Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist

There is something of the lion in Edward Elric. Something that goes deeper than his tawny mane and predatory golden eyes.

Roy has watched Ed, devoted a lot of time to learning his body language, because Edward is a mysterious contradiction, crushingly honest in everything he says, but just because he's being honest doesn't mean that he's speaking the truth. Roy knows about the lies created by the subconscious, he knows how to lie so well to himself that he himself thinks it is the truth. That is, perhaps, why Riza and Maes are so goddamned protective. Edward…Well, Roy sees a lot of himself in Edward, not that he would ever dare voice that to anyone (for fear of a horrific Fullmetal vengeance) and he makes a point of learning the boy's body and mind, that he might at least predict something of Ed's actions.

The dull, homogenous corridors of military headquarters stifle Edward, cage his vastly-superior intellect and limitless imagination. The laws and regulations of military service chain him, unwilling but compliant, to a code of conduct that he rails against, scratching and biting at the intractable metal bars of contractual imprisonment. Trapped within bland military administration, Edward moves like a caged lion, a furious, deliberate stalk, power and intent clear in his every thudding footstep. His shoulders hunch, veritable hackles, and he speaks through gritted teeth, the only way he can bare his fangs.

Roy cannot resist taunting the caged lion, cannot resist pushing large red buttons marked 'APOCALYPSE' in Fullmetal's psyche, because the boy lives in those moments, in the tearing, shattering moments of his fury, he is passionate and defiant and alive, he fights, unrestrained, against the bars that will not bend, will not break, and it makes Roy's breath catch in his throat sometimes, and it is his duty as self-proclaimed protector of this boy to make sure he never submits to his status as military dog. He hopes Edward will not scorn too much the weakness that shackled he himself to the military, when, maybe years from now, the boy finally tosses the pocket watch over his shoulder and departs the Colonel's watchful gaze forever.

There is something of lion in Edward's fierce, loyal compassion to his little brother. Unyielding, animal affection, pride and love unconditional in the one whom Edward holds above all others. It is not entirely human, their bond to each other, and it is the highest compliment that Roy can pay to it, in describing it so. There is a purity there, not innocent but somehow untainted, despite the blood that stains both of them. The wildness in Edward can only be tamed by his gentle, devoted little brother. Roy watches Edward polishing cold steel, watches Alphonse straighten his brother's ever-wayward appearance and smiles, thinking of wild cubs and their tiny, ineffectual attempts at grooming each other.

In Edward's fighting fury, Roy sees him feral, untamed. The Fullmetal Alchemist fights with everything, everything, that he has and is, facing up to every conflict with terrifying commitment. He does not delight in it. He is no madmen taking pleasure from inflicting pain, he merely pledges himself utterly to his task, and so finds victory more than he finds defeat. That is the humanity with Edward's bestial nature, and yet it expresses itself through raw, animal violence.

Roy has always loved paradox.

Edward Elric is a fine impossibility.

He is a sinner against nature, his crime a perversion so evil, so warped, that blood is not payment enough. The darkness in Edward's eyes reveal what he has sacrificed of himself to pay the equivalent exchange for staring into the black heart of life, for reaching in a hand to yank and mangle reality around him and pulling back a bloodied, diseased stump. In golden lion's eyes, Roy can see the reflection of the twisted, cackling, sinister side of humanity, diametrically opposed to Edward's natural purity of being, and that vampiric malignance in the boy's heart makes Roy's stomach ache and burn, so he smirks and spits out his sarcasm and scorn, just to make the boy flare up and sear away the canker in his mind.

Sometimes, Roy ponders if he has looked too deeply and seen too much, he was once a transmutation circle away from sinning as fully and completely as the Elric brothers, and that kinship lends him an understanding beyond that of many others. Sometimes, Roy reflects that it is only by possessing as broken and corrupted a soul that he is able to even begin to comprehend the extent of the damage done to the strange, wild lion-boy.

There is something of the lion in Edward Elric, and Roy cannot help but wonder what that predator can see, when cat's eyes fix on his.