A/N: I spelled Elysia's name two different ways, and I know it'll bother some people that I change how I spell it, but I'm too lazy to go back through and fix it.

Ed hated the norm. He despised it with a passion. He hated how people expected something from him during the holidays. Admittedly, he wanted to give most people a small something for Christmas, but he couldn't count how many parties he'd been invited to or how many people had called…

Honestly, it was time for celebration. Couldn't people just accept the way he wanted to celebrate? Some relaxation and a nice book were the most celebration he'd planned on. It was all he really wanted.

But no. People expected something more than that; people expected something more normal. Perhaps he received more calls than most people, but that could be because of his increasing popularity among the women now that he was an adult, or it could be because people knew he didn't have a family and therefore should be reached out to. Whatever it was, he was sick of people trying to socialize with him.

So far, he'd rejected four party invites, ignored three, and lied about six. He'd told six people he'd go to their parties, but stood them up and didn't come. Naturally, someone would be upset, but it was the holidays. Everyone was too high on the holiday spirit to let Ed rain on their parade. He only planned on going to one party.

And this was what Ed was doing on the Friday before Christmas. He slammed Mustang's house door open and stomped into the house as if it were the man's office. It was all the same to Ed. Why should it have been any different? It was still Mustang, no matter where they were.

Everyone greeted him as he entered the drawing room. Hawkeye, Havoc, Al, Winry, Mustang, Breda, Feury… It surprised Ed how many people there were. Even Gracia Hughes and her daughter, Elysia, were at the party. Ed somehow found himself seated at on the couch beside Breda, who was eating slowly, and Havoc who was in the midst of telling an involved tale. Already, he had everyone around him laughing until their faces turned purple, but he kept talking.

"And I was shaking under the blankets, like 'holy shit!'" Havoc exclaimed. He let out a low chuckle along with everyone else, and Winry recovered from a long and cheerful laugh. It seemed he was done with his story, but Ed couldn't seem to grasp what was so funny about making his mom pissed at him. Ed didn't bother to hide his discomfort; he didn't like the close proximity with everyone, and it was too hot in the room. It was also too noisy, and Ed squirmed. He certainly appreciated everyone's happiness, but he really just wanted to get out of there.

Mustang called out from another room, "Dinner's ready, everyone!" It was like a vacuum. Within seconds, the room was thinned to only Ed and Al within five seconds. Ed was amazed. It was like everyone teleported into the kitchen or dining room or whatever fancy shit Mustang had. After all, who had a fucking drawing room anymore?

"Brother?" Al asked softly. Ed turned to look at Al, his eyes still wide from awe. He hadn't recovered from the sudden lack of people and abrupt change in atmosphere. He hummed to let Al know he was listening. Al's brow creased and he placed a warm hand on Ed's shoulder. "I know this isn't your thing, but I'm glad you came," Al said softly.

"No problem," Ed replied easily, "It's not like its going to kill me or anyth-."

"No," Al interrupted. He shifted feet and then continued quietly, "I'm sorry. I feel like it's my fault." Ed looked at Al, shocked for a moment. What was Al talking about? His brow creased as he watched Al's shame growing in front of him.

Ed assured him, "There's nothing to be sorry for, Al."

Al shook his head and whispered, "I'm your only family anymore and I just… left you." Realization dawned on Ed and his eyes softened into genuine solemnity. There was a short pause, but it felt so much longer. Neither of them spoke.

Finally, Ed whispered, "It isn't your fault, Al. You moved on with your life. Now it's my turn."

"Ed, Al, hurry up!" Mustang ordered sharply as he poked his head into the room, "The food will be gone if you don't get in here soon, and you'll be hungry until you leave. And you're not leaving until I say so." Ed narrowed his eyes at the man, unwilling to follow his demands. He didn't want to sit through dinner and had hoped they'd open presents before dinner so that he could leave between presents and eating. It hadn't worked out that way, so he had planned on leaving, but then Al had started to talk to him.

"Too bad," Ed snapped, "I'm leaving now anyway." He stood and pulled on his coat, much to Mustang's annoyance. Mustang didn't know whether the boy was doing it just to piss him off or for some other reason, but he wasn't about to let Ed walk out the door early when he had also been late.

Mustang crossed his arms and pointed out smugly, "You haven't opened your presents." Ed turned and his gaze bore holes into Mustang's with angry determination. He knew he would have to open his presents in front of everyone, because it was common knowledge that Al, Winry, and Breda didn't give presents unless they were allowed to watch the receiver open them. Ed considered taking them and leaving with them anyway. He decided that was just cruel and thought about just leaving them there and forgetting about them. That was also mean, especially to his brother and Winry.

Ed worked his jaw, obviously ticked that he couldn't get his way. Mustang's smug smirk continued to drive him insane. With a dramatic sigh of frustration, Ed threw his coat on the floor, stomped over the couch, and sat down. He was beginning to regret coming, and wondered why he wanted to come in the first place. All he wanted to do was sit down with his book, eat some potato chips or something salty, and take a nap. Maybe just go to bed early.

"I'll send everyone in for presents," Mustang announced to Ed and Al. Al didn't particularly mind the fact he didn't get anything to eat. He was going out later with Havoc and the rest of them anyway and eat at an official dinner in an official get together. Ed was actually glad he'd missed dinner. Dinner was just another excuse for people to try to interact with him. People began to file back into the living room.

"You should really relax, Edward," Havoc chided him and ruffled the blond's hair, "You've been working your a-." He stopped himself, looked at Elysia, then Gracia, and said, "Working your butt off, especially these past few months." Ed grunted in reply, and kept his arms firmly placed across his chest.

Al jumped in and added, "Yeah, Brother. What were you working on? You've been all hush-hush about it on top of all the hard work you've done."

Ed squirmed a little and answered hesitantly, "I'll tell you guys later. Its kind of… I'll just tell you later." He seemed a little flustered, which made Al instantly suspicious. Ed was never good with words, but he got by. Ed seemed to be struggling a lot more than usual to explain himself. Then again, it was a secret. He was probably warring over what was safe to say and what wasn't.

"You have been working diligently," Hawkeye agreed and seated herself right beside Ed, who just grumbled in response. He didn't see what was so impressive about him actually doing research and doing his job. Times were peaceful, so his missions were boring and not in the least dangerous.

"Contrary to popular belief," Ed sniffed, "I didn't destroy things because I liked to. I did it because it was the most effective way to fight." This earned a chuckle from a few other people in the room, and even Ed saw Hawkeye's lip twitch as she suppressed the urge to smile. "Besides," Ed added, "Most of it wasn't really work anyway. I spent half of that time looking for your presents." Hawkeye raised an eyebrow and everyone who heard exchanged a glance with someone else who heard.

Al smiled apologetically at Hawkeye and whispered, "Ed takes Christmas very seriously. At least, when it comes to giving presents." Hawkeye hummed and watched Ed with interest.

"Alright," Gracia said loudly, "We're going to do this my way, because I'm the only mother here." She'd looked solemnly happy to be there with everyone, but now that they seemed to be moving on to presents, she became the radiant mother she was when Hughes was around. Granted, she had to be firm; otherwise no one would have paid her much attention when she said this. "I want to see everyone's face when they open their presents, so we're going to take turns." Everyone groaned and grumbled when she said this, but she continued as if they hadn't objected, "We're also going youngest to oldest." There were more protests at this, but she ignored them and guided Elysia to her pile of presents.

Among other things, which Elysia delighted in receiving, she got something from Mustang, and it was probably the biggest present there. He refused to own up to making it, so whether he made it himself or not was questionable, but it was a large wooden doll house. It was masterfully done, and painted down to the very last detail. Mustang had this strange look of pride every time he looked at the doll house, so Ed assumed he'd made it. Hawkeye, who hadn't a clue what to give her earlier that month, gave her the dolls to go with the house. She reminded herself to informally thank Mustang for getting her out of a mess of what would have been tears and pouts.

It turned out that no one really minded watching others open their presents. Everyone was impressed with Mustang's craftsmanship. Besides, who wouldn't like watching a little girl squeal in delight over eight adorable blond dolls?

Everyone turned immediately to Al when Elysia's turn was over. He flushed and smiled apologetically and sat on the floor beside his own pile of presents, which was decidedly less impressive than Elysia's. Most things he received weren't anything big or impressive, but he enjoyed receiving each one, knowing someone thought about him, no matter how dinky his present was.

"Al, you forgot one!" Elysia pointed out. She picked up a small box and handed it to Al, who thanked her immediately. He didn't have to read the label to know who it was from. He could tell from the way it was meticulously wrapped and by the wrapping paper.

He turned to Ed and whined, "Brother! We agreed not to get anything for each other this year! Now I feel like a jerk for not getting you anything!" Ed shrugged in response and played with his braid. It was obvious he didn't want to say anything, and Al was instantly worried. Why had Ed gotten him a present?

"Now its nothing really big," Ed said quietly, "so if you don't like it, don't hesitate to give it back." Al rolled his eyes at Ed's antics. They both knew Al would never do that. He turned his attention to the present and opened the small box. Inside were two pieces of paper.

"Train tickets to Liore?" Al asked confusedly, and looked up at his older brother.

Ed nodded and explained, "One to go there, one to come back to tell me all about Klyde Perkinson." Al's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. Ed went on, "Remember those two weeks I spent in Liore? I was trying to track down that ass hole, and he agreed to meet you there. I wanted him to come here today, but he wouldn't have it." Al fainted. Literally. His eyes rolled back and his head hit the floor. Everyone watched Ed intently, and Ed squirmed a little.

"Who is Klyde Perkinson?" Hawkeye asked the question everyone was wondering.

Ed shrugged and muttered, "Some backward asshole author Al likes. He's a self proclaimed genius." Ed scowled. He was not looking forward to listening to Al blab on and on about this guy (that Ed didn't even like) for two weeks after Al got back, but he was still glad Al was happy. Or so he hoped. He really hadn't expected Al to faint completely like that.

Gracia raised both eyebrows at Ed and gestured to his meager pile of presents. "It's your turn, Ed." Ed squirmed uncomfortably again and scooted over to the smallest pile of presents there. Hesitantly, he picked up the biggest one and opened it, being extra careful not to rip the wrapping paper. Havoc urged him to just rip it open and relish the feel of ripped paper, but Ed didn't listen and took his time. He ended up with more office supplies than he had started out with, that was for sure. Winry gave him some oil to keep his automail in shape. He also ended up with several cards from people who had no idea what to get him.

"Here you go, Fullmetal," Mustang said cheerfully and handed him his last present. Ed raised a single eyebrow but removed the surprisingly heavy box from Mustang's grip. He read the label out loud as he had to do with all the others, as Al and Gracia insisted, but everyone already knew it was from Mustang. Ed opened it much the same as the others, trying his hardest not to rip the wrapping. Ed peered inside the box and hummed thoughtfully when he saw what was inside.

"I half expected something to jump at me," Ed muttered. He pulled out the book and examined the blank cover. He opened it and flipped through the pages. Every page was blank. He looked up at Mustang for an explanation.

"It's a journal," Mustang provided, "I'm not really sure why I got it for you, but I did." Ed's brow creased and he peered inside again. There was another book. This one, much to his intrigue, had a title and an author. He pulled it out and flipped through it skeptically.

He looked up at Mustang and muttered, "Thanks, General Mustang." He took his presents and the wrapping paper and the boxes into the kitchen, where he assumedly was taking care of them. Whether that was tossing the wrapping paper away or throwing everything into his pack to bring home, no one was sure. He came back empty handed, though.

Winry went next. She received a lot of mechanical things, some books on automail, and a wrench or two. Ed, however, gave her something she would never forget. He gave her a hug, a kiss on each cheek, and many, many thanks. Also, he gave her a letter, which made her cry right on the spot. She hugged him again, and he stood there awkwardly patting her head. The letter went over why Ed hadn't given her a present since his mom died, and why she was probably the most influential thing in his life next to Al and Mustang. The Mustang part was rather confusing, but she didn't question it.

No one really bothered going by age after that, since nearly everyone was around the same age. Next went Hawkeye, who received a new gun from Mustang and new shoes from Edward. The shoes looked exactly the same as her old ones, but when she tried them on, her eyes widened and she thanked Edward for his thoughtfulness. When asked about it, he merely shrugged and said that everyone deserved some form of comfort. Everyone put the pieces together from there.

There were too many people to go over, but everyone got something meaningful from someone, and all of the presents Ed gave out were thoughtful, or at least made the receiver smile for the rest of the night.

The last gift opener was Mustang, and much to everyone's disappointment, Elysia and Gracia had to leave, due to the time. It was already past Elysia's bedtime. Everyone took their time saying goodbye. Al gave her a big hug. Winry did, too. Ed shook her hand. When she pulled her hand away, she was holding a small box.

Ed leaned down and whispered, "Don't open it until you're alone." She nodded and followed her mom out the door. Ed sighed heavily as he watched them leave, and then had to find a new spot to sit, as Breda had taken his previous seat.

Mustang also received a lot of office supplies. He wasn't disappointed, and claimed to have, in fact, predicted he wouldn't get anything more than that. His favorite saying that night was, "It's the thought that counts." Finally, however, he came across a present whose label said "To: Mustang" but said nothing of the giver. Mustang looked up and asked, "Whose is this?" When no one answered, a slight crease appeared on his forehead.

"Perhaps we should proceed with caution," Hawkeye suggested.

Mustang shook his head and explained, "It's from someone here. I took the proper precautions to make sure no one could sneak any explosives in while we were celebrating." Hawkeye didn't seem to quite buy it, as she stared at the box with distrust, but she didn't protest.

Hesitantly, Mustang ripped open the wrapping paper. Al knew who it was from by looking at the way it was wrapped, and he wondered why Ed didn't write his name on the tag. Mustang opened the box and pulled out two navy blue gloves. He raised an eyebrow at them and turned them over. The array on the back intrigued him instantly. He examined it closely and over the next ten minutes the crease in his brow became more apparent.

"Perhaps… lightning?" he wondered aloud. He slipped them on, surprised to find how comfortably they fit. The inside was silk, while the outside was definitely ignition cloth. Suddenly he was dying to try it out, but he didn't want to burn down his own house or anything. He turned them inside out to examine the silk, and found initials embroidered on the inside. "Huh," he murmured, "L.P. Like Lucy Parrot? The woman who made my other gloves?" He took out his ordinary gloves, the ones with the fire array on the back, and turned them inside out. In the same spot, in the same elegant cursive, sat those two initials.

Al was the only one who noticed Ed slip out of the house, while everyone else was absorbed in Mustang's new gift.

~Hughes Residence

Elysia hopped out of her bed and made her way across the dark bedroom. She peeked down the hall and watched her mother snore on the couch. She closed the door, tip toed back to her bed and turned on the light. She grabbed the small box from under her bed and climbed into bed again.

With a sneaky smile, she opened the wrapping paper and opened the box. Her smile dropped and she reached out for her present. She picked up the small present and whispered, "Papa."

She fell asleep with the locket around her neck, the picture of Maes Hughes visible to anyone who bothered to look close enough.

~The Dorms

As soon as Ed got back to the dorms, he pulled out the box from under his bed and pulled the carefully handled wrapping paper out of his pack. He made sure that, if nothing else, the labels were easily read. He didn't know why he did this, but he did. He collected the wrapping paper from every Christmas, and every Christmas he went through the boxes of wrapping paper.

This Christmas, however, he merely put the wrapping paper along with the others and pushed the box back under the bed. Then he stored away his meager presents and pulled out the book Mustang had given him. He grabbed some potato chips from the cabinet and sat down on his bed. Without hesitation, he devoured the book page by page.

It didn't take long before Ed fell asleep on the bed, with the book lying across his chest and the empty potato chip bag in the garbage.

~Lucy Parrot Residence

Mustang walked up the porch steps and knocked on the wooden door. It was Christmas Eve, and he hated bothering anyone at this time, but he wasn't expected anywhere and wasn't expecting anyone, so he had some free time on Christmas Eve and Christmas. This wasn't something he was used to, but he busied himself by looking for the anonymous person who gave him those gloves.

It was around noon, so when Lucy answered the door in her pajamas, he couldn't keep from raising an eyebrow at her. She had the longest, most beautiful blond hair he'd ever seen and the most perfect breasts. Her smile was energetic and pretty, and her name sat in his black book at home.

She leaned against the doorframe and asked quietly, "Is there something I can do for you, General?" Her voice was always soft, something Mustang admired about her. Then again, there were plenty of things to admire about this particular woman.

He nodded and said, "Yes. I'd like to know who employed you to make these." He held up the gloves that were such a dark blue that they were almost black. The array, Mustang noticed for the first time, was purple.

Recognition flickered across Lucy's face and her lips peeled into a slow, sensual smile. "A young man," she answered slowly, but cheerfully, "He paid me extra money if I didn't ask his name, but I knew who he was. You'll have to pay me for his description, but I won't give you his name." Mustang frowned and handed her some money. She went through it and nodded. "He was short, probably barely eighteen years old. He was blond and had a few metal limbs."

Mustang's eyes widened in surprise and he whispered, "Fullmetal?" Lucy grinned happily and closed the door on Mustang's face. Mustang took a step back and wondered why the hell Edward would give him something like this. It was not only unlike Edward, but extremely expensive and probably took forever to research. His mind wandered back to when everyone commented on how much Edward had been working the past few months. What did Edward say? "I spent half of that time looking for your presents." Mustang scowled and walked down the street. He didn't know who he had been expecting, but certainly not Edward.

What did this mean? He could tell it was going to bother him if he didn't get some answers, but he definitely wasn't getting anywhere by himself. He found himself stopping in a phone booth and dialing the only number he could think of that wasn't Edward. He had a feeling there was a reason Ed didn't write his name on the label and made sure Lucy wouldn't give his name to anyone.

"Hello?" Al asked on the other side of the line.

Mustang relaxed and whispered, "It's me. Is Fullmetal around?"

Al laughed and answered, "No. If you wanted to talk to Brother, you should have called-."

"I don't want to talk to him," Mustang interrupted Al, "I wanted to make sure he wasn't around." Silence followed this explanation, and he took the moment to ask, "Did you know Ed was the one who gave me the gloves?" Silence followed the question again, and he took it as a yes. "Why did Ed give them to me?"

Al sighed heavily and finally answered, "I don't know why, General. Why don't you ask Ed? He's the only person who knows the answer to that question." Mustang sighed as well and ran a hand through his hair. This was going to drive him insane, especially since Ed had been gone so much lately. And when Ed was around, he looked ridiculously sexy. He really didn't want to be around Ed because his attraction to Ed only would make things awkward. And now Ed was giving him expensive and time consuming presents? What did it mean?

Mustang found himself snapping and creating little sparks as he walked down the street. He really didn't know what to do. There wasn't anything wrong with talking to Ed, per se, but he was afraid something would happen. He had a bad feeling in his gut, and his gut had been right before.

Instead of going to see Ed, he turned around and went back to the phone booth. He punched in Ed's number, but the line was dead. This made him worry about Ed's safety on top of everything.

With a heavy sigh, he decided to stop by Ed's dorm.

~The Dorms

Ed fiddled with the paper. He had woken that morning to a ringing telephone, and that meant instant frustration. When he'd found it was Elicia on the line, thanking him for his present, that meant instant sadness. He didn't know what exactly possessed him to give it to Elicia or why he made it secret, but that's how he did it. Then the phone wouldn't stop ringing afterward, which added onto his earlier frustration. So he had unplugged the phone from the wall.

Then Al and Winry had stopped by, which had been a pleasant, if not emotional, surprise. Winry still cried every time she read the letter, and Al was so excited for his trip to Liore that he couldn't sit still. They'd stayed for an hour before Ed kicked them out. Then he went through his annual ritual of going through the wrapping paper that he'd started to collect since the year after they burned their house down.

He examined the paper that had been wrapped around a box, which had contained a grade school alchemy book. He fiddled with the paper and wondered what happened to that book, like he did every year. He came to the conclusion, like usual, that it had burned in the house like everything else, even though he'd received the book after he burned the house.

He ignored the sharp rapping on his door. Whoever it was could leave a note or something. He wasn't going to bother with interactions today, unless Al decided to stop by for some reason, which was unlikely, considering he'd already stopped by earlier that day.

The door opened without his permission and he turned his angry gaze to Mustang, who stood in his doorway, looking insecure. Ed stared angrily at him for a moment, and considered his options. Mustang looked like he had something to say. Ed admitted grudgingly that Mustang also looked really hot today. Something about the tousled hair and heavy panting. Had he run there?

"Close the door behind you," Ed demanded at last, and turned back to his wrapping paper to put them away. He was done looking at them anyway. Mustang reluctantly did as he was told and watched Ed clean up the wrapping paper.

"Is that…?" Mustang asked confusedly. He spotted the wrapping paper from last night and raised a dark eyebrow. Ed shrugged and pushed the boxes back under his bed. Still cross-legged, Ed looked up at Mustang and crossed his arms. He wasn't about to let Mustang off the hook merely because he made Ed hard.

"Is there something you wanted?" Ed asked irritably, "I was kind of in the middle of something." It wasn't really true. He was done by the time Mustang had come in. Mustang had interrupted his cleaning ritual, though. It was probably the one time of the year that Ed cleaned his room, and he probably wasn't going to get to it with Mustang around to distract him.

Mustang silently held up the gloves and explained, "I want to know why you gave these to me." The silence following his demand was abrupt and heavy. It enveloped them and they were both painfully aware of the people next door having sex.

Ed answered at last, "Who else was I going to give them to? It wouldn't make much sense to give them to Hawkeye or Havoc-."

"That's not what I mean," Mustang snapped, "Don't play dumb with me, Fullmetal. We both know you're more intelligent than that." Ed almost smiled at the almost compliment, but decided to scowl at Mustang instead. Mustang resisted the urge to make a short joke. This was supposed to be serious.

"Why does anyone give presents during the holidays?" Ed asked quietly. Mustang wanted desperately to hurt Edward, who was not answering his question, but was still answering it at the same time. It wasn't a helpful answer, but it was an answer, but that only made it all the more frustrating.

Mustang crossed his arms and asked, "Why did you get me something so expensive? You could have given me a cheap fountain pen like Feury." He paused and went on, "Why did you give me something with so much meaning behind it?"

Ed sighed heavily and lay down on the soft carpet. "I don't know," he answered at last, "It has something to do with my unhealthy need to give everyone something thoughtful for Christmas." He hesitantly continued, "I guess I tried a little harder for yours, Al's, and Elicia's presents, but I wouldn't read too far into it."

"Elicia?" Mustang asked confusedly, "I don't remember what you gave her."

"Well, duh," Ed replied and rolled his eyes, "It wouldn't be a secret present if I didn't give it to her in secret." There was another softer silence. It was no longer because of some hesitance on their part, but because they merely had nothing left to say to each other. Mustang shifted feet uncomfortably. The people having sex next door apparently finished; someone gasped loudly and silence followed.

"Why is your phone unplugged?" Mustang asked at last. "I tried calling, but the line was dead."

Ed answered without thinking, "I like to spend the holidays alone, curled up in bed with a good book. I hate answering the phone, getting random visits, and going to stupid parties." Mustang suddenly felt bad for even inviting Ed to the party, and for stopping by uninvited.

He nodded and murmured, "I should go." Ed shrugged, and didn't stop him from leaving. He sighed heavily after the door closed. For the first time since he became an adult, Ed wished he could have a drink.

~Mustang Residence

This was his first Christmas without anything expected from him. There weren't any parties for some reason, and he'd already had several parties this year. It was his only Christmas really alone, and he had absolutely nothing to do. Mustang played with the phone and wondered if there was anyone he could bother that wouldn't mind entertaining him today. He couldn't think of anyone who fit that description.

He sighed heavily and went to go get something to eat. Suddenly, he thought of Edward and how he liked spending Christmas alone. He'd said something about curling up in bed with a good book. It sounded rather lonely to him. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but he hoped Edward wouldn't mind.

He grabbed the phone and punched in a few numbers. The phone rang, much to his relief.

"Hello?" Ed grumbled tiredly into the phone. Mustang wondered how late Ed stayed up the previous night reading.

Mustang asked, "Do you want to have dinner together? Just you and me; I know you don't like to be around too many people during this time of year." Ed had started to yawn, but as soon as Mustang said "Just you and me," he went silent. Mustang realized it sounded a little like a date, and realized it kind of was. He wondered if he should clarify that it wasn't romantic in any way. Instead, he added, "I can make whatever you want. Stew included."

"What time?" Ed asked seriously, "And where?"

"My house," he answered, a little relieved he wasn't rejected and wasn't going to be alone all day, "whenever you want."

"Six," Ed decided aloud.

~The Dorms

Al was about to knock on the door. It was custom that every Christmas night, he show up and kidnap Ed so he can sit through a normal Christmas dinner with Al, Winry, and Granny Pinako, among others. What kept him from knocking was the note on the doorknob. He peeled it off and read it.

Went to dinner. Don't know when I'll be back. ~Ed

Al ran a hand through his hair and sighed.

~Mustang Residence

Ed didn't bother knocking. He flung open the door and slammed it closed as loud as he could to indicate his presence. He knew he was on time, and he wasn't about to wait half an hour for Mustang to find his way through his gigantic mansion to answer the door. At least, it would have taken Ed half an hour. He removed his shoes and threw his coat on the floor. It was snowing like hell outside and he didn't want to get Mustang's precious wooden floors wet.

He decided, for the sake of not getting lost, to call out, "I'm here, bastard." Mustang appeared in the doorway, smirking that infuriating smug smirk that pissed Edward off to no end.

"Couldn't afford to wait for me, I suppose," Mustang commented. He hung up the jacket and placed the shoes in the correct spot without complaint, and did his best not to draw any attention to it. Ed rolled his eyes, although at what he wasn't sure, and followed Mustang into the dining room.

There were two seats set up, with two steaming bowls of stew ready to be eaten. Ed sat down at the foot of the table, only because it would have been rude to sit at the head of the table in someone else's home. Mustang took his seat and they silently started to eat. Mustang understood that Ed was too involved in eating to speak during meals, and actually relished in a relatively quiet Fullmetal.

Within minutes, Ed was asking for seconds.

"Help yourself," Mustang offered, and gestured to the kitchen. Ed stood and ran to get more. Mustang took it as a compliment. Ed obviously liked it, whether or not he planned on saying it out loud. Ed came back in with the entire pot, sat down, and ate it straight from the pot. Mustang decided not to comment, and ate his stew quietly. It was amusing to watch Ed out of the corner of his eye. The kid practically inhaled the food. Ed polished off the stew and sat back with a satisfying belch. Mustang's lip twitched in amusement.

"That was amazing," Ed admitted loudly, and asked, "Did you make that?"

Mustang smirked and asked, "What if I did?"

Ed grinned and said, "I'd ask if there's anything I could do to convince you to make that for me every day for lunch." Mustang didn't know quite what to say to that, because the first thoughts that ran through his head were not rated G. So his reply was delayed. In the quiet that followed Ed's statement, he wondered what was taking Mustang so long to reply.

He realized belatedly what Mustang was thinking, but before he could open his mouth, Mustang said, "Thank you, Fullmetal, but I'm afraid all you have to do is ask, and on occasion I'd be glad to make it for you. You'd get sick of it if you had it every day." Ed flushed and fiddled with his spoon. He hadn't had to sit and wait for everyone else to finish dinner in a long time, and he wasn't quite sure what to do while he was waiting. He also wasn't sure what to say to Mustang's observation.

"Why'd you ask me to dinner?" Ed asked conversationally. Despite his tone, Mustang understood that Ed was confused as to why Mustang asked him over, and he was asking out of curiosity and not to make conversation.

He shrugged and answered, "This is the first Christmas I've had where I wasn't expected to show up to some fancy party. I didn't know what to do, so when I remembered you said you liked to be alone, I decided to invite you over. I mean, spending Christmas alone is a little… lonely, isn't it?" Their eyes met and Ed understood what Mustang meant. It had more to do with how Mustang didn't want to be alone than Mustang being worried about Ed feeling lonely.

"You're really selfish, you know that?" Ed asked nonchalantly. Mustang blinked at Ed, a little surprised Ed had just gone ahead and said that so bluntly. Still, what had he expected? Ed was never a tactful person, and would never acquire tact.

"At least you're honest with me," Mustang mumbled and stood to take care of their dishes. Ed watched with interest as Mustang did this. Had he hurt the man's feelings? He followed Mustang into the kitchen, where they proceeded to wash the dishes silently.

"Are you mad at me?" Ed asked incredulously. There was no way Mustang was anger with him. Still, he had to ask since Mustang was acting like he was mad. It seemed ridiculous to him that anyone would be mad when he was just telling the truth.

Mustang shook his head and answered, "No, Fullmetal, I'm not angry at you." Ed narrowed his eyes at him suspiciously. He didn't believe that Mustang wasn't mad at him. After all, he was acting angry. He wasn't talking and he wasn't looking at Ed; both signs of angriness. Ed might have been imagining it, but he thought Mustang was being a little too rough with the dishes as well.

"Well, then why are you acting angry?" Ed demanded, "Are you sure I didn't make you mad when I called you selfish?" He peered up at Mustang, watching him suspiciously. Despite the signs of anger, Mustang's face was completely void of fury. He looked calm, and cool. Actually, Ed noted with some confusion, Mustang looked like he was enjoying himself.

Mustang shrugged and assured him, "I'm not angry. You were speaking your mind; that's a good quality." Ed huffed, wondering what the hell got into Mustang to make him compliment Ed. He wondered briefly why Mustang wasn't upset with him for being rude, but decided he didn't care.

Ed said out loud, "Not that it mattered anyway. So was there something more to this visit or can I go home now?" Mustang looked at Ed and blinked. The way Ed said it made it sound like he wanted to leave now, as if Mustang was keeping him from leaving.

"If you really want to, you can go," he answered noncommittally, "If you didn't want to come, you could have just said no." Ed stared at Mustang a moment longer, wondering why he came in the first place. He dismissed it, as he already knew the answer, and decided he was glad he came – mainly because the stew was delicious.

"Well if you're not keeping me, I guess I'll leave," Ed said at last. Mustang shrugged and rinsed off the last of the dishes while Ed made his way to the door.

"Suit yourself," Mustang replied, "I'll eat it by myself." These words made Ed freeze in his tracks. What was Mustang talking about? After a second of hesitation, Ed turned on his heel and watched Mustang through narrowed eyes. If whatever Mustang was talking about tasted half as good as that stew, he was ready to live in this house, if that was what Mustang demanded in return.

He crossed his arms and asked, "Eat what?" Mustang turned around, suppressing the smirk he knew would drive Ed away. Ed caught the fringes of it and scowled, but stood his ground. He wanted to know what Mustang had cooked up. Literally and figuratively.

"You'll have to stay to find out," Mustang said. Ed huffed again and leaned back on his heels. The question was: was his curiosity so strong that he wanted to find out what Mustang was talking about and was it going to taste good? After a moment more of contemplation, he came to a conclusion.

Yes. He was that curious.

"Fine," Ed grumbled grumpily. Mustang couldn't keep from smirking, and headed toward the door that led to the kitchen. Ed followed him, looking a little sulky. Mustang noticed this and hesitated. Should he keep him here if he didn't want to be there?

Mustang sighed and asked, "Do you want to just take it home with you if you really don't want to be here?" Ed stopped and blinked surprised at Mustang. Wasn't Mustang going to keep him here so that his loneliness dissipated? Wasn't Mustang going to be a selfish bastard?

Ed answered at last, "That would be… great." Mustang nodded and went to fetch dessert. He came back several moments later and handed the sweet delicacy to Edward. Ed stared open mouthed at it, and Mustang smirked when drool started to drip down his chin. He chuckled and nudged Ed's elbow.

Ed snapped out of it and wiped his mouth. "That cake looks delicious," he whispered in awe. He could already smell the chocolate inside. He licked his lips and looked up at Mustang. "You made this?" he asked incredulously.

Mustang smiled – not that fucking smirk – and answered easily, "It took more effort than I usually put into cooking, but yes." Ed looked back down at the cake – and realized Mustang must have looked forward to eating this as well. If Ed was going to take the entire thing…

"Aren't you having a piece?" Ed asked hesitantly. Mustang's smile widened and he shook his head no. Ed frowned and felt bad for taking the entire cake. He reluctantly muttered, "Thanks for the cake."

Mustang chuckled again and replied without hesitance, "No problem. You can leave now. I'm sure your book misses you." Ed grumbled something incoherent and left Mustang alone in his house – for some reason feeling like an asshole while he did it.

~Temporary Elric/Rockbell Residence

Ed knocked on the door. Whether or not he said it, he enjoyed spending Christmas night with Al and his mismatched "family." So as soon as he'd left Mustang's, he came here, where he knew his family would be celebrating without him. The door opened and Al pulled him inside without hesitation.

"Where were you, Ed?" Al asked curiously.

Ed hesitated before answering, "A friend's house."

~Mustang's Office

"Back to work," Breda mumbled unhappily. He was nursing an awful hangover, as was most of Mustang's team. Luckily, Mustang slept through most of his, or otherwise didn't drink the night previous to their first day back at work. No one was really sure what to make of it. Mustang was a known alcoholic, but to sleep through his hangover, he'd have to go to bed early. So either he went to bed drunk early, which was unlikely, or he went to bed sober, which wasn't like Mustang at all.

No one seemed happy to be back; not even Hawkeye. Apparently she had a hangover as well. Of course, the only outward signs were her irritation and the pain killers she had taken that morning. Even so, she didn't complain. Mustang didn't seem to mind any more than he usually did.

Ed entered the room and sauntered in. Al came in behind him, looking somewhat confused, and holding a plate of brownies. Mustang raised an eyebrow at the sight and tried not to smirk. He knew how much hated his smirk, so he tried to keep it back when he had the presence of mind to.

Al placed the brownies on Mustang's desk and Ed shooed him out. This surprised Mustang. His surprise overcame his urge to smirk and he watched Ed stand in front of his desk and scowl. Ed was contemplating how to say what he wanted to say. He didn't like feeling like a jerk for taking the cake, so he'd helped Al make some brownies for Mustang.

Finally, Ed ground out, "I didn't give you a Christmas present." Their eyes locked and Mustang was reminded of how only he, Ed, and Al knew about the gloves. Mustang thought Ed was keeping up the pretense that he hadn't given the gloves to Mustang.

Mustang smiled graciously and replied evenly, "Thank you, Fullmetal." His smile grew into a smirk and he requested, "I'd like to see that report on your latest mission. I gave you an extension on it because of the holidays – but I'd like it by tonight." Ed scowled, but didn't comment. He still felt like a jerk, so he decided not to complain or argue.

Mustang watched with amusement as Ed sat with his teammates and stole a pen from Feury. He pulled out some paper and began scribbling on it furiously. No one questioned him. Instead, they exchanged glances and raised eyebrows. This did not exclude Mustang, who exchanged a glance with Havoc and Hawkeye both, although Hawkeye refused to raise her eyebrows.

Half an hour later, Ed stood up, threw the pen as hard as he could back at Feury, and slapped the paper on Mustang's desk beside the brownies. He clenched his jaw, not because he was frustrated with Mustang, although that certainly played a part in it, but because he was irritated that he still felt like a jerk.

"Anything else?" Ed growled through gritted teeth. To anyone else it would have sounded like an irritated challenge, but really Ed just wanted to make it up to Mustang. He wasn't sure what he was making up or why he felt like an asshole, which was why he was angry, but he wanted to do it anyway.

Mustang smirked and said, "I could always use a helping hand with all this paperwork." Ed growled and snatched a pile from Mustang's desk without hesitation. He sat down in his previous seat, stole Feury's pen again, this time with some protests from Feury, and went to work. Mustang's smirk broadened. The barrel of a gun against his temple reminded him he needed to sign some papers himself.

~Mustang's Office Later That Day

"Are you sure you don't want to sign more papers?" Mustang asked smugly. Ed glared at Mustang and ground his teeth together. He no longer felt like a jerk, but that change had happened about five minutes ago, which wasn't enough time for him to stop and tell Mustang where he could shove his papers. Mustang noticed the change, and was about to back off, but couldn't help but continue, "If you did anymore I think the finished pile would be taller than you."

"Who are you calling so short that amoebas call me a leprechaun?" Ed shouted, flailing his arms around. Mustang leaned back and grinned like a maniac. Ed's tantrums never failed to amuse him. Ed fumed for a few minutes, and finally took a deep breath and calmed down.

Mustang turned to back to his papers and let his grin die down. "You're dismissed, Fullmetal," he said while he signed another paper. Ed blinked and realized for the first time that moonlight was streaming through the window and the only real source of light was the fire in the fireplace not five paces away.

"It's late," Ed commented, surprise evident in his tone.

"It is," Mustang replied, and repeated himself, "You're dismissed." Ed was taken aback at the sudden change in Mustang's demeanor. First, the man was teasing him and pissing him off – and the next he was completely serious and letting him off the hook. Ed wondered what brought on the change and was reminded of how Mustang had suddenly decided to let Ed go home, seemingly randomly, on Christmas. And Ed realized why he felt like a jerk again.

"You're not selfish," Ed blurted out. Mustang paused and looked up at Ed. He was astonished that Ed had admitted it and confused as to why he did.

"Thanks…?" Mustang uttered and watched his subordinate for a moment longer. Ed looked flustered, as if searching for words. Silence ensued for a moment or two while Ed thought, and finally Mustang asked, "What makes you say that?" Ed scowled at the question.

He muttered, "I just… realized I was wrong."

Mustang mumbled, "Whatever." With that, he turned back to his paper and scribbled his signature yet again. Ed sighed and went to leave. Mustang wasn't going to listen to him, and probably didn't even remember the insult Ed had paid him on Christmas. At the very least, Ed mused, he didn't feel like a jerk anymore.

When the office door closed, Mustang looked up and watched it. He dropped his pen and leaned back in his chair.

"I'm not selfish, huh?" he murmured and looked down at his folded hands. "Well that's your opinion."

~Mustang's Office

"Good morning, Hawkeye," Mustang mumbled sleepily. He'd just woken up at his desk from Hawkeye shaking his shoulder. Sunlight streamed in through the window and the fire was dead. Mustang rubbed his eyes and yawned. He stretched like a cat and sighed heavily when he relaxed his muscles again.

"Did you sleep here?" Hawkeye inquired seriously. Everything about her expression spelled "grave" but her tone implied concern. Mustang blinked sleepily at her.

He shrugged and answered, "Yup." She scowled at the answer she knew, but obviously hadn't wanted. For whatever reason Mustang slept there, she understood it really wasn't good for him to sleep in the office. First of all, it was bad for his back. Second of all, anything could go wrong. Third of all, he was dirty.

"Do you want me to fetch a toothbrush, sir?" she suggested dutifully. Anything to keep him from ruining his body while it was still young… ish.

"Can't I just go home?" he whined pathetically, "I'm tired and I need a shower and a change of clothes. It'll take twenty minutes tops." He looked at Hawkeye pleadingly and she sighed heavily.

"Don't fall asleep at the wheel," she permitted him. He stood and made his way sluggishly to the door. He was about to open it when it swung open to reveal a rested and clean Fullmetal Alchemist. Ed stopped in his tracks when he spotted the haggard looking Mustang staring at him.

Ed scowled and snapped, "What're you looking at?"

"Nothing," Mustang croaked and pushed past Ed to get out of the office. It suddenly seemed too hot and he knew he was taking a very cold shower when he got home. He didn't know what it was about Ed that had made him instantly hard, but he really needed to calm down regardless.

~Mustang's Office – Twenty two Minutes Later

"Welcome back, sir," Hawkeye greeted Mustang with a salute. Mustang was admittedly early – earlier than his subordinates anyway, except for Ed who he'd run into before he left. He didn't know where the kid went, but Ed was no longer in the office. Mustang took his seat behind his desk and organized his papers a little. They'd gotten a little messed up since he slept on them. "Permission to speak freely?" Hawkeye asked cautiously. Mustang grunted an affirmative.

"You need to either ask him out or forget about him," she stated firmly. Mustang dropped the papers he was holding and his eyes widened. She went on, "Fullmetal is not a force to be reckoned with, and you need to make up your mind." His breath caught and she finished, "That is all I have to say, sir."

Mustang spun around to face her, but before he could speak, the door opened and Breda walked in with a doughnut in hand. Mustang closed his mouth with a loud click, watched her expressionless face for another moment, and turned back to his desk to clean up the papers he'd spilled everywhere.

"'That is all I have to say,' my ass," Mustang mumbled grumpily. Hawkeye helped him clean up the papers, and placed the last piece on top. On the paper was a sticky note that read in her impeccable handwriting: I suggest dinner. Someplace familiar for him. Mustang glared at her and muttered, "I'm getting dating advice from Hawkeye? No thanks – I know how to handle this."

"Obviously not, sir," Hawkeye countered without lowering her voice, "You're handling this rather poorly." Mustang clenched his jaw in aggravation and snatched a pen from his desk. He went at his paperwork with fervor, too angry to do anything else without getting in trouble. He reminded himself vaguely of how Ed was acting the day before, and wondered what had been bothering Ed to make him do whatever Mustang told him to.

~Later

Ed smirked and asked teasingly, "Something wrong, bastard?"

"No," Mustang answered a little too quickly. Hawkeye nudged him and he paused. Did she want him to do it right now in front of all his subordinates? No, Hawkeye wouldn't want that. Mustang thought over what just happened and recognized the venom that had been in his tone.

He sat up and cleared his throat. "I apologize, Fullmetal," he said clearly and professionally, "My tone was uncalled for. There's nothing wrong." He met Ed's gaze for a moment. Ed looked incredulous. Mustang ignored it and turned back to his work. It really wasn't in him to talk to Fullmetal today. Hawkeye nudged him again and he wanted to sigh and strangle her. Instead, he looked up at Ed, and caught his gaze again. "Thank you for your concern," he said. Ed looked even more incredulous, but then Ed saw the gun trained on Mustang's back, very cleverly hidden. His expression cleared to one of understanding.

"Er, you're welcome," he responded slowly and turned to leave. If Hawkeye was in that bad a mood, he didn't want to be around.

~Lunch

Ed slipped into the office. No one ate lunch in the office, and he hated when people stared at him while he ate. He scowled in disappointment, however, when he saw Mustang leaning back in his chair with his eyes closed. Ed hoped the man was napping, and tip toed to the couch. He plopped down onto the comfortable cushions and inhaled his food. He finished his lunch in ten minutes and belched in satisfaction. It was only then that he realized Mustang was watching him. He stopped and returned Mustang's gaze.

"What're you watching me for? Creep," Ed muttered that last part. Mustang shrugged and looked back at his own lunch lying on his desk. His lack of verbal answer made Ed instantly suspicious. What was going on? A part of him even worried if Mustang was okay. "Oi!" Ed called, "You okay?"

Mustang shrugged again and answered, "Yeah. I had a rough night with a fifth of vodka. Decided not to drive home. Slept here."

Ed nodded solemnly and replied, "Smart move. Although I don't know why you were drinking here, of all places." To this, Mustang shrugged. Again. This noncommittal nonverbal shit was starting to irritate Ed. Ed was going through the trouble of trying to talk to him and all he could do was shrug? Ed was about to stand up and tell him off when Mustang spoke.

"Do you want to have dinner with me?" Mustang asked abruptly. Ed stared at Mustang for a moment. His mind reeled. The three W's went through his mind: Whoa. Wait. What? Ed shook his head and laughed uneasily.

"For a second there I thought you just asked me on a date," Ed laughed. He kept laughing, but Mustang just watched him, his countenance screaming seriousness. Ed's laughter died off. His smile slowly slid off his face like ooze. He blinked and said, "Uh." Mustang let his question sink in for a moment more.

Then he deadpanned, "I did ask you on a date, Edward." The word sent shivers up Ed's spine. Mustang never called him by his first name. His title, yes. His surname when he was serious, yes. But his first name? Never. Ed suddenly found he disliked Mustang's eyes on him.

"What'd you do that for?" Ed replied, his tone still skeptical, "You don't like me, and I don't like-."

"Finish that sentence and I'll take it as rejection," Mustang warned him gravely. Ed blinked and Mustang stood. "Let me make myself clear," he began, "I like you, Edward." Ed shivered again. Mustang went on, "I believe I love you. I can point out a thousand things that I like about you. I don't know what you think about me, but remember this: say no and you don't get another chance." His eyes did not move from their spot on Ed's face, and Ed couldn't pull his eyes away from the ones locked on him.

Ed whispered, "Let me think about it." He watched shock flicker across Mustang's face, and then relief, and then apprehension, and at last resignation and exhaustion. Mustang slid back into his chair and turned back to his lunch, which he hadn't touched and wasn't planning on touching.

When the team walked back in, they found the awkward atmosphere stifling. Only Hawkeye had any clue as to why the atmosphere might be awkward and she was already glaring at Mustang. He rolled his eyes at her and pushed his food into the garbage can. She stood behind him like usual and asked under her breath, "How did it go?"

"Dandy," Mustang muttered under his breath, "He said he'd think about it." Hawkeye relaxed a little and the day dragged on painfully slow.

~Next Day

Ed walked into Mustang's office slowly. He had his answer, but didn't know how or when to say it. So he walked in and plopped onto the couch without hesitation. Sunlight streamed in through the window despite the early hour. Ed was surprised Mustang was there so early, but decided not to question it.

Since they were alone, he figured now would be the time. As for how…

"I'm not going to pressure you," Mustang said suddenly and quietly from his desk, "but don't hesitate to say yes or no. And don't feel pressed for time. Answer whenever you feel comfortable." He didn't look up from his desk as he said this, as if he wasn't speaking to Ed at all. At first, Ed said nothing in return.

Finally, he murmured, "I'll go." Mustang's pencil snapped.

"Where do you want to go?" Mustang whispered, "We can go anywhere."

"Your house," Ed answered immediately, "I want you to make the stew again."

"Would that make this our second date or our first?" Mustang mused. He sat back and looked thoughtful. He shook his head and turned to Ed. "Saturday, then? Six?" Ed nodded hesitantly. Hawkeye entered the room and felt the semi-awkward atmosphere already. She gave Mustang a pointed look. He shrugged at her and said easily, "You can tell Havoc, Feury and Breda to start the bets. They'll find out soon enough."

Hawkeye flashed a brief smile and nodded.

~Saturday – Mustang Residence

Ed wondered if he should knock. He took a few minutes to think about it. Last time he'd just barged in. But last time wasn't an intentional date. Was this supposed to be formal enough that he had to knock? If it was, should he have dressed better? His brow creased as these thoughts went through his mind.

Before he could come to a decision, the door swung open to reveal his date. Mustang's hair was still damp and messy from the shower. He wore a button up shirt, but the sleeves were rolled up and the top two buttons were undone. When the door opened, he got a whiff of some cool cologne that Ed couldn't place.

As Ed soaked this up, Mustang examined Ed in return. Ed's hair was in its usual braid, and a jacket hung over his tight tank top that squeezed his toned muscles. He wore his usual leather pants as well, and his muddy boots. Mustang wondered if Ed was cold. Mustang took a step back to let Ed in, and closed the door behind his guest. Ed found the house quite warm and removed his boots and jacket quickly. Mustang took care of those – and couldn't help but notice the tanned, capable arm now exposed to the warm domestic air. The other arm was metal, but held a different kind of exotic beauty.

After two seconds of silence, Ed wasn't quite sure what to do. So Mustang led him into the dining room and served their food. Ed was about to sit down at the foot of the table when Mustang picked up his own bowl and headed to the door. He stopped, obviously waiting for Ed to follow. Reluctantly, Ed did so.

Together they sat in the living room where they'd opened presents. The fire was going in the fireplace and they sat around the coffee table. This meal went much the same as the last one. Mustang suppressed a smirk as he watched Ed eat the entire pot of stew faster than Mustang could sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Not that he'd sing. Ever.

In short, the meal passed quickly and silently. Ed placed the pot back down on the table and sighed in satisfaction. Even though it had milk in it… Stew was amazing. Especially Mustang's stew.

"When'd you learn how to cook?" Ed inquired. There were several reasons he asked the question. The first function it served was to make conversation. It also stemmed from Ed wondering what was in the stew. And thirdly, it satisfied a bit of his curiosity. That was, if Mustang answered it right.

Mustang swallowed a gulp of his stew and answered simply, "Years of living alone." Silence filled the air and Mustang polished off his portion of the stew. After another moment of silence, Mustang commented with a sly smirk, "I don't think it's supposed to be this awkward." Ed nodded in agreement.

They both wondered the same thing: how do we break the ice? Ed floundered in his mind for something to talk about, but came up empty handed. Mustang, who was much more experienced, went down a different train of thought. It started with: what do we have in common?

"Do you mind telling me about the lightning gloves?" Mustang suggested, "I understand it's an extension of fire alchemy, but the details are fuzzy." Hence how Ed stayed until eleven thirty at Mustang's house, huddled on the floor in front of the fire. Conversations take strange turns. They'd started out talking about alchemy, but after a few unexpected turns in direction, they ended up talking about innocent tendencies children have.

Ed yawned and rubbed his eyes tiredly. "I feel like a kid," he admitted, "Getting so tired this early. Sheesh." Mustang chuckled and ruffled Ed's hair. Ed glared at him half heartedly for the gesture.

Mustang smiled widely and replied, "That's an old person thing, not something young kids do."

"Whatever it is," Ed yawned and stretched a little before finishing, "I really don't want to walk down to the dorms." He watched Mustang out of the corner of his eye, waiting for a reply. Would he understand what Ed was getting at…?

"I'd drive you," Mustang said, "but I'm afraid I'd fall asleep at the wheel."

"I'll just have to sleep here, then," Ed sighed heavily. The resigned sigh was false; he'd made it sound resigned on purpose. He waited for Mustang's reaction. Depending on how this went, they'd have a very fun night… or a very peaceful one. Either way, Ed was going to enjoy himself.

Mustang hesitantly agreed, "I suppose that's a good idea. Do you want the bed or the couch?"

Ed took the opportunity to scoot a little closer as he murmured, "Wherever you're sleeping." A shiver went up Mustang's spine that had nothing to do with the cold that couldn't touch him from the warmth of the house. Ed's voice had been low, and almost seductive. A pang of pleasure went straight to his groin and he desperately wished Ed was twenty so it wouldn't feel like he was robbing the cradle. As it was, Ed was barely legal.

Mustang cleared his throat and replied, "Well, the bed's big enough, I guess. It'd be hard for both of us to sleep on the couch." He laughed uneasily, until Ed's shoulder pressed against his side. His laughter ended abruptly and he turned to face Ed – only to find Ed's face mere centimeters away from his own. His breath caught, and his heart raced with the prospect of being any closer… of feeling Ed's lips against his own… "Ed," he breathed, "how are you feeling?"

Ed swallowed and his cheeks flushed. "Wonderful," Ed exhaled, "and nervous."

"I want to…" Mustang trailed off and then asked, "Can I…?" He trailed off again, feeling flustered, but not pulling away. If anything, he was inching closer. Ed was, too. Their breath mingled, and their skin tingled with the close proximity. Mustang noted with amusement that Ed smelled of ginger.

"Yes," Ed pleaded breathlessly. Mustang pressed his lips against Ed's and closed his eyes. Ed relished in the sensation of Mustang's warmth against him and pressed a little closer. It was soft and chaste. Sweet and gentle. Everything about it spelled "care."

They broke apart a moment later and Mustang rested his forehead against Ed's. "I've never kissed anyone like that," he whispered. Their eyes locked, although it was a bit of a strain since they were so close together. Ed sighed contentedly. He wasn't sure how it happened, but the next thing Ed knew, they were holding each other. Mustang's arms were wrapped firmly around Ed's waist, his cheek against Ed's hair. Ed hugged him back and rested his chin against Mustang's shoulder.

They sat like that for a long time.

Because the prospect of letting go wrenched Mustang's heart out of his chest.

Mustang basked in Ed's presence and crushed the small frame in the embrace. He could feel Ed – feel his heartbeat, feel his warmth, feel the toned muscle and the soft skin… Ed's cold metal arm bit into his flesh, but it was all Ed and he loved everything about it.

"If you hug me any tighter, I might suffocate," Ed chided Mustang jokingly. Mustang didn't reply; he just held him. Ed suddenly felt a little bad for talking. Had he ruined the moment? Would Mustang let go? The answer to both questions was no, but Ed didn't know that. After another moment or two, Ed started to feel uncomfortable. It was great that Mustang was warm and everything – but they were sitting right next to the fire and Ed was starting to sweat.

Just as Ed was about to say something about it, Mustang let up on the pressure and slowly pulled away from the blond until they were sitting with their shoulders touching.

"Sorry," Mustang whispered, "I got a little carried away." Ed smirked and nudged Mustang with his shoulder. It was the manly way of saying "its okay" without talking. Mustang smirked back, and suddenly Ed found Mustang's smirk wasn't so infuriating in this setting. In fact, it was really sexy. "We should probably get to bed then," Mustang said at last, "It's late and we both have work in the morning." Ed groaned at the mention of work, and Mustang chuckled in response to Ed's groan.

Mustang stood, and held out his hand to help Ed up. Ed stared at the offered hand and tried to decide what to do. It would be rude to ignore it, but it was also, in his opinion, a challenge to his masculinity and capabilities… especially considering it was coming from Mustang. Would he hurt Mustang's feelings if he got up without it?

Finally, Ed stood up without Mustang's help and complained, "I'm not a girl you know – I can stand up perfectly fine by myself."

"It was just a courtesy," Mustang shrugged and let his hand fall to his side, "Not every little thing I do for you is a test of your masculinity." Ed scowled and crossed his arms, and Mustang found that he didn't like the atmosphere. It wasn't as intimate as it was before, and while Ed's scowl was half hearted, it was still a scowl. It was like they'd somehow gone backwards in the night to when they were talking about alchemy. It was still nice, but he enjoyed the intimate air so much better. "I'm sorry," Mustang apologized with a smile.

"Don't know what you're sorry for," Ed mumbled. He, too, regretted the loss of the intimate atmosphere. Mustang's smile broadened and he led the way up the stairs, down a hall, and into his bedroom, which also had a fire in a fireplace. Ed frowned at the orange flames and asked, "Why do you have so many fireplaces?"

Mustang smirked and answered, "I have just the two. But I have them so I don't freeze my ass off when I wake up and go to sleep. It's a big house, Fullmetal. The kitchen is probably forty two degrees Fahrenheit right now."

Ed turned and glared at him. "What'd you call me 'Fullmetal' for? I'm not calling you 'General,' am I?" Mustang was taken aback at the comment and observation. Ed went on, "We're on a date. I thought this was personal or something." Mustang met Ed's furious gaze and wondered why he'd called Ed Fullmetal in the first place.

"Sorry," Mustang replied, his mouth dry, "I… I always call you Fullmetal. What do you want me to call you?" He got the feeling he was treading on thin ice. One wrong step and he would be plunged in ice cold water. One wrong word and this entire date would go straight through hell. Then he realized with some annoyance that it was always going to be like this. Even when it seemed safe, it wasn't going to be. Ed was like a bomb and anything could set him off.

Ed rolled his eyes and muttered, "Whatever."

"No!" Mustang insisted and took a step closer to Ed for good measure, "I made you upset – I want to fix it." Ed met his determined gaze and turned around. Mustang stared at the back of Ed's head. Why did he turn away? He didn't say anything, so Mustang suggested, "Should I just call you 'Edward?'"

"That's what most people call me," Ed replied. He faced Mustang again. The reason he'd turned around was actually to survey the room. A large bed sat across the room from the fireplace. A dresser sat next to a closet to the right of the bed. In front of the fireplace, to the left, was a cluster of chairs and couches, and a table in the middle.

The room was spacious, Ed decided, but empty. To the immediate left of the bed was a desk pushed against the wall. The chair meant to accompany the desk was currently in the fireplace, burning. This didn't escape Ed's notice. Nor did the window just above the desk. It was the only window in the entire room, and Ed wondered how dark it would be in there during the day.

After another moment of silence, Mustang whispered, "Do you want to borrow some pajamas?" Ed shook his head no. Mustang's brow creased in confusion but let it go. He went to his dresser, pulled out some pajamas and tossed them onto the bed. Ed watched him unbutton his shirt and toss it onto the floor and realized belatedly that Mustang was getting undressed. Even so, Ed couldn't tear his eyes away from the sight.

Mustang smirked when he saw Ed watching him with such intensity. He wasn't sure if he should tease Ed, but decided it wouldn't hurt to be a little slow. He took his time unbuttoning his pants and pulling them down. Ed blinked at the sight before him. Mustang, pale and sexy, almost naked standing next to his bed. Mustang reached for the pajamas, but a voice made him freeze.

"Wait…"

His eyes flickered up to Ed, who had so weakly protested against Mustang getting dressed for bed. He smirked again when he saw Ed's pupils dilate and his breath quicken – the signs were all there. Ed swallowed and licked his dry lips. Slowly, Mustang picked up his pajama bottoms and put them on.

He didn't know Ed was approaching until he was spun around and pushed onto the bed. He blinked, somewhat dazed, up at Ed who'd successfully kept him from finishing getting dressed. His eyes widened as Ed quickly stripped himself of his clothes until he was standing in front of Mustang in his boxers. What was Ed thinking? This early in their relationship?

Before Mustang could think everything through, Ed climbed into bed and curled into a ball on the other side of the bed. Mustang realized a little late that he'd jumped to conclusions; Ed just slept in his boxers. Having forgotten about his shirt, Mustang pulled himself further onto the bed and watched Ed, who was already asleep. What had he gotten himself into?

~Several Months Later – Mustang's Office

Ed flung the doors open and stomped up to Mustang's desk. Feury whispered to Breda, but that was of little consequence. Ed was absolutely furious. He slammed his fists on Mustang's desk and glared at him. Mustang raised an eyebrow at Ed's behavior, not quite sure what Ed was angry about.

"What the fuck was that all about?" Ed demanded loudly, "That mission was bullshit!" He glared heavily at Mustang, who still had almost no clue as to what Ed was talking about.

"We can't converse about this if I don't know what you're talking about," Mustang said calmly and coolly, "Clarification would benefit the conversation."

Ed threw his hands in the air from exasperation and exclaimed, "The fucking mission! Those assholes you sent me to didn't know jack shit about any missing persons!" He glared daggers at Mustang, who looked taken aback at this information. Before he continued the conversation, he pulled out a file and skimmed through it. A faint frown found its way onto his face while Ed rambled on and on about how horribly he was treated and how there wasn't even a reason for him to be there.

Mustang ignored his antics and reached for the phone. "It's me," he said into the receiver, "Yeah. No, I want you to check it out… Because I told you to. Something's going on; it's just a matter of finding out what… Are you saying you don't want the credit? That's what I thought. Now get your ass down there."

He hung up the phone and turned a serious gaze to Ed, who'd shut up as Mustang started his conversation on the phone. Ed did not look like he appreciated being ignored, but Mustang spoke before Ed could. "Thank you, Fullmetal. Now go write that report." Ed ground his teeth together and stomped over to the table – and again he stole a pen from Feury, despite the mug full of pens and pencils in the middle of the table.

Feury and Breda exchanged a glance. Who was going to win this bet?

~That Night – Mustang Residence

Ed closed the door as softly as he could. Either Mustang was napping on the couch or still had that headache from lunch, and either way Ed didn't want to make a lot of noise. He removed his shoes and hung up his jacket. He padded into the living room and wasn't surprised to see Mustang asleep in his chair, a book in his lap.

Ed plopped onto the couch and picked up the book from the coffee table that he'd left there that morning. He was about to get sucked into the book when he felt eyes on him. He looked up at his groggy boyfriend, who was watching him through sleepy eyes.

"Headache?" Ed inquired tactlessly.

Mustang shrugged and slurred, "Not anymore. I'm tired, though." He blinked and sat up a little; he'd started to slouch when he slept. "What do you want for dinner?" he asked. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. He wasn't about to go right out and say he'd been having nightmares, but Ed knew anyway. He hoped Ed would understand that he really didn't want to go to sleep because of them.

Ed turned back to his book and answered, "Anything is fine." Mustang rolled his eyes and stood up. Ever since they started, Mustang had had a lack of leftovers, and he had a creeping suspicion that Ed was to blame for his missing food. He didn't mind too much, though, so he made dinner every night.

He shuffled his way into the cold kitchen and rummaged in his fridge for food he could make. He came up with the ingredients for some stupid cuisine Ed didn't like, and sighed heavily. After he came up essentially empty handed, he went back into the living room and grabbed his jacket.

"Put on your shoes," Mustang murmured, "We're going out to eat." Ed perked up and threw his book onto the couch. He pulled on his shoes quicker than Mustang and decided against putting on his jacket. It was getting warm outside anyway. As they left the house, they slowly started talking.

When they reached the restaurant, they were in a deep conversation about the rights and wrongs of the current political society. Through dinner Ed was criticizing Mustang's ideal government. Mustang found himself bombarded with "What if…" and lots of "What would you do if…?" Ed, Mustang discovered, could be very critical when he tried.

By the time they got back to Mustang's house, Mustang was convinced Ed was out to just prove all of his goals impossible.

"All I'm saying," Ed finished as he removed his shoes, "is that you have to be as fucking thorough as possible in your plans." Mustang glared at him half heartedly for cursing, but at the moment he really didn't care. He paused and watched Ed bend over to place his shoes in the appropriate spot.

It was strange. Most of the time they were like a normal couple; considerate of each other and always going things for the other. But then Ed would suddenly explode, or they'd have to go to work and their relationship changed almost instantly. That same instant change applied to when Mustang found himself attracted to Ed. It always happened abruptly.

Like just then, when Ed was putting his shoes away. Suddenly, Mustang was just all too aware of how good Ed smelled, and how fit he kept his body. His automail gleamed and his skin just looked so soft… His lips looked so inviting… Even stranger than this sudden change was this: when it happened to one of them, it happened to the other.

The moment Ed turned around and saw Mustang examining him like a piece of delicious cake – Ed always described it like that – he instantly noticed just how hot Mustang was. Mustang's broad shoulders and messy hair… The little bit of chest exposed because the man could never finish buttoning his shirts…

"Edward," Mustang whispered, his tone husky, "I…" he trailed off, and then his eyes hardened with determination and said, "We've been dating for months, and I don't even know what your dick looks like. I haven't had sex in months," he hissed that word, "so can we please go upstairs, take off our clothes, and let me fuck you?" Ed took a step backwards without thinking. He wanted very much to do exactly what Mustang was talking about, but Mustang's tone was, quite frankly, frightening.

He licked his lips and whispered, "Uh… Just… Give me a minute." He darted around Mustang, and ran to the bathroom, shouting, "I'll be right back!" before slamming the door behind him. He caught his breath again and his heart hammered. He had no idea Mustang would be so blunt about it!

He didn't know why he ran away like that, but his heart was pounding and his apprehension mounted. A question went through his head and he groaned out loud. Who was going to be bottom? At least with a woman, it's easy to figure out who plays what role, but with men they had a choice. Ed bit his lip. He really didn't want to be the uke. Then Mustang's voice rang through his head; it was something Mustang said to him often. Not every little thing I do for you is a test of your masculinity. Besides, Ed thought, wouldn't it be manlier to deal with the painful (or at the very least uncomfortable) role?

He took a deep breath and steeled himself. Whatever Mustang wanted, he'd go with it. Ed splashed his face with some cold water, and left the bathroom. Mustang was nowhere to be found, so Ed went upstairs.

When he opened the bedroom door, he hadn't expected Mustang to be naked and masturbating in bed. Ed's mind reeled at the erotic sight. It was Ed's first inspection of another guy's erection, but his eyes raked over Mustang's entire pale composition. His cheeks were flushed and his breath was ragged. He was starting to sweat and Ed could see the muscle used in Mustang's arm to tease the erection that stood in a mess of dark hair.

Ed's eyes locked with Mustang's hazy ones. Mustang grunted and closed his eyes. He picked up his pace, but soon after found cold metal fingers around his wrist, keeping him from continuing. Mustang opened his eyes and watched Ed soak up the sight of his naked body.

Their eyes locked again and Ed found himself crushing his lips against Mustang's. Over the past few months, they'd kissed a lot. They'd French kissed, and they'd given each other quick, chaste pecks. They'd kissed a lot. But this kiss was by far the most needy, the most heated, the messiest. And yet, it spoke volumes none of those other kisses did. It said more than "I care for you." It said "I need you," and this was the most accurate thing the kiss could have expressed.

Ed fumbled to get his shirt off. He suddenly had a need to be touched and to feel Mustang against him. Their kiss broke and Mustang took care of Ed's pants while Ed rid himself of his shirt. Soon, Ed was on his back on the bed, with Mustang hovering over him, placing kisses all over his neck and chest. Ed hissed as Mustang licked his nipple, and another pang of pleasure shot down to his groin.

Their erections rubbed together and Ed almost came right then. Mustang panted and sucked on Ed's collarbone while their erections rubbed against each other again. Ed was on the verge of tears, it felt so good. He rolled his hips to get more blissful friction, but Mustang grabbed his hips and they stopped moving. Ed's erection was almost painful now.

He watched Mustang reach under the bed and rummage around for something. Ed knew what, but he pretended not to because the mere thought of it made him throb, and he could not take any more pleasure. He needed release.

"Please," Ed whimpered pathetically. Mustang hurried his search and found the object. He pulled it out and placed a glob of lubrication on his fingers. Ed shivered at the sight, and stifled a yelp as Mustang shoved a finger into his entrance. Ed wrinkled his nose to express how he felt. Mustang kissed his cheek to display sympathy; he'd been there before.

Once Mustang deemed him properly stretched, he started poking around, looking for the spot that would make Ed scream his name and beg for more. Then again, he was pretty sure Ed was at the brink anyway. He curled his fingers and Ed gasped. Ed saw stars, and pleasure shot up his spine.

Mustang smirked, looking tired as he did so, and pulled his fingers out. Ed panted heavily, still recovering from the blinding pleasure. Mustang coated his erection in more lubrication, hoping it was enough to keep from hurting Ed. He leaned down and kissed Ed slowly. Ed closed his eyes and leaned into the kiss. He tried to ignore the pressure against his ass, but soon found it impossible as Mustang plunged into him.

Ed gasped and clenched a fist in Mustang's hair. Mustang didn't seem to care, or notice, and waited for Ed to adjust. Ed's grip loosened and he figured Ed was ready. Without a word, he began a slow, gentle pace, all the while trying to figure out how to hit that spot that would – Ed moaned suddenly, loudly and breathlessly. Mustang smirked and reclaimed Ed's lips. He picked up the pace, thrusting harder and faster.

Ed's erotic noises soon turned to pleads. "Roy, please! Harder! Please! Ah, God!" Roy obeyed, and grasped Ed's neglected and weeping erection as well. This proved to be too much for Edward, and he let out a strangled gasp. His warm, white seed spilled onto Mustang's hand and all over their bellies.

Ed constricted around Roy, and he thrust in one more time, filling Ed with the same white liquid. They both collapsed, and Roy slid out of Ed. The scent of sex hung in the air, and they panted in each others' ears.

"That was…" Roy whispered.

"Amazing," Ed finished without hesitation. He didn't realize he'd been crying until Roy looked at him and licked a stray tear. Ed chuckled and pushed Roy off of him playfully. "You're so heavy, old man."

Roy smirked and replied, "I'm not old. And muscle weighs more than fat, so it must be by bulging pecs." Ed snorted derisively and blinked sleepily. The blissful afterglow dragged his eyelids down, and within minutes he was asleep in the semen stained bed. Roy considered trying to clean up, but before he even thought of why it would be the smart thing to do, he was asleep as well.

He woke the next morning with Ed curled up in his arms, and with dried semen all over his bed and body. But for the peaceful moment, it didn't matter. Mustang pulled Ed closer to his chest and sighed contentedly. This was the only time Mustang could never do anything wrong – when Ed was asleep.

A/N: How was it? The lightning gloves given anonymously was not originally my idea. I "stole" it from proser132. Hope you liked ^^