A/N: Um. Test run for Hagaren if my writing style is well-recieved. Takes place after Shamballa; the two brothers do not cross back to the other side of the Gate and managed to remain in Amestris.

Shounen-ai, read at your own risk. Rated T for language and the shounen-ai thing.

Disclaimer: Hagane no Renkinjutsushi (c) Hiromu Arakawa.

Summary: Two years gone is a long, long time, and Ed finally realizes this not a moment too soon. Post CoS, Alternate Ending. Ed/Roy, Al/Winry, Royai. Oneshot (?).

Note: It's funny. But if you do have your filter on, you will most likely encounter little asterisks all over. I do believe you are all mature, intelligent readers, so please do turn the cute little filter off. Thank you and good day.

moonbeams

have you ever danced with the devil in the moonlight?

- Joker, Batman -


It had come, sooner rather than later, a fact that Ed had kind of expected.

Two years in London; two years in a place so much the same and yet so much more different. Two years spent living a life full of unfamiliar people wearing familiar faces. Two years spent away from family and friends and everything in between. Two long years that had felt like hell, but he knew he deserved it.

Ed tore his gaze from the window just in time to duck as Winry chucked a wrench at his head. Luckily, Central's windows were all bulletproof, so her wrench had no contest; it merely bounced off and managed to hit Ed on the head anyway. It landed on the carpet with a soft thump, and he followed suit, sitting cross-legged on the floor of his and Al's office, slumping with his back to the window. He pulled his hair out of its customary ponytail, since it was bending his neck at an awkward angle. Like he was hanging his head, or something. Which he certainly was not doing.

He glanced uneasily in his mechanic's direction, and had the common sense to look meek. "Um," he grunted, trying to make sense of what she had just done.

"Edward Elric! If you don't stop sighing I'll throw my whole toolkit at you!"

Ed sighed. He couldn't help it. He shut his eyes tight, wished desperately he had Greed's ability to deflect anything, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Instead, he heard the whisper of cloth against couch and the smell of oil and mint wander over to him, a pair of lithe arms hugging him and --

Wait.

Waitwaitwait.

"Winry!" he gasped, eyes wide as the blonde girl embraced him tighter, listening as her breathing turned shallower. Oh crap, he made her cry, Al was going to kill him, what do I do, what do I do --

"Stop panicking and just stay still, even for a moment," she muttered, voice sounding muffled by tears. Ed had visions of the world crashing down around him. It was not like Winry to do something like this.

Or was it?

He and Al never bothered to know. Maybe Al, but him? Too wrapped up in State Alchemy and the Stone. He needed to keep a one-track mind in order to redeem his sins. Needed to ignore everything and push on forward.

Ed blinked; it wasn't like him to wax poetic. He was the Fullmetal Alchemist, and he made sure to live up to his name by doing everything with an underlying tone of metal; brash, hard, showy, uncaring. Well then. That was his life. Save a town, destroy half of it in the process. He could almost hear the Colonel Bastard lecture him in that sarcastic tone of voice: "This is coming out of your paycheck, pipsqueak."

And then he'd rant and go on and on, making sure that the Flame won't be hearing clearly anytime soon. And then he'd go out and sulk at how he'd be treated once again as a child; dammit, he wasn't a child anymore! Roy himself said that the moment he joined the military, he'd left childhood behind! Overbearing Colonel said --

His breath hitched. He went off on a tangent there. Winry quivered as if to acknowledge his inner assertions.

"I'm sorry."

It was said in the same tone as when she had apologized for opening his watch. Sincere and heartfelt, soft and speaking of great pity at the same time. Ed hated it, especially when Winry, who was supposed to keep his head on his shoulders, said it.

World crashing around him again. Because when he saw his childhood friend like that, he somehow knew things were really more bad than it looks. Like with Izumi. Huh. Winry and Izumi. Both hugging him for something that cannot be undone.

Ed closed his eyes, trying to coax out a smile and miserably failing. "Don't be. It's not your fault."

"Stop trying to carry everything on your shoulders."

"I have an automail one," he pointed out, gratified at the humor he found at the situation. "I think I'll be able to carry it."

"Stupid," Winry giggled weakly, grip around him tightening, as if afraid he'd evaporate right then and there. "Don't dare try and change the subject."

"I'm not," he answered, willing to find the strength to lift his arms and embrace his mechanic back. But he couldn't. They felt empty. He felt empty. Ever since he came back and found out how everything had changed so much. Amestris turned out to be much more of an utopian Shamballa without him around.

Winry drew back and shook his shoulders. "Your eyes are glazing over. You're doing that entire self-pity thing again, Ed. Stop it right now."

Ed stared at her bemusedly. Smeared cheeks, matted eyelashes and all, she still managed to look intimidating. But back to the previous statement. After realizing what she had said, Ed frowned, and averted his gaze.

"Ed..."

He bit his lip, not really noticing as Winry started straightening up his jacket and smoothing creases out. He was too busy thinking of something to retort with, the way he usually did. Only this time he couldn't come up with something as brash or smart-alecky. Huh.

"Winry," he said in a long-suffering voice, "What are you doing?"

The blonde smiled beatifically, all traces of earlier sadness gone. "There's the Ed I know, as clueless as ever," she explained, running fingers at the back of his head and parting his hair down the middle, drawing the ends over his shoulders.

"Winry..." he repeated, definitely not pleased at this turn of events. "If Al sees you doing this, he's going to kill us both."

"Why am I going to kill you both?"

Ed had to bite down on his tongue to keep some very colorful words from coming out of his mouth. He had to take a few calming breaths before he could answer his younger brother coherently.

Al closed the door and walked over to them, hovering behind Winry with an unreadable expression on his face. "Hm?"

The blonde mechanic continued brushing through his hair with her fingers, and then clapped her hands gleefully, looking back up at Al with a cheerful smile. "There!"

His younger brother smiled right back, biting his lip as if to hold back laughter.

It was at times like these Ed wondered why he was surrounded by mentally unstable people. "What!" he growled, somewhat relieved that Al didn't find the previous scene out of place.

"Win," his younger brother clapped his girlfriend on the shoulder. "I knew it. When Brother gets all sad and pitiful like that...he really does look like a girl. Especially when his hair's like that."

A second or five of silence. And then...

Ed felt fire spread over the bridge of his nose. "WHAT! Al, you traitor!" he yelled, drawing backwards and hitting his head rather painfully on the glass with a loud thunk. "Now look what you did!" he yelled again, rubbing the offended part of his head, contemplating ways on how to murder said little brother.

Nah, who was he kidding. After all the trouble they went through getting Al's body back, what was the point in destroying it again?

Winry and Al fell back, laughing and clutching at each other for support.

Ed growled once, before launching himself at the pair, gathering the both of them into his arms and tackling them to the ground. Really. He knew they had planned this, and he couldn't be more grateful.

"Girly Alchemist!" Winry spit out between breaths, tears gathering at the edge of her eyes. "Amestris will worship you!"

"Girls will flock and ask for your beauty secrets, Brother!"

"YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE ON MY SIDE!"

"He's my boyfriend, alchemy nerd!"

"He's my brother, automail-freak! Blood's thicker than water!"

"Um, Brother, that's not the point..." Alphonse said rather meekly, and Ed noticed that he was partly wedging himself between him and Winry in a protective sort of manner. Ed had to smile as he sat up. So much like Al to be the peacekeeping one.

"Although, you really have to admit, with your hair down, you do look like a girl..."

Screw peace.

"AL!" he screeched, preparing to launch himself at his younger brother.

"Excuse me," the door creaked wide open, and Ed grabbed at the nearest thing he could and threw it right at the door, being so much caught up in threatening Al.

A few minutes later, Lt. Danny Broche reemerged, nursing a rather large bruise on the forehead with one hand and holding a ceramic paperweight in the other. "Major Elric..."

Ed had the grace to try and look apologetic, but he knew that the expression on his face read hilarity more than anything else. "Um, sorry?"

Broche waved him off, but still winced quite audibly. "Miss Rockbell," he nodded in Winry's direction, touching fingers to his brow in the shadow of a salute, "Major and Major Elric -- "

"Ed and Al are much easier to say, Broche," Ed interrupted, gesturing with a hand.

"Okay, Ed, Al," for some reason, the lieutenant blushed. "We expect you at the place in an hour. Thank youandgoodbye," he tacked on hurriedly, slamming the door shut as he did.

Al stared after him worriedly. "What did he think we were going to do?"

"Chuck a paperweight at him?" Winry supplied helpfully, lapsing into a giggling fit once again.

Ed glared at her. "I didn't mean it," he said defensively. "Only because you two were so annoying..." he paused, again, late in registering what had just been said. "Um. Seriously. He's not expecting us to go, right?"

Al raised his hand. "I can't, Brother. I'm not of legal age yet." At the puzzled look on Winry's face, he smiled a little haphazardly. "You know the stories about bachelor parties, don't you, Winry?"

The blonde mechanic's expression shifted from curious to disgusted. "I'm glad that I'm going to a bridal shower."

Ed stared at him. "You're expecting me to go there alone?"

They both stared at him back, silence falling as they contemplated the implications of what possibly might happen. Al frowned and shrugged. "I'm not expecting you to do anything."

Winry shook her head. "We can't force you, seeing that you'd really rather not."

Ed shifted his weight and unfurled his legs from under him, bringing his knees to his chin. "I'm not saying that. Hey," he looked up, and shifted positions again. "I thought I told you guys that I'm over that issue already."

The pair exchanged looks and frowned simultaneously. "You did."

Ed forced a grin. "So there!"

"Brother..." Al warned with an expression speaking volumes of caution and prudence.

"It's not like I'm going to do anything stupid," he waved them off dismissively, standing up and dusting himself off. Ed walked around his brother and his girlfriend, before pausing and laying a hand on the doorframe, hoping that the grin he had on didn't look as fake as it felt. "After all, how can I miss the last night that that bastard's a bachelor?"

x.x.x.x.x

Ed sorely wished that he had gone back to the dorms with Al and Winry. Who gave a damn about the Colonel's last free night, anyway?

His head spun painfully, and he dropped his head into his arms, trying to will the throbbing to just. Go. Away.

He eyed the shotglass next to him disdainfully, before mentally steeling himself, picking it up, and downing the clear liquid within in one breath.

Huh. So this was the reason why Roy liked to drink after stressful hours. Not that he's been stalking him, of course, but Ed's caught the Colonel and Hughes going out for a drink after work. No biggie. Drinking made your senses all fuzzy and warm. Like all the kittens Al brought back home. Huh. Random.

The bartender moved over, holding a cleaning rag in one hand. Ed tapped the shotglass with an automail finger (his gloves had been long discarded in favor of avoiding un-alchemizable stains), and the toothy old man -- who bore an uncanny resemblance to a taller Gluttony -- poured him another shot.

Amestris' mead was something akin to the vodka he had learned to drink back in London. Not as strong, but it still burnt going down, leaving a pleasant heat somewhere in the pit of his stomach. Ironically, it was London's Hughes who took him out drinking for the very first time, on the eve of his birthday.

Way to go, Maes. Cheers! he toasted both mentally, raising his glass at his reflection in the wine cabinets, before taking a deep breath and downing it again. Luckily, he was the only one currently sitting at the bar, and aside from the bartender, no one was there to see him get drunk. About to get drunk. Same difference.

"Major Elric, sir..." that was the bartender's voice, sounding very much like he had been speaking with a ball of cotton in his mouth. Or was it him? Ed shook his head and it cleared very slightly.

"Huh?" He mumbled intelligently, eyes drooping shut.

"Are you sure you're old enough to...well...you know..."

Ed glared at him, picking up on what the old man was trying to say. "WHO ARE YOU CALLING A RUNT THAT'S SO SHORT THAT HE COULD BE MISTAKEN FOR A THREE-YEAR-OLD!?"

The bartender winced. "I said nothing of that sort, Major..."

"Well, shut up if you have nothing else to say and pour me another one," he muttered, holding out the shotglass, tapping it on the cool marble of the bartop.

"Major, this is your nineteenth shot..."

"Now," he snarled, glaring at the old man with enough force to induce a heart attack. Huh. If the old man died, he mused, I'll just go and do human transmutation again. Then get sent to the other side of the Gate. And then wash, rinse and repeat. Duh.

He watched the clear liquid flow from the bottle to the shotglass, filling it in a very short time. Ed set down the small container and stared at it for a while. Innocently sparkling in the lights of this high-end bar (since, he quotes, "The Flame Alchemist only deserves the very best!"), the shotglass reflected everything happening inside the room.

The small, warmly-illuminated room was filled with some of the Colonel's closest male friends, all having a very good time, judging from the volume of laughter in the air. Most of them had discarded their blue jacket uniforms, leaving only dress shirts and black turtlenecks.

Some Generals were milling around, looking quite dignified with their wineglasses. Majority, if not all, were edging away discreetly from one very reminiscent Major Armstrong, pink sparkles dancing in the lamplight. The hulking Major had cornered Lt. Broche in one corner, who looked as if he was desperately trying to stop from bursting into tears.

Falman was busy explaining something to a fellow officer in a corner, and Havoc was listening in, nodding absently as smoke curled up all over them. Breda was laughing over something Fuery was holding in his hands, and both were pointing discreetly at their superior. Upon closer inspection, e.g, Ed squinted his eyes, it was found out to be a collar and a leash, and no doubt that he two were joking about the one more 'dog' that was going to be in Hawkeye's posession tomorrow.

And then there was the Flame himself, sauntering over to them, a smirk on his face as he explained to Fuery what exactly he would like to do with the leash. Of course, judging from the loud gagging sounds the bespectacled Sergeant made, it was not exactly a good thing.

Ed made a derisive noise and swallowed the shot once more. "Hey, pops, another one."

The bartender raised an eyebrow. "Just what are you trying to do, Edward?" he asked, throwing all of formality out the window. Heck, Ed was too distracted to care, anyway.

"What does it look like?" he rolled his eyes, raising his glass and toasting him. "Cheerio."

He downed the shot and asked wordlessly for another one; one request with which the bartender grudgingly complied. Ed shrugged his shoulders, and toyed with his ponytail, drawing it over his shoulderboards and twirling it around his finger.

"Ed..."

Was it just him, or did the bartender sound eerily like Winry earlier?

"Listen, pops," Ed waved a hand around. "I'm eighteen, and I can damn do whatever the hell I want, so whatever I do is none of your goddamn business."

Truthfully enough, Ed knew that if he stared to tell the bartender why exactly he was inducing a very drunken state of mind, he'll end up spilling his guts to everyone, which includes, but is not limited to, his obsession with the Flame Alchemist.

Like, psssh. No way in hell was that going to get out.

He drank the shot in one breath once again, and tapped the shotglass on the marble. "Ah. Don't look at me like that. I've drank much more than this in one sitting."

The bartender cocked his head. "But you're just a kid."

"Pops, were you listening? I'm eight--"

"I know," the old man interrupted hurriedly. "Not in that sense, Major."

Ed's eyes widened as he understood what he had been trying to say. He frowned as he felt something twist in the general region of his heart. "Don't give me any of that I-don't-have-a-childhood shit, pops. 'Cause I know, and I don't need to be reminded of that."

The bartender drew back, sad-faced. Was that pity? Ed didn't know. Too blurry. "Never had a childhood. I didn't say that," he said gently. "I'm just saying that you shouldn't just stand by and let it be that way."

"Know what?" he asked, reaching over and picking up the bottle himself, and pouring himself another shot. "I can't do that. I don't know how to friggin' do that. Childhood's gone, tween, teen years gone, pops. Can't bring it back."

Ed sighed, and fought the urge to bang his head against the countertop. He settled for resting the side of his head instead, staring through the clear mead.

Two years had passed since he had crossed the Gate. A month, two months ago, he had come back, counting on Alfons on the other side of the Gate to shut it by the array and instructions that he had left behind. (Huh. How was Alfons doing anyway? Ed hoped that he was alright, since the Gate had closed of what appeared to be its own accord. He wondered what kind of sacrifice the double doors took once again.)

He had been reunited with everyone, before taking off to end a war that he and Al had unknowingly made possible. Of course, Ed took the blame upon himself. After all, who started everything in the first place? He could place the blame on Hohenheim, but that would be stupid. It was him who suggested they bring back their mother in the first place. So it was only logical and quite scientific that he, Edward, the older Elric, take the blame. Well, the Gate seemed to think he deserved it, since he still had his automail arm and leg.

So there he was. Smack dab in the middle of a happy reunion, everyone overjoyed to see their Fullmetal Alchemist, Hero of the People (pssh. Let them see Hero of the People dead drunk.), back safe and in one piece. He, Ed, was equally happy to see everyone back, not knowing how he had been so fond of them until he lost them completely.

He had been so fond of them.

So much.

Ed had only realized how much he had missed his Bastard Colonel when he caught a glimpse of the Flame's counterpart in the other world. He could only stop and stare (and almost get run over by a car in the process; Alfons had jerked him out of the car's path and out of his reverie, bless him) and get his heart clenched by how much he looked like Roy.

And then he realized that the only regret he had about crossing the Gate was that he was never going to be with the people he loved the most. Al and Roy.

Roy.

Since when did he call the bastard by the first name?

Oh.

Ed swirled the mead around his shotglass, musing dejectedly. Since never. Ever. The Flame Alchemist. He was Ed's superior. And yeah, they were both male. The Colonel, legendary skirt-chaser of Central, would probably (a) laugh his ass off at the mere mention of Ed's 'attraction'. or (b) run the hell away, or worse, (c) get him transferred. And if in the very remote case that Roy would've like him back...If the military didn't like fraternization, then it hated these 'unique' cases.

Well, screw military now. Parliament was much more lax and open than the military junta Amestris once was. And although Roy Mustang would never become Fuhrer, he now had an ever bigger matter on his hands. A lifelong commitment.

A marriage proposal to Riza Hawkeye.

Well, now, this was a god-damned situation they were in. If Ed had not been an atheist, he would've believed somebody up there really hated him by making the Fullmetal Alchemist the best man. The one who was 'giving Riza away'. Yesiree. Maes, you incomparable jerk. You were the one who's supposed to be in my place, Ed thundered mentally, giving himself a headsplitting headache in the process.

He chuckled, and quickly thought better of it, feeling the throbbing that it was accompanied by. God, he really needed to lay off the drinks. But hey. He needed something to warm the coldness that no jacket, nor any article of clothing, can ease.

"Well, well, well, what have we got here?"

Well, speak of the devil. If the devil was as impossibly handsome as this, that is.

Ed blinked. He did not just think of that.

Growling deep in his throat, he opened one eye to glare blearily at Roy Mustang, who was holding a wineglass in one gloved hand. He tried to mutter something that sounded remotely like "Shove off, bastard Colonel," but it came out as more of a jumble of words slurred together. Huh. He wasn't that drunk, was he?

Roy's onyx eyes widened for a moment, and for that single frame of time he seemed geniunely concerned. Well, it was a single frame of time, so once couldn't expect it to last forever; a split second later that mask of smirky conceitedness had slid back.

Ed lifted his head and turned to face the other side, away from Roy, pillowing his cheek on the cold marble.

"Fullmetal. What are you doing to yourself?"

"I'm drinking myself silly," he replied truthfully, the cold of the marble managing to bring at least something of his senses back. "What's it to you?" he asked, fighting to keep down the bubble of hope rising up in his chest. Pathetic. Even the tiniest bit of concern worked him so much up now.

Roy sounded strangled. "Well...we wouldn't want you to throw up tomorrow, right?"

And just like that, the bubble of hope burst and splattered all over what remained of his heart. Of course. It was his wedding tomorrow, after all. Wouldn't want an irresponsible Alchemist throwing up all over the place and ruining everything, right?

Ed sighed hoarsely. "Yeah, yeah, bastard. I'll behave."

"You better make sure you will, pipsqueak."

It wasn't worth the effort, he decided. Head was hurting way too much right now. Heart was past the point of no return. Ha. No alchemy can repair a broken heart, that he knew as much. And now with the object of his affection behind him, so close yet so far, with no way of telling him how he felt without ruining Roy and Riza's dream...

He therefore concluded that this must be part of the price he had to pay to pass through the Gate. That Gate sure knew how to make his life miserable.

Ed smiled wryly, finally accepting what he knew was his punishment. "Of course, Flame."

He could feel the older alchemist stiffen behind him, and out of the corner of his eye he could see the others in the room stare curiously at them. It was the first and only time he had referred to Roy, aloud, as anything other than Colonel Bastard. Or Colonel. Whatever.

He wrapped his arms around his head, staring into the blue fabric of his uniform, trying to will the image of a happily ever after out of his mind. He didn't deserve it. Never did.

Edward closed his eyes and silently wept.

x.x.x.x.x

He snapped his eyes open and sat straight up, bewildered.

Huh? Where the -- He blinked. Where the hell was he?

Ed swung his legs over the side of the bed and immediately regretted doing so; his head throbbed quite painfully. A good dose of industrial-strength painkillers would be nice right now.

Wait.

Bed.

What?

The last thing he remembered was crying at the bar, shotglass at hand. He paused, and surveyed the room he was currently in. The lights were off and the window was open, a breeze coming in with a faint smell of the sea.

Ed took a sharp breath, horrified as a thought came to him: what if somebody had taken advantage of him while he had been drunk? He quickly did a body check: barefoot. Boxers and pants were still on, yes. Jacket was off, and there it was, hanging over a chair, leaving his black turtleneck. Besides, the last person with him was Roy, and he was more than willing to...

He grabbed the nearest pillow and muffled a giddy laugh. Alcohol was still coursing through his blood, warm and heady.

But now that he had slept for at least what had felt like a solid hour or two, some of his bearings had come back. Which lead him to the fact that he was in an unknown room for an unknown reason for an unspecified period of time. Oh well. If he had been kidnapped, they'd know how it was to mess with the Fullmetal Alchemist.

Also best man at the Mustang-Hawkeye wedding.

Ed groaned.

He padded over to the massive window and peered over. Beyond was a majestic view of Amestris' large Central bay, and over it a full moon was shining. He calculated that it was a three-storey drop to the cold pavement below. Easily solved.

He was halfway through clapping his hands when the door to the room opened, and a silhouetted figure could be made out. Sound of merriment still echoed from below.

"I knew I shouldn't have let you come."

"Then why didn't you?" Ed retorted, turning back into the window. "You've always been a pompous idiot. Excuse me, Colonel, but I do believe that it isn't in my best interest to join you in the last day of your bachelorhood."

Not now, not ever, he added silently with as much bitterness as he could.

Roy's voice echoed through the room as he shut the door, stepping inside. "Why did you come then? I sent you an invitation, not an order."

"Free drinks," Ed answered simply, giving up on the jump-off-the-windowsill method and leaning on the sill instead. Much more productive. The frigid night air whipped around his bangs.

The older alchemist walked over to the bed he had been lying in earlier and sat down, letting out what could be considered as a sigh. "You drank two whole bottles of 80 proof mead, Fullmetal. Even the older Generals know better than to drink that much in one sitting. I had to carry you up here, and you must weigh a metric ton."

Ed hoped the shadows hid the most of his blush. "Don't give a damn about what I do, bastard. I'm of legal age, if you haven't noticed; I turned eighteen on the other side of the Gate. You could've just left me there."

"And see you get wasted? I think not. I'm not saying that you shouldn't drink, but..." Roy paused, running a hand through his hair. "Ever heard of the phrase 'Drink Moderately'?"

Ed snorted. "Moderately? I don't do moderate, sorry."

The bedsprings creaked, and Ed glanced over his shoulder in time to see the Colonel lie down fully on the bed, arms behind his head and legs crossed.

He turned back to the window, trying to chase the lewd thoughts out of his head. One was particularly stubborn. What I wouldn't give to be able to just lie down next to him...

"I've asked this once, and I'm not going to ask it again," Roy's voice broke through his mental struggle, and he was inwardly grateful that he had at least retained some semblance of logic. "Why are you doing this?"

"Hark who's talking," he rolled his eyes, bitter once more. "You should know."

In the silence that followed he could almost hear the gears in the Flame Alchemist's head grind together. He was thinking, and most probably slightly hurt in reference to the drinking after Maes' death.

"You're normally not this hostile, Fullmetal," Roy said calmly, ever the diplomat. Ed was torn between punching and kissing him. Or maybe a combination of both.

"How do you know, Colonel?" he asked, sparing a glance that he knew the older alchemist won't see, seeing that the headboard was against the windowsill. "It's been a long time since I've worked under you. I've changed."

"You're still the bean that refuses to drink milk."

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING A BEAN SO SMALL THAT HE'D GET LOST IN A HANDFUL OF SAND!"

"See? Whoa, easy there."

Ed huffed, blood pumping through his temples. He put up his automail hand to cool the arteries down, and maybe alleviate his headache. "I've changed, Colonel," he whined childishly, not knowing how to answer. The man knew how to twist his answers around in a loop. "I may look the same, sound the same, even measure the same, but I've changed. I grew up more than you'll ever know."

Silence, in which Ed contemplated jumping down again. Anything to escape this stupid, pointless, heartbreaking conversation. Light banter exchanged between fellow officers. Words between one-sided love. Crushing the broken pieces of a shattered heart. Those kind of things.

Talking as if there's nothing wrong.

"Why did you drink so much?"

Huh. Colonel Random strikes again.

Ed shrugged, unseen. "Because I want to forget. That's why everybody does it, right?"

"Listen, Fullmetal, if this is about the Shamballa spiel -- "

"It's not that," he cut in, wrapping his arms around himself as he gazed over at the bay. "Shamballa is over."

The bedsprings creaked again, and Ed knew he had the Flame intrigued. Sure enough, there was the soft sound of boots hitting wood, and Roy was sitting on the edge of the bed. "I've taken care of you and your brother for years, now. You know that I can help, whatever this is that's bothering you."

Ed choked on air. "Uh, no."

"Why not?"

Inspite of himself, he smiled and half-closed his eyes. "Nah. You're getting way too old to solve the problems of unruly kids. Leave 'em to solve it themselves, old man."

"I'm not old, pipsqueak."

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING A PIPSQUEAK THAT'S SO SMALL HE'S SMALLER THAN MOST GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN!"

"Besides..." If that wasn't an audible smirk, then Ed didn't know what it was, "I don't think that somebody who can actually rant like that could have any problems in dealing with their own lives."

"Stop talking in circles, bastard."

"I'm saying that I'm willing to help, Fullmetal. Come on. I can't have a best man who's a mess."

Ed 'hmphed'. "Why the hell am I best man, anyway?"

"Obviously."

He cringed; Maes was still a touchy subject for the Colonel. "I mean, I've been gone for the two years when you were waiting for somebody else. I've only just come back. It would only be logical for you to choose Havoc, or even Armstrong. Or somebody else."

"Not everything is logic," Roy's voice answered distantly. "Love is not logic."

Ed agreed wholeheartedly. "Definitely," he answered, before he could stop himself.

There was that smirk again, Ed knew the older alchemist was wearing it. "Oh. So. Love troubles, eh, Fullmetal?"

Why did it always have to end up in awkward situations like this? Somebody up there had a serious grudge on him. Ed tried to keep his cool and smiled at nothing in particular instead. " You'd really rather not know, Colonel."

"Really. I think the little bean's growing -- "

"Roy!!! Boy-o! GET BACK DOWN HERE!"

Both of them winced simultaneously, staring at the closed door. That was obviously more of a drunken Havoc than anything else. Why couldn't he stick to only one vice and let the rest of the world deal with the others?

Ed, for the third time, only managed to process what had been just said a split second after; he turned back to the window. "Well..." Miraculously, he sounded nonchalant. Thank goodness for diplomacy training under the bastard. "You heard them. It's your last day as a free man, anyway."

Roy made a choking noise, as if he had only realized it just now. "Uh, yeah." Pregnant silence hung between the two of them, as if the Flame had something else to say but had thought better of it.

Ed froze as a hand suddenly clapped itself onto his shoulder and gave a warm squeeze. "Wha -- "

"Are you going to be all right, Ed?"

His throat ran dry, and he swung his head sideways and up, into the shadowed face of the Flame Alchemist, onyx eyes glinting in the darkness in an unfathomable expression.

He closed his eyes and savored this moment; the only moment he'll have for a lifetime where it was only him and Roy, Fullmetal and Flame, before everything in his life crashed down at ten o' clock tomorrow morning.

Ed wanted nothing more than to throw his arms around the man and cling to the broad shoulders and kiss those pale lips; but current circumstances saw to that particular issue. He was getting married. At least he had a month's notice; a month to brood, a month to convince himself that everything was going to be all right.

And that's why he swallowed painfully and brushed the hand off, the way the Fullmetal Alchemist always did. He flashed one of the Fullmetal grins and cocked his head to on side. "I'm always all right, Colonel Bastard."

Roy made a surprised noise and let his hand fall back.

Ed immediately missed the warmth of his touch, but steeled himself and forced on another grin. "Now shoo," he said evenly, flicking his flesh hand in a shooing motion towards the door. "Enjoy the night."

Once again, it looked suspiciously like Roy had something else to say, so Ed headed him off. "I'm not going back down there."

The older man nodded in understanding, and smiled rather painfully. "Lucky you, Fullmetal chibi. You have an excuse to stay up here..."

Roy almost looked wistful.

But Roy was Roy, Ed shook his head mentally, and Roy did not just look wistful. It didn't suit his facade.

Ed gave him a friendly punch in the shoulder and refused his body's struggle to let it remain in contact. "Back to chibi, eh? Some things never change. Even if you get married, you'll always be the same bastard to me."

They both froze.

Oh shit, Ed panicked inwardly. Wrong thing to say. If that wasn't a confession, then Ed didn't know what it was. He hoped Roy was a bit too inebriated to notice the underlying affectionate tone.

Roy only stepped backwards and laughed. "And you'll always be the same pipsqueak to me."

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING A PIPSQUEAK THAT'S SO SMALL HE'S NEVER GOING TO GROW UP LARGER THAN AN ANT?"

Roy laughed harder, walking back towards the door and opening it, sounds echoing from below. "I love it when you do that."

"Damn it, Mustang!"

The door closed, muffling the shouts and music, leaving Ed to his thoughts.

And then his mind caught up to him once again. Delayed reaction. He felt all the blood rush into his face as he remembered the older alchemist's last statement.

He fell to his knees and pillowed his arms and head on the windowsill, laughing and crying at the same time. Dammit. Roy made him cry again.

The door creaked open once more, and Ed wondered how many heart attacks he can suffer in one night.

"Fullmetal, I left my gloves..." he trailed off, and the sliver of yellow light on the wood widened. "You okay?"

"How many times are you going to ask me that?" Ed said into the darkness that was his arms. "Duh, Colonel. I drank two bottles of mead. My head hurts really bad." Well, that wasn't entirely untrue. His head hurt like hell itself. But somewhere in his chest, it hurt even more.

Roy snorted, and Ed heard him rummaging around the bed and pulling on his gloves. "Hangover merely two hours after drinking? A new record."

"Shut up, Flame Alchemist."

Chuckling, footsteps padded across the floor once more, and Ed watched out of a gap between his fingers as the sliver of light narrowed...

"Roy."

The older alchemist stopped in his tracks, and Ed mentally cursed himself to oblivion. His mouth had ran away with his common sense and decided to live far, far away. Dammit.

"Hm?" The gloved hand stopped at the door.

Ed swallowed and looked back over the windowsill, watching as the moon's reflection danced over the day, watching as moonbeam after moonbeam chased each other and shone off his own tearstained cheeks. Huh. He was glad Roy didn't see him in this state.

Stay with me. Please.

At least, that was what Ed would like to have said, but he was also the Fullmetal Alchemist. Can't really happen, never likely to happen. Besides. He didn't deserve somebody who had broken no taboos. He, on the other hand, was a metaphorical exile. He was only the childish alchemist with no childhood that everybody knew. That and nothing more.

Ed didn't turn back.

"Goodbye." He said faintly, staring out into the dancing sea.

The door shut softly closed, and Ed's heart followed suit.

x.x.x.x.x

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