the fifth and sixth son's of his Royal Highness Prince Ling Yao, and they have come to be instructed in your noble academy and have the honor of your personal tutelage," and she bowed again, very deeply.

"No, really, I mean..." he bobbed a quick bow himself, "I mean it's my honor, after all, the Prince being an old friend, so did you say fifth and sixth son? How many sons does the prince have now?" He hoped she wouldn't keep bowing.

"Just the six," Ran Fan said, "but perhaps there might be seven come next spring. It is too soon to tell yet."

Ed folded his arms, studying the twins who were studying him in return. "The Prince went home and got busy I see. You're staying in the embassy?"

Ran Fan bowed again and that made Ed bow again.

"Most suitable arrangements have been made," she murmured.

"I will personally take the boys around tomorrow, familiarize them with their classes and instructors," the professor said graciously, "thank you for accompanying them, Ran Fan."

"Oh no Professor, the honor is all mine," she bowed again and Ed grunted as he bowed and hauled himself back up, then with a slight indication of her head the twins turned in unison and followed her out the door.


Alphonse kicked the door shut. He was lugging several client files and he staggered through the house heading for the formal dining room. His office and desk were wall to wall paper and he didn't want to mix the new papers in with the old papers until he'd had a chance to go through the old papers to see if they pertained to the new papers. Once he'd ascertained the old papers with just that, old papers, then he could file them appropriately and make way for the new papers that would turn into the old papers after a bit. But for now, perhaps Riza wouldn't sniff in disapproval to loudly if he borrowed the formal dining room table for a bit.

He made it down the hallway and managed to use his elbow to work the door handle (which was thankfully one of the lever types and not the round knob) and make his way in without one single sheet of potentially useful information escaping his pile. He stopped when he saw Charles there, already commandeering three quarters of the table that could seat twelve. They eyed each other for a moment. In the artful mess department his son was his biggest rival.

"Dad, is it six already?" Charles asked, perched at the far end of the table, a book open in front of him, schematics spread all down the table and a pencil clenched in his fingers.

"It is,"Alphonse said cheerfully and went to claim an unpapered spot, "your mother will be home soon, I should start dinner."

"Should I help?" the boy asked, watching his father battle to keep his pile from sliding into the floor after he'd set it down.

"Would you? We could talk about the day," his father replied distractedly but finally managed to get free of the stack. "How was school?"

Charles closed his book, got up and walked down to where his father stood.

"The same, as usual, yes I said hello to Uncle, what are you going to cook?" the boy with Riza's eyes smiled up at his father and his father grinned and put an arm around his shoulders and lead him out the door.

"Oh, just whatever, what are you in the mood for?" Alphonse said.

"Anything really, except noodles with meat sauce," Charles replied as they stepped into the hall, pulling the door shut behind them to at least spare them a few moments of the brigadier-general's silent wrath when she got home. "Sometimes I think you think that's the only food in the world."

"I can't help it, I like it," Al grinned.

Once freed of Alphonse's presence, the paper revolution made it's bid for freedom and slid silently off the table one by one , fluttering desperately before landing on the floor. It wasn't a well thought out bid for escape as none of them had legs.


Mr. Lancaster nodded to the professor, shook his hand and stood back, giving them all the eye over the professor's shoulder; but that wasn't the interesting thing. The interesting things were the two boys that were with the professor. They were Xingian's and Charles craned his neck to see over the head of the boy in front of him and get a better look.

"Gentlemen," the professor said, "we have some new arrivals who will be starting class with you today."

The two boys bowed at exactly the same time. Charles almost snickered, but manged to cover it, a few unfortunates didn't and suddenly a molten, golden glaze sliced over the room. Everyone went ramrod straight and many held their breath.

"Right, so, why don't you introduce yourselves," the professor said to the boys beside him.

"I am Five," one of them said.

"I am Six," said the other.

The professor raised an eyebrow, started to say something then decided it against it and shrugged.

"We're very happy to have them in class," Mr. Lancaster said and the professor looked at him over his shoulder. Then Mr. Lancaster riveted right on Charles and Charles groaned inwardly because that made his uncle look at him, too.

"Charles, why don't Five and Six take the seats next to you? You could help show them around and perhaps act as a sort of cultural liaison. Five and Six are guests in our country."

"Uh, sure," Charles mumbled and noted the odd look on his uncle's face.

"The irony is just eating me alive," the professor said cryptically and many boys glanced at each other, then at Charles. The professor waved the two boys toward their seats and turned to Mr. Lancaster.

"Carry on," he said and then he left with all the force he'd come in with and everyone turned to watch him go.


"Five and Six aren't real names, they're just numbers," Larry challenged in the relative safety of the hallway between classes.

"Don't start anything," Charles hissed, "it will be my head you know."

"Larry isn't a real name," the one called Five (or maybe Six, Charles wasn't sure) said.

"In our country Larry means the back side of a goat," the other one (who was whatever one the previous one wasn't) said.

Then the both grinned a grin that sliced across their faces, their eyes closed. It was a grin that said: 'We can dish it out, too'.

"Ok, that's enough," Charles said, "I'm not getting in trouble for any of you. My Uncle will tattle on me to my Mom and that's the last thing I want, so come on you two, let's go to the next class."

Larry huffed in indignation, but he clenched his jaw and remained silent as Charles led the twins down the hall. It's wasn't that Charles commanded that much authority, it was just that Charles could kick his butt, and had before; it was the main reason they were friends.

Once out of ear-shot of his friend, he slowed to walk closer to the two boys following him.

"Look, they're sticking you with me because my Uncle is Professor Elric, so do us all a favor and just play it cool, ok? I don't really care what you do as long as you do it when you're not with me and it can't seem like I was involved. Larry is kind of a jerk, but if you get to know him some he can be ok."

The two boys looked at each other, than at Charles.

"It would never be our intention to dishonor the nephew of the Professor," one of them said.

"We can make sure any trouble we make is our own," the other one stated.

"Ok good, that's how I want it, I'm sure we can get along then," Charles nodded. "Here is our class, the geometry teacher's name is Miss Bloom. She's sort of overbearing, and she rattles on about nothing, but the class is pretty easy. Do you like math?"

"It is not a matter of liking," one of the said.

"It's a matter of doing," the other one returned.

"Um, ok, that must be a Xingian thing," Charles said, leading them in.


"So there are two new boys in class," Charles said, peeling potatoes over the sink. "They have funny Xing names, Five and Six. I guess those are normal names in Xing."

Alphonse raised his eyebrows. He was making a stuffing for the roasted chicken that would be the main course of their dinner.

"Are those Prince Ling's sons?," he asked. "I thought Ed said their names were Shing and um, Shin-something."

Charles shrugged, putting beside the peeled potato and starting on another one.

"I don't know, but that's what they said their names were. Uncle stuck me with them, they follow me around. Mr. Lancaster said I was their cultural liaison."

His father laughed, an abrupt burst of mirth and then sucked in his lower lip and looked at Charles.

"What did your Uncle say about that?" he asked, his grin infectious.

Charles returned the grin.

"Well he looked all funny about it, he said that irony was eating him or something like that."

"I can just bet," Al nodded. "When the Prince was a diplomat here your Uncle was his cultural liaison, I only hope his sons can manage to pay for their own lunches."

"We eat in the cafeteria, they don't have to," Charles shrugged.

"It's just a wonder," Al shook his head. "I'd have paid real money to see the look on Ed's face when your teacher said that."

"Oooo, pay me then, I can describe it in detail," Charles said, and they both laughed again.


"I think it's very unfair to those boys to refer to them as 'Ling's Revenge'," the general said from the couch; slippered feet on the coffee table and evening paper in hand. "You know better than to level a judgment like that, and these are just children. I think you should give them the benefit of the doubt before finding out they are apples who haven't fallen very far from the rotten tree."

Ed cupped a hand to his ear. "What's that I hear General? It seems you might bear the father of these boys a grudge as well."

"I bear his lips and intentions a grudge, and I'm not likely to forget it anytime soon," the general said, glancing back down at his paper, "I'll take it to the grave with me."

"You're a hard man," the professor grinned, "remind me never to give you any reason to carry a grudge against me."

The general snorted.

"No Ed, I don't think you have to worry about that. You and I both know it wouldn't do me any good. Grudge and Elric meet head on and grudge runs screaming for the hill. The amount of energy it would take to make you even notice a grudge against your person would send a man far younger than me to his grave. I gave up the habit of even thinking about harboring a grudge against you years ago."

"Are you saying I'm thick?" Ed asked.

"There you go again, remember the agreement. Go put a 10 cen piece in the jar," the general said, turning a page of the paper.

"Fuck," Ed muttered under his breath, turning to go down the hall.

"Make it two," the general called after him.


She had her debriefing at dinner. She collected notes on her family's daily activities the same way her field agents collected intelligence along the borders.

Her husband talked a while over his new project. He was doing very well in the field of alchemical engineering; as she always knew he would. His mastery was second to none and he was highly sought after both commercially and residential, and thus was forever busy.

Her son was doing well academically. He was strong in math and science, (as only an Elric could be), well read and observant, (as only a Elric fathered by Alphonse could be). Like his father he was fascinated with engineering; but not in the sense of tried and true solidity, such as construction. He tended to favor the more abstract; the edge of what in theory could be but had not been invented yet. He also seemed to have an innate desire for speed.

It had started at an early age. He went from speed crawling to walking totally ignoring the state where he was suppose to tottle around adorably clutching his parents fingers. He was a demon on tricycle; both she and Alphonse had headed off many a reckless course or a trip down unforeseen stairs. He graduated to a proper bicycle which yielded him a broken limb and stitches...on more than one occasion.

He had recently discovered race cars and race car engines. A mechanical mode of transportation, made of moving parts and firing pistons that turned wheels and belts and made tires spin. Charles was all about that. Dinner was the perfect time to remind his parents of his life's ambitions and he did so, every night, around 7:30. Right after his father had finished up about his day, but before his mother gave them a briefing on hers.

"I'm going to build the fastest car ever," pretty much summed up Charles Elric's dining habits.

"I'm going to hold you to that," his father grinned and winked at his mother.

His mother smiled and nodded.

"I'm sure your talents will be greatly appreciated in the future when we can all cut down on our travel time," she said.

"I'm going to paint it red with yellow stripes," Charles said, because all the cool race cars had stripes, "but I don't know what I'll name it yet."

"This is Ed and Roy's week for dinner here," Alphonse said and Riza nodded, "what do you think about pot roast for dinner?"

"I think Edward will be thrilled. You should make two pot roasts if you want any of us to partake," Riza said, moving to clean her own plate.

"Ed does love pot roast...," Alphonse mused, then brightened and smiled at his son."You know Charles, your uncle Ed knows a lot about engines. He use to study rockets," Al smiled.

"Rockets?" Charles asked. "What is a rocket?"

"It's an engine that makes things fly. I'm not sure of all the details, but I know Ed worked on them when he was... away, maybe you should ask him about them. It could be something the two of you could talk about that doesn't involve alchemy."

A discussion with his uncle that didn't pertain to alchemy?

Charles was all about that, too.


Being the head of the academy's alchemy department, (no longer just a beginners class; instead a four year course was offered now), garnered Ed just as many invitations to social functions as being a general garnered Roy.

"There is talk about night classes, you know. Opening it up to people not enrolled in the academy. Like those small urban colleges give classes to people wanting to further their education in adulthood? Dean Tully thinks this is a cash cow, so no doubt it will double my work load," Ed sighed, sinking back into the leather seat of the sedan.

"What is this function and what are they serving?" Roy said, easing his way through downtown traffic.

"It's for... uh, it's for...," Ed tapped his temple, "I don't remember. They're serving a choice of beef, fish or chicken, though," Ed did remember that.

"You're not speaking at this one?" Roy asked.

"No, at least, I don't think so. I don't remember being asked to speak at anything. Fuck, what if I am? You still got the spare speeches in the glove box?" Ed said looking over at him.

"I do. I still remember being caught flat footed at that veterans function," Roy snorted. "If I'd had known I'd have to speak I would have faked a cold and not shown up."

"Your sense of duty makes me just melt inside, did you know that?" Ed said, grinning.

Roy glanced at Ed's waist then back up to his face and smiled slowly. Ed's brow darkened and he opened his mouth to fling accusations at Roy about it being intimated he was liquid fat, but he caught himself. He caught himself and forced himself to turn and snort at the passenger side window instead.

Ten cens a slip was getting expensive.

"I know what you're thinking and stop thinking it," Roy laughed lightly. "Edward, you are at your peak. Such a lovely creature; all these years, when will you finally believe me? There isn't an inch of you that isn't perfect in one way or another. How can anyone who is a brilliant as the very sun itself be so insecure about their appearance? Don't you see me puff up like a peacock when I stroll into a room with you on my arm?"

Unlike his lover of years past, his lover of the now turned his head and gave him a smug grin.

"Damn straight," Ed curled up his arm and patted his bicep, "see that? It's solid. You're one lucky bastard, I'll give you that much."

He should really be grateful that Ed had finally accepted his demi-godness; but damn was Ed smug about it. He supposed that was his fault, too.


Charles darted back and forth between the living room windows while his father set the table and his mother chilled the wine.

"Charles, wearing a hole in the carpet isn't going to bring them here any faster," his mother told him.

"But I want to ask uncle about the rockets," he returned, dashing to another window. "I've tried to look them up in the library, but I can't find anything. Do you think it was top secret?"

Riza glanced at Al who shrugged and grinned helplessly and hurried the salad to the table.

"They're here!" Charles yelled, drawing his mother's attention again and he raced for the hall and down to yank open the front door before Roy could even knock.

"Hello Charles, how have...," he started, smiling at the boy, but Charles pushed around him, grabbed Ed's arm and practically body slammed him into Roy trying to get him in the door.

"Uncle Ed, father says you know about rockets," he said breathlessly and his uncles exchanged looks. Roy was forced into the hallway because Charles kept trying to pull Ed through him.

"Al," Ed called as his nephew bullied him toward the formal dining room, (they never ate Sunday dinner there because uncle Ed and uncle Roy were family and not guests. They ate at the big table off the kitchen with family, and Charles preferred that because he didn't have to worry about getting food on the fancy stuff), "what have you been telling Charles?"

"Dinner is in the oven, Roy come have a glass of wine, we'll be ready to eat in about twenty minutes," Al called cheerfully. He was excellent at side stepping questions.

"Uncle, I want to show you something," Charles said breathlessly, opening the formal dining room door and shoving Ed inside, then slipping in after him and shutting it loudly.

Roy grinned, sauntering into the kitchen and accepted a wine glass from Riza.


"You've been unusually quiet," Roy said on the drive home. Ed left off staring out the window and turned to look at him.

"Even through dinner and after," Roy continued. "It's not like you to let Al have the last word like that, is something wrong?"

"No," Ed said automatically, then, "maybe...I don't know. Sometimes I think I might be losing my mind. Don't start, I know that's often."

"What is it?" Roy prompted gently. "Something one of us said at dinner?"

"No, it was, it was Charles. About the rockets; all the schematics he had on the table, all the ideas he has about propulsion; it's just a little disturbingly familiar, that's all." Ed shifted in the seat again, turned more toward Roy.

"From your time in Germency," Roy said with a nod. "When you were building rockets with Alphonse, no that's not right, what was his name?"

"Germany," Ed corrected, and "Yeah, from then. I thought that was how I would get home. That's how I met Alfons. It's not so much a 'pha'; sound, more a 'fah' sound."

"You don't want Charles to be in that sort of research?" Roy questioned.

"It's not that so much as... I don't know what it is; it's just disturbing because it is so familiar, I suppose. And besides, Charles needs to study his alchemy more. He's barely making a 'B'," Ed let his head rest on the car seat behind him. "What sort of uncle does that? Let's his nephew squeak by? Besides, he's an Elric, we have chemistry for blood. We might as well have an array for a father," Ed ran his hand back through his bangs.

"I'm not sure Al would like the comparison," Roy said, "but I see your point. You know Ed, it is possible for there to be an Elric who doesn't practice alchemy. Surely there was one."

"My mother," Ed said, folding his arms. "How could you not want to practice alchemy? The boy has been born with a flamel in his mouth, he has me for a private tutor, he would be a brilliant alchemist."

"There are other things besides alchemy," Roy ventured. "You have to take his mother into consideration; and besides, he's only thirteen. He has a long way to go...," Roy glanced over at Ed and was instantly trapped in his glare.

"Other things besides alchemy," Ed said. "I'm sure Charles just hasn't had the proper motivations yet, I can see I'm failing in my duty as an Uncle. I'll have to correct that."

"If...if you really want to win Charles over," Roy said, making the valiant effort to pull his gaze away and back to the road, "then you should pay attention to what he likes and not try to mold him to what you think his heritage dictates."

"What I think is heritage dictates," Ed hissed, leaning close. "You listen here, Mustang. I'm not about controlling what I think the boy should or shouldn't do, I'm just here to help him see all his possibilities. I think it would be a fucking waste for him not to pursue something he could excel out without even trying very hard. He's got the potential, I can feel it in my bones. I'll be fucked to hell and back if I don't put that out there and let him see it for what it really is!"

"What are we going to do with all that money that will be in your jar?" the general snorted, shifting his grip on the steering wheel.

"Fuck the jar! I'll have you know I can speak any damn way I please in the car, it's neutral territory! You never said the car was included! You know, maybe there should be a counter offer jar. I don't know, how about every time I have to put a tenner in the jar that's a mark against a quickie?"

"You'd never hold out," the general said, looking a bit strained. He gave Ed a sidelong glance.

"Oh, you don't think so Mr. No Sex after 9 I have to get up on the morning?" Ed countered, crossing his legs symbolically and leaning back into the seat again.

"I don't think there should be neutral territory, you know your nephew could have been in this car," the general retorted, squaring his jaw.

"But he's not," Ed snarled. "Besides, the boy is thirteen, I'm sure he's heard it all by now. If he's old enough to screw up in alchemy class, he's old enough to hear some cursing," Ed turned to look out the passenger side window again.

"A 'B' is not screwing up," the general growled. "Not everyone is a high brow genius like you. I think you need to cut the little people some slack. I can't believe I didn't know what a snob you've become."

"I can't believe I didn't know this about you. I can see you want to pass your own slack example onto our nephew. You are not role model material. I'm not a snob! I'm the furthest thing from a snob, I'm downright humble!"

"As humble as peacocks in crowns. You're making that no sex jar a lot easier to contemplate," Roy grumbled.

"If you got it, flaunt it. You'd never hold out, you'd break in a week," the professor predicted.

"You really think so Mr. No Sex I have to make class rounds of the entire building tomorrow?" the general said, sniffing lightly.

"You are so on," Ed hissed. "Mark my words Mustang, you'll be on your knees come weeks end," he stretched himself out in the car seat. "Just think of what you're giving up."

The general reached up and undid the top button on his shirt, he ran a hand through his bangs, mussing them a little.

"They say fight fire with fire; and I'm the epitome of the word," he glanced over at the professor, letting his eyes go to slits. "The heat is on now, Elric."


Monday came and went, neither party giving an inch. Tuesday rolled around and both parties stuck to their guns. Wednesday got referred to as 'hump day' by one of the men in the general's command and he found himself wanting to hide under a desk. Thursday brought tenseness at dinner and the accidental brushing of hands when they both reached for the salt shaker. By Friday the general had an evil scheme.

As soon as they walked in the door he put his plan in motion. He stretched and let his coat roll of his shoulders. He sighed and ran a hand though his hair, he gave the professor a lazy smile.

"Think I'll take a nice, long, hot bath," he murmured and headed down the hallway.

"You do that," Ed said, "don't think I'm not onto you. I'm going to go change into something more comfortable, put on my glasses and work at my desk in the den."

They had a brief stare off there in the hallway.

"I'm not coming into the bedroom until you're in the bath, so go on, shoo," Ed made a motion with his hand.

"Why not? I mean I'm so easy to resist...I thought you didn't like your reading glasses," the general said, reaching up to undo the collar of his shirt.

"I have to have them to read don't I?" the professor said, eyes trailing to the general's hand at his collar. "Besides, I thought you didn't care for taking long, hot baths alone," he returned.

"On the contrary, I get to spread out in the tub and just let the hot water relax every muscle in my body," the general purred. "I can submerge and get my hair wet, I could also engage in some self massage techniques..."

"I'm going to take my hair down and wear a t-shirt, I think all the ones that fit properly are dirty, I'll have to wear one of the ones I have that's a bit too tight," the professor sighed. "I like those plaid house pants, too, the really loose ones, so comfortable, easy access..." he glanced sidelong at the general.

The general suddenly began unbuttoning his shirt, stopping as he got to his navel and arching an eyebrow.

The professor reached up and plucked the tie from his hair, shaking it as it splayed out over his shoulders.

The general pulled his shirt out of his trousers and let it hang open, he casually hooked his thumb in his belt.

The professor undid the buttons of his vest and reached up and loosed his tie, licking his lips as he did so.

The general bit his bottom lip, before working his belt open and pulling it slowly from the loops and letting it drop to the floor.

The professor shrugged out of his vest and slowly took his gloves off, finger by finger using his teeth.

The general took a deep breath, turned to wiped his mouth against his shoulder. When he looked back at the professor his gaze had gone predatory and out came the smirk. The one that made the professor very weak in the knees and very hard in other areas.

"I thought you were going to take a bath," the professor half croaked, taking a step back.

"I thought you were going to work in the den," the general returned huskily.

"I am," Ed exclaimed and turned on his heel and walked quickly down the hall, turning the corner before he braced himself on the wall with one hand and adjusted himself with the other.

Damn the man.

The general literally sagged with the professor disappeared and then he hobbled into the bedroom and shut the door behind him.


Ed threw himself into his desk chair and leaned back into it. It was big and wing backed and made of leather. It was well worn in and comfortable, unlike his pants, which were way to tight and chaffing at the moment.

Damn general.

He didn't even register he'd undone his pants until he was pushing his fingers into the waist band of his boxers. He startled at first, then gave a resigned sigh. Better go ahead and take care of it if he was planning on resisting Roy all night. Fucker. Damn sexy fucker.

His shirt was still buttoned and that was getting in the way, so he took a moment to get it open, then he pushed his pants and boxers down together to his knees. Roy would be in the bath a while, so there was no sense in worrying. Besides, he liked the feel of leather on his ass, another thing to blame Roy for; how many times had he been in this chair with his knees over the arms?

He spotted his reading glasses on his desk, and just to be spiteful, he picked them up and put them on, he grabbed the hand lotion out of his top desk drawer then slouched back and sighed. The lotion was a bit cold at first and he bit his lip, but it began to warm quickly. He took a moment to scratch though his pubes, because for some reason, whenever he contemplated self satisfaction, he got itchy.

He closed his eyes and instantly returned to the hallway scene played out not fifteen minutes earlier. Roy was hard, he had to be hard, the flaps of that damned butt skirt was just hiding the evidence. He must be hard now, in the tub, maybe even trying the same tactic to resist Ed. Ed's eyebrows raised, the general, in the tub, legs over the sides, hand between his legs, the look on his face... the professor groaned and tightened his grip a bit.


It didn't matter how old Ed got, he would always be a brat. When the water was to his liking he slid in, scooting around until he was just right and leaning back in the tub. He laid back against the water-warmed porcelain and let his eyes drift shut. The professor had his hair down, his vest was open, his tie was undone. He was probably in his glasses by now...gods. He scratched at his chest a bit, licked his lips and slid his hand down his stomach.

He could picture him, at his desk. He'd been hard, Roy knew he'd been hard. Ed was terrible at hiding anything, and so were his tweed trousers. He could see Ed, in his wing-backed leather chair, perhaps with his pants open now, his glasses on the end of his nose. He skated his own fingers down along his cock and back up, wrapping them lightly around the head, thumbing over the tips.

What the man did to him.

And it wasn't right for him to be here, in this tub, alone. Not when Ed..Ed...ED was possibly in the office with his legs over the arms of his chair and his hand inside his pants. His head tilted back and his hair rippling over his shoulders. The general set his jaw and grabbed at the soap to slick up his hand. Was it worth it? Was it really worth it just to win some stupid bet? Oh, but Ed had it coming, or god, possibly Ed was coming.

He was stronger than this.

He spun the soap in his hands, one, two, three times before almost hurling it at the tile. He wrapped his cock in his fist and he pulled. He wasn't given much to self gratification, (Ed was usually more than happy to gratify him), and in a way, it made him angry. He shouldn't have to be doing this at his age, he has a lover for gods sake, he had a husband for the technical term. He ramped up his strokes, clenching his jaw and breathing through his nose. He was no stranger to the feel of his own cock, but his hand wasn't what he was use to. He could feel his skin and it wasn't the same as the hand that was usually tunneling his erection. The grooves and texture, the ridges and fleshy part at the base of his thumb, it was all wrong. Ah gods, to have Ed's hands on him, hot and cold, hard and soft, teasing and strong.

As if summoned, the blond demon appeared in his mind. Arching up in his chair, sucking in his lower lip, stroking himself faster and faster in abandon, maybe (hopefully) moaning Roy's name. That was probably what Ed was doing, (or his own sick satisfaction telling him that was what Ed was doing).

He was out of the tub and at the door before he realized what he was doing. He had to maintain some decorum of control so he yanked the towel of the rod by the sink and cinched it around his waist before heading out into the hall.

He was stronger than this; but he didn't fucking care.


Oh wonderful, I'm having delusions of him now, I'm stronger than this.

The professor blinked blearily at the man in a towel in front of his desk. He was flushed richly, all the way from his nose to his chest, and he was so hard and dripping and aching. He couldn't get his legs any wider and he was seriously contemplating just giving the hell up and crawling down the hall, because pride be damned he just wanted Roy on him.

He stared at the wet, towel clad general of his imagination and groaned loudly, letting his head fall to the side; starting to move his hand faster and squeeze harder.

Fuck the general was gorgeous. What right did he have to invade what should be intimate alone time for his own selfish gratification? Fuck, who was he kidding, there was no gratification for him without Roy.

He gasped in shock with the illusion came around the desk, yanked his chair away from it, went to it's knees and forced his hand away from his cock. He gripped the side of the chair and half shrieked when this lust induced manifestation dropped it's head and took his cock into it's mouth. He was going fucking insane.

But oh, what a wonderful way to lose your mind. His ass left the leather chair and he moaned loud and long; it didn't matter anymore. It was a hot, wet paradise and he just wanted to bury himself to the hilt in it; he was so hot and so tight and it was hell, too. Fuck, he just wanted the general, he just wanted him now.

He cried out sharply when he was released, panted hard and stared up wildly at the figure over him who both grimaced at him and looked at him with desire enough to make him shake like a leaf.

"You always manage to get me on my knees," the apparition of the general spat out, "I don't give a fuck, I don't give a fuck..." and he reached over Ed's head to grip the back of the chair and he grabbed one of Ed's legs and pulled, sliding him lower into the chair; opening him like an offering.

Ed snatched the towel away, flung it to the side and reached back to grab the chair as well.

"I don't want to win, fuck, all I want is you," he snarled and the general snarled right back.

The general reached for Ed's cock, ran his hand over it, palmed the head, then reached for his own, slicking it as well as he could with a mixture of Ed's pre-come and his own saliva. He then dropped his hand, pressed Ed's anus with his thumb and Ed bucked, as if to take it inside himself.

"Roy, COME ON," Ed shrieked, handing onto the chair arm and back. One leg was still extended over the arm, but the other was being raised as Roy bent and hooked over his shoulder. "Yes, FUCK, come on!" he pleaded, because they were both winners and both losers.

The general pressed with his thumb and then with his cock and it was overwhelming. Ed almost rolled his eyes back and Roy was in; and it was hard and good and fuck, so deep. Roy gripped the chair arm now, still holding the chair back above his head and he pulled back and surged forward. The chair squeaked and moved but Ed watched in a haze, seeing Roy's shoulder tense and bunch and the chair was pulled forward and he was on Roy's cock and it was so good.

It was fortunate they were both to primed for the long haul, it only took a few good chair pullings for Ed to crest and sob and clench and Roy to follow him over, chanting his name. Roy got his knees on the edge of the chair, hanging onto it, panting harshly and Ed was so sweat slicked he kept threating to slide off into the floor.

"Oh fuck, oh fuck," Ed panted, "oh fucking fuck Roy, damn, that was... what the fuck, fuck..."

"That was a first class fuck," the general panted back, eyes closed but breaking into a grin. "I love this chair."

"Yeah, fuck, great chair, I can't breath, what the hell," Ed sniffled and licked his lips, pinned with the general still inside him.

"We are so going to feel this in the morning," the general murmured.

"Who gives a fuck? Damn Roy, damn, let's hold out more often," Ed moaned.

"Oh no," the general groaned himself, starting to pull free slowly, "then I really would be dead."

When the general pulled away the professor slid right into the floor with a whoofed exclamation. The general looked sheepish and held out his hands to help him to his feet. Ed's glasses were right on the tip of his nose and Roy blinked at them, reached to push them back up.

"I didn't even notice you had on your glasses, it makes me want to put you back in that chair right now," the general said, then covered the professor's mouth with his own.

The professor moaned into the kiss, moved forward to meld his body to the general's and got tangled in the trousers around his ankles. Fortunately, the general could hold him up.

"What time is it?" the professor murmured, nosing the general's chest and trying to step out of his pants. The general glanced at his desk clock.

"A quarter past eight," he said, trying to help Ed step out of his pants, "let's move this to the bedroom."

"Forty five minutes until nine," the professor murmured.

"If you let me do you in your glasses again, I think I can an exception to the rule," the general purred, leaning down to kiss him again.


Havoc was there, he was waving something in his face and Roy's back shrieked the minute he lifted his arm to take the offending thing.

"Jeanette is in ballet, see? And there's Mary," Havoc pointed out in the photograph in Roy's hand. "Sarah wants to know when you're coming to dinner, the girls want to see you."

He slowly raised his eyes to the man in front of him. Three times the daughters meant three times the photographs. Somewhere he was sure Maes was laughing at him. And his back throbbed.

"You must be in heaven," the general said in a strained way, "surrounded by women."

Havoc's face split into a grin worthy of Ed. He leaned on the desk in a way that suggested his spine wasn't about to snap in two and the general envied him.

"It is kinda like heaven," Havoc chortled, "and it's never dull."

Breda came in the door, carrying a stack of folders. He stopped and eyed Havoc, wrinkling his nose a moment.

"Hey Heymans, I got new pictures of the girls," Havoc grinned, snatching the photo out of Roy's hand and turning. But Breda was faster, spun on his heels and practically ran back out the door.

"No, hey, WAIT..." Havoc called, chasing after him.

The general put his head on this desk and his back punished him severely for it. Why did Ed have to be so damn sexy?


The professor stood, arms folded behind his back looking thoughtfully out of the window of his office.

"He's been there all morning," Nancy said to Audrey as they worked filing in the outer office. "I wonder what it is he's thinking about?"

"You never know with that man," Audrey said, sorting some folders. "He has a lot on his mind I'm sure. He runs this whole department and advises to the military. I guess he never really has any free time."

"Hmmm," Nancy said, opening the bottom drawer and squatting to put some folders in. "He's just been unusually quiet today. I guess we shouldn't bother him."

Ed couldn't really turn his head to see if the women were still there; he was sure if he did he would collapse in agony. As it was he was afraid to try and sit in this hard backed desk chair. Would they never leave an go to lunch so he could bend over his desk and sob in pain? He was getting to old to let Roy go at him like a bull in heat on a mostly dry run. What had he been thinking?!

No, no, what had he just thought? What? No...this was Roy's fault. All Roy's fault. He turned and stifled his gasp, he almost knocked the phone off his desk grabbing at the receiver.

"Mustang," whined a voice on the other end of the line.

"You BASTARD," Ed screamed into the receiver, earning startled looks for the office help, so he squatted down (oh FUCK shouldn't have done THAT, how will he get back UP?) and cupped his hand to the receiver.

"Good afternoon my love," grate out the general, "how is your day?"

"Do you know what I just thought, do you?! I'll tell you what I just thought, I thought I was to old to let you do me in my office chair anymore," Ed hissed into the receiver, "do you hear me Mustang, too OLD."

"And you called me, the butt of all your age jokes for years to tell me this?" the general said. "You called 'the old bastard', 'the old man', 'grandpa', 'General Ancient McAncient' to commiserate? Ed, I love you, but...ha fucking ha, welcome to my world."

"That is definitely going into the no-sex jar," the professor spat.

"I think the no-sex jar is the best thing we've ever come up with," the general sighed, "it might save both of our lives."

He winced as the receiver on the other end slammed down.