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The Twelfth Cup of Coffee

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Ed slouches in the crappy plastic chair.  Casting repeated baleful looks at the big TV screen next to the gate has not persuaded it to change; there’s still at least an hour before they’ll even start the sardine-migration commonly known as boarding.

When he bothered to think about it, he always figured it would take the habitual hunching over lab benches longer to catch up with him, but his back is killing him.  Getting old fucking sucks.  He doesn’t even want to think about how he’s going to feel after thirteen hours trapped in a goddamn plane seat.

He nudges his foot at his laptop bag, which still bears the signs of a hasty un- and repacking around the X-ray machine, and then remembers that he turned his phone off to run it through.  He fishes it out of his pocket and switches it on; there’s a text from Roy from just about five minutes ago.

Back home.  Inconsolable already.  Pillow still smells like you.  Please hurry home before I waste away.  You drank a grand total of three sips of the coffee in the car; did you get some more? <3

Winry slips five-dollar Starbucks gift cards into the cracks and crevices of every present she ever gives him, because she’s an evil witch.  Sometimes evil witchery comes in handy, though.

yeah… for about the cost of a private island.  next time let’s just buy the island instead of this trip whaddya say.  you want the rant about security now or later??

Ed’s guess is that Roy is lying in bed half-dressed, dozing while he waits for Ed to respond—a supposition corroborated by the speed of the reply.

What kind of private island square footage do you think we could get for the price of a frappuccino?  If we forgo the extra espresso shot, we could probably put it towards a yacht… Now for the rant sounds lovely.

It’s kind of hard not to just type I love you I love you I love you I love you over and over, but given that Ed just fucked Roy’s sleeping schedule pretty much until he gets back, the least he can do is try to text coherently.

okay so let’s just think logically here.  LOGICALLY speaking do they honestly believe that people with long hair are statistically more likely to demonstrate suspicious behavior??  because i did not fucking see them patting down the fucking seven-year-old girl whose ponytail was PRETTY MUCH IDENTICAL to mine and do i have a discrimination suit here or do i have a discrimination suit here

Roy’s laugh is the cutest goddamn thing when he’s sleepy—sort of low and gentle and… rolling.  He’s probably laughing right this second.  It’s kind of like a consolation prize, to be able to give him that.

If you’d like to take them to court, I am behind you 100%, but I cannot guarantee that my abilities are quite up to the task… And I don’t imagine you’re eager to give the airlines -more- of your money.  That said, from a personal rather than a professional standpoint, I am SCANDALIZED that they don’t appreciate the precious natural wonder that is your hair.  The heathens!

Ed slides a little lower in the crappy plastic torture-chair and tries to look less bedraggled and more intimidatingly aggravated so that no one will want to sit next to him.

thank you. okay so. LOGICALLY speaking if you were going to smuggle (a) illicit >3.4-oz liquids or (b) drug contraband or (c) explosives or (d) various combinations of the above onto a plane under a hoodie WOULD YOU GO TO THE TROUBLE OF GETTING A HARVARD HOODIE??

His overpriced coffee is getting cold; he takes another overpriced sip and glares at the overpriced sleeve.  Does the “60% post-consumer recycled fiber” include diamonds, or what?  Diamond coffee cup sleeves.  He’s willing to bet there are Hollywood starlets who actually have those.  Probably with their names bedazzled on.

Not just a Harvard hoodie, Roy sends.  A Harvard -Law- hoodie, heavily implying your full awareness of the legal consequences of such an undertaking.  Did they pat you down, then?  Damn it, I’m about to be jealous of TSA agents.  My life is a shambles.  Remember me as I was.

Ed sighs to himself, maybe a little bit loud, but that lady who just stared at him like he was seriously impacting the quality of her kid’s bleepy little fucking Gameboy experience can go fuck herself.

It’s sort of hard to stay too pissed off when he’s thinking about Roy, though.  That’s sort of… the whole point.  Of this.  Of stuff.  Of everything.

you were cute and dumb then and you are cute and dumb now Mustang you’re just going to have to get used to it.  and FOR YOUR INFORMATION YES THEY DID. and then they ALSO MADE ME GO THROUGH THE FULL-BODY SCANNER because ONE INVASIVE EXAMINATION IS NOT ENOUGH because apparently WEARING YOUR HAIR LONG IS A FUCKING CRIME IN THIS FUCKING COUNTRY ROY

He balances the phone on his thigh, sips his coffee, and tries to figure out what game the stupid kid is playing without looking directly at either stupid kid or gaming device.  The music seems vaguely familiar, but he and Al never really had enough time to get into that kind of stuff—and even if they had done, he’s an old fogey now; he has no idea what the zeitgeist is for the young, restless, and very quick-thumbed nowadays.  Maybe he should just retire.  The house is all paid off, and they could afford a new car if his ever finally went kaput—how much was it that he saw in their savings account the other day, exactly?  Maybe he could stay on as emeritus and teach a little and draw some income, and then Roy could retire.  Roy really kind of needs glasses now, after all those endless years of tiny-print legalese, but the vain bastard is going to die and/or squint until his eyes pop out before he admits i—

The only crime here is someone disrespecting your hair, Roy sent.  I’m going to write a strongly-worded letter.  ‘To whom it may concern: Which should be everyone at this whole damn airport, since all of you had better be concerned.  It has been brought to my attention that unconscionable implications have been made about Edward Elric’s hair.  Not only is this young man a genius of a caliber your puny brains are unlikely to understand, he is also phenomenally gorgeous, and he happens to be my lover and the idol of my life, and I WILL HAVE YOUR HEADS FOR THIS.  Sincerely, Roy Mustang.’  What do you think?

Ed has to chug the rest of the coffee to compose himself.

i think i’m in danger of crying in a fucking airport is what i think.  quit being perfect you fucking asshole i miss you so much right now.  why is it so much worse when i know i’m going to be gone??  i’m away from you for hours and hours all the time but i never get this bad in lab and it’s stupid.  this is stupid.  i am stupid.  goddamnit Roy.

“Nooooooo,” the kid with the game says, sticking his bottom lip out.  Ed kind of sympathizes with that sentiment right this minute.  The kid tries to show his mom the game, but she’s scrolling with her thumb on her phone, and she waves him off.

Ed’s phone vibrates on his knee, and he snatches it up before the change in balance can send it tumbling to the floor.

Stupid Roy.  Stupid, stupid Roy.

I love you, too.  It’s just eight days, sweetheart.  It’s going to be terrible, but it’s not forever.  And you’ll have fun once you get there; when you see the students, it’ll be worth it.

Stupid, rational, helpful Roy.

i’m trying to guilt-trip you into phone sex the second i get to the hotel Mustang help me the fuck out here. my shoulder is killing me. i forgot my fucking hot water bottle because i’m a dumbass.

To be fair, Ed knows for a fact that Roy will still be game for phone sex, because Roy is always game for phone sex, but he’d been having a really good wallow in his misery for a second there.

And his shoulder is, in fact, hurting like a goddamn motherfucking bitch, so there’s that.

Roy should be getting ready to leave for work, but evidently he’s still just dawdling around with his phone and stuff.

The hwb is in your duffel bag. :]  There’s Advil in it and also in your laptop bag, in the front velcro pocket. :)  And phone sex is, as always, a definite go.  :D

Stupid, wonderful, thoughtful, meddling, perfect fucking Roy.

i don’t know how you do it but i’d be totally fucking lost without you so KEEP DOING IT PLEASE <3

He rips a pack of Advil open, pops both pills, drinks the gritty dregs of the coffee, shudders, gets up, and goes to sit next to the kid with the game.

“So what’s this thing about?” he asks.

The kid stares at him for a long second.

“Saving the world,” the kid says.  He thinks about it, sucking in his cheeks.  “All my games are.”

“You must save the world an awful lot, then,” Ed says.

The kid bangs out an insanely wicked combo with his thumbs, and the game trills like crazy.  “Sometimes.  But sometimes I just suck.”

“Yeah,” Ed says.  “I hear that.”




Pizza on the couch in minimal clothes (the delivery guy gave Roy’s half-buttoned shirt and Ed’s rumpled jeans a seriously skeptical look before he handed over the goods) and some quality time with old sci-fi turned out to be… about the best date ever, actually.

“This is a nice couch,” Ed said when the credits were rolling.  He planted his hands on either side of himself—which meant one of them was a little crushed against Roy’s thigh, because they’d been cuddled up pretty freakin’ close—and bounced experimentally, which nudged him in under Roy’s shoulder some more.  “Nice and… springy.”

Roy looked at him very seriously.  “It’s not bad.  Do you know what’s even better?”

Ed was pretty sure he did, but he put on his best wide-eyed-innocent face all the same.  “What’s that?”

“The b…” Roy’s solemnity broke into a grin.  “I can’t do this; it’s just too ridiculous.”  He stood (levering himself up off the back of the couch subtly with one hand, Ed noticed; maybe he really was thirty-five) and offered Ed both hands.  “Shall we?”

“Hell fuckin’ yeah,” Ed said, grabbing on tight.

Roy pulled him upright, caught two fistfuls of his shirt, and dragged him into a kiss that tasted very, very strongly of pepperoni, which Ed immediately decided was his new favorite thing.

Kissing was great and all, but it really just wasn’t enough anymore—for either of them, apparently, given that Roy started hauling on Ed’s shirt, dragging them both out of the living room, down the hall, past the still-slightly-smoky kitchen, up the stairs—

Ed’s heart was a piston bashing hard against his sternum; was a closed fist slamming on a locked door; was a frantic metronome—

And if it broke through; if the door opened; if the tempo increased—

It was just kind of terrifying, wanting somebody this bad.  Like there was a hole in the seething core of him, a vacuum, and somehow he’d nominated Roy as the matter to fill it, which first of all was messed up, and second of all wasn’t fair, because Roy’d signed up for food and hanky-panky, and Ed was throwing his whole heart in like it just another betting chip.

Stumbling up the stairs, backwards, joined at the mouth, half-laughing, wholly-panting, was more than a little bit hazardous.  Roy had both hands under Ed’s shirt again, thumbs smoothing back and forth over his stomach, up his sides, over his ribs, then back down to press gently at his hips, and then Roy took the lead into the upstairs hall and pushed the bedroom door open with his heel.

And Ed—wanted.  Wanted fiercely; wanted hard; wanted all of it, everything, now

Roy directed their four-footed stumble back towards the bed, one hand in Ed’s hair, one around the small of his back and drifting oh-so playfully towards his ass—grazing and retreating and then teasing again—

“Knock if off,” Ed growled into the next kiss, and Roy started laughing, so he caught the bastard’s bottom lip between his teeth to punctuate the point.

“Sorry,” Roy said, and the hand in his hair tightened just a touch.

“You are not,” Ed said.

“I swear I am,” Roy said, and both hands shifted to Ed’s hips and hauled him forward, and then they were bouncing down onto the bed, Roy sitting, Ed straddling him, and he could feel Roy’s heartbeat through those searching fingertips.  “Let me make it up to you.”

Ed fought to keep his scowl together when he just wanted to bust out laughing at the incredibly exaggerated seriousness of Roy’s wide eyes.  “Start talkin’.”

Roy threaded his fingers back into Ed’s hair, using the handhold to tilt his head, and Ed’s first instinct was to resist—he was nobody’s fucking puppet, nobody’s fucking toy—but Roy’s warm mouth chased a cool breath up the opposite side of his neck, and his will cracked straight down the center.

“Talking can be a good start,” he said, and his voice was so low and thick and melty-dark-chocolate-hot that Ed couldn’t have resisted the urge to wriggle in closer if he’d tried.  Chest-to-chest, hips-to-hips, mouth-to-mouth; Roy nipped his lip and then sucked on it until Ed whimpered—that made them even, right?  “Do you have a preference?” Roy asked, and his hands were kneading their way up the sides of Ed’s thighs, and the anticipation was eviscerating him.

“F-for—” Fuck.  He cleared his throat, but then he bared it to Roy’s insistent mouth, the press of which pretty much clogged it up with hot blood and animal sounds all over again.  “Preference… for what?”

Roy licked his pulse point.  Apparently it—or maybe Ed’s shiver—was delicious, because he immediately did it again.  “Who’s on top,” he said—just like that, plain as day.  “Which would you rather?”

Funny, if you thought about it—how Roy could make him move like there was a demon in him with just the lightest brush of a fingertip; and how Roy could still him like a statue in the snow.

The culprit of all of this looked startled—confused, maybe, or concerned.  His pupils were totally blown, and there was a smudge of sweat on his forehead matting into his hair, and he was so hot like this that Ed wanted a picture to keep in the pit of his stomach for the lonely nights.

“I’m sorry,” Roy said slowly, and Ed wanted to trace his eyebrows as they drew in close.  “Did I…?  What’s wrong?”

Ed tried to say Nothing, but it wouldn’t leave his mouth.  Looked like he was stuck with the truth again.  He fucking hated that.  “Just… nobody’s… ever asked me that before.”

Roy blinked.  The smile was tentative, but all his smiles were just so fucking cute.  “Who have you been sleeping with—barbarians?”

Ed tried to laugh, but it sort of came out as a huff of air through a grimace, which was probably pretty gross.

“Good Lord,” Roy said.  “Let’s not talk about it—let’s not talk about them, or think about them, ever again.”  He caught Ed’s waist in both hands and kissed him hard, and that was the only warning before they were whipping around, flipping their weights, and then Ed was fumbling to orient himself in the room—he was on his back on the mattress, which was pretty damn nice; and Roy was over him, smooth ink-hair framing his face, both hands planted just above Ed’s shoulders, grinning down, and that was so nice that the rest of the universe just… dissolved.  “Which is going to be easy,” Roy said, “because I’m going to make you forget everyone that came before.”

Ed arched his back and hooked a leg around Roy’s waist.  “‘Came before’?  Really?  That’s the best sex pun you’ve got?”

“Wiseass,” Roy said, but the gleam of mischief hadn’t left his eyes.  “Wait and see.”  He ducked to kiss Ed’s jaw, his ears, his temples— “The question stands.”

“Okay,” Ed said, and it was—it was; that was the thing.  He didn’t feel… ashamed.  He was quickly getting naked in some great guy’s bed, and he didn’t feel ashamed at all.  “Why don’t you fuck me this time, and show me what you’ve got?”

“Rarely,” Roy said, “have I considered a pleasanter pastime.”

“Shut up,” Ed said.

Roy’s eyes were shining so bright that Ed grabbed the dog-tags for a handhold, so he wouldn’t just get swept away.  “Yes, sir.”

It didn’t take long—approximately four seconds, give or take a fraction of a thought or two—for Ed to figure out that he had made the right damn call.  Roy was kissing him, and kissing him, and somehow finishing up that whole pesky undressing process without even pausing for breath; and then he was spreading his hands under the backs of Ed’s knees and hoisting him a little and smoothing his palms up the backs of Ed’s thighs, and it was weird, feeling so… precious.  Because Roy kept touching him like he was—not quite fragile, but… irreplaceable, maybe.  Wondrous or something.  Important.

Also, Roy seemed to be completely convinced that slow, slow, gentle foreplay was an entire discipline of its own—related to, but fundamentally separate from sex itself—and you could write essays and sell books and get degrees and teach classes in this shit all by itself.

He was making a damn good case for it, too.  The man must have had several fucking postgraduate degrees in… well, fucking.

Who even had a bedside table these days, anyway?  Was he really reading the Steven Hawking book on it with a Post-It note sticking out a third of the way through, or had he staged that to make Ed go from desperate to dying in point-two seconds flat?  Ed’s breath was coming fast and ragged; it was like he couldn’t drag enough into his lungs, and the oxygen that he could get was rough-edged, scraping up and down his throat.  He wanted more, more, more

Roy was kissing him, and then pausing, and saying “Don’t tell my dentist,” and ripping the condom foil with his teeth, and Ed may have actually moaned, which was embarrassing as fuck but also pretty much inevitable, so he was planning to get over it.  He’d get right on that as soon as he was done snatching the goddamn latex out of Roy’s unsteady hands and priming the tip with a push of his tongue and then rolling it on good and slow, rubbing with both hands, stroking with the pads of his thumbs to feel the answering press of the veins—

Roy let out a shaky laugh that trailed into a thick sigh, pressing his forehead to Ed’s with his eyes closed for a second, then two—and when he opened them, holy fucking shit, the fire

“Your turn,” he said.

Ed had never seen anybody sling lube that fast.  It was pretty goddamn flattering.

“I’ve got you,” Roy was saying, and Ed realized there was a weird sort of keening whine in the back of his throat, and just a little of it was slipping free.  Roy’s left hand was splayed under the small of his back, hot-hot fingertips and pressure pushing up; Roy’s right was slick on his skin, grazing over the tip of his dick just to make him twitch, gliding down, settling, one knuckle braced against his goddamn perineum, which felt like it was on fire—hot-hot fingertips and pressure pushing in

Ed was grinding his teeth and fisting the sheet; not fast enough; it had to be fast enough that he didn’t get to think— “Fucking g-give it—to me—”

“Not a chance,” Roy said softly.  Too gentle; too slow; it was fucking torture—  “Relax, relax, look at me—”

Ed didn’t have a hope in hell of resisting that voice.  Roy met his eyes and smiled at him, then leaned in and nudged his nose at Ed’s burning cheek and kissed just under the ridge of the bone.

“Look at me,” he said again—a whisper now, barely even more than a breath.

So Ed wrapped one arm around the back of Roy’s neck and held on tight to the crumpled bedclothes with the other, and he watched the dip of Roy’s eyelashes and the curve of that smile, and Roy’s lip dimpled where he started to bite it as he worked his smallest finger in further, and deeper, and…

“How long has it been?” Roy asked, and his eyes didn’t leave Ed’s for a second.

“Way too fuckin’ long,” Ed managed somehow.

“That’s criminal,” Roy said, and his breath caught a little, and that made Ed’s heart just fucking race.  “You’re so beautiful right now I don’t…” The smile widened into a grin with something else to it—shyness?  Couldn’t be.  Not Roy.  “I don’t even have words.  Perhaps it’s a good thing, then; I don’t know if I could bear to think about someone else being here, getting this—I don’t know how anyone could ever give it up.”

Ed pulled him down to kiss him again, maybe-possibly a little too reckless, and a little too hard, with a lot of teeth and a lot of tongue and maybe a bit of bruising.

“Enough with the fucking sweet-talk,” he gasped into the two centimeters between their mouths when he let go long enough for breathing.  “I fucking need you, Roy, for fuck’s sake, just—”

“You’ve already got me,” Roy said, and Ed could tell he kind of wasn’t talking about finger-fucking at this particular moment, even though he was slipping a second one in and starting to pump pretty fucking vigorously now, and God, that was weird, and God, it was good—

Ed twisted his hips down on Roy’s hand harder, and then faster and harder, and then he hit it, and holyfuckinghell yes

“Right fucking there,” he heard about a quarter of his voice gasp out.  “R-right—”

“Duly noted,” Roy said, and Ed wanted to laugh, but he couldn’t find the breath—every fiber of his body had turned to light—every particle a photon; he was white-hot, streaming, scorching, burning from the inside outward towards his all-too-combustible skin—the core of him, the center of his form, was glowing with it, feverishly, pulsing bright—

Roy withdrew his hand, and the disappointment flooded inward with the cold; didn’t the stupid bastard know that he couldn’t afford to let the fire go out—?

But then there was more lube, and little frigid droplets flecked his skin, and then Roy kissed him and whispered “Tell me if I should stop,” which was ridiculous, and holy hell, three fingers and a mouthful of tongue was the new pinnacle of existence, and he didn’t know if he could bear to come down—

He was slamming his hips down hard enough Roy’s wrist was probably in danger of a complex fucking fracture, and the dumbass bastard went and left butterfly kisses on his eyelids and said “Are you okay?”

“Not for long,” Ed said, writhing, grinding, come on— “Not if you keep—holding—back—”

Roy licked a line of sweat—so slowly, so damn slowly—off his throat.

“You’re a dream,” he said.  “I’m dreaming.  Please don’t wake me up.”

Ed started laughing, and maybe it was a little bit hysterical, but he couldn’t help it; he just felt so fucking good.  “Put out or get out, Mustang.”

“In my own bedroom,” Roy said.  “The audacity.”

Ed swung the other leg around Roy’s waist and bucked his hips very, very meaningfully.

“On second thought,” Roy said, “my indignant outrage can wait.”

“Good,” Ed said.

And it was.

And it was.

Roy fucked him slow and slow and shuddering from the front; he’d close his eyes and bury his face in Ed’s neck and whisper “God”, and the shiver would rack through him from the top of his spine and ripple right through Ed’s, like they were one body breathing, like their skin would melt, their sweat would blend, their squeezing veins would intertwine—same bones, same heart, same incandescent elation, and Ed was on the edge

Only then Roy flipped them so fast that his head spun, and they had to stop long enough for Ed to lose his shit laughing over the fact that he was riding Mustang, right, and Roy’s eyes fell half-lidded, and his mouth went into a flat line, and he said “Never heard that one before” in such an impeccable deadpan that Ed lost his shit even more, and then a grin cracked through the pissed-off mask, and they were both laughing until there were tears in Ed’s eyes, and he rolled his hips on Roy’s, and the character of the breathlessness and the air in the room both changed whiplash-quick.

Right when Ed thought he just couldn’t hold the sunshine in anymore, Roy caught his shoulders and turned them over on their sides, like they were just going to lie there, only obviously there was still the pressing issue of Roy’s dick in Ed’s ass.  And then it was even slower, and it should’ve been awkward, but it was smooth, and careful, and gentle, and sweet, and Roy wouldn’t look away from his fucking eyes, and you could see in his that there was nowhere else in the world he would’ve chosen to be.  He brushed Ed’s hair back once, and then again, and then curled his fingers in it and said, “Again?”

Ed said, “Fuck yeah,” and then they made it true.

Ed came with Roy’s hand in his hair and Roy’s teeth on his collarbone—with a whiteout like the obliteration of the fucking universe, with fucking spiral rainbows exploding into sparkles in his stupid brain, and tingling bursts of pleasure coursing down every goddamn nerve he hadn’t wrecked.  He felt like he was on fire, and on ice, and on cloud nine, and also like his joints were jelly, and he never wanted to get up again.

Figured that Roy could somehow be a perfect gentleman even about this; he kissed Ed twice and then tucked his face into the side of Ed’s neck again, gripped Ed’s hipbones with both hands, and followed suit.  He kept panting for a long moment, and when he lifted his head, his hair was all stuck up everywhere with sweat and fuck knew how much wayward lube, and he was so fucking adorable Ed was speechless.

Roy wasn’t, which was pretty much par for the course.

“Hang on a second,” he said.

And then he ducked down and started licking Ed’s fucking jizz off of his stomach, and that—

That just—

Shouldn’t have been hot.  Shouldn’t have been… sweet, really, and tickly; shouldn’t have made him feel even more wanted.

Shouldn’t have mattered.

Shouldn’t have made the pull of this thing’s gravity even stronger, like its weight hadn’t long since fucked the balance of Ed’s entire life.

Roy ran the tip of his tongue slowly over his lip and gave Ed what was without a doubt the single most smoldering look he had ever and would ever receive if he lived to be a thousand and six.

The he reached up and very gently smoothed Ed’s bangs back off of his forehead.

“Was that all right?” he asked.

Ed stared at him for a second before the weird jump-pop-hiccup thing in his chest resolved into helpless laughter.

Roy blinked and then grinned.  “May I take that as a ‘yes’?”

Ed rolled his eyes, and Roy leaned over to deposit the condom in a trashcan that was so close to the side of the bed that it had to be premeditated.  Then he settled back in and pulled the blankets over both of them.

“Get off,” Ed said, pushing at him, albeit not too vigorously, where the bastard was starting to get all cuddly with Ed’s arm.

“Just did,” Roy said contentedly.  “It was fabulous.”

“Your mom is fabulous,” Ed said, play-nipping at Roy’s shoulder to force him to shift.  He’d forgotten how intense the sting-burn-ache feeling could be at first, but he couldn’t exactly say he regretted any of the process.  “Move, I need to go pee.”

“That’s a good idea, actually,” Roy said, collapsing into the pillow the moment Ed vacated it.  “Helps prevent urinary tract infections.  So does cranberry juice.”

Ed’s knees were so fucking weak that he actually had to grab onto the nightstand to stay upright.  The most embarrassing part was that he still didn’t regret it.  “Does it have to be juice, or can you just eat a shit-ton of craisins?”

“Not sure,” Roy said, half-muffled by the pillow now.  “I’ll research.  Let you know.”

“Uh huh,” Ed said.  His legs seemed steady enough to support him now, and he started tentatively for the bathroom, collecting his boxers en route.

“Hurry back,” Roy muffle-called.  “It’s cold.”

“You’re a cuddler, aren’t you?”

“That’s preposterous.”

“You are.  You’re a fucking snuggle monster.”

“Slander and lies.”

Jeez, Roy.”

Roy rolled onto his back and propped himself up on his elbows, which was way too fucking enticing altogether.  He knew it, too, the smug bastard; you could see it in the tilt of his grin.  “Are you coming back or not?”

“Didn’t say I wasn’t,” Ed said, and shut the bathroom door.

On his way back to the bed—and it really wasn’t his fault; never had a bed looked quite so damn inviting—he snagged his phone out of the pocket of his abandoned jeans.  Al had texted Does your face hurt? about half an hour previously, so Ed texted back Because it’s killing me!.  Several disasters ago, they’d somehow settled on that exchange as an all-clear signal, which meant Al could go to sleep in peace knowing Ed was more or less safe and sound.  If Ed had sent Like a bitch, Al would have gotten here in five minutes flat with an escape vehicle and possibly a smoke bomb, if he could figure where those had ended up in the most recent move.

“He’s checking in on me,” Ed said to Roy’s raised eyebrow, setting the phone back down and climbing up onto the mattress.  He’d put the boxers back on; it was just too weird crawling into bed with somebody he barely knew and also being naked.  One or the other he could deal with.  “It’s all good.”

“I could’ve told you that,” Roy said, holding an arm out to him.

Ed considered pretending to be a cuddle snob, and then remembered he’d let the cat out of the bag in the car the other night, so fuck that anyway.  He nestled in as close as he could get and got a good, deep lungful of the Roy-scent that was starting to be a synonym for awesome-happy-great.

The beautiful snuggly silence lasted a grand total of eighteen seconds.

“Now I have to pee, too,” Roy said.

Ed gave him a look.

Roy kissed him, and he forgot how to be mad about it.




Roy coaxed him back out of bed and bestowed a spare toothbrush on him, which Ed accepted primarily because Al would have jumped for joy at the prospect of Ed prioritizing oral hygiene over… other available oral activities.  Roy had put on a pair of blue plaid pajama pants and a faded gray T-shirt by that point, which was both devastatingly cute and sort of disappointing, the latter being based on the simple fact that it meant no more naked Roy.  Which sucked.  Or didn’t actually suck.  Or whatever.

Roy flipped the lights off and settled on the side of the bed further from the door, where the mattress had a little bit of a him-shaped impression, and then they spooned for about a billion years, with Roy carding his fingers slowly through Ed’s hair and talking about this article he’d read that reminded him of Ed, which had been kind of a primer on oncogenes, and either it was pretty accurate, or Ed’s brain had shut off completely the second fingernails grazed his scalp, because he couldn’t come up with any protests.

“All right,” Roy said when Ed was drifting back and forth between Roy actually scratching his head, and a dream of Roy scratching his head.  “I think some sleep is in order.”

“’S your arm all numb?” Ed managed, shifting off of it.

“Slightly,” Roy said, settling back and rolling his wrist.  “I believe I’ll live.”

“S’good,” Ed mumbled.

Roy leaned in, drew his hair back, and kissed just behind his ear.

“Thank you,” he said.  “Tonight was wonderful.”

Stupid Roy.  People were trying to sleep here, and you couldn’t exactly say “Shut the fuck up, I’m about to REM” to that.

Ed summoned the energy to twist around and grin at him a little bit.  “S’not a ‘thank you’ situation when it’s mutual, dumbass.”

Roy favored him with a sardonic look.  “I don’t know how you cope with my incredible denseness.”

“Me neither,” Ed said.  “Maybe you should try beauty sleep, only for your IQ.”

Roy was trying not to laugh.  On most people, maybe that would’ve been unflattering, but it was starting to be Ed’s single favorite of Roy’s eight billion faces.  “If we’re going to investigate that as a possible remedy for denseness, I really think we should set up a control group and some metrics of measurement.”

Ed couldn’t help that his eyes widened.  “Are—okay, back up, are—are you telling me how to do science?”

Roy nodded sagely.

The silence lasted a very long quarter of a minute.

“It was a joke,” Roy said.

“Jokes are funny,” Ed said.

Roy swallowed another bout of laughter.  The bastard.  That wasn’t Ed’s favorite anymore.  “I thought it was funny.”

“What’s funny,” Ed said, “is how you can go from penthouse to doghouse in two seconds flat.”

“I have another question,” Roy said, grinning.  “For science.”

Ed narrowed his eyes in a permissive-slash-expectant sort of way.

“Bacon?” Roy said.

“Always,” Ed said.  “Specifically what are we talking about?”

“Dinner was something of a debacle,” Roy said.  “I’m hoping to redeem my culinary reputation with breakfast.”

“If there’s bacon in it,” Ed said, “I’ll eat it.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” Roy said.

“Unless it’s eggplant,” Ed said.  “Can’t stand that shit.  Or milk.  Not even bacon could save fucking milk.  God.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Roy said.  He wriggled closer and snagged one more kiss.  “All right, for real this time—goodnight.”

“G’night, Roy,” Ed said, and the mind-blower was how totally fucking not-weird it was.




All he had the time and the presence of mind to register was that the room was dark, the blankets were tangling around him, and there was a heavy pressure on his chest.

“Get down—”

A hand gripping his upper arm way too tight, and the weight of a substantial body crushing him down into the mattress—harsh breath in his ear—pain flared through the fucked-up nerve in his shoulder like a flash-flood on steroids; it was like a blowtorch—the adrenaline seared through his system so fast it left him reeling, dizzy, cold-fingered and shaky before he’d even choked in a breath to speak—

And then the breath above him caught, and stutteringly choked back out.

The grasp on his arm released, and the weight retreated, and…

“What the fuck?” he croaked out, trying to reach over across the suddenly-cool expanse of mattress, sheet pale with wrinkled ridges in the weak light filtered through the blinds.  “What—”

“I’m sorry,” the same voice—barely the same voice—said, and then Ed remembered everything, remembered Roy, remembered… “I—shit.  I’m—sorry.  I’m so sorry.  I—”

“Hey,” Ed said, rolling over and pushing himself up into a sitting position, striving to ignore the darts of pain down his shoulder.  “Roy.”

His eyes were starting to adjust to the dark, and he could just distinguish the huddled form at the edge of the bed from the pile of crumpled sheets.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t—I sh-shouldn’t have—I’m sorry, I—”

Roy,” Ed said, reaching out to grab his arm, catching what felt like a wrist.  Roy flinched at the touch and tried to pull away, but Ed wouldn’t let him.  “Look at me.”

He couldn’t distinguish facial features in the dark; who the fuck knew if Roy could see his, either?  Both of them went still, though, for a second, and the only things Ed could hear were a faint, distant clock ticking and the arrhythmic trade-off as they both breathed.  The muscles in Roy’s forearm stayed tense, stayed solid like he’d balled his fist—like he was waiting.

“It’s okay,” Ed said.  “It’s okay; I’m okay; you’re okay.”  Fuck.  “Are you okay?  You know where you are?  I—”

“I’m at home,” Roy said, quietly.  He tugged against Ed’s grip again, and this time Ed let go.  “I didn’t… intend… for you to have to see that.”  He swallowed.  “I was gambling on a good night.”

“It was still a pretty damn good night,” Ed said.  This felt so fucking weird; this felt so fucking bad; it was like all of a sudden a million miles had sprawled out in between them, and the Roy he’d been laughing with for hours was nowhere to be found.  He lowered himself down to the bed again and tried to find a way to lie there that didn’t jar his stupid fucking throbbing punk-ass busted nerve.  “Do—well.  I dunno.  Do you want to talk about it?”

Roy was silent for a long moment, but when he spoke, some of the strain had seeped out of his voice.  “No,” he said, softer.  “Mostly, it’s better not to.  But—thank you.”  A whisper of sheets, then fingertips very light on Ed’s arm— “I mean that.  And I meant the apologies, too; I’m sorry I woke you, and that I… grabbed you like that, and that—that I tainted tonight with this; it really—it really has been extraordinary, and I wish I hadn’t given you cause to remember this when you thought of—”

“Shut up,” Ed said, fumbling to take his hand and haul on it.  “And come here.”

For what was probably the first time in his damn life, Roy obliged on both counts without protest.

Ed wrapped him into the tightest hug humanly possible, and Roy pressed his face into Ed’s hair, and finally, finally, his breathing started to even out.  Ed could hear his heartbeat, settled in this close, and eventually it slowed too.

Roy drew a deeper breath.  His eyelashes kept flicking against Ed’s forehead.  “I really am s—”

“Don’t be sorry,” Ed said, and head-butted under his chin a little for emphasis.  “Just be you.  That’s enough.  Okay?”

Roy was quieter for longer than that merited.  “Ah.  Yes.  Okay.”

Ed head-butted again, because he didn’t want to move his arms, so poking Roy’s sternum was out.  “The whole weird, random silence thing is not so convincing, Roy.”

“Sor…” Roy cleared his throat.  “It’s just that I was… I realized something.”  He went to the trouble of smiling, even in the pitch-black stupid dark, and then he kissed the bridge of Ed’s nose.  “Goodnight, Edward.”

Bastard.  “G’night.”




After the agonizingly slow purgatorial parade that the airlines call “boarding”, Ed winds up in a middle seat (of course) with a huge guy on one side (of course) and a sour-looking older lady by the window (of course).  He almost took his own head off trying to get his duffel and his backpack into the overhead—not because the weight was hard to lift straight over his own head, as was the case for most of the not-quite-so-trained-in-judo-etcetera passengers around him, but because the goddamn motherfucking bins are set so high that he could barely reach to tip his shit over the lip on the edge.  A freakishly tall flight attendant actually had to close the fucking thing for him.  Fuck.

He can barely extend his elbows enough to text, but Roy needs to know about this, so his seat-mates can just suck it the fuck up if he jabs them on accident.

guess what I’m mad about right now

He glances at the time.  It’s just past eight, so Roy shouldn’t be in the car anymore—he should’ve checked that first; Roy has been known to text Ed while driving and then transparently pretend he doesn’t know anything about it.  It’s kind of funny what a shitty liar he is where Ed’s concerned, given, y’know, lawyer and all.

Can I make a list of possibilities? Roy sends back.

shoot Ed says.

1. Crying baby seated behind you.  2. Desk attendant asked you if you were here with an adult while taking your boarding pass.  3. Starbucks “coffee” making you sick.  4. Seated next to two giants who will be able to manipulate your air vent.

It’s a good thing he’s going to have twelve and a half uninterrupted hours—and a layover in New York—to work his way back up to a proper sulk, because Roy’s really ruining this one.

0 for 4, Mustang, you’re losing your touch

I’m not finished yet! Roy sends back.  5. Overhead bins full and/or absurdly poorly designed in discriminatory favor of people who are abnormally large etc. etc.  6. You smelled the “meal” on the way in and are considering a fast.  7. Seat neighbors clearly of the “Drool on my shoulder while you’re sleeping and I’ll put these plastic knitting needles through your throat” philosophy.

Ed mimicks dragging his hand down his face tiredly so he can cover his mouth and hide the grin.  it’s like you’re fucking psychic I swear to god

Still not done!  8. You were hoping against hope that all of the in-flight movies wouldn’t suck, and now you have browsed and been disillusioned.  9. Someone stole your blanket and pillow on the way in, because they’re determined to go to hell in a handbasket.  Said basket will now be cushioned with an airplane pillow.  10. Even your knees don’t fit with this seat.  Not that there’s anything wrong with your knees.  11. Your feet don’t touch the floor because FUCK PLANE DESIGNERS ANYWAY.  12. You can taste the bacteria in the plane air.  13. You just realized you left your gold-framed picture of me at home and are making your peace with the fact that you will feel utterly bereft all week without it.

The steward guy at the front is about to tell them all to turn their devices off; Ed can see it in the bastard’s eyes.

shit goddamn son of a bitch about to take off but.  I hate you you’re perfect.  have a good day okay.  be safe remember to eat remember I love your dumb ass like way too much.  okay bye bye I love you I’ll call you later byeeeeee

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the guy says, waving an arm for good measure.  “We’re about to start taxiing down the runway—I’m going to have to ask you to make sure your seatback trays are stowed, your seats are in the full upright position, and all phones, iPads, laptops, and everything else that goes ‘bleep’ in the night is either off or turned to airplane mode…”

Ed touches the button with his thumb, switches the screen off, shoves his phone in his pocket, and makes a valiant attempt to lean his head back against the way-too-damn-high headrest.

It’s going to be a long, long, long fucking day.  And not just because of the time zones turning one day into basically-two.

He swallows a sigh, rolls his shoulders, and settles in.  Roy’ll be waiting for his call when he gets in, and Roy’ll make it better, and that’s enough.  That’s enough to look forward to, and enough to believe in, and enough to get him through.

He catches himself smiling.  Goddamn Roy.