I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist and I don't profit from this fanfiction.

"You know what they say about guys with long hair," Roy heard Havoc saying outside the office door that the now-captain had left open.

"No," he heard the distinctive voice of the youngest-ever state alchemist. It had only gotten a few tones deeper as he reached adulthood, but it was most definitely more mature sounding—even though Roy still heard it more often in rants and arguments.

"Well, in the military, when a guy has long hair, it's usually a way of him announcing he's openly gay." Breda, it seemed, was also in on it.

At some point or another, all the soldiers with long hair were told this partly as a joke and partly in an effort to get them to cut it into a more "military" cut. For people like Breda and Havoc, it had little to do with wanting Ed to look like he was the same as anyone else in the military. This was about getting one on the young man who had a bit of a penchant for pranking, himself.

"Why haven't I heard this before?" Ed asked, his voice sounding skeptical. Roy was quite proud that the young man he'd guided toward adulthood was not so easily led.

"Well, you were a kid," Breda said. "And back then, no one assumed anything."

"But people are talking now," Havoc said.

"Wait," Ed said. Roy was curious why the young man cut them off, expecting the usual comments that followed this discovery, mostly protests the could become very vocal. "You're saying Zolf Kimblee was?"

Roy snickered. Leave it to Ed to bypass the assumption that he was gay and jump right on Zolf Kimblee… Roy frowned at how his mind had processed that thought, finding just the slightest mental picture it conjured somewhat disturbing. He reminded himself that Kimblee had been as straight as they came, a fact that probably pissed off that manwhore Archer like nothing else.

"Queer as a three cenz note," Breda said. He knew better than that, but it didn't seem he was giving up the story.

"So what if someone's bi?"

Roy outright laughed, trying to stifle it so he would not be heard outside of his office. It seemed Ed's natural desire to know all he could on a given subject had kicked in. Really, he was growing curious, himself, of what the young man's orientation might be.

"If they are bisexual they—"Havoc hesitated only a moment before Breda chimed in, obviously with the first thing he thought of.

"They wear a pinkie ring."

Ed let out a laugh. "So, if I don't want the whole military to think I am gay, I will need a haircut."

Roy very nearly left the office, the comfort of his chair to tell his men and Ed that the long blond hair couldn't be cut. Personally, he thought it was a national treasure. Only because he knew it would look very suspicious did he manage to contain himself. Well, that and he was certain such declarations would ensure Ed cut off the golden locks.

Ed was nearly twenty now and Roy had been given two years to become accustomed to the fact that he was attracted to the very subordinate he had watched grow up into the adult he was now. His mind had found plenty of time to ponder if he had thought of Ed as attractive when he was still a child and he was very grateful to find that he had only seen him as a very annoying little brat. Well, also an ends to a means, but Roy was no longer the ladder climber that he had once been and he had long-since dealt with the measures he'd once taken to be fuhrer.

His attraction to Ed, it seemed, began when the boy's mind had most definitely become that of a man. When angry rants were disappearing and lively debate taking their place. When Ed became his equal on many things and his superior in several others.

He watched Ed go from his window, long blond braid swinging behind him as he headed out of the complex.

Roy wondered if the younger man had forgotten he had a report to turn in and that tomorrow was the deadline.

Roy was cleaning his window in a futile attempt to forstall the growing pile of paperwork resting ominously on his desk. He saw Ed—because though one thing about the person's appearance threw him, no one else wore that red coat and black leather pants—walking up toward the Central Headquarters. For just a moment, Roy had thought it was not him, could not be him. The long blond hair was not only still all in place, but it was not bound by any braid or ponytail.

Grinning like a child whose birthday had come early, Roy realized Ed was making a statement. A very noticeable one. Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist, was going to let the idiots who'd tried to convince him to cut that hair to think he was gay. Roy didn't dare consider it was true because it would seem too much like wishful thinking.

"You look different today, Boss," Breda said from outside Roy's door. Fuery had unintentionally left it open just a crack when he'd dropped off the last pile of papers, demanding Major General Mustang's signature.

Quickly, Roy moved over to his door, opening it just the slightest bit more so that he could overhear without feeling as though he needed to lean against the heavy oak door.

"You noticed, did you?"

"If you thought we weren't telling the truth yesterday…"

"The thought never crossed my mind," Ed said. Even Roy, who had not been in the room when his two subordinates had told Ed the fib knew Ed had doubted them. "if you didn't think we were, then why…" Breda's voice disappeared and Roy could practically see the lightbulb turning on. The older man smirked, very pleased that Ed managed to one-up two of the military's best pranksters.

"If you want, you could call Winry and ask her why things didn't work out between us."

Roy sat at his desk and took the first paper from the pile, trying to sign the papers as he listened to the conversation outside. Ed was being very bold. At the young man's next words, Roy practically forgot how to sign his name.

"Or you could call Russel Tringham and ask him about what we did last time we ran into one another." The others outside were sputtering. So was Roy, but his mind thankfully reminded him that Ed had a report that was due and would be in the office very soon. His mind also came up with another idea.

Frantically, he tried to rememberwhat it was that Breda had told Ed yesterday about men who were bi. He remembered that it was something absolutely ridiculous, something he hated. That thought had crossed his mind at the time, but what had it been?

When he remembered, he groand. A pinkie ring.

Roy frowned. Those were growing more and more popular among married men—not gays or bisexuals—in Central. Usually, these were ones who wore the ring to show their wife they were committed, but who thought it would miss the detection of a woman searching for the typical wedding ring on their finger. It also meant that if it was removed, the tan line wouldn't be where it was expected.

Roy personally thought they were an absurd fashion statement and yet, he was in the process of transmuting a silver pen into one, just to see the reaction on Ed's face, should he notice.

The blond came in, slowly shifting into place at his shoulders like a golden waterfall.

"Hello, bastard," he said, walking up to the desk. His eyes went to the two gloves that were not on Roy's hands but rather the desktop, then went to Roy's hand that was resting on top of the paper. "Here's my report on the explosion of the lab in Eastern Headquarters."

"Is it at least legible this time?" Roy asked, taking the envelope from the blond.

"Shut up, bastard general. I've seen your handwriting. It isnt' much better."

"But you admit it's better."

Ed rolled his eyes and headed toward the door. "By the way," he turned his head to look over at Roy, "nice ring."

"Nice hair," Roy said.

"You know what I heard about guys who wear those?" Ed asked, a playful glint in his eyes.

"Yes. I do."

Ed smirked and Roy matched it. "Good to know." He began to open the door. "I just hope you get rid of it before you try to find out why I wear my hair this long."

He left the room, shutting the door tight behind him. Roy just stared for a moment at it, a bemused smile growing on his face before he transmuted the ring back to a pen and got from his chair to follow the young man down the hall.

Paperwork could wait.