Warnings: Language. Scenes of a sexual nature.
Author's Notes: A little something to tide people over until the next No Smoke Without Fire update. Thanks to Kay for the beta read, and I hope you all enjoy it!
B xxx


'For fuck's sake, Mustang,' Ed hissed, writhing like a cat, 'move over.'

'It's not like I have much choice, Fullmetal,' Roy snapped, wincing as an automail elbow dug into his side. 'There's barely enough space in this – this thing for one person, let alone two.' He stopped, giving it some thought before he murmured, 'Well, one and a half, anyway.'

'What? You arrogant shit! If I could move I'd claw your fucking eyes out!'

'You'd rather do me grievous harm than get out of here?' he murmured. 'How flattering.'

Roy smirked as Ed spluttered and growled, only to grunt as the younger man's forehead connected with his chin. This really was ridiculous. How had they ended up in this situation? It should have been simple – a routine investigation of suspicious activities at one of the warehouses: bright lights at night, that kind of thing. Normally he would have left it to Ed, but there had been a few too many complaints about his enthusiastic methods lately. The thought of dealing with more paperwork on the matter had been enough to make up his mind for him, and so Roy had accompanied him in the name of damage limitations.

At least, that's what he had planned to tell anyone who asked.

Honestly, this was all Fullmetal's fault. If he had been paying attention rather than bitching at Roy about yet another pointless assignment, then he wouldn't have alerted the smugglers to their presence. If he hadn't been so stunningly angry – all flashing gold eyes and gritted teeth and wildness – then Roy would have noticed the threat before it became an issue.

As it was, they had both been caught unprepared, and now they were paying the price.

All Roy could remember was strong arms clamped around his body and a cloth over his mouth. The snap of his gloves had been distant, and the array had fallen apart in his mind as the chloroform took hold. There were vague memories of Ed fighting off two big men, and then nothing.

He'd woken up because Ed had kicked him hard in the shin, and everything had gone downhill from there. It seemed whoever had taken them down had a sense of humour, or perhaps they only had one crate to spare, because both he and Ed were packed in a long, narrow box. Roy could feel the rough wood wall not far from his back, another at his head, and a third a bare inch below his feet.

Worse, the fourth wall was less than an arm's length away, and all of the intervening space was taken up by Ed, furious, wriggling and as helpless as Roy. Neither of them could transmute. They'd taken his gloves from him, not that burning their way out would have been a great idea anyway, and there were no drawing materials left conveniently nearby. Ed's hands were held apart by impromptu stocks, making it impossible for him to clap and blast their way out. They were well and truly stuck.

Finally, to add insult to injury, they weren't even lying on their backs. In order to fit in the crate, they'd been dumped on their sides and imprisoned within the circle of one another's arms. Ed's hands were trapped behind Roy's back, and Roy's wrists were tied with what felt like electrical cable around Ed's waist.

'I hate you,' Ed groaned, finally giving up his struggles and letting his head fall forward, resting on Roy's chest. 'Can't believe I'm stuck in here with you.'

'I am not exactly filled with joy at the situation, either.' Roy could feel Ed's panting breaths brushing across his skin, and he swallowed tightly, trying to think of anything but the warm, strong body pressed close to his, hips and stomach and straining ribs. It was already getting hot in here, humid to the point of breathlessness, and Ed's proximity wasn't doing anything to cool Roy's blood.

'So what're we going to do? Lie here and wait for someone to rescue us?' Ed asked, his question muttered into Roy's shirt.

Roy looked down at the golden head nestled under his jaw, wrinkling his nose as that ridiculous antenna of hair tickled his skin. The room beyond their pine prison was brightly lit, and the glow seeped in through the cracks in the crate, striping them both in shades of amber and grey. He supposed he should be grateful that there was enough light to see by. After all, that also meant there was air for them to breathe, but right now it just meant he was getting a very good view of the attractive young man sharing his personal space.

'We don't exactly have much choice,' he said through gritted teeth, shifting irritably as he tried to get some blood to flow back into the arm that Ed was resting on. 'There isn't enough room to kick our way out, and we can barely move more than an inch. I'm sure that someone from the office will come looking when we don't show up in the morning.'

Ed jerked his head up, lips parted in horror. 'That could be fuckin' hours away for all we know!'

His voice ended on a rough, rumbling snarl, and it occurred to Roy that this was little better than being locked in a box with a tiger. Ed was prone to pushing every emotion he experienced into anger and then lashing out at the nearest target and, right now, he was looking at Roy with furiously narrowed eyes, teeth bared and brow drawn into a scowl. He couldn't have looked much more feral if he tried, and Roy attempted to ignore the thrill that raced through his body at the sight.

'Do you have any other ideas?' he asked, raising one eyebrow in question as Ed glanced away in the gloom, lips pressed in a flat, hard line as he shook his head. 'Then all we can do is wait.'

Roy tried not to let any dread into his voice, tried to keep it as flat and superior as always, but in the silence of his head he was cursing himself. How could he have been so stupid? How could he have put himself in this position? How could this have happened? Of everyone in his team, Ed was the last person he should be getting close to. He went to such efforts in the office to never move around that desk, to never close the distance, because if he did then he wasn't certain he could withdraw again.

That first time, when he'd noticed the lank air that simmered between the two of them take on a sharp edge of desire, he'd been genuinely horrified. Edward had been fifteen, still a child in the eyes of the law, even if he vocally protested that he was anything but a kid. Roy had felt sick and dirty with the want, twisted up and shaken down by the unexpected twist of his thoughts.

He tried to blame it on a number of reasons. Roy told himself he'd been too long without a lover, but no matter who he took to his bed, it was still Ed lingering in his mind and gasping in his fantasies. He glared daggers at those shiny leather pants drawn tight over strong thighs and highlighting certain parts of Ed's anatomy, but he had to try and stop when he realised that just meant he was ogling Ed's arse every time he was in the office. He tried to reign in his temper, to keep himself controlled, because he knew how quickly the snap and flare of anger could turn into something else, just as hot and passionate, but different all the same.

Above all else, he tried desperately to ignore what he was feeling, because he wouldn't be that man. He wouldn't be the one to make some kind of unwelcome advance and tear away the last gloss of Ed's innocence to satisfy his own keening need.

He'd thought it would fade. For God's sake, it should have. Before now, he could count the number of times he and Ed had touched on one hand, and then it was gloved fingertips on the wing of a sleeve, nothing more physical than that. Lust couldn't thrive on so little sustenance. It needed nurturing; without touches, gestures and promises, it dwindled to nothing.

Yet this continued to glow in him, hot and desperate, never fading to black. In fact, as the months skimmed by and Ed turned sixteen, it only seemed to intensify, becoming as much a part of his daily life as his morning coffee: normal, but far from mundane.

Cautiously, Roy glanced down, noticing that Ed was still scowling at his shirt. He wasn't looking up into Roy's face, which was just as well, but he could see the sharpness of Ed's cheekbones, the dark fan of his lashes and the straight line of his nose. It didn't help that he seemed to be growing more attractive as he matured. Once he had been eye-catching, but now? Stunning didn't even cover it.

At least Roy wasn't alone in that opinion; the looks Fullmetal received in the canteen were enough to prove that. He stood out from the crowd, as bright and hypnotic as a match in the darkness, and Roy was mesmerised.

It was easy, when the desk was between them, to hang onto his convictions. He reminded himself time and again of their disparity in age and rank, of what he would risk if he stole just one brief kiss and how dangerous it could be for both of them.

Like this, so close together they might as well be sealed to one another, he struggled to care about his reasons at all.

'We could shout for help. Maybe someone will hear and let us out?'

Roy blinked down, startled from his thoughts by the rough rasp of Ed's voice. He'd been so busy thinking of why this was a bad situation that he'd forgotten all about escape. Their lives weren't under threat. In fact, the only things in danger were his dignity and his self-restraint, but Ed was still focused on finding a solution.

'We have no idea where we are,' he pointed out. 'I've not heard any traffic noise – in fact, I've not heard anything.' He frowned, trying to pick any sounds out from beyond the wooden walls. 'You can give it a go, but I doubt it'll do us any good. For all we know we're still in the warehouse. The streets around there are quiet at the best of times.'

'At least I'm trying to think of a way out,' Ed snapped. 'You're just lying there. If I'd known it'd shut you up, I'd have shoved you in a crate a long time ago.'

'Perhaps I am simply able to see the value of patience,' Roy said flatly. 'There's no point in wasting your energy in a futile attempt at escape.' He took a deep breath, clenching his teeth as Ed started to wriggle again, looking for any freedom to move. He could feel the shift and strain of the muscles in Ed's flesh arm beneath his side as he tried to pull free of the stocks but, even if he did have the strength, there wasn't nearly enough space to give him the leverage he needed.

Silently, Roy mused that if there were anyone outside, they'd probably be frightened away by the noises coming from the box anyway. He knew for a fact that if he came across a growling, snarling, snapping crate, he wouldn't be in any hurry to prise it open and find out what was inside.

With a whine of frustration, Ed gave his arms one final wrench, and Roy winced as the back of the younger man's head slammed into the wall. The sound echoed gruesomely, and Ed shut his eyes in pain, muttering a litany of curses as he rounded his shoulders. If his hands were free he would probably have clutched at his skull, but neither of them had that luxury.

'Stop it!' Roy snapped, unable to stop the edge of worry sneaking into his voice. 'You're not going to do either of us any good by hurting yourself!' He ignored Ed's sullen glare and shifted his hands in their bonds before pressing meaningfully at Ed's side with his arms. 'Bend your head forward – let me look. That's an order, Fullmetal.'

Ed's eyes held his for a few seconds more before he reluctantly did as he was told, forehead pressed into Roy's shoulder as he strained to see the back of Ed's head. There was no blood in the blonde ponytail, although Roy would bet anything there would be a bump beneath all that smooth hair. 'For a genius, you honestly do some stupid things sometimes.'

'Shut up, Mustang,' Ed said miserably. 'I didn't see you doing much to get away when those guys jumped us.'

'"Jumped" is a bit of a strong word. We practically walked into the middle of them.' Ed had no argument to that, and Roy carried on talking, more to fill the silence than anything else. 'I suppose it could be worse. This could be our coffin instead of our prison.'

Ed snorted. 'Wouldn't be seen dead with you if I could help it,' he said, but it was clear he was going through the motions of their normal antagonism, rather than being particularly malicious. He couldn't pinpoint precisely when the ire in Ed's retorts had softened into something more companionable, but this wasn't the first time he'd noticed the subtle difference. Their bickering had become a way of maintaining the status quo, nothing more.

It was strange, really, that what had once been an all out war of words and wills had become, not peace, but something comforting. The world could end, and Ed would still explode at every short joke and snark back with just enough force to keep Roy's ego in check.

Roy raised his eyebrows in the gloom, turning the strange realisation over in his mind to examine it from all angles: what they had was almost friendship. At least, as close a thing to "friendship" that he and Ed would probably ever manage. It didn't follow the usual course, but when had Ed ever done things the normal way? What started as hate and resentment had steadily morphed into respect. He was normally observant when it came to other people's behaviour, so how had he never seen that before?

Before he could pursue that revelation much further, Ed interrupted his train of thought.

'Why aren't we dead, anyway?' he asked, looking up at Roy with a puzzled frown on his face. 'You'd think they'd want to kill us and cover their tracks.'

'Perhaps they thought we weren't a threat?' Roy suggested, smirking when he saw the offended look on Ed's face. Obviously Fullmetal was not used to being considered harmless. 'Or it could be that they weren't planning on coming back here again. Not all criminals are blood-thirsty killers. Perhaps they'd stolen all they planned to and decided to incapacitate us, rather than add the murder of two notable State Alchemists to their list of crimes?'

'Doesn't mean I'm not going to beat the shit out of the fuckers when I find 'em,' Ed replied. 'Equivalent exchange.'

Something about the way he said it suggested that Ed didn't just mean they'd get their just desserts for locking him in a box all night, and a frisson of alarm swept through Roy's body. He'd been so busy fixating on their situation that he hadn't thought that Ed could be injured. Any normal person would speak up if they were bleeding to death, but he knew from first-hand experience how unwilling Ed was to ever admit he needed medical attention.

'Did they hurt you?' he demanded, frowning in uncertainty when Ed shook his head. 'I saw two men roughly Armstrong's size rush you. Are you telling me they didn't lay a finger on you?'

Ed's body gave an embarrassed shuffle, and his shoulders lifted in a shrug. 'No, but I barely got to throw a punch either. One of them pinned me down while the other shoved a rag in my face. I didn't breathe in until one of them kicked me in the hip.'

Whereas Roy had reflexively gasped in surprise, filling his lungs with fumes and knocking himself out. That explained why Ed had woken up before him, then.

'I'm bruised, that's all,' Ed continued. 'You don't have to freak out about it. I can look after myself, unlike you.'

'And yet here you are stuck in exactly the same situation,' Roy replied, trying not to think of how easily he'd been neutralised by the smugglers. It was more embarrassing than he cared to admit, but he wasn't about to let Ed have the satisfaction of seeing him unsettled. He sighed, scowling over Ed's head at the opposite wall of the crate, wishing he could turn it to ash with the ferocity of his gaze.

However much Ed did not want to be here, and he'd made that more than clear, Roy was ten times more desperate to escape. It was sheer willpower and distraction so far that had stopped him from sparing more than a few moments' thought towards how close they were and the intimacy offered by the charade of this embrace. Yet the murmuring desire was getting louder and more insistent, and his body was almost trembling in response to Ed's nearby heat.

He wasn't sure he could make it until morning without seriously embarrassing himself. So far, his body was still under his control, barely, but he wasn't sure how long that would last. If Ed sensed that Roy was getting turned on by this, then there was no telling what might happen. Would he be appalled and afraid? Would he rant and rage? Would he ever so much as look at Roy again?

Would he like it?

Roy slammed down on that thought, smothering it desperately beneath the weight of his mind. He couldn't afford to even consider that possibility. The only way through this was not to think about it. He just had to banish Ed entirely from his mind: his heat, his scent, his weight in Roy's arms... .

He looked down at the young man, silent and tempting at his side, and wondered what Ed was thinking.


Ed screwed up his eyes, swallowing tightly as he tried to ignore the man lying next to him. Could this get any more humiliating? Whoever had done this had to be some kind of sadist to lock him up in here, not just with anyone, but with Mustang. Ten minutes in this enclosed space was too much to bear, let alone hours!

He shifted his weight, trying to keep as much distance between them as possible, but it was a lost cause. Every time he so much as breathed his ribs pressed against Roy's, and every bit of air was laden with the spice-and-sparks scent of his skin. The weight of Roy's arm over his waist was a heavy iron bar that burned through his skin, and his hips cradled Ed's perfectly....

Don't think about that! his mind howled, brimming with panic. For fuck's sake, anything but that!

Ed bit his lip hard, grappling with the obsessive trail of his thoughts, but it was no use. It was one thing to have some stupid crush on Mustang when he was in the office, cold and distant, but another matter entirely when he was lying less than an inch away. How many times had he stood in that damn room and yelled because if he didn't, if he spoke softly and let the anger fade, then what he would end up saying wouldn't be "I hate you!" but "Please?"

If Mustang knew, if he had even the faintest idea of how he made Ed feel, then he would never let Ed forget it. It would be something else held over his head every time he was disobedient – another fact for the bastard to get smug about. It was bad enough that he could have any woman he wanted. If he knew that he'd caught Ed's eye as well, then he'd never live it down.

At least at work Roy was distant and unobtainable: a pristine uniform and a cold, distant mask. Now, all that was gone. Mustang's jacket was open, and the white cotton of his shirt was bright in the gloom. Worse, it was getting hot in here, and the thin fabric was clinging to his physique. Ed was getting a close-up view of the broadness of the man's chest, and that was enough to turn his mouth dry and intensify the pulse between his legs.

It wasn't just that he was as close as a lover, practically entwined with Ed, that made restraint almost impossible. No, the fucker had chosen to be nice to him. He'd checked Ed's head when he hit it, and there was a whole lot more than professional concern in his voice at the time. Why couldn't the bastard play fair? Was he trying to drive Ed insane?

Not that it was the first time Roy had stepped away from the ice statue persona he loved so much and shown some genuine concern. Over the past few months there had been more breaks in his masks than ever before, and Ed was left baffled by what he knew Mustang would see as a weakness. It didn't mean Roy wasn't still a sanctimonious prick sometimes, but sometimes Ed thought he could catch a glimpse or two of the man underneath all that.

At first, Ed thought he'd been imagining things or reading it wrong. Mustang was the most manipulative bastard he had ever met and, for a while, Ed thought he'd just been fucking with his head, but there had been nothing fake about Roy's angry concern a few minutes ago. What the hell was going on?

'Did you have plans tonight?'

The question rumbled beneath Roy's ribs, and Ed looked up in surprise before quickly glancing away again. He had to stop doing that. Chest-to-chest might be torture, but when their eyes met all Ed could think about was how close Mustang's mouth was to his own, practically sharing every breath. All he'd have to do was stretch up a fraction and... .

'Why's it any of your business?' he demanded hoarsely, snatching his imagination from that path and shoving all the images of Roy from his mind as he made another futile effort to shimmy his hips away.

'It's called "making conversation", Fullmetal. Surely you've heard of it?'

Ed scowled. At least Mustang was back to being a git again. That, he could cope with. 'Get home to Al,' he said flatly. 'Eat something. Relax before you send me out on some other stupid assignment. Definitely not this.'

He felt Roy's chest rise and fall in a sigh, and his next words held a trace of dark amusement that ran down Ed's spine like molten steel. 'It would take a very unique individual to plan this kind of situation. How is Alphonse, by the way?'

It was weird that, even like this, trapped and uncomfortable and struggling not to embarrass himself, he could still feel the soft wings of happiness when he thought of his brother, seven weeks back in his body and getting stronger every day. 'He's doing fine. Making plans about school and stuff, but can't make up his mind.'

'Nothing's catching his interest?'

Ed snorted and lifted his head without thinking, pitching a disbelieving look into those dark eyes. 'No, he wants to do everything. The flat's covered in information about classes, I can barely move for it all.' His grin slowly faded as he noticed the tightness in Mustang's expression. There was a smile on his lips, but it was a shallow thing, barely hiding the tension in the man's jaw. He looked almost like he was in pain, but not quite, and Ed realised that Mustang wasn't holding his gaze.

'Are you all right?' he asked, frowning when Roy looked a bit like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. 'You look a bit weird.' He felt the tickle of Roy's breath against his cheek and thought he saw his shoulders slump in relief. Was Mustang trying to hide something from him?

'Yes, thank you. I'm fine. A little cramped is all.' He raised his eyebrow again when Ed glared at him suspiciously. 'Is that really so hard to believe?'

'I guess not,' Ed replied grudgingly. 'Serves you right for being freakishly tall.' He scowled when Roy smirked, thinking that discomfort probably wasn't the real reason for the funny twist of Roy's mouth. Still, if the bastard wanted to be all secretive, then that was his problem. 'What about you, anyway? Are you missing another stupid date because of this?'

'If I was, we'd probably be rescued well before dawn,' Roy replied smoothly. 'I never keep a companion waiting.'

'Such a fucking gentleman.' Ed pulled a face when Roy frowned down at him. 'So no one's going to miss you until you don't show up for work, then?'

'No, what about Alphonse?'

'I called him before we left, told him I might not be home until late. If we're lucky he might wake up in the morning and realise I'm not there. Still means we're spending the night here.' Ed almost whimpered that last part, and he couldn't help the tight, irritable noise that caught in his throat.

He'd imagined sleeping with Mustang plenty of times over the past year, but this really wasn't what he'd had in mind.

The stray thought slipped through his mind before he could catch it, sparking off fantasies in its wake. Immediately, a hot blush slammed into his face, and the steadily burning desire began to spread out of control, pooling through his stomach and clutching between his legs, fuelled by the imaginary skim of Roy's palms over his body and the all-too-real warmth of him nearby.

Shit, this couldn't be happening! There had to be something he could do to get out of this, because any minute now Roy was going to notice the growing hardness in Ed's pants, and if Mustang's disgust and derision didn't kill him then the fucking embarrassment would.

He twisted his wrists in the stocks, flexing automail and flesh alike against the hard wood as he tried to find an inch of give or a fraction of leverage, but there was none. He couldn't even kick the bottom of the crate out, because he couldn't draw his knees up to get the force necessary.

'Will you please stop moving like that?' Roy asked hoarsely, his indrawn breath loud in Ed's ears as he continued to wriggle.

'No,' Ed retorted, still trying to break free and keep himself from touching Roy's body at the same time. 'I'm not going to lie here and wait for someone else to get me out, not if there's any chance I can –'

Ed's words died in his throat as he froze in shock, blinking blindly at Roy's chest. That last twist had pushed him closer, rather than further away, and his hips had arched right into Roy's crotch. There was no way the man could have missed the ridge of Ed's erection any more than Ed could deny what was pressing against him, hot and heavy through their clothes.

For a moment, both of them lay motionless, not daring to look at each other as the seconds ticked by. Ed swallowed, trying to get one cool breath from the humid air as his thoughts began to recover, gathering speed and spinning through his mind.

'Um… .' he began, jerking his head up when Roy shifted away. If his hands had been free, Mustang would have scrabbled back, but as it was he could only recover an inch of free space. It might be enough to remove the steely pressure from Ed's crotch, but he could still feel the heat radiating between them like a glowing forge, beckoning him.

'It's – it's simple biology, that's all,' Roy said quickly, his teeth gritted as he looked everywhere except directly at Ed. 'If you'd just stay still, it wouldn't be a problem for either of us!'

That reasoning would have been a lot more believable if Roy's voice had sounded convinced, but Ed could hear the shake beneath his words, as if he were dragging them out of himself by force. Even in this weak light, he could make out the flush that dusted the older man's cheekbones, and a faint sheen of sweat lingered in the hollow of Roy's throat, temptingly close. His eyes were pitch black in the gloom, and his shallow breaths were dragged in through parted lips.

He looked like a new person, no longer self-assured and calm, but ragged, half-undone and helpless. Yet he wasn't looking at Ed with anything like horror. His gaze was too hot for that, and Ed's heart tripped into a faster beat as burning butterflies fluttered in his stomach.

Mustang was turned on, and not just a little bit. All this time Ed had been worried that Roy would be disgusted by his attraction, and now it seemed like Roy had been struggling with the same thing himself.

It was so unexpected that Ed didn't believe it at first. Mustang had never shown even a hint that he thought of Ed as anything but a subordinate. At least, not until now. Had he just been hiding it all this time, or had something changed?

Did it even matter?

Ed swallowed nervously, realising that the rest of their relationship professional and personal, could hinge on what happened next. He had a choice: he could buy Roy's excuse, use it himself and pretend this had never happened. They could carry on as always and, should Roy ever bring it up in the office, then at least Ed would have equal ammunition. They'd be superior officer and subordinate, and never anything more.

Alternatively, he could take a risk and call Roy out. Maybe it was the friction that had caused Mustang's hard on, but arousal and desire were different things, and Ed was pretty sure that both were tracing their mark across Roy's features. Mustang might not have any control over his dick, but there was one way to find out if it was an automatic response to another warm body, or if it was Ed in particular that had shaken loose all of Mustang's masks.

It was risky, but he'd never backed away from a challenge before. If it blew up in his face then he'd deal with the consequences, but if, by some miracle, he got the answer he wanted, then it would be well worth it.

'Biology?' Ed repeated, not bothering to keep the disbelief out of that one word as Roy finally met his gaze. He looked almost pleading, but Ed ignored it as he lifted his chin, searching Roy's features for any sign of disapproval or dislike. 'That's a fuckin' crap excuse, Mustang,' he murmured roughly, 'and you know it.'

He bit his bottom lip, watching Roy's eyes flicker down as if magnetised. Ed expected some kind of denial, but none came. Instead Roy was looking at him as if he had been hypnotised, both doomed and wanting all at once.

It was now or never.

Gently, Ed pressed at Roy's back with his wrists, testing to see if he'd pull away, but Roy didn't show even a fraction of resistance. Stretching up, Ed closed that last fractional distance to nip Mustang's bottom lip between his teeth – one final request for permission before he tentatively slipped his tongue into Roy's mouth.

Fuck, he tasted good: hot and wet in a way that made Ed feel light-headed, but it was the noise Roy made that he would remember for the rest of his life.

The moan escaped Mustang's throat, thick with relief and need, as if he had finally been given something he'd been waiting for. His arms tightened around Ed's waist, and Ed shivered in delight as Roy's tongue stroked over his, meeting and matching the kiss with eager ease. Automatically, their bodies relaxed into one another, and Ed groaned as Roy's hips pressed against his in the most perfect kind of torment.

He wished his hands were free so that he could cling to Mustang's shirt and hold him in place, so he could have more control than the tilt of his head and the flick of his tongue, but it wasn't like Roy was trying to back away. Instead he caught Ed's bottom lip between his teeth and sucked at it softly before changing the angle and going deeper, wiping out Ed's mind and leaving him lost in a haze of hot want.

Abruptly, he broke away, dragging in a sharp gasp of air as if he'd been slapped. 'Ahh, Ed. I shouldn't –'

Ed blinked, stunned by the sudden loss. A thudding flush lingered on his face, and the throbbing between his legs had deepened, becoming more insistent. He tried to understand the expression on Roy's face, but it was too confusing: a mixture of sharp desire and pained disappointment and other, less defined emotions.

'Why not?' he asked huskily, stretching up to cut Roy's words off with his mouth and stifling a frustrated growl when he pulled away, just out of his reach. 'You didn't have a problem with it a second ago, Mustang.'

Guilt darkened Roy's face, and he shook his head as he murmured, 'I'm sorry. I should have had more control.' He closed his eyes, and Ed had never seen the man look so discomposed or wretched. 'I – I didn't mean to give you the impression that this was something we could do. You're a subordinate, and you're barely half my age.'

Ed scowled, shoving all of his useless uncertainty and simmering embarrassment into the heat of his anger. 'So what?' he demanded. 'What's that got to do with anything? You think the military's going to give a shit about who you screw around with? Half the generals are fucking their aides anyway. What difference does it make?'

The guilt fled from Roy's expression, replaced with a stubborn set to his jaw and an intense gleam in his eyes. When he spoke again his voice was fierce with something that seemed to resonate through Ed's body, plucking at his taut nerves and warming the blood in his veins. 'If we ever did anything together, then I swear to you it would never be as meaningless as "screwing around".'

He looked so sure, and unease and excitement mixed together in the pit of Ed's stomach, making his next breath catch in his throat. 'So why are you saying we can't? Don't expect me to believe you don't want it. I can feel the proof.' Ed bucked his hips meaningfully, and heat glowed down his spine as Roy hissed in a breath.

'There is no way anyone could look at us and say I wasn't taking advantage of you – a young man under my command used to doing what he was told. Everyone would say –'

'Who cares what they say?' Ed asked, narrowing his eyes as he saw the way Mustang's arguments were going. None of it was about them, not really. It was all about everyone else. 'Anyone who matters knows I don't give a shit about your orders. Besides it's none of their business! I'm not a kid, and people my age act like –' He made a disgusted noise. '– fucking idiots.'

Ed bowed his head, resting his forehead against Roy's collarbone as he tried to work things out in his head. He knew that, in his own weird way, Mustang was trying to protect him from all the crap other people would say. He was – and this was what was really annoying – saying "No" for Ed's own good, like he needed protecting, and there was no way Ed was going to let him get away with that.

He licked his lips, feeling Roy shiver as his tongue brushed lightly against Mustang's skin. He could feel the tremble of the man's body next to his own, as if he were holding it under the tightest rein, and Ed wondered what it would take to make that control snap. A kiss here, a bite there? How long would it take for him to break down Roy's arguments with nothing but the heat that burned between them?

Ed sighed as his stomach swooped wretchedly. That would be the easy way out, but it wasn't something he could do. Mustang's doubts couldn't be lost in a haze of lust, not for long. Sooner or later, he'd regret anything they had done together, and he'd rightfully blame Ed for making him go against his better judgement.

That thought sat like rot at Ed's core, and the edge of his passion dulled with uncertainty. Roy was all about words and logic. He'd spent most of his life hiding his emotions, and he wasn't going to let them get the upper hand if logic told him otherwise. Ed grimaced, realising that, if he wanted to convince Roy that this was something they could have, then he was going to have to start talking, and hope the older man would listen.

Taking a deep breath of the close air, Ed looked up and gathered together the courage he needed to speak. 'Do you think this is just about hormones, or something?' he asked softly, feeling the embarrassed blush heat his cheeks as he took the plunge. 'It's not. I mean, it kind of is, but this isn't just about shagging someone. It's – it's about you. It has been for months. I don't – don't want anyone else, don't even look at them. I'm too busy lookin' at you. This isn't something you're talking me into or taking from me. It's something I want to do.'

A tight noise rasped in Roy's throat, and he rested his head on top of Ed's crown, murmuring into his hair, 'I wish it was that easy.'

'Why isn't it?' Ed asked, tipping his head up until they were nose-to-nose, impossibly, addictively close. 'You've given me reasons but they're all shit and you know it. You can handle the military, and the age thing's all in your head anyway. I don't care about it, so why should you?' A quick, half-breath rushed out of him as he stared into Roy's eyes, seeing the breaking point there. 'The only thing you could say that would make any difference is if being with me would stop you being Fuhrer one day. Nothing else matters, but if it means you can't achieve your goal then just tell me and I'll never say anything about it again.'

He felt Roy's heart thump against his chest and the tightness of those arms around his waist. He could feel the tautness in every muscle pressed against his own, and when Roy spoke his voice was breathless, 'Edward... .'

He closed his eyes, his brow screwing up in desperation as his lips hovered a fraction away from Mustang's mouth. Finally, Ed whispered the word that had been hovering on his tongue for what felt like a year.

'Please, Roy.'

It felt like one of the longest waits of Ed's life. He could almost sense Roy's internal conflict, weighing up all his reasons against the simple fact of having Ed and making his decision. The beat of his heart measured out by seconds and, inch-by-inch, his despair grew. He had given Roy a way out – a reason to end anything between them before it had even begun. Now Ed felt like he was waiting for the axe to fall and sever the frail line of his hope forever.

He felt the shift of Roy's hands behind his back and realised Roy wasn't trying to get free, but was trying to twist his hands around to touch his back. Perhaps he wanted to soothe him or something, but in the end all he could do was squeeze Ed's side with his arms. The brush of Roy's lips against his own took him by surprise, and Ed could only gasp as Mustang traced the line of his mouth. It was a soft, tender gesture that said a whole lot more than Ed could even begin to decipher, but there was no sorrow or disappointment. With a happy moan, Ed let Roy inside, losing himself in a kiss that somehow tasted like a promise.

'Being with you won't stop me from being Fuhrer, no matter what people might say,' Roy breathed, rubbing the tip of his nose down the bridge of Ed's in a nuzzling gesture. 'I always knew I would have to fight for the top spot but having you in my life, for however long, would make that worthwhile. As long as you're sure, Ed, and I mean really sure.' Roy closed his eyes for a moment, breathing deeply as he added, 'I couldn't forgive myself if it ever became something that you regretted.'

Ed couldn't find the words to respond; he could only nod dumbly, struck mute as his mind raced. Whatever Mustang was promising him, it would never be easy – not between them. They were both dominant and used to getting their way. Neither of them were familiar with compromise, but that didn't mean he'd turn down the chance to try.

His voice still failed him and, finally, he let his body do the talking. His legs twined around Roy's, sliding between and hooking over Roy's knee as if that was where they belonged. Ed flexed closer, meeting Mustang with lips and tongue, eager heart and straining hips, desperate to touch and be touched alike. He needed this, needed Roy more than his next breath, and he didn't care if the want killed him, he'd revel in it all the same.

If the stocks had been annoying before, now they were infuriating. Ed's hands wanted to sweep over Roy's body and spread over his back, catch in his hair and cup his neck, but they were helplessly locked in place. All he could do was press his arms against Roy's sides and let everything – his relief, joy and pleasure – out into the kiss. High, needy noises caught in his throat, and Roy stole them all away before they shook the air.

Ed's back curved in a wanton arch, and he grinned against Roy's mouth as he felt the renewed hardness of Roy's erection pressing against his crotch, hot and enticing. His hips moved on their own, grinding in artless need as Roy tipped his head back, gasping in air like a drowning man and groaning in want.

'Oh, God ' he whispered, his body jerking as Ed bent his head to lick at the beating pulse in Roy's throat. He tasted of salt, sweat and sex, and Ed bit at the thud of life that raced through Roy's veins. It wasn't hard enough to leave a mark, even on Roy's pale skin, but it was enough to make his breath stutter and his hips twitch.

Roy's pleasure was addictive, and his quiet, hitched sounds of encouragement were driving Ed slowly mad. He dipped lower, trailing kisses along Roy's collarbone and nudging the open collar aside to bite and suck at the ridge of bone.

Ed gasped in surprise as Roy's fingertips tangled in the end of his ponytail, tugging gently until he lifted his face again. Instantly, Roy claimed his mouth again, stroking and teasing as he shifted his legs, cinching Ed closer and moving in a slow, drugging grind that sent shafts of fire racing through Ed's body and blanked out his mind. He forgot all about where they were and what had happened, forgot everything except the man right next to him, half on top of him and driving him wild with nothing but the press of his lips and the steady shift of his hips.

Roy broke away, making a choked sound as his breath left him in ragged pants. He looked like sex personified, rumpled and flushed, and Ed keened pathetically as he pulled back a little, reducing the pressure and leaving him burning with need.

'Fuckin' sadist,' Ed choked, scowling as Roy gave a weak huff of laughter and pressed his brow to Ed's. 'What're you stopping for?'

Roy's teeth flashed in a bright grin as he heaved in another breath, still trembling in a way that resonated through Ed's body to his bones. 'Because if we keep going, things are going to get messy, and I don't think I want whoever rescues us to smell the sex when they open the crate,' Roy's voice deepened, making Ed's skin tingle all over as he added, 'and because there isn't nearly enough room in here for what I want to do with you.'

'You –' Ed licked his lips, almost afraid to ask the question in case it was the trigger for Roy's doubts, but he had to know the answer. 'You won't change your mind? Won't decide it's a bad idea after all, and that we shouldn't?'

The answer wasn't immediate, but when it came Roy's voice was firm with certainty. 'I've spent too much time telling myself that you would never want me, that I couldn't touch you, have you, hold you – Now you've told me I can, do you honestly think I'm going to let you go again?'

A soft kiss brushed over Ed's lips, more soothing and less urgent than anything else they had shared. It was still passionate, but it was reined in and blended into something deeper and more long lasting than the quick bite of lust. It was tender in a way that stole Ed's breath but left him alive all the same, and he returned it with just as much care.

'Will you come over to my place tonight?' Roy asked breathlessly, and Ed thought he heard the tiniest flutter of nervousness in the question.

He tipped his head to one side, meeting Roy's dark gaze as he replied, 'Only if you swear you'll finish what you started.'

Roy grinned, bending his head to kiss Ed again as he whispered, 'I promise.'

Hughes ran across the yard, aware of Roy's men a bare half-pace behind him. Dawn had broken, and it hadn't taken long for them to realise that their commanding officer was conspicuously missing. A frantic call from Alphonse had turned vague concern into genuine fear. His brother hadn't come home last night. The last thing the younger Elric had heard was that Ed and Mustang were checking out something in the industrial district: warehouse seven.

It was meant to be a simple investigation, nothing more. What could possibly have gone wrong? Nightmarish scenarios raced through Maes' head as he skidded to a halt by the open doorway, pressing his back to the wall and trying to pick out any sounds from within.

Nothing but silence, and his heart lurched into a sickly race as the possibilities presented themselves to him: injured, kidnapped, dead... .

No, nothing so inglorious could take down Roy or Ed. Alchemists didn't die easily, and definitely not without a fight.

Desperately, he hung onto that conviction as he glanced around at Roy's command, all braced and waiting for their orders. 'The smugglers might still be inside somewhere. Don't make yourselves a target. Stay quiet, no matter what you see. Understood?'

They all nodded in a single sharp motion, trained to the point of perfection. Hawkeye had her revolver drawn, rock-steady in her hand. Havoc was the same, the perpetual cigarette unlit and clenched between his teeth. Breda, Fuery and Falman were equally on their guard, and Maes flicked his fingers in a quick gesture as he slipped, ghost-like, into the building.

The lights were on, chasing away the gloom with their brightness and shedding their glow on the Spartan room. It was almost completely bare. There were one or two boxes stacked against the wall, but it was the one in the middle of the floor, solitary and proud, that caught Hughes' eye. It lay on its side on the cold cement, and a shudder worked its way through him.

He met Hawkeye's fearful gaze for a moment before stepping closer. It was part of his nature to pay attention to his surroundings, and he picked out the salient points as he inched his way across the floor. There was no blood, nor any signs of a struggle. When Ed and Roy fought, people knew about it. If they'd been attacked, then there would be scorch marks and cracks in the floor, but this place was pristine.

Perhaps they hadn't had a chance to defend themselves.

A tight lump lodged in Hughes' throat, making it hard for him to breathe, and he grimaced as he realised the crate hadn't been nailed down tight. There was one metal pin in each corner, still raised from the surface and, on top of the box, like a rose on a casket, was a claw hammer.

It didn't have to be what it looked like. Just because the crate had been left there, it didn't mean there was anything other than cargo inside.

Somehow, Maes couldn't bring himself to believe his own reassurances.

With numb fingers, Hughes holstered his gun, dragging his hand down his face as he realised that, sooner or later, someone was going to have to open it up and find out what was inside. For a brief moment he considered turning around and walking away. If he never looked then he would never know, would he? Ignorance was bliss, after all.

'Sir?' Hawkeye murmured, her voice barely stirring the air as she stopped at his side. Her face was pale with anxiety, but her brown eyes were as brave as ever. 'Do you want me to do it?'

'No, it's all right, Lieutenant.' He picked up the hammer, turning it over in his hand before prising the nails free. They slipped out of the wood with barely a sound, and he nodded to Havoc to grab the other side of the lid before lifting it free with a grunt of effort.

Ed and Roy lay in the crate, eyes closed and motionless. For a moment, Hughes' heart dropped like a rock, going into freefall before his mind caught on to what he was seeing.

Both men were bound in one another's arms, restrained and pinned within the tight confines. Corpses generally didn't try to escape, and a weak huff of laughter escaped Maes' lips as he realised he could see the steady rise and fall of Roy's chest.

The bastard could sleep anywhere.

'Are they –?' Jean asked, his voice full of dread as he trailed off.

'Asleep,' Hughes replied bluntly, shaking his head in disbelief. Neither of them looked particularly comfortable, and there was barely a finger's width of space all around them, yet neither Ed nor Roy had stirred. Judging by the shadows smudged under their eyes, it had been sheer exhaustion that dragged them under in the end. Still, they looked content, curled up around one another like kittens, and he was almost reluctant to wake them.

Hawkeye reached into the box, giving Roy's shoulder a respectfully rough shake. It was enough motion to drag both alchemists out of sleep, and Maes smothered a grin. Roy had never been a morning person and, judging from the look on Ed's face, he was not exactly happy to be dragged from his dreams, even if his "bed" was a pine box with a Mustang mattress.

'Thank God,' Roy grumbled. 'We've been in here for hours.'

'It's about fucking time you got here,' Ed added, wriggling his fingers meaningfully behind Roy's back. 'Little help?'

'What the hell happened?' Hughes asked, pulling out one of his push-knives and moving around to cut Roy's wrists free as Havoc and Breda set about removing the rough wooden pegs that held Ed's stocks closed. 'I thought it was a simple assignment. How did you end up shut in a crate?'

Neither Ed nor Roy answered immediately, and Maes smiled to himself as he saw them exchange a quick glance that seemed to speak volumes.

'We fucked up,' Ed said at last, wincing as the blood flowed back into his flesh fingertips. 'That's all.'

Sharing the blame was not something either man did readily, and Hughes glanced to Roy for confirmation, only to blink in surprise when he realised that Mustang was watching Ed. The expression on his face was almost tender. If Roy hadn't just been woken up, his masks would be in place and Hughes would never have seen it, but now, pre-coffee and in the company of friends, he wasn't trying to guard his expressions.

Roy got unsteadily to his feet, stretching out cramped legs before holding out a hand to help Ed up, and Maes didn't miss the way that Roy's palm had lingered on Ed's arm for just a moment too long, comfortable and familiar in a way it had never been before. Something had changed, but he wasn't sure what. He met his best friend's gaze, but there were no clues there, only a pinch of pain as he worked the blood back into his cramped limbs.

'I assume you will be taking the day off, sir?' Hawkeye asked with only the faintest edge of disapproval in her voice. No doubt she was thinking of the paperwork that would stack up in his absence.

'Yes, Lieutenant. I'm going home to my bed, and so is Fullmetal. Neither of us will be up to much anyway, after spending the night in there.' He continued talking, saying something about trying to track down the smugglers who had left him and Ed to endure an uncomfortable night, but Hughes was too surprised to notice. Roy normally chose his words with excessive care. Did he even realise what he'd just said? To anyone else, it might be ambiguous, but Maes knew what he had heard.

"I'm going home to my bed, and so is Fullmetal."

Maes looked over to Ed and back again, putting his hand over his mouth to hide the smile that curved his lips. Something had changed all right. It was there for everyone to see, if they knew what they were looking for. Where there had once been prickling boundaries of personal space and anger put forth as a poor veil for other emotions, there was now only the softness hope could bring.

In the course of one night, he suspected that Roy and Ed's relationship had shifted completely.

Perhaps he should worry about the consequences to them all, should question Ed's age and Roy's wisdom in whatever decision they had made, but only one thought lingered in his mind.

It was about time.

The End