Chapter 25 : Sugar rush

Kissing you is bittersweet,

I'm giving in to you

Oh it's not love, it's just a sugar rush

Edward Elric's life had always been somewhat akin to a particularly vicious rollercoaster ride.

Starting with the death of his mother, his and his brother's failed resurrection attempt, and climaxing with his joining of the state military, Ed's life had never been easy. He had learned to roll with the blows, he'd had to, and had managed to come away from most encounters, if a little worse for wear, at least largely intact. It seemed that that 'luck' had finally run out though, because there was no doubting that the current situation would leave him bothered and scarred for years to come.

Because out of all the difficult, traumatizing, often deadly, things he'd been through, none had ever prepared him for the bizarre scenario of being stuck in a deserted plain after having just made out with his green-haired homunculus archenemy.

No, nothing had ever prepared him for this and honestly he doubted something ever could have. The small crush he'd harbored for Winry when he was younger, really his only experience dealing with anything like love or complicated personal emotions- because surely this couldn't be love?- could not compare to the raging storm of doubts and confusions that now ravaged his troubled mind.

He'd realized the homunculus might harbor... feelings- Ed suppressed a vicious shiver at the thought- for him but he'd never thought the other would actually act on them. In all his musings and all the scenarios he'd come up with after the incident in the resort town he'd never once considered the homunculus actually kissing him.

He'd thought he had it all figured out. Envy was just an insane, crazed psychopath who had an unfortunate obsession with him and, as with all his other obsessions, would eventually grow bored of messing with the blonde haired alchemist. It's what he had believed, what he had needed to believe if he wanted to keep his own sanity. Because if Envy's little obsession with him wasn't just a 'little' obsession, if Ed had been right and the homunculus really did have feelings for him, a realization he had been working hard to ignore, there was a chance Envy really wouldn't ever stop bothering Ed. People would keep dying so the homunculus could keep seeing him. It would be Ed's fault.

Everything would be his fault.

Now, realistically, Ed knew a kiss might still not mean that the homunculus wouldn't eventually grow bored of him. It did, however, help put things in perspective and drive home Ed's earlier discovery of the others intentions. Suddenly this whole situation became real.

If Ed was really being honest with himself, however, it was not the kiss, nor the possibility of a rising body count that bothered him most about the encounter.

No, what truly plagued his mind was a thought far more selfish.

If he believed Envy was only a psychopathic murderer, if he really did hate him as much as he continuously told himself...then why had he kissed him back?

'Kissed him back and enjoyed it.' A small part of him whispered and Ed yelped, startling as the action almost caused him to bite the fingers that he'd apparently been rubbing across his still tingling lips. He quickly removed the traitorous appendages and let himself fall back on the hard, dirt-packed ground with a pain-filled groan.

He was so screwed.

Al's POV.

Something was wrong with Ed.

Al watched, bemused, as his brother cringed away, yet again, from a passionately kissing couple they happened to cross as they walked down Central's main road. This was already the third time in two days Al had seen his brother recoil at such an affectionate display and, while he agreed that the amount of spit being swapped there certainly wasn't appropriate for the general public, he really didn't understand what had triggered the abrupt change in his usually so unflappable brother. Just yesterday he'd seen him startle at a child pecking her mother's cheek!

At first, Al had thought Wrath might've done something, as the change had started quite soon after his brother got back from his fight with the child homunculus. When he'd tried to subtly ask his brother about it though, Ed just told him the small homunculus wouldn't be bothering them anymore and left it at that. He'd gotten even more quiet then and Al had decided to leave things be.

Still, he was sure his brother was leaving something out, something important, and he was determined to find out what. Something had happened in that deserted plain and if it wasn't Wrath who had caused it then he had a pretty good idea of who had. There was only one person capable of disquieting his brother quite so badly after all. Now, it was just a case of trying to get his stubborn as hell brother to open up to him before it was too late.

Al sighed as he watched Ed turn green at the sight of a hugging couple…again. He had a feeling it was going to be more difficult than he'd first expected. He really hoped the mission Colonel Mustang had for them would help his brother take his mind of things or at the very least provide a distraction for Al's own worried mind.

Chances were it would though, after all, if it warranted the colonel sending over an actual messenger to come and get them, instead of him waiting for them to check in by themselves then it had to be quite important.

Al pretended not to notice as Ed looked back at the hugging couple with an awkward blush on his cheeks all the while rubbing at his lips, another of his mysteriously acquired new habits.

He really hoped Mustang's mission would help fix… whatever this was.

He really, really did.

Mustang glared balefully at the never-ending stack of paper on his desk, trying his very best to set it on fire with the sheer power of his hatred. He'd try with his handy dandy fire-gloves, if not for the fact that his ever loyal lieutenant had foreseen that possibility and taken them away for 'safekeeping'. Somehow Roy knew she hadn't been talking about the gloves themselves when she'd said that and silently he cursed himself for appointing such a competent person as his second in command.

Grudgingly giving up on his paper burning endeavors, his eyes slid to the blue memo Hawkeye had left on his desk two days ago. He almost disliked it more than the mass of not-burning white resting on the other side. He wasn't even sure why, exactly, he disliked it so much, only that it made him uneasy as hell and after his years serving in the military he'd learnt to trust his instincts. It was for that reason alone that he'd postponed calling the Elric brothers for the amount of time that he had. Normally a missive from so high-up the chain would have been attended to immediately, even if the missive in question was just a measly blue note.

He tapped his fingers on the scorched wood of his desk absentmindedly, gaze alternating between the note and the door.

The Elrics were late.

Just as he thought that, however, he heard a hesitant knock coming from his door. Quirking an eyebrow at the uncharacteristic politeness of the gesture he called out a brusque "come in!".

As soon as he saw the brothers enter, a small bit of the tension left his frame. He waited patiently for the impertinent remarks that were surely about to flood the peaceful quiet of his office and already had several comebacks prepared for when the pipsqueak opened his disproportionally big mouth to complain about the sudden summons.

An awkward silence stretched for several minutes before the colonel realized that no such remarks would be forthcoming. For the first time since he'd met the older Elric the boy was really and truly quiet and it left Roy stumped. Insults he could handle, but a quiet Edward Elric? That was unthinkable.

One more minute passed before Al finally had enough of the awkward atmosphere and he scuffed his shoe on the floor uncomfortably and softly cleared his throat. The sudden noise was enough to distract the disbelieving commander from where he'd had his attention focused on Ed's vacant expression and the man straightened in his seat, snapping back to attention quickly.

Roy quickly occupied himself with rearranging some of the scattered papers on his desk, pretending he did not just spend a good few minutes gaping at a subordinate for not being rude, and clears his own throat embarrassedly. Then, his ungloved fingers brush on the blue note, and, suddenly, he's all business again.

"Right," he mutters, before turning to his two-brother audience, fingers grabbing the by now crumpled note delicately. He checks to see if he has their attention and is somewhat pleased to see that both the brothers are fully focused now. Ed, having picked up on the sudden seriousness in the air, is now leaning forward slightly, the earlier vacancy cleared from his golden eyes and the usual sharp gleam taking its place instead.

"Elric brothers", he addresses them, and for a moment he sounds every bit the military commander that he is, "We have received orders from the Fuhrer. In two days' time you will accompany him on a diplomatic mission to the east. You will be expected to protect him and his secretary for the duration of the trip. Refusal is not an option, as he asked for you specifically. Questions?"

Once more silence reigns supreme, though this time it is of a decidedly different nature, as the occupants of the office take in the news. They all feel the chill of a coming storm and Al shivers at the feeling of wrong that fills the stuffy, office air.

Mustang crumples the note and it hits the bottom of the standard issue trashcan under his desk, the soft rustle of paper on paper the only thing breaking the oppressive silence.

"That is all."

A/N (feel free to skip these ramblings) : okay, so it's been ages since I last updated this and I'm so so sorry (I know I say this a lot but really, its deserved). I started college (it's bloody fantastic) and between writing papers and taking tests and getting settled I just couldn't find the drive or time to write anything un-uni related. It's summer break now though and, while I won't make any promises, I'm gonna try my damned best to make sure I finish this story before it ends, or at the very least arrange for a slightly more consistent (Existing) update schedule for the next school year. Know however that no matter how long it takes I WILL FINISH THIS STORY.

That said ; Thank you all sooooooooo much for all the lovely comments, alerts and faves, Even if I might not have been as attentive to this story (or any of the others for that matter) know that I loved and appreciated every one of them! I can only hope this chapter, set up as it might be, and the ones to come can up for my long leave. Now imma cut this short cause I know how annoying huge ans can be. Thanks again! xXx~Mai1564

To Guest ; I do not think that with the current plot a role reversal for Ed and Envy would be possible without greatly upsetting the dynamics of the story and their backgrounds, making a version of this story with Ed as aggressor quite unlikely…I do have some thoughts for a sequel, however, in which the power balance might be evened out a bit…