He'd never understand it.

They had planned the goddamned thing. Ed's voice sounded different over the phone. The world he was thinking of was 'older,' but somehow that terrified him. He had always loved Ed's maturity just as much as the sinner in him loved his sudden and unpredictable childlike innocence. But that tone in his voice was weary and yet knowing, like a true adult. There was none of that annoyance he was so used to hearing, not even the slightest hint of mockery, two things he couldn't help but love about Ed. He loved it because it taunted him, he loved it because it made him smile. And smiles were rare in those days, truly.

He told himself beforehand that he would control himself. He recited his greeting over and over again in front of a mirror, changing it each time. First polite, then casual. Then taunting, then annoying. Then impatient. Then sad. God damn that boy, if he only knew what it was he did to him.

At last he settled on a simple greeting, nothing fancy. Hello, Edward. Look him in the eyes. Don't you dare let him think you're as nervous as you know you'll be. He tells himself he can do this, he can make this work. He won't let that love show in his eyes, his voice. He won't allow himself to touch him, even to shake his hand. Because he knows that if he does, he'll lose it. He'll take him, hold him. He'll away that horrible feeling, that anxiety, that disgust. He'd lose control.

He sat by the closed door and waited for the doorbell to ring. His stomach was all butterflies. His heart beat loudly in his ears. Years passed, it seemed. An eternity passed. You can do this, Roy. You can get through this. Just control yourself. Control yourself!

When at last the bell rang, he rose to his feet, shaking slightly, hand curled on the door. Edward was wearing brown overalls and a white sweater. His bright, yellow hair was swept back in a low ponytail. His large, golden eyes watched him wearily. 'Older,' he had thought before. Yes, he was older. Something about the aura of him made the clear. He had grown up, had moved further and further away from him. He was always changing, the Edward. And now…

They stood there watching each other in silence. Golden eyes drank him up like a wine. That ever-practiced greeting was stuck in his throat. And after what seemed like forever it was Edward he spoke at last.

"Hey." was all he said. It was all he needed to say. And all it took was that fraction of a moment to break his resolve, to draw the blonde into his arms and bury his face in the hallow of his neck. He thought he was crying, but he no longer cared. Oh, it was bliss to feel his warm body against his, bliss to entwine his fingers in his honey-colored hair and hold him. He felt the hesitant hands embrace him in return, and then tighten suddenly, strangely, as if Ed had decided to throw away his own resolve as well.

He'd never understand it. Never in a thousand years. He thought he could handle simple things like old affections, he thought he could keep his life under control. He was getting old, yes. He was changing as well, changing in many different ways. He told himself he didn't need his old friends, or the women, or the comfortable niche that came along with being a Colonel. He told himself he didn't need to see those golden eyes laughing at him. But once again Edward had been his undoing, or his redoing, or whatever the hell you would call it.

At last their embrace weakened and he drew away and straightened up. He could feel a slight blush to his face, and he didn't bother to cover it up. Too deep to worry about it now. Edward's eyes met his again, but the older look to them seemed to ring different now. They were sighing, or shrugging. And they were crying a little, too. He told himself he didn't need to see those eyes. And he was wrong.

He stepped back a little, opening the door to his home wider in a silent invitation. They had all the time in the world to feel like fools again. So be it. He knew he was smiling and he could see Edward fighting a smile, too. It seemed that home was home again, now that he was no longer a memory. And as the younger man stepped inside graciously, looking around the spacious room for a moment and grinning, he heard the words that made his heart glow with a strange, honest fire that had long mourned for dead.

"I missed you."