Rachel (inugrlrayn) wrote,

If At First You Don't Pt 1/2

Title: If At First You Don't Pt 1/2
Author: inugrlrayn
Word Count: 2,123
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Roy/Ed
Prompt: How fucking romantic for fma_slashfest
 In which Roy is convinced Ed is trolling him.
Warnings: none really
Notes: This was all going to be one part, but I'm already a little late due to rl insanity, so I split it.

The rest of my fics are here.

Part 2

The first incident came on the heels of a report that was particularly late. It was also written in nearly illegible handwriting on a flyer that looked like it had spent months folded up in Ed’s pocket. It also left out the part where, while Ed had caught the alchemist he was after, he also leveled an entire city block in the process.

That said, Roy couldn’t recall a single time that Ed had bothered to apologize for his methods. Roy wasn’t entirely sure what to think of the box Ed had tossed on the middle of his desk, staring up at him from the varnished wood. Actually, come to think of it, it was staring at him, possibly the very angriest looking box of… whatever it was Roy had ever seen, black cardboard with what looked to be an impossible number of horns and teeth and narrowed yellow eyes.

Roy hesitated to touch it, for fear that his fingers might be in mortal danger. Ed looked very personally affronted that Roy did not immediately open the box. He scowled from behind his bangs, muttering something terse about how all of them had been pink and he’d fixed it, and would Roy just open the damn thing already.

Eventually, Roy did brave the ghoulish looking box. It did not, in fact, bite him when he reached for the lid, so he pried it up, revealing some rather innocuous looking chocolates. All that, and Ed had brought him a box of chocolates.

Completely perplexed, Roy looked up in hopes of getting an explanation. What he got was an empty room, and perhaps that was just as well. Assuming that maybe Alphonse had talked Ed into a rare fit of manners, Roy wrote the incident off as some sort of fluke, and for a while it was.

The next incident was more perplexing. After all, the bottle of brandy was theoretically a very thoughtful Christmas present. Roy didn’t actually remember mentioning how much he liked that particular one, but it was nice all the same. What was considerably less nice was the incident that had ensued because of it.

Roy supposed he could see how that must look. Ed was theoretically on a mission after all, a mission that should not have involved procuring expensive alcohol for his superior. It was also a mission that should not have involved some sort of altercation with the Cretan ambassador.

A royal dressing down and three days of paperwork later, Roy decided he’d figured it out. Ed was obviously just screwing with him. Maybe he’d decided that since he never came out on top in their verbal sparring matches, a new tactic was called for.

Whatever the case, Roy refused to rise to the bait. Ed deigned to show himself a few days later, and Roy didn’t so much as mention the hassle that little gift had put him through. He only politely thanked Ed, like he would have done for any remotely normal person.

Ed froze, and for a moment he stared at Roy, lip caught between his teeth. He probably was just feeling a little guilty, which was exactly what Roy had intended. It was also admittedly a shame, because under other circumstances that expression would’ve been rather attractive on him. Roy’s thoughts came to a screeching halt, because Ed was Ed, and considering anything about his seventeen year old subordinate of questionable sanity to be attractive was a terrible idea.

“Y…yeah, sure,” Ed finally muttered, as if social niceties were entirely confusing to him. Ed flashed a brief, brilliant smile at Roy, leaving him utterly baffled. Maybe he just thought he’d pulled on over on Roy. Whatever the case, Roy was left staring after a rather stunning streak of red and gold as it abruptly fled the office.

It must have been some sort of strange game to Ed. Every time Roy started to think that maybe Ed had given up messing with him, a new gift showed up on his desk, inevitably coupled with some sort of unfortunate incident. Oddly, Ed never seemed to be gloating over the trouble he was causing Roy, which only made the situation more confusing. Ed had never been particularly subtle after all.

This, however, took the cake. Before Roy even got inside headquarters he knew something was wrong. The entire side of the building seemed to have been altered… the side where his office was. Roy only knew one alchemist with both the talent and utter ridiculousness required to attempt something like that. Ready to pull his hair out, or possibly set Ed’s on fire, Roy raced upstairs to survey the damage.

Roy braced himself as he stalked down the hall towards his office. Eighteen and his brother restored, Ed’s contract was all but up. Two more weeks and he, and these ridiculous pranks, would be out of Roy’s hair altogether. Much to Roy’s surprise, however, nothing seemed horribly off putting about his office when he finally got to it. Well, nothing except for the fact that a very red faced, scowling General Patterson was standing in it.

“What is the meaning of this, Brigadier General?” Patterson demanded.

For all he was internally on edge, Roy managed to keep himself entirely composed. “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re referring to, Sir.”

“Don’t play with me, Mustang. Did you think no one was going to notice the… renovations to your office?” The general sneered at Roy as if he were being a complete idiot.

“I never gave any orders for this,” Roy replied coolly, finally taking in the damage. The office was indeed bigger, the window expanded, letting out into a rather over the top balcony that surveyed the parade grounds.

“Then what, exactly, would’ve given your pet alchemist the idea that you wanted it?” Patterson pressed.

What indeed? Roy wondered, a fact he intended to get out of Ed sooner rather than later. All he offered to Patterson, however, was, “I doubt it was the work of anyone in my command. Did anyone even see the perpetrator?”

Patterson scowled at him for a long moment, but eventually it came out that, no, no one had seen a thing. While it was obvious that Roy had been the one to benefit from this bout of alchemical vandalism, they couldn’t prove a thing. It was a very small relief.

“I assure you I will thoroughly investigate the situation and take action as necessary,” Roy assured the general. “Regardless of the guilty party, I’ll have this fixed within the hour.”

“See that it is,” Patterson growled, turning on his heel and marching out of the office. Roy picked up the phone to order Ed in. He’d have him fix it, assuming he didn’t kill the alchemist first.

To his credit, Ed did come in, almost immediately. He strode into Roy’s office like he owned it, bright eyed and grinning, lips already parted in what might have been a greeting. Roy wasn’t listening. Finally fed up, he cut in. “What exactly is the meaning of this?”

“You’re the one who was bitching about Colonel… fuck, whatever his name was,” Ed replied, waving a hand as if that explained what he was talking about. The smile he’d been wearing was gone, replaced by something wary as he met Roy’s eyes.

“I don’t recall complaining about anyone to you,” Roy replied, crossing his arms, if only to make it harder to snap his fingers.

“Yesterday! You were talking about… that colonel’s office,” Ed insisted a bit more emphatically.

Roy raised a brow, finally realizing what Ed was referring to. The day before he’d come in on the tale end of a potentially sensitive conversation. That part had been fairly innocuous, and Roy had quickly forgotten Ed had been there for it at all. “Fullmetal… I think you missed the point.”

“The point where you were griping about him having a bigger office than you?” Ed retorted, looking at Roy like he’d just said something terribly stupid.

“Obviously, subtlety is a bit lost on you. As you might’ve noticed, it is not always safe to speak freely here. I wasn’t talking about his office, but where he got it. It was worth taking note of,” Roy replied with a longsuffering sigh.

For all of about five seconds, Ed looked like he felt genuinely bad for the misunderstanding. His troubled frown took a harsher edge after that, and he glared at Roy. “Well how the hell was I supposed to know?”

“Why should it have mattered to you?” Roy countered coolly. “Even if what I said was meant to be taken at face value, what on earth possessed you to… do this?”

“I… I was just…” Ed swallowed, stumbling briefly over his words. In the end, the only explanation Roy got was a hissed out expletive as Ed pushed past him, mismatched hands clapping together.

In a flash of light and a transmutation that shook the floor and nearly sent Roy sprawling, the office appeared to be put right once more. Ed didn’t even look at Roy as he growled, “There. Happy now?”

“I’m sure General Patterson will be. He very much was not when I got here this morning,” Roy replied pointedly.

“Okay, I get it. You didn’t like it,” Ed groused, glowering from behind his bangs. “Geez, see when the next time I try to do you a favor is.”

Ed was gone before Roy got much of a chance to even think about what Ed said, let alone respond. Even aggravated, he was stunning, the petulant child he’d once been replaced by something beautiful and dangerous. It was something Roy tried not to think about.

More important was the more immediate realization. That morning, Roy had been convinced it was simply the culmination of an extended practical joke. Only, judging by Ed’s response, it was nothing of the sort. At first Roy thought that maybe it was just unrelated, only… only, each one taken alone didn’t seem like a prank at all. They were nice gestures, if quite misguided, and Ed had never once pressed or gloated over the trouble he’d caused Roy in the process.

That only left the assumption that Ed had genuinely meant to do something nice. Roy squeezed the bridge of his nose, wondering if that also meant that the lack of animosity in Ed’s interactions lately were more than a product of the young man growing up. Obviously, he was in far deeper than he’d suspected.

Much as Roy tried to ignore this new theory, it stuck with him. It was an attraction he’d only allowed himself to entertain in fleeting moments, quickly reminding himself of all the reasons why ever so much as giving breath to it was a terrible idea. Only, even after what had to have seemed like a monumental rejection, Ed kept coming back, like he intended to spend the entirety of his last two weeks prowling Roy’s office.

Heaven help him, it was still a terrible idea. He was flattered, interested even in passing, but it was a terrible idea. Resolutely, Roy tried to pretend he hadn’t finally sorted out what was going on. In a few days, Ed would be gone anyway, probably on the first train back to Rizembul with his brother.

There was no real ceremony to the way Ed’s contract expired. Ed’s contract expired, Roy came to work to find the young man already stretched lazily across the cushions of his couch. Gold eyes stared up at Roy from the arm of the chair, punctuating a cocky grin and out stretched fingers, offering up his state alchemist’s watch. For the first time, Roy realized he was actually going to miss Ed when he was gone.

Nevertheless, he took the watch, hand curling around it. Roy’s fingers brushed against Ed’s, mostly a matter of accident. If there had been any question about Ed’s motives, however, they were gone in that instant. The shiver Roy saw was so slight, he might not have noticed it at all, but it was there, and Ed was staring at him again.

Roy hardly remembered the rest of their meeting, his mind circling back again and again. They parted ways, and for the hundredth time, Roy reminded himself it was an idea best left forgotten. Ed had a life to get on with, after all.

The day seemed to drag, strangely empty. For all that Ed had often been gone on assignment, his absence was far more keen in the understanding that he wouldn’t be coming back this time. Much of the day was spent staring at Ed’s discarded pocket watch, before Roy finally set it in the top drawer of his desk, beside an angry looking little cardboard box.
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