Rating: NC-17 (eventually)
Summary: Ambition takes many forms.
Notes:Sequel to The Adventures of Roy Mustang: Sex Ed Teacher and Better Living Through Alchemy. I had a lot more notes about this that LJ ate. ANYWAYS, I did start a third part before, called True Story, but I couldn't make it work, it had a lot of flaws and I was generally unhappy with it, so I've started over again. These events take place roughly a year and a half after the end of BLTA.
TARM:SET and BLTA can be found Here.
Hi, it's 9/4/14 and I think I should warn everyone this is probably a WIP forever at this point. I just want people to have the heads up that this fic has not been updated in a while and isn't likely to be updated in the near future. Thanks to everyone who's left a comment here, I really do appreciate it and I'm always happy people enjoyed the fic =)
It seemed like he was only 15 for a moment. That everything that shaped what he was came at him in one non-ending rush and he had to hurry through just to make ends meet.
He'd always wanted him to make the discoveries, have the life that was snatched from him. He'd always wanted to provide him with a life, not just an existence.
According to Ed he was doing fairly well.
The professor, now in his third year at the academy, was worrying though his intermediate class and interviewing candidates to take over the beginners class that he was leaving behind.
It made him all kinds of manic and stressed and beautiful.
“You'll be a tenured head of a department in ten years,” the general told him and the professor's eyes had widened and his mouth had drawn down.
“Don't wish that on me,” he cried, trapped behind his desk by the very essay assignments he had assigned in the first place, “I'm not in this to be an administrator!”
“Oh ho ho,” the general countered, “You think not? Well I have news for you Professor Elric; there is nothing like someone who is good at his job. People like to foist all the responsibility onto competent people rather than having to try and brow beat the slackers among them into doing a better job.”
“Well they slipped up on you,” Ed said with a twist of his lip. “You are the ultimate in slacker advancement.”
“It's my dashing good looks and winning personality,” Roy said, with a flick of his bangs. “If you had better people skills you wouldn't have to be so smart.”
“Looks won't save you from my obvious manly physique that would stomp you into a greasy spot,” Ed growled in return.
“Oh but they will,” Roy purred. “All I have to do is the sad face; you fold like a napkin.”
“Fuck you,” Ed grumbled. “Get out, I'm trying to work, I don't have time to be admiring you right now.”
“Oh, the burdens of beauty,” Roy sighed and sauntered into the living room before he was asked to help grade papers.
General Mustang's office was the hang out. Everyone seemed to find their way there at any given point of the day, for not particular reason usually, just to be there. It was a habit, one no one seemed inclined to break no matter what the assignment or where they had moved in the ranks.
A frequent visitor was a newly reassigned and relocated Colonel Hawkeye. Fresh from the east with new husband in tow, she'd managed to get herself reassigned to the building she'd left in order to find better things. Roy knew better, Roy knew that Riza's new husband would prefer to be near his brother, who happened to be Roy's husband (or something like that), and so she'd pulled some strings and favors and here she was again. Roy was not displeased at her presence, but displeased at her rebuff of having herself once again on his staff.
“I passed the torch of babysitting to Havoc, you see,” she informed him briskly. “Al wants you and Ed to come for dinner on Sunday,” she delivered in the same tone. “I won't be cooking,” she reassured him to make the invitation more appealing.
“I see, I'm good enough to have dinner with but not good enough to work for,” the general sniffed.
“I'll tell Alphonse I extended the invitation, he expects you at seven sharp,” the colonel continued.
“My god woman, have you no sense of nostalgia? Can't you see that we made a crack team? If you would just come back to my staff I promise to sign everything you give me...eventually,” the general wheedled.
“You needn't bring anything, unless you feel you must. You have good taste in wine, so if you bring something, bring some wine,” the colonel informed him.
“I could let you set your own hours,” the general said, shifting things around on his desk, “I'll let you pick your own assistant.”
“Tell Edward not to forget to bring back the books he borrowed. Alphonse gets twitchy when he knows Edward has something on loan and he fails to bring it back at his next visit,” the colonel continued.
“All right, I see that you are forcing me into concessions I wouldn't make in normal circumstances,” the general blustered. “If you come back to my staff I'll give you your own office and not make you sit in here with me and the others. I can turn one of them into a messenger and just have him run notes back and forth all day, or I could get you an office with your own phone and then I could just call you when I needed to and you could come over here. What about, instead of an office I get you one of those screens and we set your desk up behind that and you can still have a phone and when I call you then you wouldn't have so far to walk.”
“See you Sunday,” the colonel said and turned on her heel and marched out of his office.
“Wait! I can throw in your own filing cabinets,” the general called after her, but it was to late, she was gone.
They would be 15 in a moment. They were just on the cusp. Next year they would be the advanced class and after that they would be gone from his influence. All he had left was this time he'd been granted before graduation showed them the path beyond and the opportunity to make of themselves what they would. It seemed an enormous responsibility, even for one who'd already lived a lifetime of responsibility before his lifetime was even half over.
He'd been crowded into a little office down the hall he suspected was once a broom closet. No so much for it's size but for the many, many 'coat hooks' on the wall. Why he needed an office as beyond him, but the Dean has insisted and the more the Dean insisted the more the 'administrator' conversation he'd had with Roy came to mind.
He didn't want to be an administrator, and yet here he was, cramped at a desk with barely enough room to move the chair back and forth and a bookshelf that almost kept the door from closing and a filing cabinet that seemed to defy the laws of physics by existing against the wall as it did. How they got it into this place, Ed would never know. There wasn't really any room for anyone else to be in it at the same time Ed was in it, so there was no chair for visitors and in fact, visitors had to relegate themselves to being framed in the doorway. It had an dramatic, if uncomfortable impact on any conversation, Ed hunched at a desk, looking up at the imposing figure in the doorway. Even if it was only one of his students.
“I'm insulted, on your behalf of course,” Seth sniffed, adjusting his glasses. “This isn't a proper office. Coach Taylor has a couch in his office and you are a million times the teacher he even dreams of being. I should complain to the Dean.”
“No, no,” Ed said, hunched over his desk, his schedule book open and jammed against his in-box, “don't make any waves on my behalf. Truth be told I don't want an office. I can grade papers just fine at home. I prefer doing it at home. The only reason I have an office is to make appointments with students who need help after class. I try to make class so implicitly self-explanatory that there should be no need for this.” Ed glanced at his schedule book. “So, if you want to make an appointment to see me after class, I can pencil you in.”
“Really? I can do that?” Seth asked. Why Seth would even consider this puzzled Ed. Seth was one of his brightest students, a self motivated natural as it were with a logical lean. There was absolutely no reason for Seth to need any additional guidance other than what Ed presented in class. Because Ed was just good like that, none of his students should need any help because he'd turned them all into magnificent little knowledge sponges. Yes he had.
“Well, what about tomorrow?” Seth ventured.
“Ok,” Ed said slowly, “what is it you want to talk about?”
“I don't really know,” Seth said, pulling his lip. “Maybe about the assessment at the end of the semester.”
Ed called finals 'assessments.” He figured it was a good lead in to those among his students who took the practice of Alchemy seriously enough to pursue it beyond school. Since the number one employer of alchemists was the military, it would be good to go ahead and know the terms before hand.
“I thought you had your assessment already planned out,” Ed said. “In fact, I know you have, you turned in an outline, although it wasn't really assigned...yet. It's a good outline and I told you that it was a sound theory so I'm not sure why you want to go over it.”
“Ok,” Seth said, trying again, “what about next semester's topics? I'd like to get a heads up on what to expect so maybe I can read up over break.”
Ed himself didn't even know what next semester's topics would be; he sort of taught like he practiced alchemy to begin with; by the seat of his pants. But to cover up the fact he hadn't thought that far ahead he said: “No, I'd rather not have you getting any misconceptions about the material by reading unassigned books. When you have a grasp on the material presented to you, then you can go do research on your own.”
There, that sounded professional and teacherly, he was sure of it.
“Well, I guess I don't really need an appointment,” Seth admitted. “You are pretty thorough in class.”
Ed sat up straighter in his chair. “Yes, I know,” he said proudly.
Daniel chose then to squeeze in, managing to slip past Seth and tower over Ed directly at his desk. In the past year Daniel had added several inches and Ed found himself eye to eye with the boy's chin more and more these days.
“What the hell? They gave you the broom closet?” Daniel asked, trying to scoot closer to the filing cabinet and away from a suddenly glowering professor.
“It's an office, it's not open for discussion, I'm not planning on being in here that much as it is,” Ed said, but refrained from waving his hands around because there was simply no room.
“I don't get it, why would you put up with this?” Daniel said, trying to lean against the filing cabinets but the handles of the drawers made it impossible without risking spine damage.
“I'm not putting up with anything,” Ed said, putting his elbow on the desk and resting his chin in his palm. “Having an office does nothing to reflect on my ability as a teacher. Having an office means having extra space to store my junk. It literally has no symbolism to me. What I get out of this job I get in the classroom, in the actual environment of teaching. This,” he gestured around the small room, “isn't what teaching is about. Does Taylor really have a couch in his office?”
“Yeah,” Seth said, nodding and leaning on the door jamb. “He takes naps on it.”
“Case in point,” Ed said, gesturing at Seth and looking at Daniel.
“It's disrespectful,” Daniel further groused, then raised his eyebrow when Ed and Seth looked at him. “What?” he asked.
“This space does something to the brain,” Seth said, “it's making Daniel say things I'd never thought I'd hear him say.”
“Oh come on, I know you're thinking it,” Daniel said. “Look, he won't stick up for himself half the time and that's part of why we have that club you know.”
“Wait, what?” Ed said, sitting up in the chair. “What do you mean?”
“We modified the club bylines a bit,” Seth said, reaching up to push at the bridge of his glasses and giving Daniel a 'look'. “It's just a little paragraph about how we want to watch out for your best interests.”
“There will be no sticking up for me, here or otherwise. You guys seem to forget I'm the adult,” Ed said, feeling strange and warm. “I have been taking care of myself since I was younger than both of you, myself and my brother. I got a pretty good grasp of how to do it by now.”
“I'm not saying you aren't capable,” Seth placated, “But you have odd priorities sometimes. You're one of the best, no wait, you probably are the best, teacher in this school and this is how the school thanks you. It's not right Professor, that's all, and we're baffled by how you don't see that.”
“You just have to learn that things like honor and respect come from the people you care about,” Ed said, mouth tilting up on one side. “As long as you get that, then the other stuff is just peripheral. Maybe I don't consider the school politics worthy of my time. I don't play the game like they want me to, my priority here is you guys. That's all I'm worried about. Ok?”
“If you say so,” Daniel sniffed and Seth had a pleased flush to his cheeks.
“Ok, I gotta go,” Ed said, standing and then negotiating with Daniel for what little standing room there actually was. “It's Al's first day at his new job and I promised I'd drop by and see him. So if neither of you have any pressing matters that requires my attention here in my office, I'll be on my way.”
Seth backed into the hall to allow Ed to come out and Daniel followed after, pulling the door shut behind him.
“Say hi to Al for me,” Seth said and Ed shrugged on his coat and gave them a raised hand and headed down the hall.
Alphonse Elric had landed a prestigious job with a prestigious firm on a prestigious street in a prestigious locale in Central. Ed, dressed as he usually was on school days in his vest and tie and tweed almost felt under dressed just walking into the building where Al worked. It was an architectural firm and they had caught wind of Alphonse while he was free-lancing in the growing construction-via-alchemy field. Al's assistant greeted him, offered him a choice of beverage, had him sit in a comfy chair while she telephoned Alphonse who was in his office behind a shut door not three feet away to see if it was alright for Edward to pay a visit. She then escorted Ed the three feet, opened the door for him, ushered him inside and asked if there was anything at all she could do for them. Al jumped hastily to his feet when Ed came in, awkwardly assured her he was fine and she smiled pleasantly and withdrew, shutting the door behind her and leaving the brothers alone.
The both stood and stared at each other for a moment before Al broke into a grin and said: “Check this out!”
He went to count the windows in his corner office for Ed. There were six. He annunciated each number loudly and touched the pane of each one. Then he ran over and flopped down on the big leather sofa in the sitting area in his office. Then he got back up, came back to his desk and practically laid over the top of it.
“It has a leather top,” Al moaned. “Come and feel it, it's incredible. See? It's got gold etching around the sides.”
“Does Riza know you're making love to your desk?” Ed said, amused.
“Riza hasn't visited the office yet, seeing as how this is my first day,” Al said. “But I have ideas, oh the ideas.”
“Ok, that's enough,” Ed said, walking over to look at the desk. “I know that I should encourage these ideas and maybe I'll get a niece or nephew from the bargain and carry on the good name of Elric, but you know, it's Riza and that... I can't handle that right now. Forgive me.”
“Oh the irony,” Al said. “You can just imagine what went through my mind when Roy was still a Colonel and you still rubbed on all the corners in our room.”
“Shut up,” Ed said tightly , then reached down to touch the top of Al's leather desk.
“When you create an alchemy department at the academy, which you're definitely on the way already making an intermediate class, then you will have an office and a desk...,” Al said, hands flat on his own desk, leaning toward his older brother.
“Stop right there!” Ed said. “First off, I have an office thank you very much. It's not as big or extravagant, but you know, really I have Roy's office, too. That counts, it does, I work in there, I worked in there when I was in the military. It's like a big shared communal office, so it counts. And a the risk of repeating myself I won't, so lay off the advancing the ladder crap.”
Al gave a half smile, then sat hard in his high backed leather swivel chair and slouched in it, wiggling his eyebrow at Ed.
“Oh, good impression, you've had a good teacher for that,” Ed said with a grin. “If you do that and Riza is here to you'd have it perfect.”
“You coming over for dinner on Sunday?” Al asked.
“Have you ever known me to turn my nose up at free food?” Ed countered. They did this for a bit. This small talk and chatter that was so comfortable between them, then Ed left Al to his new profession and made his way back to headquarters and an office even bigger than Alphonse's; with a marble topped desk to boot.
“I could have sworn,” Roy said, for the third time, sitting at his desk at home, just across from Ed. He shuffled papers much the way he did in his day to day life in the office and opened and closed his top desk drawer three or four times. “Ed, did you...?” he started but Ed caught him.
“I did not, and I know what you are going to ask me,” Ed said. “You do the bills, you seem to consider it your job. The bills and checking the mail. I don't know why you get that little twitch at the corner of your mouth when I handle the mail, but you do, so I decided to just let you do it. So, sorry, I don't know where your woefully misfiled piece of paper is, not matter what it is, I don't do the bills or the mail.”
“Alright,” Roy said, not turning around, “just checking.”
“What are we doing this weekend other than eating at Al's house,” Ed asked, putting his elbow on his desk and his chin in his palm. “Are we doing anything Saturday or are we staying in? I'm thinking I'd like to go out, but we can't go out out because we have to be at Al's the next day and be fairly sociable, so what is there to do other than go out out on a Saturday?”
“I'm sure I could find someway to occupy you,” Roy said in a manner that made Ed curl his toes in his slippers. “I don't think we've had a day of bed in a long time, we've been to busy. We could get a lot of junk food and carry the phonograph into the bedroom.”
“Ummm, junk food,” Ed sighed.
“I see your priorities,” the general said, turning in his chair and giving Ed a grin, “we've been married to long.”
“I doubt it, I think forever isn't long enough to be married to you,” Ed said, leaning forward on his palm and letting his eyes go half mast. “My priorities these days are amazingly, deliciously, incredibly mundane and I want to keep them that way. Not to say you're mundane,” and Ed made kissy lips at the general.
“I'm so happy not to be on the mundane list,” the general grinned. “I wouldn't like to think I'm losing it or anything.”
“You will never lose it,” Ed assured him. “Even when we are old and feeble and I have to push you in a wheelchair you will still have it. “
Roy was about to say something that was probably just a smug retort about how he'd always suspected he would be the sexist man on the planet when R.D. came trotting in from his ventures in the back yard. He went to Roy's feet and hopped up and down until Roy pushed back in his chair enough so R.D. could hop up into his lap. The R.D. put his paws on Roy's desk and inspected the papers laying there.
“I see R.D. is privy to the mail,” Ed said, tapping his pen on the desk. “My pecking order in this house has been established.”
“I'm sorry Ed,” Roy soothed, rubbing R.D.'s ears, “but he's got such a glib style of correspondence, you understand.”
Ed returned to grading his own papers, R.D.'s input not required.
Ed dashed up the walk like he was five and Roy grinned and watched him go. He sauntered after him, bottle of fine wine tucked firmly under his arm and hands in his pocket. Ed both rang the doorbell and used the knocker then tried to peek in the little side window beside the front door.
The door flew open and Al shouted, “Ed!” and Ed shouted, “Al!” then half tackled his brother and they staggered in through the foyer. By the time Roy got there Al had Ed in a headlock. He managed to make it by the wrestling Elrics without mishap and found Riza standing in the kitchen doorway all ready to accept his bottle of wine.
The true adults among the quartet decided to have some of the wine to help them deal with what seemed to be the quasi-adults wrestling in the living room. They'd finished off half the bottle sitting at the small breakfast nook table talking shop when the latter two joined them, one immediately horning in on the general's wine glass and the other hastening to fetch two clean ones. The minor squabble over Roy's booze ended when Al waved a wine glass under Ed's nose and then Al took the seat next to Riza and Ed sat on Roy's knees making Roy grunt.
“What did you make me?” Ed said with an easy, relaxed smile and a big gulp of wine. “I hope since I'm company now I get something fancy. I wasn't company before, but now I'm company.”
“You're still not company,” Al returned good naturedly. “But I tried to make you something fancy, I hope you like it. It's called spaghetti carbonara. It has bacon in it,” Al hastened to add at Ed's look.
“Al read many variations of the recipe,” Riza said in a tone that suggested Ed better like it, “he has come up with his own version and it is of course, beyond exception, just like everything he does.”
The Riza and Al looked at each other and Ed gulped more wine and Roy patted his back.
“Even if you don't,” Al offered, “I made a ton of garlic bread and you can just eat that,” but really, his eyes were still on Riza.
“I'm sure it will be fine,” Ed said, trying hard not to look at Al looking at Riza or at just Riza because she's probably make the scary face at him for suggesting his brother's cooking was anything less than perfection, “you know me, I'll eat just about anything.”
“I can't wait to try it,” Roy said with a slight purr to his voice, “I really enjoy new culinary experiences, especially anything pertaining to noodles. I eat a lot of noodles, variety is nice.”
“That is a dig at me you suck up,” Ed said and realized his wine glass was empty.
Al bounced up then, slapped the table top with his palms.
“Let's eat! Come help me Ed! You can carry some bowls,” and he dashed off into the kitchen proper. Ed got up to charge after him.
“Do we need odds on whether or not this meal will make it to the table,” Roy asked, standing as well and snagging the wine bottle.
“Al's enthusiasm is only unmanageable around Edward,” Riza said, gathering up the excess wine glasses. “But I still have faith he can enforce the calm on Ed he use to in his youth, it will be fine.”
They all sat down at the big table in the dining room for the meal. Riza brought out some of the house wine to supplement the nearly empty bottle of wine Roy had brought. There wasn't much talk at first because everyone was eating. Carbonara, while not meat sauce, was almost as good, Ed informed Al after his third helping. Then there was a minor debate about it since technically carbonara had meat in it, but not crumbled up meat, like meat sauce normally had; so, really it was meat sauce. But since it wasn't as much meat to sauce it was like the poorer cousin of meat sauce...maybe it was the poor man's meat sauce. Ed quizzed Al about the many variant names given to the same dish, but poor man's sauce didn't seem to be among them. They both pondered.
“Can we please get off the meat sauce discussion,” the general finally begged. “I think Riza is asleep.”
Riza jerked then, blinked rapidly. “No, I'm fine,” she said in a bit of a daze.
“Like talking mobilization isn't any more snore inducing,” Ed groused, but let himself be steered away before any more meat sauce discussion ensued. “So what is it you want to talk about?”
“I don't know, many and various topics, there is a plethora to choose from. Alphonse how is your new job? Your brother only drooled over your desk and really didn't say much else.”
“I did NOT,” Ed said, cheeks red. “I was only using it as an example to point out the superiority of your own desk, oh you traitor, see if I tell you anything ever again,” Ed huffed.
“He should drool over my desk, and while your desk could be implied as fancier General, my desk is much more inviting. I would say that would advance me more in my position as I am there to make the clients very happy and being inviting invites happiness, right?” Al stuck his nose in the air.
“I guess,” Roy got out before Riza spoke up.
“The General's desk lends him an air of authority so often needed. Although, when the occasion calls for it, the General can and will exert all authority necessary to a situation, in his own office he tends to be lackadaisical in the dolling out of authority. I've tried to wrap my head around it many times, I just don't understand. So the General needs an imposing desk in his office to at least help him be authoritative even as he slacks.”
“Thank you, Colonel,” Roy managed to get out before Ed spoke up.
“Roy deserves a bigger, badder desk because he's been around a lot longer and it's a sign of respect. I realize I have only been teaching at the academy for two years, so my desk is just a wooden teachers desk, but that's fine! That is what I have worked up to so far, and really, it doesn't matter because I'm there to be a teacher and having a teachers desk is just fine! My office isn't very big either, but I don't need a big office, what would I do in it? I need to be out in front of the students teaching which is what I'm there to do, not sitting in that converted broom closet with a desk with wobbly leg. I don't even know what to do when I'm in there. No one can really squeeze in there with me, it's about this big,” and Ed demonstrated with his hands. “But that's ok, I don't need all that space like the two important people here do, I mean all I do is teach alchemy to the future leaders of this country, that's all. I don't command midnight raids or decided where to put the bathroom on a floorplan. My desk is just fine the way it is,” then Ed folded his arms across his chest.
“I'll speak to the Dean,” Roy offered.
“I'll design you a new office,” Al said, trying not to sniffle.
“No, it's fine!” Ed said, turning to study the wall on the other side of the dining room.
“Let's have dessert,” Riza said, blinking awake again.
It was getting late when Roy started tugging Ed toward the foyer. Riza sort of shoved him along while keeping Al from clinging to his brother's arm and they even managed to get out to the walk.
“Bye Al,” Ed said mournfully. Leaning toward his brother since Roy was tugging him back.
“Bye Ed,” Al said in a like fashion. He was being half blocked by his wife, but he sort of hung on the door jamb in sorrow.
“It's not like you won't see him tomorrow, or five times this week,” Roy said. “It's like trying to separate playing toddlers,” and he looked to Riza for sympathy.
But Riza seem to have her own method, she bent over and said something very softly in Al's ear and Al stood stalk still for a moment, then became of flurry of movement.
“The General is right, I live here now, see you later,” and Al shut the door in Ed's face.
“Isn't love grand?” the general said behind him.
He lay behind Ed, nose touching the crown of his head. Ed was hugging a pillow and whistle snoring softly and he didn't know his lover was lying behind him awake, marveling at the creature that was himself there with the general in bed.
Ed could be so much more than a teacher. It wasn't as if Ed wasn't making a difference, he was, and when this role was first presented, no matter what the original intentions of it might be, it was perfect for Ed. But that was then and this was...this was not then.
Ed could be his catalyst, his foot in the door to where it truly needed to go. Did they think just because he'd lost the prime minister race he'd lost all the ambition that drove him to it in the first place? But see, no one was interested in Roy's ambition anymore, so he had to find a new outlet. Power was still power, overt or subtle, and things didn't need to be out in the open to be controlled. He ran his hand down Ed's side and Ed sighed softly, gnawed his pillow a bit and curled up some more.
Roy knew that Ed was happy. Happy and content in his life; and maybe that should stay his hand.
But Ed could be so much more.
If only he would see.
So much more than he was right now, he could have power and control, Roy could show him how this was done. Politics had their own seduction, ambition had it's own addiction. Ed could see because Roy could show him. Could show him all he could be.
Because Ed could be so much more.
Ed could be Roy's power, his ambition, his ruler.
And with Ed, Roy could still rule the nation.
He ground the ball of his hand over his left eye and tried to vanish these thoughts, the ones that only came at night. The eye beneath his hand seemed to throb.
He looked at Ed again. Ed who was happy. Ed who deserved to be happy. Then he threw himself hard over on his side facing away from Ed and hoped tonight, he would not dream.