[personal profile] jarnsaxa
Chapter 33 Part 1

Getting Al drunk was proving to be quite a success. Until they reached the point where Maes had to admit that his plan had backfired.

Badly.

Perhaps he had underestimated Alphonse.  Maybe the younger Elric was more sophisticated than Maes had originally thought. His notion that an interrogator only needed to get the boy drunk to get all the information he wanted was still correct. The problem was that it would be difficult for that interrogator to stick around long enough to get useful information.

This was a completely new form of torture. By now, Hughes was quite sure that a drunken Alphonse was nothing he would ever want to unleash on some other poor, unsuspecting soul.

There was just something incredibly wrong with sweet little Alphonse talking about the strange offers he had received. From librarians, as well as other people in positions of public trust. Maes seriously wondered about these peoples’ sense of decency. Who in their right mind would suggest things of that nature to an underage alchemic prodigy? Who in their right mind would say things like that at all?

And Maes had thought that Roy was bad.

Unfortunately, Al wasn’t finished outlining his current encounter.  “And then he said I could invite some friends along and we could-“

What Al then said would continue to traumatize the experienced military man and Investigations officer Lieutenant Colonel Maes Hughes any time he remembered it, for the rest of his natural life. He would have been happier if it had fried his brain, because then there would have been the possibility of forgetting it.  Horrified, he prayed Ed never found out about that particular incident.  Or worse, Armstrong. God, he did not want to see what Alex Louis Armstrong would do to someone who suggested something like that to such an innocent young man.

Maes seriously considered grounding his daughter for at least the next 30 years, considering people like that were actually running around loose.

__________

Roy managed to push his own almost untouched double pint of beer in Ed’s direction, claiming that it had been the only brand the café sold so he had been forced to give it an unsatisfactory try.

Actually, the beer, while far from having a chance to become his favorite brand, was not that bad. It was just rather strong. But since Roy bought it because it was the strongest one they served, he shouldn´t complain.

Shouldn´t, but did. To the point where he could shove it off on Ed and have the man drink a second strong beer.

They had arranged for the painting to be delivered to Ed’s apartment and cleared up the details of when and how the payment would be made. Then Roy had ordered some wine to celebrate the purchase, adding a glass of wine to the two bottles of beer Ed had already consumed.  As a result, when they finally arrived at the restaurant Ed had been delightfully tipsy and the conversation had become stimulating, laced with subtle innuendos and double meanings - phrases an outsider wouldn´t think twice about.  And not just on Roy’s end of the banter.  Ed was giving as good as he got, hidden beneath what could be misconstrued as friendly teasing.  It was subtle, and infrequent, and Ed’s innocuous comments often took Roy by surprise when he least expected it. And he liked it.

Ed seemed to have perfected the art of flirting while not flirting at all, and it was downright thrilling to engage in a conversation that was anything but as innocent as it appeared to the casual observer.

Roy found that he really liked this slightly flirty edge, and he was curious to see how it would develop.

But curiosity killed the cat, and maybe Roy should have not ordered the second bottle of wine.

He definitely should not have recommended the dessert that included a touch of alcohol either.  And if that wasn’t stepping over the line, as an after dinner treat, their waiter brought an aperitif.

When they left, Ed was noticeably tipsy, which gave him a perfectly acceptable reason to hold on to Roy for balance.  Roy wondered if his companion was really as drunk as he appeared, but accepted the excuse to put his arm around the blond without complaint. On the contrary, Roy was very content on the way to Ed’s apartment. The Flame Alchemist suspected that Edward was quite skilled at finding excuses for public embraces, and was taking full advantage of his drunken state.  Roy counted his alcohol strategy a great success.

That was until he became aware of a tiny little miscalculation on his part. He had forgotten about the fact that Ed was missing two limbs, and therefore had less body weight. And the consumed alcohol definitely was catching up with him. Roy gradually noticed that he was actually having to help keep the blond steady instead of pretending to, but that wasn’t bad. Thanks to the automail, the young man may have weighted more, but it was doable.

Having his former subordinate suddenly embrace him in the middle of the sidewalk was not bad either.  He liked his arms full of Ed.  He liked the way Edward lay his face against Roy’s shoulder, for a change not tense with the awareness of being in the public eye. Relaxed, warm, breathing against his neck.

It sent shivers down Roy’s spine.

It took him a bit of time to convince Edward – and himself – to continue on their way.

“I like how your ass looked those jeans you wore the other day,” Ed suddenly whispered against the shoulder he was leaning on for support.  “Much nicer than those slacks you’re wearing right now.  But you still look good.  I bet you look good in anything.”  The blond tiled his head up to blink owlishly at the man he was currently using as a crutch.  “I bet you look best wearing nothing at all.”

Amused, Roy knew than for a fact that Edward had had way too much alcohol.  He never would have let that slip otherwise. This had gone far beyond the loosening up stage that had been Roy’s goal.  Surprisingly, as drunk as he was Ed didn´t mispronounce many words, though he took longer breaks between some of them.

Roy was not sure how he felt about what Edward had managed to articulate.  It was late in the evening, and there weren’t many people out and about, and Ed had not been speaking loudly.  Still, the dark haired man was torn in his feelings. It sure as hell was strange to be viewed that way.  Or have his ass talked about like that.

It became stranger still when the blond began to elaborate about what he wanted to do to Roy.  The Colonel became very sure of how he felt about that however. The tightness of the trousers Edward had just complained about was very quickly falling on Roy’s list of things that concerned him.  Clearing his throat, the Flame Alchemist took a look around the thankfully still empty street and wondered if Ed was aware of their surroundings at all.

Roy was brought to a sudden stop in front of Ed’s apartment building when the younger alchemist decided that it was once again time for a hug. Roy almost expected the man’s hands to wander to a certain recently mentioned body part, but instead Ed snuggled close against him, burying his nose against Mustang’s neck.

“I shouldn´t have drunk so much.” Edward said. “I can´t think when I drink so much.”

About to tease the young man, the Colonel almost didn´t hear his next, whispered words.

“I need to think; it´s dangerous when I can’t.”

Instantly the Flame Alchemist alert.  “Dangerous?” While some people did in fact manage to do incredibly stupid things while drunk, Roy knew the other man was not referring to that.

Ed hummed and leaned in closer. Roy almost jumped, startled when a cold nose brushed his neck. It was getting really chilly.  Roy knew they should get into the building, but he felt no desire to move. So instead, he put his arms around Edward in a light embrace and was rewarded with a content sigh as the blond pressed closer.  Who would have thought Ed could be so affectionate when drunk? For a moment, Roy wondered if the man was secretly a snuggler. How cute was that? Roy filed the event away for later teasing.

Because while ammunition against Ed was nice, it was neither the time nor the place to take advantage of Edward’s surprisingly sweet drunken side to tease him. It was time to take advantage of his vulnerability to get information.

Slowly rubbing his hands up and down the younger man’s back, he carefully thought about what to say next. Then he looked down. He could only see the loose, blond hair falling over the younger man’s shoulders, but the younger alchemist’s breathing had evened out. The body in his arms was relaxed, and for a moment Roy wondered if the man had fallen asleep on him.

“Ed?” Instinctively his voice dropped to a whisper.

It took a few seconds for the blond to let out a lazy “Hm?” against Roy’s neck.

“Why is it dangerous?” He already knew most of this answer, from what Edward had explained about the other world, and by the way Ed behaved as if he was constantly being spied upon, but Roy needed an entry point, and with Edward’s current state of sleepy drunkenness it was better to use something the other man’s knew Roy was already familiar with.

“I’m careless when I’m drunk.” Ed admitted. 

Roy was starting to feel a bit frustrated. That answer didn´t help at all. While he was sure the blond was talking about the close-to-war-situation in that other world and the fact that he had to be careful about displaying his preferences, this wasn’t anything new.

Suddenly finding himself conflicted, Roy contemplated calling this off and just getting Edward safely into his apartment so he could sleep this off. He was not quite satisfied with the outcome of his plan. While the blond did flirt with him, it had still been hidden. And on their way home, he was clearly so far from sober that he might not even remember this tomorrow. And if he did, he could use his drunken state as an excuse for his behavior.

Regretfully , the Colonel loosened his embrace with the intention of leading Edward into his apartment and sadly, not into his bed. Well, yes, into his bed, but not for the purpose Roy would have preferred.

But Ed clearly had other plans in mind, because when the Colonel tried to let go, the other man’s arms around his waist pulled him closer. The next moment, Roy felt soft lips nibble at his skin.

Startled, Roy didn´t react at first.  He could feel Ed’s mouth on his neck again in a way that was sure to leave a hickey. Did the blond suddenly decide it was time for revenge?

Not that Roy was complaining.

Despite the fact that the soft, almost lazy caresses were not the passionate and purely sexual kind of kisses Roy was used to, they felt very nice. Strangely comfortable and right. He let out a slight sigh.

Unfortunately, his brain just had to interfere.

“You didn´t get drunk over there?” Roy asked while he tilted his head a bit to the side to give Edward better access. The older man’s hands returned to their place on Ed’s back, rubbing over the pullover the man wore. He could feel the soft material, but also the body underneath. Still relaxed, still comfortable. Roy didn´t want to ruin it but knew it was already too late. He should have kept his mouth shut and enjoyed it. But the bastard part of him just couldn’t resist taking advantage of the situation, Ed right here in his arms, trusting - and just like he said, careless.

“Hm.”

This time, it lacked the questioning sound. At the same time, the Colonel noticed the way Ed’s grip around him tightened. There was something tense in the movement and Roy felt his throat tighten at the thought that this embrace felt a bit desperate. It didn´t suit Ed, not one bit. The blond spitfire was not someone who needed to hold onto someone like this.

“We couldn´t risk that,” Ed admitted after a while, and the older man had to bite his lip. “Not that it mattered, they still found out.”

Roy was sure it was not only the alcohol, but perhaps also the fact that it was Roy he was talking to, but right now Ed was much more open, and not only in what he said. He also was easier to read, his face, voice, and body speaking their own part. It reminded Roy of the way the young man had been before his disappearance into another world.

But while it did provide him with additional information, it also left him uncomfortable, because being able to read Edward did not mean that he liked what he read. For a moment Roy regretted pushing for answers, as he could see that whatever the young man was remembering now hurt him very deeply and very badly. The soothing rubbing of his back seemed to have the opposite effect on Ed.  Roy could hear the man taking deep breaths, trying to rebuild his crumbling walls.  Roy’s questions stuck in his throat while Ed struggled with the painful memories. Even though the grip around his waist was already tight, he could feel it getting stronger.

Roy had absolutely no idea what to do. He couldn’t imagine what might be going through Ed’s mind, or what the man had been through. He could feel the slight tremble of the body in his arms but Ed’s face, buried against his neck, remained dry. Harsh breathing, but no sobs.

Roy felt lost, standing in the street, Edward crying on his shoulder, so deeply affected by what could only be the loss of a loved one.  And while the younger man slowly calmed down, all the Colonel could do was stand there with no idea what to do.

Roy always hated to feel useless, but today he was introduced to a complete new dimension of that feeling.

_________________

Al had finally fallen asleep.

Hughes felt exhausted and depressed. There are some things he would have preferred to not know. But he had also gained a good bit of information from Alphonse, and that almost made it worthwhile to listen to the very disturbing fantasies some people enjoyed.

And should Maes ever have any say in what laws should be enacted, he would definitely vote for the ones that locked up assholes like the ones Al had had to deal with. For a moment, the Lieutenant Colonel indulged in a dark fantasy involving a few of Al’s tormentors.  And while he had always been the kind of man who agreed that crimes should be punished – and inflicting bodily harm to a place no man wanted to be harmed - some people got what they deserved.  Which was likely what the police officer had decided back then.  Hughes had no desire to blame Alphonse for his lack of self control. Maes himself would probably have  done worse, and most likely the police officer would have as well.

But leaving all that aside, the insight Hughes had gained from Roy and Ed’s ‘not-relationship’ - as Al had put it, since Roy insisted it wasn´t a relationship - had been… interesting.

Maes sighed as he decided that he needed to talk to his friend.

And stop him from screwing things up.

____________

It had been awhile since their last get together, so Gracia decided to spontaneously visit Riza Hawkeye. She couldn´t be sure the woman was at home, but unlike her husband or Roy, she was not a control freak who had to plan everything. She just walked over, and if Hawkeye was there and could spare some time, it would be nice. If not, she would enjoy a quiet walk.

Gracia was aware that her husband had launched into yet another plan to become his best friend’s best man. She had stopped worrying over his strange behavior long ago.  However pulling Al into his schemes like that was something they would have to talk about.  And while she knew that the younger Elric was at least mentally old enough to make his own decisions, she did not approve of her husband’s actions.

But she hadn´t stopped him. It would give both men, young and old, a well deserved lesson when Al was suffering through a hangover tomorrow and  Maes had to explain to Edward how his baby brother got wasted.

When she reached Riza’s street, she was grateful to see the woman arriving home, carrying two bags with an emblem of a nearby grocery store imprinted on the front. The moment Hawkeye saw her, she smiled. In a very satisfied way with a tiny, wicked edge to it.

Now, that was rare.  Tilting her head to the side, Gracia greeted the other woman and didn´t have time to question her odd expression, because Riza didn´t even bother to reply the greeting.

Instead she instantly announced, “I wanted to call you once I got home. I have some very interesting news.”

Now Gracia was even more curious. She tried to take one of the grocery bags, but the other woman wasn´t having any of it.  She quickly unlocked her door and stepped inside, motioning for Gracia to join  her. Mrs. Hughes moved quickly, anxious to hear her friend’s news, and had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep herself from questioning the Lieutenant like some gossiping teen. She was a married lady and a mother; she should act like one. Her mother had raised her with better manners than that.

But when Riza Hawkeye happily announced her news, Gracia lost her manners completely, and openly – in a very unlady-like fashion - gapped like a fish.

“What?” she aked, needing to hear it again just to be sure she had heard it right the first time.

Riza Hawkeye smiled even wider and smugly repeated her observation.

“Roy´s in love.”

_______________________

It turned out that Roy didn´t have to do anything.  Except be there.

“Stay the night?” the blond asked quietly.

Roy hesitated. He couldn´t say no. Not now.  But… God, he hated this bet.

“I´m not sure if that´s what you need right now,” he tried to reassure Ed, and himself as well. There, that sounded logical. He still felt like a jerk of the worst kind.

But surprisingly, Ed chuckled and finally leaned back a bit to look up at Mustang.  “I didn´t invite you to coffee, you narcissistic Bastard.” There was a slightly teasing note to his voice but it also sounded a bit forced. It quickly became clear to Roy that the young man in front of him wanted to just leave the last few moments behind. So he played along.

“Just how do you know about that?” He smirked. “Been invited?”

“If you really need to know, yes.” Ed huffed, sounding indignant. “It´s not like they knew beforehand I was going to turn the invitation down.”

Roy chuckled and leaned down to kiss the man, and was relieved when Ed, despite the fact that they still stood in front of the building, not only didn´t protest, but leaned into the kiss. Unfortunately, Roy suspected the Ed’s surrender was more due to emotional exhaustion than a genuine disregard for prying public eyes.

“If you’re worried about your nonexistent virtue, I promise I won´t take advantage of you.” Ed offered a tiny smile, then added, “Al is staying at the Hughes’ tonight, and I just -“ He stopped, the smile already slipping from his lips.

And he didn´t want to be alone right now, Roy mentally finished. He already felt like an asshole for forcing the blond to explain himself this far, and he didn´t want Edward to have to ask again because he might not. And Roy really did want to stay, so-

“I’d love to stay.”

Roy spent the night in Ed’s bed, still mostly dressed with a warm body snuggled comfortably against his side. Nothing even close to sexual happened, and he couldn´t have cared less.  He just lay in the bed, listening to Ed’s deep and even breathing, running his fingers ran through loose, blond hair. Staring at the ceiling, he tried to recall the last time he spent the night in someone else’s bed like this.

The circumstances leading up to this were far from favorable, even disregarding possible awkwardness in the morning. Lying here this way felt ridiculously mundane, and was not the usual behavior of a sophisticated man like Roy Mustang.

And he couldn`t help but wonder why he had not done this sooner.

Tbc.

_______________________

phew, I hope you guys are still there and enjoyed this chapter ^^ I'd
be happy if you let me know what you think even though I´m failing
miserably with keeping up the answering u.u

And just so you know:
The next chapter is with my beta already ^^ I won't take that long again
for the next chapter ^^° so, see you soon?


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jarnsaxa

October 2013

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