" We are her today to honour the actions of a good man who distinguished himself both in war and peace. He proved himself a fine warrior in our darkest hour and a forward-thinking administrator during the aftermath of.. "
The ceremonial flags flutter in the warm wind announcing the upcoming summer. The sun is already setting, but the temperature is agreeable despite the late hour in the afternoon. All around the air is filled with the perfume of lindens. Still, the favourable weather alone cannot explain the unbelievable crowd of people who came to assist to the public event. They are filling the open space in front of the Headquarters and the outer square, in addition to the surrounding streets. An unexampled event.
"..whose help has been crucial in the upgoing rebuilding of the Ishvalan communities as much as.."
Someone is tugging Edward's sleeve.
" Where is uncle Roy? " Elicia asks excited, as she looks tiptoe over the parapet. He lowers and points in the direction of the main patio, where the Fuhrer is speaking.
" The seats behind the Fuhrer, the third man on the right. You see? "
" Yeah! "
And there is Roy. If it wasn't for the special bond they share, Edward would have fell into the illusion everyone fell into. The man on the stage looks calm, self-confident. He is wearing his ceremony uniform. Deep blue, with silver garments and gold metals on his chest.
Instead, Edward can feel all the nervousness rushing through him. It is the strangest thing ever. Realizing it is not you and still being a part of how you are feeling.
On the other side, Roy is probably aware of the excitement and proudness pervading him right now. Not that he didn't provide to express himself in a far more tangible way during the last weeks.
" Maes would have been so proud" Gracia whispers, moved.
" I am sure he is" Edward smiles at her and looks back to the stage.
" ..to us. Colonel Roy Mustang, take a step ahead."
And Roy does. By reflex, Edward can't help but grasping his flesh arm through the fabric of his jacket, right where - only a few trusted people know- his mark is.
Roy hazards a rapid glance over in their direction and tries to not smile. He steps in front of the Fuhrer and other two generals, not without a certain elegance.
"It is my honour to promote you to the grade of General of Amestris. Be a general means to serve the good of the nation. To give people hope when it seems lost. To protect them. Always live up to these principles."
A brand new star takes its place on Roy's shoulders as an outstanding ovation drowning out the noise of Central City and travelling through the streets as a raising wave.
Roy's composure finally breaks into a genuine smile as the Fuhrer and the other generals offer him their congratulations. He turns to face the crowd, which doubles in the effort to make the earth tremble with their feet. He bows a several number of times, his hand anchored to the arm, looking forward to reaching Edward in some way.
"Are we going to the party now? " Elicia immediately asks over the noise, causing both Gracia and Edward to laugh.
"That's tonight, we still have a little time", Gracia explains as they stand up from their seats.
"Oh", she lets out, clearly disappointed.
" What if we play to 'Find uncle Havoc'in the while? " Edward grins exaggeratedly. Before the celebration began, he spotted the group a few rows away from where they are.
She speeds through the other soldiers attending the ceremony without waiting for them.
Edward looks back to the stage, where Roy is still busy shaking hands and stuff. They are going to see each other at the party. And he already promised Roy a unforgettable after-party, so he needs to be patient and wait.
Roy made himself clear several times. There was no reason to believe their coming out as a couple would have a negative effect on his career. He also made it clear he wouldn't care even if it would. But Edward couldn't let it happen. They had several discussion on the matter.
The truth is that none of them is able to understand what could await them if they decide to do it. Moreover, in the aftermaths of what happened to them, they decided to avoid unwanted attentions. That's why in the end they decided on keeping it a secret, at least for the moment. Even if what he did wasn't exactly human transmutation..dealng with souls was a too delicate matter. Alphonse had been studying Xerxenian legends for a while now and despite his many update, there is still a lot they don't understand.
Most of all, he doesn't want to sabotage Roy's chance to do something good because of his own wishes.
All of sudden, a part of him wonders if one day he will ever be able to stand by Roy's side as something more than a partner. He sees Haruko's wife to step ahead and shake Roy's hand as she hugs her husband.
Gracia's voice breaks the spell. He blinks and turns to look at her at light speed.
"You are blushing", Gracia knowingly whispers.
"Damned summer", he scoffs to hide his embarrassment.
"I think my daughter beat you. Again", Gracia laughs pointing at a group of people. Elicia is leading the way, hand in hand with Havoc and Riza. The others behind them.
" We found a charming little princess and decided to follow her" Havoc says.
"Edward, you look very charming yourself today", Riza greets him.
He is wearing a pair of kaki trousers and a velvet jacket, decorated in gold. Under it a white bottom down shirt. He tied up his hair in a low tail. The ribbon is made out of an old golden band.
"I guessed it'd be worth the occasion", Edward looks away a little shy. He might act like a wild wolf but his mother raised him right in fact of good etiquette.
"Indeed", Breda laughs. "He is the youngest colonel ever to be promoted."
" And you saw how many people came to see? " Falman adds cheerful.
" That's impressive", Gracia agrees.
"They also provided the event with a radio broadcast" Fury remarks.
"Are we going to the party now?" Elicia comes again.
"Well,- Edward knees and smiles at her - we can start going to the restaurant and you and uncle Havoc can help me to prepare everything. The best one wins my special surprise."
Elycia nods satisfied with the new plan and leads the way out, but Havoc, as usual, doesn't spare some teasing, because adds in a lower tone "Boss, I thought that was just for the G-" but Edward is faster and shuts him up with his flesh hand.
" Not another world ", he complains, "How is that I don't have anything to tease him back with?" he asks to no one in particular.
"Oh...but he is dating someone ", Breda blathers, "He won't tell us who she is, though."
Havoc goes pale in a matter of seconds, shifting uncomfortably on his feet.
"Is that so? " Edward is already grinning evilly.
"Stop it now and we have a deal" Havoc says in a tone that declares utter defeat.
" Is it a serious thing then?" Fury asks sincere.
Havoc coughs nervously before admitting, "Yes, it really is. And now shut up."
When the Fuhrer communicated his intention to promote Roy to General, both Edward and Gracia insisted in planning what came out to be a giant party. After a little debate, they settled on a nearby restaurant for the location. It isn't far from their home and still it is big enough for the occasion. Edward spent the morning preparing everything. Little lights have been placed on the trees all around the tables, charged with an array he could reactivate with a simple transmutation. In fact, there were just little things to arrange before the first guests start arriving.
"Are the lights ok? Did I overdo?"
"No, it's very nice-"
"What about the music? Maybe we should ask for something more-"
Gracia stops him before he can make a further move.
"Everything is perfect and we have done a marvelous job. Everyone will talk about this party for the next months. Now.. " and he can hear Armstrong's voice over many others, at the restaurant entrance.
" ..go and have fun "
Thanks to the people coming through the doors, the place soon turns into the party they wished for. The music plays in the background while the chattering, the laughs and the voices become louder and louder with every minute. They are all coming in. Denny Brosh and Maria Ross, now pregnant with their first child. Sheszka and so many others from work. Major Armstrong. Some Ishvalan from the Rebuilt Committee. Doctor Knox.
After a few greetings, the chatters outside grow in volume as a car stops right outside.
" He's here " Havoc whispers in his ear, almost making him jump.
" Yeah. Ready? " Edward replies with a mischievous voice.
" I was born ready Boss. Let's go ".
Roy enters the restaurant under a cascade of clapping. Fury, unaware of what is going to happen, steps ahead with his camera, ready to start immortalizing the evening.
"Sir, watch here please. "
And of course Roy would turn toward him and stop in the middle of the entrance hall. Just as planned.
Edward and Havoc went to hide behind two opposite columns on his sides. They look at each other waiting for the right moment.
"Stay still ", they hear Fury say.
Roy is abruptly covered in confetti and feathers.
The flash goes off.
" What the.. " Roy manages to moufle under the paper rain.
He removes some confetti from his head. At least, he tries.
Everyone is laughing happily and cheering him up.
Edward steps ahead, his arms crossed and a smug smile on his face.
"General, from now on there are going to be only papers and office work. Please, take a taste "
" How mindful of you, Fullmetal " Roy smiles widely. "And feathers ". He takes a bunch of it in his hands and blows them away. "Who's courtesy are these? "
" Mine " Havoc answers, "Since you won't get any sleep from now on. Congratulations."
Certainly, the context makes this comment perfectly logic. Although, for the three of them, at least, it's another matter at all.
Roy can't help a snort as he shakes it all off the clothes. Well, most of it.
"Let's go, this way", Gracia suggestes to the guests.
" You are a dead man, Jean ", Edward hisses him when they are close enough not to be heard.
Havoc is about to reply when he receives a slap on his nape. Riza
" Ouch! " Havoc wipes.
Hours into the party, the tables used for the dinner become islands for friendly conversations and reunions among the guests. Children keep playing and running through them and someone improvised a karaoke contest. Luis seems the favorite.
Edward and Roy are watching some Ishvalan talking with Sheeska.
" It's nice that they came" Roy admits.
" Yeah. Are you happy? " Edward asks in a lower tone. He shifts on his chair to face Roy.
Roy looks him in the eyes for a moment.
" I..I am. It's just..until now this was..a goal I dreamed about. With my aunt, Maes. With you." He interlaces their hands together under the table. " Probably I just need time to realize it. "
" You need a day behind your brand new desk and you will regret not being a lazy colonel anymore. "
Roy laughs, "I knew you had the solution in your sleeve."
" Wanna know what else I have there? " Edward let himself murmur, since there is no one else in the proximity.
" Mhh, I should cut it and take a look" Roy murmurs back," but I am afraid we'll have to wait. The Fuhrer is here."
And Edward raises his eyes to see Haruko walking among the guests with his wife and briefly entertaining them with some chatting as he proceeds toward his newest general.
"Go", Edward suggests him. "Save him. It's your job now".
Edward himself get up and walks over to find Dr.Knox and Havoc smoking like if the Treasure Bureau had just announced an alarming increase of taxes on tobacco.
" Sir, Madame. thank you very much for joining us ". Roy shakes hands with Haruko.
" Our pleasure, really ", she answers kindly.
" That's a marvellous party, I am happy to see so many of my men enjoy themselves out of duty for once. The place is very beautiful. Should I take you out on dinner here, shouldn't I? " Haruko asks to his wife, who nods
" Thank you. Would you like a drink? "
" I am sorry but I think I'll pass. Need to drive my lady back home. " His wife is looking at him with something Roy can't pin point out very well. But that's gone in a split of a second.
" None taken " he smiles back at the both of them.
" I'll go catching up with Mrs. Armstrong", his wife says, patting him on the arm. "Don't make me come looking for you. This gentleman deserves a night of celebrations."
" Of course", he intercepts her hand on its way down and stamp a brief kiss on it.
It's clear they love each other deeply. She steps away through the guests. Haruko brings his glance back on Roy, who doesn't lose his relaxed mask.
" May I steal you a few moments? I promise it won't take too long."
" Maybe somewhere quieter?" Roy suggests, unaware of the topic they are going to discuss.
" No need, this time. Let's just take a walk in the garden."
" After you."
" Where did you leave him?" Jean asks Edward, when he sees him coming closer to them.
" He's with Haruko".
" Edward, long time not seen ", Knox raises his glass as greeting. Edward nods in agreement.
" How are you, Doc? "
" Same as always. What about you? It has been months since you last came."
He is referring to the both of them. Himself and Roy. They have been checking the mark for a while after he got out of the hospital, but as months passed they came to the conclusion there was nothing to worry about and ended up cancelling those visits. If something changed, they could always ask to Doctor Knox for help.
" Everything is fine. Better." Edward shrugs.
Havoc is already making a face that means trouble. Edward thinks better.
" Jean, remember our deal? "
" Shit "
Knox looks between the two of them before declaring "I think I don't wanna know anything about it "
" You better" Havoc sights, disappointed.
" He was just being an as-". A sense of light uneasiness hits him, leaving him half way through his sentence.
" Edward? " Doctor Knox asks.
" Sorry, I just remembered..I have forgotten something..in the kitchen. I'll be right back."
He walks away from them and tries to focus on finding Roy.
That's mostly strange but, not knowing how, he immediately realize where he is. Entrance.
One more thing to report to Al in the next letter.
In fact, he spots Roy where he sensed him. He is walking out Haruko and his wife. He hurries to reach him.
The Fuhrer's car is leaving.
" What.. "
But Roy is already turning back at him, having sensed him approaching.
" Not here " Roy murmurs, his facade still on. " Come with me ".
They sneak off unnoticed. Edward enters the cloakroom and Roy follows him, closing the door behind.
" What happened? ", the other immediately asks, a knot of worry in his chest.
" He came to congratulate once more and tell me to be in his office tomorrow, after lunch. "
" What for? "
" I don't know. Maybe he will tell me in tomorrow's debrief. Maybe not", Roy thinks out loud, letting his hands come to rest on Edward's hips.
Roy might have his suspicions but he is not going to share them with him for the moment. Not if this means making him worry. He knows it. And he knows that he knows. The bastard.
" And.. what are you doing? " Edward asks as the older man lowers to kiss his neck.
" This is supposed to be my party so.. I am unwrapping the present? " he explains quiet, moving his hands under Edward's shirt. Pulling him closer and breathing in his scent.
" Is that so? " Edward moans. " Your timing is just as bad as your ideas. If someone finds us here you will be remembered as the general who made out in the closet with another guy. The night of his promotion. "
" Not another guy", he corrects him smiling gently against his skin. "The man I love"
Edward surrenders on the last one and gives in to one kiss.
" Come on, Closet General. You have actual presents out there. And guests. "
Roy is looking at him with incredulous eyes.
" Did you just.."
" What? Name-coded you Closet General? Damn yes. "
They come back home later in the night, more drunk than sober. It seemed right to celebrate at their best. Roy laid down on the bed the second they entered the room, satisfied and exhausted. Edward entered the bathroom and thought better, deciding he might as well get a bath before heading for bed. He can count a few days as happy as this one, but he has no problems to admit a certain tiredness, with the emotions and all the preparations and cetera.
He quickly brushes his teeth while the water fills the bathtub and starts undressing.
" Where are you gone? " he hears Roy call for him.
" I am taking a bath. Take off the uniform, before you fell asleep. "
He lays down in the hot water. He hears Roy moving in the other room, deducing he has still some energies left to change into something more comfortable, after all.
He clearly missed the point, because the door slams open and Roy is now standing in front of him, his bare chest and just the trousers left.
And he is laying in the bathtub, wet and very, very naked.
" What are you doing? " he asks both embarrassed by the situation and amused by Roy's expression. His eyes are gloating.
" I am unwrapping my present. Finally. " He unbuttons his trousers and loses them on the floor. His movements are a little uncoordinated.
" You are drunk ". Edward laughs mildly. But he thinks better when Roy removes the last item of wearing in his possession. He can't help to lick his lips in anticipation.
He is not that tired, all considered.
He probably voiced his latest thought because Roy's smile widens considerably.
"So are you." Roy replies, smug and confident.
"Possibly ". He has never liked alcohol that much, but it usually takes just a few glasses of wine.
Edward lays back in the bathtub, the picture of relax. In fact, every cell of his body is screaming. And Roy's are answering.
" So you don't mind if I join you, do you? "
And saying so Roy steps over the hedge of the bathtub and lays on the opposite site.
A god's body wrapped in foam and bubbles.
Edward considers him for a long moment, casting his eyes on every centimeter of skin he's able to see and carving silent love declarations on it. When eyes can't suffice anymore, he slids to make their chest line up and languidly kisses him on the mouth.
" I really don't".
Roy licks his bottom lip, while reaching the ribbon of Ed's ponytail and untying it. They fall on his shoulders, just for Roy to fill his hands with them as he makes their mouth melt together once again.
"I thought so."