A/N: Hey there, everyone, so sorry for the pathetically long update...I know but this chapter kicked my ass to hell and back. There was a serious advance in the plot and there wasn't supposed to be as much smut but it seems the boys had a mind of their own. Though you can hardly blame them for that ;P Anyway, its really long and I don't feel like breaking this chapter up so you'll just have to plod through. There's both slash and het sex in this chapter, so for all of you hard core yaoi fans, if it upsets you, feel free to skip that part. Yes, Al finally gets some action! Woot!! Oh, and speaking of Al, has anyone read the new manga chapter? I thought I might die. Seriously, I'm just a ghost floating along the ceiling at the moment.

Sorry again for the terribly long update, I love all of my beautiful readers! Please forgive me?



His eyes burned. His back ached. He was pretty sure he had lost his feet somewhere along the way a long time ago. And yet, despite all of that, here he was, once again ensconced in his office, pouring over more maps. Always with the maps and the mysteries and the danger. All he really wanted was to be curled up in his bed, the warmth of his wife pressed into him as he fell into a dreamless sleep, forgetting the rest of the world even existed. He had actually gone home, allowed himself to be soothed by Elsyia's voice before taking Gracia up stairs to kiss her for a long time before making love to her. But as he had stared up at the unresponsive ceiling, wondering why he could not seem to give into his fatigue, he recalled everything that had happened over the last few days. It seemed his body still remembered the constant flutter of adrenaline and how that little stone throbbed so repulsively in his palm, like its very existence was just…wrong. And he wanted to know why, why that would be, why it was even there in the first place and what it had to do with the events that were starting to rip their country apart.

Because his mind refused to shut down, he had slipped from the very comfortable and welcoming embrace of his bed, telling himself he would just take a little walk, hoping the cold air left behind after the violent storm would ease the racing of him mind. Instead, here he was, once again in his office and peering over a map of Ametris with a little frown marring his forehead. Carefully, he made another notation and stepped back, eyeing the chart laid out in the little pool of light offered by his tiny desk lamp. The thin paper was somewhat dusty and faded, clearly in disuse and he wondered where his aid had dug them up from.

What he couldn't figure out was why the pattern he had just drawn looked so familiar. It was like he had seen it before but all he had really been doing was connecting the locations where the conflicts had been cropping up. Ishval. Creta. Lirr. And then the Briggs outpost, which Roy had just informed him was also seeing its own set of difficulties. Four points and while they resembled something he knew he had seen before, some kind of symbol or marking, it was incomplete, like it needed one last point. Five straight sides connecting, making a shape, a circle. Where had he seen this before?

Diligently, he pulled out a ruler and carefully grafted the last point, using the measurements from the other four lines to close the hexagon. Hughes sat back, crossed his arms over his chest and wracked his brain. It was there, like a name on the tip of his tongue that refused to reveal itself until it drove him crazy with trying to recall it. The five points stared back at him, the fifth being somewhere off to the west that had, to his knowledge, been ever peaceful. A single long finger tapped his bottom lip before he sat forward and etched a sloppy circle through the points.

Recognition was instant. Horror prickled down his spine as he stared, mouth going dry. He had seen this symbol, all right. It had been in the notes Edward had given him to read earlier that day.

It was a transmutation circle.


He had thought that having Ed back in the office would be unbearably distracting yet for some inexplicable reason, he found that knowing the boy was right on the other side of the wall actually helped him to focus. There was no anxiety or taught tension pulling at his shoulders like it had been for the past few days. It also helped that he was sure Envy would never dare to venture within a hundred miles of the blond alchemist, let alone waltz into his space as he had done the day before. Especially not now. The thought comforted him, which was odd in and of itself. Normally he was used to being the one comforting, using his voice and cool manners to calm the other person down, and it had always been like that, even before Ed. Somehow, it was endlessly welcoming to be on the other side for once. Even stranger was that the younger alchemist was more than ten years his junior. Age or experience didn't seem even factor into the equation. All Roy knew was that the deep calm that had settled over him sometime during the night was like nothing he had ever felt before and it was all due to the young blonde to whose smile he had woken to.

Of course, the novelty had not stopped there. Getting out of bed had been somewhat a challenge and while his lower back didn't hurt nearly enough to merit the dramatics Ed had gone into after his first time, it was still unpleasant. The burn just served as a reminder that stayed with him throughout the day of what had taken place the night before, warming him even as it made sitting a little difficult. The blond had been apologetic when he noticed the older man sitting gingerly in his chair during breakfast, wide golden eyes sympathetic, which was rather endearing considering the boy had hit the older alchemist when their places had been switched. It had been completely worth it, though, every last moment. He found himself hoping rather adamantly that they would have that open kind of relationship where they could switch roles whenever the need should strike. The Colonel, while loving every moment of being the one in control, was secure enough to admit that allowing his lover to take him instead had been…well, beyond incredible didn't even begin to cover it. Not only that, but it had changed them both on some fundamental level. It was subtle, nearly invisible if he didn't think upon it very long but it was almost like he was tuned into the younger man, able to feel his warm presence even when they were nowhere close to one another. Perhaps it had something to do with the absolute trust they had put in each other. Ed had already given him everything yet it seemed with the Colonel's complete surrender had come something so deep, he couldn't even understand the depths of it; like he carried a little piece of the blonde alchemist within himself that burned softly while wrapping in neat, comfortable coils around his heart. The strength of it was terrifying.

"Colonel," a familiar husky voice broke the steady scratching rhythm of his pen, making him glance up at the shining object of his silent musings. The wide eyes were calm and steady as they fixed upon his face, the younger alchemist trying to remain professional as they had agreed when driving to Headquarters that morning but he could see the tiniest smile trying to curl at the corner of the full lips, a quiet joy evident in the blazing golden gaze.

"Yes, Fullmetal?" he put his pen down, keeping his face smooth and for a second he thought the blonde was going to burst out laughing, probably struck funny by the mocking air they had adopted. It was an intriguing game, especially since everyone who would chance upon them already knew; though he would be sure to keep that little tidbit of information hidden from the blond, afraid of an imminent explosion. He highly doubted Ed would take the news very well. A report was carelessly thrown onto his desk, nearly sliding off the other end and into his lap. He lifted one eyebrow in a silent question.

"That's the report you asked me for," the kid said smugly, shoving his hands in his pockets, no doubt expecting some kind of praise. Roy almost snorted aloud before glancing down at the papers in his hands. Only to be horrified by the lack of legibility that was Edward's handwriting. Damn. He had forgotten about that. Hadn't the teen learned penmanship when he was in school? How the hell was he expected to read this? Dark eyes blank, he shuffled through the pages more for show than anything else before sighing and dumping it back onto the cluttered surface of his desk. The younger alchemist was still watching him with that smug little grin on his face, leaning against the edge of the desk like he owned it. Roy had to ruthlessly smother his own smirk before he could speak.

"I'm sorry, but what exactly was this again?" the smile faltered and the boy looked from him to the paper he had just discarded then back again. He could see the hesitation before the smile was back again, a little less confident than before.

"My report. You know, the one you asked me for?" he said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world and that he thought Roy was being stupid by asking him such a question. This time the dark haired man allowed the smirk to curl up on the corner of his own lips, seeing the bright gaze falter just a bit more. Maybe he should have felt a little bad because he knew Ed had been writing for the better part of the morning but he, in all seriousness, couldn't hand in a report that he himself couldn't read. Roy leaned back in his chair and regarded the blond.

"Fullmetal, you do realize that I have to be able to read the reports that you hand in. They aren't there for show," that smile shattered and for a moment he mourned for its loss. Ed was really quite stunning when he smiled, even when it was cocky. The gold eyes narrowed at him just a bit, reminding him of the boy he had met not more than a month and a half ago. How things had changed in that time.

"What the hell does that mean?" the blond demanded, voice beginning to take on a dangerous edge and for a second the Colonel sat back to admire the view. No matter what expression he was wearing, the boy was always breathtaking. Now he crackled with barely reined-in temper, something that never failed to turn Roy on just a little bit. Trying to retain his cool aloof exterior, he leaned forward and folded his hands in front of him, leaning his chin on them so he could regard the younger man with his dark, piercing gaze.

"It means that your handwriting is so terrible, I can barely make out the first line. How you think to subjugate me to this chicken scratch you call penmanship is rather insulting," he lifted the paper and held it out to the blond meaningfully, who was staring at him with his mouth hanging open, as if he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing. The boy made a few choking noises while the older man waited patiently.

"Wha—you—the fuck is that supposed to mean? Chicken scratch!?" here we go, he thought and Roy realized he would probably be lucky to get out of this with his eardrums intact. Still, he couldn't help allowing his smirk to gain momentum as it widened over his features. As much as he dearly loved Ed, the kid was just too easy to tease. It was all he could do to keep from cackling like some evil mastermind, never mind that he would never be caught dead cackling. Besides, the blond was damn hot like this, fists and jaw clenched in indignation, eyes snapping in fury.

"Though I guess I shouldn't expect any less from someone such as yourself. Chicken scratch just seems to fit you," there was a short breath, in which he counted down the seconds in his mind, three, two, one…

"WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU CALLING SO SHORT THEY COULD BE COMPARED TO A CHICKEN!?!?!" he nearly lost it, then. The guffaw bubbled up within his chest, tempered only by his stubborn pride. Well, that and he just wanted to fan the flames brighter, if he could. Though the way the younger alchemist was seething on the other end of his desk, he almost felt he should be humbly handing over the title of Flame Alchemist.

"Hardly, Major Elric, for there seems to be a certain lack of feathers and I pride myself on being intimately aware of that fact. However, it would be in everyone's best interest that you re-write this or I just might very well go blind trying to read it," the boy sputtered, face red while the dark haired alchemist chuckled to himself, drinking in every ounce of blazing passion. He could sit here for eternity like this, just staring at the way his young lover brimmed with life, with fire, against whose light even the sun failed in comparison. How had he been so lucky to find such a person and claim him as his own? Surely, nothing he had ever done warranted such a blessing. Even trading insults, he wanted nothing more than to be close to the blonde, to soak in his light and hope that one day, perhaps a very long time from now, he would be worthy of the boy.

"Why, you…" but whatever snarling abuse the kid was about to hurl in his direction was cut short by Havoc popping his head into the room, blue eyes bright.

"Uh, oh. I thought I heard your dulcet tones, chief," Roy blinked and suppressed a grin as the shorter blond turned an even deeper shade of crimson, eyes bright behind the blaze of heat before he snatched the pages from the Colonel, wrinkling them in the process.

"Fine, you fucker. I'll rewrite them," the gold seared, "Legibly," and in the next second, the dark haired man could have banged his head upon the desk. Trust only his Second Lt. to turn a bad situation worse.

"Oh, I see. Having a lover's spat then. Perhaps I'll come back later," and he slipped out, no doubt with that all too familiar shit-eating grin of his plastered all over his face, leaving Roy to deal with the impending destruction that was named Edward Elric. The boy sputtered for real this time, in shock rather than anger, his whole stance turning from aggressor to defensive. The Colonel winced to see it.

"H-how...you t-told them?" the husky voice was a mere hushed whisper but all the evidence of his dismay and outrage was evident in the way his hands shook as he gestured wildly towards the door. Roy swallowed hard and looked for a way to reassure the younger man but found his normal soothing manners distressingly not at his disposal.

"Ed, calm down, I didn't tell them," his voice, thankfully, was its usual smooth silk but he could see it had no affect on the blond what so ever. He was glaring so hard at Roy, it was a wonder he didn't just burst into flames. The younger man leaned over the desk, pressing his fists to the smooth surface and crumpling his report more, eyes blazing as they bore into the Colonel's dark gaze.

"Well, if you didn't tell them, then what the fuck was that just now?" the kid hissed out through clenched teeth and he nearly had to sit back, almost afraid he was going to spontaneously combust with the heat of anger rolling off the younger alchemist. Instead he dropped his head and rubbed his temples with his fingers, sighing softly.

"Well, Riza already knew and Fury heard me talking to you on the phone the other day…it all just…kind of came out," he looked up when the blond pulled back, growling quietly to himself and Roy was going to reassure him that no one really minded, that they had nothing to worry about because all of his subordinates were loyal to a fault when the blond Second Lt. decided to stick his head back into the line of fire.

"Um, you two kiss and make up yet because—" but he never got a chance to finish because Ed had clapped his hands together, sending the Colonel's desk hurtling towards the man with a crackle of alchemy and the agitated flap of unsettled papers just as Roy snapped his fingers, setting the piece of furniture ablaze so that when Havoc nearly expired in the doorway, it was via a flying, burning desk sent at him by two very pissed off alchemists. The way his blue eyes had widened almost comically before he ducked out of the way just before the desk crashed into the doorway had been extremely satisfying. He heard the tall blond mutter something like, "Those are two men who should not be on the same side for the sake of humanity," before his eyes found Ed's wide, golden ones. They stared at each other for a second, silently sharing the moment as the broken desk smoldered quietly in the background before the blond grinned widely at him.

"That felt really good," and Roy was going to pretend those words coming out of the younger alchemist's mouth in that beautiful honeyed voice didn't make his cock twitch slightly in interest. Instead of grinning back, he stood calmly, brushing off his pants as if his desk hadn't just been set on fire and sent flying across the room at his Second Lt. before looking back up at his blond lover. A small smile quirked the corner of his lips.

"Indeed. But now I need a new desk."


Gold eyes stared back at him through the clear reflection of the full body mirror in Roy's bedroom, impossibly wide in the glass. Ed narrowed his eyes at himself as he examined his appearance closely, a small frown marring the small space between his eyes. He had been standing there for the better part of twenty minutes, eyeing himself critically while uncertainty roiled in his chest. It wasn't like he looked much different than he did every other day. After all, he was still himself. That said, he couldn't help but ponder just why he thought he looked like…well, not himself.

Roy had told him about the official military function that they had to attend the night before and while he had been reluctant as crowds and parties, which is what this essentially was, were not really his thing, it wasn't really like any of them had a choice. He had been assured that there would be a lot of posturing by the older politicians, a lot of booze and pointless boredom and that was it. Not that he really had a choice, whether he wanted to or not. Orders were orders and he still belonged to the military. Still, he had not been aware that the dress code was so…formal. Of course, Ed was used to wearing the uniform already, and while he preferred red and black over blue, it looked okay on him. The blue pants clung to his thighs, tucked into high, black boots that shone impeccably for the occasion, as would be expected, outlining the neat curves of his claves, though he would rather his own clunky boots. These pinched his toes a little. The short jacket was snug, fastening across his chest, the bars of his rank on his shoulders and showing off the belt from which hung his silver watch that announced his rank as a State Alchemist. A slender finger slipped under the high, restricting collar that was fastened under his chin, tugging gently on it. What surprised him was that he didn't recall his uniform being this tight when he had first gotten it. Had he gown since then? That wouldn't make any sense as he had been the same height for the past couple years. Yet he'd had this uniform for nearly two months and it was already a little small. The thought gave him surge of hope. Maybe he wouldn't be so short after all.

The blond tugged self consciously at the fall of material that hung from the waist band of the pants, reminding him of the bottom of an odd kind of cape before pulling a face at himself, the bright gaze going momentarily cross eyed. It had stopped being funny when he was ten but somehow it made him feel a little better. Pulling white gloves out of one of his pockets, he slipped them over his mismatched hands and then snatched the blue officer's cap, slipping it over his bangs, settling it on his head, black visor pulled low.

By then, he didn't even recognize himself.

The person that stood in front of him in the mirror was no longer Edward Elric but the Fullmetal Alchemist, cold and distant. Even the familiar braid had been forgone and his hair was instead pulled back into a tight tail. Gold glittered back at him from the shadows of the visor, icy and flat, making him wonder if that was distain he was seeing. Even though it was himself he was seeing, he couldn't be sure. Or perhaps that was why there was a sever lack of emotion on his face; because he knew what was going on behind it. It was a wonder his features hadn't cracked under the strain of holding back such a confusing tangle of feelings. The cool indifference was merely a flimsy contrivance but it made him wonder what other people saw when it came crumbling down.

Finally he sighed and turned away, afraid that if he kept looking, he would see something that would terrify him. Unease had been riding on his shoulders for the entire day. It would do no good if he couldn't trust his own reflection. The motion drew his attention to a little vial sitting innocently on the chest at the end of the bed, the deep red of the thick liquid trapped inside the glass glaring at him balefully. Speaking of things that terrified him. Roy had given it to him when they had gotten home that afternoon, dark eyes shadowed when he briefly explained where he had gotten it from.

"You mean, Dr. Marco had one of these things? And he was using it?" the blond had blurted out, staring in horrified fascination at the supposed version of the Philosopher's stone sitting in his lover's palm. It looked so different from the one given to him by Hughes, this one being liquid instead of a solid but the feel of it was the same, oozing over his skin like a dark, oily touch, fairly reeking of wrongness. The thought of actually using something which drew its power from souls torn out of living, breathing human beings made him feel so sick, he could barely even bring himself to look at it. No matter how desperate he was, he could never bring himself to rely on such a thing.

"I'm not sure if he was using it or not but of a surety it's what got him killed," the Colonel had responded, a frown etching faint lines around his mouth that Ed had never seen before. It made the man look older than his thirty-one years and yet, somehow, even that was beautiful.

"I can't imagine someone even thinking of something like this. Who would go to such lengths just for…for this?" his voice had sounded sad as he lifted the tiny vile from the dark haired man's palm, lifting it with a shudder to watch the way the viscous liquid rolled against the glass as he tilted it between his fingers. The way the entirely of it moved together, no drops separating from the main mass was more than a little disturbing. Not to mention the way it seemed to hum in his grip, as if it was asking him to use it. Such seduction and it made him nauseous. Roy had sighed heavily, leaning back in the chair they had been sharing in the music room, the blond sprawled over the older man's lap.

"Some men would go to any lengths if it meant more power, no matter who they destroyed in the process nor what they had to do to ensure success," something in the dark haired man's voice had made the younger alchemist turn and look up, gold eyes searching the pale features that had been nearly invisible as he'd been looking out the window.

"You sound as if you agree with that way of thinking," even he could hear his own disappointment but Ed had not expected the older man to glance down at him with a laugh. A strong hand had dislodged his braid, carding through his hair and for a moment he had allowed himself to be distracted, shivering under the caress. It still amazed him how easily Roy could draw such reactions out of him. One little touch, and his entire body would blaze with heat, curling around like a great, scaled beast in the pit of his stomach.

"I used to," the man had admitted, his eyes still soft as he gazed down at his blond lover, the movements of his hand gentle and even, "And in some instances I guess I could see the merit in it. But should I come in to such power, I would use it for the betterment of humanity, not some misconstrued desire to raise myself onto some pedestal. There is no point if you're not doing any good with it," the words had shocked Ed into a momentary silence, though now he couldn't see why they would as he had known from the beginning that Roy was only the best kind of man. Then a burst of warmth had fairly exploded through him, raging through his veins like a tsunami until he could barely see past it and it had only a little bit to do with arousal. When he had been able to breathe again, he realized the seething heat that was sloshing about in all the small cavities of his body was love. The younger alchemist had slid into a sitting position, surprising the Colonel by straddling the man's waist and wrapping his mismatched arms around the strong shoulders, golden eyes roaming all over the pale features like he had never seen them before.

"I kinda really like you right now," he had whispered in a sultry purr, watching how those impossibly dark eyes blinked for a moment before darkening further, the heat in them familiar by now. The kiss they had shared was full of words left unsaid. But then again, if they had been, it would have just been redundant sentiment. When Roy had chuckled against his lips, the sound had shot through him like lightening, all crackling electricity, changing the heat into desire.

"We have to go in less than two hours," he'd said and Ed had just smiled, fingers sliding through hair as dark as pitch, not the least bit swayed by the half-hearted protest.

"That's two hours," and the little vial had dropped to the carpet to be forgotten for a long while…

With an air of reluctance as he pulled himself back to present time, he slipped the little cylinder of glass into his pocket, knowing he would not use it but feeling oddly comforted by the fact that it was there. The search for it after they had peeled themselves off the chair sometime later had been interesting to say the least, consisting of constant breaks for inappropriate groping and more sloppy kisses. Ed smiled to himself as he thought about it now, wondering if he would ever get enough of the Colonel's kisses. It seemed an impossibility; every single time it was different, that flavor flooding his mouth so that he drank as much of it as he could before air became scarce, like he had never tasted it before and would never get another chance again. It was like the world didn't exist anymore when he was wrapped in that secure embrace.

Gold eyes flickered to the clock and he sighed with resignation. They had to leave in a few minutes. All he really wanted was some of Roy's cooking and then lazing about the house, probably sprawled upon the dark haired man who had become his preferred pillow before they tumbled into bed. So much for that, though. Now he had to go stand around at some military function that reeked of bullshit and be bored out of his mind for who knew how many hours when he could have been at home getting laid…again. It was a distinctly aggravating thought. Maybe he could sneak some booze. After all, he would probably be one of the only underage people there. No one would give a shit and it could possibly make the whole thing a little bit more tolerable. Such was the line of his thoughts as he tugged on his uniform one last time when Roy's voice cut through the room, the man's deep voice impatient.

"Edward! What the hell is taking you so damn long? We have to g—" he looked up in surprise, wondering what had made the Colonel cut short like that, eyes meeting wide, onyx orbs in the mirror. Ed had a moment to appreciate how good Roy looked in his own uniform, hair slicked back in an unbelievably sexy manner before the blond saw the expression he was being pinned with. The older alchemist was staring right at him looking like he had been pole-axed, mouth open as he stood in the doorway. Having no idea what could have made the dark haired man so flummoxed, he turned to voice his confusion.

"What are you…" and he trailed off as the blank shock turned hungry, taking on an edge he had never seen before. It made his mouth go dry and he took an involuntary step back, trying to figure out what he had done to put that particular look on the older man's face. His heart skipped in his chest, pulse rocketing with anticipation and dread. It frightened him that he couldn't tell what was going on behind those dark eyes that were raking over him like he was something to be devoured. "Roy?" he breathed as he plucked at the hem of his jacket, the motion betraying his unease. That was what was needed to snap the man out of whatever trance he had been in.

"Holy fuck, Ed," and it took the teen only a second to realize that Roy only sounded like that right before, during or right after sex. Then he was striding across the room, presence huge and almost threatening, making the blond cringe back against the smooth glass of the mirror before he was being pinned, a protesting shout half caught in his throat. The older man was nearly violent as he slammed the smaller alchemist back, big hands on slender shoulders, mouth forcefully plundering Ed's with a fervor the blond couldn't keep up with. All he could do was open his mouth and let it happen, clinging to the rough material of the other man's uniform. Hips crashed against his own, a hard length jabbing against his lower abdomen through the layers of their clothes, the feel of it nearly making his knees weak. For a very long, breathless minute, he forgot that he should be protesting.

"Wait…R-Roy!" he gasped when he got a moment to grab a breath, shuddering as the older man ground against him while sucking on his earlobe like he was trying to swallow it, "No, we have—we have to go—oh!" teeth nipped at his jaw line before he was rudely spun around and shoved face first against the mirror, nearly kissing his own reflection, cap digging into his forehead, "What's the big fucking idea?!" but Roy ignored him, hands running all over his body, feeling strangely erotic through the restricting uniforms.

"Trust me, this won't take very long," the older man practically growled in his ear and Ed's eyes rolled back as his pants were undone, long, warm fingers sliding the material down his thighs, letting it pool at his ankles. As much as he really wanted to scream at the man for being a bastard, and a horny one at that, he couldn't deny how turned on he was, heat crashing through him, the way every little blistering touch dripped like lava to his already achingly hard erection making trying to think nearly impossible.

"Gonna…gonna be late," he grunted, his breath misting the glass he was pressed against, crying out when a finger was pushed roughly into him. The mirror was cold against the head of his cock as it ground against it. It surprised him how much the rough treatment was affecting him, making him harder than he could ever remember being, wondering if just one touch in the right place, or even just the searing moment of penetration would bring him to completion. A strong hand caught hold of his jaw, turning his head roughly so his mouth could be plundered again until he didn't even know which way was up, all the while nearly suffocated by the towering presence behind him. The finger in his ass was joined with another and he canted his hips back despite himself, forcing his eyes open enough so that he could look at Roy's face in the mirror behind him. What he saw made him tremble.

"We'll be on time," the man hissed, withdrawing his fingers with a crude, slick pop, leaving the blond feeling empty. The black eyes met his in the reflection as the blunt head of the man's cock pressed against his entrance, making Ed's fingers scrabble against the glass in futile search of purchase, "You look really fucking hot in this uniform, Ed," the Colonel groaned and then plunged deep.


News such as the kind that he and the small company of soldiers he had been fighting alongside had to bring back was crippling in the way of moral. Crippling in the sense that it could cost them everything they had been fighting to take back. And they had been so close too, the Ishvalites had been run out of the town a couple days ago and since then they had been able to hold onto it.

Until the moment Colonel Basque Grande had been shot.

It seemed so strange to him when he thought about it now as he supported a dark haired woman back to camp, a dangerous cluster of shrapnel in her thigh, that a man like the big, dark Colonel could be defeated by something so small and innocuous seeming as a bullet. Of course he had seen firsthand what a little piece of tempered metal could do to a human being when propelled at high velocities. Still, somehow the big alchemist had seemed like nothing short of a high-grade cannon could bring him down, especially with the alchemy he used. In the end, though, it had been a simple shot to the chest as he was distracted momentarily by giving orders. There was nothing special about the way he died either. One minute he was standing, a pillar of strength to which the men fighting under his command could refer to while his barked orders cracked through the broken streets and then he was falling, just like that, a bloom of crimson spreading over his uniform jacket. Al hadn't even had time to react. By the time he had made it over to the older man's side, the dark eyes were already glazed over.

What scared him the most was he was the next highest ranking officer they had on site. What the hell was he supposed to do? He didn't have any training! He had enlisted for the medical alchemy he had at his disclosure; he just wanted to help save lives that would otherwise have been lost, even if he couldn't save them all. Heck, he would be happy with just one. But Al had not the faintest idea how to hold together an entire troop and lead them into battle. The very thought of all these people that he had been getting to know, on and off the field, looking to him for their orders was overwhelming.

The blond Major dropped the woman off at the medical tent who offered him a small pained expression of gratitude before he went to find Second Lt. Ross. They needed an officer who knew what the hell they were doing because he didn't and he was afraid his inexperience would get more people than necessary killed. The very thought made him feel ill. It was true the rest of the camp took the news of losing their commanding officer hard and he could see the slumping of many shoulders when he made the announcement, watching as his breath plumed in the chilly air. The cold seemed to make the misfortune that much more unbearable and he wondered what he could do to give them the boost they desperately needed. Thankfully, Sergeant Brosh had a hopeful piece of information when he approached the radio tent, shivering as a particularly cool gust cut through him.

"There is someone in Central that I keep regular contact with and he told me they are deploying more troops tonight. Now that they know of our situation, maybe they could send an officer along too," Indeed the news was welcome and Al sagged against one of the tent poles with relief. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. He could stand in until someone else with more experience arrived.

"Thank God. It doesn't feel like it, but I have only been here for a few days," he said quietly as he rubbed his eyes with freezing fingers as if that would dispel the ache that had settled behind them. He looked up into warm blue eyes a moment later when the older man clapped him on the shoulder. The Sergeant didn't say anything but that was trust he saw burning in the blue gaze. Al nodded and straightened, knowing that he couldn't show weakness, even if he was the youngest one here. Yet as the sun dropped from the sky, giving over to the dark fingers of another icy night, he couldn't help his own tingle of fear. What if Central didn't send another officer after all?

"Major Elric, the perimeter is secure for the night but we are missing one of the men for first shift," Maria's voice was strong but quiet as she walked into the tent behind him and he nodded shallowly, vaguely recalling two others they had lost today.

"Yes. I'll take it," he answered before squaring his shoulders but the dark haired woman just shook her head, a hand on his arm to keep him from leaving. There was worry in his gaze.

"Sir. I'm sorry, but you have been going all day. I can assign someone else," but Al just smiled softly. Anyone else would be just as tired as he was. What sleep the soldiers on the front got was well earned and much too fleeting. The tall Major just shook his head.

"It's fine, Second Lt. I would rather it be me," and he hoped that was respect he caught in her eyes. It was gone before he turned away but it gave him a boost none the less. Just as he was about to round the corner of the tent, Denny's voice caught his attention, making him pause and look back. There was a warm, confident expression on the older blonde's face as he spoke.

"I think you'll be just fine, Sir," for a brief second, he almost believed it.


By the time Al managed to stumbled back to his tent, he was so tired, his eyes had dried up in his skull and he couldn't feel where his feet had gone to. The darkness was so deep around the camp, it gripped it like a cocoon of bitter, icy cold, forcing those that had been on watch to circulate around the camp's perimeter or they would have been in danger of losing toes. As he stomped his feet on the frozen ground, he wondered if maybe he hadn't. After all, there seemed to be no evidence whatsoever that they still existed. The weather itself didn't help any forlorn inclinations he had been assaulted with on and off during the day, expounded upon by the loss of their commanding officer. But what had put him there in the first place was the lack of his father's presence.

Seeing the man again had been more than a shock and he hadn't been unable to shake the residual resentment that originated from Ed's persistent hatred for their dad. It was true, the big blond man had abandoned them at a very young age but when he had glanced into the slanted gold eyes that looked so much like his older brother's he could see nothing but the warmth of love shining in their depths. It was not in Al's nature to resent people, even if he had been wronged by them and seeing that face again; hearing the deep voice that had often lulled him to sleep when he was a child had set free a longing that he had not even known existed. The young Major did not realize how much he missed his father until he was enfolded in the older man's arms, trying to suppress the resulting surge of violent emotion that he couldn't even being to untangle. It was the "I missed you, Alphonse," whispered into his hair that unlocked the tears as they held each other fiercely.

The Colonel had given them an hour to speak to one another, an insufficient time to say everything that needed to be said. The gold gaze that settled on him when they sat across from one another in his tent held so many questions and a familiarity that almost hurt, until he couldn't even bear to look anymore. The whole thing was so surreal, even as he heard his brother's voice in his head, deep and angry, filled with resentment as he blamed, over and over, their father for his wife's death. After all, it was a broken heart that had claimed her life, regardless of the sickness that had been its result. But obviously, considering the salty tears still clinging to the short, pale beard, the older man had not left because he didn't love them.

"Why did you leave us?" he finally asked, the heavy silence making him antsy. Hohenheim's lips pulled down in a deep frown, the lines around his mouth visible even underneath his facial hair and it was his turn to look away, the shadows in his eyes deep and shifting. After some hesitation, his response was reluctant and filled with an emotion Al didn't understand.

"That is not something I can talk about as of yet," the gaze behind the silver rimmed glasses was pleading, "Please don't resent me for that. I would tell you if I could. Just know that it was not of my own will," Al could do nothing but nod slowly, a sadness filling him, not for himself and the tragedy that had befallen them that could surely have been avoided if his father had not left, but for the man himself. He could see that the choice to leave his family behind, whatever the reason may have been, had grieved and weighed heavily upon him every single moment.

"I don't resent you, father," he said quietly, "But I cannot say the same for Ed," the gold eyes lowered, filled with regret and heart rending sadness. The older man heaved a heavy sigh, plucking at the thick material of his pants.

"I should have expected as much. That boy is nothing if not my son," he could see the fondness behind the bigger man's frown and when Hohenheim looked up again, his expression was somewhat amused, "You were always more like her, though," Al's breath had caught, then, a painful bubble ready to burst in his chest and he bit his lip, trying not to give in to the thought of how life could have been if his father had just stayed. Yet as much as he could have, and perhaps wanted to at times, the young Major would not pin what had happened in the past on the older man, "You have grown a lot, Al. You're nearly as tall as I am, though I am surprised that you have joined the military," the man gave him a lopsided grin which looked somewhat goofy on his face and the younger Elric couldn't help but laugh a little, noting how pride lit up the strong features. The way he sat forward, he could see there were many things he wanted to ask but could not.

"Me neither but I wanted to help. I kept some of your books and I could not sit by idly when I could offer my help," again that flash of pride, this time glittering brightly behind the clear frames and it set a small fire of warmth blazing in his chest.

"So then you're an alchemist?" it was not the words the older man really wanted to speak but Al nodded anyway, pulling the silver watch that had been sent to him just the day before out of his pocket and allowed his father to study it for a moment. The silver face flashed in the bright light spilling in through the tent's canvas walls.

"I'm alright but not as good as Ed," his father looked up at him sharply and for a moment he was seeing a different person sitting in front of him, intense, dangerous. Then the thin lips relaxed a bit, curling upwards in a bitter smile.

"Both of my sons have become alchemists. I guess that shouldn't come as much of a shock," the deep voice was quiet and Al couldn't help but wonder what that was such a terrible thing. After all, Hohenheim was supposed to be an outstanding alchemist, why wouldn't he want his two sons to follow in his footsteps? Then it occurred to the young Major that maybe the reason he left was because that was exactly what he was trying to prevent. Somewhat baffled, Al smiled hesitantly.

"I-I guess," then he warmed, grinning as he hoped to bring out more of that pride in the older man's eyes, "Ed doesn't even use a circle. He just claps his hands together and…" the smaller blond cut off when he noticed his father had frozen where he sat perched on the single stool occupying the tent, his eyes wide and face turning alarmingly pale, wondering what he had said wrong. The intensity of such a look scared Al a little, sitting back as if that would make a difference. The resulting silence was thick and he fidgeted nervously, wondering why he felt like a young child about to get scolded by his parent. Maybe he was. Finally the older man closed his eyes and dropped his head, shoulders tense.

"Alphonse, tell me. Tell me what happened, why the house was burned down and there's a grave with Trisha's name on it. What happened after I left?" the depth of the ache in the older man's words struck the Major hard and he looked away, down at the hands clasped hard in his lap. It had been so long since he had been forced to tell this story that at first the words stuck in his throat. He hoped it wouldn't make his father feel guilty but as he spoke, he found nothing on the older man's face but a blank interest that guarded against anything Al might have seen. There was grief when he told about their mother's passing, so sharp it hurt him all over again but when he talked about the nearly devastating attempt at a human transmutation, there was nothing. When his words finally ebbed away, his father's head was bowed, the long tail of blond hair falling over his shoulder.

"Dad?" he finally queried, almost dreading what he would say but when the older blond lifted his head, tears glittered like gold ice in his eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Alphonse," his voice was broken, full of pain, "I wish I had been there, so that you and your brother had not been so alone. I wish that I did not have to leave," and Al, feeling the grief reverberating through the ground, could only nod, his own tears thick in his throat. Later, when Hohenheim was setting out, he turned one last time to his youngest son, eyes bright in the chilly morning air. In his gaze was a longing the young Major could feel only too well.

"Can you tell me…Ed. Is he…what's he…" the attempt to find the words was endearing and Al could just imagine the look on his brother's face if he knew his father was asking about him. The younger Elric just smiled gently.

"He's alright, Dad. He looks a lot like you, you know. Even his hair, though he's still kinda short, but don't tell him I said that," he pulled a face, making Hohenheim laugh, the sound rich and rolling through the crisp air, "His control on his temper is somewhat lacking at times but I think he's doing okay," the words made him miss his brother something fierce but it was worth it, to see the smile that lit up his father's face. A big, warm hand had fallen to his shoulder and he looked up into gentle, familiar eyes.

"Thank you, Alphonse," the sincerity of his gaze was heavy with affection, leaving the younger man feeling warm and a little homesick, "You've turned into a fine young man. I hope I'll get to see you again someday soon," watching his father turn his back and leave for a second time hurt more than Al had thought it could. But at least this time there was some closure and an expression of hope that they would meet again, something he had not had nor would have understood the first time. It was enough, now, to know the man was still alive and still cared about them. Al smiled to himself as he turned away to return to his own duties; the raging voice that belonged to his brother grumbled quietly in his head.

Now, as the blond Major dragged his tired limbs across the small space to the opening of his tent, he just hoped that, when this was all said and done, they could all find one another again. Their mother may have been gone but they were all still family and he had a sneaky feeling Ed's resentment stemmed from love. The thought had him smiling softly to himself was he stepped into the relative warmth of his tent, as they had somehow managed to procure tiny oil burning space heaters for all of the tents. Only to stop short when he realized his tent was already occupied.

"Oh, hey, Al. I was wondering when you were going to get back," Winry's smile was like a healing balm, spreading like warm fire through his veins and he felt the cold recede slightly, though his toes were still numb inside of his boots. He grinned back, scrubbing one had through his shaggy blond hair as he threw himself onto the little stool, sighing loudly.

"Ugh, yeah. We lost one of the men who was supposed to take sentinel duty for the first shift so I took it for him," he said through his hands currently covering his face, leaning forward in order to soak in as much of the heat seeping through the little metal contraption sitting between him and his cot, where the blond mechanic was perched. For a second, he could think of nothing but the wonderful pleasure of the artificial heat curling through his veins, twining around his limbs and thawing his fingers and toes. The digits ached when feeling finally returned to them but he didn't really care because that meant they were all still there. Suddenly his hands were being coaxed away from his face and he glance up in time to have Winry climb into his lap, her heat like a furnace that blazed through him. Al remained silent as her weight settled on him, thighs on either side of his waist and her slender arms looped around his broad shoulders. The look in her blue eyes was shadowed.

"I heard about Colonel Basque Grande," she murmured, the sound of her voice doing funny things to the way his heart beat, making the Major shiver slightly when slim fingers carded gently through his hair, "Are you alright?" Al swallowed, trying to find where his words had fled to because the awareness of the girl's proximity came with a nearly debilitating flood of desire he was sure she would see in the light flush scrawling over his cheeks.

"Y-yeah, Win, I'm fine. We just have to wait until then send another officer," unable to take his eyes away from the way her plump lips curled slightly in a relieved smile, all the while keeping her hands moving against his scalp. Was it fair for that to feel so good? Heat nearly overwhelmed him when she leaned down, their lips joining in a slow kiss that stole his breath and made his toes curl within his boots. The softness of her mouth moving against his own, the heady taste that flooded his mouth when he slipped his tongue between her lips and the way their breath mingled, quickening as the kiss went on all battered at his defenses, breaking against him like a cresting wave. So far, he had been able to keep himself under some semblance of control when they were together like this but now he was unable to fight the fire that was pooling in his gut, spilling into his cock until he could feel it pressing against the front of his pants. If she moved even just an inch closer, he realized with a jolt embarrassment, she would feel it. But then something happened that made the fact that he was terribly turned on completely irrelevant.

"Alphonse," Winry's voice was like warm honey as they broke apart, both breathing heavy and before he had a chance to react, she pressed into him, body soft yet strong, the heat of it like an embrace, the sweet curves of her breasts against his chest making his heart slam a rapid dance against his rib cage. He thought that upon feeling his erection against her hip would cause her to shy away but before he could put his hands on her waist in order to put some more space in between them again, he was being devoured, the strength behind the mechanic's kiss shocking him. The passion was like nothing he had ever felt before, the way their hands sunk deep into each other's hair, traveled all over clothed backs and shoulders while their teeth knocked together, tongues tangling in a heady battle until he didn't even know what way was up anymore. He realized as he pulled away, sucking Winry's bottom lip into his mouth as he did and listening to her quiet whimper that they were lucky he hadn't tumbled backwards off the stool, "Al," she tried again, eyes wide and dark as she pressed her forehead against his own, "I want…I want…you…" and then broke off with a little groan as she rocked her hips forward, grinding against the hard bulge in his uniform.

For a second he was stunned, unable to respond as warm, wet lips swollen from their kisses pressed fleetingly against his cheeks and jaw. And then she moved on his lap again. A flash of pleasure bolted through him and he tipped his head forward with a groan, hands falling to her buttocks, long fingers digging into the pert muscles there. The blonde mechanic gave a breathy cry and he was lost. Really, if he was honest with himself, he had been lost the moment she had slid into his lap and first kissed him but it had not occurred to him they would be moving this fast. Not that it really mattered. He wanted this like he had never wanted anything before in his entire life and short of a bomb being dropped in the camp, he sure as hell wasn't stopping.

"Yeah," he whispered and allowed himself to be drawn into another deep, long kiss. Somehow they managed to untangle themselves without tipping the stool, though at one point it was a near thing as they bucked against one another for a long moment, unable to stop the delightful friction. The way her thighs tightened around him as he moved up into the fiery heat between her legs was almost enough but he wanted more. For so long he had dreamed of this, he wouldn't let it be cut short now.

It was a little cold as they slowly undressed on another, stopping to look and kiss and touch every so often, marveling as more and more skin was bared. Every single soft curve was highlighted with the dim golden light, making his breath catch and hands shake. The wide blue eyes were almost black as he slipped from his last piece of clothing but he barely registered the look because Winry had already kicked off her underwear and the straps of her bra were slipping down over her arms. Her stunning beauty made his mouth go completely dry, cock twitching as he contemplated the full roundness of her breasts and the narrow curve of her waist, shadows hinting at deep, secret places. Al had forgotten to be nervous even as he glanced back up and found her eyeing his erection with some trepidation.

"Wow," there was appreciation in her voice as she stepped forward, making his blush return and he had to fight the urge not to cover himself. When she looked back up at him, that unease was gone, replaced with a sparkle of excitement, "Very nice," and he had to laugh before he drew her to his cot, laying her down with a gentle kiss.

"I could say the same," he returned and then there were no more words because he was lost in the sloping curves and warm heat of the blond girl's beauty. Her skin was like the warmest silk under his fingertips, smooth and soft. Touches were lingering, exploring, trying to find what the other liked while desire burned steadily within his veins. Each and every sound she made shot right to the gathering pool of need in his stomach even as he was unable to stop the noises coming from his own mouth when slim fingers touched him just right…and then long, slender legs lifted, curling once more around his waist, a silent plea for more, more. Shaking and feeling as if he had been infused with sunlight, he shifted his hips, tip of his erection pressing against the source of her slick heat and found nothing but anticipation and love when his honey colored eyes met smoldering blue.

Just like that, the world had ceased to matter and he pushed forward, nearly blind as he was encased in tight, scalding heat…


Roy was wallowing in guilt.

No one would have thought so just by looking at him, of course, as his face was as smooth as ever, giving absolutely nothing of his thoughts away; though most of the people gathered in the large, elegant hall reserved for tonight's function would not have noticed if he started banging his head on the wall in self-loathing. There was a strange kind of atmosphere that had settled over all the uniform clad solders in the room that hummed with a barely perceived anxiety but he could barely pay it half a mind. Of course the Colonel knew he should be paying attention to his surroundings. Something important was about to happen, he could feel it by the way the very air seemed to hum against his skin and yet he couldn't seem to draw his mind away from what he had done to the young Major standing a few feet in front of him to the right before they had left the house. There had been times where he had allowed his fine control over his libido to crack, mostly happening only just recently but never had he felt the need break so…so…violently over him before. The moment he had stepped into his room and caught sight of the younger alchemist dressed to the nines in the complete dress uniform something had just…snapped.

A veil shifted over his dark, slanted eyes as he completely tuned the retired General up at the podium out, letting the anonymity of the neat, stiff rows become his shield as he replayed the earlier events in his mind, equal shares of shame and desire curling slowly through his gut. Though he stood somewhat removed from his company, being the leading officer, no one would think to study him over any other politely blank face in the room. At any rate, he highly doubted most of the officers gathered there were listening to the babbled smokescreen being spewed by the gentleman addressing them over the echo-y sound system.

First of all, it was highly unfair that his young lover should look so enticing just in his uniform. Seriously, it wasn't like Roy had never seen him in it before. But he had rounded the corner, distracted and completely unsuspecting and had been struck completely dumb at the sight. He had always known how the blue jacket hugged the teen's slim torso in neat, clean lines and the way the pants clung just right to his strong, slender legs. But he had never seen the cap perched on his golden head or the regulation boots, outlining his claves and shining in the bedroom light. Anything that he might have been saying crumbled to dusty shards to the floor, forgotten as he stared. The blonde had been standing before the tall mirror, a frown marring his shadowed face, half hidden beneath the rim of the hat. It was like looking at two Edwards. One he knew and cherished and another, distant, cold, radiating crippling power. It should have frightened him, the way it almost seemed like some kind of premonition but then Ed lifted his eyes, a question on his full lips that Roy didn't hear and he was completely lost.

The strange moment should have curved his desire but all he had been able to think that the younger man was fucking hot, that he wanted him so bad right then, that very second and if he didn't touch the blonde, he would surely shrivel away, winking out of existence. Then the kid had turned and said the Colonel's name and that was it. His blood had boiled over, turning to lava and he could barely see past the flood of white hot desire that resulted in an instant erection.

How he moved across the room so fast, he still wasn't sure but the only thing he had been able to register before he had Ed crushed up against the mirror was the alarm in the wide golden eyes, looking darker under that infernal hat. Then he didn't care about anything but the way those full, pliant lips opened hesitantly under his onslaught, tasting like honey and the sauce from the take out they had been forced to wolf down earlier or the way the lithe body pressed into his, drawing him into the boy's heat. He had wanted to touch everywhere, mark every last place on his body so that no one could mistake who the beautiful blonde alchemist belonged to. But somehow the younger man's breathless protests, something about being late, had managed to reach him through the haze. Heart slamming in his chest as he ground his hard cock against Ed's hip, he had left off trying to see if the small, neat ear would actually fit in his mouth so he could spin the kid around, desire spiking, turning into a kind of honed, single-minded intent. Even when the blond cursed at him, he'd found that he couldn't stop.

Even through the confines of the uniform material, he had tried to touch, to feel every last curve, not caring when stubborn buttons and stiff, rough fabric got in the way. He had growled an assurance in the younger man's ear, knowing they had a little bit more time, if they were fast. Considering how hard he was, the pressing confines of his pants nearly painful, it probably would be over embarrassingly quick. The gold eyes had looked into his through the refection of the mirror and he nearly lost it right then. He hadn't thought about if the kid would appreciate the rough treatment, especially when Roy had tried to be somewhat considerate all the other times they'd had sex; after all, he wasn't an animal. But the way the dark pink flush spread over the tan cheekbones, and how the wide eyes had become half-lidded, hazy with want was all he had needed. Without further delay, he reached around, his fingers trembling with the force of his desire, freeing the shorter alchemist from his pants, barely hearing the way the material whispered softly as it fell to the ground as his hands skimmed over the evidence of the younger man's arousal. All that had mattered was the way Ed shivered as his pale fingers slid over his bared skin, using his other hand to steady the already subtly rocking hips.

"Gonna…gonna be late," the boy had managed and Roy couldn't even remember what could be so important that it had his young lover trying to be reasonable. At that moment, he hated reasonable. Growling softly, he leaned over the younger man, capturing the wide gaze with his own, and pressed one of his fingers deep into the blonde's waiting heat. God, the sounds he made, heightened by the way Ed's hot, quick breaths were misting the glass, went straight to the building fire in his groin. The sudden need to taste the younger man again had him wrenching the blonde head around so he could sweep his tongue past the full, parted lips and greedily drink in every last sigh and whispered groan. Impatience had him slipping in another finger, mouth drying at the tightness that clamped down around the digits. No matter how many times they did this, the younger alchemist would probably always be deliciously, blissfully tight. Breaking away in order to breathe, he took in the half lidded look on his blond lover's face and just couldn't wait anymore.

"We'll be on time," it surprised him that he was able to form comprehensible words, even if they did crack under the weight of his desire. It was like he was starving, the hunger sharp, cutting into him like a blade through his gut. Using one hand to line himself up to the younger man's hastily stretched entrance, he looked into the mirror and was nearly blown away by the depth of trust and love he encountered in the lust darkened eyes. Sliding his other arm around Ed's torso, holding him as close as he could and knowing it could never be close enough, he groaned softly against the rough top of the blue cap, "You look really fucking hot in this uniform, Ed," and buried himself in the blonde's heat with one smooth, thrust.

Roy went positively blind for a moment, standing fully sheathed in that beautiful, velvety fire, barely having the presence of mind to comprehend that the blonde's cry had been one of pain rather than pleasure. Shaking with the effort of holding still, the dark haired Colonel pressed his forehead to the cool glass, listening to the soft, gasping breaths stirring the hair bushing his ear. It occurred to him to apologize, or at least try to assure the younger man to relax but it was taking all his will power to not come. Blood pounding frantically through his veins, he gritted his teeth and forced the swirling pleasure pulsing through him down until he was sure he wouldn't lose himself as soon as one of them moved. It helped when the younger alchemist relaxed his clamped muscles, turning his head and kissing the skin behind the Colonel's ear.

"Some time soon," the husky voice broke through his reverie and he couldn't help the unsteady smirk that he shot at the blonde through the mirror. Though he could see the evidence of discomfort still etched on the younger man's face, he obliged by pulling back slightly, his length sliding against the silky walls, groaning as his cock was grasped greedily as he moved. Ed made a keening sound deep in his throat as the older alchemist pushed back in, steadying himself against the mirror and spreading his legs so that Roy had more room to move. The action sent a burst of lust rocketing through him and that blazing sensation of desperate need washed over him again until he couldn't breathe.

After that, it was a blur of motion, of being buried over and over in his lover's velvety heat all the while the coil of pleasure burning deeper and deeper in his gut. His movements were fast and unforgiving, hips driving the blonde repeatedly against the glass that was already smudged with their breath and sweaty hand prints. It was so fierce and achingly gratifying, his head spun with the pure abandon of it. Ed was all around him, his musky scent, the throaty little cries and the way he kept pushing back into each of the Colonel's thrusts, using the flat surface of the glass for leverage. The way they were going, it would only last a minute or two more but even while he strove for his release, feeling it building and spiraling out from the place they were so intimately connected, he wished that it could have lasted forever.

"Uh…ah—h! Roy! There! God, again…YES!" a metal hand slammed against the mirror with such force the glass frosted in a spidery web, cracking at the sudden impact but he gave it half a thought because he could barely see past the fire that was raging through his veins. Every time he hit that one spot, Ed would clench around him and an answering fluttering bolt of pleasure bled through his veins, spiking in electric shocks through his abdomen and trickling down his thighs. God damn. It was right there…

He wasn't sure who lost it first, him or Ed, or maybe they came at the same time. Not that it mattered all that much. All he really knew was the sudden edge the pleasure had taken on and then he just couldn't hold back. Just as he jerked his hips forward with one last hard thrust, he felt the blonde stiffen in his arms, body arching against him and a wordless cry was shouted to the ceiling, the blonde head tossing back, now darkened around the hairline under the official military cap with sweat. The building tension in his gut shivered then broke, flooding through him in battering waves, until he couldn't hear past the roaring in his ears. If he made a sound, he was unaware of it, buried as he was deep inside the younger alchemist as he was, his orgasm sweeping over him like a storm. Awareness shattered for a brief moment, becoming a swirling dance of glittering light before the encompassing pleasure finally started to ebb, leaving him breathless and weak.

Ed's soft whimper in his ear brought him around and he opened his eyes as he realized that his knees had nearly given way and he was pressing the younger man hard into the smudged surface of the mirror. Trembling and feeling more than a little euphoric, he met the hazy golden eyes in the glass, blinking at him from under the soft fall of blond bangs. The corner of the full lips tightened, though in annoyance or trying to suppress a smile he wasn't sure. One thing he did know, however, was that he didn't think he could move it he tried. It was lucky that they were both still standing.

"You…" the husky voice cracked and the blonde cleared his throat before trying again, "You are insatiable, aren't you? Horny bastard," the boy's warm breath ghosted over his jaw and he turned his head where it was resting against the mirror and couldn't help the small, satisfied grin that curled over his lips. Ed looked completely and deliciously undone, hair falling out from under his hat, face flushed prettily and breathing still unsteady. He tightened his arm around the slim waist, wincing as the blonde shifted, movement sending a shock through his too-sensitive cock.

"Only for you," he breathed, craning his neck so he could capture the younger man's lips while in their awkward position. The contact was slow and wet, neither of them really caring enough not to be sloppy but it still had the effect of further weakening his knees, forcing him to pressed harder into the younger alchemist. Ed snorted as they broke apart, the taste of burnt sunshine filling his mouth and shot Roy a look from under his hat that would have had the dark haired man instantly hard again if he hadn't already just come.

"Right. You would think someone you're age would be able to keep it in his pants better," Roy jerked back, pretending to be offended and really just wanted to slam his head against the mirror, adding to the pattern of cracks already marring its surface. Of course, Ed was probably right. Still.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he demanded even as he leaned in to steal another quick kiss, noting how the blonde just titled his head to give him better access. Well, it least he knew the teen wasn't annoyed at him, as there was a tiny smile curled at the corner of his reddened lips, "I assure you, I blame this entirely on you and for your information…" but he stopped there, deep voice dipping as it broke off and he just offered the blonde another smile before pulling away, disliking the gasp Ed made when he pulled out. For some reason, his dark eyes flickered down as he moved his hands to fix his pants…and froze.

"What's for my information?" the teen asked, unaware of the Colonel's sudden lack of movement or where his eyes were drawn. The blonde just snatched a t-shirt that was lying on the floor nearby and started to clean himself off. But the older man was no longer paying attention because he was staring at the pinkish fluid running down the back of the younger man's thighs. White mixed with red. Suddenly the pleasant buzz that was usually left behind from earth shattering orgasmic bliss was all but gone, sinking beneath a sickening wave of guilt. All he had been thinking about was his own pleasure and had lost all control. Now Ed was standing there, back somewhat turned to the dark haired Colonel as he cleaned off the front of his uniform with soft, muttered curses completely clueless to the fact that his blood was mixed with Roy's cum as it dripped down his legs. He didn't even realize the younger man had stopped moving and was eyeing him warily over his shoulder, "Roy? You alright there?" he blinked dark, slanted eyes and tried to smile, bringing back the blonde's words with difficulty.

"Um, nothing, just…I was never…like this," he gestured between them with a shaky wave of his hand while trying not to shudder at the thought of hurting the younger man, "You know, before I met you," his words sounded awkward even to himself but it earned him a small, soft smile that made his insides flip, momentarily taking his mind off the sticky substance Ed was now calmly wiping off his legs. But the only thing the younger man said as he bent down to pull his pants back up was a slightly muffled,

"I'll fix the mirror when we get home," the Colonel nodded numbly as he fixed his own pants, glancing at the now cracked glass and swallowing dryly as he took note of the suggestive smudges and Ed's release dripping down its smooth surface. Well, it was clear the blonde had enjoyed it and he said nothing about Roy hurting him as he swiftly buckled his pants up. But over and over he saw it in his mind's eye, the evidence of his lack of care and selfishness. How could he have been so stupid? Another wave of guilt slammed into him as the younger alchemist shot him a look as he walked by somewhat stiffly, the expression in his eyes bemused but he couldn't look into the golden eyes. Even the little peck on his cheek didn't shake the shadows that clung to his vision, though all he wanted to do was sweep the kid into his arms and apologize. He didn't realize he was still standing in the middle of his bedroom, staring at his broken and soiled mirror, gnawing on the dark self-loathing swirling in the pit of his stomach until Ed poked his head back into the room, hair fixed, looking like nothing had ever transpired between them, "You plan on standing there and making us even later?" and all he could do was choke on the guilt.

"Did I hurt you?" he managed to finally form the words while they were in the car, the sunset burning over the city like a sea of diluted blood and making him feel slightly sick. But Ed just looked over at him from the passenger seat and he could see the younger man's confusion even from his peripheral vision.

"Hurt me? What are you talking about?" the blonde sounded bewildered and Roy wondered how he could not know to what he was referring. Though he knew if Ed was really in pain, he would certainly be hearing about it…loudly, it occurred to him that perhaps the younger alchemist didn't want to hurt his feelings. Then he snorted to himself. Right. Like the blonde was ever worried about hurting his feelings.

"Before, when we…" he paused and tried again, "did I hurt you?" he had tried to make his voice sound normal but it came out somewhat strangled. There was a second or two of complete silence before Ed affected a laugh, the sound rough and startlingly beautiful.

"What, you mean when you jumped me and shoved me against the mirror?" another wave of shame but apparently the teen couldn't see his anxiety because he barreled on, tone sarcastic and teasing, "Well, I probably won't be sitting comfortably for the next few days, if that's what you want to know. Hopefully we will be standing most of the time tonight because I can just see Havoc's stupid knowing smirk from here," the remark may have made him laugh any other time but now he thought of how inconsiderate he had been, of the sight of Ed's blood mingling with Roy's cum as it ran down his thighs and he just shifted in his seat behind the wheel, deliberately not looking at the blonde. If the younger alchemist thought he was being odd, Roy didn't notice.

"I love you," he'd said it softly, as they were walking through the parking lot, the words sounding sad and apologetic and he could tell he caught the younger man off guard by the way Ed faltered slightly in his steps. There was no response and while it grated on him, he tried to pretend that he didn't feel the heavy, questioning weight of the gold gaze watching his every move.

And now he was here, outwardly professional while his insides knotted themselves in uncomfortable knots. He knew, of course, that his young lover's words in the car had been more of a careless tease than anything else but he couldn't help but note, when watching Ed while they were still gathering in the big hall, the soft murmur of polite voices washing over them that the kid was walking with slightly less grace than he usually did. The sight would have him thinking all over again of his rather violent lack of control and he would be feeling sick all over again. Keeping his arms stiffly behind his back and feet planted at shoulder width, he let his eyes travel to where the younger alchemist was standing, his face turned away so that Roy could only see the curve of his cheek, hair still covered by his hat. He looked no different than any of the other officers in the room, blending in neatly but the blonde may as well have had a neon sign attached to his back that screamed at the older man in blaring letters. Ed wouldn't shift and give himself away but the Colonel could tell he was paying less attention to the older man up in front of the crowd speaking in affluent tones and more to the rest of the room. In an effort to escape the gnawing guilt, he discreetly followed the teen's gaze.

It wasn't just the men and women from headquarters that were present but civilians too, each one of them dressed in elegant gowns and expensive suits. Their aristocratic airs stood out as much as their clothing next to the stiff formality of Ametris's uniform clad soldiers, watching on with cool, calculating gazes. He knew who they were; everyone did. They were the elite of Central, from the upper east side of the city, from families of politicians and successful business men. They were the deep pockets that backed the military because, after all, war was expensive. The whole thing was a farce, a show. As he listened to the retired General rattle on, he saw the pretty words for what they were. Propaganda.

Of course, he was already expecting this but it was still a shock of disappointment. He had always known, even when he was newly enlisted, that the military was corrupt by both power hungry men who fancied themselves politicians and by other, darker things that he had witnessed during the first war. That was when he had made a promise, to both himself and the people that he could help, that one day, he would be the one at the top. Everything he did would be in the genuine interest of Ametris and her people, with no shady under dealings and he would do everything in his power to see that the right thing was being done. Roy shifted his gaze so that he was looking past the podium to the man whose place he wished he could one day take. Bradley stood with perfect confidence, hands behind his back and chin lifted in the air, secure in the knowledge that no one could shake the pedestal upon which he stood. The Colonel almost snorted out loud. The day was coming where power would be exchanging hands and he would be the one that rose while the rotten remains of Bradley's corrupted reign crumbled to dust.

Though he remained outwardly blank, feeling the pressure of empty promises filling the room as they tried to suck away all the air, a fierce determination surged up inside of him, blazing like gold in the sun. He knew he was strong enough and if it meant he needed to overthrow the entire command chain, then so be it. More men were willing to ally themselves to a cause rather than stick around because of fear. And those that would stay to support Bradley and his cronies he wouldn't want serving under him anyway. He would succeed too. It wasn't in Colonel Roy Mustang to lose at something like this. Resolve flooded his veins and turned to steel and the dream of freedom from tyranny was bright, like a newly opened window into the future. It wasn't for himself that he would do this, either, like he had once thought it would be. There was something more, or someone rather, that he had to fight for and it was for Ed that he would succeed.

When King Bradley shifted his single eye and caught Roy's dark gaze, he looked back with a calm assurance because very soon, it would be him standing up there. A controlled kind of confidence blazed through him, so strong he wondered if Hawkeye standing beside him could feel it and his Excellency must have seen it for his ever present frown deepened, turning into a question and the Colonel could see how the man was enraged by his blatant challenge. Roy was the first to look away, of course, for Bradley still held most of the cards and it wouldn't do to arouse the man's ire even more. But he had something that was a more powerful weapon than a hundred guns or swords.

He had Ed and for that, he would be strong enough to end a war that had been raging far longer than anyone realized.


Though he had not known Roy for a very long time, he had always thought that he was pretty good at reading people. Yet even if he had just met the Colonel, he could tell the older man was acting peculiar. His dark eyes were narrowed slightly more than usual, as if he was trying to hide something that swirled violently in their depths and he had a habit of staring off even when he was speaking with someone. The speeches had ended a little less than fifteen minutes ago, leaving everyone free to enjoy the refreshments that had been provided and now Ed was standing off to the side with Fury and Falman, both of whom were rather more subdued than normal (if that was possible) watching as blue uniformed officers mingled with well dressed strangers that glittered a little too much to be entirely sincere. The blonde Major held a glass of something bubbly and alcoholic in one hand, eyes subtly tracking the movements of the dark haired Colonel as he made his way through the room. It was that very same expression he had seen on the older man's face when he had turned around after being pounded into against a mirror, though he was at a loss what had put it there. Everything had been fine, though he had wondered if he would be able to keep his feet after that particular orgasm had burned through him, their banter had been easy and light, giving the afterglow a sharp, exciting edge. Then, all of a sudden, Roy had just…shut down. There was no other way to describe the way he dark eyes had flattened when they met Ed's again. And then that question in the car.

His gold eyes flickered back to his superior officer and he schooled the frown from his face. Something was definitely bothering the man and it wasn't the older gentleman talking with a disinterested tilt to his head at the Colonel. Ed's hand tightened on the delicate glass in his hand, unease trickling down his spine. All he wanted to do was drag the man away and find out what was wrong so that he could at least try and ease that little line that had appeared between the dark eyebrows. But he dared not show any more interest in the older alchemist than he would anyone else, afraid of what people might see if he let his guard down. Thankfully, he was too new for anyone to really take an interest him, though he would have to be blind if he didn't see the curious looks some of the well dressed patrons kept casting in his direction. It was somewhat unnerving, and he hoped that it had more to do with his unusual looks and the watch hanging from his belt than something more.

The Colonel, it seemed, did not have the same luxury of anonymity, constantly approached by both officers with insincerity in their eyes as they greeted him with lazy salutes and civilians in their expensive clothes. What they had to say to the dark haired alchemist he was too far away to hear but he could see by the rigid line of Roy's shoulders he wanted to be very far from this place. He was a little more…there when speaking with his fellow officers in uniform but there was an obvious distance in the way he spoke, moved, in his deep, dark eyes when other's approached him. It was the most pronounced when tall, beautiful, bored women with gold dripping from their fingers and wrists dared to put a hand on his sleeve or his shoulder. When that happened, he would lift his eyes and Ed would meet them with the smallest of smiles, even as he screamed inside, longing to go up to that red head, that brunette, that blonde (so obviously fake) and snarl at them to take their hands off of him because he's mine! All the while, tension coiled through the room like a venomous snake, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, to snap.

His shoulders hurt and the joints in his fingers and where his automail was seated in his skin ached and he found himself glancing to were King Bradley stood, looking like he owned the fucking world as he spoke to some rich older man with a pot belly and a thick, white mustache. Of course he would be the only one seemingly unaffected by the strange atmosphere. Ed wondered, for the sake of his sanity, when the storm would finally break.

The answer came ten minutes later in the form of a dark haired man he had never seen before wearing a pale suit, a ted tie and a silver State Alchemist watch hanging from his pocket.

A low murmur caught Ed's attention first, just a monotone rumbling that moved through the brightly lit hall like warning thunder. It came from the direction of the entrance, people blocking his way so that he couldn't see over their heads, much to his chagrin. When the status quo changed in such a manner, that was when things tended to get messy but he clenched his fist, telling himself that he couldn't know that until it happened. There were a lot of rich people here so perhaps someone famous had decided to grace the gathering with their presence. The thought had him snorting to himself a moment later thinking the only thing that would be good for was the distraction. Yet as he watched, the ripples went not through the well dressed patrons all looking on in mild curiosity but the officers, their surprised shock moving through the room and kicking up the sharp atmosphere another couple notches.

The man that eased his way through the crowd was shockingly good looking, with his dark hair falling down his back, only tamed with a ribbon that matched his silk tie. Startling yellow eyes flickered over the present faces with an amused kind of disinterest, the gaze slanted even more so than Roy's. And then Ed caught sight of the oily smirk scrawled across his thin lips and instantly recoiled. This man was dangerous and evil, the feeling he had only gotten from one other person the same and he hadn't even needed to talk to him to recognize it. He could see it in the cool glimmer of his narrowed eyes and the comfortable, easy way he strode through the crowd, aware that the attention he was getting was mostly negative and not caring in the least. Ed had seen that before and it scared him as much the second time around. This man reminded him of Envy.

Nothing good could come of this man's presence here.

The fact that he was clearly a State Alchemist but had shunned the mandatory uniform just seemed to pronounce the fact. Instinctively, he let his eyes flicker over to Roy to find the man had already seen the new arrival and by the look on his face, be both knew he was trouble and, more importantly, knew why. All of the distance had dissolved from his dark gaze and it was now flat and guarded, iron filling the black depths that reminded him of fear but was really something else entirely. Maybe anger, maybe discomfort. He wanted to ask but it would seem odd for him to walk up to his superior officer at a function such as this and start asking him random questions. Even so, his curiosity was peaked as he followed the progress of the yellow eyed alchemist through the room. Sometimes he would stop and say a few words to one of the higher ranking officers, drawing different reactions from each, ranging from a pleased kind of surprise to outright hostility. All the while, the silky smirk never faltered and never changed.

But something else did when he paused in front of Roy. Not his expression, perhaps and the Colonel was too much in control of his emotions to allow someone such as this stranger to have any power over what he showed to the outside world. Their eyes clashed in a way that should have had sparks flying all about the room. Yet it seemed that Ed was the only one who really noticed for most of the guests had gone back to their meaningless conversations by now. The encompassing rumble of voices made it impossible for him to hear what the two dark haired alchemists were saying to one another, though he doubted he would have anyway as he was standing too far away. Yet he could tell by the line of the Colonel's shoulders and the set of his mouth he was far from happy with the content of the conversation he was involved in. Trying to act as if he was moving without a purpose, he skimmed the edge of the room, maneuvering around people and a large, marble pillar until he could see Roy's sharp profile, his voice managing a deep, silken tone while containing a restrained hitch that spoke of anger.

"…care what you do, Kimbly. I don't see why you're out in the first place and it would be in both of our interests if you stayed away from me while you're here," though his voice remained low and somewhat flat, the threat was as real as any he had ever heard. Ed blinked, trying to move closer while seeming like he was just wandering through the crowd, keeping his eyes down but his ears trained. Obviously whoever this Kimbly was, Roy disliked him as much as the blonde had ever seen him dislike anyone. The other man smiled, the expression making the young Major feel slightly ill, moving closer to the Colonel as if they were sharing a great secret.

"They shortened my sentence because my skills are irreplaceable and they recalled all the good that I did in the last war. It's about time somebody did," okay, so this man had served with Roy during the first war. The dark haired Colonel seemed to lean away from Kimbly, his face hard and set, though Ed doubted he would have even noticed the movement if he didn't know the man as well as he did. He could almost feel the animosity rolling away from the two men, an undertone of dark, bitter words.

"You were sentenced as a war criminal with that so called good that you did, in case you have forgotten eleven years in jail that you served," Jail? War criminal? The blonde looked again at the long haired alchemist and swallowed against the roiling bile of disgust, "It should have been more, too. How did you weasel your way out of it?" Ed could feel his head reeling, wondering what this man could have done that earned him more than eleven years in jail for what he did during the war. Then he caught the movement of his hands, noting the way his sleeves feel away to reveal a transmutation circle…tattooed into his skin. The disgust returned twofold. Now the man laughed, a sound he wished to never hear again as it grated on his nerves with the pure lack of actual humor in the sound. Roy's nose flared and his dark eyes turned into little chips of black ice, narrow and glaring in a way the blonde never hoped to get caught in.

"Ah, you always did shy away from what always needed to be done in order to ensure the most solid victory," and he clapped the Colonel on the shoulder as if they were old friends. It was a surprise, considering the expression of consuming rage that flashed across Roy's face, that Kimbly did not combust into a smoldering pile of ash. Roy shrugged off the heavy hand as if it burned, glaring straight into the laughing yellow gaze.

"I did what I knew was right. The scruples that you seemed to have either abandoned or forgotten about are what makes us human. Everything I did was based on necessity and remained within the range of my orders. What you did was murder," Ed's mouth was dry by the end of his lover's speech, a sweeping pride swelling within his chest that made him want to go up to the older man and kiss him within an inch of his life. Here was where the quality of the man shone through and he didn't leave anything for wanting. This was the man he had fallen in love with in all of his shining glory. It was hard to control the huge, shit eating grin that wanted to spread out all over his face and he had this sudden urge to turn to someone in the vicinity and say, "That man is mine," Of course he couldn't do that but he wished he could. Yet Kimbly didn't seem to see it the same way. He just laughed that high, oily laugh while looking at the Colonel disbelievingly as if he was sure the man was telling a lie.

"Whatever you need to think so you can sleep easier at night but I know the truth, Colonel Mustang. You're not so different from me," and the man laughed again as he drew away, shaking his dark head so that his hair slithered like a snake against his back. Roy kept his face as smooth as glass but Ed could feel his unease even from where he was standing. He breathed an inaudible sigh when Kimbly turned his attention to someone else across the hall, still unable to believe what he had heard. It was a credit to his lover that the man had been able to retain his appearance of uncaring aloofness even in the face of his rage. Something like that would have melted him and he was almost certain he would have tried to kill that bastard Kimbly had it been himself talking to the man. As it was, he was glad that wasn't because he was sure, just by observing him for a matter of two minutes he would never want to know such a person.

Just then Roy's eyes flickered to where he stood, catching him off guard for a moment. He offered the smallest of smiles, hoping to get rid of the knot that had formed between the dark eyebrows. The Colonel wouldn't smile back at him, not in such company where if the wrong person caught it, conclusions would be made that could mean trouble for them but the blonde was rewarded with a lessening of that flat look in the ebony gaze. In a way, it was better than a smile. Their eyes broke the stare, flitting around the room and when he looked again at the older man, Roy tipped his head the tiniest bit, lips curling upwards a just a fraction and slid his eyes to the left, towards the door. Confused, Ed followed the glance but when he looked back, the Colonel had already turned his attention to a dark haired woman who had just walked up to him, engaging in a conversation with a smile that was completely put on. What kind of game was the man playing now?

Ed fidgeted, suddenly agitated and wondering what he was missing, taking an absent sip of the drink he still held in his hand only to nearly gag on the amount of alcohol that slid down his throat. It burned like a brand in the pit of his stomach and he fought a grimace. Carefully he glanced at his dark haired lover again to find that sly gaze was leading his eyes back towards the doorway. It was a quick glace and the woman didn't notice as she had been too busy laughing at something Roy had said but when the blonde followed it again, it clicked.


So that's what he wanted.

The young Major had to swallow a grin when he understood what the sly glances meant. They couldn't be seen leaving together, at least not in any obvious way but it was clear Roy wanted to follow him out. It was too early yet for any of them to leave the premise as it would seem disrespectful to do so. King Bradley had not yet spoken to the crowd gathered and he knew any of the Colonel's men would be missed should they not be present for it. There was too much suspicion riding on their shoulders already and he would be stupid to think that their recent activities in digging into things the Military no doubt hoped to keep hidden had not gone unnoticed. Envy's little stunt had been a pronouncement of that. But that didn't mean they had to stay in the hall the entire time. After all, they were within the headquarters' compound; it would only look as if they had headed to the bathrooms. He tipped his own head to the side and as he pretended to take a sip of the horrendous drink, he met that ebony gaze dead on, his agreement loud in the second-long look.

Casually, Ed turned away, making his way through the crowd as if it wasn't planned, moving more towards the door with every step. Very few people acknowledged his presence, as he was neither a high standing officer nor had he been part of the military for very long. He was grateful for the partial anonymity it offered him and realized the wisdom of him exiting the room first. Where he had not been stopped once in his trek towards a temporary freedom and a quick rendezvous with his Colonel, Roy would probably be stopped more than a dozen times. No doubt the man would be gritting his teeth the whole time, too and the thought made him laugh a little spitefully. It was a fitting, if round-about revenge for the man insulting him about his handwriting that morning. As he stepped out, he completely missed the yellow gaze that followed his progress with a disturbing amount of interest.

The wide, sweeping corridor outside the hall was considerably cooler and less crowded than it had been inside, letting him take an inconspicuous breath. It felt good as it seeped into his lungs, making him realize just how tense he had really been in the company of so many strange people. He kept his steps measured and even as he walked away from the wide doorway currently spilling people, eyes forward and not too intent. Even so, it was hard to tamp down the sudden excitement starting to boil and surge in his veins. It all felt so very illicit, sneaking away to meet his lover in some dark corner and while he doubted they would do very much more than kiss (and probably let their hands wonder more than they should he thought with a surge of glee) it was still something that could get them discharged from the military should they be caught by the wrong person.

There were some people occupying the halls as he walked thinning as he continued on, disappearing all together as he strode purposefully past the bathrooms. That would just be too obvious and the place was too popular while there were so many people occupying the building. No, he needed a place that was relatively close by and that wouldn't have any unexpected visitors barging in on them. Especially if things did start to heat up, which, despite his better judgment, he hoped they did. Which meant the library was the perfect place. It was just in the next wing of the sprawling building, a few turns away and because everyone had been ordered to the function, it would be abandoned for the night. The blonde allowed the grin to curl at the corners of his lips; sometimes he astonished even himself with his brilliance.

Ed was in the corridor that ended in the big, double doors of the library when he heard a second pair of footsteps echoing faintly behind him, the strides a little longer than his own and confident. Three long hallways ago he had left behind the confusing sounds of movement and the low murmur of many conversations, the silence keeping him company as he walked. This was the first time it had been broken and his heart skipped. Heat leapt in the pit of his stomach but he forced himself not to hurry, scalp prickling with the presence that was quickly gaining on him. What they were doing was stupid and dangerous yet as he reached the locked doors and turned to watch the Colonel appear down at the other end of the hall, the niggling caution at the back of his mind disappeared, all of his attention honing in on the dark haired man bearing down on him. Was it a bad thing that just looking at the older man made his fingertips tingle with anticipation? He rubbed them on his pants and smiled when Roy stopped a few feet away, face bland.

"I was wondering if you were going to pick up on it," the man started, voice teasing, "You were a bit slow in the uptake," The blonde rolled his eyes even as he glanced down the hall, just to make sure they had gone unnoticed. It was empty save for them.

"Whatever, old man. Does that mean you weren't enjoying the excuse to flirt with all of those women in there?" he crossed his arms over his chest as he watched Roy try the doors and then frown at them in annoyance upon finding them locked. He noted absently the dark hair slicked back the way it was tonight accentuated the older man's sharp, handsome features and made his mouth go a little dry. The way it normally fell into his eyes would always be just right but this look was sexy in its own right. Then the Colonel glanced at him with humor dancing in his dark eyes, one eyebrow arched high on his pale forehead.

"Of course. But then I realized that none of them were half as pretty as you so it kind of ruined the whole thing," Ed glared over the furious blush that seeped over his face but before he could complain about being called "pretty" the man fixed the door with a stare that clearly said it had done something to offend the Colonel and why wasn't something being done about it, "The damn door is locked," he grumbled and the blonde swallowed a laugh.

"What the hell do you think alchemy is for, you moron?" he said in exasperation, rolling his eyes again, a gesture that had become automatic in the past month, and pressed his palms together. The dark eyes narrowed slightly as he touched his hands to the wall beside the doors, letting the reaction flow through his arms and feeling it tingle against his flesh fingertips. A second door blossomed where a stretch of solid wall had been, huge and imposing, with scrawling designs fairly dripping from the dark wooden surface. They both blinked at it for a second and he shrugged when the older man arched his eyebrow at the young Major again. Okay, so he got a little carried away. Deciding to go with it, he pulled the thick, heavy ring that served as a handle with a flourish, indicating for Roy to go first. He could tell the man was biting back an amused smirk and when he walked past, through the doorway, Ed caught a mumbled,

"Showoff," He cuffed the Colonel up the backside of his head as he followed the man through.

The air in the library was heavy and muffled as he quickly transmuted the door back into its original solid, bland wall, not wanting to be discovered through his carelessness and had just lifted his hands away from the flat surface with smug satisfaction when he was grabbed from behind and dragged into a crushing embrace. For a second he blinked in surprise, hands automatically lifting up to curl around the older man's forearms locked around his chest.

"Have I mentioned that you're awfully needy today, Roy?" he sniped after he got over his surprise, turning his head towards the older man whose chin rested on his metal shoulder, breathing deeply against the blonde's neck. Not that he really minded, of course. These moments were precious and not half as frequent as he would have liked. Of course he liked the sex but he liked just being with the man, being held by him, talking to him, just basking in the reality that Roy was his. The Colonel hummed softly against his skin, the sound pressing in all around him, stroking down length of his spine like the gentlest caress.

"I just needed to get out of there for a few minutes…you know, I've always had an allergy to women's perfume?" the man chuckled softly as Ed voiced his disbelief, kissing the curve of the blonde's ear, "I know, but I'm serious. It was one of the things I couldn't stand when…well…that doesn't matter now anyway," and he buried his nose in the younger man's neat ponytail, breathing deeply again. Somewhat flattered because he knew the dark haired man was giving him a roundabout complement, the teen couldn't help a please smile. It was interesting that Roy was allergic to perfume considering how many woman he used to date.

"Was that why you wanted to leave?" he asked quietly, leaning back into the Colonel's strong chest and feeling the steady heartbeat against his shoulder blades. For a long moment he was quiet, the dark shadows of the library closing in on them, as if it sensed that their presence was an intrusion but was waiting to see what they would do. It gave him disturbing flashbacks of another library, one whose demise had come about in a consuming rage of flames and whose fate he had almost shared. Shuddering, he tried to shove the memories away and twisted in his lover's arms so that his chest was pressed to Roy's and his arms could go around the man's waist. It always surprised him when he discovered how well they fit together, even now.

"Partly," the Colonel's voice was soft, barely breaking the full silence that permeated the big space, "I just hate that this whole thing is a ruse to cover up something that has the potential to tear the entire country apart and I can't do anything with what I know because there isn't any solid proof. At least, not the kind that people would understand. And there are still too many people within the military who are brainwashed by the corruption that is eating our home apart…" Ed tightened his hold on the older man and listened to his heart, thumping strong and steady against his ear. The words spoken were beautiful and pure, coming from the bottom of the Colonel's soul that ached to see what was happening to his beloved country. With his background, the blonde had the minimum regard for the place in which he had been born but he could see Roy loved his home country. Watching it falling apart and being powerless to stop it in time must have become like a physical hurt, one that festered with frustration and helplessness. He had a second-long impulse to say something stupid and meaningless, like he was sure it was going to be fine but he hadn't the heart and decided that would only make the older man feel that much worse because they both would know the words were a lie. Then Roy seemed to pull out of his dark thoughts, snorting loudly.

"What?" he pulled back so he could see the handsome features that were currently scrunched in disgust. The ebony gaze was flat with remembered anger and resentment, the same expression he had been wearing earlier.

"That bastard Kimbly," he shook his dark head, "Him even being here tonight just goes to show how far everything has fallen," Ed didn't like the disgust and pain evident in the older man's voice but instead of commenting on that he leaned heavily on the Colonel, resting his chin on his hand he had pressed to the strong chest.

"How do you know him? He seemed to be familiar with you," Roy's expression turned even darker and for a long moment he thought the older man wasn't going to answer. Slender eyebrows drew down as the dark gaze looked at the wall, seeing things that only the Colonel was privy to. The blonde wanted to shake him a little as the whole evening had worn away what little patience he already possessed but he resisted, knowing the man would tell him what he needed to on his own time.

"I don't know how much you overheard," he started, drawing them deeper into the library so that they wouldn't be accidentally seen through the windows of the main doors, "Both Kimbly and I started as State Alchemists at the same time, when the war with Ishval first started up. Our alchemy and style were similar and in war, invaluable. I could create blazes and he could create explosions. We were handy weapons," by this time, they were deep within the dark, towering stacks, the books mere shadowy suggestions upon the shelves. Their duet of echoing footsteps were the only sounds to be heard, keeping cadence with the older man's voice. He let himself be led by the large hand curled around his own until they encountered a private cluster of tables used for study during the day. Due to his agitation, Roy would not sit but Ed perched himself on the edge of one of the tables, taking a secret delight in the graceful way his lover prowled as he paced slowly back and forth. The man looked like a dark, majestic lion who had been cornered but was not yet defeated. The Colonel's eyes were fathomless with remembering as he continued speaking, "In that, we were alike but that was where the resemblance ended. Upon joining the military, I had a vision of one day having the means of making things better. I wanted to gather as much power as I could so that I could do as much good with it as my station allowed. Of course I had to go to war and to follow orders; then, that was the only way I could see myself succeeding. Excellent conduct gets a soldier the right kind of attention. Then, I was under the impression that the military was a good and infallible force that existed to help and protect the nation and its people and I just wanted to be a part of that. How quickly are such visions destroyed," he gave a disappointed shake of his ehad before continuing, "Kimbly…did not join for such noble, however ignorant they might have been, goals. He was a weapon and that was all he ever wanted to be.

"War is never what you think it will be. Every soldier who has never been to a battle field thinks it is glorious, a place for valiant deeds to be done, for greatness to be revealed and for the evil against which they will be fighting to be conquered. I thought that, once," the dark eyes met his own for a brief moment and Roy's smile was sad, "I was not that much older than you, then. But war is the opposite of all of those things. There is no time to think of doing something brave and courageous and if you do, it is because you must, not because you were given a choice. War is killing, is blood, is pain, is insanity. All that you care about is surviving while carrying out the orders that you have been given. It is the farthest thing from glamorous; you are dirty all of the time and tired and hungry. The enemy is not some faceless evil but people who just have a difference of opinion and who are doing the best they can to survive as well," Ed could hear the pain in his voice again, the trembling waves of it touching upon him and making him want to reach out and pull the older man to him; to press his face to the warm neck and hum under his breath until the Colonel relaxed in his arms. But he just pushed his hands under his thighs and leaned forward, wide eyes intent and taking in every word as if he could see them. He thought of his brother, having to experience everything Roy was describing and a thick lump formed in the back of his throat, making it hard to swallow. Still, he said nothing.

"I came to hate what I had to do very quickly. I watched people burn before my eyes and my flames destroyed whole villages. They called it war but I saw it for what it was. Genocide. We were wiping out an entire race and I was helpless to stop it. Or myself. If it was not for Maes and Hawkeye, I would have taken my life on one of those smoldering, lifeless fields," their gazes met again and this time Roy stilled, uncertainly flashing in the depths of his eyes. The blonde was glad that he was sitting on his hands for he would have gouged pieces of his palms out with his nails in anguish. He had not known any of this; of course, he knew war was hell and that the Colonel had served in Ishval but he had not known it had driven the older man to such despair that he could witness it even these many years later. It only made him that much more determined to get to the bottom of the mystery behind what the military was up to. Seeing the way he lover was hesitating, paused in his rhythmic pacing along the marble floors, he tilted his head to the side and reached out finally, tangling slim fingers with the chain of the silver watch at the older man's belt.

"Then if Kimbly was so unlike you, what was it he did that ended with him in jail?" he asked softly, breaking the shadows in the dark gaze and watching them get chased away by anger. Roy stepped away and the younger alchemist let him, the cool metal sliding from his fingers.

"He joined to cause pain. He joined for the excuse to kill and he relished it. The more blood he spilt, the happier he was and the more he wanted it. The man had no ambitions other than to do what he thought he was made for; to use his alchemy to destroy as much as he possibly could. Entire towns fell at his hand, cities even. When the earth crumbled away at the snap of his fingers, he would laugh. Once I saw him step over a little girl's body, a girl that had died by his own hand, and later he made a joke about it. I can't remember if anyone laughed at it. It got to the point that they could no longer control him and he would raze places where there were our own soldiers gathered. Anything to destroy," the dark head shook in disgust and Roy finally stopped pacing to step up to the blonde still watching him carefully from his perch on the table, heart aching. How, in this world, could there be people as good and as unshakable as Roy and then people like that yellow eyed alchemist who was the complete opposite? He supposed that there needed to be some kind of counter balance but for some reason, it always felt like the evil was winning, "The bastard was supposed to be in jail for ten more years but they let him out early," this time Ed did reach out, pulling the older man close so that he had to part his legs, letting the Colonel stand between them.

"You think they let him out to set him loose in Ishval or Lirr?" the question held nothing except bland interest but he thought of Al again, alone and fighting for a cause no one really seemed to understand and nearly drowned in a bolt of gut-wrenching worry. Roy must have seen it on his face and a second later, a warm hand was cupped under his chin, making him tilt his head back to look into the handsome features. The compassion and love he found their made his stomach flip and clench so that he almost had to look away, heart constricting with some warm, nameless emotion that seemed oddly like joy.

"He's a dog on a leash, now, with the other end secured by his incomplete prison sentence," the reassurance in the deep voice didn't help much but he smiled anyway, sliding his hand over the one still warm against his skin. Roy's eyes changed then and he leaned in to press a kiss to the younger alchemist's lips, his taste sharp and making the blonde's toes curl, "Let's not talk about any of that now," and he sighed in agreement, using a hand in the dark hair to pull the man back for a proper kiss. Yes, like that, the older man's mouth opening to let him in, which he did with a little sound of delight, tongue touching every place he could, paying special attention to the spots that would make Roy's breath hitch and utter small, growling moans. Strong arms swept around his back, pulling him closer to the edge of the table and forcing his head back at a sharper angle. It was times like these that he allowed his mind to drift in a thick haze of bliss, just feeling the way their tongues tangled and touched and how it sent little bolts of excited heat all through his body, centering in one particular place. The Colonel's body pressed into his own so that he was aware of the swift pulse and quick, unsteady breaths, stealing his own that much more. Like this, he could forget where they were and that even within a locked room they could still be in danger of being caught.

"Edward…" the older man's lips were hot against his neck as they trailed over his skin, nipping and sucking so lightly, he tried to pull himself closer, wanting to feel more. Tipping his head back to give the Colonel more to work with, he just hummed his response, closing his eyes happily when the older man found one his more sensitive spots. There was an amused huff as he closed his thighs around the bigger man's hips, locking his ankles neatly and holding Roy in place, "Before, at home…are you…did I really hurt you?" the words broke through his blissful little trance and he pulled back with some regret to see the way the dark eyes wouldn't meet his own, glittering brightly with guilt. Confused, he slipped one hand into the neat, dark hair and turned the older man's head so he could look at the blonde.

"Why do you keep asking that? I told you already that it was fine. Believe me, I would have let you know if it hurt," though, pain for him often had a different meaning than it did for normal people. One had to develop an abnormally high threshold for pain to have steel connected to your nerves. Roy made a small, disbelieving noise in the back of his throat but Ed wouldn't let him look away when he tried to, "Why do you keep asking?" he repeated, voice low. The man seemed to vibrate, tension pulling all the muscles in his body tight and then he dropped his head to the blonde's shoulder.

"You were bleeding," his words were muffled when he finally spoke, heavy and riddled with remorse. Ed blinked for a moment, surprised. That was it? That was what put that expression on the older alchemist's face and made him quiet and gloomy for most of the evening? For a second he fought a laugh, positive the man wouldn't appreciate it, biting his lip against the sound.

"Well, yeah but that's normal, right? I've heard that happens sometimes and you didn't really take as much care as usual," those weren't the right words to say because Roy groaned pitifully against his shoulder, arms tightening. The blonde rolled his eyes, thinking the man was being awfully dramatic so he wiggled a bit on his perch and pressed a swift kiss to the neck being presented to him, "Really, Roy, I'm not even sore anymore," which wasn't entirely true, "and don't you think if I was being hurt, I would have stopped you?" he pushed the man back by his shoulders and arched one eyebrow, trying to affect a stern expression and having a feeling he failed miserably. The older man looked at him for a moment and then a small smirk curled at the corner of his lips. The sight of it made his mouth go a little dry.

"I don't know. I could have just swept you away in the moment," this time the older man got a cuff on the shoulder and an annoyed glance. Conceded bastard. Seriously he was positive the man thought much too highly of himself sometimes. He tried to stick his nose in the air and look down at the Colonel but that was impossible as the older man was currently towering over him and was crushing the smaller alchemist to his chest.

"If so, then what do you propose to do to make it up to me?" he asked in the haughtiest voice he could muster. He expected laughter or a biting comeback that would leave his cheeks and pride stinging the way only Roy seemed to be able to do. What he did not predict was the way the slanted eyes flared and became half-lidded, the desirous intent in the them clear. That look held a hundred different possibilities, all of them enough to set his blood on fire, curling like a fist in his gut. He could see the ideas reeling within the dark eyes yet before he even had a chance to react, the older man was kissing him again, nearly laying the blonde out flat on the table as he leaned over Ed, the passion behind it leaving him somewhat dazed. How, he wondered as he did his best to return the man's fervor, clinging to the Colonel's dress coat more to keep himself grounded than for support, did one get used to such blazing, consuming emotions? Would he ever be able to kiss his lover like this without his heart trying to burst free from his chest and his fingers trembling uselessly while they clutched for sanity? Probably not, he figured as Roy completely invaded his mouth until the Major was a panting, whimpering mess but then again, he wasn't sure he would want to. Though they would never be able to keep up this level of intensity all of the time, he doubted that he would ever lose this; this feeling of momentary transcendence.

A strong, warm hand that blazed a trail of fire up his thigh curled over his hip, stroking along the front of his pants and effectively stealing his breath. God, it only got better every time the older man touched him. Helplessly, he moaned softly into the Colonel's mouth, drowning in his rich taste while that wandering hand trailed fire in his veins. Touch me there, but he couldn't get the words past the heat circulating through his mind, panting harshly to the ceiling while anticipation dried his throat. He could never remember being overly needy, even during the nasty months of puberty but Roy only had to touch him once with that particular fire burning in the depths of those ebony eyes and his libido was raging out of control. Finally the teasing fingers moved to where he needed them the most, curling possessively to cup the hard, throbbing bulge in his pants.

The stimulation was enough to send a shock of pleasure rolling through him and he nearly brained himself on the hard surface of the table when his head snapped back, eyes nearly crossing. Warm lips trailed over the parts of his neck the older alchemist could reach over the material of his collar while he ground his palm into the Major's erection, against which Ed rocked, making small, gasping moans in the back of his throat. Vaguely, he was aware of the dark haired man pressing himself into the blonde's moving hips, his own erection grinding into the inside of the younger man's thigh. It was too hot, passion and fire and pleasure all building up under his skin until he was sure he would melt away like wax touched by a flame. If they didn't stop soon, he was sure to come right in his pants, which was quite a feat, he realized fuzzily, because he had found release two times already that evening. The way Roy was breathing against his neck, he knew the man had the same problem.

Some part of him knew that they shouldn't be doing this here, now, inside of headquarters where if the wrong people saw them, or even just suspected, they could be Court Marshaled or worse. It occurred to him that they had both been missing for the same amount of time and had no place to clean themselves up so they would probably end up looking disheveled and smelling of sex by the time they made it back. The last thing he wanted was for that kind of negative attention to fall upon them, especially as they were getting so close to finding out the truth of the corruption behind the military. Even as he tightened his hold on the Colonel, thighs gripping the man's waist harder so that he might feel the way the older man's muscles shifted under his clothes as he moved, he tried to take in a few gulps of cool air in hopes it would clear his head.

"Ugh, Roy…we shouldn't…not here…" except his words meant nothing because he was getting to the point where if he stopped, he would shatter or just come even if there was no stimulation forthcoming. That hand that had been pushing him towards an end that promised to be huge stilled and he gasped, shuddering with the loss of motion. Roy's hips paused too and Ed was momentarily lost in pools of stormy obsidian.

"I don't think I can stop," the man breathed and the younger alchemist caught himself before his eyes could disappear in the back of his skull somewhere at the broken, husky tone of the deep voice. It wasn't fair that just the way he spoke could make him start dripping, cock pressing so hard against the front of his pants, it was a wonder the material hadn't just given way. Somehow, he knew he should have put up a bigger fight, put the concern of being found out ahead of the way the pleasure still hummed like all of his blood had turned to lava but all he could manage was,

"Don't…wanna make a m-mess…" before the ability to form coherent words crumbled away completely. He hated the way they had to sneak around like what they were doing was something shameful and dirty. Nothing about how he felt when he was with the Colonel could ever be that but the consequences they were trying to avoid made him feel like it should be. The knowledge sat heavily on his chest and didn't go away when the gaze that had been holding him frozen broke away so his lips could be captured again. How could anything as prefect and as pure as love be wrong? The blonde couldn't suppress a loud groan when the older man moved his hand, working the younger alchemist's belt much like he had earlier, long fingers brushing carelessly against his aching cock.

"I promise not to spill a single drop," Roy whispered in his ear before his warmth was torn away, leaving Ed feeling momentarily bereft. Yet when he managed to pry open eyelids he didn't recall closing, he nearly bit off his tongue when he glanced down. Between his thighs crouched the Colonel, his hair now mused from the younger man's fingers and his eyes impossibly dark. He offered the blonde a small smile as he lifted the slender legs onto his shoulders, fingers still working the teen's zipper and the Major couldn't tear his gaze away, golden eyes wide and breath coming fast. His lungs burned and his entire body shook, straining towards what was sure to be a marvelous release. There should have been one more pathetic protest at the back of his throat, waiting to claw its way free but he was mesmerized by the way the long, pale fingers had slipped into his now open pants and pulled his angry, throbbing cock free. A low noise broke the cadence of his panting breaths as the cool, library air brushed over his hot arousal but he had only a second to think on it and then the older man curled one hand at the base, leaning in to suck Ed's erection into his mouth.

Fuck, that's good…

His arms gave out from where he was supporting himself on the table, making him slump back on his elbows yet even with that, he couldn't tear his gaze away. Roy stared back steadily, lust like a living thing in his eyes as he lapped at the tip of the younger man's cock, licking away the pre cum that had gathered there. For a second he thought that with the onslaught of such sensations, he would have to close his eyes or the pressure would rip him asunder but somehow he managed to keep them open. The sight of the Colonel's lips, always so perfect no matter what they might be expressing, were beyond sexy as they stretched around his erection, slowly moving down just enough to take in the entire head before sliding back up again to tease at the slit. This sound he made was louder than all the others and he was eternally grateful, in some distant part of his mind, that the doors were all locked.

The older man went slow, taking in a little more each time and Ed could barely breathe, his orgasm rocketing towards him as if from a great distance, making him wonder if he would even be able to withstand it. With each sucking stroke to his cock, he was a little more lost, thrust his hips up in search of more pleasure, more of that tingling, spreading heat. All the while, Roy never looked away, eyes always intent on his own, making the whole thing ten times more intimate. Just when the fire began to flutter, pulsating in his gut and thighs, the older man groaned softly. Yet however quietly it might have been uttered, it went right through him, surrounding him so that every muscle in his lower body clenched in preparation. It was with that he realized the man seemed to be moving his whole body and not just his head. Blinking past the haze that had blurred his vision, he lifted himself up just enough to see that the Colonel was grinding his free hand into his own clothed erection, color infusing over his pale cheeks while pleasuring himself as he continued to suck Ed down his throat.

Ah, that did it. Ed couldn't even gather enough of his wits to cry out a warning before his body tensed, pleasure breaking over him like an angry wave in a storm. He might have closed his eyes then and he might have screamed but he couldn't tell because white washed in behind his eyelids and the roaring of his pulse was so loud in his ears, he couldn't even hear. All he could do was hang on, riding through the pulsing, crippling waves, forgetting to curb the thrusting of his hips so as not to choke the older alchemist.

When it eased, leaving him sprawled and boneless upon the table, he barely even noticed the way he was licked clean, every last drop, and his uniform put back in order because he was too busy trying to claw his way back to reality. Aftershocks ebbed even slower than his orgasm had and he finally pried his eyes open while hoping the little, glittering sparks that reminded him of fireflies would go away soon. His heart raced painfully and the air was almost too cold as he tried to get his lungs to inflate properly. He thought he was doing a good job of it too until he glanced away from the dark ceiling to the man still standing between his legs. Oh, shit. The Colonel looked like he was about to climb on top of Ed himself and devour him. The expression might have been familiar except that there was something else besides lust burning in his gaze too. Forcing his mind to reassemble itself, the wide gold eyes narrowed slightly as he tried to figure it out. That look…

Ed's mouth went completely dry and if he hadn't just been nearly blinded by his own orgasm, he would have been completely hard all over again. He recognized that look; he had seen it several times before. The dark eyes were wide and fathomless, the pale cheeks burnished with a flush as dark as he had ever seen it and white teeth were biting harshly into the older man's bottom lip. It was the look of a man at the edge of his control. Roy was trying not to come.

There was absolutely no thought behind the actions of levering himself up and sliding close to the table's edge, wrapping an arm around the narrow hips to bring himself as close as he could to his lover's crotch. He could see the bulge in the man's pants and as he watched, he could see his cock jerk even through the layers of fabric. How he got the belt unfastened and the zipper down, he would never know. All he knew was how badly he wanted to wrap his mouth around the man's beautiful, straining cock and taste him. Even so, he could feel a speedy return of that coiling heat when he slipped a hand into the Colonel's pants and found his boxers were wet where the tip pressed against them. Practically drooling, he couldn't free the hot length fast enough and then had to stare for a second as just how hard the man was. He wasn't even sure he would be able to wrestle it down enough to get it to his mouth. Ed was just about to lean forward and do just that when a hand in his hair made him pause and glance up.

"It's…just going to take…once," Roy hissed through his teeth, eyes completely blown out and breath short. It sent another jolt down his spine, making him shudder and eyes glaze over as he nodded mutely, not trusting his voice. Heat worked over his cheeks when he realized that the Colonel was this turned on by giving the blonde a blow job, making him feel flattered and stupidly happy. The hand in his hair was gentle despite the older man's obvious need, guiding rather than demanding and the blonde found he liked the way it cupped the back of his head, just a gentle encouragement.

And it only did take once. One time of leaning in, opening his lips and taking in the hot, silky length, letting it slide all the way to the back of his throat and then swallowing. Just that was enough to make Roy's breath still for an instant, cock twitching in Ed's mouth before the hot, salty cum was pulsing over his tongue and down his throat. The older man's long, low groan of completion was beautiful, vibrating through both of them and making the blonde feel more than a little smug. The hand tangled in his hair never pulled, just tightening enough to put pressure on his scalp which eased as the older alchemist's orgasm did. He did his best not to miss any of the pearly liquid as he pulled off, making sure to lick away any he came across, starting to get turned on again as the musky scent of the older man mixed with that of his release filled the blonde's senses. Ed would have kept going, too, getting lost in the taste if the hand still curled in his hair had not tugged him away. The dark eyes were deep and sated as they looked down at him, pale fingers rubbing gently at the base of his skull.

Roy's personal flavor mingled with Ed's as he was drawn up and into a kiss, both of them groaning as they tasted themselves on each other's lips. The older man leaned against him a little more than he normally might have, still shaky and weak so the blonde braced himself against the edge of the table while wrapping his arms around the broad shoulders, wishing they could have stayed like that all night. Who gave a flying fuck about that stupid gathering of rich, corrupt bureaucrats anyway?

"We should really be getting back," the older man mumbled while trying to still kiss the Major, making the younger man snort in amusement. He didn't usually get to see the dark haired man so undone but dare he say it was rather endearing. For a moment he let the older man suck on his bottom lip before pulling away with a small smile, reluctant to leave the bigger man's embrace.

"You're awfully horny today," his voice was light and teasing, careful not to sound like a complaint because he really wasn't abject to the concept of a horny Roy and was rewarded with an annoyed sounding huff that disturbed the longer hairs brushing his ear lobes. The older alchemist leaned against him for another long moment, chin resting on the blonde's shoulder and the gold eyes watched in fascination as the pulse visible in the pale column of the Colonel's neck slowed to its normal, steady rhythm. Warm fingers danced down his back and settled at the curve of his hip, giving him a little squeeze, bringing back that stupid, giddy feeling.

"I blame it entirely on you," was the muffled response, "Can't help how you make me feel," the words brought out a fierce blush on the younger man's cheeks, though why that should have been after all they had already done and said to each other, he didn't know. With a huff, he pushed the bigger man away and reached up to redo his hair which was starting to unravel from having pale fingers pulling and worrying at it.

"And sex makes him sappy. Interesting. What next? A dozen red roses and a poem?" Ed snickered, giving the older man a sideways glance that softened his words somewhat. The dark haired Colonel glared at him as he straightened his own uniform, nimble fingers looking like ivory against the deep blue of the material. He found himself fixated on the movements of the strong hands as his own expertly finished off his ponytail, completely missing how the dark glare turned into a smirk.

"Actually, it's two dozen roses and I have never been one for poetry," he snorted at the aloof tone, crossing his arms across his chest and pretending to be holding back annoyance as the man continued to fuss with his uniform for no reason Ed could see, "And it's not sappy. It's called romantic. There's a huge difference but then you wouldn't know about that, would you?" they were words that he could have taken a deep offence to and would have if it had been anyone else saying them. Yet because it was Roy, he just stuck his tongue out, not caring about maturity for the moment and stalked past the Colonel, intent on leaving the man behind.

"Not with you around, old fart," he snapped back over his shoulder as he walked, knowing the older man had fallen into step right behind him and was grinning as he fixed his dark hair so it was no longer falling into his eyes, "If that's your definition of romance, it leaves a lot to be desired," to which Roy made an indignant protest, their good natured banter following them back through the library and echoing among the shelves.

The young blond had caught his eye almost as soon as he had perused the large hall, something about his fiery good looks and large, intelligent eyes striking him as appealing. He watched the young man from behind a cool smirk, wondering who he was and how to approach him. Kimbly had never really been partial to boys before, preferring his men to be of an age with himself but for some reason, he thought he might be willing to make an exception for this beautiful creature. He could smell the boy's power from across the room and it excited him to no end. It was rare to come across another alchemist as powerful as himself, which was one of the reasons he had always been attracted to Mustang. That kind of power was…enticing.

Because he was watching this strange young man so closely, he noticed the exchange the boy had with the Colonel, their eyes meeting, sending signals to each other in a way that was intimately familiar. Interesting.

The kid left the room first, his attempt to look as if he was just heading out to do nothing more than go to the bathroom somewhat successful. That is, until Roy followed a few moments later, allowing himself to get stopped a few times before he too swept out the door, heading in the same direction the blond had. He smiled to himself and put the glass he had been holding down, pushing his way through the crowd with relative ease, ignoring the looks that were still being shot in his direction. Let them talk. It was one of the reasons he had come in the first place; even negative attention had its own attraction.

Thankfully his shoes were made of the softest, finest leather and made only the smallest whisper of sounds as he walked through the long, echoing halls, making sure to keep the Colonel's back far enough away that the man would not realize he was being followed. Their trek lead them to the library, which he was sure was locked at this hour and he waited just out of sight around the corner, listening to Roy greeting someone with a shockingly rich, husky tenor that sent shivers of delight down his spine. Even never hearing the blond speak before, he was sure that was who it was. A crackle of alchemy hissed over his skin and he just barely held himself back, wanting nothing more than to peer around the corner to see what they were up to. But impatience would never get him anywhere so he waited until the voices faded before stepping around the corner.

He was in time to see a large, ornate door being transmuted back into a section of wall and neither the handsome Colonel nor the blond boy he had been meeting were anywhere to be seen.

Kimbly grinned to himself before turning back to the farce of a party, shivering in anticipation of such a challenge. Very interesting indeed.


This time, when he made the door in the wall for them to get back out into the hall, there was considerable less scrolling designs etched into its surface but he couldn't resist the climbing roses at the corners. If the Colonel noticed their presence, he didn't say anything. Instead he just stood to the side and indicated for Ed to go through first, even bowing a bit as if he had indeed taken that romantic crap he had been talking about earlier and was using it on the younger man. The blonde growled as he stalked through, boots loud on the marble floors.

"I should just leave you in here," he snarled out of the side of his mouth but when the older alchemist turned that particular smile on him, he knew he wouldn't actually do it, especially when it turned his insides to melted goo. Roy must have known it too because he took his time sauntering out after the Major, calmly threading his fingers through his hair as if he was some gift to humanity. Ed pretended to be irritated and that his mouth didn't go dry because, in reality, the Colonel was as good looking as he seemed to think he was.

"So did I at least redeem myself?" the older man asked him as they walked down the hall after the blond had put back the wall the way it was and it took him a minute to figure out what the man was talking about. Then he had to bite back a smile as he remembered what his own response had been when asked if Roy had hurt him earlier that evening. For a moment he pretended to ponder it, walking close enough to the bigger man to feel his underlying tension, tipping his gold head to the side and tapping his chin dramatically with one finger. The dark eyes followed the motion, narrowing when he realized the blond was just messing with him but Ed just shot him a sly smile from under the sweep of his bangs. He didn't know what the expression looked like but it had the desired affect when the older man blinked then nearly tripped over his own feet.

"Hmm," he let the smile widen, pondering some more, "For now, I suppose. Though I may change my mind once we get home," the dark gaze widened and he basked in the split second where the Colonel's entire attention was fixed on his face, the promise hanging between them like a wavering mirage that accompanied flames. For such a cool, collected person, it sometimes amazed Ed how just a few words could completely throw the man off guard. Or maybe he was the only one who was allowed to see it. That thought wound in his chest like warm butter even as the older man looked forward again, saying nothing. He didn't need to; the teen knew him well enough to catch the heating of the ebony gaze and the way the man swallowed as if his mouth had run dry. Grinning to himself, he angled his next few steps so that they would take him closer to the bigger man, letting his fingers brush along the back of the pale knuckles for a few beats, secure in the privacy of the empty hall. The long fingers curled around his own for a moment, the grip strong and reassuring, holding him until they reached the junction of the hall. When their eyes met again, his throat felt blocked and he nearly crumbled under the affection that stared back at him.

They agreed that Roy would go back first while the Major took a longer, more roundabout route back to the party but before either of them could even drop the embrace of the their fingers, a voice from down the hall to Ed's left called out to them, making him jump and whip around, wondering if they had been found out after all. But it was Hughes hurrying towards them, his uniform in shocking disarray and his hair falling in unruly strands onto his forehead. Watching him walk, he could tell the Lt. Colonel was tired and he realized he had not seen the man at the function at all. Judging by the dark circles that were visible as he drew nearer and the smudge of ink on his cheek, he had not left headquarters at all today.

"Colonel, Major, I'm glad I found you two," even his voice sounded worn and Ed shared a look with the Colonel standing at his shoulder. How had Hughes known where to look for them?

"What have you been up to?" Roy demanded, his voice strong but pitched so that it wouldn't carry and echo down the halls just in case, "You look like hell," The Lt. Colonel just waved his hand dismissively at his friend, green eyes pinched behind the flash of his glasses, looking like he would have made some kind of rude gesture but didn't have the energy for it.

"Yes, thank you. I don't have time for that right now. I have to talk to you; its about that passage you found in King Bradely's office and the tunnels in the city," the man seemed agitated and a little jumpy, as if someone from the wrong side had figured out what he had discovered and was after him. As of right now, Ed didn't doubt it to be possible and he wondered what it could be that had the older man so anxious. The blonde caught the worry in the dark eyes when he glanced at Roy again who was staring at the wall in indecision.

"I've already been gone too long," he said, voice low and they both stilled as a soft sound reached their ears from down the hall. Suddenly the reality of the danger they were in caught up to him and he tried to ignore the way icy fingers crawled up the back of his spine. He tended to forget when he was alone with the Colonel but they were up against an enemy with too many faceless sides and unknown facets. There were too few of them with too little information and not enough time. For once, he felt the sharp, tangy brush of fear, "Can you tell me now?" the pale hands gestured quickly and Ed fought the urge to take one and hold onto it, hoping it would chase the shadows away.

"No, not here," the green eyes didn't dart nervously down the hall like they probably wanted to but Hughes wracked his fingers through his already disheveled hair, as if that would help relieve some of the tension. Then he seemed to come to a decision, shoulders straightening just a bit, "I'll take Ed with me. You go back and make an appearance. Just," and he caught the Colonel's arm, as if to put more emphases on his words, though by the look on Roy's face, the gesture had been unexpected, "Don't stay there too long. Stay for exactly how long you need to but don't hang around. I'll meet you outside in an hour," Roy's dark eyes narrowed and Ed felt a shock of alarm. The Lt. Colonel's voice was low and unwavering, making him wonder exactly what it was he could have found. Then the Colonel nodded to his friend.

"Alright. Both of you be careful," his eyes lingered on the blonde's for a long moment and Ed was once again fighting the urge to throw himself at the older man, wanting nothing more than to cling to his solid comfort forever. Instead he stepped back and smiled, hoping it looked reassuring because he didn't like how that gaze flattened out when the man was worried.

"You too. See you soon," their eyes held for another moment, conveying things they couldn't say and words that wouldn't fit in that small space in time. Roy just allowed a small smile, reaching out to ease his fingers through the fall of Ed's golden bangs and then his touch was gone, the older man striding away down the corridor. He looked like Colonel Mustang then, even if the younger man could not see his face, strong and confident and infallible, all traces of the man who was Roy gone. The blonde gritted his teeth as he watched his lover's back, telling himself the feeling that he might not get to see that again was just a feeling and had no truth behind it.

Too bad he couldn't make himself believe it.


The steady footsteps beside him echoed with his own down the deserted hall, the third pair moving away from them as they walked, peering at the younger man as his side, all golden personage and fierce countenance. He counted them for some reason, one, two, three, each step drawing them farther away from the place they had come. And just as he was about to turn his eyes away, trying not to ponder why Ed and Roy had been coming from the direction of the library, that second set of footsteps faltered, the rhythm changing and he counted himself lucky enough to see those blazing eyes change, as if the blonde had heard something no one else had. Hughes watched as the younger man turned, mouth opening while something close to urgency crossed his features and his voice as it broke the looming quiet was filled with an emotion he had never heard before.

"Roy!" and he couldn't draw his gaze away because Ed had whirled around, hair shimmering in the flat, artificial lights, turning back the way they came. The Lt. Colonel saw his friend pause, turning back towards them and the younger alchemist tore back through the empty, heavy space that separated him from the bewildered, dark haired Colonel. Hughes could see the decision the blonde made between the time one toe pushed off the marbled floor and the other heel fell that he didn't care if someone should round a corner and see them or that Maes was watching, green eyes wide with amazement. He didn't care because in the clutches of such furious emotion, nothing could be as important as throwing himself into Roy's arms. Which he did, with all the beautiful, shining single mindedness which with Ed seemed to do everything. The Colonel caught him, face changing from surprise to something Hughes had never witnessed on those particular features before. The affection there ran deeper than the night sky.

Their kiss was hard, devouring and the back of his throated ached to see it, heart filling until he was sure it would overflow. Never before had he seen a kiss with such raw, unbridled passion; such complete and utter devotion. Silver tears prickled at the back of his vision as he watched his best friend giving in to such an intense love, the Lt. Colonel was sure it could incinerate him where he stood down the hall. They clung to each other like they were all each other had, all they would ever need, as was they way of any great love. He couldn't blink the tears away or steady the happy flutter of his heart when they broke apart, the older man holding the blonde alchemist suspended in the air with his arms around the slim waist so that the Major had to look down at the taller man. The onyx in Roy's eyes was so soft and so bright, Hughes could never hope to find a color that would match its beauty in the world if he looked for the rest of his life. He gritted his teeth, trying to push away the sudden surge of his own emotion as Ed slid back to the floor with a click of his boots. They smiled at each other, oh, such a smile and Maes thought for a moment he would have to turn away. Then he heard it, three words that stole his breath,

"I love you," and a pale hand slid into golden hair, the gesture so tender, so sweet. He had never seen it before, not like that, not even on his wife's face, the depth of the look that Roy bestowed upon the young man who had stolen the Colonel's heart something Hughes thought he understood but realized he really didn't. Not like this and he could not have looked away even if his life depended on it. Ed reached back, pulling away from the older man's embrace but not before he laid a kiss on the pale fingers, briefly curling his around them. They shared another smile and by then the intensity had eased but Hughes still thrummed with it, not sure if he should laugh or cry and finding he could do neither.

"I'll see you in a bit," the words were spoken in a soft tone but he heard them anyway, smiling as he watched them share another kiss before Ed turned back to him, face flushed, lips red and the depth of his emotions seeping like golden sunlight through his skin. Hughes filed away the scene so that when the world seemed hopeless and the shadows of doubt descended upon him, he could recall it and remember that there still existed such beauty in this world.

Yet, as he fell once more into step with the younger alchemist, he recalled the last words the boy had spoken, echoing softly in his mind, though he could not say why, at that moment in time, they would stand out so.

Never had he heard such fateful words spoken…


"…due admiration and credit to the men and women who have already fought and lost their lives in these terrible times of conflict and war. The country for which they have given up everything for in selfless acts of heroism is eternally within their debut. We ask that…" Roy gritted his teeth and tried to keep from tightening his grip hard enough to shatter the glass he held. The words floated through the room, enhanced by the sound system that scratched every once and a while when the voices being projected through it raised above a certain decibel, the meaning in them empty and cold. How could people not hear how they rang so false, he was sure if he just reached out a hand, he would cut himself on them? Yet looking at all the avid, agreeable expressions all around him, such eloquence sucked in their shallow minds so that they were practically nodding along like the good little dogs they were. The only discontent he detected was in the faces of his own subordinates and a couple of the lesser Generals and the few alchemists left that were being forced to attend like himself.

Kind Bradley stood at the podium, his voice slithering like poison through the room until he was nearly sick with it, single eye glittering in the light from the chandeliers in the hall. Since the speech started he had been droning on about the bravery of the soldiers that fought against Lirr and Ishval and so on and the entire time, there was a completely different message in all of his words; power. Only such a nation as strong and as dominant as Ametris could take on so much at once and hope to prevail. And the man made it sound as if what they were doing was good, that these conflicts were to eradicate some evil that the rest of the world seemed to have not picked up on. But under those words, that slick, dark mask, was the underlying truth. Roy could hear it, like reading between the lines of an advanced alchemy text. He heard it and wanted to scream, to make everyone else take notice, to rip the veil from their wide, blind eyes and say "Look! See what they have been hiding from you!" Instead, he hid his sneer of disgust, his anger, his helplessness and hoped that what Hughes had found would be what they could finally use to bring this whole thing to its knees.

What he had not been counting on was running out of time.

Until that moment, he had tuned out most of what the dark haired man addressing the large crowd of the function's attendees was saying, keeping his own gaze fixed on some far, bland wall or another. It would not do to look to his subordinates as that would make him seem weak, though it would have been a great comfort to have Hawkeye at his side. For the moment, he was careful not to think of Ed at all, leaving those precious thoughts to the back of his mind to ponder at another time and was just glad the kid was not here. With Hughes's warning still ringing in his head, he knew the blonde was better off. Though, he could not have said why until the last remnants of the King's speech had his attention snapping back to the podium.

"…and that is why we must continue to be diligent and strong, offering our support to all of those who are currently out fighting for our freedom and for justice and those that will soon be shipped out to join their comrades. We must remain steadfast and assiduous if we are to come out of this victorious. You have all been very generous with both your time and your support. Thank you," The Colonel blinked, wondering why icy fingers of dread had started to climb up the back of his neck as he watched Bradley step down only to be replaced by a Lt. Colonel whose name escaped him. The man remained quiet as polite applause filtered through the room, accompanied by soft, agreeable murmurs, which Roy joined grudgingly, tapping two fingers to his wrist so as not to spill his drink. Why, he wondered a few minutes later, did appearances matter anymore?

"Ladies and Gentleman, may I have your attention please?" this younger man's voice was not as strong or as commanding as His Excellency's but he could tell that he had been properly brainwashed, "Thank you all again for attending. It is my duty to inform those of you present in Ametris's colors that we will now be sending out several more troops which are to leave within the hour. Eagle Company A, Eagle Company C, Eagle Company F and Eagle Company M. You are to report to the Central train station in one hour. Apologies to our guests for the inconvenience. Thank you," Roy felt as if the bottom of his stomach had dropped through the floor. His mouth was dry and his head ached as if his brain had received a jolt of electricity. It was only supposed to be three companies shipping out tonight! Just three! Why had they added a fourth with only an hour's notice? It was all he could do to control his panic, nearly dropping his glass as his hands trembled noticeably.

The fourth company that had been added, the last one on the list, was his own.

There was a sharp movement to his right and he glanced over to see Havoc and Riza looking over at him with mirroring confused expressions. People had already started talking again, louder now that the serious news had been divulged as if they wanted to forget that more men and women were being shipped out possibly to their deaths. It was too unpleasant a topic. The other companies that had been called had probably already left, having been expecting the call. Rage surged through him then, like a blinding wall of fire and it was all he could do not to reach for the white gloves hiding in his pocket. They were getting him out of the way before he became even more of a loose cannon than he already was and the anger only flared hotter when he caught the way his subordinates were still looking at him, confused and unsure.

As calmly as he could, he strode up to General Yager whom he knew to be one of the coordinators that mobilized and strategized the troops. The man was taller than himself with thick, grey hair that reminded him of steel and a stern expression that only strengthened the impression. He looked mildly surprised when the Colonel stopped before him and snapped him a sharp salute. There were several other General's within hearing range, all of whom paused to see what matter the dark haired man was disrupting them with.

"General, sir," only when the salute was returned did he drop his own but he never relaxed his posture and he looked over Yager's right shoulder, trying to keep the fury of his emotion off his face and out of his voice.

"Colonel Mustang," the older man's voice was pleasant, as if he wanted nothing more than to have a conversation with Roy, "What can I do for you?" the words were a mere politeness as rank here held sway. If what the younger man said was a step in the wrong direction, he would be granted nothing. Despite the General's easy, almost friendly tone, he doubted he would be granted the truth or a grace period.

"Sir, I was not made aware that my company would be shipping out tonight. We are not prepared and I feel it would be unfair to my men to ask them to be ready in such a short period of time," there was a prevailing silence and he could see out of his peripheral vision the older man's dark blue eyes gazing at him with a cool, critical detachment, as if the decision had nothing to do with him; which was complete bull-shit.

"I am afraid that the orders have already been made. You and your men will be on that train," for a second he nearly went blind with frustration but managed to keep from gritting his teeth loud enough that his fury could be heard. It was a wonder his voice hadn't deserted him when he tried once more.

"We have only an hour," it was an attempt made in vain and he knew it but he couldn't help but think of the confusion in his subordinates' eyes, looking to him for some kind of answer. Yager's eyes were steely and unforgiving.

"Then you had better hurry, Colonel," there was no remorse, no apology, nothing. So this was how it was to be. Fighting with himself, feeling his fingers cramping as he refrained from balling them into fists, he paused for a second, the inside of his skin feeling raw from the strength of his anger. Then he shifted his gaze, looking at the older man in the eyes which was a sign of deep disrespect and saluted again.

"Sir," after all, what choice did he have? He was far from being able to defy orders without consequences and he still had his men to think about. They were loyal to him, not to the military and should something happen to him, their next superior officer will not be as kind or as appreciative of them. Turning away, he strode back through the hall, signaling the five pairs of eyes still watching him hopefully. They would follow and he didn't have to check to make sure of it. It was why he had chosen them in the first place; they wouldn't complain, they wouldn't ask questions and they wouldn't doubt his orders.

The night was bitter, feeling like the depths of winter rather than late spring as he stepped from the building, Riza right behind him and the other four not far behind. For a moment, he was sure he caught the scent of alchemy in the air.

"So then we're going," it wasn't a question, more like a confirmation and he felt it sure up the walls of his own determination. Ed would not know about this until they were already gone and if he was lucky, the boy wouldn't follow. When the checks were made at the station, he would be sure the lists thought his company was seven in number rather than six. Hopefully, his young lover would forgive him. The only thing he would regret was not being able to say goodbye. Perhaps Ed would do what he always did and surprise him by following but he thought not as even he did not know where they were departing to.

"Yes, we are going," and he didn't look back, whispering a soft goodbye in his mind, the feeling of breaking a promise nearly choking him. I'm right here. I won't leave you. But he was leaving. He just wished as he tugged his jacket closer around his shoulders, that the kiss they had shared in the hall a half hour ago had not felt like the last one.


The map spread out on the desk before him, with all of its marks and notes scribbled along the sides, made his throat dry up with horror.

"T-the whole country…" he whispered, fingers trailing along the circle the Lt. Colonel had scrawled over the map, the ink dark against the smaller, printed marks of the map itself. Each place of conflict had been shown in big, sloppy red dots that looked like drops of blood and then connected by shaky lines as if the older man's hands had been trembling when he made them. Central stood out like a beacon, nearly at the center, hanging between the lines like some sinister spider readying to devour all the little towns circling around it. There was no doubt this was a transmutation circle, one like he had seen before, though with just the five connected points, it wasn't complete. Which meant it could be a many number of things; powerful things but not necessarily human transmutation like he tended to think of when he saw that particular shape. Hughes made a small noise at the back of his throat from where he leaned against his desk, eyes shadowed.

"Whatever it is, it's already started," at that, the blonde looked up, wondering what the man could mean. His face must have voiced his confusion because the Lt. Colonel ran long fingers through his hair and sighed. "I spoke with a senior alchemist today, a Mr. Chaplain, who was a consultant for State Alchemists before he retired. Have you noticed the strange weather?" he nodded, wondering what that had to do with anything, "It seems that because of all the unstable alchemy in the air that has been gathering over the last few weeks with no outlet is messing up the weather patterns. It could just as easily swing into full summer in a day and then snow the next," Ed blinked then realized his mouth was hanging open and closed it with a snap. Yes, he had noticed how it had been unseasonably cold lately but he had thought that it was just going to be a chilly summer. They'd had them before. He had never heard of alchemy shifting the climates before. He hadn't even realized that was possible.

"So, this is bigger than the Philosopher's stone," he said, more to himself than to the older man but the Lt. Colonel nodded anyway, then shrugged.

"Or it could have everything to do with it," their eyes met in the semi-darkness of the office and he knew Hughes was also thinking of the startling revelation he had uncovered the night before. If that was true, then from the looks of it the entire country was on the verge of being harnessed for absolute power. Gold eyes glanced at the map again and he pressed a finger that indicated Ishval, thinking of his brother. Maybe it was safer at the front after all.

Just then someone catapulted into the room, throwing the door into the wall with a bang in her haste. Both Ed and the Lt. Colonel nearly leapt from their skins, conspiracy floating around them like a cloud of guilt only to ease a second later when they saw who it was. The blonde vaguely recognized her as the older man's assistant whose name he couldn't recall, her short brown hair like a fuzzy halo all around her head. Now she was panting, looking like she had run through the halls as fast as she could to get here faster and he felt a moment of fear.

"Lt. Colonel, sir, I'm so sorry to barge in but…but…" and for a second Ed thought she was going to burst into tears, distress glittering in her wide, brown eyes but she seemed to pull herself together when the dark haired man eased out of his seat and put a hand on her shoulder, obviously used to her excitable personality.

"Alright, Sheska, take a deep breath. What happened?" the woman was eased by that tone, though she still looked ready to cry. He wondered at it with a detached kind of curiosity.

"Sir, I'm so sorry but they just announced the companies that were to ship out tonight and a fourth one was added," a fourth? He wasn't sure if that was uncommon or not and then took a moment to wonder why his stomach seemed to clench, as if he was expecting this news to be detrimental. He couldn't have known that it was, "It was Colonel Mustang's company!" she cried and just like that it was as if a bucket of ice water had been tossed over his head, sliding under his skin and making his heart nearly stutter to a stop within his chest.

"W-what?" he breathed at the same time Hughes took a firm hold of the girl's shoulders, looking as if he was about to shake her. His eyes were dark and wide with shock.

"Are you sure about this?" the older man demanded and Sheska nodded, eyes still wide and luminescent.

"Yes, it was announced just a few minutes ago. They leave in an hour. I thought I should come here and…" Ed didn't hear the rest of what she said because he was already moving through the door and into the hall, feeling detached from his body, as if his legs had decided to move all on their own. He couldn't hear if Hughes called after him or not but he wouldn't have stopped anyway. It was as if upon hearing those words his heart had recognized the truth but he would look for the Colonel anyway, in the hopes of being able to at least see him off.

Yet upon reaching the hall he found that most of the guests had already started to filter out, mingling together, classy opulence with royal blue uniforms and he realized he would not be able to find Roy in that mess if he tried. Still, he watched from a side hall, face as blank as his head felt at the moment, wondering why his heart ached so much. It wasn't like he was never going to see the man again. As a matter of fact, as soon as he figured out which front they had been sent to, he intended on following. Like hell he would be left behind. Still, he felt like some forgotten wraith standing off to the side, insignificant, overlooked. They had left him here; no one had come and gotten him, even though he was enlisted in that company. What had the man been thinking, leaving him behind?

Hughes caught up with him in the mostly empty parking lot standing beside Roy's black Corvette that looked as lonely and despairing as he felt. It was such a stupid thing. He knew he was just being stupid but just then, as he tipped his head back and looked at the glittering blanket of stars in the dark sky, he thought of the dreams he had been having, of the feeling of having the man he loved torn away from him before they had really even been given a chance and he felt like crying.

"You didn't find him?" it was an obvious question with an obvious answer but all he could do was swallow the bitterness of despair, thinking how he hadn't even gotten to say goodbye. Remembering their kiss, the last one they shared, he pressed his fingers to his lips and breathed out a plume of silvery mist, watching it dissipate as it reached towards the sky.

"No. He's gone," and a soft, fluttering thought skimmed across his awareness in a voice so rich, it sounded the way velvet would feel, Goodbye, Fullmetal. We'll see each other again soon.

A single tear tracked down his cheek and he smiled.

Somehow, he knew it wouldn't be soon.

...To be continued