Author's Note: It's October 3rd, and I didn't forget. This bit of fluff is my Anniversary gift to the fandom. Enjoy!

Keeping Secrets

A kiss, when all is said, what is it?
'Tis a secret told to the mouth instead of to the ear.
~ Edmond Rostand

The first time he kissed Edward Elric, he did it almost in self defence. The infuriating little shit was right up in his face, eyes blazing with outrage, teeth clenched, snarling at the current injustice he perceived Roy had done him. His lips were right there, and Roy hadn't even really thought about it before he closed the short distance between them to plant his own lips chastely against his young subordinate's. The sensation had been exhilarating, and Roy had been surprised at his own reaction, considering the simple innocence of the act. The sudden silence had been deafening, time as frozen as his reflection in exotic amber.

The next thing Roy knew, he was sitting on the floor of his office, the sound of his slamming door still echoing in the room, chest aching dully from the one-handed shove an incredulous, red-faced Edward had responded with. Roy counted himself lucky that the young man had kept his automail out of the picture. He wondered for a long time afterward what had come over him to behave so inappropriately towards his much younger junior officer. He hoped he hadn't inadvertently stolen Edward's very first kiss. And at the same time he hoped he had.

The second time he kissed Edward Elric, it was just as spontaneous as the first time, but the motive was entirely different. Standing face to face in Roy's office, Edward had come to resign his commission and end his military career, the quest to restore his brother finally, successfully, completed. Roy marvelled at golden eyes luminous with the limitless possibilities of his future as the young man handed over his silver pocket watch, and the older man was struck with an overwhelming urge to do something. As the timepiece changed hands, Edward's fingers incidentally brushed Roy's palm skin to skin, and Roy clasped the younger man's hand reflexively. Pulling the blond close, the older man once again leaned in without really thinking about it. Their lips met, Roy savouring an electric thrill as he felt Edward's sharp gasp draw air from Roy's own mouth. Pulling back, the Flame braced himself for Fullmetal's explosive reaction.

Face flushed, Edward regarded his former commander, wide amber eyes a storm of shifting emotion. "A bastard to the bitter end," he observed with quiet intensity. "Couldn't you just leave well enough alone?"

Then once again Edward was gone, leaving Roy with a different kind of ache in his chest. It had never occurred to the man that his young protégé might have feelings for him. Indeed, until that very moment Roy had assumed that a grudging mutual respect was all they could ever realistically hope to share. Now though, he felt the door swinging closed behind lost opportunities. It had always been so easy for Roy to tell what Edward was thinking, his emotions on display in golden eyes for all to read. When had Edward learned to hide his feelings so effectively, keeping this secret until it was too late for Roy to act on it?

The third time he kissed Edward Elric, Roy wished it could have been the grand culmination of a long thought out and brilliantly executed plan, but typically where the elder Elric was concerned, logic and order had a disturbing tendency to break down. Knowing that the young man cared for him, Roy found the notion impossible to ignore. What-ifs paraded through his mind in tantalizing formation, and never one to let regret rule his life, the Colonel decided to face up to Edward. He wanted to see if the young man was open to spending some time together. They needed to talk about this. Over dinner, perhaps. Or something. The problem was that Edward was off the leash, no longer obliged to inform the military of his whereabouts, and more frustratingly hard to pin down than ever. Naturally the first place Roy thought to call was Resembool, but Edward wasn't there, and Alphonse, though apologetic, would not say where his brother might be. The former Fullmetal Alchemist wasn't in Dublith either, or East City, or Liore, or any of the many other places Edward had friends. Ling Yao had recently left for Xing, Roy knew, and there was a very good chance that Edward had gone with him. If that was the case, Roy resigned himself to a lengthy wait before he could speak with the young man again.

Friday evening found the Flame Alchemist in search of a quiet place to unwind after a long and frustrating week. He'd ranged far from his usual haunts, wanting as much distance between himself and Headquarters as possible to avoid running into anyone he knew. A small tavern's name caught the alchemist's eye – The Caduceus and Crown. Stepping in he discovered an intimately quiet disposition enclosed in polished wood and brass. Roy moved to the bar and sat, the bartender quick to take his order. The first sip of scotch brushed the tension from his shoulders, and with a contented sigh Roy glanced down the bar straight into eyes exactly the same colour as the whiskey in his glass. Edward sat not two metres away, wry smile curving the lips Roy hoped to taste once again. That smile encouraged him to take a seat next to the young blond, who made no objection.

"No," Roy said quietly, a smile of his own twinkling in dark eyes.

"No?" Edward repeated, frowning slightly in confusion.

"The answer to your question, Fullmetal," the older man explained. "No. I can never leave well enough alone. Well enough is never enough for me."

"Oh." Edward nodded, frown smoothed away. "Well, then. Where does that leave us?"

Roy found this more relaxed Edward intriguing, and it firmed his resolve to see this through. "That leaves us on the border of uncharted territory. The question now is whether or not we will choose to explore it."

"Well, I've always enjoyed traveling to new places," Edward said thoughtfully, head cocked to the side as he regarded his companion. "And I've never shied away from taking risks, particularly when the rewards are high. I'm up for it. How 'bout you?"

"I have made it a point never to pass up a golden opportunity simply because it presented a challenge," Roy returned, just as thoughtfully. "Quite the contrary in fact. I'm more than willing to go for this."

"Right then." Edward pushed his empty glass aside and leaned one elbow on the bar, turning to face Roy with a wide grin. "How should we proceed?"

Roy leaned in and once again captured the younger man's lips with his own. Given the public nature of their surroundings, the kiss was short and sweet, but no less thrilling for the older man than the previous two. This kiss told no secrets. This kiss was made of promises. Judging from the warm glow in Edward's eyes, the younger man felt it too.

"I think dinner would be a good start," Roy said as he pulled back. "Shall we?"

There was no time like the present to start building on promises, and Roy was never one to let time slip through his fingers. Together the pair stepped out of the tavern and into their future.