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Using the word genius to describe anything or anyone is a bit exorbitant—at least, that’s what Roy Mustang would have said just before coming face-to-face with a sour-faced, blonde young man.

“That’s a really stupid idea,” the young man points to the blueprint design for the reactor that Mustang had been looking over just moments before. It’s on its’ fifteenth cycle of checks, what with how often computers have run into errors processing the codes for the damn thing, and how often Mustang himself has rejected it for having design flaws. “Too many impurities; you should try focusing on the heat reactors instead of worrying about the content of the alloys.”

“You’ve only been looking at this document for what, two seconds?” The question is dryly uttered, and Mustang is torn between massive disbelief and his frustration at listening to someone that barely looks half his age. “I don’t have any of the attached papers for this project within sight – how’d you come to that conclusion?”

A tan finger is jabbed at the paper. “S’written right there in the damn notes, ain’t it,” the young man mutters, noting the barely-legible scrawl that Mustang had jotted down in shorthand, and had mostly noted formulae for possibly balancing the alloys and leaving the size of the machine intact. “Besides, I can tell that it’s too big for what it was meant for. All that fuckin’ thing’s gonna monitor – or distribute, or whatever – is the explosion it’s gonna set off.”

Thus, Mustang finds himself reassessing his priorities.

He’ll never let it be said that he’s not an opportunist, though. If something has brought one of the quickest minds of the country to his front door, he’s not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

“Roy Mustang,” he greets casually, trying to be friendly to the young man. “And you are?”

“Edward Elric,” the blonde replies quickly, shaking Mustang’s hand limply, as though he’s disgusted by the very gesture itself. “New addition to the team as of right now. And before you fuckin’ ask—I can see the question written all over your smarmy face—I’m twenty years old, and yes, I do have my PhD. Problem with that?”

Mustang’s smile turns flat and his throat runs dry. He refrains from making a chiding comment about how young Edward looks, and how quickly he’d finished college besides, simply replying, “None whatsoever,” and watching as the blonde stalks out of his office and slams the door behind himself.

 

//

 

The R&D Department of East Amestris Agricultural Solutions is filled with rumors of its’ newest employee within weeks of Edward’s tenure starting at the company.

Mustang ignores his tittering coworkers for the most part. The only people whose opinions he values in the establishment are those he’d picked himself, and a couple of them he’d plucked right from their internships.

Havoc thinks Edward’s input is invaluable, which is fortunate; Mustang agrees. Furthermore, he seems to find the kid’s penchant for foul language refreshing and hilarious. On this point, Mustang grunts and concedes the point. Edward’s tongue is just as sharp as his mind.

Breda and Falman also seem to find great humor with the blonde’s mannerisms. He stalks around the place like a large, feral cat: full of barely-contained power, eyes narrowed with a dangerous gleam. Still, once Edward realizes that they, unlike most of the chatting people hanging around the cafeteria, are actually smart and useful, he warms up to them and even smiles in their presence. This is a boon that Mustang uses to his advantage, mostly because Edward speaks to him with begrudging respect at best, and like Mustang is dirt under his shoe at worst. (Havoc finds this point amazingly entertaining, and when he tells his employer so, the brunette simply rolls his eyes.)

Fuery is close to Edward’s own age at twenty-three, and just as nerdy besides; the two of them bond over biophysiologies of microscopic organisms, or something equally ridiculous, and Mustang mostly leaves them the hell alone. They are impossible for him to understand, and he’s not interested in joining in on their high-brow discussions. Their work is already complicated enough without delving into all of the intricacies of microbiology itself.

Finally, he pulls Hawkeye aside for her input, and while her input is the most briefly-worded, it is the most impactful.

“Frankly, sir, I’m more interested in his personal history than his work ethic. He’s brilliant enough to perform circles around the rest of us. I only wonder what brought him here, instead of to some famous university.”

The comment sticks in the back of his head for the rest of the day, and Mustang winds up thinking about it even when he’s ready to fall asleep.

 

//

 

It takes several months of Edward pointing things in positive directions before he decides he wants to go back to school.

When he gives his notice, he just shrugs. “I guess I expected work to be different, but there’s more I want to learn and do rather than be stuck in labs all the time. Been thinkin’ about doing a semester abroad, too. If you’ll have me back next summer, that’d be cool.”

Mustang’s mind is reeling. He’s been working for ages, been hunched over his computer like a madman, preparing to display the latest pride of his office with Edward at the head of the presentation, since it had seen daylight because of the young genius. “Well, yes. I’d be delighted to have you back. You’re a great asset to me. Still, I’ve been desperate to ask you all this time—what brought you to our company in the first place?”

Edward suddenly shrugs. “My family’s nearby. Attended a conference with a guy who said he knew you when I was gettin’ ready to graduate. Said, Roy Mustang; big ego, handsome guy. Could use the help. Smart as a whip.” He smiles a bit and Mustang distantly recalls that this is the first time the blonde has ever truly smiled at him, instead of triumphantly smirking or looking angry as all hell. “You are all of those things, but I trust you, I guess. Kinda fun working here, but I just need to do something else for a few months. I get stir crazy.”

The older man spends a moment thinking of whom, exactly, would have described him as such, before his mouth jets ahead of his mind. “So, you admit that I’m handsome, then,” Mustang offhandedly murmurs, and he really doesn’t mean anything by the comment. He’s mostly talking to himself, finding it funny that Edward has even mentioned a thing about his appearance. Mustang hadn’t figured the blonde had cared about such things.

The furious blush creeping over Edward’s cheeks startles Mustang. “I mean, objectively, yeah. That’s not like, why I’m fuckin’ askin’ to come back or nothin’. I just think you’re a decent employer. You don’t treat me like a stupid, cocky kid; you talk to me just like Havoc and Hawkeye and all them. I appreciate it.”

Mustang can’t help grinning warmly at that. “Well, we’re both adults here. You’ve done some great work for me, and your position will be open any time you’re ready to come back. I’ll be looking forward to more observations of my appearance then.”

Edward flips him off and slams the door on his way out. Mustang laughs openly at the familiarity.

 

//

 

When the application comes through his email inbox, there is a picture attached to it. He grumbles a bit about how the HR department seems intent on making his job even more annoying than it already is, but then he sees the faces staring back at him and smiles.

Hawkeye catches him at it and raises one eyebrow. He shakes his head and points to the monitor, so she comes over to look and smiles fondly as well.

Two sun-tanned faces stare back at them, one young blonde grinning and flashing a peace sign for the camera; the other sticking his tongue out and pulling down his eyelid in mockery.

This photo is entirely inappropriate for a job application, which is probably why Mustang immediately responds that he’d like to hire the applicant as quickly as possible.

Four weeks later, Edward Elric reappears in his office like he’d never left. His clothes are well-tailored, like someone else had dressed him that morning, but his boots are filthy, and he slams them on Mustang’s desk, so the older man has to come face-to-face with the nasty terrors. “Welcome back,” he greets in earnest, forcing himself to look cocky instead of disgusted.

“Good to be back,” Edward facetiously salutes Mustang. “Lookin’ real dandy today, Mustang. Fishin’ for compliments?” Mustang suddenly remembers that the blonde’s accent grows thicker when he’s incredibly conceited or extremely flustered.

“If I was, what would you say to appease my—ah, what was it that my acquaintance said? My large ego?”

With those words, Edward flips from smirking and parading arrogantly to a red-cheeked youth, and Mustang’s lips quirk into a genuine smile. “Oh, fuck you, Mustang. Glad to see you haven’t changed a bit.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Mustang replies dryly. “We’ve changed a few things around here, though, so let me give you a brief tour.”

Edward dutifully stands up and follows him, slipping on a spare lab coat that Mustang offers him on the way out of the office and shrugging into it like a second skin. The rest of the day is spent catching up and learning how the implements Edward had put in place are working. The new interns are blisteringly loud as they gossip about the young man, and Mustang rolls his eyes.

It doesn’t help that Edward is disastrously eye-catching, long hair swishing behind him.

For the first time, Mustang actually pays attention to everything that happens while Edward walks by his side. The blonde young man scowls, miraculously attentive while the whispers get louder and Mustang notes that small crowds are gathering from the people leaning out of doors on their lunch break.

He’s usually a couple inches taller than Mustang, but with his shoulders hunched up and his body energy increasingly leaning towards furious, he looks small.

Mustang intelligently neglects to mention that observation to his employee and instead directs both of them back to the office, deciding that Edward can find everything else on his own. He hasn’t been gone that long.

 

//

 

It takes a few weeks for people on all five floors of the building to get used to seeing Edward strut about like he owns the place, demanding records from different scientists and guiding their work with the kind of ruthless efficiency that put a lot of their diligent efforts to shame.

His flippant attitude makes Edward a lot of enemies, which is no news to Mustang and his team, but it earns him just as many protective companions and ardent admirers.

Mustang doesn’t know why it’s so important to him all of the sudden, that Edward doesn’t feel pressured to respond to the leers he receives; that he himself feels like lashing out at all the rumor-whispering interns and laboratory technicians reflects poorly on his personality. Mustang had thought that he had grown out of his poor temper in his teen years—feeling this way is stupid, and more so, it’s tiring.

He’s pulled out of his dark mood by Hawkeye’s level voice and Edward’s wide, trusting golden eyes. “Who was that in your application picture? Your brother?”

“Yeah,” Edward says happily, looking earnest and soft in a way Mustang has never seen him look before. Hell, he’s known Edward almost two years, had even gone so far as to read his published dissertation from his university, and had never known that the young man had a sibling. Then again, when Edward had given his notice the year previous, he’d mentioned that his family lived nearby. “That was Al. We traveled around southern Creta together before I came home. Crazy language to learn, by the way, but it was a lot of fun. People said my accent was a fuckin’ riot. Laughed like hell when my knee got all messed up in the sand.”

Mustang starts at that. “Turning into an old man, now? Aren’t you only, what, twenty-one?”

Edward flips him off neatly before rolling up his left pant leg. “Had an accident when I was ten,” he explains blandly, waving his hand like he’s explaining why the sky appears to be blue. “Amputated from the thigh-down because the wound was fucking the rest of my leg up. Pretty cool, huh?”

Pretty cool is not on the list of things that Mustang would describe the experience as. Instead, he clears his throat and forces his voice to be light as he says, “Interesting,” and stops at that.

He barely stops himself from saying, you never told me; why didn’t you ever tell me? I never noticed, because he realizes that Edward would think Mustang were pitying him, which simply isn’t true.

Amazement is all Mustang feels at the moment.

He’s so dazed that he misses everything else Edward hurriedly tells Hawkeye about his trip with his brother, and decides that he’ll have to ask her about the details when he has time to get away from the lab work.

 

//

 

“No, we’re talking damage on a huge scale. Impactful towards a lot farms for different reasons. You can’t just put those damn things in the middle of a field unmonitored and hope for the best.”

A lab tech named Brosh looks horribly lost. “I just don’t get it, Doctor Elric. What’s missing? If there was a problem with the fuel source or the pipes, maybe I’d get why you’re so worried about, like, a leak, or something. What could be so dangerous about trace elements inside groundwater that we couldn’t test this on the lab grounds at the very least?”

“The shit you want to put in there in order to help crops is what’s going to kill them, Brosh,” Edward tries to be patient with him, but it’s obvious to Mustang’s roaming eyes that he’s failing. “I know you want to do the right thing for these farmers, but that means you have to do it right from start to finish. Good concept, but let’s scrap this concept. Not to mention, the device itself has to be safe from rusting, which would ruin the machine just as fast as a rupture or an explosive reaction.”

“Why’re you so obsessed with thinking everything’s gonna explode?” Brosh complains.

“I’ve had a lot of shit blow up in my face,” Edward calmly explains, and Brosh gapes. “What? I’m not perfect. Besides, I’m fine. Nothing’s been like, dangerous.”

“You’ve been near explosions,” another lab tech named Ross quips back sourly, “I daresay that’s dangerous in and of itself.”

Mustang silently agrees with her.

“Aww, shaddup,” Edward grumbles. “Anyways, what’s for lunch? Brosh, Ross? Down for sandwiches?”

“After you’ve ruined their work for the year,” Mustang steps in mercifully, “Don’t you think that Ross and Brosh could use a break, Edward?”

“Oh, shit,” Edward hisses, looking baffled. He throws the lab techs an apologetic look. “Hey, guys, I’m sorry. Don’t scrap it – I’ll help you think up something to show Armstrong.”

Ross and Brosh just wave him off with tired smiles. The woman says, “It’s fine, Ed. We’ll figure something out, draw up new plans and explain everything to the boss. He’ll be lenient when he hears that you were the one that pointed out the flaws.”

“Good,” Edward nods happily, following Mustang out with one last look of concern. “Let me know if he starts tryin’ to talk shit—I’ll storm down here and chew ‘im out.”

It is quiet for several minutes while Mustang and Edward make their way to a small butchery three blocks from the office. Once they have food, the brunette amicably says, “You know, one day, your mouth is going to get you into a lot of trouble.”

“Don’t I fuckin’ know it,” Edward mumbles around a mouthful of food. “Al and Granny are always tellin’ me to shut my damn trap, but I can’t help it. When shit’s fucked, I’m tryin’ to help. Most of the country’s best biochemical engineers are either testing all this shit being used for medicinal research or for agricultural technology and advancement. People like Brosh and Ross don’t deserve to get shit on by their bosses for havin’ a good idea and dealing with shit that could help a lot of people eat fresh food, or kill ‘em all. S’not fair.”

He looks severely downtrodden at the idea, so Mustang sighs. “You can’t try to fix every problem you come across, Edward. A lot of people don’t take kindly to a genius batting one eyelash at something they’ve been working at for years and pointing out everything they’ve done wrong.”

Edward looks appropriately subdued by the words. “Right.”

With that over with, Mustang inhales deeply and smiles. “Alright, enough of that. Let’s relax and eat. Maybe we can talk about setting you up with one of those girls that keep peeking out of their lab doors to get a chance at seeing you walk past.”

Hell no,” Edward grimaces at the prospect, but his expression looks altogether more pleasant, so Mustang counts his diversion as a success. “If they’re too nervous to actually talk to me, we wouldn’t make it past the first date.”

Mustang guffaws. “You like your ladies with a lot of backbone, then?”

“I like anybody that’d stand half a chance against me in a fight, verbal or otherwise,” Edward casually replies, as if everyone in his circle tells their employers that they aren’t straight at lunchtime. “Dated a woman that could kick my ass. Sex was great—hell, everything was great. Two of us fought like two cats trapped in a cage though.”

“What happened?”

The blonde man shrugs. “Dunno. We were better friends than dates. Still love ‘er to death, though—we grew up together. Couldn’t avoid that woman if I tried. Our breakup was mutual.”

Mustang can’t stop himself from asking, “What made you realize that the two of you weren’t meant to stay together?”

There is silence for a time, and Mustang is somewhat terrified that Edward will never talk to him again. He’s ready to issue an apology when Edward finally says, “I was looking for something else, I guess. I have a couple of running theories, but nothing’s proven yet.”

“Hmm,” Mustang finally hums back, and Edward scoffs at his blasé response.

 

//

 

A face that is both familiar and unfamiliar to Mustang greets him when he walks into his office the next morning, and he almost jumps through the damn ceiling at the scare. His usual façade is hard to draw up when his heart is beating a mile a minute. “Er,” he finally grunts, and the young man stands up with a sheepish expression and bows incredibly deeply.

“Hello,” a cheerful, light voice accompanies the soft face. “My name is Alphonse Elric. I hope I haven’t startled you. My brother said that you wouldn’t be in for another hour or so.”

Mustang spends about twenty seconds thinking, how in the hell did Edward get into my office, before realizing that it would have only taken his employee a swipe of his entry pass and beyond that, he had a spare key to the room, courtesy of Hawkeye. “Where is he?”

“In his lab,” Alphonse dutifully replies, sighing and rolling his eyes. “He told me he wouldn’t be long—said he just wanted to check on something, and then we’d head out. Since the lab’s off-limits to outsiders, I offered to wait in your office.”

The wording doesn’t escape Mustang’s notice and he finally lets his shoulders relax and he smiles knowingly. “He was ready to scrub you down and put you to work, huh?”

Alphonse smiles wryly back at Mustang and suddenly, the two of them understand each other. “Something like that.”

Seizing the opportunity, Mustang boots up his computer and folds his hands on the top of his desk while he waits. “Well, you’re welcome to relax. Could I get you a drink?”

“No thank you,” the young man replies politely.

He’s so easy to get along with that Mustang momentarily wonders if he’s really related to Edward. Then again, with just one glance, anyone can see that the two men come from the same gene pool. His hairstyle is drastically different, and his hair color is a few shades darker than Edward’s, but the shape of their faces is almost identical, and their eyes are both sharp and gold.

“So,” Mustang starts, “Shall I start looking for your name in the papers as well? Alphonse Elric Youngest to Win Nobel Prize in Physics or something like that?”

The younger man colors at the backhanded compliment and holds up his hands. “No, no! I mean, uh, I’m glad that you think so highly of me and all, but I’m more interested in practicing remedial therapy than researching theoretical psychics.”

If his wording is meant to set Mustang at ease, it absolutely does not. “Do you have your PhD as well?” He’s beginning to feel woozy. The Elric brothers are terrifying.

“Ah, not quite,” Alphonse softly replies, cheeks still red. “I just finished my graduate program. We both did well in school, but my brother never cared for rules and socializing, you know? He just wanted to get into engineering as quickly as possible, and he was bored in compulsory education.” Alphonse scratches the back of his head and continues, “I was too, but I wanted to take things in a bit more slowly. I didn’t want him to feel trapped by sticking it out with me, and I did have fun in school. He dropped out, sped through his undergrad and his masters and everything else, but he doesn’t have many friends.”

He’s a moment from asking Alphonse to expound on that part when Edward himself bursts in, hair looking disastrously messy and clothes in horrible disarray. All of the buttons of his top are off by one clasp, and his dark jeans look somewhat stained. “Al! This bacteria strain’s crazy vicious, you would’ve loved seeing the project. Everything’s still on schedule, so we’re set to get outta here.” Swiveling a bit, his eyes land on Mustang, and Mustang waves at him. “You’re early, Mustang. Decided to actually try to catch up before Hawkeye kills you?”

“Good morning to you too, Edward,” Mustang sardonically greets him, pressing a few keys to finally log on and start work for the day. “Thanks for letting your brother into my office with no warning or concern for the facility’s security measures.

Edward snorts indelicately and Alphonse just sighs at his brother’s behavior. “Yeah, yeah. I’m off—see you tomorrow.”

“Nice to meet you, Doctor Mustang.” Alphonse waves with a small smile.

“You as well, Alphonse,” Mustang replies easily.

When the two of them make their way out, they’re chatting pleasantly, but he can see the light flush on Edward’s cheeks. He’s half-tempted to jet out of the office to overhear their conversation; hear what Alphonse has said that’s made the older blonde turn colors, but, as Edward had mentioned, he has a lot of work to do, and he’s not interested in having Hawkeye stare him down because it isn’t finished.

 

//

 

About eight months after his second tenure at the company has started, Edward stalks into Mustang’s office looking haggard. “Off for another semester of school,” he says quietly, like it pains him to admit. “Just one this time, though. Be back in January.”

Mustang pauses for a moment, deciding between being snarky with Edward, as he typically is, and being kind. He softly replies, “Alright,” the latter emotion winning out when he sees how very tired the blonde looks. “Is everything okay with school?”

“School can get fucked, for all I care,” Edward spits acridly. “They’ve been begging me to come back ever since I left, since I came back for supplementary education or whatever, instead of earning another degree. I was like, halfway fuckin’ done with another major, or somethin’, and I would’a ignored ‘em if they hadn’t started pestering Al.” He sighs and slumps into the chair. “I hate that shit. I hate that they’re tryin’ to throw money at ‘im just ‘cause he’s related to me. Feels like they’re sayin’ he ain’t smart enough to go wherever the hell he damn-well pleases.”

Understandable, Mustang thinks. It’s probably trouble for Alphonse, that his brother is such an unsociable genius. The younger Elric brother is far easier to approach, and the officials of whichever university is trying to have Edward back in their clutch seems to know Edward very well. Their tactics are both disturbing and brilliant. “Well, do try to have fun. I’m sure there will be plenty of labs and lots of academic conferences for you to attend, or worse, to lead.”

“Fuck you,” Edward says with a wry little smile, and Mustang smirks back in reply. “They try to get me to put together shitty conferences and stuff all the time, and I wanna bash their heads in. I’m going to attend and research—you know, what research institutions are designed for—and then I’m fucking off to get back to doing real work.” With a sweeping gesture, he points his hand around the office. “You know, this shit. Shit that helps people, instead of running derivatives and anti-derivatives through a thousand computer programs and rewriting code until some shit sticks. Not that that’s not important, but you know what I mean.”

“Yes,” Mustang says softly, his tone more genuine than he’d originally intended for it to be, “I do know.”

Golden eyes study Mustang’s face for a moment and Edward suddenly smiles. “You’re not half-bad, Mustang. What got you stuck here?”

“I chose to be here, thanks,” Mustang grumbles. “I was hoping to do something grand, I suppose. Come up with a device to help radically improve irrigation systems without destroying the earth. Blazing trails for renewable energy resources or something. Eventually, I worked my way up to management, because I wanted to have just a bit more say in working conditions. This isn’t where I plan to stop – not by a long shot – but for now, it pays the bills handsomely.”

“How idealistic,” Edward sarcastically responds and Mustang rolls his eyes. “Kinda cool of you, though. I hope you see some of your dreams come true, though.” He stands up and stops to face Mustang again before he heads out of the door. “What would you be doing if you weren’t here? If you hadn’t focused on biochem, I mean.”

Mustang pauses for a beat before his lips turn upwards in a bright smile. “I would’ve gone into politics, started as a lawyer. Doesn’t it suit my personality?”

Edward guffaws at that. “Way too well.” He leaves and slams the door, and Mustang laughs at the standardized motion.

 

//

 

Fuery is actually the first one to notice Mustang’s downtrodden temperament, which comes as something of a surprise to the older man. “Edward’s only going to be gone a few months, sir,” he politely reminds his boss. “I’m sure he’ll be back to drive you up a wall in no time.”

“The Chief here doesn’t like the quiet,” Havoc comments sagely, nodding and fiddling with his pockets, probably itching to step outside and have a smoke. “If you ask me, he’s got a taste for feisty young things like the Young Doc, but the two of them have so much fun tryin’ to trade insults that they forget to ask each other out on a date first.”

Mustang sputters rather ungracefully, nearly spitting his soup all over Havoc’s lunch. “I—what?”

Breda chimes in at that. “Didn’t you hear, boss? Betting pool’s going around to see if you and the l’il doc’ll ever stop fight-flirting and make a move.” He mimes kissy-faces and Mustang can feel his face turning unfortunately scarlet. “I mean, unless I’m reading things wrong. Do you, uh, have some sort of problem with the idea?”

It occurs to Mustang that Breda is asking if Mustang doesn’t like people on the LGBT+ spectrum, and a sick feeling washes into his throat. “The idea itself? No. I mean, if anything, I’d be concerned over our age difference. Edward is only twenty-two, Breda.”

“My wife’s twenty years younger than me,” Falman helpfully chimes in, smiling lightly. “Thought the woman out of her mind when we first met, but I’m still happy she chose me.”

Mustang pouts at that. “It sounds like you’re calling me old now.”

“Sir,” Hawkeye joins the conversation at last, taking her seat beside Mustang quietly, “General consensus is, once you pass thirty-five, you’re officially on your way to being old. Only four more years until you’re over the hill.”

He groans at that, putting his head down. “All of you are fired.”

A great round of laughter breaks out at the table and Mustang valiantly tries not to let his mind get stuck on the idea of what they’d been implying—that he and Edward had been flirting (and fighting) and generating noticeable tension at the office.

Mostly, Mustang’s worried that people outside of his team have noticed that as well, and he endeavors to keep a tighter rein on his emotions when Edward returns.

 

//

 

“School can eat my ass,” Edward says, banging into Mustang’s office with no preface and flopping on one of the chairs. He’s dreadfully grateful that he’d had no appointments set up for the blonde to interrupt.

“Just eat it?” Mustang rolls with the words, finishing a looped, half-scrawled signature on experiment acceptance papers. “No kissing? No wiping? No shit-eating? You’re losing your touch at telling your research institute what it can or cannot do with your behind.”

Edward smirks back at the brunette. “It can do all of the above and more. Fucking try to bury itself up my ass and look all surprised when I push it out and screw it six ways to Sunday for even thinking that it could fuck me over.”

This is why Mustang’s whole office has a betting pool running on whether the two of them will ever just shut up and kiss or not. He feels grand, trading double-entendres with Edward. “Ooh, how scandalous. How will that poor university ever scrounge up its’ dignity, being violated by one of the finest mind’s it’s ever housed?”

“Goddamn,” Edward proudly exclaims, “I missed you, Mustang. Tell me you have something for me to do before I rip out my hair.”

“You’re not even on payroll yet,” Mustang grumbles, digging through his drawers for reports from Ross, Brosh, and Breda. “How do you feel about bacteria cultures and soil?”

“They’re alright. Little boring. I’m more interested in anything that involves architectural components and anything that has chemistry applications that include fire.”

Mustang continues flipping through files until he lands on one that looks halfway decent. “Go nuts, Elric. Please avoid blowing my labs to hell, and the rest is up to you.”

“What, no briefing?”

Mustang snorts. “You’d only flip me your middle finger for trying to tell you what you already know. Why waste both of our time?”

Edward flashes him a genuine smile. “And this is why I keep coming back here. See you for sandwiches tomorrow?”

“Sure,” he says, watching as Edward’s hypnotizing form slinks back out of his office, even though his blonde hair is in a messy bun and he’s just wearing his favorite red jacket and ragged jeans.

 

//

 

There’s someone waving to Edward at the grocery store and the blonde startles, brow furrowing as he fails to recognize the man. His face falls when Edward doesn’t wave back. “Er, Edward Elric, Right? From the Amestrian Institute of Technology?”

Suddenly, the clues fall into place, and Edward claps his hands knowingly together. “Oh, yeah. You were the one at the conference when I completed my PhD certification. Tell me your name again?”

“Hughes,” he offers easily, his grin a thousand watts bright. “Maes Hughes. I’m a good friend of Roy Mustang’s.”

Edward turns that over in his thoughts for a moment. Mustang puts on an act of frivolity at almost all possible times, and in doing so, he strictly keeps his personal business out of his workday chatter. If Hughes hadn’t looked so earnest about his admission, Edward might have doubted him.

Mostly, he would’ve doubted Hughes because he hadn’t taken Mustang to be the type to have many friends, much like himself.

“Nice to see you again,” Edward eventually says. “Mind if I finish up? The lines are psycho-long at this time of day.”

“Sure,” Hughes replies eagerly, trotting in step with Edward. “So, how’re things going at work? Or, sorry, I guess I should’ve asked if you still work with him first, huh.”

“I do,” Edward replies. “His lab’s a good fit for me. He’s cool about letting me take off every once in a while, whether it’s to travel and check out invention labs around the country with my brother, or doing some research at school.”

Hughes’s green eyes are eerily sharp and it makes Edward momentarily squirm in place, being studied so thoroughly. “Well, I’m glad. I know he really appreciates the help.”

Edward snorts. “If you’re really Mustang’s friend, you know he’d drag people in there every minute of the day, if he thought it would help alleviate some of his paperwork, but he doesn’t have time to do more than hire ten or eleven people to help keep him alive.”

Hughes throws his head back and laughs enormously. The casual gracelessness of the gesture makes Edward snicker too. “Yeah, something like that.” He waits a minute for Edward to unload his cart full of groceries and chat with the cashier before saying, “Say, how about you join my family and I for dinner?” The bewildered expression on Edward’s face makes him smile. “I just thought it would be nice to have the company. I could tell you some embarrassing stories about Roy, and you could tell me what he’s been up to lately. We haven’t had much time to meet up these days.”

The blonde young man fidgets in place for a moment before handing his money to the cashier and quietly admitting, “My brother’s waitin’ on me to come back, but I appreciate the invite. Maybe some other time.”

“Bring him along too!” Hughes cheerfully offers, and Edward blinks up at him. For a moment, Hughes’s mind skips off, and he thinks, man, is this kid wary of me or what? “Dinner’s always more fun with company. Let me call my wife and let her know.” He speed-dials Gracia before Edward can protest, and he tells the younger man that dinner is at eight p.m. sharp.

Edward grumbles as he leaves, but he shows up that evening as promised, accompanied by another man who must be his younger brother. He looks significantly more put-together at the doorstep – windswept bangs tucked away, ponytail neat and orderly, clothes ironed and matching.

“Hello, Mister Hughes,” the younger Elric says, bowing his head formally, “I’m Alphonse Elric. Thanks for having us over, sir.”

“Happy to have you,” Hughes replies, sounding incredibly chipper. “Meet my lovely wife, Gracia, and my daughter, Elicia.”

They both nod back at Alphonse, who waves at them. Even Edward looks warmed by the gesture, and Hughes decides to file it away that the boys both seem softer in the presence of a child as kind as Elicia.

By the time dinner starts, the Hughes family have gotten to know the Elric brothers rather well. It seems that the two of them are orphans—or something like it. To listen to Edward tell it, “Our old man’s a deadbeat, and if he turned up dead I wouldn’t give two cents,” but Alphonse seems a little bit more amiable towards the man. Their mother had died of cancer when they were very young, and Hughes is even more certain that he’d made the right choice of having them over.

Elicia is ten and bright and eager to have more people to chat with. Gracia, similarly, seems pleased to have the two Elrics’ vicarious appetites to appeal to, and they eat her food like starved men, complimenting it every step of the way.

After dinner, all of the adults of the party decide to kick back with beer and wine. Once Edward has tossed back a few drinks, and his pallor has changed not a lick, Hughes starts to get more out of the stubborn older Elric about his friend, Roy.

What he learns is what he immediately categorizes as blackmail: Edward has a crush, and if he’s reading the Mustang from Edward’s stories correctly, the infatuation is reciprocal.

“Would you just ask your boss out on a date already?” Alphonse rather tiredly mutters, as though he’s heard Edward good-naturedly bitch and moan about Mustang about a thousand times. “The two of you are insane.”

“Hell no,” Edward juts his chin out, teeth glinting brightly in the lamplight of the loft. “Either Mustang’s the one to ask me out, or it’s never happening. It’s so much fun messin’ with him.”

This scraps Hughes’s personal pet theory that Edward had been too reserved to ask his employer out, and reaffirms his understanding that the elder Elric brother often deliberately acts like an asshole.

When Edward’s language starts getting foul, Alphonse admits that both of them are a lot tipsier than they look – many of Alphonse’s friends are burly dudes that both Elrics have had the displeasure of trying to drink under the table – and he sets them on the path for home.

Once the door has been locked behind them, Gracia laughs so hard that Hughes is afraid she’s going to fall on the floor. “Those boys are a riot. Next weekend, we ought to invite Roy over and grill him about Edward. Edward’s what, ten years younger than him? I bet Edward has Roy wrapped around his little finger.”

Hughes grins. “This, my love, is why I married you. You’re the best.” He kisses his wife sweetly on the lips and his daughter pulls a face behind them.

 

//

 

Mustang drops his briefcase on the floor when he sees Hughes inside of his office chatting happily with Edward.

Abort, abort, abort, his brain screams at him, fight-or-flight instincts kicking in and yelling at him to run for his fucking life.

Edward smirks at Mustang the moment he sees his employer step into the room and lose the color in his face. “Roy!” Hughes greets happily, and his old friend grunts in begrudging acceptance. “Long time no see.”

“Not long enough,” Mustang grumbles under his breath, forcing a smile to his face after a beat. “To what do I owe the pleasure, Hughes?”

“Wife wants to have you over for dinner next weekend,” Hughes slyly says, like he’d had no part in the planning of this event. “You and your brother are also welcome, Edward.”

Oh god, Mustang thinks to himself. Hughes is finally out to kill me. “What day and time?” Mustang will be damned if he lets his mask fall while Edward is watching with such obvious delight.

“Saturday, seven o’clock,” Hughes replies quickly, the line rehearsed. Fucker, Mustang mentally curses.

“Oh, no,” Edward theatrically comments, his tone not believable in the least, “Al and I have so many things to do this weekend. You just had us over, Hughes; we shouldn’t impose.”

Mustang hates nothing more in this world than Maes Hughes and Edward Elric teaming up against him. He hates being on the losing end, which is why he quickly quips back, “Surely you can rearrange your schedule just a bit, Edward. Whatever experiments you’re working on can wait until Monday.”

“If you insist, sir,” Edward smoothly says, and Mustang is absolutely going to murder him. Choke him to death right here in the office, the moment Hughes leaves them alone. “We’ll be there.”

Unjustly, Edward trounces out of the room with a bounce in his step, leaving Hughes alone with Mustang. The man with dark eyes seethes as he takes his seat and pouts like a child. “Hughes. Explain, or else.”

“Relax,” Hughes waves his grumpy friend off with a grin. “We just happened upon each other at a grocery store. I was the one who recruited him for your office, you know.”

A cog turns in Mustang’s woefully sharp memory. Edward had once mentioned something like that, three years ago. “You’re a recruiter?”

“Among many other things. I got tired of accounting managerial work, and I wanted to do something more interesting. Now I travel with different businesses, holding panels and recruiting the bright young scientists of Amestris to help advance the nation—or something like that.” Hughes flops into a chair and happily folds his arms over his chest. “Anyways, Edward looked a bit shocked that I even offered. Hell, who knows when the guy last had a home-cooked meal. You keep him locked up in here or what?”

“Edward keeps himself incredibly busy,” Mustang replies testily, impatiently waiting for his computer to boot up. “He comes up with as many projects for the staff as I do. I’m thinking about offering him a promotion.”

Hughes raises an eyebrow, leering at Mustang a bit. “You really are fond of him. Nobody in their right mind would hire somebody that young to do what you do, let alone if he set off to conferences all over the world rather than being at the office all year.”

Mustang huffs, blowing his bangs out of his eyes. “Age has no bearing on capability, and Edward has proven himself an incredible asset to the company. I’d be a fool to let the opportunity pass.”

“Speaking of opportunities,” Hughes neatly segues the topic of conversation, “Why haven’t you taken the most obvious one?”

Mustang is steadfastly trying to tune Hughes out and actually work, so he grumbles back, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and glances through the slough of emails he has to read and answer today.

“I’m talking about you, the obvious sexual tension between you and Edward, and the fact that you, Mister ‘Opportunism-Is-My-Policy’, have not yet asked him out on a date.”

At that, Mustang sputters and gets spit neatly all over his monitor. “I’m—excuse me?”

“You. Date. Edward. Or are you going to claim that my superior intellect on the subject of you and romance isn’t relevant?” Hughes’s brow furrows. “If this is about his age, you just said that wasn’t important to you. He’s an adult, Roy—”

“I am his employer,” Mustang grumbles, face growing warm. “And I’m…it’s not like that. I think Edward just likes me because I stand up to him; get him a bit riled up. He appreciates that I’m not a pushover.”

Hughes whistles and smirks. “He told you that in so many words?”

Mustang coughs to clear his throat, fighting down embarrassment as he mutters, “Something like that.”

Hughes stands at long last, sighing. “If you don’t ask Edward Elric out soon, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life, Roy.” He stops to point at his friend and adjusts his glasses before exiting Mustang’s office. “Don’t be late for dinner, or it’ll be Gracia’s wrath you have to answer to.”

Mustang shudders at the very real threat and forces himself to focus on work instead of thinking about the dreaded dinner occasion on the horizon.

 

//

 

Edward is sitting at the table with a faux-innocent expression, seated right next to Elicia. Mustang very deliberately does not think about how the two of them are nearly as far apart in age as he and Edward are. Not when Edward has that stupid twinkle in his eye—the one he’s been sporting since this game began with Mustang, the second year Edward had come to work for him.

Mustang is a very sore loser, and the Hughes family is setting him up for failure.

He knows that Alphonse has dressed Edward today, because his hair is cascading down his back in a snappy plait, sharply matching the clean-cut button down and some dreadfully form-fitting khakis. Mustang momentarily wonders if anyone at this function is on his side.

Even Hawkeye had reminded him yesterday evening to wear something nice, so no; Mustang is certain that everyone he knows is against him.

With no premise, before dinner even starts and he and Edward have exchanged a single word, Mustang gathers up his courage. If he’s going to lose, he’s at least going to lose in style.

Mustang grabs Edward by the shoulders, the gesture making the blonde stand up, evermore aware of the fact that the younger man has an inch or two on his own height. “Would you like to date me, Edward?”

The blush that breaks over Edward’s face at having been caught so off-guard is priceless. “Fuck yes. I never thought you’d ask like this.”

“Good,” Mustang confidently says, and he kisses Edward full on the mouth, keenly aware of all the pairs of eyes on them right now, and even more aware of how Edward could kick him at any given moment and launch a barrage of expletives for kissing him without warning.

Luckily for Mustang, Edward kisses him back quickly, digging blunt nails into the hair at the back of Mustang’s head, hurtling his tongue into the kiss and making the older man bite back a moan. It’s been too long, and god, for fuck’s sake, there’s a child in the room. He’s too old to lose himself in a passionate embrace in front of Elicia, regardless of Edward’s devil-may-care attitude, so he pulls away with a gasp and drinks the blonde’s appearance in.

Edward looks blissed-out and soft and what Mustang wouldn’t give to kiss him again.

“Well,” the blonde says merrily, looking thrice as cocky as he usually does, “Time for dinner!” He takes his seat next to Elicia and high-fives the little girl for scoring a kiss with Uncle Roy.

Alphonse just sighs, and Mustang joins him moments after, though he’s sure his lips are trapped in a grin, and Hughes is eyeing his best friend with pride seeping from his pores.

Gracia dutifully remains a gracious host, and everyone holds silent awe for her ability to treat all of her guests like they’re five year olds; nothing that they do could phase her.

 

//

 

After dinner, Edward toys with Mustang’s fingers and leans his head against the older man. His need to press close to Mustang warms the older man’s heart. All this time, both of them had been trading barbs when all they’d wanted to do was be close, and now that the dam is broken, they can’t help themselves from clasping hands, at the very least. “What happens now?” Edward asks softly, tracing an old scar across the flat of Mustang’s palm.

“We buy a house in the countryside, adopt two children, and put up a white picket fence,” Mustang sardonically replies, and Edward snickers good-naturedly. “I don’t know. When I was young, I never did relationships—not really. I’m afraid I don’t have much experience in this field. What do you want to do?”

“Go back to your place,” Edward says, tone so serious that Mustang startles. “Roll around the bed a few times. Wake up, make some coffee, maybe go a round in the bathroom before we have to get ready for work or somethin’. It can just be what we feel like for now.”

“That…” Mustang fishes for words for a moment before his brain traitorously latches onto the thought of Edward Elric being disheveled in his bathroom at seven in the morning. “That sounds nice, actually. Still, we don’t have to go right now.”

“Why wait?” Edward says, and Mustang’s throat runs dry. “Don’t you think we’ve waited long enough to get our shit together?”

Mustang must admit that he has a point. “Right, then. Let’s give everyone our regards.”

They quickly see Hughes off, but the man is practically shooing them out of the house. He’s proud of his best friend for following his heart—Mustang’s been dreadfully single for a long time, and he can see that Edward’s presence alone makes him so happy that he could float.

Edward takes a bit more time with Elicia and Alphonse. The first, because he loves the youngest member of the Hughes family like kin, even though they’ve met a grand total of twice now, and he listens dutifully to her stories and her well-wishes before he’s ready to go. The second, because he’s telling his brother he’ll be home late, if at all, and Alphonse just flushes and wishes his brother the best, trying hard not to think about the particulars. (Mustang doesn’t blame him; if he had a brother, especially one as vibrant as Edward, he wouldn’t want to think about the man’s bed habits either.)

Gracia sees them off with a smile, and Edward hardly waits until Mustang has started his car and pulled away from the complex before he puts a hand over Mustang’s thigh and the older man snaps his eyes from the road to give Edward a look. “I’m not doin’ a thing,” Edward explains, the faux-innocent expression back on his face. “Just enjoyin’ the view, is all. Wanna feel your warmth, remember all the sensations.”

Mustang’s out of his depth, here. He’s giddy like a teenager and twice as nervous. “Edward, please. It’s only a five-minute drive to my home. I’m only a weak, feeble man.”

“I’m only pressin’ my fingers against your thighs a bit,” Edward teases lightly, and Mustang pulls in a breath through his teeth. “I mean, I could give you a quick hand-job too, if you want, but I kinda figured that wasn’t your style.”

“Just five minutes,” Mustang hisses, hands tight on the steering wheel as he wills himself not to grunt because of the press of Edward’s fingers ghosting across his crotch.

 

//

 

“Alright, so two things before we get started,” Edward’s tone is business-like, and for a blissful thirty seconds, he’s more focused on making sure they’re both going to be comfortable when they have sex than he is about just leaping into bed with his boss. “Stupid question, but you’ve got lube and condoms, right?”

Mustang snorts. Perhaps it’d been a bit forward of him to assume, but he had thought that something would come of the dinner, whether it had taken two hours (the running record time), or two weeks. He’d just purchased both on Wednesday, and double-checked the expiration dates. “Yes, I do, unless you’re allergic to latex?”

“M’not,” Edward answers speedily, grinning. “The second one’s not really a safety precaution so much as a warning. Remember my leg?” The truthful answer is often, but Mustang simply nods in response, suddenly feeling nervous. “Well, I don’t have to take it off, but it’s kinda awkward. I can still move around with a lot of mobility, but, y’know. It looks weird.”

He doesn’t seem bashful or shy about the disability, but Edward does seem familiar with people’s reactions to his having a metal alloy limb. Mustang pulls Edward against his chest and kisses at his neck until Edward gets tired of being the only recipient, breathing hot against Mustang’s chin and eventually pulling the older man into an easy-going kiss. “It’s of no concern to me. Whatever you’d like to do, I’m game. I can wait in another room, if you like.”

“Nah,” Edward says with a soft, pleased smile. “It ain’t a secret or nothin’. You can see it and touch it. It’s just a quarter of a leg, y’know?”

Mustang distinctively does not know, but he’s desperate to see whatever Edward will allow him to see. The blonde slips out of his shoes first, then takes off his pants in a fluid motion. Once he’s seated, he presses a button to release the prosthesis and reveals a somewhat ominous needle in the center of a silicon sleeve.

“Y’argh,” Edward mimics a pirate to alleviate the palatable tension in the air and Mustang chuckles. Somehow, more than all of their pointed barbs and even the drive over here, this feels more private and intimate with Edward than seeing him totally naked would be. Once he’s finished, Mustang can see where the wound has been cleanly grafted and healed over, and Edward stands up on his powerful leg and hooks his arms around Mustang. “Bedroom?”

Mustang swallows, feeling sweaty all of the sudden. “Absolutely.”

Once they’re lying on the bed, Edward shimmies out of the rest of his clothes—that is to say, his boxers and his shirt. Mustang takes a considerable amount more time to strip, and Edward almost makes him burst the buttons in his hurry to see him unclothed. Edward slips the tie out of his hair and refuses to wait one more minute before he pulls Mustang down and straddles the older man’s lap.

Edward kisses Mustang hungrily, and the brunette truly can wait no longer. He reaches for Edward’s hips and groans at the friction of their erections touching, panting as Edward grinds down on him and smirks. His hair flows down his chest and sticks to Mustang’s face a bit when the younger man dips down to kiss him. Mustang hisses when Edward presses their groins together more deliberately, glaring in frustration at his bed partner. “Thought you were the one that said we had all night?” Edward’s voice is lilted in mockery and Mustang hates that he’s right. “Don’t have to be a conniving shithead here, Mustang. S’just me.” He kisses Mustang gently on the lips at that, golden irises nearly eclipsed by blown dark pupils. “Just you ‘n’ me right now.”

Edward takes Mustang’s dick in his hand and the older man wheezes, feverishly scrabbling to have more of Edward’s skin pressed against his own. “You’re going to be the death of me,” Mustang murmurs, but the words all come out fond. He reaches his hand around Edward’s own and helps him pump in a rhythm, both of them gripping just a bit too tightly, and if Edward feels anything like he does, Mustang’s going to have a mess on his sheets in seconds.

Still, Edward seems to want to do this right, even if Mustang’s brain is only chasing relief and release like a prize horse at the races. “Lube and condoms,” he mutters against Mustang’s chest, circling a dark nipple with his tongue and leaving his older lover cross-eyed with overstimulation.

Mustang feebly points at his nightstand, and reaches blindly for the knob on the drawer. Edward leans over him to get the supplies, and both of them just pant and study each other for a long moment before the blonde starts talking again.

“How d’you wanna do this?”

“You could start by using your hand to get me off,” Mustang quips tiredly, tracing lines of Edward’s ribs. He’s tan and scarred and beautiful—Mustang can hardly believe that Edward has chosen to be here, with him.

“You don’t get to act like an old man now,” Edward chastises him and Mustang rolls his eyes. “Or act noble, or whatever the hell it is you think you’re doing. I’m no spring chicken, Mustang. D’you wanna fuck me?”

“I—” Mustang cuts himself off, throat raspy and voice sounding foreign, even to himself. “It’s not necessary, Edward. I want to do whatever you want to do.”

Fuck that!” Edward suddenly snaps, digging his canines into the sensitive skin of Mustang’s neck. When he sits back up, his back is curled with rage. “I asked you a question. Just answer it.”

“Yes,” Mustang admits at last. “Yes, I want to fuck you. I want be inside of you so badly that I can’t take it, and the thought alone is almost enough to get me off. Damn it, Edward, you can see everything that you’re doing to me—did you really think that I’d say no?”

“No,” Edward replies gently, brushing Mustang’s sweat-darkened bangs out of his face. “I thought you’d shut the fuck up and actually fuck me. I wanted you to admit it,” he finally says. “That you want me, I mean.”

Mustang barks out a bewildered laugh. “Hell. I’ve wanted you since you stepped foot in my office and pointed out everything that was wrong with the project I was overseeing on your first day. You’re young, you’re gorgeous, and you’re smarter than anyone else I’ve ever met. I ought to be asking you that.

“Hurry up and fuck me, and I’ll tell you every stupid fucking way I’ve been thinking about you this past year and half,” Edward says, and Mustang is never one to turn down a challenge.

 

//

 

Mustang is agonizingly slow about preparing Edward, and by the time he’s lining up to be inside of the younger man, lubricant is everywhere. Edward has half a mind to complain about the mess, but then the older man finally starts to slip inside of him and his retorts die on his tongue.

This position is difficult on both of them, as it relies on Mustang’s upper body strength to do a lot of the work, and for Edward’s right leg to pick up the slack. Still, like this, they get to be face to face, and Edward feels immensely powerful as Mustang painstakingly takes care of him and makes sure Edward is in no pain while he slides in deep.

Edward starts to break away from cursing to babble around the third thrust, once he and Mustang have built up a rhythm and Mustang’s dick keeps pounding against his prostate. “E’rytime I came into your office, I’d be thinkin’ ‘bout it. Bending you over the desk. Suckin’ you off before you fucked me in one of those chairs. The two of us rollin’ around on the floor in one of the labs, gettin’ caught by Hawkeye or somethin’.” The pauses get more and more frequent as Mustang loses himself in the sensation, pale fingers amazingly gentle on the underside of Edward’s ass. “Fuck, Mustang. I was halfway around the world, wonderin’ if somethin’ was wrong with me, and I thought about your smug fuckin’ expression if I told you I’d been thinkin’ about you for months.” His fingernails dig into Mustang’s backside and his right toes curl as he comes, murmuring Mustang’s name about a hundred more times.

When clarity dawns on him again, he’s spent, boneless, and Mustang is tidying the bed a bit. Once he has his breath back, he presses Mustang back into the mattress, kissing the older man breathless and drinking in the vibrant pleasure of having Mustang all to himself.

“Me too, Ed,” Mustang finally says, running his fingers through the thick blonde hair of Edward’s bangs. “I thought about all of those things, too.”

Edward smiles devilishly and Mustang immediately regrets his heartfelt confession. “Well, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do then, huh? I’ll wait a few; then it’s my turn.”

Mustang groans, only to be contrary, but twenty minutes later, when Edward starts licking a hot trail down Mustang’s spine, he knows that he can’t tease the younger man anymore.

“You have got the nicest ass,” Edward comments off-handedly, punctuating the words by squeezing said ass in his hands and fumbling for the container of lube that Mustang had been using minutes ago. “Shame that all you do is sit on it all day and inflate your own ego.”

The brunette chokes out a startled moan when Edward circles a finger at his entrance, whipping his head to the side to glance at the blonde. “What can I say,” Mustang murmurs softly, clenching his fingers in the sheet to feel grounded and stay focused, “I work hard for these finely-crafted glutes.”

Edward snorts. “Fuckin’ liar,” he says, just moments before he motions for Mustang to lie on his side and he flicks his tongue out against the sharp hipbones of Mustang’s pale lower body. He moves his tongue until he has Mustang’s dick moments from his mouth, awkwardly moving his hands to coat both of them in lube and plunging a second finger into Mustang’s ass. “You always this quiet in bed?”

“Generally, yes,” he admits, “but it’s been a long time since I’ve gone two rounds in less than an hour, Edward,” Mustang grumbles against Edward’s brow, pulling the younger man down to chastely kiss him and smile wanly. “Cut me some slack.”

“Want me to slow down?” His golden eyes are bright and earnest, and Mustang shakes his head fervently. “Alright. Just tell me to fuck off if you’re not into something I’m doing.”

“Trust me,” Mustang assures him with ragged breath, “I’m into everything you’re doing.”

With that, Edward takes Mustang into his mouth, and both of them hiss at the feeling. The younger man is prying Mustang open finger-by-finger and moving his head back and forth in a tawdry motion. It’s dirty and sloppy and nothing should feel so good—which is precisely why Mustang is at the precipice in record-time, and Edward pulls off of him with a soft pop, tasting pre-come beading at the head of Roy’s erection. He massages the older man’s balls and Mustang goes cross-eyed with pleasure.

“You’re so sensitive,” Edward whispers in awe and Mustang huffs through his nose. “It makes me feel good, to see that s’turnin’ you on so much.”

Mustang’s heart swells at that and he just stares at Edward for a moment, lost in his golden eyes. “Well, obviously,” he finally retorts, voice much raspier than it was a moment ago. “I’m honored to be having sex with you. Quite frankly, I’m not sure why I waited so long to ask you on a date.” It dawns on him, as Edward slips on a condom, that they’ve done things miraculously out of order. “Which, I suppose, will still be happening in the future.”

“This is a date, isn’t it?” Edward flashes his dangerous smile at the brunette and Mustang rolls his eyes dramatically. “Y’know, kisses for my beau, or whatever the hell. Every date deserves a perfect ending, or the spell’s broken.”

“Your sense of humor’s warped,” Mustang murmurs back with a gentle smile.

“Yeah, well, you wouldn’t like me if it wasn’t,” Edward replies with a light tone and his assumption is correct, of course.

It’s somewhat surreal, to see evidence of the fact that Edward is missing most of his left leg, but he’s powerful enough with the thigh and his right that his first thrust into Mustang shakes the bed a bit and the older man bites his lip hard.

“You’re not allowed to be quiet durin’ this part,” Edward chides him with a click of his tongue. “Won’t know if you’re hurt or if it feels good if you don’t say anything.”

Mustang has half a mind to remind him that Edward had babbled on and on about everything else but whether the intrusion had hurt when Edward had been straddled across his lap earlier, but instead he just moans and nods, whispering his acknowledgment.

“It’s good,” Mustang grinds out words slowly, adjusting to the size of Edward inside of him, stretching him out and making him scrabble for purchase in the sheets. Edward’s palms are hot around his dick and his hip, using the planes of Roy’s body for leverage.

His pace is slow, and when he finally hits Mustang’s prostate, the older man lets out an undignified whine and Edward chortles with bliss. “Fuckin’ finally,” he comments, sweat dripping from his temple to Mustang’s back, which is just as damp. He adjusts his angle to hit Mustang’s prostate again, and the brunette thrives off of the sensation, curling into himself and, amazingly, about ready to come. His refractory period seems more interested in Edward’s pace than Mustang’s age, and it’s dangerous, feeling this young, feeling so entrenched in pleasurable sex that Mustang is about ready to forget everything else in his life.

He comes down from the proverbial high when Edward goes slack against him, snickering. “Tiny spurt,” Edward mumbles and Mustang feels momentarily humiliated. “S’okay. I’m tired, too. Let’s get cleaned up and sleep.”

“I’m amazed you can move at all, after all that,” Mustang grumbles.

“I’m built tough,” Edward cockily shoots back and Mustang rolls his eyes. “Speakin’ of, you don’t have be afraid of hurtin’ me or anything. Pull my hair, slap my ass a l’il. I like that.”

Mustang swallows heavily. “You’ll be the death of me.”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Edward chides him, moving to the bathroom for paper towels and bundling up the uppermost sheet, which is filthy with lube and small dregs of come.

When he comes back to bed, wearing the comforter around his shoulders like a cape, Mustang knows he’s in this for the long haul, and he can only hope that nothing he does will ever make Edward want to leave him.

//

 

Winry kicks her feet up on the coffee table and fights to have more of the blanket over her legs, rather than evenly distributed over May’s, Al’s, Lan Fan’s and Ling’s. The couch is often crowded on Saturday nights, which their circle has dubbed shared movie time. There had been a few awkward weeks that they’d cancelled, thinking that things would be weird after Winry and Edward had broken up, but once they’d assured all of them that no, they’d behave (at least, as much as they could), and that this breakup wouldn’t ruin their friendship, they’d fallen back into it.

This evening, however, unlike their usual bouts, where they’d pick two horrendous movies and shit-talk them for the night, kicking back craft beers and ciders, they’re here to pry the truth behind Edward’s overconfident expression from his mouth.

Ling is the first one to dig into him, knocking back a bottle of some foreign beer. “I know that expression,” he starts with a smirk. “You got laid, Elric. Spill.”

Edward simply rolls his eyes. “Fuck off, Ling. Just because we slept together three times, you always think that you can read post-coital bliss on my face. Newsflash, dickhead—I do have emotions other than angry, y’know.”

“Well, I’ve slept with you quite a few more times than that,” Winry chimes in with a menacing smile. “So, I daresay that my assessment of whether you’ve just had a great night or not is more valuable, and I say you got laid.”

“This conversation is officially ruining my life,” Alphonse says, covering his face in shame as May gently rubs his shoulder. “I’m leaving, like, yesterday. May?”

She nods all too eagerly. Neither of them want to think of Edward as anything other than a friend and a brother figure, and this is in the realm of unacceptable topics for the pair. They dip out, Ling and Winry remaining mercifully quiet until they’ve absconded.

Edward manages to fend them off for a few minutes while Lan Fan watches him squirm in silence, sharing Ling’s nachos and eventually forcing Edward to break their impromptu staring contest and throw up his hands.

“Yes! You win, you nosy fucking assholes—I started seeing someone.”

Hell yes,” Winry and Ling cheer in unison, high fiving each other.

Lan Fan asks, “How long’s it been since it started?”

Edward leans back in his chair with a pout. “Dunno. Couple months, maybe. Been flirting with this guy for ages, though; wasn’t sure he’d ever pull his head out of his ass and ask me out.”

Realization dawns on Winry’s face. She is still his best friend, so Edward’s certain that she can read between the lines. “Oh my god. Is this your hot supervisor from the biochem R-and-D lab?” Color flushes high on Edward’s cheeks and she squeals in delight. “Damn. I’m impressed, Ed.”

“Wait a second,” Ling suddenly hums in thought. “Why’d you wait for him to ask? You’re not the type to act shy about being interested in someone.”

The blonde man blows his bangs out of his face and murmurs, “I mean, he’s a lot older than me. Not like, in a gross way, I just wasn’t completely sure that he was flirting back, y’know? Not to mention, he’s my boss.”

“More importantly,” Winry adds, “Edward has never successfully asked out anyone in a day in his life. I’m pretty sure he tried to ask me out by saying something like: Do you know that I’d dive headfirst into a damn septic tank for you? You’re like, the smartest, strongest chick I know and I kinda fucking dig that. I was the one who sorted things out and properly asked him out to dinner, once I figured out what the hell he was trying to say.”

“That’s fair,” Ling nods sagely, filing the recollection away as blackmail as Edward sputters and starts snapping at Winry for remembering things all wrong. “I’m sort of sad I missed my chance. I should have play-flirted with you longer, witnessing the epic failure of Edward Elric attempting to woo me into asking him out on a date.”

“Fuck both of you,” Edward grumbles, hiding his face in his hands and reaching for his beer.

“Only if Lan Fan approves,” Winry and Ling eagerly chime in, and Edward ever-so-politely flips them the bird.

 

//

 

Edward drafts a project that slips more towards biomedical than biochemical, and Mustang is so blown away by the hefty details sitting on his desk that he startles. “I’m headed off to discuss the improvement of skin grafts with a couple of stodgy assholes around the country, but I’ll call when I’m on my way back.”

Mustang will miss him sorely, but he knows how Edward is, and he would have been more surprised to hear that his on-again, off-again employee were planning on staying and accepting the promotion he’d been offered three times over at East Amestris Agricultural Solutions. Never mind the fact that Mustang himself has been offered a promotion – one which he’d planned to talk to Edward about this evening. “When are you leaving? How long will you be gone?”

“Mm, next week sometime, probably,” he thinks aloud, putting a hand on his chin. “Probably gone for most of the fall. Three, four months tops. This is kind of a passion project for me—I’ve always wanted to help people, and as much as I love feedin’ ‘em safe food and monitoring chemicals for reactionary changes in the atmosphere, this prospect sounds like a lot of fun. Al’s gonna join me, too, since he’s planning on being a surgical practitioner, working with a lot of developmental treatments and stuff.”

With that explanation, Mustang would be heartless to do anything other than wish him the best. “I’ll miss you,” he admits truthfully, shrugging his shoulders to appear less affected than he actually is. “I’ll have changed offices by the time you get back, however; I'm moving into national project management.”

“You got a promotion,” Edward slyly grins. “Of course. Earned it, you asshole.”

“Thank you, thank you,” Mustang melodramatically bows in his chair and Edward snickers.

Suddenly, Edward leans across the desk, pulls Mustang forward by his shoulders, and kisses him squarely on the lips. “I’ll miss you too. See you tonight?”

“I could wait for you blindfolded; what then?” Mustang quips back and Edward flushes lightly at the shameless imagery.

“Don’t fuckin’ tease me when you’re not gonna deliver,” Edward grumbles.

Mustang only laughs and waves as Edward stalks back off to the lab he spends most of his time in.

A few moments later, Hawkeye slips into the room and fixes her boss with a look. “You really are terrible about keeping up appearances with Edward,” she says, but it doesn't sound like she's reprimanding him. If anything, she seems rather proud of him for being so forthright with the younger man.

“What can I say,” Mustang muses, “He keeps me honest.”

Hawkeye snorts at that and Mustang just grins in response.

 

//

 

Excerpt from Biomedical & Biochemical Conference – Dublith, Amestris

 

Dr. Edward Elric delivered a riveting speech on the topic of medical advancements within the country. Speaking on replacing organs, and striving to repair external and internal damage with artificial application is something that researchers have been talking about for the last decade, but how to do so affordably seems to finally be within reach.

He discussed the topic at length, offering many answers to questions that journalists and fellow scientists alike fielded for him, earnestly explaining his project, which would be carried out and include no cruelty to animals whatsoever.

One of the finest young minds in the country seems set on helping people heal as quickly as possible, incredibly enough.

His final remarks, delivered jovially, mentioned the agricultural engineering company where he is currently employed. “Even with all of this tumbling around in my brain,” Dr. Elric (24) commented, “I can’t just stop building things and forget my biochemical engineering background. I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition just as much as I look forward to going back to my lab at home and thinking about something completely different.”

The young doctor is an inspiration to biomedical technicians everywhere, and needless to say, experts in the field are looking forward to working with Dr. Elric in the future.

 

//

 

When Mustang is bent over the couch and is the recipient of Edward’s fingers curling inside of him, he murmurs, “Thinking about something completely different, huh?”

“Shut up,” Edward heatedly whispers back, biting Mustang’s shoulder and making him preen at the motion. “Never said I was talkin’ about work.”

“Of course you didn’t,” Mustang replies sharply, taking a moment to feel pity for the furniture just before Edward mouths at his neck and lines himself up with Mustang’s ass. “Welcome home, by the way.”

“Glad to be back,” Edward replies quickly, sliding inside of Mustang in one fell swoop, and both of them groan at the sensation.

 

//

 

The very, very last person to find out about their relationship is Hughes, and this is mostly because Mustang dreads the man saying, I told you so.

Edward and Mustang are still very much embittered coworkers, who like to gripe and snipe at each other at East Amestris, even if Edward has a significantly larger following, now that his biomedical research is taking off.

Eventually, Hughes learns of his friend’s new status as a kept man from Hawkeye, who, amazingly enough, seems to oversee all of the betting pools within Mustang’s offices.

She sends Mustang’s old friend a bundle of bills and a photograph that has a neatly-written note on the back.

Nobody thought it would last more than six months, Hawkeye’s note explains. Congratulations.

Hughes tucks the handsome sum into his wallet, and decides that he’s going to pay his old friend a visit, proud of him for finally settling down as Hughes had always told him to.

He’ll even buy Mustang and Edward lunch, as a roundabout way of saying thanks.

fin.