Summary: Ambition takes many forms.
Notes: Surprise betaing by militsa. wtf is up with LJ and posting fics anymore. It use to be so easy, now it takes freaking forever
Previous Chapters found on The Master List
The first thing you do is look for the weakest link.
The two best opportunities are either a man with a secret or a man with a past.
Fortunately the military was ripe for this type of individual. If you got in, as long as you obeyed the rules, you had an impermeable wall called the state built all around you and the troubles of the past were not allowed entrance.
And if you do break the rules? Don't get caught. At least don't get caught by anyone with rank. That was the biggest threat. And especially not anyone with rank who is looking to find someone with a secret or a past.
Corporal Morgan had a past and he had a secret.
He sat nervously in a bench in the hall, twisting his cloth cap between his hands. He glanced up at passersby, feeling like a naughty fifth grader waiting to see the principal. The door to his left opened abruptly and there was a clearing of the throat and he jumped to his feet, but before he could snap out his salute the brisk nod of the other man's head gestured for him to come inside.
He shuffled forward nervously, slunk into the doorway and was pushed further inside by the man holding the door knob's snort. Then the man withdrew abruptly, and the door shutting behind him sounded in Morgan's mind like the slamming of a dungeon door, like in the movies.
The man at the other end of the office pointed to a chair in front of his desk and said: “Sit” in a tone that brooked no discussion, so Morgan scurried forward and parked his butt in the leather arm chair there and fisted his hands on his knees.
The first moments of silence stretched into minutes as he sat there, watching the man at the desk leaf page by page though a large brown folder. The man would pause every now and again and tap a pen against the sheafs of paper before continuing on.
“I'm not very impressed with what I'm seeing here,” the man behind the desk said flatly. “For someone with a commission to lose, you would think you'd have a better record. Do you have a temper, Corporal Morgan?”
“A...a bit of one, sir,” Morgan stammered, reaching up to scratch at his collar. “I've been working on it and I've talked to the counselors, sir.”
“They seem equally unimpressed,” the man behind the desk sighed. He laid the pencil on the papers and leaned back in his chair and put his elbows on the armrests. Then he laced his fingers in front of himself and he looked at Morgan. He looked at him as if he were trying to count the follicles in Morgan's receding hairline, or the pores in his skin. He looked at Morgan as if somehow, there in plain view, was a written record of every questionable thing Morgan had ever done tattooed on his skin. His eyes traveled the contour of Morgan's throat and Morgan could feel it; likened it to the crawl of sweat beads and gnats that clung to you when you worked too long in the sun. He shifted in his seat and the man raised his eyebrows, but his eyes stayed steady and his mouth stayed flat.
“Is there any reason not to drum you right on out of service and let you go home?” the man behind the desk said, leaning back in his chair.
There were plenty of reasons why Morgan didn't want to go home.
“I don't really see why we need to keep you in the line of service,” the man continued, looking off for a moment at a picture on the wall to his left, “but from what I've read and been able to find out, I see every reason why you want the military's protection.”
“It's not fair,” Morgan blurted out and then tried to bite it back, but the man lifted his hand and made a roll of his fingers, like a come out with it gesture, as if he were beckoning the words from Morgan's mouth, giving them permission when Morgan wouldn't.
“Everyone at home, they don't know what really happened and they won't listen. If you send me back there it's like sending me to a lynching,” Morgan ground out. “They don't know the truth. I didn't do anything that wasn't asked for!”
The man leaned forward a moment, placed a finger onto one of the pages and drew it slowly across before looking up at Morgan again.
“So these two girls, Pamela and Janice?” the man asked.
“They're lying,” Morgan said lowly. He had learned that if he left off descriptive terms like 'whores' and 'bitches', he got more sympathy.
“I see,” the man said, leaning back into his chair again. “That's unfortunate, to be mislabeled like that, isn't it?”
“Yessir,” Morgan mumbled, ducking his head. “The recruiter said that didn't matter. He said it wouldn't come up.”
“Oh he was right,” the man behind the desk said, leaning his head back into his chair and looking at the ceiling. “If there wasn't solid evidence or a conviction then the military just glosses over the finer details. It makes for a better solider if they are more beholden to you. You see how that works, right?”
“Yessir,” Morgan said again, licking his lips and swallowing.
“As long as you function properly and you stay within the lines the military is willing to invest in any walk of life to get the job done. As a matter of fact, you can take myself as a prime example. There are many things I could rightfully say that perhaps the military shouldn't have overlooked, but here I am. And here you are, too. In a way, we're kindred.”
“Yessir,” Morgan mumbled again, not sure how he should be feeling at the moment.
“But, just because we're kindred doesn't make us equals,” the man sat forward abruptly, straightening his back and clasping his hands in front of him right on the stack of all of Morgan's sins. “Let's have a discussion now, between the two of us. And let me assure, this is between the two of us. See, there is a difference between our walks of life, Morgan. The fact you are in this office, no matter who has seen you, is only between you and me. I like loyalty, I will do what it takes to achieve loyalty. If you have one man's loyalty do you know what you have?”
“Nu...no,” Morgan croaked out.
“You have power,” the man behind the desk grinned now. A grin that stayed there where a grin was supposed to be and was completely opposite of the grin that was laughing at Morgan from his eyes. “And such loyalty is greatly rewarded. If any of my people were to volunteer anything to you, the one thing they would say is that they are well compensated for turning themselves over.”
Morgan nodded slowly, confusion making his gut cold and his throat thick, he reached up to tug at his collar again.
“I will put it more simply since that is what you seem to need,” the man sighed again. “I have you. Don't you know a recruiter will say anything and everything to bring in another soul to harvest? I have all I need now to send you back to the waiting arms of a town ready to crush you. So, in the interest of self preservation you are going to work for me. In exchange I will keep you close and keep you under wraps and I will do what it takes to keep you here. You will take orders from me, you will report directly to me and there isn't a choice here, just in case you think you have one.”
The man reached into his uniform jacket and pulled out a card, he offered it, holding it between two fingers across the desk to Morgan. Morgan reached forward slowly to take it, almost afraid to touch it and definitely afraid to brush the man's fingers.
“You will take that number, you will memorize it tonight and then you will shred that card and you will burn it in an ashtray and then you will flush the ashes, are we clear?” the man said pleasantly enough.
“Crystal, sir,” Morgan said, feeling dead and trapped an as if he were at home all over again.
“Good,” the man said, settling back into a more relaxed position in his chair. “I'm glad we had this discussion. It's really not so bad, try to stop looking like a mouse facing down a cat,” and then the man smirked at his little joke. Morgan dropped his eyes and nodded, stuffing the card into his jacket pocket.
“Dismissed,” the man said with a wave of his hand. “Despite our little understanding now we can't forget all the formalities that make this legitimate.”
Morgan got to his feet, he put on his cap, then saluted. Then he turned, marched out the door, down the hall, to the barracks and to his room to huddle over the toilet and have the shakes alone.
Goggles and bandannas. Canvas aprons and rubber galoshes. Work gloves and paint brushes and a can of what might be referred to as dirty white paint. The Elric army had come prepared.
Ed had cleared the desk in his office of the really important things, ( like the splinter laden in-box he would only pick up with his automail hand and a blotter that once served as a calendar five years ago), and laid a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the filing cabinet, ( not that any random splatters of paint would hurt it, they would probably fortify it so it would stay together another few months ).
“Can't we just do this with alchemy?” Daniel complained. “I wanted to see you toss the bucket in the air and clap your hands and then it would just be done. I didn't sign up for the goon patrol or want to wear its uniform.”
“If you can do something with your hands...,” Seth started, “then you should just do it,” he and Ed finished together, and then they both nodded and Daniel groaned.
“I never even knew Izumi Curtis and she rules my life,” Daniel further complained.
“Besides, all the paint tossing with alchemy is Al's department,” Ed said. “I'm not as talented in the building materials department of alchemy, and I don't want to be.” Ed held up his finger. “I have done plenty of home projects and the General has only had to fix a few behind me, I mean help me, and I have the painting thing down pat now. Besides, don't you remember when we painted the class room? The old class room? It's still there, I see it when I go in there to make sure the beginners class isn't being fucked up, I mean taught properly!” Ed threw his hands in the air. “Obviously the fumes are already getting to me, so the faster we smear this on the walls, the sooner we can go!”
Daniel grumbled and got the pan to put the paint into as Ed used his automail fingers as handy prying tools to get the lid off the paint can. Then they divided up the paint and got to work. Ed insisted on standing on his desk to paint the wall behind it and Seth took the back wall and Daniel called the two thin strips of wall beside the door. About five minutes in Duffy wandered up to the doorway and played supervisor for about three seconds before calling Ed out on the real reason he wanted to stand on the desk, ( and yes, so that it would make him taller, there was no denying it ), and was fired. Eric showed up and danced back and forth like a stork with a sore neck waving a paper he wanted Ed to sign for no other good reason than Ed should sign it because he'd gotten an A on it and wanted Ed to validate it, but then it was discovered the paper was from his history class and why Ed needed to validate his good history grades was anyone's guess. So he was told he'd have to make an appointment for the next day and he stalked off in a huff to store the paper until the appointed time so it wouldn't get lost.
Then Daniel had to get on the desk with Ed to paint the places Ed still couldn't paint, even standing on the desk, and this made Ed irritable and snappy. Then the desk got snappy, too, and Ed and Daniel clung to one another abruptly at a particularly loud snap, then realized what they were doing and stepped back so hard that Ed ended up with his green vest being a duo tone, green on front, dirty white on back and Seth got flattened when Daniel fell on him.
Ed also now sported a very punk look he was informed, with his half dirty white ponytail.
“That is IT,” Ed roared. “If Al can do it, I can do it!” And he grabbed the remainder of the paint in its can, hurled it at the wall and clapped his hands.
Ed, in his infinite wisdom, had taken the time to study the floor plan of the school where his small office resided. Not that he cared, mind you, or that he wanted to expand it in anyway, but just as a mild curiosity when he had nothing to do but dash madly to the maintenance department before class started and ask Mr. Pine, Tom's dad, if he could have a peek. He stored all this knowledge for his later use, if he ever had a use for it, which really he didn't because he really didn't care that the space above his office was also a broom closet and the space above that was plain, flat roof with no major plumbing or electrical wiring to worry about, say if, someday someone transmuted up that far.
Well that day had come.
Daniel and Seth had never been in the center of a maelstrom of alchemy before and frankly, they never wanted to be again. They huddled there, on the floor of the professor's tiny office, hugging each other while the maniac, whom they'd mistaken for the professor earlier, leaped up into his rickety office chair and cackled insanely. Large, blue bolts of alchemy rose around him as an array burnt itself into the floor, into the walls and the very ceiling itself, juxtaposed and as beautiful as the man wielding it was terrible and they wondered if this would be the last thing they saw in their very brief lives.
To die for alchemy.
Seth at least thought it was a noble and ballad-worthy death.
“What are you DOING?!” Daniel yelled above the roar, but the professor was gone and it was if he was the alchemy, there was no denying it. What they were witnessing was flesh made energy, the pouring of an entire being into a circle of conductivity and a phenomenon unlike they had ever seen or unlike they would ever seen again.
This was the Fullmetal Alchemist. Daniel tightened his grip on Seth and wondered if this is what all those people saw, the ones that tried to stand against him and this is why he was still among the living when all was said and done.
The walls around them blurred from existence; becoming liquid and light and movement and stretching upwards, groaning as they died and were reborn. The roof above them buckled and they both ducked instinctively, ready to be buried in the rubble, but the rubble never came. Instead the roof inverted itself, imploded upward, carrying its matter into the flowing stream of blue and white lightening that had once been walls and the things above screamed their death throes as they were similarly engulfed.
On the grounds below, the guard tower sounded out its warning blare as the roof of the academy spewed forth a beam of light. The hallways themselves were a swarm of evacuees, and those who would brave it to approach were blinded by the light rippling off every surface, reflective or not.
The images were too fast and too many to make out in detail as the light spun around them. There was only the sense of the vast displacement of air and the sounds of the things around them being forced into more than what they once were. There was only the feeling of incredible awe and terror, until, finally, mercifully, the light began to dim and the sounds receded until there was silence all around; almost an unnatural stillness that made the experience all the more surreal. Daniel lifted his face to look at the figure standing in the chair. It seemed, even in the hush, the professor was still moving. His hair, his clothing, the light returning from where it had erupted until he, too, seemed to fade back into reality.
He stepped down off his chair, put his fists on his hips and he looked up. Daniel nudged Seth, his eyes trailing upwards, too.
What had once been the ceiling above them was now not. It was open in the center, a square, and from the wall in front of them was a series of steps, formed right out of the wall, complete with railing leading upwards. It was if the room above was now a wrap around balcony with railings, looking down into the space below, but there was more. Pouring in was light, but this light was calm; familiar. It rained down on the boys from the sun above, but seemed filtered, as if through glass and Daniel's eyes widened as he could see the blue sky beyond.
“This bottom part,” the professor said, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand, “will be the waiting area and you know, extra filing cabinets. The desk and meeting area is up there,” and he pointed up. “I didn't have enough paint for all the walls, so I just added some stripes to make it more interesting and I used the sink and bench upstairs to make a desk, I think that's rather innovative myself; it will look like steel. I added all the railings, that is a must for safety concerns, but all in all, I think that pretty much gives me all the room I will ever need for an office.” He tilted his head at the two boys who were now slowly climbing to their feet. “What do you think?” he asked.
“I think,” Seth said, reaching up to adjust his glasses, “you are without doubt, the coolest person on the planet.”
“Or the craziest,” Daniel finished off, not bothering to hide the awe in his voice.
“Well I hope I get to enjoy it,” the professor said, folding his arms over his chest. “Because if that blaring siren is any indication, I'm in a world of trouble.”
The two sat side by side outside the dean's office. Hands tucked into their armpits, knees pulled together tight and chin down.
“I hear there is a gargoyle on the roof,” one of them said.
“That is the rumor,” said the other one.
“I think you would know,” the first one hissed, keeping his voice low.
“It was the spontaneity of the moment,” the second one said, voice equally low, “things on a roll just happen,” and he removed his hand from his armpit long enough to make a little flip with it as if to indicate how things just forge ahead despite all intentions.
“This isn't like it was back in the day where things could be glossed over in the name of the greater good,” the first one stressed again, “my god, don't you think about these things before you just do them?”
“I took the time to study the floor plans,” the second one stressed back, “I knew what was up there and what could be moved about.”
“But how did you know that the room was empty when you had your spasm?” the first one countered, rubbing his face with his palm. “How could you know that?”
“I did, I just knew, look I would have known if anyone was there once the reaction got up there and found something I wasn't expecting,” the second one said, gesturing with his still freed hand. “I can tell what is supposed to be in the stream of matter and what isn't supposed to be there.”
“You mean once they'd been atomized?” the first one hissed again. “Is that what you mean?”
“No, and besides, there was dust five fucking inches thick, I'm pretty damn sure no one has been up there in years,” and he would have continued if the door of the dean's office hadn't opened at that time.
“Professor Elric, General Mustang,” the dean moaned, “please...please come in,” and he waved at them with a floppy hand, looking like he might faint as Roy and Ed got to their feet.
Assembled in the dean's office were many people. Some looked puzzled, some looked angry, some looked frightened, and at least one of them looked smug. The dean pointed at the two chairs to his right and Ed took the one closest to him and Roy sat next to Ed. There was some clearing of throats and shuffling of papers.
Coach Taylor decided to start things out, even though he wasn't asked.
“He's a proven danger now and should be fired,” the coach said, looking at those around him and then at the dean without his gaze even settling on Ed. “Tell me how that little display demonstrated teaching alchemy in any capacity.”
“Coach Taylor,” the dean sighed, “please wait for the formal proceedings to begin.”
“So he can be formally fired? Oh alright then,” and the coach leaned back in his chair and nodded at Miss Bloom who averted her eyes and wrinkled her nose.
“Interesting way to start an investigative review,” Roy said smoothly and sat back to cross his legs, lacing his fingers in his lap.
“My apologies General,” the dean said, “as you can tell we are a little startled and unprepared for this sort of...mishap. But what we are here for, today, is to gather information, no more and no less. All disciplinary action, if any is taken, will be held in another, closed door, meeting. Now, let us begin. Professor Elric, what this board would like to know is just what your intentions were when you decided to alter the school building without prior authorization.”
“Originally?” Ed said frankly, “It was to paint the office a brighter color so it wouldn't look so much like a cave.”
“I see,” the dean said, stroking his thinning hairline with his fingertips, “so the original intention was not to create a two story office, but rather to improve upon your existing office space in a non-alchemic way.”
“Exactly, only painting it wasn't really doing the job,” Ed said, shifting around in his seat. “The more we tried to paint it...well, you see, the molecular structure of acrylic paint isn't all that suited to adhere to cinder block. Cinder block is traditionally known to be a very hard to paint material, but we only had the paint we could salvage from the storeroom. The paint in question was several years old if the seal on the can was any indication and was not a prime material in and of itself to start with, so you can see how the dilemma came about. What needed to occur was some sort of symbiotic bond between the paint and the cinder block.” Ed smacked his hands together and most of them jumped, “which we all know is not obtainable by ordinary means. So what I had originally intended was to transmute the walls into perhaps a more porous state that would easily absorb the paint, thus brightening the room and making the environment more work friendly and more inviting to my students.”
Roy was rather impressed with what seemed to be Ed's abilities of bullshitting on the spot. Amazing what teaching could in fact, teach the teacher.
“I see,” the dean said, sitting up a little straighter, “so in essence you were acting for the benefit of making the office more accommodating to the needs of your students.”
“Yes,” Ed said, nose in air.
“Are you really buying this?” Taylor butt in, “Are any of you really buying this?”
Down the table another hand raised and the dean nodded toward the man. Ed recognized him; his name was Andrew Hurely and he was one of the geography professors working for the academy.
“What I would like to know,” Professor Hurely said, “was how Professor Elric knew that the space was available and unoccupied. I think that is the chief concern here; the safety of the students and faculty and not how bright or how gloomy the Professor's office was or what a coat of paint might do for it. The real issue here would be were his actions a threat to human lives?”
Taylor clapped his hands, but the dean made a very loud clearing of this throat noise and Taylor subsided.
“That is the question,” Ed said slowly, before the dean could speak. “I understand your concerns. I will assure you this act wasn't as random or spontaneous as it seems. I did the research, I knew what was there, I knew the inactivity of the place. It isn't a utilized closet. When I checked it there were no fresh supplies, no footprints in the dust on the floor, in fact there wasn't even a working light bulb.”
“So you did this on the day in question?” Hurely asked. “Just before you transmuted the space?”
Ed worked his jaw a moment, glanced sidelong at Roy who did not glance back.
“No, not on the day in question,” Ed said. “A couple of days before. So on the day in question I did not know if anyone were in the space or not.”
“What would have happened had someone been there?” Hurely pushed further.
“But no one was there,” the general interrupted. “I think we all know that what Professor Elric has done is a severe breach of protocol. I am not one to cite special circumstances to excuse his behavior, however, I am the one to know the unique situation of having someone such as Professor Elric on your staff. What needs to be kept in mind here is that this man was once special ops in the military. He was entrusted with missions through the directions of his superiors who had faith in his abilities to carry out what was necessary. When on field missions it is common to have to think outside the set parameters of the orders given. I'm not saying that this applied to the day to day operations of a military academy, but what I am saying is that there is every given confidence that Professor Elric knew what he was doing and would not, under any circumstance, do so blindly and without foreknowledge of the consequences of his actions. If Professor Elric knew that the area above his office was empty when he decided to act, then he knew it for a fact, without doubt. Professor Elric, of all of us, is well aware that alchemy is a tool not to be used lightly. One cannot be in this room and overlook the fact that in his lifetime he has more experience in thinking on his feet than the eldest among us. I'm not defending his actions. I find them questionable and probably cause of disciplinary action, well within the board’s directive. But I would like the board to think on what actually happened and not what could have happened.” Then the general sat back again and nodded to the dean.
“I would have known if someone had been there,” Ed added, quietly as an afterthought, “and I would have stopped. The feeling of flesh is different than the feeling of inanimate material...just so you know.”
“What he means is that his alchemy can detect the molecular structure,” the general said in way of explanation of puzzled looks. “So if his alchemy had touched a human, he would have known.”
“I think that is all we need,” the dean said and looked around the table to confirm it, ignoring Taylor's mouth contortions. “Thank you General Mustang, Professor Elric. We will let you know the board's decision.”
“By tomorrow?” Ed pressed. “What about class tomorrow?”
“I'm afraid you're temporarily suspended until a verdict is reached,” the dean said. “Please make Miss Bloom aware of your assignments for the week. We'll be in touch.”
The general and the professor left together and got in the car. The general tried to hold the professor's hand on the way home, but the professor pulled it away and huddled against the door of the car and pretended like he didn't want to cry.
Did they really think they were in a position to do anything at all? He was the one in control of those strings and it would not do for there to be an discredit to his future regime.
Once they were in the house and settled for the night Roy no longer let Ed avoid the conversation that was inevitable between them.
“I know why you did it, so I'm not ever going to bring that up,” Roy said, pouring himself a scotch at the bar in the living room where Ed was lying miserably on the couch. “I also know of your immense aversion to politics, which is precisely what brought this about.”
“For the love of fuck,” Ed snarled, “not this old song and dance again. I told you that school politics are for the fucking birds. Aren't we the adults?! Aren't we supposed to be there for the students?”
Roy crossed to his armchair, sat and crossed his legs, took a sip of his drink.
“Yes Edward, you are the noble one. The selfless reminder that flies in the face of all convention in the name of honesty and decency and I'm not denying that. I put your sense of outraged justice on a pedestal and I admire, I really do. I pay it homage because I know it's what saved your life in the long run, don't think I'm making light of that fact. But you have gone to learn how the real world works. Your disadvantage, unfortunately, has been me. I've been there all along, to sweep up behind you and point you in the right direction and soothe all the jangled nerves and death threats in your wake. But I can't do that now. You're not my jurisdiction anymore. You are not my prodigal, result producing, miracle field worker and I cannot use my vast network of favors and threats because you are so very civilian. And I am afraid that it would just look bad if I were to step in and sweep this aside. We don't want that. We want to meet it head on, with transparency and the willingness to take the board’s decision, no matter what it might be.”
“I don't want to play fucking games,” Ed said, pushing himself up on the couch. “I left all the fucking games and joined the normal world and now you tell me the rules are the fucking same?!”
“This is my fault,” Roy sighed and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. “If I'd let you take some of your falls this might not be an issue.”
Ed flung a pillow at him and Roy raised his arm to deflect it. Then Ed flung himself off the couch and stood looking at Roy with narrowed eyes.
“You got a lot to fucking talk about in the unrealistically noble department,” Ed spat. “You're a patronizing son of a bitch and you will always be one. If they keep me, if they fire me, either way, then it's on my head and you keep your woebegone to your firkin' self. This is about me, ass wipe, not about making you look good anymore.” And Ed stomped out of the room and down the hall and slammed the bedroom door hard enough so that Roy thought he heard plaster crack.
Roy raised his glass in the direction of Ed's absence and leaned his head back on his chair.
“Not quite Edward, not quite,” he said, then brought his glass back to his lips and finished his drink.
Self control. Learn it you fuckhead!
Ed stood just inside the bedroom with the door still vibrating at his back. What the fuck was he thinking? What was he trying to prove? Who was he trying to impress? And why weren't they impressed?
Because you aren't twelve anymore you fucktard. Get it through your head you've grown up and your miracles aren't all that miraculous anymore! Children with talent are amazing, adults with talent are a threat!
He dug the heels of his hands into his eyes and leaned his head back a moment before slamming himself back against the door and letting it propel him into the room where he tipped face first onto the bed.
Pity is for old men and orphans, you fucking well know that.
Well what the fuck was he suppose to do now? He was probably out of a job, out of their lives, out of everything. He tried not to think of Seth and Daniel, huddled on the floor of his office as he transmuted it around them. As he risked them, as he showed them what he could do, as he fucking well showed off; and for what? Hadn't he learned anything? Had their lessons not sunk in? They depended on him and he'd let them down. They looked to him to be their teacher, to school them in alchemy and what it meant to be an alchemist and not a fuck-it-all-know-it-all. Not someone who got fucking jealous because he'd thought he'd been slighted. Not some fucking hypocrite who couldn't take it that he been relegated to a fucking broom closet and not a proper office.
Yeah Roy, yeah, ok I get it. This is what I get for not playing their fucking game.
So what to do now? Grovel for his job? Suck up his pride and ask and beg not to be fired because it wasn't supposed to be about his ego and he saw that now? He would find that son of a bitch that coined the term it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission and he would fucking well strangle him dead. See if he didn't. Fuck, oh fuck. What should he do now?
He could ask Roy what to do, he could do that. That would be another part of the sucking up.
He lay there and stewed in self regret until he was about half done when the bedroom door opened and the holy bastard king of patronizing know-it-alls walked in. Ed could hear him but he couldn't see him because he was still lying face down on the bed thinking maybe he should let the feather comforter smother him and put him out of everyone's misery. He tried to imagine what Roy was doing just by listening to him moving around the room. He heard the rustle of fabric; he heard footsteps across the wooden floor and the creak of the bathroom door; he heard the water running and the clink of the glass that sat beside the sink. So Roy was undressing and brushing his teeth, getting ready to go to bed. It was still a bit early, but sometimes Roy like to sit in bed and read and Ed liked to rush in and out of the room to see if he was still reading or if he was asleep. Mostly it was to check if Roy's body heat had gotten the sheets warm enough yet.
There was really no help for it; he was man enough to know when to call in the reserves. So he lifted his head, then rolled himself onto his back and sat up on the side of the bed and looked toward the bathroom.
“Tell me what to do, you're going to do it anyways,” he sighed and ran his flesh hand back over his hair.
“After your display in the living room I would think we wouldn't be on speaking terms,” came Roy's voice from the bathroom, “but since you've asked so nicely, I will give you some advice in lieu of telling you what to do.”
“Oh are you really,” Ed snorted, “thanks so much. You know I just hang on your every word,” and Ed flopped back onto the bed and stared at the ceiling.
There were more sounds from the bathroom that Ed could identify but declined to imagine and then the footsteps came back out into the bedroom proper and paused at the end of the bed. Ed turned his head to look at Roy standing there, naked save for his boxers and Roy shook his head at him and headed over to the chest of drawers.
“If I were you,” Roy said, pulling out his blue cotton pajamas, “I would be a very, very good boy in the off chance the board calls you back in for a second investigation. I would mind my p's and q's and suck up to as many academy department heads as I possibly could. I might think about writing an exceedingly apologetic letter ready to shoot out at a moment's notice to a lot of agitated parents. In this letter is where I would bring up my life long service to our country and the commitment to educate their sons to the utmost with your highly superior skills. I think I would find out who was the head of the PTA and suck up a bit. If there is time, maybe an informal dinner gathering, that you pay for of course, to more fully explain your side of the story. That is what I would do, for starters.”
“What is my side of the story?” Ed asked, sounding tired. “That I was an ignoramus show off and thought I needed more office space? You know what the worst thing is? I told those boys that it didn't matter. That the whole office thing was some blow off and respect is earned from your peers and you shouldn't expect to reap or profit from your principles. I'm a big fat liar, aren't I?”
“Aren't we all? No one faults you for being human, Ed. Well at least no one who understands why you do the things you do; admittedly that's not many,” Roy came over and sat down on the opposite side of the bed and leaned over the prone professor who scowled up at him from the goose down.
Roy touched the tip of his finger to Ed's chin and then drew a straight line up Ed's face, over lips and nose, past his eyebrows to his forehead. He let it linger there a moment with a strange little smile and then he tapped it there for a moment.
“Remember what I said about looks being just as important as smarts when it came to people skills?” Roy asked. “Well you see Edward, you do have the looks. You have lovely hair and a square jaw and you do the best wounded expression I've ever seen and it is my common knowledge that most PTA's are made up of the students’ mothers...”
Ed's eyes became saucers.
“You are not suggesting I.... flirt with my students’ mothers are you? You are!” Ed shot upright; from lying to sitting in one fluid motion and Roy was still incredibly jealous of the ability.
“I'm just saying that I think you should have as many people in your corner in case the unthinkable happens; like they want to fire you,” Roy said with an easy shrug.
“But that would be like cheating on you!” Ed said, flabbergasted. “Don't you think that would be all kinds of just...messed up if I was to flirt with those women just because I don't want to get fired and you know, what if their husbands decide that is really bad and then I would get fired, no I'd get double fired. No double fired and lynched and it would all be your fault. You with the whole, 'Oh Ed, you can flirt with them because you're so...', are you calling me pretty?”
“Handsome, dynamic, with your coloring? Exotic,” Roy said with a wink.
Ed looked at him like he didn't believe him and folded his arms across his chest.
“Do you want to keep your job?” Roy asked.
“Of course I do!” Ed returned. “Do you really think I would have to stoop to that?”
“I think that you should keep an open mind about the whole thing,” Roy said, sliding back to sit in the pillows. “I think it is time you learned to play the game.”
“Do you flirt with other men's wives?” Ed asked, eyes narrowed. “I mean, you know, if something isn't going your way and you need one of the other generals to I don't know, help you or something, and you know that general's wife and she's sweet on your because which the fuck one of them isn't, and I will find out which one sent you that scarf, like I can't fucking get you a scarf myself, but anyways, do you?”
“Yes,” Roy said simply, “I do. Because I move in circles where the promise is the thing. Have I ever touched any of them? No. Have I ever kissed any of them? No. Women like that air of mystique; women, more than anyone, like to play the game.”
Ed was looking at him now; tensing almost as he were about to fling himself off the bed and out of the room and Roy pointed at him.
“There, that is the look I'm talking about, that right there. And I don't want that look aimed at me, because you know me, better than anyone, and you know I do what it takes to get the job done. You know I would never lie to you or do anything to purposefully hurt you.”
“Sometimes I really hate you,” Ed said, turning his face away and rubbing at his knees. “I really, really, hate you.”
“But all the other times you really, really love me,” Roy said to his back. “You're mad because I won't sugar coat this for you. But you're an adult now and I can't make everything right all the time. Stop being angry at me for giving you ammunition against people like that Thaddeus Taylor. I will never understand when you put up with people like that. People in your way; if I were you I would find a way to find something out on him. In fact, I might do that for you...” but Roy trailed off because Ed was looking at him with a look of alarm and really, what was Roy was saying?
Had his protective streak grown all out of controllable proportion?
“Forget I said that, I'm tired and just...Ed,” Roy let his head thunk back against the head board. “There will be no living with you if you lose this job. You love that job and those kids and I just can't imagine you having to give it up. That's all. What that bastard said to you and about you in that investigative review; it just got under my skin and I am so glad I didn't have my gloves...”
Now it was Roy's turn to guess what Ed was doing by sound. Only he had the help of sound and motion, because he could feel Ed crawling up the bed toward him, the weight on either side of his legs as Ed straddled his lap and the thunk against the head board as Ed gripped it to either side of his head.
“Oh, so you're not ok with me digging up dirt on people, but you are ok with me roasting them alive?” Roy asked amused, then rested his hands on Ed's hips.
“I think the straight forward approach is always best,” Ed said, settling on Roy's lap. “And who wouldn't get hot when their lover offered to roast their enemies alive for insulting them? I tell you, that wouldn't be me, because that is plenty hot. I fucking love it when you defend my honor,” and Ed clamped his mouth over Roy's and tried to suck his tongue out and Roy let him, eyes closed in bliss; fingers working circles on Ed's hips. Ed pulled back after a moment, licked his lower lip and arched himself into Roy's stomach and Roy ran his hands over Ed's hips and down to grip his butt cheeks and hold him there.
“I fucking love it when you fucking love it,” Roy whispered to him and then pulled him tighter against his stomach and leaned forward to mouth at Ed's nipple though his shirt.
Ed opened his mouth and sucked in a breath, leaning closer to give Roy more shirt and nipple to suck on and he moved his hands from the headboard to Roy's shoulders. Roy used his tongue in a most forceful manner and took advantage of the rough nature of Ed's shirt to work the hardening nub back and forth. Ed squeezed his shoulder and made a delicious rumbling sound in his throat; then Ed did an amazing roll of his hips and rubbed his growing enjoyment along Roy's stomach.
Ah, so much paradise, so little time.
Roy caught the fabric of Ed's shirt, now wet and clinging in his teeth and pulled on it, creating air between Ed's wet nipple and the fabric that had been covering it and he was rewarded by the shudder that ran up Ed's middle and by the sounds of Ed being amazed by Roy's skills. It was good to be the holy bastard king of patronizing know-it-alls, even if he wasn't aware of the title Ed had bestowed on him.
Ed thought it an opportune time to show Roy the worship Roy was due and he began to thrust his salute against Roy's stomach, instead of just rub it there and Roy encouraged him but pulling on Ed's perfect butt cheeks and worming his fingers lower and between and began giving Ed a wedgie, but a wedgie with a purpose.
“Ah, fucking wedgie, you always do this, let me get my pants off,” Ed panted.
That would be Roy's purpose.
Ed flopped back prone, on his back between Roy's legs as he spread them and began to work at his belt. For this, Roy sat back and enjoyed the show. Ed got it undone, then his button fly, then he grips the waist band of his pants and began to push them down. Roy started helping them down and Ed lifted his ass so Roy could help him, and between the two of them achieved their objective of Ed's pants, along with his boxers, being on the floor beside the bed.
Roy grabbed his knees before he sat back up and looked at the bounty on display there between his own spread legs.
“What?” Ed said, squirming. “What are you staring for? Something wrong with it? Oh fuck, do not say anything mushy about my cock.”
“But it's such an inspiration,” Roy said.
“Stop!” Ed shrieked.
“I think I need to wax poetic on its many charms,” Roy cooed.
“No you fucking don't! I know, you can put it in your mouth and suck on it and then you would be quiet and blowing me and that would make me happy!” Ed howled.
“It's such a manly cock,” Roy continued.
“It's attached to a man you asshole, come ON, let go of my legs,” Ed raged.
“Look its crown of curls matches the hair on your head,” Roy simpered.
“That proves I'm not a bottle blond,” Ed cried. “For fuck's sake Roy, stoppit, why you always gotta do this, come on, come on, stoppit,” Ed whined.
“Oh look who has come to visit,” Roy sang out, “it's my tongue.”
“Oh..oh yeah? Really? You ain't shittin' me or nothing? Your tongue is really coming to play?” Ed wheedled.
“I'm sure it could be coaxed into the sandbox with a few kind words,” Roy said, rolling his eyes to look at Ed's red face.
“Here we fucking go again! What? What does it want to hear? Uh, how about... you know there is this fucking hot General I know and he is a complete and utter bastard, but he's hot so he gets away with it. How's that? That's good isn't it? That was good, let's go,” Ed snarled.
Roy lifted Ed's leg that was all flesh and then he grasped Ed's foot that was all flesh, too. Then he stuck Ed's big toe into his mouth and gave a hard suck.
Ed wasn't sure what to think for a few moments. On one hand, this had to be the most 'ew' inspiring moment he'd ever had during sex with Roy, well ok not counting all those times a million years ago when he thought Roy's ejaculate was 'ew', but since he was conceivably an adult now, this was the 'ew' moment of this era of his life. On the other hand, well, that was a testament to love if there ever was one, you know, Roy sticking Ed's foot in his mouth, and Ed would do it for him too, if the call were to arise, but he hoped that this wasn't some new fetish Roy picked up that he might expect Ed to return the favor on, no he really hoped it wasn't. Then Roy did it again and well, it turned out that Ed had a third hand he wasn't previously aware of and this hand was deciding this was kind of hot.
It was then, for the first time in his life, that Ed's cock spoke to him and he realized that everything Roy had ever said about talking cocks was positively true.
Ed's cock told him, in on uncertain terms, how fucking jealous it was of Ed's toe.
“My cock has a message for you,” Ed informed Roy loudly, “and you need to know that it thinks I should kick your ass, but I know, because I have the bigger brain, if I do that you can't give it and me the satisfaction it needs. So if I were you I would get up here while I still have control!”
Roy released Ed's toe and looked at him a moment in slack jawed amazement.
“I..I did it?” Roy asked as if he were winning the Miss Amestris crown, “I made your cock talk?”
“Oh oops, too late,” Ed said with an overly bright smile and tilt of his head, “it seems the time for negotiations is over!” And Ed, a specimen of all a human body could be, did an amazing buck and twist and jerked his knees from Roy's grip and then got them under himself, then whipped around and tackled Roy into the headboard before forcing him down on the bed and grinding hard enough for Ed's pubes to leave a rug burn on Roy's lower stomach.
“I surrender,” Roy said ecstatically, “if your cock is talking I'll bottom tonight!”
“Ha! Like you have a choice puny receptacle of my greatness,” Ed snarled, lunging for the lube stuffed under the corner of the mattress while trying to keep Roy pinned. He managed to succeed and then he made a prompt mess of Roy and himself because his automail was taking orders from his cock now and well look at that, the lube bottle exploded. Then there was the inevitable question, at least to Ed, of Roy on his back or his stomach? He tried to keep it even since he was rarely in the driver's seat, but he couldn't remember what he'd done last time and Ed's talking cock had made Roy useless because that seemed to be all Roy could talk about. He decided to default to the position Roy was already in, which was on his back and he hauled both of Roy's legs up and hooked his knees over his shoulder. This gave Ed the inevitable tilt forward and Roy further was unhelpful by grabbing Ed by his shoulders and trying to pull him all the way down to kiss him, even though it was Roy's own inflexibility making it impossible; but Roy kept on alternately reassuring himself that Ed's cock talked and then praising himself for being such a stud.
“ROY COME BACK TO ME ROY, COME BACK FROM THE LAND OF TALKING COCKS AND HELP ME,” Ed finally screamed and Roy, startled by the outburst, released Ed's shoulder and Ed took full advantage of his distraction and lined up and pushed in before Roy was once again possessed by his own talking cock or what have you.
Roy gave a startled yelp, but then reached back to grip the headboard, and Ed thought that was sexy as all get out, because he was so fucking good at fucking, Roy had to hang on.
“Won't be walking straight tomorrow,” Roy gasped as Ed started his drive.
“You never walked straight to begin with,” Ed panted back, closing his eyes. “Even when everyone thought you liked girls, you had a swish,” he assured Roy, licking his lips.
“Not what I meant, but interesting information,” Roy grunted.
Ed didn't bother to reply because he was reaching the stage where anything he said would have made no sense anyways. Roy said nothing further, because he knew it would be pointless and really, despite the clumsy way Ed on top always started out, it was starting to get in the groove, and despite it all Ed knew where and how deep to hit him. It all became heat, and sweat, strength and noise and for Roy, at least, he knew when he had been bested. And to let Ed know, too; he came first.
Ed babbled love and glory to him shortly after and then lay on his chest panting and Roy felt good about life for a while. He stroked Ed's back slowly, up and down, gentle sweeps. Ed murmured and rubbed his nose on Roy's chest and sighed and settled.
Ed was his perfect compliment and always would be. Ed was his other half, but by heaven or by design he wasn't sure. Ed was all the passion he lacked in some ways. Ed was the heart to wear on his sleeve.
He would not let Ed lose his job. He had the clout, even though he'd told himself he would not use it. Ed must remain happy. A happy Ed was pliable. A happy Ed was agreeable. A happy Ed felt obligations. He would bide his time.
He had all the time in the world.