"Oi, princey, whatcha reading that's so exciting you couldn't tell me?"
Greed hoped it was a good political mess this time. He'd gotten into that part of ruling right away; from his newly-obtained perspective, it was like peoplewatching combined with radio drama but infinitely more entertaining. They were playing with his country, after all.
My country, his mind corrected, as he eyed the paper Ling was holding. The low print quality but lovingly-finished hand binding suggested something unofficial, small run. Fine, our country, Greed thought back, and grew annoyed as words reshifted from almost-language back to characters. He hadn't picked up much Xingese yet, in part because he usually mooched off Ling's mind to read it, but what he could make out was enough to know why he wouldn't share.
"Now that's not fair, going through porn without me."
"It's not porn," Ling said out loud (and luckily, to an empty room). Greed refocused his eyes on the bits he was pretty sure most definitely were. He was not going to be...linguistically cockblocked, for lack of better description.
"Fine, fine. A number of unknown individuals appear to be printing, er, you might say, unusual suggestions about what our new government is up to."
Ling covered the lefthand side of the current page with his fingers, and Greed suddenly could read again. He made a concentrated effort not to laugh at the still-visible parts lest he lose it again.
"Aww, that's nothin' new. You wouldn't believe what I'd hear about Wra—King Bradley when the writing groups came bar-hopping." He recalled just enough to let Ling start cringing, and then added: "Bastard deserved every last bit of purple prose."
"But I don't talk like this!" Ling protested, and removed his hand. He ended up mirroring Greed's mental expression, giving the potted plant by the window a very skeptical eyebrow-raising frown before he went back to the page.
"That's bad porn dialogue even by my standards."
"I could totally write better. Get a pen."
Some fair amount of time later, Greed stood in front of Lan Fan, watching as she thumbed through a stack of pages.
Most of them were in Amestrian and everything past the first third of the first page was in his own much messier (but faster—Ling bothered with silly things like legibility) scrawl, but there were notes written down the margins (and sometimes mid-paragraph, ignoring all standards of direction) in Xingese, characterization and dialogue corrections transcribed from Ling's thoughts without Greed knowing what his hands were doing.
He doubted the delightful adventure of reading their combined handwriting was why Lan Fan was turning a progressively more interesting shade of red.
"I can't believe you asked her for help," Ling said from inside their head. "Pervert."
"She's a better translator than you," Greed said, playing innocent and taking delight in how transparent it was. "Besides, she can check the minister's point of view."
"We haven't done that", Ling said, indignant that anyone would suggest as much...or, more likely, indignant at Greed's entirely unconcealed thoughts about how they very well should. "That would not be appropriate research!"
"You suggested a lot of what she's reading. Who's the pervert?"
Lan Fan paused, paper in each hand as she tried to reconcile that there were two pages labeled "5" which disagreed with each other enthusiastically about several anatomical and chemistry-related points. There were a lot of crossed out bits.
"I um. I'm not sure if I can assist you," she said, after shoving the page fives back into the stack. She didn't look him in the eye, and Greed suspected it was because she knew Ling was watching. "I don't know a lot of these Amestrian words."
"That's no problem. You know how to handle Xingese dictionaries, I know how to handle...well." He touched a hand to his chin and smiled, all toothy innuendo that set Ling spluttering about his intentions again.
"I would prefer to learn from a more reputable source."
Lan Fan left immediately after, but she was still staring at page six, and Greed would have gloated but for Ling's final comment:
"We're not gonna get that back, are we?"