Object of Gossip
Object of Scorn and Pity
Ed opened his eyes and sat up quickly when he heard the door slam open. He blinked once, then again, then exhaled sharply when he realized it was only Alphonse. Lying back down, Ed glanced at the clock and groaned. There would be no going back to sleep for him. In fact, he had enough time to throw on some clothes and run down to Mustang's office in time for the meeting.
Jumping out of bed, Ed scrambled to dress. "Thanks for waking me up," he said. "Mustang's going to have my ass if I'm not on time today."
"Brother, we need to talk," Al said, concern and anxiety in his voice.
Ed glanced up as pulled on his jacket. Al had been ignoring him for a while and now he wanted to talk? Right as Ed needed to rush out the door? Ed shook his head. No way. If Al wanted to talk to him, they could do it later, under Ed's terms.
"It's important," Al said as Ed strode across the room to the door.
"So's this meeting," Ed threw back. "Catch me later."
"Brother!" Al called after him. "Why didn't you tell me!"
"Tell you what?" Ed asked, annoyed.
"About what the Colonel is doing to you!"
Ed rolled his eyes. Not this again! "I've been trying to tell you, but you don't listen to me!" Ed snapped, then slammed the door shut behind him and walked away. This wasn't the time to be talking about this. Checking his watch, Ed made a sound of exasperation and started to jog.
People watched him run down the sidewalk, but he ignored them. They were always watching him now anyway. What was a little extra attention? It was only when he reached the reflective glass doors of headquarters that Ed realized he'd forgotten to do his hair, his jacket was actually inside out, and his fly was unzipped.
Annoyed, Ed zipped up his pants and pulled off his jacket as he walked through the doors and down the hall to the elevator. Now that he wasn't running, Ed noticed that the looks he was getting this morning were ones that bordered more along the lines of pity or even scorn rather than curiosity.
"Oh hell..." Ed muttered as he walked into the elevator and pushed the button irritably. You couldn't look your best every morning.
Ed had spent most of the night reading and had only actually gone to sleep by sheer will, knowing that he had to be up in the morning. The only problem being that he'd forgotten to set his alarm clock; though, really, it hadn't been that big of a problem since his brother had woken him up anyway.
Stepping out of the elevator, Ed pulled on his now right-side-out jacket as he hurried down the hallway toward Mustang's office. He could see Havoc and Breda going in, so at least he'd made it on time.
Walking into the office, Ed saw that everyone was there but the man in charge himself. There had been some talking going on, but that all stopped when Ed came through the door. And, of course, they all looked at him, but then they looked away as if trying not to look at him.
Well, that's a change, he thought, then asked, "Where's Mustang?"
"Red district looking for fun?" Havoc asked with a smirk and a shrug, then instantly he sobered when he was elbowed in the side by Falman. Clearing his throat, Havoc added, "Sorry. It's probably a sensitive subject for you."
Ed blinked, confused. "What—" he began, then stopped when Mustang strode through the door.
"You made it! Good," Mustang said with a grin. "I guess this means no spankings for you today. Such a shame. I was looking forward to it too."
"You wish," Ed snapped back, not in the mood to joke around. He just wanted this meeting to be over so he could go back to sleep for another few hours.
"Alright, sit down, Fullmetal." Mustang looked him over, taking in his disheveled appearance, and smirked. "Long night?"
Ed scowled as he sat down. "I think you already know the answer to that."
And, so, the meeting began. It was boring, like always, and Ed quickly lost interest in the numbers, forms, etc., that were the various topics of discussion. Given that he wasn't paying attention, it wasn't hard for Ed to miss the occasional stray glance of pity his way or the displeased looks they were giving Mustang.
The colonel seemed to have noticed the glances too because after fifteen minutes he stopped and said, "Is there something you'd like to say before we continue? You all look like you're going to mutiny, and I have to admit, I have no idea why. Spit it out so we can get on with our business."
There were shared glances, and looks of uneasiness before Fuery—of all people—pulled out that day's issue of The Gossip.
"It's just that..." Fuery began, his face starting to turn red. "Well... is it true?"
Mustang sighed and shook his head. "What did that woman write this time?" he asked, sounding tired.
When the other officers still looked hesitant, Ed decided to take the matter into his own hands. Snatching the magazine from Furey, Ed flipped through until he found the gossip column about him and Roy. He scanned through it quickly, and by the time he was done, Ed found that his mouth was hanging open in disbelief.
"That bitch!" he breathed, then handed the magazine to Mustang for him to read. "That fucking bitch..." Even as he said it, Ed wasn't sure if he meant that Hawkins woman or the old woman from the night before who had surely been the one to call in.
Mustang's eyes widened a little and his eyebrows rose as he read. "Well... that certainly explains the hostile looks I've been getting today..." he said, then looked around at everyone. "Let's get one thing clear right now. I'm an extremely good lover. I've never had anyone get bored in my bed."
Ed rolled his eyes in exasperation. "No one cares about that, you stupid ass. You think you could talk about the part where she thinks I'm a whore?"
Mustang glared at Ed. "I care about that part. I don't want people thinking I'm a terrible lover!"
"And I don't want people thinking you're paying me to be your fuck toy!" Ed growled.
Nodding, Mustang looked at the other officers and said, "I've never had to pay for sex. Not with Ed, not with anyone, so get that out of your minds right now. Someone as good as me doesn't need to pay for sex."
"And I'm not a whore. I don't sell myself out to anyone," Ed snapped angrily, snatching the magazine back and looking down at it. Angrily, Ed re-read over the last barrage of questions that Robin Hawkins had posed after the bulk of the article.
"Is it possible that Colonel Mustang is taking advantage of his position to satisfy his most base instincts? How professional can it be to force a parentless child into a lifetime of prostitution just so that he can take care of his younger brother? Have we mistaken this relationship all along? Perhaps the military is turning a blind eye to the abuse so that they can make use of his alchemic talent? Or, perhaps, the Fullmetal Alchemist enjoys being 'The People's Alchemist' in more ways than is professional."
"What bullshit," Ed growled and tossed the magazine in the garbage. With a grunt, he threw himself back onto the couch where he'd been sitting and snapped, "Can we just finish the meeting so I can leave?"
Mustang gave Ed and exasperated look, as if he wanted to address the matter further, then went back to his agenda. It took another fifteen minutes to finish up, and no sooner had Mustang given them permission to leave, then Ed was out the door.
It all made sense! No wonder Al had been all worried and concerned. It was frustrating that his brother would believe this pile of garbage and not what Ed had been trying to tell him. Slamming his finger against the elevator call button, Ed folded his arms and glared at anyone who dared look at him. The pity in some of their eyes was sickening, and the scorn he saw from others was infuriating. He wasn't a whore! He'd never sell his body out like that!
Ed was pulled from his thoughts when he heard his name called from behind him. He didn't even have to turn to know it was Mustang. Well, fuck him. Ed didn't want to talk to him, didn't want to even look at him! When the elevator door opened, he walked in and pushed the button for the lobby, then watched as the doors closed before Mustang could catch up.
Unfortunately, the elevator stopped on the next floor down to let in two men who were probably in their mid-late thirties, both lieutenants. Ed tried to ignore them, but as soon as the doors closed, one spoke.
"So how much do you charge?" The second lieutenant elbowed the one who'd spoken, but the first only looked at him and smirked. "I want to know how to get in on the goods, Henderson."
The second lieutenant—Henderson—didn't seem nearly as amused as the first man, and said, "What Colonel Mustang and Major Elric do in their spare time, is none of our business, Tohmas." He seemed to be emphasizing the fact that despite all of this, Ed and Mustang were their superiors and should be treated with respect.
Tohmas snorted and looked Ed over with obvious lust in his eyes. "No disrespect, sir," he said in a mocking tone of false respect. "I was just wondering how much it would be to receive your services."
Ed clenched his teeth and snarled. He was about to let Tohmas know exactly what his services would be like for someone like him when the elevator doors opened and a very winded Mustang reached in and pulled Ed out of the elevator.
"Just a minute!" Ed shouted. "I have something to say to that asshole!"
"No you don't," Mustang said, then addressed the two lieutenants coldly. "Don't believe everything you read, and I would recommend getting out of my sight." Tohmas didn't seem quite as brave now and practically scampered away through the foyer with Henderson walking briskly behind.
Angrily, Ed pulled away from Mustang's grip. "You can't just speak for me like that!"
"I can when you're about ready to make things worse!"
"You don't know what they said to me!"
"I can guess," Mustang said calmly, though still slightly out of breath from running down the emergency stairwell. "Let it go. By tomorrow some other bit of gossip will be going around and today's will be forgotten."
Ed pressed his lips together, trying to hold onto the anger he felt, trying to not let the pinprick of hurt come to the forefront of his emotions.
"I'm not a whore," Ed said. "I don't like people thinking that about me."
"I know that. You know that. It will blow over; don't let it get to you."
Ed was silent for a moment. He knew Mustang was right, but... "I don't like Al thinking those things about me," he said quietly. "I don't want him to think I'm doing stuff like that or that I'm the type of person to do... what that dumb magazine says... I have to go and find him. I have to talk to him and make him understand."
Roy nodded as Ed explained. Personally, Roy'd had plenty of experiences with nasty rumors about him before. It was never fun, but they always were sorted out in the end. But Ed was used to people saying good things about him. This daily rollercoaster of gossip had to be hard on him, especially today's.
Aware that they were being watched, Roy decided it was best to play to the crowd. After all, every public thing they did was going to either confirm or deny the latest piece of gossip, or it was going to create new rumors. That was just the nature of the beast.
Stepping close to Ed, Roy put his hands on Ed's shoulders and looked steadily at him. He hoped it looked as caring to everyone else as he was trying to seem.
"Then you should go and talk to your brother. He'll believe you. Even if no one else believes you, he will," Roy said, trying to sound passionate about his words, and also trying not to start laughing in embarrassment of how stupid he felt.
Ed shook his head, looking even more distressed. "No he won't! He doesn't believe anything I say lately."
Roy hesitated. Ed kind of had a point, and he was inclined to say so, but that didn't play well for this performance. In an effort to buy himself a little more time to think of an answer, Roy pulled Ed close and hugged him tightly. Ed stiffened immediately, then slowly he relaxed and hesitantly returned the embrace. And then the right words came to Roy and he smiled, knowing this was going to play out beautifully.
Stepping away, Roy looked down at Ed and touched his cheek gently. "It will be okay. I know the truth. I know your love isn't bought and sold, and I'll stand by you through this. The love and respect I have for you is pure enough that it will never be tainted by that woman's vile words or the condemnation and pity of those who believe her."
Roy both silently congratulated himself for such a touching speech, and wanted to slap a hand over his face in embarrassment. That had to have been the corniest thing he'd ever said. He really needed to stop reading those books...
In response, Ed just stared at him, eyes wide, pink slowly tingeing his cheeks until they glowed a fiery red. "I... yeah... I... uh... have to go..." Ed stammered, his eyes flitting from Roy's eyes then away, then back to Roy's.
Roy gave Ed one last loving—he hoped it looked loving—smile before Ed turned and ran through the foyer, past the guards, and out the huge glass double doors. For a moment, Roy wondered if he'd laid it on too thick, but when he glanced around and saw the faces of the women watching, and the unnamable glow in their eyes, he knew he'd done it just right.
Giving one last longing look the way Ed had come for the benefit of his watchers, Roy turned and walked toward the elevator, pushed the button, and walked inside when the doors opened. He kept himself composed until the doors closed, then finally broke down and laughed all the way to his office.
Sorry for the delay on this story, but here is the next chapter :) I hope you enjoy and I'll try to get the next chapter out sooner than this one took.
If anyone is going to Yaoi Con next weekend, be sure to let me know so I can say hi to you in person!
Comments are always appreciated.