Weekly dinner at the Hughes household always consisted of three things, without fail: an hour or two of playtime with Alicia, who never failed to be a captive audience whenever he snapped his fingers; the meal itself, usually prepared by Gracia, who was the epitome of the virtue in her name, and then–

“The problem with you is,” Hughes said, “is that you’re easy to love, but hard to know.”

–some kind of pithy conversation with Maes Hughes himself.

In recent months, due to certain other developments, he’d stopped obliquely hinting that married life was more than worth its occasional bumps and headaches, and started probing for other things. With Alicia fast growing up, it seemed to have suddenly become his business to play Concerned Father to anyone who lingered long enough to be caught by him.

Hence sitting here now, with half-finished drinks and an earnest Hughes, waiting for his response. In the kitchen, Alicia was chattering happily at her mother over the run of water and the clink of dishes. Roy just raised an eyebrow. “I beg your pardon?”

“Just what I said.” Hughes raised an eyebrow right back. “You’re a charming bastard, and the women eat it up. The fact you’ve dated enough women to use their names as part of your alchemical code says a lot, don’t you think?”

“They don’t necessarily love me,” Roy murmured.

“Oh, please.” Hughes rolled his eyes. “It’s disgusting, the way they’ll follow you like homeless puppies. Do you know how tiring it is to listen to someone talk nonstop about how wonderful and special and all-round perfect someone is?”

“… I’m going to assume that’s a rhetorical question.”

“Smug bastard.” Hughes bunched up his napkin and threw it lazily at Roy, who merely leaned to the side to dodge it. “At least I know my ladies love me back.”

Roy snorted. “Just because they’re attracted to me doesn’t mean they love me, Hughes,” he said, a touch more irritably than normal.

“They think they do, however. And sometimes, that’s enough.” Hughes leaned forward, and his eyes were narrowed and piercing, with no trace of the stupid father or the love-struck husband in them. It was not unlike when he’d been a young boy, scrutinized by his own father, weighed and judged by eyes that promised no easy escape.

So, instead, he looked into his drink, giving the glass an absent-minded shake. Ice clinked, and the sound was very loud, during the brief lull of silence from Alicia’s voice. “I’ve done my best not to encourage false hopes,” he said, utterly bland.

Hughes let out an explosive breath. “See, that’s what I mean,” he said, and though his expression was disgusted, there was also a hint of fondness in his relaxing eyes. “You say things in a way that someone who wanted to can hear anything they want with a little bit of skewing.” He leaned back in his chair, and drew a few circles in the air with a finger. “It’s the mystery. I have it on the greatest authority that women like that sort of thing.” He waggled his eyebrows.

Roy snorted. “What you and your wife do in private is not any business of mine,” he said blandly.

“This is not about me, here.” Hughes gave a dismissive wave. “It’s the fact that we’ve got this new wave of girls working in the offices, only they’re not working, because they’re too busy comparing notes about how you looked at them or smiled or something.” He dropped his head back for a moment, then lifted it again, drumming his fingers against his knee.

Shrugging, Roy said, “Young people are always prone to being flighty when it comes to these things.”

Hughes gave him a sour look. “You’re not that old, Roy. And this has been something I’ve noticed has been going on since, oh, I don’t know. Forever?”

“Forever, huh?”

“You’re a paranoid bastard, you know that?” Hughes sighed, with an extra edge of melodrama to it. “All you let people see are the shallow waves, and when they try to get more, you shut them out.”

“Is that so.”

“You’re never going to be without enemies, Roy,” Hughes said, reflectively. Roy said nothing, waiting out the seeming non-sequitor. “Too many people resent too many things about you to let you live your life in peace.”

Roy’s smile had teeth in it. “I never expected otherwise.”

“Still.” Hughes traced circles in the air with one finger. “A man like you needs all the allies he can get, and friends are better than allies, but by definition, you can’t keep people in the dark and expect them to–” The sound of small running footsteps cut him off.

“Daddy~!” A small flurry, dressed in white and pink, appeared in the doorway, a split second before it launched itself at Hughes. He fielded the impact well, tilting the chair back with controlled precision, as though the weight of a single small girl could truly rock the heavy furniture.

“Alicia,” he crooned, “you done helping Mommy with the dishes?”

Alicia settled herself on her father’s lap and grinned with a proudly gap-toothed smile. “I did,” she said, “and I even helped put some of them away!”

“That’s my girl!” Hughes jogged one knee, earning a delighted squeal as the little girl bounced. “Did you make sure to finish everything else?”

“Mommy let me feed Baker tonight,” she announced gleefully. “He eats like a piggy.”

Hughes laughed. Gracia trailed in, at a distinctly more sedate pace than her daughter’s madcap dash. At her heels trailed the new family dog, purchased for Alicia’s fifth birthday. Still more a puppy than anything else despite his size, he wobbled on long awkward legs, squirming until he made it around Gracia, then bounded towards father and daughter on the chair.

Alicia twisted until she could hold out one tiny hand, and squealed when Baker rose up onto his haunches, forepaws braced on the seat cushion, and licked her palm enthusiastically. Hughes ruffled the dog’s ears, then nudged him back to the ground.

“Alicia, honey, bedtime,” Gracia said. “Say goodnight to Daddy and Uncle Roy, okay?”

“Yes, Mommy,” Alicia intoned obediently, then turned and gave her father a sloppy kiss on the cheek. “Good night, Daddy,” she said, then shrieked again when he rubbed their cheeks together. Then she slid from his lap and crossed over to Roy, beaming as she held out her small arms. There was no hesitation or shyness in her bright green eyes, and even so tiny, she stood braced with obvious determination.

“Up!” she said. “Hug!”

“Say please, Alicia,” Gracia chided, hiding a smile.

“Pleeeeeease?” She batted her lashes at Roy.

Roy chuckled and leaned forward, hooking his hands under her arms and swinging her up with a heave. She giggled, beaming down at him, and when he set her down in his lap, she wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed. “Good night, Uncle Roy,” she said into his neck.

For a moment, he hesitated, then cupped his hand across her back. “Good night.” It was strange–he remembered holding her like this when she was a baby, the few times Gracia had bullied him into trying. She had been such an alien, fragile thing back then, a completely different creature from the squirming bundle he held now.

She put her lips to his cheek and buzzed, loudly. He started, and she just flashed him that same ear-to-ear smile, then slid back to the floor and ran to her mother, giggling all the while. Gracia swept her up, and Alicia draped herself over her shoulder, waving enthusiastically at them as she was carried up the stairs.

When Roy looked back at Hughes, the man was staring at him again, with that same calculating expression. He just raised an eyebrow.

“Is it really that difficult?” Hughes asked, quietly. “Alicia’s a little girl who thinks you’re the most wonderful man in the world–after her daddy, of course.” A faint smile chased its way across his face, then faded. “Kids like that don’t care what secrets you have, or what you’ve done in your past. You’re here now, and she loves you.”

“Didn’t you just say that all your new secretaries are in love with me, too?” he asked. “You’re tossing that word around quite cheaply, Hughes.”

“Like I said, easy to love, and hard to know,” Hughes said patiently. “They know you as the dashing Major General, war hero and Flame Alchemist. You’ve got a handsome face and good manners, so they’re charmed. Alicia loves you as Uncle Roy, who spoils her outrageously–” here he raised an eyebrow at Roy–“and comes for dinner every other Saturday. And she knows about how Ed–”

Roy got to his feet, expression still bland. “It’s getting late,” he said. “I have a ways to walk.”

Hughes leaned back in his seat and just smirked. If a bit of worry still lingered in his eyes, he let the matter drop.

Alicia’s bedroom door opened, and Gracia reappeared on the stairs. She paused halfway down, looking between the two of them with mild surprise. “You’re leaving?”

Roy shrugged into his coat, and managed to dredge up a smile for her. “You’ve been utterly charming, but–”

“But my husband’s said some things you’d rather not think about, so you’re going off to brood by yourself,” she said crisply. When he slanted a look at her, she smiled. “Give our best to Edward, all right? And tell him he’s expected next time, or else.”

His hands paused for a full second on his coat. She continued to smile back at him, unconcerned by his darkly probing look. After a moment, he gave her a wry smile and saluted smartly as he would to any general on the parade field.

“She’s a keeper, Hughes,” he said. It was the same thing he’d said years ago, after he’d first met the young woman who’d accepted his best friend’s name and ring.

Still lounging in his chair, Hughes snorted, though there was a deep note of affection in that sound. “Damn straight–and she’s mine, so hands off.”

Gracia laughed and descended the rest of the way down the stairs, skirting around Roy to her husband’s side. He heard the rustle of movement, and guessed that Hughes had hooked an arm around her waist; Hughes was physical in his affections, and more with his wife and daughter than anyone else. “Good night, Roy.”

He nodded without turning. “Good night,” he said, and headed for the door. He heard Hughes mutter something at his wife, who only laughed.

Outside, the night was cold and clear. He closed the door quietly behind him and stared upwards, through the mist of his breath. Even in East City, you could see more stars than in Central. When he’d first left, he had not believed he would miss that place, but–there were certain things left behind there, irretrievable.

A thousand young faces, shining with belief and hope, all abandoned and buried, in Ishbar’s sands and East City’s ghettos. His own people had suffered losses, as well. Losing lives aged a man faster than years alone.

Roy fished a pair of gloves from his coat pocket–ordinary gloves, fur-lined and black leather–and slid them on. Then he tucked his hands back into his pockets and began the slow walk back to his house.

The lights were on and the door was not locked when he arrived; he looked at the pair of black boots left carelessly discarded off to the side, and smiled faintly. Noises emerged from the kitchen, along with the smell of coffee.

“I’m back,” he called, as he pulled off his coat. The house still carried a distinct chill, despite the lit fire he could see in the living room, and so for now, he kept the gloves on. If he had to guess, he would hazard Edward had simply forgotten to even start the fire until distracted from his studies by the fact that it was too dark to see.

“I heard,” Edward called from the kitchen. “I’m back, too.”

“I could tell.” Roy bent and unlaced his own boots, and these he left neatly standing beside Edward’s in silent statement. He made a detour to the library, plucking one book at random from the shelves, and then made a beeline for the fire. There was a haphazardly stacked pile of papers at one end of the couch; this Roy moved aside and settled himself into the corner crook formed by the back and arm. It still retained a bit of body warmth, and this he leaned comfortably back into.

“That was my spot, bastard,” Edward said, in the doorway. He was still dressed for the road, though his feet were bare, and carried two gently-steaming cups. “Not that you care, huh?”

“One of those had better be for me,” Roy replied.

“No, I’m gonna drink ’em both. Sheesh, would a little politeness kill you?” Edward slunk across the floor towards him. There was the faintest curl of a grin on his face, edged and bright. For someone who’d ostensibly spent at least the first half of the day on the road, there was still a distinct spring in his step.

“If you were a guest, perhaps,” Roy said. “As you’re merely freeloading, I see no need–”

“Don’t be such an ass.” Edward stopped in front of him, his expression halfway a challenge. “I pay my part of the rent, and you know it. Why I do, I’m not sure, because when you’re home you spend all your time bitching and making demands–”

“That’s why you love me,” Roy said, and held out one hand.

Edward snorted, rudely. “You wish, bastard,” he said. “Move over, unless you want coffee in your lap.” He lifted up one of the cups, tilting it so that a dark bead appeared on the lip, held just barely in place by surface tension.

Roy moved, and Edward plunked himself down on the couch with careless ease, and managed not to spill any coffee, though it sloshed dangerously close. One cup he handed to Roy; the other he slid his automail fingers around. A bit of squirming and rearranging ended with Edward partly reclined, using Roy’s side as a pillow, with his human arm flung out wide, so that naked fingers tapped thoughtfully against Roy’s ankle.

They sat in silence for long moments. Once situated, Edward went back to his notes, and Roy sat with his book open to a random page, staring at the pattern and sway of flames. The snapping, quiet voice of the fire was almost hypnotic, motor memory tingling in his fingertips.

“Gracia says you’re to come, next time,” Roy said at last, his voice quiet.

“If I’m not working,” Edward replied absently. “Some of us still go out and do things for a living, Major General.” He made a face. “Have I mentioned how annoying your title’s become after you got promoted?”

“Constantly,” Roy said dryly.

“It’s a pain. Any chance of going back to being a Colonel?”

“A snowball’s chance in hell, Fullmetal.”

Edward slanted him a look under the veil of his lashes. “Was worth a shot.” Then he reached up to put his cup aside, and squirmed so that he was now on his belly, propped with his bony elbow braced on Roy’s thigh. “If you’re not going to do anything, give me my spot back. It’s a hassle trying to take notes this way.”

“I stole it fairly,” Roy said. “Don’t underestimate the triumph of age and sneakiness over youth and energy, Fullmetal.”

Both of Edward’s brows drew up, then together. He hoisted himself up to his knees, expression turned sardonic. “Never pegged you to be someone who’d get maudlin over your age, Major General.”

“You’re a smart boy, Fullmetal,” Roy said. “But you should leave the psychology to your brother.”

The disgust in Edward’s eyeroll almost had audible sound to it. He crossed his arms over his chest, mouth pursed. Roy turned back to his book, and, despite himself, barely managed to hide a smirk when Edward sighed, loudly and pointedly.

“I’m young, not stupid,” Edward said, reaching out and untangling one of Roy’s hands from his book. “That whole ‘pity me for my age’ won’t work–I know you.”

“Do you, now,” Roy murmured. He snapped his book shut with his free hand, then lifted his gaze to meet Edward’s speculatively.

“Mmhmm,” Edward said. He hefted the weight of Roy’s relaxed hand in his both his own, like something strange out of a foreign market. “You’re a grouchy bastard who likes things to go his own way and has no morals about doing whatever you need to get it.”

“And here I’ve always been told I was charming,” Roy said.

“What delusional woman told you that?” Edward shifted his legs, so that he now sat cross-legged on the couch, facing Roy. He was still examining Roy’s hand, adjusting and bending the fingers, as though to test it was properly working.

Roy cocked an eyebrow at him. “Tell me, Edward,” he said, voice dropping to a murmur, “why should I put up with your attitude when I have been informed, just this evening, that there is a whole host of lovely and charming young ladies who would gladly give up an evening of their time for my company?” He gave his hand an experimental tug, and Edward’s fingers tightened fractionally.

“Because,” Edward said, as his real thumb dragged along the cuff of the glove, “you’d be bored without me.” He glanced up briefly, that same smirk lighting his gaze.

Roy slouched further back into the crook of the couch, and affected the most bored expression in his repertoire. “You’re not being especially entertaining now,” he pointed out, and let his gaze wander to a point over Edward’s head.

It earned him another rude snort, and a short mutter under Edward’s breath–something that sounded suspiciously like smug bastard–before he raised Roy’s relaxed hand to his face.

“Don’t get too excited,” he said, when Roy looked at him with amused quizzicality. “I’m the one doing you a favor, here.”

Delicately, his teeth closed over the tip of Roy’s index finger. Encased within the glove, it felt only like a slight pressure. Roy slanted an eyebrow at him. “These are new gloves,” he said mildly. “Leather doesn’t take well to teeth marks.”

The pressure increased briefly–a warning nip. Edward’s eyes were unashamed, the edges of his mouth spreading into a feline smirk. Despite himself, Roy quirked a half smile in return and reached out with his other hand, to cup Edward’s face–and found his wrist caught firmly between automail fingers. Roy asked the question by wriggling his own fingers, and was answered by the press of cool metal to his wrist.

“Enjoying yourself?” he muttered. Edward only twisted his head gently from side to side, working the glove slowly loose. The fingers of his human hand crept up under the edge of Roy’s glove, dots of smoother warmth against the fur lining. Edward’s eyes were closed and his expression intent, mouth working as he occasionally shifted the grip of his teeth. On Roy’s other hand, the automail thumb began tracing absent circles, like a new alchemy student practicing the perfect round shape required for an array. Edward was still on his knees, but leaning forward now, the line of his body growing relaxed and heavy.

When Roy shifted his position to accommodate the drape of another body across his legs, his elbow jostled his book and sent it tumbling to the floor. For a moment, Edward’s eyes flickered open to check–but it had landed safely on its back, rather than on its spine, and so his eyes closed again. The glove was now halfway off, and the sliver of exposed flesh on Roy’s palm felt cold and oddly exposed, though the room was warming nicely from fire.

He leaned forward, so that his nose brushed Edward’s temple. “The last time we did this here, you called me a pervert.” The whisper left strands of hair clinging to his lips, which smelled of books and metal and the faintest traces of soap.

Edward snorted, but did not let go. In the wake of the glove, his fingers moved in, cupping the back of Roy’s hand into a gentle curve. The other, he kept pinned down to the seat cushion.

Roy’s thumb slipped free, and then the rest was easy; Edward leaned back, and the glove slid off smoothly. With a disdainful feline expression, he turned his head and spat it out over the edge of the couch, where it flopped, the fingertips just brushing the fallen book. He turned back to Roy’s exposed hand now, turning it slowly, as though considering. Roy kept the fingers relaxed, watching Edward’s intent expression.

A moment later, a rough pink tongue flickered out, rasping against the webbing between index finger and thumb. Roy sucked in a deep breath, let it out slowly, and saw the way it made Edward smile, though that golden gaze never lifted back to his.

Carefully, as though he actually cared for ceremony, Edward drew his tongue down the length of Roy’s index finger, from the tip to the base, where it circled, as though probing for some hidden secret. The rush of his breath was steady and hot against the damp trails it left behind, and it was only a faint moment of surprise when it was completely engulfed in wet heat. On the couch, Roy’s other hand twitched, and as if in compensation, Edward twined their fingers together. The metal palm was still cool in the warm room.

Roy shivered. Edward was now draped fully against him, purring deep in his chest as he pulled back, lips tight around the pointing finger. When it was fully free, he gave it one more tiny lick at the pad itself, where the whorls of the fingerprint were made, then slid his tongue down the folds of Roy’s cupped palm. The rest of his body moved in a slow, subtle rhythm–not even full rocking, but still a careful, continuous motion. Briefly, his lips fastened to the point of Roy’s pulse and sucked hard, and through the round shape of Edward’s mouth, his tongue slashed quick, meaningless patterns, before they trailed, smoothly, to the bend of Roy’s elbow.

“Edward,” he said, quietly. His hand now rested over Edward’s real shoulder, and he moved those fingers at last, curling them into a weak fist. Edward’s eyes flickered open and up to his face, considering, and then he leaned up, his mouth almost soft against Roy’s own. He caught Edward’s lower lip between his teeth for a moment, worrying at it, then licked both. Edward’s breath gusted out in a faint, throaty laugh, and then he leaned back again, this time drawing Roy’s thumb into his mouth, tongue swirling gently before nipping sharply at its tip.

Absently, he shifted his other hand again; the automail fingers only dug into the back of his hand, clinging. They were finally beginning to warm, absorbing Roy’s body heat to return it. He gave a short, experimental thrust of his hips, feeling the pressure drag along Edward’s stomach. Sharp teeth nipped at him again, but the younger man was grinning when he let Roy’s thumb pull out of his mouth, golden eyes darkly lit and challenging.

“I’m busy,” he said. “Stop trying to distract me.”

He leaned forward now and pressed his open mouth to Roy’s chest, hot and sharply present even through the thin material of his shirt. His tongue slid across a nipple, searching, a moment before his mouth closed fully pressing the careful edges of his teeth to that small rise of flesh. Roy’s head dropped back, and he moved his hips again, a bit more urgently than before. Not for the first time, he was glad for the width of his couch.

Edward laughed again, the sound muffled by Roy’s shirt and skin. After a moment, he moved away, leaving a wet circle to cool in the fire-warmed air. With a bit of deft maneuvering, Roy managed to tug the tie loose from Edward’s hair and buried the fingers of his free hand into its weight, combing gently through. For a moment, Edward paused to shake the hair from his eyes, nipped playfully at Roy’s hand, and continued his work. His flesh hand trailed ahead of his mouth, working open every other button of Roy’s shirt, leaving gaps of skin for more thorough study.

When it reached his pants, it skipped over the fastenings entirely and simply cupped, holding there. Roy’s hips twitched; a small, sharp noise escaped him. Edward’s mouth was now at his belly, an inquisitive, sharpened tongue probing the definition of muscle there. Every now and then, he breathed out in a long, slow, heated wave, there against the damp trails left by his mouth.

Finally, distantly, he felt the pressure of Edward’s hand lessen, and a moment later, his pants were being undone and spread open. Automail fingers squeezed his own briefly, as though in encouragement, before Edward’s other hand pressed him flat to his belly, leaving no room for movement or friction. A closed mouth trailed in the space between navel and groin, the heat of Edward’s entire body seemingly concentrated between Roy’s legs. He’d been opened in a rather undignified sprawl, his fingers buried deep in the heavy weight of long golden hair.

Edward leaned up slightly, to the last undone button, and in that gap placed a brief, almost chaste kiss. From there he trailed down, opening his mouth a little more each time, until he was nosing against his own hand, suckling at the skin until it blushed red. Roy’s breath hissed out in a long, slow rush, and he glanced down to see Edward crouched, waiting, eyes glittering back up at him.

“Are you watching, Roy?” he husked, and then leaned forward and swallowed him down, the same way he’d taken Roy’s fingers earlier. His free hand pinned Roy’s hip sharply, which was perhaps for the best, given the way his body immediately jerked into action. A sharp litany of fierce curses spilled from his lips, mindless and automatic, and he could feel the smug satisfaction emanating from Edward in waves.

It didn’t take very long at all. Edward, always a quick study in whatever he applied himself to, applied himself with utmost thoroughness, teeth and lips and tongue and fingers. After a moment, he pulled off, and brushed soft closed lips over the head in a gentle sweeping motion, then lightly ran his teeth down the length, barely hard enough to even be felt. The entire time, his hand remained firmly pressed at Roy’s hip, using the weight of his automail arm to keep the other side equally pinned.

When he swallowed again, slow and hard, Roy gave a hoarse shout and jerked, seeing bright spots against his already blurry vision as he toppled over the edge.

He closed his eyes, breathing deep and hard and slow through his nose. After a moment, he felt Edward shift against him, the automail fingers releasing his own, felt hands carefully arranging his legs back together a moment before solid weight settled atop them. He cracked one eye open to find his lover’s face hovering bare inches above his own.

“Well?” Edward asked, his grin cheeky. His tongue flickered out to lap at the corner of his own mouth, carrying away a smear of white. “Told you you’d be bored without me.”

Roy took a deep breath, and pounced before he smiled back. Edward squirmed, but only halfheartedly, and still ended up flat on his back across the couch, pinned by Roy’s greater body weight. His grin never wavered, fierce and sharp, another weapon in a vast arsenal. Roy trapped that face between both hands, staring fiercely.

“You,” he said, “are the most irritating, arrogant, and cocksure idiot I have ever had the misfortune to sleep with.”

Ed stretched his head back, exposing his throat, still grinning. “Flattery’ll get you anything you want, Major General.”

“And you always get so grouchy when I pull rank on you,” Roy murmured, then bent his head and sank his teeth into Edward’s neck, at the juncture where it flowed into shoulder.

Under him, the slender body jerked with a hoarse exclamation. He did not relent, running the sharp edges of them down along the corded tendons that sprang up as his hand slid down and worked Edward’s pants open, and then slid home.

It earned him another wordless cry, this one sounding almost shocked before it dissolved into something distinctly more pleased. Edward squirmed enthusiastically, combing his fingers through Roy’s hair until he lifted his head for a kiss that was as much teeth as tongue, sharp-edged and demanding. Narrow hips, pinned under his own, thrust into the touch of his hand with as much force as possible. Over the rush of his own heartbeat, the sound of Edward’s voice had drowned out the crackle of the fire.

One sharp pump of his hand, two, three–and Edward’s entire body tensed sharply against his own, biting at his lips. Warmth pulsed over Roy’s fingers, and he continued to stroke until Edward shifted under him, making a sound that was closer to pain than enjoyment. He rolled then, shifting so that he could rest one elbow on the couch’s back–still mostly holding Edward down, but not as heavily as before. Dazed golden eyes slid open in time to watch Roy lick his own fingers, and a crooked, tired smile crossed that bruised mouth.

“You’re such a pervert, Roy,” he murmured, and closed his eyes again.

Roy paused, then bent down and kissed him soundly, ignoring the grumpy sound and halfhearted swat he got in retaliation. “I suppose you just bring out the worst in me,” he said, and continued cleaning his hand.

When he was finished, a heavy automail arm hooked behind his neck, dragging him down. He went willingly enough, turning his head so that his cheek, rather than his chin, was pillowed at Ed’s shoulder.

“Feeling better?” Edward asked, his voice very quiet. That was all–no petting fingers, no extra words, just the fire-broken silence and a long moment of waiting.

Roy closed his eyes. Easy to love, but difficult to know. That’s what Hughes had said, and he thought that, perhaps, that he was happier with the knowing over the loving; this person’s understanding was more important than any number of vows, whatever their state of dress–or lack thereof.

“I’m fine,” he said. “But I don’t feel like getting up.”

“Good,” Edward snorted, and the fingers of his automail hand spread, so that they curved gently against the bend of Roy’s neck in natural rest. “Because you’re not getting me anywhere unless you drag me–or carry me, and I’ll kick your ass before you do either.”

He chuckled, and opened his eyes halfway. The fire was dying down to coals, and the room would chill soon enough–but here and now, Edward’s body was solid and warm under his own, narrow chest rising and falling in slow, steady rhythm. Atop him, the automail arm kept him decidedly in place, though it was ordinary deadweight, and could be shrugged off with a single turn. This was the moment of breathing, not delicate or sustained or romantic–but theirs alone, kept in a guarded open secret.

It was, Roy decided, entirely enough.

He closed his eyes.

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