A/N: Written for the Yaoi Con fiction contest. It didn't win, but I enjoyed writing it nonetheless. :)

The Price

Roy Mustang took a deep drink of the whisky, then sighed heavily. It was his third for the night, and he didn't know if it would be enough. He was sufficiently intoxicated, at least; and that would have to do since anymore might make him fall asleep—and that really wouldn't do.

No, that wouldn't do at all...

He stared at the glass as if mesmerized by the deep wheat color of the liquid inside. Perhaps he was. The electric lights were off and the room was dark except for one candle that did little to really light the room, but the small flame was enough and it reflected slightly off the surface of the whisky—making it shine dully and glimmer with the flickering of the dancing fire.

Though, truthfully, the drink was just a focal point for his eyes to rest as he thought of other things—like his impending meeting with his teenage subordinate. At the thought of Edward Elric, Roy again brought the glass to his lips.

Ed sought the Philosopher's Stone—a dangerous and lofty goal that could only lead to heartache and pain. Yet it gave him hope that his mistakes could be undone and that his sins could be forgiven by some sort of restitution. So, he searched, and Roy did his best to provide Ed with the information he needed to make that search; provided that he be given information in return.

Roy had his own reasons, of course. Unlike many others, he knew of the military's involvement to make a Stone—he'd used one of the manufactured Stones in the war in Ishbal—and he understood that Ed might actually be able to attain his goal. Yet the Stone he'd used in the war hadn't been complete, not really; and, since Ishbal, he'd been unable to procure any additional information on the military's dirty little secret.

For that purpose, he used Ed. He couldn't search without being noticed, but Ed could; and Ed was willing to put all of his time, energy, and resources into finding the Stone. In return for any information Roy so 'magnanimously' bestowed upon him, and for permission to spend military time and money in the search, Ed passed him all information that he gathered. It was a perfect arrangement and made even better because Ed had initially approached him about it so it freed Roy from suspicion, should there be any.

Unfortunately, Roy had needed to hold back some of his knowledge about the military's involvement with the Stone. It was too classified, too dangerous to give and as much as he wanted to use Ed for his own gains, he wanted to protect him as well. It was also too painful to share because his own involvement with the artificial Stone had cost thousands—tens of thousands—of people their lives.

So, he'd held the information back, and now... Now, he had a feeling Ed was holding back on him. He seemed more guarded about the information he presented, and Roy wondered what Ed could have discovered that would cause such a change. Had he learned that Roy, himself, had been holding back? Had he learned of his dark past in Ishbal? Roy didn't know, and not knowing had finally driven him to breech the subject with him.

At first, Ed had verbally denied Roy's inquiries, but his eyes had told a different story. Ed was a horrible liar. When he'd realized that Roy knew of his breach in their agreement, Ed became angry and defensive, but he'd refused to give the details of what Ed explained was 'too dangerous' for Roy to know.

The thought of Ed keeping information from him for his protection was almost laughable, but he hadn't laughed and he hadn't demanded the details. Ed was much too stubborn for demands; he'd known this, so he'd explained that he was willing to take the risk and asked what Ed wanted in return for the information. He was willing to negotiate when necessary.

Roy took another drink of the whisky and glanced at the clock before returning to his memories.

He'd been shocked at the request; and had asked, in disbelief, for Ed to repeat himself. Even now, Roy had a hard time accepting what had happened. He'd sat at his desk staring at the teenager in shocked disbelief. What Ed had asked for was forbidden by the military, a taboo in society, and morally unsound. Not only that, but Roy had known Ed since he was eleven. He'd watched him grow into the young man that he was now. The request had almost been too much for his brain to accept.

Roy had waved a hand and requested that Ed be serious in the hopes that it had been some sort of joke—one which he would have to say was in very bad taste... Yet, it was no joke and Ed had simply stared at him in stubborn silence as he waited for the answer.

'No,' or even 'hell, no,' had been on the tip of his tongue, but he also knew that this might be his only way to find out. Alphonse certainly wouldn't tell him. Ed's younger brother, though kind and polite, was even more stubborn than his older brother most of the time. If he felt that keeping information might keep someone safe, then he would keep his peace.

Roy had tried to manipulate and coerce Ed into making a different offer; but, while not one for word games, Ed was intelligent enough to see what was happening and hadn't deviated. Or, perhaps he understood that this made his superior officer uncomfortable and was enjoying some childish feeling of superiority.

Whatever the reason, Ed hadn't budged and, finally, Roy hesitantly agreed. A small amount of surprise had flickered across Ed's young features, as if he hadn't expected to get an agreement. Perhaps he'd made the offer because he'd truly believed that Roy wouldn't accept, but he hadn't rescinded and the deal was made.

The next few days had been nerve-wracking and uncomfortable for Roy. They'd agreed on a date, one only a couple nights from then, and the waiting had given him time to dwell on what he'd agreed to. He'd avoided Ed when possible, and when he hadn't been able to, Roy had been unable to stop himself from sizing the teen up and wondering what exactly had prompted such an immoral and unnatural request.

Roy had tried to tell himself that it was because of his irresistible charm, but that only made him feel nauseated. He didn't like to think of attracting that kind of attention from the non-feminine variety of life. This inevitably led, once again, to wondering why Ed had made the request. Was Ed 'that way'—one of those people who willingly sought the company of their own sex?

It wasn't that Roy hadn't seen such things happen before; he'd known plenty of men during the war who had found comfort in each other's arms. But that had been during a time of immense stress and where the opposite sex was in short supply. Men who liked their own were just... different. Not really 'men' at all, in Roy's opinion, so it seemed ludicrous to even consider that Ed could fit in that category. Edward Elric seemed to be the epiphany of being male in how he acted and how he looked—except for the fact that he was unnaturally short—and he just didn't fit the stereotype that Roy visualized.

Maybe Ed liking his own gender had nothing to do with this deal at all. To Roy, it seemed obvious that Ed didn't like him; or, at least, not very much. After all, they rarely got along and Ed was constantly arguing with him. Roy could only imagine the satisfaction Ed could be getting on knowing how uncomfortable this was for him. Roy wouldn't put it past the teen to put aside his own dislike of something simply to annoy him; but, even then, it was all speculation and didn't change the fact that if he wanted the information, he would keep to their deal no matter how much he wanted to rescind.

A small knock on the door jolted Roy from his thoughts; and, with a glance at the clock, he rose from his chair and walked resolutely over to the door. As he undid the locks, Roy again wondered if he was really doing this. It didn't seem real...

He opened the door and there was Ed, hair pulled into a high ponytail instead of the braid he typically favored, and dressed in a pair of jeans instead of his usual black leather pants. He could see a casual gray tee-shirt peaking out from beneath the black jacket he normally wore with his usual black getup, and Roy thought that the jacket must have been a last minute addition because it didn't go well with the outfit at all.

Not real.

It didn't seem real; and, in fact, seemed less real with Ed looking so different than normal. It wasn't real; none of it. It was just some sort of bizarre dream—like the kinds that, when he woke up with cum in his pants, he couldn't figure out why in the world such a thing would have brought him to climax.

"Are you going to let me in?" Ed asked, irritation heavy in his tone.

No, Roy thought as he pulled the door open wider and stepped aside.

Ed stepped inside, and as Roy shut the door, he said, "What's with the candle?" His voice held a note of nervousness to it, and for some reason that made Roy feel a little better. Up until this point, Ed hadn't shown even the slightest hint that he could possibly be bothered by such an agreement. His nonchalant attitude made it seem as if he was used to such a thing—did it all the time.

Roy downed the rest of the whisky and set the glass on a small table before saying mildly, "I wanted light that wouldn't give me a headache." Ed's lips pulled into a frown and he glanced over at the now empty glass. Whatever was going on in the teen's mind, he said nothing, and simply looked back at Roy with a small nod.

They stood in uncomfortable silence for almost a minute; Ed with his hands thrust deep inside of his jacket pockets, Roy with his arms folded across his chest. If Ed thought that he was going to initiate this, then he was wrong. If Ed didn't have the guts to start, then that was his problem. Even so, Roy could only imagine the kind of unsure nervousness that Ed must be feeling, despite his outward display of assertiveness. Roy was sure he would have felt that way in the same situation, but then he'd never been in Ed's situation, so it was only speculation.

He had never, and would never, proposition someone the way Ed had propositioned him. Pushing someone into an agreement like this wasn't his style. He preferred mutual consent. And, of course, the fact that he'd been propositioned at all, by a male no less, made Roy have to think of something, anything, that would reaffirm his masculinity—something he'd been doing a lot the past few days...

Finally, Ed stepped forward, and slowly brought his real hand up to the white, button-up, shirt Roy was wearing. He'd thought of changing out of his work shirt and work pants, but he didn't want to give the impression that this was anything other than what it was—work.

Ed's fingers lightly caressed the buttons, then he half licked his lips, half bit on his lower lip before letting out a breath and pressing his hand flat against Roy's chest. Roy could feel the warmth through the shirt and swallowed a little when he felt Ed's hand move up to one of his nipples before going down to his stomach.

He wanted to push Ed's hand away. He felt revulsion well up within him and almost said, 'Forget it. I don't care what's going on with the Stone. I don't need to know everything.' But he didn't. Knowledge was power, and he needed as much power as he could get to become the Fuhrer. Ed had knowledge—knowledge he wanted. So right now he had the power—no matter how much he was abusing it; and if Roy wanted it, he'd have to give Ed what he wanted.

It was that simple.

Ed glanced up at him, then back to his chest. It seemed that he was trying to decide exactly what he wanted to do with him. With a sigh that almost wasn't a sigh, Ed said quietly, "Whatever happens here, stays here, right?"

Roy involuntarily rolled his eyes. What did Ed think he was going to do? Go around bragging about it? "That's right," he said simply. "I give you what you want; you give me what I want. That's it."

"The information I have... It's really dangerous..." Ed murmured hesitantly. "You'd be safer not knowing. You can still back out."

"I've always believed that it's better to know than not." He paused, then said smoothly, "You can always back out if you don't want to tell me though." Roy wasn't sure that he would feel any regret if Ed took that route, and he actually found himself silently willing him to withdraw.

There was a moment of silence before Ed put his face close to Roy's chest and murmured, "No... I don't think so..."

Well, he'd tried. The only other thing he could do to get out of this situation was to rescind completely, which would make him look weak and afraid. Two things he did not want Ed to think he was. This was just another stepping stone to get where he wanted to go, that was all, and that's how he needed to think about it… This shouldn't matter; he'd done worse...

Ed's hands moved from Roy's back down to his rear, then to his hips, then returned up to his sides. Taking a small step backward, Ed grabbed a hold of the shirt and pulled on it so that it un-tucked from the military pants. Then, slowly, he moved his hands—both of them, despite the fact that Ed couldn't feel with his automail one—up under the shirt.

Automail... appendages made from metal and attached to human tissue... Ed's arm and leg were a physical reminder of his crimes against nature, and a representation of drove him to the extremes he'd been known to take. They were also a reminder to Roy that there were much more cruel ways of receiving knowledge than the one he was about to take.

Roy winced involuntarily as Ed touched his skin, expecting the automail to be cold, but it wasn't and he suddenly realized that by Ed keeping his hands stuffed in his pockets and close to his body, he'd been able to keep the metal warm. Whether Ed had done it as a courtesy to Roy or whether it had been simply coincidence, he appreciated it nonetheless.

Ed's hands moved over his chest in a slow and needful manner that surprised him. It was as if the teen was trying to memorize him by touch; though, perhaps Ed was simply nervous or unsure of what to do next.

"Unbutton your shirt," Ed commanded softly. "I hate buttons, especially the little ones like those." Roy felt Ed's automail hand twitch slightly as if to give a reason why he hated small buttons so much.

Letting out a breath of resignation, Roy reached up and began unbuttoning the second to the top button—the first was already undone. Ed's hands slid to Roy's hips and stayed there as he watched him undo each button. At the last one, Roy let his hands drop and allowed Ed to open his shirt and examine him with his eyes and hands.

This time, the automail hand stayed on Roy's hip and it was only Ed's flesh hand that touched his skin. Roy looked down and watched as Ed's fingers combed through the sparse hair covering his chest, then lightly touched each of his nipples as if actually seeing what he was touching made all the difference.

"Does that feel good?" Ed asked quietly as he gently squeezed one of Roy's nipples.

He wanted to say no, wanted to say that anything Ed did to him was not going to feel good because Ed was male and it really wasn't right to get pleasure from other males, but it would be a lie. It did feel good and his body was responding accordingly. Ed tilted his head and raised an eyebrow as if to say, 'I'm waiting.'

"Yes," Roy said simply, not offering more than that.

Dropping his hands, Ed gave him a guarded, and almost hurt, look before quickly pulling off his own jacket and throwing it on the floor. Looking down, Ed grabbed the bottom of his tee-shirt and played with it for a few moments before letting go and raising his hands.

"Take my shirt off me," Ed requested quietly, not looking at Roy.

Reaching down, Roy grabbed the bottom hem of the shirt and slowly pulled it over Ed's head, then tossed the shirt in the general direction of the jacket. He never moved his eyes away; and now, with his shirt off, the faint candlelight made the automail give off a very dull shine. Ed's small, but muscular, physique looked even more chiseled with the way faded shadows played in small crevices that the candlelight couldn't reach. Ed moved his arms as if he was going to fold them across his chest, then stopped and thrust them in his pockets instead.

Still looking down, Ed murmured, "I want to know what it's like..."

At those words, Roy stared down at him in surprise. Ed wanted to know what it was like? He blinked and frowned deeply at the fact that Ed might be completely new at this and not at all experienced as Roy had supposed he was. If Ed had never even been touched on his chest before... Roy felt hesitant to do what he knew Ed wanted him to do. It felt so wrong that he would be the first to touch Ed or be with him like this.

"Are you sure this is what you want?" Roy asked quietly. The idea of taking someone's innocence from them as part of a business deal was unsettling, even if the other person wanted him to do it.

"Yes," Ed answered shortly.

Roy pressed his lips together in thought, then decided to ask the question that had been haunting him for days. It wasn't 'professional', wasn't 'businesslike', but Roy had to know. He couldn't do this without knowing. "Why, Ed? Why this? Why me? I just don't understand."

Ed shivered slightly and pulled his hands from his pocket before wrapping his arms tightly around himself. "I don't want to die a virgin," Ed said uncomfortably; and, at first, Roy felt the insane urge to laugh. What male teenager didn't worry about being inexperienced, or, worse, their friends finding out? Yet the statement as a whole was sobering.

Roy didn't think Ed cared one whit what others thought of his lack of experience. From what he knew, Ed didn't concern himself with these types of things because he was far too busy with other matters. However, the fact remained that the teen lived a dangerous life, and whatever secrets he'd uncovered, Ed seemed to believe that his chances of dying soon were high.

"Are you going to do it or not?" Ed asked as if what they were doing was an everyday occurrence, yet Roy could detect a small quiver in his voice.

He wanted to press for more answers, wanted to keep him talking, but the look on Ed's face—one of determination, longing, and fear—made him hold his tongue. With a heavy sigh, Roy stepped forward ever so slightly and brought his hands up to where Ed had folded his arms. He didn't even have to touch Ed's arms before they dropped, leaving his chest exposed.

Slowly, Roy reached down and pressed his palms against Ed's sides in imitation of what had been done to him, then slowly brought them in towards Ed's taunt stomach before moving up to his chest. He could feel it as Ed breathed in deeply—in response to the touch, Roy supposed.

He moved his palms slightly away so that only his fingers were touching Ed's skin, then gently moved them over the now hardening nipples before giving each of them a gentle squeeze. Ed took a quick intake of breath and let it out just as fast. When Roy pressed his palms again his chest, he could feel Ed's heart beating rapidly.

Roy glanced into Ed's eyes and felt a little disconcerted with the partially dazed look coming from those large, golden eyes. It wasn't just the look of enjoyment, though there was that too, but something else... Something close to 'adoration', or at least an emotion close to that; and such a look, directed at him from Ed felt more unnatural than what they were doing physically.

Pulling away, Roy murmured, "What now?" It gave him a chance to break the eye contact, and he also didn't want to take the initiative to go further on his own. He wasn't doing this because he wanted to, and it was important to him that he made that clear. This was a price he was paying for something he wanted—nothing more.

When no answer came right away, Roy looked back to see Ed staring at him with a considering look. Finally Ed asked, "You don't like foreplay?"

Foreplay? Roy thought, wondering if Ed had gotten the word from a book. It wasn't exactly part of the teen's normal vocabulary. "I don't mind it sometimes, depending on who I'm with." He stopped, then said, "I think right now I would prefer to get on with it, but that's not my call; it's yours."

At that, an angry expression crossed Ed's features. "My call is to have foreplay." He stopped, then continued in a frustrated and confused tone, "Do I really have to tell you every little thing to do? Why can't you just do it?" His face colored darkly, and he looked away in an effort to hide the shame creeping into his features.

"You're the customer," Roy said, feeling like a cheap whore for saying it. "I can't possibly know what you want without you telling me." Half truths mixed with half lies. Roy was pretty sure that he'd be able to please Ed well enough if he really wanted to.

"But you've been with lots of people." A whine was creeping into Ed's voice now; his calm façade cracking like mud baking in the sun.

Roy shook his head slightly. "Women, Ed. Women... You're the first male I've been with." Oh the bitter irony that he felt embarrassed to admit his inexperience in something he'd never had the desire to do.

A faint look of surprise spread over Ed's face. It was comical and downright tragic at the same time. "I..." Ed stuttered, then glanced down at the floor. "I thought... I'd heard..."

It didn't take a lot of imagination to guess what Ed might have heard. Stories about Roy's exploits were rather legendary around the office, and even throughout the military. A famed playboy with no shame and no morals, Roy Mustang would do anything and anyone; at least, that's how the rumors went. And while all rumors generally did have an element of truth, the reality in this case was a far less juicy morsel for the gossipers than it seemed. It was true Roy would do a lot of less than desirable things to get what he wanted, and he would have sex with almost any woman, but he did have some principles.

His eyes wandered over Ed's half naked body. At least, I thought I did... he thought bitterly. Having sex with a young man who was fourteen years his junior would definitely fit on his 'immoral' list, but it was strange how something like morality and principles just didn't matter when someone really wanted something.

"I... I'm sorry..." Ed sounded humiliated and there was a strained note in his voice that Roy was sure must be a side affect to him holding back his emotions. "I just assumed that you would have already been with... or... at least I'd hoped..." He turned away and Roy watched as Ed's shoulders moved up and down slightly with each strained breath. "I... I should go..."

As Roy watched Ed stoop over and pick up his shirt and jacket, he realized Ed hadn't verbally answered his other question—why me? And though Roy thought he already knew the answer—that he would screw anything on two legs—he wanted to hear Ed say it; wanted to hear Ed affirm his belief in the gossip.

"Why me, Ed?" he whispered softly.

The teen froze for a moment, then stood, still facing away, and hugged the small bundle of clothes close to his chest. "I already told you..." Ed choked out.

"No, you didn't..." Roy whispered, suddenly feeling a profound sadness for his young subordinate. "You said you didn't want to die a virgin, but you never said why you picked me." When Ed simply buried his head in his clothes, Roy asked, "Why not find a nice girl near your own age? The Rockbell girl seems to like you quite a bit." The last had been said as an afterthought, and Roy quickly realized he'd said the wrong thing when the shirt and jacket were thrown angrily into his face as Ed turned to toward him.

"She's like my sister!" Ed yelled angrily, his face flushed from anger and embarrassment. "And even if she wasn't, I could never be with her like that!"

Roy held the clothes Ed had thrown at him, and said calmly, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything by it... But... if you were just looking for someone willing, there are plenty of women..."

His words trailed off by the look of disgust and pain on Ed's face. "Give me my clothes back..." he growled.

"What did you hear about me?" Roy asked evenly.

The irate look on Ed's face was diminished a little by the slight quiver of his lips and the crinkling of his eyes. He looked away and muttered, "That you would... with anyone..." He paused, then said, "I didn't really believe it until you accepted my offer. I... I was joking... kinda... but then you accepted and I..." He trailed off and looked away, no longer able to meet Roy's eyes.

"You could have backed out."

Ed nodded at the statement, then whispered, "I know... but..." His voice dipped even softer and Roy almost missed what he said. "But... I wanted... you..."

Cold tingles ghosted down his skin. Ed had wanted him? Roy transferred the shirt and jacket under one of his arms and rubbed his face with his other hand. He wasn't even sure what to say to that type of a declaration.

"I'm... well, flattered, but..." Roy began.

"Shut up!" Ed hissed angrily. Lowering his hand from his face, Roy glanced to where Ed was now glaring venomously toward him. "Just... shut... up..." Ed's words were labored and he was breathing heavily. His face was scarlet and his eyes were filled with angry unshed tears.

"You don't get it! You don't understand! You," Ed spat as if the pronoun left a disgusting taste lingering in his mouth far after it was said. "You don't know what it's like. You have it all. You're good looking, powerful, well thought of, clever, talented, tall..." The last word burst from Ed in a rush. "You're not a disgusting freak like me! But you know what?! I don't fucking care what you think about me!" Ed stepped forward and grabbed onto the shirt and jacket Roy was holding. "Give me my clothes!" he raged.

Roy released them without a fight and Ed hugged the bundle to his chest as if it were a long lost friend. His head lowered and moments later Ed's face was buried in the fabric. With a feeling born from pity and understanding, Roy stepped forward and rested his hand on Ed's bare shoulder. His skin was warm, and the heat seeped into his palm, making the touch comfortable and almost natural. Yet, the feeling lasted only a second before Ed flinched and tightened his grip on the shirt and jacket.

"Ed..." Roy said, not sure what to say, but feeling as though it would be wrong to remain silent.

"I'm not stupid," Ed said in a strained tone, lifting his head from the bundle. "I know you'll never look at me the way I want, but... can't we just pretend; just for this one night? Isn't it worth the information I'm going to tell you?" His words were pleading now. "I just want you to pretend that you care. Just treat me like... like..." There was a moment of strained silence as Ed seemed to be trying to find the right word, then he turned suddenly, moving away from Roy's touch, and said faintly, "Never mind. This is stupid... Just... never mind..."

Roy's eyes moved slowly over Ed's body—much smaller for his age than it should have been, yet hard and lithe. Ed was so young, still a teenager, yet he'd faced more difficulties than most adults. He always tried to act so tough and mature, but now his voice held the evidence of his inexperience and youth.

Should he give in to Ed's new request? Was the information worth what he would have to give in return? Could he pretend to feel what he didn't, give himself over to something he didn't believe in, all in the name of knowledge and power?

Roy had prepared himself to perform whatever physical task Ed asked of him with the least amount of enthusiasm he could get away with, but this would require much more than he was sure he could—or wanted—to give.

Ed took a step toward the door, but stopped when Roy reached out and, once again, rested a hand on his shoulder. They were both alchemists; and they both knew that, in alchemy, you couldn't get something without giving in return. Equivalent exchange. The same applied to many aspects of life. If he didn't give what this information was worth, then he wouldn't be worthy to receive it...

He should have known, should have prepared for that, but nothing could have prepared him for Ed's declaration of his feelings toward him. That was more than unexpected; it was like someone showing him that the impossible could be accomplished, or that rain could fall on a cloudless day.

His hand tightened on Ed's shoulder; and, with heart beating quickly in his chest, Roy whispered, "I accept." He swallowed hard. "From now on, until morning, I'll treat you as if you were..." Roy paused, trying to come up with the right word. He'd treat Ed as if he were... what? His girlfriend? He didn't usually keep women around long enough to go steady. His wife? Never had one of those. A close lover? Yes, perhaps that would work.

Yet, before Roy could say who or what he would treat Ed as, Ed whispered, "Are you sure...?" He sounded pathetically needy and hopeful at the same time.

After taking a deep breath, Roy said, "Yes, I mean it." A pause, then, "But, Ed... I need you to understand that this is only for one night. I could never—"

"I understand," Ed ground out; his voice painful and gruff, then added, "It starts now. Let's see how good of an actor you are."

Stepping closer, Roy slid his hand from Ed's shoulder to the clothes he was holding and rested his hand over one of Ed's. Another step put his bare chest in contact with Ed's back. Ed's head barely touched Roy's adamsapple and if Roy was slightly taller, or Ed slightly shorter, he would have been able to rest his chin on the top of Ed's head.

"You won't be needing this..." he murmured, gently prying Ed's real fingers away from the bundle of clothes. Ed loosened his grip easily and let the shirt and jacket fall to the floor. Roy looked down and stared at it, all the while mindful of the feel of Ed's skin against his own and of what he was about to do.

For the first time since he was a boy himself, Roy felt unsure about his ability to perform. What if he wasn't convincing enough? What if he wasn't able to satisfy Ed? He pulled Ed's hand close to Ed's own chest and closed his eyes momentarily; pushing his worries, doubts, and fears away. He could do this; he would do this.

Moving his head down slightly, Roy pressed his lips lightly on Ed's shoulder, then ghosted kisses up his neck, stopping momentarily at Ed's jaw to leave a slow and languid kiss before taking the lobe of Ed's ear in his mouth and sucking lightly on it. He could feel the quick breaths Ed was taking both with his hand near Ed's chest and with his own chest against Ed's back.

How would it be to be young again? To have desire be a new and unexplored jungle and to know that the most precious treasure surely lay inside, ready for the taking... Roy pulled lightly on the earlobe and let it pop wetly from his lips, then dragged his tongue down Ed's neck as he moved his other hand around to rest on Ed's stomach. Latching onto Ed's shoulder with his lips, Roy sucked hard and rubbed his groin against Ed's body. The stimulation rippled through his half-erect sex, fanning the small fire of base desire that always seemed to be kindling inside of him.

Sane and conscious thought were slowly being replaced with physical craving. Questions of right and wrong, ethical and immoral, were drowned in unadulterated, animalistic need. Ed's age, the fact that he was Roy's subordinate, and even Ed's gender were all issues that Roy mentally pushed aside for now. Under the influence of lust and liquor, he felt confident that he could do this.

At least, that was how he felt until his hand slid down and touched the crotch of Ed's jeans. It was almost a shock to find a hard lump pressing the stiff fabric out instead of the flat contours of the feminine variety that he was so used to.

Firming his resolve and unwilling to let himself be without a game plan, he thought of what he personally liked his lovers to do to him, and acted them out on Ed. His hand at Ed's groin rubbed lightly against the lump, teasing Ed's desire. When the stimulation wasn't enough, Ed reached down with his automail hand, but Roy pushed it away.

"I want this to last..." Roy murmured silkily in Ed's ear. "Don't you?" The lie seemed far too obvious in his own ears, but it was the best he could do.

"Yeah... of course..." Ed breathed, almost panting now. "But... I..." Ed's small body squirmed in Roy's hold. "I need it..." he pleaded. "I need yo—" Ed began, then cut off in a strangled choke of embarrassment.

Paying Ed's last half-statement no mind, Roy glanced around in the dim room. The lone candle was almost spent; it had another half-hour at the most. How much time did they have? How long would Ed stay? Did Ed want it rough and hard? Did he want sweetness and loving compassion? It was hard to decide in his half-drunk state, but he decided that whatever they did, the living room would be as good a place as any. They were already there, after all; besides, Roy wasn't too sure he wanted to take Ed to his bedroom. He rarely, if ever, brought women into his bedroom when he got intimate with them. It was usually either their place or a nice hotel—maybe his front room floor if the girl was really cheap...

Pushing Ed lightly toward the center of the room, Roy quickly explored the small, well-muscled body with his hands and mouth. One of his hands dipped again and flitted over the swelling in Ed's pants, causing Ed's erection to twitch slightly, before starting to undo the button. Before he could finish with the zipper, Ed turned in his grip and wrapped his arms around Roy's chest and grinding his erection against Roy's body.

Roy could feel Ed's heavy breaths against his skin and wondered why Ed had stopped him and if there was something else he should be doing. Before he could voice his thoughts, Ed asked, "Are we going to do this here?" His voice was soft, but Roy could easily detect the unhappy note braided into his tone.

"Is that a problem?" Roy asked.

There was a long moment of silence, then, "I not some sort of prostitute, you know." Ed's tone was uneasy but firm in what he wanted as well. "I'd hoped... we might be able to do this somewhere more personal. Maybe your room?" Roy glanced around blandly, then nodded with a feeling of resignation. This was Ed's one night to pretend that he had what he wanted, and Roy had agreed...

Forcing a small smile, he reached up and gently rubbed Ed's back before holding him close. "Of course," he murmured in a kindly way that he hoped didn't sound too fake, then moved away to retrieve the almost burnt out candle. Giving Ed a small smile, Roy softly touched his cheek with a finger and said quietly, "My room is this way."

He led Ed down the hall and to the bedroom. Setting the candle down on his desk, Roy glanced quickly around the room before looking back at Ed and suddenly he was glad Ed had pushed for this room. It helped Roy get into the frame of mind that he needed to be in for what Ed wanted.

Moving back, Roy rested his palm against Ed's cheek, then slid his hand to Ed's chin and tilted his face up so that he could look into his eyes. Despite Ed's height, the teen usually held himself in a sure and tough manner; yet, now, he seemed a little vulnerable and needy as well, and the look in his eyes only emphasized it.

Leaning down, Roy gently pressed his lips against Ed's. He wasn't sure what he'd expected—kissing another male this way—but he realized that it felt no different than kissing a woman. Roy pulled back only slightly so that he could lightly run his tongue over Ed's lips. They parted easily, granting him entrance, and Roy found that though Ed was inexperienced, he wasn't about to let everything just happen to him. Arms wrapped around his shoulders, and the tongue that fought against his seemed to both be seeking some sort of control and, at other times, to be taken and ravished.

Breaking away from the kiss, Roy lightly pushed Ed backward onto the bed, then quickly straddled his hips. He looked down at Ed who was flushed and breathing heavily. His golden eyes stared up at him and he seemed to be searching Roy's eyes for something important but Roy couldn't seem to understand what it could be. Mentally shrugging it off, Roy reached down and began to undo Ed's pants, but the next words out of Ed's mouth stopped him.

"Is this all? Is this... Is it all just physical then?"

Roy, with hands poised for a second time to unzip Ed's pants, looked up slowly. "Do you want to do this or not?" he asked, feeling frustrated that every time he started to get on with it, Ed interrupted.

"Yes, but..." Ed's voice faltered and he turned his head away. "When people are, you know, together, they say nice things and stuff when they're being all intimate and all, don't they?"

"So, now you're saying that you want me to whisper sweet nothings in your ear?" Roy asked, feeling a little exasperated. Ed's lips pressed tightly together, but he still wouldn't turn his gaze back. Roy shook his head. So... that was what he'd seen in Ed's eyes... With a heavy sigh, Roy rolled off of Ed and laid on the bed beside him.

"Ed... when you first came to me and said you wanted sex in exchange for the information, that's what I was agreeing to. I was agreeing to sex. Then, you come here and say you want me to treat you the way I would treat a lover. That's what I've been trying to do. I brought you to my bedroom, I kissed you, and I've been trying to be gentle the same way I would to someone I really cared for. Now you say that you want me to talk lovingly to you?" He rubbed his eyes tiredly and mumbled, "This agreement keeps changing, and not for the better..."

"I'm sorry..." he heard Ed whisper. "I guess... I guess I was just hoping for more..."

"More what?" Roy asked tiredly, not sure how much more of this he could take.

"I don't know..." There was silence for a moment before Ed said, "I guess you can't fake love, can you..." There was a noticeable tightness in the teen's voice and Roy turned his head to look at him.

"No, you can't," Roy murmured. Was it love that Ed wanted to experience? Love and sex; sex and love. Did Ed believe they were one and the same? Turning onto his side, Roy leaned on one elbow and reached over with his other hand to gently guide Ed to face him.

Ed's eyes looked away and Roy thought again how terribly tragic this situation was, perhaps even more so than he'd first thought. "Love is something that can't be faked. It can't be replicated, can't be alchemized from something else," Roy said softly. He was trying to be gentle, but there was no way he could spare Ed the truth.

"We can have sex. I can kiss you and lick all over your body. I can touch you in ways that will make you beg for release at the same time you're begging for more. I can do these things to you, but that's all it will be. It's only physical. It's only on the surface."

Ed's lips pressed together and his eyes closed slightly, causing small crinkles at the corners. He started to turn his head away again, but Roy stopped him. "I want you to listen to me," Roy said in a tone that was both authoritative and truthfully kind at the same time. "Love and sex are not the same; even intimacy is different." He sighed. "You're asking more than I can give to you. That's not very equivalent."

His eyes moved over the teen's small body, and there was no missing the large bulge that still lingered in Ed's pants. "Now... did you still want me to take care of that for you?" He glanced back up at Ed's face; an unreadable expression painted over it. Instead of answering verbally, Ed simply glanced away and looked up at the ceiling.

For a moment Roy didn't move, but then Ed nodded his head ever so slightly. With an almost imperceptible sigh, Roy got to his hands and knees and crawled over the bed to Ed. The teen closed his eyes and one fat tear escaped one of his eyes and slid heavily down Ed's temple and into his hair.

"Are you sure this is what you want?" Roy asked reluctantly, hating the feeling that he was taking advantage of Ed, despite the fact that Ed wanted it and he didn't.

"Yes. Dammit, that's why I'm here, isn't it?" Ed said gruffly. "I don't really care about all that shit like love and stuff anyway. I just want to fuck, so get on with it." His harsh words held an unsteady note to them; giving away the lie. But Roy understood... He understood Ed's need to recover his dignity and to save face. Ed had said too much, given away far more than he had intended...

Leaning in, Roy ran his tongue over the path Ed's tear had taken, then kissed him next to his eye. Roy could taste the bitter saltiness and found it fitting that their brief union together should so closely resemble the flavor of Ed's tears.

Ed opened his eyes, giving him a look of unfathomable pain; and, within a moment, Roy found that, because of his pity for Ed, he could show Ed a small portion of the compassion he was looking for. Leaning in, Roy placed small kisses down Ed's cheek, then gently pressed their lips together.

One of his hands slid down Ed's chest, then worked its way over Ed's pants where he finished unzipping the zipper and lightly ghosted his fingers over Ed's erection. Ed gasped softly, gripped the bedding tightly, then gritted his teeth as if to keep any sound from coming out.

"It's okay..." Roy whispered into Ed's ear, then began to plant small kisses down Ed's jaw to his chin. "If you like it, it's okay to make some noise... It will let me know if I'm pleasing you enough." He continued down to Ed's chest, where he captured one of Ed's nipples in his mouth and sucked lightly on it.

"Ah..." Ed moaned quietly and bucked his hips, ready and needing more stimulation than Roy was giving him.

Reaching out with his other hand, Roy grabbed onto Ed's real hand, then let the nipple slip from between his lips before glancing up at Ed's face. Ed seemed surprised by the sudden gesture, but after only a second, he returned a fierce grip. Still looking at Ed's face, Roy wrapped his hand around Ed's shaft and began to move up and down in a rhythmic way. It was the first time he'd ever given a hand job to anyone other than himself, and he instantly found himself comparing Ed's size to his own, but the preoccupation passed quickly and he found that the situation wasn't quite as uncomfortable as he'd thought it would be.

"Mmm..." It was the only sound Ed seemed to be capable of making for a long while as he moved his hips in time with Roy's stroking, then he moaned, "I... I..." His breath was erratic and he was gripping Roy's hand more tightly as if he feared losing himself to the pleasure. Roy returned the grip, then began to lick and suck at Ed's neck before dragging his tongue down Ed's collarbone then to his other nipple.

"Ah, ah... oh... ah... mmm..." Ed began to pant as his thrusting into Roy's palm became more irregular. Ed wouldn't be lasting much longer—of that Roy was sure. "I... You... Ah... Roy... Roy... Roy..." Ed gasped over and over.

Roy paused in what he was doing and lifted his eyes in surprise. Ed had never called him by his given name, yet in the throws of passion it came easily to Ed's lips. Ed had said earlier that he'd wanted to do this with him, and now Roy wondered to what extent he'd been wedged into Ed's thoughts, feelings, and fantasies.

"Don't stop!" Ed cried at Roy's pause in his oral administrations. "More! Roy, please! I need you! I want you! You're everything!" Roy nearly stopped again at that, but he knew that if he stopped to consider what Ed's words meant, he might not be able to focus on anything else. Pushing away his thoughts, Roy sucked hard on Ed's nipple. He tried to pull his other hand out of Ed's so that he could play with Ed's other nipple, but Ed refused to let go.

Ed's hips began to rise slightly as his body worked for more stimulation. Adjusting and tightening his grip slightly, Roy moved his hand faster, causing Ed to shout something unintelligible before Roy felt thick, warm liquid spurt onto his hand. Ed's body shuddered several times before his muscles relaxed and he went limp.

Giving Ed's neck one last nip, Roy got up and washed his hands. Through the tiredness and the liquor, he had a hard time sorting through how he felt about what he'd just done. Giving sexual favors for information... to Ed... in his bedroom... And what about Ed's feelings for him? How was he going to deal with this little unforeseen snag? How would this night affect how he and Ed treated each other in every day life?

Finally, Roy pushed all the random thoughts and worries out of his mind. He wasn't able to hold on to them long enough to get too deep anyway. He would finish whatever needed to be done tonight, and worry about the rest later.

He let his hand fall to his groin where he spent a moment fondling himself through his pants. How far would Ed want to go? Did this deal include him getting any pleasure? If Ed wanted to be penetrated—the thought making him feel slightly squeamish—Roy didn't know if he'd be able to hold back for very long. With a sigh, Roy let go of himself. He wouldn't know until either Ed told him or he asked.

Stepping back into the bedroom, Roy saw that Ed was already beginning to redress himself.

"Are we done?" he asked in surprise. He'd assumed Ed would want to go at it several times.

With eyes focused on where he was zipping his pants up, Ed nodded. His hands were shaking, and Roy could see that his face was a deep red. "About what I said... before... when you were—" Ed mumbled.

Roy closed his eyes and rubbed wearily at them. "Ed," he interrupted. He didn't want to hear excuses or stuttered declarations of love—what little Ed had let slip before was more than what he'd ever wanted to know. Dropping his hand, he looked over at Ed, who was now staring fixedly down at the floor. He couldn't let him leave like this... It would be far too uncomfortable for them both tomorrow if he did. "I said I would take care of you all night and I will."

Blinking, Ed's head lifted and he stared at Roy with a look of bewilderment. Feeling determined, Roy stepped over to Ed and rested a hand on his shoulder. "You should stay."

"Stay...?" Ed asked quietly, his voice radiating confusion.

"Yes, stay—for the night." A pause, then, "I would extend the same invitation to someone who was close to me." When Ed frowned, Roy added, "Our deal, remember?" Seeming to lack an appropriate response, Ed simply stood there; so, finally, Roy slipped his arm around the teen's shoulders and guided him toward the head of the bed.

"Get in," he said softly.

Ed hesitated, then fiddled with the waistband of his jeans. "Should I—"

"Whatever you want," Roy interrupted, feeling both relieved that he wouldn't be asked to do anything else, and frustrated because he was hard up and there would be no release for him tonight.

It took several moments before Ed made his decision. Finally, he stripped, crawled under the covers, and pulled the blankets to his chin. Sighing deeply, not sure if he was reassured Ed had decided to stay or not, Roy blew out the almost burnt out candle, undressed, then slipped in next to Ed. Without a word, Roy slid his arm under Ed's neck and pulled him close. This, at least, he thought he could do with little reservation.

"Mustang—" Ed started, but Roy cut him off.

"Let's not talk about what was said or what we're doing." While he actually would like to remind Ed that this wasn't real, that he was doing this out of need to fulfill an obligation and not because he cared in the way Ed wanted him to, something stopped him, and so he let it be.

But, at his words, Ed's body relaxed and he snuggled closer to Roy's body. Skin to skin they lay there, neither speaking. It didn't take Roy long before he felt himself drifting away—alcohol and the late hour working against him to pull him into unconsciousness.

Consciousness crept slowly into Ed's mind. At first, he was only aware of the birds outside the window and the feel of the warm body he was half draped over. Bit by bit, awareness came, but he wasn't ready to relinquish himself to the harsh realities of life just yet, so he simply laid there, enjoying the feel of being next to another person.

Of being next to Roy Mustang...

Yet, he knew that he wouldn't be able to stay there forever, so he cracked his eyes open and slowly sat up. He didn't want to disturb the man; but, at the same time, Ed wasn't too worried. He wasn't sure how much Mustang had drunk before he'd come over, but it had been enough to put him out quickly the night before.

Ed smiled and traced Mustang's face with his eyes. How many times had he stared at this man, wanting him, needing him...? He lightly touched one of Mustang's biceps. How many times had he dreamt of waking up in these very arms? Ed glanced back up to Mustang's face before leaning forward and gently pressing their lips together. How long had he wanted to be kissed by those lips...?

He pulled back, feeling sad and regretful. It had taken bribery to get a pale shadow of what he'd wanted for so long and now it was over. Touching Mustang's hand, Ed smiled. After Mustang had fallen asleep, Ed had been able to explore the man's body at his leisure. He'd touched him everywhere he could. His real hand taking Mustang in and memorized him by touch.

At the time, Ed had felt like it was enough, and he'd been too humiliated by the things he'd blurted out to want Mustang to be awake. Yet, now Ed regretted not being able to have more time. Even if he lived through all the dangers before him, there was no guarantee he'd ever find anyone to be with, and he'd never be with the one he wanted most.

Ed touched his automail arm and leg, then fingered the scars where the metal attached to his body. He was broken, scarred, and so small for his age. It was ironic to him that he had so much self-confidence in almost every aspect of his life, except for how to deal with love and sex.

Well, at least I'm not a virgin anymore, Ed thought wryly, then wondered if what happened last night counted toward that. Was it just having a sexual experience that made him not a virgin? Did something have to be inserted somewhere to qualify a person as a non-virgin? Shaking his head, Ed decided this wasn't the time for philosophy or educational insights. It was morning and he had to finish what he'd come here for.

Crawling out of bed, Ed pulled on his pants and shoes, then left to retrieve his shirt and jacket from the living room. He stared around, noticing the differences in the room now that it was light and not blanketed in shadows, and he suddenly realized how out of place he was. This was the home of a well-to-do bachelor colonel who was fourteen years his senior, and someone who had no place in his life for a young, male lover.

Ed wasn't really sure what he'd expected of last night. He'd had a lot of hopes—that maybe Mustang would realize that Ed was exactly what he needed. He'd made too many assumptions—had equated 'playboy' and the willingness to take Ed up on his offer as proof that Mustang must have some sort of desire for the same sex. Now that had been an embarrassing thing to find out he was wrong about. He could feel his cheeks heat at the thought.

Bending over, Ed picked up his shirt and quickly put it on, then grabbed his jacket and stared down at it as a deep feeling of disappointment washed over him. He'd wanted Mustang for so long, had wanted Mustang to want him back, and had thought that if he couldn't have the real thing, then make-believe would suffice.

It hadn't.

Mustang was an alright actor, but Ed hadn't had any difficulties seeing through the act and it simply hadn't been as fulfilling as the real thing probably would have been. He wondered if this experience would have been more or less fulfilling if he'd had something to compare it to.

Shaking his head at himself, Ed shrugged into his jacket, then pulled an envelope from an inner pocket and studied it silently. He'd typed everything out. All the information was in this letter; everything Mustang wanted to know. Ed still didn't know how he felt about possibly putting Mustang in danger, but the man had paid the price for it and Ed was bound to deliver.

Silently, Ed padded back to the bedroom. He laid the envelope down on one of the nightstands, then dug his pocket watch from his pants pocket. Fingering the raised emblem of the military that was embossed on the front, Ed considered the watch for a moment. It was his identification as a state alchemist. It was something that no one had ever possessed at his age. An amazing accomplishment; but, more importantly, it was something that had allowed him to work towards his goals over the past few years. Yet, now he had to go it alone, because he knew too much and had become a target. The military had become his enemy, even if those he worked with hadn't yet become aware of it.

The watch suddenly felt like a heavy burden; and, as he set it down on top of the envelope, he felt suddenly lighter, but scared too. He wanted to snatch it back and return it to his pocket. He'd always had the protection and help of the military, and the name 'Fullmetal Alchemist' had become an engrained part of him, but this was something he had to do.

Tearing his eyes from the watch, Ed glanced back at Mustang. He would miss those deep black eyes, that handsome face, the sexy voice that always drove him to distraction. Mustang had been the first—and only—person Ed had ever fallen for. At first, it had been an innocent crush. He'd only been eleven the first time they'd met, but even then he'd been drawn to the man—amazed at his self-assurance and at the sense of power that he radiated.

His feelings had only intensified and become infused with desire as he'd grown. Naïve day dreams of holding hands and hugs had eventually become wet dreams of passion, and he began to live in constant worry that Mustang would find out about his secret and hate him for it. But he'd been able to let go of his fear for the chance to have one shot at his dreams, even if it was only for one night, because this was the end of his time here and he wanted something to take with him when he left.

Ed walked around to Mustang's side of the bed and touched the man's fine hair. Of course, dreams are just that—dreams. He wasn't meant to have Roy Mustang, no matter how much he wanted him. What they'd had last night... well, it was definitely something Ed would remember forever, something he would treasure, but it was tainted with the sad and lonely feeling in his heart. He wanted to tell Mustang exactly how he felt for him, he'd even tried last night, but he'd lost his courage and only been able to mumble insinuations when confronted and cry out partial thoughts in the intense moments of passion.

Looking down at Mustang's sleeping face and stroking his short, black hair, Ed knew that if he didn't do it now, then he'd never have the chance again. He opened his mouth, closed it, then took a deep and calming breath to soothe his nerves—despite the fact that Mustang was asleep and wouldn't even be able to hear him.

"I... love you, Roy Mustang..." Ed finally murmured softly. "I always have. Even though you can be a real bastard sometimes, you've really done a lot to help me, and for that..." The words caught in his throat and he choked on them for a moment, then continued in an emotion filled whisper, "and for that... I can never thank you enough."

And with that, he bent down and kissed the man on the lips. His feelings would never be returned, and it was very much possible that Mustang would always look back on last night with distaste, but Ed at least would never know the truth and he'd be able to take comfort in the lie Mustang had given him.

Gently touching Mustang's cheek with his real hand, Ed stared hard at him, trying to memorize his features. This was the last time he'd see this face. His time with the military had ended; and while Ed wanted to say a proper goodbye, he didn't know if he'd be able to go through with this if Mustang was awake. Finally, with a sigh born from years of desire, uncertainty, longing, struggle, fear, regret, and a life that seemed perpetually unfair, Ed straightened, turned, and slowly left the room without looking back.

Comments are always welcome.