Sailor Mac (sailormac) wrote in fm_alchemist,
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FANFIC: Aduration (Part 2, 2/2) (RussellXEd, Lemon)

Title: Aduration (Part 2, 2/2)
Author: sailormac
Pairing: Edward ElricXRussell Tringham, eventually
Genre: Romance, lemon, drama, a bit of action/adventure
Rating: NC-17Spoilers: Through end of series
Warnings: AU (diverges from canon at the end of the TV series). This fanfic was written when spoilers for the movie were starting to come out. I have made it AU from the movie out of necessity. In this fic, Roy Mustang is still Ed’s commanding officer. Lemon and yaoi down the road. LEMON and YAOI in this part.
Beta: dragonscholar
Summary: Ed and Russell are working together, racing against time to develop a weapon before a dangerous group of extremists does. But are their conflicting styles of work a formula for success, or a recipe for disaster? And why does Russell suddenly find Ed so fascinating?
Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist is property of Hiromu Arakawa, Square Enix and Studio BONES. No profit is being made from this fanfic.

* * *

The building was a nondescript, boxy structure that had once been white, but was now mostly a grayish color, with spots of yellowish brown here and there like bruises. A spider web of cracks ran through the paint, and the windows were cracked in places, broken out entirely in others.

The four alchemists huddled in a clump of bushes nearby, peering through one of the windows. At first, nothing seemed to be happening.

"I'm going in there," Ed said.

"No, Brother," Al replied, leaning a bit closer. "Give it a few more minutes, see if anyone comes . . ."

"You think I can't handle anyone who'll come along?" Ed said, starting to clap his hands together. At a warning look from Al, he stopped.

Fletcher leaned over and put his hand on Russell's arm. "Brother . . . I think I hear something . . ."

The four of them ducked further behind the bushes. Sure enough, two men, one older and burly, one young and painfully thin, were emerging from the woods and heading for the building, carrying some sort of wooden chest between them.

"Why do we have to drag this stuff back and forth?" said a raspy voice that Russell recognized immediately as Hagen, a member of Sloane's gang.

"You know why," said the other one -- Braun, Russell knew. "They've got dogs of the military looking for us all over the place. If we left anything behind . . ."

"You think they'd find this place?" Hagen said, putting his end of the case down long enough to open the door. "Hell, even *we* can't find this place most of the time!"

"Why do you think we're working *here*?" Braun said as they picked up the chest again and started to move it. "Nobody's used this place since Nash Tringham. . ."

Russell gave a start. He exchanged a look with his brother. Somehow, the fact that these extremists were using one of *their father's old labs* for their project just seemed like a personal insult.

The men disappeared inside -- and Ed snuck out from behind the bushes, motioning for the others to follow. They crept up to the window and peeked inside. Sure enough, Hagen and Braun were pulling the makings of a portable lab -- test tubes, burners, a mortar and pestle -- from the chest and setting them on a counter.

And over at the side of the room, they could spot several of the transmuted plants in pots.

"That's it," Ed whispered. "We've got them." He stood up to his full height and began to clap his hands together.

Hagen whirled and ran over to the window, shouting, "Who's there?"

"So you thought I wouldn't be able to find this place? Think again, pal!" Ed said, touching his hands to the windowsill. There was a flash of purple, and several pieces of glass flew away from the frame, becoming darts which flew at the older man, pinning him to the floor.

But as he was doing that, Braun grabbed what looked like a machine gun, pointed it at the window and fired. A red pellet flew toward Ed, passing just over his head, landing outside the window, behind the group . . .

It exploded, a blast which sent dirt and stone flying upward like a geyser and the four boys scattering to get out of the way. "Crap!" Ed shouted as he barrell-rolled across the ground -- and then shouted it again as he looked up and saw Braun standing outside, aiming the weapon.

He pulled the trigger, and this time it released a rapid-fire stream of little pellets, like bullets from a machine gun. Russell grabbed Fletcher in his arms to try to shield him, hitting the deck and rolling once more -- only to have one of the things explode just far enough away from him to do nothing but blow the two of them back, rolling over and over on the ground.

The pellets just kept coming, little explosions going off all over the place like a battlefield being shelled. Russell saw Ed dodging and rolling, same as he was, the rapid pace making it impossible for him to launch a counterattack . . .

Russell looked for something to hide behind. A tree, a rock, anything . . . He saw nothing but the building . . . And then another explosion went off, right next to him, and he was rolling away, feeling dirt and rocks and twigs scratch his face . . .

Twigs. He snatched one of them, scratched an array with his thumb . . . he had to be able to do *something* with it . . .

All that happened was it got a little longer and sprouted a couple of leaves.

He looked around frantically for the others .. . Ed had managed to transmute a clump of ground into a ball of stone that went rolling toward their opponent, but Braun blew it up before it could even get near him.

But that distracted their opponent long enough for Russell to get up and run toward where he saw his brother last. Sure enough, he and Al were huddling by the building.

"Fletcher!" he shouted, running toward him, the twig still in hand.

Fletcher's eyes locked on what his brother was holding. He nodded, as if he understood something instantly. He reached out to take it from Russell . . .

"Can you give me a boost, Brother?" he said, quickly scratching two more lines into Russell's array. And then he touched it . . .

The end of the twig suddenly shot out and away from him, the stick growing longer and thicker, turning into a branch. Russell reached out and put his hand over his brother's, concentrating on adding energy to what the younger boy already had circulating . . .

The branch grew longer still, and then the end of it suddenly pushed out, forming itself into a huge umbrella shape that shielded all four boys. A couple of the pellets hit it, but the explosions did nothing but chip the substance at the end -- which was as hard as redwood.

Ed whirled around, amazed. Fletcher was still concentrating, trying to hold the transmutation as long as possible . . .

He looked up. "Go get him, Ed!" Fletcher said. "Hurry!"

Ed clapped his hands together and slammed them to the ground, tunneling a hole allowing him to go under Fletcher's shield. He disappeared underground . . .

"Brother!" Al got up and started to follow him.

Russell wondered how longer Fletcher would be able to keep this up. The boy was already weakening, but he held onto his shield, gritting his teeth and visibly straining with the effort. Russell poured on as much of his own energy as he could, wondering how much good he was really doing.

Then, the Elrics came back up through the hole, first Al, then Ed, looking dirty and disappointed.

"They're gone," Ed said, brushing off his coat. "No sign where they got to."

"They left the lab stuff behind," Al said.

At those words, Fletcher dropped the transmutation and sagged to the ground. The wooden shield shrank into a twig again. Russell caught the younger boy in his arms. "Fletcher!"

"Al, you search this direction," Ed said. "I'll take over here. Russell . . . go take Fletcher home."

Fletcher sat up. "No, I'm okay, I want to help."

"You need to rest," Russell said. "I'll get you home, then *I'll* go with Edward."

"No. You're exhausted, too."

"I'm *fine*," Russell replied. "Look, you need me to help . . ."

"Dammit, I don't want either of you hurt!" Ed looked straight at Russell, and he could read the expression in his eyes -- he was dead serious.

Russell sighed, reluctantly. "All right, I'll take him home. But if you don't come back soon . . ."

"Hey, you think I can't take care of myself? Maybe *you* can't . . ."

Russell gave Ed a sly smile. "We'll see about that."

He walked back toward the farm with Fletcher, the younger boy leaning on him -- it was obvious that the effort to make and maintain the shield had taken a lot more out of him than he cared to admit.

* * *

Once they got home, Fletcher went straight to bed. Russell sat by his side as he slept, deep in thought.

What Fletcher had just done was extraordinary. Russell always knew he was talented, but to create a shield that big, that strong, from just a *twig* . . .

He remembered how his father had turned a wary eye on Fletcher's earliest experiments with alchemy, emulating his big brother, performing simple plant transmutations and then showing the results off with pride.

*Why didn't he want Fletcher to practice alchemy,* he thought, *when it's so obvious that he's a natural? You'd think Father would want to encourage his gifts as much as possible.*

Suddenly, the difference between Russell's own abilities and Fletcher's seemed wider than ever. And yet, he couldn't feel jealous. Not of Fletcher.

Besides, the few times he *had* compared his own skills to his brother’s, Fletcher had been quick to tell him, “But nobody can *research* like you, Brother. Nobody can analyze things, or find out obscure stuff . . .”

That still didn’t stop him from sometimes wishing he had more natural talent.

He reached over and lightly touched his brother's face, brushing his hair back. Fletcher was deep in sleep, he didn't stir.

Suddenly, Russell realized how tired he was himself. The all-nighter he and Ed had pulled was crashing in on him like lead weights.

He thought of the compound they had hidden away, and all the work that had gone into preparing it . . .

And then, he thought of the *end* of the night's work. Ed's lips on his, the warmth and wetness and sheer intoxication of their tongues stroking each other, the sensation of being held tight in two strong arms, one natural, one metal . . .

The kiss had come out of nowhere, but it had just felt so *right*.

*Why is that?* he thought. *Is it because I’ve come to appreciate him? Because I think he can *really* understand me?*

He knew, somewhere deep inside, it was both of these reasons -- and more that he just hadn’t sorted out yet.

Russell got up from Fletcher's bedside and made his way down the hall, slowly, thinking again of how eagerly the other boy had responded to him. *I must have done all right,* he thought, *even though I'm not exactly experienced in these things.*

Love was just not something he'd given much thought to. He'd devoted his entire life to the study and practice of his art, and later, to caring for his brother. Many alchemists were like that -- he knew more than a few, including his teacher, who had never married, had no long-term romantic partners.

His natural curiosity had led him to do some book research on human romantic and sexual habits, but it was something studied from afar, like a plant or a soil sample.

He entered his bedroom and started undressing for bed, pulling off his shirt and folding it over a chair, thinking that when he woke up, he was *finally* going to get that shower.

The cool air hit his skin as his pants and underwear joined the shirt, and he reached in the bureau drawer for his pajamas . . .

Suddenly, he felt *very aware* of his own nudity. A fantasy started to bubble up in the back of his head of being naked in front of someone else. A very *specific* someone else.

He imagined warm skin sliding over his, soft hair under his fingers, hot lips brushing his own, the coolness of automail against his heated flesh as body rubbed against body . . .

Russell suddenly froze in place. What the *hell* was he thinking? And *why* were his hands roaming over his own body? He couldn't think like that! He had a life's mission to fulfill, didn't he? He had to help the people of Xenotime, make up for what he did to them before . . .

He pulled on his pajamas as fast as he could, as if covering his body would seal away the thoughts he'd just been having. He jumped under the covers and allowed himself to fall into a deep, exhausted sleep.

* * *

He woke up slowly, still feeling a bit groggy. A glance around himself reassured him it was still night; a quick look at the pocket watch -- a standard one, not a State Alchemist one -- lying on his night table, by the light of the moon streaming through his window, assured him it was midnight.

He lay back on the pillow, trying to sleep again. Just then, a noise in the hall made him freeze, his eyes snapping open.

*Not again,* he thought. *If they're trying to get into the lab . . .*

Russell reached for one of the small potted plants on the windowsill, grabbing the chalk from his pocket and drawing a quick array on the pot. For him, it was the equivalent of carrying a loaded gun.

Plant in hand, he opened the door, steeling himself to activate the array if necessary, his eyes sweeping the hall for anything the least bit suspicious . . .

There *was* someone walking toward him. He leapt out of the door, his fingers touching the marks on the pot. The array flashed to life, the leaves elongated, shooting away from the plant, seeking their target . . .

Only to be sliced by a blade that came seemingly from nowhere.

"Hey!" said a familiar voice. "You always treat guests like that?"

Russell relaxed and dropped the plant. "Well, how was I to know it was you? I usually don't have people wandering around this place in the middle of the night."

"So you *attack* them when they do?" Ed retorted, clapping his hands together to make the blade disappear from his automail.

"How was I to know you weren't Sloane, or one of his people?" Russell said. "I don't think they'd exactly announce themselves."

"Yeah, well, I'm not about to go around the halls screaming my name when everyone else is trying to sleep."

"Why aren't *you* sleeping?" Russell opened the bedroom door again.

"I was just going to ask the same thing of you." Even though Russell couldn't see it, he could just *hear* the lopsided smile.

"Come in," Russell said, walking into his bedroom and putting the plant back where he found it -- and it was only after the door closed behind them that he realized he'd invited *Edward Elric* into his *room*. He remembered the kiss, the fantasies he'd been having earlier . . .

"So, you couldn't sleep," he said, quickly, perching on the very edge of the bed.

"Nope," Ed said, sitting in the desk chair. "And I didn't want to wake up Al. Something about those plants bugs me . . ."

"How so?" Russell said, leaning a bit toward him -- and feeling a bit irritated that Edward may have noticed something about a *plant* that had eluded him. Plants were *Russell's* specialty, after all.

"They're transmuted in a way I've never seen before," Ed said. "Most plant transmutations involve manipulating the base elements that make up the plant . . ."

"I'm well aware of how plant alchemy is done," Russell said, sharply. "I've been doing it all my life."

"But this . . . It's like they've found a way to change the very structure of the plants' cells from the most basic level.”

Russell nodded. “Transforming specific patterns of chemicals that affect the plants. Subtly altering them to produce mutations.”

“And if they’re doing that,” the smaller boy replied, crossing his arms over his chest and putting one hand to his chin thoughtfully, “I think they know a hell of a lot more about alchemy than we thought at first."

"Well, the one guy said he *was* a State Alchemist," Russell said.

"Probably one of . . . *those*." Even in the dim light, Russell could tell that Ed had that faraway look on his face again, as if he were looking into his own past . . .

Russell could also tell that Ed was wearing a tank top which left his entire automail arm on display . . . not to mention a fair amount of well-muscled flesh-and-blood arm and shoulder. He found himself quickly looking away.

"What do you mean, *those*?" he said. "Edward, were there people in the military under the old Fuhrer who . . ."

"Never mind," Ed said, quickly.

Russell frowned. This always happened whenever Ed got close to talking about his past. He'd change the subject or avoid it. And suddenly, he was starting to find this more than a bit annoying.

*Why doesn't he trust me?* he thought. *I'm willing to be his friend if he'll only *let* me.*

"At least we have something to hold over those bastards' heads," Ed said. "Won't do them any good to have a megaweapon, we had it first."

"You know," Russell said, slowly, "maybe we should make a public display out of the fact that we have it."

Ed frowned at him. "What are you talking about?"

"I mean, we use it as bait to draw them out!" Russell said. "I pretend to be on their side, ask to talk to them, show them a bit of the megaweapon, and when they show themselves . . ."

Ed leapt to his feet. "What the hell kind of a stupid idea is that?" he shouted. "You're just gonna get killed!"

"You think I'm not aware that there's risks?" Russell retorted.

"I know the risks!" Ed shouted. "You're putting yourself *and* Fletcher in the line of danger! And dammit, I do NOT want to see ANYTHING happen to you!"

Ed broke off suddenly, turning away . . .

*Almost,* Russell thought, *as if he'd blurted out something he didn't want heard.*

"What was that?" Russell said, turning toward him.

"Nothing," Ed grumbled. "I just think it's a bad idea, that's all."

There was a long, uncomfortable pause, during which both boys seemed uncertain what to say, what to do. Russell pushed the lock of hair off his forehead, only to have it flop back over his eye again almost instantly. Ed remained rooted to the spot, facing the window as if transfixed by the moon outside.

Finally, Russell said, "What happened when you were a State Alchemist before, Edward, with the other people in the military?"

Ed whirled around. "It's not important," he said, sharply.

"Yes, it *is* important!" Russell leapt to his feet. "Why won't you *talk* to me, Ed? Why won't you tell me anything that happened to you?"

"Why the hell should I?" Ed retorted. "Maybe it's none of your business!"

"Maybe you *want* someone to talk to about it, but you're afraid to trust me!" Russell retorted. "I see that look you get in your eyes sometimes. You look . . . haunted. Like whatever it is, it's eating you up inside."

"Yeah, well, that's *my* problem, isn't it? Not yours." Ed stalked toward the door, but Russell jumped in front of it, blocking his path.

"You were just saying you didn't want me to get hurt," Russell said. "Very forcefully."

"Out of my way," Ed said, trying to get around him -- but Russell blocked his path again.

"You *do* care for me," Russell said. "I can be your friend . . ."

"I SAID get out of my way!" Ed shouted. He swung at Russell with the automail arm -- only to have the younger boy put up a hand and catch it.

Russell silently thanked all that was holy that his teacher had instructed him in martial arts.

They just stood there like that for a moment, Russell gripping the metal hand that was one of the great mysteries about Ed, Ed just glaring, his teeth clamped together.

Then, Ed turned around, his head down, and mumbled, "There's no way *you* could understand."

"Try me," Russell said. "I may not have gone through the same things you did, Ed, but that doesn't mean I can't sympathize -- "

"I don't WANT sympathy!" Ed nearly shouted, whirling around again.

"Empathize, then," Russell said, sitting back down on the bed. "I'll listen to whatever it is you have to say, and I promise, I won't pass judgment, no matter what it is." He nearly said out loud he already suspected him of having attempted human transmutation, but thought better of it.

Ed stood silently, glaring at Russell, his arms crossed over his chest, as if considering. Then, he said, "Fine. I'll tell you how I got *this*" -- he held up his automail hand -- "and then we'll see if you still don't want to pass judgment."

Russell moved over on the bed. Ed sat next to him, seeming deep in thought for a moment, as if he were wondering where to begin.

Then, he said, "My father left us when I was small. Al was still just a baby, really. The bastard just walked out on us without a word."

Russell nodded, but didn't say a word. This he knew already -- and he knew all too well the pain of being left behind by a parent.

"Our mother was our whole world. We started learning alchemy from his old books, and she encouraged us -- mainly because what we were doing reminded her of *him*. And then, when I was 11, and Al was 10 . . ." He paused, looking up at the ceiling. "She was gone. She had been sick, we didn't know it. And at her funeral, I made a decision . . ."

Russell took a deep breath. He knew what was coming.

" . . . that we were going to use alchemy to bring her back."

His suspicions were confirmed. He saw Ed turn toward him, eyes burning, daring him to react with disgust, shock, hatred . . .

But Russell kept his expression as calm as he could and just said, "Go on."

He saw the other boy's whole body visibly relax. *I wonder how many people he's told this story to,* Russell thought. *I'll bet you could count them on the fingers of one hand -- and still have fingers left over.*

Ed continued to tell Russell how he and his brother had gone off to relearn alchemy from the ground floor up with Izumi Curtis, and then, on their return, they gathered the ingredients that made up the body of an adult human . . .

Russell braced himself. He knew what he was about to hear wasn't going to be pleasant -- but when Ed described how he watched helplessly while Al's body literally dissolved before his eyes, it still shook him to the very core.

"But . . . but Al is still here . . ."

"I bound his soul," Ed said. "There was a suit of armor in the room, and I used my own blood . . ."

"Your arm had been taken for the human transmutation?" Russell said.

Ed shook his head. "No. It was my leg."

"Your leg, also?"

Ed stuck out his left leg, as if inviting Russell to touch it. He put his hand on it, just below the knee . . .

Sure enough, what was beneath the fabric felt decidedly *not* like human flesh.

"Edward," Russell said, feeling tears pricking the corner of his eyes -- he never cried, dammit! He hadn't cried since the day their mother died, even with all the problems he and Fletcher had faced since then . . .

"I put a blood seal in the armor, and it cost me my arm to do it," Ed said, his voice steady -- too steady. "And I decided then and there that I was going to find a way to bring Al's body back."

"When we met you and Al," Russell said, quietly, "Fletcher and I had wondered why he always wore the armor. We thought it was odd that the brother who *wasn't* a State Alchemist would need to protect himself. If we had known it was empty . . ."

"I *told* you I didn't want you to feel sorry for us," Ed said, gruffly, moving away from Russell a bit.

"I don't," Russell said. "I admire you, for even having the courage to go on after that."

"I had no choice," Ed replied. "Once we found out about the Philosopher's Stone, I knew I had to find it . . . it was the only way to undo what I'd done."

"And you became a State Alchemist to do that?"

"I knew State Alchemists had access to information ordinary citizens didn't." He turned toward Russell, and a bit of the old lopsided grin was back. "But *you* knew that very well, didn't you?"

"Hey, you gave me a lot of material to work with when I was impersonating you," Russell said. "Except I wasn't able to make myself look as *short* as . . ."

Ed leapt off the bed. "HEY! Who are you calling small enough to hide in an anthill?"

But it wasn't as *violent* as his reactions to being called short normally were. Russell just laughed, rather than taking the teasing further. He opened his arms to Ed, and Ed sat back down on the bed next to him, wrapping his arms around the taller boy's shoulders and resting his head on his chest. Russell pulled Ed closer to him, settling his cheek against his hair.

It was a warm, pleasant feeling -- and, like the kiss, just plain *right.* It actually surprised him -- he wasn’t used to reaching out to someone, connecting with them physically, without alchemy being directly involved.

"You don't have to tell me any more tonight," Russell said. "We can talk some more another time."

Ed just responded with a contented "Mmmm." Russell figured that unburdening his tale had been emotionally exhausting.

"I'll tell you this, though," Russell said. "If I had known what that bastard Mugear did to my father earlier . . . I might have done the same thing you did."

"No, you wouldn't have," Ed said, not raising his head. "You have too much sense."

*I impersonated military personnel in a police state -- how is that *sense*?* Russell thought.

“Sense?” he said, aloud. “Nah. I’m just book-smart.”

Ed looked up. “You *are* one hell of a researcher, you know.”

That took Russell aback. Ed had been critical of his skills before. “I am?” he said, in surprise.

“Never saw anybody go through data like you can,” Ed said, snuggling against Russell a little more. “Couldn’t have done the megaweapon without you.”

Russell felt a bit of pride swelling inside him. He’d heard plenty about his skills before from his father, and his teacher, and Fletcher . . . but somehow, this meant more, as if he’d truly *earned* Ed’s respect.

But instead of replying, he remained quiet, nuzzling Ed's hair a bit more . . . it was soft, and thick, and just made him wonder what it would feel like if he pulled out the boy's ponytail holder and let all that gold spill down around his shoulders.

He was suddenly *very* aware of the smaller boy's warmth, of their chests pressed together, of his scent, even of the coolness of the automail fingers spread out over his back. And this felt *right*, also. In a strange way, it was as if Ed were *meant* to be touching him.

But then again, there was no guarantee at all that Ed was feeling the same way.

*Maybe I should pull away,* Russell thought, *before I do something I might regret later.*

But he had no desire to do so. Not at all. And when he felt Ed raise his head a bit, he knew exactly what his intentions were. They were thinking alike.

Slowly, the boys turned their faces toward each other, and it was Edward who closed in for the kiss, brushing his lips against Russell's softly, gently. Russell kissed back passionately, deepening it almost instantly, his mouth hungrily seeking the other again and again. When he opened his lips, flicking his tongue lightly against Ed's, he felt a shudder from the older boy, and a deep, tingling thrill ran through Russell's entire body.

Pulling Ed closer, he plundered the hot, wet velvet of his mouth, running his tongue along the inside of his lips, then plunging in again, stroking the other tongue. His fingers reached up and grabbed at the tie holding the ponytail up, and Ed raised his flesh-and-blood hand to help him.

The hair spilled down, and the boys broke apart, both of them breathing heavily, gazing into each other's eyes. Russell began to lay small kisses along Ed's jawline as he indulged in what he'd been thinking of before, his hands tangling in the thick golden strands, feeling like they'd get lost in the softness.

"Look at you," Russell said in a husky voice. "Just look at you. You're beautiful."

Ed looked away, flushing a bit. Russell was seized with a momentary panic -- did he do something wrong? Say something wrong? He didn’t lose control very often, but when he did, he felt like a deer facing down a hunter’s bow.

“I . . . could stop, if you want me to,” he said, uneasily.

Ed’s head snapped back around. “Who said I wanted to stop?” he said, quickly. “Sounds like *you’re* the one who wants to!”

“No,” Russell replied, reaching for him again. “I want to.”

“Now you’re saying that because you feel sorry for me!” Ed said, harshly, pulling away a bit.

Russell felt his heart sink to his stomach. Was that a reference to his “beautiful” comment before?

“Look, I *meant* what I said before, okay?” he said, the words coming out a bit harsher than he’d intended.

“Why are you *yelling*?” Ed snapped.

“I’m *not* yelling!” Russell yelled.

“You’re going to wake up our brothers,” Ed said, pulling away. “You wanna have them come in here and see us like this?”

Russell nearly smacked his forehead in exasperation. “Look, if I kiss you, will you shut up?”

“Maybe,” Ed replied in a cool tone.

Russell dove in for another kiss, and when their lips met, sure enough, Ed was instantly silenced. In fact, this kiss deepened quicker than the other one. Russell wasn't quite sure whose mouth opened first, or whose tongue probed for whose. But suddenly, he and Ed were exploring each other's mouths thoroughly, everything melting into a wet heat as his hands moved over the boy's chest, one hand encountering the cold hardness where the automail was set into the flesh, the other feeling the firm muscles of an athlete under heated skin.

All he wanted was to feel more. There were no questions as to what was happening to him now, no wondering why he was with *this* person, there was only the softness of Ed's unbound hair as he broke the kiss to rub his cheek against it, the saltiness of his skin as he ran his tongue along his neck, the sound of his ragged breathing as he nibbled at his throat . . .

“OW!” Ed shouted. “What are you, a damn vampire?”

Russell pulled away. “Hey! You were *liking* it!”

“I was liking it until you nearly took a chunk out of my throat!” Ed rubbed his neck at the sore spot.

“You think *you* know how to do this better?” Russell said. “How much experience have *you* had?”

“I *may* have had plenty!” Ed said, tossing his hair back.

Russell wasn’t buying his bravado for a minute. “Well, then let’s see *you* do something.”

“All right, I will.” Ed yanked his shirt off and tossed it on the floor, and Russell barely had time to catch his breath at the sight before the boy was *all over him,* unbuttoning his pajama top as he kissed along Russell’s neck, flicking his tongue here and there, making the younger boy let out a groan.

*Maybe he *does* have experience,* Russell thought. And that unnerved him a bit. He didn’t like the idea of being one-upped by Ed, even in the bedroom. He decided to take matters into his own hands.

When Ed brought their lips together for another kiss, Russell tumbled them both backwards -- and instead of tipping back gracefully, they both dropped like a stone, Ed landing on his back, Russell ending up crosswise across his chest with a *thud*.

Ed raised his head. “What the hell was *that* about?”

“Look, don’t ask questions like that until you know where I’m going with this!” Russell said, thinking this conversation sounded not unlike many they’d had in the lab.

“You plowed into me like a bull!” Ed snapped -- and Russell couldn’t help but notice how his golden hair was spread around him like a halo. Even with his golden eyes burning with anger, he still somehow managed to look . . .

*Irresistible,* Russell thought as he bent his head down for another kiss (the surefire way to keep him quiet!) Ed kissed him back, eagerly (to Russell’s relief), and their tongues came together again, Russell reaching down tentatively and beginning to stroke the other boy’s chest.

*I’ll show him where I was going with this,* he thought.

He began to kiss his way down Ed’s neck -- careful not to nip this time -- and down to his chest, moving upward to nuzzle his lips against the juncture of steel and flesh, feeling the combination of cold and hot, hard and soft . . . and all oddly fascinating. He began to lay a string of kisses along it, then along the scar leading away from the metal like a trail.

Almost by accident, his lips brushed a nipple, and the other boy gasped a bit and arched upward. This took Russell by surprise -- he hadn't thought much about whether that would feel good, whether men were sensitive there. . .

But now that he had this bit of information, he was going to run with it.

He nuzzled the little bud again, kissing it, and was rewarded with a deep, husky moan which just made a delicious thrill run through his whole body. Deciding to take it a step further, he let his tongue steal out, starting to lick at it, and suddenly there was a steel hand gripping his head, holding it in place as the smaller boy bucked upward, his whole body writhing.

The more Ed reacted, the more he moaned and wriggled, the harder Russell's heart beat. Every nerve in his body seemed to stand at attention as his lips closed around the nipple, fully sucking now. He had no idea if this was what he was *supposed* to be doing, but Ed certainly didn’t seem to mind.

Besides, *he* was enjoying this. The hardness of the nub felt so good against his lips, and then his tongue as he lapped at it, flicking around the pink surrounding before caressing the bud itself, swirling in circles. When he sucked again, Ed nearly arched off the bed.

His own hips were moving, rubbing the part of him that ached the most against his lover's body, wanting any kind of friction, wanting to make the heat inside him burn even more.

And then, he felt the cold hardness of the automail leg against the part where he was aching the most, and he stopped, suddenly. It was not unpleasant, just a bit odd . . .

Ed suddenly sat up. "Hey! It was just getting good!"

Russell sat up as well. “*Getting* good? It sounded like you were loving it before!”

“Well, if I was loving it so much, why did you *stop*?”

“Look, you’ve just been *lying* there!” Russell said, folding his arms over his bare chest. “Maybe I thought it was time for us to do something different.”

Ed suddenly reached over, putting both hands on Russell’s chest, and he didn’t have time to register the difference between cold steel and warm flesh before he was shoved backward. He hit the mattress with a thud.

“You think I can just *lie* there?” Ed said. “I don’t think so!”

Before he knew it, the older boy was ducking his head down, and Russell felt something hot and wet on his nipple, sucking on him, then brushing back and forth, like he was doing to Ed.

No wonder Ed had been moaning so much. This felt . . . unbelievable. Hot tingles were running from the place where Ed was pleasuring him to his manhood and then radiating all over his body.

“Don’t stop,” he found himself saying before he was even aware of it.

Ed moved over to the other nipple and began to suck that one as well, harder, and Russell nearly arched off the bed. Whether the boy really had done something before or he was just imitating what Russell had just done, it didn’t matter, because it felt *good*, very, very good.

He felt his lover’s fingers on his pajama bottoms, starting to tug at them, and a shiver ran through his body, knowing just what that meant. He raised his hips, wriggling them a bit, encouraging Ed to get his pants down.

Ed paused a moment, as if unsure of what to do, then he pulled away from Russell, yanking the pants down and off in one swift motion.

When the boy’s fingers closed around his erection and he began to stroke, Russell lifted his hips again, one hand grasping the pillow. Ed’s lips were on his, and Russell grew bolder with this kiss than any other, pulling his tongue out of Ed’s mouth and running it along his lower lip, then pushing it back in.

Ed’s hand was moving faster now, stroking him rapidly, and Russell felt a slow heat building in his belly as he started to writhe, moaning deep in his throat as he felt a fine sheen of sweat break out on his skin. It was torture, hanging here in the void between a normal state of mind and complete ecstasy . . .

But it was delicious torture.

When their lips separated, Russell gasped, “Not fair . . .”

Ed eased away from him. “What? You don’t like this?”

“You’re still wearing your pants,” Russell pointed out.

Ed hopped off the bed just long enough to rid himself of the garments, then hopped back on. “Happy now?”

Russell reached out and grasped Ed’s manhood the way Ed had done with him. “Now I am,” he said.

Ed groaned as Russell started to stroke him. “You’re just doing this because I did it to you,” he said in a husky tone.

“Maybe,” Russell said, his hand moving faster. He really *was* enjoying this, the way Ed’s eyes fluttered shut with ecstasy, the long, low sounds coming from him, the way his nipples were hard, standing out like little pebbles against his skin . . . Russell bent over to kiss one of them as he continued to caress the shaft, and Ed let out a little cry, just sending another delicious thrill through Russell’s body.

They shifted a bit, Russell momentarily letting go of Ed’s manhood, and suddenly, he found himself being rolled on his back again. Ed lay full-length on top of Russell, pressing their erections together, and both boys let out a groan. Russell grabbed Ed's bottom, squeezing it, as the older boy began to slowly move his hips in a circle, grinding them together, rubbing and brushing and making one slow, honeyed wave of feeling after another pour through Russell's body.

He moved against Ed, rotating his own hips, and the two let out long, low moans, their eyes squeezed shut, their breath coming in gasps and pants. Over and over their cocks came together, rubbing against each other, and Russell wondered if he was going to come like this . . . oh, he could, it felt so good, he didn't know anything could make him feel this way . . .

Ed was licking at his neck now as their hips did a slow bump-and-grind, and Russell thought he was going to burn up, might very well explode if they didn’t find fulfillment soon. He flipped them both over so that he was on top, leaning over and kissing Ed’s lips hard, then starting to rub against the other boy, hard and fast, and he felt a tightening in his own belly, and heard Ed’s breath coming in short, rapid pants, and he knew it wouldn’t be long now. . . .

Edward suddenly stiffened, then let out a deep, throaty groan before he called Russell’s name out and shuddered. Russell felt something wet against his own manhood as he continued to rub, he was almost there, almost there . . .

And then the tension inside him uncoiled like a whip, and he was flooded with one wave after another of white heat, letting out a loud groan as his body shivered again and again.

Finally, he collapsed on top of Ed, and the boys kissed, softly.

"Damn, that was good," Russell murmured in a weak voice. He was feeling a bit dizzy now, and warm, and completely relaxed.

"*Real* good," Ed said, rolling them over again and snuggling against the other boy with his head on his chest. Russell encircled him with his arms, as if he never wanted to let him go.

*I feel *happy* right now,* Russell thought. *Content . . . I never thought I'd feel this way again after father disappeared.*

But this was something completely different from what he'd felt before. It was sweeter, and heavier, and more intense . . .

And to his astonishment, he realized this might be love.

*No, it's just because we shared an intimate moment, when he confessed to me, and then we made love,* he thought. . . although he wasn't completely sure he believed himself.

"Ed?" he said, quietly.

"Mmmm?" The sleepy tone of his voice told him his lover was barely awake.

“We can’t let them know what we just did.”

Ed raised his head. “Who’s *them*?” he said, blinking sleepily. “Our brothers?”

“I don’t know how Fletcher would react,” Russell said, quietly. “He . . . might be afraid that he would lose me.”

There was a prolonged silence from the other boy. Russell figured Ed was thinking the same thing about Al.

*And given that they *did* lose each other at one point . . .* he thought.

“I think they both know they wouldn’t lose us,” Ed said.

“Are you going to tell Al?” Russell said.

Another silence, then Ed said, “I may not have to.”

Russell thought again of seeing Ed and Al seemingly communicating volumes with their eyes. He had no doubt Al *could* tell if there’d been a change in his brother’s life.

He caressed Ed’s hair and said, "How many other people have you told . . . what you told me before?"

"My teacher," he said, not moving his head. "Winry, my best friend, and her grandmother . . ." He yawned. "Mustang, but that's just ‘cause he was there after it happened."

*He told only the people he was very closest to,* he thought. *That means he *trusts* me. Maybe what happened between us just now *was* more than just casual sex . . .*

"The other things that happened after that . . ."

"Tell you later," Ed yawned.

Russell looked down at him. Ed had fallen fast asleep, very quickly. Russell hugged him closer, rested his cheek on his hair and drifted off to sleep as well.


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