AN: … *hides behind a solid rock* uhm…yes, I know ^^ Another huge break….I apologize for the long wait ^^ Feel free to throw your foul tomatoes but please, spare my laptop ^^ ° it´s not the one at fault here ._. (And I need it to write the next chapters ) Well, at least that gives me yet another New Year’s resolution for Silvester ^^°
Many thanks to my beta&co-author Ca11iope. Without her, all the parts won´t be as good as they are :D
Chapter 27: The Risk of Getting Burned
Roy walked into his home, removed his coat, and went directly to his bedroom, closing the door behind him with a relieved sigh. He only just resisted the urge to immediately fall face down on the mattress, electing instead to strip down to his boxers before laying down and letting himself relax completely.
The frantic pace of the last few weeks was rapidly catching up to him. The dizzying highs and dismal lows, the repeated denial of his body’s needs, and the nagging of his mind was exhausting him. He had been on constant alert all day, every day, dealing with the stress of a demanding career and the additional challenges the bet was placing on him. He felt worn out in both body and soul, the long walk home through the cold, quiet evening not able to clear his mind, and even slipping into the comfort of his bed did little to calm the rush of thoughts through his head.
He had almost lost the bet tonight. Roy knew full well that if Al hadn’t interrupted, it would have been over. He held no illusions about that. But it wasn´t just the fact that he had almost lost the bet that kept spinning in his mind. What bothered him most was that even though he was well aware of the consequences, he hasn´t spared them a single coherent thought. Hell, after a certain point the infamous Flame Alchemist had not been able to even form one. For a man renowned for his self control, it was very disturbing.
The Colonel knew that if things continued this way, he was going to lose the bet, no question. He had to be more careful, especially around Edward, but that was proving to be easier said than done. Roy sifted through his memory of the evening’s events, trying to recognize exactly when he had crossed the line between staying in control and losing it, and was unable to do so. What had happened went far beyond simple distraction. He had been eager to touch the younger man after being so callously pushed away by an angry Edward earlier. Overcoming that challenge, gaining Ed’s forgiveness and coaxing the man back into his arms, had been exhilarating. But it had not gone the way Roy had expected. He had not been able to gain the upper hand. Despite having achieved his goal, the situation had not developed the way he had planned.
Not that he minded. Quite the contrary. It was thrilling. Dealing with Ed was like a constant walk on a high wire, and Roy Mustang was very much into embracing the risk. Not one to seek meaningless thrills out of pure boredom, he had never sought to place himself in difficult situations just to test the limits of his abilities. No, that kind of behavior was pure foolishness, and Roy was no fool. His adrenalin surge came from meeting the challenges that leaped up unexpectedly despite all his planning and calculation, the kind of test that demand all of his attention, kept him on his toes, kept him constantly on the alert. It was like handling a wildfire on the edge of his control, and Roy had become the Flame Alchemist for a reason.
Metaphorically speaking, that elemental principle dominated a fundamental part of his life.
Fire was his fascination, only increased by the possibility of being burned. Not the small, harmless, easily controlled flames. Not the softly glowing candle, the comfortable warmth of a gently burning campfire, easy to direct, easy to extinguish. These flames didn´t challenge him, test him, suit him.
It was the same with politics and the military. His career. Alchemy. Sex. He needed the challenge. The safe, easy road was never his chosen path. The real possibility of failure had to be there, or else the challenge was beneath his abilities, a waste of his valuable time.
He had found a suitable challenge in his drive for the Führer’s position. His reasons for climbing through the ranks to the very top were founded in his belief that Amestris deserved a leader that put the people first, that had a vision of a strong nation united for the common good, and a plan to make that vision into reality. It was a risky goal demanding all his strategic skills, with a very high possibility that he would fail and get burned for good. And a man who could not embrace this risk was not a man fit to take up the challenge, a man who would crumble under the pressure. Roy Mustang was no such man. If he were, he would have taken a different career, would have quit the military after Ishbal to find his challenge elsewhere.
But here he was. He would not back down, would not leave matters as they were. He would reach his goal. Or die trying.
This determination, his refusal to let himself be defeated, was part of what made him into the man he was. But so did his principles, his morals, and the limits he set for his own actions. He refused to cross certain boundaries in his aim for a goal. Some people might see such limitations as a weakness, but they were wrong. It was much harder to reach a difficult objective while resisting the temptation to use callous base tactics, thereby violating personal principles. And it only made him stronger.
He was determined to fulfill his ambitions, and he refused to break his own principles.
In the military, he wanted to reach the top. Without building his leadership on the corpses of comrades and the fear of lower ranking soldiers.
In alchemy, he strived for perfection and innovation. Without breaking taboos, bound by the principle of Equivalent Exchange.
As for sex, he conquered his partners, but Roy would never lie to them. He would not pretend that it was about anything other than sex. And he would never fool his partners into believing anything else. Colonel Mustang always set things straight. Without exception, Roy told his partners what to expect. And what not to expect.
Running the fingers of his right hand through his raven hair, the Colonel sighed and stared at the ceiling.
“What the hell am I doing?”
“Yo!” Second Lieutenant Jonsten Plapper – John to his closest comrades - shouted to his friend when he saw him enter the bar.
The greeting was far from the military standard, but he and Major Nicholas Maul weren´t just comrades anymore. Working together in Investigations they had seen gruesome and disturbing things, but it had bought them a close friendship. The difference in rank didn’t matter to them, and as long as they remained professional during working hours their superior officers didn’t care either. They both did their jobs, and they did them well.
The two Investigations officers made a habit of hitting the bars once a week. No one could blame a man for needing a drink after seeing the things they saw on an almost daily base. As friends, they told each other things, though discussing the details of assignments was generally frowned on. They didn’t worry too much about it however. Since they both worked for the same department it wasn´t really that big a deal.
They also enjoyed the occasional friendly wager, strictly in the spirit of completion. Their latest bet centered around their latest assignment - not something they usually chose to make bets about. Still, it was harmless, and the assignment didn´t even really seem to be a military project at all.
It sure as hell provided an amusing distraction though.
That was, until John’s best friend Nicholas found himself smitten with the newest addition to their team - Sue Baker, the Nature Defining Alchemist. The problem was that she seemed more interested in the subject of their investigation, much to Nicholas’ displeasure. All his attempts to hit on her were failing miserably.
John was a skilled photographer, and as part of his current assignment’s surveillance team, he had taken a few very… suggestive pictures. They were so suggestive in fact that he still felt like a damn peeping tom. But as a best friend, he saw his chance to help Nic out with his problem, and it hadn’t taken much effort to make one extra copy of a particularly explicit photo to pass on. Proving that the object of her desire was gay should certainly be enough to get Sue down from her little daydream, and let her be more open to the advances of someone else.
At least, that’s what the two friends had thought.
Until the pretty alchemist informed them that Mustang hadn´t slept with the blond man in the photograph, despite the fact that they had made out. And for some reason, she seemed upset about it.
It didn´t take long for the real reason behind their current assignment to come out – the bet and it´s conditions.
“I can´t believe it. The higher-ups putting us to work on something like this.” Nic snorted into his beer glass.
Jonsten shrugged. “Hey, I´m not complaining about getting paid. I just feel like a damn voyeur or something. Still, it sure as hell beats having to take photos of yet another crime scene splashed with body parts.”
“Yuck,” Nic commented dryly, but kept on drinking. Being older than John and higher ranked, he had enough experience under his belt to know he shouldn´t let their job get to him. It had been difficult at first, building up the distance he needed for the job. But now, he just took another sip and grinned. “Don’t tell me you´re not used to it yet,” he teased, knowing very well how much his friend still blushed over having to investigate fraternization claims and affairs. The list of people he had caught on film sticking their dicks – and other things – into the body parts of other people – and other things - was impressive, and Nic didn´t envy Jonsten one bit. Some people had really disturbing desires.
“At least this guy’s only got the hots for another guy. Could be worse,” John said with a grimace. “Remember Lieutenant ‘Fucked Up’?”
Roy hadn´t lied. Not exactly. But he wasn’t exactly being up front with Edward either.
He should have made it clear from the start, should have told Ed that all he wanted was a good fuck.
Make that a few good fucks.
And he wouldn´t mind having dinner with Edward again, as the young man proved himself to be surprisingly pleasant company.
The young man’s alchemic expertise should not be overlooked either. Roy could not remember working this well with any other alchemist. He hadn’t worked with many over the years, but when he had, he had found it incredibly tiring to work with people who he first had to be spoon feed the basics of fire transmutations, only to discover that the principles were beyond them. He’d had more success with those who already had some knowledge of gas transmutations, but they were a far cry from working with the vivid, lively blond. In the short time they had been working together, Roy’s joint research with Edward had developed in more directions than Roy had ever thought possible. It was inspiring, and he knew that he would not neglect or abandon his alchemy again. Certainly not while he had Ed as his partner.
His research partner. Emphasis on the research.
So, to strip this down, he wanted to have Ed as his bed partner, as a date, and a research partner, on a regular basis. Permanently. Well, maybe permanently sounded a bit too… permanent for his liking. So make that at least more than once. Or twice. Okay, maybe for a few months. Maybe longer. Something along those lines.
Examining his conclusions, Roy had to admit that yes, this was not just about sex anymore.
So, what exactly was this?
He could almost feel Ed’s metal fist in his face.
Friends with benefits?
That didn´t sound quite so bad. Less like an automail fist and more like a flesh one.
But it still didn’t sound like the right answer.
Chapter 27 Part 2