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This Lion is in the Garden

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Ed really wished someone had warned him about arranged marriages when he had signed up for this prince thing.

It was too late to back out now, of course, and he had volunteered for this—who knew that being elevated to royalty could increase your love of people and country or some shit like that—but fuck it all if that meant he had to like it.  Or his husband-to-be.  Not that he had met the guy yet, but he was already pretty sure that he'd hate him.  That kind of shit just happened to Ed way more often than was remotely fair.

He could feel his father and brother shifting anxiously beside him.  Why were they nervous?  They weren't the ones whose wedding was tomorrow.  And who hadn't even met the guy yet.  And fine, so the alliance between Xing and Xerxes was riding on this, could collapse if this went badly.  But that wasn't their problem.  Not unless Ed fucked it up.  Which he wasn't going to. So they really didn't need to be nervous.

Ed swallowed, glancing over the railing of the pavilion, searching the approaching procession intently.  He had thought he would be able to pick out his betrothed by sheer elaborateness of the clothing, but he had underestimated how many princes the Xingese had.  The fuck did you do with that many, anyway?  And that wasn't even starting on the princesses.  If they were even all royalty.  Shit, what if some of them were just nobility?  Members of the household?  While he appreciated the welcome, as it was his first time to Xing, it was all a bit… much.

Ed suddenly felt very self-conscious of his own clothing.  His was nice, of course, red Xerxesian formal wear, but so many of these people were up to par without even seeming to try.  The Xerxesian entourage wasn’t nearly as elaborately done up, either.  While there was certainly a purpose for it—they wanted their royalty to stand out, after all—the Xingese had better fucking not think it made them any lesser.

And god, what if he was gross, or ugly, or rude?  Ed's experiences with foreign royalty had been less than pleasant, especially when they found out that he hadn't been born into it—a bastard until his father’s marriage “legitimized” them as royals.  Only Ed’s peers often didn’t see it that way.

Still, the guy had probably done his research, or at least the Xingese royal family had.  And if they made a giant fuss about it?  Relations between the countries would be kaput.

And no one would be that stupid.  No one.  Despite what the anxious shifting of Ed’s father and brother seemed to suggest.

The procession slowed as it neared them, and not for the first time, Ed desperately cursed the pomp and circumstance and formality that inevitably plagued anyone of high birth.  He was going to have a fucking heart attack at this rate out of anxiety, though he made sure that the scowl on his face hid that damned well.

The procession parted, and two men stepped forward.

For a brief moment, Ed felt his stomach sink at the sight of the much older man, wondering wildly why they hadn't bothered to mention the incredible age difference, but when he turned to the younger and inclined his head respectfully, it suddenly made much more sense.

He felt a hand on his back nudge him forward, just a little.  Al, probably.  He stepped out, lifting his chin.  He would not allow these foreigners to judge him, especially if they were to become his own people.

"Edward of Xerxes," the older man says in a loud, carrying voice, the words Xingese.  "The Empire of Xing welcomes you, as does its crown prince, Ling Yao."

Now, that name Ed knew.  His fiancé.  With a deep breath, he turned get his first look at his husband-to-be.

He was not, Ed was immediately relieved to note, extremely old.  In fact, he couldn't be much older than Ed—though he had to be a couple years older, given his height.  And—all right, he wasn't terribly ugly, either.  Wasn't ugly at all, in fact.  Ed would definitely withhold judgement on "good-looking" until he actually got to know the guy, but he couldn't see anything totally intolerable at first glance.

Ling Yao inclined his upper body, and Ed, pre-warned of protocol, did the same.  Ed took a moment to sneak a more thorough glance at his face.  Soft, high cheekbones, a dignified chin, and though his narrow eyes were solemn and formal for the occasion, there was kindness in their depths for the brief moment that he caught Ed's with his own.

All right, so he was pretty good-looking.

And the formality of his clothing matched Ed's own, though the stark difference to Xerxesian finery left him enchanted—even if it hadn't been gloriously intricate embroidery on silk that seemed to shimmer from a jade green through hues of darker green and even blue depending on the light, it was a beautiful feast for his eyes.  Not better than Xerxesian formal wear, of course, but certainly almost on par, at least.

"As a symbol of our future union," the older man continued, "we present you with a gift."

Ling reached into the golden silk sash he was wearing and pulled out a golden box with rounded corners.  The designs etched into it were as intricate as the Xingese embroidery, characters from the alphabet that Ed was still struggling to master.  There were animals as well, and—his eyes lit up with interest as he recognized Xingese alchemical symbols.  Not transmutation circles, but he'd done research into alkahestry and could see that there were components that had been incorporated into the design.

“Woah,” he breathed, eyes fixed on the box, lifting his hands to accept it.  He glanced upwards to Ling’s face to see the eagerness masked in those dark eyes.  When Ling pulled his hands away, he made a motion with his hands, mouthing two words.  Open it.

Ed pulled it back, watching Ling for a moment before glancing down at the box.  He couldn’t see the hinges, but there did seem to be a small seam that he could pry his fingers into and push the box open.

When he did so, a beautiful golden figure of a lion, one paw raised and with red gems for eyes, rose from the depths—and came alive.  Ed stared at it in shock for a moment, mouth gaping, as a chiming tune began to play.

It took several moments of shock to realize that the small lion was not actually alive, but a very cleverly mechanized figure powered, it appeared, by some sort of wind-up mechanism that also played the music.

His first thought, which was accompanied by a jolt of homesickness, was that Winry would have loved to look at it.  The second was a huge jumble of many different questions that all stuttered to a halt when Ling and his escort watched Ed expectantly.

He yanked his thoughts away from the box, slamming it closed as he realized, with horror, that they expected him to have a gift to give Ling.  No one had fucking warned him of that!

But—no, it’d be fucking okay, and Ed had promised Al he wouldn’t cause any more major diplomatic incidents.  And Ed was a master at quick thinking, at least.  He quickly took stock of the jewelry he was wearing.  More than enough for some to vanish with no one noticing.

Fine, he’d put on a fucking show, then.

He grinned brilliantly over at Ling, prompting a curious eyebrow raise from the latter.  Squaring his shoulders, he lifted his hands, clapping them together.  Blue bolts of light raced up his arms, across his back, over his face.  Rings vanished from his fingers, piercings from their holes, but by the end of it, Ed held a golden pendant of a dragon, dangling from a cord courtesy of a small amount of missing cloth from the inside of a hem.  With a faint, smug smile around his mouth, he held out one gloved finger, from which the pendant dangled.  Ling's eyes lit up, and he accepted it with a smile about as brilliant—though less smug—than Ed's earlier one.

The momentary almost-disaster averted, Ed lifted his chin, and as he stepped back to listen to more formalities, he felt very pleased with himself.

For all that Ed was a brilliant alchemist, he could not, for the life of him, figure out how to use chopsticks.

He knew all the ways not to use them, of course. Diplomatic incidents and all that.  But really, he should have fucking practiced before he came here; Xerxesian cuisine rarely required utensils.  He was almost positive that, despite having yet spoken a word to him, his husband-to-be kept glancing over and smirking.  Very subtly, and very quickly.  He supposed it could be that Ling was impressed with how much food Ed kept putting away, even with the obvious handicap, but he had an annoyed feeling that that might be too much to hope for.

Still, Ed did his best to ignore the guy—see?  He was a fucking snob, after all—as he chased bits of rice around his plate, a scowl on his face, when he heard something he definitely did not expect.

“Here, try this!”

Ed’s head jerked up and he glanced around for a moment before realizing who must have spoken the words.  He turned to his left to be greeted by the sight of a pleasantly smiling Ling, chopsticks in hand, a bite-sized cut of meat between them.

“Huh?”

His first words to his future husband should have probably been a little more intelligent, or at least coherent, but it was all Ed could manage right now.

“It’s a Xingese delicacy.”  Ling tilted his head to the side, almost as if he were curious.  “Try it.”

Ed eyed the cut of meat, frowning, and then Ling, both with suspicion.  “What is it?”

Ling sighed melodramatically, as if Ed had just made him the most put-upon person in the entire world.  “Just try it!  You’ll like it!”

Ed frowned at him for a moment more before turning his attention back to the food.  It did look good, even if it was different than anything he had seen before.  He reached out, but as he did, Ling yanked it away.  Ed straightened with indignation.  He fucking knew—

“Not with your hands, silly.”  For all that Ed wanted to interpret disguised malice in the words, there was only gentle chiding that he could tell.

Ed continued to watch it, quickly weighing the benefits and disadvantages.  There was, however, one very significant benefit: food.  Right there.  His stomach won over, as it always did, and he leaned forward, opening his mouth, alert for a trick, just in case.

But the meat settled within his mouth and Ling withdrew the empty chopsticks, watching him as assessingly as Ed was chewing.

And Ed hated to admit it, but it was good.  It was duck, though not even close to what Xerxes normally served: crispy skin with less meat than Ed expected, but it practically melted in his mouth, savory notes with a hint of sweetness.  So maybe living here wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

He didn’t miss the gleam of satisfaction in Ling’s eyes when Ed let out a small moan, but just chalked it up that they had actually fucking connected over something instead of hating everything.

“Okay, not too bad.”  Ed kept his tone casual—perhaps a little too casual—but Ling just smiled pleasantly again.  Ed found himself wondering if he was really that pleasant, or if there was something else going on here.

“Only not too bad?” Ling teased.  “I’ll have to try harder, then.”

For just a moment, that gleam of satisfaction appeared in Ling’s eyes again, offset by something just a little more predatory.  Ed swallowed or a moment, preparing to bristle and call him the fuck out for whatever was going on—but then Ling returned to his food and it vanished.  As Ling harmlessly turned over pieces of his meat on his plate, all of Ed’s aggression seemed to evaporate, like fire in the presence of no oxygen.  It just left him… confused.

Which was annoying in its own right, and that Ed could feel plenty of.

It was almost as if Ling could tell, though, because he turned once again, and this time he held a small bunch of thin cucumber sticks between his chopsticks like a peace offering.

“Why?” Ed snapped, still unable to shake his suspicion as he eyed the food—perhaps a bit more hungrily than he would have liked.

“Because it goes well with the duck,” Ling replied simply, still with that stupid pleasant smile on his face.

“Yeah, but who says I can’t fuckin’ do it myself?”

Instead of getting angry or insulted, Ling just shrugged, still holding the food out.  “Please?”

Of all the responses Ed had expected, this was certainly not one of them.  He continued to search Ling’s face for a few more moments, then sighed, leaning in and opening his mouth.

Ling hadn’t been lying; the coolness of the cucumber did go well with warm crispiness of the duck.  He glanced back up at Ling, who, once again, looked so very pleased.

“‘Kay, maybe a little better’n not just too bad,” Ed admitted, mouth full, eyes straying to Ling’s plate, which was heaped with just as much food as Ed’s—and had the ability to get to it much, much more easily.

Ling held up another cut of duck, so very, very pleased.  “Try some more?”

Chopsticks aside, Ed quickly developed a very favorable opinion of Xingese cuisine.

He did have to admit that Ling had good culinary taste, and with each new piece of food, he could feel the tension in his muscles unknotting, just a bit.  Ling took care to pick the most choice selections, it seemed, and was nothing but pleasant for every interaction.  And the attention, the idea of Xingese royalty devoting himself to ensuring that Ed enjoyed himself, was far more of a draw than it likely should have been.

The duck became an instant favorite, and other high points included bamboo shoots, something Ling called “oyster,” and some kind of dumpling.  Seafood was a rarity in Xerxes, even for a prince, and Ed found the amount available very promising.

“Mm, we’re much closer to the ocean than you are,” Ling commented, still agreeable as ever, offering more oyster that Ed promptly snatched up with his teeth.  “This is only a small amount of what we have, too.  “I don’t believe they’re serving octopus tonight.  A personal favorite.”

“The fuck’s an octopus?”  It sounded fake; Ed glared over at Ling, wondering if this was an attempt to mess with him.  Al would probably know, what with his interest in all sorts of things nature and shit, but Al was over there, seated with their father.  Ed glanced quickly in that direction—or, at least, it was supposed to be quick.  Upon catching a glance at them, however, he couldn’t look away.

Al stared right back at him, eyes wide, expression completely dumbfounded.  Hohenheim’s was more reserved, of course, but they both looked as surprised as Ed had ever seen him.

His scowl returned.  What? he mouthed, narrowing his eyes defensively.  They both looked away quickly.

Assholes.  “Edward?”

Ed jumped slightly, glancing back over towards Ling.  “Huh?”

“I was asking if that sounded good.”  Ling tilted his head again, and Ed’s distraction had not yet settled.  Ling did look somewhat endearing when he did that; most unprincelike, of course, but somehow that seemed to make it all the more appealing.

“Yeah,” Ed found himself saying, trying to tug his attention back to the present.  “Sounds great.”

“Excellent!”  Ling beamed, and Ed’s frown deepened.  What right did the bastard have to be so charming?  “I hope the rest of Xing is agreeing with you as well as its food?”

Instead of answering, Ed turned back to his own food, suddenly feeling the need to quickly increase his own proficiency with chopsticks.  It couldn’t be that hard; after all, everyone in the fucking country used utensils—

A tug on the shoulder of his sleeve caught his attention yet again, and when Ed turned, Ling offered him yet another food object.  This one, however, Ed could not identify, with all the sauce coating it.  But hey, at this point he trusted Ling’s judgement—with food, at least—and so he leaned forward yet again.  

Right as it passed through Ed’s lips, however, Ling’s hand seemed to shake slightly, quite at odds with his usual dexterous handling of the utensils.  While the food did get in his mouth, and it was as delicious as the rest, it left a sticky gob of sauce dripping from the corner of Ed’s mouth.

“Shit,” Ed muttered, chewing and swallowing quickly in order to clear out his mouth so he could lick it off, but just in time remembered that doing so might not reflect exactly in the best way on the Xerxesian royal family.  Instead, he lifted his hand to wipe it off with a napkin.

Ling’s hand darted out to stop him.  “No, no.  Let me.”

Before Ed could ask what the fuck he meant, Ling leaned forward, way too fucking close.  His tongue flicked out, cleaning the sauce off of Ed’s mouth with startling efficiency.  Just as Ed was about to yank away and snarl, What the hell?!, Ling shifted slightly, tilting his head again in the most infuriating fucking way before he pressed their lips together.

Ed’s desire to yank away and yell at him increased, but everything was frozen—his voice, his face, his hands.  The softness of Ling’s lips distracted him significantly, and despite how irrational the next thought was that raced through his mind—he has that and the cute head-tilt?  Un fucking fair—his mind lingered on it, on the sensation, the mental image of Ling and his fond smile.  A full sensory experience, really, the clean smell of Ling combined with the savory taste of Xingese food, all wrapped up with the pounding silence in his ears.

When Ling finally pulled away—probably after only a few moments, but it felt like a fucking year—Ed tried to snap at him to back the fuck off, that he had no fucking right to do that, but upon feeling the burning in his cheeks, the sudden coolness against his mouth with the loss of Ling’s presence, all he could do was just—let out a gargling noise that sounded embarrassingly like a squeak.

Ling’s brilliant smile at that snapped Ed out of his paralysis, and he finally managed to stammer, “The fuck was that for!”

Ling simply shrugged, turning back to pile more food on his plate.  “You look a lot cuter when you’re surprised than when you're scowling like that.”

Ed’s jaw dropped, preparing to tell Ling exactly what he fucking thought of that.

Ling turned and shoved some bread into Ed’s mouth.

And it was good bread, Ed had to admit, good enough that he decided to at least finish it before biting Ling's head off.

But by the time the massive hunk of bread had been chewed and swallowed properly, however, the servants had set out several new dishes, some with apparent Xerxesian influences, which piqued Ed's interest immensely.

And his curiosity did not disappoint.  The food drove all other distractions from his mind, and by the time he stopped to breathe, he and Ling had nearly demolished the platters.  With a wince, he realized that he had completely hogged one of his favorite dishes, not allowing Ling a chance to try it.

A plan began to form in the depths of his mind.

He still had a few slices of the lamb on his plate, and he had been watching Ling carefully during the meal.  For educational purposes only, of course.  He gave the chopsticks a few tentative clicks before reaching down to grasp a slice of the lamb with them.

When he lifted his prize into the air, it shook noticeably, but it didn't slip and fall just like most other things had done this evening.  Face set in a determined expression that he usually reserved for going into battle, he turned to his left.

"Hey, you."

Ling looked up, blinking slowly, almost sleepily, his gaze shifting from Ed's face to the food.  He raised his eyebrows for a moment before realization dawned and he grinned brilliantly again.

Ed was positive that he never looked that dignified or graceful when leaning forward to eat from Ling’s chopsticks, and he couldn’t look away.  In another area of his mind he wondered briefly if this was why Ling had done this for Ed, if he knew how it would feel to see him like this.  The idea bothered him more than he wanted to admit.

Ling then proceeded to eat the food very, very slowly.  His tongue flicked out to lick up the sauce on the chopsticks, glancing upwards at Ed with a slight smirk as he practically sucked the meat into his mouth—shit, shit, shit!

It took Ed several moments of watching Ling chew to realize that he had dropped the chopsticks onto the ground.

Which, his brain decided to remind him, now meant that Ling was now the only one of the two of them with utensils.

Ed wasn’t the only one to realize it, either, judging by the way Ling now grinned wickedly.

Fuck.  Ed was quite possibly in trouble.

But after several moments, Ling turned back to his food, picking up a vegetable as if everything was normal and holding it out.  No, not normal, Ed realized as he leans in, because it was a little closer to Ling, so he had to lean forward—

Without warning, Ling’s face blocked out the sight of the food, and before Ed could renavigate around it, Ling had pressed his lips to Ed’s again, stealing another kiss.

Ed couldn’t stop the startled noise he uttered into Ling’s mouth, but when Ling pulled back, the food was still right there.  It didn’t take Ed any time at all to weigh his options: he continued on his course until he had eaten the vegetable, warm and garlicky and delicious.

“You’re an asshole,” Ed muttered around the very large bite of plant.

Ling shrugged.  “Tsk, you have to earn it if you want to eat my food!”

Ed expected him to turn and smirk, but he just went back to eating pleasantly.  The flush on Ed’s face got worse, and he couldn’t for the fucking life of him figure out why.  He was annoyed, yes, but when he tried to figure out why, it was more… disappointment.  Disappointment that the kiss had been so brief.

Ed quickly shoved away those thoughts.  Fine.  Earn it, huh?  He’d fucking earn it.  Ling was chewing.  Distracted.  Ed lunged forward, clumsy and awkward.  So he had no fucking idea what he had doing; he’d never even been kissed until a few minutes ago.  

He’d meant for it to be a quick kiss, but Ling apparently had an impressive way of fucking up Ed’s plans.  Somehow, Ling’s hand found its way to the back of Ed’s head, holding him there, and—shit, apparently Ling had swallowed his food, because his fucking tongue was inside Ed’s mouth!

At that, Ed yanked away, eyes wide, breathing heavily, mouth slightly ajar in shock.  That, however, led to an irrational fear that Ling would somehow find a way to stick his tongue into it again, so he snapped it closed.

And Ling was beaming.

Ed stared at him for several more moments, one again so very angry at how good Ling looked when he was smiling, until the reality of the situation crashed into him.

People were watching.

They were watching that display.

He risked a glance around to see that several pairs of eyes had settled onto him and Ling, but he very deliberately looked in the direction of his brother and father.  Food.  He should get back to his food.  Ed turned back to his plate, lifting his hand—

No chopsticks.

“Edward.”

“Ed,” Ed automatically corrected as he glared resentfully at the plate.  “I go by Ed.”

“Ed, then.  Do you want this?”

When Ed looked, Ling was holding a fork.  Dangling it.

“Hey, where—!”

“I asked a servant to bring it,” Ling cut in with a casual shrug.  “Well?  Do you?  Doooo you?”

Ed narrowed his eyes at the obnoxiously playful tone, about to tell Ling where he could stick the fucking fork.  “What do you want for it?”

“Hey, hey!  If you keep always assuming that I have an ulterior motive—”

“Which you have, for everything, since I’ve met you.”

“—then you’re not gonna enjoy any of the gifts I get you.”

“Like what?”  Ed looks at Ling askance, tone dry and skeptical.  Ling simply sighed, tapping the tines of the fork against his bottom lip.  Ed watched it intently, telling himself that it was just that he wanted the utensil.

“Tell you what.  I’ll give it to you on one condition.”

“I fucking knew it.”

“When we’re done, I wanna show you something.”

“Deal.”

It shouldn’t have been a big deal.  After all, Ed had just promised to look, not do anything.  But the pleased expression on Ling’s face had him wondering if he had just made a very significant mistake.

Whatever Ling had to show him, Ed was apparently not to find out just yet.  The moment the food was cleared, Ling dragged Ed off for dancing.

He was a very good dancer, Ed had to admit.  He knew how to lead, so even though Ed was not especially familiar with the dances, he had no trouble whatsoever.  He reluctantly sent up an apology into the ether directed towards the harried dancing teacher that had put up with Ed’s stubbornness over the years.

Ling remained mostly silent as he did so, allowing Ed to catch his bearings.  Ed tried just to concentrate on the new techniques, the patterns and similarities, but he found himself increasingly aware of the contact between their hands, the warmth of Ling’s hand on his waist, the muscles of Ling’s shoulder under his own hand.  And they were close, so very, very close.  Close enough that he could see the rise and fall of Ling’s chest under the silk shirt.

He shoved those thoughts out of his mind, distracting it by focusing instead on the problem presented by the dance, breaking it down into something that can be solved.

Once Ed accustomed himself to the steps, however, he was able to focus on more important things.

“So that thing you gave me.  With the lion, that played the music?”

“The music box, yes.”

“That’s what it’s called?  Music box?  It’s based on a Persian mechanical instrument, yeah?”

“Yes!”  Ling beamed at him, obviously extremely pleased that Ed had picked up on it.  “When this betrothal was arranged, our countries began to trade knowledge almost immediately.  We combined the technology of your instrument with our clockwork to produce things like that.  It’s the first they’ve created, and I thought it would be a nice representation of our union.”

Ed snorted before he could help it, but Ling didn’t seem to be too offended.  Ed wondered how resilient Ling’s skin had to be.  “Well, I got a friend back home who loves that kinda shit.  She’d love to see it, especially what the fuck ever is up with the lion.”

Ling’s smile widened, though Ed couldn’t really tell exactly why.  “The mechanization?  Yes, that’s another feat of engineering, or so I’m told.  It’s not exactly something with which I’m familiar, though.”  He tilted his head again, and Ed’s stomach did some weird sort of obnoxious flip-flop.

“I—right, yeah.  Winry’s big into it, though.”  He paused, another thought occurring to him.  “Reminds me, she made me swear to ask—what’s this I hear about this new metalworking technique you guys have perfected?”

The way Ling lit up at Ed’s words left Ed utterly breathless.

In addition to being a wonderful conversationalist, Ed's fiancé was apparently extremely perceptive as well: when they had danced until Ed's lungs were just burning, the juncture of his thigh and the automail leg just aching, Ling finally spun him off the dance floor, a steadying hand on his back, panting at the same rate as Ed.

“Now, as for that thing you said I could show you.”

Ed glanced over at Ling, eyes narrowed.  "If it's somethin' gross—"

"No, no, not at all!"  Ling flapped his hand dismissively.  "Why are you so suspicious of everything I do?"

Ed just narrowed his eyes, the incident from dinner fresh in his mind.  Given Ling's suddenly shifty expression, it wasn't too far from his, either.

"Well, anyway, it has nothing to do with that.  Not that I've done anything strictly gross.  I just want to show you a little hospitality.  Besides, you already agreed."

Using Ed's honor as leverage was rankling, but Ling was right.  "Fine, let's get this over with."

Ling grabbed his arm, whisking him off yet again.  Legend held that the Xerxesian royal family held lion's blood in their veins; Ed wondered if Xingese royalty was of dragonfly descent.

Still, their destination was certainly not where Ed expected.  Ling navigated them behind some pillars, into a smaller room, then out through a doorway.  The mugginess of nighttime summer air settled across his face like a veil of a material thinner than spider's silk; faint as it might be, it still didn't fail to startle someone from such an arid desert climate.  As Ed's eyesight adjusted to the dim light after the brightness of the indoors, the soft light of the moon combined with small globes hung from poles that emitted a contrasting warm light revealed a garden that rivaled even the cultivated oases of Xerxes's palace.  True, they were developed far differently—the Xerxesian gardeners worked with the desert plant life, utilizing flourishing vegetation that thrived in the desert, and Ed had never seen most of these plants before, beautiful and colorful as many of the flowers might have been.  His eyes feasted on the sight, and combined with a lack of hordes of people swarming around him, he finally began to relax in the presence of his betrothed.

Of course, the first thing out of his mouth was a question about the lighting globes, which led to a long and semi-technical explanation from Ling that wasn't nearly as detailed as Ed would have liked, but he hung onto every word.

"And that works?" he interjected with disbelief when Ling finished, head spinning from the explanation of chemical reactions and reduced danger of fire.

"As far as I understand," Ling replied with a nod, his arm warm under Ed's hand.  "I'm no expert, of course, but at some point I can introduce you to the craftsmen who make them."

Ed's face split into a grin, and his stomach did that weird flip-flop again.  "Yeah, I'd like that!"

"Mm, good."  Ling's thoughtful tone had undercurrents of something else on his mind, but when Ed glanced over at him, Ling returned the look, catching his eye, then leaned in to snatch a quick kiss.  Ed stilled, allowing it for a moment, even enjoying it, before he pulled back with a sigh.

"Look, is this all you brought me out here for?  More of this..."  He hesitated, trying to think of a word disdainful enough to convey his feelings on the matter, but then just settled on, "...kissing stuff?"

Ling tilted his head, and he really needed to fucking stop doing that.  "Well, I only wanted to get away from the giant crowd and get to know you a little better in private, but it is one option.  What else did you have in mind?"

Ed seized on the words immediately.  "Well, gettin' to know each other, then!  I don't know a fuckin' thing about you besides your name and that you're clumsy as shit."  Belatedly, he realized that the last bit might have come across as excessively rude instead of the humorous he had intended, so he punctuated it with a grin that rivaled even Ling's.  Ling returned it, and on a sudden urge, Ed leaned in to bump Ling's shoulder with his own.  "I don't even know your fuckin' favorite color."

"It's gold."

When Ed watched Ling's face, he thought he might be able to detect a hint of mischief there, but he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to bring it up.  "Gold.  Okay then.  Mine's red."

"And it suits you well," Ling murmured, softly enough that Ed wasn't entirely sure he was supposed to hear—or maybe he was only supposed to think that.  Who knew what game Ling was playing?  He looked away, fairly certain that at this point his face matched his clothing and, thus, the topic of conversation.

"My turn!"  Ling's cheerful tone caught Ed's attention, had him turning his head back in that direction even though he had just looked away.  The notion that someone could have that much influence over him should be frustrating, he knew, but it didn't bother him as much as it should have.

"The fuck're you talkin' about?"

"For the questions game."  Ling tilted his head to the other side.  Ed hoped that Xingese chiropractic was as good as rumored.  "What's your favorite weapon?"

Ling couldn't know it, but he could not have picked a better question to ease one of Ed's chief fears.  He knew that his appearance might seem "delicate" or "girly" or what the fuck ever bullshit stupid people who didn't fucking pay attention to him, and that it must mean that he was weak or helpless or something.  So maybe he was finer-featured than Al, with a smaller build.  It didn't mean he couldn't kick anyone's ass if he really needed to.  But Ling—Ling looked at him and thought, "Of course he has a preferred weapon."  Of course Ed was a fighter.

"Arm," he replied instantly, smirking a little at the confused expression on Ling’s face.

“Do you mean barehanded, or—”

“Hey, no fair!  Only one question.  Now you have to answer.”  Two could play at that game, Ling Yao.

Ling, however, just sighed, a smile on his face as he tilted his head back, looking up at the stars.  “My dao.  It’s a kind of sword.  Very efficient.”

Ed tugged his gaze away from Ling and focused instead on the path in front of them, which led them away from the more lit areas and into the depths of the garden.  “We should fight.  At some point.  I’ll kick your ass.”

“You’re welcome to try,” Ling scoffed.  Ed just smirked.  The prince talked a big game, yeah, but everyone always underestimated Ed.  And underestimating a left-handed swordsman was always a recipe for defeat.

“Yeah, yeah.  What’s your favorite food?”

Ling frowned slightly, giving it serious thought.  Ed watched, oddly fascinated.  Despite their similarities in age, Ling had focus lines in his brow, which made him seem even more mature.

“Red bean buns,” Ling finally finished determinedly.  “They’re delicious.

Ed had never heard of whatever the fuck those things were, but now he had to try them.  Unless they had been one of the unidentifiable foods in the massive amounts of Xingese cuisine he had inhaled.  “Sounds weird.”  But Ed was grinning.

Ling just scoffed.  “You’re weird.  What’s yours?”

“Lamb.  That lamb shit from earlier.  Fuckin’ delicious.”

Ling paused, then comprehension dawned on his face.  “Oh, you mean what you fed me?”  His understanding shifted to a smirk.  “I quite liked that.”

Ed’s cheeks continued to burn, and he looked away.  “Your fuckin’ question.”

As they walked deeper into the maze, Ed finally started to get to know his husband-to-be.  He was actually a few months younger than Ed, though, which irked him for some reason—May to Ed's February.  His favorite season was summer, where Ed's was fall.  And, according to Ling, his alcohol tolerance was terrible.  Definitely something to remember.  Ling also asked where, exactly, some of his piercings had gone, with a knowing smirk that left Ed with no doubt that he knew exactly what had happened, but Ed had refused to answer on the basis that Ling wasn’t able to answer the same.

Ling started it, the serious questions.  What’s your greatest fear?  For that, their answers had been the same—concern for their country, for their people, letting them down.  Failing them.  Ed had retorted with an embarrassed and defensive, “How many people have you had sex with?”  Unfortunately the answers left him even more embarrassed: Ling’s six to Ed’s resounding zero.

Deep, dark secrets.  Family.  Have you ever been in love. Their depth of their questions increased with the depth into the garden that they went.  Ed really wasn’t sure what made him ask it; it just seemed to slip out.

“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”

It was accompanied, of course, by a wince, and a sinking reminder that he’d have to answer the same question.  But Ling watched him as he walked, his arm having now slid around Ed’s waist, keeping him close.  It was only after several moments that he finally started speaking.

“The competition for Xingese inheritance is fierce.  Incredibly fierce.  I haven’t gotten here easily.  I’ve had to… beat out a lot of rival clans to do it.”

With a swallow, Ed realized that he might not want to hear the answer to this question.

“But whatever happened, it had to be the best for Xing.”  Ling looked away.  “This country needs help.  It’s foundering.  Not terribly, but it needs strong rulers that are not served by the people, but serve the people.  There was a clan, another strong contender, in the running.  But they weren’t best for Xing.”  With a deep breath, Ling tilted his head back, staring at the stars.  “They weren’t even good for Xing.  And I had to make sure they would never rule.”  He was quiet for several moments.  “They’re not a problem anymore.”

The revelation hit Ed with a wave of dizziness, and before he could stop himself, found himself asking quietly, “Tell me there weren’t any children?”  When Ling looked over at him, however, he quickly continued, “I—no, I’m—I was only supposed to ask one question.  My turn.”

“To tell me the worst thing you’ve ever done?”  Ling’s tone was wry.  “I’m sure you can’t wait.”

Ed snorted, but at least this one wasn’t difficult to answer.  “I played god.  Or tried.  It cost me—me and my brother a lot.”  After a moment of hesitation, he tugged away from Ling, turning to face him.  It was instinct that made him shift so his back was to a tree, for even a little protection, at least.  With a deep breath, he pulled at the fingers on his right glove, exposing it to the evening air and Ling’s eyes.  The automail glinted in the moonlight.  Ling’s eyes showed his confusion, and Ed continued.  “You’re not an alchemist, but do you know anything about using it to bring a human being back to life?”

At Ling’s widening eyes, the comprehension dawning on his expression, Ed knew that he understood.  “Oh.”

“Yeah.  Oh.”  Ed winced.  “I got off lucky.  Just an arm and a leg.  My brother… I really don’t wanna fuckin’ go into it, but let’s just say that even as princes, it’s not exactly easy to get back a body.”

“A—a body?  Is he—”

“No, he’s all right now,” Ed interrupted quickly.  “You saw him, yeah?  We… I guess we sorted it out, a few years back.  But I dragged my brother into it, and I just…”

He closed his eyes for a moment, wishing that the conversation hadn’t brought back all those memories, the guilt, and this time, it was accompanied by more, by a fear that that kind of desecration would make Ling recoil.

But when Ed opened them, Ling was much, much closer than he had been before.

He wasn’t sure who made the first move.  He thought it was Ling, but then again, he had tilted his head up and locked his eyes with Ling’s, and then Ling had taken Ed’s face and was kissing him gently.

Ed was certainly the one who deepened the kiss, reaching up to grab Ling’s arms, tilting his head and pressing forward.  He was the one who opened his mouth slightly, letting Ling’s tongue flick in gently, trace against his own.  He was the one who couldn’t help the soft noises coming from his throat, little sounds of pleasure and desperation.

One of Ling’s hands drifted down to Ed’s waist, and the other reached up to tug at Ed’s hair, wrapping around the braid and pulling gently.  Ed was quick to reciprocate, lifting his own hand and burying the fingers in Ling’s ponytail.  And shit, if what he was doing to Ling felt half as good as what Ling was doing to him, Ed was already on his way to becoming a damn good husband.

At some point Ling's other hand, the one not playing with Ed's hair, had moved to his thigh, applying a gentle pressure with his thumb to the inside of it.  Ed moaned again, giving Ling an opening to slide his tongue in a little more, and Ed found himself reciprocating, his own hesitant tongue coaxed into action.  Ling, though, pulled away after a few minutes, leaving Ed unsteady and trying to lean in for something that wasn’t there.  No, Ling was somewhere else: sighing and nuzzling into Ed’s jaw.

“Shit,” he gasped as Ling pressed his own thigh between Ed’s.  “Ling, I—shit—”

Ling didn’t respond, just pushed forward, and Ed’s back hit the rough bark of the tree behind him.  For a moment, he thought it was an accident, tried to pull back and maneuver around it, but when Ling very deliberately pinned him there, his brain caught up with the situation.

“Oh,” he whispered, eyes wide.

“Yeah,” Ling murmured, lips pressed against Ed’s jaw.  “Oh.”  His hand slid down again, grabbing Ed’s thigh, tugging at it, but Ed needed no further urging to lift his leg and hook it around Ling’s waist.

He was not expecting Ling to sigh, sounding far too pleased with himself, and grind very, very deliberately against him.

He let out a noise that suspiciously resembled a whimper, a hand scrambling to grip Ling’s shoulder and steady himself, the other probably tugging almost too hard on Ling’s hair.  “Fuck!”

Ling chuckled softly, continuing to grind.  And fuck, it felt good—better than Ed could have ever expected, especially with someone he had just fucking met.  It had barely taken anything to get him hard, let alone grinding back and gasping for more.  He closed his eyes, tilting his head back to allow Ling to kiss on his neck.

“You know,” Ling murmured, sliding a hand up Ed’s side, fingers trailing under his shirt, over the spaces between his ribs, “They’ll kill us if they catch us doing that.”

Ed’s brain didn’t process the meaning at first—the murmured word fuck, whispered over and over, had become more unconscious prayer than intentional exclamation at this point.  And even after he had processed it, he didn’t really feel the need to respond—not if it was going to stop this—and settled for rocking his own hips forward, a certain illicit thrill in the knowledge that Ling was just as hard as he was.  To what end this was supposed to be, Ed couldn’t say, but he didn’t want to stop.

Ling, however, apparently had other plans.  “And we need to head back or they’ll think we had sex anyway,” he gasped.

Ed made his decision.

“Don’t care,” he practically babbled, burying his fingers deeper into Ling’s hair, pressing their cocks harder together until it was almost painful—

Brother!  Where are you?”

Ed yanked away, gasping, smacking his head on the back of the tree.  Fucker.  And from the look on Ling’s face, Ling was feeling something similar.

“Fucker,” Ed muttered, turning his head to look back in the direction from which the lights came.  “We should probably get back.”

“Yeah,” Ling muttered, pulling back, but not before reaching back to fix a smudge on Ed’s lip color.  “C’mon, before your brother suspects something.”

“Well he wouldn’t be wrong,” Ed muttered right back, but allowed himself to be led away as he composed his clothing.

Although Ed and Ling had begun a quiet conversation about the origins of Achaemenid architecture by the time they reached the palace, Al raised an eyebrow when he saw them step back into the lights, giving Ed a look that he tried to ignore.  He then, of course, realized that he was still playing with Ling’s ponytail.  He yanked his hand away, intending to cross his arms instead, but Ling’s hand snuck out to snatch it instead.

“Are you enjoying yourself, brother?” Al asked, tone dry.  Ed just glared.

“We were talking.  It’s too fuckin’ noisy in there.”

“Yes, I’m sure you kept your mouths quite occupied.”  Al paused way too long.  “With conversation.”

“Oh, c’mon, like you and Winry haven’t ever—”

“I’m absolutely certain you don’t want to finish that sentence.”

Al was actually… probably right.  Ed really didn’t want to think about how possible it was that his younger brother had his first kiss before he did—and possibly more.  Shit.  Shit.  Yeah, he really didn’t want to continue that train of thought.  He would choose to believe that Al was absolutely celibate and would remain so forever.

“I apologize for stealing your brother away,” Ling laughed softly.  “It really is hard to get to know each other in a crowd like that.”

Al gave Ling one of his assessing glances, and Ed was suddenly slightly worried.  “Yes, well, just remember that there are several parties that will be very unhappy if you get to know each other a little too well.”

Ed scowled, a flush creeping across his cheeks.  “Stupid rule,” he muttered.  “No point to it.”

Al sighed, sounding exasperated.  “I didn’t say that it was a good rule, brother.”  And at the way he glanced away, Ed’s suspicions about Al and Winry rose.  Shit.  Okay, he really didn’t want to be thinking about that.  “Just that there are plenty of stuffy old people who think that it is, and they’re the ones whose approval you need to make this alliance work.”

“Your brother does have a point,” Ling interrupted gently.  He pulled away from Ed, though kept his hand—and then lifted it to his lips, brushing them gently against the back.  “You have things to ready, as do I.  I’ll see you tomorrow?”

A brief wave of wistfulness had Ed wishing that Al wasn’t there for just a moment, or had turned away or something, so he could get a proper goodbye kiss.  But instead, he had to settle for a brilliant grin, as well as a nice view of Ling from behind as he walked away.

“You seem more amiable towards this than before, brother,” Al murmured, glancing over.  Ed determinedly did not look at him.

“Yeah, well, he wasn’t as bad as I thought he’d be,” Ed muttered.  “I guess I’m glad I agreed to this.”  And that it wasn’t you, he thought silently.

The soft sounds of the garden echoed in their silence for a few moments, until Al asked, “Why did you?”

Ed hesitated, but… no.  Al couldn’t know.  Couldn’t know about the conversation between Ed and Hohenheim, when the offer of marriage from the Yao clan had arrived.  Couldn’t know that there was absolutely no way Ed would allow Al to be tied to a marriage when he was so clearly, so desperately in love with someone else.

“Just thought it would be right for Xerxes,” he murmured, lifting his head to gaze at the door through which Ling had vanished.

All of the talk of rival clans and assassinations had already put Ed on edge.  So when the sounds of someone inching open his window woke him, he had transmuted his automail arm into a blade and had lunged for the intruder, pinning him to the bed with it at the man’s throat before Ed was even fully awake.

“Hi,” Ling chirped, beaming up at him.

Ed stared down at his fiancé, blinking sleepily, trying to figure out what the fuck was happening, and why the fuck Ling was in his bedroom.

“I wanted to finish our conversation from earlier, about the architecture,” he continued blithely.

“Are you—” Ed croaked, voice still sleep-hoarse.  He closed his mouth and cleared his throat.  “Are you fuckin’ serious?  I was—I was fuckin’ asleep, you fuckhead!” he hissed.

Ling’s grin shifted to a smirk as he lifted a hand to Ed’s hip, raising an eyebrow in a way that most definitely meant, Nice.

Ed yanked his automail arm away like a burning coal, his face feeling like one, rolling off of Ling and sitting up.

“Well,” Ling sighed cheerfully, “at least I know you won’t be a dead fish in bed tomorrow night.”

Ed froze, panic suddenly surging through his mind.  A dead fish?  The fuck did that mean?  It sounded bad.  And how did Ling know?  What if he was?

But Ling just sat up, straightening his clothing, and picked up where they had left off.

Of course, after one jab too many, Ed couldn’t resist one of his own.

“You know,” he began idly.  “You’re kind of an asshole.  Maybe I should take the Amestrian king up on his offer, instead.”

Ling’s eyes widened for a moment, then narrowed.  “King Bradley?” he sneered, which surprised Ed—he didn’t think he had ever seen Ling with such a negative expression.  “He’s a foul excuse for a human being.”

Still, it was kind of funny, especially the outraged expression on Ling’s face when Ed laughed.  On a whim, he leaned forward, pressing his lips against Ling’s in what was supposed to be a quick kiss.

Ling, of course, had other ideas.

Before Ed’s head even had time to spin, Ling had shoved him back onto the bed, was between his legs, and had his mouth on Ed’s.

Ed probably should have—protested, or pulled away, or something, but fuck, that was nice, and he had come to the realization that Ling tasted good.  He gasped softly, doing his best to kiss back, but the weight of Ling on top of him, the intimacy with which they were pressed together, left him feeling as if he were drowning, falling into a deep pool and couldn’t surface.

“H-hang on,” Ed stammered, turning his head away, suddenly very glad he had actually worn a shirt to bed for once.  “What—what are we—”

“I should think that was obvious,” Ling said with a laugh, but the cavalierness with which he said it just… irked Ed for some reason.

“Well, ex fucking scuse me that we’re not all as experienced as you!” he snapped, reaching out to put his hand on Ling’s chest and push him away a little.  The sudden, very real realization that Ling had done this before—had probably been with really good people before—and Ed had no fucking idea what he was doing, hadn’t even kissed someone until tonight, had descended on him, leaving no small amount of panic in its wake.  “You don’t have to be a dick about it!”

Ling blinked slowly, then tilted his head, the bastard.  “I’m not sure I understand?”

“You—” Ed stammered.  “You know goddamn well what I mean!  I don’t know what—what the whole point—”

“Sex,” Ling interrupted candidly, and Ed took a deep breath.

“Shit,” he hissed, sitting up even more, pushing Ling off to the side, ignoring the protesting noise of indignation coming from his right side.  “I—fuck, you can’t—I can’t—we—”

“You were the one talking big about the tradition being ridiculous,” Ling drawled, watching Ed with a fucking obnoxious smirk on his face.  “Unless it was just talk.  Besides, you’re the one who kissed me.

“Just—just for a second!  Or it was supposed to be!” Ed snapped, lifting his hands to bury them in his hair.  “And I didn’t mean—I’m not sticking to some stupid tradition!

“Are you sure?” Ling goaded, still smirking.  “I mean, I had you pegged for a rulebreaker, but if you’d rather be proper—”

“Like fuck I’m—” Ed began with a growl, but a pounding on his wall cut him off, and they both froze, eyes wide.

“I can hear you two, you know!”  Earlier, Al’s interruption had caused no end of strife for Ed, but this time, it was a blessed salvation.  “If you’re going to bang, then at least be quiet about it!”

“You need to go,” Ed said quietly.  “Now.  Before—before something happened.”

Ling sighed longsufferingly, watching Ed as he picked himself up, rolling his shoulders as he stood.  Ed matched the thoughtful expression on his face with his own wary one, unsure what Ling would do next.

“You’re nervous,” Ling said suddenly, leaving Ed’s face red yet again.

“I don’t fuckin’ know what—”

But Ling had cut him off with a kiss, a lingering one this time, sweet and comforting and gentle.  “It’ll be all right, Ed.  I’ll make sure.  The witnesses are silly, anyway.  See you tomorrow.”

He hopped out of the window without another word.

As Ed lay back on the bed again, covering his pillow with a groan, he realized that the only thing he could focus on is that he had finally gotten a proper good night kiss.

Even with just regular wedding preparation, the next day would have been difficult enough.

But it was a full-on fucking disaster.

The first thought through his mind, of course, was that Ling had mentioned something about witnesses last night.  At the time, he had been too distracted to think much else of it, but it was at the forefront of his mind today, and he could barely find time to look at Ling, let alone speak with him.  So a note with a request for clarification, slipped to Ling by an agreeable servant with a gold coin for his discretion.

But the next time Ed saw Ling, his husband-to-be was watching him with an expression of regret.

Al was, of course, the one who was on the receiving end of the ensuing panic the first breathing moment Ed got between clothes and jewelry and makeup and every fucking thing else.

“I can’t do this.”

“Brother?” Al asked weakly, watching him with a concerned expression on his face.  “What happened?”

“I don’t—I don’t fuckin’ know,” Ed gasped out, fisting his hands in the Xingese silk underclothes that the servants had put him in.  “I think—somethin’ happened, but I don’t know what—”

“Brother.”  Al took Ed’s shoulders, giving him a small shake.  “Please.  Talk to me.”

Ed closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, then opened them, staring straight up into Al’s determinedly.  “I think I’m considering throwing myself out the fucking window, Al.”

Al’s tan skin went several shades lighter at that.  “But—but you were getting along so well last night!  What happened?”

Ed didn’t miss the implication of “a little too fucking well,” but being scolded for being a horny teenager would have been better than this.  “I don’t fucking know!  But something—I had to have done something—did you see the way he looked at me, Al?” he finished desperately, turning away and clutching his head.  “I can’t do this!”  He was trying to breathe, really, but his chest felt shallow, his breaths too quick, and he just wanted to run, all the way back to Xerxes.

“Brother—look at me.  Take a deep breath—”

His eyes darted around the room, looking for an escape route.  “I fucked up everything, everything we’ve worked for, oh god, Al—”

“Edward!”

Al’s firm tone snapped Ed back to reality, and he looked over at his brother, eyes wide.

“You need to take a deep breath.  Now.”  Al’s tone was firm, one that Ed had rarely ever heard him use, but it made him want to listen.  Under Al’s intense gaze, he took a moment, then inhaled slowly.  “Good.  Now another.”

A few more breaths, and Ed wanted to die slightly less.

“Now, can you please tell me what happened?”

Ed lifted the palms of his hands to press them against his eyes, but Al grabbed his wrists before he made contact—and Ed belatedly realized that if Al hadn’t, he’d have kohl all over his face right now.

“Don’t—don’t look at me, okay?”  Ed didn’t lift his eyes to see if Al complied.  “I just—last night, okay?  He said something about witnesses, so I sent him a note asking, but he gave me that look, that fucking look, and it’s probably because I made him go last night, and I can’t do this—I’m done—we have to go back—”

“Edward.”

Ed stopped, swallowing, flicking his eyes back up to look at Al.

“I don’t think he’s upset with you.”

“And how the fuck d’you figure?”

“I—brother, you were supposed to read their wedding traditions!”

“Like I fucking had time for that,” Ed muttered, glaring.  “Why?  Is that important?”

Al lifted a hand, pinching the bridge of his nose.  “Witnesses, Ed.  It’s for… you know.”

“...For?”  When Al hesitated, Ed’s scowl deepened.  “God, Al, just tell me!”

“To make sure you… consummate.”  Al’s expression made it very clear how uncomfortable he was in using that word in relation to his brother, but Ed barely noticed.

No, he was too busy panicking again.

They’re going to—

They’re going to watch?

“What the fuck?!

“Brother!  Not so loud!”

Ed lowers his voice to a hissing whisper, but it’s no less horrified.  “No!  Absolutely fucking not!  No way—I didn’t agree to—”

“Brother, please.”  Al’s expression told Ed way more than he needed to know—regretful, but unable to help.  Just like Ling’s.  “I’m sorry, I am, but I thought you knew.”

“No!  No, I didn’t, and I wasn’t even fucking supposed to be here—!”

With horror, he realized exactly what he had said, and shut his mouth immediately.  But Al was too canny to leave it there.

“What… what are you talking about?”

Ed did his best to backpedal.  “I—nothing, okay?  Nothing, it’s not important, I just—I thought I was okay with it, but then I get here, and fuck, I don’t know what’s goin’ on, and I’m freakin’ out—fuck, Al, I’m terrified.”  His voice cracks at that, at the admission to the one person that he would ever admit it to.

“But—brother, it sounds important.”

“It—it isn’t now, okay?  Not anymore.  It’s what I wanted for you,” he finished weakly, stomach sinking into an even deeper pit than it had been.  “I’m the older brother.  It’s my fucking job.”

“You chose this?  For—for me?”  Al’s expression was utterly bewildered, completely stunned, and there was nothing less in the world Ed wanted to do right now than clarify.

“You had—you’ve got something, okay?  Someone.  At home.  I know you and Winry—shit, Al, I couldn’t let you give that up, not when I’m right here.  It wasn’t even a fucking hard decision.  And I’m okay with—”

“You what!

Ed actually flinched at that.  Al never raised his voice, not like that.  “I couldn’t let you fuck off to some foreign country to pine after Winry while I sat and watched!  It’s fucking done now, got it?”  He wanted to make Al understand, but—but Al wasn’t Ed, he wasn’t a big brother, it wasn’t his job to look out for his younger brother.  “Don’t—don’t fuckin’ get any ideas of protesting or going and trying to get it changed.  Don’t even mention this to father.  Just—ugh, I dunno, go breed little demons with Winry and let ‘em loose on me once in a while.”

“But you should have told me you were doing it, at least!  Can’t you get that through your thick skull?  I didn’t think even yours could be that dense!”

Ed hunched his shoulders and looked away.  “...Didn’t want you to talk me outta it.  You’re good at shit like that.”  Not after Al had already suffered so much, gone years without a body, and all because of Ed.  He had failed Al once.  Never again.

When he looked back, Al had covered his face.  “Well, I can’t do anything about it now.”

Ed tried to crack a wry grin, reaching out to ruffle his hair.  “Nope.  Look, after… after everything we went through, this is more important t’me than anything, okay?  So can you just… accept it?  Please?”

Al’s lips twisted a little bitterly as he dropped his hands.  “I didn’t say I wouldn’t, brother.  I just… wish that you had told me.”

“Well, you know I can’t keep shit from you.  It eventually comes out.  Even when it shouldn’t.  Like just now.”  Ed tried to laugh, but it was weak.  Very weak.

“You do seem happy, at least.”

Ed’s face fell even further.  “I… I dunno, though.  That’s the problem.  I think he might’ve changed his mind about me.  But I mean—shit, I don’t wanna be sappy, but—if he hasn’t, I’ll definitely be fine, okay?”

Al took a deep breath, watching Ed.  “I doubt he’s changed his mind, brother.  He seemed very… fond, last night.  He’s just busy, with the preparations.”

A hope began to rise in Ed’s chest, an almost giddy sensation that turned his desolate expression into a grin way more quickly than it should have been able to.  “You think so?”  He hesitated, smile fading again.  “I just… I wish he’d, y’know, look at me proper.  Say something, make me feel—I’m overreacting, aren’t I?”

“You are, a little,” Al says with a crooked smile.  “They’re keeping him busy.  I’m sure he can’t wait to see you.”

Ed groaned, trying to hide his anticipation.  “I just wish they’d keep me as fuckin’ busy.”

Al practically gaped at him.  “Brother.  You’re supposed to be getting ready.  You’re getting married.  I just pulled you aside so you didn’t die of nerves before the ceremony.”

Ed glanced down at himself.  Yeah, he needed to toss on some clothes, but his hair was already braided back.  “But I can do the rest in like five minutes, right?”

The expression on Al’s face as he dragged Ed off had him wondering exactly what the hell they had in store for him.

The clothing, Ed had to admit, was absolutely breathtaking.  Ed knew that there was no way Ling could have told them to make it red, but he was resplendent in it anyway, with a wrapped silk shirt and a high collar and some more of that breathtaking embroidery.

The hair, however, was another matter.

“They think I’m a fuckin’ girl with all this goddamn hair, don’t they?” Ed grumbled as the woman behind him plaited it into a design far too complicated for his liking.

Al didn’t even glance up from the scroll he was reading, something about Xingese medicine, it looked like.  “Ling’s hair is almost as long as yours, and his father’s is longer.  Stop complaining.”

Well of fucking course he would be a smug shit, since he had short hair and didn’t need to worry about it.  “It’s my wedding day and I’ll fuckin’ complain if I want to.”  Couldn’t Al give him a little sympathy for the treatment that he was getting?  Yeah, he had helped out with the real problems earlier, but Ed wanted to grumble, too.

“I’m glad to hear that you’ve finally accepted the impracticality of your hair, at least.”

“Hey, you shut up!” Ed hissed, lifting his chin dramatically.  “I can’t wear short hair!  I’d look like a fucking baby.”

“Appropriate, then,” Al said flatly, unrolling the scroll a little more.  “With all of this squalling.”

“I can’t fuckin’ wait until you marry Winry, y’know,” Ed snapped.  “You’re such a goddamn brat.”

Still, he kept his mouth shut for the rest of the ordeal, and by the time the woman was done, he was nearly afraid to move.

“You don’t clean up too badly after all, brother,” Al murmured, looking impressed.  “You might actually pull this off.”

“Fuck you,” Ed spat, but there was no heat in it, and he realized, suddenly, that the banter had kept his mind completely off the panic of earlier.  He sent a silent thanks in Al’s direction.  “I could’ve roped in the King of Amestris, too, y’know.  At the same time.  So watch your mouth.  I’m a fuckin’ prize.”

Al wrinkled his nose.  “But why would you want him?  He’s old and creepy.”

“Just ‘cause I can, doesn’t mean I would’ve.”  Ed shrugged, admiring himself in a mirror before turning to Al saying softly, “Y’know, I think I’m a little in denial.”  He felt a little lost as he said it.  “Can’t believe I’m not going home with you after this.”

Al’s expression softened, belying the utter pride on his face.  “I’ll visit, all right?  As much as I can.  And you both had better come to Persepolis, too.”

“Like fuck he won’t.  No one can stop me from visiting.  Believe that, okay?  It’s just… gonna be weird.  It’s always been us.  And now it… won’t be.”  Ed straightened, trying to stave off the suddenly sober mood with some humor.  “Besides, now you can work on gettin’ hitched yourself!”

Al didn’t answer, just watched him for a few moments.  And then, without a word, he stepped in to wrap Ed in a tight hug.

Ed was silent for a moment, quiet and hard, but then softened, wrapping his own arms around Al and squeezing.  Fuck.  This was going to be harder than he thought.  “C’mon.  You gotta go get dressed now.  And they need to load me up with jewelry and shit.”

Al sighed, pulling back.  “I should, yeah.”  He watched Ed, and even though he was trying to hide being upset, Ed could always tell.  “You’ll… you’ll be all right, brother, okay?”

Ed tried for a cavalier grin, but was only marginally successful.  “Yeah, I always am.  Now go on.  I gotta finish makin’ myself look pretty.”

Al sighed fondly, turning to go.  “You’re always pretty, brother, and you know it.”

“I resent that!” Ed called after him with a laugh, but when Al disappeared from sight, the exhaustion returned, weighing him down more heavily than the jewelry was about to.  He let out a sigh, sinking to his knees, watching the door, knowing that his life was going to change forever.  And hoping, praying, it was going to be for the better.

Nervous as Ed might be, he was going to look like a prince for once in his goddamned life.

His chin raised, confidence heightened even more by the silk finery, he walked with the procession to the dais, escorted by his father.  He was a prince of Xerxes, an empire older even than Xing’s, and he was damn proud of it.  He wasn’t the flustery fucking kid from earlier, and hoped that person would never make an appearance again.

Of course, then he caught sight of Ling and couldn’t help his face splitting into a fucking grin.

Ling’s clothing was every bit as beautiful as Ed’s—yesterday’s outfit had nothing on the gold attire in which Ling was bedecked.  Ling’s eyes met Ed’s, and they widened, as if to say, ah, there he is.

And then he smirked.

Well, so fucking much for not wanting to be that flustery kid again.  He took a deep breath, praying that his face didn’t take on a similar hue to his clothing, but he knew he couldn’t be completely successful.  His heartbeat increased, thinking about what had almost happened last night, what was going to—

Wait.  No.  Shit.

The moment he got to the dais, he hissed, “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me people were gonna watch?”

Ling glanced over at the official, who was watching the both of them, eyebrows raised.  “Shut up during the ceremony!” he hissed, narrowing his eyes.

Ed snapped his mouth shut, but continued to glare, even as the official cleared his throat.  And Ling…  Ling needed to stop being so hot when Ed was trying to be mad at him, the fucker.

“If I may begin.”

“Absolutely,” Ling murmured, reaching out to take Ed’s hands.  It wasn’t until he gave a quick glance down that Ed realized they were shaking.

Ed took a deep breath, steeling himself, staring steadily, almost defiantly into Ling’s eyes and trying to settle any and all lingering doubts.  He couldn’t back out now.  He was going to fucking do this.

He barely heard the man as he began speaking, choosing to focus on Ling instead.  In contrast to Ed’s intensity, Ling simply smiled fondly, letting Ed’s energy and anxiety roll off of him like a curtain.  Ed couldn’t quite figure out exactly what that meant—so he studied him, studied his features even more intently than before, trying to puzzle out that smile, that tilt of the head.

And it was easy to get lost in that face, so very easy, until he was staring instead of glaring, mouth slightly agape instead of scowling.  He really was handsome, though, and… oddly comforting.  All his life, Ed had been a protector—for his brother, Winry, his people—but Ling was different.  He wasn’t precisely a protector for Ed, not in the same way, but even though he had only met Ling yesterday, Ed couldn’t help but feel he was a… a refuge, of sorts.  A comforter, who, tease as he might, would always be someone on whom Ed could rely.

He wondered exactly when he had become so… so enamored of his fiancé.  Or his husband, whichever they were now.  And of course, that left Ed wondering when he would be allowed to kiss him.

He didn’t realize that the official had stopped speaking, that Ling was leaning forward expectantly, that the entire room was dead silent.

Ling reached out, taking Ed’s face gently, and pulled him in for a kiss.

For a moment, Ed’s eyes widened in surprise, but they soon closed as he leaned in, taking Ling’s arms.  The kiss was filled with tenderness and longing, and somewhere outside the entity that was the two of them together, he could distantly hear cheering.

He pulled back, eventually, turning his head to stare at everyone dazedly.  When he looked back at Ling, his—his husband was smiling at him, and something inside Ed did a flip-flop.

He ducked his head in an attempt to hide the spreading red on his face, but Ling had none of it.  With a soft laugh, he tilted Ed’s chin up again, meeting his eyes, and Ed could see the same excitement reflected there that he felt.

Chapter Text

Despite Ed’s mixed impatience to get Ling alone for the first time after the ceremony, he was very decidedly glad that they were expected to mingle, accept congratulations, and in general stand on ceremony for quite a long time.

Because it gave him a chance to ask his new husband a question.  Namely:

“When the fuck were you planning on telling me that people are expecting to watch us have sex?”

Ling glanced over at Ed’s hissed words, finally able to pay attention to him in a rare moment between well-wishers.  “I did.  Last night.”

“That’s—that’s no kind of fuckin’ warning!” Ed snapped, scowling.  “I’m not gonna—”

But his outrage was interrupted by another group of people, each one of which who had to be greeted and thanked properly for their congratulations.  When they were finally free again, Ling looped his arm around Ed’s waist, tugging him in closer.  To the casual observer, it likely seemed to be only an affectionate gesture, but the force behind it left Ed breathless in more ways than one.

“I’m working on it,” Ling murmured.  “Don’t worry.  After our little display yesterday, I don’t think anyone’s going to be need to convinced that we’ll take care of business.”

While that was a huge relief to hear, Ed was getting really fucking tired of his face burning.  Seriously.  Especially now, with how Ling’s hand had started stroking his hip—where the fuck had that come from?  Ed tried to swat at it, but that just encouraged Ling to hold it more tightly.  He eventually just dropped it.  If Ling was going to be fucking juvenile, then let him.

"Look, I just wanna know when they're gonna let us eat."

Ling let out a little snort, and it took Ed a moment to realize that he was laughing.  "You really do have a one track mind, don't you?"

"Yeah, well, you're one to fuckin' talk," Ed grumbled, glaring sidelong at him.  "Only your one track mind isn't about food."

"Now, that's simply not true!  Your slander is cruel and unfounded.  I have food on my mind plenty of the time."

Ed took a breath to retort, but it turned into a gargle when Ling's fingers slipped subtly under the hem of Ed's shirt, then traced down to ghost over his hip.

"That's not fucking fair!"

"I don't know what you're talking about, Edward," Ling practically fucking cooed.  "I just like your company."

Yeah.  Ed definitely hated him.  That's what this was, right?  The flush on his face, on his skin where Ling's fingers were tracing, the heartbeat pounding that seemed to rush through his entire body, the near euphoria that left him feeling almost like he was floating.

Okay, so this wasn't like any hatred he had ever felt before.  And goddamn, he liked it.

He liked Ling.

The revelation came easily, and shockingly so.

But—how?  How the hell could he like someone so—so smug, and cocky, and infuriating?  He was manipulative and frustrating and passionate and brilliant and clever and handsome

Ling's thumb pressed very firmly and deliberately against Ed's hipbone, drawing a soft moan from his lips.  Ed gritted his teeth.  Fucking fine.  Two could play at that game.

He leaned into Ling’s side, pressing against him more firmly than was strictly decent—then slid his thigh over and rubbed it against Ling’s, so subtly that it would be impossible to tell just by looking.

Ling didn’t react, the fucker, so Ed did it again, this time harder—

A sudden, sharp pain in his hip as Ling dug his fingernails into the spot left Ed squawking, then weak-kneed.  Shit.  And Ling just—just kept on, acting like he didn’t even know anything.  Bastard.

Maybe Ed should reevaluate.  He chose the strategic retreat option for now: plastering a smile on his face and trying to pretend that nothing was happening, even as Ling continued to stroke his hip.

“They’re all looking at you, you know.”

Ling’s voice was so casual and unassuming that it took Ed a few moments to process the words as they sat, yet again, at a banquet table.  This time, however, they were the guests of honor.

“Huh?”

Ling finally turned to watch him, expression as polite as ever.  That didn’t mean anything, though—the dissonance between how Ling looked and what Ling said was quickly becoming one of the most head-spinning things about him.  He had removed his arm when they sat; had to, really, since the chairs weren’t close enough together.  “They’re all watching you.  They want you.”

Ed scoffed, hoping that Ling had no way of detecting the sudden increase of his heartbeat.  “They’re looking at you, idiot.”

“A little, but mostly out of jealousy.  It’s you they’re fantasizing about.”  Ling sighed longsfferingly.  “As blind as you are gorgeous.”

This—this fucking bastard.  He was so full of horse shit.  Ed glared at him, distracted even by the large amounts of food set in front of him.  “We’re already married, you know.  This isn’t getting you anywhere.”

“Then you have no reason to believe that I’m not telling you the truth.”

“Unless you’re just trying to get me into bed faster.”

Ed jumped slightly when Ling slid his hand over Ed’s leg, dipping down to grip his thigh.  The fucking inside of his thigh.  It was obscene!  “I don’t need any help in that department.”

Ed choked and tried to slap Ling’s hand away.  Ling just smiled pleasantly and gripped tighter.

“That one over there?”  Ling’s voice drew Ed’s eyes involuntarily in the direction of his nod.  “He’s fantasizing about what you’d look like underneath him, legs spread as far as they can go.”  He turned back to Ed, voice still pleasant and casual.  “But I’m the only one who will get to see that, aren’t I?”

Ed whipped his face away, practically trying to dig his head into his shoulder so Ling couldn’t see how fucking red he was.

"God, you're so fuckin' gross," Ed shot back weakly.  "They—that's not—they wouldn't—"

"And why not?"  Ling turned to give Ed a thorough look, from his head to his toes, and back again.  "Gods know that I'm thinking it."

Ed froze, and his eyes were probably as big as fucking saucers by now.  He struggled between the urge to just—to bolt, to take off and get lost somewhere, maybe in those gardens, and to jump on Ling right fucking now.  "You fucking—you pervert!" he sputtered, his stomach somewhere in the vicinity of his throat, he thinks.  "Stop undressing me with your eyes!"  But the thought of what might be going through Ling's head right now—shit, it was too damn much.

"Why?" Ling murmured back, tilting his head.  "It's not as if I won't be doing it with my hands later."

Ed groaned—or moaned, maybe, long and low.  He had always thought the term "deflower" was fucking ridiculous, but he was beginning to understand it: he could feel Ling eating away at what people might call his "innocence" one layer a time—but instead of thinking it stupid, he just shivered.  "You're gonna get us in trouble," he muttered.  "I'm trying to be good."  That was what he had promised Al and his father, after all.

"Funny, before we met, I was assured you didn't know the meaning of the word.  In fact, I was looking forward to that, and you certainly proved that right last night."

Ed choked.  God, it wasn't like they had done anything!  Not really!  But—well, almost—what had come over him?  Not Ling, he thought ruefully, before realizing what he had just thought and hurriedly shoving those thoughts away.  "You started it!"

"I wanted to continue our conversation.  You kissed me."

"You—"  Him.  "You got too close to my fuckin' face!  'Sides, what was I meant to do, after that—that—that thing on our walk?"

"Our conversation?"  Ling's voice was slow, teasing.  "Continue it."

Ed glared, trying to yank away, but Ling was gripping like a vice.  Still, he couldn't bring himself to complain.  "You know damn well y'didn't crawl into my room to fuckin' talk."

"I actually did."  And, well, he sounded so sincere that Ed had to wonder if Ling was telling the truth.  "Learning that you had filth on your mind?  Just a bonus.  A very nice bonus."

"Hey!"  Ed straightened, lifting his chin.  "You're the one with experience, asshole.  Not my fault you made it your mission to—to corrupt me."

Ling just sighed.  "You were never innocent, Ed.  Don't pretend.  Maybe I had a bit to do with making it even less so, but..."

Ed could see the glint of mischief in Ling's eyes—it was subtle, but there.  And he knew he was going to regret asking this, he did.  But, well, he couldn't help it, and was torn between glaring daggers and licking Ling's mouth raw.  "But?"

"But it's not as if it seems to upset you."  Ling simply smiled innocently in Ed's direction.

Ed blushed like a fucking—like a fucking maiden.  God, Ling had the measure of him, had gotten it so easily, and even though it was something Ed should be upset about, the bastard knew how to make sure that he wasn't, not really.  "Hard t'be upset with you when you're—when your mouth is... doin' things."  He scowled.  "Except talkin'."

Ling shrugged, turning his head away, as if the conversation were over, and Ed knew he was about to say something—  "Well, trust me, my mouth will remain occupied with not talking for the majority of the evening."  He leaned over to plant an affectionate kiss on Ed's cheek.

"Shut up!" Ed hissed.  Ah, yes, a retort for the ages, that one.  Shit.  And everyone was staring at them, too.  Expectantly.  How was Ling so affectionate in front of all of these people?  Steeling himself, he leaned over to return one, though much more tentative, making sure to close his eyes so he didn't have to see their audience.

Ling's face split into a grin, and it might have been Ed's imagination, but he looked a little surprised.  "I'm not sure I can do that, not if talking is going to earn me things like that."

"Well, then imagine what not talking is gonna earn you."

The words flew out before Ed even thought about them, a nearly instant comeback, and it wasn't until he saw the almost wondering expression on Ling's face that the meaning caught up with him.  Shit.  But he didn't back down, didn't look away or duck his head, just took a move out of Ling's book and raised an eyebrow.

And then Ling—

Ling turned back to his food.  Without a word.

It had worked!  Ed had actually manage to render Ling speechless!  His hand was still there on Ed's thigh, squeezing and stroking gently, but Ed was an adult.  He could ignore that.  Probably.

What proved impossible to ignore, of course, was the silence.

Ed had gotten used to Ling's chatter, his jabs, his blithely filthy comments far too quickly.  And without it, the air just seemed so... empty.

He shoved a dumpling into his mouth with his fingers, making a noise of pain as he realized how hot it was.  He glared at the offending fingers, wishing they would stop stinging, trying not to think on the silence as Ling ate quietly next to him.

And as Ed chewed and swallowed, something occurred to him, so of course his first instinct was to throw it in Ling's face.

"Y'know," he began as he finished up the food.  "You talk a big game for someone who hasn't even performed yet.  What if y'can't keep all these promises?"

Ling picked at his food for a moment, his voice as casual as if he discussed the weather.  "Would you like to take our leave and have me show you?  I have to warn you, though; eat your fill beforehand, because you won't be walking after."

Ed gasped fucking audibly at those words.  He stared—gaped at Ling.  Was he for fucking real?  Shit—Ed couldn't calm down, couldn't catch a breath, couldn't get a break—and Ling's hand was now squeezing him so hard, Ed thought he might break in an entirely different way.  He licked his lips, knowing that he was going to have to try harder to catch Ling off-guard.

"Guess you're just gonna have to carry me, then, aren't you?"

Ling turned his head in Ed's direction.  "You want me to carry you back here afterwards, then?  Have everyone know what I did to you?  I mean, they already know what we will be doing.  Or I could start my plan—thoroughly debauching you in every room of this palace.  I've been thinking about it a lot, after all.  We can start here, if you'd like."

Everyone.  Everyone watching.  Knowing what they'd done—even now, knowing what they would do.  Fuck!  It felt like a pair of warhorses were tied to him, each trying to gallop in a different direction.  God.  In front of everyone.  If he hadn't been sitting, he might have fallen over right then and there.  As it were, Ling lifted an arm, the one that had been so determinedly kneading his thigh, and wrapped it around Ed's shoulders.  Well, at least Ed was now slightly less likely to end up on the floor.  It was a possessive grip, though, tight and firm, and it left Ed dizzy.  "You bastard," Ed whispered hoarsely.

Ling simply tightened his grip.  "That's not a very nice thing to say."

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ed felt a surge of gratitude towards Ling for not making the easy joke, not commenting on Ed's and Ling's birth as bastards, long before his father had married his mother.  But right now, he was far too occupied trying very, very hard not to imagine Ling fucking him in every room in the palace.

"If you're gonna do that, tryin' to get us caught, you better get used to the word!" he hissed back, heat radiating from his face, and he was pretty sure that his eyes were more than a little dazed as well.

"Well, do you want me to?  I can definitely arrange getting caught."

"You're actually gonna let someone look at me, then?" Ed snapped.  "After all this—this possessive shit, wantin' to keep me to yourself?"

Ling simply chuckled, idly watching the crowds mull about.  Many had already finished their meals ahead of the princes.  "What better way to let them look and know that you're completely mine?"

Ed's breathing deepened.  He didn't want to enjoy the vague mental images now flashing across his brain in white hot fire.  He didn't.  But god, he couldn't help it.  "And you say I'm filthy."

"Oh, you're not.  Not in comparison to how filthy I'm going to make you," Ling hummed happily, leaning in to keep the words solely restricted to Ed's ear.

Ed—Ed needed to fight back.  He did, somehow, even if it cost him later.  "This gonna be any time soon?"  He filled his voice with much more bravado than he was feeling.  "Talk, talk, talk.  Y'even know how to act?  You've been telling me all these ideas since forever..."

"Oh, because watching you squirm is half the fun," Ling chuckled softly.  Bastard had an answer for everything.  "Makes you anticipate what's to come.  Makes it better.  For me, especially, knowing you've been thinking about it all day."

Excuse him!  It had only been most of the day!  He shook his head, but had the sinking feeling that it didn't make a difference, not really.  He could feel Ling's breath, too, which made it worse.  Or better.  "So have you!" he hissed.

"Yes, I have."  Ling pressed a kiss to Ed's temple.  "Do you want to know exactly what, or should I keep it a surprise?  You don't seem like the type to enjoy surprises."

"Pervert—"  But he barely managed to squeak it out.  God, it was so stupid how Ling could just kiss him and have him trapped.  Not that Ed disliked it—it was more that he disliked how much he did like it.  He hated to admit weakness, but Ling was so fucking silver-tongued that he couldn't exactly deny it, either.  "You're gonna—fuck, you're gonna pay for this later."

"Oh, I certainly hope so!" Ling chirped, voice unerringly cheerful.

Ed can't figure out how Ling managed to stay so cool.  Maybe it was some mental training, some Xingese thing—or maybe it was just due to his own damn virginity, which Ed now hoped to say goodbye to very soon.  "Ling..."

"Yes?"  Ling nodded at an older man, a noble probably, who stepped by and wished them well in Xingese, a polite smile plastered on his face.

"How much longer?"  He asked it quietly, a little embarrassed, but mostly impatient—and Ed was pretty sure that if he had to watch one more dignitary accept Ling's politeness after the filthy sentiments that had left his mouth moments before, he was going to die.

"Mmm, likely a few hours.  It depends on when they decide to... let us go."

"Wh—you're not serious, are you?!"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

Hours.  A few hours.  Ed wilted, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath.  "I've about had enough."

"Don't want to offend anyone."  Ling's voice was almost sing-song.

Ed opened his eyes to glare.  "And they're not offended watching you put your hands all over me?"  He automatically found himself nodding his head as someone walked past—he didn't know them, but the copied gesture was automatic.

"Not at all.  All of my touching—that they can see, anyway—is within appropriate boundaries."

It was probably Ed's fault, that he hadn't studied more about Xing, but the one thing that had been impressed on him was that he must, must follow the rules, so he took them as Ling mentioned them.  "Better be fuckin' worth it."

"Oh."  Ling lowered his voice, both in volume and in pitch, and it was almost sultry.  "It will be."

Ed pretended, very very hard, that that shiver did not just happen.  He couldn't let himself get worn down by this, even if it was already exactly too much.  He couldn't decide if he wanted Ling to tease him until the fucking edge, or just drop it, because holy fuck, Ed couldn't take much more.  Patience, his brother had told him too many times, was not exactly a strong point.  "I can't keep a straight face like you can, y'know."

"No better time to learn, then, I think," Ling replied, smiling indulgently—fondly—at Ed.  "After all, I certainly don't intend on stopping after tonight."  With a brilliant smile, he greeted a regal older-looking woman who had stopped by their table and appeared to be part Xerxesian, at least.

Ed's hand worked automatically at the familiar face, offering the salute—a fist over his heart and a bow of his head.  "They should have warned me I was marrying a sadist," he mumbled, low enough for only Ling to hear.  "And to think I was afraid of bein' carted off to Amestris.  Should've been worried about you."  He did manage to smirk at this, a little.

"Well, it's fortunate I'm marrying a masochist, then."  Ling's voice was cheery, as always, the bastard, and a little louder now that no one was in earshot.  "I'll show you the full implications of those words later.  Maybe a while later.  Don't want to scare you off, after all."

Ed could see that a group of young women were cooing over them, relatively close.  Like they were fucking babies.  He was tempted to glare, he really was, but hell, why not use them for his own purposes?  He leaned up to Ling, pressing the chastest kiss possible against the soft skin just below Ling's ear.  "Y'keep teasin' me like that," Ed whispered, "and I'll just go to the bathroom and handle it myself."  None the wiser, the group of women wiped their eyes at how tender the new couple was—or appeared to be.

Ling chuckled again, shooting a smile over at them and running a hand down Ed's back.  "For every orgasm you have on your own, that's one I won't give you tonight.   And you will not like it when I leave you hanging."

Ed started to laugh, but after a moment, he realized exactly what Ling had said and shut up immediately.  What the fuck had just happened?  Did—did Ling just tell him he couldn't—oh, no.  He snapped his gaping mouth shut and stared at his new husband incredulously.  "Greedy!  Y'keep touchin' me and—shit, you're not gonna stop, either, are you?  You're not being fucking fair!"

"It's not as if I'm stopping you from doing the same.  And—well, I can't help it if I'm just that happy to be married to you, can I?"

The words practically sent him tumbling with how caught off-guard they left Ed.  A small trickle of fire lit in his stomach, rising through his chest.  Yeah, they were married, and he was pretty sure that Ling liked him even beyond the whole sex thing, but... memories of the night before lingered, and he couldn't help that Ling had intended his words to be a comfort specifically addressing his concern.

"Oh," he murmured quietly, deciding to tuck himself closer.  His fingers sought out the sash around Ling's waist, slipping into it.  "I guess I'm happy, too."

Ling caught the fingers, then took Ed's entire hand, running his thumb across the palm as he lifted it to his lips.  Ed watched, eyes wide, as fascinated as he had been at the altar, as Ling pressed his lips against it.  "I'm glad."

Ed really hadn't expected to like Ling this much.  Had never even considered the possibility, or that all of this would feel so nice.  But it did, but he did, and he suspected that he might be extraordinarily lucky in this situation.  So he went with it.  He didn't fight it, let it roll over him like a wave and burst in his stomach.  Everything seemed to flutter for a moment, and Ling—Ling was the only person in the room.  What the hell was this?  Maybe he could make it through the evening, just with all of this, because he suddenly realized that he was so happy that he couldn't reply.  Instead, he glanced around, spotted Al, and nodded.  Ed was okay.  It was okay.

“And, you know,” Ling continued lightly.  “You’re always welcome to play not fair, too.”  He smirked a little.  “I never said you had to play by the rules.  I just started out breaking them.”

Ed turned back, feeling like he could breathe again, narrowing his eyes.  “Yeah, I noticed that when you climbed through my window last night.”  But he couldn’t keep the expression for long: he laughed, rolling his eyes.  Maybe he would fit in here, given his… reputation back home.  “Tonight you can come through the door.  Unless windows’re your thing.”  He’d finally eaten his fill; content that he had made his point, he leaned over slightly, resting his head on Ling’s shoulder.

“I have plenty of surprises in store for tonight.  I can’t share them all, can I?”  There was a tug at Ed’s hand, and he turned, and then Ling was there, kissing him long and soft and sweet and lingering.  Ed leaned into it with a sigh, closing his eyes at the feeling of Ling’s mouth on his.

And then Ling’s teeth sank into Ed’s bottom lip.

It was a quick nip, not extremely painful, not enough to draw blood, but it startled Ed.  And—shit, it left him way more breathless than he would have thought.

So yeah, he jumped at the bite.  But he growled, too.  Not that he meant to do either.  He yanked back, watching Ling, eyes wide, before darting up and returning the favor.  Fuck whoever was watching; he traced his tongue against Ling’s lower lip, getting closer, closer—

Until he was close enough to bite Ling, full on the jaw.

"Well then why don't you just—fuckin' forget about the rest of everything for tonight?  Take me up right now?  Offend everyone.  I don't fuckin' care."

Ling glanced around before responding.  "Are you sure about that?  I have it on very good authority that you were ordered very explicitly not to cause any incidents."

Ed scowled and glared, pulling back.  "And who the fuck told you that?  Y'know, we wouldn't have this problem if you'd just make good on all this!"

Ling reached out, sliding his fingers under Ed's chin.  Ed nearly yanked his head away, wanted to twist and glare and defy this asshole, but he just watched as Ling tipped it up, then pressed a kiss to his forehead.  "I like watching you be impatient."

Ed did yank away at that.  "That why you been playin' me all day?  And night?  Shit, it was already pretty late, right?  It could be proper for the two of them to sneak off!  He just—he really wanted to go, be alone with Ling, and he didn't want anyone watching.  He bit his lip for a moment.  Ling had said he would take care of it; had he yet?  Or was he banking on the understanding when it was time for the two of them to leave?  He reached out to grab Ling's hand.  "Well, congratulations, you got it.  Now do somethin' about it."  He tried to hide how frustrated he was, but his voice had an edge to it that he couldn't contain.

Ling sighed, smiling, watching Ed for a moment, then simply said, "No."

Bastard.  Bastard.  Smug, handsome, assfaced bastard.  And he was so obviously enjoying this, too, watching Ed with a small smile on his face, almost as if he were expecting something—

Wait.  Maybe he was waiting.  An idea began forming in the depths of Ed's mind.  He wasn't sure if it would work, but...

The look he gave Ling was filled with desperation; fuck holding it back at this point.  "Fuckin' please?" he whispered, bringing their entwined hands up to his lips, pressing a kiss to Ling's knuckle.  He then, of course, pressed the faintest bite possible into it.  He was choosing to be nice, after all.  "Do something."

Ling sighed again, a reluctant smile playing across his lips.  Ed felt like he was being considered for—something, who knew what.  Or judged, maybe.  He tugged his hand out of Ed's, reaching out to cup his cheek.

"Wait here."

And with that, he released Ed, standing and turning to go.

Ed gaped after him for a few moments.  Well, he'd be damned!  Al was right; drop the "p" word and he'd get exactly what he wanted.  That little shit.  How had he known? Was that how he had managed to get their father to buy him all those goddamn cats?  Of course, it was right about then that Ling's absence really started to sink in.  Ling had been beside him for so long, warm and steady, that felt practically naked, standing there by himself.  He decided that he didn't want to be one of the only people remaining at the banquet table anymore, as most people had much smaller appetites and had excused themselves some time ago, but standing only drew more attention, and he felt even more out of place with nothing to do.  Some people even stared, like actually stared, and Ed tried not to glare back.  Not that it was easy—they were probably trying to melt him with their fucking eyes or something.  Well, he wasn't going to give them the satisfaction of panicking.  He stood defiant, inclining his head when proper, offering a very slight bow when something slightly more formal was required.  Come on, Ling, he thought, over and over.

And Ling was gone quite a long time.  Ed might have started to suspect that something was going on if he hadn't been distracted by the fact that more well-wishers were now approaching him, greeting him, both Xingese and Xerxesians alike.  With each new face, his confidence grew a little more—he could do this by himself!  They began to engage him in short conversations, and he even found himself joking a few times, and while his sense of humor caused some surprise, it seemed to go over pretty well.  Some taught him more Xingese as well; the country was so large that it had multiple dialects, plenty of which Ed had yet to learn.  One woman, smiling and elderly, taught him a traditional Xingese greeting for married couples, a declaration of affection meant to be said in private, and advised him to say it for his new husband.  He committed the words to memory determinedly, wanting to impress Ling in any way possible.

He didn't notice the group coming up behind him, and later he would suspect that it had something to do with the fact that those in front of him were keeping his attention quite well—well enough, in fact, for it to be intentionally distracting.  All he knew at the time, though, was that one moment he was discussing the climate with a Xingese nobleman, and the next, he was being hoisted onto several shoulders, staring up at the ceiling as cheers rang through his ears—and one delighted cry of, "To the prince's bedroom!"

Ed couldn't even scream, he was so shocked, and a fleeting thought ran through his mind—he was cursed to believe that this might be the tallest he's ever been or will be in his entire life.  But he shoved that away quickly, disoriented as he gaped at the crowd below him.

And then the words clicked.

To the prince's bedroom.

Ed covered his face, making a mortified gargling noise.

He was going to die.

They had, of course, managed to incite actual fighting from him along the way—when they first started stripping him, he had writhed and struggled like a wildcat, thinking they intended on stripping him completely naked.  They had gotten most of the in intricate shirt off before he had fully realized what had happened, so his arms were mostly trapped, but it took them most of the trip to Ling's door to get all of his outer clothing off.  There were a few fingers that dabbed on his wrists and behind his ears; Ed's nose told him that it was some sort of floral perfume.  He twisted his head from side to side as they removed hair ornaments, as well, but his struggling lessened, just a little, when he realized that they weren't touching the simpler silk undergarments.  Which were still appropriate for public, if a little breezy.

Apparently they had already planned for this.  Bastards.

He did manage to clock one person in the head with his automail arm, but most of his struggling was ineffectual.  The first thing he was going to do when he was crowned—

Someone jostled him, startling him out of his thoughts, and before they could catch up with reality, he found himself being unceremoniously dumped towards the ground.  He yelped, barely managing to land on his feet, his balance bad enough that he began to topple forward.

A pair of arms caught him around the waist, saving him from completely faceplanting.  Ed gasped, grabbing onto them, and when the world finally stopped spinning, Ling's face was inches away from Ed's.

Ling smirked.  "Hi."

Fuckers.  They were all fucking fuckers.  All of them!  Ed had seen no few Xerxesian faces in that crowd; his husband wasn't excused either.  He was still barely steady, half convinced that he was about to fall over at the slightest breeze, and all he had was the way that he clung to Ling.  He narrowed his eyes and growled—fucking smirking, the asshole, and after leaving them separated for so long!  Ling had to have known what was going to happen!  "You could have fuckin' warned me, you know."

"Hey now, they had already grabbed me.  Right after I made it very clear that we were going to have a private wedding night."

Relief crashed over Ed like a wave, and he closed his eyes briefly.  After taking a deep breath, trying unsuccessfully to settle himself, he opened them again, watching Ling.  "Guess you are good for somethin'."

Ling tilted his head, which was really unfair of him at this point, when they were so close, close enough for their breaths to mingle.  "Only one thing?"

Before Ed could retort with some smartass remark or other, Ling's arm tightened around his waist, tugging him in further and kissing him deeply, lifting a hand to press against Ed's chest.

The door wasn't even closed!  Ed opened his mouth to complain—and inadvertently left himself wide open to Ling's tongue, which wasted no time in licking confidently inside.  Fuck, Ed liked that far too much.  Instead of distasteful protests, the only thing that escaped Ed's throat was a high, almost nasal sound as he sagged against Ling, into the hand on his chest.  Fuck, that felt good—everything did.  He pressed himself closer, into Ling's warmth, but it wasn't enough; he was pretty sure that it would never be enough, that he would never get tired of this or even be satisfied.  Ed slipped his hands up into Ling's hair, grabbed his head and turned it slightly to get the angle he wanted, flicking his own tongue out to trace all of Ling's tongue.

Somewhere Ed had noticed that the door had slammed shut, some merciful soul deciding to give them privacy, but the moan in the back of Ling's throat distracted him far more.  He thought he was winning, just for a moment, but immediately after, Ling's hand reached down to grab a handful of Ed's ass.

That had Ed's back arching, his mouth pulling away from Ling's with a shocked gasp.  Oh, god, he was kneading, and Ed's head spun.  He ground forward relentlessly, though whether it was to avoid Ling's hand or beg for more from the front, he couldn't say.  Ling was winning again, and Ed had to do something, fast, to stop the complete victory, at least upset the balance—

The older woman from earlier flashed through his mind.  Surely something like that would impress Ling, catch him off guard the same way his wandering hands have caught Ed.  With apparent effort, face flushed and lips bruised, he recited the words just inches from Ling's mouth.  His tongue stumbled over the unfamiliar syllables, just a little, but it came out pretty clear, he thought.

Ling froze, eyes wide, a stunned expression on his face.  Gotcha!  They had an even better effect than Ed had hoped; maybe now he could—

But now a slow, wicked grin was spreading over Ling's face, and Ed's stomach dropped.  Wait, the fuck?  That couldn't bode well.

"If you insist."

With a quick motion, Ling shoved Ed's chest.

Wait, what had just happened?  Ed wondered it distantly from the plush bed below him.  How did he get here?  When?  It had all happened too fucking fast.  Ed leaned up, trying to gather his legs so they weren't wide open—there had very definitely been a breeze.  Fuck silk.  "I-insist on what?" Ed sputtered.  "I didn't ask for anything!"  And shit, Ling's predatory smirk was looming over him, pinning him in place like a fucking butterfly.  Did dragonflies eat those?  Shit.

"Yes, you did," Ling murmured softly, dangerously, eyes glinting as he knelt on the bed.  He grabbed Ed's knees and pushed them apart again, shoving Ed back further onto the bed.  He grabbed a fistful of the thin silk shirt, yanking it down off Ed's shoulder.

Ed's heart caught in his throat like a fucking rock, wondering if Ling was planning on tearing off his legs or something.  He couldn't keep up fighting to close them; Ling had too good of a grip, and Ed didn't really want to, anyway.  He stared up at Ling above up, unblinking, briefly wanting to yank the cloth back up on his shoulder.  But it was only a fleeting thought, and soon his shoulder and collarbone were exposed—and Ed realized what had just happened.

"She lied to me!"  That cute little old lady!  "What the fuck did I say?"

Ling grinned brilliantly down at him, all seeming of predatory gleams and smirks gone, but Ed wasn't buying that for a fucking second.  "I'll show you," the fucker chirped, right as he tore the cloth down Ed's chest.

"Ling!"  Worried didn't even fucking begin to cover it—he wasn't prepared, right now, not for—shit, Ling was shoving it off his good shoulder, and he was about to—  "Hang on, look, you gotta realize, with the automail—"

Ling didn't seem to care, shoving the cloth off Ed's shoulders, baring his scars to the world.  Ed screwed his eyes shut, turning his face away to obscure the automail port as best as he can.  It wasn't that he was ashamed, just...

Ling's fingers reached out to take Ed's chin, tilting it away.  "You're worried about these?"

Ed opened his eyes to glare up at him, and just as expected, Ling's gaze held on the shoulder scars.  "What?  Like fuck—"

And before he could get any further, Ling leaned down, tongue flicking out, and licked slowly up the scarred skin.

Ed let out his loudest cry yet, helpless and unfettered as his back arched off the bed.  He quickly yanked his left hand up to cover his mouth, eyes wide and staring up at the ceiling.  He couldn't even move enough to look over at Ling as his chest heaved, breath noisily entering and exiting his nose as he clamped his mouth shut as hard as he possibly could.

"You don't need to be."  Ed couldn't see Ling murmuring against his skin, breath warming the metal, but he could feel it.  "It's hot."

Ed whimper-moaned around his hand, eyes rolling back in his head as he closed them yet again.  This wasn't fair.  It wasn't fucking fair, not that Ling was so—so experienced, and skilled, and perfect, and able to catch Ed off-guard no matter what the fuck he did.

Ling grabbed Ed's left wrist, tugging it away from his mouth and pinning it to the bed.  Ed's mouth continued to make pathetic, incoherent noises as Ling's continued to work around the automail port, tongue tracing both the skin and the metal.  

"But!"  Ling's voice startled Ed with its suddenness.  "Back to your request."

Ed had no fucking idea how Ling managed to grab his hips, flip him over, and strip him naked in one motion, but the bastard did it, and with ease.  He cried out when Ling did it, not expecting it for some reason (though he should have, he thought darkly, as he got a mouthful of pillow).  Ling was like a fucking emperor already, and for Ed, everything was way too fucking confusing and overwhelming, like he was clinging for his life to an unbroken stallion.  He hadn't even gotten a chance to do jack shit—not that he had much to offer in that department.  Ugh.  He hurriedly tried to roll himself back over—he might not be the best royal, but even he knew that having his bare ass on display was highly undignified.  Ling's hands only gripped tighter, though, keeping him pinned.

But fuck.  He realized, with horror, how hard he was—and then very quickly decided to neglect to mention exactly how much manhandling turned him on, apparently.  He turned his head, at least, to shoot Ling an unsavory glare.  "What the fuck're you doin'?"

Ling neglected to answer for a moment, and Ed felt it before he saw it—Ling's hand fumbling between his thighs, grasping—god, the fucker was checking to see if Ed was hard!  And he got an answer before Ed could do anything about it, as well as a high, breathless cry of surprise when his fingers met Ed's cock.  His thighs trembled, his knees locked, his quaking hips held firmly in place.  He was fucking stuck.  "Aa—shit, wait, I—"  He couldn't make his mouth form a coherent sentence, instead tripping over every syllable that left.

Ling pulled his hand back then, instead placing it on the small of Ed's back, pushing it downward so Ed pressed flush against the sheets.  "Yes?"

Yes?  Yes?  Was that all Ling had to say for himself?  Well, at least Ed's ass was no longer sticking up in the air.  But he could feel Ling looking at him, his eyes burning holes in him—not unlike a few people back in the celebration hall.  The thought sent a now-familiar flush of heat to his cheeks, and he whined and buried his face in the pillow.  "I—I don't—I dunno what the fuck you're tryin' to do to me."

A sharp jolt of brief pain—Ling's teeth, nipping very deliberately at one of Ed's asscheeks.  Ed yelped and thrust forward on instinct, and the friction of the sheets against his erection was very near painful.  "No?  Maybe you shouldn't go around asking for things you don't understand, then."

Ed gasped, shaking his head and trying to squirm.  What the fuck was Ling doing?  What the fuck?  "I told you!  She—the lady—she said it was just—just a greeting for married couples!"  Ed was very close to babbling in his attempt to retain a shred of dignity.  "I was just tryn'na do somethin' nice for you!"  And god, the pressure was making it that much harder—his voice getting higher, his speech more slurred; common, even, a habit that he had never been able to break.

And then Ling snickered behind him, the fucker, breathy and low.  "Did she now?  An old lady?  Must you really slander our elderly so?"

Oh god, what had Ed said?  "It's not a lie!  She really—!"

And then—fuck.  Ed bit his own fucking tongue as Ling's hands gripped his ass, prying him open.  He knew—knew that was how this was supposed to work.  More or less.  Something had to go somewhere, blah blah blah.  No one had, however, told him exactly how intimate and vulnerable it would make him feel.  He choked, his whole body shaking, and although his eyes were as wide as physically possible, he couldn't bring himself to turn and look at Ling.  He couldn't even bring himself to move.  His throat was so tight, the only thing that managed to escape sounded like—but definitely wasn't—a whimper.

Ed expected—well, he wasn't sure exactly what he expected next.  Something weird or overwhelming or something.  But whatever it was, it wasn't what came next.

"If you want me to stop," Ling murmured, in a completely different tone than usual, genuine and sincere, "truly stop, then say the word.  But otherwise..."  And though Ed couldn't see him, he could hear the smirk creep into his voice.  The words left unsaid left more of an impression on Ed than, he was sure, anything Ling might have actually spoken.

If Ed had known yesterday at dinner that this was what they'd be up to today, he would have choked and died over his meal.  Still, he was pretty sure that would have left him with many deep regrets, because as much as this experience is new and even a little frightening, it still rose in his chest like a wave of heat that sent little fires to every inch of skin Ling touched.  And with Ling's words, that just made it worse—he was pretty sure he would pass out if any more blood rushed to his head—either head.  There was nothing more alarmingly frustrating to not know exactly what was going to happen and wanting it to happen all the same.  Ed swallowed, then breathed out a shaking sigh, trying to form words, shaking his head again.  Finally, he managed to make his mouth work.

"Do.  Something."

But instead of obeying, Ling—Ling withdrew!  Ed's head spun at the sudden lack of contact, about to demand an explanation, when Ling finally spoke.

"You did so well earlier.  Do something what?"

"Something!" Ed burst out, starting to thrash, but Ling continued to hold him still.  "Anything!"  Shit, what kind of answer is Ling expecting!  What the hell was he—oh.  Oh.  Oh.  Al's advice.  He settled himself—not that he had much choice—and whined, rolling the muscles in his back out of frustration.  He didn't want to say it.

"P... p..."

"Pangolin?" Ling offered unhelpfully, cheerful as ever.

Ed's shoulders dropped and hunched together.  What a dick.  Ed finally, finally turned his head, glaring, and spat, "Please."

He should have known that something was up with the gleam in Ling's eye, but he was distracted with his annoyance—and before the word finished coming out of Ed's mouth, Ling dove forward, tongue licking thoroughly up inside Ed's ass.

Ed screamed.

He arched his back and screamed, head tilted back at an almost demonic angle.  His hands scrabbled at the sheets, instinctively trying to get away from the warmth of Ling's mouth at the shock.  "Stop—stop!  Not there—shit, you can't!"

And Ling stopped.

Ed stayed there, frozen, eyes wide for several moments as he gathered his thoughts.  His lungs were screaming, trying to get some air, his legs so weak that he couldn't stand and run if he had wanted to.  His mouth, however, seemed to take on a life of its own.  "You can't—not there—it's—"  Shit, how could Ling?  It's not like Ed is unfamiliar with disgust, from back when they were still common, before they were legitimized as royalty.  Since then, he had been taught that hygiene was next to godliness, and while he had scrubbed very very thoroughly before the wedding... fuck, how could Ling be all right with this?  "You don't—you don't have to—"

"I know I don't."  Ling's murmur from behind was as steady and confident as always.  "I'm doing this because I want to.  With you.  I'll never do something I don't want to, but I imagine you'll never be on that list."  When Ed dared peek behind him, Ling was smiling softly.  "Still, I want to allow you the same courtesy.  Do you want me to stop?"

Ed swallowed.  How was he supposed to respond to something like that?  "It's not that—I just—I don't wanna make you... dirty."  He mumbled the last word, knowing how pathetic it probably sounded, and he looked away again, staring very determinedly at the pillow in front of him.

"It's not."  Ed could hear the confidence in Ling's voice.  "At least not in the bad way.  Sex is dirty, but it's a good dirty."

"But—"  Shit, how was Ling able to say all this kind of stuff so easily?  He swallowed, chest rising and falling hard.  Still, he was... grateful, for the understanding.  "I don't know.  It seems like it would taste awful."

He heard a slight rustling as Ling moved behind him, but instead of a tongue again, Ling just pressed a gentle kiss to the small of his back.  "You taste wonderful."

Ed shivered without even bothering to try to hide it.  Not that he could have, anyway.  "I don't know, I just—"  He exhaled, still glaring determinedly in front of him.  "Shit, Ling, you know more about this shit than I do!  Is this okay?"

Ling's hand touched gently against Ed's back, running up it slowly, a comforting motion.  "Yes, of course.  Like I said, I won't do anything I don't want to.  Would it feel better if we had a word that would stop everything, no questions asked?"

Ed closed his eyes, feeling a little foolish, but Ling's words went a long way in soothing that.  Make up your fucking mind, he ordered himself, then turned to look back at Ling and nodded.

"Then pick something.  Something you'd never say otherwise."  Ling's eyes glinted.  "Pangolin?"

"You're a dick," Ed growled, glaring.  Still, it was distinctive, and it would kill the mood.  "Fine."

"Got it."  Ling's response was immediate, and without any further hesitation, he spread Ed's cheeks and licked again, slower than before.

"Aah—!"  The cry was soft, caught between a sigh and a whine.  Ed wondered where the bones in his body had gone; wasn't transmuting them away like that impossible?  He could feel his muscles, though, twitching, tensing, half-fighting the facedown position but really just melting more into it.  It was obscene, that this felt so good.  His vision flickered—no, those were his eyelids, fluttering between open and closed and making it impossible to see anything.  "Ling..."  He gasped as the tongue ran up him again, the second "Ling" nearly incoherent at the slick warmth that seemed to settle deep within him in place of his bones.  He tried to focus on that, the sensation, not the act.  Not yet.  "Yes..."

"Ed."  Ling moaned it against him, sending vibrations through his skin, and Ed couldn't quite tell, but it seemed like he was licking a pattern of some sort—tracing something.  But then Ling dragged his mouth down again, and Ed shivered as he felt him nuzzle and then lick at Ed's balls, pushing Ed's thighs wider as he kneaded them.

Ed took this as a cue, trying to spread them wider with a moan, jerking forward with a gasp with every unexpected movement of Ling's tongue.  He really didn't want to know what he looked like right now, but he couldn't contain his curiosity about Ling—so he turned.  As he craned his head back, he could see the head of dark hair bobbing a little, and he whimpered his approval as the physical image burned into his brain.

He felt Ling chuckle more than heard it, and he might have been annoyed if he hadn't been too preoccupied with the fact that Ling had just sucked one of his balls into his mouth.  "F-fuck—aah!"  He should try to muffle that, he thought somewhere in the back of his mind, but fuzzily, and it fled immediately when Ling released it, kissing, then traced back upwards with his tongue.

And then it pressed forward, tracing against Ed's entrance.

Ed choked at the stroke, leaning forward and burying his face in the pillow, moaning in embarrassment when his hips seemed to jerk back of their own accord, thighs spreading as if he were begging for more.  Was he?  Ling certainly seemed to think so; as if Ed had lifted his head and invited him casually, he pressed his tongue inside.

It wasn’t deep, not really, but Ed screamed anyway—he was pretty sure it was “fuck” but he wasn’t positive.  His back arched, his nails digging into the sheets, and his vision practically whited out.  He’d never had anything inside of him before, not like this, and it hurt but it was so good that he didn’t fucking care—even enjoyed that, a bit.  Ling simply gripped his thighs, sliding deeper, and then the tip of his tongue stroked against something inside him that felt amazing.

“Holy shit!” Ed gasp-choked as he jerked his hips backwards, his eyes widening past the point of possibility, it felt like.  He squirmed for a moment, reveling in it.  “There—god, yes, there—”    It was almost a high, with how erotic it was, and he shuddered as a wave of pleasure rocked through him.

And then the warmth of Ling’s tongue slowly slid away.

Ed let out a whimper as it left him, gasping at the sudden emptiness.  Strange; he felt more naked now than he had when Ling had stripped him.  With a displeased noise, he lifted his head, turning to frown at Ling—who was licking his lips and watching Ed.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” he murmured, eyes gleaming.  “My, you are reactive, aren’t you?”

“You—”  Ed wasn’t expecting to croak so much, but the word was barely recognizable.  He cleared his throat and tried again.  “You fucking—asshole.  You knew?”  That Ling had known that it would be that pleasurable and hadn’t warned Ed, well, it left a sense that he had been fishing for an extreme reaction.

“Not that I could reach it that way,” Ling said slowly, almost thoughtfully.  “But it does give me an idea of what I’m going to do to you next.”

Ed’s face was so red that he felt as if it were about to burst.  Shit, how did Ling just say things like that?  He made a strangled, disbelieving noise, trying to form his lips into asking some sort of question, but Ling’s hands beat him to action, grabbing his hips with a deja-vu inspiring flip.  Ed stared up at the ceiling again instead of protesting, a little exasperated and very unsurprised.

“You look so happy,” Ling laughed softly, and Ed flicked his eyes over in his husband’s directions.  He was watching Ed, smiling down at him, still fully-clothed to Ed’s completely naked self.  Ed resisted rolling his eyes, thought for a moment, then decided the situation was worthy of an eyeroll.

“You’re the one who keeps… manhandling me,” Ed snapped, feeling very self-righteous about the complaint.  “And then droppin’ ominous hints about what you’re gonna do t’me.  Especially when you’re looking at me like I’m your next meal or somethin’.”  His last few words rose to be dangerously close to a whine, but Ling only laughed again.

“Funny you should mention that, actually.”  He lowered his head, his loose black hair falling forward to curtain both sides of his face.  Ed watched him warily and reached out a hand to grip his shoulder just in case he tried to do anything… funny.

And, well, leaning forward, eyes glinting, towards Ed's abdomen probably counted, but it was also something that Ed actually did kinda want him to do.  His eyes didn't leave Ling's as Ling's tongue flicked out to lick down Ed’s stomach.

The action had Ed too distracted to notice the obvious at first, but as Ling dipped lower, Ed swallowed: he was very, very hard, and the evidence was right in front of Ling’s face.

And mouth.

And—

Holy shit, he was licking it!

For a fleeting moment, Ed wondered exactly why Ling had such a fascination with sticking his tongue into weird places, and debated refusing to kiss him ever again.  That was all his mind had time for, however, because then Ling fit his mouth around the head of Ed’s cock and slid it down.

Fucking hell, how big could Ling's mouth be?  Endless, it seemed, as he sunk down slowly, moaning around it as if it were the finest of Xingese delicacies.  And when his nose reached the pale hair at the base of Ed's abdomen, Ling inhaled, still seeming as if he were savoring what was about to be the finest meal of his life.

"Ling..."  And yeah, that was a genuine, unequivocal whimper as the words left Ed's lips.  Shit, how was he supposed to deal with—with this warmth, this suction, every slight movement of the tiny muscles working in Ling's throat that Ed could feel with excruciating detail?

Ling only hummed in reply, sounding pleased—the bastard.  Ed—Ed wondered if it were possible to die of embarrassment, or anticipation, or pleasure, because he might be the first.

Ed closed his eyes and gasped as Ling began to suck.

And apparently, sucking wasn’t the only thing on his mind, either, because right as Ed thought he might have a handle on the sensations, there was a firm pressure on his asshole as Ling pressed, then slid his finger inside of Ed, the same way his tongue had been earlier.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ed realized that Ling had slicked it up with something, as it slipped in quite easily, but preoccupation quickly overwhelmed him.  Ling was sucking—sliding up and down, almost gleefully, and had also began to expertly stroke that sensitive spot inside him, pushing him quickly to the edge...

Reduced to wordless gargling, Ed could feel his hips snap up, definitely without his permission.  Not that he could have given them permission, not with the way his head was pounding, his lungs gasping, his muscles seizing.  And Ling—Ling was there through it all, a constant warmth and steady presence perfectly at ease with giving so much pleasure.

Ed tried to warn him, he did, with a frantic tapping on the shoulder and small, desperate noises.  He knew what was coming next, what happened when you felt this way, even though it had always been Ed alone and it had never been this intense.

But Ling didn't even seem to notice, instead simply sucking harder until Ed couldn't hold himself back, until he arched off the bed and felt his release hit the back of Ling's throat, until he felt Ling swallow around him and realized what had just happened with a dizziness that was nearly lost amidst the rush of pleasure.

Some part of his mind noticed that Ling had pulled off, wasn't surprised when Ling came up and lazily laid next to him on the pillow, but for the moment, Ed had to focus on breathing because he was pretty sure that his heart had just stopped.

When Ed finally did recover enough to turn his head and look at his husband, what he did see left him with a twinge of annoyance.

"Well don't you fuckin' look pleased with yourself," he muttered with a scowl.  His eyes slid down from Ling's eyes to his lips, where a pearlescent white spot still glistened.  "You... you swallowed it all?"

Ling blinked once, twice, still languid and smug.  And then, in a voice that Ed could only describe as sultry, he murmured, "You taste good."

God, he wouldn't fucking stop saying that!  "Don't even—it can't taste good!" Ed snapped.  "Fuckin' gross."

"Mmm."  Ling appeared in no hurry to defend his strange hobbies, which was why Ed had no time to react when he reached out, grabbed Ed's face, and kissed him full on the mouth.

And slid his tongue inside.

Ed's first reaction was to squirm away with a squawk, but Ling held him too tightly for that, and after a few moments, the euphoria that always seemed to settle over him when Ling kissed him took over.

And it didn't taste that bad at all.

He wasn't quite sure how long he lay there, making soft noises against Ling's lips, Ling's fingers running gently through Ed's hair as Ed reciprocated.  Eventually, however, Ling took Ed's wrist, pulling it away, and sliding his fingers through Ed's, drawing it towards Ling...

And promptly thrust their hands down his pants.

Ed gasped, yanking back, eyes snapping open as his fingers touched hot, hard cock.

"My turn!"  Ling grinned, cheerful as ever.

Ed gaped at him, cheeks heating up yet again.  Ed had never even touched another dick before—besides his own, of course—and Ling just casually expected him to...

Ed swallowed, hoping that Ling couldn't feel his palm begin to sweat.  Were penises that sensitive?  Ed couldn't quite recall at the moment.  "D'you want me to, uh..."  At a loss, Ed hollowed his cheeks, bobbing his head briefly in a crude imitation of Ling's earlier actions.

Ling burst out laughing.

"Asshole!" Ed snapped, yanking his hand away and glaring.  "Shit, don't you dare make fun of me—"  And with that, he realized exactly what his next step needed to be: proving himself.

Ed levered himself and launched himself forward, tackling Ling and pinning him on his back.  He gave him a quick glare—just to remind him who was boss!—before shimmying down, hooking his hands in Ling's waistband and tugging down as he went, practically shoving Ling's knees open.

He had to admit, suddenly being face-to-face with Ling's dick was a little intimidating.  Fuck.  He couldn't believe he was actually doing this.

Ed looked automatically up at Ling, maybe just for a little reassurance, and licked his lips.  He could feel the heat in his cheeks and really, really didn't want to fuck this up.

Ling reached down, running his fingers through Ed's hair.  Ed leaned into it instinctively—it felt nice.  "You can grab it, if you'd like."

It brought Ed no small amount of satisfaction to hear the hoarseness in Ling's voice.  He let out a harsh breath, tentatively reaching out to grasp it.

"Harder."

Ed obeyed, eyes locked on Ling's the entire time.  It was so warm, so thick, but Ed couldn't help but worry that he'd—he'd hurt Ling, or break it or something.

"Like you'd touch yourself."  Ling's eyes stayed locked on Ed's.

Ed swallowed, releasing it.  That was a weird fucking request, but if Ling was sure...  Well, he didn't seem to be, with the puzzled look he was giving Ed, but he had asked...

Ed shifted, lifting his automail hand and reaching out.  He could feel his cheeks heating even more with self-consciousness as realization flickered across Ling's face.  "This is... how I do it, so..."  He swallowed.  "If you don't like it, just fuckin' say so."

Ling's laughter was light and casual, but after the flash of alarm on his face earlier, Ed wasn't entirely sure he could trust it.  "Maybe not that."

Still, the laughter did help a little, leaving Ed a little less tense.  "For someone who just wanted a hand job, you're fuckin' picky."  Still, he switched hands, this time keeping his grip firm from the beginning."

Ling's eyes, Ed was pleased to notice, got a little wider at that.  "Good," he exhaled.

Ed took this as an indication to give him a stroke, a long one, from the base to the head.

"That—that's it, Ed."  Ling's voice was tense, but Ed could still feel his groin twitch a little at that, stirring something deep down in his stomach.

Swallowing, Ed leaned in a little, then picked up the pace rapidly—fast and hard, just the way Ed liked it.

"Holy shit!" Ling gasped, eyes wide, and Ed slowed his movements, trying to suppress his panic.

"You told me to do it like I did to myself—god—shit—does it hurt?!"

"It's not bad!"  Ling gasped it, arching his hips.  "Keep—that's—Ed—"  Ling sighed the last word, almost like a prayer, closing his eyes.

Ed was pretty sure he had never been this unsure of himself in his life, but he kept it up, alternating between squeezing the base and sliding his palm in quick, slick movements up and down.  It wasn't long before Ling started to leak and a wild, fucking crazy idea occurred to him.

Well, it was as good of a time as any.

Ed reached out, taking Ling's hand with his automail one and sliding it further into his hair, placing it more firmly.  "Listen, you've gotta—just—show me what you like, okay?  I haven't done shit before—and don't you dare fuckin' tease me for it!"

"You—you're doing great, Ed," Ling gasped, running his fingers across Ed's scalp, and Ed had to suppress a moan.  "God, you're beautiful—"

"Cut the sappy shit!" Ed snapped, face even brighter.  He snorted, blinking down for a minute at the cock in front of him, finding his resolve and licking his lips.  With one last quest for reassurance, he pressed his head back further into Ling's hand.

And then, with more willpower than Ed had ever needed for anything else, he ducked his head, lapping at the tip and testing the taste."

"Ed—!"  Ling gasped, arching his hips encouragingly.  Ed could hear him taking a deep breath, then laughing breathlessly.  "How do you like it?"

Ed took his tongue off for a minute, contemplating the taste and texture.  "I should be askin' you.  But... it's fine.  Kinda salty."  He leaned in again to lick again, this one firm and at the base.

Ling chuckled again, weakly, and Ed could tell that he was restraining himself.  "But not terrible, huh?"

"It was better when you weren't talkin'."  To make his point, he decided to take the head all the way into his mouth this time, eyes remaining fixed on Ling's through his lashes.

"Demanding too, aren't you?"  Ling gasped again, then groaned through his teeth.  "Watch your teeth!"

"Mm?"  God, there was so much to remember about this shit!  He let his mouth go slack a bit, using his lips to cushion his teeth.  "Behher?"

"Yes," Ling hissed, stroking Ed's hair some more and biting his lip.

Ed nodded, exhaling sharply through his nose before lapping his way lower, testing how much he could take without choking; he didn't expect to have Ling's supernatural ability to swallow an entire dick his first try.  He sunk lower and lower until his nose was just about at Ling's pubic hair; he caught himself sagging a little into the scent and forgot himself.  Choking, he pulled up for relief, lips barely hanging on to the head.

"You all right?" Ling murmured, eyes half-closed.  "Shit, that was..."

"Bad?"  Ed pulled off with a pop, his breathing ragged, breath huffing absently over the wet top.

"No, don't—!" Ling almost yelped, reaching for Ed almost desperately, and Ed froze, worried that he had actually hurt him now.

"No, that was good!"  Ling was still reaching, but not touching, a fact which left Ed with a pang of regret.  God, he hated not knowing anything about what he was trying to do!

"You gotta show me—okay—so just—just push my head down or somethin'.  I know I'm probably shit at this, but I want to..."  He watched Ling for a moment before flicking his eyes away.  "Lemme try again?"

"You were doing wonderfully," Ling breathed.  "That's—keep doing that, please.  Just don't choke yourself."

Ed felt the pressure on the back of his head increase gently, and he ducked his head back down with a little whine in his throat, caught somewhere between suspicion and pleasure.  God, he loved that hand in his hair—since when?  He wrapped a firm hand around the base of Ling's cock, a bit like a bumper to keep him from choking himself.  Instead, he decided to practice on the length he could handle: he gave his first, earnest suck to the fat middle section, then moved up to the head and back down again, stroking the rest.

Fingers rubbed on Ed's scalp, Ling murmuring an encouraging "yes" from above him.  He moaned around his mouthful, sucking back hard—he wanted to let Ling know that his attention was appreciated.  Still, it wasn't enough.  With his automail hand, he reached around his own head to force Ling's grip harder.  To make sure he was explicitly clear, he lifted off his sucking, looking at Ling dazedly, and pleading, "C'mon, tighter."

"Then don't stop!" Ling shot back, almost aggrieved, gripping tighter in compliance, eyes wide.

Ed nodded, appreciating the small tug it produced on his hair, and lowered his head again, removing the hand guard.  This time, prepared, he was able to pull up in time to avoid choking, letting himself slip back down with suction, trying to establish a better pace.

“Shit, shit—!” Ling gasped out, and Ed could see—could feel his hips shaking with effort, though from what, Ed wasn’t sure.  “Good, like that, like that—”

The praise, the fucking praise, Ed couldn’t handle it anymore, and now Ling was tightening his grip in Ed’s hair, and Ed was moaning.  “Mmf—”  His eyes roll up in the back of his head for a moment, relaxing, giving Ling more control.

And then Ling jerked.

Luckily, Ed had expected it, and that and a lifetime experience of inhaling his food without chewing it properly kept him from choking.  It did not, however, keep him from whining around Ling’s cock.  He continued to suck in earnest, wanting—wanting to please him, god knew why.  He hated himself, just a bit, for the filthy litany of desires running through his head: please, more, now—harder—fuck my mouth—oh, god.

And Ling did, he pushed forward, just a little, as if testing to see if it was all right.  Fuck.  Ed reached up to grip Ling’s hip, almost kneading, looking up at him through his eyelashes again, before he fucking whimpered his encouragement and swallowed around Ling for good measure.

And then Ling gripped Ed’s hair tighter, shoving his head down, jerking his hips forward.  “You like taking my cock?”

Ed couldn’t miss the excited gasp in his voice, even with his mouth as full as it was.  Yes.  God, yes.  This was it.  I want it, I want it—  Ed’s brain jumbled into demands and every expletive he had ever heard.  There was no way he could respond, so he just grabbed Ling’s hips and fucking whined harder than he had all night.  He was getting hard again, and he would have reached down to grab it if he didn’t absolutely refuse to let go of Ling.  He nodded as much as he could, though, still trying to take it all.

And then—

“I’m close.”

Fucking right you’re close, Ed thought almost darkly to himself at the gasped words.  But he couldn’t be annoyed at it, not really, and not for any length of time, not with the way his brain was humming happily with the pressure in his hair, the electricity running down to his groin.  He growled around Ling for a moment, but when Ling tugs his hair again, it transforms into a high-pitched keen.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Why the fuck was he this hard, from sucking Ling’s cock?  But he didn’t have time to think about that.  With a final, demanding act—because hell, this was his first time, and it was amazing and perfect and everything he had wanted, even if he was nervous—Ed’s flesh hand searched for Ling’s, threading their fingers together the best that he could.  He sucked harder.  He was ready.  He was so ready.

He didn’t really know what he was expecting, when the liquid hit his throat.  He squeaked a little before his mouth filled, and it was entirely too much.  Wrenching his head from Ling’s hand, he pulled back, trying to swallow but coughing up what he couldn’t.

It took him a few moments of panting to realize that his face must be a fucking mess.

His eyes flicked over to Ling, who was watching him, wide-eyed, panting even harder than Ed.  It was a small gesture, one that seemed to be done without even a thought, but Ling reached out, pressing his thumb onto Ed’s face, smearing the come across his cheek, shoving the thumb into Ed’s mouth.  Ed accepted it easily, lips parting—it felt like nothing after earlier.

“You look gorgeous like this,” Ling panted.

Ling apparently takes Ed’s soft moan as an invitation to shove two more fingers in.  The other two curled under Ed’s chin, tilting it up as Ling’s eyes gleamed.  “Look at me,” he ordered, all emperor’s heir.

Ed didn’t need to be told to suck on the fingers, twining his tongue around them as if he had done this every day of his life.  He had to get between each one, too, just—just to be symmetrical, all right?  Because that’s how it felt like it should be.  But he did look up at Ling—like he had a choice—though those fingers were doing most of the work, with how heavy Ed’s head felt.  Everything felt heavy, and deliciously so.  “Mm… whaff?” he slurred around the fingers.

“Nothing,” Ling whispered, and something in him seemed stunned, amazed that Ed was here, doing this.  “Just… stay like this.”

The fuck kind of request was that?  Still, it wasn’t like he could do anything else.  He sat there, staring at Ling dumbly.  God, he was kind of pretty, isn’t he?  Hair down and all now.  It framed his face nicely, and Ed noted somewhere that the first thing he was going to do when they were done with this… whatever it was was going to be getting Ling’s shirt off.

Ed cocked his head to the side, barely realizing that he had just asked, “Was I good?”

“You did wonderfully,” Ling murmured, closing his eyes and tugging his fingers out of Ed’s mouth.  The smile on Ed’s face could have lit up the entire room, and he wiped his face with the back of his hand, very proud of himself.

He was getting hard again, yes, and no way were they done fucking around for the evening, but Ed needed a breather after that.  And so, after Ling flopped back, Ed followed, crawling up beside him and flopping down, barely caring if he crushed Ling or not.  After a moment's thought, he shoved his hands up Ling's shirt, yanking it up.  Ling laughed softly, lifting his arms and allowing Ed to strip him as he kicked the rest of his pants off.  The job finished, Ed burrowed back into him, skin against skin, absurdly pleased with himself.

Apparently Ling felt as little like talking as Ed did, which was just fine.  Ed closed his eyes, squirming a little, but he knew it was only fair to be patient.

Ling's hand eventually found its way up to Ed's side, leaving Ed shivering a little as it traced over his ribs.  Ling either noticed this or simply liked the feeling of Ed's skin underneath his hand, since he soon switched from fingers to his palm, running it up and down, increasing its distance with each stroke, until eventually it found its way to Ed's hip and thumbed over the bone.

Ed swallowed and opened his eyes to see Ling staring at him, eyes gleaming.

Ed swallowed again.

"So, uh, what now?"

Ling leaned forward, all signs of his earlier lethargy gone.  Tracing his nose up Ed's jaw, he slowly made his way up the side of his head, until his breath tickled against his ear.

"Now?  We fuck."

Ed bit his lip, a small, strangled noise escaping his lips as he made some combination of a gasp and a moan.  Shit.  Shit.  "I—I thought—"  But of course not, of course that wasn't all "it" was.  Shit.  Ed knew he was about to learn, in very excruciating detail, exactly what "it" was.

Ling apparently decided that he had given Ed enough time to fret about sex; he surged forward, pinning Ed easily, containing his surprised, flailing limbs almost effortlessly.  Ed kind of hated him.  At least until he leaned forward, pressing their mouths together in a hot, possessive kiss.

Ed could still taste himself, the saltiness from earlier, and it mingled with the taste of Ling's release as well.  Ed moaned into it, relishing the filthiness of it—fuck, when did he start liking that kind of filthiness?  Ed didn't know, and Ling didn't care—he reached down to grip Ed's hips, grinding their cocks together.

And that's when Ed realized that Ling was very hard, too.

Ed let out another whimper against Ling's lips, to which Ling responded with a gentle, comforting stroke of his thumb against Ed's hipbone.  Ed liked it, maybe, a little, but it also left him with the realization of how much smaller he felt underneath him, that despite being younger, Ling still had a significant size advantage.

That, Ed wasn't sure he liked.  But he wasn't sure he disliked it, either.

Still, Ling knew what they were doing and Ed did not, so he guessed he could cede control for the moment to the more experienced party.  Because he had totally already been in control.  With that reasoning settled, when Ling nudged his knee between Ed's to press his thighs open, Ed obliged.

But he didn't want to just lie there.  Be a dead fish.  And his own cock was demanding attention, too.  Taking Ling's wordless request and running with it, he spread his legs further, reaching up to hook his flesh leg around the back of Ling's thigh, and at the same time, wrapped his arms around Ling's neck.  Shit, his hair was soft, and as he initiated a kiss, he ran his fingers through it with a soft moan.

Ling—Ling seemed to love that, if his gasp was any indication.  He rocked his hips forward eagerly, pressing them together again, and Ed writhed at the contact, moaning against Ling's mouth some more, frankly no longer caring that he sounded like a wanton slut.  He wanted Ling, and he wanted him now.

Given Ling's matching moans and gasps, he felt the same way.  Ling released Ed's hips for a moment, pulling his head back and earning himself a whine.  Ed craned his neck to see what the hell Ling was doing and got an upside-down view of a small jar, Ling's fingers dipped inside of it.

He flashed back to earlier, when Ling had been sucking his cock and pressing a finger inside of him, and shivered.

As soon as Ling began to move back in Ed's direction, Ed reached up again, yanking him back.  He had just enough time to catch Ling's surprised expression before kissing the hell out of him, thrusting his tongue inside Ling's mouth.  And shit, the stiff, shocked surprise was so fucking worth it.  It took a moment for Ling to gather himself enough to grip Ed's shoulder tightly with his dry hand, returning the kiss with as much eagerness and ferocity as Ed gave to him.

Ed yelped into Ling's mouth when one of the fingers found its mark, sliding inside Ed with very little resistance.  God, he'd become fucking pliant, too.  Ling kissed it away, the cry, chuckling a little in return.  Ed writhed around the finger, attempting to convey his disapproval, but really, all Ling got was probably to add another.

The second finger left Ed shuddering; yeah, Ling had stuck his goddamn tongue in earlier, but that hadn't been nearly as long, or in for more than a few moments.  But Ling knew how to use it just as well: he crooked them, pressing into that spot the tongue had discovered earlier, stroking up against it and drawing small moans from Ed's mouth into Ling's.

And Ling moaned back, almost like he wanted to say something—or praise Ed, with how pleased he sounded, and the thought sent frissons of heat down to Ed's groin—but couldn't bring himself to pull away.

Ed tried to relax, to let Ling's fingers do their thing, but he couldn't help savoring the new and alien sensation of someone inside him like this, and inadvertently squeezed around Ling's fingers a few times.  He seemed to like that, though, with the way he ground harder against Ed, and by the time Ling slipped in a third, Ed wasn't sure how he wasn't coming all over Ling right now.

Whatever Ling was waiting for, between the best kisses of Ed's life and tormenting him with pleasure, he finally seemed to reach it, because he pulled his hand out, fingers leaving Ed with an obscene noise.

Ed let out a cry of loss, for a moment convinced that Ling was just doing this to torment him, but Ling wasted no time in lifting Ed's legs, sitting upright and placing his heels on Ling's shoulders.  It provided a very nice view, at least, of Ling's face, framed between Ed's feet.

"The fuck?" Ed choked out hoarsely, feeling very, very ridiculous.

"You're very flexible."  The hungry look in Ling's eyes told Ed that he considered this a very good thing.  Ed realized, with growing suspicion, that Ling's hands were nowhere to be seen, hidden somewhere between Ed's legs, the view blocked by a very hard dick.

And then something much, much larger than one of Ling's fingers pressed against Ed's ass.

Of course Ed had somewhat, vaguely knew what sex entailed, had pieced together the implications of the actions over several disinterested years, but he'd never been truly faced with it, not like this.  It all seemed to click together, to finally make sense, after everything they had done.  The idea of it was terrifying, but deliciously so—he didn't want this despite it, but because of it.  It was a thrill, he realized, and one to which he could quickly become addicted.  If he wasn't already.

He met Ling's eyes, so very clearly seeing the anticipation in them as Ling rocked his hips forward.  The fingers from earlier had prepared him for this, readied him to relax enough for Ling to slide in, but nothing could have fully done so.  As Ling pressed his cock inside, Ed cried out, eyes open as wide as they would go.

The cry dimmed to a whimper when Ling fully settled, and Ed thanked whatever deity that might be listening that Ling wasn't moving yet.  He didn't think he could handle that, not right now, and took a deep breath, focusing on getting used to having Ling inside him.

Ling leaned forward, stretching Ed's legs further, but it wasn't terribly uncomfortable, especially not when Ling started to kiss Ed again. That, more than anything, helped Ed to relax, and he lifted his arms yet again to wrap them around Ling's neck, burying his fingers in Ling's hair.

And when Ed no longer felt quite like he was about to burst open, Ling began to move.

Ed had thought the fingers, the tongue had been nice.  But it was nothing in comparison to this.  Having something so thick, so hard inside of him was tantalizing enough, but Ling fucking knew how to use it.  He wasted no time in rocking against that spot which was becoming so familiar in its pleasure, sending ecstasy running up through Ed's body, drawing gasps and moans from both of their lips.  Yes, Ed thought wildly.  Yeah, this, more, harder

It took him several moments to realize that he was saying the words out loud.

And Ling obliged.  He took his time, settling into a steady pace, but despite the force behind his thrusts, he fucked Ed slowly and deeply.

Ed's eyes rolled back in his head with every thrust, moaning obscenely, all concern for appearances gone.  He wanted to look at Ling, maybe, but he couldn't manage to grab ahold of himself long enough to do so, instead arching his hips helplessly with the assault on his senses.

His legs eventually tired of their position, slipping down, and since Ling couldn't be bothered to replace them, Ed resettled them around Ling's waist.  He finally managed to pry his eyes open, and what he saw nearly sent him orgasming right then and there: Ling staring down at him, eyes hazy with lust and desire, mouth gasping open as he looked at Ed like he was some great treasure, priceless and amazing.  Ed bit his lip, shaking with the effort of meeting his eyes and nearly drowning in the feverish, all-consuming need of them.

Holy shit.

Ed gripped Ling's shoulders, doing his best to meet Ling's thrusts, but they came with such energy that Ed could feel himself slowly being worn down, like the stories of what the great oceans were supposedly able to do to rocky shores.  And Ed—Ed knew what came after it, wanted to be worn down and break against Ling's pressure, feel it crashing over him.

And with Ling's relentless thrusts, he knew it wouldn't be long.

Ling ran his hands up Ed's sides, sending shivers through him, and something in Ling's touch sent sparks flying with it.  Ed moaned, whined, sobbed, even—and realized, from Ling's harsh breaths, that he wasn't the only one who was close.

It was that knowledge, that Ling was about to come inside him, that finally broke Ed, shattered him, sending him spiraling into an abyss of pleasure that he had never known existed.  He whined Ling's name as the pleasure shook through him, his cock throbbing as he spilled onto Ling's abdomen, and Ling answered with a gasp of his own, Ed's name on his lips as he changed his angle to avoid the spot that was now far too sensitive.  It was only several thrusts more before Ling rocked to a stop, burying himself fully within Ed as warmth splashed into his insides.

Ed couldn't have moved if his life had depended on it, and Ling didn't seem especially inclined to do so, either.  They stared at each other for what seemed like forever, Ed's eyes glazing over, before Ling finally groaned, pulling out and flopping over next to Ed.

It took every ounce of energy Ed had left to turn his head over to look at Ling, who looked just as tired as Ed felt.

"Is... shit, that's sex, huh?"

Ling chuckled softly, closing his eyes.  "That's sex.  An introduction, anyway."

Had Ed not been so exhausted, he might have been surprised.  "There's fuckin' more?"

"So much more."

Ed just let out a grunt, closing his eyes at well, drawing from his reserves to turn into Ling, wordlessly demanding to be held.  Ling obliged, lifting an arm slowly and draping it around Ed's waist with a small squeeze.  It was probably all he could manage at the moment, anyway.

As Ed came slowly to his senses, the comforting security of Ling's warmth settled into his bones.  Sure, there might be plenty more of this sex shit, but right now, Ed just wanted to enjoy laying here, next to his husband, happier than he'd ever thought he could be like this.

"So I guess this isn't that bad, then," Ed murmured, tilting his head up to watch Ling.  "I think—we're gonna be okay.  Yeah?"

Ling's eyes softened into a smile, and he tugged Ed closer into him with a sigh.

"We're going to be fine."