A/N: The only reason I dare to actually walk in here again is that most likely, I won´t be killed until the story is over at least ^^° But before anyone here decides I don´t need all my limps to continue writing: I bring a peace offering! This part is a good bit longer than usual (And unfortunately needs to be split into three parts this time. There is just no good place to cut it otherwise ._. ) And there are a few hints in here and I know some people are waiting for it XD Have fun reading!
Beta&Co-Author: Ca11iope ^^ I love you. Yes, I still do. You won´t get rid of me anymore as long as you want to do the job :D I´ll hug you and feed you chapters and… I won´t name you George, but I don´t think you even want that ^^° Thank you for doing the work even though I know RL had been a bitch to you recently ._. I really appreciate it :D *hug*
Chapter 29: Lessons and Examinations
Eyes on the road as he drove towards his house, Roy worked at settling down. Silently celebrating his daring escape from Headquarter hadn’t done much to quell the prickling of anger the Colonel still felt at what had happened in the reception hall. He really should stop seething over something as insignificant as other people ogling Ed. The attractive young man was practically screaming for the attention by wearing leather again, though he seemed oblivious to the fact. Surely he was aware that his ass was far more than just nice to look at.
Edward was certainly not the first of Roy’s lovers, or in this case potential lovers, who received a lot of appreciative attention from others. In the past however, Roy had never given a fuck about it. Up until now, he wouldn´t have given a second thought to whether one of the people eyeing his current prey might be her next lover. It just didn’t matter.
But for some reason, this time it did. It had to be because of the bet. The fact that Roy wasn’t free to definitively stake his claim by fucking Edward into the nearest solid surface had to be what was triggering these feelings of insecurity. So until this stupid wager was resolved, everyone could find someone else’s ass to stare at damn it! Edward was taken! Not forever taken of course, but right now Roy was in the driver’s seat, so everybody else had best back the hell off. Apparently he needed to clarify that point. Which was fine, because it fit with the plan Roy already had in mind to give Ed a bit of payback for that whole kitchen affair.
He might be considered a foolhardy idiot for what he had planned, especially taking into account the whole situation, but Roy really needed to set a few things straight. And yes, he loved to play with fire, but giving Ed a return bill was only part of this. Roy also needed to know that he had at least a similar effect on Edward as the blond had on him, and it wasn’t only Roy’s ego that needed reassurance. He was also curious as to whether he could pull this off. And he wanted to experiment a bit. Sure, he was limited in how far he could go, but Roy Mustang was nothing if not versatile. He would work with whatever was available.
After a few minutes of driving, Roy started to wonder why both Elrics were suspiciously silent. Sending a glance to the older blond sitting in the passenger’s seat beside him, he noted that the young man was very close to dozing off. A look into the rearview mirror confirmed that Al didn´t exactly look well rested either, eyes closed and head leaned back. If his deep, even breathing was anything to go by, the younger Elric was close to falling asleep as well. Roy guessed that the two brothers had likely talked the whole night, Alphonse driven in his desire to learn as much as he could about their shared past.
And obviously, it had been exhausting. No wonder, with all that had happened to these two young men, talking about the past was probably an emotional rollercoaster for both of them.
Once again, the nagging question of whether they talked about him, or about any other relationships Ed might have had, was back. The strange answer Ed had given to his brother’s misgivings must surely have been questioned once Roy had left. Or maybe Alphonse had understood what Ed meant by that weird statement. If so, then the younger Elric was one up on Roy.
The Colonel was itching to know what the former Fullmetal was thinking. He also wondered if Al knew about Ed’s engagement ring, and if Edward had told his brother about his former partner. Roy was certain that Ed had not been wearing the ring during the kitchen floor seduction Alphonse had interrupted. Maybe Ed had taken it off during his shower. The way he had stormed out of the bathroom might explain why he had not put it on. It was possible that he had forgotten to go back for it, the nervous tension distracting him. It was still quite possible that he had told Alphonse about it, or that the younger Elric saw it when Ed pulled it on sometime later. Roy made plans to ask the younger Elric if he had learned anything about the time his brother had spent in the other world the first chance he had to get the youngster alone.
Pulling up in front of the Colonel’s home a short time later found both Elric fast asleep. With a smile tugging at the corners of his lips, Roy considered all the delectable ways he could raise Edward from his slumber. Edward’s head leaned against the window, tanned neck just begging to be the touched by Roy’s lips. A formfitting, black turtleneck effectively hid the hickeys Roy had left there during their last make out, but with his head tilted to the side there was plenty of skin displayed to give Roy ideas.
And the Colonel had to admit, he rather enjoyed twisting both Ed’s and Al’s tails by seeing just how far he could go before he was stopped. Talk about playing with the fire.
His lips met the soft skin of Ed’s neck the same moment he placed his hand on the man’s thigh. Ed gave a quiet sigh and tilted his head back, instinctively offering the man more space. And not only in regards to his neck. His legs also shifted slightly apart. Just a bit, but damn if that wasn´t tempting.
The situation very much reminded Roy of their first make out session, a few days ago on the couch. There was supple leather instead of naked skin, but Roy didn´t care. His hand slipped between the leather covered legs to brush over the inside of a thigh as he gently nipped the skin just beneath the younger man’s ear. The reaction was delicious. Ed’s breath stopped for a moment and the man shifted a bit in his seat in a way that left the Colonel pretty sure that Ed’s pants had started to feel a bit uncomfortable.
“Hm… Roy?” It was a sleepy mumble, but there was already a tense edge to it.
Oh fuck. Did Ed react like that every time he was woken up this way? And why did Roy have the sudden urge to burn anyone who might have the answer? ‘Morning sex’ was the first thing that sprang to his mind, and in Roy’s opinion there was no better way to start the day, though he didn´t often have the opportunity. As much as he slept around, he rarely stayed long enough to wake up in someone’s arms.
And if he continued this, it would stay that way. Because he had no desire to fall asleep in the arms of his best friend’s idea of a suitable life partner. Roy had to remember to be more careful around Edward, at least for now. Reluctantly, he placed his hand back on Ed’s knee.
The blond turned his head and soft lips met Roy’s own. The kiss had a lazy quality to it, betraying the fact that Ed was not quite awake, and Roy gratefully took advantage of that to ravish the young man’s mouth. The Colonel enjoyed a few moments of kissing a compliant blond, but sure enough, before long the young man was returning the kiss more passionately. Gloved fingers stroked his neck when he broke the kiss and Roy only caught a brief glimpse of a flushed face before his lips were captured again.
He could do this all day. Sadly, he would not be allowed to, so he reluctantly broke the kiss again, though he stayed close enough to feel warm breath on his lips.
“Slept well?” he asked, just because he knew it would provide the blond with a similar picture of waking up like this in the morning. Hearing the rough, deep voice, Ed’s gaze went down to Roy’s lips before returning to his eyes.
Satisfied with the reaction, and now very sure that Edward shared his opinion in regards to the perfect way to start a day, Roy smirked and leaned away. When he left the car, he peeked inconspicuously into the back of the car and barely managed to hide a mischievous grin. Al was beet red and doing his best to look out of the opposite window as if the view of the neighborhood was the most interesting thing on earth.
Both brothers quickly got out of the car as well, and strangely enough, Ed didn´t share his brother´s coloring. In fact, the young man seemed to have noticed only now that the car was parked in front of the Colonel’s house. On a public street.
As he locked the car, Roy could see Ed taking in his surroundings, finally becoming aware of Al’s discomfited state. Sadly, he did not turn the same deep shade of red, but as far as Roy was concerned, the faint blush would do.
Damn, he was good.
Roy could feel Edward’s eyes on him as he was preparing the batter for the pancakes, and he had the feeling it had nothing to do with how he had chosen to wake the younger man up from his little nap on the way over. Ever since the Elrics had made themselves at home in Roy’s kitchen, quietly watching him work, he’d had the feeling that something was not quite right.
Ed finally dropped the bomb the same moment Roy began pouring the batter into the pan.
“I- ” he began, then hesitated. Roy stopped for a moment to turn around. Ed bit his lips, then pressed on. “I have two job offers. One´s in Cameron. A big project. Probably take at least two years to complete.”
What the…? “Cameron?” Roy needed to be sure the man had really said what he just heard. Unfortunately, the blond man nodded.
Roy stood dumbfounded. Al also seemed baffled by this announcement, alerting Roy to the fact that this was news to him as well.
“Brother… there’s nothing in Cameron,” he stated, and Roy had to agree.
Cameron was not exactly the ass of the world – but it was not far from it. Far to the east, it was literally in the middle of nowhere. Hell, there wasn´t even any fast way to reach that ... miniature version of a village. No train station, not even paved roads! The Colonel wasn´t even sure the village was on the telephone network.
This was ridiculous.
“A private sector research company built a state-of-the-art lab there,” Ed elaborated. “They are doing alchemic research on the transmutation of natural resources, like plants, nutrient rich soil. Stuff like that. It´s mainly for the development of pharmaceutical products, but they have a purely agricultural branch too. The money is fantastic, and they’ll pay a huge transfer bonus up front because their researchers will have to move out there.”
No fucking way! The man better not be serious about this. Honestly, that area was far too quiet for a man like Ed. The blond would be bored stiff inside of the first ten minutes. There had to be plenty of better job opportunities for an alchemic genius of Ed’s caliber, in places much closer to civilization. Like Central for example! And since when did Edward start worrying about how much money he could be making? He had never seemed to value money all that much before. Why was he even considering this option? There was nothing to consider. Ed needed to pick up the damn phone and tell those Cameron people to fuck off. Or send a carrier pigeon.
Then Ed continued. “The other job is in Central ...”
Roy’s eyebrow went up. Then what exactly was the point of this conversation? The blond should just take the one in Central. Central was a wonderful place to live. And it was so … well, central. Not some tiny piece of bug shit at the edge of a very detailed map without any connections to the rest of it.
“... with the military,” Ed finished.
The Colonel grimaced. That would certainly be a sticking point for Edward, no question. It wasn’t that he actually hated the military. No, it was much worse. He didn’t trust it.
Wait, something smelled like-
“Colonel, the pancake!” Al’s cry came at the same moment that Roy’s brain registered that the smell in question was burning pancake.
Tossing the ruined flapjack into the trash, Roy wondered why Hughes hadn’t told him that Ed had been offered a job. He had to be aware of it. Maes was aware of everything that had anything to do with their inner circle of close personal friends. Hell, Maes was aware of just about everything important going on, and this was definitely important. There was only one explanation for Hughes’ behavior, at least for someone who knew Maes as well as Roy did.
“Maes Hughes made you this job offer, didn’t he,” Roy said. His best friend was about to hire his… not-quite-fuckbuddy? Soon to be lover? Whatever he decided to call it, this dirty, underhanded trick was going to cost Hughes dearly. Roy hoped he could manage to hold his temper in check long enough to burn the man slowly. That would give Roy time to give his sneaky, treacherous friend a piece of his mind on the way to the hospital.
“It´s not a State Alchemist’s position,” Ed quickly explained, noticing the Colonel’s murderous scowl. “Actually, it´s more like a freelance consulting contract ...”
Hiring consultants was something the military did in many areas of expertise, though it wasn’t often that they hired alchemists. They had their own private stable after all.
“Huh,” Roy said. He could start by scorching the man’s hair. Roy would see to it that the man was bald for the rest of his very short life.
“... but Hughes seemed to have something a little different in mind. He dropped some hints ...”
“He did, did he?” After the hair, should he burn off just the first layer of skin, or the first two layers? Decisions, decisions.
“... but he said he had to discuss it with you.” Edward finished.
Roy stopped peeling the burned pancake off the pan. When he got finished with Maes, he’d make this pancake look like it got off easy.
Al stared at the pancake, then at the Colonel’s expression with big eyes. Then he carefully moved his chair to the other side of the table. With the wooden surface between himself and the Colonel, he seemed to relax. Then he turned to his brother.
“Freelance consulting doesn’t sound like a very stable position, brother,” Al started slowly. “I think you should look for something more permanent. Something you can settle into for the long term. Someplace where you can make a home. Aren’t you tired of changing your apartment every few months? I don´t care where you decide to settle down, or what you decide to do, but …”
Roy stared at the burned batter as if the pan was responsible for his misery. Then he placed the skillet on the counter and took a step back. One quick snap and the pancake disaster on the pan was reduced to very fine ash, much easier to get off the iron surface. The Colonel turned to the trash and let the once-pancake trickled like sand into the bin.
There, now he felt better.
“… but…uhm… but staying in Central has its advantages too.” For some reason, the younger Elric’s voice sounded a tad higher than usual as he stared at the ashes in the bin. “You have friends here, and it´s easier to reach from Resembool.”
“Al, Cameron is in the East, not too far from Resembool. We’ve been there. Do you remember that isolated, kind of silent village? Nature bound, with lots of rare plant species and stuff?” His brother informed him, and the Colonel could feel his inner alarm starting to scream at Ed’s strange tone. Could it be?
“Uhm… right.” Then the younger Elric’s eyes narrowed. He glanced towards his brother before his eyes shifted towards Roy, and then back again to Ed.
Yes, it could be. Hidden Elric communication. Roy was missing something here. Damn it.
After a few seconds, Al spoke again.
“I think if you want something permanent, you might have better chances in Central, brother. Cameron is just not... well, you already know what I think about that.” Al shrugged.
Roy had to put some serious effort into not glaring at the youngster. Talk about obviously hidden meanings. There clearly had been a change of topic here. Al had been just as surprised by the news of Ed’s job offers as Roy had been, yet he claimed Ed knew his opinion. So that opinion was in regards to something else. But whatever that ‘something else’ was, it seemed Alphonse preferred his brother in Central, so in the long run, Roy would benefit from it.
“Besides, Cameron has no rail service. There’s a better connection to Resembool from Central than from Cameron.” Roy quickly argued as he washed the pan before putting it back on the stove. He certainly had no idea what was going on under surface here, but it wouldn´t hurt for Roy to throw in his two cents. And to remind Ed and Al that he was in fact present.
Ed’s golden eyes followed him as he went about his business, silent as if to save the rest of the pancakes from the fate that had befallen the first one. Roy could feel the man watching him as he fetched the syrup and placed it on the table together with the plate stacked high with pancakes. After being silent for so long, Roy had not expected Ed to return to the topic, but the moment the older man sat down to eat with the brothers, Ed spoke again, almost to himself.
“Yeah, permanent sounds good,” the young man said softly in a contemplative tone.
They dropped Al and his suitcase off at Edward’s apartment. The younger Elric was exhausted, and wanted to unpack, have a quick shower, and then take a nap. The older brother would probably have enjoyed a nap as well, though he would never have admitted it. He had more important things to do however. Important, older-brother-looking-out-for-the-
And Mustang now had a new excuse to use when he wanted to get away from the office, which he would file away for future reference.
Grocery shopping. There was only about fifteen minutes until Roy was officially due back from his lunch break, but there was no way he would make it in time. In fact, he was going to be late as it was, but if he took Edward to the market now, he wouldn’t be back for the rest of the day, and there was no way he would live through Riza’s retribution if he dared to ditch work for the afternoon.
Roy would have expected someone who liked to eat as much as Edward did to keep rather a lot of food on hand, but as he had discovered from previous visits, the younger man had a surprisingly empty larder. The lack of dairy products had been no surprise, but there had only been three eggs, and Roy had used them up making pancakes a few days ago. He had also depleted Ed’s supply of flour, pancake syrup, blueberry jam, and wild-cherry jam. Roy had noticed a half loaf of bread the evening before, but knew that wouldn’t last both Elrics through dinner. And there was nothing to use with it – no butter, cheese, ham, or tomatoes.
And this was only the tip of the iceberg. If Edward wanted to keep himself and his brother fed for the next few days, he had to make a major shopping excursion. This was definitely too big a job for Roy to take on during his remaining lunch break. And it would be wasted time. There were better things to do than grocery shopping when Ed was in his company.
For example, dragging the younger man into his office to test out a theory and set a few things straight.
It was strange for Roy to find the office empty, but not unexpected. His staff’s lunch break matched his own, and that gave him the perfect opportunity to drag Ed in without being confronted by anyone as to his motives.
Edward had been the one to insist on going back to military headquarters, but that had been fine with Roy. It appeared that Edward felt a bit guilty about walking out on Hughes earlier, and once Roy’s break was over Ed would probably go looking for Maes to complete whatever business Roy had interrupted.
But damn, Edward feeling guilty about running out on Hughes, however agreeable the Investigations officer had been about it, was not a good thing. It pretty much gave Hughes an advantage, being able to exploit Ed’s guilty conscience, and he would be sure to use it against Roy if at all possible. If it wasn’t obvious already, this suspicious job offer was far too convenient for Roy’s opponents to be a coincidence. He would have to keep his guard up.
For the moment however, Roy had every intention of keeping Edward in his office. The Colonel had questions, and a daring plan to get the answers. One might say he was about to play with fire again.
Roy’s plan of action was simple, but he had carefully weighed his options, calculated the risks, and considered all opposing variables.
On Roy’s side: His lack of inhibitions. It gave him a huge advantage, particularly when it came to Ed’s automail. Roy had never felt reluctant to touch someone with automail, though there were some people who were put off by it. Which really was a shame. Two of Roy’s former lovers had had automail prostheses, and the Colonel had discovered that caressing the skin close to the port brought out the most delicious reactions. Roy planned to use this knowledge to chip away at Edward’s defenses. Another plus on Roy’s side was that Ed was a man, and therefore it wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to get him in the mood.
On Ed’s side: The general. Damn traitor. And the bet, the reason for Roy’s constant denial and constant craving for sex. He was getting aroused from the smallest things, including Ed. So Roy had to be on his guard, or he risked going too far and consequently losing the bet. Thus, he was limited in how to proceed and the places he was allowed to touch and kiss, and in the places he could allow Edward to touch and kiss.
The odds were definitely in Ed’s favor, but the challenge just made it more fun. Roy ushered Edward into this inner office, closing and locking the door behind them.
Turning around, the Colonel saw his pray standing by the window apprising his surroundings, and realized that this was the first time the younger man had been in Roy’s new office. It also explained why the young man had not stomped in earlier that day to demand breakfast and Al’s luggage.
Edward turned to gaze out the window. Roy’s eyes dropped to gaze at more interesting scenery.
“What brought back the leather?” he asked, his eyes glued to a certain part of Ed’s anatomy.
“Huh?” Ed turned his head and then smirked. Mustang didn´t even pretend he was not looking at the young man’s ass. Edward didn´t seem to mind however and turned back to the window. “Hughes already has an assignment for me, and suggested we go over the crime scene so I can get a bit of insight for the job. The site has a rough approach, so he told me to wear something heavy-duty but comfortable.”
Roy had to hand it to Maes. That was a pretty good excuse. Investigation teams often did their hardest work just trying to reach their precious evidence. Photographers for example seemed to prefer rather inaccessible places. They had the double challenge of needing a clear view of the subject while staying out of sight. Suspects were also driven to make evidence of their crimes as inaccessible as possible, finding places to hide their deeds that were most difficult to reach. Still, Roy had serious doubts that Maes might be taking Ed to one of the more… uncomfortable scenes to show him around. And anyone who knew of the young man’s preference for leather would have known what he would chose when instructed to wear something ‘heavy-duty but comfortable’.
Hughes was taking a big chance, taking non-military personnel not yet under contract to a crime scene. Then again, his superiors would likely make an exception for Edward. The former Fullmetal Alchemist had a reputation for getting the job done, and a chance to get that kind of talent under a civilian contract would make the Brass eager to allow concessions.
Roy marveled at the lengths Maes would go to ensure Roy of a good view.
But obviously, there was more to this sudden campaign to hire Edward than this stupid bet. Roy still had to talk to his friend to find out what was going on.
“This really reminds me of old times.” Ed´s voice broke his thoughts. The young man turned around, heading towards Roy’s desk. His gold ponytail slipped over his shoulder when Ed stood, hands on hips, head cocked to one side, taking a closer look at the stacks of paperwork. “Shit, you really are a lazy bastard,” Ed observed with a smirk.
Roy just grunted and sent a glare towards the mountains of paper, then watched as the young alchemist took one of the stacks and placed it on the floor beside the desk. Another soon followed. Mustang moved to sit in his chair, curious to discover what Ed had planned, content to place his own plan on hold to see where this would lead. When all the papers had found their way to the floor, neatly stacked beside the Colonel’s desk, the younger man placed his hands on the wooden surface, leaning across it.
“I´ve never seen it this empty,” the younger alchemist stated in a teasing tone.
Roy snorted at the jab. “I have,” he commented, and Ed raised an eyebrow, skeptical. “I´ve placed the stacks on the floor myself when they were too high to reach the top,” he admitted, not willing to ruin the mood by starting a fight.
It was worth it when the blond blinked surprised. Obviously the young man had not expected Roy to let his jab slide. Then the younger alchemist grinned, a mischievous glint in the golden eyes.
“Hm.” Ed hummed, the sound almost a purr. The alchemist straightened himself and made his way around the desk, one gloved hand still caressing the polished surface and Roy let his gaze be drawn in by the reflection of light on the leather that covering Ed’s hips. The movement was smooth and fluid and reminded Roy of the way a lover would move on top of him, straddling him, riding him. Oh fuck. The young man just needed to move and Roy was getting ideas. So much for being careful around Ed. Well, with what he was about to do, careful was actually the last thing on today’s agenda.
Edward stopped in front of him, his back leaning against the edge of the desk. Roy’s gaze went up, over the belt wrapped around slender hips and further, noted how the cloth of Ed’s sweater tightened and eased around the toned body when Edward moved. Then the blond man placed his hands on the table behind him and pulled himself up to sit on the surface.
“This really is a sturdy desk.” Ed’s purr pulled dark eyes up to the impish smile on Ed lips. It was a silent invitation, asking if Roy wanted to have some fun as well.
Roy leaned back, watched the young man. Watched the leather covered thighs brush against each other as the man slipped of his boots. The simple movement shouldn´t be so sensual, but it was. Roy remembered too well how it felt to have these strong legs pressing against his hips.
Once the boots were off, the young man leaned back, his legs shifting slightly apart, offering just enough space for Roy to step in between them if he wanted to, and fuck, yes. He wanted to.
Roy pushed himself up from the chair and stepped close.
“Wonder how much weight this thing can hold,” Ed muttered roughly when Roy leaned in closer. The Colonel placed his hands on the desk, on both sides of Ed’s hips.
“Hm, I have a few ideas how to test it,” he breathed against Ed’s lips.
Then he kissed the man. Roy expected to have to battle for the upper hand, but this time Edward seemed to be content to let him do as he pleased. Which was perfect for what the Colonel had in mind.