Their first meeting is, perhaps, a bit of a cliché.
Because Roy is a charmer, doubtlessly, but even he runs out of steam after hours or small-talk and smiling and smoothly navigating the mine-filled conversational landscape of the social elite.
So, after an excuse for a bathroom break, he allows himself to slip away unnoticed and hide outside on one of the large balconies, hoping for a bit of reprieve.
It had been a blazing hot day and, though it had slightly cooled down by now, most guests seemed to prefer the air conditioning inside the hall. So Roy is somewhat surprised to find that he is not the only one who has chosen to step outside.
He had been in the middle of loosening his tie and barely manages to suppress a sigh, realizing that he will have to keep up appearances even now.
But, he reasons, chances are that whoever had come out here was also looking to avoid talking to anyone else, so he might still be safe.
It takes him a moment to identify the person, for their back in turned and their gender somewhat ambiguous. They are wearing a suit and their shoulders are broad, but their hair is long and their stature short. A man, though, Roy reckons, judging by their stance and narrow hips, and probably rather young at that.
Roy makes his steps deliberately louder as he steps up to the railing of the balcony as to be heard over the music and chatter from inside, though he does keep a few meters away, neither wanting to intrude upon nor surprise the other with his presence.
When he reaches the balustrade and places his hands on the warm smooth stone, he subtly glances over, finding his suspicion correct.
The boy – he can't be much over twenty, really – has a smooth face but an angular jawline, his long blond hair tied back in a high ponytail, sleeves rolled up to reveal strong underarms. He is wearing a waistcoat, the suit jacket probably discarded somewhere inside, and the first few buttons of his shirt carelessly undone.
One of Senator Hohenheim's sons, Roy recognizes, the family resemblance undeniable, though Van Hohenheim himself stood at an impressive six foot two, something that had obviously not been hereditary.
Roy himself wasn't overly tall either, though, when he had talked to the man earlier this evening, he had not found his height intimidating. Instead, Hohenheim had a calm, unassuming air about him, even if he did get a bit intense and start gesticulating wildly when he was passionate over a particular topic and had had a drink too many.
Overall, Hohenheim was a reliable man with a good reputation and, as senator of Illinois, highly influential, and Roy knows how the game is played. So he inclines his head and gives Hohenheim's kid a polite smile.
What he does not expect, however, is to get a miffed frown in response.
Roy blinks, bemused.
“Roy Mustang,” he introduces himself, in his most congenial tone, because that usually works best when he is caught off guard.
“Yeah,” Hohenheim junior says curtly. “I know.”
Of course he knows. By now, all Democrats knew Roy, if not by face, then at least by name. He is, after all, the most controversial of all candidates.
Roy clears his throat, turns to the side a little more openly. If there is one thing he knows how to do, it's how to manipulate a conversation via body language.
“I don't think I caught your name,” he says, with a small gesture that is not quite a wave. They are too far apart to shake hands, so anything else would be awkward.
In front of him, the young man only rolls his eyes.
“Edward,” he allows, audibly exasperated, “Elric.”
“I'm sorry,” he says. “I think I got you confused. I thought you were-”
“Yeah, yeah,” Edward waves him off. “I'm his son; I just didn't take his name.”
“Oh,” Roy says and knows better than to dig. “In any case, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
“Look,” Edward says, quite testily. “I know you're just here to lick some boots, but that doesn't work with me. I'm not gonna tell my father what an incredibly capable and charming chap you are so that he'll sponsor you. So just... shut your trap and leave me be.”
Roy opens his mouth, only to snap it shut again. For a moment, he cannot help but stare at Edward, but then he turns his head away, having to brace himself against the balustrade as chuckles shake his shoulders.
“What?” Edward growls.
“Nothing, just-” Roy ducks his head to cough into his fist in an attempt to calm himself. “It's been a while since anyone has been so candid with me. Well,” he amends, “Anyone outside my closest circle.”
“That's what's wrong with you politicians,” Edward tells him. “You just need a reality check every once in a while.”
“I won't disagree with you there,” Roy admits. “Most of the time, we do have our heads up our asses.”
“Then you better pull it out and enjoy the view,” Edward tells him, jerking out a nod to the estate below. The gardens, though not quite as beautiful as by light of day, lay skillfully illuminated in front of them, winding paths and rose bushes and all. “Or do you wanna go back to the boot-licking?”
“Not particularly, no,” Roy admits. “My tongue is already feeling somewhat fuzzy.”
A snort and he glances over, only to see Edward press the back of his hand to his mouth.
“Do you always mention the state of your tongue in polite company?” Edward asks with a grin and Roy makes a blasé face.
“I'm sorry, am I in polite company?” he asks wryly. “Because I honestly had no idea.”
“Oh shit,” Edward cackles. “What a sick burn. Call an ambulance.”
“I'm afraid I left my phone inside,” Roy returns. “Perhaps I could toss you into one of the fountain springs?”
“Pff, as if a paper-pusher like you could even lift a finger against someone like me,” Ed taunts, eyeing him from the side. “How old are you anyway? Fifty, fifty-five?”
“Thirty-five,” Roy says with some vindication, though Edward must doubtlessly know. After all, if Roy truly was elected, he would be the youngest president in the history of the United States.
“Aw, shit,” Edward says, “Isn't it past your bedtime?”
“That would be a whole lot funnier if you were old enough to drink,” Roy points out.
“Hey, I'm twenty-two, okay!” Edward snaps, a nerve obviously struck, and Roy finds himself honestly surprised.
“Are you the older brother then or the younger?” he asks.
“Older,” Edward says. “But not by much. Al and I are only eleven months apart.”
“Irish twins,” Roy whistles. “I had no idea.”
“Yeah, my dad's a slut,” Edward says lackadaisically and Roy almost chokes on his spit.
“Does he know you talk about him like this?”
“I've called him worse,” Edward shrugs, scrunching up his nose, and Roy has to wonder whether his impression of Hohenheim had been wrong after all.
For a moment, they stand in silence. They had slightly drifted toward each other while they talked and now they are standing only a few feet apart.
“You went to Harvard,” Edward notes, seemingly non-sequitur, but he is glancing down at Roy's hand and Roy remembers he is wearing his class ring.
“I did,” he says, cupping his other palm over the metallic shine, strangely self-conscious. He does not like to flaunt it but he knows that, within these circles, showing off that he is an alumnus would gain him recognition.
“Yeah, me too,” Edward shrugs. “Well. Graduating next spring.”
“Oh?” Roy cocks an eyebrow, intrigued. He himself had enrolled only after his military service; yet for Edward to be graduating so early is still quite a feat. “What major?”
“Law,” Edward says, pulling a face.
Roy laughs. “You don't sound very enthused.”
Another shrug. “I wanted to go to MIT. Study physics or something. Go to NASA.”
Ah. A sympathetic nod. “Your father wouldn't let you?”
“Nah,” Edward just shakes his head. “He doesn't give a fuck, really. Just... space travel sounds nice all but. I wanna help people now, y'know?”
“I do,” Roy nods, gives a chagrined little smile. “Believe it or not, but I'm one of those delusional idealists who are in it for the betterment of the world.”
“Ew,” Edward says. “Next thing you know you'll be talking about morals and socialism.”
“Hmhm,” Roy hums, putting on a face that wouldn't be out of place in a Shakespearean tragedy. “Better infrastructure. Health insurance. Publicly funded schools and colleges.”
“You're damn lucky I'm not a Republican spy or else I would have decked you by now,” Edward snorts.
“I don't think spies are supposed to deck people,” Roy muses. “Then again, Republicans are not known for their subtlety.”
“True that,” Edward agrees.
Another pause, longer but more comfortable than before.
At length, Roy pushes himself away from the railing.
“I should go back inside,” he says.
“Should you?” Edward asks.
“Probably,” Roy sighs. “My handler must be looking for me.”
“Your handler?” Edward cocks an eyebrow. “What are you, a dog?”
“With the way she orders me around, I might as well be.” Roy's shoulders slump. “She's my campaign manager, which is just a nicer term for slave driver.”
“Ooh, careful with that slavery comment,” Edward warns. “Loose lips sink presidential candidates more quickly than you think.”
“Are you going to tell on me?” Roy asks, watching as a shark-sharp grin pulls Edward's lips apart.
“Depends on if the money is good,” he says and Roy gives a disbelieving laugh.
“Guess I'll have to buy your silence then.”
“Seems like it, yeah,” Ed agrees but then turns away. “Get back inside, Mustang,” he says, “Those boots aren't gonna lick themselves.”
The next hour is spent with Roy flitting from conversation to conversation, complementing this dress, shaking that hand, recommending those oeuvres. His feet are sore from walking and standing, and his cheeks ache from smiling. If he has to hear another person try to badly imitate his Boston accent, he is going to bash his head against the wall.
It is therefore a lucky coincidence that he ends up running into Senator Hohenheim once more, this time accompanied by both of his children.
“Roy,” Hohenheim says pleasantly, waving him over. “I don't think you had a chance to meet my sons yet.”
“I don't think I did,” Roy replies, smoothly reaching out to reach the hand of who he now knows is the younger brother.
“Alphonse Elric,” the boy says. He stands not quite as tall as Hohenheim, but possibly with some room to grow still. His hair is cropped short and his eyes are moss green; there is something softer about his features that Roy suspects might come from his mother's side of the family. “Please call me Al.”
“Roy,” Roy offers in turn, and then comes face to face with Edward once more. Edward keeps his face neutral, close to bored even, no indication of having met Roy before, so Roy does what he does best and plays along.
“Roy Mustang,” he introduces himself, his hand squeezing Edward's. They hadn't done that before, he realizes. Edward's palm against his is warm and slightly calloused.
“Edward,” Ed says, already pulling back. “I'd say it's a pleasure and all but that remains to be seen.”
“They both go to Harvard, too,” Hohenheim reveals proudly. “Alphonse is in med school, but Edward does Law.”
“You don't say,” Roy pretends to be surprised. “How's it been treating you so far?”
“Eh,” Edward gives a one-shouldered shrug. “There's a new cafeteria that sells really good cheese bagels.”
“Is that so?” Roy smirks. “Is Professor Morris still teaching, by any chance?”
“That old cod,” Edward grimaces. “I hate him.”
“You wouldn't be the first,” Roy allows. “A young tradition, I believe.”
“Young?” Edward asks. “He must have been there for half a century.”
“As good as,” Roy knows. “He was already old when I enrolled.”
“So, like, forty years ago?”
“Edward,” Hohenheim admonishes. “Manners.”
“No, it's quite alright,” Roy laughs. “I guess, to someone straight out of middle school, most adults must seem ancient.”
Alphonse stifles a laugh in his hand, turning away, but then he is already caught in the side by Edward's elbow. Brothers, indeed.
They talk for a little while, about Harvard and Boston and then about Chicago and the charity gala. There're a lot of mindless pleasantries and some name-dropping, Roy subtly insinuating that he is still looking for some bigger sponsors, Hohenheim even more subtly hinting that he might be interested in supporting Roy in his campaign.
Some other people join them, Chicago's mayor and her husband, a local celebrity, a high-scale journalist, and by the time Roy manages to untangle himself, Hohenheim and his sons have moved on. Van's head can be seen above the crowd and Alphonse is standing over by the buffet, trying different kinds of finger food. Edward, however, is standing over by the door to the balcony. His gaze is fixed straight on Roy.
Roy smiles to himself and snags two flutes off the tray of a waiter passing by him. By the time he reaches the balcony, Edward is already outside. He is sitting on top of the balustrade, legs casually dangling, and Roy has to wonder whether he is doing it to be slightly elevated.
“Nice acting in there,” Edward greets him easily. , peering down his nose at him. “Even Al had no idea, and he is really good at reading people.”
“I wouldn't be a politician if I didn't know to fool people here and there,” Roy points out, leaning against the railing next to Edward and offering him one of the glasses. “A small token in hopes of buying your silence.”
“I don't drink,” Edward tells him, pointblank.
Roy frowns, though he does put the glass down, keeping the other for himself. “I thought you said you were old enough.”
“I am. But age is not an obligation,” Ed says turning up his nose. “Just because I am able doesn't mean I am easily convinced to do something.”
Roy narrows his eyes.
“Oh?” he says. “For example?”
“Well, I am old enough to drive but I'm a really shit driver,” Edward admits. “So road trips are out.”
Roy laughs. “I would make fun of you, but I'm really not much better.”
“Asian stereotype,” Roy agrees.
“Anything else?” Edward asks. “Honor roll student? Good at maths?” His gaze drops down. “Small dick?”
If Roy had suspected before that he was being flirted with, he was relatively certain now. In an effort to hide his amusement, he lifts his glass to his lips and takes a small sip.
“Well, two of those questions can be answered with a quick Google search,” he allows.
“Yeah?” Edward raises an eyebrow. “And the third?”
“I don't think that is a matter of public record.”
“Would you like it to be?”
“Are you planning to distribute any ill-advised pictures I might take?”
“Are you planning on sending me any?”
Roy grins, slow and sure. “I'm afraid I left my phone inside.”
“Guess you'll have to show me live then.”
This time, Roy has to be careful not to choke on his sparkling wine.
“Edward,” he says. “You are young, so perhaps you are not quite aware of how some lines shouldn't be crossed.”
“Oh please,” Edward lightly kicks at him and Roy does not bother to evade it. “You're just as bored as I am.”
It is close to midnight. A good chunk of the guests have already left. Roy's job for the evening was mostly done. And, he reminds himself, this might very well be the last chance he might get at having a little bit of fun before his campaign truly takes off.
With a big swallow, he downs the rest of his drink, already grabbing the other glass.
“Let's go for a walk,” he says, and offers Edward his arm.
From up close, the gardens are even more beautiful. White lights sits between roses of different colors, and the fragrance hangs heavy in the summer night. Roy undoes his tie and stuffs it into his pocket, finally breathing easy again.
If he had thought that the atmosphere between them would turn awkward now that mutual interest was confirmed, Roy is pleased to find that conversation still flows easily between them.
They talk about the wars in the world and the way the USA have left their fingerprints all over. They talk about immigration and exploitation, about public education and tuition debts. They talk about affordable health care and Edward's fists clench and his teeth grit and Roy changes the topic instead of asking for an explanation.
They talk of turning the world into something better before the world turns them into something worse.
They talk until their mouths are numb and then, standing by one of the fountain springs, they try to kiss some feeling back into their lips.
Edward kisses well, open, curious, with Roy's hands cradling his jawline, and his own fingers curled in the lapels of Roy's suit jacket. He tastes of soda and spit and summer sweat, and Roy is a little bit drunk, doesn't know whether to blame it on the alcohol.
“Will your family miss you?” he asks against Edward’s mouth and Edward shakes his head, barely even opening his eyes.
“Hohenheim leaves me alone, usually, and Al knows I like to go AWOL every now and then,” he says. “Why?”
“It’s getting rather cold out here,” Roy explains, though the lie is obvious. “I thought we could go up to my room.”
“Okay,” Edward nods, a little breathlessly. “Okay.”
They are careful to make their way back inside, to not let themselves be seen by anyone. The scandal, if they were to be found out, would be sure to ruin Roy’s run in this election. Because people might be somewhat alright with having an openly bisexual man running for president, but they would not like to read headlines about him debauching local senators’ sons.
Just the one, Roy amends as he unlocks the door to his room and lets them inside. Just for tonight.
Inside it is dark, so he steps over to the bedside table and turns on the small lamp that immediately casts a yellow glow over everything. Like this, Edward’s blonde hair looks golden.
“I’m afraid I’m not very well equipped for this encounter,” Roy tells him when he spots his bag of toiletries sitting in his open travel bag.
Edward scoffs. “Small dick after all?”
Roy sighs. “I don’t have any lube. Or condoms.”
“I- that is-” Suddenly, Edward appears flustered. “God, you asshole.”
Roy blinks, a dangerous suspicious creeping up on him.
“Edward,” he asks carefully, “You’re not a virgin, are you?”
“You bastard, don’t make it sound so stupid!”
“Oh my God,” Roy buries his helpless laughter in his hands. “A baby gay. I got seduced by a baby gay.”
“If anything, you’ve been doing the seducing,” Edward huffs, stepping closer to harshly poke Roy in the ribs. “And I’m not completely inexperienced, okay? There just wasn’t a lot of opportunity.”
“You’re in college,” Roy reminds him. “That is the best opportunity of your life.”
“Great, drunk people at parties. Frat boys. Guys who think they are the shit because daddy owns some stocks.” Edward looks annoyed. “Not to mention that I am busy, okay? It’s Harvard Law.”
“What about before?” Roy asks. “In school?”
“I grew up in a backwater town, in Johnson County, Iowa, population 2,800,” Edward points out. “Not a lot of guys to get frisky with behind the bleachers. Not to mention that I had to be careful extra careful with my old man being senator.”
“Point taken,” Roy sighs. “But still. Edward, I cannot… deflower you in some nondescript hotel room.”
Edward throws his hands up, his patience obviously running thin. “How has this suddenly turned into such a big deal?” he demands. “You weren’t gonna fuck me anyway. The least you could do is suck me off.”
“Why are you so keen on this anyway?” Roy furrows his brow. “Are you just looking for bragging rights?”
Edward grins. “Blown by the future president - don’t think there are many people who can claim that.”
“Fine,” Roy relents, shrugging off his jacket. “I’ll blow you. But only because you think I’ll actually make president.”
“You’re so easy,” Edward teases and reels him in.
They kiss again, with more force, more purpose than before, until Roy puts his hands underneath Edward’s ass and lifts him up. Edward makes a slightly alarmed noise but then Roy is already tossing him onto the bed, making him bounce on the mattress.
“I told you I could lift you,” he says when he sees Edward’s outraged expression.
“Oh fuck,” Edward says as Roy begins to unbutton his dress shirt. “I take back the comment about you being a paper-pusher.”
“I don’t know,” Roy smirks, “With the amount of paper I push every day, I get quite the workout.”
“Fuck,” Edward repeats, reaching out to pull him onto the bed. “Put your fucking hands on me.”
“Gladly,” Roy says and makes short work of Edward’s waistcoat and shirt.
Edward, as he had already suspected, is extremely well built as well. He’s got an athlete’s body, the type that comes from true strength and rigorous training instead of being merely maintained for looks.
“MMA?” he guesses and Edward gives a short nod.
“Capoeira and and Krav Maga, mostly,” he says, pushing Roy’s shirt off his shoulders.
“Well,” Roy acknowledges. “At least no one can say that I physically forced you.”
“Yeah, talking about sexual assault at the hands of a politician really gets me going,” Edward gags. “Shut the fuck up, yeah? Or better yet, get your mouth on my cock.”
“And here I thought this night would be somewhat romantic, what with the kisses under the roses,” Roy laments.
“Roses stink,” Ed huffs. “And anyway, chocolate is so much better.”
“And you trump chocolate,” Roy breathes, pressing his nose to the crook of Edward’s neck. The taste of salt is stronger here and he licks it off the skin with little ado. Some of the skin underneath is fingers is uneven, yet strangely smooth, and it takes him a moment to understand that Edward’s entire right shoulder is covered in a winding mess of scars.
Ed squirms a little but does not pull away from the exploring touches, so Roy takes it as a permission to keep going, though he does not ask about the origin of the injury.
This is just for tonight, he reminds himself, divorced for past or future. A bit of fun, a distraction from his many worries. There is nothing beyond that, no obligation, no meaning.
Edward sighs into a kiss and Roy catches his breath.
Roy does not sleep, only dozes and keeps an eye on the clock, an arm around Edward. It’s four in the morning when he carefully frees himself to step into the shower and then shave and brush his teeth. His hair is still damp when he slips into a different suit, putting the other fancier one back on his hanger. Then he zips up his bag, puts on his shoes and makes sure his phone is fully charged.
Edward’s smartphone is sitting on the bedside table and Roy hesitates for only a moment before reaching out and waking it up. There is no passcode so he only has to slide to the right to unlock it, and Roy shakes his head at the lack of security, thinking that a senator’s son really should know better.
It takes barely thirty seconds to save his number among Ed’s contacts, though he makes sure to only put himself in as ‘Roy’ and nothing more. He contemplates calling himself so that he has Edward’s number as well but then decides against it. The choice should be Edward’s, just as it had been all along.
His own phone vibrates with an incoming message from Riza, reminding him that the car is waiting outside. It is time to leave.
“Edward,” he whispers, gently shaking him until Edward's eyes open groggily.
“Edward,” Roy repeats, keeping his voice low for the moment seems terribly fragile. “I'm sorry, but I have to be at O'Hare in a couple of hours, and I didn't want to leave without saying goodbye.”
“Oh,” Edward mumbles, still sounding disoriented, but then his lips are on Roy's and they are kissing again.
In his hand, Roy’s phone vibrates for the second time.
“Sleep,” he tells Edward, pulling back. “And thank you for the wonderful night.”
Edward groans quietly, and turns onto his side, fast asleep again after barely having been awake. Roy does not allow himself to linger.
“You look like you haven’t slept at all,” Riza greets him, opening the car door with little fanfare.
“I don’t think three hours or not at all make that much of a difference,” Roy returns, well aware of how puffy his eyes must be.
“And here People thinks you are the most eligible bachelor of the year,” she notes with mild disdain and Roy ignores the sting he feels in his gut.
As an up and coming presidential candidate, Roy does not get much a chance reminisce. He travels around too much, sleeps in too many hotel rooms, talks to too many people in too many different cities.
He knows it’s good preparation. If he really makes president, touring around for his campaign will be child’s play in comparison. That doesn’t make it any more fun.
He tries to read during his downtime, some of the classics he never got around to picking up in school. He bought To Kill a Mockingbird at an airport store but can’t seem to make it past the first twenty pages. He reads the SparkNotes and Wikipedia entry instead, in case someone spotted him with the book and an interviewer wants to asks him questions about it.
His phone vibrates and he expects a message from Riza or an email notification.
Instead it is an unknown number which immediately has his guard up. This is his private phone, but that doesn’t mean no one might target him through it.
I’m bored, he reads but before he can even contemplate the message, there is another slew already incoming.
What are you doing?
Anything good happening?
Your campaign very campaign-y?
Been blowing any senator’s sons lately?
A cold shudder runs through Roy which then turns unexpectedly hot when he realizes who the unknown number might belong to.
Who is this? he texts back, just to make sure.
Aw man, that hurts, he reads only a moment late. Srsly, whom have you been blowing that you don’t remember me?
I have never blown anyone in my life, ever , Roy types out quickly, Especially not any senator’s sons named Edward who moan quite prettily when I make them come.
He waits for a reply, fervently hoping that this really is Edward and not some hack out for a good story. But then his phone vibrates with an incoming call from the unknown number and he quickly hits Accept.
“So you do dirty talk, too, huh?” Edward asks casually. “Too bad I’m only finding out about that now.”
“Pretty confident for someone who was blushing rather hard when I told him how good he looked with my finger in his ass,” Roy returns. There is heat sitting underneath his sternum and it seems to be spreading. “Are you still in Chicago?” he asks.
“Nah, back in my hometown, visiting my grandma,” Edward explains. “Driving back up to Boston next week, though. School’s starting soon and it’s pretty boring out here.”
“Driving?” Ro cocks an eyebrow. “I thought you said-”
“Well, we’re going back to Chicago first, and then we’re catching a flight,” Edward interrupts him. “And Al is driving, so I’m not gonna kill myself, no worries.”
“I was rather worried about whomever you might involve in an accident,” Roy notes. “I trust Alphonse is a better driver?”
“Yeah, he is. Drives like a little old lady, though. It always takes us two hours longer than necessary, just because he is so damn careful.” Edward sighs. “How about you? Still boot-licking?”
“Pretty much,” Roy groans. “Currently making nice in Alabama.”
“How are they liking you?”
“Well, I am not white, and I am not black, so my guess is: not so much,” Roy says. “Can we please talk about something else?”
“I don’t know. What are you doing at the moment?”
“Talking to you.”
A sigh. “I told you, I’m bored. I was thinking about watching some Netflix, but that’s boring on my own.”
“ Where’s your brother?”
“Out with… well, a friend. We don’t see her often, but they’ve kinda been hitting it off this year, so I thought I might give them some time alone. Told them I had a headache.”
“How generous of you.” Roy smiles. “And now you’re home alone?”
“Just lil ol’ me,” Edward agrees. “In this big empty house. Granny’s out drinking. The A/C conked out again. It’s hot as balls and I’m sitting here in my underwear in the middle of my bed.”
“Are you trying to initiate phone sex?” Roy asks. “Because it’s working.”
“See,” Edward teases, “I told you you were easy.”
“I never claimed otherwise,” Roy chuckles. “Just your underwear, you say?”
“Yeah,” Edward says. “Red boxers.”
Roy thinks for a moment. “The Harvard ones?”
“With the little emblems all over?” Edward asks. “Because yeah, those. What about you?”
“Still in my suit, I’m afraid,” Roy tells him. “I haven’t even taken off my shoes yet.”
“Fuck yeah, you look hot in a suit,” Edward groans. “Hot out of it, too. God, I wish you’d have fucked me.”
“Do you?” he asks hoarsely, wondering whether this just part of the dirty talk.
“Yeah,” Edward says and, by the sounds of it, he already has a hand in his little red Harvard shorts.
Roy lets out a slow breath, hoping it’ll calm him. Their night in Chicago had been supposed to a singular experience. He hadn’t meant to engage Edward further than that.
But then again, a treacherous voice in the back of his mind whispers, he had saved his number in Ed’s phones.
He licks his lips, slips off his dress shoes, pulls his feet up onto the bed and gets comfortable.
At the other end of the line, Edward’s breathing is growing more labored.
“Tell me what you’re doing,” Roy instructs and Ed laughs in a way that shows he had known it would come to this.
They keep texting and talking throughout the rest of the month. Edward is a breath of fresh air and he gives Roy something to look forward to when the days drag on for too long. He appreciates that, around Edward, he does not have to watch his every word, that he can make crude jokes and yawn and complain about his fellow candidates.
Edward has a juvenile humor and a sharp wit but, beyond that, sits a kind of honesty that Roy has been missing in his life.
Edward tells him when he sounds like a conceited prick, when his outfit that day looked crappy, when his speeches rambled on a little too long.
It’s a curious thing to have someone who knows him only so fleetingly look through him quite so easily, so intimately. If there were lines that they crossed with their first encounter, Roy now finds that there are no lines left at all.
Their conversations flit from Edward’s studies to what they had for lunch to some obscure Screamo band Ed has been mooning over to a famous actress Roy met to his political campaign.
It shouldn’t be this comfortable. There should be topics where Edward cannot quite keep up, subjects that make Roy feel left out of the loop - but it never happens.
They get into arguments, sometimes, when Edward is dead-set on a viewpoint because he doesn’t have all the information, but other times it is Roy who has to concede defeat because there are things he never quite considered before.
Edward, Roy slowly catches on, considers himself a working class kid. He gags at the amounts of money Roy has to amass to get his campaign going and speaks of the community colleges he had considered attending.
It’s strange, really, considering that as the son of a long-standing senator, Edward should have never had to worry about some of these things. And Roy wants to ask but he gets the feeling that this is not something he should look up online or ask over the phone.
Like this, the plan to meet up with Edward once they are both back in Boston happens almost all by itself.
It’s three weeks into the fall semester when Roy finally returns to Massachusetts, and another three days until he works up the nerve to call Edward and ask him out on a date.
“A date,” Edward echoes. “Are you gonna wine and dine me?”
“Well, you said you don’t drink but I did already buy you some expensive chocolates.”
“Chocolates?” Edward asks. “Seriously?”
“I was thinking flowers, at first, but I seem to recall you saying that roses stink,” Roy points out. “So? How about it?”
“Fine,” Ed says. “You better have bought some expensive condoms as well.”
So Roy Mustang, prime candidate of the Democratic party in the 2028 elections, goes to pick up Edward Elric, Harvard Law student and son of Doctor Van Hohenheim, senator of Illinois, and takes him back to his place to properly fuck him.
Edward, to his credit, does not act like a nervous virgin. He does not act like a spoiled rich kid. But he does not act like someone of his standing either.
He fleetingly glances around Roy’s apartment and then takes his time to inspect Roy’s extensive library. There’s an armchair sitting by the window, an old-fashioned globe next to it.
“You read all of those?” Edward asks, his fingers running along the spines of the books.
“Not all of them,” Roy admits. “I buy more than I really have time for.”
“Oh yeah?” Edward cocks an eyebrow at him. “A bit pretentious, isn’t it? Making people think you’re really this well read.”
“Perhaps,” Roy admits, stepping closer. He doesn’t put his hand to Ed’s lower back but he doesn’t have to. “But I take a certain pleasure in ownership.”
“Yeah?” he asks, glancing at Roy through his messy bangs, and Roy doesn’t have to say anything in return, content to let the tension sizzle a little.
Eventually, Ed makes himself look back at the books in front of him, moving along the shelves, until he eventually pulls a collection of poetry from in between some language textbooks.
“You speak Chinese?” Edward asks, waving a hand at the characters. “Mandarin or Cantonese or whatever?”
“Poorly,” Roy admits. “I took some classes in high school. Never really got the hang of it.”
“You were raised by your aunt, right?”
“Yes,” Roy nods. “Though, even if my mother had still been alive, she was a third-generation immigrant. As far as I know, she wasn’t exactly fluent herself.”
It was a point of consternation for many voters. Because yes, he was Asian American, but for the Americans he wasn’t American enough and for the Asian he wasn’t Asian enough. He was grateful that, after his death, Aunt Chris had taken him in without hesitation, but it had still ended up denying him that part of his heritage.
“Huh,” Edward says, “My dad’s third-generation, too. From Prussia , if you can believe it. He’s stupidly proud of it for some reason.”
“Yes, I had noticed that most white Americans tend to be able to trace back their ancestry for a hundred years at least,” Roy scoffs. “The rest of us are just Asian American or African American. I had a Japanese great-grandmother, did you know that? But everyone just focuses on the fact that my dad’s family was from Wales. What’s so special about Wales ?”
Edward’s reaction to his little rant is, surprisingly, a shit-eating grin.
“You are so much more fun in real life than on T.V.,” Ed says. “Hotter, too.”
“Cosmo did call me the cutest candidate since 2008,” Roy notes mildly, but Edward just rolls his eyes.
“I fucking hope people have more sense than electing their future president based on looks,” he snorts and Roy laughs.
“I think I have the political agenda to back up my campaign,” he points out. “Though I’ll take whatever positive press I can get.”
“Oh yeah?” Edward grins at him, stepping closer again. “Because if you give me a repeat performance of last time, I’ll be sure to write you a five star review on Google.”
“Repeat performance,” Ruy mutters. His hand reaches out to play with Edward’s hair. “I had rather hoped to step up my game a little.”
Edward’s grin only widens.
“Bedroom’s this way, right?” he makes sure and then marches ahead with more confidence that anyone should have in the face of one of the most influential men this side of the States.
When Roy follows and closes the door behind them, Edward is already seated on the edge of the mattress, peering down at the picture frame that stands on the bedside table.
“That better not be your secret boyfriend,” Edward jokes darkly, eyes narrowed at where Roy and Maes stand arm in arm, laughing. It had been taken at the Bat Mitzvah of Maes’ niece, because Maes always made a point of inviting Roy to all family gatherings.
“No,” Roy says, looking at the old photograph with some nostalgia. “My best friend. He’s dead.”
“Oh,” Edward says, hunching his shoulders. “I’m sorry. For- for your loss and for being a tit.”
“You couldn’t have known,” Roy tells him calmly, sitting down next to him. “It happened a few years ago. I think he would have liked you,” he feels the inexplicable urge to add, but he knows it’s the truth.
“Yeah?” Ed asks. “Why?”
“He was very bright, in all ways imaginable. Stubborn and quick-witted to a fault. Made dirty jokes to make me laugh at inappropriate times. Needled his way into my life quite efficiently.” Roy gives a lopsided little grin. “Rather like you, I should think.”
Maes Hughes had loved wholly and honestly. When he died, he left behind a wife and daughter, and a plethora of friends who never managed to recover from the loss.
“He encouraged me to run for office, actually,” Roy continues. “He was a fed, if you can believe it. Intelligence. Had access to certain files. And then he died.”
Next to him, Edward stills, but doesn’t say anything. And Roy has never had to tell anyone this, no one who hadn’t already known, in a way, but now he cannot stop himself. Edward should know what kind of person Roy is.
“Mugging gone wrong, they said. Put some homeless kid on trial, put him in jail. He died of a ruptured appendicitis a few months later. At least, that’s what the records say.”
Edward swallows audibly.
“You think it was a cover-up,” he says, still sounding somewhat strangled.
“I think,” Roy says slowly, “That there are many things going on behind the whitewashed facade of our dear old White House.”
“So you’re in it for revenge,” Ed concludes but, this time, these is no intimidation to be heard.
“Not revenge, per se,” Roy corrects. “Justice.”
“I think I like that better than the starry-eyed go-getter act from before,” Edward says, turning toward him.
“I do believe in making the world a better place,” Roy assures him. “I just think that, sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire.”
“Pretty hot,” Edward grins and kisses Roy.
Should Roy Mustang truly win in next year’s elections, he would be a man of many firsts.
He would be the first president less than forty years old. The first non-religious president. The first Asian American president. The first openly bisexual president.
It seems, before all that, he would become Edward Elric’s first.
Somehow, without either of them quite acknowledging it, Edward and Roy slide into a mutually beneficial relationship that could, for lack of a better word, be considered as something like dating.
So they have little rendezvous, sparingly, whenever Roy’s schedule allows for it. There aren’t a lot of options, of course, for fear of either of them being recognized. They go to movies, though it is always Edward who goes ahead and buys the tickets, and then they mostly sit in the dark back rows and make out. They go for walks, in the zoo or the arboretum, with scarfs pulled high and basecaps low.
Most people know Roy’s face by now, so he takes to dressing down and wearing black facial masks, whenever they meet, and Edward delights in the moment they are among themselves and he gets to pull down Roy’s mask and kiss him.
When they are a Roy’s place, they cook together, not particularly well, but always with gusto. When Alphonse is out with his many friends, Roy drops by so he and Edward can order pizza and watch shitty action movies.
It’s the early stage of their relationship, the weeks when the sneaking around still feels thrilling and exciting instead of tedious and oppressive. Roy is jaded enough to know that it will sour soon, but so happy that he just wants to enjoy the sweetness while it lasts.
And that is, of course, when they are found out.
It is one those evening when Alphonse is supposed to be working late in the lab, that Roy has managed to get out of a meeting early, and bought some popcorn on the way over to Ed’s apartment.
Ed’s in the kitchen, getting them drinks - a coke for himself, and a Pabst for Roy, because no matter how many times Roy tells him, Ed still only buys whatever brand he has seen at assorted frat parties - when the front door suddenly opens and Alphonse Elric walks in.
Roy hasn’t really seen him since that very first meeting at the charity gala back in summer, but he is probably still better prepared for this inevitable meeting than Alphonse himself is.
Alphonse stills, stares, carefully closes the door behind himself. Then he makes a small surprised sound and walks straight into the kitchen.
“Alphonse!” Edward yelps and drops what sounds like a beer can onto the floor.
“Brother, is that presidential candidate Roy Mustang sitting on our couch and eating popcorn?” Alphonse asks.
“Yeah?” Edward tries.
“Uh, yeah, see, him and me, we’re kinda, uh, fucking, I guess?”
Roy resists the urge to bury his face in the popcorn in an attempt to smother himself.
“What ?” Alphonse screeches quietly. “Isn’t he like father’s age?”
Okay, that does kind of sting, but Roy will forgive it, considering the extenuating circumstances.
“Oh my gawd, Al, no, that’s gross, why would you even say that?”
“Because politicians are always kind of father’s age.”
“He’s thirty-six, Al.”
“That’s a fourteen year difference!”
“Thirteen and a half,” Edward says petulantly.
“How long has this been going on? You only met him in, like, July.”
“Yeah, since then.”
Alphonse splutters. “Since the- Is that why you weren’t in your room that morning??”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
“Brother!” Alphonse sounds downright scandalized. “What will father say? Scratch that - what would mom say?”
There is a beat of silence, then-
“Don’t bring her into this, Al. Don’t blackmail me.”
“Brother, that’s not what I-”
“Yeah, whatever,” Edward says, but then he is storming back into the living-room.
“Let’s go to your place,” he says, stuffing his feet into the shoes by the door and grabbing his hoodie off the armchair.
“Alright,” Roy relents without objection, setting the bowl of popcorn aside and gathering his own things.
Alphonse stands in the threshold of the kitchen, arms crossed over his chest, and simply watches them leave with a torn expression on his face.
“Mom died when I was five,” Edward says the moment Roy starts up the engine. “Leukemia. She was sick way before that, so I didn’t really know any different. Fucking joke, too, considering she was a nurse herself.”
Roy doesn’t say anything, just angles the car away from the sidewalk.
“Toward the end, she got really bad,” Ed continues. “Kinda delusional. Al barely remembers it, I think, but I was scared shitless. She didn’t have health insurance, so we kept her at home the whole time.”
He’s chewing on his fingernails now, staring out of the dark window. “Granny - she’s not my real grandmother, just a neighbor - took care of her. Of us, too, really, ever since then.”
Roy frowns. “What about your father?”
But Edward just barks out a laugh.
“Was never around back then. He and mom had this sort of torrid affair back when she still lived in Chicago. He got her pregnant twice and then he wanted to focus on his career. Mom didn’t want us to grow up in the city and moved to Iowa. She was… fuck, twenty-six by the time she died.”
Twenty-one when she met Van Hohenheim, Roy does the math, a bitter taste in his mouth.
“Granny was a surgeon so she had some money saved up. She sold mom’s house, but there wasn’t much, y’know, so she covered the medical bills and the funeral costs, and that would have been it, really. We lived with her and Winry and we kinda made do.”
Ed swallows, bobs his head.
“Al and I were good in school. Like, really good. Our teacher encouraged us to go out of town and get some testing done, see whether we could get some scholarships or whatever, go to a better school. On the way there, our taxi got hit by a drunk driver. Fucking t-boned at 10am on a Friday morning.”
Roy’s fingers clench around the steering wheel, because he knows that Edward is alright now, but he’s seen the scars and he know what’s coming.
“The drivers were both out. Al was conscious for a bit but then he passed out, too. He was bleeding from a cut in his temple, but he just kept saying, ‘Brother, brother’, as though I was the one in trouble.”
Ed sniffs, wipes a sleeve over his nose. “I managed to squeeze myself onto the front seat and call help over the taxi’s radio. By the time the ambulance arrived, I had almost bled out.”
His fingernails dig into his palms, leaving stark white crescents behind.
“The surgeons wanted to take off my arm and my leg, but granny tore them a new one and they just put a lot of metal in me. Al was in an artificially induced coma for two weeks. Then it was physical therapy and sessions with a psychologist for months on end and, by the time we we okay again, the hospital bills were so high I thought it would have been better if I had never managed to call for help.”
“Is this the reason you don’t drink?” Roy asks.
“I guess,” Ed shrugs. “It’s kinda why I’m such a shit driver, too. I flinch at every unexpected movement. Not a good habit to have in heavy traffic.”
“I can imagine.” Roy purses his lips. “Is that when Hohenheim entered the picture again?”
A jerky nod. “Granny reached out to him. Told him, the least he could do was to cover the bills, considering he had just made senator.”
“And he thought it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce his two darling sons to the public?” Roy muses.
“Nah, he’s not that much of an asshole,” Edward allows. “He stayed away because he thought that was what mom wanted. But mom was dead and Al was super enamored with the idea of having a cool ivy league dad and shit. We kinda compromised on staying with granny but doing summer school in Chicago each year. Christmas is still super awkward, I tell you.”
“Does Alphonse think I’ll be like your father?” Roy wonders, because that little argument in the kitchen was what had gotten them here in the first place.
“What, that you’ll leave me with two kids out of wedlock in Bumfuck, Nowhere?” Ed asks. “Fat chance.”
For a long moment, Roy is silent.
“Do you see me as someone like your father who can give you the affection you have been missing in your-”
“Oh my God, Roy, shut the fuck up,” Edward groans. “I hit on you because I was bored and horny and because I wanted to see how far you would let things go. I knew you were bi and you were surprisingly fun to talk to and even hotter in 3D and, for some reason, I felt extra confident that night. Please stop psychoanalyzing me.”
“Alright,” Roy relents. “But if you ever feel the need to call me daddy-”
“I swear,” Edward threatens, “I survived one car crash, but I wouldn’t mind causing another.”
“Duly noted,” Roys says and keeps driving in silence.
When they get to his place, they don’t talk much. They brush their teeth and strip off their clothes, and Edward pulls an old t-shirt from Roy’s closet. It’s surprisingly easy to just crawl into bed like this, to not kiss, to just lie there with an arm thrown around Edward, tucking him close against his chest.
Surprisingly easy to forget that they’ve only known each other for three months.
In November, most of Roy’s campaign focuses on the East Coast, so he doesn’t have to travel far. Edward is neck-deep in preparations for his finals because, for all his lackadaisical attitude toward Harvard Law as such, he is astoundingly gungho about getting stellar grades in all of his classes.
Roy tries to help as best as he can, quizzing Edward over the phone and providing him with the notes he took back in Professor Morris’ classes. Alphonse seems to have reluctantly accepted that his brother was meeting with an older man, though he wasn’t accepting enough for Edward to have invited Roy back to his place since then.
It’s just as well. At Roy’s place, the bed is bigger than the water pressure much better.
They’ve just gotten out of the shower on a dreary Sunday morning, when Edward’s phone starts blasting a particularly annoying ringtone, audible even over the sound of him blow-drying his hair.
Roy nudges him and hands him the phone, watching as Edward glances at the caller ID and rolls his eyes before he shuts off the blow-dryer and picks up.
“Where the fuck are ye, Elric?” an annoyed Irish voice at once bursts from the speaker and Edward grimaces.
“None of your fucking business, you fucking mick,” he returns, smirking evilly when he gets an according reaction.
“I told you to stop fucking callin’ me that, ye faggot,” the man at the other end of the line says in aggravation. “And anyway, that doesn’t answer my fuckin’ question. Where the fuck are ye that you are not in the fuckin’ library like we fucking agreed?”
“Sorry, I had a hot date with one of the presidential candidates and I didn’t wanna cancel,” Ed claims with a wicked grin aimed at Roy who barely keeps himself from spluttering loudly.
“Ugh, gross, Elric, I coulda done without the mental image of you getting reamed by Archer.”
“What the fuck, Tringham,” Edward screeches. “Like I would ever fuck a Republican! I meant Mustang, of course!”
“Get the fuck outta here, Elric, Mustang is way outta yer league!”
“Tell yourself that, Tringham,” Edward scoffs. “Just stay where you are and I’ll be there, once Mustang is done sucking my dick.”
“Whatever, ye fucking fairy,” Tringham returns and simply hangs up.
“Is that the teenage vernacular these days?” he asks faintly.
“Not a teenager,” Edward reminds him sourly. “And anyway, that’s just how I talk to fucking Russell.”
“Then who is Russell, dare I even ask?”
“The bane of my existence, really” Edward shrugs. “He is in Biochem and we wouldn’t even really see much of each other, but he got my scholarship so he got it in his head
that he has to prove he is better than me or something.”
Roy frowns. “What do you mean, he got your scholarship?”
“ Well, I got a full ride for Harvard but then I figured that someone else might need it more, considering my old man is swimming in money,” Edward explains easily, as though it were no big deal, and Roy has to marvel again at how he managed to find someone so unique in a world that often to be made up of paper-cutouts.
“You, Edward Elric,” he says fondly, “Are a profoundly kind-hearted human being.”
“Shut up,” Ed grumbles. “I made Hohenheim pay for Al and Winry, too, so.”
“Ah, yes, even more charity disguised as extortion. A true Robin Hood of the modern day.”
“Look, I really promised Russell to meet him and the others, so you got like ten minutes to actually suck my dick before I have to get back to campus.”
“And they say romance dead,” Roys sighs and sinks to his knees.
“How was your study group?” he asks later that evening, when it is already past midnight and he is stumbling through the door after another grueling session with his team.
Campaign organization, Riza called it, while Jean muttered ‘War council’ whenever she wasn’t around to hear it.
“It was okay,” Edward yawns. “We all have different majors, so it’s not like we can really help each other. It’s just a way to stay focused. Whoever gets distracted first has to pay for coffee.”
“Is it effective?” Roy asks.
“Not so much,” Ed snorts, “Considering we’re a bunch of rich kids and not exactly hurting for money.”
“Who are your friends then?” Roy wants to know, though it seemed like a reach to call Russell Tringham Edward’s friend.
“Don’t let Russell’s mick act fool you,” Ed chuckles. “He went to Eton, and his father was Doctor Nash Tringham, a big guy in STEM, but he got cheated out of a lot of his money before he died. Then there are Ling Yao and Lan Fan, both the children of some Chinese politicians. Shezka usually hangs out with us, too, because she practically lives in the library. She’s a English Lit and Translations post grad, a fucking Brain on legs, I tell you, eidetic memory and all. Oh, and lately Al has been dragging along this girl, May Chang. She in Med School, too, but the kid of a local politician, I think?”
“May Chang?” Roy repeats, thinking for a moment. “Ah! Perhaps the daughter of April Chang; she’s on the city council.”
“... Is her mother called March or something?” Edward asks wryly and Roy laughs.
“I think it’s safer for you to ask May that, than for me to ask April,” he points out. “But anyway, are any of them graduating in spring?”
“Well, sure, Ling and Lan Fan and Russell. Why?”
“Because,” Roy says, his chest swelling with satisfaction, “I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the ceremony.”
“Holy shit,” Edward gasps. “Are you saying you’ll be speaking at my graduation??”
“If you manage to graduate, yes.”
“You idiot,” Edward says, but he is laughing. “That’s amazing. Do you think I could get away with kissing you in public and blaming it on my euphoria?”
“How about,” Roy proposes, “I kiss you in secret behind the bleachers and so we don’t have to blame anyone at all?”
“Deal,” Edward says and sounds truly genuinely happy.
Winter comes and with it gray days and too many things to do. Roy jet-sets from charity events to political rallies to caroling at Trinity Church. In-between it all, he barely gets to talk to Edward, much less meet him in person. It’s made better, barely, by the fact that Edward is drowning in finals and wouldn’t have time to see him either.
Thank you for not being a woman, Roy texts him cryptically when he is sitting in the backseat of the car after another long day.
You’re welcome?? Ed texts back at once. But why??
Because if I have to kiss another baby, I think I might puke.
We could adopt? Ed offers.
Great! Roy writes, I was at an orphanage yesterday and the merchandise looked okay.
You are awful and I am awful for laughing at your awful jokes , Edward replies, sending a long a number of smileys that are crying tears of laughter.
“Who’re your texting with, chief?” Jean asks from the driver’s seat, watching Roy through the rearview mirror.
“Ah,” Roy lies easily. “Gracia just sent me some pictures of Elicia. She cut her own hair yesterday.”
“You should take some time off,” Jean tells him. “Go visit them.”
“I’m staying with them for the end of Hanukkah,” Roy replies. “I already cleared it with Riza.”
“Some time for yourself, too,” Jean notes. “Schedule’s pretty free after Christmas.”
“There’s Kimblee’s New Year’s party in San Diego,” Roy reminds him. “Can’t skip out on that. Much as I want to.”
“That’s still at least three days for you to go and laze around in the sun. God knows you won’t have much time for it next year.”
“True,” Roy admits. “I’ll think about it.”
“You do that,” Jean says and turns his eyes up front again.
Roy looks back down at his phone.
What are you doing between Christmas and New Year? he types and hits send.
Nothing much, Edward replies. Why?
Care for a vacation? Roy asks and gives a private little smile.
They book two different hotel rooms, just for discretion’s sake, but the truth is they barely even leave the large bed in Roy’s suite.
Edward arrives at the evening of the 27th, so it is still technically Christmas when Roy presents him with a small nicely wrapped box.
“Merry Christmas,” Roy tells him as Edward eagerly tears at the paper, his eyes glowing like that of a child.
“Oh,” Edward says, when he wrestles the velvet casket open and a silver pocket watch falls into his lap. “A watch?”
“A little old fashioned, perhaps,” Roy admits. “But with your penchant of dropping your phone whenever you check the time-”
“Hey!” Ed complains, but then is inspecting the intricate ornaments that sit along the watch’s body.
“Open it,” Roy says and Edward pushes the small clasp, the lid immediately snapping open.
“E.E. & R.M.,” Ed reads out the fine engraving inside. “07/17/27.”
“The day we met,” Roy says, though he knows Edward already knows.
“You sap,” Edward says, grinning. “Why not go all the way and get a medallion with our portraits in it?”
“Too incriminating,” Roy points out. “People might catch you constantly gazing at my handsome face.”
“You shit,” Edward laughs and hits his shoulder. “Do you even celebrate?”
“Only the consumerism. I celebrated Hanukkah with my goddaughter and her mother, though.”
“Hmm,” Edward hums. “Still can’t believe we have an atheist candidate.”
“Agnostic,” Roy corrects. “Never say never.”
For a moment, the sit in silence, Edward playing around with the watch, running his fingertips over their initials.
“I didn’t really think to get you anything,” he admits at length. “I was so busy with finals, and then I was down in Iowa, and now we’re already here. I thought about getting you something at the duty-free, but that seemed even worse than nothing. But I’m really shit at gift-giving anyway, so I saved you some of the disappointment.”
“Edward,” Roy says, “You don’t have to get me anything.”
“Yes, I do,” Edward insists, somewhat petulantly. “Equivalent exchange.”
“The principle law of alchemy.”
“Alchemy,” Roy laughs. “What does alchemy have to do with it?”
Edward falls silent again, keeping his eyes on the clockface and the steadily moving hands.
“When I was little,” he begins, a strangely melancholic look in his eyes. “I had this book about alchemy. I think we bought it at a garage sale or something. It was really old and kinda waterlogged, but that’s what I liked about it. And then, when mom got worse, I became obsessed with it and made her read it to me at the time. Thought that alchemy was the key to eternal life and that I could save her. Didn’t quite work out that way.”
Roy gives a small smile, sad around its edges.
“You want to gift me eternal life?” he asks, relieved to see Edward laugh a little.
“No,” Ed shakes his head. “But I like the thought that, what you do for me, I can return in kind.”
“How about this, Roy says. “Every time you kiss me, I am simultaneously kissing you. Each time I make you laugh, I am laughing with you. Is that equivalent enough?”
“Yeah,” Ed says, leaning in for one of those kisses. “It is.”
They only have three nights together before Edward has to return to Boston, so they spend their days with sex and food, eating grapes and cheese in the hot tub and having breakfast delivered so that they can eat on the balcony before it gets too warm to be in the midday sun.
Roy loathes that they cannot really go outside, that they can’t have dinners at fancy restaurants or go for walks along the beach, even though Edward seems relaxed and happy and grateful.
They don’t speak of Roy’s campaign or of Edward’s exams, they don’t discuss Riza’s growing suspicion or Alphonse’s poorly kept silence over Christmas dinner.
Instead, Edward grows a golden tan with little effort while dutifully covering Roy in sunscreen, drawing smileys between his shoulder blades and giving him surprisingly skillful massages. Roy takes pictures, of Ed in bed, in speedos, or fresh out of the shower. And he looks at them and looks and looks, until they are burned into his memory, and he deletes every single one, for fear of leaving any incriminating evidence behind.
“Any plans for New Year’s Eve?” Roy asks on their last evening, when they are lounging on the balcony.
“Mmh, yeah,” Edward replies without opening his eyes. “Ling invited me to his first party,”
Roy frowns. “Has he never thrown one before?”
“Huh?” Ed perks up. “Oh no, he’s from Shanghai, so he celebrates Western New Year and Chinese New Year.”
“Ah,” Roy nods. “I hope you have fun.”
“Hmhm,” Edward nods. “You’ll be here then?”
“Yes, unfortunately. Kimblee’s party is kind of a big deal, so I have to show my face.”
Kimblee is a terrible opportunist, fickle as the wind, never quite aligning with one party, but happy to make nice with whichever politician he deems useful enough. Roy dislikes him immensely, but Kimblee has money and Roy needs money.
There is also the problem that Massachusetts and California are three hours apart which means Roy and Edward won’t even factually enter into the new year together. It’s a sobering thought, but Roy refuses to let it get to him.
“Come here,” he says, hooking an arm around Edward’s neck and dragging him close, lifting his phone and aiming shakily as he presses a kiss to Edward’s temple.
The photo ends up a little fuzzy around the edges, and Ed has one eye squeezed shut against Roy’s kiss, but he is laughing and there are freckles sitting across the bridge of his nose and, with the sunset bleeding red into the sky, he has never been more beautiful.
And Roy should deleted this one, too, he knows, should purge these past three days as well as he can so that no one may ever find out.
But he just sets his phone aside and promises to do it later, to do tonight, to do it tomorrow, to do it next year.
Roy has barely arrived at Kimblee’s party and made his obeisances, when he already steps out into one of the many hallways of the giant mansion, hoping to still be on time. Because for him it is only 9pm but, for Edward, it is very close to midnight.
He carefully glances in every direction before pulling out his phone and hitting speed dial. It takes a few seconds for the call to go through, a few more for it to be accepted, and then some until Edward actually speaks.
“Ling, you shit, let go of me, go kiss Lan Fan or a fucking desk lamp for all I care,” he says, and there is a small scuffle, a grunt, a yelp, and then Edward breathes into the speaker, the sounds around him slightly muffled, perhaps by a hand cupped around the phone.
“Hey,” he greets, obviously knowing better than to mention Roy’s name in public.
“Good to know you remain faithful to me,” Roy notes dryly.
“I swear, Ling can’t hold his liquor at all,” Edward complains. “He gets shit-faced every damn time.”
“It’s starting!” someone in the background calls in that moment, and then people are already counting down the seconds.
“I’m sorry I can’t be with you,” Roy rushes to say.
“It’s okay,” Edward tells him. “I don’t mind.”
“I wish we’d had more time,” Roy says.
“You don’t have to apologize.”
“I wish I could kiss you.”
“Then do,” Ed prompts.
So Roy pulls back a little and, careful to not accidentally end the call, presses a kiss to the screen.
“I love you, Edward,” he says, even as he hears cheers erupt from the other end of the line, people toasting and wishing each other well. Then he quickly hangs up, stuffing the phone back into the inside pocket of his suit jacket, and returns to the local festivities.
It’s only three hours and twelve minutes later, after Roy has kissed cheeks and shaken hands and drunken campagne, that something vibrates against his ribcage. He surreptitiously allows himself to pull out his phone and glance down at it, the screen a little smudged with fingerprints and a single kiss mark.
The message was probably sent on time, he suspects, three in the morning from somewhere in Boston, but the heavy traffic must have caught a slight delay.
The words themselves, however, ring loud and clear, like the best kind of New Year’s resolution, and Roy has to duck into an alcove so no one will notice his giddy little smile. All in all, he thinks, reading and re-reading the words on the screen, it has been a wonderful year.
Love you, too, bastard.
Whelp, this took a while to wrap up, even though most of it was already written, but somehow the ending was giving me trouble. Hope you like it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Their bliss cannot last.
It’s two weeks into new year and a cold and windy day in New York City, made even poorer by the sudden shift from moving from the West Coast all the way back to the East Coast.
The entire team has been in a foul mood all day and Roy would have blamed it on the weather, if it weren’t for the particularly pinched expression on Riza’s face. He knows he is in for a dressing down before they even climb out of the car.
The elevator ride up to their hotel rooms is silent, Riza primly holding her briefcase in front of her, her fringe slightly-windswept but otherwise looking immaculate in her pinstripe costume.
He wonders what he did this time, whether he was overly familiar with someone’s wife, whether he made an ill-timed joke or mispronounced some foreign name, but speculation will do him little good. Most of the time, preparing arguments to plead his case will only make everything worse, so the better option is just to bite his tongue and nod along to whatever she says.
She follows him to his room without comment, lets him unlock it and then steps inside first, waiting for him to properly close the door. Then she sets down her briefcase and turns around to face him.
“Senator Hohenheim’s son, Roy?” she asks plainly, and that is so completely unexpected that Roy chokes on his own spit and has to cough for a couple of seconds.
Riza just watches him coolly, obviously quite alright with letting him die like this, if only to save herself the trouble.
“I-” Roy begins when he catches himself, briefly contemplating whether he should try to talk his way out of this. But Riza Hawkeye knows all his tells and, even worse, Riza Hawkeye knows better than to make baseless accusations.
“How did you find out?” he asks instead, his shoulders slumping.
“You have a photo on your phone,” she says. “And you left the app open. How utterly careless can you be?”
“That is my private phone,” Roy points out. “You had no right to look through it.”
“I’m not just talking about the phone, Roy,” she says and now she is beginning to pace up and down, which is always a bad sign.
“I knew you were seeing someone,” she says and, absurdly, Roy cannot help but compare her tone to that of a jilted wife. “I just appreciated you keeping it quiet. God knows I cannot expect you to completely give up your personal life. But this, Roy? This ? I just don't understand you.”
“That’s right,” Roy says. “You don’t understand.”
“Openly bisexual,” she continues, shaking her head. Single strands are coming loose from her sensible updo, brushing against her cheeks. “We thought that would give you a leg-up from the liberals and the younger generations. We thought it might make you an icon for the LGBT community. And now? This stunt is sure to get you labeled as promiscuous at best, and a pedophile at worst.”
“He was already twenty-two when we-”
“As soon as you have to use that argument to defend yourself, you have already lost.” She stops, lifts up her hand, thumb and forefinger held only an inch apart, “We were this close to the White House.”
“We still are,” Roy tries to assure her. “You are making a big deal out of nothing. Edward and I have been very careful. He doesn't want this getting out any more than I do.”
“I just cannot believe you're endangering our campaign like this,” she tells him. “And for what – the occasional fuck on the side?”
Hearing Riza swear is rare. So, somehow, it feels even more jarring to have her demean his relationship with Edward like this.
“Please,” Roy says, lifting a cautious hand. “Don't call it that.”
“What,” she demands, “Are you telling me that you are not fucking him in-between important political appearances?”
“It’s rather more complicated than that.”
“Roy,” Riza insists, “Our sponsors might drop you if they find out you’ve been using their money to play sugar daddy to some barely legal boy toy.”
“First of all, I only ever used my own money and I get to spend it however I want to,” Roy says. His nerves are frayed by now and his patience right along with them. “Second of all, he is not my boytoy.”
“But that is what all the media outlets will be labeling him as, once they get wind of this.” She braces her hands against her hips, staring him down. “How long has this been going on? You first met him in Chicago, right? At the, what was it, prostate cancer thing?”
“Brain tumor patient charity gala,” Roy corrects her.
“Right, brains,” she hums. “Not prostates and penises and too much testosterone.”
“Riza,” he says, pained, closing his eyes so he won’t have to see her disappointment quite so blatantly. “Do you really think so little of me?”
For a long moment, there is silence.
“Roy Mustang, I want you to be completely honest with me now, or else I am going to walk out of this room and never come back,” Riza says, her tone leaving no room for doubt. “Do you love him?”
“Yes,” he says. “God help me, but yes, I do. And I know you think he is too young, but he loves me, too, and I believe him, I have no choice but to believe him, and I have never been happier than when he is with me.”
Another pause, this one a little less severe.
“Does anyone else know?” Riza asks.
“His brother,” Roy says, rubbing a hand over his face. “He can be trusted.”
“What about the senator?”
He shakes his head. “They are not particularly close.”
“Will he get disowned over this?”
“I doubt it.”
“Roy, if anyone ill-meaning makes this public, you better expect the nastiest shitstorm that has ever come your way, and then you can kiss a future in the White House goodbye,” she explains. “Not to mention which consequences he might be faced with. Is he even out yet?”
“To most of his friends, I think. Though…”
“Though what?” Riza asks sharply.
“There was never anyone before me.”
“You are telling me you didn’t just fuck Senator Hohenheim’s son, you actually deflowered him?” she ascertains, her perfectly plucked eyebrows disappearing underneath her fringe. “I am beginning to think the Republican press might not be too far off when it comes to their defamation attempts.”
“If you are quite done with flagellating me, could we please move one to the part of your job where you tell me what the best course of action is?”
“Ideally, I would travel back in time to castrate you before you ever even met that boy,” Riza says tersely. “Or, I would tell you to break up with him before any actual damage is done. However,” she adds, stopping him with a raised finger. “I know you would violently object to that.”
She gives a huge sigh, the weight of the world or at least that of Roy Mustang’s follies settled on her shoulders.
“So,” she adds, “I will advise you to be less reckless when meeting with him. To treat him like the prince he is, without unduly spoiling him in a manner than can be held against you. In the meanwhile, I will come up with a plan to turn this into something less dangerous.”
“Riza,” Roy says, “You are an angel.”
“Turning into Lucifer, maybe,” she mutters under her breath. “I will be expecting a raise, just so you know.”
“Anything for my game-winning Queen.”
“Edward,” he says later than evening, holding his phone at an awkward angle because they have a Facetime date but his arms are tired. “Riza found out.”
At once, Edward blanches.
“Oh God,” he says, “How- what- Is everything okay?”
“Relatively speaking, yes,” Roy admits. “She just put me over her knee, so to speak, and told me in great detail what an tremendous idiot I am and that I am risking our entire campaign.”
Edward says nothing in response, his lips pursing, and Roy realizes how he must have sounded.
“Hey,” he says, more gently. “That has nothing to do with you. She would have reacted like that in any case.”
“Roy, I am well aware that I am not the best choice for a discreet liaison, especially not for someone in your position,” Edward says. “I know I am too young and my father’s son, to boot, but don’t act as if this were even half as much of a problem if I were a woman.”
It wouldn’t be. There had been enough politicians and even presidents with much larger age differences to their spouses, or with some other questionable relations.
But Edward is a boy, a very pretty boy from an influential family, and those who didn’t know him would call Edward naive and Roy manipulative.
“Your birthday is next week,” Roy points out, not quite a change of topic.
“I know,” Edward says. He looks like he is forcibly trying to smooth out the frown lines on his face; it doesn’t quite work.
“Anything in particular you want?” Roy asks. “I could bring you a souvenir from New York.”
“A dick in a box,” Ed says. “And by ‘a dick’ I mean yours, and by ‘a box’ I mean my ass.”
Roy gives a laugh, a little weak, but still liberating. Somehow, Edward manages to be both high-maintenance and low-maintenance at the same time, and it never fails to amuse Roy.
“I think that can be arranged,” he says. “I’ll be back on the 18th.”
“Then I politely request that you fuck me into the 19th. I can take my morning classes off. We can do brunch or some such shit.”
“No fancy dinner?”
Edward’s grin falls a bit.
“Ling got it in his head to throw me a party,” he says. “Or, well, just kinda pizza and movies at his place, I guess. I can’t really bail out.”
“That’s alright,” Roy replies. He tries to tell himself that a college party is not his idea of a fun evening anyway, that he does not want to meet any of Edward’s friends. “After all, I have the honor of fucking you into your 23rd birthday.”
Roy flies out to a debate in Texas and it wouldn’t be much of a problem, apart from it being, well, Texas where Democrats already have a notoriously bad track record. But then he gets out of his coat and unwinds the scarf from around his neck, and Kain gives a mortified yelp.
No really pays it any heed, because Kain has a habit of walking into tables or biting his tongue when he is not even talking, but then he keeps flailing and starts tugging at Riza’s sleeve.
Riza, slightly more alarmed now, follows his stare - only for her eyes to widen as well.
She gasps and,without saying anything, she is already pushing Roy down into one of the chairs, tugging at his collar.
“What?” Roy demands, resisting the urge to elbow her out of his personal space. “What on earth is hap-”
“Hickey,” Riza growls. “You have a hickey the size of Canada and, if it would help, I would cut off your head. I told you to be careful! Vato! Handbag!”
Vato jumps into action, tossing her her handbag before anyone else has even really registered her words, and then she is digging out a case of powder and a tube of bb-cream.
She holds it up to Roy’s neck, curses, more of a hiss really.
“Too dark,” she says, probably comparing it to Roy’s skin tone. “Kain! There was a CVS down the road. Go and buy some of the lightest foundation you can find. Ivory or nude. Try it out on your wrist. And a green concealer.”
“What is foundation?” Kain whispers, panicked, but the other men just stare at him just as helplessly, and so he just runs for the door.
“How much time to we have?” Riza demands.
“Five minutes,” Heymans says, checking his watch.
“I have some powder in my briefcase?” Roy offers hesitantly. He hated when he saw pictures of himself online where he had an oily sheen.
But Riza just glares.
“I bit of powder is not going to hide that fact that 40% of your neck is purple,” she points out.
“We could say you almost got mauled by a cougar,” Jean says in an attempt to lighten the mood.
“Nah, the lobbyists are just going to use that as a pro-gun argument” Heymans points out and the corners of Jean’s mouth pull down.
“Cougar, my ass,” Riza mutters, just loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Ooh,” Heymans says with a grin. “Younger than you, chief?”
“I don’t see how that is relevant,” Roy says, slightly strangled, though he does blame it on how Riza is still half-choking him with his shirt collar.
“Or maybe not a woman,” Jean throws out.
“Maybe both,” Heymans adds, and the two of them laugh, only to stop very quickly when they see the dour look on Roy’s and Riza’s faces.
“Oh shit,” Jean says. “Seriously?”
“You got balls, chief,” Heymans chuckles, though now he looks a bit uneasy as well. They all know that they are always walking on a minefield; Roy has simply been doing the equivalent of an enthusiastic tapdance.
“We have no time for this,” Riza says impatiently and simply begins to slather a liberal amount of bb-cream onto Roy’s neck. “Vato! Briefcase!”
Vato delivers and sets Roy’s mineral power right into her open palm. She applies it, too, blending and blending, and then pimping Roy’s collar and tightening his tie to near suffocation.
“Do not sweat!” she tells him and Roy nods. He is much more likely to piss himself anyway.
“I’m sorry,” Edward whispers on the phone that night.
Roy has his tablet propped up against his thighs, scrolling through the headlines. He hums, clicks on a particularly outrageously phrased link and grimaces at the HD picture of his neck that immediately pops up.
“I should have known better,” Edward says. He must have seen the news, too, and without a Riza to save him the trouble, he must have already scolded himself for his carelessness.
“I didn’t exactly stop you either,” Roy notes mildly. He knows Edward has a penchant for biting, but usually it was Roy’s thighs that got all bruised up, a compromise they had agreed on months ago. But their evening together had been good and heady and they had lost track of their usually boundaries.
“The good news is,” Roy adds, “That absolutely no one suspects you,”
The most popular theory was that Roy had been given the hickey by Solaris, wife of his Democratic rival Aharon Shram, as people seemed to misinterpret her glaring daggers at him as violent passion. Rather more down-to-earth, if still untrue, was the speculation that he and Riza had been a thing all along.
They would make such a beautiful couple, a more benevolent article argued. Granddaughter of Maryland’s governor Charles Grumman, with a militaristic yet secular upbringing, she was as smart as she was beautiful, and a man like Roy Mustang needed a strong woman like her by his side.
What would they write about Edward, he wonders? Would they point out how he is fluent in five languages and has been doing martial arts since he was nine? Would they mention his love for children and animals, his hatred for milk and his fear of needles? Would they know that Edward had to grow up too quickly for too many reasons, but that he jumps into puddles like a little kid whenever he gets the chance?
It’s not about how good we look on paper, Roy muses. It is about how much we love.
“I’m going to tell the rest of my team,” he reveals. “I thought I could avoid it, but it’s just as well. Kain can monitor our electronic exchanges and make sure our security is up to his standards. And Vato will be prepared for any legal accusations that might come our way.”
“This is a big ol’ mess, isn’t it?” Edward asks and he sounds more dejected than Roy has ever heard him.
The truth, however is, that he is right.
It’s a mess and there is very little Roy can do about it. His rivals and the media outlets had made allegations about him having a secret affair way before he even met Edward; now they have confirmation, and they wouldn’t stop talking about it any time soon. Each aspect of his life would be scrutinized and, first the first time in his life, Roy understands why so many people in the public eye chose to live in gated communities.
“We’ll muddle through,” he says, hoping to sound if not optimistic then at least confident.
Since the team found out, Jean has been volunteering to pick Edward up from inconspicuous places to drive him over to Roy’s apartment. The car windows are tinted, but Edward has to lie down in the backseat, just to make extra sure that no one spots him.
Edward laughs it off as a minor inconvenience and points out how Jean is at least a better driver than Roy, but Roy cannot help the queasy feeling that sits in his stomach each time.
Jean, in turn, is bemused by Edward’s quirkiness and his foul mouth, but they both bond over being Iowa country bumpkins.
“I get it, I think,” Jean says, after Edward has swept into the apartment, kicked off his boots, pulled Roy down for a kiss, and disappeared in the bathroom because ‘Oh my God, I need to piss like a horse!’ “He makes no demands, huh?”
That’s not quite it, though Roy makes no attempts to try and explain it. Edward Elric makes plenty of demands, and many of them are met easily enough. Then there are the others, quite a bit more difficult, demanding that Roy grow into the best that he can be, that he make good of his promise to change the world for the better.
But the other demands, the ones that Jean means, the ones for status or marriage or monetary compensation, those have never entered the equation.
Ed wants food when Roy is hungry, sleep when he is tired, orgasms when he is horny. Complacent, someone who doesn’t know him might call it, but the truth is that they are just beautifully in tune.
Edward will take what Roy can give, however much or little there is to be had. He also knows when Roy is being a little shit and making mountains out of molehills.
“So here’s the thing,” Edward begins one day and Roy already has his guard up.
“What?” he asks.
“Winry is coming up for spring break and she is staying at our place, obviously, because she and Al are dating now and all that, so she is kinda bound to notice that I am also seeing someone.”
“So, considering Al is my little brother, and Winry is like a sister, I figured maybe we could tell her, too?”
Roy pulls a grimace. “Riza doesn’t like too many people knowing.”
“Oh, come on,” Ed groans, “Just last month, you told your entire fucking team.”
“Yes, because I know they are trustworthy.”
“Roy Mustang,” he begins in a tone that would put Aunt Chris to shame. “Are you telling me your ragtag little gang of mathletes is more trustworthy than the girl I have known my entire life and whose grandmother has literally helped give birth to me?”
“How do you know we were all mathletes?” Roy demands, shocked.
“It’s in the trivia section of your Wikipedia page!”
“Are you stalking me?”
Edward’s face does something very complicated where it switches between different degrees of outrage, but finally he just settles for bodily throwing himself onto Roy and tackles him down.
They wrestle around for a few moments, none too gentle because they know the other can take it, but eventually Edward comes out on top, sitting astride Roy’s lap, bracing his hands on his chest.
“So?” he asks. His braid has come loose and his hair falls around him like a golden swatch.
“So what?” Roy counters.
“Can I tell her?”
“Yes, you can tell her,” Roy sighs. “I’ll even do you one better.”
“I’ll personally come to meet her.”
Alphonse goes to pick Winry up from the airport, while Edward busts out some fancy strawberry tarts he bought at a nearby patisserie and Roy helps by setting the table.
The Elrics’ apartment is, in no way, the typical dive of a penniless college student, but their dining table is a little rickety, their dishes a bit chipped. Roy feels strangely at home.
It is, he realizes with some trepidation, the first official date he and Edward have in front of other people. Alphonse has seen them, every now and then, but he usually leaves them alone, obviously not wanting to intrude on their rare time together. Jean is acting more as a chauffeur than a friend, and he only ever catches glimpses of Roy and Edward saying hello or, more bittersweet, bidding each other goodbye.
Today, the two people who know Edward best were going to have to accept a third into their fold and that is, in its own way, more intimidating than stepping up to the podium in a presidential debate.
In that moment, the key in the front-door lock jiggles and both Edward and Roy hold their breath, exchanging a quick look. The door opens and in waddles a rather broad-shouldered blonde girl that Roy has only seen on photographs so far. Her eyes, however, are obscured by Al’s hand as he marches her forward and into the room, kicking the door shut behind himself.
“Al, this is ridiculous,” she complains, though she makes no move to dislodge his hands, tightly holding on to her duffle bag.
“Brother,” Alphonse whines. “I haven’t told her yet.”
“What?!” Edward yelps, arms flailing. “Why?!”
“Because I wanted to lead up to it slowly so she wouldn’t make me crash the car.”
“Hey!” Winry complains, elbowing him, but gently.
“I tried to mentally prepare her so I told her you were seeing an older Asian American man whom she might have seen on T.V.,” Alphonse explains haltingly. “But now she is convinced you are dating John Cho.”
“I did consider going into acting when I was sixteen,” Roy confesses, nervously adjusting the placement of one of the teacups. “But my aunt told me I was too short and that I should rather become a despot.”
“Wait,” Winry says slowly, her nose scrunching up under Al’s fingers. “I know that voice…”
And finally, Alphonse sighs and lowers his hands while Roy puts on his most debonair smile.
Winry stares, the duffle bag falling from her grip with a low thud.
“Oh my God,” she says. “You’re Roy Mustang.”
“And you are Winry Rockbell,” he offers. “Curious how we already know so much about each other, isn’t it?”
Yet Winry is still staring.
“I would assume this is a prank, if I didn’t think that you probably have no time for anything like that,” she says, her voice hollow. “So does that mean… this is for real?”
“Yes, Win,” Edward says. Roy would have expected him to be gleeful and giddy, but instead he is just weakly leaning against the kitchen counter. “It’s for real.”
Winry throws him a look that says she would probably give him a dressing-down quite similar to the one Roy had received at Riza’s hands, but that she would save it for later, when they were more alone. She’s only a week older than Edward, Roy remembers. Practically twins and so much of an older sister in her stance that it would be endearing if the circumstances weren’t quite so tense.
But they have tea and make smalltalk, Alphonse inquiring about Winry’s studies and the job offers that have been flung her way. She is a engineering major at the University of Iowa and apparently quite the prodigy in her field. Like Edward, she will graduate in a few scarce weeks but finds herself inhibited by not wanting to leave her aging grandmother alone.
Their conversation turns toward Edward’s graduation, which had luckily been scheduled for the week after hers, and to the fact that Roy will be holding the commencement speech.
“Isn’t it weird?” Winry asks, sucking bit of cream from her spoon. “Him being so much older and maybe the future president?”
“Isn’t it weird?” Edward counters, vindictively spearing a strawberry with his fork. “Al and you having grown up like siblings and now sucking face whenever you get the chance?”
“I regret the day you were born, Edward Elric,” she tells him but with that the topic seems to be laid to rest for the time being.
Afterwards, Al and her offer to do the dishes together, standing by the sink, kissing and giggling and oblivious of the world around them. Later, they will go to the art exhibition of one of Al’s friends and then eat out, a proper date, with selfies and held hands and no fear of being spotted by paparazzi.
“Do you think we look like that?” Roy muses from their spot on the couch, his arm slung around Edward’s waist. “So oblivious and in love?”
“I dunno,” Ed hums, apparently not quite comfortable yet with watching his brother and his foster sister be all lovey-dovey with each other. “No one ever really sees us.”
A breath lodges itself in Roy’s throat, quite painfully, even though he knows Edward didn’t mean anything with his throwaway comment. So he just pulls him closer, into his side, and buries his face in Edward’s thick hair, the familiar scent of shampoo.
They are sitting in bed and it is still quite early, but Roy has an appearance on a morning show tomorrow, so he knows better than to stay up too late.
Four weeks until the primaries and he feels it in every fiber of his being. By this point, he could not afford any more slip-ups, none at all, as Riza had drilled into him again and again. If anything, false security would be his downfall.
The Hickey Affair, as the tabloids had taken to calling the incident in Dallas, had been a bit of a set-back, but he was still the most popular candidate, next to Aharon Shram. Shram was tall, handsome, eloquent and highly devout, if Jewish Orthodox. He had a stellar record at Columbia University where he had met his equally impressive wife Solaris who would doubtlessly make a fine First Lady. New York, in particularly loved them.
According to the polls, Mustang and Shram are currently going neck on neck, something that has inspired more than just one journalist to use obscure horse race metaphors.
“What are you doing?” Edward asks, sticking his head through underneath Roy’s arm like a curious cat, peering down at the small laptop.
“Writing my commencement speech,” Roy says, barely suppressing a yawn as he angles the screen toward him.
Edward blinks. “You write your speeches yourself?”
“Not all of them,” Roy admits. “That'd be too much. Do you know how many events I have to attend? But the big ones, the important ones, I try to do myself, depending on the occasion.”
There are so many things to remember, so many key points to address, that is is a thing of near impossibility to keep his speeches clear and concise.
Breda always goes over the drafts, he has a way with words, knows how to keep them from turning too labyrinthine.
“You better write something good,” Edward tells him. “The ceremony is gonna take hours and it’s gonna be boring as fuck, for the most part.”
“And what constitutes as ‘something good’?” Roy asks, amused.
“I want to hear at least one dick joke,” Edward decides. “More, if you are feeling frisky.”
Roy chuckles. By then, he might already be the official candidate for the Democratic party. Frank Archer, the Republican favorite, only had a few years on Roy, and he was slick and smooth like Kimblee, yet with none of Roy’s easy charm and humor. Yet Harvard’s graduation would be live streamed and recorded, and Roy could use the opportunity to engage with younger people, many of whom would be voting for the first time.
“I’ll see what I can do,” he promises Edward, typing DICK JOKE??? into his notes in the margins. Maybe Breda could help him with that, too.
I voted for you! Edward texts him the day of the primaries, right along with a photograph of a self-made ballot, obnoxiously drawn with crayons
I vote Mustank! it reads and, A vote for Mustang is a vote for Mustang! , right beside a poorly drawn version of Roy with the head of a horse.
Edward knows better than to desecrate his real ballot like this, or to make photographs of it. Due to his preparations for his finals, he had also already done an absentee vote a few days prior.
Now, it’s nerve-wracking hours of waiting and Roy going over his victory speech and, alternatively, the interview answers that paint him as a graceful loser.
“You want a beer, chief?” Heymans asks, offering Roy a cooled Budweiser, a sandwich in his other hand.
“If I consume anything but air right now, I think I might throw up,” Roy tells him honestly, and Heymans barks out a laugh.
“You texting with Aurum, then?” he asks, more quietly. Aurum, the code name they had given Edward because they couldn’t use his name openly, and because Roy was Platinum and gold stood next to it on the periodic table.
“Yes,” Roy says, inclining his head. His fingers around the phone clench but its screen darkens. “Though I should probably focus on the job.”
“Nothing much to do right now,” Heymans shrugs. “I saw Armstrong skulking around outside, though.”
Roy blanches. “The governor?”
“Of course not,” Heymans rolls his eyes. “Little Armstrong. Or, well, y’know what I mean.”
Olivier Mira Armstrong, Governor of Alaska, was a force to be reckoned with and Roy would rather pull out his own toenails than make conversation with her right now when his nerves are already so frayed. Her younger brother, Alexander Louis Armstrong, however, was a dear friend.
Much less ambitious and vicious than his sister, Alex had been an ardent supporter of Roy’s, the first big sponsor of his career. The Armstrongs were an old family, and there was money and influence behind their name.
“Bring him in then,” Roy tells Heymans. If anything, Alex is always good for a laugh, if a intense at times.
He glances back down at his phone, pulls up the ballot Edward drew for him. He contemplates what he could say in response, something equally witty that will have Edward guffaw with laughter where he is sitting in the library, hunched over his books. But then Heymans is already back with Armstrong in tow, and Roy has to slip his phone away.
“Alex,” Roy says, reaching out to him, even though he immediately feels dwarfed by the much larger man. “So good to see you. I didn’t know you had flown in.”
“I am mostly here to express my well-wishes in person,” Alex tells him, squeezing Roy’s hand in his, surprisingly gentle as always. “And to deliver my sister’s greetings and promises of her continued support, no matter the outcome of the election.”
“Really?” Roy asks, his eyebrow twitching, because that does not sound like the Olivier Armstrong who has repeatedly threatened to run him through with one of her many ceremonial swords.
“Well,” Alex amends. “She didn’t say it in quite so many words.”
Roy chuckles. “I figured. In any case, I am happy to have you here. Any words from outside?”
“Nothing new, really,” Alex says. “Shram is too radical for the middle, and you are too unconventional for the right. They keep asking whether Riza will take on the duties of the First Lady, should you get elected.”
“Oh please,” Roy says in disdain. “It’s not as if I were the first unmarried candidate - or even the first unmarried man in the Oval Office.”
“True,” Alex allows. “But the people like seeing a man who knows what he wants in life, who won’t be swayed by temptations on the wayside.”
I know who I want, Roy thinks but bites his tongue against it.
“A divorce always looks worse than bachelorhood,” he points out instead. “For now, I can fully concentrate on the campaign and then, hopefully, on the job. It wouldn’t be fair to bring a spouse into this and have them play the second violin from the beginning.”
“Of course, Roy, and I understand you completely,” Alex agrees. “But I have known you since you were twenty-two years old and never have I seen you do anything out of pure indulgence. You don’t eat or drink in excess. You don’t read books without educational value, and you dance at parties only to get into the good graces of whoever’s toes you are not stepping on.”
Oh, Roy had drunken in excess, right after Maes’ death, but Riza had pulled him out of that funk rather quickly and set him back on his path to the White House.
The memory is a bitter reminder, heavy on Roy’s tongue like the taste of whiskey.
“No rest for the wicked,” he tells Alex and grabs a Budweiser after all.
When the final results are in and the announcement made, Roy walks onto the stage mechanically, waves mechanically, smiles mechanically, shakes Shram’s hand mechanically.
He steps behind the podium, adjusts the microphone, slips his cue cards from his jacket. In front of him stands a see of blue, loud and roaring, t-shirts with his name on it, little flags, balloons. Green Day’s American Idiot is blasting from the speakers because Roy is a millennial and Heymans thought it would be funny to pick it as his official theme song.
“Well, maybe I’m the faggot America!” Billie Joe Armstrong shouts, “I’m not part of a redneck agenda!”
And then the music fades and Roy puts on a congenial smile, waiting for the bulk of the cheers to calm as well.
“And here we are,” he says, “Weeks and months later. It has been a long journey, one that is not yet over. I am a man of the law, but I am also a man of science. Recently, I was reintroduced to the concept of alchemy.”
A few scattered laughs, from those who know what alchemy is and that it can be considered bonkers.
“Alchemy. The belief that, with the right ingredients and a certain amount of dedication, you can turn anything into gold. Apart from the fact that anything like that would quickly lead to a kind of inflation, I think there is some merit to it, at least on a metaphorical level.”
He pauses, lets the words sink in. Sometimes, it is difficult to remember that the majority of his audience is not made up of Harvard graduates.
“In order to obtain or create something, something of equal value must be lost or destroyed,” he explains. “That is the rule of equivalent exchange. I believe that what the people do for the country ought to be returned by the country. By the government, by the politicians, by me.”
He places his hands on the sides of the podium, braces his weight on it, leans closer to the microphone.
“You are more than the top 1%! You invest taxes and labor and your children’s future into state and the states of this country! You deserve to be repaid in equal measures!”
Cheers and cries of agreement. The little flags wave happily. Somewhere a balloon pops.
“A vote for Mustang is a vote for Mustang!” Roy tells them, stills, laughs at his own little mishap. “And a vote for Mustang,” he corrects, “Is a vote for equality in all things!”
The crowd applauds and calls his name, and Roy knows he has to put his money where his mouth is.
There is champagne which tastes quite awful, sharp perfumes that sting his nose as he kisses cheeks, smiles that are whittled into ivory daggers when his gaze is met. Piranhas, the lot of them, just waiting for him to fall into the water.
But Roy talks and smiles and smiles and talks and pretends that he has never been in a better mood.
It’s only toward the end of the night that Aharon Shram apprehends him again.
To Roy he has always seemed like a stoic man buts according to rumors, he has a tendency to fly into fits of rage. Now, though, he seems very calms.
“I wanted to congratulate you on your win,” Shram says, shaking his hand again, this time without the oppressive glare of the cameras on them. “And promise to support your in the rest of your campaign.”
‘Anything but Archer’ had been the catchphrase among Democrats these past months, and Shram quite obviously shares the sentiment.
“You seem to be taking your loss quite well,” Roy notes, honestly somewhat surprised. He hadn’t expected Shram to be a sore loser, but his lack of reaction is almost disconcerting
“I am,” Shram agrees. “I simply realized I ought to concentrate on my family anyway.”
He glances over at his wife how is talking to some other party members, lowers his voice a little. “We just found out that Solaris is pregnant. She had two miscarriages before; I was worried the stress of the next months would be too much for her.”
The downside of having an election made up entirely of young candidates - none of them are quite done with their family planning yet. Frank Archer has to two daughter, but even those are under six years old.
“I that case, I wish you the best of luck,” Roy smiles. “And who knows, perhaps, in four years, we’ll be facing off against each other again.”
“Perhaps,” Shram nods. “Time flies, after all.
Time, Roy thinks numbly as he sits in the dark of his hotel room. A little more time would have been nice. Time for Edward to grow older, time for them to become more certain of each other, time to announce their relationship to the public.
He hadn’t hoped to lose the primaries but, perhaps, it wouldn’t have been too bad. A minor setback, four years, eight, before he got another shot. Over forty by then, a good age to become president. A good age to settle down. And, he reminds himself, the White House has never had a First Gentlemen.
But that is not where tonight has led him.
He could drag it out, of course, wait to see whether he even ended up as president at all. But that, he knows, wouldn’t be fair. He cannot expect Edward to sit on the backburner, to become a consolation prize in case Roy’s immediate plans don’t work out.
He’d end it quickly, quietly, he thinks.
Not right now, because Edward is writing his finals, his true finals, and cannot afford any distractions. Not on Commencement Day either, because that would just ruin Ed’s graduation, and Roy does not not want to hold his speech with tears stuck in his throat.
June perhaps, when Edward was moving up in the world and realizing that mooning over a man who aimed for the stars and stripes is as a waste of his time.
June, he promises himself. Eleven months since their first meeting. A year is nothing, in the grand scheme of things. And Edward is young. A decade from now, he would look back and laugh at it all, maybe write his memoirs about having been blown by President Mustang.
I knew you would win but I am still stupidly proud of you , reads the message that Roy still hasn’t answered. Once you get back, I’ll reward you accordingly. ;)
Roy pulls the comforter over his head and forces himself to fall asleep.
The campus is just as Roy remembers it. He has been here often enough, since his own graduation, but he still cannot shake off the nostalgia clinging to his every step.
The sea of black and red regalia filling up Tercentenary Theater looks just like it does every year, just that the banners read Class of ‘2 8 this time around.
“Congratulations on your win in the primaries,” Edward says and shakes his hand, as though they had not had a celebratory fuck as soon as Roy had been back in Boston. “My father is in attendance today; if your have the time, I am sure he’d like to congratulate you in person.”
Roy knows he should have anticipated the possibility that Edward, thanks to his GPA and overall achievements, would be valedictorian and therefore seated on the stage as well, but it still takes a considerable amount of effort to keep his face in check and his eyes to himself.
No one should look this damn attractive in a set of baggy robes but Edward Elric somehow manages to pull it off anyway.
Edward, in turn, seems to be thinking similar things of Roy if the way he eyes him hungrily is anything to go by.
“Wonderful!” Roy says with a winning smile. There’s an olive-skinned woman sitting next to Edward who had introduced herself as Rosé Thomas and who is apparently majoring in social studies. She’d perked up the moment Roy had needlessly introduced himself and is still avidly listening to their conversation.
“I’ll be glad to meet him,” Roy adds, his glance sliding back to Edward. “I think I haven’t seen him since that charity gala in Chicago.”
“Yeah, I remember,” Edward says slyly. “What a night that was.”
“Indeed,” Roy says, hoping that Miss Thomas can hear neither the furious thumping of his heart nor the hidden meaning in Edward’s words.
At length, the ceremony is officially opened and Roy’s speech is grandly announced to the audience. There’s a storm of applause as he stands up, walks to the podium and shakes the dean’s hand. He feels his cap slip on his head and pushes it back slightly; then he speaks.
“ Veritas ,” he begins somberly, letting his gaze sweep over the still eager crowd. He knows, from experience, that their attention would waver as the ordeal went on, so he plans to keep it short and sweet.
“When I first enrolled in Harvard, I was a bit disappointed,” he admits. “Other universities seemed to have better mottos, heftier words. Per aspera ad astra. Lux et Lex. Pro humanitate . - They all seemed so impressive and profound, a much better option for any ill-advised tattoos. Not to mention, they make you sound smart by throwing some hedge Latin around.”
He pauses, lets the polite laughs die down.
“Yet we only got this,” he continues. “Veritas. Truth. But what is truth if not the most powerful tool? It can be a weapon, disarming, cutting, brutal. It can be a pen, to write laws and love letters and little reminders to ourselves to do better. We raise young children to tell no lies and then scold them for their honesty.”
He had been lucky, in that regard. Aunt Chris had never minded him his little lies, had respected his privacy and he, in turn, had paid her back by keeping no dire secrets and keeping his teenage rebellion to a minimum. I can trust you if you know to trust me, she had always said, and she had been right.
“Now, I’m not saying that little white lies are the root of all evil,” he admits. “Sometimes we lie about whether we really like someone’s dress. We lie about how our grandmother’s food taste wonderful, and maybe we even lie about our shoe size on the whatever dating app we use.”
There, that is as blatant a dick joke as he feels comfortable using. He hopes Edward will be satisfied with it.
“But truth is found in action and in speech, in promise and in deed,” Roy explains wisely. “We should strive for truth in all aspects of life. In science, education and research. In politics and business. In art and media. In all of our relationships.”
He bites the inside of his cheek, wonders whether behind him Edward is inwardly snickering at the irony of it all. Then he plows on.
“But if there is one person, we always ought to be honest with, it is oneself,” he knows. “Because the lies we tell ourselves are the ones that take root the deepest and are the hardest to escape from.”
Roy says all this and scolds himself a liar.
Roy had never thought that he might one day be faced with the decision of having to choose between his career and his personal life. But here he is, on this day, the opposing extremes of his desires finally clashing against each other.
People come and ask for autographs, for selfies, for a chance to shake his hand and plant their names in his memory, vague hopes of networking as one face blurs into the other in front of his eyes.
But Senator Hohenheim is there, as is Edward’s quasi-grandmother Doctor Pinako Rockbell. Alphonse and Winry greet Roy politely, as though they hadn’t seen him sneak kisses from Edward as they were doing the dishes just a couple of weeks ago.
After the initial congratulation on his win in the primaries, Roy subtly guides the conversation, letting them know that he does not wish to talk shop. They make idle smalltalk instead, discuss changes on the campus, the professors that have aged well, Edward’s own inspiring speech.
Edward’s other friends are there as well and Roy does not let on that he recognizes Russel’s Irish accent or Ling’s teasing voice, just wishes them all the best for their future, praises their academic efforts.
“I’m melting in this thing,” Edward complains at length, tugging at his robes. Like Roy, he is wearing a suit underneath, and the weather ispositively sweltering. “When can I take it off?”
“Not yet!” Winry exclaims, brandishing a sleek camera. “Photos first!”
Edward groans, but in a way that shows he doesn’t really mean it. So he poses with his friends and his family, in various combinations, and then Winry winks and says, “Hey, Ed, don’t you want a photo with the future president?”
Edward laughs and rolls his eyes at her, but Roy can tell he is secretly pleased, that he had waited for an excuse, that this is Winry’s way of showing her support in one of the few ways she can. What a sad thing to know that it would all go to waste.
“It would be my pleasure,” Roy says easily, even though it stings, because perhaps he is more selfish than he had thought.
“Well then,” Edward says. His cap sits roguishly tilted on his head and he gives a mock little curtsy with the robes.
Roy places his hand on Edward’s shoulder, enough space between them that no one will grow suspicious, and then they smile and smile and smile as Winry rapidly takes a number of pictures.
“Trisha would be so proud,” Roy hears Hohenheim say off to the side, a sad smile perched on his face as talks to Doctor Rockbell.
If only he knew, Roy thinks vaguely. If only he knew that I’ve been fucking his son this whole time.
“You’re quiet today,” Edward notes when the little photo session is over and everything grows a little calmer again, everyone talking in their little groups.
“I already held my speech, I’m out of words,” Roy claims. “Not to mention that it’s your day. I don’t want to steal the spotlight.”
“Pfff,” Edward blows out a breath and the little stubborn strand of hair that always stick up on top of his head moves with it. For a moment, he doesn’t say anything.
“You promised me something, remember?”
Roy frowns, caught off guard. “I- am afraid I don’t.”
But Edward just grins up at him.
“You said you’d kiss me behind the bleachers,” he points out and it’s a bittersweet reminder of another time.
“Not many bleachers around, I think,” Roy stalls, glancing around. Helpers have already begun gathering up the white folding chairs and clearing Tercentenary Theater. “Not much privacy either.”
“I know a place,” Edward says, beckoning him along with a nod of his head, heedless of those around them. And Roy knows he shouldn’t but their robes make them nearly indistinguishable from the everyone else. This is the least he can do for Edward.
So he follows him, down one of the many paths, past Loeb House and toward Quincy Street. There is a small copse of trees, barely that, really, just enough to hide themselves away behind trunks and shade and canopy.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Edward says. His fingers are on the trimming of Roy’s robes, not pulling them open, just playing with them in a curiously shy manner.
“Well, I was invited by the school board,” Roy says evasively, but Edward just pulls a face.
“I know ,” he says. “And what a lucky coincidence that the guest of honor would just so happen to be my very famous boyfriend.”
“I knew it,” Roy laments tragically. “You only want me for my fame.”
“Nah,” Ed smirks. “Your dick’s pretty good, too.”
“I’m relieved to hear that. Did you like my dick joke, too?”
“It was decent,” Edward allows. “Would have preferred an indecent one, but I guess we can’t have everything.”
“No,” Roy murmurs. “We can’t.”
Their time is limited. They would have to return soon, ere their absence was noted by anyone.
“I got something for you, actually,” he says.
“You did?” Edward asks and his eyes are glowing because he loves getting presents, no matter how big or small.
“Just a little something,” Roy tells him, “To remember me by.”
He reaches inside his robes and pulls the ring from his pocket. It’s almost identical to the one Roy is wearing, safe for the year at the side of the ring, right above the three tomes spelling out Veritas - and for the personal engravings on the inside.
He had ordered it custom-made weeks ago already, long before he had made up his mind to let Edward go. The words, however, remain true.
“I don’t think I can return this one,” Roy says, feeling unusually self-conscious. “So I hope you didn’t buy one yet.”
Edward shakes his head, for once struck mute. His hand comes up of its own will, offering itself to Roy.
Slowly, not wanting the moment to be over too quickly, Roy slips the class ring onto the fourth finger of Edward’s left hand. It fits, perfectly, just as Roy had known it would.
Specks of sunlight fall through the foliage, making the metal glint on their hands, and Roy wishes for an encore, for a miracle, for an answer to the questions that keep boring holes into his guts with every passing day.
On a beautiful day in May, they stand in the shadows and kiss.
June. June, june, june, and Roy postpones the inevitable and muddles through his days.
“You look sad,” Edward tells him on the phone. “You won’t talk to me and you look sad.”
“Just tired,” Roy replies. “The jetlag makes it worse.”
Perhaps, if Roy turns bland and boring, if he has no more time to spare, it will be easier on Edward.
“You should rest some,” Edward says. “Drink some tea - no alcohol! When you come back, I’ll give you a massage, and kiss you until you run out of breath, I’ll-”
“I have to go now,” Roy cuts him off, as rude as he can make it without sounding deliberate. “Duty calls.”
“Oh!” Edward says. “Oh, of course. Text me when you get back.”
“Sure,” Roy says and hangs up. He does not text, he does not call. He turns his private phone on airplane mode and his heart right along with it.
“Everything alright, chief?” Jean asks, moving an unlit cigarette back and forth between his lips. “You look like you’ve been put through the wringer.”
“How do you get someone to dump you, Jean?” Roy asks and the cigarette falls from Jean’s mouth.
“Wow, rude,” Jean says, pulling a face at him. “She got an offer to work for CERN, okay, how was I supposed to compete with that?”
“Nevermind.” Roy shakes his head. “Perhaps we should all just concentrate on the job.”
“Easy for you to say,” Jean grumbles. “But someone of us would like a nice date every once in a while.”
Roy does not bother to correct him.
After the first weeks of June pass slow like molasses, each day dragging on in a manner that is almost painful, everything suddenly happens very quickly.
They are scheduled to return to Boston in the morning, and Roy repeatedly picks up his phone and puts it down again before he can bring himself to compose a message.
Edward , he types. Are you free tomorrow?
Of course! Edward writes back at once.
Roy takes a breath. Could I meet you at your place sometime in the afternoon?
Not really, everything here is a mess, Edward replies. I’m in the middle of packing up my stuff and there’s barely any room to sit.
Right. Roy had almost forgotten that Edward had been planning to return to Chicago and work for a non-profit organization over the summer. Edward had apologized about it, too, because it would make it even more difficult for them to meet in those months, while Roy knew that by that time it wouldn’t matter anymore.
My place, then , he allows, biting the side of his thumb. It’s not ideal, but privacy is paramount. Havoc will pick you up.
Sure thing :) Things have been boring here now that school’s out, so I’ve really missed you.
I’ve missed you, too , Roy admits, closes his eyes, contemplates his next words.
In that moment, there is a sharp rap on the hotel door. Roy startles, but stands, walks over to open it. He is surprised to see Breda stand outside, an unusually harried expression on his face.
“Chief,” Breda says, but his gaze drops down to the phone in Roy’s hand as though he knows exactly whom he had been texting with. “Riza wants to see you.”
“My guess is someone saw you, seized the opportunity, whipped out their phone, and then took their time trying to find the highest bidder. They could have gone for blackmail, but this was probably easier.”
Riza’s steps are sharp and soldier-like as she marches up and down in front of Roy. Her heels dig into the carpet.
“This,” she says, “Might well be the scandal of the year.”
The photographs are beautiful, quite artistic and not blurry at all. They really capture the mood of the moment - and the identity of the subjects.
In the picture on the left, Roy is just slipping the class ring onto Ed’s finger. In the other, they stand and kiss with their eyes closed.
Roy can barely breathe around the lump in his throat as he keeps staring down at the accompanying headline.
Caught in the act - Mustang’s Illicit Affair
There’s not much substance to the article itself. It identifies Edward as Senator Hohenheim’s son, points out the obvious that the pictures were taken at graduation day and that Roy held the commencement speech, and they allege that Roy’s infamous Dallas hickey must have been Edward’s work, meaning their relationship has been going on since February at least.
The thing is, there doesn’t need to be substance. They could be making up outrageous lies and people would still buy into it, simply because of those two pictures of a very private moment.
“We… we were so careful,” Roy says faintly. His hands shake but he cannot bring himself to set the tablet down. Riza just shoots him a stern look.
“Not careful enough, obviously,” she says. “Roy, I warned you about this, I told you it was too risky to keep going-”
“I was going to end it,” Roy hears himself say. Vaguely, he registers how Riza comes to a sudden stop, openly staring at him. “I was going to end it tomorrow. And now…”
He trails off, uncertain. He doesn’t know what will happen now.
Riza takes a deep breath.
“Didn’t you tell me, back in January,” she reminds him, “That you love him?”
“I do,” Roy nods. “Of course, I do. That’s why… it wouldn’t be fair to string him along. I just want what’s best for him.”
And that isn’t me.
“So let me get this straight,” Riza says. “You’ve been entertaining a very risky relationship for almost a year because you claimed the both of you were in love, but now that you want to break things off to protect him, we’ve got hordes of reporters knocking on our doors because you couldn’t keep your hands to yourself during a very public event? Are you fucking kidding me, Roy Mustang?
Silver tongue, he had famously been called after a particularly challenging debate, because Roy always knows what to say, no matter what his rivals throw at him, and he does it with charm and cunning and stupidly good looks.
Now he is out of words and perhaps Riza understands this, too.
“I’m going to need to talk to him,” she tells Roy. “It’s probably long overdue anyway. I never heard his side of everything.”
“Yes,” Roy relents. He feels hollowed out, yet indescribably heavy. The photographs still stare up at him, almost mockingly with how beautiful and happy Edward looks. Roy wonders whether Alphonse or someone else has sent him the article yet. Wonders whether he will have to be the one to do so.
It’s ironic, really. When Roy had been forced to choose between his love and his calling, he had thought it to be the cruelest thing. But now it turns out that he cannot have either, and he is finally proven wrong.
Edward, despite his business casual and the resolute jut of his jaw, looks like a student that has been called into the principal’s office for some stupid prank he pulled.
They hadn’t kissed when Ed had walked in. The atmosphere was not right for that; perhaps, it would never be again.
“Well, if nothing else, I am happy to finally make your acquaintance,” Riza says pleasantly enough, but Edward is having none of it.
“Can we please just get to the part where you chew me out for being an irresponsible menace who seduced someone very inappropriate?” he asks, his arms crossed in front of his chest.
“I already did that with Roy yesterday. Today is for strategy.”
Edward gives a suspicious frown. “Okay?”
“We have to figure out how we are going to handle the press. And this entire thing, to be honest.”
Thing, as though that wasn’t a year of their lives. As though it couldn’t have been their future, if circumstances had only been a little kinder.
“What, other than you kicking me to the curb and telling me to never get close to him again?” Edward huffs. His gaze cuts over to Roy and away again. They both know this is no longer just about them.
Riza, however, surprises them both.
“That would definitely be the worst approach to be taken right now,” she says, carefully folding her hands on the conference table. “When you get accused of murder, you don’t silence the rumors by very publicly discarding the weapon you used. You convince everyone that you never commited a crime to begin with.”
“Uh what?” Ed says.
“We will not deny that you and Roy have been involved,” she elaborates. “Instead, we will play into it.”
“We will?” Edward asks. This is obviously not what he had been expecting when he had been brought here.
“Yes,” Riza nods. “How committed are you, Edward?”
“Committed? I don’t-”
“Riza,” Roy interrupts because he has a terrible suspicion were this is going. “That’s not quite what we discussed.”
“But it’s the best option, this close to the elections,” she points out. “Archer has been gaining support, and you will never recover from a personal scandal quickly enough to still come out on top.”
“And how long is this spiel meant to continue?” he asks. He feels very brittle, very exhausted. “Say I win the elections. Should I just string him along for the next four to eight years? I cannot do that.”
A decade of Edward’s life, wasted on Roy Mustang and his poor decisions. Roy had already asked too much of him. He would not let it continue.
“You're pretty damn sure of yourself to think that you'd get re-elected after the first term.”
The tone of Edward’s voice, more so than the words itself, make Roy look over at him. Edward has his lips pursed and is glaring at him.
“Pardon?” Roy says because this is not quite the reaction he had been expecting.
“If you wanna break up with me, just fucking say so,” Edward scoffs. “But don’t go all martyr on me to save yourself some of the guilt.”
In the span of just twelve hours since the article was published, even more evidence has popped up all over the place.
A selfie of a middle-aged woman at a park with two men holding hands in the background, Roy in his mouth mask only identified by Edward’s presence by his side. A movie-goer who claims to have seen them meet outside the theater. A nosy neighbor who allegedly knows all about it. Even a picture of Roy standing at the podium as he holds his speech, with Edward grinning off to the side, suddenly holds a myriad of accusations.
This is just the beginning. The is a foretaste of how their lives would be picked apart as soon as Edward became anything more permanent in Roy’s life than what he has already been.
So yes, Roy would become a martyr. Yes, Roy would flagellate himself and be crucified by the public. But he would not let Edward be felled for Roy’s sins.
But Ed knows how to read Roy and he has never taken any of his bullshit.
“What’s on the inside of my class ring?” he asks, and Roy’s shoulders tense. There are many things he has expected from Edward, tears and insults and even empty threats of violence, but this is not it.
“I don’t quite see how that is-”
“What does the engraving on the inside of my class ring say, you bastard?!” Edward demands angrily, too impatient for Roy’s evasiveness.
So Roy bows his head in surrender.
“Love always,” he says, “R.M.”
“Exactly,” Edward hisses. “Was that a lie then?”
“No,” Roy says, his hands clenching around each other. With mortification he can hear himself choke up. “Edward, you have to believe me, none of it was ever a lie.”
Christmas last year, he had given Edward a pocket watch to measure their time together. For graduation he had given him a ring that promised forever.
“Well, there you have it,” Edward says and abruptly stands up. He grabs his phone off the table and stuffs it back into the pocket of his blazer.
“I’m in,” he tells Riza, as though that explained anything. “And you ,” he adds, twirling around and pointing a finger at Roy, “Better pull your head out of your ass!”
And then he is out the door without sparing them a backward glance.
“Hm,” Riza says, just a small surprised noise high in her throat. “I think I like him.”
And that is how Operation Alloy begins.
It had been Vato who came up with it, a play on Roy and Edward’s codenames Platinum and Aurum. A mix of two precious metals. A union.
They drop some hints here and there, schedule appointments, move on with business as usual. Roy gets a stern phone call from Aunt Chris and a more sympathetic one from Gracia, and Edward goes back to Chicago.
They still text, still talk on the phone, the tone of it a bit terse. Edward is still angry and Roy unconvinced. The outside world has eaten its way into the core of their relationship and is destroying it from within.
Finally, they publish the article. It nicely written, smooth and unassuming in a way that makes everything look a bit better. Suddenly, all their small stolen moments come in handy, the little tokens of affections they’ve kept between each other for the past months.
Fight fire with fire, Riza had said with a truly dangerous smile and then gone to raze the ground.
So there is the picture that Winry took on graduation day, with Roy and Edward side by side, looking proper and accomplished in their Harvard robes. Another one from when she had visited them over spring break, quite domestic, of Edward, Alphonse and Roy laughing in the kitchen as they prepare dinner. And then there is the selfie, the one that was never meant to be seen by anyone, from those precious days in San Diego, of Roy pressing a kiss to Edward’s sweat-salted temple.
Would people see the truth in those pictures or would they simply write them off as a desperate attempt of the Democrats trying to save their asses? And would it even make a difference anymore or was it already too late?
Questions, questions and, once more, Roy has none of the answers.
Mustang confirms relationship
Mustang who has been named the most eligible bachelor of 2027 by People magazine, was spotted in a private moment with Elric after holding the commencement speech at Harvard’s graduation ceremony. The photographs sparked speculation over the nature of his relationship to the twenty-three year old. Mustang initially declined commentary on the matter but now issued an official statement. “To quench any more outrageous rumors, our office would like to announce that Roy Mustang is indeed romantically involved with Edward Elric,” said Mustang’s campaign manager Elisabeth Hawkeye, going on to explain that the two had met at a cancer charity gala back in summer and struck up a conversation.
A lot of objection comes from Mustang’s opposition, especially in the form of Republican candidate Frank Archer who implied that the relationship was proof that Mustang was too easily “distracted by pretty things but not tough enough for the job.”
“I don’t quite see how that is relevant to the matter at hand,” noted Aharom Shram, who lost against Mustang in the primaries. “Mustang still has my full support. Throughout his campaign, people have been holding it against him that he had no partner - now it turns out that he does, but it isn’t the right one. There will always be complaints. If he does become our president, he deserves to have someone worthy by his side.”
And worthy Edward Elric seems to be. Recently graduated summa cum laude, the son of Illinois senator Van Hohenheim and the late nurse Trisha Elric has been leaving his footprints during his time at Harvard Law, an active member of the student council and several humanitarian organisations. “One of my best students,” praised Izumi Curtis, Elric’s professor from when he had taken additional courses in Bioengineering “just cuz”.
“Yes, I did know about him and Mustang,” says Russell Tringham, fellow Harvard graduate and close friend of Elric. “He’s never tried to keep it a secret.”
Allegations of Mustang having seduced Elric in order to gain his father’s favor have turned out to be nothing but attempts to hurt his image in the eyes of the public, while Senator Hohenheim himself shows himself unconcerned about his eldest’s love life. “Roy is a good man. I trust him with this country, and I trust him with my son. Not to mention that Edward’s mother had been even younger when we first met, while I was fifteen years older than her.”
Neither Mustang nor Elric have spoken out on the matter yet, though it is to be expected that they will make some form of address as the Democratic campaign moves along. Mustang, whose open acknowledgment of his sexuality had earned him praise from the LGBT community before, has received outpouring support from all over the world in the form of #Voteforlove on Twitter.
“This better be worth it,” Edward groans over the phone. He sounds like he has just come home after a stressful day and is kicking off his shoes now. Roy smiles at the familiar mental image.
“Do you know how much cajoling it took for Russell to play into this?” Ed asks because of course that is the worst thing about this whole situation.
“I practically owe him my firstborn now.”
“It’s okay, we can always adopt,” Roy cannot help but quip, only to hold his breath to await Edward’s reaction. This is, perhaps, the first offhand comment he has made in regards to their possible future.
“I don’t know whether I want kids,” Edward drawls, though there is a careful edge in his tone. “Always seemed like a lot of work.”
“True,” Roy admits. “I don’t want to become the kind of parent who just hands their child off to a horde of nannies and is barely ever home.”
“Exactly!” Edward agrees. “Though I bet there are a lot of awesome hiding places in the White House.”
“I’ll play hide and seek with you,” Roy promises. “You know, when we move there next year.”
A beat of silence. Roy almost regrets that he has said anything.
“Edward-” he begins, only to be cut off.
“Getting cocky again, huh?” Edward says. “Think you can beat Archer?”
“In a fist fight? No,” Roy admits. “In this, though? Probably.”
“He’s taller than you,” Edward points out.
“That’s quite subjective,” Roy deflects.
“Married,” Edward says and Roy’s breath hitches.
“Edward,” he says again. “There has been a lot going on and I know you might be pressured into-”
“Shut up,” Edward huffs. “You’re really gonna make me say it, aren’t you?”
“Will you fucking marry me, you bastard,” Edward says, not a question even, just a his heart laid bare on a random Monday afternoon in July.
No, not random. Exactly a year ago they had met on a balcony during a sweltering summer night and gone one to change each other’s life.
“That’s not very romantic,” Roy says. “Over the phone and everything.”
His attempt at humor is slightly ruined by how strangled he sounds.
“Want me to get down on one knee?” Edward asks. “Because, fine, I’ll do it.”
There’s a bit of a shuffle, Edward getting down on the floor, and Roy laughs and presses the sounds of it into the palm of his empty hand.
“There,” Edward says. “Genuflecting and everything, just as Your Majesty likes it. So?”
“Ask me again,” Roy tells him, closing his eyes and trying to imagine Edward brazen and beautiful as he is.
A huff of exasperation before Edward gives in.
“Roy Mustang,” he says, “Will you marry me?”
“Yes,” Roy says because nothing in life is certain, neither the weather nor the elections. But this, this he can finally have. “Yes.”
“So,” Alphonse says chirpily. “Does being the brother-in-law of the president come with any responsibilities?”
“Maybe no racist remarks where anyone can hear,” Roy muses. “But no worries, with your career plans and everything, people are going to love you.”
At that, Alphonse grins proudly. He still has a year ahead of him but he has already announced that he will be joining Doctors Without Borders to see where he was needed most.
Alphonse, just like the rest of Edward’s family, had taken the news of their engagement with surprising ease. Perhaps, to him, it had been obvious from the start.
“My brother does not love easily,” he had said wisely. “But when he does, he does it fully.”
Now they are here, still being slaughtered by summer, about to make their first public appearance together.
“Ugh, finally,” Edward groans when he emerges from the backroom at the venue where the stylists had been swarming around him, plucking his eyebrows, moisturizing his skin.
“They put makeup on me,” Edward simply complains. His long hair has been woven into a thick braid, with artful strands sticking out here and there.
“That’s just for the cameras,” Roy knows. When he leans in, the thick smell of hairspray is near deafening, but he ignores it and presses a kiss to Edward’s mouth.
“Don’t,” Edward mutters, even as he kisses back. “You’re gonna mess up… the powder… and shit.”
“They’re going to touch you up again before we actually go on stage,” Roy assures him. “So it’s fine.”
Edward still grumbles, but keeps playing with the buttons of Roy’s waistcoat.
“You look handsome and shit,” he says.
“So eloquent,” Roy sighs. “Snatched myself a prime example for a Harvard specimen right there.”
“Cute,” Edward says. “Thinking that you were doing the snatching.”
“Oh?” Roy cocks an eyebrow. There are still more than a handful of press outlets that insist that their relationship is improper for a number of reasons, that there must be a terrible power imbalance between the two of them, that Edward is either a victim or a siren casting his spell.
Roy thinks that, as soon as they see Edward Elric in all his glory, with his sharp wit and brazen attitude, they would very quickly change their tune.
“Alright,” Riza tells them, after a short confirmation from the backstage director. She fusses over Roy’s shirt collar and Edward’s cufflinks, giving them last-minute instructions. “No improper jokes, no references to your sex life. Graduation day was totally engagement and you planned on going public soon enough. You are saddened the decision was taken from you in such a manner, but it’s just as well.”
“We know ,” Edward reminds her, slightly exasperated. He and Riza have struck up a rapport that is made up of mutual respect for each other and vague annoyance over Roy’s childish moods, and Roy idly wonders how that will impact his future.
Riza sighs, her shoulders lifting with it. Then she gives them a steady look.
“Go and fucking disarm them,” she says and Edward grins toothily as though he had just been waiting for her permission.
Roy smiles to himself.
“Shall we?” he asks and offers Edward his arm.
“Sure,” Ed says. He must be wearing insoles or perhaps it’s just his pride that makes him stand a little taller. Perhaps he has grown this much in the span of the past year.
Under furious applause, they step outside and onto the stage.
In November of 2028, Roy Phillip Mustang is elected the 48th President of the United States of America, winning against Republican candidate Frank Archer by a landslide. In his victory speech, he thanks his dedicated campaign team, led by his confidante Riza Hawkeye, his adoptive mother Christine Mustang, his late friend Maes Hughes – and his fiancé Edward Willem Elric.
“I'm afraid we'll be the bane of most publishers' existence,“ he jokes. “You'll be wasting quite some ink on us because we have decided to hyphenate.“
They'll have a Christmas wedding, a calculated move to keep the event between only them and a handful of their closest friends and family. A photo of their kiss will enter the run for a Pulitzer prize. Their honeymoon lasts a scarce three days and then they go on their first joint business trip together.
When they move into the White House, Edward has just turned twenty-four, still a scandalously young age by most people's standards. He bears the burden well, though, and simply points to the fact that, by the time Roy retires, they'll be thirty-two and forty-four at most. A good age to still get a lot of shit done.
“How many people do you think have fucked in here?“ Edward asks as he looks around the Oval Office.
“Ask me that again in thirty minutes,“ Roy tells him.
“How many people do you think have fucked in here?“ Edward asks thirty minutes later, when he is naked and spread out on the quaint little sofa.
“At least two,“ Roy says and barely even grimaces when Ed kicks him in the shin.
“Promise me to never start a war,“ Edward tells him later that night, with more seriousness than when they had spoken their wedding vows.
“I promise,“ Roy says with equal sincerity.
That year, Edward is invited to hold the Harvard Commencement speech at his brother’s graduation. He makes three dick jokes, one of them in regards to his husband.
Together, they'll be good for this country. Soon enough the papers begin to joke that, once Roy's eight years are over, they could take a short break and then Edward should campaign for the 2040 elections.
“President Edward Elric-Mustang,“ Edward muses. “I like the sound of that.“
“That would make me the second First Gentlemen,“ Roy points out and Edward smirks.
“No,“ he corrects. “That would make you my trophy husband.“
“I'll put it on my resumé,“ Roy says and smiles.
His hair will start to gray three years into his first term in office and the furrows on his brow will deepen, but so will the laughter lines around his eyes.
It’s not quite the life he had in mind when he envisioned himself as Head of State, but perhaps he simply lacked imagination.
But then again, who needs dreams when the truth of reality is so much better?
So, I know the ending feels rather rushed but I didn't want to drag out the angst. I guess in the summary, I promised more of a scandal, but I really wanted to focus more on the their relationship and the eventual happy ending.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed it! :)