Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warning:Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence.
Full Metal Alchemist

Ring of Fire


The rain ceased and they jogged back. Roy was smiling softly, but Edward, following behind, was pensive and sore, wondering what had possessed him and why he had so forgotten himself. Roy had said something about youthful urges and laughed, but it seemed more than that to Edward. Watching the man ahead of him, he felt linked now, not as equals, he didn't think that they could ever be that, but as something akin to yin and yang. Roy was older and experienced. Edward was young and naive, though he bristled with affronted pride to admit that. He had to learn from Roy, if they were to carry on in their new found relationship, and he doubted that Roy would ever see him as anything more than a brash, young man who needed his direction.

Roy slowed as they came into view of the other soldiers and he began walking as they reached HQ. Edward kept a step behind him and found it an automatic thing. Again he felt a sting of temper and the need to recover some of his 'self'.

"That won't happen again," Edward growled, low and sure of himself.

"Did you hate it that much?" Roy replied softly and sounded amused.

Edward clarified, "I meant, out there, in the open, where anyone-"

"Ah," Roy replied and nodded. "Not many people are that daring."

"Your enemies could have seen us," Edward reminded him.

"Yes," Roy sighed, "But they are always out there, Edward, always ready to tear me down."

Edward thought over that, let his eyes touch on the men and women who were looking their way, trying to see the danger in their expressions. Roy's danger was his danger now. In that passionate, impulsive act back at the gazebo, he had tied himself to Roy's rising star... and to Roy's enemies who wanted him to fail in his ambitions.

"I'm used to defending myself," Roy told him and gave him a look that was confident and reassuring as they mounted the steps to his office. He stopped and turned to Edward. "Be ready," he said. "The one thing that you will learn about rats... is that they will always go for the bait. That's when you... exterminate them."

There was a ruthlessness in that last sentence, a heavy threat that gave Edward a chill.

"You can return to your room and clean up,"Roy told him. "It was good run."

Edward nodded and tried not to look embarrassed as he turned away and hurried back to his room. Al was anxiously waiting for him. It reminded Edward of his duty and his quest and that he should not have crossed that line with Roy.

"Brother?" Al asked in concern. "Where have you been? You look angry."

Edward sat on the bed and pulled off his wet and sweaty shirt. His clothing smelled like sex and he wondered if Al could smell it, or, for that matter, smell at all. He couldn't recall ever asking him. He had left his brother a boy and come back a man, and there was now a bigger gulf between them than flesh and metal.

"Mustang decided that I need to exercise more with the other soldiers," Edward explained carefully. "He made me jog a long course with him."

Al's armor clanked together as he moved closer. "Brother... I think..."

Edward frowned. "What?"

"I think it is all right to like Mustang," Al said timidly as if he feared that Edward would explode with anger at his words.

Edward turned a dark shade of red. There were so many things that he didn't feel good about thinking or discussing with his brother. They were all painful. His brother had lost his body and Edward blamed himself. How could he talk about things that had to do with growing older when Al couldn't share that with him? It would hurt Al, he was sure, and he would do almost anything to spare him that kind of pain.

Edward sighed as he crumpled his shirt in his hands, looking at the metal one and the flesh and blood one. Roy hadn't flinched from them, hadn't withdrawn from touching them, but Edward still hated them and still wanted them gone. How much worse was it for Al?

"Brother?" Al prompted, sounding very worried.

Edward sighed and stretched out on his bed. "Things are complicated," he replied at last.

Al bowed his head. "You are so lonely. I think, sometimes, that Mustang wants to help you."

Edward closed his eyes. "I think you're right, but... You're lonely too. Am I supposed to go and make friends while you sit here? What kind of brother would I be?"

Al sounded distressed as he replied, "I have friends, brother."

Edward opened his eyes and blinked at him in surprise. "Friends?"

"Yes," Al insisted and now he sounded concerned. "You are always so busy, training and researching the philosopher's stone... Do you mind?"

Edward blinked again, trying to imagine Al with friends, sitting, talking... It drove home to him how much he had distanced himself from Al, wrapped up in his own concerns. "No," he replied. "It doesn't bother me. I'm sorry if I have been neglecting you."

Al shook his head. "Not neglecting," he protested. "You have many duties."

"Still... I'm sorry," Edward insisted.

There was a heavy knock on the door. Al And Edward both started. Edward sat up, exchanged a look with Al, and then went to answer the door. A soldier was standing at attention outside. He gave a proper, stiff salute.

"For your signature, sir." The man handed Edward an official paper.

Edward took it and walked back into the room as the man waited outside. He held it by the light and read it.

Al asked in concern, "Brother, what does it say?"

Edward rolled up the paper and crushed it in one hand. "It's nothing. They want me to attend a demonstration. I won't be long."

If he suspected a lie, Al was silent, but in that silence, Edward supplied his own guilt and accusation. He went with the man and he was taken to a large office. There were several officers seated there, looking very grave. Mustang and Lt. Colonel Thompson were there as well, Thompson looking triumphant and Mustang looking quiet and unmoved by the anger and outrage all around him.

Edward wasn't offered a chair and he didn't take one. He stood almost at attention in front of the officers, pale and very certain why he was there. Al was going to find out his transgression in the worst way. He wondered who would explain to him why his brother was in jail.

"Full Metal," one of the men, with a large mustache, rumbled, as if he wished to be anywhere but there. "It has been charged that you and Colonel Mustang have broken a regulation that carries a severe penalty. What have you to say?"

Edward looked at Mustang, but the man was looking calm and focused on Thompson. He wasn't afraid, Edward thought, instead, he looked as if he held the upper hand.

"What am I being accused of?" Edward asked stiffly. Somehow, he knew that was the right course to take and Mustang's quick smile at him told him that he was correct.

The officer was uncomfortable. He cleared his throat and replied, as he placed a photo on the table in front of him, "You have been accused of sexual deviation; having relations with Mustang. One of Lt. Colonel's men took photos..."

Edward felt ready to die, then and there. Photos? He cringed inwardly, everything within him screaming not to look, but he had to. He had to see what they had seen. He took two steps forward, sweat running down his brow, and looked down at the photo... and then felt a cold shock. The blonde in the photo with Mustang wasn't him..

"Sir, that is not me in that photo," Edward said in a choked voice and then glared at Mustang. Mustang was looking embarrassed, but there was a small smile playing over his lips.

"Of course it is!" Thompson retorted and moved to look at the photo himself. He glared and then turned to a man behind him, who was looking frightened. "You told me that Full Metal was with Colonel Mustang!"

The man flinched, but stayed at attention as he stammered, "Sir, I was ordered to take a photo of whom ever the Colonel was intimate with. I didn't know that I was to wait for a specific person."

Thompson turned red. The officer pulled the photo back to himself, looked at it in a disgusted manner, and then glared at Mustang. "You are ordered to tell this court who is in this photo."

Mustang smiled widely and shrugged. "I wish you had told me there was a photo. I could have cleared my name sooner. That is Officer Shamiz. Since she is not a subordinate of mine, we were not breaking any regulations." He looked at Thompson as he pointed to the man's underling. "How ever, I believe that this soldier has clearly revealed a plot to discredit me. That is a severe breach of codes of conduct regulations."

The Officer looked at his comrades and then he made an angry sound and said, "Colonel Mustang, Full Metal, you are dismissed with our apologies. Lt. Colonel Thompson. You will remain."

Mustang rose, gave a salute to the officers, and went with Edward out of the room. Edward was seething, but Mustang was smiling as he clapped him on the shoulder."Shamiz helped me with the deception," Mustang told him. "We were not really intimate."

"You planned that!" Edward exclaimed with wide eyes.

"I set out the bait for the rat and he took it," Mustang told him, pleased, but then he grew serious and added, "but there are more rats to take his place. If you wish to continue with me, you will share my danger."

Edward sighed and replied, "I am not a child any longer. You saw to that. Being a man means facing dangers and doing what must be done. I can't be frightened. I can't go back and pretend we were not... together. I can only go forward and do as I've always done, make the most out of what life has given me, good or bad."

Mustang caressed Edward's metal arm and Edward shivered even though he couldn't feel it. "You accept things so easily?" Mustang asked. "I don't think that you do."

"It's for Al that I refuse to accept this," Edward replied, clenching that metal hand, "But there are some things that I will accept for my own sake... I accept you."

Mustang suddenly reached up and ruffled Edward's gold hair as if he were a child and Edward scowled. "Remember to hate me, Edward Elric," Mustang chuckled as he began to walk away, "in public at least."

"In public," Edward whispered as he watched Mustang's back move away from him, "In private, things will be much different now."


see Kracken's original, published yaoi fiction, The Angel Within, at under Kracken Website:http/kracken. Latest updates at: http/groups. for general fanfiction talk: http/groups.