PRE FIC RANTINGS AND A SPRINKLE OF DISCLAIMER: Written for 'tempsmort' FLASHBACK! challenge, this fic is based on a nostalgia gay pulp-fiction novel cover and a Leonard Cohen song. A match made in heaven. Ahahaha. Ha. Ha.
I so don't own FMA. If I didn, I'm sure I wouldn't be writing pedo-riffic fanfciton.

Death of a Ladies Man
Cephied Variable

There were few things that Roy Mustang enjoyed more than traditional romance. Wining and dining, sweet talking, slow music, the theater- he considered brandy and waltzing two of the finer points in life. He couldn't cook to save his life, but he had a generous paycheck, a collection of red wine circa 1896 and a phonograph sitting in his living room.

He should have realized that it would end in tradgedy when Edward professed a deep and unshakable loathing of swing music. Not only did he dislike swing music, but he had sworn off dancing entirely. Said that it wouldn't work because his legs were unbalanced no matter how many times Roy told him it was just like fighting. Ed didn't care for fine food or theater or dancing, and everytime someone mentioned wine he made this funny facial expression and wondered why the hell someone would want to drink something that was older than they were. He didn't appreciate candle-lit nights, or starlight or the beauty of the night sky just before dusk and sweet talk did nothing for him except make him growl impatiently.

Edward Elric had no sense of romance whatsoever. When asked, he simply said: "Romance is for girls." His idea of love and devotion apparently involved a lot of insult throwing and trading alchemical theories. And he had absolutely no patience- no sense of tact or timing. He was quite possibly the most inelegant, inpromptu and improbable induvidual Roy had ever had an affair with.

All these things should have have, theoretically, been glaring, red warning signs of a relationship that was headed for disaster. Ideally, they would have been glaring, red warning signs that Roy would never have seen in the first place. He checked the date on his watch as he walked, rubbing at his wrist anxiously. He had been thirty years old for over twenty-four hours. Edward wasn't any less sixteen than he had been when Roy was twenty nine, but for some reason the numbers had been easier to rationalize when the decade between them wasn't so woefully apparent. Decade and a half Roy corrected himself. He had never felt quite as old as he did at that moment, walking through the rain with a cold feeling at the pit of his stomach, humming old brass band hits from 1908 in the back of his throat.

Thirty years old. He couldn't even remember sixteen.

He stopped at the end of the street when he spotted Edward through the gray, misty air. The boy was casually leaning against a lampost, his hair wilting in the humidity and his jacket a smudge of color against the dreary backdrop. His eyes were closed and he twirled his state alchemist's watch in one hand, wrist making quick, jerky circles in the air. Alphonse was sitting a few feet away on a nearby bench with his hands on his knees. Neither were speaking.

Roy took a deep breath and began walking again. This really was ridiculous- he felt like he was on one of those inevitable "last dates", trying to choose the best words to let a woman down gently. Edward wasn't a woman- he certainly wasn't one of Roy's women, the pretty, cultured types who never bothered to get close enough to really be disappointed. There was no letting Edward down gently- there was no letting Edward down period. Roy anticipated a broken nose at the least, maybe a bruised kneecap or two. It wasn't like their relationship had been anything formal afterall-

There was nothing quite so self-indulgent as having your lover nestled in your lap, hands buried in his hair, lips on his neck all in the middle of the day, without even bothering to lock the door to your office. Edward was always so impatient. So impromtu. So improabable. It was absolutely ridiculous.

- so it should have been easy. Easy, easy, easier. Al noticed him first.

"Colonel Mustang!" he yelped, leaping to attention and very nearly saluting. The boy had always had a better sense of military decorum than his older brother. Ed simply moved lazily- Roy would have called it 'slinking' if he weren't so acutely aware of the boy's age- and tucked his watch back inside his jacket with a smirk.

"Can't you even make it on time to your own appointments, Mustang?"

Roy forced a counter smirk and hoped that his manner was jovial enough to suspend the illusion of normalacy, "A wise poet once said that a man is never late to his own appointments- eveyone else is early."

Ed's expression soured and he muttered, "Well, that's bullshit if I've ever heard it."

Roy's smirk deepened as he found solid footing, familiar ground, "Perhaps if you read more than scientific texts, Fullmetal, you'd know for sure." ha, and then maybe Edward would take to wearing white collared shirts and memorize the names of all the great classical composers.

"Well," Al said in an overloud voice, coming to stand beside his brother. He towered over the conversation nervously, "You said that you had something important to tell us, Sir."

Roy blinked and stared at Al blankly for a moment. Actually, he had told Edward that he had something important to tell him. He should have learned by now that anything that applied to Ed generally applied to Alphonse as well. But this-

"This... Alphonse, I must apologize, but this matter is something I must discuss with your brother in private."

Al's large shoulder's slumped slightly and Ed's eyes grew wide as saucers- Roy thanked whatever dieties he didn't believe in that the boy was bright. The last thing he needed right now was an argument.

"A-Al," Ed said slowly, placing a mediating hand on Al's arm, "How about you spend the night with Alicia and Mrs. Hughes. We'll, uh, walk you there. It's on the way anyways."

Al tipped his head sideways to glance waveringly at his brother. A sigh echoed deep inside his hollow chest, "O-okay." a pause, "You're not in trouble again, are you?"

Ed's brow furrowed and he looked at Roy who offered up no silent explainations. Ed didn't answer his brother either.

"You know, I won't eat your cooking." Ed joked awkwardly when Al had been dropped off. The words fell like a brick towards the pavement. Absolutely anything to break the silence.

"We'll order out." Roy responded quietly. And then maybe he would finally teach Edward how to dance- it would be their first and last. How suitably tragic.

Roy waited until Ed was halfway through his third plate of lasanga to break the news. The boy nearly choked on his food and had to be placated with four glasses of water before he was able to speak, voice shaky and rasping.

"An inquiry?" he demanded, "You're going to be court-martialed?"

Roy said, "Mmm." as he flipped through his record collection. They'd eaten their supper on the living room floor because Edward didn't like the way his feet dangled from the kitchen chairs. Roy's joints ached when he stood (he was getting old) and he marvelled at the concessions he was willing to make for the boy.

" 'Mmm'? What kind of answer is that?"

"I'd imagine, Fullmetal, if I had actually stopped to think about this situation since leaving headquarters this evening, I'd have a better answer for you. As it stands now, that's the best you're going to get." Minuetto in G Minor, perfect for waltzing. Roy carefully slipped the record onto the phonograph and gently moved the needle over it. He turned to face Edward, "Now stand up." he ordered.

Ed raised an eyebrow and leaned back, bracing himself on his palms, "What are you going to do to me?"

"Nothing that won't benefit you in the future, Fullmetal. Now stand up."

Ed pouted, but did as he was told, albeit hanging his shoulders sulkily. Roy closed the distace between them as the music started- scratchy and uneven and thus perfect for the way Ed drew back when Roy took his hand.

"No," the boy snarled, "You are not teaching me how to dance."

Roy stared at him evenly, "Please. Humour me." he reached for Edward's hand again, and this time the boy entwined their fingers reluctantly and allowed Roy's arm to slide around his waist. They began to sway to the music, back and forth, back and fourth, while Roy chanted the beat under his breath, "It's like this, Fullmetal," he explained as he dragged the boy along, "Three steps, pivot, three steps, pivot. Counting helps keep the time, and emphasis on the third beat in a measure- didn't they teach you music in school?"

Ed stumbled along and Roy was glad that he had worn his boots around the fourth time Ed stamped on his toes with his steel foot, "I never went to school, you moron." he muttered, like Roy should have known that, "There is no school in Rizenbul. And my teacher didn't see much reason for Al and I to know anything about music."

"Typical." Roy scoffed. The pace increased as Edward's footfalls became more certain and Roy added a spin to the routine. Step, step, pivot, spin.

"So," Ed asked breathlessly, eyes cast downwards as he tried desperately to follow Roy's dizzying lead, "Are you going to tell me what you're in trouble for, or is the goal here to spin me around until I'm sick to my stomach and don't care anymore?"

"You, know Fullmetal," Roy said conversationally, another sharp spin and he pulled Edward closer, "In the military, it is improper for an officer to have a romantic relationship with their direct subordinate. Furthermore, it is inappropiate for an officer in the military to have a romantic affair with an induvidual of the same gender." Ed's eyes snapped up and his throat tightened as he realized where this was going, "Furthermore, and most importantly, it is illegal for someone my age to have a romantic affair with someone your age. It is illegal for me to kiss you. It is illegal for me to take you out for an expensive dinner. It is illegal for me to have you here, alone in my house, waltzing to a Minuetto in G Minor."

Ed tripped and fell into Roy; the older alchemist didn't miss a beat.

"Y-you're saying that... that you're going to be court-martialed because of me?"

"Yes and no." Roy's expression darkened and he focused on the music, the notes, the beat and time of the dance, "I am the adult in this situation and thus, it is my responsibility. You will in no way, manner or form be held accountable."

"Whoa, wait." Ed dug his feet in and attempted to stop the waltz, but Roy used his superior height to jerk him around in aother rough spin. Edward was stronger than him and probably could have stopped if he really wanted to. Once dragged back in, he kept dancing.

"T-that's completely ridiculous." Ed muttered, "It's not fair."

Roy raised an eyebrow and met Ed's bitter gaze, "You think so? Don't you feel that this affair is somewhat... inappropiate?"

"Well, yeah, I guess." Ed replied slowly, carefully measuring his words, "But it's our business. What the hell do they care who you're waltzing with in your house? That's... personal."

"Nothing is personal in the military, Fullmetal. What with all the secrecy surrounding your brother I would have imagined that you'd have realized that by now."

"Keep Al out of this." Ed snapped suddenly, "It's not the same thing!" they continued waltzing in silence. Clumsily, but Edward was almost catching on, "So. What are we going to do?"

" 'We'." Roy chuckled, " 'We' don't do anything. This is my problem."

"Your problem?" Ed wondered incredelously, instinctively jerking Roy closer (that hair-trigger temper of his), "Last time I checked, I was part of this 'problem' too."

Roy attempted to straighten himself, but Ed's grip was not metaphorically steel, but was literally steel as well, "I was actually intending to fix that tonight."

And this time, Ed actually halted the waltz. Roy nearly toppled over, but Ed kept him steady with the sheer force of his building anger, "You inteneded to "fix" what?" Roy just stared flatly. You're a smart boy, Edward. Figure it out yourself., "Wait-" and there was that tell-tale growl working it's way into his voice, "You were intending to break up with me?"

He tried valiantly to resist- he'd been surpressing the laughter since the sentence was delivered. Resisted laughing at the irony of it all, resisted laughing at the way the rain never failed to reflect his mood, resisted laughing at the sight of Edward Elric, the infamous Fullmetal Alchemist, waltzing badly with his commanding officer. There was something about a desperate sitution that drove men to laughter- sick, maddened giggles- but this was simply too much. Edward certainly had his moments of maturity, but he almost always ruined them by saying something so absolutely and ridiculously juvenile that Roy could hardly stand it.

He laughed so hard that it shook his entire body. He wrapped his arms around Edward and rested his chin on the boy's head to keep himself from falling over. He laughed so hard he wanted to cry. "What the fuck is so funny?" Ed demanded angrily.

"I'm 'breaking up' with you? Fullmetal you..." he shook his head and snickered, "You're so ridiculous."

"Dammnit!" Edward pushed out of the embrace and Roy stumbled back a few steps, still giggling quietly, "You're such a bastard!" Roy 'hmmed' under his breath as the record reached it's last, shaky notes. He went to the phonograph and moved the needle back to the start, "Don't play the fucking song again!" Ed growled. Roy just attempted a cogenial smile and held out his hands.

"I'm determined that you will at least gain something from this entire ordeal."

"Don't even touch me." Edward said darkly, "Just... oh, fuck you." he spun on his heel and flexed his hands in and out of fists. After a moment he added, "I'm old enough to get what's going on here, you know. I'm obviously old enough to understand what the hell's going on between us. What I don't understand is why it's such a big fucking deal. You lie your way out of everything else, you shit, why can't you just lie your way out of this? I hate you; you think I'm a stupid kid, we both think the allegations are stupid and everyone who knows us informs the court that this is all accurate information. The person who accused you of pedarestry will feel like a moron and everything will just continue as it was."

Ed's voice was beginning to crack and Roy was startled at how seriously the boy was taking the issue. He crossed the living room and placed his hands on Edward's shoulders. The boy's muscels tensed under his palms, "Edward," he began softly, and the boy tensed further at the sound of his given name, "Edward, Edward, Edward. Things just aren't that simple."

Ed shrugged out from under his hands and turned to glare at Roy bitterly, "Certainly not with you."

"The unfortunate fact here, Fullmetal," Roy murmered as he grabbed Ed's waist and spun them across the living room; Edward accidently kicked him in the shin, "Is that you lie worse than you dance."

"Says you," Ed retorted tartly, "I know how to keep a secret when it's absolutely necessary."

"They'll accuse me of things, Edward. They'll imply that I took advantage of you-"

Ed snorted, "As if. I could take you any day."

"- not just physically, but emotionally. They'll most likely attempt to claim that I solicited sex from you in exchange for... certain allowances. Many of my superiors have noticed that I let you get away with murder."

"You do not-" and he met Roy's eyes, considered, and stammered: "W-well, I suppose you do. But that's not because..." he aquired a mildly disgusted expression, "Is it?"

Roy shook his head somberly and the dance slowed, "No. It isn't." he assured, but Edward didn't look convinced.

"Then why do you do it?"

Roy nearly answered automatically: "Because you're just a kid", but considering he hadn't been punched in the nose yet tonight, he didn't exactly want to test his luck. But what was he supposed to say? He let Edward get away with almost everything and anything under the sun because he felt guilty about recruiting him into the military in the first place? Edward wouldn't buy it. He would laugh in his face and tell him off for coming up with such a poor excuse. Even if he did believe it, Roy couldn't imagine it would have made him feel much better.

"Edward," he replied, voice nearly a whisper, "I would sacrifice a great many things for you. However, giving up my future in the military is not one of those things."

Ed rolled his eyes, "Should have figured."

"You don't understand. I don't want to become Fuhrer for myself, nor did I make this far out of my own power. I don't have the right to give up my position. But there is no living person for whom I'd sacrifice more than what I'd sacrifice for you and your brother. Edward, you must trust me to handle this situation. Please."

That shut Edward up. Something passed over his face- confusion, admiration, adoration? Roy wouldn't say love. That just wasn't Edward's style.

They danced in silence until the record ran out again, and even then, they kept dancing. Ed's movements were now fluid and graceful and he didn't need to look at the ground in order to keep his feet from getting tangled. When the silence became unbearable, the boy chuckled lightly and said:

"You're right. It is just like fighting." step, step, pivot, spin, "But I'd still rather be fighting."

"And I'd rather dance," Roy replied sadly without missing a beat. Pivot, spin, "You see, Edward. That's the real problem."

the end.

So the great affair is over
But whoever would have guessed
That it would leave us all so vacant
And so deeply unimpressed

It's like a journey to the moon
Or to that other star
I guess you go for nothing
If you really want to go that far.

- Leonard Cohen 'Death of a Ladies Man'