Ed sighed with exaggerated weariness as he walked up the steps of the large, marble-encase building that housed Brigadier General Mustang’s office. "Maybe I can just leave this on Hawkeye’s desk," he mused allowed, right hand wrapped around the damn books they’d brought halfway across the country.
"Don’t tell me you’re afraid to face General Mustang, Brother." Al gave his shoulder a squeeze, a warm, slightly mocking smile on his tan face. "After all, we did find the documents he wanted."
"Yeah, but he’ll want a long report full of stuff he already knows, which he’ll bitch about and point out everything he thinks I did wrong." Ed scowled as he stomped into the building. The various military personnel who were walking in the hallway flattened against the walls and muttered his name as he stalked past them. For once he didn’t care about them and whatever they were saying about him and his brother, he just wanted to get this visit over with and go back to his and Al’s quarters. But first he had to face a certain smug, overbearing asshole and have his nose rubbed in whatever Mustang thought he screwed up. As if it was his fault that the town of Micah was now short a few buildings – he and Al had offered to rebuild them but the townspeople had only wanted them gone as fast as possible. "I think he gives us these crazy missions just so he has something to bitch about."
"It does make you long for the days when we ran around searching for the philosopher’s stone," Al sighed, and with his long legs he easily kept pace beside Ed, despite his brother’s hurry. "Look on the bright side – at least you don’t have to face a furious Winry anymore and explain how you busted up your automail *this* time."
"No, I don’t." That fact managed to make Ed smile and slow down a little. "I definitely don’t miss being hit in the head with wrenches." He rubbed the back of his head as it twinged in phantom pain. While he missed the benefits a steel leg and arm gave him during a fight, he’d adjusted to being whole once again pretty easily. He snuck a glance at his restored brother and snorted in amusement. "Though you don’t have as many excuses to see her, now." The way Al’s face turned bright red made him truly cheer up for the first time since their arrival at Central. "Maybe we can manage to worm a few days off out of the General," the way he said the title made clear his contempt of it, "and go home. It’s been a while since we were there, and you can find some time to see Winry." He felt guilty at being away for so long but they really had been busy, especially since Al had become a National Alchemist as well. Now that he had a real body once more, he refused to allow Ed to suffer that burden alone since Ed had become one for his sake.
"That sounds wonderful." Al’s dark gold eyes were lit from within by joy and hope. "Really, we’re owed the time off so hopefully the General will let-"
Whatever Al was saying was lost as they turned the corner that led to Mustang’s offices. There were sounds of laughter and raised voices, something they didn’t usually hear in this wing of the building – at least not the laughter part. The raised voices were usually whenever Ed and Mustang’s path crossed, and neither of them ever sounded as happy as these voices did.
"Here, let me reload that and you can take some more pictures. I can’t wait to develop them and show everybody!" They heard Hughes’ cheerful voice above the din of sudden moaning.
After sparing a confused glance at each other, Ed and Al raced down the hallway, curious to find out what exactly was going on. Maybe Mustang had been sent back East, Ed thought with growing hope. Then he wouldn’t have to put up with the smug bastard any more, wouldn’t have to suffer being called short and incompetent and not be able to wrap his hands around Mustang’s throat and throttle the bastard until his face turned as blue as his uniform…. Both of Ed’s hands clenched at the thought. Oh, what he wouldn’t give to put Mustang in his place for once….
They burst into the front room of the General’s office, into a scene that looked suspiciously like a party. There were Breda and Fury laughing at something, and even Farman had a huge smile on his face. Hughes, Hawkeye and Havoc were clustered around Hawkeye’s desk, busy talking to a very pretty young woman with long hair. Both Ed and Al came to a sudden halt when they recognized the girl.
"Brothers!" she cried out as she hopped off the desk, her hands tugging at the short miniskirt she wore which showed off her long legs. Once on her feet, she all but launched herself into Ed’s arms. "Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in so long!"
Hampered both by the strong, thin arms around his neck and a mouthful of long, silky hair, Ed couldn’t do anything but mumble. After the shock wore off, Al smiled and hugged the young woman who was busy hugging Ed.
"Anmarie! What are you doing here, Sister? I thought you were helping Winry set up her new business," Al said as he hugged her – and Ed as well – tightly enough to cut off all attempts to breathe.
Anmarie, however, managed to laugh gleefully, right in Ed’s ear, her high-pitched, melodic voice making him shiver. "I missed you two so much that I didn’t want to wait any longer! I decided to come here and see how you were doing." She let go of Ed and stepped back far enough to look at them both. "All that hard work to make you two whole again and you never stop by to visit me." A pout formed on her beautiful face, her bright blue eyes turned an amethyst color as they filled with tears. "You’re so mean."
Both he and Al quickly responded by giving her hugs and patting her on the shoulder. Ed combed back a long strand of her hair, a brighter gold than his own that faded to brilliant silver at the tips. "We’re sorry, Anmarie," he apologized, unwilling to see her so upset. She was his precious younger sister, after all, so pretty and brave, and it was all thanks to her that he and Al had been returned to normal. She’d been the one to solve the mystery of the philosopher’s stone.
"We were just talking about going home for a visit," Al chimed in as he gave her another hug. "We’ve been so busy working for General Mustang that this is the first chance we’ve had to take a vacation."
Anmarie sniffed prettily and managed a shaky smile. "I understand. Roy told me you’ve been very busy."
Ed stopped in the process of combing back his sister’s hair and frowned. "’Roy’? You mean the General?" He didn’t like the idea of his sister calling the bastard by his first name. "Since when have you two been friends?"
She smiled brightly, everyone in the room drawing in a breath at her loveliness, and nodded. "Yes. I arrived yesterday, you see, and Roy’s been very nice to me. He makes sure I’m not alone, and I enjoy spending time with him." She smoothed down her mini-skirt once again, the dark blue material setting off her golden skin, and actually blushed delicately as she stared at the floor.
Warning sounds went off in Ed’s brain. "Uhm, you were alone with the ba- uhm, the General?" His hands clenched into fists as he thought about his dear, sweet, beautiful sister alone with the lecher. That just wasn’t right.
Hughes clapped him on the shoulder. "Don’t worry, big brother, he’s been a perfect gentleman - we made sure of that!" Hawkeye nodded and tapped a finger against her holstered gun. "She hasn’t been alone with him for more than five minutes." Hughes turned to smile at Anmarie and gave her a big bear hug. "Oh, you’re so pretty! I can only hope my daughter turns out as lovely as you when she grows up! Quick, someone take a picture of us together!"
Anmarie giggled and hugged Hughes. "I think you’ve taken enough these last few days!" She glanced over his shoulder at Ed and Al. "I’ve been very busy while waiting for you. You’re friends have been so nice to me. Gracia took me shopping and I baked a pie with her and Alicia, Riza showed me how to shoot a gun and Jean and Kain showed me around the city!" She practically glowed with joy, and Ed couldn’t find it in him to be upset with Roy any longer, not when his baby sister smiled at him like that.
"We’ve rather enjoyed having her here," Hawkeye said in a quiet voice as Hughes and Havoc sobbed about how pretty and kind Anmarie was. "I almost wish you two were still away on the mission. I think another day or two at the practice range and your sister will be an even better shot than myself."
As Anmarie blushed at the praise – which caused Fury and Breda to swoon and collapse onto the floor – Al beamed like a proud parent and hugged his sister close. "She’s always been a natural at anything she does. I bet she would have been a National Alchemist at a younger age than Ed if we’d allowed her to take the test."
"I’ve no doubt of that. After all, she’s a beautiful, highly intelligent, gifted young woman, not an annoying pipsqueak who leaves a trail of destruction in his wake." Everyone turned to look at Roy, who emerged from his office, his hands busy doing up the buttons of his uniform jacket. He glanced back and forth from Ed and his sister. "She’s even taller than you are, you do realized that."
Al’s hand on Ed’s shoulder prevented him from tearing the bastard’s head off. "General Mustang, we have the books you asked us to retrieve for you," he said as he pried said items from Ed’s fist. "Brother, behave yourself. Don’t embarrass Anmarie," he added in a hushed voice.
Ed forced himself to let go of the books and to rein in his homicidal tendencies – for now. His sister had to go home eventually. "Yeah, we found the damn things, now we want to take a couple of weeks off so we can spend time with our sister." He stood beside her, one arm protectively slung over her shoulder - *up* over her shoulder. Dammit, was *everyone* but Alicia taller than him?
Roy gave him a bland smile, but his eyes contained a spark of humor. "I’m terribly sorry, Fullmetal, but I need you and your brother to head out on another mission this evening. Lieutenant Hawkeye, please give him the file." As she complied, Roy allowed smug amusement to show on his face. "Since there’s a rumor of some low level alchemist using a philosopher’s stone, I figured that this would be the perfect assignment for you two. If you hurry, you should be able to catch the 5:20 train to Balantown."
"But, but… we just got back," Al complained softly as he handed over the books. "And we haven’t seen Anmarie in months."
"Roy, can’t you let them stay a little longer?" Anmarie asked, tears once again threatening to spill forth, her beautiful face shadowed by sadness. "Please?"
For a moment, it looked as Roy might cave in, but then he sighed and shook his head. "I’m sorry, but I promised the Fuehrer that your brothers would look into the matter as quickly as possible." He gave Ed and Al an apologetic smile – but didn’t quite mask the wicked gleam in his eyes. Ed growled low in his throat but was prevented from charging the bastard by his sister, who once again threatened to throttle him with another hug.
"-marie… let… go…," he managed to choke out as his hands pawed feebly at the air, just out of reach of Mustang’s throat.
"Oh, Ed, I’m so sorry that we aren’t able to see each other. And here I came all this way." She pulled away and sniffed back the tears as he just tried to breathe. "You and Al must promise to come home after this."
"We promise," Al answered for him. "I’m sorry that we won’t get to spend any time together, too." Before Ed could say anything, he found himself in a group hug once more and almost passed out from the lack of oxygen. Dammit, Anmarie was not only taller than him but stronger as well. Between her and Ed, he was practically sandwiched between his freakishly tall siblings.
"What a touching scene. Too bad the train won’t wait for you, and Anmarie and I have plans to dine with Maes and his wife tonight. Have fun, Fullmetal. You too, Alphonse." Roy radiated intense smugness as he pried Anmarie free of the brothers’ embrace. "We must be going as well."
"Bye," Anmarie told them as she sniffed back her tears and waved goodbye. "I love you."
"We love you, too," Al said as he waved back.
Ed managed to wave his fist back and forth a couple of times but couldn’t do more than that as he fought to control himself. Damn Mustang, he would get even for this! The arrogant bastard gave him one last smile as he strolled out of the office, Anmarie on one side, Hughes on his other. How dare he practically kidnap Ed’s beloved sister like that, and no one else was doing a thing to stop him! There was no telling what Mustang could do to an impressionable fifteen year old like Anmarie. Images flooded Ed’s mind, of Roy naked in bed, ungloved hands reaching out….
"Edward, wake up!" a loud voice shouted right in his ear, and Ed found himself no longer in Roy’s office but in bed, the room dimly lit and someone shaking his shoulder. Reality returned in force as he realized that he was sprawled about, the sheets twisted around him and his throat sore as if from yelling.
"Edward… Ed, are you all right?"
The concern in his lover’s voice broke the spell of paralysis and confusion that kept him immobile, and he turned to look at Roy, hair tousled, dark eyes worried and what looked like a bruise forming on his lover’s handsome face. "Wha... ah… what’s going on?" he asked, voice rough and shaky. He felt terrible, felt weak and sick to the stomach, his body covered with sweat.
"You had a nightmare," Roy said, worry slowly fading behind a mask of annoyance. "At least, that’s what I presume when you start yelling in your sleep and thrashing about." He touched his darkened cheek. "If you’re going to keep that up, you’re going to wear some padding around your automail limbs whenever we go to bed."
Ed began to fight past his panic and horror. "Yeah, well, sorry, but I didn’t do it deliberately." He shuddered in horror as he unconsciously crept closer to his lover. Damn, but that had been one hell of a nightmare…. "I had this *terrible* dream," he tried to explain. This close to Roy, his body couldn’t help but slowly began to relax, despite the recent trauma he’d suffered through. Just breathing in the man’s smoky, musky scent made the awful memories slowly fade away.
Roy grunted softly and wrapped an arm around his shoulder in comfort. "I… if you’d like to talk about it…."
"Thanks." Ed nuzzled Roy’s throat and needed a moment to figure out if he really wanted to discuss the nightmare, it had been that terrible. But both of them had learned over the years together that it was best to talk about the nightmares that plagued them so they could put the pain behind them. He shuddered once more and snaked his metal arm around his lover’s waist. Putting the dream into words was tricky – it hadn’t been full of the blood and sacrifice as his usual nightmares, this time it was the emotions behind the dream that had been so terrible. To be himself yet so not himself, to be in that… that *thing’s* thrall… "There was this girl, you see…," he began in a halting, dry voice.
Roy’s arm around his shoulders hugged him gently. "Nina?" he asked, clearly reluctant to bring up the long-dead girl.
Ed felt a stab of pain at his inability to save her. "No, not Nina. She… well, she’s no one I’ve ever met in real life," thank god, "and she’s *clearly* not human. I mean, not even a homunculus would be as bad as she was." He gagged in disgust and sat forward a little more, his left arm resting on his metal leg. "She was so damn friendly and pretty and… and… perfect." He said the last word as if it was a curse. Really, what the hell had his subconscious been trying to tell him this time?
Roy was quiet for a moment and pulled away the slightest bit. "I see… I think. You had a nightmare about a girl who was too lovely and nice to be true? That’s what made you scream as if you were being killed and to clobber me?" The annoyance on his face slowly became a real emotion rather than a familiar mask.
Brows furrowed as he tried to figure out what the hell was wrong with his lover, Ed glowered at the man and tapped his fingers against his leg, the sound loud in the otherwise quiet bedroom. Sure, typical Roy to make it all about *him*. "Yeah. I mean, nothing human could be like… she was." He refused to even say her name, now that the dream was over. "And that wasn’t the worst part!" His glare went up a notch and his hands clenched into fists. "You and Al and H- ah, Hawkeye and everyone else were there, and you were all *fawning* over the little bitch!" Part of his anger was for how his dream self had been drawn into the creature’s spell as well, but really, he expected better from Roy. He certainly didn’t expect his lover to go chasing after some imaginary freak of a girl in his dreams, even if she did wear mini-skirts.
The annoyance melted away into a look that actual made Ed growl when he recognized it – an infuriating blend of smugness and amusement. "So you had a nightmare about a lovely young woman who everybody liked." Roy nodded, the corners of his lips twitching ever so slightly. "I guess the question about whether or not you’re bisexual has been answered." He reached out and patted Ed’s head a few times before his fingers slid through the waist-length, unbraided blond hair. "Really, Ed, just because you’re not attracted to women is no reason to have nightmares about them for being ‘friendly and pretty’."
"Dammit, why do you have to be *such* a bastard?" Ed snarled as he first batted his lover’s hand aside and then grabbed one of the pillows as a weapon. "I’m not afraid of women, dammit!" Well, not afraid of any women but Winry, Aunt Pinako, Hawkeye or Ross when they were pissed off with him, that was. "She wasn’t natural, I’m telling you! Not that you cared about anything other than how short her skirt was! You pervert!" As he shouted the accusation at Roy, he backed it up with a swing of the pillow.
Roy’s annoyance made a very fast comeback as he managed to block the pillow’s second swing. "Really, Edward, you should be silent *for once* and listen to yourself. Odd dreams like that are what happen when you gorge yourself on something questionable right before bedtime. Why don’t you try and behave like an adult for once?" he asked as he managed to grab ahold of the pillow and take possession of it.
Ed’s right eye twitched in anger as he pounded his fists into the soft mattress. "Who the hell’s fault is it that I ate ‘something questionable’, huh? ‘Look, Gracia brought over an apple pie just for you’, you said, you smug bastard! You knew I spent the entire day researching that project on plant transmutations like you asked me to! Then you have the nerve to not warn me that it was *Alicia* who made the damn pie!" His stomach rumbled in remembered agony as he recalled the cramps the dessert had left him with no less than five minutes after he’d consumed the pie as his only meal of the day. It was all *Roy’s* fault he’d had such a bad dream as he’d gone straight to bed in hopes of sleeping through the stomachache.
But the bastard just sat there with a disapproving frown on his face, as if Ed was still some unruly twelve year old. "I had no chance to warn you before you literally *inhaled* the thing in seconds flat," Roy said with his ‘I’m a General so that makes you a mere peon who is here to obey my every whim’ voice. "Besides, you’re twenty years old, Edward. You have to grow up and take care of yourself at some point in your life. Al’s leading his own life now and can’t look after you, and *I* am too busy with a *real* job to be able to devote all my time into making sure you don’t forget to eat."
"You… oh… grrrr." More than anything, Ed wanted to transmute a hole in the bedroom wall and kick his lover out onto the front yard – after transmuting Roy’s grey pajama bottoms into one of those miniskirts the bastard adored so much – but Roy’s hand inching toward the nightstand, where a certain pair of gloves rested prevented him from doing so. And people said he hadn’t grown up at all, the assholes. Besides, there were too many flammable items around them right now, and he wasn’t replacing yet another mattress any time this year. "Go to hell."
Roy stopped reaching for his gloves and folded his arms over his bare chest. "I’d rather go to sleep, personally. Unlike *some* people, I have more pressing matters to attend to tomorrow than bury my nose in dusty old books all day."
His eye started twitching again, and Ed had to remind himself that Hawkeye had promised to use him for target practice if the fire department was called out to the house one more time this month. He loved Roy, he honestly did… just some times more than others. Like when his lover wasn’t being such an annoying, smug bastard, per usual….
A spark of inspiration occurred to him and helped him to take a deep breath and calm down. "You’re right, Roy." As difficult as it had been to say those words, it had been worth it to see the shocked look on his lover’s face. "The damn nightmare… it’s got me all out of sorts." He couldn’t help but shudder one more time as he remembered that freakish creature, Anmarie…. But it was worth it when Roy’s expression softened once more and he was gingerly enfolded in a warm hug.
"I understand, Ed," Roy murmured before planting a kiss against his temple. Despite his anger, a part of Ed purred at the sign of affection, at the close contact. He almost forget his resolve as he threaded the fingers of his left hand in his lover’s hair. Roy could be such a charming bastard, after all.
"I’m sorry for hitting you," he said quietly, a little worried about pushing things too far with the act but Roy just smiled and shook his head. Inwardly chuckling at how the bastard was falling right into his trap, Ed leaned in for a kiss.
As always, kissing Roy left him breathless and bothered and ready to throw all caution and clothes to the wind and get down to business… but the image of Roy walking away from him with that bitch by his side helped Ed to remember his plan. Both of his hands slid down Roy’s shoulders and rested against his lover’s muscular, warm chest. Ed enjoyed the kiss for a few more seconds, and just when Roy groaned in the back of his throat like *that*, he suddenly shoved his lover away and off the bed.
Roy let out a loud curse as he fell to the floor. Ed spared a laugh at how indignant his lover sounded and quickly snatched at the gloves on the nightstand. Then, before Roy could pick himself up off the floor, he curled up on the bed and dragged the blankets over his head. A quick clap and a little focus, and the outer blankets were now a nice, thick, *flameproof* shield between him and a very irate Roy. "Going to sleep is a great idea," he yelled, safe beneath his shell as Roy pounded his fists against it. "I hope you don’t have any problems sleeping on the couch!" He chuckled at a particularly virulent curse and patted the gloves to make sure they were safely out of Roy’s reach. True, his lover could always draw an array and burn him out of from beneath his shield, but he’d have to calm down a little to practice any alchemy and Hawkeye had extended her threat to her General as well. Ed chuckled rather nastily as Roy stopped trying to punch his way through the altered blankets and settled for merely cursing him out. Like he hadn’t heard all of that before, he snorted in amusement.
Relatively assured of his safety until morning, at least, Ed yawned and closed his eyes. After he faced his lover’s retaliation for being kicked out of bed and before he returned to the library tomorrow, he’d have to stop by Gracia’s house and mention about how much he’d loved the apple pie. Maybe he could sweet talk Alicia into making him something else… like those blueberry muffins that Roy adored. *Then* they’d see who had the nightmare tomorrow night. Let Anmarie go haunt Roy’s dreams – that way the bastard would find out first hand if Ed had ‘over-reacted’ or not. Man, not even Gluttony and Scar together had anything on that chick….
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