The Icon Alchemist (sky_dark) wrote,
The Icon Alchemist
sky_dark

Life After Truth Chapter 5

Title: Life after Truth Chapter 5
Pairing: Roy/Ed
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: None
Summary: Ambition takes many forms.
Notes: Surprise betaing by  militsa 
Previous Chapters found on The Master List


 

 

The light made his eye water, but he sat still and gripped the edge of the examination table hard. The Doctor schooled his expression to indifference, but lifted his eyebrow a bit, here and there.

“The eye looks fine, General Mustang,” he said, one finger on Roy's eyebrow pushing up, one below his bottom eyelid pushing down. He'd gone through this many times soon after the gate had left him this way. The reactions had been a wild curve from miraculous to skeptical; but Roy could never understand the skepticism. What did they think, he grew his eye back? The doctor released his face and looked down at the chart sitting on the table by Roy's hip. Then he looked back up and leaned in close to look at Roy's eye again.

“What is it?” Roy asked, staring at the man's forehead.

“Well to be honest General, since this is a new eye perhaps it's acting like a new eye; like a baby's eye,” the doctor pulled back and picked up the chart again.

“I'm not following,” Roy said, shifting a little uneasily. “A baby's eye? What do you mean?”

“It appears it might be changing color,” the doctor said. “Since the only concrete evidence I have to go on is no evidence at all, then by speculation I can only assume this eye was newly grown; however improbably that might be. I've been your doctor for a number of years General, I tended that empty socket if you recall; so I can't help but be bewildered by not only your ability to regrow and eye but your seeming ability to completely restructure your face and regrow new tissue,” the doctor tapped his eyebrow.

Roy kept his head up and raised the eyebrow in question. He and the doctor regarded each other frankly.

“You have been told all I've been allowed to tell you,” Roy said. “If there appears to be nothing wrong with it, then I'll be on my way.”

“What did you think was wrong with it? You haven't even really told me that,” the doctor said, stepping back to make room for the general to slide of the examination table. “Tell me how your mental state has been lately; are you still experiencing your nightmares? That had seemed to settle down in recent years.”

Roy shrugged on his uniform jacket, adjusted his collar and began to button his jacket up. He took his time, neatening his cuffs and adjusting the flap on the front. He went to pick up his long coat and paused.

“I had a very vivid nightmare a few days ago,” the general said, looking at the door. “Much more vivid than any previous. It was a waking nightmare for all intents and purposes. Very unpleasant, stressed out my partner; I would say it was a level above my usual nighttime horrors.”

“And you think it was some physical ailment? I suppose stress and fatigue could play factors, but you specifically asked me to look at the eye.” The doctor leaned back against the exam table and folded his arms over his chest, pressing the chart there.

Roy still didn't turn to look at the man. Instead, he studied a medical chart, neatly framed and hanging on the wall by the door.

“I suppose I was just looking for a possible explanation,” the general said to the door, “things are easier to explain if there is some accompanying ache or pain. I really shouldn't have wasted your time.”

“I could set you up with psych...”, the doctor started, but then the general did turn to look at him, steely and closed.

“No,” the general said quickly, “that won't be necessary.” He dropped his eyes then, the first time since entering the office and shifted his long coat from one arm to another. “I appreciate the concern and I know it's your job. But you and I both know I'm prone to nightmares in the first place. I just hadn't had one in a while and I spooked myself, and Ed. I just want to be able to tell him I saw you if he asks.”

“Are you a superstitious man, General Mustang?” the doctor asked, leaning his head back a bit. “You would be surprised at the number of military men I've met in my day that put faith in things beyond the keen. Some people look at alchemy as a form of mysticism, and as an alchemist I'm sure you've dabbled in the meaning behind some of the symbolism you use.”

“I think every alchemist, by their very nature, must be a superstitious person; whether they believe it actively or not is up to the individual,” the general said.

“Alright, then let's go with another speculation,” the doctor said. “Let's say you didn't regrow the eye and tissue surrounding it. Let's speculate you appropriated the material from a source; say a corpse. There is conjecture that images seen in death can be retain in the retina of the eye of the deceased. I don't know if I prescribe to that theory, but that's the saying,” the doctor gave a half shrug of his shoulders.

“It's not appropriated material,” the general said flatly. “But thank you for your insight all the same.” And with that the general withdrew from the doctor's office and got into the car with the driver waiting and returned to his post.

**

“You're getting to be a regular visitor around here,” Al's assistant said. “Maybe you should look into working here.”

“Ah, no, I have a job, I'm just on a vacation,” Ed said, trying to be unobtrusive because he didn't want to get Al in trouble or anything, and truth be told he had been here every day this week. But what was he supposed to do? He'd already proven to himself his days of being able to work with or for Roy were long gone and he couldn't go over to the academy because Roy said that would look stalkerish. So his last option was of course his brother, who always had time for him before, but never an office before, or a job before, or an assistant who was keeping tabs before.

He really didn't want to get Al in trouble.

“You know, on second thought, I have an appointment,” he told the girl. “You just tell him I stopped by and I'll call him later, at his home, after work. I'll call him when he's not here because I don't want to bother him or get in the way of his working here, in this building and having a good job and just tell him I'll talk to him later,” and of course, that came across as completely lame and probably made her more suspicious and he turned to walk quickly back to the elevator and he stabbed at the button. But then he had to stand there and wait on the elevator and he just knew she was staring at his back so he turned around quickly and said: “I'm a teacher. In case Al hasn't told you, I teach, at the academy, the military academy. I teach alchemy. I'm an alchemist. I used to be a pretty famous one, you know, back in the day. But those days are over and I'm just a teacher now. That's all.” He heard the soft chime of the door behind him and whirled back and around and leaped into the elevator, startling another woman there and ducking his head to her. “Sorry, sorry,” he said, then he waved hastily to Al's assistant and sagged back against the elevator wall when the door closed. The woman in the elevator car with him edged away a little bit.

The door of Al's office opened and he stuck his head out and looked around. He looked at his assistant, sitting there behind her desk.

“Did I just hear my brother?” he asked. “I was on the phone.”

“I know,” she said, “and yes. He was here but then he left. But he left a long and rather convoluted message to tell you that he suddenly remembered he had an appointment and he would call you later, when you got home after work. At least, that is what I think he meant. Is he single?”

“No, he's firmly attached,” Al said, “and trust me it's better off that way.”

“Drat,” his assistant said as he turned to go back into his office.

**

He had nothing more than himself. So he stood there on the sidewalk wondering what to do with himself. If he thought about it, he never was very good at filling up all that time between being with one person and then the next. He was only good at it when he had studying to be done and books to be read; but he had none of that now. Now he filled up his time with people; and on his own he was stuck for what to do.

He picked a direction at random and just started to walk. He watched the sidewalk for a bit, then he watched the store fronts. He took his jacket off, still in the habit of dressing like he was going to class, and hung it back over his shoulder, shoving his other hand in his pocket. He stopped at a few places along the sidewalk, but couldn't be convinced to buy anything by anyone and that usually stopped all conversation with a sidewalk vendor. He found a small park he'd remembered seeing a few times he and Roy would drive around in this neighborhood and helped himself to a little bench just off the sidewalk under an old, shaggy tree.

On his own he was pretty pathetic, wasn't he? How did other people make having alone time seem so appealing? Roy often waxed poetic on having the office all to himself on occasion when he sent everyone out on errands. In fact he admitted to doing it quite deliberately and Ed suspected it was so he could catch an afternoon nap. Al had often told Ed how much he liked his study at home with its big oak door and the radio playing softly in the other room while Riza was out or on an errand. Al made it seem like having those few moments alone, not needing anyone else's company seem serene and valued.

Was it Ed's damage that he didn't get it? Even when he was alone in the study doing his work at home, the door was wide open. He was visited by R.D., he could hear Roy doing whatever it was Roy did when he was out of Ed's sight and not at the office. He knew someone was there and that was more comfort to him than any alone time ever afforded him. Maybe it was because, in his early days, it was what he feared most: being alone. Being without his mother, losing Al, all these things held terror for him because his family had been his world and person by person, starting with his father, (and of his father's own accord) they had all dropped out of his life. Even Al, trapped in armor, wasn't really there.

He glanced up at a man walking a dog into the park, then looked away again. He couldn't just go into a strange place and make himself at ease with the people there. Roy could, Roy could do anything and everything that had to do with people. Roy paved his way, eased him into introductions, settled conflicts and kept Ed in a sheltered bubble even in a room full of people. Roy was there to protect him. He should be able to handle these things on his own, he should make more of an effort, but it was easier for him when Roy was there, he knew it, he admitted it. The only successful relationships he had built in his adult life, (other than his brother and the people he'd worked with since he was twelve) were his students and he was starting to get the uneasy feeling it was because he identified more with them than with any other adult person he'd run into. He was getting the uneasy feeling he needed Roy's interference because on the whole, on the mental scale, perhaps he was still twelve.

See? This is what alone time did to him. It turned him into a gibbering, self-doubting wreck. And if he voiced any of this to Roy, Roy would immediately jump to placate him and assure him he was the most incredible thing on the planet, and while he liked to hear that he shouldn't have to be hearing it so often. What was he? Was he really twelve? In constant need of attention and reassurance from a suitable authority figure? When had he started such a deterioration? Such a regression? He rubbed at his face. What should really be worrying him was Roy. That is what he should really be doing with all this alone time; turning himself into a nervous wreck over the fact Roy seemed to be...what? Pulling away from him?

If he thought back on it, Roy did seem to be less and less forthcoming in the last couple of months. He was there, he was supportive, but in the end he wasn't entirely coming clean on what was going on around him. He only really answered to direct questioning and even then, Ed noted, with hesitation. Here Ed thought he knew the man inside and out, just another example of his complete and utter failure at adulthood. He was busy staring at his feet when he noticed a shadow cast over them. It didn't move for a few moments so Ed lifted his head and met his brother's eyes. Alphonse smiled at him, standing there with his hands in his pockets.

“What are you doing?” Al asked, tilting his head.

“At the moment?” Ed said, brows furrowing. “Trying to figure out if you're one of those illusions I used to have in moments of self doubt. Only back then you were still this giant suit of armor and I'm wondering if you are an illusion looking like flesh-and-blood-business-attire Al, if that is somehow indicative to the fact that my subconscious is growing up without me.”

“What the hell did you just say?” Al, but maybe not really Al, asked.

“What I'm saying is...,” but first he leaned forward and put a finger in his brother's stomach. Al looked down and snorted and then back up at Ed and Ed shrugged and withdrew his finger, “OK you seem real. So I guess what I'm saying is why the hell are you here? I'm going to get you fired!”

“No you're not,” Al said and waved his hand. “You forget, I'm the whiz kid now.” Al buffed his nails on his own vest and studied them before looking at Ed with a sympathetic tilt of his head. “I'm my own boss there because I produce results like no one else. I guess you have to share your pedestal of star Elric now.”

“What? No way, get your own pedestal. There is only room for one Elric who was alternately considered a freak and a menace and sometimes both at once. Trust me, you don't want to share mine, people look at you funny,” Ed said, leaning back into the bench and kicking his feet out. “So, now that I have successfully lured you away from a productive day of building things that make all other things look weak in the building field, what do you want to do?”

“I think I want to drink,” Al said. “Drinking in the afternoon is fun. When I drink in the afternoon at home someone glances at the clock a lot but withholds comment on the fact I'm drinking before five. She's really good at that 'what you ought to be doing' guilt.”

“You are so whipped,” Ed said with a grin, then leaned forward and stood up. “But I'm all for drinking. Have a place in mind?”

“Just follow me,” his younger brother grinned.

**

The first pitcher of beer went the way of all good things in the prescribed manner of which pitchers of beer go. The opening conversation was a mish-mash of life among the normal people and how they remarkably fit in even though neither of them ever thought they would. It wasn't until the second pitcher of beer was ebbing low on the table between them that the conversation turned as it used to of old.

“I know you've heard me belly ache about this before,” Ed said, voice low, “but I cannot shake the feeling that there is something right under my nose and I'm missing the entire thing,” he shook his head and lifted his mug for a swallow. “I swear Al, it's just like it used to be with all the side stepping and making the obvious vague and it's really starting to piss me off. If I could just put my finger on it I'm sure it would all make sense. I know I'm talking in fucking cryptic circles but he's got me trained and I have yet to figure out how to separate what I think I know from what he thinks I know. Fuck, I wonder if it's the damn inertia. I can't believe I have to go through this for another whole week.”

Al signaled the waiter and placed another order and his elder brother lifted an eyebrow. In short order there was yet another pitcher of beer, this time accompanied by two shot glasses of whiskey. Edward knew this routine and this game. They first made themselves boiler makers, by dropping the whiskey shot, glass and all into a mug of beer and making a fine mess on the table. After that mug was consumed the two shot glasses found their way to the middle of the table and the brothers regarded each other over them.

“Is this your way of telling me you are tired of listening to me bitch?” Ed grinned. “I don't suppose you have any chalk on you. Seems unfair for me to clap these arrays.”

Al withdrew a stick of chalk from his inner jacket pocket, (Ed thought his cleaner must have a field day getting chalk dust out of all his pockets) and broke it in half and offered half to his brother. Then the two of them go busy drawing small arrays on the tables and positioning their beer mugs within them.

“So are we chugging on every losing shot or the best two out of three?” Ed asked.

“Two out of three,” Al said, “we're already hedging the cusp as it is.”

There was some stooping and critical eying of mug positions within the arrays, and some last minute adjustments. Then, on the count of three, they activated their arrays.

Al's fountain of beer arched high and spiraled elegantly as it came back down. Unfortunately it hit the glass a little to the left, so while some beer made it into the shot glass, the majority landed on the table. His brother laughed loud and then watched as his own fount of beer erupted skyward like a volcano and seemed to make a crazy right angle and thundered down hitting the shot glass dead on, but with such force the beer sloshed out. Now they both stopped and peered intently into the shot glasses.

“Mine's fuller,” Al declared. “I'd say I take this round.”

Ed snorted but bowed to the obvious and they got busy lining their shots up again. A waiter approached them tentatively and stood worrying the bottom of his white apron in his fingers. Neither brother looked at him until the shots were lined up, then Ed did a slow turn of his head and stared at the young man hovering a few feet from the table.

“Yes?” the professor drawled slowly in the voice that made his students shrink down into the high collar of their uniforms while simultaneously made their balls draw up guaranteeing they would be altos for a few years longer. “What can I help you with?” Ed finished on the hint of a hiss.

“I was...that is,” the waiter gulped, “I was wondering if you gentlemen might want to move out to the patio? I'm sure I can get you a free pitcher for the inconvenience? It's just... you're making a slipping hazard here...” the man looked to be wilting under Ed's gaze.

“Of course we'll move,” Al piped up merrily. “Ed quit eviscerating him with your eyes, it's not his fault we're being slobs.” Al slipped off this bar stool and steadied himself against the table. “Come on, let's go get some air, wow I'm starting to feel it.”

Ed shoved away from the table as if this was a major insult, grabbed his mug and the shot glasses and stomped after the waiter as he hastened to open the door leading out onto the restaurant's patio. Once there he eyed the selection of tables before choosing one and giving a great show of how put-out he was to have been moved. Al ran into the back of the waiter, laughed and apologized and promised the man that he would not let Ed bite him, maul him or tongue beat him to death but only if the promised free pitcher of beer was real. Then Al almost fell over trying to get on up in the high chair and Ed grabbed at him from across the table and then Ed, Al and the table almost fell over but they all three saved themselves.

The sat in sort of embarrassed silence until the free pitcher arrived and then they just drank it straight up, game forgotten.

“I didn't wanna say,” Al slurred suddenly, “but all this stuff...this stuff you got you say with the General...all that stuff,” and he waved his hand in the air and at first Ed thought he was after a bug but then he realized Al was trying to make a significant hand gesture and failing dramatically. Al seemed to lose his train of thought for a moment, tilted his head back and stared up into the sky before bringing his chin back down and regarding Ed again. “All that stuff with the General being weird? Yeah, you know, you know him better than any of us so if you say he's weird, I believe you. Why would he be weird though? I mean... he never does anything without a motive.”

“I dunno, I dunno,” Ed whined back, sliding his beer mug back and forth on the table. “That's what I'm telling you. But if you believe me then something is weird and you know what... we gotta find out what's weird. He tells you things he don't tell me, DON'T SAY HE DOESN'T, because I know he does... you two are like gossips and shit, I should be pissed off about that, but that's beside the point,” Ed tapped his beer mug on the table now. “You, dear little brother, you are going to be my spy.”

“No, I wanna go home now,” Al said, making to get off the high chair, but hesitating at the climb down. “I wanna go home before you make me say I'll do awkward stuff that will make me uncomfortable or make me have to apologize a lot. I promised Riza I wouldn't let you talk me into any of that stuff anymore!”

“What are you? A man or a married man? Wait, a man or my brother? I think you were my brother before you were her husband is what I think! How can you turn your back on me?” Ed held up his hands and shook them, that was dramatic. “I need you! You have to tell me if my General is doing bad things! Do you hear? Bad things and then, if he is? We have to... figure out why and talk him out of it!”

“Oh my god,” Al moaned, “he'll be so mad at me. I don't want him to be mad at me. He'll know, I'm not good at being covert, please don't make me do this.”

“This is your call to action Alphonse!” Ed said, slapping the table with his automail hand and making the mugs rattle. “What do you want to do? Be a man of action or be a man who draws on paper all day?!”

“I draw blue prints,” Al snarled back, slapping the table with his own flesh hand with much less dramatic effect, (really, Al just sucked at drama) “it's not like I'm just doodling all day. It's my job! Don't look down on my job Mr. Fullmetal Alchemist! I don't wanna be your snitch, ask Havoc!”

“Havoc can get fired, you can't get fired,” Ed wailed. “I ain't looking down on your job you're fucking brilliant and that's why I want you to help me! You gotta it's like a rule that family has to help family, ain't it? That's like a law or something!”

“You're so full of shit,” Al muttered, elbow on tables, hands on his face making it all smooshed up and funny looking. “OK FINE, but when Riza pistol whips you I'm not going to get in the way. What is it you want me to do? You know I suck at espionage; it's a hold over from being seven foot of fucking armor that couldn't sneak around!”

“Take him to lunch,” Ed said waving his hands around, “and then pry all the information out of him, make your fucking puppy dog eyes at him or something, that always made him break before. You know you got him right here,” and Ed held up his smallest metal finger, “and he did whatever you told him to do even if I told him not to do it! You married the wrong person,” Ed ended on a snort.

Al made a swipe at him across the table but Ed jerked back and would have gone all the way over except his chair hit an empty chair behind him and gave him the split second he needed to grab the table and haul himself back upright. The sat and panted at each other a moment.

“I'm going home,” Al announced again and managed to get off the chair and stand there rocking slowly back and forth as if he were a daisy in a breeze. “I'm going home to my wife and maybe I'll drink some more and then I can forget this whole stupid conversation,” Al pointed at his brother, or he tried to, he kept pointing randomly at things around Ed's head. “You're a bad influence, I tried to ignore everyone all these years, but no, just because you're my brother and my hero and shit I went along with everything and I'm still going along with everything. You should be ashamed...ashamed,” Al spat.

“I'm not ashamed,” Ed said loftily, sliding out of his own chair, “because I'm just not. I'll take you home, you're drunker than shit.”

Between the two of them the managed to make an upright human letter 'A' and in this way they got to the curb and even managed to waved down a cab. Then Ed forgot where Al lived and Al forgot where Al lived and they both had to think on it a minute, then in desperation, because the cab driver was staring at them in the rear view mirror, Ed blurted out central HQ and after that they found themselves on the sidewalk outside the main gate being eyed by a couple of guards. They both kept trying to straighten themselves up and walk without clinging to each other and there was a lot of throat clearing and shuffling until they got where they could walk on their own, (even though Ed kept putting his hand on Al's shoulder when he listed too much to the side) and they even managed to walk up to the guard house to get temp badges before heading for the main building.

Once inside the building they promptly forgot which floor were the offices of anyone they knew in the military. They milled about in the lobby restraining themselves from clinging to each other like two children lost in the woods when Havoc noticed them as he came back from an errand. They followed Havoc up to the correct floor with puppy like eagerness and Havoc was grinning like a loon and saluted them as he opened the door to the general's office for them.

Ed immediately found out if he could walk, he could run and he did so, straight into Roy's office around his desk and got in his lap. The general just sat there, pen still in hand, looking at Havoc over Ed's shoulder as Havoc prodded Al inside. Then Havoc saluted the general, too, and shut the door.

“He's asking to get fired,” the general mumbled and then half jumped when Ed wailed in his ear.

**

Every time he actually met his owner, face to face, he was different. Different in how he held his hands or how he said a word, or just different and it made Morgan increasingly nervous. The assignment tonight, like every other assignment he'd been given it was to be precise and without complications. The man really liked to keep things simple, so simple it would be. It was easy to lure the 3 and a half martini lunch man out of the bar and around the back of the building. It was easy to club him down when he stooped to pick up change he has dropped. It was easy to rifle though his pockets and come up with the envelope he was carrying for someone else. It was easy to take his wallet, too and dispose of it as he was told in some other location, empty of its contents. It was to look like a robbery and he was to help himself to any folding money still in the wallet when he took it, he was to consider it a bonus.

He carried the envelope back to the barracks, then locked himself in a stall in the bathroom and contemplated opening it. He held it up to the weak light shining down on him from the bulbs in the ceiling, but he couldn't make out any of the contents and his curiosity burned. The was the first time he was asked to be physical and the only surprise in getting the order was why it had taken so long to get to this point.

He decided he could make up some excuse about how the envelope got torn in the scuffle and pried the end of it open and fished the contents out with two fingers. There was a letter inside, wrapped around a couple of photographs. The letter was a hasty scrawl noting train schedules and office locations, the photographs were grainy and from strange angles. He recognized one of the men in the photos, some officer he'd seen before at HQ, but he didn't recognize anyone else. He blew into the end of the envelope to open it back up enough to slip everything back in place. It didn't really seem this was worth giving a man a concussion for, but he didn't question, it wasn't his place. His place was to do what the man told him to do and for the first time he found the authority didn't grate on him. Maybe he was good at this; maybe this was his calling. He'd read about this in pulp novels and seen it in crime movies. Maybe he was now an enforcer and that suited him just fine. He folded the end of the envelope over, then folded it in half and tucked it into the back pocket of his pants and left the bathroom.

**

Silence was a traditional Mustang rebuke. Ed got a lot of it as he sat in the office after his brother had been collected by his brother's spouse, (he was quick to take the blame for the whole drunk in the afternoon thing but that had made Al even madder at him and Riza looked like she wanted to believe him but let his brother beat on him anyways yelling about how Ed was just some guilt whore and when was he going to get over it? Al then asked Ed how he managed to create so many historic and tragic events citing a time line from the pre-dawn of man, because if Ed was going to take the blame for everything then he should take the blame for EVERYTHING. This lead to a lot more uncoordinated slap fighting and then Riza just half cold-cocked Al and dragged him away. Riza didn't seem to understand the need the Elrics had to lambast each other) and Ed got a lot of it on the car ride out to the suburbs.

“Are you going to be mad at me all night?” Ed complained as Roy unlocked the door and stood back to let him walk in. “Let me know now because if you're gonna be mad at me all night there are other things I can do. At least this is more like you. I was beginning to wonder.”

Roy came in behind him, pulling the door shut and gave him a look as he headed down the hall to the coat closet. He shrugged off his great coat and opened the door to get a hanger, letting his coat drape over his arm. Something came out of an interior pocket and fluttered the floor. Ed had started up the hallway and stopped to bend over and pick it up. It was an envelope and no sooner had Ed straightened back up with it in his hand then Roy snatched it away.

“The fuck? I was only being helpful. You being mad at me shouldn't translate over when I'm trying to suck up to you by picking up shit you throw on the floor,” Ed groused.

“I'm not mad at you,” Roy finally lied, “and I'm sorry. This is work related,” he held the envelope up and shook it, “and not for your eyes Mr. Civilian.”

“Why the fuck is everyone mistering me these days? Al was calling me Mr. Fullmetal Alchemist at lunch,” Ed turned and went into the living room and fell over on the couch. “What the hell am I supposed to do all next week? I can't keep bugging Al and I don't want to be under your thumb. There has got to be something I can do around here next week.”

“Painting, yard work, dusting, give the cleaning lady a week off, that would be nice,” Roy tossed into the living room doorway as he went further down the hall toward the bedrooms.

“Oh you'd just like that,” Ed yelled from the couch. “You wouldn't have to pay her you colossal cheapskate...but I guess it's an idea,” he finished on a mumble. Ed pushed himself up from the couch and headed down to the bedroom, there he fell over on the bed and watched the general change from his uniform to some house clothes. “Do I get to paint the house any color I want to?” he asked.

“No,” Roy said, hitching up his pants. “If you want to paint the exterior we pick the color together.”

“Can I paint the inside walls any color I want?” Ed said, rolling over onto his back and hanging his head off the bed sideways to look at Roy upside down.

“No,” Roy said, turning to look at him, one hand on his hip. “Why are you asking such obvious no questions? I happen to know what your decorating skills are like. So the answer to all these color questions will be a resounding no.” Roy picked the envelope up from off the top of the dresser where he'd laid it while he was changing.

Ed stretched his arms up over his head and tried to grab Roy by his baggy house pants. He managed to snag the side and gave them a firm yank, pulling them down his hip and making his stagger a couple of steps toward the bed. Once that was accomplished Ed was able to grab Roy's baggy house pants with both hands and he held on tight, grinning up at the general.

The general stood, his prisoner, looking down at him, but the corners of his mouth began to curl up. He tried to take a step back but Ed bared his teeth and tightened his fingers and the general gave a soft chuckle.

“Ok,” Roy said, “I'm not mad anymore. Let go so I can go make you some dinner.”

“Why don't you stay right here and make me your dinner,” Ed said and wiggled his eyebrows. “I'm a lot fresher than anything you got in the icebox,” and he scooted his ass up and down on the comforter for effect.

Roy grinned down at him, then leaned over and rubbed Ed's stomach and Ed put his heels on the bed and lifted his stomach so Roy could rub it even more.

“I agree you are the freshest thing in the house,” Roy said, rubbing Ed's stomach in a slow, circular motion. “But I want to see if all your body parts are on board with this skipping dinner idea your horny parts have come up with.”

Ed reached up, ran his arm up Roy's arm and hooked his hand behind his neck and tugged. Roy leaned over when tugged on and negotiated a kiss upside down. When he pulled back up he tilted his head at Ed and cocked an eyebrow and he looked so much like Roy Mustang in that moment Ed almost felt tears.

“Don't do this to me,” Ed said out loud before he realized he'd said it and Roy's brows drew down in confusion a second before lifting again in amusement.

“Make you choose between sex and food? I am being cruel to you, aren't I?”

What a perfect out and so Ed took it.

“You are a cruel man, so let me up, I'm starving,” Ed said, with a little shove and sat up on the bed with his back to Roy.

If Roy could hide things, then he could, too. He would hide the fact he was going to find out what Roy was hiding and he would use any means possible and any help he could get.

And he would tell his heart to shut up, because sometimes you had to do what you had to do no matter who you had to do it to; those lessons never let go.

“I'll meet you in the kitchen,” the general said behind him and Ed heard him turn and walk out of the room.

Ed knew then he needed a few pointers on how to manipulate the master manipulator and, unfortunately, he knew just who he had to enlist.

Tags: fic
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