Edward Elric had been in many difficult situations before, even what some might refer to as “dire straits.” He could list a hundred stupid ways he had gotten himself into trouble just off the top of his head, and he'd always managed to escape more or less intact. Frequently closer to “less” than “more,” maybe, but the other guys rarely got off so well. He'd fought mad alchemists and chimeras, serial killers and soulless monsters of both the human and nonhuman kinds. He had punched things in the face that didn't even have faces to speak of.
These punks were gonna be a fucking piece of cake.
Edward stood in a back alleyway, hands shoved into the pockets of his old red jacket, examining the group of thugs who had slunk out of their little holes to stand menacingly in front of him. The alchemist heard a dull chuckle from one of the men and looked over to see him tapping what looked like a metal pipe on his shoulder in what was probably meant to be a threatening gesture. Presumably, they had thought that the short kid with the long girly hair wandering all alone through the worst parts of Central in the small hours of the morning was going to be easy prey.
Edward wasn't any kind of prey, he was the fucking predator. The bastards came at him like fish to a lure. This was too goddamn easy.
Ed grinned and cracked his knuckles, looking his assailants over in the pale light from the lamp on the nearby street. One of the men was tall and broad at the shoulders, heavily muscled, probably slow; another, tall and gangly-thin, stood with his hands shoved in his pockets (he could have anything in there); another one had a crowbar or something, and another few had glinting knives. That was it, at least for the ones Ed could see, though they probably had a dozen more hidden in their coats. All in all, he counted eleven men, and sixteen visible weapons.
“What's a couple punks like you doing out so late in this part of the city? It's dangerous. You could get hurt,” Edward said with a sharp grin, widening his stance and crouching slightly as his hands moved into a guarding position. It would be embarrassing to even have to use alchemy on these guys.
“You's gonna regret talking to us like that, you little shit,” the big one said, squaring his massive shoulders and taking a step forward. “But maybe, if you get down on your knees and say you're real sorry, we'll let you off easy by just breaking every bone in your body instead of killing you, seein' as you're, what, fourteen?”
Edward saw red.
“I'm fucking eighteen you son of a bitch and I'm not short and you'll see just how young I am when I shove my foot up your ass!” he shrieked, jumping forward and seizing the front of the huge man's shirt. In less than a second, the man was on the ground, on his back, with an expression of utter shock – or at least, Edward imagined the asshole would have looked that way if his face hadn't been all squished and bloody and mostly covered by Ed's boot.
“How d'you like that, huh?” he asked, grinning knives as he increased the pressure. “How's it feel to get your ass kicked by a fucking kid?”
Ed calmed in an instant as he felt more than saw movement on the edges of his vision: he sprang away just in time to see a knife pass through where he had been half a second earlier.
“Oh, you want some of this too?” Ed turned and gave an expert roundhouse kick to the second thug's head with his automail leg: the man fell over onto his buddy, probably out for the count.
“You cunt, you're gonna pay!” one of the other ones yelled, and all the rest of them ran forward together, having apparently decided that the attacking-one-at-a-time thing wasn't working for them. Ed felt the adrenaline start to kick in properly and grinned knives, high on the feel of it.
“Do you guys get together and decide what lines you're gonna use by a fucking committee?” he asked with a laugh, then delivered a metal punch to the offender's nose, letting loose a spray of red. Goddammit, the blood was gonna dry on his hand. That shit gummed up all his joints. “Day in, day out I hear guys like you spout the same bullshit. Would it kill you to make up some new ones every so often? You ever think about anybody but yourselves?” He delivered an expert chop to the neck of the tall thin one and watched him crumple to the ground. “It just gets fucking boring!”
Ed weaved in and out of the flurry of blows – knives, fists with brass knuckles, metal pipes sang through the air around him, making no contact with anything but, occasionally, each other. A well-placed punch here, a kick to the balls there – the bodies started to pile up as unconscious and injured men fell on top of their friends and stayed down.
“You dumb shit, you think you're so smart,” one shouted from behind him, and Ed spun around just in time to see a face contorted in stupid fury before he felt a sharp pain in his side. He sprang away as quickly as his legs would let him, but apparently he didn’t move quite fast enough because when he put a hand to the spot it came away red. One knee hit the ground with a metallic clang, but he thankfully managed to stay more or less upright as he allowed himself this one moment of pain.
“Fuck,” he spat out, because cursing actually did help with pain, it had been proved by science. He let his hand fall away from the gash and shook the blood off his fingers – the droplets splattered onto the ground and glinted a deep purple-black in the faint light – then got back into his proper fighting stance. His assailant rushed forward again, raging, and Ed stared the man hard in the eyes, reveling in the way his heart thundered in his ears as adrenaline surged through him.
When the thug's careening path took him straight towards Edward – the blonde bobbed to the side, out of the way of the blade, and laid a wild blow on the man's jaw. The crunch of bone under his human hand gave him a twinge of satisfaction, though ameliorated by a bit of guilt brought on by the man's sudden, tortured scream. His broken mouth hung open uselessly around the noise, and he fell to his knees, hands scrabbling at his swinging jaw.
Maybe a little bit of guilt. Mostly pride, though.
“And that's what you get for going and sticking a knife in me,” Ed declared, delivering a final booted stomp to the hand of a defeated attacker who had seemed to be temporarily under the impression he was still capable of aiming a gun. The weapon clattered to the ground and Ed kicked it away hard enough that it hit a wall. The broken-jawed man fell onto his side and just kept screaming until the blonde was sure his ears were going to start bleeding.
“Pheh. Drama queen,” he said, watching the writhing man with some disdain.
The guy didn't respond, which, all things considered, wasn't surprising.
Ed turned again – slower this time, 'cause his side hurt like a bitch – to survey his handiwork. The men's bodies lay mostly still on the filthy concrete, the occasional groan or halfhearted twitch of an arm the only things betraying life.
“Anybody else?” Ed asked the alleyway, cheerfully, because clichés were only bad things when other people used them.
Edward had done a pretty damn good job of patching up his side, if you asked him – at least, he wasn't bleeding all over everything anymore, which was a sign of success in his book. His undershirt made a fine set of bandages when transmuted. Even the best wrap job couldn't hold up without stitches, though: by the time he made it to his front door, the dark red had seeped through the cloth and his shirt, and had begun to drip down his leg, too.
The journey home had taken him slightly longer than he had planned, what with the injury and all. He hoped that Al wasn't still awake because at – he checked his watch and sighed – three in the morning there weren't many excuses his younger brother wouldn't see straight through. Ed couldn't see any lights through the windows, though, which was a good sign. Maybe he could sneak upstairs to the bathroom without getting caught.
He breathed in the chilly winter air one last time and blew it out in a plume of steam, focusing on enjoying the last traces of the giddy post-battle feeling as it slipped away. The endorphins had lasted for a good hour, this time, and he told himself fiercely that it had been enough.
Ed stepped up to the porch and unlocked the door – with a key this time, as Al seemed to practically be able to sense it when he opened the door with alchemy. The younger man always wanted to know what was the point of having a lock if he just transmuted it open all the time. Ed said that that was exactly his point, but Al didn't seem impressed – he would just look at his older brother with those big eyes and that frown until Ed grudgingly agreed to use the key, a settlement which would last for all of a week.
Coming back from his night sojourns, though, he figured it was a better idea not to risk attracting his brother's wrath or his selectively magical hearing.
He swung the door shut as carefully as he could, wincing at the whine of the hinges, and padded into the living room.
The light flickered on without warning, and Ed crossed his arms on instinct to make sure his coat didn't fly open and reveal his bandages. Al stood up from where he had been sitting at the foot of the staircase and fixed those same big eyes, and crossed his arms to match Ed.
“Brother,” Al said, every syllable deliberate and planned. “Where have you been?”
Ed almost flinched. Alphonse Elric terrified him a hundred times more than any street thug.
“I – uh – Al! I didn't think you'd still be awake.”
“Yes, well, I am,” the boy said, shifting his weight to the other foot. Sometimes he looked so much younger than seventeen. “And you didn't answer my question.”
“I haven't been anywhere! I mean, nowhere in particular. Just out on a walk, that's all. Couldn't sleep,” Ed replied, as cheerfully as he could manage.
Al raised an eyebrow, and the elder brother realized what a pathetic excuse that was. They both knew that if you laid Ed down on any relatively flat surface he could be asleep in under a minute. Al had timed him on it once, and teased him mercilessly about it for a month. A nighttime walk due to insomnia was stretching the limits of possibility.
“I don't believe you,” Al said. Ed felt himself deflate a little at the other's almost tangible disappointment. “If you were just out on a walk, you wouldn't be limping now.”
Ed frowned. He hadn't been limping, had he? Moving gingerly, sure, but Alphonse shouldn't have been able to notice.
“Stubbed my toe,” Edward mumbled, hunching as he shoved his hands back in his pockets again. “It's nothing.”
“That doesn't make any sense! You're putting more weight on your flesh leg when you walk,” Al pointed out, frowning. “You can’t stub your automail toe. Winry made it better than that. Besides, I've got lots of other reasons not to believe you. You've got blood on your shoe, for one.”
Ed looked down and, sure enough, a fair quantity of blood seemed to have congealed on the toe of his leather boot. Probably from that first man, the one whose crunchy nose he had stepped on. He made a face and scuffed the toe of his boot on the carpet. He immediately regretted it because he left a rusty smear behind. Alphonse's frown deepened.
“That's somebody else's blood,” Ed said before the other could make a comment about the carpet, “and besides, how the hell did you see that from all the way over there! You're like, fifteen feet away!” Sometimes, Edward hated his brother. This evening, the feeling seemed mutual. Al's eyes blazed at him from across the room, and Ed slumped down further.
“More like ten, and I have good vision anyway. Good enough to see that you've also got blood on your gloves – or I did, anyway, before you hid your hands in your pockets. So either you were punching people, getting punched, or probably both.”
Ed sighed and pulled a hand out of his pocket to scratch his head. He hadn't been wearing gloves when he got the wound or bandaged it up, but he had probably touched his side without thinking sometime on the walk back. Such a stupid mistake to make, he should have known better.
“Okay, fine. So I was doing a little pest control. I just needed to get out of the house for a bit,” he said, shuffling forward towards the stairs. He tried to make the admission sound as level as possible,
“Brother! That's why you take up hobbies. Make friends. Get a job. That sort of thing,” Al replied with a disbelieving shake of his head. “And what do you mean by 'pest control'? I doubt it's anything good.”
“Okay, well, I have a hobby. It's cleaning up the streets. There are a bunch of thugs out there now who'll think twice about going back to thugging. You could even call it community service,” Ed said, flashing his brother a grin. “Look, I'm fine, all's well, can I just go to bed now?”
“No! Take off your jacket.”
Ed started and furrowed his brow. Kid was too damn clever.
“Why should I?”
“Edward,” Alphonse said, giving his brother a dark look. Ed took off his coat meekly. You didn't argue with Al when he looked like that. “Thank you.”
The bandages were obvious enough under Ed's white button-up shirt, as the garment had been torn up pretty badly by the knife and bled on copiously besides. Edward looked down and away so he didn't have to see the worried furrow of his brother's brow as he saw the red-brown stain. The younger took the few steps forward, crossing the distance between them, then bent down to examine the wound. He ran his fingers over it, briefly – the elder hissed in a pained breath. Al jerked his hand back at the noise, his eyes flickering up to Ed's face, then back down again. His fingers had come away from his brother’s side red and wet.
“You're hurt,” Al said, the anger in his voice mixing with worry. The younger man straightened up and put his hands on his hips.
“It's not bad. You should see the other guys,” Ed replied, giving his brother another patented Elric grin. Alphonse's whole look darkened. “Really! I can't even feel it. I was just gonna go upstairs and get it cleaned up really quickly, then go to sleep.”
Al's eyes flashed, and Ed couldn't help the slow creep of guilt.
“With what?” Al asked, hands flying about in emphatic gestures as he spoke. “Brother, we don't keep bandages or antiseptic –”
“Was gonna transmute rubbing alcohol.”
“– and you don't know how to give yourself stitches and you need stitches and that's not the point, anyway!” Al snapped, as if he could have just exploded. Ed winced: the younger man looked like he was in even more pain from the cut than Ed himself was. Alphonse jabbed a finger at his older brother accusingly, like a weapon. “The point is, why are you sneaking out at night by yourself and getting hurt? You say it's about helping people, but if that's true, then why didn't you take me with you? I could have been there. I could have fought too!”
Ed frowned. His little brother was probably the most competent person that he knew – he would trust the younger man to the ends of the earth and back, but, there were still some risks he didn't want to take. “Don't forget, you're squishy now,” the blonde said, trying to be gentle. “I don't want your new body getting hurt after all the pain we went through trying to get it back. I'm just trying to look out for you.”
That was at least half of it, he told himself.
“You're squishy too!” Al snapped back. Standing there with his hands on his hips and his shining eyes, he reminded Edward very much of their mother. “I don't think this is about helping people. I think this has to do with that... stuff you were doing a couple of weeks ago. These sudden masochistic impulses are putting you in serious danger. I thought that Major General Mustang had helped you with those! I thought you were better! ”
Edward felt the heat rising to his face. He did not want to think about how the General had “helped” him, not in front of his little brother. In fact, he wasn't going to think about it at all – he hadn't been thinking about it, because that was not what this was about. He wasn't going and seeking out pain like he had been last time: this time, the pain was just an unfortunate side effect. An unfortunate side effect that made him feel alive.
“What? No! The General has nothing to do with anything,” Ed exclaimed, backing up a little. “We're not going to have this conversation.”
“I think that it does, and we should.”
“Well, you're wrong. I've just been feeling a little cooped up.” He looked around their house: their wonderful house, with heavy leatherbound books on the mantelpiece and skulls adorning the juncture between the ceiling and the wall, the bookcases stuffed with academic texts and framed photographs, the used mugs collecting on the coffee table. This was what it was about. “It's just, I'm not used to this kind of – domestic life, you know?” And that was true, no matter how you looked at it. “It's weird. We've spent so much of our lives on the road, fighting for our lives... and now, all of a sudden, coffee tables? What the fuck am I supposed to do with myself?”
There was a waiting silence, and after a moment, Al's face softened.
“I see.” He paused, thinking. “I get that,” he said, putting a hand on his brother's shoulder. Ed couldn't help but smile, despite the rolling mix of nervousness and frustration that churned in his stomach. He was sure he was never going to get tired of feeling the warmth from his little brother's hand, not till the day he died. “I think that living like this is just as weird for me as it is for you,” Al said, the line of his mouth curving up a little.
Ed snorted. He seriously doubted that. After all, Alphonse wasn't the one with the problem.
“Basically,” the younger said, gently, “what I'm saying is that I think we should both get out of the house. I'm getting a bit of cabin fever myself. I can still beat you in a fight, you know. You don't need to keep me in here. I'm not a museum exhibit,” he added with a laugh.
A pang of guilt shot through Ed then.
“I'm not trying to keep you locked up, or anything. If you were that bored, you should have told me. I'm just worried, that's all,” the elder said. To his dismay, Alphonse laughed. “What?” Ed snapped.
“You're worried about me?” Al said, looking amused, but Ed could still see the concern there, behind the smile. “Brother, I'm not the one who comes into the house at four in the morning bleeding on the upholstery.” Ed winced. Point well made. “On that topic, let's get you upstairs and cleaned up. We'll talk more about this in the morning.”
“Best idea I've heard all day,” the elder replied with a grin, and told himself that this was enough, that all of this was enough.
Alone, sprawled out in bed with a freshly stitched side and staring sleeplessly at the ceiling, Edward couldn't lie to himself anymore.
He'd been trying so hard to find alternatives, things that Al wouldn't have to know about and that wouldn't involve him asking goddamn Mustang for help.
He hated how much he wanted to ask, because when he thought of what had happened the last time, the way he had embarrassed himself by wanting it, so much, by wanting the man to kick him, or to kiss him –
And Mustang had liked it too, that had been the worst part, or the best. He’d felt the man getting erect, felt that hardness behind him as the general had held him down, had murmured sinful thoughts into his ear.
Ed’s cock began to stiffen at the thought, body responding to the memory completely against his will. He flushed in shame and draped an arm over his eyes, almost as if nobody could see him if he couldn't see them. How badly fucked up did somebody have to be to want to get tied up and beaten like that? He should have been disgusted by it, by Mustang, by everything about what they had done.
There was a perfectly good explanation, though. He was addicted to the endorphin kick. That was all.
But even if he was just looking for a thrill, fighting these ordinary guys just wasn’t going to cut it. They hadn’t even been a challenge, and only getting a gash in his side even got his heart rate up. There had been a rush of adrenaline after the pain, but the thrill of punching faces still couldn’t compare to the thrill that accompanied the sting of his hand on Ed’s body, his voice, his lessons in obedience, the feeling when he finally came on Mustang’s lap with stars behind his eyes.
Every time he sneaked out at night, every time he went looking for trouble he hoped it would be different, that this time maybe, finally, it would be enough. Maybe this time, he would be satisfied.
It hadn't been enough, and Edward was beginning to have the feeling that nothing else would ever be.
Damn Mustang, and everything he did. Damn Mustang and his knowing smirk and his power complex and damn him damn him damn him because, even through Ed's embarrassment and anger and righteous indignation, he still remembered, and wanted. He wanted to get tied up and beaten, to be utterly helpless in front of that immovable presence, to hear words of punishment or praise, to let go of himself, just for a little bit.
His erection became insistent, utterly refusing to be ignored.
But Edward was not going to give in to that part of himself. He was not going to call up the General and beg him for his help, admit that final, shaming, fucked-up weakness in a way he couldn't take back. Knowing Mustang, he had probably already come up with a hundred ways to use their little escapade as blackmail in case of an emergency. The man didn't need any more little bits of knowledge to hang over Edward’s head than he already had. Ed was strong, he was tough, he was eminently not vulnerable, and he was going to just deal.
His flesh hand drifted downwards, towards the straining tent in his pants. He would jack off perfunctorily to take care of the problem, then go to sleep, and he would wake up and manage another day without calling Roy fucking Mustang.
An involuntary groan left him as his hand came into contact with the hardness between his legs, hot even through the thin cloth of his boxers. Through sheer force of will he kept his mind empty of everything but sensation: he began to rub it in small circles, a light but constant pressure. His hand moved downwards, squeezed gently at his balls, then back up again to pull his cock out through the fly of his boxers, too desperate to want to bother with taking them off entirely. He wrapped his hand firmly around the base of his shaft, squeezed and stroked upward, pausing to graze his thumb over the tip before going back down again.
He sighed, focusing on the tiny tingle of pleasure that ran through his cock. It wouldn't be spectacular, but he'd get off, and that's all he really needed.
Edward stroked himself faster, hoping to take himself closer to the edge by speed alone, but no such luck. The frantic motion was only making him more frustrated, not helping at all. It just wasn't enough.
Thoughtlessly, almost unconsciously, he switched to his metal hand – ohh, it felt so much better that way, yes, this was it, what he wanted – and squeezed down hard, hard enough to hurt. The mixed surge of pleasure and adrenaline hit him in a wave, forcing his mouth open and his breathing shallow. He pressed his eyes shut as he relaxed his grip, then squeezed again, and let out a groan.
He wasn't thinking about anything. Nothing at all.
He couldn't help but wonder, though, if since their encounter, Roy had done this very thing, thinking about Ed. He imagined the look on the other man's face, face flushed and sweat glistening on his forehead as he panted, groaned, mouth working silently around Edward's name.
Ed moaned as he squeezed himself again, relishing the pain and hating himself for his weakness.
He let himself surrender to the fantasy, immersing himself in it, because maybe – yes, that was the answer, there was no harm in imagining as long as his fantasies stayed firmly in his head.
Besides, he wouldn’t have been able to stop himself anyway: thinking about his name gasped out of the General's lips made him hurt with arousal, made him feel like he could just come right then, automail fisted hard around the base of his cock.
He held it in, releasing his grip with a great effort. He might have told himself that this was going to be quick, just basic relief, but he nevertheless found himself unwilling to let the feeling end so quickly. What would it be like, he wondered, what would it be like to be on his knees in front of Mustang with the man’s cock in his mouth? How would the man’s face look when he was on the edge of orgasm?
Or, another part of his mind added, what would it be like to feel Mustang’s tongue on Edward's own length? The blonde whimpered, losing even the presence of mind to feel properly ashamed of himself as he imagined that warm wetness enveloping him, imagined Roy smirking at the noises Ed would make, imagined the flat of the man's hand stinging as it hit his ass, again and again...
Ed's panting sped up as the rhythm of his clenching fist did, and when he knew he was right there, on the edge, he took his other hand down below his cock to cup what he found there. Then, finally, he let himself remember Roy's words as he had shoved a hand down Ed's pants to do the same thing:
Remember, I'm your C.O., and that means I have you by the balls.
Edward squeezed with both hands, remembering what Mustang had done, and in one blinding second his hips were jerking forward as the pleasure burst all through his body, tearing away all ability to think. He came hard all over his sheets with a throaty cry, back arching up off the bed, Roy Mustang's smug face the last image in his mind.
Afterward, he lay still for a moment, another, then started to laugh, quiet but solid, with his own come all over his stomach, and threw his forearm back up over his eyes.
What the fuck was wrong with him? What kind of person thought about shit like that, what kind of person wanted it, still? And why fucking Mustang? The man was a conniving son of a bitch, irritating and self-important and cocky and mostly just irritating.
Ed sat up, slowly, and looked down at his mess with dismay, and a hot boil of shame.
Fucking Mustang. This was all his fault. It had to be.
“I thought you might want to know, sir. There have been rumors of a 'red devil' appearing in the Eastern parts of the city,” Riza Hawkeye said, laying down a stack of papers on the front of Roy's desk. He pulled them towards himself and turned them to face him, frowning. The papers had nothing to do with what she was saying. He shoved them to the side and looked at her, one eyebrow raised.
“Go on, Major Hawkeye,” he said, taking a sip from the nearly forgotten teacup at his side.
“I know it may seem strange that I brought it up, sir. It may not be relevant at all,” she said, back straight and looking precisely military, as always. “However, the stories say that a man with blonde hair in a red jacket with a black cross on the back has been attacking thugs and street gangs alone at night. The rumor goes that it's hardly safe to be a criminal anymore.”
Roy almost choked on his coffee.
“Fullmetal is doing what?” he said, once his lungs had had a moment to settle and he had set his cup back down again.
The corner of Riza's mouth quirked up.
“We don't know for sure it's Edward, sir,” she said, emphasizing Ed's given name in a gentle reminder that the man was not under his command anymore. “It could be someone who wants to look like him, for whatever reason, or a coincidence. It could be an urban legend, and there's no 'red devil' at all. Regardless, I thought you would want to know.”
Roy sighed and rubbed his temples. Sometimes he was afraid he would never be free of Edward-induced headaches. The quick massage didn't really help.
“Tell me honestly, Major. Does any part of you really think that this doesn't have 'Edward Elric' written all over it?”
Riza gave a quiet laugh, the only kind she had.
“It's probably him, sir. We don't have any proof, however.”
“Well, get investigations on that. An armed vigilante wandering the streets of Central? We can't have that, now can we?” Roy replied. “Have somebody stake out the Elrics' house. I'll have a talk with Edward myself, soon.” He paused, thinking, and tapped his pen on his desk. “You're sure it wasn't two armed vigilantes?”
The major shook her head.
“The rumors don't necessarily tell the whole of it even if they're true, General. But no, they only mention one person, sir,” she said, questioning him with her eyes and the slight tilt of her head.
“I see,” Roy said, keeping his face carefully neutral to cover the mix of worry and illicit, shameful excitement that began to stir in him. On the one hand, Fullmetal putting himself in danger alone like that was concerning, if only because he wasn't certain whether, in this state, the man would be moving out of the path of bullets or in. “Either way, get good people on it as soon as you can. Tell them not to interfere unless it looks like Edward's life is in danger. They are to just report back to me.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, and gave a cursory salute before turning to walk out the door.
On the other hand, that meant the man was looking for something again – and Ed knew as well as Roy did that the general was the only one who could give it to him.
Edward managed to hold off on going out at night for nearly a week after his talk with Alphonse, during which time the two of them tried to fill their time as constructively as they could. Al started taking piano lessons. Ed tried seemingly every restaurant in Central, and made a game out of baiting his neighbors' guard dogs.
But Ed knew that his meager army pension wouldn't be enough to keep up any of those activities – well, the third was free except for damages, though those could be significant, depending on the size of the dog – and so they needed a new source of income, and quickly.
He also knew that just getting out of the house wasn't going to be enough to make him feel better again, feel normal. Sure, he had felt cooped up, but that wasn't half of it. There was something else, too, something he didn’t understand half as well.
He wasn't going to call the bastard. He refused. So, he did the next logical thing, and started sneaking out through his window again.
The first night he did so was more or less uneventful. He got a couple of guys trying to mug some young couple, though the thugs ran at first sight of him and he had to properly chase them down before he could punch them in their crooked noses. Nobody else bothered him the rest of the evening, much to his irritation.
The second night was more fun, because he decided to start running around on the rooftops and pouncing on unsuspecting criminals from above. Even that, with the combined thrill of falling and fighting, failed to satisfy.
The third night, he had a close encounter with a bullet – a little bit too close for even Ed's comfort. He hadn't even noticed anything out of the ordinary until after the projectile had nicked his cheek and carved a line of blood on his face, at which point it was too late to do anything about it. He got the woman who shot it, and got her good – no such thing as going easy on women in Edward Elric's world, because the women in his life never went easy on him – but left the place feeling shaky just the same.
He could easily have died that night. Was his pride worth that? He was full of a heady mix of endorphins and adrenaline, but something was missing. He was getting desperate. The only thing getting what it wanted here was his dignity, and even that was beginning to be suspect.
He collapsed onto his bed that night with a heavy groan, and decided that he was going to have to make that goddamn phone call.
“The unnamed vigilante is definitely Edward, sir,” Riza said as she set the tray of coffee and coffeepot down on Roy's table. She was too high-ranking to be delivering his drinks. Didn't he have a secretary for that?
“I see. Thank you,” he said, reaching over for a mug and stirring it with the provided spoon.
“Is there something you'd like to do about it?”
“I will speak with him, Major,” he replied, then took a sip of his coffee. Black with sugar, and just as bitterly invigorating as ever. “Don't worry, I'll take care of it.”
“Of course, sir,” she said, and as she left she gave him a searching look. She could sense that something was up, sure as clockwork. Roy just smiled at her. He was sharing information about this case on a strictly need-to-know basis, and she most definitely did not.
“That will be all,” he said, and she gave him a nod as she shut the door.
That evening, before Roy had even had a chance to make a call to the Elric household, he received one of his own. He had been sitting on his couch quite comfortably with a tumbler full of brandy and a book when the sharp cry of the telephone interrupted his peace, and he frowned as he stalked over to the machine and yanked it off of its cradle.
“Hello, Mustang here,” he said, trying to sound as neutrally polite as he could.
“I know damn well who I'm calling, you don't need to tell me,” a familiar voice snapped. Roy arched an eyebrow, even though there was no one there to see.
“Fullmetal? To what do I owe the pleasure?” Roy asked, covering his surprise with a veneer of amusement.
“I dunno, I guess I just wanted to hear your smarmy voice,” Edward snarled from the other end of the phone. Roy winced and pulled the device away from his ear: though the years had mellowed many things about Edward Elric, his volume was not one of those things. “And I'm not Fullmetal anymore, you bastard. I'm gonna call you Colonel as long as you keep calling me that. No, I'm not calling for the joy of your company.”
Roy began to smile then, slowly, as a faint thrill ran through him. He didn't even have to go out of his way, Edward came to him. He gathered up every ounce of authority he had, every bit of power and confidence he had ever felt, that he had ever wanted, and put on the Voice.
“Why did you call, then?” Roy asked, tone powerful and curt. He couldn't think of much that was sweeter than the sound of Fullmetal's deep, shuddering breath in response.
“Don't be smug,” Ed shot back, after a moment – then, quieter, he said: “You know why I called.”
“Yes, you fucking do, or you'd better! You were the one who told me to call you. Anytime, you said!”
Roy's smile turned into a proper smirk.
“So I did. I haven't changed my mind. But, Fullmetal, I thought we had established that in order to get what you want, you're going to have to ask me for it,” he said, silkily. “Or have you forgotten so soon? Do you need a reminder?”
The other man made a small noise at that, and Roy felt the rush of power through him. There was a long silence, and for a moment he wondered if the other man was going to hang up the phone.
“I want... I want whatever you were doing the other night,” Edward said, low and edgy, like he was only just barely restraining himself. “I want to come over to your place and... and have you tie me up, or whatever.” Roy could almost hear the angry, embarrassed blush in the man's voice. The general's early evening lethargy disappeared in the face of that pulse-pounding intoxication.
“That's what you want, but it's not why you called,” Roy said, the Voice radiating across the room and giving his words the force of order. “Tell me why you called me, Fullmetal. Tell me why I should help you at all. Convince me.”
The noise on the other end of the line was choked.
“I – are you really going to make me do this, you bastard?”
“If you don't want to, you can hang up the phone right now and this conversation never happened.”
“Fine,” Edward finally spat out, then paused for a moment. Roy couldn't help the smirk that was growing with every extra moment of the man's discomfort. “I've been wanting it so much, whatever... whatever happened the other night,” Ed said, voice quiet. A jolt of arousal shot through the older man, but he had control of himself. He gave nothing away, but waited patiently. “I've been looking for pain again, so I didn't have to call you, but I've... I've tried everything else, been doing things that are stupid and dangerous just for the adrenaline rush but there isn't anything stupid and dangerous enough to make me feel like... like I did, that night, after...”
“After what, Fullmetal?” Roy felt well and truly drunk, though he had barely sipped his scotch.
“...After you tied me up and hit me and I came in my pants on your fucking lap, okay?” he snapped, sounding broken and ashamed and angry. Roy's cock twitched. He imagined Fullmetal on the other end of the line, golden eyes screwed shut as he tried to pretend he wasn't hard and wanting.
“Good. That was good,” Roy said, encouraging, as a superior officer praising a subordinate. His tone changed immediately. “Now, beg me for it.” His voice was low, silky, commanding. “And I'm 'sir' to you from now on, understood?”
This time, the choked nose was one of rage. There had been a time when even the suggestion that Ed should do what his commanding officer asked without question would have been met with flaming rage.
Now, the man was about to beg to do just that.
“Please,” he said, low and quiet. “Please hurt me, like you did last time, or – or worse. I want more.” Another pause. “I need you to remind me how to behave, sir,” he said. By the end of the sentence, Edward's voice sounded hoarse, ready to crack.
Roy closed his eyes, savoring it: that tone, those words, coming out of Fullmetal's mouth.
“Meet me at my place in half an hour,” he ordered, the full force of authority bracing those words. “Don't be late. You won't like the punishment.”
With that, he set the phone back down on the receiver, and tossed down the rest of his drink, smiling. He had been waiting a very long time for this. Oh, yes. And he was going to make the most of it.