"Youíre thinking about it, sensei?" Edward asked, watching the ground. He felt a flicker of shame for asking. He would later realize that he was not ashamed for himself as much as he was ashamed for her.
"Donít be stupid, Ed," she snapped. With a rigid jerk of her shoulders, Izumi straightened her coat. "I would never."
"Never again," Edward corrected. He immediately regretted saying that. He was asking her to kick the shit out of him.
Izumi glared at the ground. "Thatís right. Never again."
Three days after the funeral, Edward decided he should drop in on Izumi. He and his brotherís hotel room was not far from her home, and they would be leaving in a day. Not that he thought his teacher needed his sympathy; he knew she could endure it with or without him. Were it not for the visions he kept having, these haunting images of his teacher weak and faltering, he would have given her a goodbye over the phone and left. But with even the potential for her frailty, Edward could not stand to leave her.
She opened the door, looking as sturdy as ever.
"Didnít expect to see you back, Ed," she said as she closed the door behind him.
Edward was not certain what to say. How would she react if he said he was worried? "I was around the corner and thought Iíd just drop in."
Izumi glared. "Iím fine without your pity-company."
"Then just think of it as regular company, sensei." Edward added her title as an after thought.
"Women are the stronger of the two," Izumi said rather abruptly as they stood over the fresh grave.
Edward did not reply. He preferred not to hold people to their genders; some women were stronger than some men. Some men were stronger than some women.
"Sometimes," he said finally. He would come to understand later that what she meant was, Iím stronger than you. That was true. With that he would agree.
Edward sent Al home alone. Alphonse did not bother asking why. Edward had not been back the entire day before, and when he had finally returned to the hotel room, he had chalk on his hands and knees.
"Hotel rooms are expensive here, arenít they?" Izumi asked when she met Edward for lunch. They sat at a wrought iron table outside the cafť, in the open.
"Itís not that bad," Edward replied. He had an inkling that she was going to invite him to stay in her guest bedroom. "A few more days isnít going to break the bank."
"Good," Izumi replied.
As Edward surreptitiously watched her lips on her teacup, he wondered what she thought was good.
The air was tense when he came in, when Izumi held the door open for him. He noticed she looked particularly fastidious, her hair styled neatly and clothing showing the even pleating of thorough ironing.
"I didnít cook anything," Izumi said as they stood nearly eye-to-eye in foyer.
"You should eat something," Edward blurted out, suddenly aware of how close they stood.
"Do you know what I found, Ed?" She turned away and continued down the hall.
"What, sensei?" Edward followed her until she stopped at the door leading to the cellar.
"Iíll show you. Maybe you can explain."
Edward knew what he would see before she even opened the door. Into the dark cellar, they headed until they entered a lamp lit, square room with a cold, stone floor. Across the floor, a large circle had been drawn and smudged. At first glance, the blurring looked careless, but any skilled alchemist could tell that specific symbols had been wiped away, ones that, once absent, would render the circle ineffectual and entirely harmless.
Edward rubbed his toe against a long, white handprint on the floor. "Iím sorry, sensei," he said, keeping his eyes level with hers.
"Sorry, are you?" she asked, evenly at first.
"YesÖ I was concerned."
Out of nowhere, a fist filled Edwardís vision. The inertia sent him to the floor, sprawling in the middle of the ruined circle.
"Concerned?!" Izumi demanded. "How dare you be concerned for me, Edward Elric!"
Edward pushed himself up, holding his bleeding nose. Before he could rise fully, a second fist landed in his stomach.
"You mock me, Ed! It is none of your business what I do!"
After falling artlessly to his hands and knees, Edward opted to remain down. "I couldnít let you," he managed to choke out. "Itís not worth it."
That was clearly the wrong reply. Izumi fell to her knees before Edward and seized the front of his shirt. "What do you know about worth? About his worth? What do you know about love, you presumptuous brat?"
To Edwardís horror, tears filled her eyes. "What do you know?" she demanded, shaking him.
"I know it seems like a really good idea until you try it."
"I could have done it. I would have done it right this time."
"I wasnít talking about the transmutation."
Izumi glared and threw him to the floor. Edward fell into a heap. He watched her turn away and begin pushing herself to her feet. For a fleeting second, Izumi paused and turned, her face lit up by a streak of pale sunlight let in through the single, square window in the Curtis cellar. Then the second was gone, and Izumi was hovering over Edward, pinning his shoulders to the floor and forcing her hot, slick tongue into his mouth. Edward, wishing he could pretend to be a victim, pretend to be unsuspecting, accepted. Nothing else he had tried had comforted her. Perhaps this would.
Izumi tore her mouth from his and stared into his eyes hard. "I envy you your ignorance," she said. "I hear itís wonderful."
"There isnít anything you havenít taught me," he replied firmly as though challenged. Edward gasped as he was promptly proven wrong by Izumiís strong, solid hand thrust down his pants. She curled her fingers around his cock and gave him a squeeze.
"There is a world of knowledge I havenít taught you." She descended on him once more.
Edward felt her wrist bent at an awkward angle against his stomach, and his hands scrambled to unbuckle his belt. Once able, Izumi tore at the buttons on his pants and pulled his erection free. Edward mewled and closed his hand around her wrist, coaxing her on. Izumi smiled, swallowing his whimpers.
Izumi allowed her student a moment to gasp for breath as her skillful fist worked over him. "You are not the child I remembered," Izumi said, looking down at the seven inches of adulthood in her hand.
"Sensei," Edward began, his wide eyes searching her face.
"Donít call me that!" she barked.
"I-Izumi," he amended. The name caught on his tongue and did not feel right, so he tried it again. "Izumi." That one felt a little better, less awkward. He felt her thumb give him a particularly hard rub. "Izumi!" Edward yelped. That one flowed.
He heard her chuckle. It was not her usual, dark chuckle. This one was rather light, almost girlish. Edward opened his eyes to see his teacher smiling, looking pleased. He marveled at the expression for a moment before her mouth was on him again, her tongue pushing forcefully against his.
In the distraction, Edward did not notice Izumi doing anything beyond the rhythmic and hastening movement of her hand, squeezing in all the right places and turning just right. The warmth of her palm was abruptly replaced with a new one, a juicy, slippery warmth that had Edward gasping into her mouth once more.
The lesson, it seemed, was over. She rode him hard with little concern for him, paying no attention to anything he said. The lubricious friction was incredible, wiping away for a moment everything else but the way they fit together, but the skin on skin, but their tangle of limbs and sounds and sweat and the sweet, sweet climb.
For a fleeting moment of terror, Edward feared he would finish before Izumi. He could only imagine the beating he would get for that. If she were disappointed when he incorrectly balanced an equation, he shook at the thought of facing her chagrin now. At least, he would have shook were he not distracted suddenly by the white lights dancing before his eyes and the hot, wet, clamp around his cock.
Izumi opened her mouth and cried out a jumble of Edwardís name and a primal growl of ecstasy. She ground herself against him magnanimously, until his hands clamped down hard on her hips and he yelped out her name so loudly it echoed in the hollow cellar. Izumi gave him one last stroke before removing her fists from his shirt and planting them firmly on either side of Edwardís flushed face.
When their eyes met, Edward quickly removed his hands from her hips.
"Sensei," he began, his voice calm and even, yet still uncertain.
Izumi let out a frustrated sigh and rolled off him. "Get up," she demanded. Edward hurriedly pushed himself up and righted his clothing. They both stood a little less steadily than they had before.
Izumi grabbed Edwardís chin, now almost at the same height at hers. "Edward," she said, staring very hard into his eyes.
"Izumi," he said, knowing that was the right answer.
She took a step closer so that their noses were touching. "Weíll try again tomorrow. Now go back to your hotel and get yourself cleaned up."
Edward wished Izumi had not bothered preparing dinner the following evening as she swept the few plates and platters to one end and pinned him down to the table. There was a single fork left, poking into his lower back. He eventually found a moment to fish it out. Izumi laughed uproariously, seized the fork from his hand, and threw is across the room.
Straddling his hips, Izumi pushed him up onto the table.
"Say you want me," she commanded.
"I want you," he replied.
"Again." To punctuate, Izumi ground herself on the hard ridge against Edwardís right leg.
"I want you, Izumi."
"Hmmm," she growled. "Like that."
That was the way Sig would have said it.
No apology would suffice. Edward knew it was not his fault, but Izumi was upset enough that he was willing to swallow his pride.
He clapped his hands together and placed them over the white stain in the large, cozy armchair in the parlor. With a flutter of lightning, the smudge was gone.
"See," Edward said, gesturing to the chair they had just christened. "Good as new."
When he looked hopefully toward where she was sitting on the couch, Izumi was glaring down at her left thigh where a rivulet of creamy fluid ran traitorously.
"See, Izumi," he repeated as warmly as he could.
"Shut up, Ed."
There was a drought heavy in Dublith. For that reason, when Edward finally got around to spending the night with Izumi, they showered together the following morning.
"Take one for the team, Ed," Izumi said as she brushed past him in the doorway to the bathroom, dragging her hand across his chest. Edward laughed at that.
He stood, the fall of the shower against his back and his slippery sensei pressed to his front. He had not actually expected that she would let him pin her to the tiles, but when he finally worked up the nerve to try, she simply laughed at his enthusiasm and allowed it.
Now, both of them waited to catch their breath, leaning against the tiled wall and wrapped around the other.
Izumi recovered first and said quietly into Edwardís ear, "Itís disgraceful."
Edward began coming up with something pithy to argue that no one had any right to judge them even if they were a student fucking his teacher, but Izumi continued, "Those metal limbsÖ shameful."
Edward promptly removed himself from Izumi, turned into the spray to rinse himself off, and exited the shower.
"Arenít you going to eat something?" Izumi snapped, pointing to the pot of spaghetti on the burner. Edward looked at dinner for a moment before turning back to the door.
"No, Iíve already eaten."
"I cooked for you, you ungrateful brat!" Izumi bellowed. "You donít even have the decency to sit down and eat it?"
Edward narrowed his eyes. "I guess not," he replied tightly. He wanted to argue further but he could tell that it was futile. This crime was a repeated offense, even if he were not the repeated offender.
He was tired and sore and, for the first time in his nearly completed adolescence, wanted to just collapse in an empty bed. Edward left before sunrise, while Izumi was still asleep.
The streets of Dublith were cool and dewy before dawn. The air was thick with a mist that seemed to fill in the large spaces around Edward, reminding him that he was walking back to his hotel room alone. It seemed like the first time in nearly three weeks that he had been without contact. While the feeling was odd and a bit somber, it was entirely refreshing.
Edward dragged his feet to his door and fumbled for the key in his pocket. For a moment, he felt a flash of fear that he had left it on Izumiís nightstand, but then his fingers brushed over the metal shaft in his right pants pocket. He fished it out and unlocked his door as quickly as he could.
The pleasant, sleepy calm of his empty hotel room washed over Edward in waves. He left a trail of articles of clothing from the door to the bed until he fell forward onto the mattress in his boxers. He stumbled into a restless sleep that was more of a series of sleeping positions and restive sounds, strung together like beads on a string of exhausted unconscious.
A loud banging on the door awoke Edward. His eyes shot open and he sat up quickly, instincts telling him that he was under attack.
Edward knew immediately who was at his door. This made him wonder if he should dress before letting her in. It did not really matter, he decided. If she wanted his cloths off, they would come off.
As he approached the door, the insistent banging stopped abruptly. There was silence for a moment before something hit the door so hard, the hinges pulled at the wall. He almost laughed until he realized that it was not funny.
"Morning," Edward said as he cracked the door just in time to see Izumi raising her foot for another blow.
She frowned firmly, dropped her foot, and pushed her palm against the door. Edward put his metal toes to the door and held it in place.
"Where are you going?" she asked. "Let me in."
Edward did not budge. "I have to go back home. Alís probably worried."
"Al can take care of himself."
"Heís my brother," Edward replied rather tightly. And you can take care of yourself, too.
Izumi glared and pushed against the door again. When he did not let her in, they remained in a stand off. Suddenly, Izumi threw herself against the door, sending Edward stumbling backward.
Once inside, Izumi kicked the door closed and threw off her coat. Edward noticed that she was barefoot and wearing her slinky nightgown. He could have sworn her eyes were glowing when she turned a glare on him. It must have just been the morning light through the window.
"Were you going to leave without saying goodbye?"
Edward almost laughed. Something so plaintive and girlish sounded odd in her growl.
"I thought it would be easier that way."
"You were always like that, Edward. Looking for the easy way out."
Edward narrowed his eyes. "I wouldnít have made it very far as your student if that were true."
Izumi threw a punch. Edward ducked and darted backwards. She threw another and another. Edward dodged each one.
"Fight me back, goddamn it!" Izumi bellowed. She swung a foot his head, which he blocked with his metal arm.
"I donít want to fight you." He blocked another punch.
"Fight me back!" Izumi was beginning to swing wildly, still with great grace, but growing careless in her frenzy. She threw one final, sloppy left hook that Edward caught. In the scuffle, Edward seized her other arm and held tight.
"Fight me back," she snarled, holding her face inches from his.
"I thought I was helping," Edward said. "But Iíve only made it worse." He watched as her face began to tighten and contort, water welling up into her eyes.
"If youíre any student of mine, youíll fight me back," Izumi said, her voice fading in and out, strangled with tears.
"What do you think Iíve been doing for the past three weeks?" Edward asked, pulling her hands away from her body to keep her from struggling. Izumi shook her head, tears now streaming down her face.
She suddenly dropped her head and began to cry to the floor. "I didnít mean to make you fight it, Edward." Her arms went slack, and a wrenching sob escaped her mouth. "I donít know what Iím going to do."
Edward felt something in his chest tighten painfully. The sounds she was making, the pathetic, sobbing whimpers, terrified him. He considered hugging her, but something about holding her so close without the numbing, distancing effect of their fucking seemed too intimate. Were he to hug her, he would be admitting her weakness. And she was not weak.
"Youíre tough as nails, sensei," Edward said to the top of her head. "Youíll be okay."
Before he could think to remove himself, Edward was attacked once more. He felt her fists against his chest, her cheek against his shoulder and her lips on his collarbone. Edward went rigid, suddenly unsure what to do with his hands.
"Donít you dare leave, Edward Elric."
This was what he had feared. He had envisioned her deliquescing into this. He knew he was undoubtedly the cause of Ė he cringed at the thought Ė her weakness. If she, once the paragon of endurance, were nothing more than this weepy widow, clinging to him and planting salty kisses up his throat, what did that make him?
It made him a coward who looked for the easy way out. He would try again tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning he would have his things already packed, and he could torment himself to sleep on the train back to Risemburg.
"All right," Edward said, placing his flesh hand against the small of her back. "Iíll stay."