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

That's What You Get - Part Four

Title: That's What You Get
Rating: R, Ed and his potty mouth
Pairing: Ling/Ed
Summary: That didn't go quiet as expected.



[Part One] [Part Two] [Part Three]

This one comes with art! The amazing and talented rufina_110 was my big bang partner. While I failed to get all the word count in time, she was super awesome and did everything spectacularly! Check it out HERE


He rode the train back to Central alone and feeling very strange about it. First and foremost he was going to have to try and explain why he returned alone when his original mission was to accompany Ling. So he had to come up with something good to tell the general right off the bat. He mulled the options over in his head.

He could say the prince had decided to defect. But that wasn't actually the case; and there was bound to be some commotion if he put it like that, so he crossed that out.

He could say the prince wanted some alone time; but if that were true it would be in his best interest, as the prince's escort to just wait around on the prince and then accompany him back after the prince got over the need to be alone. So he crossed that out, too.

He could say the prince had lost what little mind he had. That was totally believable and the general, sound and reasoning soul that he was, would accept that explanation. Of course he would; the general knew the xingese prince was a scatter brain, having witnessed it himself many times first hand. Yes that is what he should say. Only if there were any representatives there, and heaven forbid someone like Ranfan heard him say it, well then again, there would be trouble. Big trouble for himself for calling the prince something like 'moron' and big trouble because he'd left the mentally deficient prince all alone in a foreign country. So as much as he thought this was the perfect excuse, he was forced to cross it off, too.

Well now he was out of good excuses and somehow it was all Ling's fault, imagine that. He couldn't very well say that he and Ling got married in Auergo because well, the general would probably laugh and everyone in the office would laugh then it would spread like wildfire because rumors that good just had to be broadcast from the rooftops. Soldiers were the worst gossips in the world, when would anyone realize that?

Maybe he should go back and get him. That seemed like the solution to everything, but no, Ling has pretty much told him to get lost, going off with that prince, saying he wasn't Ling's wife anymore, not like he was Ling's wife to begin with or anything like that. Ling had given him the royal kiss-off right in front of that Marco guy, like that Marco guy was something important and Ed wasn't anything at all anymore now that the big fights were over. That was just royalty for you, they liked you until you were no longer useful, then they wanted to get rid of you. Good thing falling out of favor with a prince meant no longer losing your head or something equally useful. But the big fight had been over for some time and Ling still came sniffing around, causing him trouble, taking him places and making him have a good time and marrying him and shit. Ling was just a suck ass lousy prince, that was all.

He scrubbed at his face with his hands and slammed himself back into the train bench a few times. Why was it always like this? Why did Ling always make him feel... just feel all these different ways whenever he was around? Why did Ling make Ed wonder what he was doing when he wasn't around? Like that night on the beach, what was with that? What was...wait. There was a night on the beach, wasn't there? Some vague memory, some snippet wormed it's way to his waking brain and coiled up there, waiting to strike.

Ed rubbed his chin.

Ok so they got drunk and went out on the beach and danced around like heathens and maybe there was some making out and shit. Just maybe. Maybe he let Ling take his shirt off, maybe that is what happened to his shirt.

Maybe.

That still didn't excuse anything. Especially not all that married bullshit or going off with that Marco jerk or anything else that might have transpired during the course of the night that not even he was sure about now.

He held up his automail hand and winced at the missing pinky finger. He rubbed the steel ring that was still on his finger with the thumb of said automail hand. He hadn't taken it off. Fine thing that, claiming they were married then going off with another man. Just on principle he should go back and kick the cheating xingian son of a bitch's ass. He shifted around on the bench in cheated on agitation now and that just pissed him off further.

He wasn't being cheated on because he wasn't married. And yet, somehow, that was exactly how it felt. And it was all that fucker prince's fault for this..this brainwashing. That's exactly what it was, brainwashing! How could one guy make another guy think he was married to him?! But he wasn't, he shouldn't be using the word, let alone thinking it and if they were married he sure as fuck wasn't the wife! He scrubbed at his head with his hands and then winced when his hair got caught in the ruined gears of his equally ruined pinky.

Ok, that was it. One thing was for fucking certain. At the next stop he was getting off this train and getting on another headed back to Auergo and when he got there he was going to find that slit eyed, mealy mouthed, royal fuckhead and he was going to kick his ever-loving ass.

**

The cardboard box lasted maybe half an hour, as did the wandering among the alleys with a blanket draped over their heads. Really, all in all, this becoming one with the common people wasn't panning out. Especially not when Marco got the vapors whenever someone approached him who wasn't wearing some sort of designer fashion and hid behind Ling at every opportunity.

“You know you can't commune with the common people if you avoid meeting any common people,” Ling offered in way of advice.

“I don't have the stamina!” Marco cried. “I don't have the courage you do. I just think they'll touch me or speak to me and I won't know how to respond. Really I haven't been educated in how to talk on the level of the commoner. At least, when you had your commoner wife, you had someone to practice with.”

“Heh, that wasn't practice, that was survival,” Ling said wistfully. “Edward made even the common conversation an exercise in the battle of verbosity. It was because he was so brilliant you see. There really wasn't anything very common about my commoner ex-wife,” Ling sighed.

“I only wish I had a tenth of your fortitude. I just don't think I'm cut out to be a crusader for the people. It was a nice idea but I see it's going to take some effort. Effort isn't something I'm use to having to contribute to a situation. I mean, usually I just say what needs to be done and the servants do it. It would be better if I could just tell the common people what to do and they would obey. It's all this free thinking they seem to have that has me worried. What if I told them to do something and they didn't? That would just give me hives I think,” Marco said.

Ling was looking at him and it had never once occurred to him in all his pampered youth there was someone out there that he would someday meet that would make him truly wonder why the masses put up with royalty at all.

Marco huffed, making his little blond pageboy cut bounce and Ling felt a sharp pang and found that he was regretting letting Edward leave after all. But really, what had Ed expected? What had he expected? Why had he expected anything?

It had been clear, throughout their rough and tumble sort of and sort of not relationship that Ed didn't get it; he didn't get Ling's interest. And Ling thought that was alright, he would be able to clarify the error later on down the road. But he hadn't, and why hadn't he? Fear probably. Fear that clarity might fundamentally change what they were and what they had when in reality they hadn't really had anything at all.

For this, he blamed himself.

Marco interrupted him by clutching at his sleeve yet again and looking about.

“It's getting dark,” the younger prince exclaimed, as if this new revelation was something beyond his keen. Surely it got dark each night in Auergo. “What are we going to do? It will be very dark by the time we walk back to the palace, alone, in the dark,” Marco continued, stressing the word dark each time he used it.

“I thought we were out on our own,” Ling said simply, “and when we're on our own that means we need to find somewhere to sleep for the night.”

Marco made a little scandalized gasp.

“But I need my pillows and my nana to come and tuck me in,” Marco said with indignity. “She won't be able to find me way out here and she can't bring me my snack and check the closets and under the bed. Also, I don't have my nightshirt with me, either. I'm sure Mama will be very annoyed if I sleep in my clothes.”

Ling wasn't sure how to respond to this, mostly for the fact he though Marco was at least sixteen and not six, but also because for a moment he almost agreed with him on the snack and checking the closets, but he shook himself.

“I'm starting to expect this entire episode of your ideal of mingling with the populace was somewhat of a sham,” Ling said. “You're woefully unprepared to deal with anything outside the palace walls it seems. Just what were you doing at that resort, anyways?”

“I snuck out!” Marco said, stung. “Well, not really, I went to the resort with my Uncle and his entourage for a private party, but I slipped away! That's like sneaking out,” and he snorted and gave a firm nod to confirm it.

Something start to nag Ling about the situation. Something in the back of his brain. He, too, had snuck out to do nefarious things in his youth. Nefarious, undignified things that culminated in traveling to another country at some point and meeting Edward. So sneaking out, on the whole, wasn't a completely lame thing to do. But usually, when one snuck out, one tended to go back. At least, in theory that is what one did after a successful sneak, then one laid in bed a while feeling accomplished and stealthy. Ok, so that last sneak out was rather long, with the train ride and crossing the desert and fighting homuculus and the lot, but in the end, he did end up going back. He looked at Marco, feeling like a superior sneaker because it was obvious Marco couldn't last a day in the wilds of the commoners.

“Come on, there are a lot of alleys around here, I'm sure we'll find somewhere to sleep. For whatever reason I feel it's my duty to make sure you at least spend one night of your intended quest where it was intended to be,” Ling said, for after all, Marco should at least glean some bit of knowledge of his superior sneaking out wisdom.

Marco seemed to tremble a bit, like a frightened fawn, but he remained mute and clung to Ling's sleeve.

“They probably don't even know your missing yet,” Ling said to instill confidence in Marco's so far unsuccessful escapade. “So you might as well make the most of it before they come looking for you.”

Later Ling would recall that was what was in the back of his brain, waving a red flag.

**

When Ed finally made it back, later the next morning, he decided to return to the scene of the crime to see if any of the resort staff had seen Ling wandering aimlessly about. It seemed unlikely Ling would stray far from a place that offered a buffet at every meal, and with any luck Ed could find him quickly, beat him unconscious quickly, and drag him back onto a train by that afternoon.

He grabbed a cab back to the resort, and noted, as he shoved a few cens at the driver, there seemed to be a lot of police milling about there. Huh, maybe it was a Auergo policeman's convention or something, and some of the policemen seemed to have ultra fancy uniforms with big plummed hats and the like, kind of like police honor guard. Weird, whatever, he just had to find one stray xingian ambassador and a ride back to the train station that wouldn't question why said ambassador was either dead, out cold or stuffed in a sack.

It seemed to Ed, as he entered the main lobby of the resort, that the police and the honor guard seemed to have all the staff lined up and were walking up and down the row of them wearing serious expressions. As Ed made to pass by the line and head for the front desk, one staff member, who looked like a busboy, piped up and pointed at Ed. This made several of the policeman and some of the honor guard look his way.

Ed looked back warily, he'd been warned time and again by his C.O., the insufferable Mustang, to stay clear of the authorities when he was out of the country. Mustang made it clear that Ed and the authorities in the same location was never a good sign, and if he had a choice, he should avoid any and all confrontation with the authorities because the General couldn't always be there to bail his ass out. As if, like the General ever bailed his ass out, or rather, had to do it all the time, or rather had to do it more than once a month. He was a special operative, that meant special rules and so one of the special rules was...ok, so the General had to bail him out all the time, that meant he was making the General good at bailing people out. Big deal, the General could get over it, and by the time he'd sorted this out in his head he seemed to be surrounded.

One of the policeman, flanked by one of the honor guard guys marched up to him and said something to him in Auergoan, or whatever the language was called. Since Ed came to Auergo maybe once a year to watch Ling get drunk and he stayed at a resort where every language anyone would care to speak tended to be spoken, he never actually got past the Auergoan equivalent of 'where do I piss?'. He wasn't even sure he said that right, but all the little resort bar girls or shooter girls or barely dressed girls looking for a big tip didn't seem to care; they all giggled and jiggled at him, so he thought he did alright. Turns out he really should have paid attention to the pocket translator book Ling insist that he carry. He'd never looked at it out of spite, so this should be one of those Alphonsian life lessons about being a grouch all the time. As he stared at them blankly they seemed to twig onto the fact that he possibly didn't understand them and they waved over the busboy who had fingered him in the first place.

The busboy stood between Ed and the policeman and licked his lips nervously looking back and forth between them. The policeman growled something at the boy and he cowered a bit then turned to Ed and seemed to take a fortifying breath.

“He says,” the busboy stated, “where is prince?”

“Wouldn't we all like to know,” Ed retorted with a snort. “He's got a one way ticket to ass-kickville, courtesy of me and I'm looking to pay up!”

The busboy blinked at Ed in a rapid fire motion that Ed thought was kind of cool, then he looked like he was thinking about how to turn Ed's awesome verbal threat on Ling's life into Auergoan and repeat it to the policeman. He started and stalled and Ed rolled his hands in a motion to get him to continue and the busboy looked at Ed in a way Ed thought maybe small fished looked at hungry bigger fish and hesitantly finished out his sentence.

This caused quite a stir and the policeman and honor guard guy spoke rapidly to each other for several moments, then the policeman made a verbal assault on the busboy who had started to sweat and leave a little wet 'v' shape on the front of his button down shirt. The busboy rolled his eyes at Ed and Ed thought now he looked like a cow, and the busboy's lips moved and finally his vocal chords caught up with them. By now the policeman and the honor guard were glaring at him and more policeman were edging closer as if to eavesdrop on his tirade. Probably they wanted pointers in how to make a good threat.

“They want to know what you want for prince,” the busboy said. “For prince to be... suh...safe,” he finished and nodded to himself like he'd done a good job.

“He's not safe from me,” Ed snarled.

The busboy (now interpreter) looked exceedingly nervous. He kept darting anxious glances at the policeman who was giving him quizzical looks. Finally, haltingly, he said something, and the policeman sputtered and turned a few shades of red and the honor guard guy outright gasped and clutched at his ornamental sword there on his belt. The policeman grabbed his arm and they all began talking in rapid fire Auergoan, or whatever and they kept looking at Ed.

Finally they barked at the hapless busboy and he jumped, saluted and turned to Ed.

“They say will make bad relations, bad relations, if you no nee...nego..tee ate,” the busboy tried to explain.

“Nee...what? What the hell was that you just said? And don't worry, the relationship, of which there wasn't one, was bad enough before all these guys started to stick their noses in; and what the fuck do they know about it anyways? Did he tell everyone I was his wife? Nevermind,” Ed waved his hands. “I'll just get him and be on my way and you'll never have to worry about any of this again.”

And Ed turned to walk out of the lobby and down the steps to the outside. He heard a lot of movement behind him and turned to glance over his shoulder. The busboy was looking pale and slack jawed and all of the police and honor guard seemed to be... following him. All of them; and really, some of them even looked a little pissed. Maybe there was something outside, like a buffet set up or something and Ed was holding them up; that might piss him off, too.

But no, as he headed down the sidewalk they were like right behind him, murmuring, and when he sped up, they sped up and finally when he broke and ran, they all started running.

That was when Ed twigged onto the fact that something might be wrong.

**

**

“I'm hungry,” Marco chanted, like a baby bird. “I'm so hungry I'm feeling faint. What will happen to me if I don't get something to eat? I'll wither away. I have a delicate constitution, that's what my Nana tells me all the time. I'm so hungry I'm not sure I can go on,” he finished on a whine.

“Will you stop being so...,” and Ling stopped for if truth be told this sounded sort of familiar. So instead he switched to time honored tactics he knew well. “Do you have any money?”

“No,” Marco said with his big eyes, “I don't have to carry money, everything is paid for me in advance. Besides, I'm a Prince and people just want to give me things. All of my money is in a trust, where it is safe from me I'm told. One day they will give me my money to do with as I please, but really, it's so trivial, I've never had to have any before.”

“There is an ancient saying, passed down among my people and I will admit that I've never really appreciated it until now,” Ling told him. “It goes... 'you reap what you sow'. How ironic. I'm sure my ex-wife would appreciate this irony if only he were here to see it.”

“Do you miss him, like overly?” Prince Marco asked. “He was sort of abrasive, but, was that the attraction?”

“It was part of it,” Ling sighed. “The rest of it was that tight little butt and all the other lovely amenities attached to it.” Ling leaned against the wall of the alley they were currently occupying.

Marco was looking a bit confused, so Ling let it drop and poked his head out to look down the street. Being as they were in a resort district that was surrounded by an equally tourist trap of a town the restaurant life was plentiful. The problem with no money is that the restaurant staff didn't tend to want to serve you. He looked at Marco again.

“How well known are you? I mean, is the general populace liable to recognize you for who you are?” He asked, hoping to scam a free meal on the royalty card. But if Marco was like himself, a lesser prince, then the changes of recognition outside the palace gates might be slim.

“Everyone at home knows me,” Marco said airily. “I attend balls and functions. Usually I have to put up with my cousins,” he said with a bit of a snort. “And really, I'm to old for all the games they want us to play in the gardens while the adults occupy the ballrooms. I think it's high time I get to stay in the ballrooms as well. My elder brothers get to and I don't think it's fair.”

Ling's heart sank at the mention of elder brothers. So like himself, Marco was down the line. He judged Marco again, to see if he thought the little prince could run, but somehow he sort of doubted it. Ditching a bill meant being in top physical shape to out run the enraged ditchee. Dinner was turning out to be harder than expected.

“I'm running out of options,” Ling said, mostly to himself, then squared his shoulders. “You wait here, I'll be back...eventually. If you hear a lot of running and yelling just cringe, don't give yourself away. Stay right here,” and Ling pointed at the ground at Marco's feet. Then he stroll boldly out of the alley and down the sidewalk, looking for the first available and edible mark.

The first thing Marco did was run down the alley the opposite way then back up the alley to where Ling told him to stay. He peeked out of the alley, then made the same mad dash and back. This was terribly exciting for about five seconds, until he started to feel truly alone. He tried the cringing Ling mentioned and it only helped so much. He kept listening for running and yelling so he'd know when to cringe. He wanted to make sure he did a good job of it, so Ling would be impressed with him. He wondered if Ling would want to be his wife in the future. He certainly liked Ling. And Ling was a prince so the objections would be few he was certain. And Ling seemed to be the type of prince who could take care of things himself. After all, here he was all the way in Auergo without his Nana and look at what he'd accomplished so far; slinking through alleys and talking to common people like it was nothing out of the ordinary. He should really concentrate on learning as much as he could from this bold and innovated xingese prince; and that of course was when the running and yelling started.

**

Not far across town there was also a lot of running and yelling going on. Ed was making a game face of it, but without his usual xingese navigator this dodging the pursuit was turning out unexpectedly hard. It was times like these that he could appreciate his more flexible... maneuverability in tight places where low ceilings, but it wasn't admitting to anything! He was just super bendy from all his years of hard living. He slid through broken fence slats into an alley between two buildings. Not that this did him any good as both openings at the end of the alley filled with police and honor guards. Nowhere to go but up. He clapped his hands, kneeling to the ground, feeling the familiar surge and well within him; the opening of his own portal and the releasing of energy from places unknown. The ground beneath him heaved upwards and he quickly cleared the rooftops around him, having a good look around to get some sort of bearings.

To his right where more blocks of buildings that made up the town as a whole, to his left was the ocean. That was the thing about resort towns, they usually included oceans and oceans had docks and docks had ships and warehouses and all sorts of place that just might be useful for hiding. So he launched himself to the left, raced across a rooftop or two, scrambled down a fire escape and beat feet toward the wharf. He could hear his pursuit, but more distant that previously. He just might pull this off, he just might give them the slip. He just might save himself the hassle and embarrassment of having to call the bastard General to request bail money. He wasn't really sure what he'd done anyways, but he always managed to do something that made those veins in the general's temples stand out. It always made the general rub his forehead or the bridge of his nose, too. Ed could generally tell how much of a bawling out he was going to get by how hard the general rubbed.

But enough of that. Look here Ling, he could get away all on his own! He found himself barreling down a slatted wood walkway, and he pulled up short because he thought he saw some sort of uniformed men at the other end. He looked around quickly and noticed some men milling around outside a place that looked like a bar. That could work and he hurried over, trying to look like he wasn't running from the authorities and forced himself to stop and try to saunter. A couple of the men at the entrance of this supposed bar turned to look at him. They looked at him long and hard, maybe sizing him up. A bar near the waterfront would be full of tough sailor types, right? There would probably be a lot of posturing and snorting, just like the military, and well he was use to that. He gave them the hairy eyeball back and slipped just inside the door way. It was pretty much as he expected; dark, smoky, a good place to find a corner and hibernate, growling words only when approached by someone not bearing alcohol of choice. He'd spent many nights in many such places in many such towns on many such missions. It was good to be one of the unforgettable sometimes. He found he had a marked preferences for towns who didn't know his name. He was also grateful they didn't know that back and home, in the back of his closet, still in the cleaner's wrap from when it was presented was an amestrian uniform. He'd never wear it, they'd just have to court martial him. He found a table in the back that was long with a long bench and though the other end was occupied somewhat, he could sit at the opposite end with the illusion of being alone. It was as he sat there, in the dark, listening for sounds of pursuit, that he remembered what had brought him to the low point in the first place. He wondered if the xingese prince was lying around on some pillows somewhere with that other prince, being fed grapes and telling anyone who would listen about how misunderstood he was and how he'd been abandoned by his entourage. An entourage of one whom he claimed he'd married.

Fucking foreign dignitaries, nothing but wholesale pains in the asses. Especially the one Ed got stuck with all the time. How did Al land the plum job of escorting around the Cretan diplomat all the time? She was hot.

Still, it did sort of nag him he'd left Ling alone, when that was usually the last thing Ling needed to be. Or Ling didn't seem to prefer. Ling had this thing about him, about always being surrounded with people, or with just Ed. When it was just Ed, then Ling seemed not to care about the entourage that usually tagged along with him; mopping the floor he was about to step on, offering to carry him from chair to chair on their backs. No, Ed found when it was just Ling and himself, Ling wasn't the same Ling as when it was Ling and all his croonies at Central HQ.

He kind of liked having Ling to himself sometimes.

What? Wait! Whoa! What the fuck was this? This was not the elaborate and perfectly executed plot to get the xingese son of a bitch back for every running footstep he'd taken today. This was not the internally prepared speech to make the princely fuck beg his forgiveness (even if Ed could never remembered internally prepared speech when it came time to give it and usually just yelled obsenities to fill the void), no, this was NOT what he should be thinking now, or ever. When he did find Ling? There would be blood. Maybe Ling's, maybe someone elses, but there would be paying upon paying for the indignity of having to yet again explain to Mustang why all foreign countries had it in for him. Maybe he should get some swill, whatever they drank here, and blend in some more. He glanced down the table and the two men there who'd been talking quietly amongst themselves were now looking at him. One of them gave him a small smile, lifted the mug he was drinking from and gave Ed the universal eyebrow lift that said: “interested in drinking with a local?”

No, not really, but if he was going to blend in he might as well blend in right. Besides, all these auergoan sailors looked really well dressed.

**

Marco barely had time to squeak when Ling appeared in the mouth of the alleyway carrying a large bag and had something hanging out of his mouth. Marco got snatched by the arm and yanked along and made to run as in actual physical exertion. He was pretty sure there was some parable his Nana had told him about his delicate ankles and why he should never, ever run anywhere but it slipped his mind as the alley was left behind and they were running down a sidewalk, dodging back and forth to avoid most of the pedestrian traffic.

Well that is, Ling was running, Marco himself seemed to be propelled forward by the sheer wake of wind Ling was generating as he ran. He was very fast, and Marco never imagined being able to run very fast, but somehow, he was keeping up. They squeezed through a narrow shop, no wider than an alley way itself and through a back room where women screeched at them and out a back door into another alley that smelled in a way Marco had never smelled a smell and out again onto a side street and down a sidewalk. Then he was urged up a fire escape, tucked under Ling's arm as they leaped the expanse of that alley to a fire escape on the neighboring building them up to the roof, then down a gutter at least it looked like a gutter to balance precariously for a moment on a fence top before jumping down to the other side of the fence.

Then Ling had to stop and pant.

“This is easier with the ex-wife,” Ling said, grimacing a bit and stretching to pop his lower back, “I don't have to carry him so much.”

Marco was a little shell shocked, a little frightened, a little star struck and a little speechless. He was dirty and wind ruffled. He was scraped and panting himself. He was a fugitive and now his mouth was being stuffed by some sweet and unidentifiable bread.

And so, this was what life was like outside the palace.

“Can we do that again?” he asked, knowing that even as he asked it how very naïve and cliched it was, but knowing he had to ask.

“Certainly, every time we get hungry,” Ling answered, perpetual grin in place. “It's a good way to stay in shape. Ed and I are very good as a team. Ed is amazing at distraction, even though he doesn't realize it; the only thing I have to do is think of the appropriate or inappropriate thing to say and he just has this way of making the locals rivet on his every word,” Ling sighed. “And that makes this part a bit easier,” Ling munched down another bun, offered another to Marco who took it from his hand.

“Do you miss him?” Marco asked, picking at the side of the bun, rolling the bit of bread in his fingers and popping it in his mouth. Ling didn't bother to scold him for it, Ling didn't care if he lacked manners. What were manners anyways in this alley in the middle of the town that surrounded his palace home? Ling was quiet for a moment, then he gave a shrug and a nod.

“I do, what is the sense in pretending that I don't?” he asked. “I use to be very good at lying to myself and for that I will always feel regret. I want to trust myself and believe in myself, so lying to myself was counter productive. The truth of the matter is I think I like Edward far more than he'll ever like me, and even knowing that? I want to be with him. Around him. I just want to talk to him and see him scowl at me or snarl at me and on the rare occasion smile at me. I am baffled myself to think why that is enough for me; but it is,” he smiled at Marco then, making the young prince's breath catch.

“I think I understand,” Marco mumbled, picking at his bun some more.

Ling gave him a look them, the stretched again and looked around.

“I suppose we really need to concentrate of finding somewhere to spend the night,” he said. “Unless you'd rather go home now? I think I've given you quite a taste of life on the lam, I can understand if you have had enough for the night.”

“No,” Marco said, feeling braver than he ever had in his life. “I want to spend at least one night out here, where I've never been to be able to said I've done it.” He felt flushed when Ling grinned at him and in truth he did know how Ling felt, liking someone far more than they could probably even like him in return. And he followed that person he liked down the alley to have a cautious look around before wandering out onto the street.

**

“My name is Andino,” said one sailor, in an immaculate white shirt with a large collar that was open at his throat. He wore a tight fitting vest, dark blue or black in this lighting and he even smelled good, which Ed thought was unusual for a sailor.

“Ed,” Ed grunted in return, waiting for Andino's companion, who Ed thought was named Tancredo, or something like that. The Auergoan's sure had a thing for names ending in 'o'. But whatever Trashcano's name was, he was supposedly off getting them beer.

“Ed,” Andino said, moving his lips in a way that made Ed slightly uncomfortable. “Just Ed, or short for ...?”

“Edward,” Ed grunted again, what the fuck did it matter? Where was the beer? He needed beer. He needed a lot of beer. This was definitely one of those beer needing days and he was not above the need for beer. Not at any time really, if he was honest about it. But he needed beer and maybe a kick in the ass to teach him not to do stupid sentimental things like come all the way back to resorts on a train because maybe, just maybe, he felt bad for running out on Ling. Maybe. And he needed beer to help him devise a good explanation why Mustang might, at this very moment, be getting a call about him having an unfortunate encounter with the law. But really, they were inevitable now, Mustang should just be ready for them anytime Ed left the country. At least it gave Slack Master Mustang something to do.

That was when the beer arrived. Transvestito sat down one side of him and Andino moved closer from his side. What were they afraid Ed was going to grab all the beer and run? Well they should be, he'd done it before, but the bad thing about it was he wasn't sure it was safe enough for him to venture back out. There might still be people out there looking for him. People who would take him back to a jail, put him in a cell and hold a phone receiver up to the bars so Mustang could scream at him. Like that had never happened before.

Umm, beer.

“Edward,” Andino said, but he didn't say it to Ed, he said it to Trapeseo, who seemed to look sad for a moment. Then he sighed and said something hushed in auergoan that ended with Eduardo, what the hell, was Trapozido upset because Edward didn't end in 'o'?

Who cares, there was beer.

“It is noticeable,” Trapdooro said, “that you are not from here,” he smiled and flipped his own hair. Not as long as Ed's, barely down past the man's jaw and Ed quirked an eyebrow before draining half the mug of free beer he had been given. “Tourist?” Trampolino asked.

Hardly and what did he care? So why not?

“Amestrian secret service,” Ed supplied, licking his beer mustache off before starting a new one.

The two of them looked at each other, even with Ed there between them so he could see them doing it and Andino put his elbow on the table and his chin in his palm.

“Should you be telling us that?” he said, edging his own mug of beer in Ed's direction. Ed eyed it and he was pretty sure Andino had not drunk anything from it, so he grabbed it and pulled it over.

“Why not?” Ed said, “Who are you going to tell?”

“I might tell anybody,” one of them said, but Ed didn't know which one because they'd slipped off his radar now that beer had become his main focus.

“That's alright, then I'll have to kill you,” Ed said in the pat and standard answer. He looked around for a bowl of things to eat with the beer. No matter where he went in his many world wide travels there were two constants. Beer and the things you ate with the beer that were generally free. Bowls of stale and overly salty things that a good beer would wash down with no problem. It was a cleverly disguised way of getting the out of date random food things off the stock room shelves and it made you think that you were getting a deal. Beer and free stuff in a bowl to eat just for buying the beer.

“So exciting and dangerous,” one of them gushed. “Tell us why you are here in our country being a spy.”

“I'm not spying on anyone, I'm here looking for a xingese dumb fuck who I was suppose to be watching, but, as usual, he got some dumb ass idea in his head and went off on a bender. Don't you guys have beer stuff to eat while drinking beer?” Ed asked.

“Oh tut, get the man a bowl of grackles, there on the bar,” one of them said and the other got up and went to fetch said bowl. These guys sure were accommodating. The bowl was placed in front of Ed and someone cleared their throat politely for Ed to continue his tale.

“Xingese men are so... what's the word I'm looking for? Exotic,” one of them said.

“Cliche much,” the other one said dryly, “that is such an overused word.”

“Why were you suppose to look after him?” Ed was asked.

“He's a prince,” Ed answered, finishing off the second beer and looking around for a third. “I'm his escort, only he keeps telling people I'm his wife, which I'm not,” Ed emphasized. “With royalty you have to have someone watch them,” Ed continued, explaining his situation to the civilians, “you can't let them just wonder around on their own.”

“He calls you his wife?” one of them asked. “He must really like you.”

“Your very own prince, you make me jealous. What's he like?” the other asked.

“He's like a fucking pain in my ass,” Ed snarled, tapping the table top and pushing an empty mug back and forth. “He's got all these weird ideas and he's not afraid to tell me about them or even act on them, and then I have to chase him around to make sure he doesn't get maimed or some shit. Like he's decided to go off with some other prince and live the life of a fucking pauper or some such bullshit. He'd got it in his head it's noble or romantic or something like that and he brainwashed that other kid with it, too. Then he tells me after fucking insisting like a million times we were married that suddenly we weren't married. Like he can just call it off like that. Not that we were married or anything, but he's got a lot of nerve changing up on me half way and then the fucker runs off with that other blond kid... he must have a thing for blonds. Fucker, should let him starve to death in the streets. But oh no, what am I doing? Getting chased by the law while looking for him, that's what I'm doing. That is what I'm always doing, running after him and trying to keep up. It's all I fucking do when he's around.”

“It sounds to me that someone has some repression,” one of them said.

“And that someone here is in denial,” the other said.

Ed looked around to see who they were talking about.

“If he's as bad as you say he is, why are you always chasing after him?” one of the questioned.

“It's my job,” Ed sputtered.

“I think you could probably get a different job if it's so abhorrent,” he was informed.

“No, you don't get it, I'm the only one who can look after him. No one else knows what to expect out of him, he'd get killed under anyone else's watch,” Ed stressed.

“Sounds like concern to me,” one of them said.

“Um hmmm,” the other agreed.

Ed sputtered and slammed his hands on the table causing the little bowl of beer munchies to tip and scatter.

“It's my JOB,” he stressed again, trying to regain his former conviction even if he didn't really feel it now.

**

It had been most inconvenient for Nielas Fuego and his accomplishes when the young prince had disappeared from the resort in which he was staying. It was appallingly easy to lure the boy's uncle there with the hint of gambling, women and wild associations. It had been equally easy to convince the man that the young prince was way to sheltered and should be given the chance to sample the vices of a true man.

Only then the young prince had followed a xingese man away and hadn't been seen since.

And the damn and blast of it all now was the authorities was involved.

What was it with princes these days? As simple as the youngest of the King's brood seemed to be, he'd given them the slip either knowingly or unknowingly.

Such were the lengths it took to be a villain in modern times.

A man with convictions, political and financial, should not have to go to such lengths to be noticed.

tbc
Tags: fic
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