Warnings: Sexual Tension, Language, and a tongue piercing.

Author's notes: Finally, the end part to this fic. It's been a long time coming! My original manuscript is still in need of help. If you've not voted for it yet, then you can find out how on my profile page. It's at #7, now. I'm trying to get it to #5 by the end of the month. Your vote could help!

Another reason to go to my profile page would be to check out the new Roy/Ed project on its way in August. Hope you find the details intriguing ;)

Thank you, as always for your support!

Kill The Cat: Part Four

"Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back." - Eugene O'Neil

Manners had never been part of Ed's repertoire; Roy could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times Ed had said "please", but now that word drifted between them like a feather caught in a breeze, fragile and beautiful. Ed was still in the circle of his arms, watching and waiting, but his face was far from impassive. His head was tipped to one side, exposing his neck. On anyone else it would have looked coy, but Roy could see it for what it was: a request to be trusted. Ed's need to hear what Roy had to say was written in the faint, worried frown pinching his brow and the purse of those lips, still swollen from a kiss that had almost set Roy's soul alight.

There was no backing out. Courage was not the lack of fear, but having the strength to face it. Roy might be terrified of how this could end, but he would not turn and run – not now.

Laughter sounded behind them like a bursting bubble as a group of drunken women stumbled from one of the bars, too lost in their mirth to notice him and Ed. Their heels tapped on the cobbles as they walked away, weaving and holding onto each other for support. It was a rude reminder that they were far from alone. The middle of Central was not the best place for any kind of conversation or – Roy thought as Ed licked his lips, drawing his eye with a flash of pink and a glimmer of silver – another kiss.

'Not here,' Roy said softly, squeezing Ed's hip in gentle reassurance before stepping away and trying to ignore the pang of loss that shot through him. 'I don't mind where we go, your place or mine, but I don't want to be interrupted.'

Ed shot a dark glare at the backs of the departing women before he nodded his head, grabbing Roy's sleeve and giving it a tug. 'Come on, then. My apartment's closer.'

Roy swallowed as a new, dark uncertainty fluttered across his mind. 'What about Alphonse?' he asked, his heart sinking as he thought of the younger Elric. It would be hard enough explaining himself to Ed, but Al as well? Ed's brother was not the violent type, but when it came to Ed's well-being his quiet anger could be far more terrifying than any outburst Ed was capable of.

'He said he wasn't coming home tonight. Probably staying over with Claire again,' Ed replied. The words themselves could have sounded bitter, but Roy made out the undertones of happiness in Ed's voice. Roy knew from watching the two of them that Ed was not selfish in his love for his brother. He did not cling or try to hold Al back; he was simply pleased that Alphonse was a normal teenager again, alive and enjoying himself.

If he and Ed started something tonight, would it be the same? Would Ed share in the relationship, an equal, rather than hoard Roy's attention? So many times in the past, when things had started to get serious with a partner, Roy had found himself facing bitter ultimatums. Most of his lovers did not understand the demands of his job and childishly demanded more than Roy could give. That, more than anything, had taught him not to get too close. His ambitions were not forgiving towards emotional attachment and, more than anything, Roy did not want to drag Ed into that same position. Of everyone Roy had ever considered for a partner, Ed deserved worship, and Roy did not want to drive him away through helpless neglect.

Carefully, he pulled his sleeve free of Ed's grasp, weaving his bare fingers between Ed's gloved ones and giving one tight squeeze before letting him go again. Roy was not sure what he expected, but it was not the brief, wary smile that flashed over Ed's lips. Mutely, he fell back a half-pace to walk at Roy's side, shoulder-to-shoulder: a reassuring presence in the chill night air as they strode down the street and back towards the apartment in silence.

More than once, Roy tried to say something, but the words kept catching in his throat like stones. His mind was racing with scenarios, trying to plot the best way forward, but there were too many unknowns. Besides, Roy knew that if Ed caught even a hint of manipulation, the night would end in disaster. The only choice was to tell the truth, no matter how open and vulnerable it left him, and Roy tried not to cringe at the thought of being immersed in something so totally beyond his control. What happened tonight was down to Ed in the end. Roy could only speak and hope that Ed's decision mended his heart, rather than broke it again.

'Lights are off,' Ed said quietly, jerking his head towards the dark windows of his apartment. Roy followed his gaze, realizing it probably meant Ed was right: Al was not home tonight.

Roy's stomach clenched with his thrashing nerves as they crossed the street and paused at the door. The keys jingled briefly in Ed's hand before he slipped them into the lock, flicking the tumblers open and letting Roy into the hallway, and Roy found himself watching the younger man intently.

Perhaps Ed was as nervous as he was; his jaw was clenched and his shoulders tense, as if he were bracing himself for a fight. If it had been anyone else, Roy would have wondered if the body language was genuine, yet Ed was not the kind of person to torment another. He was honest, above and beyond lovers' tricks, and Roy realised that the faint signs of anxiety were genuine. Clearly he had messed Ed around so much over the past few days - kissing him, turning him away and then tracking him down once more - that Ed was reserving judgement. After all, it was the sensible thing to do.

The key rattled in the lock to Ed's apartment door, and when he pushed it aside Roy peered into the rooms beyond. He had expected stacks of books and paper everywhere. If Ed lived alone, he probably would not have been able to see the floor, but it was clear Al had some influence over the state of the flat he shared with his brother.

Ed shrugged out of his coat and peeled off his gloves, throwing them in the general direction of the couch. They missed, but Ed did not pay any attention as he turned to face Roy, arms folded as he leaned expectantly against the back of the sofa.

It was like being caught in the headlights, and all Roy's words turned to glass in his throat. He swallowed convulsively, trying to speak, but his mind was in the full flight of panic, now, too disoriented to even think of a starting point. After a few seconds, far too long for Roy's liking, Ed sighed, his meagre patience already gone. With a shake of his head, he waved his hand towards a waiting armchair.

'Sit,' he ordered, 'and if you don't start talking soon, then I will.' It was not exactly a threat, but there was something in Ed's voice that suggested such an option was not the best way to go. 'I'm getting some more coffee. You want any?'

'Yes, thanks.' The plea was croaky, and Roy winced, but Ed did not seem to notice as he ambled through to the kitchen. Roy could hear the clank of the kettle being put on the burner and the sound of mugs being retrieved from one of the cupboards: busy, domestic sounds that somehow slackened the knots of tension that were choking him half to death.

The chair Ed had indicated sat expectantly, and Roy grimaced. The last thing he felt like doing was sitting down; the ease of the evening had vanished, leaving him full of jittery energy. He needed to be upright and alert as he faced what could be the most important conversation he would ever have. Besides, he was too restless to sit and wait for Ed's return. Squaring his shoulders, Roy shrugged out of his coat, picking up Ed's and laying them both on the back of the couch before turning towards the kitchen.

It was a neat little room: no dirty dishes stacked up and no food left lying around. There were books, though, more about alchemy than cookery, and Roy smiled as a vision of Ed reading some treatise of transmutations while absently making dinner flickered across his mind. The reality was not quite so idyllic: Ed moved around the kitchen with fluid ease, going through the motions of making coffee on autopilot, but there was an edgy feeling in the air that seemed to crackle threateningly. Ed was too tense to be unaware of Roy's presence, but when Roy spoke, he still looked over his shoulder, eyes wide and brow arched in sudden surprise.

'I'm sorry,' Roy murmured, running his fingers through his hair and glancing away at the floor. Suddenly there were too many things to be said crowding up his mind. It was not just that he needed to explain, but he wantedto. Ed deserved that much. Trying not to let his voice stutter and stall, Roy looked back at Ed, licking his lips before making his confession. 'I made a mess of things: kissed you and then told you it was something we couldn't do when I was the one who started it. I didn't mean to fuck you about, but I – I panicked.'

Ed frowned, lips pinched as he tipped his head to one side as he seemed to try and puzzle Roy out through sight alone. 'What made you freak out?' he asked softly, the bafflement in his voice obviously genuine. 'It was one kiss – not like your entire career was going to go to shit because of that, but you acted like –' Ed shrugged, shifting his weight uncomfortably. 'Like you'd just made the biggest mistake of your life.'

Roy shook his head firmly, casting Ed's idea aside. 'No, the biggest mistake was turning you away.' He felt Ed's attention intensify to the point of pain, utterly focussed. Nothing, not the cooling coffee or the rush of Central's night could distract Ed from him now, and Roy swallowed as he tried to think of the right words to explain.

'I didn't think it would feel the way it did. I wasn't lying when I said I was trying to satisfy my curiosity. In a way, I think I hoped to prove to myself that I wasn't missing out on anything, and instead...' He rubbed a hand over his forehead, feeling shaken already, like he was walking a tightrope and the slightest loss of balance would send him plummeting into the abyss. 'I realised that, perhaps, what I felt for you was a lot more than a simple case of lust.'

The words tore themselves free of him, and Roy tried to keep his posture straight, tried to look certain when all he wanted was to flinch away from Ed's presence. Honesty was a double-edged blade, and he could feel the sharp, keening bite cutting through him. Worse, Roy could already see that there would be no compromise. Ed was going to drag it all out of him, one word at a time, until the full breadth of the story lay between them for him to understand.

'No shit.' Ed did not shift his gaze or turn away. He simply stood there, outwardly relaxed and at ease, like he knew he had the upper hand. It was only on closer inspection that Roy could see the taut ropes of the muscles in his arm, tense and unyielding, not with violence, but with simple stress that came from confusion. 'So you got weird because you thought, what? That I'd force you into a relationship that you didn't want? That I'd fuck up your job in the process?'

He moved, predator quick, but it was not an attack; Roy did not even cringe. He trusted Ed too much to believe any of the inner turmoil could twist into a fight, but he also understood the length and breadth of Ed's emotional intensity. He never stayed still for long, and now Roy watched him pace around the tiny kitchen, too worked up to stay still.

'You said you got scared because you thought it could be more serious than just sex – like one night would be all right but more than that's too much. Why?' Ed waved a hand, twisting around to prowl back the other way, head ducked and shoulders rounded. 'You think that any of the shit that people would say could stop you being Fuhrer if you wanted? I've seen the way you work, Mustang, you'd still have them eating out of your hand in a week no matter who you were fucking.'

'It would never be just "fucking", Ed,' Roy replied softly, wincing as Ed bristled, no doubt taking that quiet correction as confirmation. 'Wait, that's not the reason I backed off.'

'So what then? It's not the military, it's something else. Public opinion,' Ed's sneer was more pain than derision. 'If they're trying to run a fuckin' smear campaign, who you're screwing'll make no difference, they'll use it anyway.'

'It's not that, Ed. It's not –'

'So what then?' Ed demanded, coming to a halt nearby, arms folded tight across his chest like a shield. 'If it's not the military, and it's not the rest of the fucking world then it's what – me? Am I just not – not enough or something?'

The half-hidden hurt in Ed's voice was like a knife twisting beneath Roy's ribs, catching at nerves and making them scream beneath his skin, but it was what he could see that intensified the ghostly agony. Ed's right hand was clenched into a bright silver fist, but the left was open, palm pressed to the automail as if he were trying to hide it, and his body was fractionally turned away.

Roy jolted forward instinctively, hands outstretched to clutch gently at Ed's shoulders. 'You're more than enough,' he whispered, giving Ed a gentle nudge in emphasis and feeling the words swell up inside him: water behind the dam of Roy's own instinctive caution. The truth refused to be restrained, and he dragged in a shuddering breath before he spoke again, hushed, but more certain than he had ever been of anything else in his life. 'I was afraid that I would get too close to you, that I would leave myself open and vulnerable and then when things went wrong, I would be left with nothing.'

Ed blinked, his eyes like twin suns as the war of defiance and misery gradually ebbed from his expression. For a handful of heartbeats, he simply stared, and Roy started to wonder if Ed had even heard him. He looked like he was waiting for the punchline to some sick joke, but, finally, Ed licked his lips, cheeks tinged with the faintest hint of embarrassment as he asked, 'And now?'

Roy moved his hand, cupping Ed's jaw softly and drawing him close. 'I'm still afraid,' he confessed, feeling breathless and light-headed, almost sick with hope, 'but I can't let you go without trying.'

His heart tightened painfully as he tried to read Ed's expression, but for once it was a mask, emotional in itself, but utterly opaque. He could no more tell what Ed was thinking than he could predict the future, and that lack of knowledge clutched at Roy with sharp claws, trying to choke him as he struggled to find his voice. There was something he had to say, something that had crept up on him sideways and caught him in its silken web, despite his self-denial. Even if it changed nothing – even if Ed still turned him away – it was something that had to be said.

Taking a deep breath that somehow felt like both his first and his last, Roy put the final piece of himself on the line.

'I love you.'

The world could have ended, could have crashed to a halt and gone up in flames, and Ed would not have noticed. Roy's words hovered in his ears as if making themselves at home there, and the rush of hope in his heart was only matched by the roaring snarl of doubt in his mind.

This was Roy Mustang, manipulative playboy, and the word "love" rarely came into anything he did, at least in relation to the people he took to his bed. The man Ed knew, the one whom he had spent years snapping and snarling at over a blank expanse of desk, would never leave himself so vulnerable. That was not the way Mustang worked. He waited, choosing his moment, until he was more than sure that he would not be caught in the backlash, and then he showed his cards, not before – not when there was so much at stake.

Except that Ed was not just dealing with Mustang, was he? He was not talking to the Brigadier-General or the Flame Alchemist, but the sum of those parts. Roy was familiar in so many ways, but Ed only knew the black and white of their professional life, not the shades of grey that made up the man. It was like being lost in a country with no map, and Ed narrowed his eyes, searching Roy's expression for any hint of that familiar smirk or the light of smug trickery in his eyes.

All that met his gaze was the same bitter cocktail of hope and fear that was flowing through his own veins, and Ed swallowed tightly as he realised that Roy had done all he could. He had exposed his inner emotions, for better or worse, and now stood there like a prisoner awaiting execution, hoping for a reprieve but afraid that he was going to feel the bite of the axe at any minute. It was up to Ed to choose which it would be, and that was not as simple a decision.

He wanted Roy – wanted what they'd had tonight: the happiness, the trust, the security... Now Ed was being offered all of that, and he could not quite bring himself to take it with nothing but faith in his heart. It was not just the past few days that had left him wrecked and unsure: it was years of manipulation, of never knowing Roy's real motives and struggling to tell the truth from the layers of lies. Did he really have the courage to ignore the warnings that whispered in his mind and believe that this – the man standing in front of him, pale and intense – was the real Roy Mustang, the one beneath all the masks?

The answer was like a punch in the chest, a hard, sure slam against his ribs that he was sure Roy felt too. Ed reached up, gripping his fingers loosely around Roy's wrist as the words clawed at his throat like living things, chaotic and panicked. They rasped across his tongue, too honest, too painful, but unstoppable.

'I don't believe you,' he whispered, tightening his grip on Roy's wrist so that he could not pull away. He could see Roy's shock of pain, already being hidden by an impassive veil that Ed knew he could not let settle completely over those features. His voice lifted, more challenging than he intended, but there was no way to water down the intensity of everything that was building like a storm in his body. 'Prove it. I don't care how long it takes, Mustang, I've got years, but I'm going to need more than just your word.'

He met Roy's dark eyes head on, hoping that the meaning of what he was saying would not go over Roy's head; he was smarter than that, wasn't he? All he wanted was the evidence to back up what his heart was telling him. All he needed was for Roy to show him that he was willing to try and make this work – that it was more than a game or a fling, and a faint smile crossed Ed's lips as he saw the realisation go nova in Roy's gaze. The blank expression shifted, and Roy lifted one eyebrow as he smiled, letting his arm relax in Ed's grip, twisting his hand so that their fingers could wrap around one another as easily as if they had been holding hands for years.

'Are you asking me to woo you, Edward?' Roy asked quietly, the teasing edge of his words playful rather than malicious, and his smile became a grin as Ed glared.

'Not a girl, Mustang,' he growled, curling his automail fingers in Roy's collar and pulling him closer, not sure whether he was trying to threaten Roy, seduce him or both. 'I'm asking you to show me what you think we could have. How you do that is –'

The kiss softly cut off his sentence, wiping his mind blank as quickly as if his brain was nothing but a chalkboard and leaving it free of the annoying scrawl of his thoughts. Roy's tongue flashed across Ed's lips, and he opened his mouth willingly, more than happy to let Roy convince him. It would take more than a kiss and more than sex, but the warm heat humming in Ed's veins wanted to build itself higher, and he let the fire surge through his bones as he tangled his tongue with Roy's, feeling the man in his arms shiver in helpless delight.

Power like this was heady, and Ed knew how easy it would be to lose himself in it. All those years of having his strings yanked by Mustang, and now he was the one who could manipulate Roy with as little as a brush of his fingertip or nip of his teeth. It was tempting, but Ed knew that this was not about gaining control, nor relinquishing it. Any relationship had to be about sharing the power, and that had to start right at the beginning, or little games would become battlefields of resentment.

Roy knew that too, Ed could feel it in the skim of his bare thumb up and down his neck, both soothing and teasing, while his lips on Ed's see-sawed between pliant and giving and gentle, subtle demands. The kiss was not an effort to reduce Ed to a creature of need, although it was definitely having that effect. He could practically taste the acceptance and promise on Roy's tongue. Ed had spent the past five days wondering if those kisses had ended any chance of a relationship between him and Roy, but now he was finding out that it had simply been the start.

Steam gradually ebbed from the coffee mugs on the kitchen counter, trailing off in dying wisps as Ed lost himself to the sensation of Roy's body pressed against his, warm arms around him and fingers stroking at every bit of bare skin they could find. The desire was still there, but it was not the desperate-edged inferno of a few nights ago. Now it was softer, wrapping around Ed in golden veils as he slipped his hand between the buttons of Roy's shirt, brushing gently at the smooth skin beneath and smiling as the growl of appreciation rumbled in Roy's chest.

Relief and need mingled together, eddying like dye in the clear water of Ed's mood, and he broke back, letting out a gentle sigh of happiness. Roy pressed a kiss to his brow and another to his temple as if he could not bear to part his lips from Ed's skin for more than a moment, and Ed felt his quiet words more than heard them.

'Thank you. I was worried you'd say I'd missed my chance.'

Ed shook his head, nuzzling at the warm, soft skin at the base of Roy's throat. He felt light, as if he had been carrying around an unimaginable weight, and now it was gone. 'Wasn't going to wait forever for you to figure it out,' he murmured, 'but I don't give up easy, either. Before you turned up at my apartment, I was going to go looking for you.'

Roy's hand skimmed down Ed's ponytail, as light as the flutter of a butterfly's wing, to brush the nape of his neck, stroking at the tense muscles that knotted beneath the surface. 'Why?'

'I needed some answers.' Ed breathed in, letting the spicy scent of Roy's skin fill his lungs as he pressed a chaste kiss to Roy's pulse. 'Needed to know why you'd said no.'

'Because I'm an idiot,' Roy replied quietly, his arms tightening around Ed's body in silent apology. 'I was so busy dreading how it could end that I became afraid to even give it a chance.' He pulled back fractionally, running a finger along Ed's hairline and tucking a strand of hair back behind his ear. The gesture was agonisingly intimate. Anyone else trying it would have probably ended up with a broken wrist, but Ed had to fight himself not to lean into the curve of Roy's hand.

'What changed your mind?' Ed asked, his arms wrapped comfortably around Roy's waist as he looked up into eyes the colour of the summer night sky. 'You seemed pretty certain on Friday that this wasn't an option.'

Roy did not seem to even need to think about it. 'You. I've known you for years, but you did not try and fight me when I said no. You respected my choice, even if you didn't agree. It made me realise how much might be at stake.' Roy nudged gently at Ed's forehead, and a soft sigh ghosted across Ed's skin as Roy's shoulders sagged a little. 'Although a couple of people also felt it was necessary to tell me I was being an idiot, but if I'm honest I think they only accelerated my decision.'

'Yeah, well, I'm glad you finally figured it out,' Ed murmured, stretching up to capture Roy's lips again in a brief, teasing kiss, laughing gently at Roy's whimper when he withdrew. 'I was starting to think this was already over.'

'Not if I have any say in it,' Roy whispered, tilting Ed's chin and running his thumb over Ed's bottom lip, dragging at the swollen, sensitive skin in a way that turned Ed's next breath hot and heavy in his chest. 'I want to make this work.'

'We'll fight, you know that, right?' Ed asked, nipping at the tip of Roy's thumb and revelling in the thrill of excitement that shot through him as Roy's pupils flared. 'It's not going to be easy – not between you and me.'

'Maybe not.' Roy's eyes locked with his, bright with hope and promise as he ducked his head closer and murmured, 'But I know it will be worth it.'

Ed's thoughts scattered again like autumn leaves before the wind as the soft, tender, loving kiss seared his lips and sparked along his nerves. Part of him wanted to ask how Roy could be so sure, but the answer was there in the stroke of their tongues and the tight sounds of every captured breath. His skin felt like it was building a fever, glowing with the hot, hard surge of his blood in his veins, and every gasp was full of the clean spark and spice scent of Roy's body. They were still fully clothed and decent, standing in the kitchen, but Ed knew he might as well be naked in Roy's arms: offering himself up while Roy did exactly the same, both of them hoping that the future would bring more joy than pain.

The distant chime of the clock tower intruded in the peace of the room, stirring the air and reminding Ed that there was a world beyond these four walls and Roy's embrace. Reluctantly, he pulled away, feeling the brief cling of their lips as if they never wanted to part again. Roy sighed, a short, irritated sound at the intrusion of reality and Ed smiled at the distinctly petulant tilt to Roy's mouth.

'It's getting late, and we both have work tomorrow,' he murmured, sounding like the words were forcing themselves free of his throat. It was gratifying to know that Roy did not want to part any more than Ed did, but there was no avoiding the life they both had beyond each other. Military duty would always come between them, and the sooner they both got used to that, the better.

Ed reached up, tracing one fingertip over the dark shadows that rested under Roy's eyes: a sign of too many shattered nights. Ed hated to think he had been the cause, although he could feel the same exhaustion waiting in the wings, ready to drag him down into its clutches. The past few days had put them both through hell, and now the thought of waiting out the night without Roy at his side was almost painful. What had grown between them was still too new and fragile, unsteady like a newborn foal, and Ed was not completely convinced that Roy would not have changed his mind again by dawn.

'Stay here?' he asked quietly, trying to ignore the nervous thrill that raced through him as he watched Roy's face. It felt like he was asking for more than he was allowed, but the idea of letting Roy walk away sat badly in the pit of Ed's stomach, tight and uncomfortable. He wanted to wake up tomorrow and know that this had not been a dream. He wanted Roy next to him, right there and real, not on the other side of the city and out of reach.

'On the couch?' Roy asked in the quiet voice of a man who did not dare to assume too much, and he smiled when Ed rolled his eyes.

'What do you think?' Ed shifted, feeling self-conscious as he muttered, 'It's a double bed if you – you know, you want.'

Roy's hand slipped down Ed's arm, catching his hand and weaving their fingers together, strong and firm, warm, trusting, and clearly waiting for Ed to lead the way. 'As long as you're sure, then I'd love to stay.'

He was just talking about tonight, Ed knew that, but deep down it sort of sounded like Roy meant forever. A crooked smile curved Ed's lips as he tugged gently on Roy's hand, leaving behind the kitchen and the cold mugs of coffee, flicking out lights as he went. The bedroom door was open wide, and the bed beckoned from within, soft and tempting. The sight should have made Ed hesitate, but he did not even pause as he guided Roy into the room, never once letting Roy's fingers slip from his grasp.

It had taken so long to catch him, and Ed was damned if he was going to let Roy go.

Not now, and not ever.

Morning sunlight crept through the window, ghosting over Roy's face and pulling him into the crystal shallows on the border of sleep and wakefulness. He felt warm, comfortable and completely relaxed. A bright light of happiness was glowing beneath his ribs, so unexpected that he opened his eyes, blinking at the unfamiliar ceiling over his head as his memories stirred to life.

He could not stop the smile that curved his lips, flourishing into a grin as he rolled his head to look at the man lying next to him, limp-limbed and heavy in the depths of slumber. Ed's hair was tousled around his head and shoulders, and his nose was pressed against Roy's shoulder, one arm draped heavily over Roy's waist as if to stop him from escaping during the night.

They had fallen asleep in each other's arms, talking and kissing, touching and stroking – skirting the needy edges of sex but never actually going that far. That in itself was a first for Roy. He could not remember the last time he had slept with someone without taking things through to their natural, inevitable conclusion. Normally he made love with a partner and sated sleep followed hot on the heels, leading to an awkward morning after, but this?

This was a world away from anything he had experienced before. He and Ed were both mature adults – there was no need for restraint – yet Roy found himself wanting to savour every moment, not just the sharp, cracking pleasure of release, but the quiet shared moments, hushed whispers and playful teasing. He wanted to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, and exhaustion had made the decision for them last night. One need over-rode the other.

Ed shifted next to him, pressing his face closer to Roy's bare shoulder and hooking his automail leg over Roy's. The line between the sleep-warmed metal of his knee and the soft, hot flesh of Ed's thigh made something twist pleasantly in Roy's stomach, and he curved the arm that lay under Ed's shoulders, pulling him closer.

Taking their time was all very well, but that did not change the fact that Roy was in bed with Ed, both of them naked of everything but underwear and pressed together like matching puzzle pieces. Ed's body fit against Roy's frame perfectly, blonde head tucked under Roy's chin, and every curve, dip and muscular plane pressed against him, tortuously hot and close.

Gently, unwilling to disturb Ed but desperate to touch him, Roy skimmed his fingertips over the smooth scars surrounding the automail port, feeling the throb of Ed's heart as he crossed that toned expanse of chest to curve up and over the dichotomous golden shoulder on the opposite side. It was like something out of a dream, this liberty. Ed was right here, and Roy'd had too many dreams like this shattered by the shrill of the alarm to quite trust what he was seeing. Any minute now he would wake up, and he would be back in his own bed, alone in body and life.

'Mmmmm.' Ed's sleepy purr rumbled against Roy's chest appreciatively, and half-lidded eyes lifted to Roy's face, still hazy with sleep, but rapidly sharpening with carnal intelligence. The smile on Ed's lips was a captivating mix of embarrassment and sinful happiness as he stretched lazily against Roy's side, rubbing against him like a cat. 'Morning, Roy.'

He made that sound like an invitation to stay in bed all day, husky and deep, and Roy's response died in his throat as Ed propped himself up on one elbow, leaning down to nuzzle at Roy's jaw. The position meant that one part of Ed's anatomy in particular, hard and not-at-all sleepy, was pressed wantonly against Roy's hip. It was enough to flick the switch between lazy half-arousal and an undeniable erection trapped in Roy's boxers, and his hand stroked automatically down Ed's side, fingers flirting along the waistband of his underwear as Ed made a faint, incoherent sound and nipped at Roy's bottom lip with sharp teeth.

Their bodies moved naturally together, as if they had been doing this for years, but there was no denying the volatile flash of untried need that sizzled along Roy's nerves. Ed's tongue lapped at his, the tongue bar a striking hardness amidst the soft warmth of Ed's mouth, and Roy moaned in helpless pleasure, nudging at Ed's waist until he was sprawled on Roy's chest, their legs entwined and Ed's automail foot rubbing teasingly at Roy's ankle while their hips ground together, teasing them both higher with the friction.

What had been the gentle flash of tongues was rapidly becoming more demanding, and Roy buried his fingers in Ed's hair, feeling the tresses slip between his fingers as he arched upwards, making Ed moan as Roy's breath caught hard in his throat. Soon, taking it slow would no longer be an option, and Roy felt dizzy with need as Ed nudged his head aside and sucked with the faintest edge of teeth on the soft flesh of Roy's pulse.

The shrill of the alarm clock made them pull apart in surprise, both turning to glare at the offending time-piece. If Roy's gloves had been in the room, he would have melted it in punishment, but as it was he could only whimper as Ed shifted, leaving an echo of wanton pleasure in Roy's groin. His entire body felt like it was throbbing, attuned to Ed's frequency, and Roy winced as Ed hit the clock with his automail fist, denting the bells and bringing the clapper to a crooked halt.

'Fuck,' Ed moaned, settling back astride Roy's thighs, hair tumbling around his shoulders and cheeks flushed from the heat that still brewed between them, threatening to scorch them both. 'We have to get to work.'

Being a good toy soldier was absolutely the last thing on Roy's mind, and he let out a tight sigh, propping himself up on his elbows and glaring at the clock. There was no mercy to be found there. Ed had set the alarm to go off at the last possible moment. Even now there was a good chance they would both be late.

'We could call in sick,' Roy suggested, his breaths still ragged and hard.

It was a childish thought, but Roy saw the temptation spark and glow in Ed's eyes before the voice of reason whispered between them, and Ed bent a little, pressing a loving kiss to Roy's lips before he murmured, 'We can't, my boss is a bastard.' A crooked grin tilted Ed's lips as he butted Roy's forehead gently. 'Besides, we do it once, we'll do it always, and you can't. Not if you want to be Fuhrer. I'm not going to fuck that up for you, Roy.'

All Roy wanted was to shut out the world and bundle Ed back into his arms, but the world did not work that way. Ed was right; habits they begun now could make or break them, and Roy was damned if he was going to let the military tear apart anything he and Ed shared. Slowly, not trusting his voice to behave itself and say what he wanted, Roy nodded in agreement, nuzzling at the hollow of Ed's jaw. Somehow leaving this bed felt too much like walking away.

'Buy me dinner again tonight instead?'

Roy grinned at the quiet question, so Ed-like that it was barely a request at all and almost bordered on an order, but he could see its purpose. Ed was not just thinking about the next meal, he was making sure that there were plans laid out so that, once they were at work, they would not forget who they were to one another outside the office.

For a brief moment, Roy pretended to think about it. 'Okay, but I choose the restaurant.'

Ed grunted like that was a barely tolerable compromise, but the shy half-smile on his lips took the edge off of it, making Roy's heart clench with sudden joy as Ed bent to kiss him one more time before slithering out of bed and calling over his shoulder, 'Come on, Mustang, time to get up. If you stay there much longer Hawkeye will put a bullet between your eyes.'

'Yes, love.' Roy leaned back in the pillows, watching Ed shoot him an embarrassed glare before he wandered out towards the bathroom, leaving Roy alone with his thoughts and the comfortable, Ed-scented sheets. Beyond the window, the sounds of Central morning were getting under-way. Cars rushed past the streets and people hurried along the pavements. The sunshine was bright and glassy, spilling across the floor as Roy shut his eyes and relished the moment. He had never expected to feel like this, but now the future seemed to stretch before him, no longer an empty slog to the Fuhrership, but something rich with potential.

Nearly a week ago he had promised himself one kiss to ease his curiosity; he had never really imagined it could bring him to this point: a bright, glowing morning shared with Ed. Only one tiny thing cast a pale shadow on his mood: Ed had not returned his quiet declaration of love last night.

Instead, he had given Roy a chance to prove to them both that this – the tender first shoots of a relationship – was something worth nurturing. It should have been terrifying, having all his emotions on the line while Ed held back, but loving someone and saying it out loud were two entirely different things.

Just because Ed had not voiced his feelings did not mean that Roy's love was unrequited. One day, when Roy had earned it, Ed would say those words back, bold and unafraid.

The smile on Roy's face widened at that thought, and he glanced at the miserable clock before rolling out of bed. For once, he was looking forward to the future, because whatever ups and downs it held, there was now the promise of Ed, bright and constant, loyal and loving at his side.

The End

A/N II: There may be an M rated epilogue to this, but it will be posted separately. Stick me on author alerts to be notified!