Title: (In)Convenience
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Author: Batsutousai
Rating: Teen
Pairings: Edward Elric/Roy Mustang
Warnings: Hurt/comfort, angst, Ed's dirty mouth
Summary: 'He knew, okay. He knew he was a pain in the arse. That he'd never have survived so long without Al looking out for him, but that Al didn't need him. Fuck, Al would probably be way better off without Ed dragging him down all the time.
'Sometimes, Ed was honestly surprised his brother hadn't left him.'

Disclaim Her: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Arakawa Hiromu and various publishers. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

A/N: I'm supposed to be editing or packing or calling my boss back or pretty much anything other than writing, but I just got a really stressful call and I desperately need some EdRoy H/C.

Not compliant with any of my fics, not necessarily compliant with canon.

You can also read this at Archive of Our Own, tumblr, or LiveJournal.

-0-

Wasn't it supposed to be storming and gloomy when you were hating everything? At least the temperature could have had the decency to be cold, because then he could blame the twinges in his shoulder on the temperature fucking with the internal wiring or whatever. But, no. It always seemed to be sunny and warm when Ed fought with Al.

As if he needed further proof that the world didn't revolve around him.

Ed groaned and dropped his head back against the park bench, closing his eyes against the glare from the giant ball in the sky. Tried not to remember the argument, even though he knew actively trying not to think of a thing just made him think about it. Fuck.

He knew, okay. He knew he was a pain in the arse. That he'd never have survived so long without Al looking out for him, but that Al didn't need him. Fuck, Al would probably be way better off without Ed dragging him down all the time. He could keep as many stupid cats as he wanted, wouldn't have to clean up any messes, or apologise for Ed's careless words. He wouldn't be obligated to deal with the military at all, or the stigma attached to travelling with a State Alchemist. He'd be so much better off.

Sometimes, Ed was honestly surprised his brother hadn't left him.

He glanced up at the sound of someone walking in his direction, and groaned at who he found.

"That's no way to greet your commanding officer, Fullmetal," Mustang informed him with that smirk that always made Ed want to punch him. (It figured that the bastard would still be a – completely unattractive – smug shit, even while wearing a sweatshirt so well-worn, the collar and bottom were fraying.)

"Fuck off, Mustang," Ed muttered, closing his eyes and dropping his head back against the bench's back again, hoped the bastard would just keep right on fucking walking, because he really didn't want to deal with him and his stupidly (not) attractive face right that moment.

He should have known better.

"Budge over, Fullmetal," Mustang ordered, nudging his leg. "For such a small–"

"Find your own bench!" Ed snapped, raising his head again to glare at the bastard. "This one's mine!"

Mustang stared at him for a moment, a faint crease between his eyebrows that Ed hadn't ever seen before. It made him look less stuck-up, more...not kissable.

(The fuck?)

And then it was gone, the familiar smirk back in place, and Mustang informed him, "I don't see your name on it!" before sitting in the tiny space Ed wasn't taking up.

Ed jerked away from the unwelcome contact, hissing as the motion arced pain through his shoulder port. "What the fuck, you bastard!" he snapped, rubbing at his shoulder and looking over at Mustang. He'd have continued, but there was an expression on Mustang's face, almost like he was...worried?

(Seriously, the fuck?)

"If you need to visit your mechanic–"

"I'm fine!" Ed snapped, very pointedly letting off rubbing his shoulder and crossing his arms over his chest.

Mustang sighed and sat back, shading his eyes and looking up, toward the cloud-free sky. "If it's bothering you, get it looked at."

"Shut up. There's nothing wrong."

Mustang let out an even louder sigh. "You're not doing anyone any favours–"

"Shut up!" Ed snapped, jumping to his feet; he didn't have to stay here and listen to the bastard play his fucking father, or whatever weird bullshit this was.

A hand caught in his belt and yanked him backward, sudden enough he couldn't do anything but let gravity win and fall back onto the bench, hissing again when pain flared along his port.

"I understand you derive some sick joy from making trouble for everyone else," Mustang said, his voice tight, "but when you're hurting yourself–"

"There's nothing–"

"You. Will. Let. Me. Finish," Mustang snarled, something so dangerous in his expression, Ed couldn't do anything but shut up and slump as much as his twinging shoulder would let him.

Mustang glared at him for a moment, as though making certain he wasn't going to try interrupting again, then continued, his voice low and...not quite angry, but...something different from usual, "If your automail is giving you trouble, have it seen to. Pretending you're fine does you far more harm than it does me, I assure you. And, besides, you're both endangering yourself and your brother when you refuse to get it looked at. Or didn't you think ahead enough to realise what would happen if this was a sign of it potentially breaking, and I sent you out somewhere dangerous?"

Ed looked away, feeling sick, because of course he knew what would happen if his automail broke in a fight; Al'd be expecting him to have his back, but he'd be even more fucking useless a brother than usual, and Al would have to protect him and fight everyone else. (And the fight almost certainly would have been Ed's fault, so he'd hear about it the whole way back to Resembool, and then Winry would start in on him as soon as Al told her it was Ed's fault his arm had broken, and he'd get brained with a fucking spanner and–)

"It's not...the automail," Ed muttered, mostly to save himself from his depressing imaginings. "It's just stupid tensed muscles or whatever. It happens."

"From fighting with your brother," Mustang said flatly, and Ed couldn't help but shoot him a surprised look, because how had Mustang known? Mustang sighed and stood. "Come on."

Wait, what?

Mustang stepped around him and grabbed his left arm, using it to pull Ed to his feet, then started down the path in the opposite direction of his and Al's apartment. "I'm not dragging you, Fullmetal. Walk," he ordered, very pointedly not letting go of Ed's arm.

"What the fuck?" Ed demanded, even as he gave in and started walking next to the bastard.

"The best fix for tense muscles," Mustang informed him flatly, "is to relax them. And if the problem is a fight with your brother, sending you back to your flat isn't going to help."

Well, okay, but, "Why do you even care?"

Mustang's expression tightened. "I assure you, Fullmetal, contrary to whatever you might believe, I do not, in fact, derive pleasure from your misery."

Ed couldn't quite resist a snort and muttered, "Pull the other one."

Mustang just let out an irritated noise, apparently unwilling to open himself to that argument. (Probably wise. Damn.)

The building Mustang led him to was a squat little house, and it was only when the bastard finally let him go and pulled out a set of keys, that Ed realised, "This is your house?"

"Well spotted, Fullmetal," Mustang returned sarcastically.

Ed started to turn to leave because oh, hell, no, but Mustang grabbed his left arm again and pulled him up the walk, snapping, "Either go home or come in, but I am not hunting you down again when Alphonse calls me asking if I know where you are."

Al...called Mustang?

Mustang gave Ed a pointed look and let go of his arm. "Well?"

He supposed he had kind of...left differently from usual. He hadn't slammed the door, at least, so Al was probably afraid he'd tossed himself off one of the bridges, or something. He didn't really want to go back to the flat yet, but he could at least ring his brother? "Can I...use your phone?" he asked, feeling a little uncertain.

Mustang sighed and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. "Yes," he decided, before turning and leading the way up to the front door, which he unlocked, then held open for Ed.

"Thank you," Ed mumbled, feeling weirdly awkward.

"It's down the hall, around the corner," Mustang directed. "Please take your boots off, before you track anything in."

Ed huffed at that and started forward without bothering–

"I will make you clean my entire house, Fullmetal," Mustang threatened.

And, because he was Ed's commander and a bastard, Ed knew he totally could. And Al would almost certainly approve, might even offer to stand over him and ensure he did it.

Ed slipped his boots off and very obviously set them down next to Mustang's military boots, then went in search of the phone. Once he'd found it, he paused for a moment, feeling awkward again, before Mustang's approaching footsteps made him pick it up and dial the number for the phone he always forgot was in their place, but had yet to forget the number of.

Al picked up as Mustang stepped past him and into another room. "Hello?"

Ed cleared his throat. "Al?"

"Brother!" Al called, sounding so relieved. "Thank goodness! I've been so worried!"

Ed sighed. "Yeah," he managed, before Al started talking again.

"I'm sorry for what I said. I was just so... I was a little frustrated. I shouldn't have said any of that. You're not really a useless brother, or a constant inconvenience and I don't hate you, really. And I do like living with you and travelling with you and everything."

Ed forced a smile and agreed, as cheerfully as he was able, "I know, Al. It's fine. It was just a stupid fight."

"Exactly!" Al agreed, sounding so grateful that Ed had forgiven him. (As if he was really the one in the wrong; Ed knew he was the one who was the problem.)

"I'm probably going to be out for a little longer, okay?" Ed asked, tried to keep smiling, because he'd learnt a long time ago that smiling made you sound more positive; it had always worked for Mum, at least. "Mustang just told me I really needed to ring you."

"The colonel found you?" Al realised.

"Yeah."

"I hope you weren't rude to him. He was only worried about you!"

Ed winced as his shoulder twinged. "Hey, Al, I gotta go. I'll see you tonight?"

"Oh, of course! I'll see you tonight, Brother. Don't stay out too late!"

"Yeah, sure," Ed agreed, then hung up and bowed his head, rubbing ineffectually at the flesh around his port. Fuck, of course he'd been rude to Mustang; he saw the bastard's face and the only possible response was to just start slinging insults, because he never stammered when he insulted the bastard. (Not that he was in the habit of stammering around Mustang like one of the star-struck women he was always fucking batting his eyelashes at.) And that thing about the bastard worrying about him?

'I assure you, Fullmetal, contrary to whatever you might believe, I do not, in fact, derive pleasure from your misery.'

Fuck.

He had no idea the bastard was behind him, until warm hands came down on his shoulders – a little higher up that normal, especially on his right – and two thumbs dug mercilessly into the skin to either side of his spine.

Ed wrenched himself from the bastard's hold, swinging around with his right arm extended to hit the bastard, but Mustang just ducked it, then caught his left hand when Ed tried to follow through with it, wearing a familiar unimpressed expression. "Do you intend to be court-martialled?" he asked flatly.

"What the fuck?!" Ed shouted, angry because he felt awkward and embarrassed and couldn't let himself think about why. "Don't touch me!" He yanked his hand out of Mustang's hold and tucked it against his chest.

Mustang held up his hands in a show of surrender, his expression easing into something less unimpressed, more...Ed didn't know. Tired, maybe. "There's hot water for tea," he offered, his tone so utterly neutral, it sounded wrong.

Ed wanted to say no, to just fucking get out. Go back to wandering around the city until it got dark and he had to go back to the flat. Get away from everything about this fucking weird interaction.

And yet, somehow, he heard himself say, "Okay."

Mustang nodded and turned to lead the way into what turned out to be a small kitchen. There were two cups set on the small table shoved against the wall, already steeping with something that – Ed discovered when he got close enough – smelled really good, and weirdly familiar, though he couldn't quite place it. There was a little container of sugar between the mugs, but no sign of milk anywhere, because Mustang clearly knew him way too well.

Ed sat at one of the spots when Mustang waved him into it, pulling the sugar over and adding more than he probably should, but fuck the bastard, anyway.

"Should I ask what the fight was about?" Mustang asked mildly as he settled so fucking gracefully into the other chair.

Ed hunched over his tea a bit, nudging the sugar back within Mustang's easy reach a bit grudgingly. "Why do you even care?"

"Morbid curiosity," Mustang deadpanned.

Ed gave him a flat look.

Mustang's mouth twitched and he rather obviously busied himself with the sugar and eyeing his own tea, as though trying to decide if it was sufficiently steeped. "As close as you two are, I struggle to imagine what you could fight over that would result in you storming out, and Alphonse being worried enough to start calling around to see if anyone had seen you."

Ed shrugged, winced when his shoulder gave a twinge, then huffed into his tea. "I left a book in the middle of the floor again. Al tripped. He wasn't happy."

"He yelled, you left," Mustang assumed mildly as he took out his tea bag and set it in a plate Ed hadn't noticed, distracted by the sugar.

Ed shot the bastard a glare. "You think I like being reminded I'm an inconvenience to everyone?!" he snapped.

Mustang's eyes closed, something almost pained about the turn of his mouth.

Fuck. What had he just admitted to?

Ed started to rise, but Mustang was already out of his seat – how the fuck was he so fast?! – and moving around the table, reaching past Ed's right shoulder – even though it was closer and would give him better leverage – and catching his left shoulder, shoving on it as he ordered, "Sit down."

Ed dropped back into his chair, shocked at the realisation that Mustang was avoiding his right shoulder. Had been doing so the whole time, like he was afraid of hurting Ed. Like he–

Mustang sighed and leant his hip against the table top, watching his own hand as he removed the tea bag from Ed's tea and set it on the plate. "You're not an inconvenience," he commented mildly, using the same tone a normal person might use to talk about the day's weather. "You're occasionally careless with your possessions and words, but that doesn't make you an inconvenience. If anything, it's actually quite entertaining to watch people be struck dumb by your particular abuse of the language." He flashed Ed a sharp smirk.

...he cared.

For some reason, that pissed Ed off.

"Oh, sure, when you're not the one on the receiving end, I'm sure it's supremely entertaining," Ed snarled as he stood, as if that would really help with the height difference, and shoved the finger of his automail against the bastard's chest. "But I bet you'd be really fucking happy to wash your hands of me, especially every time I point out that you're a stupid, ugly old bast–"

A mouth sealed over his, stopping his insults and completely derailing his thoughts because...what? What was– Was Mustang–?

Mustang was kissing him.

Mustang was kissing him?

And then Mustang pulled away, an unfamiliar shade of pink colouring his cheeks, while an 'oh shit' expression – Ed was familiar with that one, because it usually followed the sound of Hawkeye checking the slide of her gun – twisted his expression. And then he cleared his throat and took a rather obvious step back, a sort of blankness falling over his expression, like Ed sometimes saw him wear when facing higher-ranked members of the military. "I apologise, Fullmetal," he said, his voice gone so impossibly flat. "That was inappropriate. Perhaps you should return to your place."

Return to his flat? After that? Mustang expected him to just walk out and, what? Pretend nothing had fucking happened?

Ed was almost insulted at the assumption.

He stepped towards the bastard and Mustang closed his eyes, looked like he was expecting to get punched. But Ed didn't have punching in mind, and he caught the stupid, fraying collar of the bastard's sweatshirt and used it to yank him down for a second fucking kiss.

And it felt awkward – Ed didn't fucking know what he was doing, okay, just that he wanted to do it again – but then Mustang let out a startled sound and a hand spread out over the back of Ed's head, holding him steady as the bastard's lips moved against his. And it felt a little weird, but also kind of good. The kind of good that Ed wouldn't mind keeping at for a while.

Mustang, though, drew away again. Not far, just raised his head out of Ed's reach, then murmured, "Do you have any idea how many rules we're breaking right now?"

"Do you have any idea how little I fucking care right now?" Ed shot back.

Mustang let out a soft laugh, so different from the sort Ed was used to hearing from him. "Forgot who I was talking to," he said, sounding weirdly...fond?

(Ed was beginning to suspect this might be a dream.)

He shifted his shoulder a bit, as a sort of test, and pain lanced through the connections, making him wince.

"Here, could you sit for a moment?" Mustang said, pulling away. "Let me try something?"

"What sort of something?" Ed demanded, grudgingly letting go of the bastard's collar.

Mustang sighed. "Just sit, Fullmetal."

Huffing a bit, Ed walked back to his chair and sat, scowling at his tea. (Which still smelt good, actually, a little bit like a mix of Mustang and peaches, and Ed was absolutely not embarrassed at the realisation that he knew what Mustang smelt like, or that he thought he smelt good. It was probably his shampoo, or something. Fuck.)

Mustang stepped up behind him and plucked at the fabric of his jacket over his left shoulder. "Take this off for me?"

Ed shot him a suspicious look. "Why?"

Mustang just sighed and gave him a tired look.

Grumbling a bit wordlessly, Ed undid the fasten and shrugged it off. "Fine," he muttered.

Mustang's hands came to rest on his shoulders, in the same spots as they'd done out in the hall. Ed couldn't stop himself from tensing, remembering the feeling of thumbs digging in to the sides of his spine, and Mustang sighed. "Could you trust me for once in your life?"

"No," Ed snarled. "Not when you're just gonna start digging your thumbs into my skin. I can do that just fine myself, tha–nng..." He slumped a bit helplessly as Mustang dug his thumbs into his back, as he'd known would happen, but instead of hurting, a band of tension seemed to snap and the constant ache of his shoulder stump nearly vanished. "Wha?" he managed to ask.

Mustang chuckled, weirdly warm, and dug at Ed's back again, snapping another band of tension. "It's called a massage, Edward," he offered.

Ed did not shiver at hearing his real name.

Mustang snapped another band of tension, then quietly said, "You can be a little careless, sometimes, and you do have a particular talent for going a little too far when you're angry, but I don't believe anyone who knows you would ever call you an inconvenience. And I don't believe Alphonse believes that of you, either."

Ed closed his eyes, trapped between the disheartening reminder of his and Al's fight, and the really fucking nice sensation of the bastard's thumbs soothing away any sense of tension, even the stuff that had been there so long, Ed hadn't even realised it was a problem. "I am, though," he said quietly to the table. "He's always cleaning up after me and apologising for me and getting dragged into fights I start. He'd be better off if I–"

Mustang pulled him back to sit up straight, wrapping one arm around his chest, while a hand covered his mouth. "Alphonse loves you," Mustang said quietly, but with such an air of absolute certainty, Ed couldn't help but listen. "He'd be distraught if you left him, and you'd hate it, too, even though I'm sure he does plenty of things to drive you insane, like picking up every stray cat he sees, and nagging you about cleaning up after yourself."

He took a quiet breath, then continued, "People are different, and you're always going to have that one habit that drives another person completely insane, especially when you live together. Sometimes, you're stressed about two or three other things, and coming across that one bad habit that you've already resigned yourself to is the thing that becomes too much, so you start shouting at the culprit. And, because you know each other really well, you say something you don't mean, but which really hurts the other person."

He finally moved his hand from Ed's mouth, cupping his cheek and nudging his face slightly, until Ed turned to look over at him, almost entranced by the sad warmth in his eyes. "Your brother loves you, and I know he never intended to hurt you."

It occurred to Ed, in that moment, that, as many times as he'd slung insults at the bastard, some of them must have cut too deep, just like Al's had for him. Al had apologised to Ed, would probably end up spending the next few days saying 'sorry' for stupid shit, because he still felt guilty for hurting Ed, just like Ed would do every time he said something stupid and incentive and hurt Al, because that's how they always were.

But, for Mustang, slinging insults and then pretending it'd never happened was how they were. And that had been fine, before, but now, with the kiss, with Mustang trying to make him feel better and giving him a massage and–

He felt awkward and wrong-footed and maybe a little embarrassed, but he swallowed and forced himself to meet and hold Mustang's eyes as he said, "I'm sorry."

Mustang's eyes went wide. "Wha–?" And then he shook his head. "That wasn't intended as a comment on anything you've done."

Ed felt his cheeks warming. "Yeah, well, you're getting it anyway! So, just–"

Mustang kissed him again. And it felt a little bit like he was maybe smiling, which he totally was when he pulled back and murmured, "Apology accepted. And I'm sorry, too."

"Shut up! It doesn't count if you're smiling!" Ed insisted, shoving at the bastard. But, as soon as Mustang started to withdraw, chuckling, Ed decided, fuck it, and yanked the bastard back down for another kiss. Which the bastard laughed into, because he was a bastard.

But, Ed realised as Mustang cupped his cheek and kissed him back, he was actually pretty okay with that.

.