Warnings: Ed's language and Roy's suggestive imagination. Mild sexual imaginings.
Author's Notes:"In Heat" is an excuse for me to celebrate summer by making Ed look as tantalising as possible to poor Roy. I hope it worked.
The air was stifling, covering Central's streets in a lifeless veil. Green grass turned brown and even the meagre shade was like warm velvet. It was hot: that simple understatement was all anyone had the strength to say any more, and the productivity at Headquarters had fallen to almost zero.
Roy Mustang sat behind his desk, wafting the report he was meant to be signing back and forth in front of his face. The feeble zephyrs stirred the lank air, but it was not enough. Scorching sunlight poured through the window like syrup; it had mass, and Roy's shoulders were slumped beneath its weight. His jacket was pitched over the back of the couch, his sleeves were rolled up and most of his shirt gaped open, the buttons freed from their restraint. Looking scruffy was a risk he was willing to take. After all, the Fuhrer himself had abandoned all pretences and arrived at work wearing shorts, this morning. There was not much Hakuro could criticise about the presentation of his other officers when he flouted the rules himself.
An empty jug, once full of water, caught the light and reflected diamond slices around the room. Some stabbed through his open door and into the outer office, where his staff were slumped over their desks, too heat-beaten to speak. Only Hawkeye was managing to hang on to her decorum, but even she was showing more flesh than usual. Her collar may be as prim and proper as ever, professional to the end, but her jacket was on the floor by her feet and her sleeves were rolled up to make the most of the meagre wind that breathed through the window.
To make matters worse, there was a city-wide shortage of electric fans. No amount of persuasion could convince the populace that the military needed them more than the average citizen, and so the soldiers lay around panting like dogs. If there was an invasion now, Roy suspected they would be hard put to find a single man who cared.
The slam of the door in its frame made Roy jump, startling him from his thoughts. He was half-out of his chair before he realised it was Fullmetal, rather than anyone for whom he should salute. It was too late to cover his anxiety, so he settled for a superior frown while Ed gave him a vindictive grin. 'Serves you right, you fucker. Do you have any idea what it's like chasing someone across warehouse roofs when it's this hot?'
No, but Roy could guess. Corrugated metal would be baking in this weather; it would probably be like sprinting over glowing coals. 'Did you catch him?' he asked as he settled down in his chair, avoiding looking into Ed's eyes but smiling all the same at his slightly affronted reply.
'Of course. He's in the cells now. Won't be causing any trouble for a while. Got anything else for me?'
Roy glanced lazily at the paperwork on his desk, trying to appear casual and indifferent while his body tingled with awareness, and a familiar, inescapable warmth began to spread along his nerves. 'Take a look at these and pick one,' he said at last. 'The heat's been killing off the old alchemists, and a few of them were in the middle of decent studies. If you can pick up where any of them left off, it'll reflect well on the office.'
Ed snorted, taking the folders out of Roy's grasp. 'Like I give a shit about that.'
A year ago, Roy would have believed that sentiment. Before he returned Al to his body, Ed hated the military and everything it stood for, but since then he seemed to have realised the truth: he had carved a place for himself here – not just in the army, but in Roy's command. At some indistinguishable point, Ed had become one of them, and despite his protests, Ed cared about Roy's men.
And Roy had found himself returning that regard, although "caring" was by no means the right word for what he felt. To be honest, he was not sure there was a word for the emotions that Ed inspired in him – there were simply too many to be categorised. Ed made him feel as if he was on a short-fuse. Everything ran too close to the surface in his presence, and Roy found himself fighting not to reach out and grab him – though whether the next step would be to shake some sense into him or pull him close varied from day-to-day.
The truth was, Ed got to him. The boy had grown into a stunning young man, and Roy had recognised the first sparks of desire a while ago. He had done his best to stifle them, deeming them to inappropriate to act upon, but he was shocked to find that Ed had learned – without even trying, it seemed – how to push Roy's buttons.
He had learned the what to say and do to throw Roy completely off-balance. The other week he had said "Please", and Roy had been left completely, embarrassingly speechless at the unexpected courtesy. It was one of the many subtle clues that, after years of manipulating Ed to get the best results, Roy had possibly met his match.
Ed had matured, not much, but a little. At almost eighteen, he was slower to rant and rave at the slightest insult or injustice, and did not wind himself up into a frenzy at Roy's impassive masks. It seemed that, these days, he preferred to meet Roy's unwavering calm with something wicked, mischievous, intelligent...
Roy allowed himself to look up at Ed, glad that Fullmetal was too absorbed in the files to notice his unguarded admiration. Everyone in the city looked like hell right now, sweaty and miserable, but Ed seemed to be a person born for summer. Gold hair turned lighter, brighter, as if capturing the sun and storing it for the long darkness of winter. Honey skin tanned to a mellow colour that seemed to glow and was dotted with the occasional constellation of subtle freckles.
Of course, not even Ed was immune to stifling temperatures. If the Automail got hot, then so did he, and it was clear he had adapted to try and compensate for the discomfort. Normally, he was covered from the chin down in cloth, but today there were glimpses of flesh here and there, and Roy stared at them, fascinated.
The leather pants were a constant in Ed's life, but if he found the form-fitting material uncomfortable he showed no sign of it. There was no coat or jacket slung around his shoulders, just that black vest, and pulled on artlessly over the top, a white military shirt that fell unbuttoned to his hips. Roy wore a shirt like that every day; he was wearing one now for god's sake, and it was not a particularly attractive piece of clothing, yet Ed made it look sinfully good.
Of course, it was not the shirt that was making Roy's breath come from somewhere deeper in his chest, it was the body beneath it. Long sleeves modestly covered Ed's arms, and the dazzling white of the cotton only enhanced the contrast of the black vest that clung to Ed like a second skin. Worse the collar was open, wide and seductive, showing off the sweat-glossed hollow at the base of Ed's throat.
If there was ever a god of sex, he would probably look like that: muscular and powerful, clothed but suggestive. The brat probably did not realise he was doing it – was probably just frazzled from sprinting through the city – but all Roy could think about was tasting the salt on Ed's flesh, running his tongue up Ed's throat and sucking at the pulse that beat out its code of life beneath soft, tanned skin.
Roy struggled not to lick his lips as he tore his gaze away, shifting his weight when want pinched sharply between his legs. This was nothing new, this feeling, but it was still ridiculous; why, in a city full of willing and attractive bed-mates, did his body decide on Ed? He had tried to quench the thirst with other lovers, but it remained like some kind of itch that only Ed could scratch, and Roy was running out of patience with himself.
'You can sit down to read those, you know,' he said irritably. It was a bit more abrupt than he had intended, but as long as Ed was standing there then Roy could not bring himself to look away. 'There's a couch over there.'
Ed grunted, barely glancing up from what he was reading, and Roy clenched his teeth.
'Sit down, Fullmetal. I never knew someone of your meagre height could loom. I can't concentrate.'
That got Ed's attention, and Roy smirked as Ed's eyes narrowed dangerously. The young man was full-grown by now, and although he was no longer the shortest person in the office, he was never going to be considered tall. It was still a sore point that Roy used to his maximum advantage. Besides, there was something thrilling about making Ed angry, like lighting a firework. You never knew if it would be glorious, deadly, or both.
There was no rant, though, which was enough to unsettle Roy all the way to his centre. Ed just looked at him, eyes travelling slowly but surely over what was visible of Roy's body behind the desk. It was a penetrating examination, and the narrow slit of bare chest between the edges of Roy's mostly open shirt tingled as if electrified. His breaths turned short and uneven, and at least Roy could lie and say the colour darkening his cheeks was because of the hot room, rather than Ed's inferno gaze.
At last, Ed looked away, lips tilted in a faint smirk as his shoulders lifted in an eloquent shrug. 'Fuck you, Mustang. It's not like you're doing any work anyway. What do you need to concentrate for?'
Roy's response died on his lips, unspoken, as Ed turned towards the sofa, moving with his usual uneven grace. However, it was not the shift of his body that made Roy's tongue stick to the roof of his mouth, but a hither-to unnoticed alteration to Ed's appearance. There was no fat braid or rippling ponytail hanging down the young man's back, just a broad expanse of white shirt.
For one half-blind moment of almost perverse panic, Roy thought he'd cut his hair off, and part of him wanted to cry out at the thought. It was only a second later that he realised what he was seeing: the long fall of gold had not been severed – it was twisted up close to Ed's head and held in place somehow, probably with a band or bit of string. The occasional tendril was coming loose, charting a vivid bright line to the firm column of Ed's throat.
It should have looked feminine, but even from the back there was no mistaking Ed for a woman: his shoulders were too wide and his hips too slim, and Roy was helplessly captivated. Nothing as mundane as the nape of someone's neck should make his body hum, and yet the sight of that flesh made something deep and primal growl in the pit of his stomach. Roy blinked rapidly, trying to clear his head of the base thoughts that thundered through his skull. Logic was a distant thing, and he clenched his hands into fists as his imagination conjured up images of Ed naked and perfect in his bed, sprawled beneath him as they moved in tandem, Roy's nose nuzzling the back of Ed's neck as he groaned in pleasure...
Closing his eyes, Roy clung frantically to his control. His entire body felt like a heartbeat, pulsing with heat, and he could barely think over the roar of want in his ears. He glanced towards the sofa, careful to look just long enough to check that Ed was not watching him. Rather than a golden glare, Roy was met with the back of Ed's head; he was sprawled on the couch and his fingers made the paper of the files rustle as he flicked through the pages. Ed did not seem to care that Roy had been too lost in a fugue of blinding desire to answer his earlier question and was already engrossed anew in the potential projects in front of him.
Quickly, Roy tore his gaze away from the promising smoothness of Ed's neck and dragged some files towards him. Ideally, he needed a long, cold shower, but Roy would settle for getting Ed out of his sight before he did something stupid, like walking over and pressing his lips to that exposed golden skin. The brief satisfaction would probably cost him a broken nose when Ed turned around and rightly punched him, and the shaky trust they had built would fall to ruins.
The picture of Ed enjoying it, of humming pleasure and exposing his throat in invitation fluttered across Roy's mind like a ghost, and he barely suppressed the faint whine that tingled in his chest. Normally Ed's presence did not inspire quite this level of exquisite torment – usually Roy allowed himself one subtle, appreciative look and that was it. Now he had to prop his head on his hand and force himself to stare at the desk and the report on its surface, because otherwise he would gape longingly at Ed until the brat walked out of his door again. Reading helped a little, but every inch of Roy's skin felt hyper-sensitive, awake and aware to Ed's presence as if he were the moon pulling on Roy's tides.
If it were not so hot, this agonising attraction would not be a problem. The heat was what had brought all of Roy's scattered attraction into this sharp devastating focus. It needed to rain, soon, some kind of storm to break apart the torrid air, because then Ed could put more clothes on and Roy could get his brain back.
Except Ed like this, effortlessly sultry and appealing, was not something that Roy would forget in a hurry. Even in the depths of winter he would probably still remember today. The image of Ed would be forever branded across his mind's eye to haunt him until the day he died.
The worst thing was that they had never even touched for more than a split-second, a hand reaching out to steady faltering steps or get the other's attention, that was all. This endless need stemmed from the scenarios that paraded themselves wantonly across Roy's imagination; they were not based on anything factual. He was fooling himself, and that just put a bitter edge to the sweetness of his desire.
A movement in the corner of his eye made Roy lift his head from the dense, boring print, well-aware that he had not turned a page the entire time that Ed had been reading. Now the young man was on his feet, arms stretched above his head as if he were just rising from a bed. Roy could see the elastic stretch of those muscles, and he swallowed as Ed's vest and shirt shifted, giving Roy a brief glimpse of a flat stomach and a faint line of dark gold hair that arrowed downwards beneath his belt.
Roy's heart slammed into his ribs and the pulse between his legs began to throb again. God, was Ed trying to kill him?
'I'll take this one,' Ed said, wandering towards the desk. He was waving one of the files, and the other two hit Roy's desk with a papery slap. 'Those are boring, but this guy's got potential.'
Frantically, Roy scrabbled a couple of brain cells together to form a half-decent reply. 'Let me know if you find anything interesting in the course of your research,' he ordered, clearing his throat to remove the husk from his words. 'Dismissed, Fullmetal.'
There were no receding footsteps, and the door did not bang open and shut to announce Ed's departure. Instead the young man stood there looking at Roy with his head tipped slightly to one side, and even if Roy was looking at the reports on his desk, he could still feel the weight of Ed's scrutiny. 'You can go, Fullmetal,' he repeated, letting a trace of something mocking slip into his voice – anything to get Ed out of here. 'Or would you like to stare at me some more?'
For a moment there was no response, and then softly, almost threatening, Ed said, 'You stared first.'
Roy tried very hard not to jolt in surprise, inwardly cursing himself as panic rushed through him. Of course Ed could be observant when he wanted to, and clearly he had not been as absorbed in those files as Roy had thought.
Picking up a pen, he jotted his signature on the required line, hoping the report contained nothing of importance as his mind raced for a response that would throw Ed off the scent. 'You flatter yourself, Edward. I was thinking and looking into the middle-distance. You simply happened to be the way.' It was good: cool and dismissive, but Roy made the fatal mistake of looking up to punctuate his statement with a disinterested glance.
It did not work as he had planned, mostly because of the way Ed was standing. The file was clamped under his arm, and he had tucked his thumbs into the pockets of his pants, hands sloping inwards towards his fly. It was subtle, but Roy's eyes were drawn to that point, and the split-second between staring at Ed's crotch and looking up at his face was as much of a give-away as admitting the truth out-loud.
Silence stretched between them, pulled taut like a harp string waiting to be plucked. Roy felt dizzy, half lost in a sick mix of panic and excitement as he waited for Ed to react in some way, but the brat just watched him – stared at him – one eyebrow raised in a silent scream of doubt as he tipped his head to one side.
Roy braced himself, waiting for the attack or the challenge, something that would drag all this out in the open and shatter it apart, but none came. Ed's lips curved into a faint smirk, like he had Roy at a disadvantage and knew it. 'Yeah, right,' he murmured, his voice soft like a promise as he turned away. 'You keep telling yourself that, Mustang. I'll see you later.'
Unspoken excuses died on Roy's lips as he watched Ed saunter out of the door, as calm and collected as if they had been discussing the weather. Anything he could say would be too little, too late, and Roy tunnelled his fingers through his hair as he leant back in his chair, blinking at the bland white ceiling. What had just happened?
Ed knew – something. How much, Roy was not sure, and the possibilities were alarming. At the very least he had noticed Roy staring at him like a lust-struck teenager, practically drooling. There was not even any way in which Roy could excuse himself; he had blown any hope of a lie out of the water with that final exchange. If only he had kept his eyes moving, but Ed's hands had been right there – emphasising that.
Roy frowned, lowering his head to frown at the doorway. Ed should have been angry, disgusted, or at least thrown off-balance by Roy's attention. Instead he had been his usual curious self, as if he were conducting some kind of experiment and watching the results with interest. Roy was more than used to the games of flirting and the coy ways of lovers, but that could not be right. Ed's graceful movements and glimpses of honeyed skin couldn't be deliberate.
Roy shook his head, reaching for his pen as he pulled another report closer. He was being ridiculous – wishful thinking – that was all, but his logical doubts could not muffle the faint, hopeful thud of his heart. Even if every one of Ed's actions had been accidental – about comfort, not seduction – there was no changing one simple fact:
If only for a few moments, Ed had stared back.
A/N II: There will probably be a sequel to this, but for the moment I wanted to write something that hinted at what could be.