Chapter 1: The Bodyguard
Roy Mustang's life was going fairly okay until a terrorist organisation decided to single him out as a potential target and threatened his existence.
It had been six years since the Promised Day and although he had spent some weeks completely blind, he had also been healed by Dr Marcoh's philosophers stone pretty quickly and without much protest from the part of his brain that still had morals. He had been declared a medical miracle, as quite a few people had in those few weeks, and been sent on his way. Since then he'd been promoted to Major-General, which meant he no longer had to answer to Hakuro - always a win - and although he spent on average twelve hours a day, from eight AM to eight PM, in the office – he also spent a good portion of his time wining and dining flavours of the week and getting his rocks off, so who was he to complain?
Breda, Fuery and Fallman were still under his command, which was at least half of his team, so he congratulated himself on that. Hawkeye had transferred to work directly under her grandfather, Fuhrer Grumman, but she was still working behind the scenes for Roy – and was there the moment Grumman decided to hang up the title to push Roy's name into the fray of those wishing to take over the role. She was a Captain now, and they met up every Tuesday after work to commiserate their weeks and share a bottle of wine. Havoc had been healed by Marcoh as well, also declared a medical miracle, and sent on his way. He'd been released from duty and Roy had not wanted to push the man back into service, but Havoc had re-enlisted despite that. He was working as an assistant to investigations now, alongside Sheska, and the two of them were invaluable in keeping Roy's more questionable plots on the down-low. He and Breda were still very close and Roy got most of his updates on the chain-smoker from him, but he also made a point of getting to the pub with his men if he knew Havoc was going to be there.
His two elsewhere colleagues had been replaced by capable officers, so Roy could hardly complain too much about that either. One was a 1st Lieutenant; a gingery haired gentleman with a bushy moustache called Weir, who generally kept to himself unless asked about his extensive postcard collection. He was a kindly man in his forties who knew basic alchemy and had confessed to once trying for State Alchemy certification and failing. Roy had comforted him, because after all State Alchemists were the best of the best, and as far as Roy was concerned the Lieutenant did show some talent, and ever since, Weir had regarded Roy with something akin to hero-worship, unless called out on it by his office-mates. The other new addition was a young Warrant Officer by the name of Gyasi, who had set the whole office into a frenzy the day she arrived because of her looks. She was in her early thirties, with dark skin, naturally pouting lips, a curvaceous figure and all the confidence of a woman who knew she was a bombshell. The men had been beside themselves, to the point where Roy had needed to remind everyone (including himself) about fraternization laws. Then, two months into her working for the office, Gyasi had blown them all out of the water at quarterly drills, leaving the rest of the office behind in her dust, and most of the men had realised they had a new Hawkeye on their hands, and Gyasi was clearly not to be messed with.
The most notable absence in the office in the six years gone – although Roy would probably never admit it out loud – was that of Edward Elric. Since the Promised Day, and Ed sacrificing his Gate to regain Alphonse's body, the blonde had barely been in Central for more than a few days at a time, as far as Roy knew. The last time Roy had been in the same room as Edward was six years previously, a week after the final battle, when Roy had been in hospital without his vision. Edward had tendered his resignation, and briefly explained he was retiring to Risembool for some rest and recuperation. Roy had heard through the grape-vine that Alphonse had travelled to Xing to study Alkahestry alongside Mei Chang, and that Edward had joined him out there for a few months, before returning to the East to marry his mechanic, and the two of them had produced two little Fullmetal babies – the whole family living in a hectic kind of peace in Rush Valley.
Roy had heard the news of the first Fullmetal babe, a boy, through Fuery, who apparently kept in touch with Edward better than anyone else in the team did. Roy had pursed his lips at the news and offered a considered congratulations to be passed along to the blonde ex-alchemist, whilst inwardly considering that Edward had sired his first child at the tender age of nineteen, whilst he himself was in his thirties and still slutting it up in the city. When news turned up a year and half later, again through Fuery, that Winry was has given birth again, he'd sighed and nodded and got himself back to his paperwork because by that point he hadn't seen Fullmetal in nearly four years and he didn't think Ed would care all that much for his well-wishing anyway.
There had been times when Roy had heard that Edward was in town, but by the time that news got to him, the boy (man, now) was usually out of town again, heading back to his wife and children.
Which was why it came as a rather large surprise when he walked into Grumman's office on an official summons to see Edward Elric standing to one side of the Fuhrer's desk, looking for all the world like he would rather be anywhere else but Central Military HQ. The look was so reminiscent of the boy's teens, that Roy almost called him to attention out of force of habit.
"Ah, General Mustang, come in!" Grumman implored from behind his desk, waving a withered hand in a friendly gesture that beckoned Roy forward.
The dark haired man closed the door behind him and stepped cautiously into the room, knowing he had to greet the Fuhrer, but also entirely unable to take his eyes off of his ex-subordinate. It may have been six years since he had laid eyes on the man, but he would know him anywhere just from the spun-gold of his hair and the molten gold in his eyes. Xerxian features you wouldn't find on anyone else, save for a glint of it in Alphonse and possibly in the man's children, but Roy had never met them, so he wouldn't know. Edward had pulled his hair back into a tight, high pony-tail that showed off the strength of his neck and shoulders, and the stark black, curled wire of an earpiece that stretched down his right side and disappeared under a dark muscle t-shirt. Roy noticed, too, the tight leather trousers, the kind Edward was so fond of when he was a teenager, and the chunky walkie-talkie style receiver attached to his brown belt, but that the boy had forgone his juvenile red coat, and that his arms were crossed across his chest, accentuating just how insanely ripped he was. Roy could pinpoint the definitions between his triceps, biceps and deltoids, and it only served to make him feel incredibly self-conscious about his own 'desk-job' figure. In the moments of time when he had spared a thought to Fullmetal, raising two children in the country-side, he had made himself feel better by imagining Edward letting himself go; perhaps developing a beer-belly, or at the very least not working out as much. He should have known better – Edward had always been of the belief that a healthy body lead to a healthy mind, and nothing was more important to Edward than his mind.
Sloppily, and incredibly late, Roy saluted the Fuhrer.
"Sir." He mumbled.
There was a lot you could get away with when the Fuhrer was a close, personal friend; especially when that friend wanted you to marry his granddaughter. Grumman waved him into a chair now, and he sat, feeling awkward because Ed was still standing, and shooting the blonde confused, calculated looks that the Fuhrer either did not pick up on or chose to ignore.
"Now, my dear boy," Grumman began, despite the fact that Roy was thirty-seven now, and had not been a boy since before Ishval. "We've received some intelligence that certain members of the Military higher ups are being targeted by a protest group calling themselves Truth's Promised Mercenaries."
Roy instantly hated the name, but he was not surprised – every six months or so a new terrorist organisation calling themselves do-gooders rose off the back of the Promised Day, believing that those prominent figures involved were those that orchestrated the destruction and pain that day had brought to so many. It had been the same after Ishval. They weren't exactly people to be reasoned with, but invariably they were crushed or disbanded by the military before anything major happened – Roy was generally only aware of them because of his connection to investigations, and it was odd for any of these groups to kick up such a fuss that the Fuhrer himself would get involved. Mustang let himself another furtive glance towards Edward, wondering if that was why the boy was there, in Central, in the Fuhrer's office, and not at home with his wife and kids. The general public knew just enough about the Promised Day that they usually thought Edward, the Fullmetal Alchemist, and hero of the people, had single-handedly saved the world, against the tirade of the Corrupt Amestrian Military – and the fact that Edward had quit service not long after had only fuelled those rumours. The thing was, the military was corrupt, and Edward had saved the world, and the truth in the stories gave the tall-tales that came along with it too much standing.
Either way, as far as Roy knew, Edward had never been a target before, generally regarded as a hero more than the corrupt bastards the rest of them had been labelled as.
"This group is a sneaky sort, and unfortunately the threats that have been made include one on your life, General." The Fuhrer continued, disregarding Roy's attempts to figure out why his ex subordinate was standing among them after a six year absence. "As such, we've thought it necessary to get you a protection detail for the time being."
Roy looked back to the leader of their country. Protection details, too, he was familiar with. Usually his protection detail was made up of Riza Hawkeye, the most talented sharp-shooter he knew, and a few assorted men who had sworn their allegiance. As such, he nodded.
"I don't suppose Captain Hawkeye is available for the task." He replied.
Grumman smiled at him across the desk, and it was a toothy smile that showed off the yellow stains from the man's bad habit of smoking a pipe.
"My dear granddaughter has been threatened as well, and as such has her own protection detail, though everyone knows she wont need it." He explained. Roy smirked, because the idea of Riza with a bodyguard was laughable, and the woman would probably hate every second of it. "In any case, having two targets spending too much time together has been ill-advised by our contracted protection agency."
At this Grumman finally glanced over to the blonde standing by his desk, and Roy followed his gaze, everything slowly slotting into place like a jigsaw puzzle, but then coming up looking like a Picasso instead of the Monet he had been expecting.
"Oh." He said, staring at Edward now, who was surveying Roy with a sort of cool indifference he had never managed in his teens. "Um… what?" Mustang added, feeling incredibly incompetent and not liking it at all.
The blonde smirked, and Roy felt the bottom of his stomach fall three inches. This wasn't good. This wasn't good one bit.
"Fullmet – I mean, Mr Elric has been assigned as your personal protection agent." Grumman was explaining, and although Roy heard the words, he wasn't entirely sure he was processing them correctly. "He works for VGA Protection Firm now, isn't that a coincidence? They regard him as one of their best agents and Mr Gregory himself recommended him to the job."
Roy had heard of Vincent Gregory and his Amestrian Protection Firm – the were massive for celebrity bodyguards; politicians and composers and royalty alike used them. Vincent Gregory demanded nothing but the best from his workers, and each and every bodyguard would lay down their life for a client should the situation need it.
"So, you're a bodyguard now?" He asked, trying not to drown in the boys molten eyes as the young man stared him down.
He felt odd, to be sat below Edward, when the other man was standing, and so he quickly stood. Then he felt awkward for making such an obvious attempt to put them both on equal ground. Apparently, six years of no contact with Fullmetal had him rather out of a loop when it came to communicating with the twenty-something.
"Yep." Edward responded, popping the 'p'. Roy swallowed.
He wanted to protest – he would much rather have Riza, who could shoot a squirrel from thirty feet whilst blind-folded, than Edward Elric, who nobody could deny was an alchemical genius, but who no longer had his alchemy and had until that moment existed in Roy's mind as a house-husband. Yet, it would be rude to turn the boy down, and the Fuhrer himself had summoned him here and set the meeting up, and so he could hardly say no.
"Right. Well." He said, hating that he was lacking in his usual confidence. "Good to have you on board, I guess."
Edward nodded at that, and Roy reflected how little the man had said since he had arrived in the office. Edward in his teenage years hadn't known when to shut up – rambling on for ages about things of very little importance, or going off on rants about his height, should somebody inadvertently, or oft-times very purposefully, mention it. This man stood in front of Roy was of stark contrast. The blonde nodded to the Fuhrer and then crossed the room to where a coat stand was placed behind the door, taking down a muted brown trench and then a soft looking leather holster, in which were secured two military issue revolvers.
Roy watched, entirely dumbfounded, as Edward secured the holster under his arms like he had done this a thousand times before, and placed the coat over it so that the pistols were no longer in sight, and then turned to Roy with a questioning look.
"Everything okay, General?" He asked, such a visage of professionalism and maturity that Roy wondered whether he was somehow experiencing a mirage. He swallowed thickly and nodded, pushing his way out of the door past his ex subordinate and waving over his shoulder to the Fuhrer belatedly, once more glad he was able to play favourites with the leader of the country.
"How long have you been working for Gregory?" Roy asked as he walked the corridors, Ed striding along beside him, eyes flicking left and right as he looked about for what Roy presumed were potential threats.
"Three years." The young man replied, although he didn't offer any more information.
Roy found himself doing the maths in his head. Ed's oldest child was probably about three – chances are Edward had taken over the role as bread winner when his wife fell pregnant with their spawn. He imagined working a dangerous job like personal protection had not gone over too well with Winry, and he wondered whether Edward lamented the long working hours and travel keeping him away from his family.
"How did you get into it?" Roy found himself asking, even as he berated himself in his head. He had never been one to ask so many personal questions, and he had to wonder whether Edward found his questioning annoying. He had never exactly shown much of a personal interest during the boys teenage years, and if he was being honest with himself, he wasn't entirely sure why he was interested now.
Ed glanced at him, and then went back to assessing threats as they continued towards Roy's own office.
"Ling had used them a few times before." He explained. "A personal letter of recommendation from the Emperor of Xing generally gets you anything you want."
Roy had done some work with the Xingese Emperor in the last six years – establishing trade routes and the sharing of information across countries – but never once had Edward's name come up. Roy reminded himself that it wouldn't; he had been in contact with Ling because of business, whereas Ling's relationship with Edward was a friendship.
He nodded again, going to open the door to his office, but Ed beat him to it, raising an arched eyebrow at the dark haired man, and putting an arm out in front of him. He gently used that arm to push Roy back a couple of paces, and then opened the plain wooden door himself, peering inside, before deeming it safe and letting go of Roy, and allowing the man to follow him through.
Roy thought the whole process a little over dramatic, but said nothing, because at that moment Breda had spotted the blonde head of hair and shouted excitedly.
"Edward fucking Elric!"
For the first time since Roy had laid eyes on him that day, Edward showed something on his face that wasn't a careful indifference or cool contempt. His eyes went slightly wide and his lips thinned as Breda bounded over his desk to envelope the blonde in a tight hug.
"What the shit are you doing here, Elric?" He asked, letting Ed go just enough for the man to answer his question.
During that time Fuery and Fallman had stood as well, both of them with expressions on their faces mixed between shock and giddy excitement. Fuery had broken into a wide grin at the sight, and Roy reminded himself once more that the two youngest members of his team from six years ago had apparently kept in touch. Gyasi glanced up from her paperwork, shot Breda a slightly annoyed look, and got back to work. Weir was surveying the scene with a look of mild panic, interspersed with delight, and Roy reminded himself that Weir was an aspiring Alchemist, and Edward was the most accomplished alchemist of their time, even with no longer being able to perform it himself.
"He's here as a personal protection agent." Roy explained, because Edward had hardly said three words together that whole time, and the blonde was looking like he might be crushed to death be Breda quite soon. "Apparently there's been a threat and Edward works for the firm the military uses for bodyguards."
There was a short, fairly stunned silence at the explanation which made Roy feel slightly better for his reaction back in the Fuhrer's office, and then Breda finally let go of the blonde and Fallman gave a serene smile, striding across the room and clapping their old work colleague on the back.
"It's very good to see you again, Edward." He admitted.
Edward rubbed the back of his neck and smiled back.
"Yeah, you too. All of you." He replied. It was followed by another small silence that made Roy clear his throat noisily.
"Yes, well," He said, because he was stalling for something to say now that he had everyone's attention by coughing so dramatically. "I didn't think I'd have you working for me again, at any rate!" He finally settled on, hoping some humour might break some of the tension he had been feeling since he had arrived at Grumman's office, and indeed how tense he always felt whenever anyone mentioned Fullmetal around him for the last six years.
And the thing was, he hadn't expected anybody to actually laugh at his lame attempt at lightening the mood, because it hadn't really been at all funny – but what he definitely didn't expect was for Ed to tense so much that it was visual (the tautness of his shoulders, the narrowing of his eyes and then the slight shift in how he held himself) and to stalk across the room so fast Roy didn't couldn't even understand what was happening until the blonde ex-alchemist had crowded him against the wall of his own office, in front of all of his men, and was leaning so close to his face that Roy could smell coffee straining through mint toothpaste from the young man's breath. Roy was pinned to the wall by one of Ed's overly muscled arms splayed across his chest, and the General couldn't help looking down at where he had been secured so effectively, gulping uneasily.
"Let's get one thing clear, Mustang. I don't work for you. I work for VGA Protection Firm, and their client is the Amestrian Military." He seethed, words coming out an angry whisper. "You are just the principal; the equivalent of my pay-check."
With that, Ed pushed away from Roy again and went to stand by the doorway to the office, in the correct space to see anyone coming through before anyone on the outside could see the occupants of the room, and still have eyes on Roy, who would be spending the next few hours at his desk. Roy collected himself, smoothing down his uniform and looking at that so that he didn't have to look at the other men in the office, and gingerly made his way over to his paperwork. He ignored the shocked looks he was receiving from his men, and tried not to let it get to him that he had just been so easily overpowered by the twenty-something. He rationalised that he had been taken by surprise, that had Ed given him fair warning of a temper tantrum, as he had done when he was a child (the way his body would tense for at least ten minutes before as he tried desperately to reign his own emotions in, before it finally spilled free in shouted swear words and flailing limbs) then there was no way in hell that situation would have happened. He bought out a particularly tedious report on the level of General presence around HQ, and pretended to read it whilst his mind reeled around what had just happened.
He had known, of course, that Ed's time under the military had always been a means to an end. The boy had made no secret of it when he was twelve – explaining loudly to anyone that he hated the military, Roy Mustang and anyone else who was a pompous bastard, as had been Ed's favoured phrase at the time. Yet, it was still difficult now to see how much Edward clearly despised him. Roy had always thought that under the swearing and temper tantrums Ed might have had a begrudging respect for him; but a six year absence and now this latest outburst over the mere idea of Ed working for Mustang once more, had really drilled home how little the blonde thought of him.
The man checked his desktop calendar, sighing internally in relief that it was Tuesday; at least in a few hours he could steal across to Riza's flat and the two of them could gossip and plan about these new threats, this new group, and everything else that had happened, whilst drowning their sorrows in a bottle of wine.
By the time six o'clock rolled around, Roy was well and truly ready to call it a day. He would usually stay a couple of hours more; putting in the hours nobody else would in order to secure the next promotion, but he had made a sizeable chunk in his paperwork and he was desperate to meet up with Riza and moan about the day's developments. He looked up as Breda and Fallman began packing up their desks, and then carefully stood, pulling on the coat that had been hung over the back of his chair.
Edward had been stood in the same spot for coming up three hours, and had barely moved a muscle – easily falling into a military at ease position and holding it. At one point Fuery had gone over to try and make conversation, and Edward had obliged in a low voice, answering questioned posed, but had maintained a careful eye on the office and the corridor the entire time. Roy had caught a few words of the conversation; mainly that Edward was okay; that he was set up in Central; and that he had expertly orchestrated moving the conversation on when Fuery mentioned Winry's name, whilst he considered how completely immobile Fullmetal was. Roy would have been fidgeting like a child after twenty minutes, but the blonde had made it seem as if he was a statue, made of stone and unmovable. It was so incredibly far gone from the memory Roy had of Ed as a teenager, who couldn't keep still for more than five minutes at a time unless he was engrossed in a book, that the General was beginning to wonder whether this truly was Edward at all.
"Principal on the move." Roy heard the blonde say, and he glanced up towards the golden-eyed boy, who had collected his walkie-talkie from his belt and was talking into it quietly, and for the first time Roy realised that Edward was part of a larger protection detail, and was only one of a team of professionals. The other members of that team would stay out of sight, so that even Roy didn't know who and where they were, and the entire situation suddenly became much less about Edward Elric and the history between them, and much more about the fact that there had been a threat on Roy's life, and a professional close protection detail had been ordered to keep him safe.
He nodded to the blonde, and Edward moved past him, out into the hall, allowing Roy to follow by his side, which made him feel slightly better that trailing along after his ex-subordinate.
"I just need to drop off these papers with General Guttering, and then I'll be heading over to Hawkeye's place." He explained as he walked, feeling awkward to explain himself to the blonde. It was something he had never had to do before. Guttering's office was on the floor below, and because it was the end of the day he was hoping he wouldn't get caught by the man, who tended to speak at length about the problems with Central's road systems if he was in a bad mood, and was generally in a bad mood when he was in Roy's company. He watched Ed for a moment as they walked and noticed a slight tension in his shoulders at the mention of Guttering, who had always been known as a bit of a hard-ass.
"Requesting recon on Captain Riza Hawkeye's apartment." Ed said into his walkie-talkie, and said nothing to Roy. The General kept walking, listening to the static filling into his bodyguard's communication wire, and daydreaming about what the other people on the team were like. He wondered if Ed had a good relationship with them, or whether they thought, like Roy had done when he had worked with Fullmetal, that Edward was, at best, a brilliant hurricane, and at worse a dangerous bargaining chip, should he fall into enemy hands. After a moment Ed hummed gently and replied into his receiver; "Okay, ETA twenty minutes."
By this point Roy had come to the outside of Guttering's office, and had his hand raised to knock, but he stalled. It would probably take five minutes to wrap up his conversation with Guttering and make his way out of Central Command, a few minutes more if Guttering was feeling chatty. Edward would know that, not just from his time as a soldier there, but also because the man was clearly an accomplished agent who had done his research. He had clearly just been given details on Riza's apartment, where it was in the city and more, and would know that it was at least a forty minute walk, but had given an expected time of arrival in twenty minutes. Which meant clearly he expected a car.
"I usually walk." He clarified, because although he could get a car, he often found it an abuse of his station, and he tried to get a little bit of exercise into his day, because otherwise he would easily fall into the trap of a desk-job weight gain. Edward frowned at him.
"I'll drive you." He muttered, as if the conversation was over, and Roy opened his mouth to say more, because he wanted to know just when Fullmetal had learnt to drive, and the conversation was clearly not over just because Ed had spoken, but at that moment Guttering's door flew open and the General himself strode out. He stopped, looking at Roy and Edward for a moment, and then clicked his tongue it what was clearly a tut.
"Don't loiter, Mustang." He said, tone rude despite the fact that he and Roy were the same rank and Roy was delivering papers to him out of courtesy. Roy often found Guttering to be rude, however – probably due to the fact that Roy was a Major-General at thirty-seven, and Guttering had made the same title at fifty-three.
"I apologise." Roy replied, faking a smile, ever the picture of sincerity and professionalism. "I only came to deliver these." He added, pushing the files into the other General's hands. Guttering looked down at them with barely concealed contempt, but on finding them to actually be useful, he huffed and nodded, turning back into his office to place them in a filing cabinet for looking over the next day.
"If that will be all." He said as he did this, and Roy quickly nodded.
"I must be on my way." He excused, because it felt a lot better than saying 'yes, that's all'. He turned on his heel and was going to start walking down the corridor when Guttering called after them;
"Wait, is that the Fullmetal Alchemist with you?"
Roy stopped, turned back, and chanced a glance at Edward, who was checking his watch, possibly thinking he would have to update his estimate to his team.
"He doesn't answer to that any more." Roy answered for him, trying to cover Ed's lack of response. Ed had always been borderline impertinent, and since his arrival back in Roy's life a few hours previously, he had been walking that line like a tight-rope artist. "Retired from service a few years back."
Guttering followed them up the corridor and stood in front of them, and Edward looked up from his watch and squared up, catching eye contact with the Major-General and glaring slightly. Guttering was a good seven inches taller than Roy, putting him squarely at six foot three, and Roy wanted to say taller still than Ed, but in truth there was only an inch or two between himself and Fullmetal now. Guttering had the height, but Ed had the physique, putting both General's in the corridor to shame.
"Well, well, well..." Guttering said, bending down slightly in a move that Roy was sure would infuriate the ex-alchemist, and peering at Ed as if he were a piece of meat, which made Roy's skin crawl to witness. Roy hoped his new bodyguard wasn't about to cause a scene, and then the General turned to Roy and smirked. "Thought you'd be done with this one, once he turned eighteen."
Roy frowned at the comment, not understanding it at all, and hoping to get some clarification about what his colleague meant, but then Edward huffed and rolled his eyes.
"That's not what this is." He said, then turned on his heel and beckoned for Roy to follow him. "Get a move on, Mustang."
Roy almost fell over himself trying to turn and catch up with Ed, waving a goodbye over his shoulder to Guttering, because professional courtesy demanded it, and feeling slightly lost and confused about what the other General had been talking about. He could hear the other man chuckling darkly as they made their way down the corridor, but Roy only asked about it once they had gone down two flights of stairs in silence and were making their way down a third flight which lead to the underground car-park.
"What did Guttering mean by being done with you?" He tried, wondering whether Ed might snap at him for asking questions. The atmosphere between them had been tense all day, but Roy was loathe to admit he was anxious around the younger man.
Ed only spared him a slightly surprised glance, and then seemed to steel his resolve at Roy's perceived innocence, and minutely shook his head.
"It's nothing to concern yourself with." He replied, which didn't leave much room for Roy to push further.
The two of them came to a sleek-black saloon car with blacked out rear windows and rather thick tires, and Edward produced a key from his pocket, unlocked it, and held open the back door for Roy. Roy only stared at him for a moment, which made Edward give a slightly aggravated huff and check his watch again, so Roy shifted himself into the back seat and tried not to wince as Ed slammed the door behind him. Two seconds later the blonde was settled behind the wheel, and checking his wing-mirrors.
"When did you learn to drive?" Mustang asked, which was a personal question, but this one he felt was justified because Ed was about to be driving him, and so his safety was a concern. Ed's golden eyes glanced at him through the rear-view mirror, and then moved back out the front windscreen as he started up the engine.
"Three years ago." Was all he replied with, and Roy reminded himself that three years ago Edward had supposedly quit research, which didn't pay well, and taken up a personal protection job, which would most likely require him to drive. He couldn't help but wonder if Edward was happy with that situation.
They turned out of the car park and started heading south, and then Ed turned off suddenly and started making his way towards the Olsen tunnel.
"This is the wrong way." Roy supplied.
"This is the safer way."
Roy glanced longingly out of the window back the way of Riza's flat. They were so blacked out it made the city outside seem much darker than it was.
"The traffic will be terrible." He mumbled, but Ed sighed.
"I'll double back round by the river and cut through Little Xing." He explained, and Roy glanced at him through the gaps in the seats, seeing the sway of the man's ponytail and the twitch in his neck when he swallowed.
He had known, to some degree, that Edward knew Central quite well – the blonde had spent a good amount of time when he was under Military service running through the slums and exploring the bones of the city – but he had suspected that six years away would have dampened the man's memories and knowledge of the layout. Evidently, Ed was as sharp as ever. He nodded, swallowing thickly, and didn't say anything more, content to let Ed drive him the way the agent thought best, until they arrived at an apartment block ten minutes later – roughly on par with Ed's estimated arrival of twenty minutes he had given to his team back at HQ.
"We've arrived." The blonde said into his walkie-talkie, and Roy found himself looking around for the other members of the team. They were obviously about, but he himself had no idea where. He opened the car door, and within seconds Ed was there, holding it open and looking annoyed that Roy had opened it on his own, without permission. His golden eyes were furiously scanning the area, and he quietly mumbled to Roy as the General exited the car. "Quickly, into the building."
Roy was beginning to wonder just how serious this threat was – or whether Fullmetal was just as over-dramatic as he had been during his teenage years. Nevertheless he obediently sped up and crossed the little pavement to Riza's apartment building whilst Ed locked up the car and followed him over. He pressed the intercom button and waited, listening to the dial, and then there was a distinct beep as the door was automatically unlocked.
Ed put a hand on his back and guided him inside. It took Roy a moment to catch up that he shouldn't be okay with that kind of behaviour, but by the time he thought to say anything Ed's hand was innocently back by his side and the door had swung closed behind him. Instead of pulling the young man up on inappropriate guiding, Roy chose not to say anything, and took the stairs up to Riza's flat two at a time, making the bodyguard do the same. Of course, it was no issue for Ed – who clearly kept up a strict exercise regime.
"Hi." Riza greeted as they made it to her door. She had opened it and stepped into the hallway to greet him, and when she saw Edward her eyes grew wide and her face broke into a large grin. "Edward!"
Ed, for his part, dropped his professionalism for a moment, and smiled back – seemingly genuinely happy for the first time that day. He stepped around Roy and then seemed to stop and falter, before Riza stepped forward and dragged him into an embrace. He was taller than she was now, and for the first time Roy was able to appreciate that he had clearly, actually grown – he was no longer the pipsqueak alchemist he had been at twelve, and at some point, probably slowly and naturally, the way most people did it, he had grown into those ridiculous muscles. Then Ed broke the hug and coughed, trying to bring back some of that professionalism he had been displaying all day. He took a brief glance into the apartment, and nodded to whoever was inside. Roy remembered Grumman telling him Riza had her own protection detail, and figured that the person assigned to his favourite Captain was probably somebody Ed knew through work.
"Teller." Ed greeted, confirming Roy's suspicions, and then the blonde waved Roy in, and the General made his way into his friends flat, followed by Riza and Ed.
Riza's flat was an open plan, one bedroom, no nonsense kind of place. She'd had a studio when she'd been a Lieutenant, but over the years she'd felt she wanted to be a little closer to work, and also have a little more space should she decide to have friends over. There was a door on the left hand wall which lead to the bedroom, and next to that a door leading to a small bathroom, but the kitchen, dining space and living space were all connected. Coming through the front door you came in directly to the living space, and then behind two plush armchairs there was a half wall that lead on to a kitchen dining area. In this dining area, looking awkward, was the man that must have been 'Teller'. He was a tall guy who, like Edward, clearly worked out. He had somewhat unruly curls on his head in a brassy brown colour, and a thick moustache. Unlike Edward, he was wearing a formal suit that was clearly not fitted to him, because his sleeves were bulging with the girth of his muscles and he looked a little uncomfortable in it. Roy exchanged a look with Hawkeye and frowned slightly, and she responded by raising both her eyebrows for a second and grimacing. Roy smirked in response – he knew Riza would not get on with whoever was assigned to her.
"We'll just be over here, ma'am. Keeping an eye on things." Teller explained, motioning with his hand towards the window. Ed was doing a sweep of the flat, but it was a lazy sweep, because clearly Teller had been there for some time and Ed trusted the man's judgement. The blonde ex-alchemist went to the window, frowned out of it, and then nodded along to Teller's explanation and crossed his arms over his chest moodily, his feet falling to 'at ease'.
Roy crinkled his nose slightly, and followed Riza to the armchairs. He toed off his shoes and took off his coat and blue military jacket, leaving him in his socks, trousers, cavalry skirt and white shirt, and then sank into one of the armchairs whilst Riza slipped into the kitchen and came back with a bottle of red and two large wine glasses. He wanted to moan happily at the sight, but was intensely aware of the other people in the room.
"He calls you ma'am?" Roy asked quietly when Riza had poured him a glass and he'd curled his feet up into the chair to get comfortable. She sat on the other chair and nodded, before taking a sizeable gulp of the red liquid. Black Hayate, an old dog now, padded out of the kitchen and settled down by her feet, giving a little grumble of recognition in Roy's direction.
"I have asked him not to." She responded, patting the dogs head affectionately. Then she frowned at him. "Regardless, you're being tailed by Edward!"
Roy wanted to moan again, but this time it was out of annoyance.
"I know." He mumbled, "I didn't even know he..." He trailed off, wondering what he was going to finish that sentence with, because the truth was there was a lot of things he didn't know about Edward. He didn't know the man at all – six years of no contact meant they didn't know each other any more, if they ever really did at all. He huffed gently and sipped at his wine. "You seemed pretty friendly." He finally assessed.
"We send letters, sometimes." She confessed, which Roy didn't know. "We were close when he was a State Alchemist."
Roy hadn't known that either. Not really. He had known that Riza had felt a motherly protectiveness towards the Elric brothers, and he had known that Ed and Al arriving in Central generally raised team morale. The team was close, as teams are – but Edward had always felt like a force outside of the team. He had spent more time out on assignment and searching for the philosopher's stone than he had ever spent in office, not too mention the fact that he had been far too young to carry on the every day lives of a Central soldier at HQ, so Roy had tried to shield him from that as much as he could. As such Roy had compartmentalised in his head for two aspects; his team, and then the Elrics.
He sipped more at his wine.
"So, Grumman tell you much about this group?"
Riza shook her head.
"Not much, just their name. Seems like your typical post Promised Day radicalising. Basic idea that things are black and white – the Military is evil, Edward Elric is the hero who fought against the corrupt government. Those key figures involved are still at large and need taking down before the country can mend itself. You, myself, Colonel Armstrong, and General Armstrong have all been named as targets."
"What about those involved not in the military?" Roy asked, thinking that although Edward and Alphonse were probably safe, given how most people viewed them as heroes, there were people such as Ling Yao, Emperor of Xing, who might also be targets.
"They seem fairly focused on those of us in active duty, but Grumman has sent out representatives to liaison with everyone involved in the battle." Riza explained.
"And what exactly have they threatened?" Roy pushed, because despite Riza saying she didn't know much, she evidently knew more than him. She frowned at him now, her lips angled downwards and her brow furrowed in thought, and sighed heartily, looking down at her glass but not taking a drink.
"That they will strike us down when we least expect it – to restore the order of righteousness, as is the will of Truth." She replied, and Roy got the impression she was quoting directly.
He thought back to the weeks he had been blind, although he didn't often try to do this, because it had been a terrifying and harrowing experience. He thought back to being forced to open the Gate and look into the endless knowledge and into the face of Truth, before his eyesight was ripped away from him.
"They clearly don't know Truth." He finally decided, and tipped some more wine down his throat. Riza snorted in a derisory way and hummed her agreement.
"Well, in any case, they won't win." She said, so matter of fact that there was no room for argument. Roy wouldn't have argued with her anyway, these kinds of groups never 'won', although they were perfectly capable of causing some serious damage. He glanced over at his bodyguard, standing perfectly still by the window, and looked back to Hawkeye, trying to convey to the Captain through silent communication how weird he was finding having Edward Elric shoved back into his life, in such a way that the blonde seemed to hold all the power.
Riza smirked at him, and somehow he knew she got it.
"We shouldn't keep them here too long." She said solemnly. "Teller was already having fits when I told him another target was coming round. Something about making it easier for the enemy to get us if we all stick together." She explained, and although she said it with a casual tone, Roy knew she understood the logic behind it.
Roy laughed nonetheless, desperate to lighten the mood, and took another sip of wine. Usually these sessions with Riza would start as a moan about work, and quickly trail off into gossip about co-workers or whatever they had read in the newspaper that morning. They could often spend hours dissecting news articles, or just playing 'marry, fuck, kill' with celebrities and prominent figures around HQ, whilst they downed wine and laughed at each other's bad jokes and equally bad in-game choices. The addition of two grumpy bodyguards put rather a damper on the entire evening.
"I'll just stay until I've finished my glass." He told her, and glanced over at Ed, who was still scanning the room for potential threats. "Though I'm in a room with two trained and armed bodyguards and the best sharp-shooter in Amestris – I'd like to see anyone try and strike me down now."
Riza smiled at him, then shrugged her shoulders and she slipped back into the armchair to get more comfortable. She was still in uniform as well, having clearly finished work before Roy, but not long before, and she took off her jacket to reveal her black turtle neck underneath, and undid the clasp in her hair, letting the locks fall down to her shoulders.
"MFK?" She suggested.
Roy winced at her words and sighed. He wanted to play, but he had to wonder how much Edward was listening in. He glanced at the bodyguard to show his worries, and Riza furrowed her brow, and then let it ease out again. She shrugged her shoulders in an impossibly small gesture, and Roy could see she wasn't worried about any possible consequences of her detail listening in on their favourite game. Not one to be outdone, he finally nodded his agreement.
"I get to go first though." He insisted. Riza grinned and nodded her assent. Roy thought for a moment, looking back over famous enough people that they would both know them by name. "Okay, Alexander Graham Bell; Charles Dickens; and J. R. R. Tolkien." He finally settled on.
"Dickens is already dead." Riza replied almost instantly. Roy frowned.
"Supposing he was still alive." He amended. Riza rose an eyebrow sceptically.
"He'd be a hundred and eight." She told him. Roy took a moment to wonder why she knew that off the top of her head, but rolled his eyes and pushed out his foot over the gap between their chairs to nudge her shin teasingly.
"Just answer the question!" He admonished.
Riza thought for a moment longer, and then smirked as she evidently came up with her answer.
"I would marry Dickens, because he is very old and likely to die and leave me a great amount of money." She explained savagely. "I would kill Bell, because I don't like the idea of him calling me all the time if I married or fucked him. And I'll fuck Tolkien, because he's young and good-looking." She was smiling at Roy triumphantly, and he shook his head at her, although honestly he agreed with her choices. Then her grin turned positively wicked and she said: "Okay, my turn."
Roy felt a small pool of dread settle in his stomach. Riza was known for being brutal in this game, and it didn't usually matter because they would only play it alone and they didn't speak of it outside the confines of each other's flats, but now they had two witnesses, and he was worried.
"I'm ready." He told her, but he didn't actually feel it. Riza smirked.
"Havoc, Edward and Teller." She spoke. Roy's eyes went wide and he glanced across to their company, but despite their names being spoken they didn't move an inch, or suggest they had heard her suggestions.
Roy gulped down some wine, and then got up to get a refill, despite telling Riza he would only stay for one glass. Once he was in the kitchen and pouring the liquid, he allowed himself to feel annoyed at his friend, and embarrassed about the question in front of Ed. He knew she was only teasing, and wouldn't stay mad at her for long, as this was such an incredibly Riza-like thing to do, but for a second he allowed himself to be pissed off, and he downed a large gulp of the liquid for courage.
"Why are they all men?" He asked as he came back into the room and flopped back down on the chair with his now full glass.
"Ask them." Riza replied with a laugh, and Roy sneered at her to let her know she wasn't funny. The Captain giggled. "Don't try and deny your bisexuality Roy, we've all known about it since you were nineteen!"
Once more Roy looked over in Edward's direction, but the man showed no signs of listening to their conversation. It wasn't as if Riza was outing him – she was right in that his friends had known that he would happily swing both ways since he was a teenager at the academy and had been caught sucking face with Chester Delaney who slept in the bunk next to him. The two boys had been clipped round the ear and told to keep it in their pants, and nothing more was said on the subject by their CO at the time, except the rumours had flown around the academy and before long everyone knew Roy wasn't too choosy on his night time partners.
He'd spent some time fielding questions about whether he was spending time on his knees as he began to ascend the ranks, and as such he tried to find a way to squash the rumours that he would fuck anything that moved. He found that the more he took out women the less he was questioned about how immorally he had achieved his rank, and that fuelling the thought that he was straight created a persona of someone not to be messed with, which suited him fine. It didn't truly matter to him whether he was wining and dining a man or a woman, so long as at the end of the night everyone got to orgasm, but it did seem to matter to jaded officers who felt they were more deserving of a promotion than Roy was. So for the next ten years, whilst he worked his way up the ranks, he exclusively dated women, he used womanly code-names in his operations, he put across the idea that he was a straight white man in a position of power, and he generally got what he wanted. The rumours of his bisexuality died down, and on the rare occasions he was propositioned by older men wanting to exert some power over 'that young upstart Mustang', he was always careful to turn them down with the right amount of outrage.
He frowned at her now.
"Fine. I'd kill Teller – I don't know him, it's the obvious choice because I don't want to kill the other two." He replied sulkily. "Then, I don't know… I'd probably marry Havoc." He added, looking down at his lap.
"So you'd fuck Edward?" Riza clarified, smirking.
Roy glanced at Ed again, but once more his professionalism was hiding any reactions he might make to their conversation. He shrugged his shoulders, trying for nonchalant.
"If I don't have another choice. He's already married so I don't want to take him away from his wife. Besides… Havoc would definitely be a better husband."
Riza laughed at his, the wine in her glass sloshing against the side, and Roy took another large gulp of his own, uncomfortable with the conversation. His friend shook her head at him as if he was some endearing little puppy chasing his own tail. He went to take another sip of his wine, and then realised the glass was empty and he had drank it way too quickly. Riza noticed too, and glanced across to their protection detail, sighing.
"Guess it's time to call it a night." She mumbled.
Roy checked his watch, and realised that he had been there forty-five minutes. It wasn't as if this was a long time, usually he was there for much longer, but he guessed it was a little unfair on their bodyguards. He nodded to Riza and stood, swaying slightly because he had drunk two glasses of wine quite quickly.
"Right, well," He mumbled. "Next week then."
Riza stood too, placing her glass on a small side table between the chairs.
"If not around HQ, sir."
Roy poked his tongue out at her, and Riza crinkled her nose in response, and then Edward was by his side, speaking into his walkie-talkie that they were on the move, and confirming Roy's suspicions that he had most likely heard their entire conversation. Roy collected his shoes and put them on, and shrugged back on his jacket, knowing it would be cold outside. The blonde man placed a hand on the small of his back to guide him out of the flat, and once more Roy thought to pull him up on it, but he was stumbling slightly from the alcohol intake, and it was actually nice to have something to ground him, so he looked away and kept his mouth shut. Then, with a wave to Riza, the two of them were in the corridor and heading back to the car.
Edward opened doors for him on to the street and went out first, eyes scanning the area, and he opened the door to the car as well. This time Roy fell in more eagerly, a mix of alcohol and embarrassment making him docile. Edward drove them in silence back to Roy's flat, and when they arrived at the door Roy fumbled with his key to let them in, feeling hot behind the ears because he had just confessed to picking Edward to have sex with in a hypothetical situation, and now he was tipsy and leading the man up to his apartment.
"It's not much." He heard himself saying as they arrived in the corridor outside his front door, and he wanted to shoot himself for saying it. Edward didn't care – he was only there as a job.
As they reached his door Roy noticed another man stood outside it, still as a statue, and then the blonde held out his hand for the key, and dutifully, Roy handed it over, looking around the corridor so he didn't have to look at his ex-subordinate. Edward opened the door with a nod to the guard, and motioned for Roy to follow him inside. They entered into a small corridor and as Roy closed the door behind him Ed said:
He went to move off, but the wine was making Roy brave and argumentative.
"It's just my flat!" He objected, going to walk into it properly, but Ed turned and glared at him, raising his hands in anger.
"Just wait here." He ordered, and then seemed to deflate at whatever expression Roy was giving him. Given how he felt, Roy imagined his face was conveying something akin to shocked devastation. "Please." The blonde said, and it was the first polite thing he'd said all day, and so Roy planted his feet and stayed in the corridor, feeling ridiculous and upset, but obedient.
It took Ed another three minutes to scour the flat for any signs of foul play or suspicious activity, and when he was finally happy with the result he returned to the entry way and nodded to Roy.
"Thank you." He said, and it made Roy feel guilty for arguing. The General nodded, checking his pocket watch for the time, and noting that it was almost eight. He imagined it had been a very long working day for Edward.
"Where are you staying?" He asked before he could stop himself. Ed seemed a little surprised by the question.
"The Alverbank." He replied, and Roy recognised it as a mid-range hotel a few streets away, by the river bank. "There will be a guard outside your door all night." He added, and Roy felt himself flush slightly, because clearly Edward thought he had been asking out of concern for himself. He shook his head.
"Right, I mean..." He sighed. "He has to stay out there all night?" He asked, changing direction because it had just occurred to him what a terrible job that was for the guard outside. Edward looked at him in consideration for a moment.
"No, they take shifts. There's due to be three shift change-overs during the night." He explained, and then frowned, as if considering his next words. After a moment, he spoke again, this time carefully and gently, as if speaking to a child. "If you ever feel unsafe, you can call me at the hotel, and I'll come."
All of a sudden Roy felt way too close to the man, and he took a step back, putting himself against the wall, and he leant into the coolness of it, feeling drunk on wine and nostalgia. He nodded to Ed, although he was already telling himself he would never call the boy during the night. Nevertheless, Ed took a pen and wad of paper from his inside coat pocket, briefly flashing his gun-holster as he did so, and wrote down the number for the hotel. He handed it to Roy, who took it mutely. He turned to the door, readying to leave, and then turned back to Roy at the last moment, frowning as if he suspected that Roy had no intention of calling, even if he was getting shot at.
"I mean it, Mustang." He said, very seriously. "I'm your bodyguard. I will protect you."
Chapter 2: Lunch Date
"I didn't think there would be a problem with my date being a he, after your conversation with Captain Hawkeye last night."
Roy woke up three times during the night, listening to each change over as the guards outside his door swapped to get rest or start duty. He wasn't sure if he would have woken had Ed not warned him there was due to be three, but each time he dutifully woke up and listened to footfalls and hushed conversation as one guard handed over to the next. He never felt unsafe or unguarded, and despite the fact that he had the paper with Ed's hotel number written on it by his bed, he didn't feel the need to call.
Come morning he was feeling refreshed enough to tackle another day at work, but still distinctly tired from his broken sleep pattern, so it took him a few extra minutes to convince himself to get out from under the duvet. It was his bladder that eventually convinced him from the warmth of bed, and he stumbled to the bathroom to splash some water on his face, relieve himself, and face the day. Another ten minutes after that he was stood in his kitchen in his soft tartan lounge-pants that he wore to bed, and the white shirt he intended to wear under his uniform that day, cradling a cup of tea with a splash of milk and a guilty-pleasure spoonful of sugar that he wouldn't allow himself at work.
He'd only taken one sip when there was a knock at the door, and he padded bare-foot across the carpeted hallway to see who was there. He still had the cup of tea in one hand, and he had raised his other to open the door when he remembered there was currently a threat on his life, and he shouldn't be opening the door to just anyone. There should be a guard outside that would deal with visitors. He bit his lip, suddenly worried, when a recognisable voice floated through the wood.
"It's me." It said.
Roy opened the door to see Edward Elric stood on the other side. He had his hair pulled up into a messy man-bun with a thick hair-tie, with strands sticking out at odd angles, and there were small bags under his eyes that suggested he also hadn't faired too well in the sleep department. He was wearing another black top, this one a deep V-neck that showed off his collar bones, and had sleeves that pooled at his elbows, giving a very meterosexual vibe. He'd paired with his dark Levi's, and heavy duty boots, and in his hand he was holding a brown paper bag folded over at the top.
"Come in." Roy said, stepping aside so Ed could bypass him. The blonde did, giving the apartment a customary once over, and then he looked back to Roy as the older man closed the door again.
"I brought breakfast over." He said in way of greeting, holding up the bag. "Re-con on you said you usually buy something from the bakery across the street, but that's ill advised in these circumstances, so I picked something up."
He held out the bag to Roy, and the General recognised the logo stamped on the front, advising the pastries had come from Alver Bakery, his favoured breakfast haunt. Inside was a plain croissant, and a FranzbrÖtchen with raisins, and Roy could feel his mouth watering at the sight of it. He wondered if his penchant for sweet pastries was also in the re-con report Ed had received on him, and felt odd knowing that Edward had read intelligence on him.
"Thank you." He said, because it had been kind, and not really part of Fullmetal's job, to bring him breakfast. He padded back into the kitchen and found two plates in the cupboard, and then split both pastries in half and put half of one on each plate, before giving one to Edward. The blonde looked at it for a long moment, and then scratched the back of his neck in what was clearly a nervous habit.
"I brought them for you." He mumbled. Roy nodded.
"I know, but I don't like to eat alone." He said, which was a thinly veiled command to keep him company. He set the boy's plate down on his kitchen table and collected his cup of tea where he had briefly put it down on the side, whilst Ed awkwardly sat down. "Did you want a tea?" He asked, looking over his shoulder. He wondered whether Edward would get in trouble with his bosses at VGA for eating with him.
"Coffee, if you have it?" Edward replied after a moment, and when Roy nodded and busied himself making a brew, he added; "No milk."
Roy fought the urge to call him out on his aversion, reminding himself that Edward was no longer a teen under his command, and teasing was generally kept for friendships. He rinsed the leaves from the kettle from his previous cup of tea and re-filled it with new water, before clapped his hands together to reboil it. Pouring it into a mug with some instant coffee and watching the two elements mix together to create a swirling black drink.
"Sugar?" He asked.
"No, thank you." Was the reply, and he carried the brew over to the table and placed it in front of Edward, who looked at it with something akin to sadness for a moment. Roy sat down at the table and picked up his half of croissant, thinking to save the sweeter pastry for after, and tucked into his breakfast. After a moment, Ed did the same. When they had eaten quietly for a moment the blonde looked over to the kettle and bits and bobs for hot drink making strewn over Roy's kitchen counter-top, and said; "That's the first time I've seen you do Alchemy without a circle."
Roy glanced up at his guest, instantly feeling terrible. He hadn't thought about it when he had needed to reboil the kettle – if there was one good thing to come out of being forced into opening the Gate of Truth, it was the convenience of Alchemy without an array – but he hadn't given any thought into how Fullmetal might react to it, having given up his own connection to Alchemy (his one true passion) six years prior. He coughed awkwardly.
"I apologise if -"
"That's not it." Ed cut him off hastily. "I just realised that you've had that ability for six years and this is the first time I've seen it." He sighed, looking down at his half eaten breakfast and untouched coffee. "It's truly been a long time, hasn't it?"
Roy was caught off guard by an overwhelming urge to lean across the table and hug the boy. He knew in that moment that Edward was much more mature than six years previous, and probably inherently more mature than Roy was at thirty-seven. The issue of the six year absence had been hanging between them as palpable tension since the day before, and Roy would never have brought it up, despite a desperate wish to acknowledge it, but Edward had bitten the bullet and thrown it into the air. Now they had to talk about it, and Roy could kiss the blonde for making it so.
"You're the one who left." Roy found himself saying, and then wanted to kick himself because he hadn't meant for it to be a blame game. Ed nodded.
"I needed to get away." He replied. "I was never cut out for the military anyway."
Roy pouted, and looked down into his tea so that Edward couldn't pull him up on it.
"When I got my eyesight back I thought about visiting you, but I didn't think it would be appreciated." He confessed. Ed stiffened, and picked up his coffee to have something to do with his hands.
"It would have been." He responded, and left it hanging in the air between them.
Roy wanted to ask for clarification, to understand what that meant, and why a visit from a CO he had spent years hating would have been appreciated, but it felt like there was more going on in Ed's personal life than Roy had a right to pry into. He sipped his tea mournfully and took a moment to study the man in front of him. He looked tired, and like his hair hadn't been brushed before he'd slapped it up into the bun. Roy wanted to drag his fingers through it to straighten out the strands, and when he realised what he was thinking about he took a larger than necessary gulp of tea and ended up spluttering and coughing inelegantly.
Ed stood, crossed around the table and smacked him on the back a few times, and when Roy had finished panic coughing, the blonde went and sat back down again, smirking across the table to the General. Roy could tell he was going to call him out on his uncool fit, and so quickly changed the subject.
"I don't imagine working Close Protection leaves you much time for getting back to Rush Valley." He stated. "Don't you miss your wife and kids?"
He had clearly chosen the wrong subject, because Edward put down his coffee mug with some force and glared at the wall over Roy's shoulder, muscles tense like he was ready to pounce on the next thing that annoyed him. He breathed out slowly and calculatedly, as if counting in his head to avoid his temper getting the best of him.
"I..." He gulped, and looked at Roy with a furrowed brow. "Winry and I are getting divorced." He confessed.
Roy wasn't entirely surprised. The day before Ed had been fielding questions from Fuery about the state of his marriage, attempting to steer the conversation away from his relationship with Winry, and every time his family had been mentioned he had become stiff and visibly upset. Then there was the fact that Edward had married so young. Roy wasn't adverse to the idea of people marrying young, for many people it worked out and they had a long and fulfilling marriage until one of them popped their clogs. Edward had married his childhood sweetheart, so it made sense they had tied the knot early, but the cold hard facts stated that those people who walked the aisle before they were twenty-five were five times more likely to have it all come crashing down around them.
He still frowned and bent his head in apology.
"I am sorry to hear that." He said, and he was. It's never nice to hear that somebody's marriage hadn't worked out.
Ed shrugged his shoulders, but the gesture was far from casual – more put on for the sake of looking like he wasn't upset, when clearly he was.
"I don't blame her for wanting to break it off. I cheated on her." He confessed, which Roy was really surprised at. He glanced up at Ed, and his shock must have shown on his face, because the blonde snorted in obvious anger at his own actions. "I don't know if I ever really loved her, like that, you know. Of course I love her, and always will. She's been my best friend since as long as I can remember, and she's the mother of my children – but I started sleeping with other people before we even got married, and I told myself it would stop once we'd taken our vows, but it didn't. I know full well I'm the one to blame here."
There was a lingering 'but' hanging in the air, but Ed took a deep sip of coffee and didn't say anything.
"What about the kids?" Roy asked, running on a hunch. Edward winced, which pretty much confirmed the 'but'.
"They're staying with their mother at the moment. We're not actually divorced yet so there's no court issued visitation rules… which means I'm kind of at Winry's mercy." He explained. "She's not… she let's me see them, which is good. I know I don't really deserve -"
"You deserve to be able to see your kids, Edward." Roy cut him off hastily, knowing the signs of a self-depreciating sentence. "So you did a shitty thing, you admit that, but that doesn't mean you stopped loving your children, and you of all people know how important it is for them to have a father."
"I'm trying." He mumbled. "I want to be their dad. But Winry only lets me see them if she's there, and every time I go round she's so mad at me, it's hard to stay in a situation where your kids think your presence upsets their mum."
Roy nodded. He couldn't blame Winry, if he was honest. If what Edward had told him was true, and there was no reason for him to believe it not to be, then Winry had every right to be mad. She probably didn't realise it was her anger that was affecting Edward's relationship with his kids so much, and had probably put it down to Edward being a bad father – after all, he had confessed to being a terrible husband. Roy would suggest the two of them communicate more, but by the sounds of Ed's serial cheating, he'd never been very good at communicating to begin with.
By this point their breakfast had been eaten and their cups had been drained, without much else to keep him in the kitchen Roy had to excuse himself to quickly get changed, and by the time he came back out of his bedroom, clothed in his uniform and more ready for the day, Edward was back into professional mode, standing still and silent and waiting by the door. Roy made his way over to his bodyguard, and before Ed could open the door and push him out into the corridor he put his hand on the blonde's shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.
"It will get easier." He tried, although he didn't know that for sure, because he had never been married, let alone divorced. Edward shrugged his shoulders, and pushed the door open, and they were back to being General and Bodyguard again, as if their breakfast conversation hadn't even happened.
They arrived at the office twenty-seven minutes later; it was only a short car journey, ten minutes tops, even in reasonable traffic, and Ed knew the roads well enough to take them on short-cuts that very few people knew of; but when they arrived at HQ they were stopped consistently by officers wanting to know if it really was the Fullmetal Alchemist returned to Central. Ed would give them a polite greeting, but check his watch so that everyone knew he didn't want to be having the conversation, and hurry them along because he didn't want Roy out in the open for too long.
When they finally made it to the office Breda was leafing through a Central Base newsletter, and Weir was talking to Fallman about a new training regime that had been suggested for the cadets. Roy waved a quick greeting to them all, and made his way to his desk, and Edward followed him to it, checking it over before the General was permitted to sit down. Once he did he sent Ed a slightly miffed look and blonde smirked, going over to make himself a home by the door in the same spot as the day before. He was instantly pounced upon by Fuery, and Roy noticed with some annoyance and an entirely knew perspective, that the bespectacled young man was introducing Edward to Gyasi.
He noted with even more annoyance that Fullmetal seemed a little taken with her looks, and offered her a winning smile, and he berated himself for being annoyed about it. Edward had every right to flirt with Gyasi – he was separated from his wife, about to be divorced, and he wasn't part of the military any more, so fraternization laws didn't apply to him. But still, it grated on him.
To distract himself he read over the mess of paperwork on his desk, and was just about to get stuck in to an essay on how they could cut back costs in recruitment, when he spotted a bright yellow post-it note tapped to his desk tidy, with large black letters scrawled across it.
Lunch - Ellis. 1PM.
He frowned, the 12th of August was that day, and Ellis was referring to Colonel Ellis, who worked Personnel and Morale down on the first floor, west wing, but he couldn't for the life of him think why he would have scheduled a lunch with a Colonel who's chief responsibility was to keep officer's happy by making sure the cafeteria was well stocked and that there were regular show-girls sent out to the various bases to keep soldiers entertained. It was incredibly outside of his area of expertise, and he found himself wishing he still had Hawkeye in the office, as she had always been good at keeping on top of arrangements and reminding him why he had agreed to things in the first place. With nothing to stop him from making bad decisions, and because he had just looked up and Edward was still flirting with the only female member of his team, he shouted out to her.
"Gyasi!" He barked, making the woman jump and turn to him.
Now that he had her attention he felt entirely stupid for shouting at her. She wasn't really doing anything wrong – people flirted at work all the time, days would be incredibly dull without it. He frowned at himself, wondering why he was acting so foolish.
"Any chance you remember why I set up a lunch with Colonel Ellis today?" He asked, because it was on his mind. Gyasi bit her lower lip as she thought, and Roy watched Ed watch her, feeling a fiery pool of something flicking in his stomach.
"Yes, actually." Gyasi replied after a moment. "She wanted to discuss the presence of decorated State Alchemist's around HQ and how they can do their bit to raise morale of the every day soldier."
Actually, now that she said it, that did ring a bell. He glanced one more at his post-it note as Breda snorted in amusement and winked at their female team-mate.
"Boss is gonna be a show-girl now." He told her, laughing.
That type of office banter wasn't uncommon, and usually Roy would have just laughed it off, but he was already feeling odd that day, and he'd looked up just in time to see Edward smirking along to the train of thought. He imagined Edward had thought of him as much worse than a bit of comic relief in the past, but now the idea of Fullmetal laughing at him had his hackles rising and he was stood from his chair before he could stop himself.
"Don't be ridiculous Breda!" He snapped, glaring, and Breda rose an eyebrow at him and then mumbled an apology, turning back to the newsletter he had been leafing through. Roy instantly deflated, but there was still a fiery something in his stomach that wouldn't let up. He turned back to Gyasi, feeling hot under the collar because of his outburst. He still needed to find out more information about his lunch, because his scrawled notes weren't comprehensive enough – another reason he missed Riza. "Um… you wouldn't happen to remember where this lunch is taking place?" He asked.
Gyasi rolled her eyes at him, which was clear insubordination, but Roy had never been one for clear cut rules and he wanted his men to trust him, not fear him, so he let it slide. She went over to her desk and started leafing through an organiser.
"Breskin's, I believe." She told him, pulling out a card and showing it to him.
On it was a written receipt of a booking for two at Breskin's restaurant for that day's date. Breskin's was a fairly well-to-do place, serving mid-range meals but decent wine, and it always made the effort with table-cloths and waiter-service. It was exactly the kind of place Roy would book for a business lunch. As he nodded to the Warrant Officer, Edward strode over and looked at the card over her shoulder, muttering to himself.
"Do you remember if you booked anywhere specific in the restaurant?" He asked Roy. The General nodded – he always booked by the back, near a fire-exit. He told as much to Ed, who relayed the information into his walkie-talkie and then said into it: "Book me a table for two there as well, close as possible – no need to alert everyone that he's being tailed so I'll get a date. I want an operative outside the restaurant, and another one as a waiter or something." There was a short pause, and then Ed huffed noisily and said: "Just get it done, Ming. One PM."
He rolled his eyes but said nothing else into his receiver after that, and went back to stand by the door. Roy exchanged a look with Gyasi, who shrugged her shoulders and went back to work, and so he too returned to his desk and tried to focus on his job, all the while wondering just who exactly Edward was going to call last minute as a date.
About twenty minutes after that conversation, a young man with a hooked nose and a deep scar over his lip turned up to the office and greeted Ed like they were old friends. The blonde told this new man that he would be gone for less than half an hour, and to keep an eye on 'the situation', before heading out of the office to goodness knows where. Not long after, true to his word within the half hour, he returned, looking smug, and sent the man with the scar on his way. Roy figured this was probably Edward securing his 'date' and left it at that, until twenty to one, when he stood from his desk to attend his lunch.
Edward followed him out to the hall, eyes dancing nervously as they always did when they were on the move, and muttering into his walkie-talkie, giving the elusive team updates.
"Do we need to pick up your date?" Roy asked, feeling that unfamiliar lick of fire burning in his gut.
"He'll meet me there." Ed replied good-naturedly, and Roy almost fell over himself when he caught up with the pronoun. He gaped after Edward, who was travelling a little ahead of him to look out for threats, and then shook himself out of his confusion and said, meekly;
Edward shot him a slightly amused look over his shoulder.
"I didn't think there would be a problem with my date being a he, after your conversation with Captain Hawkeye last night."
And with that simple sentence, Roy felt the bottom of his stomach fall away, and he wanted to crawl into the nearest corner and let the ground swallow him up. He had known on a base level that there was no way he had got away with Edward not hearing his game with Riza, but he had hoped that something between professionalism and humanity would stop Ed from bringing it up. Apparently Edward Elric knew no such things, and now he was in the situation of staring down a man he had admitted the previous night, under the loosening of alcohol, that he would most likely fuck.
Given there wasn't another choice, he reminded himself.
It didn't stop the heat from rising to his cheeks, and he looked way passed Ed's shoulder in order to avoid looking at the young man. He wasn't entirely sure what do to with this new information either – if Edward had done this when he was a kid then Roy would have tried to talk to Ed about it, and acted as a father figure – but Ed wasn't a kid any more, he was a married and soon to be divorced man, who was apparently a serial cheater. Roy had to assume he'd done all the exploring he needed to do, and had settled firmly into the bisexual camp.
Of which Roy had, until twenty seconds ago, been the only member of in his mind, and now there was him and Edward – and things felt complicated.
They made it to the car with no issues, and Ed dutifully drove them to Breskin's without saying a word, or teasing Roy further on the game he had been playing with Hawkeye the night before. Roy spent his time in the back of the vehicle daydreaming about when Ed had found out he was moving between camps, and if it had been a deciding factor in his marriage ending. He wondered if Winry even knew about Ed's preferences, or whether she just knew he had cheated – and whether if she did know, if it would make her even more furious. He tried to come up with other people he knew that swung both ways, and came up short. He knew plenty of people that were gay, or lesbians, but the typical response when you told someone you liked both genders an equal amount was 'you just haven't decided which you like best yet'.
Which gave him a weird sense of camaraderie with the blonde driving him. Bisexuals together, as it were. He was just beginning to smile at the idea, when the glass on the window across from him burst and shattered, and then the front left tire blew out, spinning the car and bringing them to a stop. Roy was still hearing tinkling glass and nothing else in his ears for a few seconds, before his mind caught up with what was happening and everything came back into sharp focus.
"GET DOWN! GET DOWN!" Edward was yelling from the front, and Roy watched as he slid down in his driver's seat and turned around so he could reach between the front seats and grapple at Roy, who belatedly sunk down in his chair and ended up on the floor, squished in the foot-well.
His breath came out in laboured, panicked bursts, and he could only watch, dumbfounded, as Ed pulled one of the revolvers from his holster and held it in his hands, and then turned to Roy through the gap in the seats and studied him with wide golden eyes. Roy cowered lower in the foot-well and tried not to make any sound beyond his harsh breathing.
"It's okay. It's okay." Ed repeated, pushing out his left hand, the hand not holding the gun, and shaking Roy a little by his squished up shin. "It's okay." He said again; "I just need you to make your way over to the shattered window, and get underneath it."
Roy glanced across the car to the broken window, where shattered glass had blown inwards and was scattered across the seat and floor. It wasn't even two feet of travel, but suddenly getting underneath the window seemed insurmountable. He looked back to Ed, who gave him an encouraging nod.
"It's okay." He repeated again. "Don't mind the glass, it's just a little bit of glass. You can do it." He encouraged calmly, and Roy wanted to tell him he couldn't – that he was shaking too much to even begin crawling over – but the gentle, calming tone of Ed's voice had him nodding, and he slowly began shuffling over.
He was just climbing over the bump in the floor in the middle of the back when another two shots sounded from close-by, and he instinctively threw himself flat on the floor, embedding shards of glass in his forearms.
"Fuck." He hissed, out of pain and panic, but then Ed's hand was back on him, this time on the back of his thigh, and pushing him further along.
"Keep going, you're doing great." He encouraged, and then; "It's all okay."
Roy knew very well it was not all okay. They were stranded in a car with it's tires most likely blown out, in the middle of quite a public road, one window already smashed, and getting shot at. He knew Ed was thinking about the mathematics of it – the angles. It stood to reason they were being shot at from the right, where the window had broken, and based on the entry angle the shooter was low, and so if Roy could get under that same window, then the shooter wouldn't be able to get a good angle to shoot at him with. He knew all that, but it didn't make him any less scared, or any more likely to believe Edward's desperate reassurances that everything was okay. This wasn't the first attempt on his life, but it was the first one that hadn't been shut down by Hawkeye or a combat team before it even became an attempt.
Finally he was under the window, and he pulled his legs up under his chin and ducked his head down to make himself as small a target as possible. He could see Edward through the gap between the seat and the door, and he kept his eyes locked on the blonde head of hair to distract himself from the fact that he had been shot at on his way to a business lunch. Edward had pressed the button to communicate on his walkie-talkie but hadn't taken it off his belt, and was now swearing at it quite loudly. Roy winced as more shots ran out through the air. He could hear people screaming on the street, and imagined citizens running in all directions, panicking and causing a hold-up.
"We're on Oslo Street, about three metres away from the turn off to Poet's Corner. Shooter appears to be in a building to the right." Edward was saying to someone of the other end of the line, and then he pushed himself up to take a look at the situation, and dragged himself back down into the relative cover of the vehicle. "There's an empty office block to our right, it used to be the old Lighting House, the shooter might be using it as cover."
Roy tried to pull up an imagine in his mind of the public space outside. He knew the names; Oslo Street; Poet's Corner; Lighting House, and tried to conjure the images of them, but all he could see and hear was the blank face of an unknown shooter aiming their gun in his direction, and believing they were killing for the sake of fixing corruption in Government.
Edward pushed his hand through the gap between the seat and the door and Roy took hold of it in his own, feeling slightly calmed by the younger man's firm squeeze.
"It's okay, my team are on their way." The blonde told him, going for an easy-going smile and missing by a mile. Roy gave a short nod, resting the side of his head against the door frame below the blown out window and tying to ignore the fact that his whole body was shaking. Ed opened his mouth to say something more, but then stilled and quieted, giving Roy's hand another squeeze before letting it go. Roy caught eye-contact with his bodyguard, feeling lost now he wasn't being physically reassured, and found Ed had pressed a finger to his lips, his other hand pulling his revolver close and readying it.
It was then that Roy heard what Edward had evidently already realised, and his heart stopped beating momentarily in panic. Outside the door, heavy, slow footsteps, getting closer. There was no way it was Ed's team – he would have heard through his wire that they were there, and wouldn't need to ready his gun. The younger man motioned with his hand for Roy to get even closer under the window, and Roy pushed himself against the frame and tried not to make any noise.
He scrunched his eyes shut and tried not to imagine the shooter stood just outside the door, pointing his gun down into the open window and killing Roy with one pull of the trigger and a bullet through the top of his head.
Edward waited for a moment longer, and then reached behind himself and unlatched the door, tumbling out with his revolver pointed directly at where he had estimated the shooter to be, given the sound of the footfalls. There was the sound of the gunshot, an incoherent yell, a small scuffle, and then silence – in which Roy reflected he was not dead, but Fullmetal might be, and a horrible weight of dread settled on his chest. He felt physically sick, wondering why he hadn't thought to use his alchemy. Why had he relied on Edward to use a gun, when he could have snapped his fingers with pinpoint accuracy and ended this entire charade. He was pretty much the entire reason why Edward was probably dea-
His door was jostled open and he fell backwards out of the car, letting out something which was definitely a scream, but he'd like to think of as still fairly manly, given the situation. He smacked his head on the pavement, swearing, and crowding his arms over his head to shield his face from the man who wanted him dead instinctively.
"Holy - shit, sorry." Said a recognisable voice, and then there was blonde hair in his face and strong arms lifting him up and fingers with bitten down nails carded through his hair to cradle his head and check for damage where the back of it had hit the pavement. Roy squinted and moaned in pain, and allowed Edward to manhandle him for a moment.
"Ow." He whined, and Edward chuckled lightly, which should have annoyed Roy because clearly he was being laughed at, but only made his heart swell happily because he was so thankful that Edward was alive. He looked around at the scene, assuming he would see the dead body of the shooter, because if Edward hadn't been the one who was shot, then clearly Ed must have shot the other guy, but what he saw was a dirty, middle-aged man who was cuffed around a lamp-post and clearly knocked out. He looked back to Ed, and noticed he was bleeding from just above the elbow on his right arm. "What happened?" He asked, gasping slightly.
Edward shrugged, looking sheepish, a blush that reminded Roy of when the blonde had just been a moody teenager gracing his cheeks.
"He went to shoot me when he saw me, and I went to deflect the bullet with my auto-mail but… uh." He bit his lip, and Roy couldn't help a small amused laugh, despite the fact that his ex-subordinate had just admitted to being shot.
"No more auto-mail." He responded, and Ed nodded. He didn't look overly in pain, but Roy couldn't help but stare at the bullet hole in his arm, wincing.
"Yeah, but I'm pretty used to being shot at." He confessed, which didn't make Roy feel any better. "So I hit him around the head with the butt of my gun, which knocked him out, and cuffed him to the lamp-post. I've been out here a few minutes and no ones shot at me other than him so my instinct is he was alone." He explained, which seemed anticlimactic after how much Roy had worried and panicked about it. Edward pulled him to his feet and let go of him, suddenly looking awkward. "The team will be here on clear up any minute. They should have already called the police. How's your head?" He asked.
Roy could hear sirens in the distance, and felt a sense of calm wash over him. His hand jumped to the back of his head and felt the stickiness there, it hurt somewhat, and as he bought his hand back his fingers were red with blood. His arms were bleeding too, and there was shards of glass embedded in them.
"Bleeding." He replied, making Ed smirk amusedly. He pushed himself to his feet and was steadied by Edward's firm hand on his forearm when he swayed dangerously. He berated himself for the reaction, because the blonde had literally been shot, and yet he was being supported and acting faint just because he had bumped his head. Everything was coming to him in sharp focus, and he was trying very hard not to pay attention to the way Ed hadn't let go of him, and how the blonde's fingers were circling his wrists.
To distract himself, he looked at the car, and sighed, seeing the burst out tire and broken window – there was no way they were getting to the restaurant for the lunch. Their best bet was to get to a hospital and call the restaurant from there to explain to Colonel Ellis why they wouldn't make it. He explained as much to Ed, who looked at him with an expression that clearly said 'duh', and then the police were upon them and Edward had to break off to explain what had happened to the officials.
By the time he was done Roy was feeling more than just a little faint, but Ed had managed to convince the police officers to give them a lift to the hospital, and so it only took them a few minutes to get there. As they sped away Roy saw another car pull up, and some men and women wearing earpieces like Ed's started talking to the remaining police officers and clearing up the wreckage they had left behind. Then, when they arrived in the hospital foyer, they were met by a Xingese woman who has a buzz-cut and an eyebrow piercing, wearing a short black cheongasm with thigh-high boots, who clicked her tongue at Edward, scowling.
Edward scowled back at her, and then said something very fast in fluent Xingese that had Roy's head reeling, although some of that might have been from his head injury. The young man turned to him. "This is Ming-Yue." He introduced. "She'll be acting as your main protection agent while I get this bullet out of my arm. But I'll be back as soon as I'm processed out, so don't get too attached." He added in warning.
Roy found himself nodding along dumbly, and then Ming-Yue was leading him over to the nurses station and he was looking back over his shoulder to watch Edward being lead into an operations room and out of sight.
Roy found a phone in the foyer and called the restaurant whilst he was waiting to be seen, and the staff there put Ellis on the line. She was incredibly understanding when he explained to her why he couldn't make it, as he had assumed she would be, and she promised they would 'catch up' soon. He hadn't known the name of Ed's date, or any identifying features so that he might ask after the person, and so hadn't been able to give them the same courtesy, but he figured Edward would be able to smooth things over.
When he was finally called in, the doctors painstakingly picked out all of the glass from his arms using tweezers, took a look at the back of his head, where they frowned and grumbled, before shining a torch in his eyes and warning him that if he felt like he was going to fall asleep than to make sure somebody was with him who could wake him up every two hours and check off that his condition wasn't worsening. They asked in concerned tones what had happened to receive the injury, clearly assuming something awful given the police had dropped him off, talking in loud tones about a terrorist attack, and Roy ended up explaining sheepishly that he had been leaning against a door when someone opened it – not wanting to get in to the ordeal of the attack beforehand.
He was sent on his way with another stern warning about not falling asleep, and a sticker on his uniform that proclaimed in block capitals 'I BUMPED MY HEAD TODAY'. They told him it was so that if he collapsed or ended up vomiting up his guts, people might understand why, and could get him to a hospital quicker. Roy felt more like a preschooler; getting a sticker for being 'brave' at the doctors.
Ming-Yue had not left his side during the entire appointment, but she hadn't said a single word to him either. She was quite a scary-looking woman, with her buzz-cut and her alternative style of dress. Roy had attempted to talk to her, but she had looked at him with clear dislike, and hadn't deigned to respond, so he had given up trying. Instead he sat in the waiting area until Ed was processed out of the operations unit, and the blonde came sliding up to him with a lazy smile and a bloodied bullet in a zip-lock pocket bag.
"They let me keep the bullet." He said in lieu of a greeting, eyes glazed over slightly and lips opening to show off his teeth. Roy stood up to meet him, and felt the very odd urge to tell the bodyguard that he'd 'got a sticker', but was saved the embarrassment of actually saying that out loud by Ming-Yue, who started hissing in rapid-fire Xingese as soon as Ed was within earshot. The blonde listened carefully and then said: "You drive then."
He then frowned dramatically and confusedly, and turned to Roy, who rose an expectant eyebrow. The boy was clearly off his rocker on painkillers; which he supposed is what Ming-Yue had been lecturing him about.
"Back to the restaurant?" Ed asked, sounding confused and a little giddy. Roy shook his head.
"I've called already." He explained, and then, more sheepishly because now he was feeling guilty about it. "I don't think your date knows."
Ed looked at him for a long moment, as if trying to decipher what Roy had said, or who exactly Roy was, and then nodded decisively.
"Back to your place, then."
Roy snorted in amusement at the young man's clear lack of functional braincells, and shook his head.
"Back to the office, Fullmetal." He corrected.
At his words, however, Ed surged forwards, to the point where he toppled himself over, and Roy was forced to catch him. Ed seemed unperturbed by this development and glared at Roy with molten-gold eyes, one hand resting on Roy's shoulder and the other cradled in Roy's own for support. Clearly high on meds, Roy repeated to himself.
"I bumped my head today." Ed said, and it took Roy a moment to realise he was reading the words off his sticker. The blonde's brow furrowed in confusion. "You. You bumped your head. You need rest!" He decided.
Roy didn't disagree – he was exhausted – but he was on strict orders not to fall asleep for twelve hours unless there was someone who could keep an eye on him. He said as much to Ed, who glared at him a little longer like he just couldn't figure Roy out, and then rolled his eyes.
"I'll keep an eye on you, bastard." He huffed, falling back to the nickname he had loved so much in his adolescence. Roy sighed heartily, wondering how long it would be until Ed was back to the adult that had walked into his life yesterday, and not off in cuckoo-land because of morphine. Edward turned to Ming-Yue. "His apartment. He's going to sleep." He told her. "And… I'm going to watch him sleep!"
Roy tried really hard not to laugh, but he was completely unsuccessful. Ed glared a him a little longer, and then seemed to realise that he was flopped over Roy and being held up by the General, and righted himself quickly. Ming-Yue rolled her eyes at her colleague and snapped her fingers as she stalked past them, in what Roy had very quickly come to learn meant 'follow me'. Not wanting to upset her, he fell into step behind her, and noticed that Ed had done the same, with a small amount of grumbling about manners, which just seemed so incredibly rich coming from the Fullmetal Alchemist that Roy completely failed not to laugh again.
Ming-Yue made sure to travel with them right up to Roy's front door. She waited until Roy unlocked the door and then turned to the guard that had been standing in the corridor when they arrived.
"You go in and check the place – Elric is useless right now."
Which was the first thing Roy had heard her say in Amestrian, and he couldn't disagree with it. Edward was pretty useless as a bodyguard, high as he was on whatever painkillers the doctors that had removed the bullet in his arm had given him. The boy was able to support himself now, but was still smiling lazily at everything he saw and sometimes bursting into loud, bark-like laughter for what appeared to be no reason. He looked at the guard now and nodded very seriously.
"She's right, you know." He said, and then promptly dissolved into a fit of laughter that he was clearly trying to quench, but only made it sound like actual, Honest-to-God giggles.
"Alright Fullmetal, I thought you wanted to watch me sleep." Roy teased him, although with the state of his mind he wasn't entirely sure that Edward understood it was teasing, or that he should even be embarrassed at proclaiming that he was going to watch his ex-CO sleep. He opened the door and the two of them entered into the small entry-way with the guard, who asked them politely to wait where they were whilst he checked the place over. Roy couldn't see there would be any change from that morning, given that there was supposedly a guard stationed outside the only entrance the entire time, but allowed the man to do his job whilst he tried to fight off yawns. Ed was still chuckling to himself, looking off into space, seeing something that no-one else was capable of.
When the guard returned the blonde turned to him and said;
"Can you ask someone to check Mustang's office for bugs? Someone had to know we'd be passing by Oslo Street in order to set up that attack, and I want to know how."
The guard looked shocked at Edward's sudden bout of clear-headedness and attention to his bodyguard role, and nodded solemnly, making his way out of the apartment to set up his guard-station again and get someone on the job of checking for bugs. Roy was surprised too, and turned to Ed to figure out when he'd cleared the effects of the meds, but the boy's sudden turn to professionalism seemed to have disappeared as soon as it had come, and he was back to lazy smiles and glossy golden eyes.
He reached upwards and pulled his hair out of the messy man-bun it had been in since that morning and let the blonde locks fall about his face and down his shoulders and back, moaning appreciatively as he massaged his fingers into his scalp, clearly relieving some of the pressure it had been in.
Roy felt his throat go dry, and quickly turned away.
"I'm exhausted." He stated, making his way towards the bedroom. "Are you sure you're up to checking on me?"
He made it to the doorway to his bedroom and turned back, to where Ed was standing still in the entryway. The blonde cleared his throat and pointed to the kitchen, where they had sat just that morning and commiserated over the young man's failing marriage. It seemed a world away, now that they had been attacked.
"Do you mind if I..." Ed started, then waved his hand in the air as he tried to find the right words through his drug-addled brain. "Coffee. Strong. Need it." He added, and Roy nodded, smiling at the sight of his ex-subordinate in such a state but obviously thinking clear enough to realise he still had a job to do and needed to negate the effects of the painkillers.
"Anything you want, Ed." He said, and realised in that moment that he truly meant it. He looked down at his shoes at the realisation, feeling awkward, because he didn't know Edward that well – not this Edward, this married and soon to be divorced, father of two, bodyguard Edward he hadn't seen for six years – and shouldn't be offering the young man anything he wanted. "Just… wake me in two hours." He added, trying to gain back some professional distance.
And he turned into his bedroom to get ready for bed, sat down on the mattress to kick off his shoes, and then fell back towards the soft duvet, asleep before his head hit the pillows.
"Hey, wake up."
Roy could feel a soft hand jostling his shoulders, and moaned in annoyance at whoever was trying to pull him back from his dreams. In his sleep he had been drinking coffee with his parents, telling the long-dead people all about his life, and hearing them tell him how proud they were of him, and he wasn't yet ready to wake up and leave them behind again.
"Come on, Mustang." Said the honey-mellow voice of the man trying to wake him, and Roy blearily blinked his eyes open, frowning at the headache that he was becoming more aware of the more towards consciousness he got.
He reached out with his arm and tapped whoever it was, who caught his fingers, sighing, and pushed them back down towards him. Roy turned over on to his back and blinked upwards, and was met with intense golden eyes and long blonde hair that fell down over Edwards shoulders, long enough to tickle at Roy's cheeks where Edward was leaning over him, one knee on the bed to steady himself. Their fingers were still clasped, and Roy felt his mouth go dry and his ears heat up as his brain caught up with what was happening.
Edward Elric was in his bed.
Well, at least, Edward Elric was leaning over his bed to wake him, and was holding his hand gently as he pulled himself back into the land of the living. Which was probably the nicest way he had ever been woken in his entire adult life. Which, on reflection, was really sad. He wondered whether this was how Edward woke his children, or how Winry woke him – the gentle, calm, loving way in which to be pulled from dreams. Roy would never describe Edward's actions towards him as loving, but he had seen the boy be incredibly loving in the past, towards his brother and the woman who would become his wife, and the way in which Ed had called him back from sleep had been very similar.
And the twenty-something was still holding his hand.
He pulled his fingers free, and Ed leant impossibly further towards his face and glared into his eyes, concentrating hard. Roy could smell coffee on his breath, and gulped down a ball that seemed to be forming in his throat.
"Um…" He heard himself say, feeling the heat in his ears spreading over his cheeks and knowing he was blushing at the intensity of Ed's eye-contact. The blonde's pupils flickered down to Roy's lips at the noise, and Roy watched them dilate slightly. Then the bodyguard cleared his throat and pushed himself off the bed, turning and standing rigidly.
"You don't seem any worse to me." He assessed, crossing his arms, as Roy sat up in bed and leant back against the headboard. "Did you want to keep sleeping, or…?" He trailed off, breathing out through his nose. His morphine high seemed to have ebbed away in the two hours Roy had been asleep.
Roy stood from the bed, trying to smooth out the creases in his uniform where he'd slept in it, and lamenting himself for not getting undressed before falling asleep. He was missing out on work time as well, and as much as being shot at was a fairly good excuse for not getting back to the office for the afternoon, it really only meant he would be playing catch up tomorrow.
"I should get back to work." He finally replied, walking over to his wardrobe to find a spare uniform and popping the joints in his shoulders. Ed's eyes followed him as he walked.
"I called the office and explained the situation." He said, which was a load off, at any rate. Hopefully one of the team would be clear-headed and kind enough to pick up some of the slack his absence would cause.
"Kind of you." He replied, having taken out his new uniform and begun unbuttoning his slept-in jacket.
He wondered whether he smelt and looked as bad as he felt, and rolled his neck to try and shimmy some of the stiffness out of it. He shrugged his jacket off his shoulders and placed it on the bed, and then shimmied out of his shirt as well, unbuttoning his trousers and letting them fall to the floor around his ankles. He stretched upwards in his underwear, trying to get some blood pumping back into his limbs, and as he did so he kicked away his trousers and winced as his headache made itself known again with a particularly painful throb. He turned around to ask if Edward's kindness would extend to finding some painkillers in the little medical box Roy kept in the cupboard underneath the kettle, and was met with the back of a blonde head of hair, where the young bodyguard had turned to face the wall.
Realising he had just undressed in front of the boy, completely without thinking, Roy quickly pulled on his spare uniform, babbling feverishly as he did.
"Sorry, I wasn't thinking. Still half asleep. Thank you for turning around. I'm an idiot. I swear I don't usually just strip in front of people." The last sentence enticed a small laugh from his ex-subordinate, still staring resolutely at the wall, and Roy felt his heartbeat calming down at the sound. He hadn't completely traumatised the boy, then. "Okay, I'm dressed now."
He watched Edward point, still not looking at him, despite the fact that Roy was completely clothed and had announced as such, towards the bedroom door.
"Should I…?" He started, and then trailed off, leaving the question half formed. For the life of him unable to decipher what Ed had wanted to say, and with another painful throb in his head, Roy sighed.
"I'll go make some tea." He stated, and then remembered Edward was a through and through coffee drinker and amended. "Coffee, as well. Come and sit with me for a bit." He commanded, and saw Ed nod at the wall.
They'd have a cup of something hot, Roy would take some painkillers, and then he'd get back to work – and hopefully this awkwardness that had been between he and Edward since the man's arrival back in central would finally start to shake.
So he left the room and was glad to hear and feel Edward following him out and towards the kitchen. He put on a pot of water and spooned some instant coffee into one mug, and then realised he'd need to add some leaves for tea and he couldn't make both in one sitting, and so ran some water into a glass for himself and left it at that. Too much caffeine wouldn't help his headache anyway. He found some painkillers in his medical box and took two, and then refilled his glass. Once the coffee was brewed he placed it down on the small kitchen table and sat down with his water, motioning for Edward to sit opposite him, which the blonde did obediently.
"I thought you were having tea." The bodyguard challenged.
Roy shrugged non-committally.
"I changed my mind. I've already had a cup today and caffeine is legitimately worse for you than crystal meth so..."
Edward, who had just been taking a large gulp of his own caffeinated drink, coughed and spluttered slightly, catching some coffee mixed with saliva in his hand and grimacing. Roy reached behind himself and grabbed a tissue from the kitchen counter-top, passing one to his ex-subordinate, who took it gratefully, cleaning himself up, before wheezing out a;
Roy rested his cheek in his hand and allowed himself a moment to watch Ed dab the last of the coffee from his chin before replying.
"There was a scientific study a little while back into what the best kind of treatment was for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Once they figured out that numbing children was kind of a, you know, super not nice thing to do, they changed tactics and realised that using stimulants actually focused the minds of people living with ADHD." He explained, giving background. "They tried three different stimulants: caffeine, methamphetamines and, get this, heroin. Because it's totally safe to give children highly addictive opioids. Anyway, they found out that heroin was too addictive – funny that – and that caffeine was too dangerous for the heart, and so now they use methamphetamines as a medication for ADHD. Conclusion: caffeine is worse for you than crystal meth."
Edward was looking at him with one raised eyebrow and his mug half way between the table and his lips, a look on his face that reminded him, just for one brief moment, of Hughes. A kind of amused incredulity. Roy realised this must be Edward's 'dad look'.
"I'm pretty sure that's not the conclusion you can draw from that study." He replied, as if the matter was closed. He opened his mouth, most likely to explain in detail why Roy's conclusions were wrong, even though Roy was mainly using the statement 'caffeine is worse for you than crystal meth' as a joke (mainly), and then stopped, eyes darting to the side, and clearly listening into something on his ever present earpiece. After a moment his coffee mug was placed down on the table with no small amount of force, and he had stood in a hurry, collecting his walkie-talkie from his belt and gasping into it. "What?"
Roy stood too, panic overtaking him at Ed's tone.
"No, no, no." The blonde was huffing into the walkie-talkie. "Don't let them go anywhere. I'll come to them. Just… hold on a sec."
Ed took his earpiece out – the first time he'd done so in Roy's presence since he'd become the man's bodyguard – and held it tight in his hand.
"Fuck." He whispered, and then glanced up at Roy. "Look, something has happened and I need to get to the train station. Ming-Yue could come cover me, but she's on the other side of town and… fuck, it's my kids -" He broke himself off, swallowing thickly.
Roy placed down his glass of water and walked out into the hall, Ed hot on his heels, and took down his coat.
"Lets go." He said. "I'm assuming this is time restrictive. I'll just come too."
Edward was looking at him with such a degree of gratefulness that the General felt the need to look away.
"Thank you." The blonde said, grabbing his coat and making his way out of the flat with Mustang behind him. One of the guards from outside nodded to them as they walked by, and Ed waved over his shoulder. Edward put his earpiece back in as he walked. "I need a car to Mustang's building ASAP" He ordered into his receiver, and by the time they'd navigated the stairs and were out on the street, a sleek black car was waiting for them. Ed opened the door for him and Roy fell in, and then Ed ran around and got in on the front passenger side. There was a man with greying hair and a thick neck driving, and Edward turned around in his seat and pinned the General with a considerate look. "Really, Roy, thank you."
Chapter 3: History
"It's been six years, Edward. I haven't seen you in six years, not even once."
Edward's children were perfect little cherubs.
Roy had known they would be the moment they had blossomed into being in his mind three and a half years ago, when Fuery had given him the news of Winry being pregnant with the first child. With parents like Edward and Winry, both with their blonde heads of hair, the children were bound to be spun from gold themselves. The eldest, a boy, looked so much like his father, right down to the jut of his jaw and the defiant look in his golden eyes, that Roy almost did a double take. His shoulders were rounded in the same way as Ed's, and eyebrows furrowed down in the same way that was so reminiscent of Fullmetal's teenage years. The littler one, a girl, had Winry's softer features – her kind blue eyes, her chubbier cheeks and her pale gold hair that looked feathery light. Her smile curved in the same way as her mothers, and the grease-marks and mud on her knees and elbows told Roy she was every bit the adventurer that Winry could be.
They were angelic to look at, but from the very fact that they were stood in the middle of crowded central station, in the shadow of Alex Louis Armstrong's massive form, holding each other's hands and looking around furtively, told Roy they were troublemaker's like their father at heart.
As it was, Edward rushed past him, protection professionalism be damned, and ran to the children, falling to his knees with a smack on the concrete floor of the station that had Roy wincing in sympathy, and swept both kids to him the second they were in arms reach, not seeming to notice the pain his descent must surely have caused.
"Who the fuck sold you train tickets?" He demanded, and then pushed them out to arms length so he could look them over properly. "I mean, don't repeat that. But how in the world did you get here?" He babbled, turning them both around and assessing them for injury. They both looked perfectly healthy to Roy, but he definitely wasn't going to be the one to say that to a worried father.
Instead he turned to Armstrong and patted him on one of his insanely huge arms.
"Well done on picking them up, Major."
Armstrong nodded back, his moustache moving up and down as he replied in his usual deep baritone.
"I thought it odd to see two little ones travelling alone." He stated. "I have to admit to being surprised they were Edward Elric's children."
Edward looked up at this, having pulled his kids into another hug, one on each shoulder and holding them tight, and gave a tight smile to Armstrong.
"I don't know how to thank you." He said breathlessly, and then turn back to the children. "Honestly, what were you thinking? Where's your mother?" He questioned.
"We wanted to see you." Replied the boy, voice squeaky in a way three year old voices are. "Mum left us with Garfiel so she could work and then Garfiel fell asleep so we went to the train station and came to see you."
Edward was doing that amused incredulity look again, mouth slightly open in shock. Roy was trying to remember from when Elysia had been that age, whether she had been able to create sentences as well as Fullmetal's son clearly could. Was it normal, or had the boy inherited his father's genius?
"It's a day's journey." Edward replied, having gone past scared and angry and gone straight to vaguely impressed. "Winry'll be going spare…" He mumbled after, eyes darting around in a way that Roy knew was him trying to concoct a plan of action. He ran a hand through his hair, still down and flowing over his shoulder from when he had let it down during his morphine high, and sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Dad?" Asked the boy, and Ed shook himself slightly and smiled at his son.
"Okay, you two need to come with me." He decided. "We'll phone mummy from the office to let her know you're okay."
With that he turned to Roy and gave an apologetic little smile.
"I guess it's bring your kids to work day." He mumbled, a tiny smile reminiscent of cheekiness in place and making Roy smirk in amusement. He nodded in response.
"We can take them back to the hotel if you want? I don't exactly need to get back to the office." He lied. He desperately needed to get back otherwise he'd be playing catch up for days – but he figured Ed's family crisis came first. As it was, the blonde shook his head.
"You've been out in the open too long. I'd prefer we were back at HQ." He replied, and then turned to Armstrong. "Are you coming?" He asked.
Armstrong shook his head.
"I was actually on my way out of town." He confessed. "I am glad you have been reunited with your children, Edward Elric, and rest assured you can count on me for babysitting if you ever need it!"
Edward put a hand on the Major's arm and grinned at him.
"I might just take you up on that." He replied.
Edward then bent down to sweep the girl up into his arm, holding her with one arm and balancing her on his side. His other hand took his son's small fingers in his own and held on tight. He turned to Roy and motioned for the whole group to head back to the car, and when they arrived the driver with the thick neck was waiting for them with the back door open. Ed waved Roy in first, and then seemed a little hesitant, so Roy poked his head back out and pinned him with a questioning look. Ed sighed, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
"Are you okay if Sasha sits in the back with you? He's a little small for the seatbelts so he might need to sit up with you." He asked.
"Don't call me small!" The boy seethed at him, glaring up at his dad, and making both Ed and Roy smile in nostalgia, which only served to make the toddler more annoyed.
Roy tried to sift through all the information he'd just been given in the last couple of sentences. Ed's son was called Sasha, and not only did he look like his dad, but he had all the same hang-ups as well. He wasn't sure what Ed was planning to do if Roy said no to the request. He wasn't a massive fan of kids and didn't particularly like the idea of being responsible for someone else's child, even for a short journey – but there was no other way of getting all of them safely back to HQ, and they really should make a move. He nodded his head, and Ed shot him a relieved look, helping Sasha into the back and making sure he climbed across and settled himself on to Roy's lap – which he did with no small amount of grumbling. Roy gingerly pulled the seatbelt around himself and the boy, and circled his arms around the kid so that if they broke harshly he was on hand to catch. He felt incredibly awkward, sat in the back of a car with someone else's kid on his lap, but he didn't think he should complain about that in front of the child.
Edward settled himself in the front seat next to the driver, with his daughter secured on his own lap, and motioned for the driver to take them back to HQ. Roy spent the entire ride wincing at every bump in the road and trying not to think about how he was a target, and if they were shot at now there was a high possibility that Edward's children could get caught in the cross-fire. He tried not to think about Winry in Rush Valley, terrified and not knowing where her kids were, and he was incredibly grateful when they pulled up outside the door of HQ and Sasha unbuckled the seatbelt and bolted from his lap like he'd suddenly caught fire. The boy opened the door and would have fallen out if it wasn't for Roy catching him around the middle and placing him on the floor delicately.
He hadn't exactly expected a thank you for his efforts, but he hadn't expected for Sasha to turn around and glare at him for it either. The three year old was just beginning to poke his tongue out when Ed arrived around their side of the car and cleared his throat loudly.
"That mouth had better be opening for you to say thank you." He warned, which was such a dad thing to say, and such an unlikely thing for Fullmetal to say, that Roy snorted in amusement.
Sasha glared a little more, and then scuffed his foot on the ground and mumbled out an annoyed 'thank you'. He ran up to his dad and linked hands again, and then the four of them made their way into the safety of HQ lobby, where Roy instantly spotted a buzz-cut and thigh-highs.
"Ming-yue!" Sasha yelped excitedly, and broke free from his dad's hand, rushing up to the Xingese woman and leaping into her arms. She caught him, a large grin on her usually moody face, and cuddled him close, nuzzling him.
"Sasha-bug!" She exclaimed, teasingly, and then spoke to him gently in Xingese, keeping her tone light and her words carefully pronounced. Sasha giggled at whatever she said, and then she turned to Edward and her expression fell and her tone turned hard when she spoke, still in Xingese.
"Yes, thank you." The blonde replied, and he turned to Roy and deftly handed over his daughter. Roy took her in his arms, mouth falling open in shock at being handed a little girl, and she looked at him and then smiled shakily. He turned back to Ed, who was already edging away. "I'm just going to use the lobby phone to call Winry and update her. I'll be five minutes." He told them, before rushing off and leaving Roy with Ming-Yue and his two kids.
Roy looked at the girl in his arms. She was wearing a frilly pink summer dress, white tights, and sparkly pink Mary-Janes, and her legs were dangling where he was holding her under her arms, so he readjusted so she was sat on his forearm with his other hand steadying her on her back. She held on to his collar and then giggled at him.
"And what's your name?" Roy heard himself ask, feeling like every awkward uncle ever.
"Maesie doesn't talk." Supplied Sasha, from Ming-Yue's arms. "She doesn't have words." He added, which was an expression Roy assumed he'd picked up from his parents.
Ming-yue poked him in his stomach, making him squirm and laugh.
"That is because you speak for her, little bug." She told him.
They were interrupted by an annoyed shout in the distance, and Roy looked over to see Edward kicking the wall in frustration.
"I didn't ask for this!" He yelled. "Just..." He sighed, and tried again in a quieter tone so that Roy could no longer hear him.
He jostled Maesie slightly to get them both a bit more comfortable, and the girl rested her head down on his shoulder, closing her eyes. She gave a big yawn, and Roy hoped that didn't mean she was about to fall asleep, but her small form was getting increasingly heavier in his arms. He turned his body around and instinctively began swaying from side to side, and she nuzzled in a little further, yawning again. Her little body felt warm against his front where she was curled into him, and her breath was ghosting over his collar, her hair soft against his chin. He thought to himself, for a moment, that it was a privilege to have a child fall asleep in your arms.
It took Edward much longer than five minutes on the phone, arguing with his wife, and during that time Ming-yue took Sasha off to play games a little further away so that they wouldn't disturb the now asleep Maesie, and Roy ended up fielding quite a few questions from staff passing him by, who all wanted to know why he had a toddler asleep in his arms. He explained patiently to a couple of warrant officers that the child wasn't lost, and shot down anyone asking whether it was his illegitimate daughter with stammered words and a lot of panic that he would later feel embarrassed about.
Then General Stamshaw, an older gentleman with thick, round glasses, passed him by, shooting him a disgruntled look and muttering as he went. Roy heard him say:
"Bit young Mustang, even for you."
He frowned after the man, wondering what in the world that comment meant, but it quickly fell from his mind at another shout from a feminine voice.
"Oh, General, sir!"
Roy turned to see a young woman, dressed in civvies, saluting him. He recognised her from the secretarial pool as Vanessa something. She had long black hair with a dead straight fringe, startling blue eyes and a cheeky smile. He had flirted with her countless times, much to the chagrin of Havoc, who was crushing on her, but now she was focused entirely on the toddler in his arms.
"She's adorable!" She squealed. "I didn't know you had a kid."
Roy gulped, feeling overwhelmed and trying to find the words to explain to her that Maesie was not his child, and was mortified when a familiar chain-smoker joined her in the lobby, grinning.
"Vanessa!" He called excitedly, waving, and then turned to Roy distractedly "Oh, hey Gen...er...al." Havoc stopped, staring at the image Roy must be, standing and swaying on the spot with a sleeping two-year-old in his arms. The General tried for a smile and it came out like a grimace.
"Not mine." He supplied. "Babysitting."
Havoc and the secretary shared a look.
"Since when do you babysit?" The Lieutenant asked. Roy tried to shrug around the arm-full of sleeping toddler.
"When it's for an old friend." He replied, just as Edward made his way back to the group, looking annoyed and grumpy. The young man had a quick conversation in Xingese with Ming-Yue, who huffed and put Sasha on the ground and then turned on her heel and walked off, glaring back at Ed as if he had personally insulted her mother. Edward then dragged Sasha over to where Roy was stood with his daughter.
"Ah." He said when he arrived and saw the girl asleep.
"It's fine. I don't mind carrying her." Roy replied before his brain could catch up with his mouth. He had to remind himself that he didn't like children, and yes it was kind of cute how she trusted him enough to settle down for a nap on him, and yes it felt nice to have a warm child nestled up with you, but that didn't deter from the fact that most children were little horrors with no sense of anything outside of themselves. It was still worth it to see the look of relief on Ed's face. "How was Winry?"
Ed shrugged, glancing down at Sasha where the boy was craning his neck to take in every detail of HQ lobby.
"Worried, then relieved. Then angry." He replied. "Of course it's all my fault that this happened." He added, bitterly and sarcastically. Roy twitched his lips in to what he hoped was a reassuring smile.
"I'm sure it will all work out. Is she coming to get them?"
"She's getting on the next train." He explained. "It won't get in until tomorrow morning. I'll need to get a new hotel room, the Alverbank doesn't allow kids." He added, mumbling more to himself at that point.
He seemed to brighten up, putting him back into professional mode, and then addressed Havoc, asking how the man was. The two of them made small talk for a while, and Edward promised they would catch up properly over a drink soon enough, and then the blonde explained that they should really get to the office, and the two steeled themselves to start the afternoon's work.
The afternoon was one of the busiest afternoons of Roy's life. He tried to spend the entire time in his office playing catch up on the few hours he had missed over lunch and during his post head-trauma nap, but it was slow going and difficult with two children in the office taking the attention of his staff and living up the Elric name by causing mischief wherever they went. Roy wasn't even sure they meant to do it – they were both just naturally hectic.
Sasha knocked over three desk tidies within ten minutes of arrival, got worried about Edward shouting after the third one so hid under a desk, accidentally got kicked by Breda, who didn't know he was under there, and decided to exact his revenge by biting the man's shin. Breda had yelped so loudly people came to investigate from next door, and the lieutenant ended up sweeping a stack of paperwork on to the floor in his panic. Edward had strolled over, picked Sasha up by the scruff of his t-shirt, and deposited him down by the door with instructions not to move and a glare so angry Roy felt himself root to the spot as well.
Maesie was just as bad. She clapped and giggled along to her brothers antics, and when Ed managed to get the boy under control she decided she was bored and slipped out of the room so quietly and casually that no one noticed she was missing for at least ten minutes. The whole office panicked and left the room to find her, with Edward dragging Roy and Sasha along with him, trying to juggle his protection duties and his duties as a father, and Fallman eventually found the two year old hanging upside down from a store cupboard door, giggling away to herself.
Then, when they finally got back to the office, both children ran in excitedly and Sasha accidentally knocked over his sister, who fell into a fire-alarm case, breaking it and setting off the alarm. Both kids instantly burst into tears, the entirety of HQ needed to be evacuated, even though Fuery and Weir attempted to explain to people that it was a false alarm, and when Roy looked over to Ed, the man was pulling distractedly at his still down hair, which was getting more and more tangled with each passing minute, and looked like he might join his children in their tears.
Roy scooped up Sasha, despite the boy's protests, Ed grabbed Maesie, and the two of them grappled both sobbing children down to the rendezvous point, where Edward had the pleasure of introducing his brood to the Fuhrer of Amestris and explaining that there wasn't a fire, just two lively Elric's under the age of four.
Which all boiled down to a car coming to pick them up at six thirty, and Roy had barely got any work done. He was carrying Sasha down the stairs, the boy having fallen asleep on the floor of the office half an hour previously, and Edward was wrestling with Maesie, who was screaming her head off because she didn't want to leave HQ. Roy wasn't entirely sure how Sasha was sleeping through his sisters screams, but kind of wished he had the same ability. As they reached the lobby, Lieutenant-General Stamshaw passed by them down bellow and glanced upwards, making Roy remember the odd comment the man had made before.
"Gods, they're multiplying!" The man joked. Roy grimaced at him, trying to be polite but with a massive headache thanks to the two year old screaming. "Are these your children, Mustang?"
Roy shook his head.
"They're Edward's, sir." He replied, nodding to the blonde, who had finally managed to soothe his daughter enough that she was no longer screaming and was just sobbing and hiccuping. "You remember Edward, the Fullmetal Alchemist?"
Stamshaw rose both his eyebrows towards his receding hairline.
"Oh, yes." He replied. "You two are still close?" He asked.
Edward jostled Maesie in his arms and shushed her gently.
"I'd say a lot closer after today." He mumbled, making Roy smirk in amusement. Sasha stirred slightly and so instinctively Roy bounced on the balls of his feet and made a small cooing noise under his breath that he would deny if anyone bought him up on it. Edward rubbed his daughters back as he replied properly to the General. "I'm just here visiting." He lied, and Roy noticed that this was the same thing he said whenever anyone asked him why he was in town, which made Roy assume people weren't to know he was a targeted man.
The General grumbled, and then stepped forward and whispered something into Ed's ear. The man listened and then screwed up his nose and jostled himself and his daughter so that he could put some distance between himself and the General.
"None of that was ever true." He hissed at the man. "Now excuse me, these two need to get to bed." He added, brushing past the General and towards the door, motioning for Roy to follow after him. Mustang nodded towards his superior and walked fast to catch up with his ex-subordinate.
The two of them began travelling back to Roy's apartment in silence, as Maesie had finally fallen asleep as well, and neither of them were willing to upset that. Roy sat in the back with Sasha on his lap, the three year old drooling onto his uniform jacket, and Ed was up front, Maesie snoring gently in his arms. Roy watched the back of his ex-subordinate's head for a few minutes, but what Stamshaw had said was playing on Roy's mind, and finally he worked up the courage to ask the blonde.
"Edward… what did Stamshaw say to you?"
The blonde glanced behind him, and then across to their driver – the same older gent with the thick neck from before – and slowly shook his head.
"Not here." He replied, and then sighed down at the kid in his arms. "You wouldn't happen to know any cheap family friendly hotels within a two mile radius of your house would you?"
Roy frowned. Family friendly had never been high on his list of priorities when looking for a hotel. He looked down at the top of Sasha's head, feeling the rise and fall of the toddlers chest and hearing the soft exhales he made. These two children were hectic and had caused Edward so much trouble by coming to Central, but one look at their father told him that Edward, despite everything, was glad to have his kids within arms length. It must have been nice, as well, to know that the two tiny babes had braved a whole days travel just to see their dad. That was a kind of love and determination that Roy could admire, even in little children.
"You should all just stay at mine." He told the young man. He watched carefully as Ed's shoulders seemed to stiffen, and then relax.
"That's a kind offer, but it wouldn't be professional." He mumbled. Roy rolled his eyes.
"It's only for one night. I have a spare room you can use." He shot back. "Besides, even without these two and everything that happened today, there's far too much history between us for any real professionalism."
Edward glanced back behind him and pinned Roy with a considerate look in his golden eyes. After a moment he nodded and gave a small smile.
"Okay, thank you, I appreciate it." He relented.
It only took them a few more minutes to reach Roy's building, and together they dragged the two children up the stairs and to his front door. Roy jostled Sasha to one arm to reach for his keys and let them in, and Ed asked a guard to double check the interior even after he'd done it, which he assumed might be something to do with how tired the man was, and also because there was a personal stake in it now, with his children staying in the flat. Once the guard was done and stationed back outside the door, after a short conversation with Ed in which Roy heard the words 'bug', 'tracking' and 'Ming-Yue is on it' various times, the two men were left to their own devices with the two sleeping children in their arms.
"Here, follow me." Roy said, leading Ed through the apartment he probably already knew quite well, from his intelligence and his twice daily checks of the place, and pushing through a plain wooden door to his smaller second bedroom.
He'd set it up as a guest room some time ago, although he very rarely actually had guests to stay, and inside was just enough room for a single bed, a small bedside table with a vase of fake flowers on it, and a fairly cosy looking rug underfoot. Edward crossed the space and placed Maesie down on the bed, and then took Sasha from Roy, careful not to wake him, and placed the boy down as well, tucking them both in. They were small enough that even with both of them in the little single bed they looked dwarfed by it.
"Goodnight." He told them, although they were asleep and couldn't hear him, and he pressed a quick, affectionate kiss to each of their foreheads, before standing and making his way back out of the room with Roy. Once the door was shut behind him he breathed out in relief. "Really, thank you for this. Thank you for this whole afternoon."
Roy shrugged his shoulders in an attempt to be nonchalant, leading them back to the kitchen and waving towards the kettle in question. Ed nodded, sinking down on the table and checking his watch, so Roy flicked the kettle on and put some coffee in a mug for Ed. He poured himself another glass of water, thinking back to their conversation about caffeine, before Ed's kids had shown up in Central Station. Glancing over his shoulder confirmed his suspicions that the last mug he'd given Ed was still on the table where they had left in a hurry, so while the kettle boiled he picked up the old one and rinsed it under the tap.
"How's your arm?" He asked over his shoulder, thinking back to the bullet-wound Ed had received earlier that day. It seemed a world away now. At lunch time the biggest thing to happen in six years had been someone shooting at him from an empty building, but now he had met Edward's children, and very oddly they seemed to be taking first place on his list of 'biggest events'.
Ed groaned gently.
"It's fine, mostly just sore." He mumbled, and Roy was plagued with images of the man picking up and carrying his children all afternoon with a recovering and bandaged arm – it probably hadn't done the wound any good, but Ed was incredibly physically fit and strong, and had proved time and again he could and would get on with his life despite pain that would debilitate anyone else. This was the same person, Roy reminded himself, who had lost two limbs at age eleven, gone through Automail surgery and recovered fully within a year. "How's your head?"
Roy grimaced at the mug he was filling and stirred it before answering.
"I've had a headache most of the day but I honestly couldn't tell you if that was a concussion or not."
He bought the mug over and placed it on the table in front of Ed, who took it and cradled it in his hands, taking a deep breath of the strong coffee fumes, closing his eyes and sighing gently. His hair had become increasingly more tangled throughout the day, and it hadn't been brushed to begin with. It was still down, sticking out at odd angles, and Roy's fingers twitched to straighten it out.
"Sorry about the kids." Ed said after a moment. "Maesie's got a pair of lungs on her."
Roy smirked. That was true.
"It's a nice name; Maesie." He replied, looking down into his water. "How did you come up with it?"
Ed frowned at him, although he couldn't see it because he was still staring into the water in his glass. He could just feel the weight of it pointed at the top of his head. He heard a sigh, and then;
"Oh come on, Roy, you know." He accused. "We spelt it like his name too. M. A. E. S. And then I. E."
Roy had had his suspicions of course, but it was nice to hear it out loud. He smiled down at his water, imagining Maes, and how he would react to knowing there was a little girl in the world named after him. He might dote on her as much as he did his own daughter.
"Does Gracia know?" He asked, looking across the table to Ed. The blonde nodded.
"Winry called her to ask if it was okay." He supplied. "We both felt…" He trailed off, gulping, and then tried again. "We were both very close to the Hughes'. He was… he was like a, to us, I mean, he was like a father."
He looked down at the table and bought his hand up to press at his eyelids, and although it was sad, it warmed Roy's heart to know that there were people in the world who had cared about Maes so much that they would still cry over his death many years later.
"He would have been honoured." He said. Edward shrugged his shoulders and nodded.
"Yeah, well Sasha was named after our mothers so it just made sense to name our next child after the man who we thought of as a dad."
Roy rested his chin in his hands and surveyed the man across from him, who had managed to deflect his tears and was sipping at his coffee now. He tried figuring out how Sasha was named after Ed or Winry's mother in his head but came up short.
"Help me out here." He requested, and Ed smirked at him.
"SA from Sarah, and SHA from Trisha." He supplied. "Sasha."
"Ah, it's a beautiful tribute."
A silence hung between them after that, in which both of them sipped at their drinks and tried to recover from their hectic day. They'd skipped lunch after the shooting and had been swept up in how busy the afternoon had become and the drama of the children arriving, and so hadn't eaten anything since the pastries Edward had bought round for breakfast, and the hunger was beginning to catch up with Roy. They couldn't go out, even without the target on his back there was two children asleep in his guest bedroom to think about, but he figured he probably had something in he could whip up.
On an encouraging growl from his stomach he stood up and looked in the pantry.
"Do you like pasta?" He asked, head buried in the cupboard.
"You don't need to feed me." Came the reply, then, after a protesting growl which Roy assumed was Ed's stomach and not his, and Roy turning around the pin the other man with a challenging look, the blonde gave a defeated sigh. "Yeah, I eat anything."
With that in mind Roy grabbed some pasta, a tin of tomatoes, and some herbs from the pantry, and then some minced beef, carrots and onions from the fridge and set about whipping up a Bolognese for the two of them. It was a simple meal but satisfying, and it didn't take long to make, so was only half seven by the time he set two steaming plates down on the kitchen table. He sat, feeling warm, as he watched Edward's golden eyes grow wide at his cooking and his nostrils flare as he took a big whiff of the enticing smells. It was nice to have someone to share a home cooked meal with. He often took women out to restaurants, but it wasn't the same as having someone appreciate the food you had put effort into.
And Ed really knew how to show his appreciation. He said a quick thank you before shovelling spoonfuls of the pasta into his mouth, and had taken three bites before he slowed down enough to let out an enthusiastic and satisfied moan and turn to Roy with eyes shining with enjoyment.
"This is incredible!" He announced.
Roy had only taken one bite himself, and it was definitely nice enough, but it probably wasn't deserving of the praise Edward was ladling at it. Even so, it was nice to be complimented by the man, so Roy bowed his head in a show of humility.
"It's only Bolognese." He replied, and enjoyed the rest of the meal watching Edward shovelling down the pasta. He was done before Roy, even though half way through the General had got up to get Edward another portion from the pot, but he sat and waited for Roy to finish amicably, hand resting on his stomach where he had enjoyed a good meal. They chatted for awhile about non-offensive things, giving each other updates: Ed explained all about Alphonse's latest discoveries in Alkahestry, and Roy returned the favour by chatting about the old team and how they had been in the last six years.
Once the older man was finished, his fork placed back on the plate, he collected both the plates and put them in the sink, and then motioned for Edward to follow him into the living room. He had always been fairly proud of his living room – with two leather sofas, an Art Deco rug and various impressive trinkets from around the world, including two large onyx cats with ruby eyes that stood on either side of his drinks cabinet. He headed there now, dragging out two cut glass tumblers and bottle of twelve year old Glenmorangie.
"Drink with me?" He asked, holding up the bottle. Edward had taken a seat on one of the sofas and he frowned.
"I'm not sure..." He started, but Roy rolled his eyes.
"Come on, you're off the clock, right?" Ed eyed the bottle for a moment longer, and then checked his watch, as if he didn't finish his shift the moment he delivered Roy home. Finally he nodded, and Roy poured him two fingers. "Do you take ice or water?" He asked, and was a little impressed when Ed shook his head.
He passed the glass over and the man took a sip.
"Just one." He said, but Roy couldn't tell if he was talking to the General or to himself.
He settled down on the other sofa with his own glass and allowed some of the tension of the day to wash away from him. He took a second to relive the shooting, the hospital, meeting Ming-Yue, and waking up with Edward leaning over him. He played out the scene in his head of Edward finding out his kids were in Central Station, and racing to get them, and the busiest afternoon of his life, and finally walking down the steps to the lobby in HQ, and then… Stamshaw.
Something about the things Stamshaw had said put him in mind of General Guttering the day before, and the cryptic statement of thinking Roy would have been 'done' with Edward, whatever that meant. Clearly Fullmetal knew, and Roy hated feeling out of the loop.
"So what did Stamshaw say?" He asked, remembering Edward had told him 'not here' the last time he'd questioned it, which was not an outright refusal to talk about it. The blonde looked at him now, looking very much older than his twenty-two years, and sighed.
"Do you really not know? Was Hawkeye that good at keeping this from you?" He asked, which only served to make Roy feel even more confused. Riza knew? This was something his best friend knew, and wasn't telling him? Deftly, he shook his head, and Edward sighed, running a hand through his long locks and getting his fingers stuck in some tangles. "Okay, you're not going to want to hear this but it's not right to keep it from you either." He assessed, and then: "Look, when I was a kid, working as a State Alchemist, if I was reporting in to HQ, out East or at Central, I was always getting pulled aside by higher ups, and asked all of these stupid questions about you. At first I thought it was like they were trying to get me to spy on you, because, you know, you get peoples backs up, but it was… different from that."
He trailed off and bit his lip, looking anywhere but at Roy, and the General got a sinking feeling in his stomach.
"Different how?" He asked, dreading the answer. Edward glanced at him, looking guilty, despite the fact that Roy got the impression the blonde had nothing to feel guilty about.
"These questions were like - 'Is Colonel Mustang a nice guy?', and obviously I was a teenager and thought you were a prick so you can imagine how I answered. Then it was 'Do you feel safe when you're with Colonel Mustang?' and… and 'Does Colonel Mustang get you to do things you don't want to do?'. And I'm sorry to say I probably didn't answer those in the right way either. I..." He took a deep breath. "I honestly thought they were doing an audit on you or something, so I… I said 'no' to feeling safe, and 'yes' to the other one. It was spiteful. I was a teenager, but I was being spiteful."
Roy wasn't sure what to say. There was a sickening feeling in his stomach and a lump in his throat. He knew those kind of questions – intimately – he'd been asked them himself when he was growing up in his aunt's brothel, by social workers. Which meant that his colleagues, all those people who had asked Ed those questions, thought that Roy was…
He pressed a hand to his mouth, fearing he might be sick.
What was worse was that Stamshaw and Guttering clearly believed Roy to be a paedophile, and yet had done absolutely nothing about it. He thought about Maesie, who had fallen asleep on him earlier, and the comment Stamshaw had made… and yet the General had just passed him by and made no attempt to rescue the child. Roy hated to think his colleagues thought that way about him, but he hated more that apparently they were happy to let him get on with the imagined abuse!
Roy shook his head.
"You have nothing to be sorry for." He replied, then: "You said Riza knew about this?"
"That's how I found out what those questions really meant. I asked Hawkeye if you'd had your audit result back and she said you weren't being audited. I think I was like fourteen at that point. So I told her about the questions I'd been asked and she… explained it to me." He sighed. "She said the rumours had been going around since you recruited me and placed me on your team, and how we should keep it from you because it would only upset you."
Well that much was true, he was definitely upset.
"So they've all thought, what? That I've been raping you since you were twelve?" He asked in anger, instantly feeling guilty for his harsh wording when he saw the blonde flinch.
"I don't know what they thought." He jumped back. "It was just rumours, probably just made up by some jaded ass-hole who was jealous of your success. It was just an easy situation to spin."
An easy situation to spin. Which was a polite way to saying easily believed. He put his glass down on the floor by his feet, not trusting his stomach should he take in any more, and cradled his head in his hands. He could feel his stomach jumping and twisting and cramping at the idea of these rumours and hoped he was not actually going to be sick. Sure, he had been a bit of a dick to Ed at times, when the boy had been searching for the stone, but that was mainly to pretend to his enemies that Fullmetal couldn't be used as a bargaining chip, and to give Ed a sense of independence. What if… what if he really had been abusive? Definitely not in a sexual way, but had he neglected Edward? Or used his position of power to force the boy into situations he wasn't comfortable?
"Fuck, have I abused you?" He asked out loud.
Edward was across the room and kneeling in front of him in a second, his hands placed on Roy's knees and looking up, determined and clear-headed.
"No, never." He assured, voice quiet. "I swear, if I hadn't been so naive to what those questions meant I would have defended you until my last breath. You were an ass-hole at times, but you always had my best interests at heart, and despite not showing it, I always knew that."
Roy had never felt so wretched in his life. To know that this is what people thought about him was sickening, and he knew now he would be second guessing every time he spoke to children, or his colleagues, about whether he was coming across as inappropriate. He wasn't sure how he could have done anything different – he'd seen a child in need when he'd met Ed in Risembool all those years ago, and his actions had apparently lead people to think he was a paedophile. He buried his head in his hands, breathing deep and trying to quell the uneasy leaps and twists in his stomach. He just couldn't understand why anyone would leap to the conclusion that because he had a minor on his team he had to be abusing them. There had to be some reason for thinking that way.
"Why?" He asked out loud. He felt Ed's hand give him a reassuring squeeze on his knee, and looked down at that, unable to look the young man in the eye.
"I don't know," He confessed. "It might be my fault, with all the secrecy I forced you in to – maybe people thought that your covering for me to search for the stone was something else?" He huffed gently, running a hand through his hair again, and Roy's fingers twitched over his eyes, desperate to sort out the nest those spun-gold locks had become. Ed sighed, looking to one side, and his cheeks coloured slightly.
"What?" Roy asked, fearing the worst, but knowing he needed to know everything now. Ed glanced up at him and shrugged his shoulders, standing and walking a couple of steps away.
"It's stupid. I just thought, maybe… well, it sounds arrogant to say, but I'm not… I'm not bad to look at, right?"
Roy felt his mouth fall open slightly in shock and he instantly clamped it back shut, staring wide-eyed at his ex-subordinate.
"There is no fucking way I'm answering that after everything we've just discussed." He told the man.
Edward rose an eyebrow at him, a small smirk growing on his face, and folded one arm over his chest and scratched at his neck with his other hand. He shook his head gently, as if he found Roy to be adorable and amusing.
"So that just means that your answer was yes." He accused, making Roy splutter indignantly, feeling an embarrassed heat work its way up his neck and over his cheeks. Ed clicked his tongue, looking away and deep in thought. "It's just… I've always looked like this, right? There were people who tried it on with me, when I was a teenager – people who shouldn't have. Maybe those rumours sprung up out of a guilty conscience? Dick-heads who wanted nothing more than to have me, in that way, and well, you're not bad to look at either, so – maybe they deflected their carnal, disgusting desires on to you. And since we were so secretive about how we operated, back then, it was easy to sit in their offices and daydream about all the nasty things they wanted us to do to each other. Maybe they tittered about it to each other, the way dirty old men do, and that turned into rumours of actual abuse."
"I feel like you're trying really hard to soften this blow for me, and what you're coming up with is pure supposition." He muttered. "Don't get me wrong, I appreciate it, but it's odd, coming from you. You're supposed to hate me. Alleged sexual abuse aside, I was horrid to you at times. You don't have to pretend to like me just because you're telling me bad news. I'm not a shoot the messenger kind of guy."
Ed sat down heavily on the other sofa, and Roy finally took his hands away from his eyes to look at him challengingly. The blonde was staring at him with an oddly heartbroken look on his face.
"I've never hated you." He whispered, and then cleared his throat and carried on at a more normal tone. "Jeez, I really disliked you at times – I was a teenage boy and you were in a position of authority – but I never hated you."
Roy couldn't deal with the man's words – not after everything he'd just learnt.
"Don't lie to me, Edward, not now."
Edward's eyebrows furrowed.
"I'm not lying." He pushed.
Roy frowned right back.
"Yes you are. You took every opportunity to avoid me when you worked for the military, and you openly complained about me all the time. Maybe time has dulled those memories for you, but you clearly fucking hated me!" He accused, voice rising because the entire conversation had been emotional and he had little to no control over his volume.
Edward stood and threw his hands in the air.
"I'm. Not. Lying!" He shot back, voice also rising dramatically with each word. "I don't hate you! I never have done!"
Roy stood from the sofa too, wanting to put them on more of an even playing field. He felt exhausted and traumatised from what he had learnt and words were leaving his mouth without his brains permission. He jabbed a finger at Ed distractedly and then looked up at the ceiling because, mortifyingly, he could feel the pinprick of tears beginning to form in his eyes, and there was no way he was going to let them fall.
"Then why did you leave?" He asked the ceiling, voice breaking.
He was met with silence, and when he was sure he wasn't about to leak waterworks the second he allowed himself to take his eyes off the ceiling, he looked to Edward and saw the blonde frozen in the middle of the living room, brow furrowed and entire body tense. He was staring at Roy with the same look of heartbreak on his face, and looked, for a moment, entirely defeated. Then he swallowed and relaxed himself and frowned at the Art Deco rug.
"My whole world had just been flipped upside down." He said, voice void of emotion. "I'd given up my alchemy – the only thing I was even remotely good at – and the one thing I had been working towards since I was ten years old, was done – just like that. Just, done. Alphonse had his body back, I should be overjoyed. I was. Of course I was. But I had no purpose any more. I had an arm that had reattached itself over my auto-mail port, and I was terrified my body was going to get infected, or reject the limb because of the dodgy joining – and looking around me so many people were hurt. You were blind. Hohenheim was gone. I… panicked. I needed to find a new purpose in life."
Roy sank to the floor, leaning back against the sofa, bringing his knees up to his chest, and sighed.
"It's been six years, Edward. I haven't seen you in six years, not even once." He said, feeling like he was confessing to a massive secret. He knew, logically, he was betraying how much Edward's absence had affected him, and how he had hated every second of the boy being gone, but the words were falling from his lips like poison, without permission. He looked up to the ceiling again, so he wouldn't have to look at the blonde, and focused on the swirls and lines of the textured plaster.
Edward took a few steps closer and stood in front of him, leaning over slightly to get in Roy's vision, and Roy felt impossibly small, sitting on the floor, with Fullmetal standing above him. The angle made the twenty-two year old seem seven foot tall, and despite the fact that Roy had to crane his neck back uncomfortably to look at him, he found he was entirely unable to drag his eyes away from Edwards golden gaze.
"I wanted to see you." He confessed. "Every time I was in Central, I wanted to make contact with you."
Roy licked his lips, which had gone inexplicably dry, and Edward's pupils flickered down at the movement before jumping back up to their staring match.
"Then why...?" He asked.
Why hadn't Edward made contact? Why had he left six years ago with no explanation, leaving Roy blind in a hospital room with nothing but a letter of resignation, and never made any attempt to reconcile – if in reality the boy had wanted to?
Edward sank to the floor in front of Roy, and Roy followed him down with his stare, breathing out slowly through his slightly parted mouth. Edward placed a hand on each of the General's knees, and leant forwards slightly so that he was well and truly in Roy's personal space. His eyes drilling into Roy's with the fiery intensity of something unspoken and mildly terrifying. He said nothing, and Mustang couldn't help wetting his lips again. He cleared his throat and tried his question again.
"Why did you get angry, yesterday, when I made that stupid joke about you working for me again?" He asked, and Edward's brow furrowed gently as he took in the question.
Locks of the man's tangled hair fell over his shoulders, and since he was leaning over Roy, it tickled the General's arms. Instinctively, Roy bought up his fingers and carded them through the ends, trying to untangle the worst of it, but he snatched his hand back when Ed made a small, appreciative sound. The blonde sighed at their retreat, and flicked his gaze between Roy's fingers (now cradled to his chest) and the man's eyes, and Roy saw his pupils were blown-out and noticed his breathing was slightly shaky. He doubted he was looking any more collected.
"I didn't want to take this assignment. I didn't like that making contact with you had been taken out of my control, because I kept telling myself I was going to contact you once I had my shit together." He confessed. "When Al and I were recovering I had plans of how my life was going to go. I was going to go to Xing, find my purpose again, and get back to Winry via Central, so that I could show you and the guys that I was still the prodigy you've always thought of me as being."
He huffed, sitting back slightly. Roy wrapped his fingers around his knees, feeling like a teenager but hoping that physically keeping his fingers busy holding his knees in place would stop them from going back to Ed's hair.
"So what happened?" He asked. Edward snorted in a self-depreciating way.
"I didn't get my shit together. I had started up with Winry before I left for Xing, thinking that it was, you know, inevitable, or something – and then when I was in Xing everything just kind of fell apart." He explained. "I went to the Emperor's Palace, just to sort of let Ling know I was around, and… well, before the Promised Day, Ling and I had been skirting around each other, but the whole 'taken over by a homunculus' and 'we should really try to save the world because we happen to live in it' thing was stopping anything from happening. So when I arrived at the Palace, the two of us got a little swept away. I'd literally just begun my relationship with Winry properly, and I felt awful for cheating on her. I tried to say as much to Ling but he can be so persuasive, and he's an Emperor, so monogamy means basically nothing to him. Fuck, I sound like I'm making excuses… I'm not – I'm just trying to explain that everything wasn't going as planned, so instead of heading for Central, I went to Rush Valley and declared to Winry that I was going to marry her – because if I took vows to be faithful then maybe I would actually do it."
Roy breathed out a shaky, almost amused breath.
"Are you trying to tell me you've slept with the Emperor of Xing? The most powerful man alive?" He asked, feeling like a teenager with gossip and almost vibrating with it. Edward looked at him, and his expression morphed from self-hating, to vaguely proud.
"Well, um, yeah." He said, and then smirked. "Multiple times."
Roy was itching to ask whether the man was good in bed, because this was the Emperor of Xing they were talking about, and Roy had been negotiating trade routes with the man for the last six years. He had sat through several intricate and boring as all hells meetings with the man, daydreaming about what it would be like to be the Emperor, and often whether the young Royal was as sexually wonderful as the titters and giggles around the palace suggested he was. Except Edward was rapidly sinking back into feeling terrible about himself and his infidelity.
"What happened next?" He asked, getting the impression Ed needed to get this off his chest, but also because it stopped him from thinking about the other things Edward had confessed to him that night, about what his colleagues thought of him.
The blonde twisted a lock of hair round his fingers, pulling it tight and then letting it ping back up.
"I threw my all into the wedding – we got married in the summer when I was eighteen. Winry wanted to invite you all. I… I told her I'd already sent the invites, but I hadn't. I couldn't face it. So when it got closer to the day and I still hadn't done it, I just told her you were all so busy now you couldn't make it. Each time I lied to her it got easier. I… I swear I thought about telling her, about Ling, and everything. I was going to do it, before we got married – but everything came about so fast, and it was already August, and a couple of days before we were due to take our vows, Winry told me she was pregnant." He rubbed at his neck distractedly. "She was four weeks along when she walked down the aisle, and I was so freaked about the pregnancy, and fatherhood in general. Until that point Winry had basically been supporting me – there's not much money in research – but I knew I needed to get a job and support her and the kid, when it came, but I couldn't face that either, so I hopped on a boat and went back to Xing and holed up with Ling for most of the pregnancy. I confessed everything to him, and he put me on to VGA and sent me home.
"I got home in time for Sasha to be born, but I had no idea how to be a father – so I threw myself into VGA and took an assignment in Central for five days, returned home for two nights, and then took another assignment in Aerugo for a month, leaving Winry to figure out how to be a mum all by herself. Regardless of the cheating and the lying, I think that's what she's most mad at me for, to be honest. It's what I'm most mad at myself for."
Roy hated hearing this, but with everything Edward was saying, his shoulders became slightly more relaxed. He urged him on further.
"What do you mean?"
"Sasha wasn't planned, and we both struggled with that, when he was tiny. I was telling myself that I didn't know how to be a dad – my own dad was a deadbeat, never around, I had no one to model off, blah blah blah… but I got to escape. Winry… Winry was dealing with that too – her mum died when she was little, and Pinako was in Risembool, so she had no one around to help her. She didn't know how to be a mum, and she just had to figure it out on her own.
"She got post-natal depression, and she blamed herself for my absence. She thought we'd lost our spark during her pregnancy, and I didn't know how to tell her that we really never had one, so I let her believe that. When I got back from my assignment in Central she was trying so hard to rekindle something in us, and I suppose I kind of wanted that too – and so we had a couple of nice romantic evenings – and then I took a month long assignment in Aerugo and left her to pick up the pieces again." He scrubbed at his face. "When I got home she told me she was pregnant again. Sasha was just over a month old, and he was a fussy baby. She looked exhausted – more than a new mother should, if they had their husband around to help out – and I could tell the idea of another pregnancy and baby was freaking her out, but I didn't know what to do.
"Alphonse had moved to East City, and I started spending more and more time with him, between assignments, and in the December I went back to Xing, promising Winry I'd be back before Maesie was born, but she was four weeks premature, so I missed that deadline as well. Winry ended up dealing with two kids under one year old, all on her own, recovering from giving birth and trying to battle monsters in her own mind. When I got back from Xing I just looked at her, so exhausted and trying so hard to be a good mother, and I thought 'I have to make this right' - so I broke down and told her everything. I only realised afterwards that confessing all that to her wasn't a kindness – it just meant now she had to deal with all my crap on top of everything else."
Roy could feel himself inching forwards, a need to physically comfort the young man in front of him taking over him, and he had to purposefully lean himself back against the sofa again. He felt so incredibly sorry for Winry, but he felt sorry for Edward too. The both of them had been eighteen when they found out they were pregnant with Sasha, and despite claims of adulthood – eighteen was still so very young. Clearly the two of them had major issues, which hadn't been handled well, but it was also clear above all else they would do anything for their children – and for two people who had been through so much in their lives, Roy could do nothing but commend them on the victories they were winning.
"So you confessed just after Maesie was born… but she's two, right? How come you two are still trying to get divorced after two years?"
"Winry's a saint, really. She tried so hard to fix our marriage, instead of kicking me to the curb like I deserved. She tried all these techniques to get us to talk to each other – and to some extent we rekindled our friendship a little – but there was still so much anger there, and honestly I was afraid of even touching her, in case she got pregnant again – so eventually I packed up my stuff and moved in to Al and Mei's." He explained. "It took a year and a half for me to finally grow some balls and make the decision to let Winry move on, because I knew that whole time she was never going to kick me out. She'd never ask for the divorce, even though she wanted one. She still cared about me too much to throw me away, and I was banking on that, because staying was easier than leaving… but she deserved the chance to get over me, and I should have told her that when I was seventeen."
Roy pushed himself from his leaning position on the sofa and crawled over to Ed, unable to stay away any longer. He placed a hand on the other man's shoulder and made sure they had eye-contact before speaking.
"You know what you did was wrong. No one denies that." He said. "But you deserve to be able to move on too. To be happy, too."
Ed's eyes were molten gold, wide and hopeful from Roy's words. When the boy had been a teenager Edward would have had to look up at Roy, but now they were roughly on par, and when Ed leant forwards, slowly, hesitantly, the similarities they shared in height was noticeable when their noses brushed.
The two men jumped away from each other rapidly at the small, squeaky word, spoken as a question and confused with sleep. Edward coughed awkwardly, standing up and striding over to where Sasha was stood in the entrance to the living room, rubbing his eyes and blinking to try and keep them open. He swept the boy into his arms.
"Hey little man," He mumbled, ruffling his hair. "What's up?"
Sasha yawned, screwing up his face with the force of it.
"Thirsty." He mumbled. "Not little."
Edward nodded, taking the child into the kitchen for a glass of water and then ushering him back to bed. Whilst he was dealing with it, Roy flopped himself down on his back on the Art Deco rug and stared at the ceiling, trying not to internally freak out. He had a pretty good inkling of what was about to happen before they were interrupted by Sasha's need for water, and he wasn't sure what to do with the information. He had been about a centimetre away from kissing Edward Elric, which would have been insane even without the information Roy had received earlier that night on exactly what his work colleagues thought he had done with Edward when the man was an actual child.
Sure, the boy had grown up to be (stay, but Roy wasn't going there) pretty attractive, but the man was his ex-subordinate, technically still married and fourteen years his junior. Not to mention currently employed as his bodyguard. No matter how much Roy's fingers were twitching to sort out the man's hair, or how Ed's pupils blew out every time he looked at the General's lips – there was no way the two of them could act on the base instincts they were clearly experiencing.
They just had to have more control than that. Besides, chances were Edward had only leant forward because he was emotionally wrecked from the conversation and he had mistaken Roy's attempt to give comfort for… a come on.
Which really gave Roy no excuse to get hung up on it.
Edward turned up in the entryway.
"Sorry," He muttered, "Where were we?"
Roy stood abruptly, brushing down his uniform.
"Actually, it's late." He lied, it was just gone nine. He walked passed the boy, out into the hall, and down towards his bedroom door, ignoring the confused furrow of Ed's brow. "I'm going to head to bed. Maybe you should too."
Chapter 4: Assault
"Even think about moving and my next bullet will go through your brain."
Chapter Warning: Description of sexual assault
Edward slept on the floor.
Roy had no way of knowing that for sure, (despite his paranoia begging him to confirm it, there was no way in hell he was going to check on the other man's sleeping position) but given that the children had been lain down on the bed, and Ed's devotion to his kids, Roy had guessed. The General had spent the entire night tossing and turning, trying not to think about the centimetre of space between the end of his nose and his lips, and how if Sasha's thirst had managed to hold out for even two seconds longer, then he would have kissed Fullmetal. He tried harder not to think about whether he would have enjoyed kissing Fullmetal. Instead, his mind focused on Edward in different ways, unable to completely dispel him. He spent hours wondering whether Edward would squeeze into the tiny single bed next to his kids, or bunk down on the floor, on the shaggy rug – and then, horrifyingly, imagining the flex of the muscles in his legs as they stretched and constricted, trying to get comfortable.
His suspicions were confirmed when he left his room the next morning (having ignored his bladder for as long as possible) and saw Edward in the living room looking a little worse for wear, as if he had spent the night on the hard surface of his spare bedroom. The two children were playing quietly, under their father's watchful gaze. Sasha was flicking through the pages of a picture book, and Maesie was putting square blocks on top of one another, whilst Edward was reaching around himself to massage at his back, and still hadn't put his hair up. All of them, however, had a fresh set of clothes on, and the toys had to have come from somewhere, because Roy definitely didn't have any lying around.
Sasha was wearing some bright red shorts and a plain white t-shirt. Maesie was dressed in an apple-green pinafore that had little red apples printed on it, over the top of a brown chequered shirt. Edward was in brown dress trousers and a crisp white shirt, with a brown waist coat buttoned over the top. His gun-holster was strapped under his arms, his radio was attached to his belt, and his earpiece was in place.
Roy suddenly felt a little self-conscious, in his tartan pyjama pants and an old white t-shirt that had been chewed up at the laundrettes so had at least three holes in it. He cleared his throat, and Edward and Maesie both span round to look at him. Edward smiled, and Roy felt himself getting hot under the collar.
"New clothes." He said, because 'good morning' felt far too domestic after their close call the previous evening.
"Ming-Yue buyed them." Sasha told him without looking up, still flicking through the book as if it held all the knowledge in the world and not just pictures of baby animals.
"That's right, Ming-Yue bought them." Edward repeated, subtly correcting the mistake. He looked back at Roy. "She came by earlier with my bag from the hotel and some bits for the kids. These two woke me up at the crack of dawn, of course. Sorry if they woke you."
Roy shook his head. His bladder was beginning to sting with urgency, so he excused himself to the bathroom, and by the time he was back, the three Elrics had packed their toys away and were sat still and attentive on one of the sofas. Roy knew Edward must be feeling awkward, waking up in someone else's home, and not wanting his kids to upset anything.
"Have you eaten?" He asked, and Edward shook his head, so Roy filed into the kitchen, where he found four bowls and some bland cereal. He usually picked up something from the bakery across the way, but Shreddies would do in a pinch. "Come on." He called back over his shoulder, across the hall to the living room, and a few seconds later Maesie came waddling into the kitchen, with Edward and Sasha following her a little more hesitantly.
Roy placed the bowls on the table. He only had two chairs at the table, but Edward sat down on one and hoisted Maesie up on his lap, and Roy pointed Sasha into the other one.
"Sasha, come sit here." Edward tried, patting his other knee, but Roy put his hand on Sasha's shoulder to keep him where he was.
"Stay where you are." He commanded gently, never having been entirely sure how to speak to children. "There's no need to be a martyr, Edward." He added, as Ed made a move to stand up. He was not actually looking at the blonde, and was instead pouring some cereal into Sasha's bowl until it was half full. He did the same for the other three bowls, and then got some milk from the fridge and spoons from the cupboard. Whilst he was over at the counter he flicked the kettle on, knowing the blonde would likely find the day ahead difficult without feeding his obvious caffeine addiction. He carried the milk back to the table whilst he waited for the kettle to boil.
"I can do my own." Edward's lookalike son told him, making grabbing hands at the carton, so Roy passed it across the table to him, after a glance towards Fullmetal, who nodded, smiling at his son.
Roy noticed Ed picking at his cereal dry, and remembered the aversion to milk, and watched Maesie copy her dad's actions, taking pieces from her own bowl. Sasha passed the carton back, and Roy motioned it towards Maesie, but she screwed up her face and began welling up a high-pitched noise in her throat, so Roy quickly took it away again, pouring a little into his own bowl. He put the milk back in the fridge, poured two mugs of coffee for himself and Ed, and delivered Edward's coffee to him, who gave him such an appreciative look that Roy accidentally put it down on the table a little too hard and some sloshed over the side. He kept a small distance between himself and the family, and stood, spooning cereal into his mouth, leaning against the counter-top, and simply spent a moment watching the three Elrics over breakfast. Sasha was attacking his food with the same gusto Edward always had, and Maesie seemed to dislike milk as much as her father.
They were, and Roy was only likely to admit this in the comfort of his own thoughts, a lovely little family. His tongue felt thick in his mouth as he watched them all – and Hughes' voice sounded just behind his ear, as it often did at the most inconsequential of times, reminding him to get himself a family of his own. Suddenly, he felt his gut clench painfully at the idea of the two children going back to Rush Valley in a few hours.
"Winry's train gets in about one o'clock, so if it's okay with you for these two to spend the morning at the office, Ming-Yue is going to collect the kids about twelve-thirty and take them to the station." Edward explained, as if reading his mind. He was barely picking at the cereal, but was cradling his mug in his right hand and Roy had to clench down a ridiculously happy smile when he realised Ed would be able to feel the heat of it now his arm was no longer Automail.
Instead, in response to the other man's words, he nodded solemnly, chewing for an extra long time on his mouthful as he tried to drink in every aspect of the image in front of him – of Sasha, Maesie and Edward, enjoying a peaceful breakfast, before the two children were taken off Ed again for who knows how long. Sasha had milk dribbled down his front, and Maesie and Edward were sharing the problem of tangled hair – both of them with locks sticking out at odd angles and flyaway strands. Yesterday, Maesie's pale-gold locks had been in two perfect pig-tails, but that morning she looked more like a witch than an angel thanks to the tangles in her fine blonde locks. Sighing, he put his cereal bowl down on the counter-top and made his way to his bathroom, selecting his own hairbrush and a red flannel he had never used, and taking them back to the kitchen.
"Come here, Maesie." He said as he arrived back, noticing the girl had finished. She glanced up at the sound of her name, and he waved the hairbrush in the air, making her giggle. She hopped down from Ed's lap, and Roy sat down cross-legged on the floor of the kitchen behind her so he could sort out the tangled strands. "Hold still, okay?" He told her, and she babbled a string of unconnected syllables happily, which meant nothing to Roy.
Soon he had made some leeway on de-tangling her hair, and when his brush passed through with no snags, he clapped his hands and transmuted half the materials in the flannel into a red ribbon. He pulled her hair up on top of her head in a high ponytail, and tied the ribbon around it in a bow. Sasha had paused with his cereal half way to his mouth, watching Roy work, and then he said;
"You should do daddy's hair too."
Oh, and how Roy wished he could. At that point he wasn't even surprised to feel the warmth of a blush starting at the back of his neck, and he quickly looked over to Ed to see him playing with the ends of his hair, cheeks red as well. It looked as if Roy wasn't the only one remembering their close encounter the previous night.
"There's no need." Edward said. Unfortunately at the same time Roy's mouth decided it was a good idea to work without his brain's permission, which he noticed was happening a lot around his young ex-subordinate.
"Yes, I should."
If anything, Edward's blush grew. He'd always shown his emotion on his face, and he turned it away now, looking shocked and mildly panicked. That only spurred Roy on into feeling more confident though, and so he stepped towards the table with the brush in his hands, and gently swept his fingers over the back of Fullmetal's neck, sweeping up the hair there. The blonde jolted lightly, and as Roy ran his fingers through the locks in pure self-indulgence, but under the guise of collecting more strands, Ed let out a tiny, pleasured noise.
Roy was going to have a serious problem in his pyjama bottoms if Edward continued on down that route. Yet nothing could have stopped him from pulling the brush through the captive strands again. Gently, trying not to cause discomfort, he continued to de-tangle the hair, and simultaneously tried to calm his runaway thoughts.
"Really, I can do this myself." Edward protested, but now that he was doing it there was no way Roy was giving up the privilege. Besides, Ed had sounded distinctly half-hearted in his attempt to protest, and by that deliciously pleasured noise Roy got the impression Edward had a thing about his hair being played with that Roy couldn't not explore.
"I've been wanting to do this since yesterday." He confessed, pulling the brush through again, and this time being met with less resistance. He laughed gently at his memories of the previous day. "I mean honestly, it was a mess all day. Did you lose your hair-band?"
Ed mumbled out a short confirmation, and Sasha, having finished with his bowl, excitedly joined in the conversation.
"Roy should transmute a ribbon!" He squealed. "Then daddy will look pretty like Maesie."
Roy faltered on his next brush through, and then cleared his throat and tried again, forcibly telling his mind to dispel the image of Ed wearing a red ribbon in his spun-gold hair. The blonde ex-alchemist pinned his son with an unamused look, and just for that, when Roy was finished de-tangling, he clapped his hands again and transmuted more ribbon. At that point Edward was focused on battling with Sasha to get the boy to stop poking at his sister, and so hadn't noticed Roy's transmutation. So, for the sake of amusing himself and Sasha, Roy sectioned Ed's hair into three parts and plaited it in the way he had preferred as a teenager, tying it with the ribbon at the end.
When he was done he took a step back and Ed turned round to look at him, the plait, longer than it had been in his teenage years, whipping round to fall over his shoulder, with the red ribbon hanging low in a bow. Sasha had been right, Even though Edward was clearly a strong, physically fit man, he did look distinctly pretty, and Roy frowned, because the colours and the plait reminded Roy so much of when Edward had been a child. Twelve to fifteen, he had worn his long red coat and kept his hair in a plait religiously… had Roy thought of him as pretty back then?
Well, definitely not at twelve, but Edward had been right the previous night – he hadn't changed all that much from his teenage years. He had grown taller, and filled out into his muscles, but fundamentally he looked the same. If Roy could admit he found the man attractive now, then it stood to reason he also had done, subconsciously at least, when the boy was a teenager.
Which meant that the allegations of abuse weren't far off the mark, and Edward needed to leave again – soon.
Angry at himself, he collected the bowls from the table and put them into the sink, pouring water and soap over them and aggressively scrubbing them clean in a way he wished he could scrub his own dirty mind clean.
"Change that to how you want." He mumbled, not looking at the blonde again. He knew his voice came out sounding moody, but he also knew if he continued to talk he would only make the situation worse. He could feel the weight of Edward's frown on his back, but refused to turn around, and frustratingly, Ed made no move to change his hair from the plait.
Roy finished with the plates and left the room to get changed, then thirty minutes later they were leaving the house and making their way to the office. Roy spent the entire car journey wondering how he was going to face anyone at work with the new information he had learnt the night before.
"Fallman, can you come in here for a second?"
Roy was behind his desk, having been at the office for over an hour and having managed to work at about twenty percent proficiency. He would have been better, but every time he looked up from work he spotted one of the three Elrics wondering around his office and was reminded of the horrible rumours that had been circling HQ about him, so it had come to the point where he couldn't keep his frustration to himself any more.
"Yes, sir." Fallman said, entering the smaller, personal office that Roy was residing in. The General waved for his subordinate to close the door, and Fallman swung it shut behind him. In the years since the Promised Day, even Fallman had become less uptight, and he looked at Roy now with a bit of concern and said "What's bothering you, sir?" Which meant Roy's upset was definitely showing on his face.
He waved for Fallman to take a seat, and waited until the older gentleman had settled himself before beginning.
"Look, this is kind of sensitive, but I was wondering something." He sighed, and when Fallman didn't make a move one way or another about whether he was uncomfortable with how shifty Roy was acting, he carried on. "Do you remember when Fullmetal started working on the team – would have been about ten years ago, now."
"I remember." He said.
Roy rested his elbows on the desk, linked his hands together and looked at his subordinate over the bridge he had made with his fingers.
"And are you aware of any official investigations that may have taken place into our unit, or specifically me, at that time?"
At this Fallman seemed to become uncomfortable, sitting straighter in his chair and furrowing his brow slightly, which was a sure-fire sign the man was about to straight up lie to his face. Roy wasn't sure why his team thought he didn't know their tells like reading a damn book.
"No sir, not at that time." He replied, and Roy frowned. Strategic omission of the truth then – Roy thought Fallman could do better.
"At any time, any investigation, Fallman." He demanded, then sighed when Fallman continued to keep a tight lip, looking uncomfortable, and ran a hand through his hair. "Look, I've already… Edward has already explained what he can to me – I just want to know if anyone actually investigated the rumours."
Fallman deflated before his eyes when he realised Roy wasn't as naive as clearly the team thought he was. He began to speak in a muted tone as if he was speaking to a widower.
"If my memory is correct, sir, when Edward was fourteen, not long after the battle the two of you had for his State Alchemy Assessment, Colonel Douglas attempted to launch an investigation regarding some unsavoury rumours that had been circling base for a couple of years." He confessed. "But Brigadier-General Hughes threw it out straight away." He added in a more joyful tone.
Roy leant back in his chair, feeling sick. Was he the only person in the entire military who didn't know about these rumours? He scrubbed a hand down over his face and tried not to pout. Fallman had clearly known, Riza had, Maes had… all the people he thought were close to him had been keeping this horrible secret from him. He was sure they had meant to do it as a favour, so as not to upset him, but all it really meant was that they had lied to him.
"Did the whole team know?" He asked, and winced when Fallman nodded. He frowned. "And did any of you… believe it?"
"No, sir. Of course not."
Which was nice, but worrying, in a way. Their blind faith in him meant that had he been that way inclined, a child could have been hurt. Edward had confessed to all but telling people that Roy had abused him, and from the sounds of it, no one had believed him. In this case they were right to, because Roy wasn't abusing Ed, but what if he had been, and Edward had tried to reach out, and everyone had disregarded it and said, 'no, not Mustang'. What would that have done to the psyche of a child who was theoretically already being abused?
"Here's the thing, Vato." He began, trying for calm and missing by a mile. "Edward confessed to me that he told high ranking officials, in response to leading questions, that I made him do things he didn't want to do, and that he didn't feel safe around me. For years there have been rumours that I abused him, and the only person who tried to do anything about that was Colonel Douglas. It's nice to know you all think I wouldn't, and let me assure that I wouldn't, and most certainly didn't, but here's the question – what if I had?"
Fallman was looking at him with a confused look on his features.
"What do you mean? You didn't." He said, as if confirming. Roy sighed.
"But what if I had?" He repeated. "What if behind the scenes I had spent years taking advantage of an under-age boy, like those rumours said I did? How well do you really think you know me? How would you feel knowing you discounted those rumours as hearsay, when in reality I was using my position of authority to hurt someone?" He questioned, feeling incensed. "The issue is, Edward told people that he didn't feel safe with me and I forced him to do things – and children very rarely lie about abuse. And everyone knew about these rumours so everyone knew it was a possibility that Edward was getting hurt, and nobody did a single fucking thing about it. Not to mention that if there had been an official enquiry then – then okay, I would have been pissed – but it would have given me a chance to clear my name!"
He broke himself off, realising he was shouting, and that Fallman was looking like he might have a panic attack at any moment. He sighed and bit distractedly at the nail on his thumb. He apologised for shouting and explained that he wasn't specifically mad at Fallman, just mad in general.
"I'm sorry, sir." Fallman said anyway.
Fallman looked like he was trying to figure out if Roy was confessing to the alleged abuse, and the General leant back in his chair and ran his tongue over the back of his teeth as he tried to figure out where to go and what to do with the information he had. He felt the overwhelming need to clear his name, of course, but also the angry want to call each and every person who knew about the rumours out on their wilful ignorance. Sure, Edward was under his direct supervision, but it was the responsibility of every adult to safeguard children, and Edward had been, pure and simply, before anything else, a child.
He huffed and picked up some papers he needed to get to General Guttering by the end of the day. He couldn't face the man, knowing what he obviously thought of Roy. Any time he thought about the General, and the words he had said – 'I thought you'd be done with this one, once he turned eighteen' - his blood boiled. Then he remembered the way the other man had looked at Edward – like he was a piece of meat, and he suddenly felt faint and sick. He remembered how on edge Edward was when around Stamshaw, and how the boy had all but fled from the man whispering to him. He remembered as well, the twenty-two year old the night before, sat on his Art Deco rug and explaining how people had tried it on with him when he was a teenager – people who shouldn't have.
Before he knew it, he was on his feet and out through the door connecting his personal office to the larger one where his team worked in harmony (for the most part). He strode across the office to where Edward was stood by the door, arms crossed over his chest and eyes flickering around for threats, whilst also keeping an eye on his children, who were, of course, running riot in the office. Once Roy was in front of him the blonde glanced to him, and Roy noticed that, as seemed to often happen around Fullmetal, his mouth was working without his brains permission.
"Who hurt you?" He asked.
Edward looked surprised by the question.
"What?" He asked. Roy huffed.
"Last night, you told me people tried it on with you when you were a kid, and I was too busy freaking out and I didn't notice, but now I want to know. Who hurt you? I want names."
For a moment Edward looked like he was going to have a panic attack at Roy's feverish questioning, but then he seemed to steel himself and scoffed slightly. He looked around the office to check no one was listening in on them, and then replied in a quiet voice.
"I said some people tried it on, not that they ever succeeded." He hissed. "Do you really think I'd let someone get away with it if they had?"
Roy deflated a little, but not by much.
"Trying it is enough, isn't it?" He asked, and then placed a hand on the blonde's shoulder and grew very serious. "Honestly Edward, I don't think anyone can say what they'd do in that situation. But I can tell you now that you were my responsibility and if anyone even tried to hurt you then I will retroactively burn them to ash."
Fullmetal looked away from him.
"Nobody hurt me, Roy." He assured, and Roy watched as he pulled his braid round over his shoulder and began playing with the end of it in a show of shyness. He realised that Ed had taken out the red ribbon Roy had transmuted from a flannel that morning, but kept it in a plait, tying it instead with a plain black band. Edward looked down at the hand Roy hadn't put on his shoulder, where he was still holding the paperwork that needed to go to Guttering, and rose and eyebrow.
"I need to deliver these." Roy supplied in response to the unasked question, and Ed nodded. He turned to the room, specifically to his children, and addressed them.
"Sasha, Maesie – stay here with Breda. Don't touch anything. Don't argue, and for heavens sake Breda, if Sasha asks to show you his Alchemy, please say no." He told them, and then waved for Roy to follow him into the hall.
They walked in a silence for a moment, but then Roy asked about Sasha's alchemy and Ed spent the rest of the walk explaining that he was trying to teach his son the basics, and the boy showed some talent, but had a penchant for making things blow up, which was not helped by his Uncle Alphonse's encouragement of things going boom. The two of them were laughing when they got to Guttering's office, and it must have disturbed the General, because he ripped open his door angrily and stared down at them. Roy reminded himself the man was six foot three, and that put him a good seven or eight inches above Edward now – when Ed had been a midget teenager, then people like Guttering must have looked like giants.
"What do you want, Mustang?" He asked, and, not feeling up for an argument, Roy simply handed over the papers, unceremoniously shoving them into his colleagues hands.
Guttering looked over them for a moment, and then glanced up between Mustang and Edward and smirked. The expression looked incredibly unattractive on his wrinkled face.
"Still visiting, Elric?" He asked, and Roy watched the blonde grow more tense as he stood there.
Ed nodded jerkily, and seemed to edge impossible closer to Roy, which made Mustang clench his fist at his side. Guttering looked Edward up and down slowly, and Roy instinctively put himself between them, pushing Edward a little behind him. He may have failed as a protector in the boys teenage years, but he wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
"I need you to sign those and give them back." He said, voice stone cold, and explaining why he hadn't high-tailed it out of there already. Guttering glanced at him, and then back to Ed, and his smirk only grew.
"You know I envy you, Mustang." He said, turning back into the office and waving the two inside, which for a moment made Roy falter, but he and Ed wondered in, and the General closed the door behind them. Then Guttering carried on as if he and Roy were part of some in-joke or gentleman's club secret. "The boy was cute enough when he was a kid, but he's grown to be quite the piece of ass." He assessed, eyes drifting low over Ed's body.
And Roy had no idea what to do, or say – because that was proof enough that the man in front of him was a disgusting old man, who clearly thought Roy was a paedophile – and at the very least it was alluding to the idea that Guttering himself had thought of Edward that way when he was a child. The man had just admitted it – clearly thinking that Roy and he were part of the same secret club of people who liked under-age boys.
"That's entirely inappropriate." He said, in lieu of a more callous response. Guttering laughed, and even that sounded evil. Roy half expected him to start monologuing.
"Come now, Mustang. You've had him under you since he was twelve and I've never said a word." He accused, spreading his hands wide in mock friendliness. "Clearly you've mind-fucked the boy enough that he's still loyal to you. I bet if it was you who asked him he'd bend over for anyone – so come on, share your little fuck-toy and I'll keep keeping mum." He added, evil smirk in place and staring at the two of them in obvious lust, high on his perceived power.
Roy turned to Ed, who was looking at Guttering, almost as if he was bored, and glanced at Roy when the Flame Alchemist looked to him. Roy was hit with the realisation that this was not the first time that Edward had dealt with men spouting horrible words about him, or to him, and it might not even be the first time that he was dealing with it specifically from Guttering.
"He's one of those people, that tried it on with you..." He assessed, and felt a ball form in his throat when Ed nodded.
"Yes." He replied, "But he hasn't, and can't, hurt me. It's just words."
Roy snapped, mouth yelling out his thoughts before he could think about how angry he was or even what he was saying – which was usually when the truth came out.
"It's fucking paedophilia, Edward!" He cried, and then turned to Guttering, pointing his finger accusingly at the man. If it wasn't for the fact that he had left his gloves in his office, he would have already clicked. "You are a fucking disgusting excuse for a human being. How dare you talk to my subordinate in that way – you don't even deserve to be taken to court-martial. I should just send you to a fucking hospital right -"
Roy cut himself off when Guttering grabbed his wrist and yanked him forward, enticing a cry of protest from Ed, who had jumped forward at the commotion, but had ended up stopping himself because Guttering had turned Roy around and was holding him securely like a hostage. He had twisted Roy's arm up and behind his back by the wrist, keeping it pinned there with an iron grip, and spinning Roy around in one fluid motion. Guttering flung his other arm over Roy's chest and the arm that hadn't been twisted behind his back was pinned securely to his side. Roy made an angry hissing noise at the sharp pain in his twisted arm, and Edward glared at his attacker, hands out as if surrendering. Roy struggled slightly in the hold, but Guttering simply tugged his twisted arm slightly higher up, and Roy hissed again in pain as something seemed to give in his shoulder, closing his eyes in pain for a moment and then opening them again when Ed spoke.
"Let him go." Edward commanded, and he pushed back his coat to reveal the gun-holster he kept hidden underneath, raising an expectant eyebrow at the older man.
"Don't be like that." Guttering replied, and he turned his head and bent down slightly so he was breathing directly into Roy's ear, making the man squirm and screw up his face in disgust. He rocked forwards, already pressed up against his captive, and Roy felt something hot and hard ruck up against his lower back. "Hell, Mustang – you feel pretty good like this. Maybe I'll forget blondie and just have you spread yourself out for me instead."
Oh shit, that was definitely the man's dick pressed against him. Guttering stuttered out a heady, hot breath against Roy's ear, and Roy closed his eyes and prayed to some higher power that he didn't believe in that he wasn't going to be sick.
"Fuck you." He shot back, but it sounded scared, even to him. Guttering laughed again, and it shocked Roy how loud it sounded, huffed directly into his ear.
"All in good time, and I'll be the one fucking you, you upstart prick." He muttered insultingly, breath hot and disgusting against Roy's cheek, and making Roy's stomach churn itself into knots.
Then he heard the distinctive click of a gun being taken off safety, that he had heard so much when Riza was working for him, and he turned his head to see Edward pointing the barrel directly at Guttering's head, golden eyes narrowed in concentration, stance secure, and breathing steady.
"Let. Him. Go." He said again.
Guttering sighed dramatically.
"Please, you wont shoot me now, you might miss and hit Mustang. So long as I keep him between you and me, I could do anything I want to him and you still won't pull that trigger." He explained, making Roy's blood run cold. "How about it, Fullmetal – wouldn't you love to see the man who's been fucking you all these years get a taste of his own medicine?"
When he said that, he pulled Roy around, making sure he was always using Mustang as a human shield, until they were both stood in front of the man's desk. Roy screwed his eyes shut tight, stomach twisting and turning horribly and inwardly begging for this whole thing to stop. He squirmed against the other man's hold, and was rewarded with a rough shove that made his thighs connect with the edge of the desk painfully. Then, he felt the hand that had been sprawled over his chest sink low and start undoing his belt buckle, and he bucked backwards, crying out.
"No, don't. Don't. Please!" He begged, as Guttering got purchase and slipped the belt away, and then unbuttoned his trousers and pulled down his zip, pushing the military blues down over his hips. They fell away easily and pooled down at his ankles, exposing his legs, which Guttering knocked into the desk again, and then kicked apart at the knees. Roy felt like poison ivy was being brushed over his skin on every part Guttering was touching, and there was bile in his throat jumping to get out. "Fuck. Stop. Please, stop!" He cried, pride be damned, as Guttering's free hand sneaked up under his uniform jacket and now un-tucked shirt and pinched harshly at his chest.
"I will fucking shoot you." Edward warned, and Roy looked at him to see the twenty-two year old's eyes were wide with shock and fear, the gun in his hands now shaking slightly.
Roy yelled angrily as Guttering laughed once more at the empty threat and kept working on ripping Roy's clothes from him. The man's hand slipped inside his boxer shorts and grabbed a handful of the flesh of Roy's ass, making Roy hiss and swear, and then he tried to pull the underwear down too, and Roy bucked and shouted again.
"No! Please! Not… not in front of Edward." He pleaded, tears sliding down his cheeks freely in his panic.
Guttering laughed once more, a horrible, evil sound that Roy knew he wasn't going to forget in a hurry, if he survived this. He had one clear thought in his head throughout the rest of the panic – that there was no way he could let Edward witness this. If he could find a way… a way of bargaining with Guttering, maybe he could convince Ed to leave, and then whatever happened to him after that, at least he wouldn't have been raped in front of Fullmetal.
"Edward has to see, though. Don't you, boy? He has to see that you're not the man everyone thinks you are." He huffed down, scratching at Roy's exposed flesh and making the man cry out in pain. His underwear was pulled down and stretched over his spread knees, and Guttering took his flaccid dick in hand and squeezed hard. Roy screamed in frustration and pain and tried to shake himself free of the other man's hold, but Guttering bit down on his shoulder mercilessly, and Roy could feel his teeth through the material of his uniform, and was forced to stop bucking and fighting, lest the other General caused him serious damage. Guttering turned to Ed and began monologuing to the blonde. "He's just a fucking slut who only got his rank by sucking his superiors off, and then tried to make himself feel more like a man by exerting dominance over a child, right, Edward? It's time you saw him for who he really is – a sissy faggot boy. Trust me, Elric – he's a slut who's going to mewl like a damn kitten, bent over the desk, stretched out on my co- ARRRRGHH!"
Guttering had pushed Roy over the desk on his words, shoving him down quickly and forcefully, and smacking Roy's head into the wood, but the second Roy hit the surface a shot ran through the air and Guttering cut himself off to cry out in pain. His hands ripping away from Roy, and Royl took that opportunity to scuttle away, around the edge of the desk and falling as he tried to pull up his underwear and trousers as he went. He looked behind himself to see Guttering had blood blossoming from his shoulder, where Ed had shot him. The man was still very much alive though, and Roy found himself scooting backwards in his panic, until Ed's hand hooked under his arm and pulled him up, still pointing his gun at the other General.
"Are you okay?" He asked, and the second the words processed in Roy's brain the man fell back to his knees, leant forwards and puked on the carpet. It was mostly bile, but it burnt Roy's throat as it came up, and he sobbed gently, hearing Fullmetal saying 'fuck' above him. "Come on, Roy. I need you to get up – you need to go get help. Someone that can put this guy behind bars."
Roy stayed exactly where he was on the floor, surrounded by his own sick. The idea of telling someone what had just happened made him want to puke again. There was no way he was going to stroll out of there and admit to someone what he'd just been through. He shook his head at the puke-covered ground, breathing raggedly and trying to stop his tears even though his eyes were stinging and welling up every time he blinked. He probably looked a mess – his uniform was ripped, his pale skin was probably bruised, his eyes would be red-rimmed and blotchy, his breath probably stank of regurgitation; there was no way he could leave.
"Come on." Edward encouraged, and Roy looked up at him and shook his head again. Edward sighed down at him, and then back at Guttering. "Fuck it." He said, and then shot the man again, this time in the knee.
Guttering screamed in pain, but neither Roy or Edward had any sympathy for him. The blonde hooked Roy up to standing again, and started fussing with his uniform, putting it back into place, twisting buttons back together and zipping him up where he needed to be zipped up. Roy was next to useless, barely managing to keep himself upright, and holding on shakily to Ed's shoulders for support. He kept glancing over to where the other General was cradling his knee and shoulder, on the floor and seething in pain, but Ed kept guiding his chin back to looking at him, muttering words of encouragement.
"Let's go." He said, cradling Roy's forearm in his hand and guiding the man out of the office. In the doorway he turned back and shot Guttering a disgusted look. "I doubt you could with a blown out knee-cap, but even think about moving and my next bullet will go through your brain."
Someone had put a blanket over Roy's shoulders.
He was sat on a bench in the large waiting area of Investigations, with paramedics fluttering around and military police taking statements in every corner. The two of them hadn't even made it to the end of the corridor when Ming-Yue had come rushing up to them, out of breath and eyes wild, shouting in Xingese. She had by-passed them a second later, entered the office and exited again a little while later with Guttering in hand-cuffs, and what looked like a fresh bruise growing on his head. Ed had explained that when he'd pulled his gun he had pressed the activation button for the microphone on his walkie-talkie and transmitted everything hence to Roy's personal protection team. They had figured out what was going on and made haste to get to him.
Roy had at first thought that they hadn't been that quick – but in reality they had been incredibly quick, it was just that everything had happened so fast that the damage was already done by the time they arrived. He also blanched at the idea that not only had he been sexually assaulted, but that assault had been broadcast to Ed's entire team. He knew, however, that Ed had only been trying to save him, and couldn't find it in himself to be mad at the blonde for it. He was struggling to find it in himself to have any emotions beyond utter disgust, if he was being honest.
Ming-Yue had taken them, and Guttering, to Investigations, where Guttering was remanded in custody, and Edward was taken away to give a statement. Roy was left on a bench, and somewhere along the line someone had given him a blanket. He wondered if he was going to have to give a statement, and whether it would be a generic officer from investigations who questioned him, or whether it would be one of the specifically trained post-trauma officers, that were usually women and softer in their questioning.
"General?" Asked a paramedic, sliding up to him on his bench. He looked at her and frowned slightly. "Would it be okay if I took a look at you now?"
The woman on the front desk of Investigations had called an ambulance the second Ed had managed to drag Roy and his uncooperative legs over the threshold and into her sight. He knew he looked a mess – his pale skin bruised easily, and he could tell without even looking at himself that he had at least one black eye from the collision with the desk – but he wasn't entirely sure the fanfare of trained medical professionals was needed.
"I'm fine." He replied.
The paramedic was a young girl, with auburn hair and freckles over her nose, and she pouted slightly at his response, kicking her feet out in front of her childishly.
"I've been told there was an assault – and that bruise looks quite nasty." She told him. "I'd just like to have a little look over to make sure you've not been hurt anywhere else."
Roy wondered how much she had been told – what kind of assault she was dealing with – and felt bile rising up in his throat again at the idea of anyone looking over his bruised and battered body. He shook his head at her, feeling cold and like he had goosebumps all over his body. The blanket was doing very little. In order to feel even slightly more in control he stood from the bench, and she followed suit.
"I just need a hot bath." He told her, already edging away. She frowned at him.
"Are you feeling cold?" She asked, and he nodded. She sighed. "I think you might be in shock. It's very common after an attack. If you would just let me -"
She had attempted to take the blanket away from him, to check him over or something, but Roy was feeling protective of it now, and appreciated it for covering up the mangled shreds of the shoulder of his uniform where Guttering's teeth had ripped through it, so he stepped back hurriedly, pulling it away from her.
"Just fuck off, alright?" He attacked, and then instantly felt guilty for shouting at her. She was tiny, and clearly just trying to be nice – but the last thing he needed was her pity. His shout had stopped the chaos around him for a moment as everyone looked to see who was being chewed out, and he ducked his head in shame. "I just… I can't deal with this right now." He told her, this time much more quiet, and feeling bile rise up in his throat again.
Gods, he wanted a breath mint.
"I'm sorry, sir, but you look seriously injured." She replied, and he was about to tell her once more to go and bother someone else, when an Eastern accent beat him to it.
"He just bruises easily." Havoc told her, coming up behind Roy and winking at the paramedic. He rested a hand on Roy's shoulder, and the General shrugged away, because he had chosen his bitten shoulder and it was tender and sore. Havoc pinned him an investigative look, but let Roy's avoidance of touching go. "If he says he's fine, he's fine. But I need to take him for a statement now."
And with that the paramedic shrugged her shoulders and turned on her heel to find someone else to fuss over. Roy turned to Havoc, and the chain-smoker breathed out a long, serious breath, eyes turning hard. He scratched at the back of his neck and waved a wad of papers towards one of the interview rooms.
"You had better come with me." He said. Roy could feel himself start shaking – if he was going to have to spell out what happened to him to someone, the least wanted person for that to be was Havoc. The man would never respect him again.
"I don't want to do this." He mumbled, before he could think about what he was saying, and he bought a shaking hand up to his mouth in a futile attempt to stop the rising ball of shame from expelling itself through his throat. Havoc turned back to him, and furrowed his brow.
"I know." He said, and Roy glanced up at him, and then glanced away again because he wasn't sure he wanted to look at his ex-subordinate. His nostrils flared as he tried to regulate his breathing through his nose. "I need to let you know that I've already been filled in on what happened, but I need your account."
When Roy glanced at Havoc again he saw the chain-smoker was staring at him with pity in his eyes, and he looked away moodily, stomping past the man into the interview room and throwing himself down on the chair angrily.
"Is this confidential?" He asked, and Havoc nodded.
"Of course." He replied, sitting down across from him. "It's strictly need to know during the course of the investigation. I can't… I can't guarantee it wont get out if it goes to trial."
Roy closed his eyes and willed away another bout of nausea, clutching at the blanket around his shoulders.
"Then I'm not pressing charges." He decided.
Havoc frowned at him – Roy wasn't looking, but he could feel the weight of it. There was a hearty sigh, and then:
He looked across to see Havoc offering him a cigarette, and nodded distractedly, taking one with a shaking hand. The chain-smoker fished out his lighter and tossed it to Roy, but the man couldn't get it work with such jittery fingers, so Havoc took it back and lit the smoke whilst Roy inhaled to get it to catch. Then Havoc lit his own and leant back in his chair again, surveying Roy over the rising smoke.
"How far'd he get, Chief?"
Roy took a long drag of the cigarette, feeling the nicotine fill up his lungs and warm his throat, relaxing it where for the last hour or so since the assault he had felt it restricting.
"It doesn't matter." He replied.
Havoc took his smoke between his thumb and forefinger and pointed it at Roy.
"Yes it does." He explained. "I need to know whether you need a full check over, or whether that shiner is the worst of it – and I'll be honest with you General: I don't think that shiner is the worst of it."
Roy frowned at the table. The room was beginning to permeate with smoke, and it reminded him of his childhood, growing up in the brothel with his aunt and her long cigarette holders. What he wouldn't give to go back to those times – everything was much simpler then. Which was saying something when you considered his best childhood friends were all prostitutes.
"I'm not going for a full check." He said, feeling stubborn and not caring. Havoc sighed.
"Roy." He warned.
"No, Jean. Don't 'Roy' me." Roy snapped. "Don't you think I've suffered enough already? I don't want some stuffy military doctor telling me I should be used to it, or that clearly I lead him on, or that I deserved it. I'm just not doing it."
The end of Havoc's cigarette fell to the floor, and it reminded Roy that he still had one of his own. He took a long drag and then tapped the ash into the tray in the middle of the table, whilst Havoc collected himself.
"What makes you think they'll say that?" He asked, and Roy turned away, fighting the urge to bring his knees up to his chest and make himself as small as possible.
"People think I raped Edward." He confessed, out of the blue, and looked across just in time to see the cigarette Havoc had been dangling between his teeth fall from the man's mouth. It landed in his lap and he brushed it away with a panicked and pained 'sshhhit'. Roy rolled his eyes, sighing and taking another puff of his smoke before explaining his train of thought, speaking around the smoke he was exhaling again. "People thought for years that I was sexually abusing him, and for some reason everyone just let me keep being his CO even though they thought I was hurting him. Guttering said he was doing what he was doing to show Edward I was just a faggot who got his rank by sucking cock – and everyone thinks that's believable because I made out with another guy in the academy, about twenty years ago. So I just think that if they can believe that, and they can believe that I would sexually abuse an under-age boy, simply because they know I'm attracted to men – then maybe they could believe that I deserved to get raped in return."
Havoc was surveying him carefully, and he ground out his cigarette in the ashtray without looking at it. He leant back, still staring at Roy, and crossed one leg over the other.
"Do you think this was a hate crime?" He asked, and Roy looked up at the ceiling and glared at it.
"I don't know." He replied, and then sighed. "Did you ever believe those rumours, Havoc?"
Havoc shook his head.
"Honestly sir, I never even believed the rumours that you were gay." He replied. "You stole enough of my girlfriends to be a really convincing straight guy."
Roy snorted in what could be perceived as amusement but was more just shock and a need for something to do.
"I find women attractive too." He confessed. He still felt insanely cold and pulled the blanket further around him. "Do you think less of me, knowing what you now know?" He asked, and it came out confident, but his stomach was twisting painfully.
Havoc frowned at him.
"I don't know." He replied, and Roy closed his eyes because he didn't want to look at his long-term friend rejecting him over his sexual orientation. Then Havoc laughed. "I mean, honestly mate, it's a bit selfish. I would have much preferred it if you were just gay – then I might stand a chance."
Roy glanced across, and realising his friend was teasing him, he breathed out a sigh of relief and, inexplicably, began laughing. Soon, the laughs turned to sobs, and he realised only after it was happening that he was crying, quite loudly and aggressively, in front of the other man, and put his palms to his eyes to try and squeeze the waterworks back in.
"Fuck. Sorry. It's just been a stressful couple of days." He tried to excuse, and then their moment of peace shifted and Havoc was serious again.
"I want you to press charges." He confessed. "I'm not supposed to sway you one way or another, but I want you to. You're my friend and that bastard hurt you. Even if it was just the black eye I would want you to, and I know that it's more than that."
Roy's cigarette had burnt out, right down to the filter, and if he hadn't been the Flame Alchemist, then it would have been uncomfortably hot around his fingers – but he barely noticed the heat. He flicked it into the ashtray and clicked his tongue, drying the last of his bout of tears away with his thumb.
"I can't afford for this to go public." He replied. "What happens if I don't? Will Edward get in trouble for shooting him?"
Havoc shook his head.
"We all know he did it, Roy. Ed's radio recorded the audio so we have all the proof we need and he was acting in accordance with his contract to protect you. Technically we can take this to court whether you press charges or not – but without your testimony he's just going to get a slap on the wrist and sent on his way to possibly do this again, to someone else." He explained.
Roy glared at him.
"And will you, take it to court?" He asked, and Havoc sighed, running a hand through his hair and shrugging his shoulders.
"It's not up to me." He confessed. "Colonel Frazer is taking the lead on the investigation, and from how he's talking, the answer is yes – this will be going to court. The recording will be played, but we can't bring up your name without you pressing charges so it will be a recording of a nameless victim and Guttering won't get prosecuted to the fullest extent because his lawyer will instil the idea into the panel that the recording is fake, or that the person shouting 'stop' on it was role-playing, and there was a pre-conceived consent. Or some other bullshit."
Roy winced at the accusing tone of his friends voice.
"I would much prefer it if my name didn't come up." He repeated, but Havoc pushed his hand across the table and flicked him on the wrist.
"If you testify, he will go to prison." He pushed. "If you don't, he goes right back to being a decorated General and could easily do the same thing to someone else. You want that on your shoulders?"
Roy glared at him, and wondered whether he could get away with asking for another cigarette.
"Don't try and guilt me into this."
Havoc held up his hands in mock surrender and leant back in his chair again.
"You don't need to decide now – we've officially charged Guttering, and since it's a military investigation he can't apply for bail, so we can keep him in custody until the trial, and you can change your mind right up until the day before we go to court." He explained.
Roy held his hand to his forehead, careful not to touch the bruise over his left eye which was inching up over his forehead. He had a massive headache.
"I won't change my mind." He promised. "Look, I just want to go home – where's Edward?"
Havoc lit up another cigarette.
"He's taking his kids to the station. Left some crazy Xingese chick here. She's waiting outside."
Roy sighed, closing his eyes against the bright lights of the interview room, and trying to breathe slowly and carefully against more twisting and turning in his stomach. He couldn't believe he'd been hanging out in Investigations long enough that Sasha and Maesie were already gone – either on their way to the station or there, back with their mother, readying themselves to go home.
He hadn't even been able to say goodbye.
"Right." He huffed, standing up and letting the blanket drop to the chair he had been sat in, revealing the tattered shreds of the uniform over his shoulder, and making Havoc wince in what was most likely sympathy but made Roy feel like he was disgusting to look at. "I'm done."
Chapter 5: Team Reunion
"No part of me ever believed you were capable of what the rumours said, but it was my duty to investigate anyway."
Ming-Yue had taken him home. She drove like a mad-woman, but she also got him home in record time, and didn't ask him any questions about what had happened or how he was feeling. She escorted him up to his flat, carried out the routine inspection, and then stood in the hallway with him for a moment, brow furrowed as if thinking over a complex problem.
"I will be your lead from now on. Elric has taken himself off as lead of your protection squad." She told him, the words clear but said with an accent that wasn't even Xingese, but somehow leaning towards Drachman.
Roy absent-mindedly wondered whether she had learnt Amestrian through a Drachman teacher. He also steadfastly ignored the stabbing feeling in his chest at the sentence, and nodded, as if he had been expecting it. He gulped nervously and attempted to get some air into his lungs past the large ball in his throat.
"Did he… tell you why?" He asked, and the woman frowned at him, raising one eyebrow.
"He did not." She replied, and then she shot out a sharp breath through her nose and took a card from a thigh-holster she was wearing. "Call me on this number should you feel unsafe. Or if… you need to talk."
Roy felt himself go pale.
"I don't think -" He began, but Ming-Yue held up her hand for silence and the sheer scariness of her character had Roy obeying. She looked at him now through the same hard, no-nonsense gaze she always had done, and clicked her tongue in annoyance.
"In my clan, back in Xing, there is a ritual. It is sold to us as something that will prepare us for marriage, and is, as such, celebrated amongst our clansmen in the same way weddings here are often celebrated. When a female… blooms, to bring her in to womanhood, there is a ceremony; gifts; dancing; and the girl is permitted to drink from the cup of her parents – alcohol – but it all leads to one event. That little girl's father, or designated other relative, such as an uncle, will take her into the woods, amongst the stars, and will 'break' her innocence."
Roy knew his face was betraying his disgust at her words. It's Xing, he tried to tell himself, there are cultural differences you have no right to get involved with. Except surely he did, if those rituals were hurting people who were vulnerable. Then that begged the question of whether those people were vulnerable, and were they being hurt? Just because Amestrian society classed a girl as under-age, didn't mean another society did – and what made Amestris right? Amestrian age of consent was already befuddled – It was illegal to be having sex under the age of sixteen, but if you were, and both partners were consenting, and of similar age, no judge would prosecute you. You could consent to sex at age sixteen to someone under the age of eighteen, but if you had celebrated your eighteenth birthday and then had sex with someone who was seventeen, then you were a paedophile. It was illegal to look at pornographic images until you were eighteen – which meant you could technically be having legal sex at sixteen, but you had to keep your eyes closed. In Xing things were, for lack of a better term, at least in the case of females, much simpler – if a woman had received her first period, she was of child baring age, and thus a woman, and able to give consent. Which meant in extreme cases there were girls as young as eight that were classed as women.
Which, given the information Ming-Yue had just disclosed, there were little girls as young as eight being raped by their fathers in the woods.
"Ming-Yue..." He began, but then found he didn't have the words to describe how he felt – and if he did, he wasn't sure how his bodyguard would take it. She showed no emotion, other than anger, at the best of times, and he was still confused whether it was even his place to be upset on her behalf.
"This ritual is widely regarded as something to be proud of – a girl becomes a woman, it is a rite of passage we all go through, and we should be thankful to our fathers for showing us what our duties as wives will be. But as I know you know, it is not a cause for celebration, but just another way for men to try and prove to women that they are the stronger, more powerful sex, that should be obeyed." She explained, and when Roy made a noise in his throat – possibly to apologise for the rest of his gender – she held up her hand for silence again and sighed. "I don't tell you this to gain your pity, Mustang, but to show you that I understand what you have been through this day; that I have been where you are. It's okay to not want to talk to someone right now, but when, and if, you do – I will be on the other end of that phone number. The point of my story, is to make sure you know that men like Guttering, and like my father, they've not proven themselves to be more powerful – they have simply proven themselves to be more violent. Real power comes from what you will do now, it comes from being able to carry on with your life, even when everything hurts, and you don't feel like you can trust anybody, and it comes from the ability that you own, to say 'fuck you' to your attacker, and not allow him to continue hurting you."
The way she said 'fuck you' was as if she was saying a prayer, and all of sudden Roy realised there was tears streaming down his face and his chest and throat were tight as he tried desperately to hold on to sobs. He wiped the physical evidence of his distress away with his thumb and held his breath, before letting it out shakily, and nodded. He took the card from her hands and placed it in the pocket of his uniform trousers, and she inclined her head to him, and then left through his front door with a wave over her shoulder, leaving Roy alone in his hallway with more tears rolling down his cheeks. He counted to five, to make sure she was a little way down the corridor outside, and then allowed himself to sob.
Fuck, he needed a shower. The longest, hottest shower in history, if he had his way.
He stripped right there in the hallway, letting the stiff, uncomfortable material of the uniform fall to the floor, and swiftly kicked them away from his ankles when looking at them pool there had him right back in Guttering's office. He left the blues in a pile and walked naked down the hallway, across the entrance to the kitchen, and, opposite, the living space, and past the spare bedroom where three Elrics had slept the night before, and into the bathroom at the end. Inside was a pretty impressive claw-footed bath-tub; an elaborate vanity unit with a marble, bowl sink; a white ceramic toilet; and a walk-in corner shower with a rainfall head and powerful water-pressure. He made a bee-line for it now, and reached in to turn on the spray and let it warm up whilst he turned his attention to the mirror above the sink.
He was a mess. Havoc was right in that he bruised easily – he had the porcelain skin of a china doll and if he hadn't been named the Hero of Ishval, putting him clearly in the desert at some point in his life, you might have thought he'd never worked a day in the sun. There was a deep purple and red bruise over his left eyelid, inching out and down over his cheekbone and up over his eyebrow where his head had made contact with the desk. There was a blotchy red round mark on his right shoulder with deep purple teeth marks and dried blood where Guttering's incisors had pierced his skin. On his thighs, about three inches above his knees, were two long horizontal bruises where his legs had been slammed against the edge of the desk. His left wrist, held so securely by the other General, was red and bruised with long finger-shaped marks. His stomach and chest had small red pinch marks all over them, and his lip was split open from where he'd bit down on it hard to stop the worst of his screams and sobs. His hair was greasy and sticking up at odd angles, his eyes were blood-shot, and he'd bitten down his nails when he was waiting on a bench in Investigations with a blanket as his only protection.
He turned on the tap over the sink, loaded toothpaste onto his toothbrush, and brushed his teeth – making sure to push the brush right to the back of his tongue, so far that he made himself gag slightly, and then spat out a wad of foamy paste. There was blood in the spit, but he imagined that came from his split lip. Once he felt like he could breathe and wasn't tasting bile any more, he turned to the steamy shower and walked in, letting the hot water wash over him, irritating the worst of the bruises because the pressure was so intense, but relaxing the tense muscles underneath just a little bit. He loved this shower. Riza had gone with him to pick out the head, and had teased him for wanting the rainfall one, saying he would feel useless each time he needed to get clean, but in reality he wasn't any more relaxed anywhere in the world. He had the temperature at hottest setting, and then had done a little bit of alchemy on the wiring, which made it go even hotter. If people knew how hot he had it, they might say it was an indication that he had crawled out of the depths of hell and was missing home – but hey, some like it hot.
He grabbed the soap and lathered himself up, and spent the next half an hour scrubbing and re-scrubbing himself until his skin was pink and a little sore, and then he stood under the spray until he realised it had gone quite cold, and relented to turn off the water and exit the confines of the shower walls. There he spent another half hour staring into the mirror at his various cuts and bruises, and wondering whether Edward and his angelic children had made use of the bathroom that morning. Surely they had brushed their teeth, or needed to relieve themselves. Edward was the kind of guy, when he'd been a teenager, that would have kicked down the door with his auto-mail foot and taken what he needed, even in someone else's home – but having children seemed to have changed him; and in the couple of days Roy had spent in close quarters with the grown-up version of Ed, it had become clear he was trying to teach his children to be better than himself. Perhaps Edward hadn't wanted to use the bathroom without permission, and Roy hadn't thought to expressively give it.
Now he'd never know. Sasha and Maesie were on a train, heading back to Rush Valley, and Edward had taken himself off of Roy's protection detail. What would the blonde do now? Would be hop on the train with his family to return East, to get to the bottom of why Sasha and Maesie had braved a days travel in the first place? Perhaps he would go back to the flat Alphonse shared with Mei Chang, make his excuses and rely on his brother's hospitality? Or would he take on another dangerous assignment? Then another? Until he had raised enough money and shown he had a good, stable income so that he might buy or rent a place of his own?
He suddenly felt sick again, and leant over the sink, just in case. He felt it truly unfair on the part of whatever force was messing with him to thrust Edward back into his life for a couple of days, just to take him away again. When Edward had left six years ago, it had been inevitable, and Roy was dealing with the aftermath of the Promised Day, trying to regain his sight and heal his men, and even then he had felt the painful sting of loss over his youngest subordinate – but now he wasn't sure if he was capable of not having Ed in his life again.
It wasn't fair.
He really tried to avoid using the word 'fair', especially in conjunction with himself – it felt childish and whiny – but sometimes the situation called for it. And being left alone after a sexual assault, tired, battered and bruised and having found out your one ray of sunlight was high-tailing it out of state, was one of those situations.
Now he was sat at home for the second afternoon running, lamenting the amount of paperwork still left to do in the office, and desperate to not be left alone with his thoughts. He could, logically, return to work – which would help with the paperwork front and probably stop him from over-analysing every random thought that popped into his head – but could he face looking at the faces of his men, and the pity they'd surely give him? No, he needed a drink – but drinking alone at home in the afternoon was a recipe for playing chicken with his luger at three am.
He tousled his hair in a towel, although in the time he had been staring blankly into a mirror it had dried somewhat, and padded across the hall to his bedroom, where he selected a nice, maroon shirt, and a black tie, and paired it with some black trousers and shoes. He felt better wearing nice clothes, like if he could take control of how he looked, he could take control of his life again. He tucked in the shirt, grabbed a spare pair of ignition gloves from his dresser and put them in his pocket, and then ran some mouse through his hair and tried to style it so it was covering some of the nasty bruise over his eye. Then he decided that he looked decidedly odd with only one eye showing, and slicked it back off his head. Fine, he would own having a black-eye. He could, without bigging anything up, respond to any questions put to him about it with 'you should have seen the other guy' thanks to Edward shooting him twice. Okay, he himself had not landed those blows, but Guttering was still sat in a cell with a blown out knee-cap and a hole through his shoulder. So that seemed like a win enough for him.
He glanced at the clock and realised he must have been in the shower for much longer than intended, because it was gone five, and frowned because that meant his water bill was going to be hefty. Then he went to the hallway, picked up the rags of his uniform, and hooked out the card Ming-Yue had given him. He put that in his pocket, and then took the rest of his clothes into the living room. On the right hand wall there was an alcove, where a fireplace should have been. He lived in an apartment, there wasn't a chimney, but the original designer had seen fit to put a fake fireplace in the living room. Roy had demolished that and left an alcove which held a sad-looking potted plant. He took that out now, and replaced it with the uniform, and then pulled on his ignition gloves, and clicked, watching with something that was in the region of satisfaction as the blues of his uniform curled, blackened and turned to ash.
Fuck you, he thought, thinking of Ming-Yue's story.
He made sure the fire had gone out properly once his uniform was reduced to cinders, the smoke bathing the entire room in a haze, and opened a window to try and entice some of the smoke away. Then he made his way over to the phone hanging on the wall in the hallway, pushed in a number he knew off by heart, and gave his code when he was connected to the directional service. Three rings later, a familiar female voice picked up.
"Fuhrer Grumman's office. Captain Hawkeye speaking."
"Hey Riza," Roy said, voice going soft despite himself. He reminded himself he was a little bit mad at her, but then relented that there was no way he could stay angry at her – she was his best friend, and right now he kind of needed his best friend. He could only hope she hadn't heard of what had happened earlier that day. "Any chance you're free for a drink tonight? I was thinking Beck's?"
Beck's Bar was a terribly seedy place just outside of Little Xing that had about seven tables, a couple of booths and a sticky dance-floor, but was always overcrowded with students and low-ranking military personnel alike. It was pretty much the lowest of the low for an officer to turn up there, but Roy and Riza frequented just enough to drown their sorrows on their worst days and/or get their rocks off with a university student. Mentioning it now was a sure-fire way to get Riza to agree to drinks, without having to explain why he felt the need for cheap alcohol and sweaty twenty-somethings.
"I get off at seven." She told him, voice a little static-like over the phone. "I need to go home, shower, change. Feed Hayate. I'll meet you there at nine."
Roy nodded, and then remembered she couldn't see him so hummed.
"It's a date." He teased, and then hung up the phone. Meeting at nine gave him a good few of hours to eat something, so that the copious amounts of alcohol he planned on consuming later would have a slightly harder time trying to kill him, but he didn't have anything even remotely resembling an appetite, so he just sat down on the floor, leaning against the sofa, and tried not to think about anything.
Beck's was crowded. Even at nine, when most of the students were still pre-drinking in their flats, it was overbearingly busy. Each of the small tables had at least three people around them, but Roy had come sufficiently early enough to grab a booth, and ward off other hungry looking patrons so he could save a seat for his friend. When he'd told the guard outside his door of his plans they had insisted on driving him, and when he arrived it was to see Ming-Yue sat on one of the already busy tables. He would feel guilty about disrupting her night – but he was still struggling with the whole 'feeling anything at all' thing. Riza arrived promptly at nine, tailed by Teller, waved to him, and then went up to the bar, bringing them both back a glass of house red.
It was disgusting – the cheapest wine around – and Roy loved it.
"Chin, chin." He said, holding up his glass and smacking it against Riza's with perhaps too much energy.
It didn't break, but it made a much louder noise than he intended, and he winced at his own misjudgement. He had arrived an hour ago, and had already been through two bottles of a fruity cider that he was glad the bartender had swept away before his friends arrival. Riza flopped down on the seat opposite him and gave him a half-smile. She was dressed fashionably, in a dark denim skirt and bomber jacket over her cream jumper. She took off the jacket as she sat and Roy noticed the jumper was an off-shoulder kind. She'd put a little bit of make-up on; not enough to be obvious, but enough to tell Roy that she wasn't expecting to go home alone, and had let her hair loose. Teller had joined Ming-Yue at her table, and they were regarding each other in silence. Roy wondered what the bodyguard would do if Riza decided to go back to the theoretical 'their place' over her own.
"Bad day?" She asked, which Roy counted as a blessing, because it meant that even if Guttering's arrest had been spread around the office, Roy's involvement in it had been blissfully left out. He shrugged his shoulders, and then promised himself not to do that again, because the bite-mark on his right shoulder was beginning to ache and had been irritated by the movement.
"Woefully dismal." He replied, trying to make it sound like a joke – except it wasn't a joke, and it didn't sound like one. Riza frowned at him, and carefully took a sip of her wine, not bothering to hide her open staring.
"You know I can see that mountainous, mother-of-all-things-harrowing, black-eye – right? Did you have a fight with a bear?" She asked, and then crinkled her nose in the way she always did right before she belittled him teasingly. "Did you forget your gloves?"
Roy snorted into his next sip of wine and showed her his middle finger, noticing as he did so he'd never removed his gloves from when he'd burnt his uniform. He thought for a moment he should remove them now, but then the thought entered his mind that if he had had his gloves on his person in Guttering's office, then the disgusting pervert wouldn't have gotten anywhere near as far as he had – and he wouldn't have had to rely on Fullmetal to save him. He put his hand back down and made no move to remove the gloves.
"You should have seen the other guy." He responded, and then when Riza looked like she was going to question it – because it's Riza, of course she would question it, he placed his glass down on the table and said: "I really don't want to talk about it."
Riza pursed her lips.
"Fine. Are you going to ask me how my day was?"
It was the kind of thing an annoyingly clingy girlfriend would say, except it was totally fine because it was Riza Hawkeye, and Riza Hawkeye could do whatever the hell she wanted and still be a bad-ass. If Hughes had been there he would have pulled them up on acting like a couple, declaring they should just marry and be done with it. Riza would likely have given him a new haircut using three bullets.
"It was long: boring. Grumman got slapped by another secretary. Sergeant Mayer tried chatting you up again and this time you thought to yourself 'well damn – when did he get so cute.' Right?" He guessed, twitching his face, which was being uncooperative, into a smirk, and hoping he looked and sounded confident, despite his stomach twisting itself into knots.
Riza looked over at the other patrons of the bar, her warm brown eyes drinking in the details of each twenty-something as if picking which one was going to take her home.
"Sergeant Mayer had the day off." She supplied. "Grumman did get slapped, but I hardly think you can call that some kind of latent psychic ability, since it's a daily occurrence."
Roy hummed thoughtfully, sloshing the red liquid around in his glass and watching it cling to the sides and then settle again. He wondered whether he should pick out a young thing to take home – girls went crazy for an injured guy – but so much as he could bluff away the black-eye, he would have a harder time covering for his other injuries, once clothes came off and hands started wondering.
"I'm kind of massively pissed off at you." He confessed out of nowhere.
He hadn't even been intending to bring it up, but his mind was tennis-balling between topics, any and all topics that weren't what had happened to him that morning, and the words had expelled themselves from his throat without his permission. He was completely at the mercy of telling the truth, it seemed, regarding his anger at Hawkeye. He was annoyed at everyone since Edward's confession of what had been whispered about during the boy's teenage years, but Riza seemed like a good place to start getting it off his chest. She was the least likely person to get defensive. He knew her lying to him had come from a place of love, but he was upset with her for it all the same. Their friendship was based off of honesty, and if she could lie to him for years, then maybe they didn't have a basis for a friendship at all. It seemed like a big leap to the logical part of Roy's brain, but the torn, emotional part, was self-destructing and taking down everything it could with it.
"Why?" Riza asked, imperiously cool despite her friend's anger, as expected. She probably had a reasonable excuse Roy tried to tell himself, but another part of him angrily demanded that there was no excuse.
"Fullmetal told me about the rumours happening whilst he was under me." He confessed.
Gods, he wished he'd thought of a better way of saying that. Under my command. In my team. Just, heaven forbid, he really didn't need the imagery of Edward Elric physically under him – especially not as a fifteen year old.
Riza took a larger than necessary gulp of her wine.
Roy crossed his arms.
"Really? I see? Is that all you have to say? Why would you keep that from me all this time?" He began, unable to keep his voice from beginning to rise in anger. He needed to get a handle on his emotions.
Riza looked down at her glass, which she had now put on the table in front of them, and sighed, prettily; daintily – so far detached from the bad-ass she was at HQ. She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and looked Roy directly in the eye.
"I thought it would upset you, and you had a job to do that required you not to be distracted by office slander. Since my investigation into the rumours pulled up no evidence of any misconduct, I decided it was best that you didn't know." She explained. "I am sorry. I had every intention of telling you, once I felt you were capable of hearing it without it being too much of a distraction from your goal – but that day has been and gone, and I… never found the words."
Roy frowned, not because he wasn't happy with her explanation, but because she had just put him in mind of Sasha Elric, telling him solemnly that Maesie didn't 'have words', and he found his chest hurt. He… hated that he'd missed his opportunity to say goodbye to those two golden children. Then he glanced up at Riza, because other parts of her apology were registering.
"You investigated." He said, breathing out a sigh of relief. Of course, of course Riza Hawkeye had investigated. Thank fuck for Riza – the only person on the team not to let Edward down. She nodded.
"Of course. I love you, Roy – but these were rumours about a young child and the two of you were often in close contact, left alone for hours on end whilst he reported on the stone. No part of me ever believed you were capable of what the rumours said, but it was my duty to investigate anyway." She told him. "I was teaching Edward to shoot at the time, so I gently pushed for more information, and I was the one who went to Colonel Douglas to get an official investigation, but it was thrown out by Hughes. So I… would plant recording devices in your office if I knew Edward was coming in. I'm sorry if that upsets you further."
Roy shook his head.
"You did the right thing." He told her. "Wait, you taught Edward how to shoot?"
"I know he had his alchemy, but it made me feel better knowing he was also trained on how to use a gun." She explained, shrugging. Roy nodded down at his wine. It explained how calm and collected Edward looked behind the barrel of a gun, and how he knew precisely when to shoot and when to keep his finger firmly off the trigger. He took a moment to imagine Riza taking a teenage Edward to a shooting range and putting him through his paces, and a warm feeling sprung up inside him at the image, something that was, for the first time since Guttering had attacked him, not anger, or upset, or negativity. He felt his mouth twitch into a small smile.
"Seems like you really cared about him." He said, and Riza made an affirmative noise. "Wait, if you knew all that, about those rumours – why the hell would you shove Edward's name in the mix over fuck, marry, kill?" He asked, the question having just popped into his head as he tried to think about the times Edward and Riza had shown themselves to be close, and Tuesday night had come to the forefront, when the two had hugged in greeting. He looked up in time to see Riza levelling him with a knowing look.
"Because he's not a little boy any more. You hadn't seen him for six years and now he's a man, with children of his own. He's twenty-two now, which is older than half the people in here." She replied, and waved her hand at the rest of the bar to indicate her point. Roy frowned, because she was right, and on more than one occasion they'd both taken some perky university student home with no idea what side of twenty they were at – but it felt different with Ed, because he'd watched the boy grow up. Except, he reminded himself – he kind of hadn't. Edward had been clearly a child before the six year gap, and clearly an adult after, and all the growing up had happened off-camera, as it were. Did that make it okay? Could he disassociate the adult Ed from his childhood self? Riza smirked, "So in answer to your question, because it was funny."
"You're evil." Roy told her, and downed the rest of his wine. Riza smiled, as if Roy had just paid her a huge compliment.
"And you're being tailed by a new bodyguard, so what happened with our little ex-alchemist?" She asked, and then frowned. "He didn't give you that bruise, did he?"
Roy shook his head. Now was the time to tell her what happened, but he didn't want to face it. He wondered whether he could get away with calling their conversation short so he could get another drink from the bar, but Riza was the logical choice to get drinks – she got served way quicker than him on account of her pretty face and massive boobs. Roy had on more than one occasion reminded her that she had 'it' so she might as well flaunt 'it' to get them quicker drinks.
"I don't think he'd appreciate you calling him little." He responded, thinking to himself that Edward couldn't really be classed as anything even remotely little any more. "His kids turned up and everything just turned into a big mess. He's apparently taken himself off my – damn fuck shit whoring hellfire!"
With his last utterance, Roy sank down as low as possible in his seat and tried valiantly to hide behind his empty wine-glass – because whilst attempting to explain Fullmetal's absence to Riza, Edward waltzed in through the dingy double doors to Beck's, flanked by Breda, Havoc, Fuery and Fallman.
Speak of the devil and he shall appear, thought Roy, almost immediately followed by a great, team reunion! Which sounded sarcastic even in his own head.
And now he'd have to explain to Riza why seeing that particular head of blonde hair had him suddenly developing Tourettes. The least Ed could have done was rearrange his hair from that damned braid. Riza, either completely unaware of his freak-out, or conveniently ignoring it, waved their friends down.
"Hey guys, over here!"
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
The rest of the group joined them at the booth, and Riza stood up to greet them, so Roy did the same, awkwardly waving at Havoc, who couldn't stop the pity in his eyes, and pretty much flat out ignoring Ed, who suddenly looked awkward himself, and then they rearranged themselves to squeeze all of them in the booth. Breda, Fuery, Havoc and Riza on one side, and Fallman, Roy and Edward on the other, who had somehow managed to end up sat next to each other and were both sat with their hands clamped down on their laps. Edward had turned his face away, to pretend to be listening in on something Fuery was saying, and Roy was trying really hard not to stare at the exposed bit of flesh behind his ear. He looked typically amazing, in a dark blazer over a crisp white shirt, and tailored navy trousers.
Riza excused herself to get drinks for them all, and then Havoc cleared his throat loudly.
"So, what brings you here, chief?" He asked, tone only slightly accusatory.
Roy wasn't sure what the social norm was for people having been assaulted, but he got the impression Havoc thought he was 'out and about' too quickly. He wished he had another glass in front of him. He was saved the pain of answering, however, by Fuery exclaiming loudly over the bruise on his eye, and teetering off into niceties about what balms he could use to quell the swelling. Roy glanced across at Edward, noticed the boy looking back, and both of them trained their gaze on the table again.
Riza returned with drinks, and Roy could kiss her for it.
Soon the conversation began to flow more normally, and the more drink he had, the more Roy relaxed, until at some point through the evening he forgot he was supposed to be upset. He hadn't forgotten what had happened, and he knew logically he should be upset, but the alcohol was numbing his senses and making him wonder why he needed to be upset. A few hours of steadily drinking his weight in various kinds of alcohol, he was ready to join the students on the other side of the bar and start dancing on the table. Instead, when it was time for another round, Roy, who was sat in the middle of the booth with Fallman against the wall and Edward blocking his way out, threw up his hand triumphantly, and then hissed in pain when it aggravated his shoulder.
"I'll get – oh, ouch – dish! This. I got thish." He slurred, trying to stand up and then stumbling because his legs were trapped under the table. Edward moved out of the way quickly and Roy managed to pull off an odd shimmy/slide across the bench, and then stumbled as he stood up. He put out his hands to catch himself on a table or something, but instead he was caught by strong arms and pulled tight up against a muscled chest. He'd closed his eyes as he swayed, and then fluttered them open and looked at his saviour through his lashes. Logically he knew it would be Ed, but his mouth was still catching up. "Oh, my hero." It went, without permission.
Ed licked his lips, and where he was so close Roy couldn't help but wonder what would happen if he leant in a little more. Except he was already leaning very heavily on the younger man, and he hiccuped and tried to push himself off, only to have to be steadied again by one of Ed's ridiculously muscled arms winding it's way around his back.
"Jeez." Edward said, "Maybe you've had enough." He suggested, but Roy took that as an insult, and poked him hard on the chest.
"You're not'sa boss o' me." He mumbled. "I'm nots even'sa boss o' you!" And with that he poked Edward again in the chest.
"Roy." Edward warned, and rubbed at his chest where Roy's bony finger was still attacking him. "Shall I take you home?"
Roy snorted in drunken amusement, and then his eyes went wide because ew – mucus had totally just come out of his nose and landed on Ed's shoulder, a small little yellowy glob on the left shoulder of his otherwise dark blazer. Fuck, should he tell Ed? He wasn't sure the blonde had noticed. He poked the boy in the chest again.
"Thish body ish my body." He told him, and then frowned as he tried to collect his thoughts through the fuzzy jumble in his head. "I mean, it's not. You're not my body. Body… guard. Or somethin'. I dunno."
He blinked his eyes, because suddenly he was very tired, and couldn't help a wide yawn. Once he was done he placed his cheek down on Edward's right shoulder, alert enough to avoid the one with mucus on it, and closed his eyes, mumbling sleepily. It didn't matter, Edward was basically hugging him anyway – and had just offered to take him home. He'd let Ed take him home in a heartbeat.
"Roy. Don't fall asleep, come on." Edward encouraged, trying to jostle the man's shoulders, but Roy just batted the hand away, and mumbled incoherently.
"Sh'up, pillow." He mumbled, snuggling down. He heard a sigh, and then he was being hoisted into the air, and before he knew it, was dangled over one of Ed's shoulders, facing downwards towards the other man's ass, with one of Ed's arms holding him over his waist, and keeping him there like he weighed nothing. "Edward Elric put me down right now!" He heard himself shriek, the worry over being flung into the air instantly sobering him up, and then he heard the answering laughter that must have been from the rest of the team in the booth.
"Are you going to walk sensibly to the car Ming-Yue has waiting outside?" He asked, and Roy childishly pouted, so was glad Ed couldn't see his face.
"Yes, fine." He huffed, and was rewarded by being put back on his feet. He stumbled slightly and caught on to the lapels of Ed's blazer to steady himself, then: because he was drunk and because he didn't think he'd get another opportunity: he shimmied forwards slightly until he was pressed up against the boy once more, and breathed over his ear. "Come home with me."
He felt, rather than saw, Ed nod jerkily, and heard against his own ear a definitively manly version of Fullmetal's voice, that he had developed over his six years away.
"How could I say no?"
Then the boy was guiding him by the elbow away from the rest of the team and towards the dingy entrance to Beck's and out on to he street.
Ming-Yue drove them back to Roy's flat in silence, with Roy and Edward both sat in the back seat, hands on the leather between them but keeping a safe couple of inches from each other's fingers. She escorted them up to his flat, did her check and all but ran from the place, leaving Roy alone with Ed for the first time since everything had kicked off at work, standing awkwardly in the middle of the living room. He was swaying gently on the spot, and probably stank of alcohol – but Ed seemed relatively balanced, and Roy could only really remember him having one drink at the bar.
He turned to the blonde and allowed himself a gentle pout to his lips. He was too drunk to try and keep up the usual façade of cool and collected anyway, and they both knew it.
"Why did you take yourself off the task force?" He asked, voice gentle and soft in a way he hadn't meant it to be. To cover for the unnatural lilt of his tone, he proceeded to rush forwards and push Edward backwards on to the sofa, where he landed with a soft 'poof', sitting and looking up at the General. Roy looked at him for a moment, and then on a split-seconds worth of decision, he climbed on to the younger man's lap, his thighs spread either side of his ex-subordinate's legs. Edward took a deep, steadying breath.
"I didn't feel like I was adequately protecting you. Things were beginning to spiral out of control, with my kids arriving. Ming-Yue is much more detached, she's a better fit." He confessed, keeping unwavering eye-contact with Roy. "You shouldn't be on my lap." He added, almost as an afterthought.
Roy grabbed a handful of each side of Ed's jacket to steady himself, and made no move to remove himself from the man's lap. He frowned at the blonde, put in mind of his Xingese bodyguard's story about the girls in her clan and their fathers.
"No man gets to tell me what I should or shouldn't do!" He proclaimed, swaying slightly.
Ed raised one elegant eyebrow at him, golden eyes hard the way they had been when he was a teenager; clearly not up for taking any of Roy's bullshit, but the General was entirely incapable of stopping himself from creating it. He squeezed his thighs slightly closer together, and Edward's hands found their way to his hips.
"That argument doesn't work when what you shouldn't do goes directly against something I've already said I don't want. Or when you are also a man and thus part of the patriarchal problem by default."
Roy leant down and breathed directly over Ed's ear, and was rewarded with the blonde's fingers clenching over his hips.
"You never said you don't want it." He huffed in what he hoped was a sexy way.
"So because I didn't say no, it automatically means yes?"
Roy frowned again, because that hadn't been what he'd meant at all, but he wasn't sure how to explain what he had meant. There was clear sexual tension between them – had been since the moment Edward walked back into his life via Fuhrer Grumman's office – and he wasn't sure why now the man was unwilling to act on it, when the previous night they would have probably fucked on the Art Deco rug if not for Sasha needing a drink of water.
"Edward..." He moaned, because he wasn't sure what else to do, since he was clearly incapable of getting his point across.
The blonde ran his hands up Roy's back, and sighed heartily.
"Roy." He responded, voice barely above a whisper despite the fact that there was no one in the apartment but them. "I'm not doing this after what happened earlier."
The General gulped down a horrible lump that had formed in his throat and bit his lip. The room was beginning to sway, and he closed his eyes to try and stop the heady feeling, but it only made his stomach churn uncomfortably. He was all of a sudden transported right back to being bent over a desk in Guttering's office and internally freaking out over Edward witnessing his rape. He hated, more than anything, more than the actual sexual assault, that Edward had been in the room to see it.
"Fuck, why the fuck does it matter what happened earlier?" He asked. "Why do you even care what happened earlier?"
Edward scowled at him, and Roy wanted to kiss the expression right off his face.
"Why do I care that you almost got raped on my watch? Or that you're now clearly trying to compartmentalise that in an entirely unhealthy way?" He shot back, and then grabbed on to Roy's hips, lifted him and toppled them so that Roy ended up lying flat on his back against the sofa, with Ed settled between his legs, and looming over him. Roy inflated his lungs with a deep breath that went on for so long he began to shake with the effort of it. Ed's eyes were so golden, and so intense, that Roy couldn't look away if his life depended on it. "Because I care about you, bastard." Ed told him, still whispering. "I shot Guttering a second time, not because there wasn't a way to get help without me doing so, but because I wanted to see him hurt. I swear Roy, it took every single micro-fibre of my being not to aim for his head."
The room was still swaying, and Ed's words were only making the room sway more.
"I care about you too." He replied, looking up at his companion. "Gods, I always have."
Edward smiled down at him, and Roy realised his second sentence had been more of a confession to himself than to anyone else. Then his stomach lurched painfully and he pushed at one of Ed's arm to move it out of the way and hurl himself up into a twisted position where he could lean over the side of the sofa, where he promptly puked up half a bars worth of liquid onto the floor.
"Fuck. Really?" He heard above him, but was still retching and unable to react. Edward's hand pulled away, and then after a moment he felt it return to his twisted back, rubbing soothing circles over the maroon shirt. Fullmetal began to make soothing noises too, gentle hums and the repeated mantra of "It's okay. You're okay." and Roy could vividly imagine Edward soothing his children this way when they felt ill or had nightmares. He retched again, but this time nothing came up but a tiny amount of bile that he had to spit from his mouth.
He spent some time staring at the puddle of puke on the rug and wanted to say he was sorry, but his throat was tight and he wasn't sure he could force the word past it. He made a move to stand up but slipped, and was bracing himself for landing in the puddle of disgusting spew when Edward caught his arms and steadied him. Instead of thank you, which is what he wanted to say, he hissed in pain, because Ed had accidentally wrenched on his sore shoulder. He was lucky that Ed didn't let him go, because he realised belatedly that his legs were shaking far too much to maintain an upright position.
In lieu of being able to speak, a whimper that he would deny wholeheartedly in the morning pushed it's way past his lips.
"Alright, lets get you to bed." Edward said, in that same soothing voice Roy was convinced he used on his children. He manoeuvred Roy so that the General's arm was slung around his shoulders, and then carefully began pulling him out of the living room and towards the bedroom.
"The puddle." Roy managed to force out, trying to look back over his shoulder and only ending up almost toppling them. Ed pushed him forwards a little more.
"Don't worry about it." He muttered, which was definitely code for 'I'm going to deal with that once you're asleep', but Roy didn't have it in him to protest. They made it to his bedroom door, and Ed went to open it, but Roy placed a hand on the frame and huffed out heavy breaths, trying to get some oxygen to his brain, but really only expelling more into the air.
"Bathroom." He puffed out. "Teeth." and then, with a slight amount of hesitation but still too drunk to care. "Piss."
Ed gulped audibly.
"Please tell me you can manage that on your own."
Roy really wasn't entirely sure, but there was no way he was relying on Edward to help him with it, so he nodded jerkily and was grateful when the blonde steered him over to the bathroom. He hesitated outside the door, and when he turned back to Fullmetal the man pointed to the wall and pushed Roy through the open doorway.
"I'll just be here." He said, and Roy couldn't tell whether it was a reassurance or not. Half of him was happy that he only had to navigate the bathroom, and Ed would be waiting to guide him again when he was done – the other half of him worried Edward might be able to hear him pee.
His bladder reminded him solemnly that if he didn't get a move on Edward might have the unfortunate business of watching him pee his pants, and he stumbled into the bathroom properly, slamming the door behind him, and fiddling with the zip on his trousers. It took far too long for his liking, and the room was still swaying, so in the interest of not getting any more bodily fluids on the floor, he quietly sat down on the toilet and made sure to angle himself down.
He hadn't been this drunk in years. He and Riza regularly went drinking, and often got drunk enough to make bad decisions – but this was the kind of drunk where the whole world was spinning and if he wasn't careful he could black out in the middle of the street. He was lucky, really, that he had Edward to keep him safe.
When he thought he was done he stumbled over to the mirror, tripping because he had forgotten to pull his trousers up. He bent down and pulled up his boxers, but the trousers and the zip that came with them were too much, so he kicked them away by the bathtub, and put his hands on the vanity to steady himself.
"Get it together." He told the man in the mirror – a sure-fire way to know he was drunk, if he was talking to himself. His hair had come lose and was sticking up at odd angles again – he looked paler than ever – with his split lip and big old black eye.
Not sexy. Not even remotely sexy. No wonder Ed had wanted him off his lap – and then he'd puked. Gods, he wouldn't be surprised if the blonde had left already.
He quickly cleaned his teeth and downed some water that he splashed into a glass he kept by the bathroom sink for just such an occasion. Although, with how far gone he was, he doubted the water would help all that much. Then he pulled off the black tie he'd been wearing and unbuttoned the collar on his shirt with shaky hands, and turned back to the bathroom door, stumbling into it and then realising he needed to pull it, so wrenching it quite hard as he stumbled backwards again.
Ed, true to word, was waiting outside. And true to tradition, Roy's mouth started running the second he saw the other man.
"Could you hear me pee?" He asked. He instantly felt ridiculous, but Ed snorted in amusement and shook his head.
"I wasn't paying attention. Come on." He said, hooking an arm under Roy's and pulling the man across the hall to the bedroom.
Ed shoved Roy down into a sitting position on his bed and folded back the covers, and then pulled Roy back up to standing so he could manoeuvre the man under the covers – but Roy's legs were suddenly entirely uncooperative, and in the end the younger man rolled his eyes and bent at the knees, hoisting Roy up into the air without any warning, and holding the man like some kind of bride.
So of course Roy gasped and clung on to the man for all he was worth – there was no way he was letting Ed drop him! But then the other man just gently put him down on the bed and smoothed his hair back off his face, looking down at Roy as if he was an unruly child. Roy gingerly extracted his hands from his ex-subordinate's shirt lapels, and attempted a smile – although he imagined it came out as a particularly ugly grimace.
"Go to sleep, Roy." Edward commanded, and Roy had never wanted to follow an order so readily in his life. The blonde went to stand, but Roy's fingers reached out and grasped at Ed's sleeve, stopping the man in his tracks. He blinked down at the General, and Roy couldn't help but look away.
"I know I've already monopolised so much of your time." He started, feeling shier than he had done since he was a teenager, "But please… please stay."
There was no way he could look at Edward at this point, but the man's hand came back and smoothed his hair back a little more – the cool fingers feeling nice against his clammy forehead.
"I'm not going anywhere." He assured. "I'll just be across the hall."
Roy should have been happy with that – but he wasn't. He made a discontented whine in his throat and turned over on to his side, glancing up and catching eye-contact with the blonde for a second, before looking away again.
"Stay here. With me." He demanded. "Please Ed – please don't be disgusted with me."
The other man knealt down at the side of his bed, and Roy watched him sweep both of Roy's hands towards him, squishing them together as if they were praying, and holding both of them in both of his own hands. His touch felt so good – so grounding.
"I could never be disgusted by you." He said.
Roy wasn't looking at him again, instead focusing intensely on the lamp on his bedside table, lit up by the moon through the curtains.
"Prove it." He ordered. "Get into this bed and wrap your arms around me and stay here."
Edward was grinning – Roy wasn't looking but he just knew the boy was grinning. If the situation had been reversed than Roy would have been grinning. He had basically just asked the boy to get into bed with him and cuddle him.
"You want me to stay all night?" He asked, and even as he said it he was shuffling himself around and crawling under the covers. Roy felt two strong arms curl themselves around him and breathed out a contented sigh, too drunk to care that he was showing way too much interest in a damned cuddle. The blonde melted their bodies together – all of Ed's front moulded perfectly to all of Roy's back, and even then Roy pushed back a little further to see if there was any parts of the other person he was missing out on.
All night? He asked himself. Right now he wanted this moment to go on forever.
Chapter 6: The Morning After
"That's nice." He said, instead of saying 'fuck you Havoc', which is what he desperately wanted to say.
The next day Roy woke to a splitting headache and fuzz on his tongue. The bed was a mess, and there was sunlight streaming in through the open curtains. He scraped his teeth along the fuzz on his tongue and winced, standing to his feet, swaying slightly and stumbling out of the bedroom to get to the bathroom across the hall. Once there he fell to his knees in front of the toilet and emptied what little of his stomach he hadn't emptied the night before. He gave a small, pathetic whine, screwing up his eyes against the burn in his throat, and spat out the last of the bile – rising more gingerly this time and slowly easing himself over to the sink to brush his teeth again.
He could only hope that would be the last time he puked up for awhile.
He spat out his toothpaste and all but jumped at a knock at the door.
"I made coffee."
Roy's heart, traitor that it was, began beating double time in his chest at the voice on the other side of the door. Ed's voice – the same voice that had soothed him off to sleep the night before when he had been paralytically drunk and had puked on the floor, so was in no way deserving of kindness. The same voice that was now telling him he had made coffee and was continuing to apparently smother Roy in niceties he didn't deserve. The dark haired man took a moment to remember the blonde's cool, muscled arms around his chest, and Edward's firm chest moulded into Roy's back. Despite being a complete disaster zone last night, Edward had still stayed with him – had comforted him, and never once blamed him.
The boy had been down-right loving in his sweet whispers and gentle encouragements towards sleep. That kind of man was definitely worth holding on to. Not that Roy had any right to try.
"Thanks." He heard himself say through the huskiness that came with just waking up and a massive hangover. "I'll be out in a minute."
He listened to the man's footsteps leading him away before even considering going for the door. He was still wearing his maroon shirt and boxers from the night before, and his shirt was crumpled and his boxers had ridden up during the night and half of his right ass-cheek was on full show. He was in desperate need of a shave, and his hair seemed to have taken on a life of its own. Adding all that to the litter of bruises and scrapes across his body, he was the unsexiest creature alive – save for perhaps a beluga whale. He knew, as well, that Ed would be sat at the table in the kitchen looking like he'd just walked out of Vogue magazine, and would most likely look at him with pity – especially after how he had acted the night before.
If he was going to face that, and unfortunately he would eventually have to face it, the least he could do was put on some fresh clothes. So he stole across the hall and changed into a clean shirt, some new underwear and some black levi's that were perhaps a little too small for him but fitted him very nicely around the rear. He had work later, but one set of uniform had been incinerated, and the other set was in tatters from the sniper attack a couple of days prior. He ran a brush through his hair, looking at his reflection in the full-length mirror hung on the door of his wardrobe, and frowned at the bruise on his eye. It was beginning to go an awful, sickly green. He sighed at it, then turned out of the bedroom and made his way towards the kitchen, where the strong smell of coffee was wafting to him.
"Morning." Ed greeted as he entered, two steaming mugs of coffee on the table – Ed's black and Roy's a little milky. True to expectation, the blonde looked only a tiny bit dishevelled, considering he had slept in his clothes and clearly had no provisions to clean himself up. His hair was coming loose from it's plait, and some sandy strands were framing the side of his face. There were slightly darkened bags under his eyes but the golden iris' themselves were sparkling.
Roy swept up the coffee Ed had made for him, and cradled it in his hands, taking a tentative sip, where he was met with the sweet taste of the spoonful of sugar he didn't allow himself at work.
"How did you -?" He began to ask, but Ed interrupted him.
"Intelligence came back that you had one spoonful in your morning coffee." He explained.
Roy bit his split lip. It wasn't as if he had forgotten Edward had been his bodyguard less than twenty-four hours previously – but had the boys intelligence really been so in depth that it had gone in to how he liked his coffee? It was a little odd to think about.
And now they were awkwardly discussing coffee habits and Roy had no idea how to even bring up his behaviour the night before, or how to apologise for it. Dejectedly, he sat down at the table opposite Ed and tried hard not to look like he was checking the man out – even though he really kind of was. How were you supposed to act after a night of being cuddled to sleep by the person sitting across from you? Roy had felt, for those few minutes when he was being wrapped up and settled into unconsciousness the previous night, how he imagined Edward's children must feel when they were comforted by the man. Safe. Secure. Like nothing could touch them.
"Shall we talk about it?" He said. Ed took a sip of his coffee. Roy wondered whether the boy would get yellow teeth in his old age, drinking his coffee so black.
"The cuddling?" He shot back. Roy chewed on his tongue.
"No." He commanded. "The crush you clearly had on me in your teenage years."
Which, when all was said and done, was not how Roy intended to start this conversation – but he couldn't deny the beginnings of a small flush on his ex-subordinate's cheeks wasn't deliciously worth it. Edward looked away from him.
"You're being arrogant." He accused. Roy smiled over the rim of his coffee cup. For the first time since Edward Elric had walked back into his life a few days prior, he almost felt like he'd found his footing again.
"People don't go from feeling nothing to 'I care about you so much I almost shot a man in the head because he dared to touch you' in a couple of days, Fullmetal."
Edward huffed angrily, still resolutely not looking at Roy. It was adorable.
"Aren't people supposed to not remember anything when they get black-out-drunk?" He asked. Roy smirked.
"When have either of us ever been that lucky?"
Edward squirmed in his seat, his ears stained red, and started playing with his hair. He twiddled the end of his braid so hard the band twisted out and the fine strands fell loose around his shoulders. His lips were sealed tight and his eyes were downcast towards his coffee cup, and it reminded Roy of when he would tease the boy as a teen and be met with silence and a heavy blush. Patiently, Roy sipped at his sugary, milky coffee and waited. Edward always broke in the end – a lot had changed, but by the looks of it, this hadn't.
Finally, the younger man sighed.
"It wasn't a crush." He muttered. "Or at least not one I recognised as a crush."
Roy hummed low in his throat. He rested his elbow on the table and looked at the boy for a moment. His crisp white shirt from the night before wasn't as crisp any more – the first two buttons had been undone and Roy could see the man's collarbones on show. His mouth somehow managed to go drier than it had already been, and he swallowed thickly.
"So what was it?" He asked. Edward clicked his tongue.
"I don't know. I didn't acknowledge my attraction to other men until I was in the Palace in Xing, and surrounded by Ling's concubines and catamites. Given all those horrible rumours and the sleazy men in the military, I was pretty against allowing myself to be attracted to men, but Ling was so open about his sexuality and how fluid it was. I thought about it a lot whilst I was there, until one evening I was waiting for him in his private quarters and he came tumbling into them with some barely legal boy completely naked and eager for it – and I couldn't take my eyes off them. Ling knew I was watching, of course – knew I was getting myself off in the corner as he fucked the catamite on the bed. Afterwards he sent the boy away, crooked his finger, and I came willingly." He explained. He shrugged his shoulders gently, and still refused to look at Roy. "I spent the next few months learning how to pleasure the Emperor of Xing, and cheating on the woman I had proposed to back home, and then I returned to Rush Valley with some serious thinking to do."
"About me?" Roy asked, awkward and a little hopeful. Edward glanced up at him, and then minutely shook his head.
"About Winry." He confirmed. "And Ling. You a little bit, but I was trying really hard not to think about you."
Ed sighed. Roy shot him a considered look but the other man wasn't looking at him.
"So how did you go from sleeping with the Emperor of Xing to being a family man?"
The blonde across from him took a very long inhale of the scents of his coffee and then a short sip. He looked incredibly domestic, with his hair down and the mug in his hands. Roy was wondering how often they had sat at this very kitchen table in the last few days, having conversations over coffee. It felt domestic too, and Roy was plagued by images of waking up every day to fresh coffee and conversations over the kitchen table.
"I didn't, did I? I went back to Xing, when Winry was pregnant with our first child, and I went straight back to Ling and straight back to fucking him on every surface it was possible to bend him over, and I convinced myself that the reason I was throwing myself at him was because I was in love with him or something – and that I was the victim." He huffed, angrily. "I told myself I was only cheating on Winry because it wasn't okay for me to show I was attracted to men outside of Palace walls, that I had to pretend to be straight, or something – but it was all bullshit."
Roy felt a pang of jealousy in his chest at the images Ed was conjuring up of the two young men, Edward and Ling Yao, romping about in Xing. He chided himself silently and tried to tell himself once more that his attraction to Ed was simply attraction, and not some world-shattering crush. Until a few days ago he hadn't even seen Edward for six years, and rarely thought of the boy – there was no need for amateur dramatics now. But still.
"Were you?" He asked. "In love with Ling Yao?"
Ed snorted into his coffee, and it sounded derisory. He glanced across at Roy once more and caught eye-contact; Oxford blue to gold, and, seemingly without thinking, brushed his tongue over his top lip. Mustang crossed his legs.
"No. I lusted after him, but I didn't love him. He's a good friend, and he's sensible enough to know what I needed then was never going to last forever." He confessed. "Even if he is a little shit who spent most of the time I was fucking him trying to goad me into calling out your name instead."
Roy couldn't help it, he felt himself blush. He'd been the object of affection of many people before, and many men before – but he'd never been told so brazenly, by anyone, that they were thinking of him whilst fucking someone else. It was equal parts obscene and flattering. Then there was the imagery itself – Roy had been to the Palace once or twice before himself, and he could imagine it vividly. Edward, bending Ling over that ornate desk the Emperor was so proud of, hands on the man's hips, slick with sweat and sliding in and out of the ruler of the most ancient and powerful country in the world – and wishing as he did so that he man underneath him was actually Roy.
"Why my name? You never exactly gave me the impression I was anything but a pain in your ass." Bad choice of words. "Was it just the rumours that put that thought in your head?"
Edward grimaced, and Roy felt like joining him. Instead, he pulled his milky, sweet coffee up to his lips and used it to hide his facial expressions. The blonde scratched distractedly at his chin.
"I mean, I guess those rumours did put the thought into my head originally, and hey, maybe Ling's right and I have some issues regarding father-figures, but honestly I couldn't tell you. I know that before Promised Day happened I was aware that you were not difficult to look at, but I figured that just meant I was growing more mature or something – and then Promised Day did happen, and I had a newly restored brother to worry about, and you were blind, and I was dealing with the guilt and the anger and all that." He rambled. "I guess, I'd spent some time with Ling before Promised Day – when Ling was Greed, and I guess he remembered some of the times I talked about you and put two and two together before I did."
"So it was a crush, you just didn't realise it. That's very like you."
Ed snorted into his drink again, which meant somehow Roy had managed to get away with the comment. He offered a small smile, and was blessed with an equally small one in return. Then, that blessing turned sour as the smile grew to a positively evil smirk.
"Tit for tat Roy 'I care about you too, I always have done' Mustang – you had a crush on my sweet teenage ass, or what?"
Mustang ducked his head, wishing he had long hair like Ed so he could more effectively hide his blush. Now more than ever he wished he had forgotten everything that had transpired the night before, but unfortunately he remembered in high definition how Edward had flipped him onto his back on the sofa and hovered over him between his legs; declaring his care for the older man, and Roy had realised that he wasn't as innocent of the horrid rumours going around about him as he'd like to think.
He buried his head in his hands, despite the fact that it aggravated the bruise over his eyes. He deserved a little pain.
"Yes." He confessed. "I suppose that's one way of putting it."
He peeked through his fingers to see the blonde gaping at him.
"Um, what?" He asked, and Roy sighed, running a hand through his hair and thinking he needed a shower. He looked up at the ceiling, then at the ticking clock on the kitchen wall, and realised in only a few minutes it would be time to leave for work.
He closed his eyes.
"I realised last night, that I… monopolised you when you were a child, and that my feelings towards you now were of a similar ilk. I wanted desperately to keep you under lock and key, and told myself that my keeping tabs on you, and shielding you as best I could from being transferred out of my command, was born out of necessity or duty – you were just a child, and a child breaking dozens of state laws on pretty much a daily basis. I thought I was being responsible – but in truth I was being selfish." He explained. "In truth, Edward, you are brilliant. You always have been. The day I met you, in Risembool, I saw in you the capacity for excellency, and every day after that you proved yourself nothing short of utter perfection. You were, and are, a talented genius; passionate and zealous in your quest for knowledge and justice – all things I admire greatly. I kept you close to me because I was incapable of not doing so. I cared about you, and how you thought and felt, and I wanted to be around you to experience all the things you experienced. I realised last night that those feelings hadn't seemed to actually change. I thought you'd jumped on a train and I realised that I still wasn't capable of letting you go. So now I've realised that maybe I'm not as innocent as I thought I was, because now those feelings are somehow accompanied by a need to be physical with you, and maybe the truth is I still want to monopolise you."
He stopped, taking a deep breath, and forced himself to not look away from the blonde. Edward's eyebrows had turned down in something like anger, but there was still fire in his eyes that had been there since the day Roy had first laid eyes on him when he was missing half his limbs and was just a tiny eleven year old. The older man swallowed thickly. There was a long, silent moment in which the two of them stared at each other; the table with their mugs resting on it acting as a kind of wall between them.
"I'm not sure if you realise this but six years have passed since I was under your command." Edward finally replied, twiddling his fingers between themselves. "I've grown up now, so your want to be physical isn't something to be worried about – you didn't want to touch me back then, right?"
Roy felt sick.
"Hell no." He breathed. Edward smirked.
"So basically you thought I was, what was it? Brilliant, genius, excellent, as a child – because lets be honest I was all of those things and more – and then I grew up." He explained. "I look different now. I'm taller, more muscular – I guess you're just into that."
Roy huffed. He was. He was super into that. He hadn't been able to stop thinking about how easy it was for Edward to pick him up and haul him about. He'd never felt unsafe around Fullmetal, so the strength the man had was reassuring and… sexy. What could he say – he liked a strong partner, always had done.
"I am." He confessed, looking down at the table. Edward smirked at him, and the expression was very attractive on his face. He sighed, feeling like he needed to get back some control. "To be fair I could easily change my mind – I'm really only running on an idea. You might be terrible in bed."
They hadn't even kissed, after all, thanks to Sasha Elric's untimely need for water.
Ed looked like he was about to vehemently protest the idea that he was anything but godlike in the sack, but Roy was saved a lecture by a knock at the door. He glanced at the clock on the kitchen counter and figured that the person knocking would be Ming-Yue, come to collect him for work. He highly doubted she had brought him breakfast, or that she would put her hand on his back to lead him through doorways.
"I'll get it." Edward said, but as he passed Roy grabbed his sleeve.
"You're not on my protection detail any more." He accused. "You don't need to do things for me."
Edward glanced down at him, where he was now stood over the older man. Roy rose an eyebrow. Edward licked his lips, and Roy's eyes flickered down to the movement of his tongue.
"I'm still on your protection detail." He announced, dislodging Roy's grip and then leaving the kitchen.
Roy knew he should go find some shoes, get ready to leave the house with Ming-Yue – but he stayed where he was at the table and tried not think about how yesterday he had fed the Elric's in this same room, and brushed Maesie's hair, and braided Ed's. He hadn't thought, twenty-four hours ago, that he would be hungover from attempting to drink away the memory of almost being raped in front of his ex-subordinate – or discussing how he was physically attracted to said ex-subordinate, who still felt barely legal. Although thankfully he was legal, and Roy reminded himself of that.
There were voices in his hallway. Ming-Yue and Edward stage whispering at each other in rapid fire Xingese and sounding aggravated. Then, Edward huffed back into the kitchen, Ming-Yue hot on his tail, and raised his voice so that he was all but shouting, still in Xingese. Roy put a vague amount of thought into how Edward was so fluent in the language, but was only plagued by images of the younger man and Ling Yao copulating all over the palace. Then the blonde picked up the mugs from the table, and took them over to the counter top as Ming-Yue was berating him, and he slammed them down on the counter, turning to the Xingese woman with a glare.
"It is my decision what I do, Sheng!" He snapped in Amestrian. It was the first time Roy had heard anyone use her last name, and as the usually angry and scary looking woman flinched at it, it occurred to Roy that perhaps she shared that last name with her father, and had all but disinherited it after the ceremony she had told Roy about. Before he knew it, he was on his feet.
"Edward." He warned gently, and it must have been enough because the boy looked at him with a shocked expression and then seemed to calm down somewhat. He turned his face to the kitchen floor, put his arms behind him with his palms on the counter-top, and leant back on them. He didn't say anything further, and whatever argument he and Ming-Yue were having seemed to dissipate. Roy breathed out a breath of relief, and turned to his bodyguard with a buzz-cut. His shoes and coat were in the hall and he had no uniform to change into – he'd have to apply for a new set. "We can go." He supplied, and turned on his heel, out of the kitchen and into the hall, where he collected his heavy black overcoat and some shiny black shoes.
He probably had a more professional outfit than too small levi's, but at this point he was desperate to distract from the bruises on his face, and if people were looking at how good his ass looked in jeans, then they weren't recoiling at his battered eye.
Ming-Yue followed him out into the hall and by-passed him, leading the way down to a car. Edward followed them out, having collected his blazer from the night before, and a hair tie – roughly shoving the blonde locks up into a haphazard ponytail. All three of them piled into a shiny black car, Ming-Yue in the drivers seat and Roy and Edward in the back, hands between them on the seat in a way that was reminiscent of the night before.
"Are you sure you want to go to work today?" Edward asked, and Roy nodded. There was no way he was going to allow Guttering and his sleazy, disgusting touches to keep him from doing his job.
"What will you be doing? You said you were still on my protection detail?" He asked, feeling foolish because he remembered Ming-Yue saying that Edward had taken himself off as lead, but she had never said he had taken himself off the assignment completely – Roy had jumped to the wrong conclusion. Edward shrugged his shoulders now, looking ahead and not at Roy.
"I'm going to be analysing the report that came back on possible bugs in your office, and going over the intelligence we received on your colleagues and friends and see if there is a leak that would have made the attack on Oslo Street more viable." He explained. "Basically… paperwork."
And Roy smiled, because the idea of Edward Elric doing paperwork was so far gone from the moody teen he had been six years ago.
Having Ming-Yue in the office was not as hectic as having Edward there. Ed had bid him farewell at the gate to Central Command, and hadn't given him any indication as to when or if they might see each other again, so Roy hadn't pushed it. Ming-Yue stood still as a statue in the same spot Fullmetal stood in, and to some extent Roy was very aware that Edward had been just as stoic in his duties – but Edward had come with baggage, and Roy's attraction, and then two small children who caused insanity wherever they went. Roy spent his morning fielding questions as to why he was out of uniform and what in heavens above had happened to his face, and then settled down to some paperwork which took him hours to sort through and properly deal with. As such, it was after lunch when there was a short knock on his office door and he looked up to see Havoc stood in the doorway, holding a clipboard and looking determined.
"No." Roy said, looking back down at his paperwork, then, when the chain-smoker made no move to leave, he added "dismissed, Lieutenant."
True to form, the lieutenant didn't even pretend to pay attention to the thinly veiled order to leave, and instead made his way into the office, shutting the door behind him and surveying his superior carefully.
"You don't even know why I'm here." He said. Roy rolled his eyes.
"You've come to convince me to press charges." He replied, and knew he had hit the nail on the head when Havoc pursed his lips and huffed through his nose. The lieutenant put his clipboard down on Roy's desk and the General could see the form clipped to it, which had space for Havoc to scribe out Roy's statement, and a box at the bottom for Roy to sign that proclaimed his wish for Investigations to bring the full force of their office down on Guttering. He turned his face away from it.
Havoc turned around and leant against Roy's desk, facing away from him, and crossed his arms over his chest. Roy could see the tenseness in his shoulders.
"You were pretty drunk last night." He reminded, and Roy leant back in his chair and sighed.
"I know." He responded. "I'm paying for it."
There was a short exhale which may have been a laugh, and then Havoc fished a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and fiddled with it nervously.
"You went home with Edward." He said, and it was a statement, not an accusation, but it felt like one.
Roy looked at the ignition gloves on top of his desk. When he had arrived at the office that morning he had collected them from the drawer in his desk and put them on, and then felt stupid for his obvious attempt to make himself feel safer in the work place and taken them off again. He hadn't been brave enough to put them back in the drawer though, and had kept them in reachable distance.
"Edward came home with me." He corrected. "He was staying in my spare bedroom."
It wasn't technically a lie; Edward had stayed a night in Roy's spare bedroom. He had simply omitted that the night in question, last night, Edward had slept in Roy's bed with him, arms wrapped securely around his ex-CO and breath wet and hot against the back of Roy's neck.
Havoc hummed thoughtfully.
"I know I don't know how you felt yesterday." He began, "I can't even begin to understand how it feels to be hurt that way – but I'm pretty sure the way to deal with it is not to go get stupidly drunk."
Roy closed his eyes. Nor was it to attempt to jump your twenty-two year old ex-subordinate, or burn your uniform, or any of the other terrible coping mechanisms Roy was currently using. Getting drunk seemed like a great idea when compared with sitting himself in Edward's lap and then puking up over the carpet.
Gods, Edward had probably cleared that up when Roy was still asleep.
"That's nice." He said, instead of saying 'fuck you Havoc', which is what he desperately wanted to say. "I'm still not pressing charges."
"Look, here's the thing; Frazer is taking this to court whether you want him to or not. He's pedalling it as a hate crime, and I think that's the truth, to some extent. Edward is going to get called to testify and whether your name is mentioned or not, it's not going to take a genius to figure out that you were involved. Not to mention if Guttering decides to mention your name there is little we can do to stop him. It will be scratched from court record but it's a public trial and retroactive omission doesn't stop people hearing it." He explained calmly. "Whether you press charges or not, by this time in a couple of weeks chances are people are going to know what Guttering did to you, and if Frazer manages to say the right words at the right moment, they'll know he did it because you're gay. Put simply, when this goes to trial you are going to become a poster boy for gay people all over the country, and that's going to put your face out there for a bunch more ass-holes to try their luck in attacking you. You already have a target on your back because of this stupid terrorist group, and this trial is just going to throw you into the spot-light, but you wont get any extra protection from Investigations because you chose not to press charges, and thus waived your rights to protection from us."
Roy stared at him, and Havoc took a deep breath, his shoulders rising and falling, and then he turned around and tapped his fingers on the clipboard.
"Sign this. Press charges and not only will Investigations protect your right to privacy as much as we can, but we will give you a chance to have your say on what happened in that office." He said, leaning over so that he was a little more into Roy's face. The General tried to maintain eye-contact, but before he could stop himself his eyes had flickered away.
"I don't need protection." He attempted to protest, but Havoc sighed.
"Clearly, you do." He shot back, and then put his cigarette back in his pocket and ran a hand through his hair. "I know Guttering was attacking you half because it was convenient, and half because he's always had a stick up his ass about you being the same rank as him at twenty years his junior – but can you honestly tell me he didn't say anything to you that might have made you think he hated you simply because you swing both ways?"
Roy couldn't look at Havoc, so he studiously stared at his ignition gloves, lying haplessly on the desk. After a moment he picked them up and put them on to his hands, rubbing his fingers together and feeling the rough abrasive material fighting to make a spark, but not putting any energy into the rush of Alchemy that ran through him instinctively when that happened. He frowned down at the white and red on his hands and sighed. He remembered vividly everything Guttering had said when the other General's hands had been all over him, and at the Lieutenant's question one particular phrase had stood out.
Sissy faggot boy.
Roy had probably been called worse in his time, but the day before wasn't the first time he had been specifically called a faggot, and each time it cut deep that he knew the word was being used as an insult. They could have been using any word at all but the intention was to hurt him, and it was clear that Guttering was using that word to hurt him more. The attack had never been about sex, he told himself, reminded of Ming-Yue's words – it was about power, and violence, and Guttering had proved himself plenty violent, with the intention to hurt Roy. Whether it was about Roy specifically or gay people in general, Roy didn't know, but the use of that word had to make the man stop and think about whether Guttering had attacked him, at least in some part, because of his sexual orientation. Slowly, almost as if pained to admit it, Roy nodded his head at the Lieutenant.
Havoc tapped his fingers on the form again, and rose an eyebrow at Roy. The General sighed. He knew logically everything the chain-smoker said was correct, and he knew as well that the sexual assault had happened, and ignoring it would not make it cease to have happened, but he still hesitated at the idea of willingly allowing people to know he had been overpowered and dirtied so easily. He wasn't scared of their reactions, and he definitely wasn't scared of Guttering himself, but he was ashamed. It felt shameful to have been caught and abused in the first place.
He pulled the form towards him, noting the blank box where Havoc would need to write down his statement. Roy blanched at the idea of reliving each touch, and each bruise he had received. He hated the idea of speaking once more the pleas he had screamed at Guttering to Havoc, and he felt sick at having to explain to his friend how his one clear thought was to at least not let the rape happen in front of Edward – but all of it was important, and Havoc knew what questions to ask to get him to tell all.
The General cleared his throat.
"If I do this I'm basically admitting to my sexuality for the entire world to see. I'll be signing away my eligibility for Fuhrership because there's no way Amestris would accept a non-straight Fuhrer, and I'm signing up for a media frenzy and another target on my back." He assessed. "You're really not selling this."
Still, he had the pen in his hand. Havoc nodded his head, and his hand was in his pocket again, probably fiddling with his smokes.
"I know." He admitted. "But I want to see the man that hurt my friend rotting behind bars until the day he draws his last breath. I don't want there to be even the slightest chance of his release, and I want an example made of him so that this entire damn country understands that there is no tolerance towards dick-wipes who want to hurt people like you."
Roy balanced the pen over the signature box at the bottom of the form, and gulped nervously.
"People like me." He repeated gently, although he already knew Havoc meant gay people, the man just didn't know how to articulate that. The man's lips thinned as he attempted to think of the right phrasing.
"You know, men who are attracted to other men." He mumbled.
Roy thought back to his conversation with Edward that morning, about his denial of his attraction to other men until he had been in a safe place in Xing. He thought about the other man's reasoning, that men in the military had made him feel like he couldn't accept those parts of himself. He thought of the rumours that had been circulating whilst Edward was under Roy's command, and the confessions the boy had made that people in a position of power within the military had attempted to hurt Ed in the past. Roy had hated the idea of Edward witnessing his rape, but he felt dizzy with nausea at the idea of the tables being turned and Edward being the one who Guttering had tried to abuse. If Havoc's declaration was true, and Guttering was to be made an example of, then perhaps his pressing charges would go some way to making up for the horrible way Edward had been treated in the past.
He let out a long, steady breath, and signed his name.
"Don't make me regret this." He muttered, pushing the form back to Havoc. The chain-smoker looked shocked he had managed to convince his ex-CO into signing, and then heavily sat down in the chair across from Roy.
"R-right." He said, going for confident and falling short by a good mile. "Then, I'm… I'm going to need your statement."
Ming-Yue picked him up from work at four thirty, because if the Military forced you to work on a Saturday they were at least nice enough to let you go home a couple of hours early. She drove him home, she did the check, and bid him a charged 'goodnight' at his door, before swiftly leaving. He scuffed his foot along the skirting board in the corridor, entered the kitchen to see the mugs he and Edward had left that morning, and decided to skip dinner.
He had spent the entire afternoon hashing out his statement with Havoc, excusing himself regularly to get some air and calm down the jumping and twisting in his stomach as he purposefully remembered each word Guttering had said, each place he'd put his hands and each part of Roy the man had hungrily laid eyes on. By the time he was done Roy was feeling emotionally ragged and exhausted to the bone, and Havoc had surrendered three cigarette's to trying to keep the General calm. He had been glad to see the back of his friend when Havoc finally told him he had enough information and he would keep Roy updated on the case as it progressed. Roy had told him not to bother, but knew that Jean would anyway.
He sank down on to a leather sofa in the living room, and tilted his head back, staring at the swirls in the plaster of the ceiling. Edward had cleared up his puke puddle, and he needed to find a way to thank the man, but for now, if he stared for long enough at the ceiling, sometimes he could see faces in the jumps and curves, and he was just beginning to get into that mind-set when there was knock at the door.
His heart jumped up to his throat, and he glanced towards the entrance to his small corridor, nervously wondering what protocol was for guests. He wasn't expecting anybody, and there was a guard outside the door – surely they would call through and tell him it was okay if it was someone they recognised. Then he remembered Edward's assessment of the paperwork he would be doing that day – going through his colleagues and friends to see if anyone was a leak – so that meant that even if the guards did recognise whoever had knocked on the door, it did not mean that person was necessarily trustworthy.
He crept across the room and into the corridor just in time to see the handle rattle down and up again. It locked automatically on closing – you could open it from the inside but needed a key to open it from the outside, and whoever was outside his door was attempting to get into his house.
"Looks like nobodies home." Roy heard, and it wasn't a voice he recognised.
He stood still in the hallway, and then, as he heard some scuffling and something being inserted into the lock, he turned on his heel and crept through the house, and into his bedroom, closing the door behind him softly. He tried to keep his breathing under control, listening to the sounds of the intruder, or intruders, and padded across the plush carpet in his room, to the bedside table where a small piece of paper held a scrawled out telephone number, next to a turn-dial phone. Slowly, and as quietly as possible, he punched in the numbers, and held his breath as it rang.
"Alverbank Hotel, how can I help?" asked a perky sounding assistant on the other end. Roy swallowed and spoke back in a whisper, straining his ears to see if the intruder had made it through the door yet.
"I need you to connect me to Edward Elric's room urgently." He explained. The assistant hummed, and Roy could hear the sounds of her flipping through a Rolodex, and then she made a triumphant sound.
"Connecting you now." She supplied cheerily, and then Roy was met with ringing again. He counted out the seconds in his head, but it was only two seconds before Edward's voice answered the phone.
"Hello?" He said, sounding vaguely confused. Roy closed his eyes as he tried to listen to what was going on in the hall.
"Edward." He whispered. "Someone is trying to enter my flat."
He could almost feel the shift of Edward moving from relaxed, probably reading a book in bed, to alert and back in work mode.
"Okay. I'm on my way. Find somewhere to hide and stay quiet." He ordered, and Roy was already nodding along. "Don't worry." Edward said. "Hang up now, and hide. I'll be there soon."
So Roy hung up the phone, and padded over to his wardrobe, nestling himself amongst the clothes and pulling the doors closed, settling down to wait for Edward. He still had his ignition gloves on from his interview with Havoc, where he had felt a little safer knowing he had a weapon on him, and he was glad of that now. He let out a shaky breath he was desperate to keep quiet, and clamped his lips shut, trying to breath gently through his nose. The wardrobe had slats on the door, and he wondered whether the intruders might see him through the slats, but then rationalised that the slats angled downwards, so it was very unlikely they would. He strained his ears to listen to footsteps or voices, and tried not to move or make any noise.
They wouldn't look for him, would they? They might assume he was out – it was a Saturday night after all, he usually made some excuse not to be in his apartment. He hadn't had any dinner, but he had left the light on in the living room – would that alert them that he was home? He had his gloves, but what if they had come prepared? These people were clearly part of the group after his head – they might know his weaknesses. Not to mention the fact that this was his own home; he'd have to be insanely precise in his aim lest he accidentally set his own flat on fire.
And it was a flat. His apartment was one in a block of apartments. There were countless other people in the other flats both above and below them, and if he wasn't clever and quick then the other people living here might suffer. He was technically on home ground, but at a massive disadvantage.
He rubbed his fingers together and held them prone in the position for clicking, and then tried to calm himself. He counted to ten in his head, and then again because it hadn't done the trick and he was still internally freaking out. He tried to remember everything Riza had told him about the group that had put targets on him and his, because being prepared would go some way to help him in combat should it come to that.
They were radicals, working on the idea that the military was fundamentally bad, and key figures involved in the events of the Promised Day were clearly the worst of the crop. They wanted to strike those figures down – and given the shooting in Oslo Street that clearly meant their plan was to assassinate those key people. They seemed like they had very little mercy, and given Roy had stupidly hidden in a wardrobe and effectively backed himself into a corner, he was in a bad place should they find him.
Okay, he told himself, counting to ten again, and then he held his breath as he heard footsteps down his hall and voices talking to each other and making no attempt to stay quiet.
"Hey, lights on. Looks like he's over the hill." Said the first voice, which sounded young. Roy felt his stomach clench painfully at the words. They'd instantly figured out he was in hiding.
"Guns up." Replied a deeper voice, more commanding.
"I'm running black." Said another. Military jargon, Roy realised. But there was no way these guys were Amestrian Military – they were specifically targeting the Military as being corrupt. Were they dissenters? He couldn't detect any accents which might suggest he was dealing with a special ops force from another country.
"Why the fuck would you tell us that now?" Said the voice Roy had first heard.
"Well this isn't exactly a -" The reply was cut short, and Roy could imagine their CO had put up a hand for silence.
"Use this one." The deep voice said, "then spread out and find him."
There was a chorus of 'yes sir's, and Roy tried to count the voices. Three, maybe four? Either way he was outnumbered. He just had to stay hidden until backup made it's way to him. Edward would have alerted Ming-Yue and the rest of the protection detail, and they would make quick work of these intruders. Roy just had to stay out of sight until then.
He realised how fruitless that was when heavy duty boots came stomping into his bedroom.
"Damn, look at these sheets. Bastard likes the finer things in life, eh?" Said the same young voice from the hall, and Roy could see through the slats a twenty something with dark hair and skin running his hands over Roy's bedspread. Despite his training, his hands began to shake a little.
"Not that you can talk, Ezra." Said another man, this one also coming into the room now. He was taller than his team-mate, paler and with shorter, greyer hair and bigger muscles. "You're a prissy bitch when it comes to that shit."
Ezra clearly didn't like the assessment, because he growled low in his throat.
"Go find the grid squares, Yeti."
Yeti, thought Roy, was that a call sign? These guys were definitely military of some kind, whether it was special forces or just a discharged faction of like-minded ass-holes. They walked and talked like they had training, and that put Roy at even more of a disadvantage. Fighting rouge civilians was one thing, but fighting a group of trained military men was going to be somewhat harder.
"Fuck you." Yeti replied, and then hesitated, his heavy black boots stopped in front of Roy's wardrobe. The man turned his back to the wardrobe and Roy began doing calculations in his head to transfer a flame from inside to outside the wardrobe doors and get the guy from behind. Yeti signalled something to his acquaintance, and then quickly turned around and threw open the doors to the wardrobe, revealing Roy inside, hands raised to click.
They stood for a second, ignition glove to raised rifle, and then Roy clicked and dived to the side.
Yeti was engulfed in flames instantly. Roy had channelled just enough heat to seriously incapacitate the man, but not enough to kill him. Nevertheless he shrieked something nasty, and in his pain his fingers pulled back on his trigger, shooting a bullet through the back of the wardrobe at the exact place Roy's head had been not two seconds before. Gasping for breath out of sheer worry, the General kicked out at the other wardrobe door, rolled out of the cupboard and somehow managed to avoid Ezra shooting erratically – but the noise had called the other men in the squad to the bedroom, and Roy was now facing off against four military trained men on his own.
He dived for the cover of the bed, and when he came up he had Ezra held securely with an arm behind his back, using him as a shield against the other two men. In that time one of the men had rushed into the bedroom to look over Yeti, and seemed to have assessed that he was still breathing. He was injured, but all the burns were surface burns. He might get a nasty infection if he wasn't treated right, but he could heal perfectly fine without even any real need to go to the hospital as a matter of urgency.
"Put your weapons on the ground!" Roy commanded, brandishing his poised fingers in some kind of threat and pulling the young dark skinned boy around harshly to show he meant business.
The two other men, stood in the doorway to his bedroom, were older as well. One a sandy blonde man in his fifties with a deep scar down one side of his angular face, and the other older still – hair and beard stark white, but the firm set of his broad shoulders and the posture of his back told Roy the man kept physically fit. There was a family resemblance between them, in the jut of their jaw and the straight edge of their nose. Roy wondered whether they might be father and son. Neither of them made any move to discard their weapons. Then the one with the scar laughed.
"Kill him then." He said in the deep voice Roy recognised from the hall, his tone so commanding that Roy almost did as asked on instinct. The young man in his hold made an indignant sound that told Roy that the kid had no intention of dying.
He pressed his fingers together and created a threatening spark, but didn't let it hurt anybody.
"Put your weapons down and nobody needs to get hurt." He tried, hoping he could bluff harder than the intruders.
Scar-face tilted up his nose and narrowed his eyes, and then calmly pointed his gun at Roy's head.
"You're not going to kill him General." He said levelly. "You might rough him up a bit, but you don't have it in you to kill him. We've done our research. We know you've gone soft. So don't waste our time."
Except Roy did have to waste time – if he couldn't wait it out for a rescue by hiding, then he had to keep these guys talking long enough not to kill him. He clicked again, and this time created a small flame above his fingers, which he held close to the dark skinned boy's face. The kid tried inching his head back to get away from the heat, but Roy followed him with it.
"Tell me who you are." He insisted. "What do you plan on achieving by this?"
Scar-face and white-beard exchanged a heavy look, and then the commanding man stepped a little closer to Roy, still not lowering his gun, and glared.
"What I achieve is killing you."
Roy tried not to let it show that he was shaking. He kept Ezra between himself and Scar-face like a human shield, reminding himself horridly of Guttering, and took a step back to be sightly further away from the attacker. He didn't have far to run before he hit a wall, and could only hope Edward would get there soon.
"Why?" He asked, stalling. "What have I ever done to you?"
Scar-face spat at the ground, and Roy watched in mild disgust as the great glob of phlegm landed on his plush carpet and sank into the shag. Scar-face didn't say anything else, but the man who had rushed in to check over Yeti cursed angrily, and Roy recognised his voice as the man who was running black. The General glanced his way and saw that this man had the same tanned skin as Ezra, but the same angular jaw and nose as scar-face and white-beard.
"You're a murdering dog! You deserve to die!" He cried.
"Enough, Josiah!" Scar-face hushed him. "I don't care if he dies not knowing why."
Josiah was young too, like Ezra – perhaps even younger. He didn't hold himself like the others; although he knew the jargon he hadn't thought to check his ammo, and he was clearly not a fighter. This boy wasn't military.
"This is about the Promised Day." Roy tried to keep them talking, struggling against Ezra who was trying to fight his way free. "I tried to stop that." He said, although he knew it was futile. Just enough details about that day had been published to the public for them to spin wild tales about it, and denying them would only fuel them more.
"You were right in the middle! If it wasn't for the Elric brother's you would have wiped out half of Central!" Josiah cried, clearly not heeding Scar-face's command's to hush. Roy had a weird urge to tell him that in actual fact they would have wiped out the entirety of Amestris, but he didn't think that would go down well. The young man opened his mouth to say more, but was interrupted by a recognisable voice from the doorway.
"Did someone say my name?"
Oh thank goodness. Edward was standing in the doorway, his gun raised and pointed directly at Scar-face's head, and Ming-Yue had already outmanoeuvred white-beard and had him apprehended. With Roy having a fairly secure hold on Ezra, that meant the only free intruder was Josiah, who was clearly not military and therefore out of his league. Edward stalked into the room, but Scar-face still didn't lower his weapon.
"Give it up, ass-hole." Edward chided. "I'm a good shot, and you can't even get near Mustang without endangering one of your own. You know this is over."
There was a moment of tense silence, and then Scar-face sighed and held up his gun, showing his surrender. He opened his mouth, cleared his throat in preparation for admitting his defeat, and then said:
Then everything happened in slow motion. Josiah swept up his gun, where it was lying on the floor next to him, and aimed it at Roy, and squeezed the trigger. Roy had just enough time to realise his human-shield was being ignored, and so instinctively pushed the kid away, leaving himself wide open for the bullet. Which hit him squarely in the shoulder.
He was barrelled back with the force of it, into his bedroom wall, and it took some time for the pain to catch up and register with him. It was only when he looked down at his shoulder to see blood blossoming quickly over his shirt and down his sleeve, that it did, and he could do nothing but cry out helplessly. The blood was coming fast and wet, and his vision was already going blurry. He heard two more gunshots, but it could have been any number, and he thought he heard Edward calling his name, and then everything went black.
Chapter 7: Finally
"Here's the thing General – you're a strong man. If you wanted to, couldn't you have thrown Guttering off?"
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Roy was in a ridiculous amount of pain, but he couldn't quite figure out why.
Had he been stabbed? No, it was more wide-spread than that. Stabbings hurt like a bitch but the pain centred around the entry wound and didn't stretch out too far. A beating, then. Beatings, especially those carried out with large, blunt objects, left bruises which lasted for weeks and the pain stayed alongside them. But those pains were dull throbs. This was sharper than that. All over his shoulder, across his chest and down his right arm. Fuck, he thought, was it a heart attack? Oh, no, wait. A heart attack would be the left arm.
He blinked open his eyes slowly, and then immediately shut them again, screwing up his face in discomfort, because the bright white lights above him had caused an instant headache. He waited for that pain to dull, and then tried again, squinting into the brightness. His throat felt dry – his whole right side was tingling with pain, and clearly he was in a hospital. He scrunched up his nose, trying to remember why – oh wait, yeah… his brain supplied, he'd been shot.
In his own home nonetheless. He had guards on his front door day and night but somehow a crack-team of radicalised ass-holes had infiltrated his home and shot him. Ed would have a field day when he found out.
Roy sat up suddenly, accidentally ripping a few wires from his wrist in the process and setting off an alarm which began to beep loudly and insistently. He looked around the hospital room as if Edward Elric would be sleeping in the bed next to him, or waiting for him to wake up, snoozing in the uncomfortable visitors chair – but that was unrealistic. He was plagued by the idea that Edward had been caught in the cross-fire. Roy had no idea what happened after he blacked out. Someone must have saved them and bought him to the hospital, but had Edward got out unharmed? Or even alive?
"General Mustang, sir!" A shrill voice reprimanded, and he turned his head to see an older nurse rushing into the room, her face set in a grimace that made her look amphibian. "It's good to see you awake, but I must insist on you taking it easy."
She pushed on his uninjured shoulder and manhandled him back down into a lying position.
"Edward." He rasped, because he didn't much care if she wanted to check him over, or read his vitals, or whatever it was that nurses did, of which Roy did not know. It was her job to care for him, and that was fine – but his priority was knowing that his bodyguard was alive and uninjured.
"Hmm?" The nurse responded, not really looking at him, but already wrapping a blood pressure monitor around his arm and pumping it up.
"Edward Elric." Roy pushed, around a horrible lump that was forming in his throat as he began to feel himself panicking. "Blonde man, Auto-mail leg. Is he okay?"
The nurse glanced at him then, having taken the readings she needed. She pursed her lips and furrowed her brow, and then clearly saw something in his face that appeased her, because she sighed and put her hands on her hips.
"I'll check the records to see if a Mr Elric was brought in with you." She told him. "But right now I am calling the doctor to check over your wound, and you need to stay still and rest."
He nodded, because he would agree to anything just to get a bit of information. She glared at him a little longer, and then sighed again as if he was an unruly child, despite his quick acquiesce into following her orders, and strutted out of the room, clipboard in hand. Ten minutes later, a man in a lab-coat with a greying beard and baby-blue eyes with crows feet by them entered the room and made a bee-line for him. He stopped at the foot of Roy's bed and offered him a friendly smile.
"Nurse Yanks can be quite forceful, hmm?" He joked, as if that made them friends, and then walked around the bed and started cranking a lever on it's side. "Let's see if we can sit you up and have a look at this wound, hey? Quite a story you've got to tell now. I wonder if you can fill me in on some of the details."
Roy knew what he was doing – assessing him for memory loss. He'd had a traumatic experience and had apparently passed out because of it; it made sense to figure out if his brain was functioning the right way. He nodded gently, and began telling the doctor what he could remember, in excruciating detail, while the man checked his vitals, shone torches into his eyes and poked at the painful bullet hole in his shoulder. Then, when he was done, Roy said:
"So can you tell me if Edward made it out, is he okay?"
The doctor smiled his friendly smile again.
"Nurse Yanks is on the case, General. Your worry regarding your friends is admirable." He told him. "It all seems to be in order here too. You'll have to stay in hospital for awhile whilst we keep an eye on you though, because you lost a lot of blood and needed some transfusions, but overall you've been quite lucky."
Roy snorted, in pain and near mad with worry.
"If you count being attacked in your own home as lucky." He snapped, but his tone didn't seem to upset the doctor.
"Quite." He agreed. "Now let me tell you what I know, so at least you can rest a little easier. The men that attacked you were bought into the hospital when you were, all of you being processed by the police and paramedics. There were five men. One was burned quite badly, and was taken to the burns unit, where he remains under supervision by two armed police officers. There was an older man who had three broken bones in his foot and a broken arm – he was processed and is now in a cell awaiting trial. There were two younger men, both of them unharmed but for some scrapes and bruises, both of them are being interrogated by Investigations Division at Central HQ."
He paused, and Roy did a quick count up in his head.
"That's only four." He mumbled, and the doctor nodded.
"Yes." He agreed. "The fifth man, a man with a scar on his face, was dead on arrival."
Roy closed his eyes. So someone had lost their life over this stupid charade of an assassination attempt. He wondered whether Edward had pulled the trigger that sent the man to his grave, or Ming-Yue, and was bought to mind vividly of the blonde hovering over him on the sofa in Roy's living room and telling Roy how it had taken every inch of the man's self control not to shoot Guttering in his head. Perhaps this time Ed hadn't been able to wrangle his control.
"What happened?" He asked, feeling dread in his stomach.
He hated the idea of Ed actually killing someone, although in his line of work he doubted it was the first time Edward had faced off a difficult situation with a gun in his hand. The doctor levelled him with a hard look, finally having stopped showing his friendly smile, and let out a slow, regretful breath.
"It looks like he turned his gun on himself when things began to go sideways. I've not been told the details." He informed, jotting down some notes on his chart. He flipped over the page and then looked backward behind himself as Nurse Yanks came into the room again, before he turned back to Roy and gave him a wink. "Lets see what happened to your Edward, then."
Roy wondered whether he looked as uncomfortably warm as he felt at the idea of someone calling Ed 'his Edward', but nonetheless turned his attention to the older nurse, who stood at the foot of his hospital bed with her hands on her hips and a frown on her face which Roy got the impression was a permanent feature.
"No Mr Elric has been checked in to this hospital." She told him, and Roy couldn't tell whether that was a relief or not. "I had a word with the gentleman from Investigations Division who has been hanging around, however, and he told me to..." She paused, and her frown only grew, before continuing. "He said 'Edward is giving statements at HQ. Tell Roy to stop worrying about his boyfriend' and that was all."
Roy was pretty much definitely blushing by now, and he turned his head away, because he didn't want to look at the nurse. Then he closed his eyes and took in a deep breath – because he knew logically the man from Investigations that Yanks had spoken to must have been Havoc, but for a moment the words had sounded so much like something Hughes would have said that when Roy imagined the scene unfolding the man speaking had had dark hair and glasses and a wicked smile, and it made his heart hurt to remember that that man was long dead.
Maybe his head was more messed up than he thought.
"R-right." He said, because an awkward silence had descended over the professionals gathered round his bed, and he had to say something to push away the emotional pain wrapping itself around his heart. "Edward isn't… our relationship isn't like that."
Which was a fruitless denial, because if it hadn't been for sheer circumstance there was no reason why their relationship couldn't be like that. Edward had been interested in him, and might still be interested in him. Roy couldn't deny his interest in the grown-up Edward either. There was really very little stopping them from hitting the hay – except pride, and awkward timing, and a little voice in Roy's brain that was begging him to figure out exactly what the blonde meant to him before falling into bed with him. Because it was one thing to fuck the man, but an entirely new and unexplored thing to try for a relationship with him.
Roy hadn't tried for a relationship with anyone for years. He wasn't even sure he knew how to do that. Or if he ever wanted it. His attraction to Edward was clearly just that – attraction – but he was in the difficult position of not being able to act on it because he had known Edward better than that. His history with the boy prohibited him from acting on the sexual tension that had been running between them for the last few days. It was really very simple.
Except Roy wanted it to be complicated. Wanted to have an excuse to run his fingers through spun-gold hair and not feel guilty about it.
"No one would think you were that way inclined." Said the doctor, and he had that friendly smile on again and he was attractive, but honestly Roy was beginning to really dislike him.
He sighed, thinking that denying any alleged sexuality was fruitless too, because soon enough details of the court case against Guttering would go public, and Roy's carefully constructed mask would come crumbling down. He didn't know how his life had become so messed up and complicated so quickly, but it had, and he hated it. Which was why when the doctors excused themselves, and a new figure showed up at the door, he wasn't able to plaster on a stoic face, but instead staggered under the weight of his secrets and the pain spreading over his shoulder.
"C-Chris." He gulped, hating how his voice wobbled, and as he reached out with his uninjured arm his hand wobbled too.
She took his hand and sat down on the side of his bed.
"It's all right Roy-boy." She told him, her ringed, wrinkled hands cupping his firmly and rubbing soothing circles over it. "I'm here now."
And Roy couldn't help it, he just broke down.
He got out of hospital three days later, on a Tuesday, but no one expected him to go back to work straight away. Roy almost wished he could, just for some normalcy. He had had quite a few visitors come check on him whilst he was lying uselessly in bed, and they'd all treated him like something fragile and precious, which was so far gone from how he had come to expect to be treated, that he found himself missing getting scolded and railed on. Of course, none of them had come close to seeing the emotional heartbreak Roy had allowed himself when Chris had turned up on Saturday, and for that at least he was glad.
She had spent the entire afternoon with him, listening to his sobbing and complaining, and asking just enough questions to keep him talking about the important matters; about how much he missed Hughes, how he was living in a constant state of worry over what people thought of him and he was terrified of the details of the Guttering case going public – which meant he had then had to confess what the details of the Guttering case were, which resulted in Chris gripping on to his hand a lot tighter and lighting up a thin cigarette despite the hospital staff making unhappy noises. He'd then told her about Edward and everything he had learnt since the boy's arrival back in his life, and by the time he was done he was cried out and exhausted, and Chris had put his hand back down on the bed, patted his thigh and said:
"I'm glad you told me, son."
So Roy had found some more tears to cry, and the two of them had sat in each other's company without the need for any more words for a long time, Roy sniffling and feeling generally very sorry for himself, and Chris just making everything a little bit better simply by being there, hand resting comfortingly on his leg, before the hospital staff announced visiting hours were over for the day and Chris had reluctantly left his side.
Havoc had dropped by on Sunday, with an update on the Guttering trial which he tried to keep the details to a minimum on, but explained that the trial date was set for a week on Wednesday, which was sooner than Roy had been expecting, but apparently Frazer wanted the whole thing over with quickly. The chain-smoker had then gone on to explain that they were interrogating the people who had invaded his flat, and they were definitely connected to the Oslo Street shooter, but were otherwise keeping tight-lipped. Roy had figured as much. Riza had stopped by a few hours after Havoc left to offer her condolences, and that she would see him on Tuesday, because of course she had known he would be discharged by then, and being shot was no excuse for missing their weekly catch-up.
It was Monday evening, just getting towards the end of hospital regulation visiting hours, when Edward finally showed up, and he just stood by the foot of Roy's bed in silence for some time, the both of them staring at each other awkwardly.
"Hey." Ed finally said, scuffing his shoe against the metal bed-post. Roy's bed had been cranked up into a sitting position, and he leant back against the pillows and dropped his gaze to his lap.
"Hey." He responded.
He experimented with clenching the fist of his right hand, like the doctor had told him to do to improve mobility in his injured arm, and focused on that instead of the man at the foot of his bed. His gloves were in place, as they had been since the day after the attack from Guttering, and Roy splayed out his fingers again and marvelled that somehow the material was still white, with near constant wear.
Edward was carrying a tan coat over his arm and a large brown suitcase, and Roy knew what that meant. It hadn't even been a full week since Edward had crashed back into his life, and now he was leaving again, just as abruptly. He wondered if Ed had got wind of a new assignment or whether he had finally realised that being around Roy was more trouble than it was worth. Either way, the opportunity to make something more of what they were to each other was clearly passing him by, hopping on a train to the next big adventure.
"Truth's Promised Mercenaries, they call themselves." The blonde said into the awkward silence stretching between them. "I'm certain there are more of them than those we picked up from your flat, and I promise you the best of the best are working on catching the rest of them."
Roy nodded dejectedly at his sheets.
"But you're leaving." He accused, trying to remember if he had felt this upset last time Edward Elric had told him he was leaving. At that time he'd been in hospital as well, staring into the endless void of blackness thanks to Truth stealing his sight, and Edward's voice had told him, with his usual swearing and blasé attitude, that he was resigning and retiring to the East. Would it be the same again? Would it be another six years before Roy saw his youngest, most brilliant friend again?
"Yes. It's family matters." Ed replied, and he didn't owe an explanation, but Roy still felt he deserved a little bit more than 'family matters'. He swallowed down his angry retort, and tried for an accepting nod. Edward sighed. "I'm sure Ming-Yue will brief you on this, but those people know where you live now. You should go to a hotel or stay with a friend."
Roy had already thought about it. He wondered if he could move into the officer's mess for a while. He squeezed his right fist and was rewarded with a twinge of pain on his shoulder; he'd been given some heavy-duty pain-killers but they weren't miracle workers.
"You're going back East?" He asked, trying not to sound too annoyed.
"Yes." Edward confessed. "I'll be staying with Al for a while again, I think." Which was more information than he had to give, and Roy appreciated it. The blonde licked his lips, and then put his suitcase down on the floor and came around the bed on Roy's uninjured side.
He stopped in front of Roy and then leant down, steadying himself with one arm on Roy's pillow, and stooping low, using his other hand to hook a finger under Roy's chin and make him look up, before closing his eyes and gently pressing their lips together.
And Roy's brain short-circuited, only registering one thought before his eyes slipped closed: Finally.
Edward kissed in direct opposition to everything else he did in life. His attitude, his brazen looks and fighting style, his research and appreciation of food – all of those things he did fast and furiously; but his kiss was gentle, soft and skilled like he had taken the time to master it properly. Roy had a vague memory that it was supposed to take seven years to master something, but seven years ago Edward would have been just fifteen, and given his situation back then, it was unlikely he would have ever been kissed. So did that mean Roy was the lucky recipient of the very first kiss Edward had given upon mastering the skill?
Gods, he hoped so. He wanted to be the only person alive to know what Edward's perfect kisses were like. He'd never stopped wanting to monopolise the man.
And then it was over with, just like that, and Edward pulled away, leaving Roy behind, and unable to think of something to say. He wanted to demand Edward return to what he was doing, and maybe that he never leave, but the suitcase was on the floor by the foot of his bed, and Edward still had a family in the East to think about.
"I lied." The blonde said, as if reading Roy's thoughts. "I shouldn't blame Winry and the kids for my own cowardice. I'm leaving because I watched you get shot, and I realised that no matter how prepared I think I am for a situation there's nothing I could have done if that bullet had hit you a few inches to the left. On my watch you've had a sniper attack you, been sexuality assaulted and shot in your own home. You deserve better protection than that."
"I want you." He muttered, and then looked away, realising his confession. "It's not like you could have prevented those situations from happening. All you could do was protect me when they came about, and you did."
Edward smiled ruefully.
"Havoc told me you're pressing charges against Guttering." He changed subject abruptly. "I do have some things to sort out in East City, job wise, but I'm testifying at the trial, so I wont be gone for long. I'll be back by next Wednesday."
Roy nodded, but that didn't mean Edward was going to stay. Was one kiss going to be the beginning and end of them? The blonde went and collected his suitcase, before turning back to Roy and giving a small wave.
"Keep safe." He told him, and Roy gulped down around a lump in his throat. "If… if you want to pick this back up, when I get back..." He waved between them awkwardly and Roy has to stop himself from nodding too eagerly. By the trial he should be more healed – Edward was probably just trying to book in a booty call, and Roy wouldn't trip over himself accepting that.
"Yeah, see you soon." He replied, hoping the reminder would force Ed into making good on his promise to come back to Central.
FUHRER HOPEFUL MUSTANG INVOLVED IN HATE-CRIME
Details of court proceedings regarding the arrest and sentencing of General Matthias Guttering, 52, of Gregory Avenue, Central, have been made available to the press in preparation for his trial which is due to take place tomorrow at Central State Court. The charges laid against Guttering include attempted rape as a hate crime against the decorated Hero of Ishval, General Roy Mustang, 35. The trial is being prosecuted by Mr Nathaniel Pike, who has worked closely with the State Military in the past, and the defendant has employed Miss Antoinette Lester to represent him, who has a history of successfully defending similar cases.
Colonel Frazer, working as the lead investigator on the case had this to say: "We believe Guttering's motivations behind his sexual assault of the victim came from his knowledge of the victims sexual orientation, and his belief that General Mustang was currently involved with another man."
The fact that Frazer is labelling this as a hate crime gives Judge Wicks the power to order a harsher punishment, should Guttering be found guilty.
The news of Mustang's attraction towards other men is likely to come as news to most people, as the General had made a reputation for himself as a ladies man amongst the cities of Central and East City when he was stationed there as a Colonel. It makes sense for Mustang to attempt to hide his homosexuality, given he has never made a secret of his wish to become Fuhrer, and a scandal such as this one is likely to harm his chances of achieving the rank. In the interest of the truth this reporter spoke to some of Mustang's ex-girlfriends.
Miss Jennifer Leg, 29, of Woolston, Central Borders, says "it's not all that surprising. Have you seen how well he looks after himself? He took longer preening at himself in the mirror than I did" and Sophia Jackson, 33, from East City, detailed how when they had dated Mustang had never seemed very interested in spending the night. Does this all add up to a man hiding his sexuality for fear of judgement?
Roy threw the paper away and breathed out deeply through his nose, trying not to come across as too angry. Riza poured him some more wine and said nothing, and Roy knew deep down she was upset that he hadn't told her about the assault, or the trial that was happening, and she was annoyed she had found out via the paper.
It was Tuesday, the day before the trial, and he had gone to Riza's for their weekly catch-up.
He had arrived at her house a few minutes prior, with Ming-Yue shadowing him, and the Xingese woman had joined Teller by the window to keep a look out. Riza had greeted him with an uncharacteristic hug, and then shoved the newspaper in his face and glared at him, going to the kitchen to find a bottle. Roy had read the article, to see why his friend was upset, and the reality came crashing down. The secret was out. It would have been the next day anyway, but he really should have spoken to Riza about it before she found out via newsprint.
"I didn't show an interest in spending the night with Sophia because she was clingy and annoying." He told her, holding on to that tiny part of the article, because he still wasn't sure how to address everything that had happened with Guttering.
Riza didn't seem impressed.
"That's how you got that black eye, isn't it?" She asked. Mutely, Roy nodded. His bruise was finally beginning to fade after more than a week of being a deep, puffy purple mottled with green, but the skin around his eye was still darker than his pale face, and he had been assured that his beaten appearance would serve him well in court the next day. He pushed off his shoes with his toes and settled down into one of the armchairs. Riza settled into the other one and frowned at him. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Roy glanced at her, then went back to studying his gloved fingers in his lap. She'd had her fair share of unwanted advances herself, given that she was a woman in a pretty male dominated work place, and he had no doubt she would understand his anger and fears, which was incredibly sad and mostly just made Roy want to punch things.
"I'm going to have to go over it all again tomorrow, so I'd rather talk about literally anything else tonight." He told her, running a hand through his hair, and then glanced down at the paper again, wincing at the unfortunate headline. He knew the paper wanted to sell more copies, but the way they worded it made it look like he was the one who performed the crime.
Riza took a sip of her wine, which was a deep red that Roy knew would make him heady if he had too much. He took a sip anyway.
"Okay." The blonde woman said, measured, as if she was trying to think of a way to get Roy to talk about it without him catching on. "MFK?"
A small smile fell onto Roy's face at that. A couple of weeks ago he had sat in this same room and played the same game with Riza, and she had managed to get him to confess he wanted to fuck Edward before he had even figured it out himself. Now Edward had been back in East City for over a week, with only a lingering kiss to remind Roy of the man's presence. He had expected the blonde to make contact by now, explain he was back in Central, but maybe being back around his family had reminded Edward that there was no reason to get mixed up with Roy, and their promise of picking up where the kiss had left off had been left by the wayside.
"Okay." He nodded. "You go first."
Riza smirked, and laid out her options for Roy to choose from, and then they spent the rest of the night shooting situations at each other and drinking wine. They discussed the terrorists after their hide, and very briefly what measures would be in place now that the group of Promised Day Radicals would know exactly were he would be the next day, at which point Ming-Yue broke her pretence of not listening in and assured them both that if anyone tried to disrupt the proceedings of the following day she would personally be sending them to hell. The group they had caught from Roy's flat were still keeping incredibly tight-lipped, but Roy was of he opinion that at least this trial might draw some of the crazies out. Two bottles later they were both a little giggly and struggling to stand. Roy was wondering if he would get in trouble if he turned up to court the next day obviously hungover, but he was at the stage of tipsiness where it was too pleasant to care or think too hard about the next day.
He kissed her goodbye at her door, a chaste peck on her cheek, and she clapped him on his left shoulder gently, careful to avoid his right, which was still red-raw and painful from the gunshot wound.
"Back to the mess?" She asked, and he nodded, trying to straighten out his uniform, since he had come straight from trying to catch up on all of his paperwork. His gloved hands fluttered over his buttons and Riza's eyes watched them. She didn't mention it. No one had mentioned how he hadn't been seen without his ignition gloves on his hands in the last week and a half, but now that Riza had seen the article she was smart enough to put two and two together. Instead of pulling up on his obvious attempt to feel safer, however, she just smiled ruefully and leant forward to give him another uncharacteristic hug. "See you on the other side, I guess."
The next morning saw Roy sat up at the prosecution table in Central State Court. It looked exactly like East City State Court, which Roy had visited a lot with Hughes, and the wooden benches and witness stand were bringing back memories of Maes leading him through the courtroom after dark, pointing out the gable, the jury box, the screens they sometimes used for witnesses that felt they were at risk to be testifying, and the stool and typewriter where the stenographer would sit. That felt like a lifetime ago, and Roy remembered he had only been a couple of years older than Edward at the time.
At least they were happy memories. He had a feeling he wouldn't be making any more happy memories in a court room.
He was dressed in a smart three-piece suit in a dark charcoal colour, and the itchiness of the material was irritating his shoulder wound, making him want to strip down, but his legal representation had deliberately wanted him out of uniform and looking approachable, but smart, and had picked out the suit in a pre-court meeting. He strained his neck to look around the assorted public sitting in the pews behind him, separated from him by a low wooden wall. He could see Riza sat by the back, and Havoc and Frazer, as Investigators, were sat amongst the witnesses, and would be called to give accounts of what they thought happened. Among the witnesses was Ming-Yue, who hadn't been allowed to wear her ear-piece or carry her weapon, but she was glaring around the court like she could hear and see threats from a mile away anyway, and Roy had no doubt she could also apprehend any attackers with little more than the little finger on her left hand. Next to her was the blonde head of Edward Elric, dressed in a smart white shirt and a deep brown waist-coat and looking utterly dashing. Roy was glad to see him, even though he hadn't called.
"Please look forward General."
Roy whipped his head around to the lead prosecutor, Nathaniel Pike, who had been appointed by the Investigations Division. Pike gave him a wry smile, and Roy realised he'd only been asked to look round so he could see the door to the right of the witness stand opening and Guttering being lead in with cuffs on his wrists and ankles. He couldn't help but stare. Guttering looked much less threatening in a navy blue jumpsuit and handcuffs. He was lead to the defence bench, and he and his legal team of three, headed by the business ready Antoinette Lester in a smart midnight blue skirt and matching blazer, all sat down, talking to each other in hushed voices.
Roy heard the clicks of flash photography and wondered what face he had pulled upon seeing his attacker, and what the papers would make of it. The longer he sat in court the deeper into despair he felt himself falling. The day before there hadn't been a single doubt that he wouldn't win this case, but now he was beginning to worry. If the lawyers messed up, or the jury was feeling homophobic, or even if the judge had rolled out of bed on the wrong side that morning, then there was a very real possibility that he might lose – that Guttering would go free, and that his bisexuality and the mortifying details of his near-rape would have been leaked to the general public for nothing.
Fuck, he was going to be sick.
"I can't do this." He heard himself say, and Pike glanced up from his notes to give him a considering look. The lawyer looked between Mustang, who must have been pale and panicked looking, and Guttering, who was frowning heavily at one of his counsel.
"You are perfectly safe here, General." The Lawyer told him, and Roy almost laughed because being attacked again was so far down his list of worries. Instead, he offered a weak smile and concentrated on not spewing up his breakfast over the desk.
"All rise. Court is now in session. Honourable Judge Wicks presiding." Shouted a bailiff.
Roy rose to his feet, feeling shaky, and couldn't help looking over to Guttering, who didn't seem anywhere near as affected. The Judge entered from a door to the left, walked a moment across the court and settled himself in his box, surveying the crowd bellow. Roy had heard of Justice Philip Wicks before – he was a good Judge to get on a case like Roy's, as he always gave out harsher punishments on things he felt were hate crimes. Roy knew that Frazer had orchestrated getting this Judge, as he wanted this to go down as a crime against Roy's sexuality. Roy, on the other hand, just wanted this entire débâcle to be over.
Wicks wove a hand through the air and everyone sat down.
"What do we have today?" The Judge asks, looking down at the bailiff. He had a kind smile and a deep voice and looked grandfatherly, with his greying hair and crows feet. Roy reminded himself that this had all been in the pre-trial document Havoc had drawn up for him – that the Judge knew full well what he was walking into, but had to stand on ceremony and ask the bailiff anyway.
"Your Honour." The bailiff replies, "today's case is Major-General Roy Mustang vs Major-General Matthias Guttering."
Wicks nodded, and turned to the court; specifically to Roy's and Guttering's attorneys.
"Are we ready to begin?"
The Lawyers of both sides stood and gave a clear 'yes, your honour', and Roy put his hands in his lap to stop people seeing them trembling. He hadn't been allowed to wear his ignition gloves in court and he was beginning to feel the security they created slipping away. Pike remained standing once Lester had sat again, and made his way over to the box where twelve people sat looking determined.
The whole trial was odd in it's nature – the two sides were both military, and thus Investigations and JAG wanted to rule it, but the alleged crime wasn't specifically breaking military law – just normal everyday don't-be-a-dick law – so the State wanted a slice of the metaphorical pie as well. As such Roy had Pike as his lawyer, an experienced JAG corps officer, and Guttering had been allowed to source a civilian attorney – which was how he ended up with Antoinette Lester – and they were using a public court house. The Judge was a State Judge, but the jury, who would decide Roy's fate, were all military.
They were easy to spot as military as well – all of them wore smart white shirts and had hair cuts that were neat around the ears and neck. Looking at them, it was difficult to tell one from the other – the word regulation sprang to Roy's mind. Even the women had neat, no nonsense hairstyles and determined faces with little to no make-up. There were more women then men, which Pike said was a good thing. Roy knew that the prosecution had a much harder job than defence – they had to prove without a shadow of a doubt that Guttering was actually guilty, whereas the defence only had to instil the idea that maybe he wasn't – and Guttering was a decorated General. It was going to be a long, hard battle.
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I want to take a long look at my client, and have a think to yourself about how he looks, and what impressions you might have of him. He's charming, isn't he? Good-looking, striking eyes, nice hair. Young – but highly ranked, and he's got that tantalising reputation as a ladies man. But now look a little deeper – he's not quite hit average height for a man, right? A little skinny perhaps. He's got that cute baby-face that most middle-aged women couldn't say no to." Pike stopped and gave a small smile, and Roy would be enraged if he hadn't already heard the man's play. He still didn't like it, but Pike assured him it was the best way to win over the jury. "So maybe he's not as powerful as he'd have you believe – maybe he's trying on this bravado, but in reality he knows he's got weaknesses. He's given out this rumour that he's a ladies man, but I need to tell you a secret – my client is in fact attracted to men. As such, he's been a victim, continuously, of military personnel assuming the worst of him, and attempting to take advantage of him. Knowing that, you can see why he tried to keep it a secret. Today you are going to hear how the defendant, Matthias Guttering, attempted to rape my client on the 12th of July, in General Guttering's office in Central Command – but I want to make it clear to you that this case is about a lot more than just one man getting frisky. This case is about years of psychological torture and the heinous crime committed against Mr Mustang by General Guttering because the defendant thought my client deserved to hurt, to be broken and forcibly sodomized, because of something Mr Mustang can not change. His sexuality."
He paused again, and Roy rubbed his thumb and finger over a crease in his trousers. Pike was rallying for the sympathy vote, pure and simple. He painted Roy as a young, gentle homosexual who was trying to put on a brave face, and who had lied about his sexuality as a way of protecting himself. Pike referred to Roy as 'Mr Mustang', and Guttering by his title of General – effectively putting Guttering in a position of authority and making Roy seem like the weaker party who had been taken advantage of. He made it fact that Roy couldn't change his sexuality, and that the crime had been committed simply because of his sexuality. The sad thing was, almost all of it was true. Except that Roy was attracted to women as well, and hadn't ever actually lied about his sexuality. Being bisexual was not the same as being entirely gay – and for Roy, it was a big difference.
"So, you are going to hear today about one crime. A sexual assault that, had it not been for the actions of Edward Elric, would have been a full-fledged rape. You are going to hear how Guttering coerced Mr Mustang into his office with blackmail, and threats, and how he at first attempted to proposition my client's bodyguard for sex, before trying to force himself on Mr Mustang. You will hear horrible details about the injuries my client received and the psychological harm this crime has had on him. The defence are going to try and tell you that that this is a foggy, grey area, and that consent is ambiguous. They will tell you that the crime was not done out of hate for gay people, but that Guttering thought that Mr Mustang was willing. I am here to tell you that consent is not ambiguous – it's black and white. My client went to see General Guttering to hand over some files, not suspecting he would be assaulted. The General made lewd, horrible comments regarding my client's character and his sexuality, and then General Guttering attacked him, and despite my client's cries for him to stop, he continued to attempt to force himself on a younger, defenceless man. The bottom line is, Guttering knew exactly what he was doing when he attacked my client, and he did it out of hate for Mustang, and people like Mustang – who feel the need to hide their sexuality to avoid this kind of attack. So, at the end of this trial, we're going to ask you to find him guilty of sexual assault motivated by hate – and I know you'll make the right choice."
He ended with a smile, resting his hand on the bench near a particularly young woman with mousy hair and freckles. Roy thought she was young enough that she might be a cadet, but he'd also worked fairly closely with Pike in the run up to the trial, and he knew that the man resting his hand there meant that Pike thought she would be the deciding vote on the verdict. Roy caught eye-contact with her, and even across the court room he could see the pity in her eyes. He looked down at his lap, and then Pike was sitting down next to him, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder, even though they both knew he didn't need to be reassured. It was all for show. He had to come across as a victim.
Which wasn't that hard to achieve when Lester stood from her chair and started delivering her opening statement. She did exactly as Pike had predicted, which was a good thing, and detailed how consent wasn't always black and white, and that Guttering wasn't denying there had been a sexual act happen in his office, but it wasn't a non-consensual act and it certainly hadn't been done out of hate for gay people. Interestingly, despite the fact they were pedalling for sexual consent, at no point did she ever refer to Guttering himself as gay, or interested in men, and she didn't try to play the card that he himself had repressed his sexuality. If the jury were half as smart as they should be, that should have clued them in that something was amiss.
Finally, she sat down, looking proud of herself, and Wicks told Pike to call his first witness, which was, predictably, Roy. He was the victim after all. Pike would treat him gently, though he wasn't entirely ready for cross-examination. He took a deep breath as he stood from his chair and walked around to get to the witness stand, and tried not to shake too much. He reminded himself he was used to public speaking, and he had done nothing wrong, and looked down at the small microphone in front of him. It wasn't there to make his voice louder, he remembered Hughes telling him once, but to record what he said for later deliberation.
Pike gave him a small smile.
"Please state your name and title for the record." He said. Roy swallowed. They had rehearsed this, there was no reason for him to be freaking out.
"Major-General Roy Mustang, the Flame Alchemist." He replied, glad his voice came out clear and loud enough for the jury to hear.
"What command base do you work at, Mr Mustang?"
"And is that the same base General Guttering works at?"
Pike nodded, as if somehow the two of them working at the same base was evidence enough to convict. He put his hand on the witness stand, and Roy glanced down at it.
"Can you tell me the date of the last time you spoke to General Guttering?" He asked.
"12th of July." Roy replied, keeping his answers short and precise, as he had been directed.
"The same date he was arrested?"
"Objection!" Came the voice of Lester before Roy could answer, standing from her seat. "Inflammatory."
Pike and Roy both looked to the Judge, who was considering Pike carefully.
"Sustained." He said, which felt like a punch in the gut to Roy. Pike nodded good naturedly.
"Okay, Mr Mustang, what date was General Guttering arrested?"
Roy breathed out a little sigh of relief.
"12th of July." He repeated, and then, even though he was supposed to keep his answers short and precise, and entirely out of pettiness, he added: "The same day I last spoke to him."
There was a small ripple of laughter through the assorted crowd behind the small wooden wall, but Wicks glared at them and they soon fell quiet. Pike smirked, but otherwise kept his mouth shut.
"Can you tell us why you sought out Guttering on the 12th of July?"
"I had some paperwork I needed him to sign."
"And did he seem interested in signing the paperwork?"
"Please tell us what was said in the conversation you had with General Guttering."
Roy swallowed, and then took a deep breath. This was the first big question, the one where he would have to talk for some time, whilst keeping his answer precise for the jury not to get bored with, and clever enough so that the defence didn't object.
"Guttering seemed interested in Edward – who was with me – and he said that he had found Edward cute as a child, but that he had grown to be… more good looking. I'd previously had a conversation with Edward about people soliciting him during his teenage years, and so I told Guttering I thought it was inappropriate. Then he, uh, made a comment about my relationship with Edward."
Pike glanced up at him, frowning, and Roy realised he must have got that wrong.
"What was your relationship with Mr Elric?" He asked, trying to give Roy a chance to rectify his mistake. The General cleared his throat.
"He was my subordinate when he worked for the military, but at the time of my conversation with Guttering he was working as my bodyguard."
Pike allowed him a small smile.
"What did Guttering think your relationship was with Mr Elric?" He asked, but Lester flew to her feet again.
Roy glanced at Wicks again, and the Judge looked at him as if he knew that Roy would find a way of answering the question posed anyway. He frowned, but said "I'll allow it, but be careful Mr Pike."
Pike nodded, and Roy fidgeted with his hands in his lap.
"He… he thought that Edward and I were sleeping together."
"And what happened next?"
"I was angry at the accusation and the things he'd said, so I… I shouted at him. I, uh, got a little bit in his face, you know? I pointed my finger at him." He pointed his finger at Pike to show what he meant, and Pike bowed his head, looking down at his shoes, which Roy had come to learn is what he did when he was trying not to laugh, so he quickly put his finger down. "And then he grabbed my wrist and pulled me towards him. He managed to turn me around and twisted my arm up behind my back." He added.
"Did you ask him to let you go?" Pike asked, and Roy looked down at his lap. He twiddled his thumbs nervously.
"Um, no." He admitted. "Edward did." He remembered, and then glanced up towards the row of witnesses at the front, where Ed was sat next to Havoc, and saw the blonde nod his head, as if confirming what had happened. Havoc looked like he was itching for a smoke.
"Did you at any point tell him to stop?" Pike asked, going for a careful impartiality and sounding a little judgemental. Roy nodded.
"Yes." He said, and then he added "Multiple times."
"When did you ask him to stop?"
Roy looked down at his lap again.
"When he was undoing my belt."
Pike stilled for a moment, and then started again in a more sympathetic tone.
"What happened next, Roy?"
Roy really didn't want to relive it, but he explained in detail about where Guttering had touched him, and all the injuries he had received. The bruise on his wrist, the bite mark on his shoulder, and the black-eye when he had been pushed on to the desk. Pike punctuated Roy's account by showing the judge and jury pictures taken of Roy and all of his injuries not long after Roy had agreed to press charges.
"And then Edward shot him." The General finished.
Pike caught eye-contact with him, and Roy knew he was about to ask the clincher question. The question that would turn this sexual assault into a hate crime.
"Did Guttering say anything while he was attacking you?"
Roy clenched his fists in his lap.
"He called me a slut." He replied, "Said I only got my rank by sucking c- by spending time on my knees, and then he… called me a sissy faggot boy." He recited, looking at his hands and no one else. He heard Pike sigh, and then;
"Thank you Roy. That's all."
It wasn't all, of course – Antoinette Lester was about to get up and cross examine him, but it was another one of those stand on ceremony in a court room things. He offered Roy one more smile and then returned to his seat, before Lester stood and made her way over to him.
"Why didn't you say anything when my client first allegedly grabbed you?" She asked, cutting straight to the point.
Roy rose an eyebrow at her, instantly feeling annoyed at her tone.
"I didn't know what was happening at that point." He replied.
"Well, you're a smart man, aren't you?"
"Objection! Argumentative." Pike jumped in. Lester waved her hand and said 'withdrawn' before Wicks could make a decision.
"I was scared." Roy added. "You can't always say something right away in those situations."
Lester looked him up and down.
"So would it be fair to say that General Guttering thought you might have been willing at first?"
"No!" He huffed, and then crossed his arms, before uncrossing them again because he didn't want to look petulant or argumentative in front of the jury. He reminded himself he was supposed to be presenting himself as gentle and the victim.
Lester's heels clicked on the floor as she walked away a couple of steps and then turned around to face him again.
"Do you deny your sexuality?" She asked. Roy could help but glare at her.
"No." He said, clearly. She rose her eyebrows at him and seemed to be challenging him as non-vocally as she could.
"So it could be said that you are a 'sissy faggot boy'?"
Roy stood from his chair, but there was a cough from the Judge next to him and he lowered himself back down.
"That's a slur." He told her, glaring heatedly. She walked back to him.
"Here's the thing General – you're a strong man. If you wanted to, couldn't you have thrown Guttering off?"
Roy thought he was going to be sick. Was that really what it came down to? His cries of no and stop didn't matter – he'd apparently wanted it because he hadn't been strong enough to physically stop the other man? He looked away from her.
"I'm not that strong." He huffed out. He hated admitting it, but he wasn't exactly made of muscle – his main fighting technique consisted of clicking his fingers and standing a safe distance away.
Lester pursed her lips in thought.
"Just a couple more questions, General." She said, and Roy realised she was repeating his rank in the same way Pike had been avoiding it. Pike had wanted him to come across as weak, and Lester wanted him to come across as equal and willing. "Can you tell us what you said, pertaining to Mr Elric, during the alleged attack?"
Roy frowned at her, as he tried to figure out the question, and had to horribly replay the entire ordeal in his mind. He'd told Guttering to stop – had begged Guttering to stop – and then, as Guttering had tried to pull his underwear down he'd had the awful thought that Edward would be witnessing the rape and so had… oh. His blood ran cold. He couldn't lie – clearly Lester had been given information, and besides, he was under oath. He closed his eyes.
"I said… not in front of Edward."
Lester smirked as if she had just won the day.
"So can we assume you would have been happy to have sex with my client had Mr Elric not been present?"
Roy was definitely going to be sick. He couldn't deny that he had had the thought that if Edward wasn't witnessing it then the rape would be more bearable. He had almost bargained with Guttering, had almost told him that if Edward left he would stop struggling – all of that had been in his head in a desperate attempt to stop his rape being witnessed by someone he cared about. But that… that didn't mean he would have been willing. There was a difference.
His hesitation had cost him greatly, though.
"No." He finally forced out. "No. No. That's not true." He added, and then realised he was rapidly descending into babbling, and clamped his mouth shut.
Lester sighed as if she had expected Roy to be easier to break than that.
"That will be all."
She returned to her seat, and feeling sick to his stomach and shaking like a leaf, Roy managed to stand and stumble across the hall towards his own chair at the prosecution desk. He sat down heavily and was vaguely aware of Pike's quasi-comforting hand on his shoulder, but didn't have it in him to focus on it. He was in a daze as his lawyer stood and called Havoc to the stand, who briefly went over the investigation that had happened into the incident, and his short cross-examination. Ming-Yue was called up to give an account of what had happened when she had arrived at the scene, and what she had heard through the receiver Ed had activated, at which point Pike actually played the tape, and Roy had clutched at the material of his shirt over his stomach, feeling like he was about to hurl, as he listened to his own voice pleading with Guttering to stop. Lester had ripped into this evidence as being untrustworthy, alluding heavily that because Ming-Yue was a foreigner, she herself was untrustworthy. She planted the seed that the tape was doctored. Then, Pike frowned and called Edward to the stand, and Roy sat up a little in his seat.
Edward was his best witness after all – he had actually seen the entire thing and would happily explain that it was non-consensual.
"Please state your name and title for the record." Said Pike.
"Mr Edward Elric." Replied the blonde on stand, and Roy was almost expecting him to give his title as Major, and his State Alchemist call sign as well.
"And what do you do for a living, Mr Elric?"
Edward glanced over at Roy, but the General couldn't even give him a smile of encouragement. The contents of his stomach were flopping about wildly and he felt the need to keep very still in case he threw up.
"I'm a personal protection agent working for Vincent Gregory Amestrian Protection Firm."
"And who was your client over July 12th?"
"The Amestrian State Military, specifically to guard General Mustang."
"And what would your duties involve when guarding Mr Mustang?" Pike asked, almost casually.
"Making sure he's safe at all times from threat, which is usually obtained by assessing threats and eliminating them, and keeping a close watch on Mustang and his activities."
"So you would basically need to be with Mustang at all times, correct?"
Lester stood and shouted her objection, stating that Pike was leading the witness. He waved his hand to acquiesce the point, and it was struck from court record, but that didn't stop the jury from hearing it, which was what Pike had wanted.
"Were you with Mr Mustang on the 12th of July?" He asked instead, and Edward agreed he was. Pike smiled. "When Mr Mustang went to give files to General Guttering, can you tell me what was said between them?"
Over the course of the questioning, Edward spelled out a replica of what Roy had explained had happened. How Guttering had made lewd comments about Ed, how Roy had tried to shut him down, and how Guttering had yanked Roy forwards by his wrists and started making lewd comments about him instead. He went on to say how Guttering clearly thought that Roy and Ed were sleeping together, and how that wasn't true, and he explained how when he had shown Guttering he was packing, as a threat, he had also pressed the button on his walkie-talkie to begin sending audio to his team's receivers and alert them that the principal was in trouble. He explained how the threat of a weapon had not deterred Guttering from forcibly holding Roy hostage.
"What did you do in response, Mr Eric?"
"I pulled out my firearm and told Guttering to let Roy go."
"And did he?"
"No sir, he explained how he was going to use Roy as a human shield to make sure I didn't shoot him, and kept Roy between him and myself so that I couldn't get a clear shot."
Edward then went on to explain how Roy had been dragged over to the desk, and manhandled and roughly grappled at, and how Roy had begun to plead with Guttering to stop. At the prosecution desk, Roy felt himself hang his head slightly at the words, embarrassment and shame rushing through him, and he closed his eyes and tried not to listen, because each word was taking him back to that room, with Guttering pressed up behind him and the uncomfortable hard edge of the desk cutting into his thighs.
"And when Mr Mustang spoke about not wanting you there, how was he acting?"
Edward glared at Pike, and crossed his arms.
"Like he was scared out his mind?" He huffed. "The man was about to be raped, and he's a prideful guy, I doubt very much he wanted me witnessing it."
Roy clenched his hands into fists on his lap, hating the assessment Edward had given, but equally glad that Pike had found an opportunity to clear it up.
"And what did Guttering say to Mr Mustang's pleas for the attack not to happen in front of you?"
Edward frowned more now, and looked down at the front of the witness box, instead of directly at Pike, as he had been doing. This was the million dollar question, yet again – the question that turned this from a sexual assault trial to a hate-crime trial.
"He, uh… He said I had to see. I had to see that Roy wasn't the man people thought he was. He alluded to thinking that Roy and I were sleeping together, again, and he said I had to see that Roy was really just a slut, and a faggot."
And Edward had said the word, the slur that made this whole trial worth it in the eyes of Frazer, who had pushed for it to begin with, so Pike nodded his head and rounded up with some questions about how Edward had managed to incapacitate Guttering, and left it at that, before returning to his seat at the prosecution bench. Then, with no small amount of dread, Roy watched Lester stand to start cross-examination.
"How would you describe your relationship with General Mustang?" She asked.
Edward, having been prepared for the question, allowed himself a small smile.
"I used to work for him, now I don't. We now have a friendly relationship."
Edward nodded, and then said yes so that it was on court record.
"So, and stop me if I'm wrong here, your belief is that my client attacked General Mustang over the belief that you and General Mustang were sleeping together?"
"That is correct." Edward replied, having been coached on this.
"And how long did my client allude to thinking the two of you had been intimate."
This was dangerous ground. Over the course of the trial they had touched on Roy's relationship with Edward, but never explained the rumours about child abuse that had been circling for years – Lester was pushing them towards that to try and debunk Roy's character, and Edward wouldn't be able to lie. The blonde frowned, breathing out slowly through his nose.
"Ten years, give or take. But that's only -"
"Ten years, so when you were twelve?"
"That's what he believed, but -"
"So my client was acting against a man he thought to be a child-abuser?"
"He was attacking an inno-"
"What is your sexuality, Mr Elric?"
Edward stopped, and then seemed to deflate, and ran and hand through his long hair.
"I'm bisexual." He admitted.
"So you are attracted to women and men?"
"And have you ever thought of General Mustang as attractive?"
Roy had never been so glad of an objection in his life, but was instantly dismayed when the Judge waved a hand nonchalantly, considering Lester with slightly narrowed eyes, and said;
"I'll allow it."
"Thank you, your honour." Lester nodded, and then turned back to Ed, waiting for an answer.
Edward looked like he might chew through his bottom lip, and he took a deep breath before saying his next statement.
"I have, however -"
"Have you ever considered that your sexuality might be in part due to being recruited into the military at twelve and being held under the authority of a deviant sexual being who is rumoured to have sexually abused you?"
Pike's cries of objection were drowned out by Edward jumping his feet and shouting.
"Those were rumours!"
"Rumours based in truth."
"I think I would know whether they were true or not." He blurted over Pike trying to curb the argument with another objection that was entirely ignored because Edward had already answered the question.
"Have you and General Mustang ever kissed?"
And that was her clincher. She probably didn't even know it, but the memory of Edward leaning over him in the hospital bed, his lips on Roy's, came rushing back, and the second Ed admitted to it there would be massive repercussions. He wouldn't get a chance to explain that the kiss had happened in adulthood, that it had been entirely consensual and in any case Edward had initiated it – it would only be declared that Roy had kissed a boy fourteen years his junior and that the defences' argument that Guttering had attacked Roy because he was a child abuser, rather than because he hated gay people, suddenly became much more believable.
Roy hung his head low and tried to tune out the entirety of the rest of his life. That couldn't be too hard.
Edward seemed frozen on the spot, and then, finally, and excruciatingly, he answered.
"Yes." He admitted. "But that wa-"
"That will be all."
"No, wait -"
Lester held up a hand for silence, and Edward, probably for the first time in his life, and at the worst possible moment to decide to do it, fell silent immediately.
"That will be all."
I have no idea how court cases work...
Also yep, they kissed - and then I massively eclipsed it by writing the ENTIRE TRIAL. Welcome to how not to write romance 101.
Chapter 8: First Date
"Could we not use words like 'fertile' over dinner, please?"
MUSTANG ACCUSED OF ELICIT AFFAIR WITH UNDERAGE SUBORDINATE
Edward Elric, who was a subordinate of Fuhrer candidate hopeful Roy Mustang from the age of twelve through to sixteen, admitted yesterday in court that he found Mustang attractive and that he had shared a kiss with his commanding officer.
The twenty-two year old was in court giving evidence on the trial of Matthias Guttering, who has been accused of sexually assaulting Mustang as part of a hate crime. After a full day's evidence being given, the jury retired at 5pm yesterday evening to discuss their verdict. At this point it might be too early to tell which way they will decide, but there is definitely evidence to suggest Mustang is not as squeaky clean as he would have us believe.
The decorated Hero of Ishval had a difficult childhood, losing his parents at a young age and being raised by his alcoholic aunt in a brothel. One could only imagine the horrors of growing up around people paying for sexual release. These terrible early childhood experiences might go some way to explain his deviant sexuality, and the rumours regarding his relationship with a boy fourteen years his junior. Some investigation has turned up that the rumours that Mustang was sexually abusing Elric have been circulating Central Command ever since Elric was twelve. Although the rumours didn't pull up any concrete proof, there is a lot of evidence stacked against Mustang. It seems it was Mustang who first recruited Edward to the military, and he insisted on the boy being put under his command, where they often held meetings alone, which would go on for many hours. When questioned about these meetings, neither man could explain them.
Now, the still very young Elric and General Mustang have a friendly, close relationship. Mustang describes Elric as working as his bodyguard, but eye-witnesses say the boy is 'staying over' at Mustang's flat, and the two of them have rarely been seen apart in the last few weeks. Is this the product of an affair that has been going on for a decade, since Edward was just a pre-teen? Has Mustang managed to instil some kind of Stockholm Syndrome into his subordinate to force Edward to stay in their relationship? Even last night, at the end of the day's court proceedings, there are accounts of Mustang and Edward drinking together in an East Central bar, and sharing a car back to barracks, where Mustang is currently staying.
Roy placed the paper down on his lap with a sigh, and frowned. It was perfectly damning – about three lines given to the heinous crime Guttering had committed, and four full paragraphs detailing a made-up affair he had supposedly had with a twelve-year-old. Not to mention the stuff about Chris, which was entirely untrue. No, she was not an alcoholic. Yes, she had run a brothel, but no, he had not grown up selling his body out back for a few hundred cenz a turn. To top it all off, they'd done a wonderful job of announcing his whereabouts to the crack-head team of terrorists still after him. Maybe he would have to move again – spend each night in a different hotel, constantly on the run.
He was sat in bed, and he twisted the duvet cover between his thumb and forefinger anxiously. It was ridiculously early in the morning, but life in the barracks started at about five am, and he hadn't been able to sleep with the verdict looming over his head anyway. When he'd heard the first people stirring in the hallway at about five he had popped down to the front steps, where a big pile of papers was sat, tied together with some string, and had slipped one out, carrying it back upstairs with him as he read and slipped back under the covers. His story had made front page – which was horrifying.
He knew, logically, that the paper today would have no effect on the jury whittling out the verdict – they wouldn't be allowed to see it, so it couldn't effect them. He knew as well that as soon as the jury did come up with a verdict that the paper would jump on it and change their opinion to whatever the jury had decided – which was great if the jury decided to side with Roy, and awful if they didn't. The thing was – the paper was in print, forever immortalised in black and white was his picture, a particularly unflattering one at that, next to the words 'elicit affair with an under-age subordinate'. Which would never help his campaign for Fuhrership.
Plus, there was the idea he had instilled some kind of Stockholm Syndrome in Ed, which… was something he was struggling with within himself. He had already admitted to monopolising the boy – what if, in truth, he had accidentally imprinted on Edward at a young age. It meant that no matter their relationship now (which was all kinds of complicated) he couldn't really trust it to be… real.
Ed had taken him to a bar yesterday, in East Central. They'd had a couple of drinks, but kept it polite and civil and above all professional, because they were both aware of the defence ripping them to shreds, and were emotionally exhausted from the day's proceedings. It had mostly just been an excuse to apologise to each other for the things that had come out whilst Lester had been ripping into them. The car they had shared was Ming-Yue dropping Roy home – but Edward had not stayed the night, instead opting for a hotel. Which was probably for the best. Maybe things would be different once the trial was out of the way – but that seemed like a lifetime away. Juries could be in negotiations over verdicts for weeks, and the jury for his case had only had one evening so far.
He jumped at a knock on the door, and slid out of bed in his sweatpants, re-living his Aunt Chris telling him that jumping at things you didn't need to jump at was a sign of a guilty conscience. His room in the barracks was literally a room, with an iron-frame single bed, a small tea-station and an even smaller little table for drinking tea at (hence his sitting in bed to read the paper) and a shared bathroom at the end of the hall – so it took him less than a couple of seconds to reach the door. When he pulled it open he was met with Havoc. He was wearing a mid-range suit with a brown coat folded over one arm, and he stank of cigarette smoke, as always.
Roy wondered whether he should have shrugged a T-shirt on, and rolled his uninjured shoulder back so Havoc could shimmy past him into the room. The man had moved out of barracks ages ago, but still had lots of friends there, so Roy had to wonder if this was official or a social call, in which he had decided to drop in on Roy as well. The early morning hour, however, suggested it was official, and dread sprang up in his stomach over what that meant.. He carefully picked his way through the clothes in his suitcase and pulled a misshapen mustard jumper over his head. Between that, the sweatpants, the morning stubble and the bags under his eyes from lack of sleep, he probably looked the exact opposite of charming.
Havoc had spotted the paper, and he frowned at it.
"Load of crap." He insisted. "Don't read it."
Roy nodded amicably. They both knew he already had.
"Why are you here?" He asked, which had meant to come out sounding curious and only sounded accusatory, so he winced and gestured half-heartedly at the tea station. "Did you want..." He trailed off. He didn't actually have teabags, or coffee granules, and there was no point offering something you weren't able to follow through on. Luckily, Havoc waved a hand and shook his head.
"The Jury are ready to give their verdict."
Roy's blood ran cold. He'd always thought that was a funny expression – but he physically felt it change from hot to cold, and the ice running through his veins, and he shuddered horribly at the idea. They'd only had one night, which didn't seem like anywhere near enough time to sift through the wealth of information that had been given in court the previous day.
"That was quick." He heard himself say, but it was as if he was listening through a doorway. Havoc nodded.
"That doesn't mean anything." He said. "Judge wants us back in court for eight AM. I think we all want it over with."
"You're the one who pressured me into this." He mumbled, making Havoc wince. The smoker fiddled with the hem-line of his pocket, where his smokes were usually kept. Smoking in the barracks was prohibited, although they did provide outside spaces for it. Havoc looked desperate to go find one of those spaces.
"I didn't mean..." He sighed. "Come on, you want this over with too. Court at eight." The blonde changed tactics, making Roy feel like a child. Suitably chastised, he nodded carefully and Havoc offered him a small smile, shifting his coat from one arm to the other, and made his way back towards the door.
Roy felt sick. In a couple of hours his life was either doomed, or liberated, and he wished vaguely that that moment could stay locked in the ethereal zone of the future forever. But he'd never been that lucky, so he guessed he should at least try and look presentable for when that moment came.
Roy was shaking. He was intensely aware of how he hadn't had a hair cut in a while and it was growing out at the back of his neck. The one shaver he had packed for his move to the barracks was broken, so he still had morning stubble, and he had bags under his eyes from how little sleep he had been able to catch over the last week or So. To top it all off his lips were chapped from how often he had chewed and licked at them over the course of the last few hours, in his internal panic, which wasn't a massive deal aesthetically, except that they were sore. He'd worn a sombre, dark-grey suit, with a white shirt and a navy-blue tie, because Pike had said it looked less threatening than his uniform, but it was crumpled from where it had been stuck in his suitcase. He probably looked like a disaster. He probably looked vaguely like a paedophile. And he was about to be judged.
He reminded himself he wasn't the one on trial – that was Guttering – but it sure felt like he was. The jury would come in at any moment and deliver their verdict, and if they found Guttering not guilty it was basically the same as finding Roy guilty. They would be making the statement that Roy had lied about the events of July 12th – that somehow the Flame General had been willing to get fucked by Guttering and had since changed his mind and had a big public trial to gain attention. They'd also be making the statement that they believed the defence infallibly, which included their claims that Roy had taken advantage of a twelve year old little boy.
It was much easier to defend than to prosecute, Roy told himself, it stood to reason that even the tiniest amount of reasonable doubt would lead to a verdict of not guilty, and Antoinette Lester had planted more than enough reason to doubt Roy's validity. But a verdict of 'Not Guilty' didn't say that the jury couldn't convict due to a tiny amount of reasonable doubt, it just said not guilty. Which could in turn be spun around to mean guilty when aimed at Roy.
He looked around his own back and found Edward in the crowd, sitting unusually straight in a dark blue, short sleeved shirt, and high ponytail. His lips were flattened in a thin line, and he was staring straight ahead at the jury stand, where less than twenty-four hours previously he had been ripped to shreds by the defence, and had admitted to kissing the man who had once been his commanding officer. Roy didn't blame the blonde in the slightest – the question could just have easily been flung at Roy, and the General would have had to answer in the affirmative as well. He had explained as much last night over a cool drink of whiskey. Now, however, he was nervous. Beyond nervous, if he was being honest. Infuriatingly anxious.
Then the jury was filing back in through the door next to the witness stand, all of them with their heads held high but no tells on their faces that might give an impression on which side they had fallen. Roy watched as head after head of regulation haircuts and no-nonsense half-frowns filed in, seated themselves on their pews, and faced forwards – none of them looking at Roy or Guttering, which might give an indication of his fate. The wound on his shoulder, red-raw but healing, was beginning to ache from not having a dose of medication, and Roy longed to push his fingers into it, in a futile attempt to ease the pain, but he kept himself silent and still, lest he accidentally show how affected he was by the entire process.
"Has the jury agreed on a verdict?" Wicks asked, leaning forward in his chair and looking over the assorted personnel in the jury box.
The foreperson stood from his seat – a gentleman of about forty, in shape, with glasses that had no frames and swimmers shoulders – and nodded towards the judge.
"Yes, your honour." He said, and Roy noticed he was standing to attention.
Wicks waved a hand to encourage the man on, and Roy's stomach clenched tightly. He took in a deep breath, and held it, staring at the foreperson and trying not to be sick. Then, slowly, he lowered his eyes to his lap. He couldn't watch his own doom. Eventually, after what seemed like an age, the foreperson said:
"The jury finds the defendant" Oh god, this was it, Roy was definitely going to be sick. He'd put his entire career on the line for this. He should have just let Frazer take this to court without him. He should have told Havoc where to shove his idealised ideas about gay rights. He should have just burnt Guttering to a crisp the second he had an inkling of what he was truly like. "Guilty."
Not Guilty. No… wait: they'd said guilty. Roy whipped his head up from his lap and stared, open mouthed, at the jury, and then swung it around to look at Pike, who had stood and was now grinning in a way Roy had never seen the man smiling before. His lawyer turned to him and clapped him on the back heartily, but Roy was too stunned to react, so instead of smiling back he just let out the breath he had been holding and closed his eyes in relief. When he thought about it, there was really no way Guttering wouldn't have been convicted, with the recording Ed had taken of the assault. Now he was facing the reality of Guttering being charged it all seemed as if his panicking had been for nothing.
Mortifyingly, he could feel the tears welling up in the corners of his eyes, from the sheer relief of it all, and he had to keep his eyes closed whilst he got himself together so they didn't fall. He gulped down the bile in his throat and focused on not doing all the over-dramatic things his body was all but insisting on – crying, being sick, shaking so hard he couldn't stand, and when he finally felt strong enough he opened his eyes to see Guttering being carted away, scowling horridly, and the relief flushed through him again, making his hands shake uncontrollably at his side.
He listened to Judge Wicks giving his punishment suggestions in a state of shock – and vaguely understood there was a fair amount of prison time involved – and he passed through Pike shaking his hand, and listening to the investigations team congratulating themselves arbitrarily without really listening to any of it. It was only when he was outside, standing of the steps of the court house, and staring down at a small crowd of men and women with pens and notebooks that reality came back to him.
"Reporters." Said Pike, who had not left his side, and as if Roy could not work it out for himself. "We'll have to give a statement."
Roy nodded, and was lead along by Pike to the crowd, who instantly burst into a frenzy of questions. Perhaps rudely, Roy craned his neck back behind himself to see if anyone else had left the court room yet, whilst Pike informed the crowd that Guttering had been found guilty, and they were of course very pleased with the outcome.
"And what about the rumours of your illegal sexual relations with a minor, your subordinate, Edward Elric?" Asked a tanned lady, staring at Roy with her pen poised over her notebook. Roy recoiled slightly.
"I have never had any sexual relations with a minor." He told her, sounding more confident than he felt. She pursed her lips at him.
"But there is truth in that you are dating Edward Elric." She stated, and when Roy didn't immediately answer her she carried on. "The two of you were seen drinking together last night, and he admitted to finding you attractive and to kissing you. He's fourteen years your junior, a man, and married."
Roy wasn't entirely sure what the question was, so he responded mostly without thinking.
"Well, he's in the process of getting divorced."
An odd sort of triumphant gasp ran out through the small crowd.
"So you are involved with him?" Another reporter asked, inching forwards and taking off his bowler hat. "You can see how that would be suspicious. When did you start relations with him?"
Roy thought that maybe he had fallen into some kind of trap, and was about to open his mouth to start telling them he wasn't going to answer any more questions, which may or may not have made matters worse, when a high, swinging, blonde ponytail swept into his vision, and a strong hand took his, giving it a brief squeeze, before falling away again. There was a flash as camera bulbs went off left right and centre.
"Roy and I have shared one kiss, which happened a couple of weeks ago, and whether or not we share any more in the future is none of your business." Edward told the crowd, making Roy falter and stare at him. "I am here right now to dispel any rumours of Roy touching me when I was under age. He never did, and he never had any inclination to. The kiss we shared happened in my adulthood and was initiated by me, and was the first of its kind. I am a legal adult, separated from my wife, and so anything that happens now is legal and, once again, none of your business. What you should be focusing on is that a monster has been found guilty and is on his way to prison, where he can rot for all I care. Good day."
With that he grabbed Roy by his hand and dragged the man down to Ming-Yue's waiting car, pushing Roy in ahead of him and then climbing in afterwards to more camera flashes.
"Barracks." Edward shot at her, and she hissed something at him in Xingese, and then turned to Roy.
"You need to go into the office." She told him, and frowned, gesturing towards Ed. "We can leave him here."
Roy smiled at her, feeling the weight of the world inching off his shoulders ever so slightly.
"I think I'd rather go back to the barracks." He told her. He had a rather good idea of what Ed had planned for them there, given the way his fingers were splayed out across the gap in the back seat and were fluttering towards him, and he was quite excited by the prospect of those more kisses in the future that were none of the public's business.
Ming-Yue huffed at him.
"No, there is updates. The captives have begun to talk. So you need to go into the office as it is a safe place where I can easily guard you. You can get off with Elric later."
Roy gaped at the side of her head, where she was half turned in her driver's seat to look at him, and refused to believe he was blushing, but he probably was. He'd never met such a blunt woman in his life, and he found her terrifying but refreshing. The information that the captives from the attack on his flat had begun to talk, however, was good news. The sooner they could round up any accomplices the sooner he could get back to his apartment – and 'getting off with Elric' would be much more comfortable in his normal bed, than on the iron-frame single of the barracks.
Edwards hand had retreated back to his lap, and he was staring out the car window. Roy frowned.
"Later it is then." He mumbled, hopefully only loud enough for Ed to hear. The blonde turned to him and winked, a cheeky grin reminiscent of his teenage years sneaking on to his face. Ming-Yue started the engine and took them to the office, complaining loudly most of the way that Edward didn't need to be there as he was no longer a part of the protection squad. Edward, of course, showed her his middle finger and stayed exactly where he wanted to be.
When they arrived at HQ, Riza was waiting in the lobby.
"Congratulations!" She smiled, and Roy could tell that if they weren't at work she would be sweeping him into a rare hug at this point. She had been in the court-house, but had obviously not been waylaid on her way out by journalists. He was overwhelmed slightly with the urge to cry again, relief kept washing over him in waves, and instead he just closed his eyes briefly and nodded at her.
"I'm glad its over." He said, although he knew it wouldn't ever truly be over. He'd been publicly outed and labelled as a victim – in his job he'd basically been shoved to the bottom of the food chain – but he was sure he could come up with a way to swing it to his advantage. "Now, the radicals?"
Riza nodded, and Roy spotted Teller behind her, shooting furtive glances around the lobby.
"The young ones finally broke down. They're telling Captain Heller everything as we speak. We just need to wait it out, and then we'll know their motivations, and Investigations and VGA can round up the rest of them." She sighed. "Then it will all, finally, be over."
Roy frowned. The court case done, and the radicals rounded up… Edward would have no reason to stay in Central after that. It was, of course, the best conclusion he could hope for. Guttering had been found guilty, and in the same day they were ending the entire mess of the quasi hit-man group after his life for reasons they didn't even understand. It should feel like a happy ending – but Edward had only shown up in Central because of a job, and there was a fear that he had stuck around only to see the conclusion. He'd already said he was setting himself up in East City with Alphonse – now that 'Truth's Promised Mercenaries' were being rounded up, and all the strings that had brought Edward to Central were being neatly tied, perhaps the boy had no reason to stay.
Maybe Ed would get his rocks off and leave for East City tomorrow morning – and who would Roy be to complain? No one had ever said anything about a relationship, or anything longer than picking up the kiss they had shared in the hospital. Edward's family, his children, were in the East, and it didn't matter how good a lay Roy was, he couldn't beat the pull of Ed's flesh and blood. Roy could wax poetical about the golden splendour in Ed's eyes and the way his muscles flexed under his shirt all day, and it didn't change the fact that Fullmetal probably wasn't planning past the night.
Which should have been fine. Roy wasn't entirely sure why he was trying to plan past the night – but he couldn't deny the strong urge to insist that Edward stay in his life. He didn't want to wait another six years before he saw the blonde hurricane again. In light of this, he followed Riza up the stairs and down the hall towards his usual office, where his men would be diligently slaving away, trying to pick up the slack Roy had left in his absence over the last few weeks, between the trial and the radicals after his head, in a sour mood.
A large part of him wanted everything to go back to normal, but there was a niggling little voice in his head which told him that life would never be normal again now that he had been publicly outed.
"General." Weir greeted on his entry through the office, and then when he spotted Edward behind him his face did an odd combination of cycling through excited and then concerned. "Mr Elric." He added, but it was more caged off. His moustache pinched in, and Roy could tell that under the bushy facial hair his lips were probably thin.
He chanced a glance around the office. Fallman offered him a salute, but his eyes barely lifted from his paperwork. Gyasi had stood on his arrival, which was unlike her, and was looking at him with a deep frown on her face. Breda stopped his conversation with Fuery, and after what seemed like a moments hesitation, he crossed the office and pulled his commanding officer into a rough embrace, making Roy give a gasp of protest.
"Hell, good for you, man." He mumbled, but Roy heard it loud and clear because it had been mumbled directly next to his ear. As unceremoniously as he had been pulled into the hug, he was pushed away from it, and Breda grinned at him. "I get all the updates from Havoc, and I'm glad that ass-hole got what was coming to him, and I want you to know that I don't care where you put your dick, so long as it isn't in my girlfriend."
Roy frowned at Breda's vulgar assessment, but couldn't deny he was glad to hear the support. He nodded once, shortly, and cleared his throat, but before he could say anything, Ming-Yue was pushing him further into the room.
"Move it." She said as she shoved at his back, and Roy reflected that if he had to write a review to VGA both Edward and Ming-Yue would get massively bad scores for professionalism.
He sighed, shuffling forwards towards his desk at the back of his room, and looked behind himself to see his Xingese bodyguard had positioned herself by the entryway to the office, but Edward and Riza had followed him in. He paused a couple of times to get updates from Fuery and Gyasi, and then finally made it to his desk, where he sat down in his chair and watched as Riza settled herself leaning against his desk. Edward, despite not being on his squad any more, hovered a little way away, on high alert. The boy could never do any job half way.
"So, everyone knows." Riza started, and Roy knew what she was getting at, but had been trying to avoid the conversation. A part of him was glad she had more balls than he did.
"Not great for the plan." He sighed back at her. She turned to glance at him, her warm brown eyes hard.
"No." She agreed. "But going to trial was the right thing to do. This way you were able to have your say a little more."
Roy nodded, looking at the first file on his desk and flipping it open, although he had no real intention of reading it.. He chewed on his bottom lip and winced at how chapped it was, and then opened the top drawer on his desk and pulled out a pair of ignition gloves, which he put on. He hadn't liked not being allowed to wear them in court.
Riza's shoulders shrugged up and down.
"We can do some damage control. Being bisexual isn't a crime, but it does come with it's fair share of prejudices. When people thought you were straight your playboy habits were cute, you were Central's most eligible bachelor. Do the same thing as a bisexual and you feed in the wrongful idea people have that gay people lead a promiscuous lifestyle. You'll find promotions within command come harder, and public conception of you is riddled with stupidity." She explained to him, confirming all of his own suspicions. "People will think you have STD's, because they think the sex you have as a non-straight person is fundamentally dirty. And if people think you're ill, they're less likely to want you leading their country."
"But I'm not diseased. Can't I just publish a certificate of health?" He asked. Riza turned and smiled at him.
"That will only work if someone publicly accuses you of being sick. If you do it before people will get angry, thinking you are pre-judging them as being prejudice. It's a mine-field. But there are things you can do."
Roy glanced at Ed, who was dutifully standing at ease, staring towards the points of entry and carefully neutral – not letting on if he was listening to their conversation or not. Then, slowly, the General turned back to Riza.
Riza glanced at Ed too, now, which put Roy on edge.
"You should settle down. Find a partner, date them for a year, then propose."
Roy winced. Political marriages – because they always ended well. He could see what Riza was thinking; he couldn't be seen as promiscuous if he was in a settled relationship, but he wasn't serially dating because he was against long term relationships, but because he hadn't found the right person to settle with. He didn't want to just pick a name out of a hat because he'd found himself in a sticky situation.
He glanced at Ed again, and this time found golden eyes looking right back. He hated that he could feel himself heating up under the golden glare, and quickly looked back to Hawkeye.
"Well, that's easier said than done." He told her, and she nodded, as if she knew, but Roy knew for a fact she'd had three marriage proposals in her adulthood – plus one adorable memory of her best friend from primary school popping the question with a candy-ring.
"You could stop dating altogether."
Roy rose his eyebrow at her, picking up his pen and twiddling it.
"I'd never get to the top. I'd die within a few weeks of no dating."
Riza's smirk grew on her face and she shook her head at him as if he was a petulant child. Their friendship had only grown since she had transferred to work directly under her grandfather, but sometimes she could still put him in his place with only a well placed look.
"You'll have to do something." She told him, and she gave him a nod before turning on her heel and exiting. Roy glanced once more at Edward, but the blonde was staring at the exit points again, as if he had heard nothing.
Havoc came in a few minutes after lunch to announce that 'Truths Promised Mercenaries' youngest members had given them good intelligence and Investigations had managed to round up another few members, who they had it on good authority were the last few members.
"They told us that some of the dick-head General's that had thought themselves the chosen ones around Bradley's whole regime had raided their village, probably to help the transmutation effort without any real understanding of what they were doing. They did what all corrupt humans in power do and raped and pillaged and murdered, and those people held a grudge. The people who actually hurt them were killed in the Promised Day, and all they remembered was military blues – so I guess it was easy for them to believe the stories of a corrupt government and focus on eliminating key figures, of which you were one." Havoc explained, leaning against the wall and fiddling with his cigarettes. He blew out an aggravated sigh. "I can't even hate their reasoning."
Roy placed his elbow on the desk and huffed. Neither could he, though he was glad they hadn't been successful in their quest. Havoc quickly excused himself, clearly desperate for a fag after all the developments that morning. Roy would be required to give a few more statements regarding the attempts on his life, but he was now safe, and as such all protection from VGA was now needless. Ming-Yue could move on to her next assignment. Edward could go home without worrying he'd left a job half-finished.
He glanced at the blonde, who had relaxed his shoulders, and as soon as Havoc left the room, he waltzed over to Roy's desk.
"Is this goodbye?" The General asked. Edward smirked, and shook his head gently.
"I'm going to go back to my hotel. I'm going to have a shower, then I'm going to change into something less court appropriate. Probably something with leather." He described, and Roy felt his throat constricting at the images. "Then I'm going to read for a bit, and I'm going to phone Winry, and apologise – properly. She deserves that. But I'm also going to talk to her about finalising the divorce and proper visitations with Sasha and Maesie."
Roy felt his heart flutter a little. He nodded, but allowed himself to look a little confused.
"Why are you telling me this?" He asked. Was it just because Roy had been the other man's shoulder to cry on so far?
Edward smirked, leaning over the desk and getting a little more in Roy's face, a smirk on his features that was almost predatory. Roy wanted to close the distance between them. His entire body was screaming at him to inch forwards and drag Edward down to the desk for some quick and dirty fun.
"I'm telling you because after I've done all of those things, I'm going to drive to your apartment, where you will most likely still be unpacking your suitcase, and I'm going to pick you up and take you to a classy restaurant, supply you with food and drink, and good conversation that does not revolve around work, or my wife, or any horrible rumours. Then I'm going to take you back to your apartment, peel off your clothes slowly in the corridor, dim the lights down to something moody and romantic, and taste every inch of your skin. Then, because I know you like it, I'm going to pick you up and carry you through the flat, to that ridiculously large bed of yours, throw you down on it, and fuck you until your neighbours complain about how noisy you are." He told him, whispering sensually, and Roy was left feeling hot under the collar and uncomfortable in his state-issue trousers. He tried to relieve some pressure by pushing his legs together, and was glad that the problem Ed's words had caused was concealed underneath his desk. The blonde smirked at him, and it was dangerous, cocky and sexy as hell. "And I want you to wear something suitable."
Fuck. Roy was so done for.
He nodded mutely, not really trusting himself to talk, and watched as Ed winked and straightened up on the other side of the desk, before turning and walking out to begin implementing his plan. Roy had to take a moment to calm himself down, and remember how to breath.
Ming-Yue knocked on the door frame of his office door, holding her earpiece in her hand, about thirty minutes later, and Roy was fairly certain he knew what she had come to tell him. He frowned on realising he was going to miss her and her moody, sometimes vulgar ways.
"My superiors tell me I've been dismissed." She told him. Roy nodded. He offered her a smile.
"I don't know how to thank you." He told her, and found that he truly meant it. He was grateful, of course, for her and the entire team of people who had been looking out for his life, but Ming-Yue was slightly different, because she had connected to him on a personal level. She nodded back at him, and struck by the finality of their meeting, Roy stood from behind his desk and pinned her a curious look. "I have to ask – what did Edward do that makes you so annoyed at him all the time?"
At the sound of Edward's name, predictably, Ming-Yue scowled, and then she furrowed her brow at Roy's question. She blew out through her mouth.
"It's quite the story." She told him, alluding to the two of them knowing each other outside of their latest assignment, and possibly outside of work – and Roy had guessed that to be the case from how Ming-Yue had reacted to seeing Sasha and Maesie. The two of them knew each other on a more personal level, and Roy was incredibly curious as to how. It seemed he wasn't going to find out, however, because Ming-Yue shrugged her shoulders at him. "Mostly it is just because he is a pain in my back to work with. I am sure you know." She told him.
Roy grinned at her. He knew. He knew exactly how much of a pain Edward could be to work with. He wondered if he would ever get the chance to pry the real story of her anger at Edward from her. He moved around his desk and crossed the room, holding out his hand, and she took it for the shake.
"You still have my card?" She asked. Roy frowned, retracting his hand and then reaching into his pocket to check, and pulled out a white card with Ming-Yue's name and a number on it. He realised, for the first time, it was a land-line from the Northern Borders near Drachma. He showed it to her.
"I have that line forwarded to the nearest phone wherever I may be in the world." She told him. "I may not work protecting you any more, but I will always be on the other end of that phone number."
She turned on her heel before Roy could say anything, and was out of the door. He gaped after her, trying to find the way to explain how grateful he was and how warm and fuzzy her last words had made him feel.
By the time Roy got back to his apartment, having finished his day at work and collected his things from the temporary room he had been using in the barracks, he was strung high with nerves. He kept playing over Edward's teasing words in his head, and the first thing he did when he fell through the door to his home was run straight to his bedroom, and his wardrobe, to pick out an appropriate outfit.
Edward had talked about a classy restaurant – so he stared into the darkened shelves and hangars in his closet as he thought about his choices. Usually he would wear a dark suit with a crisp white shirt, but he'd been in a suit all day thanks to court that morning, and he didn't want to associate the date Edward had planned for them with the trial. Besides, Ed had mentioned leather – so how classy could the restaurant reasonably be? He reached in and pulled out a slim-cut white shirt with purple pinstripes, and then wondered whether he should wear a tie.
He frowned, tugging off his jacket and current shirt, and then running across the hall to the bathroom to dab a bit of nice smelling moisturiser under his arms in lieu of having time for an actual shower. Whilst he was there he cleaned his teeth, but Edward had suggested he would be there any moment, so there wasn't time for a shave, even though he was quite stubbly. He ran a brush through his hair, hating how it was curling slightly at the ends, and then ran back across the hall to pull on the new shirt. He fussed in front of the mirror and decided to forego to the tie, opting to undo the top couple of buttons. He tucked it into a nice pair of black slacks and found a shiny pair of shoes. They had fairly pointed toes. Was that too much of a statement?
He didn't have time to contemplate it much further, because his doorbell went, and he had to stop himself from rushing to the door. Edward didn't need to know how eager he was for their date – or more specifically the plans Edward had for after their date. He tried to dawdle to the door, and when he opened it he was met with an absolute vision wearing the skin of Edward Elric.
The blonde had pulled his hair back into a ponytail, as he so often did, but had somehow managed to artfully arrange the strands at the front to look effortlessly sexy. He was wearing the promised leather trousers that reminded Roy so much of when the boy was a teenager, and they were perfectly clinging to his hips and showing off the outline of his ass, and more pressingly, his dick – which Roy tried really hard not to look at, instead focusing on the deep red shirt Ed was wearing, paired with a black tie.
"You look nice." Edward told him, which was a much more casual version of the 'you look perfect' which was swimming around in Roy's head. The colour-scheme was… problematic, but Roy couldn't deny it definitely worked for the other man.
Gulping, Roy nodded.
"Y-you too." He mumbled, cursing himself for the uncharacteristic and nervous stutter.
He didn't even know what he was nervous about, the date was definitely going to end in a favourable way – save for an actual disaster. He'd already, apparently, impressed Ed enough for the promise of a fuck, so there was no need to worry about implying his want for this to head to the bedroom. In a way, Edward had made their outing that much more relaxed by stating his intentions from the beginning.
Edward offered his hand.
"I made reservations for seven." He said, as Roy closed his fingers around Ed's and was pulled into the hall. "Harverti's, on Chrysanthemum Street."
Roy tried not to let his surprise show. Edward had said fancy, but at least half of Roy had thought that Edward's idea of fancy was any restaurant where there was table service. Making a reservation was certainly a nice touch, and although Harverti's wasn't the type of place where you needed to book weeks in advance, (Ed had probably only made the reservation that morning) it was a quaint and cosy little Aerugean place with a friendly owner and a good reputation fairly close to Roy's apartment, by the river. It offered a lovely view of the river itself, the tables had table-cloths and the food was delicious.
Definitely a nice choice.
It occurred to Roy that despite Edward's confessed sexual prowess, (he didn't think he would ever get over the images of Ed fucking the Emperor of Xing) he had still thought of Edward as inexperienced in the world of dating. Wining and dining, charming and creating a relaxed, but romantic atmosphere was something entirely removed from the sweaty, hormone-charged realities of sex, but it appeared Edward knew what he was doing here too.
He reminded himself that the blonde was technically married, and despite Winry's tomboyish, gear-headed ways, the woman was also a lady, and wouldn't have settled for Ed without the boy having some idea of romance. Sure, they were childhood friends and had married young, but women were women, they liked to be wined and dined.
On the other hand, they were getting divorced.
But that was not for reasons of Edward's inability to romance her. They did have two children.
He resolved to stop thinking about his date's family life as Edward encouraged him down the corridor with a gentle pull on their interlocked hands, down the stairs, and out into the street.
"No more threats to your life, so I thought you might appreciate the walk." Edward told him, leading them down the pavement to the left of Roy's apartment building, towards the river, and where Harverti's was.
Roy found himself glad for the thoughtfulness, and marvelled in being able to put one foot in front of the other, breathing in the air of the city, without worrying that at any moment he was about to be shot at from an unknown location. He was more grateful still that Edward didn't feel the need to pester him with questions on the way to the restaurant, content to let Roy enjoy his first moments as a free man in what felt like such a long time. Roy found himself smiling at couples on the street, feeling goosebumps of pleasure at the sounds of street-lamps buzzing gently and cars crawling past – and no longer being part of the traffic, but a pedestrian with the freedom of moving how and where he wanted.
They stopped at a crossing and Roy took a childish pleasure in pressing the button to alert the lights to their need to cross. He counted the seconds in his head until the lights changed and the cars slowed and stopped to allow them from one side to the other, and once they were over the road and the pretty fairy-lights and ivy strings of Harverti's outside gazebo area were in view, the General turned to his date and offered him a smile that was probably a little too coy.
"Thank you." He mumbled.
Ed rose a shaped eyebrow at him and said nothing, ushering him towards the restaurant and leading him down towards the terrace overlooking the river, with a gentle hand on his lower back.
"Table for Elric." He smiled at the waiter hanging around the greeting station.
The man checked his books and then nodded, collecting two menus and leading them to a small, fairly secluded table right by the water's edge. Roy could look over the railing and see the dark waves lopping and jumping bellow, and even without looking he could hear the gentle lapping of the water against the bank. There was a candle on the table, and the glow of the fairy-lights and soft summer breeze gave the entire area a romantic aura.
Roy rarely pulled out this many stops when he was dating someone. He wondered how pathetic it would be to try and gain some hints and tips from Edward. The boy was clearly a natural at romance.
He slipped into his seat before Edward could do something embarrassing like pull it out for him, and ignored the butterflies dancing in his stomach as Edward sat down on the other side of the table with a dignified half smile, jostling his legs under the tablecloth.
"Please look over the menu, I'll be back to take your order shortly." The waiter told them, not looking particularly interested. Roy was glad of that too. He had been a little worried that the court case would have given him unwanted fame, and he might have been refused service.
The waiter took their drinks orders right away, and then turned away and Edward picked up his menu and perused it with a slight, thoughtful frown on his face. Roy watched him delightedly for a moment, and reflected that Edward looked a lot like his father. Roy had barely known Hohenheim in the older Elric's long life, but he knew him by look, and Edward was growing more and more like him. Which was no means a bad thing – Hohenheim was an attractive middle-aged man. The person who grew old with Edward would be a lucky person indeed.
He ignored the niggling in his stomach insisting that he'd like a shot at growing old with Edward, and turned his attention to the menu.
"Have you been here before?" Edward asked, and Roy glanced up to see the younger man hadn't taken his eyes off the meal list. Roy nodded, and then realised Edward really wasn't paying attention.
"Uh, yes. A few times." He admitted, feeling like he was on the back-foot again. Edward often did that to him, but now it felt like the boy was deliberately using tactics to make Roy want to earn his attention. The little shit. Roy used all these same moves when he was dating, getting women to jump through hoops at times just to gain his attention, but he had never expected the same techniques to be returned on him.
Edward smiled at the menu and finally looked up. Roy cursed himself for the happy little flutter in his stomach as successfully getting the blonde to pay attention to him.
"What would you recommend?" Ed asked, looking genuinely curious, and Roy's mind short-circuited. What would he recommend? He hadn't been expecting the question. A large part of him had still been thinking Edward would likely demolish half the menu, as he had done when he was a teenager. He certainly hadn't expected the ex Fullmetal Alchemist to be interested in his opinion. That felt far too out of character.
"The – the Sea-Bass here is lovely." He stuttered, and inwardly berated himself. He really had no need to be so nervous. He told himself it was simply because it had been so many years since he'd been on a date with a man, and not specifically because it was Edward.
The blonde frowned.
"I'm not a massive fan of fish." He mumbled, which struck Roy as funny, because Harverti's was by the river and predominantly a sea-food place. Roy smiled at the thought that Edward had only chosen the place because of it's sleepy romantic feel, and tried not to let that make him go gooey on the inside.
"That rather limits your menu choices." He replied, suddenly feeling more confident. The more he could confirm that Edward was actively trying to make this date intimate and romantic, the more confident he felt that he wasn't the only one dealing with a little bit of pining. Edward cleared his throat into his hand and looked awkward and caught out.
"Yes, well..." He mumbled awkwardly, and then ran a hand through his ponytail, pulling it a little looser. He put a hand into the pocket of his leather pants, which Roy reflected should be damn near impossible with how tight they were, and pulled out thin, wire frames that seemed to twist in every which way until Edward flicked them out into the right shape. "Confession," The other man began, "It seems years of reading in dark libraries caught up with me, and I can't actually read this menu without these. Or, you know, putting it about an inch from my face."
He held up the wire frames and showed Roy the glint of the lenses. The General felt his mouth go dry.
"So put them on." He said, but it came out a little raspy. Edward glanced at him, frowning.
"They're really not flattering." He mumbled, glancing away, and Roy's heart bloomed in his chest at the pink flush spreading over his date's upper ears, and he realised why Ed had wanted a recommendation. The stupid man thought he didn't look good in his glasses and, at the risk of sounding arrogant, had wanted to present himself the best way to Roy.
The General bit the inside of his cheek and tried not to grin.
"I'd like to see." He said, pitching his voice low in a way that almost always got him what he wanted. Predictably, Edward's flush grew and he looked down at his lap, refusing to look Roy in the eye. After a moment's hesitation he sighed, and slipped the glasses on to his face. Then he quickly picked back up the menu and studied it carefully, trying not to look up at Roy, who was biting harshly on his lips and inner cheeks to stop from grinning like the cat who got the cream.
And oh what a delicious cream it was. Despite the red flush, Edward suited his glasses immeasurably. He may have thought them unflattering, but Roy thought quite the opposite. He had thought Edward looked like his father before, but with the addition of the wire frames he became Hohenheim's spitting image, and the intense golden eyes, when framed by the glint of steel in the frames, really bought home the man's Fullmetal title. He may not have the watch any more, and he may have rescinded his right to the privileges of being a State Alchemist, but in the minds of many Edward would always embody the Fullmetal name.
Roy had to look away as a blush of his own threatened. Honestly, the man was far too attractive.
"Can I take your order?" Asked the waiter, having appeared again quite suddenly, and placed their drinks in front of them. A tumbler of Whiskey with ice for Roy, and a beer that Roy had never heard of for Edward, which came in a brown bottle with a printed giraffe on the side.
Edward snatched his glasses away from his face so quickly Roy wondered whether he might have hurt his ears.
"I'll have the Sea-Bass!" He exclaimed, clearly having not had enough time to really look at the menu, and Roy couldn't help himself but burst into a fit of laughter so loud most of the occupants of the restaurant tuned to look at him. He tried to choke it down, but the look of mortification on Ed's face only spurred him into more laughter. The waiter looked confused and a little awkward, and as such Roy wiped a tear of mirth that had settled in the crease next to his eye away and chuckled through his own order.
"I would like the steak, please. Medium-rare and without the peppercorn sauce." He ordered, handing the menu back. The waiter took it gratefully and scurried away, and Roy turned his amused look back to Ed, who looked somewhere between shocked and incredibly sorry for himself. "I assume the steak will suit you? We can swap." He explained. He had wanted the Sea-Bass anyway.
Ed seemed to relax a little.
"Medium-rare and without the peppercorn sauce." He repeated, looking a little mystified. "How did you know?"
Roy glanced across at him, feeling a frown settle on his features. He shrugged his shoulders, because he'd said the order rather automatically, and was now wondering why himself. In reality if Roy ever had steak (which was a rarity as he wasn't a huge fan of red meat) he rather enjoyed the peppercorn sauce the most. He searched through his mind for how he knew how Edward preferred his steak, and settled on a fairly clear memory of a thirteen year old Edward sitting across from himself in the Mess Hall gulping down mouthfuls of the meat and Roy with his chin in his hands, frowning at the young Major.
"You ordered it that way from the mess, all the time." He said in explanation, and Edward responded with a disbelieving look.
"It can't have been all the time. How often did the mess serve us steak?" He questioned. "And how often could that coincide with us two eating together?"
Roy felt almost caught out by the words. It was true though – usually mess food was cheap meats and a lot of pasta, steak was a huge rarity. And Edward was also right about their eating together; Roy could probably count on his fingers the amount of times he had shared a meal with Ed when they had been stationed together. Which meant that memory was more than likely a one-time occurrence, but Roy had remembered exactly how the boy liked his food.
What the hell was that supposed to mean, anyway?
He looked down at the table cloth and shrugged his shoulders again.
"I don't know." He huffed. "Just be grateful you -" He stopped himself from insulting Edward. It was tempting to call him names, to bring attention to his glasses or something, to deflect the scrutiny away from himself. It was easy to fall back into old habits under interrogation, and he reminded himself that they were on a date – that Edward was simply curious, not accusatory, and that he should show his own appreciation of the maturity Edward had now by being mature himself.
"Hey, I am." The other man said softly, and he pushed his hand out across the table and held it palm up towards Roy. The man knew an olive branch when he saw one, and with a quick look around the restaurant to make sure they weren't being avidly watched, he placed his own hand in Ed's.
"I'm sorry." He mumbled, and Edward squeezed his fingers. He picked up his drink and had a swig, and Roy couldn't help but stare as he swallowed the liquid down and his Adam's Apple bobbed invitingly.
To wet his own throat, he sipped at his whiskey.
They sat in silence for a moment, listening to the gentle slap, slap, slap of the waves against the river bank, and the chatter of other couples around them, and then Roy ran his tongue over his teeth and leant back into his chair in as casual a gesture as he could manage, keeping their hands nestled inside one another.
"So did you and the Emperor of Xing ever do the whole dating thing?" He asked, curiosity getting the better of him. Ed leant his elbow on the table and put his head in his hand, smirking across at him in a way that had butterflies springing up in Roy's stomach again.
"You're very interested in Ling." He assessed, making Roy have to play off his awkwardness as another shrug of his shoulders. "You know I'm sure if I called Ling would be more than happy to show you the palace himself. He's always been very accommodating."
The way he said 'accommodating' suggested that what he had really meant was 'slutty', and Roy puffed out a quick breath as unbidden images of the young Emperor lying back on silk sheets and spreading his legs shot through his mind. Gods, Ling was even younger than Ed was, and the idea of it made Roy vaguely uncomfortable.
"It's not every day you go out for dinner with someone who's slept with the most powerful man in the world." He covered, trying to explain his curiosity. Ed let out a bark-like laugh and shook his head.
"Please, half of Xing has slept with him." He responded, "I don't view myself as special."
Roy thought it was probably an over-estimate to say half of Xing, which had a population of roughly three-hundred-million people, but he understood Edward was attempting to downplay his own role in the Emperor's bed and quickly dropped the subject. He ran a hand through his too-long locks and fixed Ed with a gentle look.
It was the jackpot question that could keep Edward talking for hours, and Roy knew it, so he used it to his advantage – but he was also genuinely curious. He'd not seen Edward in six years, and he'd felt the sting of that, but he'd also not seen Alphonse in just as long, and in many ways the younger, gentler brother was a loss Roy felt even more keenly than he had that of Fullmetal.
Edward broke their hand holding and leant back in his chair, smiling faintly.
"He's great. He's been learning so much about Alkahestry from Mei, and the two of them are just so good together. He dotes on her, and she's – like – wicked smart. He rehabilitated in record time too, so he was out in Xing even before I was. I was still having mental break-downs at that point, but Al was just ready for the next big adventure." He rambled. "He kept saying 'I've been stuck in a suit of armour for so long, I just want to eat everything!' and next thing I know he's on a train to Aerugo to catch the ferry around to Xing. Have you ever been on that ferry? It's more like a cruise liner! I've never seen one so big."
He broke off long enough for Roy to nod and smile along.
"It's huge all right." He agreed.
Ed's eyes were absolutely shining, reliving what must have been much happier memories than the break-down of his marriage that he had described to Roy before.
"So anyway, he's got – like – incredibly tanned from his time out there, and I thought that would probably fade when he got back to Amestris but he's still really brown. He lives in East City now – I think I told you – in this two bed apartment with Mei. They say the second bedroom is for them to have a study, but I honestly reckon Al's thinking of the future, you know – marriage, baby." He waved his hand in front of his face like those things didn't particularly appeal to him, and then seemed to stop and look ashamed. "I mean, obviously children are great. I love mine. I wouldn't change a single thing about how that all went down because at least I've got the kids out of it – but I'm not sure if Mei is really ready for that. She's only nineteen."
He broke off again, huffing, because it had probably just occurred to him that he was only nineteen when Sasha had been born. Roy could understand the man's concerns over Mei having a child that young, since having children so young himself had been somewhat of a challenge for Edward.
Their waiter turned up and placed their food in front of them, and Roy immediately swapped their plates.
"Everyone's different Edward." He said as he did so. "I know you worry because clearly you love them both, but you've said yourself that they're both smart people. They wouldn't get into something if they weren't sure about it." He added, feeling like he might be digging a hole. Edward was smart, after all, but he had still jumped into a loveless marriage with Winry. He sighed. "Besides, even if they started trying for a child right away, there's no guarantee that they would be as fertile as you and Winry obviously are."
Edward stabbed his fork a little dejectedly at his steak.
"Could we not use words like 'fertile' over dinner, please?" He said, and when he looked up there was a hint of teasing in his eyes that made Roy laugh.
He nodded amicably, and speared a bit of fish on to his own fork, searching it a little for bones before popping it into his mouth and chewing happily. He allowed himself a contented smile and let the evening wash over him. There was still a lot of crap happening behind the scenes, between the dire warnings Riza had given him about settling down earlier that afternoon and his constant struggle up the career ladder, but the horrible ordeal of the court case was over, and in his favour, and the people who had been after his life were locked up and accounted for. He had a fair amount to be grateful for, and he was content for the moment to just enjoy the sounds of the water, and the city, and bathe in the soft glow of the terrace. The multicoloured fairy-light beams were bouncing off of Ed's pale hair, and Roy thought, for a moment, that he'd never seen anything quite so beautiful.
Then he cut up more fish and berated himself for being so sappy, blaming it on his relief at being a free man once more. Or as free as you could be when you were a trying to claw your way to the top whilst simultaneously on a date with your very male former subordinate who was also fourteen years your junior.
Roy never claimed to make good life choices.
He picked up his glass and had a sip of the whiskey, and noticed Edward watching him, so rose an eyebrow at him across the table. The other man cut up his steak in a way which was almost delicate – incredibly far removed from the memory Roy had of the thirteen year old demolishing a similar menu.
"Edwa-" He began, trying for another topic to spark some more conversation, but was over-ridden by the blonde giving a contented hum at the taste of the steak that had Roy heating up under the collar.
"Damn, this place is awesome!" Ed grinned, and looking at the younger man, Roy couldn't help but agree. "So, here's the thing about theoretical alchemy -" The man began, and instantly started explaining complex philosophical issues about whether the science could be anything more than just a purely physical reaction, waving his fork about animatedly as he did so.
Roy leant back in his chair and watched him, unable to stop himself from smiling, and joining in during the parts of conversation where he felt adequate enough to give his opinion. Edward would listen to them, and then either nod knowingly or shoot his ideas down, but Roy never once felt bad for not knowing as much as the other man. Ed was, after all, a genius. They finished their meals in this way, talking quickly and interestedly about some of Edward's theories, and when the waiter came back to collect their plates and offered them the desert menus, Edward gave Roy a considering look that had Roy feeling a little hot under the collar and waved the menu away.
"Just the bill, please."
Chapter 9: Exposed
"Surely we're the only people that actually matter when it comes to what we are to each other."
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Roy let them both into his flat feeling faintly apprehensive, despite knowing almost exactly what was about to happen, thanks to Ed's spiel that afternoon informing him of exactly how the evening would go. Edward's hand was firm and hot against the small of his back, making heat spring up there and Roy feel shivery with anticipation as Ed guided Roy through the doorway and closed the door behind him, grinning a wicked grin at the older man. Roy turned and tried for a smile which probably looked incredibly nervous. He hated this part – the not knowing who was going to make the first move, the anxiousness over whether there was even a first move to be made. He felt like a virgin again every time he took someone home and they got to this odd lull in the proceedings, but now he felt it more so than ever, because he hadn't bought a man home since he still had a 'teen' at the end of his age. He was dealing with well over a decades worth of suspense.
They stilled in the small corridor just inside Roy's apartment, and the moon was coming in through the large windows in the living area, through the swirly room divider Roy had as a substitute for a wall on one side, and casting beams of light across Ed's face and hair. He looked gallant in the moonlight, and Roy took even breaths even as his toes curled slightly in his pointed shoes.
Edward ran an arm over his shoulders, pushing his hand upwards into Roy's hair at the back of his neck and angling his head down ever so slightly for a kiss. Roy's eyes instantly fell closed at the smooth feeling of the other man's lips on his own, and he felt Edward's other arm run around his waist and collect him forwards until he was held against the younger man's muscled chest. Roy put his hands on Ed's firm shoulders, feeling almost delicate in himself, and could already feel himself melting into the embrace. Ed's tongue slipped into his mouth, hot and wet against Roy's own, and the General couldn't help the pleased, gentle moan it elicited.
Gently, and Roy realised Edward was being cautious with all of his movements, the blonde turned them until Roy was resting against the wall in his corridor, and continued to kiss him in a way that was more romantic than lustful as his fingers deftly undid his captives' buttons and peeled his shirt from his shoulders. Then, when Roy was shirtless in the corridor, the material still hooked into his slacks and bunching around his waist, Edward stopped kissing him and stood back to look. Roy averted his gaze, shy for the first time in over fifteen years.
"Fuck, that looks painful." The blonde said.
He could have said, 'you look sexy' or 'damn you're hot', which would have been more appropriate, but his gaze was fixed on the wound on his shoulder. Roy didn't have to wear a dressing on it any more, but he was still advised against doing any strenuous exercise lest he open it up again. The wound itself was a red-raw circle where the point of entry was, and tight skin pulling into it on all directions. It was a bad scar, but Roy had seen, and given, much worse. Heck, he had worse.
"It can be." Roy replied, voice nothing but a whisper in the quiet of the corridor. He thought of the times he had forgotten to take his painkillers and had been near-on numb with the spikes of agony. He jumped slightly as Ed's fingers traced around the edges of the scar, and then travelled down to lower, older wounds.
"This one..." He breathed, almost reverently, fingers tracing softly over the healed burn on his side, from when Roy had sealed his own wound in the fight against Lust. "Al told me about this..."
Roy closed his eyes and willed himself to be patient. Edward wasn't the first lover to be interested in his scars, and he probably had more right to be than any of the women Roy had had there in the past, but even so it was difficult to have them pointed out to him whilst he was trying to get his rocks off. He sighed gently and put his hands back on Edward's chest, undoing some of the other man's buttons in turn and trying to get them back towards the bedroom.
He wasn't exactly innocent of how these things went, but Edward, as always, had an uncanny ability to put him on the back foot. The blonde stilled his gently tracing fingers, and then pushed Roy a little further back against the wall for more kisses – these ones hungrier, more desperate. He rocked his hips forwards and Roy couldn't help but gasp at the evidence of how affected Edward was by their proceedings. He fumbled as he unbuttoned a few more buttons and pushed the shirt off of Ed.
"We match." Edward whispered against his lips, breath hot and enticing a sound from Roy he would wholeheartedly deny in the morning. Then Ed stood back, and took his shirt properly from his shoulders, dropping it to the floor and leaving him bare-chested in his tight leather trousers.
Roy gasped in a quick breath at the sight of his partner, bathed in moon-beams, turning his bronzed skin creamy like caramel, and head to toe littered in the evidence of a painful existence.
Logically he had known that Edward had had a difficult childhood – and that scars came thick and heavy for him. There were the obvious ones like the jagged, raw edge around his right shoulder where he had lost his arm – a similar one would surely be above his left knee, had Edward been undressed enough for Roy to see it. There were the less loud ones, like the tiny white lines up his upper left arm, where he was always being thrown into things. But there, on his left side, around his abdomen, was a large, angry pink stretching of the skin that reminded Roy very much of the similar scar on his own stomach. For the first time Roy understood the need to explore another person's wounds, and before he knew what he was doing he had dropped to his knees, fingers itching out to touch. Yet they stopped halfway through the air when he caught up with himself.
Then Edward reached out and cradled his wrist, bringing his fingers forward to the scar and pressing them gently against the tight flesh there.
"How?" Roy asked, voice a harsh whisper in the silent hall. He looked up to see Edward grimacing gently. "A homunculus?" He guessed, and Edward shook his head.
"Just plain old human." He replied. "Kimblee dropped a building on me and a metal rod ran through here." He moved his hand, still holding Roy's over the scar, and Roy could feel the tight stretch of the skin under his fingers, moving as he spoke.
"How could you survive that?" He asked reverently, but Edward simply shrugged his shoulders and carded the finger of his free hand through Roy's fine hair with a look on his face that was equal parts saddened and loving.
"It doesn't matter." He mumbled, and Roy could pick up on the avoidance, but didn't push. The blonde leant himself back against the wall in the hallway, one hand still in Roy's hair and tickling the back of the older man's ear, and let go of where he was pressing Roy's fingers to the scar, travelling that hand down his own body, pressing at his cock through his leather trousers. Roy couldn't help but flicker his eyes down because of the movement, and it occurred to him just how close he was to the hard bulge in the leather. Ed let out a breath above him that sounded almost pained. "You look so good on your knees."
Roy's own dick pretty much shot to attention in his slacks at the words, and he had to close his eyes to waive away the rush of arousal that went through him, and when he opened them again he looked up to see Ed's usually golden eyes were lidded and nearly entirely black from how blown out his pupils were. Wordlessly, Roy reached out and unzipped the other man's trousers, feeling hot and bothered all over and gasping in a shocked breath as he peeled the black leather away to reveal Ed wasn't wearing underwear. The blonde's cock was suddenly three inches from his face, jutting up towards the other man's stomach and framed with a neat brush of thick golden curls at the base. Ed's hand in his hair tugged him forwards a little, probably entirely without Ed's rational thought process, and Roy allowed himself to brush his nose against the underside of his partner's erection, making the younger man breath in a deep breath through his nose and grip a little tighter at the hair at the back of Roy's head.
Roy had only done this once before in his life, way back before the academy, when Roy was about fourteen and Jaime Hertz, who had lived three doors down from his Aunt Chris' had invited him over for dinner one evening. Whilst Jaime's mother was in the kitchen roasting potatoes the two boys had been upstairs and engaged in a little 'show me yours and I'll show you mine'. One thing had lead to another and Roy had ended up washing thick white spunk off his face two minutes before they'd been called down for tea. He was, however, lucky enough that people did this for him fairly often, and he knew what he liked, so he turned his head to the side and licked a wet trail up and over the tip of his partner's cock, delighting in the shiver it bought forth from the blonde. He could only hope Ed would last a little longer than Jaime had.
He swirled his tongue over the head and then pushed his lips down over it and sucked gently, pushing his tongue a little further down the length and following it with his lips and mouth and keeping focused on the feeling of Ed's nails scratching at the back of his neck and his hips stuttering forwards and his breath starting to come out in harsh pants.
"Ffffuck." He hissed as Roy trailed two fingers up his inner thigh and ghosted them over his balls, before circling his hand around the base of his cock and beginning to pump him lightly.
Roy knew he wasn't an expert in giving blow-jobs, and he didn't want to push himself too hard too fast by trying to swallow as much as the other man as possible. Ed's dick was in no means small, and Roy wanted to enjoy what he was doing as much as he hoped Edward was enjoying it, so he used his hand to stimulate the base, and his mouth he kept for the head, and by the sounds his partner was making, he wasn't doing a terrible job. He pushed a hand between his own legs and pressed at his erection, dizzy with arousal at the imagery in front of him – Ed, leaning against the wall, naked but for the leather pooling around his ankles and his heavy boots – and the feeling of having the other man at his mercy for a moment. He gave another firm suck, and Ed replied by throwing his head back and hitting it against the wall, and then pushing his hand into Roy's fringe, pushing it backwards off his face and pushing the man's head away.
"Fuck, fuck, stop." He gasped, looking flushed and a little panicked. Roy rose an eyebrow at him, and the blonde let out a surprised sounding chuckle, squeezing himself around the base of his dick, and then he stooped low and shimmied himself out of his boots, kicking them away and standing naked in the hallway. He collected his leather trousers and fished in the pocket, before pulling out a recognisable foil square and holding it up in a way that was almost triumphantly. "We should have been using this." He mumbled.
Roy pushed himself back up into a standing position and levelled his partner with a curious look, and Ed must have interpreted it as a question because he rolled his eyes and then pulled Roy to him for a quick kiss.
"Last time I checked I was clean, but it's always better to be safe." He mumbled against the other man's lips.
Roy didn't disagree, he was just constantly being caught off guard by how mature his ex-subordinate was. Roy himself always used protection, but he also couldn't deny that his reasoning was because for over a decade he'd been exclusively bedding women, and he really didn't want to knock one of his dates up. He pressed another kiss to the younger man's lips and nodded, and trailed his hands behind Ed and smoothed them over the hard lines of Ed's back. The blonde was in no way shy, given he was currently alone in being naked in someone else's house, but now Edward grinned into the kiss and hooked his thumbs under Roy's waistband, catching up the underwear's band as well, and pulled them down. Roy's trousers, and the shirt that was still caught up in the waistband, fell to the floor, pooling around his ankles, and Roy was left, standing in the hall, trying not to feel self-conscious as Edward's golden eyes roamed over his naked body. He knew, logically, he was too pale and too lanky. Unlike Edward - who trained daily and had the muscles to show for it, Roy was at best lean. He ran in the evenings to keep his cardio up and stop from forming a beer belly, but had never felt the need to lift weights or show off his prowess at a pull-up. He wasn't even sure he could still do a pull-up since leaving the academy.
He'd never been self-conscious in front of women. He was by no means unattractive, and he did keep himself in shape – but it felt different with Edward, who would have had every opportunity to let himself go when he became a father, and yet clearly kept up his rigorous regime. In light of this, he automatically moved to cover his stomach with one hand, as the other hovered awkwardly in front of his rock-hard cock.
Edward moved further into his space, gave him a smile that might have been meant as reassuring, and then collected Roy's wrists and gently prised them apart, continuing to look at Roy as if he were some kind of marvel, and making the older man huff, looking anywhere but at his partner and fighting the blush from his face. It wasn't like this with women – they were the self-conscious ones. But now Roy was feeling the full brunt of being studied this way. Ed was naked too, he reminded himself, but the blonde seemed entirely unaffected by that.
Roy supposed when you had your sexual awakening with the Emperor of Xing, you would quickly get over any insecurities. Besides, there appeared to be nothing for Ed to be insecure about.
Then Ed's hands were pulling him forwards by his hips until their bodies were flush against each other, and Roy could feel the hard line of Edward's cock pressed up against his stomach, even as Ed stepped forward to cradle Roy more against the wall. His own cock pulsed in interest as Ed's fingers slipped between their stomachs and firmly wrapped around the head.
"Ah-" Roy huffed in encouragement as the blonde stroked him, and thought to return the favour, but Ed was rutting against him – his other hand pressing Roy back into the corridor wall against his uninjured shoulder and kissing him desperately. Roy tried to push his hands down between them but found one was uselessly tracing circles against Ed's left bicep and refusing to move from the firm muscle, and the other was flat palmed against his lower chest, unable to break through towards where the blonde was stroking him expertly. So instead he focused on giving the best kissing of his life, and was rewarded by Edward moaning into his mouth happily.
Edward rocked his hips forwards and Roy had to stop and concentrate for a moment on not just coming then and there. He threw his head back and moaned unabashedly, and only thought to be self-conscious about it when he peeled open his eyes to see the blonde he was with had a diabolical grin on his face. Then, before he could comprehend the idea of being embarrassed, Ed had hooked both his hands under Roy's thighs, and hoisted him up into the air.
"Edward!" The man exclaimed, instantaneously wrapping his arms around the blonde's neck because he definitely didn't want the other man to drop him, and squeezed his thighs into Ed's sides as the younger man carried him through the apartment towards the bedroom. Roy was feeling woozy as he remembered the blonde's ideas for the evening, and what exactly Ed had planned for when they reached the silk sheets of Roy's king-sized bed. Ed opened the bedroom door with his Auto-mail foot, carried Roy through the threshold with his hands kneading at the General's ass cheeks, and, true to his word, threw Roy onto the bed.
He bounced slightly, gasping, and feeling incredibly small next to Edward's might and strength. He reminded himself he did still have an inch or two on the shorter man, but that hardly seemed to matter in comparison to how easily Edward could manhandle him. He'd been instantly attracted to the blonde's muscles from the second he'd walked in to Fuhrer Grumman's office and seen the young man stood there, and although he was by no means a push-over himself, he couldn't lie and say he wasn't enticed by the idea of a man who was stronger than he was. He'd even confessed as much to Ed, although not in as many words. Still, the boy clearly knew that the strength difference between them was getting Roy going.
Damn, Roy thought, what did Ed promise next? – the fucking him until his neighbours complained? Yeah, he could get behind that.
Edward pushed him down in to a lying position with a firm hand on his uninjured shoulder, and crawled on to the bed, hovering over him. Instinctively, and if it ever got back to the office that he had done so there would be hell to pay, Roy spread his legs. Edward nestled his hips between them nicely, a devilish smirk on his features. Roy was so fucking done for. To hide his eagerness, although at this point he wasn't entirely sure why he still felt the need to be shy, he buried his hands in the younger man's hair and pulled it free of it's ponytail – letting the long blonde strands fall down over Edward's shoulders and down to Roy under him, tickling his already sensitive skin. He arched up into the sensation, and Ed cradled a hand around the back of his neck, angled his head and captured him in another searing kiss.
Fuck yes. Roy would have to write a letter of thanks to the Emperor of Xing for his part in Edward's sexual education, for he was certainly getting to enjoy the benefits of it now.
"Lube?" Edward questioned, and for a moment it threw Roy, who was becoming more than accustomed to the ex-alchemist seeming to have every aspect of every thing under control, but then he quickly recovered and waved a hand at the bedside drawers. Edward leaned over, opened up the top drawer and peered inside, before finally he selected a small purple bottle which had the name 'Booty Relax' printed on the front in capital letters. "I thought you hadn't dated men in years?" Edward asked, raising a shapely eyebrow at him. Roy rolled his eyes.
"I still wank." He huffed, and only after realised he'd just admitted to getting off alone using anal lube. It very much implied that he used it when fingering his own ass – because that was exactly what he used it for.
He would have been embarrassed if it wasn't for the fact that Ed gave a delicious moan at the thought, clearly enticed by the idea of Roy's masturbation habits, and delved back in for another languid, breath-taking kiss. Roy was so focused on the expertly swirling tongue in his mouth that he didn't notice the other man popping the lid on the lubricant and coating his fingers until one of those fingers was pushed between his legs, and suddenly everything became very real and present.
He hadn't had another man in his bed since he himself had been a teenager, and whilst Edward clearly knew what he was doing, Roy had to wonder whether conventions had changed in the time he was solely pursuing women. Besides, he knew his own fingers, he knew how to pleasure himself, but there was something entirely different, and terrifying, about having someone else prepare you.
A second later it didn't matter, because Ed found his mark and pushed a long, lube-soaked finger inside of him. Roy gasped. His back arched. His hands found Ed's biceps and gripped on. He'd forgotten how much he loved this. It was one thing to pleasure himself this way, but having someone else's fingers inside him, giving up control and letting someone see him pleasured and relaxed and ready to be fucked – that was a sensation he couldn't simulate on his own. It was made so much more impossibly amazing by the fact that this was Edward Elric. There was so much history between them, and so much of it wasn't great, but all of it was trusting, and Roy's chest began to pang with an odd tightness he couldn't place.
Jeez, he was probably just getting sappy because he hadn't had a good fucking in so long.
"Damn you're tight." Edward whispered against his neck, where he'd been kissing and sucking and most likely leaving marks because apparently the man was still young enough to think that was acceptable.
"It's been awhile." Roy confessed, and tried not to whine as the blonde began slowly pumping his finger in and out, fucking him with the thin digit.
Soon he'd worked up to two fingers, fucking him with them and stretching him with them, covered in lube. Roy's legs were quivering, lying on his back on the bed and trying really hard not to make too much noise to betray how much he was enjoying having Ed finger him, and the blonde was kissing him to within an inch of his life, rocking his hard cock against Roy's thigh as he tried not to be too impatient and bury himself inside his lover. If it wasn't for Roy making it perfectly clear that there wouldn't be a need to add another finger, something which definitely could have backfired if Ed had taken that to mean Roy thought his cock was small, then Edward would most likely have continued to torture him with a thorough finger-fucking for most of the night. As it was, he finally pulled out his messy, lubed up fingers and gripped himself around the base of his dick, surveying Roy, who probably looked thoroughly flushed and wanting.
The General pushed himself up on to his elbows, and then leaned over to take the condom from Ed, who was struggling to open it with slicked up fingers. He ripped open the foil packet, pinched the top and rolled it down on to Ed's length. The Blonde closed his eyes and breathed heavily against the tight, all encompassing feel of it, and when he felt more in control, he gave his cock a few teasing strokes, leaning on his knees over Roy and looking like a bronzed and beautiful porn model. Roy poured a little more lube on to the boys condom covered cock and stroked it up and down to spread it around, and then he was pushed back on to his back and Ed dragged him forwards by his hips until he was resting on Ed's thighs and the boy's dick was pressing up against his entrance.
He let his head fall back into the pillows and breathed out deeply through his nose as the younger man rocked forwards into him. His stomach clenched in lust, and his hands shot up to smooth his own hair off of his forehead, and then Edward ducked his head down and grazed his teeth over the bottom of Roy's ribs, and Roy was shouting in pleasure.
"You feel so good." Edward whispered against his chest, and Roy's hands worked of their own accord to bury in his lover's hair, and then the younger man was rocking, thrusting into him, and Roy was entirely powerless to stop a string of swearwords falling from his mouth in half-formed puffs of breath.
The blonde shimmied up and breathed against his neck, his hips not faltering in their rhythm and with each thrust he seemed to fuck Roy further into the sheets. Roy grit his teeth against the other man's golden hair, closed his eyes, and tried to grow used to the stretch in his ass and the powerful thrusts. Then Edward hooked a hand under each of his knees, and pushed them up towards his shoulders, spreading his legs wider and changing the angle of his thrusts, and Roy shouted loudly in shock and pleasure.
"I knew you'd be loud." The blonde teased, and Roy didn't even have it in him to be annoyed. Okay, fine, he was loud. He'd fucking scream so long as Ed continued to fuck him like this. It was just something he couldn't get with women. They were all very good and pretty, but they always wanted him to take control. Most of the time he loved that, but when he wanted to be with a man it was for the reason of needing someone to look after him. Roy couldn't help but be thankful to Edward for seeming to understand that.
He hooked one hand around the wooden slats in his bed's headboard, mostly for steadiness, and the other one was resting on Ed's shoulder. He closed his eyes, angled his head down into the crevice of the blonde's neck, and breathed in the scent of shampoo and gun-oil and the musty, masculine scent of a sweaty twenty-something rocking into him. Pleasure was spiking in his stomach, curling and twisting down towards his gut, made worse by his erection trapped between them and constantly stimulated by the hard lines of Edward's six-pack stomach. His hand, resting on Ed's shoulder, drifted up to circle around the other man's neck, and Roy pulled him impossibly closer, breathing harshly against the blonde's skin.
"Ah!" He huffed, repeatedly, as Edward's hip continued up their unfaltering rhythm, and before long the air of his bedroom was filled solely with his own cries of pleasure, Edward's quiet huffs of exertion, and the wet, lewd sound of their fucking. The blonde's fingers were digging in deliciously into his thighs, keeping his legs spread and open for him, and his glorious lips were dusting kisses all over his shoulders, neck and chest. Roy couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so worshipped during sex, and the thought made another sharp pang clench in his chest.
Edward let go of his thighs, and Roy, worried about he unusual amount of affection he had for his ex-subordinate, distracted himself by pushing the man off him, turning them so that their positions were swapped and Roy was now hovering over Edward, who was lying on his back. The blonde rose an eyebrow at him challengingly, but Roy simply leant down and captured the younger man in a slow kiss, burying one hand in his ridiculously long hair, and steadying himself with the other on the bed, while he climbed on top with a leg on either side of his partner.
Ed moaned into the kiss, and Roy wanted to hear him do that every day for the rest of his life. As it was, he simply reached down between his legs, angled Ed's cock the right way, and sank himself down on it. The blonde, for all of his talk of Roy being loud, shouted incoherently in pleasure.
"Fuck, oh fuck, Roy." He huffed, once he had control his volume again. Roy raised himself up on his knees and let himself sink back down again, breathing out heavily through his mouth and aware of the heat over his chest and around his ears and cheeks. Edward placed his hands on Roy's hips gently and stared at him with his molten-gold eyes lidded heavily. "You're beautiful."
It wasn't the most manly of compliments, but Roy would take it.
He placed a hand delicately on the other man's chest, angled himself slightly better and began riding his partner in earnest, grateful that the extra concentration meant he had quieted down and thus Edward could no longer tease him. He was still fighting the urge to whine in pleasure, and keen into the other man's strong hold, but he was too focused on the rhythmic up and down movement of his legs and hips to do anything more than fuck eagerly. Edward, at least, seemed to really enjoy the stimulation and the view, because he was whispering words of praise under his breath, staring at Roy with lust-filled eyes.
Then, after a while, when Roy's thighs were starting to shake from the effort, the blonde surged upwards and knocked Roy back a little, capturing him with one strong arm snaked around his back, and Roy found himself straddling a sat up Edward Elric, who was mouthing at his neck and thrusting his hips upwards to meet Roy's downward slides. Ed pushed a hand down between them, wrapped his fingers around Roy's cock and began jerking him off roughly, and the all-encompassing feeling of the man fucking him, holding him and stroking him had him seeing stars in no time at all. His heart clenched painfully as electricity seemed to surge through his entire being and rush towards his dick, exiting in ropes of warm semen splattered over Ed's hand and stomach whilst Roy gripped on to the other man's shoulders and cried out desperately.
"Edward." He puffed out, dizzy from the force of his orgasm, and only vaguely registered the young man responding with a far away hum.
Then Ed's hips faltered and he was coming too, stuttering up into Roy and breathing out a long, semi-pained sounding 'haaaah' into his neck. Roy shivered in pleasure, his whole body shaking, and it was another couple of minutes before Edward's breathing returned to normal, and – as if it was nothing – he lifted Roy up and deposited him down on the sheets next to him, smiling at the older man in post-coital bliss. Roy had no control over his face at that moment in time, he smiled back a smile that was more dopey than anything else, and his eyes slipped closed from how contented and sleepy he felt. He felt Ed run a hand down his side in a gesture that somehow felt more intimate than anything else they'd done that evening, and heard the boy grumbling as he took off the condom, tied it and threw it away, and then he felt a delicate kiss being placed to his temple, as he was allowing sleep to claim him.
"Hmm, love you." He mumbled sleepily, too far gone for conscious thought, and snuggled further down into the pillows.
And then, and he registered dimly that he'd not been so comfortable after sex to do this in years, he fell asleep.
Roy woke the next day with a confession on his tongue and the impression that he should probably just dig his own grave and jump into it. The sun was streaming in through the large window and lighting up the purples of his sheets in shades brighter than they were, and a quick glance at the clock told him he was half an hour early for his alarm. The bottle of lube that had been used the night before was lying not-so-innocently a little way down the covers, and the used condom was hanging over the edge of the waste-paper-basket, where Edward had flung it mostly blind. Which Roy had to admit was probably a fairly impressive shot. Edward himself, was nowhere in sight.
Which was probably a good thing because Roy had just remembered falling into post-orgasm sleep and mumbling a subconscious, but probably more heart-felt than he would like to admit, 'love you' at the other man. He sat up in his bed and immediately buried his head in his hands, allowing himself a self-pitying moan. Ed was probably half-way to East City by now, thanking his lucky stars he'd skipped out before Roy started proclaiming his want for a wedding and children. He could murder himself – you didn't confess your love for anyone after one night of (admittedly amazing) fucking – you certainly didn't do it to your ex-subordinate directly after all of the emotional trauma Roy had been through the last couple of weeks.
Damn, maybe he was more messed up than he had originally thought.
He sighed at himself, because logically he knew damn well his confession to Edward the night before had absolutely nothing to do with any emotional trauma he'd recently been through, and almost everything to do with the fact that Edward was beautiful and insanely intelligent and thoughtful enough to let Roy walk to a restaurant even though it would have been quicker and more traditional to drive. He hadn't dated a man in over a decade, and yet he'd taken a chance on Ed – so that had to count for something.
He lifted himself from bed, found some old jogger-bottoms and a comfortable shirt in his wardrobe, which would do for him getting a morning cup of coffee in him before he had to wake up properly and return to work, and assured himself that if Edward was on a train back to East City, tail between his legs, then Roy wasn't going to sit and pine for him. He had a damn-sight more pride than that. As it was, he entered his kitchen to see a familiar blonde head of hair pouring two mugs full of sweet caffeine, and his stomach started doing back-flips entirely of it's own accord.
Edward was wearing his red shirt from the night before, and what looked suspiciously like a pair of Roy's boxers, and Roy was fairly certain he was going to have a heart attack. The man turned to him as he entered and smiled his unfairly beautiful smile, undone hair slipping down over one shoulder and tanned skin absolutely shining in the morning light. The kitchen barely even got any light, so Roy figured Edward was simply stunning enough to light up the room all by himself.
The blonde carried his two mugs, his black and Roy with a splash of milk and his morning spoonful of sugar, over to the small table, and placed them down on either side, sliding into his chair with a sleepy, but serious look on his face. All of a sudden Roy imagined himself sitting down for an interview – that this early morning conversation over coffee was going to define their relationship, whatever that was – and as such, he sank into the other chair with no small amount of trepidation running through his veins.
He instantly took a large gulp of his coffee to try and calm his nerves, but Edward had clearly only just boiled the kettle because it was far too hot and he was forced to swallow quickly, scalding his tongue, the roof of his mouth and his throat on the way down. He wasn't too concerned, he'd had hotter burns and scalds, but it did result in his grimacing painfully and losing whatever semblance of cool he had been trying to achieve. He looked up in time to see Ed rubbing his thumb and forefinger over his mug's handle, staring down at the cup with something sad in his golden eyes. Roy wanted to reach out and comfort him, but kept his hands firmly on his own side of the table. One night of sex did not a relationship make, he reminded himself, and it wasn't his place to claim the blonde as his own simply because he now had first hand experience of just how big his dick was.
Then, Edward stood, went over to the kettle, and collected a fanned out newspaper he had obviously been reading whilst he prepared the drinks, and took it back to the table, smoothing it out in front of Roy, print angled towards the General – an invitation to read. So Roy read, and with each word the frown on his face grew more pronounced.
MUSTANG AND THE METAL-MAN: AN EXPOSE
Last night, not even twelve hours after the court case that saw General Matthias Guttering sentenced to seventeen years in prison for attempted rape as a hate-crime, General Roy Mustang, who was the painted victim in the case being hailed as a turning point in "Gay History", was spotted spending his evening in a romantic setting with his former subordinate, twenty-two year old Edward Elric, the former Fullmetal Alchemist and Hero of the People.
Mustang and Elric spent the evening together at a family owned restaurant by the river, called Harverti's, and allegedly shared meals and debated science together. A waiter, working that evening, disclosed that the two seemed very comfortable in each-others presence and that they seemed to be heading home together at the end of their date. This comes less than a few hours after Mr Elric proclaimed that Mustang had 'never touched' him when he was working under the man in Eastern Command as a loyal subordinate, and that it was he who was pursuing the older man now that he is a legal adult, separated from his wife.
Mustang is known as something of a playboy amongst the women of Central, where he lives and regularly dates, but the revelation of his bisexuality was news because the man was never once seen dating another male – despite being a public figure and supposedly attracted to them. It begs the question, was he carrying on a relationship behind closed doors with his under-age subordinate, using his public dates with women as a decoy? Or is it simply that the man had his sexual awakening in his mid-thirties, when Elric came back into his life as a bodyguard, and what we are witnessing now is the beginnings of Mustang playing the field as a bisexual man, exploring his new desires with anyone who is willing?
Roy stopped reading at that point, flipping the paper over and taking another large gulp of his coffee. It had cooled a little and the strong, sweet taste of it calmed him just enough for him to not attempt to find his gloves and snap so that every news-stand in Amestris was left as nothing but ash. He was foolish to believe a favourable outcome to the court-case was going to get people off his back about dating Edward, and now he was staring down another inflammatory article assuming things about him as a man, and about the man he had spent the night before with, and posting it for all the world to see – next to another out-of-context picture. This one clearly taken during their date the night before, with their hands locked across the tables at Harverti's and staring at each-other in a way that could be construed as loving, or might be seen as a young man hero-worshipping his ex-CO.
Roy felt sick again.
"I'm going to be heading back to East City this afternoon." Edward informed him.
"It's one article. They'll move on to something else tomorrow." Roy heard himself say, mouth moving before his brain had caught up, as it so often did when the blonde was around. Edward shot him a look, somewhere between irrevocably sad and incredibly angry.
"Did you read the whole thing?" He asked.
Roy noticed the blonde's coffee was sitting abandoned by his side. That was incredibly unlike Edward, who Roy had come to know was addicted to caffeine. He shook his head slowly – there had been at least two thirds of the article that he hadn't been able to bring himself to slug through. Then, Edward flipped the paper back to the article and ran his finger down the page, past the incriminating photo of the two of them holding hands at the restaurant, down past the information on Roy's supposed sexual awakening and the supposition on what that meant for the poor innocent souls of Central Town, and let his fingers come to rest on the fifth paragraph from the bottom.
"Read from there." He encouraged.
If we assume that Mustang is looking to settle down with the first man he jumps into bed with, then let us now think about whether Edward Elric is the right choice for a decorated General in the Military. We know Elric knows the ins and outs of Mustang's job, and should be able to support his lover in his chosen career, seeing as he used to work under the man, but does that make him husband material for the General? Is Elric husband material at all?
Elric married childhood sweetheart Winry Rockbell, of the famous Rockbell Auto-Mail Engineering in Rush Valley, at the tender age of eighteen. Rockbell never changed her name, citing the need to keep her professional identity, and indeed she was the breadwinner of the family for some time, until Elric took a job as a bodyguard to support her and their children, Sasha Elric, now three, and Maesie Elric, now two. In investigating the marriage, it has come to light that Elric spends most of his time travelling for assignments or spending his down-time in the Xingese Palace with his childhood friend, Ling Yao, Emperor of the largest country in the world. It is no surprise then, giving the long history of the Xingese Emperors being sexually promiscuous, that there were rumours of Elric's infidelity whilst in Xing.
Elric is a soon to be divorced father of two, working long hours and all across the country in his job as a bodyguard with VGA Protection Firm. He has a history of cheating on his spouse, and leaving his two children for long periods of time. A source has informed this reporter that both Elric children spent some time in Central with their father during his last assignment, spending their time in Mustang's office and causing the entire team to work around them. If Mustang married Elric would that be par for the course? Would the General suddenly find himself a part-time father, his energy taken up not for the good of the country but with caring for two children that are not biologically his?
The article trailed off into more supposition about Roy's career, but by now he was well and truly defeated. He flipped the paper back over to it's front page again and leant back in his chair, feeling exhausted.
"They published my children's names." Edward informed him, as if he hadn't just read it.
The look on his face was livid now, and Roy imagined the blonde would have no problems with him going back to his original plan of burning every news-stand in Amestris, possibly in the world. He nodded once.
"Yeah." He agreed after a moment, not sure what else to say. The whole article was a certifiable shit show.
Edward clicked his tongue, and Roy's gaze flickered down to the movement.
"I'm not good for you." He said, repeating the words of the reporter. "Everyone will either think you were fucking me when I was a kid, or that I'm a horrible parent who wants to dump my kids on you."
Roy reached out across the table, and Edward still caught his fingers. They were cold. The General squeezed them gently, rubbing back and forth to try and entice some warmth into them. Edward glanced down, but then quietly drew them away.
"We don't think that." Roy tried. "Surely we're the only people that actually matter when it comes to what we are to each other."
Edward flicked his molten-gold eyes up to Roy, raising a challenging eyebrow.
"And what, exactly, are we to each other?" He questioned. Roy had been hoping Edward could have told him. Edward was resting his elbow on the table, his head in his hand, and levelled Roy a considering look. Suddenly, the General felt a little hot under his collar. "Don't think I didn't hear you last night."
And there it was – there was no way Edward was ever going to let him get away with it, with his stupid confession in post-coital bliss as he fell asleep – and Roy's stomach started doing uncomfortable back-flips as he squirmed and tried to figure out a way to explain his mouth confessing a love his brain still wasn't entirely sure he had. He bit his lip and looked down at the paper, and then rolled that up and stowed it away under the table because he was done with looking at other people's opinions of him.
"I was incredibly fucked out." He confessed – he was, after all – he hadn't been so incredibly sated in a very long time. He hoped appealing to Edward's ego would deter the boy from pushing him harder. But then Roy had never been that lucky.
Edward smirked at him, and Roy thought he might well and truly be melting under how incredibly attractive the brat was.
"You fall in love with everyone who puts their dick in you?"
Hell, the man was crude. Somehow that made Roy even more attracted to him, because he wouldn't get that kind of teasing with anyone else. He ducked his head.
"I said 'love you', not that I was in love with you. It was simply a show of appreciation." He lied.
He was quite good at lying, most of his job was just lying. Edward, however, could smell his bullshit from a mile away. He reached across the table, hooked a finger under his chin, and forced him to look back up at him. He couldn't have been more clichéd if he tried, and Roy couldn't help but love it. The man was smirking even more now, a teasing glint in his eyes, and Roy hated the fact that his body-chemistry was reacting to it, his cock stirring interestedly in his joggers – thankfully underneath the table and completely out of Edward's sight.
"Then you're welcome." The blonde said, voice pitched low in a tone that told Roy that Edward was more than up for a round two as well.
Roy allowed his eyes to slip closed for a second, pleasure building in his crotch, and then opened them again – he couldn't allow himself to get swept up in the lure of sex when they were defining their relationship and there was still the issue of whether Edward would actually still be in Central the next day. He clenched his fists, trying to quell himself back to neutral and not do something embarrassing like prostrate himself on the table.
"Edward." He warned, and that one word was enough for them both to know what he was warning them about.
He thought about the confessions they'd given each-other thus far; that Edward had entertained an undefined crush on him in his teenage years, and that Roy was certainly attracted to him now. He wondered if that put Edward in a more soul-baring position right now, since last night was the culmination of feelings he had been struggling with for years. Yet… Edward had been the one to get married and sire two children, leaving Roy alone for six years without so much as a letter to see how the blonde was getting on. Roy had felt that loss keenly and painfully for six years, and now Edward was threatening to go back to East City once more, and Roy couldn't deny him the right to be with his family at that moment, when soon Winry would read the newspaper and see her children's names in print, and the Rockbell-Elric's would become the centre of a media frenzy. He couldn't stop Edward from going back to his family over what was essentially only the possibility of a relationship.
Edward stood, and Roy could see the tent in his boxers – Roy's boxers – pulled tight over his ridiculously muscled thighs, and now his straining cock. The General's mind short-circuited. Heck, if Edward planned on going back to East City that afternoon, then the least he could do would be to give Roy the memories of morning-sex against the kitchen counter, right?
As it was, the blonde went right over to the kettle, as if he was going to make another coffee, and leant his hands heavily against the counter top. Roy wouldn't be held responsible for his gaze lingering on the perfect globes of ass framed by the dark material of his boxers. Honestly, Edward could have worn his own underwear – it would definitely have made this conversation easier on Roy.
"I need to return to East City." The blonde told him, back turned, and it was exactly what Roy had thought he would say. "I need to put down some roots and actually spend time with my kids and be a better dad. I've been thinking since Sasha and Maesie took the train here that this should be my last assignment. I need to quit VGA, get a more settled job and be there for them. The best place for me to do that is in the East – it's close enough to Rush Valley that we can do regular visitations, and I can set myself up with Al whilst I find somewhere more permanent."
It was rehearsed. Roy remembered Edward telling him the day before that he was going to talk to Winry about finalising the divorce and seeing his kids more often, and what he was being told now was probably the culmination of that. He nodded his head solemnly, even though Edward couldn't see him, with his back turned.
"I need to focus on damage control." He sighed, trying to find something to make this conversation feel more even, and remembering Riza's dire warnings. "Find someone, settle down, etc."
He hated the idea of it, but his job was in Central and Edward's life was in the East. He couldn't build an entire relationship with Edward based on one night of fucking, and the general public would never go for it anyway – he was still fourteen years Edward's senior and his ex-CO, there was no other way to look at it. The best thing for his career would be to find a sensible lady in her thirties and marry her, hopefully putting the entire scandal with Edward behind them. He looked up in time to see the blonde nodding, his long blonde hair bouncing slightly.
"Right." He agreed.
"Right." Roy repeated.
There was an awkward lull between them. This was what was best for them at that point in their lives – they both knew it, but it didn't make it suck any less. Edward rolled his shoulder back, and Roy couldn't help but hone in on the movement, his mouth going dry at just how ridiculously muscled the man was. He'd put everything on the line for this boy, he told himself – he'd agreed to go to trial because he thought it would benefit people like Edward. There should be some divine pay-off for that. Yet, here they were, agreeing to leave whatever tentative relationship they could have had in the dust. Agreeing to relocate to different areas of the country, possibly never to see each-other again.
Roy hated how much his heart was hurting, and how much it reminded him of that last time Edward had told him he was moving back East, a few days after the Promised Day when Roy had still been blind and Edward still a teenager. He had hated it then, feeling what he had thought was the loss of a loyal, brilliant subordinate. Now he realised he was feeling the loss of all that potential of what they might be together.
"Hey, if you're ever in the East." Edward mumbled, and trailed off.
Roy wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean. If you're ever in the East we can see if we can start dating again? If you're ever in the East I'll get down on one knee and propose? If you're ever in the East we can hook up and I'll show you exactly how loud I know you can be? Really, it was all about potential.
He puffed out a breath of air and nodded. Edward re-filled the kettle, put it on the stove, and then collected their abandoned mugs.
"I'm sorry." He mumbled, re-doing the drinks.
Roy watched him measure out the coffee and felt a tiny amount of weight being lifted off his chest. He stood too, coming up behind Ed and wrapping his arms around the man's waist. He nuzzled his nose into the other man's hair, grinning stupidly that despite the fact that Edward outdid him in pretty much every way, he at least still had a couple of inches on the other man, and breathed in his scent – still smelling vaguely of sweat and sex from the night before.
"If I'm ever in the East." He repeated, "if I'm ever relocated to the East, then we're going to give this a shot." He promised.
Edward's hands stilled with the spoon halfway back to the coffee jar, and then he carried on as if he hadn't been effected. Using a minuscule movement, he nodded his head, and Roy felt his sunny strands tickle his nose.
There was a feeling between them, an understanding that chances were Roy would never be relocated East – or that if he ever did it would be long after he had settled down and found himself a nice, unassuming wife. The General had his career to focus on, and even if he did get a relocation to the East and was still available, there was no guarantee that Edward would be – the blonde was a man in his prime, and having two children would hardly stop suitors from falling at his feet. But it was potential, it was a chance, and a hope, and Edward had always been good at hope. They weren't in the right stages of their lives for anything to happen when Edward had been a teenager, and despite trying, they weren't at the right stages of their lives for them to give it their all at that moment – but maybe, one day, they might be.
Until then, they'd settle down before work, and have another conversation over coffee.
I did promise 'eventual smut' in the tags, so here you go!
Also, don't worry! The next installment of this verse - If You're Ever in the East - will begin to be posted within the next one or two weeks!
Thanks so much for all the lovely comments and kudos I received on this story, it really means a lot, and I hope I haven't upset anyone too much with how I chose to end it...
Until next time!