Edward had never been an eloquent boy, and things had not changed in his adulthood.

"Shit....shit....how? oh shit."

How had he found himself in this embarrassing situation? Starring in horror, but sick fascination at the scene unfolding in front of him, he reviewed the last half hour in complete mortification.

His visit to Xing had taken quite of bit of time to organize. There was his automail to consider; crossing the desert in its entirety was dangerous for someone like him. Also, there was the span of time when things were to busy in Amestris -- to chaotic to leave. There was an entire country to re-organize....a new body to fatten up....and a girl to go home to.

But now, 6 years after the promised day, a few weeks after his 21st birthday, Edward found himself carted to Xing as not only an interested Alchemist, but a also a "Good Will Ambassador" from that shithead Colonlel, or well, President, but whatever, shithead Mustang who dolled out assignments like this on his two most trusted advisors otherwise known as the Elric Brothers.

Therefore, not only was HE forced to cross the dessert, but Winry and Al too. Al, full of energy and easily excited in his precarious and still too thin body, was babied the whole way, Ed thought morosely. Ed? He endured hours of heat radiating around him, within him, and through him without a shred of concern from anyone. Al was given all the shade and umbrellas over his mount -- Edward was given one white coat and a special ointment, oil, goo mess that somehow cooled off his metal limbs. To Winry's chagrin, this did not make Ed feel any better.

But to digress, how had he come to be right here? In this particular pickle? He was sandwiched in a small closet like space between two silk curtains, hiding, like a child, from the woman bathing in the large, humid private onsen. Oh why, oh why was Ed punished so cruelly?

His first few days in Xing had been so disorienting. And, he still suffered from the culture shock though he loved the lack of milk in the xingese diet. He was not used to onsens (public baths) and he was not used to the sticky air. He was not used to big ass palaces with endless corridors that all looked the same. He was not used to such irritating change.

Thus, he had thought he was returning to he, al, and winry's shared apartments, Ling sure knew how to wine an dine his guests with style, but had somehow entered a jade tiled room full of strange round wholes filled with scented water. The ceiling was vaulted and there was wide spaces where walls should be, but were not, and nature was encroaching inward and the hot air made everything else even MORE sweaty and nearly unbearable. Ed hated jungles.

However, he was drawn in like a poor beggar is to a feast. There was gold everywhere, from the light fixtures to the rims of the baths. It glittered and sparkled in the afternoon sun, the light of which seeped into the room through the open walls like a vapor. Edward had, though a deeper instinct told him to get out of there, walked fully into the strange room. He even had dipped his flesh hand into some of the waters, and suddenly had the tugging desire to test them out. He was surprised to discover the water was unbelievably smooth and comforting. Leaning his arm fully into one bath, he mused that despite all the heat, it would not be so bad to unwind in a room like this. But, he was too afraid of being discovered, seeing as he had NO idea where he was. When footsteps in the hall alerted him to someone approaching, he could only hide himself in shame in the small nook behind the curtains in hopes that whoever was coming was quickly intending to be going too. Yes, he could have just run out into the open jungle, but sudden images of tigers and panthers scared him out of that course of action.

Now, he was sure any moment now, Ran Fan would notice him there -- sense him, or something annoying like that, like these people always did. However, she had not indicated that she could sense him, she seemed to preoccupied with what she was doing. This was strange, seeing as she was the scariest woman he had ever met -- after Olivia Mira Armstrong, and was rarely taken off guard. She came into the bath, undressed, began cleaning herself at the tap, and began sliding into one of the hot, lavender scented stations swimming in its depth and smiling to herself without any words, glances, or recognitions to the lump of scared alchemist in the corner behind a very thin curtain.

GREAT! -- Ed thought inwardly. "If Ling finds me in here, I am sure it will provoke Greed to get all Jealous -- shit, shit shit, how can I get out of here with her not seeing me"

Ed had tried to avert his gaze while Ran Fan undressed, but he did see her a little bit. Though part of her, like him, was pure metal, her distinctly smooth, white gauzy flesh had drawn his eye for the briefest of moments. Her hips, her legs, and her exposed body were very beautiful, though Ed found himself more mortified and blushing than tempted. He was a man now, but still a boy at heart. He had come to terms with his feelings for Winry and even acted on them at times, but --sadly, to himself as he watched, he admitted that this was the first naked woman he had ever seen. He and Winry had not got there yet -- he had seen Winry's breasts, but they had not yet made it past that...."Shit" he whispered again to himself. Shit. Shit Shit.

It took a few years. As mature, as intelligent, and as caring as Edward was at near 16, he was not capable of understanding his love for Winry until well past his 18th birthday. By 19, they had kissed, confessed, and promised each other many things -- but the country was still in disarray. They were often separated by duties, he to central, and she to rush valley.

They were engaged, though secretly. Only Al knew their plans. And for some reason, waiting had seemed like the best course of action for them. Edward didnt ever want to push Winry, and she never seemed in a great hurry. Though things had gotten very hot and heavy between them, they were constantly being interrupted. Ed converted these messages in his mind as omens. Perhaps they were meant to share that part of each other on their Wedding night? Perhaps he was a hopeless romantic despite his "cool" and "bad ass" attempts at a reputation. He felt a sense of purpose in post-poning their Consumation then. He wanted the first naked woman he saw to be Winry, and he wanted it to be after they had become Husband and Wife. Well, as his anger at himself burgeoned, he realized that ideal had been ruined.

But Ran Fan was a nice sight to behold. She lifted her now wet body from one bath and sunk into the next, that was slightly pink from the chemicals inside the water, and from the dying light of the afternoon.


His death knell. With a realization of horror, Ed heard the door open again.

"No" he whispered to himself on a breath.


"Aaaaaah, there you are, Ran Fan."

The distinct, merry-making tones of the Emperor filled the room and shook Ed's stomach, heart, legs, with utmost terror. He HAD to get his ass out of there. The King of Xing, Ling Yao, conqueror of the Hommunculus, Greed and the other billion clans in the country (Ed couldn't remember the number) had just entered the room where his guard and, most scandalously shocking, wife was bathing. SHIT!

The rumors had even reached Amestris after the Prince's departure 5 years ago. The Yao Prince had returned to find his father already dead, but his new obtained power as a virtual Philosopher's Stone quickly assured him power while his brothers and sisters fought for power in a civil war. He was hailed as a savior of the people, while also possessing a divine power. However, Greed was abated, serving Ling within his mind, and the Prince was in total control. Instead of a tyrant, Ling was an iconoclastic leader. Though shocking many of the elderly aristocrats, he had begun to abolish the clan system in Xing, and attempting to introduce a more liberal and humanitarian form of government. He was trying to start a democracy of sorts, though as of now, things were still considered Monarchy. Some traditions were not ready to be done away with.

But one tradition Ling had done away with, was the law saying he had to mate with women from all the clans. He wanted one wife and she was a peasant. Perhaps it was the shadow of the Greed in Ling, but he got his way.

Ed was utterly horrified. He put his fist in his mouth to keep himself from making noise of despair as he realized what was just about to happen.

This was a regular meeting.

"Yes, here I am, Master."

"Would you STOP calling me that, Ran Fan. We are equals now!"

Ed was surprised to hear a very unfamiliar giggle. He NEVER had heard Ran Fan laugh, much less like that. She giggled and splashed in the water a bit, then beckoned the king with a wave of her foot......"WHY AM I WATCHING" Ed yelled at himself, but he could not tear his eyes away.

Ling began to undress. He pulled at his purple and gold robes until they were a pile of fabric on the floor. The look on his face was utter mischief and lust and Ed turned his back on the scene hoping to GOD they were too distracted to notice him shifting behind the curtain. He was nearly shaking with nerves and utter mortification. Why him? Why? Why must he be subject to this?

He could not stop the sounds though.