After the ceremony, Jean and Roy finally return home. Ed and Riza catch up on darker times.
Anyway, here's Chapter Two!
After all of the lonely nights away from Roy, coming back to the simple apartment was like something entirely new. Still dark, still cheap, still low maintenance; perhaps that was how Roy had always planned to have things, even from the very beginning of his military career. The dÃ©cor was the same; in fact, the only thing that had changed was that there now seemed to be many more stairs leading up to it than before. With one hand on the railing and the other around Roy, Jean had then realized that the biggest change was probably in Roy himself and were most likely inspired by the events of the day. The blond had made his way up the stairwell carefully, all the while trying to ignore Roy's soft grunts as he did his best to help. Jean didn't really have the heart to tell him that he wouldn't have been much faster with crutches; he'd been able to use them back in his hometown to do little things, but it had tired him out pretty quickly when compared to using his chair. He'd have to go to Central Hospital sometime to hire out a new set and get them fitted, but for now he found himself not minding the closeness. Every time he felt Roy's knees bump into the back of his legs, the older man unaccustomed to the way he had to hold his blond lover steady, Jean felt far more happiness than annoyance, more excitement than regret.
As they reached the third floor landing, Roy glanced up and sighed.
"Flowers again..." the older man murmured, almost tripping over when he attempted to shift the carefully wrapped bunches out of the way with his foot.
"They're just appreciative of what you did, you know," Jean grinned, reaching around with his spare hand to grab Roy's keys out of his pocket, "And you did get sworn in as Fuhrer today, after all. People are going to be showing you their exact sentiments about your appointment for the next few weeks, at least."
"So long as their sentiments don't involve eerily ticking packages left on my doorstep."
Jean somehow doubted that it was a good time to leave his hand lingering on the older man's thigh through the material, so he put all of his attentions into putting the key in the lock while Roy wobbled precariously under the added mass. He moved again, and Roy grunted under the strain of the shifted weight, but refused to turn his anger upon Jean, regardless of how annoyed he may have felt.
"Got it," Jean breathed, "You don't have to support me all the time, you know... I could have done that for myself for that long."
"It's not so much that I want to support you so much as I don't want to let you go."
"Regular Mister Smooth, aren't you?" Jean grinned, unable to keep the affection out of his voice.
"I try," Roy replied, kicking the apartment door open.
"Don't make any jokes about carrying me over the threshold."
"How could I possibly resist that?" Roy snorted sarcastically, letting Jean go when the blond squirmed away to sit on one of the outdated armchairs in the living room, "I'll go downstairs and get your chair out of the taxi and then I'll grab the luggage."
"Knock yourself out," Jean grinned. Once Roy had disappeared around the doorframe, Jean took in his surroundings and found with some surprise that it felt like home. His gaze was drawn to the bunch of pure white gardenias on the coffee table; they were being held by a small glass vase that looked too ornate for Roy to have purchased himself (perhaps an heirloom, or a gift from a colleague?), and one of the stalks had a small card tied around it with plain white twine.
Dear Fuhrer Mustang,
We got you a box of chocolates to celebrate, but Hayate ate them. We know you've probably got enough flowers to start up a florist already but this will have to do.
From Lieutenant Breda, Sergeant Fuery and Warrant Officer Falman.
Yes, it definitely felt like home. Sitting back in the chair, Jean felt entirely sure that he could get used to this life, this love and all of his friendships again.
Something soft and cold curled between Havoc's toes and the blond sprung awake; surprised by the sensation he'd long forgotten how to feel.
Roy was sitting at his feet, running his index finger between Jean's toes and along the arc of his foot. He'd taken off most of his uniform and was left in his dress shirt and pants. His jacket, hat and boots were on the floor next to him in a hastily arranged pile, and his attentions were fixed upon the way the blond's toes curled under the soft touch of his fingertip.
"Marcoh did a good job."
"Of course he did," the blond replied, kicking Roy's stomach gently, "You wouldn't have sent him if you didn't think he was good at what he does."
"You fell asleep... I'm sorry, I should have put you to bed."
"How were you to know?"
"Should have at least given you a blanket..."
"Roy, it's alright. Did you get everything out of the car?"
"The driver had another job to do, so he wasn't all that thrilled that I took so long."
"You should ring him up and have him fired for insulting the almighty Fuhrer."
"If I got people fired people on the grounds of foul moods then you would have been gone long ago."
"Oh, very funny."
"I know," Roy smirked, getting to his feet and looking more like a nervous child that Jean had ever seen before, "Do you mind if..."
"I don't know, after that comment... oh, come on Roy. I was kidding," Jean smiled, and opened his arms invitingly. Roy leaned down and hugged Jean close, pressing his lips softly against the blond's heck when he felt warm hands curling into his shirt.
"I missed you."
Roy knew Jean didn't need to say anything more; the hands that were fisted into the material of his shirt were pulling him closer and speaking volumes, and although a part of him reflected that he'd rarely been willing to get too close to a person whether talking in physical or emotional terms, the end results were well worth it regardless.
"You're coming back to work for me."
"You're coming back to work for me, in the Fuhrer's office," Roy said against rough blond hair, "I had to officially enlist you as office staff, but..."
"Don't know how much use I'll be, Roy."
"Don't talk crap," Roy snorted, "If I thought you'd be of no use, I wouldn't have asked you to follow me eight years ago."
"I know," Jean replied, muffled as he dipped his tongue under the collar of Roy's shirt.
"You're employed as a member of the office staff, but I'll make sure that you regain the rank you previous held. I'll see what I can do about pay."
"You're Fuhrer, Roy. And you're a State Alchemist. I doubt you'll ever have to worry about money."
"I kept thinking this place would be less conspicuous than a mansion... judging by the flowers on the doorstep, I was wrong."
"They would have found you if you were living in some little hole of a cabin up in the cold north by yourself," Jean said, teeth scraping gently along the bottom of Roy's chin.
"Undoubtedly. Anyway, you start work in exactly a week. Hawkeye arranged it for me... while I was busy kissing babies and cutting ribbons, anyway. I wanted to give you time to settle down. For both of us to settle down."
"You're no fun when you're all serious like this," Jean grumbled, biting down firmly on Roy's earlobe, "Big Fuhrer in all."
"I plan on finishing here, and then I plan to put you to bed as I should have before."
"Will you be joining me?"
"Depends if you listen to me now."
"You drive a hard bargain. Now I know why Ed calls you 'Colonel Bastard'."
"'Fuhrer Bastard' now," Mustang smirked, "Fullmetal was absolutely thrilled by my promotion, as you witnessed earlier today."
"Oh, absolutely," Jean grinned, "Any other 'important' things you had to tell me?"
"You're paying half the rent."
"Fuhrer Bastard, thank you Jean."
"And after you worked so hard at making me call you Roy instead of Colonel."
Roy chuckled, and pressed a kiss to Jean's forehead.
"I don't really mind what you call me when we're here."
"Useless in the rain."
Jean tried to unsuccessfully muffle a yawn against the collar of Roy's shirt a little too late, and the older man pulled away, offering a hand that Jean accepted.
"Come on, bed."
"Actions speak louder than words, and yours say otherwise."
"Not that tired..."
"Come on, let's get you out of those clothes... you've been in them for two days thanks to the incompetents on the train."
"Now you're talking."
"Your mind is constantly in the gutter, isn't it?"
"This coming from you, Roy."
Roy snorted and the blond grinned, sliding into his wheelchair once Roy had finished getting his fingers jammed in the hinges, trying to set it up.
"They need to think of how to modernize these things."
"It's alright," Jean replied, nodding when Roy grasped the handles of the chair and gave him a questioning look, "I can use crutches once I've gone and got some."
"So long as it doesn't tire you out."
"You sound like my mother, you know?"
"She'd smack you on the head if she heard you say that."
"Probably, but I don't have to worry about that right now."
Once they'd wrestled the chair through Roy's small bedroom door, and Roy had grumbled first about the scratches on the doorframe subtracting from his bond and then about 'anti-modernization' in the medical industry, the Fuhrer left his lover's chair near the side of the bed and turned back towards the door.
"Where are you going?"
"To get a pair of pyjamas out of your suitcase."
"I don't think that will be necessary," Jean said, voice husky as he squirmed around on the bed, tugging off his shirt and tossing it at Roy.
"Thank you for that," Roy grumbled, tugging the shirt away from his face and dropping it to the floor, "I didn't really want to assume..."
"Come on, Roy," Jean sighed and started working on his belt, bemused even now at the older man's efforts at playing innocent, "I've missed you. It's our first night together in two years. Do you think I'd be lying here waiting for you if I didn't have the intention of being with you? I won't break, and I don't want you to treat me like I will. Please, just come here. Don't be preoccupied with the ways things were... I'm here, I'm fine, I want to feel you. Please."
"Your mother's rubbing off on you, for you to say things like that," Roy grinned, walking over to the bed and sitting himself down squarely on Jean's waist, shivering when warm hands raced under his shirt and across his skin, "I missed you, Jean."
"Glad to hear it," the younger man murmured, hands coming out from their place between Roy's cotton shirt and pale skin to unbutton his lover's shirt, fingers fumbling clumsily over the buttons as he sacrificed efficiency for speed. When Roy had shrugged the material away, Jean's right hand closed softly over the back of Roy's neck, fingers raising gooseflesh across Roy's shoulders and arms as they smoothed lightly over skin, a stark contrast to the pressure the blond used as he pulled Roy down to kiss him.
"Edward, you really shouldn't have done this."
"I wanted to get you something to thank you for letting me stay in your apartment, but I couldn't think of anything else to get you."
"That's perfectly alright," Riza smiled warmly, accepting the small bouquet of plain white gardenia buds from Edward.
"I've never bought a girl a gift like this before..."
"You did well. I do love white gardenias. There was a cleaning girl who took a liking to Roy who used to leave them on his desk in the old office."
"I'm sure that Mustang appreciated it," Ed snorted.
"Not so much as you'd think. They used to wilt quickly because he never took care of them, and they made a mess of his desk... I can tell that you appreciated hearing that, Edward," Hawkeye added, watching the steadily growing smirk on Edward's face as she filled a jug with water for the flowers. The jug itself was a piece of Xingese pottery her grandfather had bought for her from a merchant from the country in the East, and was decorated with intricate characters that she couldn't begin to decipher. Once it was full, she removed the gardenias from the plastic they were wrapped in (fluorescent pink; far too bright for the delicate flowers it held) and placed them neatly in the jug.
"You like them, then?"
"Of course. Would you like some tea?"
"Thanks," Ed grinned.
As the pair was waiting for the water to boil in a comfortable silence, Black Hayate trotted out of one of the rooms down the hall, tail wagging when he noticed the houseguest seated at the kitchen table.
"Not gonna knock me over this time?" Ed questioned, and Black Hayate pushed his way under the table and put his head on the blond's knee, dribbling a little when Ed reached down to pat him.
"Yuck, this isn't much better."
"He likes you," Riza chuckled, bringing over the teapot. Ed waited for her as she returned to the kitchen for milk and sugar, and shook his head when Riza offered him the teapot first.
"Seriously, thanks for letting me stay here," Ed said, grinning awkwardly as Riza pre-emptively handed him an empty mug.
"It's perfectly fine," Riza smiled, pouring her own tea and adding a spoonful of sugar before handing the teapot to Ed. The man poured his tea and added a dash of milk before raising the cup to his lips, automail fingers making soft sounds against the glass teacup.
"How have you been?" Ed asked, jumping when Black Hayate sniffed at the back of his knee and whined softly for attention.
"I've been getting by... the office has been busier, obviously, but other than that it seems that everything has calmed down. How have you been? How are Alphonse and Winry?"
"Alphonse is... getting better. Doing a lot better, actually. This might sound kind of weird, but he's getting used to being flesh again. He keeps touching everything just to assure himself that he can feel it."
"That doesn't sound strange at all," Riza replied softly, shaking her head, "The past few years have resulted in too many casualties, and now that things seem to be calming down I think the both of you should be enjoying yourselves. And Alphonse deserves to be happy."
"He does," Ed nodded, placing his mug on the table and clenching his automail fist, "I'm glad that I helped him, but he still feels so sad about... well, I think he feels selfish for being restored while I still have automail. And I'd rather have my brother happy."
"The both of you are selfless. Al still wants to help you, but you would much rather have Al back before yourself. It's rare to see two people who care so much about one another, and it's a strength rather than a weakness; never let anyone tell you otherwise."
"Yes, but it wasn't particularly effective, in that sense. From the way he would say things, I think he... misinterpreted the relationship between myself and Fuhrer Mustang."
Ed snorted, and briefly rested his hand on top of Riza's. The blonde woman jumped at the stark contrast of the tea in one hand and Ed's fingers against the other, but somehow the touch of her fingers against cold steel provided her with far more warmth than the beverage in her other hand.
"Mustang can screw around with whoever he wants for all I care, but Bradley, he..."
"Two years of waiting and patience can hardly be classified as 'screwing around', especially for those two. And as for Bradley? He did nothing that had a lasting emotional or physical effect on me. It meant nothing to me then, and even now it feels superfluous. I was too valuable as a tool used to manipulate Roy for him to kill me, or harm me," Riza smiled softly, fingers tightening around Ed's, "And you're showing how selfless you are again. You've grown up since I first met you six years ago, Edward."
Edward's face flushed a pale red and he avoided her eyes until he'd finished his tea. He put his mug down and muffled a cough with his flesh hand, but not quickly enough for Riza not to notice. Her eyes darkened with unspoken concern, and Edward coughed again.
"I'm sorry, you must be tired."
"I'm not the one who spent the last two nights on a train. I'll set up the spare bedroom for you. Hayate sleeps in there sometimes, but I can lock him out."
"No, that's alright. I'm sure he won't be any trouble," Ed said, standing up and stretching, "Thanks for doing this for me."
Riza smiled and got up to rinse out the empty mugs.
"Trust me when I say that you're the last person that needs to be thanking me for this, Edward."
She was rewarded with another slightly awkward blush, and she allowed herself a small smile as she turned away from him to turn on the tap.
To Be Continued...
Comments on the story so far would be greatly appreciated. Don't worry; soon it will start to have some semblance of plot. :D