Title: Of Stray Dogs and Showers (aka 'wow, I suck at titles)
Author: Demidevi(now with optional '-san'!)
Rating: Mrrr, PG-13. Ish. XDDD
Genre: FLUFF. SWEET, UNADULTERATED FLUFF. And it's kinda funny, if I do say so myself.
Pairing: Ah, OTP. (Er, Roy/Ed. How droll, I know.)
Summary: "I'm starting to think, Colonel, that your life must be exceedingly dull."
Comments: I don't even know. The idea stuck in my head and wouldn't get out. grumble P.S. This is...some sort of post-series AU. Sometimes, the end of the series annoys me so much, that I have write fics where I wrote my own happy little ending. /crazy
"Men! Fall into formation!" ordered Brigadier-General Roy Mustang, whipping his head from side to side in an attempt to see through the vicious onslaught of rain. The Drachmens were closing in around them from all four sides, weapons drawn with expressions of murder and intent on their faces, thundering forward in the mud with the echoing energy that made such barbarians a force to be wary of, despite their lack in mechanical technology.
"Johnson! Stames!" The left flank and rear guard were being trampled under the brute force of the enemy; with such a small force, his men were sure to be overcome, but if there were some way to drive the Drachmens all back at once.
They were filling the gap left open by the left flank; Roy turned on his heel, feeling strangely detached from everything but the rain, and snapped.
Shit. His gloves were utterly soaked; what was it Lieutenant Hawkeye had once said - "Sir...you're useless in the rain." Ungracefully, he took a step back, tripped his heel over the boot of his other foot, and landed on his ass in the mud, blinking up through the rain at the ruins of his decimated force, and the advancing Drachmens around him.
He closed his eyes, prepared to take defeat gracefully, and only opened them at the sounds of strangled foreign shouts, an alarming rumbling of earth, and the pounding of feet around him...steps that were getting farther away. Up above him, he saw himself surrounded by a thick stone wall, and to the sides of the wall were large spikes of rock, and standing in front of him, with his feet planted squarely on the ground and the palms of his hands pressed firmly against against the granite of that alchemical wall, was Edward Elric.
"Sir," said Edward smugly, turning around slowly(the swing of a long golden braid, the glint of slightly pointy white teeth bared in a grin, golden eyes lidded yet mirthful), "I'm starting to think that - "
" - your life must be exceedingly dull."
Roy opened his eyes for real, and nearly shouted aloud at the pain that lanced through his head when his eyes focused on an overhead light that he would have sworn to God was as bright as the fucking sun. He was no longer laying on cold mud, with blood all around him, but rather something soft, something that was, admittedly, rather damp from his dripping clothes; he slung an arm wearily over his eyelids.
"So...the fighting's over"
There was no mistaking it; a stifled snort of laughter. "Yup, all over, Colonel."
"It's 'Brigadier-General', Fullmetal. And where are the Drachmens? Have they retreated?" God, his head hurt. Why did his head hurt so much? Had he been wounded? No, he remembered Edward -
"It's 'Edward', Colonel, and let me assure you, the Drachmens have most certainly gone back to where they came from." A weight beside him on the bed, and a cool automail finger was tapping suddenly at his temple; Roy frowned. Something wasn't making sense.
He forced his eyes open, putting a hand on his forehead to shade out the abrasive overhead light, and looked around his surroundings. He recognized the place only vaguely, as Edward's newest apartment in Central, which made no sense -they were nowhere near where the border skirmish with Drachma had taken place, unless -
His eyes caught, on the floor, the emptied shells of several hard liquor bottles, and he grimaced, feeling what he now recognized as a headache brought about from hangover pounding at the back of his skull. Beside him, Edward was grinning cheekily, clearly trying not to laugh. Roy scowled unpleasantly; he never could handle his hangovers well, it was one of his (few) faults.
"Since I'm sure you're absolutely dying to let me know how I've made an ass of myself this time..." He shrugged, spreading his palms outward, and left the sentence unended. The blonde bent over the edge of the bed and picked up a plain but dry towel, which he threw without ceremony at the older man's face.
"Not yet. I hauled your ass all the way back here and let you sleep off your drunken stupidity for a while, but now that you're awake, you're sure as hell not gonna keep soaking up my bed." Edward grinned, challengingly. "After all, you know how hard it is to get that wet dog smell out of your sheets? Impossible, I tell ya! Go get dried off, you mutt!"
Roy scowled again, but started dutifully scrubbing his hair dry. "I'm not going to have this conversation with you every time we meet, Fullmetal. You've restored your brother, and rightfully resigned from your post with the military. I, having not yet finished with my civic duty to the state, chose to remain with my responsibility and my rank. It's been five years since we've both done this; why can't you give it a rest?"
"Because I could almost like you, if you weren't still a cold-hearted military bastard," Edward shrugged, nonchalant, and uncrossed his legs and stood. "I...don't have anything that I think'll fit you," he grumbled, still sore about his shortcomings with size, "so you'll just have to sit around in a towel or something while they dry. As for your clothes, just hang 'em on the shower rod, or something. In case you didn't notice, I don't entertain much, and I get the landlady to do the laundry, so - "
"...Coffee?" the older alchemist asked hopefully, putting on what he thought to be his best charming face. It always worked with the ladies, and it seemed to work on Edward, who sniffed as though annoyed, but couldn't hide the color high in his face as he barged off towards the kitchen.
The blonde's bathroom was painfully bare, just like the rest of his apartment, and it was easy for Roy to find a place to hang his clothes on the shower rod, because there weren't even any curtains on the shower, which really did show how little Edward entertained. He put his clothes up to dry, but kept his shorts, because walking around another man's apartment with only a towel on made him feel uncharacteristically awkward, even if it was just Edward, whom he felt as though he practically known since the punk was in diapers(though not that long, obviously).
Glancing at himself in the mirror on the way out, he noted another two gray hairs, one near the crown of his head, and the other slashing an ominous line through his otherwise perfect bangs.
When he entered the living room, Edward looked up at him from the newspaper, and snorted. "Good. I was afraid I was going to have to 'rescue' you again." His snort turned amused, and unbidden, his lips curved upwards in a barely-suppressed grin. "What took you so long? Practicing your kissy-faces in front of the mirror, asshole?"
"...Hardly." Roy was far too tired, and far too hung-over to argue. "I was...counting my gray hairs."
"Ha! You must be gettin' a lot of him, what with your old age and all - "
"...More than likely."
"...and that stressful military job of yours...eh?" Edward blinked and looked at Roy, who was ignoring him and blissfully sipping his coffee. "Hey, bastard! You can't just barge into a guy's house, sleep in his bed, and drink his coffee, without at least saying a decent 'thank you', you know!"
To which Roy replied, unperturbed, "I didn't barge in; I imagine you probably had to carry me, though I'm sure you needed the exercise."
"Ha!" The blonde barked out a laugh, almost delightedly, and raised his foot, booting Roy in the side and nearly causing the man to lose his precious coffee. "You're damn right I had to carry you, what with the way you were carrying on! It's shameful, really, Colonel, the way you've let yourself go. I mean, seriously? Getting drunk in the streets, pretending you're commanding a squadron of soldiers when you're really just waving around an empty liquor bottle and barking orders at the neighborhood cats. Really, you ought to be lucky that you were in my neighborhood, instead of some high-scale white-collar place where they might have actually given a shit about what you do in your off-time - "
"Mmmmm." Roy set his mug down on the table and tilted his head back onto the sofa, trying vainly to count the gray hairs in his bangs, and only succeeding in giving himself an even bigger headache. He had to be at least up to ten now, and that wasn't counting the ones he'd pulled out.
Edward snorted, unhappy about being ignored, but plowed ruthlessly on. "I could have just left you out on the street, to be shot or robbed, you know, but - "
"Why didn't you, then?" Roy asked curiously, albeit slightly deadpan, looking sideways past the fringe of his bangs, taking a break from the gray-hair hunt for a second to eye Edward somewhat flatly.
The blonde, caught off guard momentarily by the sudden interruption, gestured helplessly for a second before regaining his swagger, upon which he smirked broadly and shrugged with his palms out - a gesture, Roy noted belatedly, that the young man seemed to have picked up from him, as well as that smirk and his layered melodrama - and the older alchemist's eyes widened a bit. Could he really be...? "Well, I'm getting to be as bad as my brother, you see," Edward sighed mockingly, putting a hand to his forehead but staring out challengingly from beneath his bangs. "I just have this nasty habit of taking in strays, especially when they're shivering in the rain."
When he shook his head and shrugged in that same elegant manner again, Roy couldn't help himself. He burst out laughing.
"Wh-What's so funny?" Edward demanded, lip curling a bit and spots of color starting to appear in his cheeks.
"You're - You're emulating me!" Roy gasped, nearly bent over double for breath. Though the laughter was making his head hurt, he found he couldn't help himself - it had been a few years since he'd taken the time to sit down and talk to Edward personally, but to think that the boy had changed that much, and in that specific direction was just too hilarious to ignore; his vision was starting to blur with tears. "A-All those times you said y-you c-couldn't stand me, and th-that I was a bastard a-and you would r-rather die before you became as b-bastardly as I w-was - "
"I AM NOT EMULATING YOU!" Edward roared, face an almost beauteous shade of crimson, limbs flailing around in a rage that was more typical of his teenage days, eyes narrowed and blazing. "Why the hell would I do a thing like that! I can't stand you, I'll have you know, and, and... - AGH! I should have just let the muggers have you, maybe they could have beat some sense into you - "
Roy stopped laughing almost instantly. "...Muggers?"
"Hmph." The blonde snorted, still offended, but his pallor started to slowly return to normal. "Around here, you're easy prey if you're drunk and dressed in the military attire," he explained, throwing himself back onto the couch with a huff, "because most of those military guys are too macho to admit that they were caught with their pants down and robbed, so the police hardly ever get involved. It's hard to say whether you're the same kind of arrogant musclehead - doubtful; for all your faults, you do seem to have some common sense - but I figured I'd do your head and your rep a favor and save 'em both from being trashed - "
The older alchemist remembered then his 'Drachmens', and Edward standing resolutely in front of him, alchemizing a wall from rock. "...Ah. I see." He smiled, tiredly. "Thank you, then, Fullmetal."
"I keep telling you, it's 'Edward' - "
"Thank you, then...Edward."
But at the use of his given name, the blonde seemed even more annoyed, and yanked jerkily on the end of his braid, which was longer now, almost too long for a man; he grumbled something under his breath, then straightened up and said, clearly: "I wasn't emulating you, you asshole. You...you just couldn't take the truth for what it was, that's all."
"...And that might be true, as well." Roy laughed, hollowly. "You know how bitter we old dogs can be - we're more likely to bite than anything, save perhaps the whelps."
"Speaking of dogs, you were as sick as one as soon as I hauled you back here." Edward gestured offhandedly towards the kitchen. "Don't see why you would be, but if you're hungry, I can make something...maybe." He shrugged somewhat ashamedly. "I can't live off my own cooking, that's for sure, but it ain't too bad when you're in a pinch. The landlady usually, er...does the cooking for me, too."
"Your landlady must be a godsend, I'm sure," the dark-haired man chuckled, and Edward laughed, too.
"The truth is, I think she wants me to date her daughter, the way she keeps hinting about how she's been giving homemaking lessons to the poor girl," he snickered, and put a bare foot - the automail one, and it clicked metallically - up on the table languidly.
It was strange, to hear words like 'girl' and 'date' coming out of Edward Elric's mouth, but Roy quickly dismissed it as another sort of event that happened when someone got as old as he was getting - kids would grow up, he supposed - and smirked. "I would imagine that your landlady wouldn't be too pleased to learn you carted an older, handsome, inebriated gentleman such as myself up to your room then, would she?"
"I'd...probably have to learn how to do my own housework," Edward breathed, and his horror was either well-acted or completely genunine, and entirely amusing.
"It's the plight of every bachelor, I'm afraid," Roy sighed, only slightly melodramatic, putting a hand to his heart. "I, who became known as a master in the field of dating, have yet to discover a woman who will graciously do the cooking and the wash for you without expecting..." - here he shuddered dramatically - "...some sort of commitment, in return."
"How utterly awful for you," Edward muttered sarcastically, booting him in the side again. "You have my deepest sympathies, you shit. Oh, and if you're finished with your coffee, you can rinse out your own goddamned mug. I don't appreciate you gunking up my dishes, bastard."
"You clearly don't entertain much," Roy grumbled, but obediently scrubbed out his mug and put it back in the cabinent, shaking his head and marveling, again, at how terribly empty everything in the blonde's house was.
"Hey," said Edward when he returned, one leg slung under the other on the couch in a position of utmost ease, "if you get me the tweezers from the bathroom, I'll pull out all those gray hairs for ya. I saw you looking at 'em earlier like you wanted 'em out."
Deadpan: "What on earth do you keep tweezers around for, Fullmetal?"
"For scientific shit, if you must know, and it's 'Edward' - "
"Mmmm." Roy tilted his head to the side, and considered. "You don't think the salt-and-pepper look would suit me, Fullmetal? I rather think a touch of gray at my temples would give me a more distinguished appearance; it's rather fetching amongst the young ladies, or so I hear - "
"Idiot," Edward sighed, and shrugged again in the same elegant manner as before, causing the dark-haired man to hide a smile. "I only offered; I could care less what you look like." And he seemed annoyed at having said it.
"Hmmmmm. I suppose it couldn't hurt - or rather, won't hurt that much," Roy said finally, a bit lost in thought, and wandered off to the bathroom to find the strictly scientific tweezers.
Pluck. Pluck. Pluck.
A few minutes later, the brigadier-general sat, wincing, as Edward kneeled behind him on the couch, pulling out what surely had to be more than those ten gray hairs, swearing and occassionally shifting on his knees as though uncomfortable.
"At least you don't have lice," Edward grumbled, fingers combing relentlessly through the older man's dark hair. "I'd fucking die if I had pick something that small and unnoticeable out of your hair. Ah - got another one - "
"I think it's kind of ridiculous for you to do this, anyway," the blonde continued, trying to gently disentangle his automail from the top of Roy's hair, and succeeding only in pulling another clump of it out. "I mean, it's not like each one of these things you pull out is gonna send you another year back in time or anything. You're not getting any younger by doing this, you know."
Roy, now irritated beyond all measure, said nothing.
"Age is something that's all in your head, anyway," Edward went on, waving the arm with the tweezers in it around definitively. "Look at Auntie Pinako, for example - she's got to be as old as the fricking sun, but that doesn't stop her from beating a man shamelessly with a set of pliers just because he happened to make one. Freaking. Slight. About her wrinkles." He growled, clearly speaking from experience, then snorted the memory away. "I always knew you were a pretentious peacock, Colonel, but what's with the sudden emphasis you've been placing on appearance? Lieutenant Hawkeye says that you'll actually rise an hour early just to press your uniform, and we all know that you as an early riser is utterly ridiculous, so what gives?"
"Appearance, in the military," Roy responded slowly, closing his eyes against the return of his headache, "really is everything. You wouldn't know, because I worked very hard to keep them away from you, and your goings-on, but...they're always watching. It's important - too important - never to let those appearances fall."
Edward was silent for a very long time. Then:
"...I'm starting to think, Colonel, that your life must be exceedingly dull."
The older alchemist opened his eyes, and frowned. "Yes, you said that earlier. May I ask why?"
"It's a sad thing, a man's life is, when the only thing he's got to worry about in the morning are whether there's any wrinkles in his uniform or the number of gray hairs he's got atop his head. When you were younger - "
"Yes, Fullmetal, when I was younger - "
"No, no, let me finish. And I'm not doing this anymore, either." Edward tossed the tweezers onto the coffee table with a flourish. "Listen, Colonel, I'm starting to think that you and I are the same. We've both accomplished the things we set out to do, and now we're drifting aimlessly, without direction. The only difference between you and I is the fact that I swore that I wouldn't do the things I dislike anymore, whereas you...seem perfectly content to keep living the same pointless, idle life, but the thing is, you're not really content at all. You want to know the real reason why I helped you there, out on the street? I like you, sure, but mostly, I was just bored. Itching for a fight. And...I wasn't talking about fighting with those men."
He colored, and shifted on his knees again, but made no move to stand. "I used to think that...I hated fighting with you. I could never win, was what it was, and I got annoyed. But, as time went on...the battlefield changed. We were on even ground, now, or so I thought. But every time I see you, you shit, you always look at me with that same old look on your face, and say that we'll have to get together some other time, because you're busy. Busy! As though keeping your evening appointment with the schnapps was more important than spending an evening with me!"
"It's because you were so desperate for a fight that I kept avoiding you," Roy protested, pulling his legs up on the couch and turning around, sitting face-to-face with the blonde in front of him. "I would see you, and think, 'Oh, here comes Fullmetal again. He'll more than likely want to argue, but I've had a rather long day today, and don't feel like bothering to think of a witty comeback'. You were exhausting when I was twenty-nine, so what makes you think that I'd be more prepared to deal with you when I turned thirty-five?"
"...Exhausting?" Edward, for his part looking somewhat defeated, sighed heavily and fell forward into Roy's shoulder, nose almost comically buried in the older alchemist's armpit. "I don't think I like how old age has been treating you, bastard."
Roy blinked at him, feeling suddenly uncertain in the face of this older, more mature Edward, and put a hand lightly - awkwardly, even, which was just plain ridiculous! - to the back of the blonde's head. "Is...that so?"
"Mmmm." Edward's words were muffled against the skin of the older man's chest, and Roy was suddenly disturbed at the sparks that shot all along his nerves every time that hot breath connected with his skin. He was thirty-five, goddammit, not some sex-crazed twenty-year-old...he remembered belatedly that Edward was around twenty, and wished more than anything in the world that he were somewhere else. If he lived through this(doubtful), then he made a promise to give up drinking in earnest.
"Do you...know why I still call you 'Colonel'?" Edward asked then, lowly, still bent over at that awkward angle.
"...For the same reason I still call you 'Fullmetal'?" Roy proposed. "Habit?"
"Not really..." A very pregnant pause. "It's because...I always liked 'Colonel' Mustang, who was smarmy and an asshole but so unbelieveably alive; and he was kind of a stupid idealist, but he worked hard for the things he believed in, and that kind of man was the kind of man I would've liked to sit down with, and let him barge into my house, and drink my coffee, and kick in the ribs like he was some sort of old friend of mine. But when I'm faced with this 'Brigadier-General' Mustang, who sits hunched over and cracks his knuckles like they're a fucking percussion instrument, and who spends an hour every morning putting together his 'work image' just because he doesn't have anything better to do...well, I find myself at a bit of a loss." Edward expelled a breath noisily out through his nose, but didn't look up. "I'd have liked to have sat down with the Colonel and argued until my face turned blue, but when all that shows up on my doorstep is the Brigadier-General, looking so unbelieveably pathetic, and worse for the wear, I feel like...to pick on this man would be like kicking an old dog that's down with two broken legs, you know?"
"A wonderful analogy," Roy replied dryly, feeling the first mild stirs of annoyance.
Edward, finally, lifted his head. "See, that? That's you sounding like your old self, Colonel. And I rather liked you the way you were, if you must know." His look turned sour, almost petulant. "Why can't you stop being so goddamned old, you asshole?"
Roy stared at him for a moment, then snorted derisively. "As though I could change it!" he laughed, sarcastically wondering, and no one was more surprised than he was when he was suddenly and thoroughly sat upon by Edward.
He took a moment to process it - it had happened in two fluid motions, a blur of irritated speed, which was why he hadn't seen it coming, nor been able to stop it - and suddenly he was sitting there, toppling slightly backwards off of the edge of the couch, with approximately 140 pounds of fidgety, irritated Edward Elric bristling in his lap. He found himself staring suddenly into blazing golden eyes that were, for once, at his eye-level, and he could register the feeling of sweet, slightly sticky breaths being panted angrily onto his face.
"You can too change it," Edward swore fervently, and Roy only had time to note the sheer level of passion and intensity in the younger man's voice before there were a pair of lips covering his own.
He honestly hadn't meant to have sex with the blonde, because that was something only teenagers and careless idiots who couldn't control their hormones did, but somewhere around the middle, when his senses were heightened and stoked to a fire he hadn't felt since he was twenty-five, and Edward laughed almost giddily beneath him, he lowered his head to catch those helplessly grinning lips with his own and thought, simply, Oh, fuck it.
For a long time afterward, he lay awake in bed, staring around the sparsely furnished expanse of Edward's bedroom - wondered, idly, when the hell they had moved to the bedroom - and waited patiently for the guilt to hit him.
After all, it was bound to happen. He'd just slept with another man. He'd just slept with another man who was nearly fifteen years younger than him. And he'd probably only done that because he was so hung up on his age; wasn't that was older men did, after all, took on younger lovers to feel younger themselves, to live vicariously through someone else?
But the odd thing was, it wasn't guilt that was keeping him awake, but rather, an unexplainable energy, the strange feeling of being alive; of feeling soft, slightly sweaty hair pool against his chest, of hearing another heartbeat flutter almost frantically under his hands, against a narrow ribcage, like some sort of trapped animal, of being able to practically smell the sexual satisfaction wafting through the air when the entire deed was done - all of those things, and Roy felt the sudden urge to do something terribly brave, yet terribly reckless at the same time.
"...Colonel..." came Edward's voice then, sleepy yet warning, from somewhere below him, and Roy looked down to catch a blearly, slightly baleful glare. "If you don't stop grinning, and sighing, and shifting around so goddamned much, I'm gonna put you out of the fucking window," the blonde growled unhappily, burrowing into the dark-haired man's skin like he was some sort of tick. "You don't have to act so goddamned smug about the whole thing, you know."
"Ah, but I do," Roy smirked, stretching and putting his arms behind his head. "Since you were twelve, you said? That's quite a long time to harbor a crush on someone, don't you think?"
"...Shut up," came the grumbled reply, but Edward's embarrassment was almost palpable. His next reply was a bit more cunning: "I'm attracted to the Colonel, though, not some doddering old Brigadier-General who thinks I should still be in short pants. If you're gonna be with someone as young and as hip as I am, then you'd better start acting the part, asshole."
"But it's so hard to act young when I'm clearly so old," Roy sighed dramatically, pretending to swoon. "Thirty-five already - "
The younger alchemist snorted in disbelief. "Yeah, what'll you do when you're fifty, eh? I'll be thirty-five then, you know, but I don't plan on being as old as you are..." And Roy could feel the teeth of Edward's grin against his skin, like fangs. "Better make sure you can keep up, old man."
...At fifty, he was supposed to be able to deal with a thirty-five year old Edward Elric? The mere thought made him positively dizzy.
"Maybe I won't quit drinking, after all," he murmured bemusedly, closing his eyes and concentrating on finally going to sleep.