Shadow Conversations

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Fire and Earth I  

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Ed glared first at the stack of books waiting to be shelved and then at the tall bookcases.  What giant of an idiot had designed a library where any *normal* sized person had to haul around a damn stool just so he could put the books back in their places?  Someone should go dump the idiot’s ashes onto the ground and then stomp on them.  Really.  The damn architect had probably designed the Royal Library with the intention to piss off someone like him.  It wasn’t as if he was *short*, he just wasn’t *tall*, unlike the freakish architect.  Grumbling about all the climbing and reaching he was about to do, he thought fondly about what he could turn a pile of ashes into… like a stepladder to help him reach the top bookshelves.  Or maybe a saw that would cut the stupid things down to a normal size….  

Ah well, it was work and the sooner he got it done, the sooner he could go meet Al and then head home.  Right now that was where he really wanted to be, even if it meant that he’d have to put up with an overgrown, arrogant, perverted asshole once Roy got off duty.  He couldn’t help but snarl as he climbed onto the stool and placed Aramon’s text on desert vegetation in its rightful spot.  Considering how quiet the library was, the sound carried farther than he imagined, which made him grateful that there was no one else around.  Guess most people had better things to do on a bright, sunny day than spend it in a library – though he failed to see the logic in that.  In his opinion, sunlight was best used to read the text of books.  

He was almost halfway done with the stack of books when he noticed that he wasn’t the only one in this section of the library any more.  The sound of a man’s voice pitched low made him start a little, which caused the stool he stood upon to rock back and forth.  He managed to shove the book in his right hand onto the shelf and jump down right before he toppled over, then he turned to glare at whomever it was who had disturbed him.  

His foul mood lessened a little when he recognized the two men.  Perhaps used to his scowls by now, all Aya did was nod slightly in acknowledgement as he glided past, black cloak billowing around his grey-clad body.  Behind him was his boyfriend, who frowned at Ed as he murmured something to Aya.  

Only Ed’s bound senses allowed him to pick up what was being said, and he didn’t quite understand what was the fuss about Aya being out on such a sunny day.  Granted, the man was very pale – but that wasn’t a very unusual feature when it came to the Royal Library’s regulars.  If it wasn’t for Ed’s natural coloring, he’d probably be just as pale, though he did spend some time in the sun sparing with Al on their days off.  

The couple turned a corner and were out of both his sight and sense of hearing.  Ed stared at where they’d disappeared for a moment as his mind registered with annoyance that Aya was most likely going to check out Trista’s new series on Cretian legends.  Dammit, he’d been hoping to take them with him before he left today.  What idiot had made the rule that the library’s employees couldn’t reserve books for themselves while they were working?  

This was a perfect ending to the way his whole day had gone.  Roy woke up still all pissy about something that had been bothering him all week, which meant that *he* was pissy as well because of their bond, Margo’s stand had been sold out of pasties this morning so he’d had to do with some over-cooked chicken on a stick for breakfast, Winry had almost hit him in the head with a metal bar when he’d been late to drop off Al at work and then he’d been tormented with a new shipment of books that he’d had to stock, unable to snag them for himself until his shift was over.  And now Aya was here to grab the most promising ones, most likely.  How did he always seem to know when there was a new shipment of books?  Did Hughes friend, Reiichi, tell him or something?  

Mumbling about his sudden turn of rotten luck, Ed busied himself with the remaining books.  At least that task allowed him to remain in the same area as Aya, and if he heard so much as one moan or grunt he, armed with a rather boring yet very thick text on the history of pig farming, would put a stop to whatever bit of fun Aya and his boyfriend were up to.  A slight blush heated his cheeks as he thought about what had happened the last time Aya’s boyfriend had escorted him to the library.  While he didn’t have any definite proof, both men had been distinctly disheveled when Aya had checked out his books, a hickey on his neck that hadn’t been there when he’d arrived and his boyfriend sporting the biggest and most sated grin he’d ever seen.  Ed still recalled how dizzy and… and… well…, ‘horny’ was the only word that came to mind, when he’d gone back to the small alcove where the men had been looking for books.  Thanks to a certain arrogant bastard, he definitely knew what sex smelled like now, and that’s what he’d gotten such a strong whiff of back there.  Then he’d had to leave his shift early and go track down Roy because he couldn’t concentrate on anything *but* sex.  He almost growled again when he thought about how smug his mate had been over the fact that *he’d* practically came begging.  

But as the stack of books dwindled, there were no suspicious noises.  In fact, as he picked up his last armload of books, Aya and his boyfriend strode past, both of them carrying a depressingly large amount of new texts.  So much for him working off a little aggression and having something new to read tonight, Ed thought with much annoyance as he watched them head to the checkout desk, the boyfriend complaining the entire way about being treated like a pack mule.  Aya muttered something about the man’s hands being too busy that way, and Ed thought he heard a snap of teeth as well before they were out of earshot.  

He guessed that Aya had deliberately brought Reiichi with him for the last couple of weeks from that little exchanged and figured that he wouldn’t need the pig farming book any time soon.  Which was a shame as he really wanted to throw something at somebody right now, and of course the asshole who deserved it the most was off limits.  He spared a dark thought for the gods who had decided that he would mate with such an arrogant, *old* pervert and then have to share said pervert’s pain whenever he tried to teach Roy a lesson.   

That train of thought put him right back into a grumpy mood as he finished with the books and then spent the rest of his shift tidying up his section of the library.  By the time his shift was finished he was in a truly lousy mood – which got even worse when he realized that Aya had taken most of the books he’d wanted to check out today.  At least the man had left him Oriyo’s treatises on the geological composition of Thracia’s mountains.  Those should tide him over for a day or two.  He also found a book on healing that he knew Al wanted and checked that out as well.  

Books in hand, he waved goodbye to the Guards stationed out in the front of the library and went off in search of his brother.  True to the way his day had gone so far, the streets were packed with people enjoying the warmth and sunshine, and he lost count of how many times he snarled at the rude people who bumped into him or stepped on his feet as he headed to the Rockbell’s forge.  One person had even commented on how he hadn’t seen Ed as he apologized, but before he could tear out the man’s throat or fuse his bones together, the crowd carried the idiot out of his sight.  Steaming over the insult to his height, he grumbled the rest of the way.  

When he reached the Rockbell’s forge, he found his brother waiting for him out front.  “Ed!  Where have you been?  I was worried about you,” Al said as he waved.  “Here, let me help you with those books.”

Somehow, just being in Al’s presence helped to soothe Ed’s temper.  “Thanks.  Sorry for being so late, but you won’t believe how crazy it is today.  I think everyone’s out on the streets right now.”  He cautiously  peeked inside the forge and waved a greeting to Pinako.  The elderly woman, unlike her crazy granddaughter who was thankfully nowhere to be seen, just waved back and didn’t throw anything at him.  

“We were pretty busy today,” Al said as they headed home.  “Pinako let me handle the repairs while she and Winry worked on the commissions.”  His pride in that was evident in the bright glow of his eyes and the way his chest puffed out.  

“Well, you certainly didn’t miss much at the library,” Ed admitted, even though he much preferred the days when Al worked there with him.  “We got a new shipment of books, but then Aya showed up and took most of them.”  Part of his bad mood returned and he kicked at large piece of broken cobblestone out of his path.  “I’m going to have to wait at least a week to get those books now, *if* no one else checks them out once he brings them back.”  He hoped that he was at work when Aya returned so he could try and hide them in the stacks of books to be replaced until the end of his shift.  How was he supposed to learn anything important when he couldn’t even get his hands on the stupid books?  

“How was Reiichi?”  

“Huh?”  Ed blinked as Al repeated the question.  “Oh, he didn’t come today, Aya brought his boyfriend.”  He actually smiled when he noticed how pink his brother’s cheeks became at mention of the handsome blond.  “You remember him, don’t you?  Sexy man with the incredibly hot voice?”  As Al’s face became even redder, he tilted his head back and laughed.  “Oh, wait until I tell Winry that she has a rival for your affection.”  

“Brother!” Al whined as he punched Ed’s arm.  “You’ll do no such thing!  I mean, it’s not as if I like that man better than her, it’s just… just….”  Al’s face was as red as Ed’s jacket.  

Feeling a little sorry for his brother, Ed stopped laughing and draped an arm over his shoulders… and tried not to think about how Al was now a few inches taller than him.  “I’m just teasing you, Al.  I’d never tell Winry something like that – no reason why she should start throwing things at you as well.”  He’d like nothing more than to fuse the girl’s hands to whatever bit of metal she tried throwing at him, but having his brother in love with her made that a little tricky to do.  Not only did Al have to fall for a human, but for a crazy one at that, he thought with a sigh.  Oh well, Winry was still much better than what he’d been stuck with – when she wasn’t mad at him.  Funny how being repeatedly hit in the head by metal objects could make one overlook a person’s better qualities.  

Al’s face slowly returned to normal as he chuckled softly.  “You two need to learn that fighting is not a way of communicating with each other.”  

Ed grumbled at the comment but didn’t bother to try and defend himself – Al was clearly too besotted to realize that Winry started everything and he was just the innocent victim.  “Yeah, well just hope she never stops by to see you at the library while Aya’s boyfriend is there.”  

His blush making a comeback, Al ducked his head.  “It’s not as if I’m interested in him or anything, it’s just… well, don’t you feel anything when you’re near him?”  

Thinking about the question as they crossed a wide street, Ed shook his head.  “Nah, can’t say I do – but then again, that’s not exactly an option for me now.”  Not since Roy and him had become mates… he’d never really had a chance to be attracted to anyone else, to kiss another person or go on a date.  There was a spark of anger and sorrow at that, the emotions quickly squashed when he caught a sad look on his brother’s face.  As if Al was in any way responsible for the mess he was stuck in – no, the blame lay solely at Roy’s feet.  “Don’t you think it’s odd that Aya never shows up at the library without someone?  I mean, if it’s not his boyfriend then it’s Reiichi or that kid,” he said as a distraction.  

Al shifted his hold on the books and seemed to think about the matter.  “Well, maybe he just likes the company.”


”Hmmm.”  He didn’t think so, not since that one time when Aya had shown up by himself – and a very upset Reiichi had arrived about half an hour later.  He got the impression that Aya was being looked after and didn’t quite understand why.  Maybe he was a lord or something, too inbred to be able to do anything other than steal really good books right from underneath Ed’s nose.  

“What are we going to do about dinner?” Al asked, shaking Ed from his thoughts.  

“Eh?  Oh, dinner.”  His stomach rumbled at the thought.  Reaching into his pouch, he pulled out a couple of silver coins, his last until payday.  “I’m sure we can find something on the way home.”  

“But what about Roy?  Do you think anything we pick up for him will still be warm when we get home?”   

Trust Al to be so soft-hearted.  “Roy’s a big boy, he can fend for himself tonight,” he replied, voice roughened by a low growl.  Part of his bad mood was thanks to his mate, he saw no reason why he had to make Roy feel better in any way after what he’d suffered today. “Besides, I don’t have enough to feed all three of us.”  

Al didn’t look happy at excluding Roy from their meal.  “But brother-“  

“Al, he’s an adult, he can get his own food.  Besides, he’s worked late the last few days so there’s a chance he won’t even be home when we get there and the food will just go to waste.”  He was proud of his logic, and after a moment Al sighed and nodded in agreement.   

There really was a good chance that Roy wouldn’t be home, which would suit him just fine.  That way he’d be able to read for the rest of the night.  After the day he’s had, all he wanted was to go home, wash off and then curl up in bed with several good books, not fight with Roy.  And when Roy was in such a bad mood as he’d been the last few days, fighting and screwing each other brains out were the only things they seemed to do.  He ducked his head and let his hair conceal his warm cheeks as he thought about that.  While he didn’t mind all the sex that came along with their bond, nor fighting with Roy under most circumstances, he preferred both under better conditions.  But when they were both so upset about something they had very little control over their demon natures, which usually led to rash behavior on their parts and massive embarrassment on his brother’s.  

His blush deepened as he remembered what had happened in the kitchen last night, which was another reason why he was all for picking up something to eat on the way home.  He didn’t think he or Al would be able to have a meal on the kitchen table until the memory of what he and Roy had done on it had faded a little….   

*******  

Roy shoved the front door open with his right shoulder, his hands too busy undoing the buttons of his jacket.  While he could control his body temperature and escape most of the effects of the hot weather, there was still something so stifling about his uniform during the summer months.  At times like this he wished that he’d told his brother to go to a hell of his choice and take his bright idea of Roy joining the Army with him as well.  Roy could understand the need to have as many bounds as possible in high-ranked positions before the war with Esset, but he didn’t have to like his job on days such as this.  Especially not after receiving word the other day that a bound had been found at the Shrivenrock border post and executed by the Army.  

At least Maes had returned today and informed him that the bound hadn’t been one of his brother’s agents, had in fact been one of Esset’s, but he was still bothered by the cavalier slaughter of one of his own kind.  And now the Army would be much more vigilant of the country’s borders, which would make things that much more difficult for his colleagues.  Add to that the fact that he’d been stuck acting as General Haruko’s lackey this past week, and he was ready to reduce a very large something into a very small pile of ash.  

And on top of it all, Ed and Alphonse weren’t home, he realized as he entered the empty house.  No mate, no helpful and polite foster child, no dinner.  He cursed under his breath as he shrugged off his jacket and draped it over a chair.  As he made his way into the kitchen, he undid the top buttons of his dress shirt and took a deep breath.  

That he could still smell what had happened here last night after dinner didn’t calm him down in any way, not when Ed was nowhere to be found.  He leaned over the table, palms pressed flat against it as he thought about how good it had felt when rage turned into lust, when he’d silenced Ed with a passionate kiss and pressed him against the tabletop….  He couldn’t even remember what they’d been arguing about, just how tight his lover had been, how he hadn’t minded when Ed had cried out his name so loudly again and again.  There was a small spark of guilt when he realized that Alphonse had been drying the dishes when their fight had turned into sex, but Alphonse wasn’t a young child.  Besides, he hadn’t died of embarrassment over the last few months and he’d caught them in the act often enough.  Not that those facts made things any better, really.  Roy thought fondly of the new, much bigger quarters he’d be given once he received a new promotion.  Just a few more months….  

Until then, he’d have to deal with sharing a small, four room cottage with both his mate and his mate’s brother for a little longer.  At least they had some privacy here, something he’d greatly needed as first he’d helped teach the boys to control their powers and then he’d been bound to Ed.  For a moment he imagined his brother’s face and thought about how flames would ravage it, would melt the glasses and burn away Crawford’s smug smile.  To stick him with the person who would become his mate when that person was just ten years old… Crawford so deserved to burn for that, for each time he was called an ‘old pervert’.  

His anger quickly found a new target when he realized that there wasn’t anything in the kitchen to eat other than a stale loaf of bread.  As he stood there, stomach rumbling in hunger, he realized that he’d meant to give Alphonse some money to go shopping this week.  While both boys earned some spare coin from their jobs, he didn’t make them use their own money for groceries.  Considering how quickly they spent their pay on snacks, books and metal, he couldn’t expect them to be able to afford such a large bill on their own.  He sighed and wondered if Maes and Gracia would mind a few hungry guests showing up on their doorstep this evening.  If the brothers ever got home, that was.  If they didn’t show up in another hour or two, he’d have to go track them down in the Royal Library and drag them home.  

At least there was half a bottle of wine left, and he began to drink that while he waited.  The alcohol helped to relax him a little bit, but he was hungry and he could feel Ed’s bad mood, which in return strengthened his feelings of anger and annoyance… and created a sort of bad mood loop between them.  If either of them had any hope of snapping out of this pissy funk, they would need to do so at the same time and very soon.  If they remained like this for much longer, one of their friends were likely to beat their tempers out of them. That thought would be amusing if one or two of them wouldn’t be able to do just that….  

The bottle was empty and he was in the process of changing out of his uniform when the front door opened and closed.  Even before he heard his lover’s voice, he knew Ed was home.  Knew it by the way something wound tight inside him loosened a little bit, knew it just by taking a deep breath of air now bearing Ed’s intoxicating scent.  As he stepped out of their bedroom, shirt unbuttoned and pulled out of half-unlaced pants, he caught sight of his mate, golden hair falling into his face – and the end of what smelled to be a very good steak sandwich that quickly disappeared into Ed’s mouth.  Whatever control he’d had over his bad mood instantly vanished, worn down by hunger and want and a strong ingrained urge to prove to his mate that he was in charge and to be obeyed, not to be glared at as if he was something disgusting.  

Alphonse let out a quiet ‘meep’ and took a step back when he noticed him.  “Roy!  You’re uhm, home.”  He quickly glanced at Ed out of the corner of his eye and then looked back at Roy, an uneasy smile on his face.  “We weren’t expecting you home so early.”  

“I can imagine that,” he said, voice slipping into a growl as he leaned against the doorway, arms folded against his bare chest.  “Did you stop for a bite to eat?” he asked, civility layered over the growl as he stared at the sandwich clutched in Alphonse’s right hand.  The only remaining bit of food he saw at all, which means they hadn’t brought anything home for him.  How considerate.  

Alphonse followed his gaze and jumped slightly.  “Ah, well, we knew there wasn’t much left here and figured we’d better grab something while we were out.  We honestly didn’t think you’d be home this early, which is why we didn’t bring anything for you,” Alphonse practically babbled while Ed just glared venomously at him.  “Uhm, would you like my sandwich?” the teenager asked as he held it up.  

“That’s very kind of you, *Alphonse*,” Roy said as he crossed the room, his attention focused on his very quiet lover.  He knew Alphonse well enough that the kind boy would have brought him something home – unless talked out of it by his inconsiderate twerp of a brother.  For a moment he spared a thought on why the gods had insisted on his mate being Edward and not Alphonse, who was much nicer and easier to get along with if not quite as good-looking.  The gods must enjoy his suffering was the only answer he could think of just then.  

When in reach, he grabbed Alphonse’s hand and lifted it and the sandwich to his mouth.  Eyes still focused on Ed’s, he slowly took a bite.  As he chewed a mouthful of delicious food, he shifted back and looked at the younger brother, who stood there shaking slightly, cheeks tinged with red.  “Thank you, Al,” he said, voice as deep and sexy as he could make it, and flicked his tongue out to lick at the crumbs on his lip. “I’m *starving*.  What else do you have to offer me?”  Alphonse’s blush turned darker and he tried to stammer something before his brother pushed his way between them.  

“Just take the damn thing and eat it, all right?” Ed snarled, his gold eyes glowing with rage.  “Don’t even try to act like a pervert with my little brother!”   

He let go of Alphonse’s hand but kept the sandwich.  “Ed?  I didn’t see you all the way down there.  What were you saying about little?  Seems the *little* brother here is *you*,” he taunted inbetween wolfish bites of the sandwich.  He really was starving, not just for food but for attention from his mate, for a bit of pleasure after such a lousy week.  And the best way to get Ed’s attention was to make him angry.  Well, angrier, in this case.  Then turn that emotion into a much more enjoyable one, and hopefully the continuing cycle of bad moods would be broken for a while.  

“You morally corrupt, stuck up *bastard*,” Ed cursed, just as Roy swallowed the last of the sandwich.  A quick swipe of the tongue along the front of his teeth and then he leered at his much smaller mate.  “You say the sweetest things, lover.”  

His smug attitude seemed to be too much for Ed, just as he hoped, and before he could make another comment about Ed’s lack of height, his lover dropped the armload of books he carried and launched himself at him, hands balled into fists.  Prepared for this, he easily turned the attack on the enraged young man, grabbed Ed’s right forearm and shoulder and then spun him around to be slammed against the wall.  

With the wind knocked out of him like that, it was easy to pin Ed against the wall, to grab his hands and press them on either side of his head.  Roy settled his weight against his lover and trapped him in place, his legs tucked between Ed’s to prevent any nasty kicks.  As Ed growled at him, the sound low and savage, the earth rumbled beneath their feet, which prompted a loud yelp from Alphonse and a shower of sparks from him.  The display of talent on his part seemed to remind Ed about their no powers rule while fighting and the rumbling stopped, but not the growling.  So Roy did a little growling of his own as he stared deep into his mate’s golden eyes, their attention focused on each other as their demon natures fought a mostly silent battle of wills.  

“I… I’m going to borrow some money from Hughes and then I’ll go grocery shopping!” Alphonse yelled, as he set some books down onto an end table and then all but ran to the door.  “Don’t kill each other or destroy the house while I’m gone, all right?”  

Perhaps distracted by his brother’s distressed voice, Ed’s eyes shifted toward the boy.  The staring contest between them broken, Roy snarled in victory as he released one of Ed’s hands so he could grasp ahold of his mate’s chin.  Tilting it up, he then pressed his lips against Ed’s in a passionate kiss.  

That was the switch that changed their emotions from fury and challenge to desire and need.  Ed resisted for all of about two seconds and then he pressed against Roy, not in an attempt to get away but to get closer, his free hand buried in Roy’s hair as his left leg encircled around Roy’s thighs.  

Dizzy from both the sudden shift in emotions and from Ed’s intoxicating scent and taste, Roy moaned softly as he released his mate’s right hand.  All he could think about just then was how much he needed Ed, how his entire being craved his mate and how he had to show that, to prove his feelings beyond a shadow of doubt.  From Ed he felt much the same, for once no trace of anger but something so warm and bright, something that echoed inside of him that they both refused to face.  Almost scared by that emotion, he pulled back a few inches, chest heaving as he tried to take in much needed oxygen.  

Ed gasped as he pulled away and his eyes fluttered open, molten gold in color and dilated by lust.  “Tall freak,” he mumbled as his fingers tightened in Roy’s hair and yanked him back down into a kiss that put the last one to shame and thoroughly scattered all of Roy’s confused thoughts.  Strong arms latched around his shoulders and with a push against the floor, both of Ed’s legs wrapped around his hips.  His hands immediately grabbed his mate’s delectable ass and squeezed, helped to hold Ed up between him and the wall at a more comfortable height as they ravished each other’s mouths, tongues insistent and hot and slick.  

Spurred on by the fact that they couldn’t do too much when wrapped around each other like this and fully clothed, he tightened his hold on his lover and took first one step back and then another.  Ed’s arms and legs squeezed almost painfully tight around him as he headed for their room, hampered more than a little by the fact that neither of them intended to end the kiss any time soon.  So they bumped into a few things and it sounded like several books were toppled to the floor but they soon reached their destination.  

A kick to the door and it closed behind them as he carried Ed to the bed, his body shaking from the intense desire that grew stronger with each heartbeat.  Four more steps and then he fell forward, Ed beneath him as they toppled onto the bed.  His mate snarled softly and broke off the kiss but didn’t try to pull away or renew their fight.  

“You’re heavy,” Ed complained as his hands scrambled at Roy’s shirt, the buttons popping as he practically ripped it off.   

“You’re not exactly a lightweight yourself, Edward,” Roy teased as he tried to rid his lover of his clothes as well.  Between the several layers and the fine metal thread worked through the cotton material, not to mention the fact that Ed didn’t seem inclined to move from out beneath him, he definitely had to go a little slower when removing Ed’s outfit.  As difficult as it was to shift off of his mate so he could first slide off his own pants and then kneel beside Ed, it was worth it to hear Ed whine in such a plaintive manner, of all things a disappointed pout on his young face.


”This should work a little better,” he said in a soothing voice and then leaned forward for a quick kiss, his hands busy tugging Ed’s pants down his narrow hips.  Once they were down enough, Ed kicked his legs furiously to rid himself of his boots and pants, his body twisting on the bed in a manner that Roy groan in need and anticipation.  After that, they both got Ed’s shirt and jacket off in a few seconds. 

The damn clothes sent flying through the air, Roy hauled Ed onto his lap, his hands seeking out the long braid that trailed halfway down Ed’s back.  He adored his mate’s long hair and would fight like hell to prevent Ed from cutting it off.  There was just something to undoing the thick braid his lover kept it in during the day, to comb his fingers through the golden strands and see it spread out around Ed as he lay on their bed, to see Ed stare at him with desire-filled eyes half hidden behind long bangs….  Gold upon gold upon gold, his lover was, as if carved from the precious metal and brought to life.  Roy wanted all of him, wanted to see that golden skin marred by marks *he* left and covered with a sheen of sweat, to hold the golden strands in his hands as those unusual colored eyes stared at him with need.  

Unable to hold back any longer, he practically crushed Ed against him in a ferocious hug as he initiated a kiss just short of savage.  He had to have all of him, had to make him his and his alone, to utterly consume him.  Passion and need as hot as the sun burned through him and spurned him on, the emotions completely in control as he stroked his lover’s body, as his tongue flicked about in Ed’s mouth.  His hips jerked forward, hard erection sliding against Ed’s with delicious friction as his hands tangled in the unbraided hair.  He tugged on the long strands, the pressure insistent until his mate gave in with a low growl and tilted his head back, neck exposed before him.  The air crackled around them as his lips skimmed salty skin and then his mouth settled on the perfect spot.  His teeth pressed hard against the unmarked skin and he began to suck as they both trembled in pleasure.  

“Dammit, Roy,” Ed moaned just as lines of pain raced down Roy’s back.  He hissed slightly as Ed marked him in turn, not so much from the pain of the scratches but from the suddenness of them.  He bit harder on his lover’s neck until he tasted blood and then sucked hard, hips thrusting in time as one hand slid down Ed’s back.  As his finger’s dipped into the crevice of his lover’s ass, Ed arched his back and cried out.   

The sound of his name being called out like that was worth another set of scratches, Roy thought as his fingers untangled from Ed’s hair.  Even without the pressure his mate kept his neck arched for him, a sweet offering that he took advantage of as his right hand slid between their bodies to grasp both of their cocks.  Ed actually whimpered his name when he began to stroke his hand up and down, his efforts eased by slick sweat and precome.  As he once more began to suck on Ed’s neck, the first two fingers of his left hand rubbed gently around his mate’s opening, a teasing touch that made Ed squirm against him in such a manner that his breath caught in his throat.  

The feel of Ed’s lean body pressed against his like this, the strong arms wrapped around his shoulders and the shaking legs on either side of his thighs… the heady scent of Ed’s sweat and the addictive taste of his skin and mouth….  Roy felt inflamed with passion and need, felt that he’d shatter if Ed was taken from him, if he couldn’t feel and taste and hear and smell his mate always and forever.  There was a sudden flash of fear at the intensity of his emotions but he couldn’t stop them, couldn’t push Ed away and hide.  He needed him too much.  So let his demon nature squash flat that sense of fear and kissed his lover so ardently that they were both left gasping for breath.    

“Roy… please,” Ed sobbed as he squirmed again, his right hand clasped around Roy’s left in an attempt to push the teasing fingers inside.  “Stop being such a bastard,” he stuttered, then cried out when Roy released his own cock to give just Ed’s a gentle squeeze.  

“Whatever you want,” he breathed against his lover’s lips, and felt a sudden shock when he realized that he meant it.  Then Ed once more cried out his name and shook him from his troubling thoughts, back arched and head tilted backwards as his fingers pressed inside the slightest bit.  

He grazed his teeth along the length of Ed’s neck and then forced his hands away from his lover’s body as he reached and fumbled for the jar of lube left out on the nightstand.  Ed grumbled at first at being so suddenly ignored but when he realized that Roy was trying to fetch, turned around and reached for the jar as well.  

Roy’s long arms reached the container first, and with a warm laugh he grabbed it with his right hand while his left arm snaked around Ed’s waist.  He pulled his lover back against him for a few seconds and placed several kisses along the side of Ed’s neck as he one-handedly opened the jar.  Once the lid was off, he held it up.  “I want you to do it.”

Ed stiffened against him for a moment and then reached for the lubricant.  He tossed Roy a slightly confused look over his shoulder as he scooped out some of the slick gel.  Roy tightened his arm around his mate to hold him close as Ed’s hand crept between his legs, his attention focused entirely on Ed’s face.  

The slightest flinch told him when Ed’s fingers found their destination.  Roy rubbed his left hand in lazy circles around Ed’s stomach as the fingers of his right hand dipped into the jar before it was set aside.  Then he once more stroked his lover’s cock, up and then a twist to the wrist on the way down, back up to flick along the sensitive top until Ed forgot to feel so self-conscious of what he was doing to himself.  

Roy tenderly nuzzled his mate’s bruised neck and then licked Ed’s right ear.  “Does that feel good?” he asked, his voice laden with desire.  All he got in response was a hitched breath.  “Push them in deep and feel how warm you are,” he continued, his hands never stopping their tasks.  Ed sagged against him, bent forward with his ass pressed against Roy’s hard cock, and each time Ed’s fingers brushed against them as they twisted inside his lover, he shivered.  “I love being inside of you,” he purred, right hand slowing on Ed’s cock as his lover’s breath became ragged.  “So hot and wrapped all around me.”  All the while he watched his lover’s expressive face, watched the sweat bead and run down flush skin and Ed’s sharp white teeth bite into his swollen bottom lip.  

Ed chocked out a sob, his head falling back against Roy’s shoulder.  The look of submission and need he saw there made him grab the jar once more for gel to slick his own cock, and his right arm slid around Ed’s hips as his other hand tugged on the one between his lover’s thighs.  “Now, Ed,” was all the warning he gave as he shifted his mate into the right position, his cock rubbing against the now slick opening.  His mate whimpered quietly until it slowly slid inside him, the sound turning into a moan as Roy didn’t stop until he was completely sheathed inside of Ed’s hot, wonderful body.  

Ed only needed a moment to adjust and then they moved together, their pace quickly growing fast with desperation.  Roy wanted this to last, didn’t want the pleasure to end but the need was too great, too powerful to control as his body fought to bring this to completion, to mark his mate in the most intimate matter possible and reach ecstasy as quickly as possible.  There were too many emotions, too many demands so he gave in, hips pistoning as he thrust deep and fast into Ed’s body, right hand moving just as furiously on Ed’s cock and lips once more fastened to Ed’s neck.  

Ed matched him at first, their motions in sync and then his body shuddered, became even tighter around Roy as he came, voice loud and shrill and crying out Roy’s name.  There was a spark of smugness that he’d outlasted his mate, the last coherent thought Roy would manage for several minutes and then his own orgasm blasted through him, tore the fire from his body and left pure bliss in its place.  

They ended up hunched over each other, too spent to move until with a deep groan, Roy managed to tip them over onto their sides.  Ed hissed a little as he pulled out and he placed a kiss on his lover’s shoulder in apology.  He couldn’t seem to get his arms to unwrap from around Ed’s waist, but as his lover didn’t seem to mind and even snuggled back against him, he decided that right now the best course of action would be just to lie there tangled up in each other.  

In the quiet that followed, the two of them alone in the now dark room, he listened to Ed breathe in and out and tried to organize his thoughts.  The anger from earlier was gone; the emotion had either run its course or would stage a comeback once this pleasurable mood came to an end.  He hoped for the first as he really didn’t want to remain in a foul mood any longer, didn’t want to snap at his friends or fight so terribly with his mate.  While he enjoyed the usual verbal sparring with Ed, this past week there’s been too sharp an edge to it for it to be pleasurable.  

Face to face with his own emotions, he had to admit that part of the reason behind his foul mood the last few days was a fear of losing Ed.  He didn’t like reminders of how dangerous his actions were, and now it wouldn’t just be him who would be hurt if he messed up.  Ed would be killed just like that Esset bound if he made any mistakes, and that was a too sobering thought for him to handle right now.  He didn’t want to think about what could go wrong and what he could lose – didn’t want to think about how special Ed had become to him these last few months.  He hadn’t sought this bond, hadn’t wanted a mate at all let alone one about a third of his age, but this situation wasn’t going to change.  He and Ed would just have to adjust to it and do their best, and hope that Alphonse wasn’t driven insane or killed them in the process.   

That last thought made him chuckle out loud.  He felt Ed move against him and managed to force his arms to open, fully expecting Ed to pull away.  Instead, his mate turned around to face him and hesitantly hugged him back.  Roy’s arms immediately resumed their hold on Ed as he tucked his lover’s head beneath his chin and his fingers slid through the heavy hair that covered Ed’s back.  

“I was mad at you for being such an asshole these last few days, but honestly, we didn’t have enough money to buy you anything to eat.”  

Roy blinked at the quiet explanation muttered against his shoulder.  “That’s okay,” he said after a few seconds, unwilling for Ed to regret what, for him, amounted as an apology.  “I should have given you or Alphonse some money for groceries this week so it’s really my fault.”  His fingers continued to stroke through Ed’s hair as he felt his lover’s body relax a little more against him.  “I’ve been… distracted, lately.”

Ed snorted and shifted back enough so he could look at Roy.  “You’ve been an asshole, and what’s worse is you made me be an asshole as well.  I don’t like sharing your bad moods.”  

“I can imagine.”  Roy sighed and brushed back the thick bangs that partially obscured his lover’s face.  “Something bad happened at work,” he managed to say before falling quite.  It wasn’t so much that he didn’t trust Ed with the truth or didn’t want to share his burdens, but he didn’t want to set Ed off with news about an Esset agent – dead or alive – or give him cause to worry about Alphonse.  

But to his credit, Ed accepted the partial explanation with a curt nod and once more curled up against him.  “You have a shitty job, Lieutenant Colonel,” was all he said.  

“Not all of us can work in libraries, Edward.”  His fingers found a stubborn knot and slowly untangled it.  

“Yeah, well, the library doesn’t pay enough to cover our food bills so I guess you’ll just have to keep your job, shitty or not.  But the next time you let it get to you like this, I’m kicking your ass.”  Sharp nails scraped down his back in warning.  

He chuckled again and nuzzled the top of his lover’s head.  “You’re so bossy, why don’t you join the Army and that way we’d never have to worry about running out of food to feed your bottomless pit of a stomach,” he teased.  

“No thank you, I wouldn’t want to turn out like you,” Ed retorted, and even though his voice as sharp, Roy could feel the humor and affection that filled his lover at yet another verbal fight, this one untainted by bitter feelings.  

“Well, I guess perfection such as me is meant to be unique,” he shot back, and had to laugh again when he was scratched for his opinion.  He retaliated by tugging on Ed’s hair until his mate looked up at him, spitting with mock anger and grumbling about abusive old perverts, and put an end to this fight with a deep, searing kiss that left them both trembling by the time it was done.  

As his arms tightened around his lover, he resolved that this time, it would be slow.  This time, he could savor Ed and the pleasure without anything ruining it for him.  Including Ed.  

“My books… I need to-“  

“Later,” he growled inbetween kisses he placed down Ed’s chin and jaw.  

“Pushy bastard.”  But Ed didn’t seem to mind, not with the way he tilted his head back and rocked his hips against Roy’s.  

Sometimes the most important thing a person could learn about fighting was when to let one’s opposition get the last comment in.  He let the insult go and smirked against Ed’s neck as he thought about how soon he’d have his lover crying out his name again.  

*******  

Ed grumbled as he pulled on Roy’s too-big robe, unable to find his own even when his mate created several fireballs to light the room.  He gave Roy a warning glare against any comments made about how the garment hung on him and had to be held up so he didn’t trip over its hem before he left.  As much as he thought he looked like an idiot right now, he needed something to wear while he went out and fetched the books he’d brought home today.  Al had more than likely been traumatized enough tonight without needing to see his brother naked and covered with marks that an annoying smug pervert had left all over him.  

Stepping out into the hallway, he headed for the living room, where he found Alphonse curled up on the couch, a pot of tea and a plate of what looked to be some of Gracia’s delicious cookies on the table beside him and a book on his lap.  “Brother!” Al said, mouth full of one of the cookies.  

“Hey, Al.  You stopped by the Hughes’ tonight?”  He thought he remembered his brother saying something like that but he wasn’t entirely certain.  

“Uhm, yeah.”  Al ducked his head but Ed still caught sight of how red his brother’s cheeks had become.  “Hughes helped me with the shopping tonight, and when we dropped off the groceries….”  Al coughed a couple of times.  “Ah, I went back to his house for something to eat and Gracia gave me a plate of cookies to bring home.”  

Ed managed to swallow a groan as he thought of what must have been going on during Hughes’ visit this evening, especially since he didn’t recall hearing his brother come in any time other than about half an hour ago.  Then he realized that as long as he avoided the man for a couple of days that *Roy* would be the one to take the brunt of Hughes’ weird sense of humor.  Nothing like having one’s best friend call one a ‘cradle robber’ and the such.  That brought a big grin to his face as he reached for a couple of cookies.  

“Is everything all right, Brother?” Al asked as he dared to look up again, cheeks a little less pink now.  

“Yeah, everything’s fine.  Roy’s just had a really bad week at work, but I think I’ve knocked some sense into him about letting his foul mood affect us all,” Ed said and sat down next to his brother so he could give him a hug.  “I’m sorry for us… well, acting like we have this week.”  Great, now it was his turn to blush.  

“That’s okay,” Al reassured him as he hugged him back.  “I just hate seeing you to fight like that – I mean, you always fight but never that bad.”  

He thought about trying to explain to Al about how they were tied into each other emotions and sometimes got lost in them but decided he didn’t have the energy.  Besides, he wasn’t sure he *could* explain it to his brother, someone who didn’t have a mate.  Everything he’d read about the phenomenon during his research into bounds hadn’t prepared him at all for when it had happened to him – it just wasn’t something that could be placed into words.  So he’d rather not try and just drive home to them both how much things had changed and the fact that as much as they loved each other, Al no longer was the *most* essential person in Ed’s life.  That thought caused his chest to ache in pain but it was the truth.  He loved his brother more than life itself, but the day would come when they’d have to go their own separate ways, more than likely when he had to follow Roy off on some stupid mission.  

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Al asked him, his voice quiet and concerned.  

“I’m fine, Al.”  He gave his brother the strongest smile he could muster and stood up.  “I’m just tired.  For an old man, Roy sure has a lot of- gah.”  He covered his mouth with both hands as he realized what he’d almost told his baby brother, who was once again bright red with embarrassment.  “Uhm, I’m gonna get my books and go back to bed,” he managed after a moment, his voice squeaky and broken.  

“Good night, Brother!”  The words tumbled out of Al’s mouth as he held the book up in front of his face.  “And… and tell Roy ‘good night’ as well.”  

“I will.”  Still embarrassed, he reached out to tousle what he could of Al’s hair thanks to the book.  Al lowered the text and gave him a smile, one shy but loving, and told him to take some cookies with him.  

He did that, several of the sugar ones he liked stacked in one hand and the geological books tucked under his left arm.  He paused to look back at his brother as he left the room, and found Al once again consumed by the book as he nibbled on a cookie.  There was a wave of sadness as he thought about all the nights he’d be curled up at Al’s side as they read together, but now he spent them in the bed he shared with Roy.  There was some unhappiness over how things had changed but there was no way to turn things back to the way they’d been, and as much as he loved Al, they both deserved their own lives.  And at least Roy gave great massages as he used him for a back rest while he read, and he didn’t have to worry about wasting candles when his lover was a fire elemental.

*******

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