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Fic: The Phoney War, Chapter Four

Title: The Phoney War, Chapter Four: Two Plus Two
Setting: Fullmetal Alchemist, mangaverse, post-series, yet plotted out way last year: this 'verse is AU on a few plot points from 104-108.
Characters: Roy/Ed, Havoc/Rebecca, Riza/Miles, Al, Winry, ensemble.
Rating: R for naughty.
Word count: 5735
Summary: Two years on from the Promised Day. Amestris is without a Fuhrer, the military is teetering on the brink of civil war, and Team Mustang search urgently for the opposition's secret alchemical weapon. Any day now could be the first day of the war, and everyone is feeling the pressure. So is it any wonder that Ed and Roy's growing friendship just kindasorta combusted on them?
Notes: Direct sequel to No Small Injury. Illustrated fic is illustrated (by me). Betaed and edited by enemytosleep.

Chapter One: Blue Monday
Chapter Two: Make Your Mind Up Time
Chapter Three: Something Stupid


Someone was trying to start a car, but it wasn't co-operating. The sound drifted up from the street: the starter motor screeching again and again, but the engine refusing to turn over. It dragged at Ed's consciousness vaguely. He knew a transmutation to start a stalled car if everything inside was working. Whenever he passed one on the street he always felt like he had to stop and help ... He rubbed his face into the pillow. Beside him, there was a shift of the mattress, a soft mutter. Someone ...?

Oh. Yeah.

Ed squeezed his eyes shut, and had a vivid, unreal flashback of the previous evening: his back stuck to the sofa leather with sweat, their foreheads pressed together, the dizzying, stomach-dropping speed with which it had all happened. One minute they had been talking, a blink of the eye and they were kissing, another blink and suddenly they were half-naked and clutching at each other, grinding and shuddering. He wasn't entirely sure why he hadn't dressed and left last night. After he'd washed up, he'd seen Mustang already stretched out on the bed, naked and half-asleep, and - staying had seemed like a good idea at the time? Part of Ed's brain wanted to grab his pants from wherever the fuck they were right now and run for the hills. Another part was kind of fascinated by this new aspect of the apparently endless, brain-breaking mystery of sex.

Ed sighed, opened his eyes, and turned.

He took in the sight of his commanding officer as he lay naked and unshaven beside him, with his hair sticking up and his sleepy eyes slitted half-open. Their eyes met. In the street, the driver tried to start the slowing, groaning starter one more time. The battery must be running down.

They held each other's gaze for one utterly confusing moment in which Ed knew nothing about what he wanted now, and could tell nothing of what Mustang might want. Ed's brain seemed to have frozen solid. All he could see was that face, somehow so different this close up, like looking at someone he'd never seen before. Then Mustang's fingertips were drifting lightly down Ed's side. Ed gravitated into the touch before he even thought about it. They shifted into each other's space easily. Ed stroked his left hand down Mustang's sleep-warmed back. Ed loved a good back. It was one of his weaknesses, with guys and girls alike. Mustang pecked his jaw, slung a leg over his, and drew forwards.

Thirty seconds later, Ed startled when he heard the engine of that car in the street finally fire, and then the car itself putter off. Ha. Then he became suddenly very conscious of where his hand was right now, and what was happening with it. Oh. So it appeared that they were now already having sex again. Weren't they supposed to be having a whole excruciating morning after conversation? Where they were going to agree to throw this incident down the memory hole and never speak of it again?

Not right this second, though. Right this second, just -

***


Sitting at his desk, hands curled around his coffee mug, Roy read through the opening sentence of a memorandum for the third time - or was it the fourth? Come on, it couldn't be that complicated.

Recruitment of voluntary 'pseudo-state' alchemists could potentially be channelled through the creation of a Central University notional reading group or other such academic - he could still feel Ed's mouth hot on his neck, Ed's strength and weight forcing him back against the couch - Roy squeezed his eyes shut. He was an idiot. He was a complete idiot, and he had bigger things to worry about right now than his own peccadilloes. Recruitment of voluntary 'pseudo-state' alchemists could - goddammit, now what was he going to do about this?

Obviously, they weren't going to make a habit of sleeping together. Although they had done it again this morning. Does twice make it a habit? Three times would make it a habit, that had been Hughes' rule. Oh, hell, Hughes would have just killed him over this. But was that fair? Fullmetal might be a lot younger than him, but was a man now, old enough to have had his heart broken already, old enough to join the army - he'd punched a god in the face, come to think of it. No, now Roy was making excuses for himself.

Right, work. As a cover story, the creation of a Central University notional reading group or - oh hell, Roy was remembering Ed now as a tiny, potty-mouthed twelve year old. He was remembering laughing with Hawkeye at how Ed had put a spear to the Fuhrer's throat during his State examination, and afterwards had cheeked Roy and tried to threaten him …

It was one thing to casually enjoy Ed's beauty the way Roy had been doing the past couple of years. But to actually go there? Another thing. Another, very bad thing. How old was he, twenty? No, he was still nineteen, wasn't he? Really? That was awful. Fourteen years' difference. What was Roy's record prior to this? He was pretty sure it was eleven years, but that had been in the other direction, so he hadn't been the pervert there. He'd also been a couple of years older than Ed at the time. Twenty-one was definitely different to nineteen.

Apparently, Roy had hit the point of his career where he turned into a dirty old man.

But now what? They'd have to talk about it, he supposed. They'd have some excruciating conversation and then, at some point, after a few days or weeks of embarrassment, they'd be able to look one another in the face again. It was all going to be all right. Probably. God, he really had to read this memo. The corner was folded over to indicate that it was to be kept within the office, and even in his current state Roy had noticed the secrecy of the subject matter. He needed to absorb the relevant bits right now, properly, because he'd have to destroy this when he was done.

As a cover story …

"Sir?"

Roy started. On the other side of the desk, Fuery blinked. "Sir, sorry to interrupt your train of thought." Oh, Fuery, from anyone else around here that would have been broadly sarcastic. Fuery dropped his voice an octave: his not entirely subtle secrecy voice. "Your butcher asked if you could return a call? It's about the order you put in."

Well, that was serendipity for you; or possibly just desserts. Izumi Curtis was waiting on his call.

***


Technically, Ed could have stayed at Mustang's all day. He was on research duty, right? But the thought of spending the morning here was just - it didn't feel right, now. He needed to get out, get some air, get back to his own territory and process this weirdness.

As he walked down the sunny streets of the old city, chomping on an almond pastry, Ed felt the post-sex good cheer rise up to dominate his mood. Out here in the bustle of Central, he felt freer. The strangeness of it all was just an anxious little twist below in his stomach. He'd been looking at Mustang - he didn't know how long, really - but it hadn't mattered then. It had been some purely theoretical thing. He never, ever would have done anything. Only he had.

This was the sort of question, he considered, that Winry was good with: what to do when your friends sleep with the wrong person. He remembered how she'd been with Paninya when she'd been dating that jackass, what was he called again? She'd pointed with her beer bottle and said, okay, here's what you're gonna do - and it had been awesome advice. Totally on the money. It had taken Paninya about two months to stick to it, sure, but Winry had called it, first time.

Of course, asking Winry about this was three hundred per cent out of the question.

He tried to imagine what she'd say if he did. Then, about three seconds later, he curtailed that train of thought. Then he tried again with some parallel universe Winry who'd never dated Ed: what would she say about this? Ed concentrated, but his brain came up with nothing but a raised eyebrow. Maybe a roll of the eyes, you're an idiot, Ed, perhaps an affectionate punch on the arm to let him know she still loved him, but she wasn't getting involved in this train wreck.

Well, that was nice of imaginary Winry, but really not as helpful as Ed had hoped. What about Ling, what would he say about this? Ed sometimes thought how great it would be if instead of being the Emperor of Xing, Ling lived in Central as just a regular guy - not that Ed imagined he'd be particularly great at that. They could go get a beer sometimes, spar, hang out, maybe hook up now and then if Ed was unattached. So, what would Ling say? Tell me more, probably. When are you sleeping with him again? You should wear the leather pants, your butt looks great in them!

No, imaginary Ling was a shit source of advice on this stuff; although probably fairly accurate to the real thing. Come to think of it, if Ling really had somehow been around, this would never have happened. Ed would have thought about hooking up with Mustang, then just gone to Ling's place instead of home. And then Ling probably would have guessed what was up and said the leather pants thing. Gah. Shut up, brain Ling.

Ed realised he was keying himself into his apartment already. What had happened to the walk home? Shit, was Al in? He hadn't even come up with a cover story yet.

"Hey, Al?" No answer. "It's me." The flat was silent. This was good. Ed dropped his keys on the telephone table and poked his head around a few doors. Living room and kitchen, empty. Al's room, empty, and the bed was made. He'd probably just gone straight out in the morning, assuming Ed was already at work. It looked like Ed had gotten away with it.

Research, Ed thought. Right, he should really get to that. He headed to his room, dropped his book bag on the bed, and threw himself after it. His bed felt so good. Mustang's just wasn't as comfortable; you wouldn't think the guy would have a crappy bed.

Ed decided to permit himself a nap. It was good for concentration. Your brain would process this shit while you slept, and you'd wake up able to deal with it all. Good plan.

He kicked his boots off, threw an arm over his head, and within thirty seconds he was under.

He woke up some time later to find that a large tabby cat was chewing on his hair.

***




***


Of course she never called Roy by his rank. It was always, "Hello, Mustang," with a sort of businesslike jollity. Mrs Curtis was not the military's greatest admirer, and she couldn't have been exactly delighted to discover Roy had recruited the Elric brothers again. Yet here she was: trusting Roy, working with him if not for him, even taking risks for his plan. He hoped for the sake of his testicles she didn't somehow guess what he'd been doing with her former student that morning.

"How's business?" he asked.

"Good. The bakery next door is buying a lot of our cold cuts at the moment. They do a good trade in sandwiches during tourist season. You?"

"Overworked, but getting by. All hands on deck with this thing." It would be better when she got here, he nearly said, but Mrs Curtis never seemed to respond well to flattery, even when it was true.

"Right," she said briskly. "I'm calling from a phone box in town, so we're secure. Here's how my trip down south to Roquebrun went. Your lad was right about those alchemical supplies, for a start. But the address they were being sent to was just a box at the village post office. No one had come to pick up any parcels in months, but I found out the name and address it was registered to, fellow called Charles Brady. No one had met him, don't even know if he exists. I called at the cottage where he supposedly lived, and it was empty. It looked set up for lab space to me. And it seems someone from Chrysalis' mob had been there. They left a few guard dogs." Roy's system jolted into alertness. "Showed their faces when I started transmuting the floorboards off to check for supply caches," Mrs Curtis continued.

"The wooden golems, or the spiders?" He remembered the shredded flesh of that alchemist back in the Ducal Palace, and became sharply conscious that he'd just let a woman who was once very kind to him risk something horrible for his cause.

"Around seven feet tall. Five of them. Wood's a terrible choice of material. Were you wanting any remains to poke at?"

"We know enough about their construction, so - no, not really."

"Good, because I blew up the cottage."

"Ah." Fullmetal evidently learnt his discretion at the feet of a master. Although it didn't matter too much at this point; Hakuro knew they were searching anyway.

"Things like that, and the sorts of people who make them …" He heard her sigh explosively into the phone. "Fucking abominable. Safest to destroy the place. There are too many idiots around. Right?"

"Right," said Roy. His own idiocy on several fronts was an uncomfortable pressure behind his eyes.

"By the way, I took a walk over to the Aerugan border a couple of miles south of the village. There's a fence, but it's unguarded. A child could sneak through, so I can't imagine a pack of unprincipled alchemists would have much trouble."

"So someone's considering escape routes in case of defeat, then? Gratifying." Roy wondered if it had been Hakuro or Chrysalis who was thinking about worst case scenarios? Unpleasant a task as it was, Roy needed to work on a few of those himself.

"Hmm," said Mrs Curtis, in a sceptical tone that reminded Roy powerfully of his mother. Don't get smug, kid. Roy bit back the urge to get defensive. "How are the boys?"

"Good," said Roy, hoping he didn't sound too elaborately casual. "Working hard." And he'd last seen one of them naked and dozing on his belly in Roy's sunny bed this morning, spare towels in the bottom drawer of the dresser, Ed, are you even awake? Just a snuffle for a reply. Roy had already been late for work by then. He'd fled.

"Well, give them my love and tell them to keep at it."

"Will do," said Roy, trying not to wince.

***


For a couple of moments, Ed assumed he was dreaming. Then he registered that no, there actually was a cat right up in his face, chomping on his bangs. Ed swatted at his hair. The cat shifted, then he felt it curl up around the back of his neck. Ed sat up. The cat rolled onto its back, legs splayed in all directions, apparently completely unconcerned.

He looked the cat in the eye. It had no collar, and it was purring like an engine. Well, this wasn't much of a mystery. To be honest, Ed was surprised it had taken so long for something like this to happen.

Ed put a hand to the white fur of its belly. Some of the width was fluff, but most of it was cat. This thing was doing okay for itself. If Al said he had found it starving, Ed was just going to laugh in his face.

In the living room, Al was sitting on the floor with a book, leaning against the couch with his long legs crossed. He looked up at Ed, who was standing in the doorway with two armfuls of cat. Al looked remarkably innocent considering the shit he'd just pulled.

Ed brandished the cat. "What the hell is this?"

"It's our cat," said Al. He turned a page.

"It's a cat. It was eating my bangs! I have cat drool in my hair."

Al popped a bookmark in his book and set it aside, then held his arms up for the cat. Ed handed him over. The cat lay across Al's lap on its back, belly out and rear end dangling off. Evidently it was making itself right at home.

"Where did you find it?"

"Him," said Al, pointing to the lower end of the cat.

"Oh, great. So he's going to knock up every girl cat within a mile."

"No," said Al, "he's an indoor kitty. And I don't think he's the ladies' man type. Apparently he doesn't even spray that much!"

Ed wrinkled his nose. "Great. Where's the cat from, Al?"

Al took a breath and gave Ed a bright, salesman's grin. "Well, you remember how Teresa from my hermeneutics group got that cat after her aunt died?"

Ed narrowed his eyes.

"Well, Teresa's boyfriend didn't like him. This is the boyfriend who doesn't like me."

"Yeah, well, you slept with her."

"Only twice! And they were broken up at the time, I didn't know they'd get back together after! Anyway, Teresa gave him to Peter, but his roommate says he's allergic, only Peter thinks it's an excuse and he just doesn't like cats, and I agree - so Peter passed him on to his ex-boyfriend Stefan. You haven't met Stefan, but he's kind of a dick. He cheated on Peter for like six weeks with the coatcheck girl at the Orange Grove Ballrooms. Only Stefan didn't pay the cat any attention and then he broke some trendy glass lamp Stefan had, and Stefan told Teresa he was going to take the cat to the city shelter."

"So?" Had Ed gotten away with it? Al's ruffled dignity was a good sign - given he wasn't striking back, it seemed he didn't realise Ed had stayed out.

"So, have you seen that place? It's horrible. It's freezing and the cages are tiny and there's pee everywhere and they don't pay a vet for if the kitties need treatment, and then when the place gets full they cull the ones who've been there longest."

Ed folded his arms, and started feeling guilty - then emotionally manipulated, then guilty again. How come Al was so good at this shit? He'd have blamed the Hohenheim genes before he'd actually met his father again and realised what a big dork the dude was.

Al scratched the cat under the chin, then moved to tickle its belly. It wriggled luxuriously, then wrapped its front paws around Al's hand and started lazily chewing on one knuckle. Al stared at it goofily. The cat bit down and gave Al's forearm a hefty kick with both back legs.

"He's a biter," said Ed.

"He's playing," said Al. "It's a sign of affection." The cat paused in its attack to let the sucker get a few belly-rubs in, then started chewing on Al's hand again.

"You're gonna need to put some iodine on that sign of affection." Ed shook his head. "But seriously - can we look after a cat right now? All this crazy stuff going on, either of us could get called away any time to chase up another lead on Chrysalis … Have you even thought about this? Or is this like the other twenty times I came back to the hotel to find a cat on my bed?"

"The other twenty times were when I was thirteen, brother. Give me some credit," said Al with great dignity. He looked down at the cat and tickled him under the chin again. "Kitty," he said, in a soft, goofy voice. "Kitty kittykittykittykitty." It was somehow not quite as unassailable an argument as his last. Maybe he'd gotten the dork gene after all?

Ed shook his head. "Okay. I'll give this a shot. For now, maybe. But we've got to hash this cat stuff out. Like, how would you hide him from the landlord? And, who's gonna take care of him if we're away? And, if we lock him in for the night, where's he gonna take a crap?"

"We get a tray, Brother. Relax. I've got it all covered, okay?"

"Okay. But the cat's here on a trial basis, right? And we're gonna talk about this properly." Ed rubbed at his face. "Maybe when I've woken up more and gotten some coffee."

"Fine. By the way," said Al mildly, "you stayed over on the brigadier general's couch last night, right?"

Ed's jaw hung open. A jolt of shock went all the way through him. Shit, Al had spotted he didn't come back last night. Wait, what would Ed normally say? What would he say if he hadn't done anything? Al might not have his number yet, he could still get out of this. His mouth worked.

"Aw," said Al, "you're blushing. Cute, Brother. So, did you guys bond some more?"

This was where Ed had a snappy comeback. Al was giving him shit, and it didn't mean anything, and he should just make a crack back, and then they'd move on and it'd be gone. Fuck, think of something, think of something.

After a couple of painful seconds, he managed, "Shut up."

Al craned his head around to look at Ed. Now Al opened his own mouth. His eyes got very wide. Apparently, the teasing really hadn't meant anything.

So, Ed had to meet his fate now. He sat down heavily on the sofa and leaned his head in one hand.

Al blinked. Then he said, in a calm, neutral tone of voice, "You have got to be fucking kidding me."

Ed flopped down onto his stomach and shoved his face into a sofa cushion. Then he shook his head.

"Seriously?" Al's voice rose about an octave.

Ed turned his head to one side. "Stop making this worse."

"You slept together?"

Ed just groaned.

"No, did you? You didn't."

"Shit, stop dragging this out. Yes, okay."

There was a short but solid pause.

"Okay," said Al quietly.

"It's not like I went over there planning it," muttered Ed. "It - just kind of happened. Accidentally."

"It just happened? How do you do that accidentally, you trip and fall on him?"

Face still in the cushion, trying to keep it as vague as possible, Ed told him.

After the first few seconds of mumbling, the cat helped itself to a seat between his shoulder blades, and it only weighed about a fucking ton.

***


Breda was sure to use a different car from the military pool, every time. He'd make a couple of rounds of the loop of boulevards circling the centre of town, and then head in to wherever that evening's rendezvous was taking place. Skullduggery and plotting, in Breda's experience, was usually not so much like the good parts of a spy novel. This was definitely the closest he'd come to pulp hero glamour so far.

He pulled up outside tonight's little café, and within a minute a slim figure was slipping outside, pulling open the passenger door and taking a seat next to him. The huge book bag was perhaps not quite what you'd expect from the girl in the spy novel, but for Breda it was the icing on the cupcake.

He gave his passenger a quick grin, then pulled out and wound the car through the darkening side streets for a minute or two, just to be sure. Then he parked, and turned to look at his passenger in the low evening light.

It was a warm night; Sciezka bit her lower lip a little and looked around. "We're alone?"

Breda nodded. "How's life in the underground?"

She sighed. "Getting by. I'm still a little bit worried about Major Armstrong. Waiting's hard for him, I think." Soon after the Promised Day, Hakuro had filled the upper ranks of Investigations with old guard loyalists, making them a resource Brigadier General Mustang couldn't use. Unfortunately for Major Armstrong, this had meant that his task was to stay where he was and keep his ears open.

"Tell him the Chief said he believes in him. Just a little longer now."

Sciezka looked out the window for a moment, her small fingers playing with the handle of her bag. "He hasn't been the same since he lost his sister. I think - well, these two years would have been hard for him anyway, but - it's easier for someone like me to keep my head down. Observing things is what I'm good at. The major's a man of action."

Breda shuffled uncomfortably. He knew the Chief felt crappy about this part, and to be honest, he did too. Major Armstrong could only do what he did for them because his bosses thought of him as a broken man. They liked him where they could keep an eye on him, but they didn't think of him as a threat. Breda hoped one day soon the major was going to get his chance to prove them all wrong on that one.

He ran a hand through his hair and gave Sciezka a sympathetic grin. "You guys have the worst of it over in Investigations. You drew the sh- the cruddy job. Waiting sucks, I remember from before the coup." Stuck out in the West, a pointless assignment in an office worth of jobsworth Bradley loyalists, his best friend stuck in hospital with his spine cracked in two, his comrades scattered and his leader isolated. The messages from Central were rare and welcome; he'd memorised them all, and repeated them to himself while he grit his teeth and walked himself through another day. The call to action had been such a fucking relief.

Sciezka shrugged and smiled. She always played it down. "No," she said, waving her hands. "No, no, it's fine. I feel so much better knowing I'm helping."

"Bosses still think you're golden?"

She frowned and looked inward for a moment, then nodded emphatically. "Oh yes, nothing's changed at all. Major Fokker pretty much lets me do what I like as long as I get my work done. I never thought it would be an advantage, being so scatty. I don't think anyone imagines I'm the sort of person who'd do something like this at all. And of course when people talk about politics, I just act like I don't even know what they're talking about." She gave him another little smile. "It's sort of sad that people think I've got my nose so far in my books I don't even notice what's happening to the country. But I guess I can't complain when it's helpful, can I?" She ducked her head, rummaged in her book bag, and came out with a fat pile of typescripts held together with a bulldog clip.

"You've gotta be a fast typist," said Breda, taking the documents. "Me, I just" - he mimed smashing typewriter keys with his two index fingers, and pulled a goofy grin. Sciezka laughed.

"Most of it's just copies of what I've seen this week of the department's work. General Hakuro's really started leaning on us, Investigations have been making a lot of checks for him on officer's loyalties, you'll see in the documents. And below that, I copied out an early monograph of Dr. Katzenklavier's, I remember it from the archives in the First Branch. It was a small print run, so I thought I'd just copy it on the off-chance that you guys haven't seen it before? And there are some more extracts from the State Alchemists' records, too." She said it all in one long rush. It was only when she finished that she seemed to remember that she needed to breathe.

Breda looked at her. When Major Armstrong had asked her for her help with this thing, apparently she hadn't even blinked before saying yes. She hadn't been part of the coup, hadn't much previous connection with them at all. Was it because Brigadier General Hughes had given her a job and a chance, and she'd liked him? Or her political convictions, which Breda was starting to grasp seemed to run pretty deep. He was getting the impression she didn't separate the two, the private agenda and the public. It was that last one that made him wonder how Team Mustang hadn't gotten her on board sooner. She thought like one of them.

Maybe that was what had made him take a second look? Or, being totally honest, it could have been the legs. Breda was a sucker for a nice pair of pins.

"So," said Breda. "Where can I take you next this evening?"

Sciezka put a hand into her book bag and placed something onto the dashboard with a decisive metallic click.

It was a hotel room key.

"As you wish," said Breda, trying valiantly to limit the breadth of his grin.

***


Al hadn't said much - that had probably been the worst part. He seemed reassured that it wasn't going to happen again, but he hadn't bought Ed's other idea, which was that he and Mustang would both go into the office tomorrow morning and nod at each other in a sort of manly, shared-understanding way, and then both start work on forgetting it ever happened.

"You should talk to him," Al had said, still sounding a little stunned. "You're supposed to be delivering your findings, he's going to think you freaked when you don't meet him this evening. Just go over there and be an adult about it, okay?"

The annoying thing was, Al was right. Mustang was a worrier, Ed knew that much by now. If Ed didn't say something now, he'd probably just over-think the whole thing in his plotting, stresshead, Mustang-y way, and blow it up into a far bigger thing than it was. Because it wasn't anything. They were both under a lot of pressure and it had got to them, that was all. Or at least, this was Ed's current theory. He'd been through a bunch of them over the last twelve hours.

Ed decided to walk to Mustang's place, to give himself a chance to work out what the hell he was going to say. The walk between their apartments generally took about an hour. This time, though, it worked out as more like three. Ed was hungry, so he stopped and got a plate of noodles and meat sauce at a cafe. Then he stopped in a bookstore that was open late, and ended up browsing too long. Then he wandered over to the canal. He still didn't have any ideas.

It didn't help that, by this point in the evening, he found he now actually didn't know what the hell he wanted to do. The same part of him that had wanted to stay after dinner last night whispered to him now, why not? An actual relationship was, of course, out of the picture - a relationship with Mustang - they'd kill each other. Besides, Ed had established that he sucked at relationships, and he wouldn't want that with anyone right now. But that feeling, in a weird way, was why a non-relationship was kind of tempting. When he'd done that with Ling it had worked out okay, hadn't it? That winter before the Promised Day, the horrible weight of the future had pressed on both of them and they'd got each other through it, fooling around and laughing and pushing each other onward. When he looked back on it now he didn't regret it at all: he felt okay about it, and okay that it had ended, and happy that Ling had got to his goals in the end.

Still, sleeping with Mustang. Regularly. When he actually thought that phrase, it just sounded like the kind of great idea that would blow up in his face. Just like he had a history with being bad with relationships, and with fooling around with his friends, Ed had a history with having great ideas that really, really blew up in his face.

So no, Ed's first instinct was probably right after all. This whole thing was too bizarre, they needed to just close the book on it and forget it. He just had to find a way to have a conversation about it long enough to lay it to rest.

He didn't get much further than that, thought-wise. He got a coffee and drank it looking at the passers by on Unification Square, and then he thought about getting a beer, and then he thought, fuck it, just go over there right now, I'll wing it.

The lights were on in Mustang's flat. He let himself into the building, but when he got to Mustang's apartment door itself, he knocked.

As he heard footsteps approach the door, his stomach pinged all the way up to his throat and back. The catch was fumbled, and there was Mustang in his shirtsleeves. He looked tired, but then it was nearly ten by now. Now that Ed thought about it, maybe it was kind of rude of him to show up so late?

"Hello," said Mustang. He didn't seem very surprised.

"Hey," said Ed. His stomach shot up and down again without asking. "Uh, is this okay? Were you working?"

Mustang shrugged and smiled. "Yes, but I was about to finish for the night anyway." Crap. Maybe Ed had read this whole thing wrong? Maybe he should have just forgot the whole thing and not come over? Then Mustang seemed to notice Ed's rapid calculations, and smiled at him, sort of apologetically. He said, "It's fine. Good, in fact. Come in?"

Ed walked in and shut the front door behind him.

For a moment, they looked at each other in silence.

"So," said Ed, "I guess we should -"

His back hit the door. Mustang's hands were on his shoulders, and Ed had a fistful of Mustang's shirt, and when had that even happened? He pulled Mustang forward, hard. Mustang tugged against it just a little, and grinned his head off as Ed pulled him down. Then they were kissing, deep and forceful and frantic. Hands in each other's hair, hands everywhere.

Then they were stumbling towards the bedroom.

On to Chapter Five!

Author's note: Whew, sorry about the length of time between updates, guys. The plotty plot was getting tangled, but I've worked out the kinks now and things should move faster now. Thanks for reading!

Comments

( 52 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
bob_fish
Jan. 28th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it! *does happy dance*
slinkysoul
Jan. 28th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC)
AL AND THE CAT OH MY GOD. So perfect. My week, it has been severely made. And that art, too, you have some patience with fur. Ed's facefuzz was a cute touch too. CX

"Shut up, brain Ling" is clearly the best combination of four words that could be thought of.

Oh, silly Ed. Dramaz are happening! This is so completely awesome. <3
bob_fish
Jan. 28th, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! I appreciate it especially because I know this isn't one of your usual pairings.

The cat is a funny story: I wrote that part months ago, and since I wrote it I too have got cats, one of whom is enormous and very silly.

I loved writing brain Ling. My beta had to help cheerlead me to cut down his part, he was threatening to take over the fic! What an attention hog he is.
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a_big_apple
Jan. 28th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
You made my whole day eighty times better!!!

Things I loved, in no order at all:
-Kitty cameo!! Both the scene and the illo made me laugh like a loon, and shagger Al with his circle of shagger aquaintances was just too cute! And how casually Al opened the can of worms.
-Ed putting off going to Roy's by getting noodles and meat sauce.
-Breda and Sheska!!
-Roy and Izumi on the phone, especially that last line of hers.
-Roy thinking, particularly the little bit about Ed's weight and his strength forcing him back on the couch. It turns me on that it turns Roy on, lol.
-Roy's recollection of naked Ed asleep in his sunny bed.
-Ed thinking, especially about how to avoid Al finding out, and about what a dork Hoho was, and about his imaginary advisors, and how maybe it would be okay to make fucking Roy a regular thing...

This chapter is made of wonderful.
bob_fish
Jan. 28th, 2011 05:24 pm (UTC)
- I love shagger Al. I think he'd be so polite and sweet about it, though, he'd never want to break a heart! This is about average for British university students, but we are a nation of sluts? XD
- Sky is responsible for Ed's abiding love of noodles and meat sauce. Mmm, manly.
- Yes, that Ed is somewhat stronger and more athletic than him is definitely a turn-on for Roy in this 'verse.
- Ed was so angry and mean about Hoho and his sacrifice in NSI that it's nice to write him having come to terms a bit and able to think of his father with some affection.
- I loved writing imaginary Ling and Winry.

Thank you!


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sky_dark
Jan. 28th, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
Apparently, Roy had hit the point of his career where he turned into a dirty old man.


Possibly the most accurate description ever.

I really, really love the intrigue as much as I love the smut. I keep trying to figure out where this might go next!

<33
bob_fish
Jan. 28th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
Haha, at least he hit that point four years later than some Roys? XD Ed's totally shaving and legal and everything, look at that stubble!

Thanks! I'm glad you are enjoying. Especially now that there is Roy/Ed sex, I hope people are still tuning in for the plotty plot and the Havoc/Rebecca and the Al and such. And now, cat. This cat is not quite as refined and aristocratic as Al's kitty in BLTA, it's a giant overeating food hoover slob, and possibly not very clever either. I haz a lot of inspiration at home to draw upon. XD
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cornerofmadness
Jan. 28th, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
that's right Kitty eat him
bob_fish
Jan. 28th, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
Kitty: nom nom nom
flybynight00
Jan. 28th, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC)
I have been waiting for this so impatiently! Hurrah! And I TOTALLY CALLED Breda and Scieska. Roy and Ed = way sexy. Can't wait for more.
bob_fish
Jan. 28th, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
You did call it! As I asked you at the time, what made you guess that way? I'm super-curious.

Thank you, glad you're enjoying.
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havocmangawip
Jan. 28th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
I MISSED HAVOC AND REBECCA AND PLOTTY PLOT IN THIS CHAPTER!

I squealed like a little girl when I saw that your update was A PHONY WAR update!

I forgive you for no Havoc and Rebecca in this chapter because:

Maybe that was what had made him take a second look? Or, being totally honest, it could have been the legs. Breda was a sucker for a nice pair of pins.

"So," said Breda. "Where can I take you next this evening?"

Sciezka put a hand into her book bag and placed something onto the dashboard with a decisive metallic click.

It was a hotel room key.

"As you wish," said Breda, trying valiantly to limit the breadth of his grin.

Sciezka TOTALLY has nice legs. :) It's headcanon for me at least. XD
bob_fish
Jan. 28th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
I know, I've gone two chapters with no Havoc/Rebecca? What am I like, it's terrible. They're back next chapter, I promise.

I hoped you'd appreciate Sciezka's presence, and while I had other reasons to get her together with Breda it's of course an in-joke too. My Sciezka totally pulls from yours, I hope you know that! She's got a lot going on under the bookworm image.
enemytosleep
Jan. 28th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)


And I'm still reading it as carrot cake.
bob_fish
Jan. 28th, 2011 11:12 pm (UTC)
What happened to "my favourite thing about this amazing chapter was all of it?" :P

Yes, it's carrot cake. Happy?
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trisianna
Jan. 29th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
Three times and its a habit.

YES.

Lovely piece.
<3
bob_fish
Jan. 29th, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
Indeed so. Whoops? XD


Thank you!
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bob_fish
Jan. 29th, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
Thank you! I love your academy Roy icon. "That bastard stole my quiche!"
stultiloquentia
Jan. 29th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
Here's another thing about your Ed/Roy that I really groove on, because it's rare as hen's teeth: they're not in love yet. It's kind of lolwut? when you think about it, but fandom is actually really conversative about the order in which certain relationship milestones occur. A sexual relationship while they're genuinely still in the horniness-plus-growing-friendship-and-affection stage? Gosh! How scandalously...lifelike.

I like how many times in this chapter Ed thinks about avoidance, then mans up by the end of the paragraph. Good lad.

I like this sentence: He'd have blamed the Hohenheim genes before he'd actually met his father again and realised what a big dork the dude was. The combo of "dork" and "dude" sounds almost affectionate. Your Ed voice is so easy to hear.

I like the cat's ass falling off Al's lap. As they do.

a_big_apple said up there, "It turns me on that being manhandled turns Roy on." I SO AGREE. Hm, I wonder if anybody at the office noticed Roy's beard burn, after that morning shag.

Sciezka! Yay, I like her. And Breda's description of her as a woman of deep convictions, who "thinks like one of them." Naturally, I am paranoid, and damn well going to wait for her to earn my trust as a member of Team Mustang, but I'm glad to see her join the cast. And I like that hotel key. This story really is so delightfully, offhandedly sex positive.

I love the artwork, especially the cat's expression: "Oh my god, this hair is so good it doesn't even need salad dressing!"

ETA: Gah, sorry about the mess in your inbox. I forgot how to code user handles over here.
bob_fish
Jan. 30th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, you're right, a lot of people do have them crazy in love from the start. I wanted to build from where they are in the latter part of the manga. I think canonically, Ed warms to Roy a lot after he gets to understand what makes him tick (and the similarities between them) better. I'm glad it felt lifelike to you!

The cat is huge, man. There's too much of it for one lap. XD

Yes, the other side of very in-charge people is that sometimes they enjoy laying that burden down occasionally and being given a good seeing-to. XD I can really see manga Roy like that, for all that Roy is more often written very toppy with Ed. Plus, it's hot.

Thanks! I'm a big perv so the sex-positivity comes easy, but yes, I do feel quite strongly that things like Al's casual sex don't have to be 'dark' or a symptom of disrespect for the other party/oneself. People often shag like bunnies in times of war or national crisis, too! Cf Sarah Water's fabulous novel The Night Watch, or some of my family's stories about life in WWII Britain.

Thanks so much for the lovely review! And no worries about the inbox - I code fail about once a week, despite being an LJ native who's supposedly competent at html by now.
goodbyemagpie
Mar. 27th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
I love love love your writing! It's funny as hell and all the little sciency bits are beautiful (Ed's piss lantern? 8D). The dynamic between Riza and Roy is hilarious, as are pretty much all of the interactions between characters at one point or another...

I won't lie, I was actually squeeing and flailing when Roy and Ed finally kissed, and then the morning after and oooooh. It tickled all my fences in all the right places.

I would love to see some more Madame Christmas. Because Roy is beautiful humiliation material, he really, really is, and you do it beautifully <3.
hineninja
Jun. 3rd, 2011 10:36 am (UTC)
Excellent work, engaging and flawlessly in-character. Can't wait to read more.
airwaveeight
Jun. 19th, 2011 12:58 pm (UTC)
Finding this, and all the other assorted works in the 'verse, makes me a very very happy girl. Relationship stuff and PLOT (omg yes) and just YES. More please?
bob_fish
Jun. 20th, 2011 05:46 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! Chapter 5 is finished and back from beta, and I'm just finishing up the illo, so expect to see it in the next couple of days?
ishte
Jul. 12th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
Funny! Usually the simile is that the engine purrs like a cat, not the cat purring like an engine. I love LOVE the drawing of the cat chewing on Ed's antenna.... I just love how rotund it is. Reminds me of a cat I have known whose name was "Puffy Pity". hee hee. I predict that this cat will catch 0 mice.
bob_fish
Jul. 12th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
Funnily enough, I have a cat sitting next to me right now purring like an engine! Like the cat in this story, he's a big tomcat. I have a weakness for big fat silly cats. Al ... may be optimistic about how interested this cat will prove in catching mice.
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