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Why we do what we do

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The Great Fullmetal Alchemist Edward Elric did not understand his own mind at the moment, nor did he comprehend how he had wound up where he was.

"Your coffee is getting cold Fullmetal."

Ed jumped so badly at the random observation, his fragile grip on the cup turned into a vice in an instant. The frail Xingese cup cracked under the pressure of his auto mail hand and shattered, causing a litany of curses to fall from the young blond's slightly blue tinged lips.

"Dammit, fucking hell. Sorry. I'll fix it, shit."

With a clap of his hands the cup was back into pristine condition, but the coffee was still running in rivulets out from the dark brown pool it had created on the white lacquered wood of the round kitchen table.

“Calm down Fullmetal, we have rags for that,” the dark timber of the man sitting across from Ed. Brigadier General Roy Mustang, the famed Flame Alchemist. Promoted after the events of the promised day and one step closer to his goal of being Fuhrer. He handed the shivering and now even more disheveled sixteen year old a royal blue terry cloth rag from the oven’s handle. His little kitchen was filled with the light of modest chandelier hanging above, the pale blue walls and white trim presented a well put together image along with the white wooden four seater table in the breakfast nook of Roy Mustang’s kitchen. White cabinets and butcher block counters made the space feel cottagey regardless of house actually being an end terrace unit on the block of upper middle class houses Roy lived in.

Ed took the towel and mopped up his mess before the coffee could spill unto the natural birch hardwood floors. He breathed in deeply to prevent his flesh hand from shaking anymore. He was finally getting feeling back into his stumps where his automail met them. “You feeling warmer?” Mustang asked him, standing from his seat and coming around the table with another terry cloth towel. He nudged Ed and his now sodden towel out of the way gently before scrubbing up the remainder of the coffee. “Are you going to tell me why you were out in that blizzard now? You were too frost bit to do more than shiver when I picked you up at the train station.”

Ed turned to look at his CO with a nerve of anger rattling in his body…’so he’d had to call Mustang for help…the man didn’t need to pry’ Ed thought to himself. He knew though, he wouldn’t be able to get out of at least telling Mustang some of what was wrong.

“Look, I just…Al is back in Resembool visiting Winery and I went for a walk…look it doesn’t fucking matter Mustang,” Ed muttered aggressively and quite obvious in his evasion, uselessly trying to deflect. How could he tell the bastard Brigadier General the reason he was wandering aimlessly around central was because he had locked himself out of his barracks all the while locking his coat, keys, wallet, and pocket watch inside. How could he tell the bastard Brigadier General that the damn private at the watch desk either A) didn’t recognize him and wouldn’t give him a spare key or B) wouldn’t give him a spare key because he hated Ed and Ed’s life; when Ed tried to transmute a door into his barracks (he’d avoided doing it before because the last time he’d done that, the head of the housing department had fined him a stupid amount of money and Roy himself had “lectured him”, which actually meant laughing at him for ten minutes) the private then bodily removed him from the barracks and threatened to call the MPs, yelling about how he didn’t know how some snot-nosed bratling got in there but he wasn’t about to lose his job over it.

Absolutely frustrated and not giving enough fucks to stay there and rip the lowly private a new one, Ed had stormed out. He had resigned himself to wandering aimlessly until morning when he could sic Hawkeye or Hughes, hell even Mustang if he played his cards right, on the stupid idiot. He had at least thought to transmute his sleep shirts (yes, plural two tank tops) into a somewhat thicker sweatshirt. And, to his defense, the storm hadn’t picked up until he’d been out in the cold for half an hour.

It’s not as if getting locked out was even the beginning of his problem. But Ed wasn’t willing to admit any of that aloud just yet. He didn’t want to ever admit to Mustang just why he’d been locked out in just his boots and his bed clothes.

“It’s -6 degrees Celsius outside Edward, and it’s sleeting! We both know that’s a crock of shit, so tell me the real reason. And after that I’m putting you in a hot shower, you’re still frozen to the bone, even with dry clothes!” Roy’s patience finally snapped, but his concern was evident, even going as far as to address Fullmetal as Edward. He had been roused from his sleep by his phone ringing at 12:12am. Fullmetal’s shivering voice had come across the wire and he hadn’t even asked for an explanation other than demanding “Where are you…stay there I’ll be there in five minutes.”

He had rushed out of bed in only a sweat suit and his overcoat, though he had the forethought to grab another overcoat and a pair of gloves for the shivering teen as he had fumbled for his keys and wallet. He had been in such a shock that Edward would even think to call him in a time of need that Roy hadn’t even tried to wrestle an explanation from the teen until now, thirty minutes after the ‘rescue’ and after getting two cups of coffee into Ed the blonde had fallen mostly silent. Ed had been resigned and mostly silent, murmuring “thank you” at random moments and occasionally refusing things, such as sitting by a fire Roy had offered to ignite or a warm meal, that refusal had shocked Roy a little more than anything else; the teen was a black hole for food.

Roy was thoroughly perplexed as to what had happened and why Ed was acting so quiet versus his normal, raging self. He had given Ed enough time, in his opinion, to thaw and start explaining.

“Bastard! I don’t wanna get into it!”

“Well I went a saved your ass from frostbite, so you owe me more than a lame excuse of wanting a walk in this blasted weather,” Mustang sneered, not allowing himself to raise his voice again. Ed still had a shaken look to him, one that was not at all Ed. Mustang didn’t like it.

Ed let out a frustrated scream and then yelled, “So I don’t wanna fucking tell you I fucking got locked out of my fucking dorm because some boot-ass private didn’t know me and kicked me out after I locked my damn keys in my room and I can’t fucking transmute a door because the fucker threatened to call the MP’s and you would have chewed my ass out along with the stupid dorm supervisor, even if I fucking fix the fucking wall back every damn time! I didn’t even have my wallet with me! I couldn’t just go to a hotel! So I had to fucking call you goddamn collect!” Ed’s face was flushed with either embarrassment or anger, or both. He was trembling, but at least, Roy noted, his lips were no longer tinged blue with cold. “I…just…just fucking let me live this down, ok? You’re the only one I could think to call, you fucking jackass.”

Roy blinked at Ed owlishly for a moment, the teenager looked so much younger than he ever had; his walls were broken into. He’d had to ask for help and it killed him. Roy did the only thing he could thing to do and put an arm around Ed, hugging him loosely.

What utterly surprised Roy, was that Ed did not rip himself away from Roy with a scream and a punch. Ed clutched at him with both of his arms, and burrowed himself against Roy. It was then that Roy felt how truly cold Ed was. His right side where his automail met his shoulder was frozen; he likely had some degree frostbite. Roy could only imagine the state of Ed’s left leg.

Roy reciprocated the deeper hug and ran his hands up and down Ed’s back, trying to share his warmth.

“C’mon Edward, let’s get you in a hot bath. You need to thaw your limbs before you get actually get frostbite,” Roy said gently after a few minutes of holding Ed. Ed hadn’t started crying, nor had he pulled away in those two and a half minutes. He just stood there, clutching Roy around the middle as if he’s disappear.

Ed disentangled himself from Roy and nodded.

“Yeah…not a bad fucking idea,” Ed muttered. Ed had to collect himself, a bath would offer him that opportunity. He’d clung to Mustang so readily! ‘I can’t get so touchy feely; I can’t let him know he’s the reason I got locked out of my damn room…’

Roy led Edward up the stairs to a clean cut, simple white and blue tiled bathroom. There were white hexagon tiles on the floor, which led up the wall till they met a border of royal blue rectangular tiles up to Roy’s shoulder. The wall above that was painted white and the pedestal sink was white porcelain along with the claw foot tub and toilet. The storage cupboard built into the wall was painted royal blue and the stain glass window had blue flowers in the design. Roy’s favorite colour was now not hard to guess for Ed. Roy showed Ed where to find everything and then exited the room, promising to bring him clothes to sleep in.

Ed took a deep calming breath and started running a hot bath, all the while talking to himself to calm himself. He pretty much was just riling himself back up, but the monologue began with good intentions:

“Just breathe Ed, he’ll put you up on the couch tonight and take you back tomorrow and probably make fun of you for weeks and then he’ll never think of it again. He doesn’t realize you have a giant fucking crush on him. He doesn’t realize you were bumbling around like a fucking moron because you’d just came like the fucking teenager you are after a wet dream about Brigader General Bastard! Jeeeeez…and just how many soaps does this guy have?”

What Ed didn’t know, was that as he was trying to decide between either Sandalwood or Juniper the aforementioned Brigadier General Bastard was accidentally-on purpose listening in. He hadn’t meant to overhear Ed. He’s been dropping off a pair of cut off sweat pants (likely the only thing he owned that would fit Ed’s legs) and a too-tight-for-him long-sleeve tee-shirt that would still likely be a size too big for Ed, though one could never know with the now very well built FullMetal Alchemist. It was hard not to notice how much affect years of training and fighting had affected Ed’s physique. And overhearing Ed’s rant made just that image pop into the forefront of Roy’s mind.

Roy backed off slowly, waiting for the boy, and he reminded himself viscerally that Edward was only seventeen, to finish his bath.

Roy retreated downstairs and did ignite a fire then, his traitorous thoughts turning to a place he had thought he’d locked tightly away. ‘He is seventeen you know, the legal age in Amestris is fifteen for consent.’

“Shut up,” Roy mumbled to himself unhelpfully as he sunk onto his black leather couch. He leaned over himself and put his head in his hands.

‘You’ve wanted him for months now,’ His internal voice continued to needle him.

‘Just because I find him physically attractive doesn’t mean I’d do anything’ Roy shot back at his own mind, ‘Who wouldn’t be attracted to a mind like his.’

‘Or a body?’ His mind added rather unhelpfully. ‘And after what you just overheard…can you really forget all about it?’

“Umm…thank you, For the clothes,” Edward’s quieter than normal voice broke him out of his mental argument.

Roy looked up immediately, “Of course, I’m sorry they don’t fit.”

Edward just looked at him and shrugged, “That ain’t a height comment is it?” He baited.

Roy actually laughed heartily at that. “No Ed, no height comments.” Though if he or Ed were in any better state of mind he’d actually poke fun at the fact that what was knee length on himself almost reached Ed’s ankles. And the shirt looked more like a dress, coming down underneath Ed’s rump. “Come and sit.”

Ed just nodded, and shuffled over. He sat on the opposite end of the tufted leather couch from Roy.

“Edward,” Roy started, deliberately talking to the young man in front of him and not using his military call name. “Do you need to tell me anything else? Has this private…done anything else to you? Disrespected you in any other ways?’

“Wha- no…no he’s just an idiot. He’s new and doesn’t know his job. My fucking picture is in the log book,” Ed groused. “I mean he didn’t hurt me when he threw me out or nothin’.”

“Wait he actually threw you,” Mustang’s ire was palpable in the air and made Ed shiver.

“Well yeah, I wasn’t gonna just go quietly now was I?” Ed said trying to play it off. “Ain’t like he hurt me.”

“He assaulted a superior officer,” Roy reminded him coldly.

“What do you care? I ain’t hurt. And I don’t need to press charges if he just fucking admit he was wrong and gets punished. He was an idiot, not a traitor Mustang,” Ed pointed out logically. “Though if you put him on latrine duty for a few months I’d be happy.”

Roy simmered down at that, realized that his protectiveness was showing. “You’re better than most in your position. Sometimes I think you forget you’re a major in the military.”

“Keh, its an honorary title isn’t it?”

“You earned it Ed, passing the exam earned it for you,” Roy reminded him. “It doesn’t matter anyway. Why do you still stay in the barracks? You could easily afford an apartment or a house?”

“That I’d be in for maybe three months a year?”

“Ed, you repaired your brother...the war is over…you don’t have to leave off all the time.”

“And do what? Stay here and work in a government lab?” Ed countered, “Work for you in your office all the time?”

Roy signed, they’d had this argument more times than he could count. “Then why did you stay in the military after the promised day Ed? Why not go back to Resembool?”

Ed huffed something that sounded like, “You don’t get it.”

“Don’t get what Ed?”

“You don’t get it you fucking idiot! I don’t wanna be away from you!”

Utter silence followed. Ed was too shocked by his own admission to move or say anything else. He flinched harshly when Roy stood however. Roy frowned deeply at that and knelt in front of Ed. Ed closed his eyes tightly and his automail right arm came up in a mock defense.

“Edward Elric I will not strike you,” Roy said calmly, using a calmness in his voice his mind didn’t feel. When Ed didn’t open his eyes nor lower his arm Roy gently took it in his own hand. He laced their fingers. “Ed I’m not angry at you.”

“No? What you pity me then Mr. Womanizer?” Ed mumbled, without opening his eyes, he gripped Roy’s hand mindlessly though.

“Ed, you should know that’s just a spy network by now,” Roy responded. “Now look at me Ed.”

Edward finally opened his golden eyes, the firelight reflected in them vividly.

“I’m not angry you said what you said,” Roy told him, locking their eyes together. “And I understand now. You don’t ever have to leave my command Edward. I’d be honored to keep you around…and if you…if you meant something else, I’m not offended by that either. I’m flattered.”

“You’re…what?”

“Believe it or not Ed I’m not a staunch womanizer. I find you…enthralling.”

“You’re pulling my leg Mustang…you have to be…you can’t fucking say shit like that and not mean it!” Ed suddenly screamed, his eyes shining.

Roy huffed in response and drew close to him, close enough to kiss but not daring to make the complete first move. Ed was young after all, and his subordinate.

“You…you fucking mean it?”

“Of course I do, I wouldn’t put myself in this position if I didn’t.”

Ed launched forward just about before Roy had finished his sentence and claimed his lips in their first kiss. It was awkward and messy and just plainly them. Roy kept himself stable and pulled Ed into his lap on the floor as they continued the kiss. Ed’s flesh hand, still cold to the touch, gingerly touched Roy’s cheek. Roy took that as invitation to thread the hand not supporting them into Ed’s hair for better leverage on the kiss. Roy’s tongue had invaded Ed’s mouth by this point and was tasting every last bit of the blond. He tasted the coffee and the bitter tang of soap that Ed must’ve used instead of using the mouthwash sitting on his sink.

They broke apart finally with Ed taking quick breaths. Apparently he didn’t realize he could breathe through his nose, or maybe the cold had stuffed it up?

“Edward…if we do this…you have to realize that very few people can know. I’m your direct commanding officer.”

“Duh, didn’t they teach you discretion Brigadier General,” Edward said, poking fun.

Roy just laughed at that and went in for another kiss.

-x-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

-x-

They wound up just sitting together, kissing slowly, for the next ten minutes just enjoying one another’s warmth and company. Ed was strangely quiet and Roy wasn’t pushing.

When they finally broke apart Roy asked, “You must be tired, and we have work in the morning. Come sleep with me? Just sleep, we can figure the rest of it out another time.”

Ed nodded with an adorable yawn, “Yeah, sounds like a good idea…Roy…”

Roy grinned like the cat who got the canary at the use of his given name. They untangled themselves and Roy led Ed towards the stairs and his bedroom.

Once there Ed had to make a comment, “So you like blue, huh?”

Roy chuckled, “The house came with most of the furniture and was painted already, but yes I like the color blue.”

“I’d have thought red or orange,” Ed offered conversationally, “What with the fire and all.” He looked around the master bedroom as Roy flicked the lights into life. The room was illuminated by a crystal sconce on either side of the door and one larger double sconce also made of cut crystal above the four poster bed. The bed was made out of dark wood with a navy quilt and white sheets and mountains of pillows. There was a light blue Xingese rug on the floor and two dark wood armories sat against the right side of the room. The bed being directly across from the door. Two bedside tables made of the same material and were covered in books. There were three bookshelves made of dark wood laden heavily with books on every subject possible as far as Ed could see, these bookshelves sat on the walls that held the door. On the left hand side of the room sat a matching fireplace to downstairs, a comfy looking white leather love seat, adorned with a grey wool knit blanket, sat in front of it with a small side table equally covered in books.

“I actually don’t like warm colors much, except on you,” Roy flirted, he went to the bed and pulled back the covers beckoning Ed to join him.

Ed padded over to the bed slowly, somewhat acting like it would bite him.

“Ed I’m not going to bite and the bed won’t eat you, come lay with me, we’ve only got a few more hours before at least I have to be a respectable human being,” Roy chided gently, with a grin that took any actual bite out of his words.

Ed got into the bed with a snort, remarking under his breath how Roy was hardly respectable.

After a fair amount of squirming between them, Ed trying and failing to not cuddle into Roy’s warmth too much, Roy sighed and rolled over and enveloped Ed against his chest. He tucked Ed’s head beneath his chin and kissed his hair, ignoring the tickling sensation of the blond’s messy, post shower hair.

Ed was quickly lulled to sleep in the warm clutches of his superior. Roy fought intrusive thoughts on the possible ramifications of all of this. He wanted Edward. Edward wanted him. The military could fuck off. They’d both given and lost far too much. Roy predicted he’d be spending a lot of time playing cover up though, and there was also that dumb private to deal with in the morning.

Regardless of Roy’s warning, he spent the entire time in bed with Edward mulling over how to appropriately tear the private a new one. And how to do so without acting like an overprotective lover.

Roy’s alarm clock pulled him out of his reprieve. Ed jolted, not used to the brass bell alarm clock sound. Roy shushed him and watched as Ed’s bleary eyes slowly formed recognition of their surroundings. Doe eyes sharpened and Ed smiled a true and honest smile, he reached up and kissed Roy good morning.

‘So worth it, whatever comes, this is worth it,’ Roy thought. He reluctantly let go of Edward and got out of bed.

“I need to drive you back to the dorms to dress. I actually have local missions for you to do, they’re probably gonna annoy the crap out of you, but they landed on my desk and your alchemy would fix it best,” Roy explained, “I’ll dress and meet you downstairs. Please help yourself to any food.” Ed hummed in agreement and sauntered out of the room, hoping to go make coffee.

Roy was hoping Ed’s good mood would permeate his day so he wouldn’t have to listen to Ed bitch about menial tasks to perform for the military. Seeing as their quest to return Alphonse’s body was over. Ed’s reveal last night of why he’d stayed tied to Mustang only opened up more questions. If they pursued a relationship would Ed decide to leave his command? He wouldn’t need to work for Roy to be close to him if they were together. It would look a lot better politically if Ed left his command, even if he just went to work for Hughes in investigations...Roy would know he would be safe there…

That tangent brought Roy to intense thoughts of how maybe working for Hughes wasn’t the safest...true the humonculi who’d landed him in a coma for MONTHS were gone now. But...almost losing Hughes...having to investigate his attempted murder...the ensuing drama with Ross. It didn’t help Hughes had only come out of his coma ON the promised day...when no one could go to him and when he had to sit there confused and angry...So so much had happened that day...in the last few years their entire lives and society had been rocked.

Roy realized he’d been fully dressed for three minutes and was staring at the blackened fireplace.

Roy was running himself in circles, and thinking and focusing too much on the past. The promised day was over. Alphonse restored. Ed somehow magically retaining his alchemy...he refused to accept his limbs back from the Truth...he had mumbled about penance. Roy’s eyesight was restored. Everyone was mostly...unscathed...those that had made it through alive afterall...there had been quite a few losses.

Roy vowed to talk with Ed about his mental state. No one had been able to get Ed to open up on what he’d gone through with the Truth. Or how he was handling Alphonse being back finally.

Roy walked downstairs smelling cut citrus and coffee.

Ed had created a fruit salad of sorts and brewed strong coffee for them both. They ate in silence and quickly walked out the door together to Roy’s waiting military car. Ed was bundled in a duster coat, disguising his state of relative undress.

Riza didn’t even quirk an eyebrow. She’d be told about this when they were ready. She did however hand a hair tie to Ed before pulling away, driving towards the officer’s barracks without needing instruction.

“Anything new to add to the calendar Lieutenant?” Mustang asked, breaking the silence as Ed re-tamed his hair, having forgotten it was still loose after last night. Ed was steadfastly NOT blushing, and proud of himself for remaining aloof.

“No sir, you have no meetings, and no meetings are taking place without you either, to our knowledge,” Riza explained. She pulled up in front of the barracks soon after. “Shall I accompany you sir?”

“Yes, I think I may need to be reminded not to light someone on fire,” Mustang muttered, Ed snickered but got out of the car without offering Riza any explanation. Mustang just gave her a look that promised details later.

Roy led the war path into the lobby of the barracks, the private standing to salute him immediately. Hawkeye right next to him, the private didn’t see Edward at first, as that was the initial plan of his.

“Sir! Good Morning General! How may I help you today sir?”

“Private, whats your name and serial number?” Mustang demanded, brokering no question. He didn’t return the greeting.

“Jamison Banks, Sir! 23440Alpha sir!” The private stood stiffly at attention, sensing impending doom.

“Well Private Banks, just what in your stupid little brain made you decide to bodily eject one of my MAJORS into a blizzard last night?” Mustang demanded venomously. Ed came out from behind Riza at that moment, Banks’ comprehension dawned slowly but surely and he paled visibly.

“Sir...Sir I...”

“You have absolutely NO excuse, Private. And be happy you’re still a BOOT PRIVATE, because if you had ANY rank what so ever it would be gone. Do you understand the ramifications of your discrimination? Your failure of your duty? You have CLEAR instructions on how to verify the identity of residents, private,” Roy thundered. “What exactly made you think you were above those explicit instructions? What made you think you had the right to TOUCH and MANHANDLE a superior officer?!”

“Sir...I’m sorry Major sir!” Banks exclaimed, looking to Ed and bowing at the waist.

“Eyes front soldier!” Hawkeye admonished sharply.

“Yes Ma’am!” Returning swiftly to attention and staring somewhere along Mustang’s lapel, too afraid to make eye contact.

Banks looked close to fainting now. The previous night coming back in intense clarity. Half asleep with exhaustion he had seen a teenager walk up to him and ask for a key to Major Elric’s room. He hadn’t processed the serial number provided. He gulped as he realized all the severe infractions he’d made last night. The short alchemist in front of him sneered at him.

Major Elric,” Roy asked, “What do you think the appropriate punishment should be? As you’ve so graciously refused to press military charges.” Banks didn’t dare let out a sigh of relief, but not getting court martialed seemed too good to be true! There must’ve been a catch.

Maybe transfer him to KP? Or garbage duty? I hear Briggs can always use an ice shoveler...” Ed said with mock contemplation. “If he cant be trusted to read a ledger, I wouldn’t have him anywhere in central...too many chances to make similar mistakes.” Ed snickered at the end, feeling retribution on the insults he’d had to endure. “I don’t want his career General. I just want him to reflect on his dereliction of duty.” Ed explained, emphasizing the private’s uselessness.

Lieutenant, please escort the private to his commanding officer. Explain that a full report will be made by myself and Major Elric and will be forth coming.”

“Yes sir. This way private,” Riza said, appearing emotionless, but mirth was in her eyes. Roy was so over protective it was adorably amusing. Piecing together enough of the story to not feel the least bit sorry, she frog marched the Private out of the barracks, just as his replacement arrived, a very very confused corporal.

Corporal I assume YOU can replace Major Elric’s key without bodily assaulting him?” Mustang asked loudly, drawing the attention of a pair of gossipy captains walking past. Ed wanted to elbow him to shut up, but the illusion would break if he stepped out of his role. He simply coughed pointedly. Ed didn’t need any unsubstantiated rumors or pity. But Mustang seemed to be wanting t drag this out. Ed merely rolled his eyes as the nervous corporal obtained the spare key to Ed’s room and quickly obtained and matched Ed’s signature. “At least someone at this barracks can adequately do their job!” Mustang exclaimed loudly and dramatically, three lieutenants took notice, noticing Hawkeye escorting Banks down the front stairs.

Ed lef Mustang to his dorm and barely made it inside before cuffing the on the ear and laughing loudly. The small 12 ft by 12 ft room was covered in books and research notes and diagrams, there was a small kitchenette that looked pristine (probably through disuse), and the desk was overloaded. There was a spare futon bed rolled up in the bottom of the open closet. Probably from when Alphonse stayed after the promised day occasionally, traveling between Resembool for physical therapy and Central for visits to Ed and doctor’s appointments. The room was uniquely Ed.

“You didn’t have to proclaim it to the world!” Ed said, despite his laughter.

Mustang rolled his eyes and responded, “Yes. Yes I did. For whatever reason, people on this base don’t want to remember your service and rank. That’s entirely unacceptable Ed. Now get dressed. I have a mountain of paperwork to do and I need to give you that assignment, you have to report to them midmorning.”

Ed rolled his eyes but accepted the excuse for Mustang’s mothering. He turned on his heel and started to undress before blushing and realizing Roy was pointedly staring at him.

“Would you like me to avert my eyes?” Mustang purred the question lasciviously, high on endorphins from the power display just moments ago, but genuine in his offer to not infringe on Ed’s privacy. Just because they had kissed and cuddled together last night didn’t mean Ed wanted to put on a show.

Just...just wait outside or we’ll never get to work,” Ed muttered, embarrassed slightly. Roy nodded and left the dorm.

E d took a few moments to compose himself before dressing in a mock of the military uniform. He no longer was allowed to get by with his red coat, the new Fuhrer and authority structure (even containing Mustang who expressly vouched for Ed) didn’t like such individuality of appearance. Ed being allowed to keep his hair was largely due to the fact he was an alchemist, who were allowed variations of their standard uniform, but now the Ed actually FIT into the Amestris military uniform, he didn’t have the constant excuse to wear his red and black outfit constantly while in central. While out on missions his discretion was allowed.

Ed still wore his own boots, claiming the uniform boots didn’t fit on his automail, which was total bullshit. His sleeves were always rolled up to protect them from his tendency to transmute his arm into a weapon. He no longer wore gloves to hide his mismatched hands. Giving his hair a once over in the mirror, Ed knew the plait wasn’t in regulations and didn’t care. As long as Mustang was his superior officer and he didn’t mouth off too much to the new muckety mucks, Edward would be just fine.

He grabbed two apples, anticipating that Mustang’s assignment would be another reconstruction project that the military didn’t want to contract out to local masons... again … and Ed figured he wouldn’t have time for lunch or dinner.

Coming out of his room he saw Mustang waiting for him leisurely. His presence as a Brigadier General in a lower officers’ quarters was making turbulent waves of emotion trigger from anyone blearily stepping out of their rooms, even partially disheveled they immediately either saluted and reentered their rooms to fix whatever they saw was wrong, or saluted and quickly walked past, hoping to not be reprimanded. The whole building must’ve heard Mustang’s tirade.

“Mustang I’m ready to go, did Hawkeye take the car do you think?” Ed walked up beside him, earning a contented smile from the older man.

“She will have left it, the CO for the soldiers who run this building is closer on foot,” Mustang supplied, following Ed out of the barracks. Many saluted them good morning on their way out. Ed lackadaisically responded with half salutes, nothing too insulting thankfully. “There’s something I want to talk to you about before you accept your next assignment from me.” Roy added as they got into the car. He turned it on and pulled away, heading for the offices of Central Command.

Is it...Is it about last night?” Ed asked. Not sure if he wanted to talk about this during work. True he wouldn’t be working in Mustang’s office much today...but still. They’d agreed to be discrete. They hadn’t even done ANYTHING much at all.

Not really no,” Mustang admitted. “Edward, do you actually want to work under me? Or were you staying in my command because we hadn’t yet approached each other on our attraction.”

Ed sputtered for a moment then recovered, “Well...to be honest...I didn’t really know what else to do. Al is recovered now. It took months but he’s mostly better. He doesn’t need my help...made that abundantly clear that he wanted to be independent. He and Winry are getting on so well...I just...stayed. I know everyone thinks Winry and I were gonna get together after the whole body recovery thing...but honestly we never even talked about it. And I didn’t...to be honest Roy I didn’t anticipate surviving the Promised Day bar getting Al’s body back.”

Roy hmm’ed. Not totally comfortable with Ed’s blatant disregard for his life, but motioned for Ed to continue.

“I just had that goal. I was gonna fix what I broke. And then all the stupid hommonculi showed up and Father and it all just barreled out of control. I stayed afterwards because the military paid for Al’s health care and doctor’s appointments from being so malnourished. And his physical therapy with Granny and doctors here. It just...worked out. I didn’t want to leave you and go work under some idiot that didn’t understand my process. I know you give me way more freedom than most anyone else in the military would. And I knew that you’d let me go to Al if he needed me again. So I stayed. There’s no war on. I didn’t have to hurt people. And I’d be bored doing teaching or lab work. Al is planning to go to Xing and learn alchyhestry but after...after all that with Ling. I just couldn’t bring myself to go with him, or even plan to go. So...here I am. Still your dog,” Ed explained, rather detached for such an emotional teenager. He wasn’t looking at Roy or anything, he was studying his right hand.

“Why did you keep your hand and leg?” Roy asked. “The Truth returned so much of what was lost with Father as a sacrifice. Why not get back YOUR body.”

Ed laughed sourly at that, “Because the Truth’s deal wasn’t to my taste. It wanted my alchemy...it wanted to take the only thing I could ever trust in. I sacrificed Father’s philosopher’s stone to kill him and bring Al back, when Greed gave me that opening, I took it . But to get my body back to normal, I had to pay my original toll in reverse. I had to close my portal of truth. And I couldn’t do it. Even after Al had sacrificed himself for my to be able to fight Father. I lost my arm all over again in the transmutation’s power...it was so weird...feeling it again after so long… I don’t think I could’ve kept it. I still feel wrong for sacrificing Father’s life energy to bring Al back...”

Ed...you don’t have to punish yourself for killing that maniac…”

“But I do...in a way...killing a maniac is still killing...”

“Ed, was he even human?”

“Roy...does it even matter?”

Roy didn’t have an answer for that. He carried the blood of so many on his heart, he didn’t want that for Edward. Roy also knew that he would want and wish all he liked, but it wouldn’t change the burdens Ed carried on his soul.

“I understand. But, you need to understand that that guilt and burden will kill you eventually if you don’t find a way to deal with it, we wont go into that now. We’re getting off of topic. Do you really wish to remain under my command,” Roy got them back on track.

“I will...deal with it,” Edward sighed. “There’s not many other people I’d rather work for to be honest. Maybe Hughes now that he’s back. Maybe go back up to Briggs...but General Armstrong would probably kill me.”

“You don’t have to leave my command Edward, but if we...if we ever wanted to be public with this, if we ever wanted anyone to know outside our most trusted confidants, you couldn’t be under me,” Roy explained. “Whether you leave now, or whenever we get outed. Or choose to leave. It...if anyone found out...if we continue to be together, to progress any relationship, we’d need to move you. It’s not illegal. You’re of consenting age, but it’s against the military code of conduct, for me to be involved with a subordinate directly under me. You’re an officer, so we can be together, even if Amestris is hesitant about gays.”

Ed nodded but took a moment to answer, “I...I’ve never thought about leaving your command. But you could transfer me...if you had to. As long as you aren’t just doing it to be rid of me.”

Roy looked stricken as he pulled the car to a stop in his military car’s parking space.

He took Ed’s face in his hands, Ed shuddered a bit.

“I’m not trying to get rid of you. I’d never transfer you without your permission. I’m trying to protect you. If you’ll let me Edward,” Roy said very seriously, making direct eye contact.

Ed nodded. Not sure what to say. He knew Roy had been pulling strings for years, but he’d never been directly faced with the man’s meddling and mothering ways.

“I think...if you think...it would be safer for me to work with Hughes,” Ed said, still uncertain to his position.

“I’ll add that paperwork to my ever increasing pile,” Roy broke the tension and they both laughed. They got out of the car and walked into work in amiable silence.

“Where do I need to go to be fix whatever they broke? Still at the central command buildings,” Ed asked. He and every other able bodied alchemist who could do structural alchemy had been helping to repair central. Starting with the town that had been destroyed and then finally working on the command center itself.

“Yes. Same brigade as last week before the snow. But they’ll probably just have you for a half day inside, considering it’s starting to snow again.”

“I’ll...see you later.”

“Yes, I’ll call you in.”

“Ok,” came the simple reply. Ed gave a half wave and left Roy’s office. A small sense of understanding between them, and a return to normalcy in their going off to their respective duties now that they were at work.

X x x