A Fullmetal Alchemist Fanfic With Lemon

By Sailor Mac
Russell Tringham was used to all kinds of people showing up on his doorstep looking for him. When one was one of only two alchemists in a small town, one got used to being asked to do everything from fixing broken wheels to mending barstools that got shattered in a brawl at all hours of the day and night.

However, having a messenger from an attorney show up was definitely a new one.

“Mr. Tringham?” said the tiny, nearly bald man whose suit was as oversized as his glasses. “I represent Thomas Ruprecht, attorney for Arthur Corley . . .”

“Corley?” Russell said, taking the envelope the man proffered. “I used to do some jobs for him some time ago, but . . .”

“Mr. Corley has passed on, sir,” the messenger said. “Just last night. His age finally caught up with him, more’s the pity. And it seems that he mentioned you in his will.”

Russell gave a start. “Me? Why me? All I did was some plant alchemy for him.”

“Obviously, he was very impressed with you,” the little man said. “The reading is Tuesday, noon sharp. Have a good day, sir.” The messenger gave a little salute and headed back down the walk.

Russell opened the envelope and examined the contents. The man wasn’t kidding. This was indeed a summons to be present at the reading of the will of Arthur Corley. *What would he leave to me?* he thought. *We didn’t know each other all that well -- no more than any of my other clients.*

“Brother?” said a sweet voice behind him. “What was that?”

Russell walked back into the house, where Fletcher was watering and examining the plants in the living room window. “Fletcher, you remember Arthur Corley, don’t you?”

“Older man?” Fletcher said. “Kind of . . . odd?”

“Odd is an understatement,” Russell said. “He had stuff crammed in every inch of his house. Knickknacks. Paintings. Gadgets. Cats everywhere. Oh, and a big collection of military uniforms. He used to wear then when he had company. He even had the swords to match.”

“He was rich, wasn’t he?” Fletcher said as he lifted a leaf to check its underside.

“Second richest man in town,” Russell replied, wincing a bit -- they knew all too well who the *richest* man had been. “He left me something in his will.”

“Did they say what it was?” Fletcher said, examining another plant that looked discolored. He took chalk out of his pocket and began to draw an array on the pot.

“Knowing him, it could be anything from plants to copper pots,” Russell said. He hoped it was the former. He didn’t know what they’d do with dozens of sabers, or row after row of decorated beer steins, or an entire cabinet of thimbles . . .

“I wonder what they’re going to do with all his cats,” Fletcher said, activating the array. “I wouldn’t mind having one. And I know Al would want to take one.”

At the mention of Alphonse Elric, Russell felt something clench in his stomach. Not so much because of Al, but because of his brother . . .

It had been at least three weeks since Russell and Edward had seen each other. He had tried to keep himself busy in the lab, tried to keep himself distracted. But no matter what he did, something always reminded him of the boy who was . . . well, more than a friend to him now.

He’d mix together a particular two chemicals, watch them start to smoke, and hear Ed’s voice saying, “We want a *controlled* explosion, not to wipe this whole town off the map!” He’d dish out a bowl of beef-and-noodles soup . . . and remember Ed sitting at their table, devouring a ton of the stuff.

And then, he’d just be sitting at the counter, and remember Ed sitting there, sleepy-eyed, then tipping his head up for their first-ever kiss.

Not since he’d devoted his life to his father’s work, to finding the Philosopher’s Stone, had he felt himself so consumed with one single thing, one passion.

It was annoying and frustrating. And at the same time, it was exciting, exhilarating.

“We’ll have to see what he left me,” Russell said. “With everything that was in that house, he probably left something to every single person in the town.” He headed for the door. “I’m going out to the orchard. Come get me if someone calls.”

He knew that whatever he was going to be left in that will, he’d gladly trade it -- hell, he’d gladly trade everything in the Corley mansion -- to hear that phone ring, and have it be Ed on the other end.

* * *

Russell had a spring in his step as he headed up the walk to the Tringham house. The will reading had definitely been worth putting a suit on for -- and he hadn’t worn a suit since his mother’s funeral.

The news he’d heard had almost taken the sting out of the fact that Ed *still* hadn’t called him.*Almost.*

Seeing that Fletcher and Belsio were both on trees in the lemon grove, he headed straight there. “Hello, Russell,” the older man called down to him. “So, what was it he left you?”

“His book collection,” Russell replied, coming to a stop at the foot of the ladder his brother was on. “It’s an entire library! Hundreds of volumes! Books that nobody else in Xenotime has . . .”

Russell was sure that his eyes were sparking -- he felt like doing a little dance. The only things he loved as much as alchemy and plants were books. Especially rare books. If he had a vice, it was getting carried away in bookstores -- something that had nearly led to his and Fletcher’s deaths in Central, right before Edward disappeared . . .

Fletcher scrambled down from the ladder. “Brother, we only have so much storage space. We can’t keep them *all*.”

“He’s right,” Belsio said. “I’m sorry, Russell, but . . .”

“Oh, I wasn’t planning on keeping them *all*, Russell said. “Just anything related to alchemy. And plants. And I’ll take a couple of other interesting things here and there. And . . .”

“*Brother*,” Fletcher sighed, rolling his eyes.

“There’s an old bookcase in the attic that we’re not using right now,” Belsio said. “How about we put that in your room, and you can keep enough to fill that?”

“All right, fair enough,” Russell said. “And then I’ll sell the rest to a library, or a used book dealer. Now, I’m going to get changed, and then I’ll be out here to help you.”

He headed for the house, thinking of creative ways he could stack books to get as many on a single shelf as humanly possible (maybe he could subtly enlarge the bookcase just a *bit* with alchemy, if he could find some spare wood), tugging at the tie he couldn't wait to get rid of.

He frowned when he saw what looked like *another* messenger waiting on the doorstep -- was he mentioned in *another* will? “May I help you?” he said as he approached.

“Are you Mr. Tringham?” the messenger said -- a young boy barely older than himself this time, with prominent teeth and an unruly shock of red hair. “I have a telegram for him.”

“I am,” Russell said, then ducked as a clipboard was literally shoved in his face. He grabbed it and pulled a pen from the top, rapidly signing his name and returning it more gently than it was given. A piece of paper was shoved in his hand, and the messenger departed.

Russell began to read the message, and his heart leapt. “ARRIVING TOMORROW 1 PM TRAIN STOP WILL STAY AT LEAST TWO DAYS STOP EDWARD.”

He read it again, just making sure he hadn’t misread it, that he was just seeing what he wanted to see. But the words were still there -- Ed was coming.

“Brother?” said a voice behind him. “What is it?”

Russell quickly spun around, feeling his face flush. “Nothing!” he said, quickly. “Um, that is . . . a telegram . . .”

There was a moment when Fletcher considered this, then his entire face lit up. “Oh! Ed and Al are coming!”

Russell frowned slightly. “How did you . . .”

“It’s all over your face, Brother,” Fletcher said, smiling sweetly. Russell flushed again -- was he really *that* obvious?

But as he walked into the house, he was clutching the telegram like a lifeline, practically humming to himself.

Ed was coming. So was an entire hoard of books. He couldn’t see how his day could get any better.

* * *

The books arrived the next morning, right after Russell came back from town, where he’d made a reservation at the local inn. He’d told the innkeeper it was for Edward and Alphonse Elric, although he knew exactly what was going to happen.

Al was going to end up sleeping at the farm, probably in Russell’s own bed, and Russell was going to end up at the inn with Ed.

He could just see Edward’s unbound hair spread out all over the pillow, framing a face that looked dazed in passion, the lips parted softly in a gasp, the golden eyes squeezed tightly shut as the boy moaned softly . . .

He shook the image out of his head, quickly. The sight of boxes and boxes of books in the barn was a welcome distraction. Fletcher was already looking through them when Russell arrived. “Brother, you were right,” Fletcher said. “This collection is amazing. Look, this whole box is alchemy books.”

Russell sat next to him and took a book from the nearest box -- a text on biological alchemy. “Corley used to ask me questions that made me think he knew what he was talking about,” Russell said, opening the book and looking inside. “Now I know why.”

“This box here is all history,” Fletcher said, “and these two boxes are novels . . .” He opened one and looked inside. “And this is a first edition, Brother. In perfect condition.”

Russell looked over his brother’s shoulder -- the author was an extremely popular one, the novel in question one of his first. “We’re keeping that one,” he said, “and putting it somewhere safe. If we’re ever in need, we can sell it and have enough money to keep us going for awhile.”

“Do you think that’s why he left you the books, Brother?” Fletcher said. “Because he knew we have no other family, and we might need them sometime?”

“Probably just figured alchemists like books, that’s all,” Russell said, putting the novel down and going for another alchemy text.

*Why *did* he leave me these books?* he thought. *Just the alchemy books would make sense, but . . . the *whole lot*?

His eyes scanned the pages in front of him, wandering over the symbols -- and he gave an inward sigh. The book in question *had* to be about various kinds of explosives, just like the ones they went over and over while working on the Megaweapon.

In his mind’s eye, he saw Ed sitting in his lab, engrossed in a book just like this one, one hand on his chin, his brow furrowed . . .

He swallowed hard. It seemed like just yesterday that they were together sometimes . . . and at other times, it seemed like it was an eternity ago.

Part of his mind couldn't quite believe it, that Ed was coming back to Xenotime, that they’d be together again. It seemed like just another one of the many dreams and fantasies he’d had ever since watching that train to Central pull away.

Another part of him, though, could feel Ed’s warmth and smell his scent already.

He pulled out his watch and checked it. Only 11 a.m. One o’clock was a seeming eternity away.

* * *

When the train from Central pulled into the station, Russell thought it was the wrong one at first. He saw no sign of the Elrics. There was a family with two small children, a cluster of mustachioed men in suits, a woman toting a small lapdog . . .

And finally, he saw them climbing down the steps, dressed as always in their matching coats -- Ed in red, Al in blue. Russell had to restrain himself from running over to them. He just wanted to grab Ed in his arms and kiss him right in front of everyone . . .

Al spotted them first, and rushed over toward them. “Fletcher! Russell!” he cried, ducking past the woman with the dog.

Ed rushed after Al, saying, “Sorry we’re late getting off the train, Al saw a little girl who had kittens in a basket.”

Russell suddenly found himself wishing that Ed would just throw caution to the winds, and run over to him, and throw his arms around him, and . . .

But Ed just clasped Russell’s hand -- the only sign of affection they showed in public -- and said, “So, what am I gonna find when we get to the farm? It better not be any more extremists. Al and I have had enough of those.”

Russell watched as Al happily chattered away to Fletcher about the kittens while loading the bags on board the waiting cab. “Is that why you haven’t been able to contact us?” he said.

“Mustang’s been running us ragged,” Ed said, helping Al with the bags. “Those bastards have been popping up all over, blowing things up with alchemical bombs.”

Russell opened the cab door for Ed and Al, frowning. “You think it might be the ultraweapon again?”

“Something like that,” Ed said, climbing in and seating himself. Al sat next to Ed, and Russell settled himself into the seat across from them, facing Ed. Fletcher sat beside him and shut the door.

But before Ed could say anything else about his mission, Fletcher said, “Brother, did you tell them about the books yet?”

Ed instantly looked interested. “Books?”

“I got left a whole library of books by an old eccentric,” Russell said. “They’re in the barn. We’re sorting them now.”

“Brother can only keep *some* of them. Right, Brother?” Fletcher said.

Russell sighed. “Fletcher, I told you, I’m only going to keep as much as that bookcase can hold.”

“After you get done enlarging it with alchemy, of course,” said Ed, that lopsided grin spreading across his face.

“Hey!” Russell leaned over toward Ed. “Who said I’d do something like that?” But he knew that Ed had hit the nail exactly on the head, of course.

“Me,” Ed said a bit smugly, folding his arms, the grin getting even more lopsided. “I know you.”

“Because you’d do the same thing yourself?” Al said, a teasing smile spreading across his own face.

Ed quickly turned toward his brother. “Was that a crack about the dish-of-stew incident? Mustang didn’t say *how big* the bowl could be! He just said I was allowed *one dish* of stew because I was depleting their food supply.”

“I wouldn’t say anything about that, Brother,” Al said, looking innocent -- *too* innocent.

“Hey, I *need* more food than other people!” Ed said. “I need to keep my automail running! And it’s not as if *Mustang* eats like a bird, either. You oughta see him when he’s . . .”

Russell sat back and smiled contentedly. Oh, yes, Edward was adorable when he was annoyed.

* * *

When Russell brought the Elrics out to the barn, he could have sworn their eyes popped out of their heads at the sight of the book collection.

“Are *all* of these about alchemy?” Al said, kneeling down next to one crate and pulling a book out.

“Just these few boxes here,” Russell said. “The rest are about all kinds of subjects.”

“Damn, what did you do to earn this?” Ed said, sitting next to his brother and reaching into the box himself. He looked up at his lover, one eyebrow cocked, the lopsided grin seeping across his face. “Something I don’t want to know about?”

“Nothing you wouldn’t do,” Russell replied with a huff, crossing his arms over his chest.

“All the books *here* are about plants,” Fletcher said, pointing to two crates not far from where they sat. “And over there . . . about animals. And . . .” He looked at the boxes toward the back of the barn with a slight frown. “Brother, what’s in those?”

“I don’t know,” Russell said. “I haven’t checked those out yet.”

His eyes strayed toward Ed again, who was sitting with his brother, heads bent over a book (apparently, they’d found something they’d been seeking without success in Central). He was pushing a lock of hair from his forehead, his brow furrowed in concentration, looking downright delectable . . .

He suddenly wished the books weren’t there. He just wanted a few minutes alone with Ed, to just talk to him, and hold him, and just *be with him.* He suddenly felt very, very jealous of every single person in the world who was married, or lived with their beloved, or was just *close to them* every single day.

*I waited so long to be close to him,* he thought, *and now, it seems I’m so close, and yet so far.*

He needed a distraction, immediately, before he got depressed (and with Ed just mere feet away!) He wandered toward the crates Fletcher had been curious about before.

Kneeling next to one of them, he lifted the lid and peered inside. The books within had plain bindings, no illustrated covers. The spine nearest him said, “Burning Alchemy.”

*More alchemy texts?* he thought. He opened the cover, started flipping through the pages . . .

And promptly slammed it shut. He looked quickly up at the other boys. Ed and Al were still engrossed in their alchemy book. Fletcher looked up from the text on plants he’d been studying.

“What was it, Brother?” he said. Ed raised his own head and peered at him, which just made Russell feel flustered.

“Nothing,” he said, quickly, dropping the book into the box. “Just more novels, that’s all. Nothing we’d want to keep.”

He saw Fletcher and Ed both go back to their books, and he breathed a heavy sigh of relief -- only was that a brief flash of a wicked grin he saw from Ed?

*Who would have thought that an old guy like Corley would have a book like *that*?* he thought. He knew “dirty novels” existed -- Baddley, the bastard who’d double-crossed him and Fletcher, had done a very good business selling them out of the back room of his store. He just never thought he’d *see* one.

He began to wonder if *all* the books in that box were like that. He slipped another one out, opening it at a random page and looking inside -- and his eyes flew open wide, his hand coming to cover his mouth.

Oh, *this* was the last thing he should be seeing when he just wanted to be alone with Ed. It was just as explicit as the first book he’d looked at -- but instead of being a man and a woman in the scenes, it was *two men*.

He just couldn’t comprehend what he was seeing. If the idea of Corley having the *other* book was unbelievable -- there had always been something so prim and proper about him, so formal and old-fashioned, even despite his eccentricity -- the idea of him owning *this* was so preposterous Russell wondered for a moment if someone had slipped it onto his bookshelves as a joke.

He dropped it as if he’d been burned, slammed the lid back on the box as if it contained a wild beast and rushed up to where the others were.

His first thought was to get them away from those boxes so they wouldn’t investigate them on their own. “Why don’t we go back to the lab and I’ll show you what Fletcher and I have been working on?” he said.

“We have a growth formula that’ll extend the vegetable season for all kinds of plants!” Fletcher said.

“Well, we haven’t finished testing yet,” Russell said, unconsciously shifting so he was blocking the Elrics’ view of the box he’d been going through.

“I’d like to see it,” Al said, getting to his feet. “Only . . . can we borrow this book? There’s a lot of stuff in there that Brother and I need . . .”

“Sure, take it for as long as you need it,” Russell said.

“You and Fletcher go ahead,” Ed said, not moving from his spot on the floor. “I need to talk to Russell for a moment.”

Russell shot him a quizzical look, and felt a bit worried -- did Ed figure out what was in those books? Damn him, it was *impossible* to put anything by him! But the thought of *finally* getting to be alone with him was making his heart pound.

“Sure,” Al said. “You’ll be inside in a moment, won’t you, Brother?”

“Yeah, I’m not going anywhere.” He raised an eyebrow and looked at Russell. “At least . . . not now.” Russell swallowed hard, knowing that was a reference to the inn later.

Once the younger boys were gone, Edward walked over to Russell and said, “You know -- I *may* have missed you.”

And suddenly, Russell forgot about the contents of the box. He crossed the remaining distance between himself and Ed and threw his arms around him, pulling him to his chest, nuzzling his cheek against his hair.

“I *may* have missed you, too,” he said.

“I wanted to get away a week ago,” he said, “but that bastard wouldn’t let me. Said he had a new lead on the bombers.” He looked up at Russell. “The lead turned out to be to a farmer’s guild.”

“How did you get away this time?” Russell rubbed his cheek a little against Ed’s hair again, savoring the softness, still trying to comprehend that he was really *here.*

“Told him that I wanted to make sure there were no more cells of extremists out here.” The fingers of Ed’s flesh hand traced patterns on Russell’s back. “Hey, it’s not *entirely* a lie.”

Ed’s words just made Russell feel sad. *He shouldn’t have to do this military stuff anymore*, he thought. *The whole thing with the Philosopher’s Stone is over. He should be able to enjoy life.*

“Why are you still with the military, Ed?” Russell said, easing away from him. He sat on the ground, leaning against a crate of history books.

“I told you -- I joined again because Al joined them.” Ed sank down next to Russell, knees drawn up, arms folded on top of them. “He said that when I was . . . away . . . they offered him help, and he wanted to help them out in return.”

“Equivalent exchange,” Russell said, contemplating the way the sun glinted off the other boy’s hair.

“I’m only staying with them until they catch those extremists,” he said. “I told Mustang that. There’s plenty more I want to do. Like . . .” He almost unconsciously raised his automail hand. “Research.”

Russell swallowed hard. He’d been doing research of his own, on the formula he’d accidentally discovered during the megaweapon experiments that could stimulate cell growth. So far, he hadn’t gotten very far with it, and he didn’t want to tell Ed until he had something *workable*.

“Research is what I do best,” Russell said, looking down at the ground.

“Still working on your medicine for the people in this town?” Ed said, leaning back a little more against the crate.

“Well, yes,” Russell said. It wasn’t a lie. His formula *was* going to help the people of Xenotime, after all. It was just going to help Ed as well. “Maybe, someday, we can work together,” he added, quietly.

Ed turned toward him, a slight grin curling the corners of his mouth. “Looking for an excuse to get me alone in a lab?”

“It’s not a bad idea,” Russell said. He leaned over and brought his lips to Ed’s, and he felt the older boy kiss back, eagerly, flicking his tongue into Russell’s mouth. Russell pulled him into his arms, kissing harder, one hand stroking his back, the other reaching up to his ponytail tie, starting to undo it . . .

But then, he realized their brothers could come rushing in at any moment, and he didn’t want to be discovered in liplock with Ed. That had already happened to them once before.

He eased away, slowly. “Maybe we should be getting back.”

Ed nodded, a look of disappointment crossing his face. He got up, brushing off his perpetual leather pants . . . but his eyes strayed to the back of the room, to the boxes that Russell had been looking through before. A glint of mischief appeared in them.

“What was *really* in that box?” he said, looking back at Russell.

“Novels,” Russell said, quickly, scrambling to his own feet. “Just like I said.” He took a protective step backward toward them.

“Not too many regular novels make people blush bright red,” Ed said, slyly, moving toward the box, making Russell take another quick step backward towards it.

“I wasn’t blushing,” Russell said, briskly. “It’s warm in here.”

Ed suddenly flung himself to the ground and rolled, an expert fighter’s move, coming up right next to the box. Before Russell knew what was happening, he had knocked the lid off and yanked out the gay male erotica book he’d been looking at before.

The older boy opened the cover, his eyes scanning the pages. Russell grabbed at it. “Give me that!”

Ed pulled it away. “I’m just looking at it,” he said in a cool tone, but his eyes had a wicked glint.

“It’s not *your* book!” Russell said.

“Before, you were all too happy to let us borrow your books,” Ed said, casually flipping another page.

“That was an alchemy text! This is . . .”

“A way for us to have fun tonight?” Ed said, closing the cover and holding it up.

Russell nearly spluttered. “Fun? What the hell are you talking about?”

Ed closed the distance between then, metal hand still clutching the book, human one caressing his lover’s chest. “What if,” he said in a low voice that was almost a whisper, “you and I were to read from this book to each other . . . while we were doing it?”

“You’re nuts!” Russell said, making another grab for the book.

“We *could* learn from this book, you know,” Ed said, continuing to hold it out of Russell’s reach.

“I did my research on sex a long time ago, thank you,” Russell said, hiding behind the mask of the academic alchemist as if it were a shield guarding him from a hail of bullets. “And as I recall, you said you did, too.”

“You think this is a *textbook*?” Ed said. “It was written *for* and *by* gay men. Guys who were actually *doing it.*”

“*We* managed to do it,” Russell said, reaching for the book again, although he knew his efforts would prove fruitless.

“But this book . . . it’s sex between men *as it happens.* As the guy who wrote it *lived it*.” Ed reached out and took Russell’s hand with his flesh one, continuing to hold the book out of reach with the automail one. “Look . . . there’s still so much we don’t know. And in this case, sex is like alchemy. We’re never going to *learn* until we *do it*, right?”

Russell thought about that for a moment. He and Ed had been completely inexperienced their first time, both basing everything they did on research in books on sexuality. They’d certainly enjoyed themselves, but . . .

Part of him *did* wonder if there was *more.*

As if to deny his own thoughts, he said, quickly, “I still say you’re nuts.”

But in the back of his mind, a picture was forming . . . himself, lying on a bed, naked, erect, and Ed sitting beside him, equally nude, reading a description of a blow job from the book in a husky purr, then leaning over and taking Russell in his mouth . . .

He took a deep breath. Okay, the idea was starting to have *some* appeal.

“Think about it,” Ed said, dropping Russell’s hand and tucking the book under his arm. “I’m going to hide this . . . and we’ll bring it with us tonight.” He walked out of the barn.

“Wait a second!” Russell said, hurrying after him. “You’re not going to leave that out where Belsio or his niece or our *brothers* can find that, are you?”

“Of course not,” Ed said, calmly, putting the book on the ground. “I’m going to disguise it.”

He searched the ground around them for some sticks, piled them on top of the book and clapped his hands. The wood transmuted into a wooden box, which surrounded the book. It looked like the kind of thing an alchemist on the move would use to store things like chalk and test tubes, nothing suspicious.

“There!” he said. “Nobody will ever know! What do you think?”

Russell shook his head. “I still think you’re nuts.”

“We’ll see,” Ed said, picking up the box and shaking the dirt from it as they headed for the house.

Russell took a deep breath, then followed. He knew that despite what he said, he was going to end up going along with what Ed wanted.

That picture that had been in his head was too hot *not* to go along with it.

* * *

Slipping out after dinner was easier than Russell had thought it would be. Fletcher and Al went back out to the barn for another look at the alchemy books. (Fortunately, Russell had gone into the barn after making his rounds in the orchard and hidden the explicit books behind an empty barrel). Belsio headed off to see a neighbor, taking Elisa with him.

And so, they headed out toward town, Ed’s seemingly innocent box under his arm.

“You made a reservation at this place?” Ed said as they began to walk past locations that had become all too familiar to Russell -- the local library (which never had enough alchemy books), the repair shop where Russell figured he’d done more repairs than the owner, the now-deserted storefront which was once Baddley’s general store . . .

“Yes,” Russell said. “I didn’t think we’d get much privacy in the house.”

Ed gave him a sly smile. “There *was* nobody in the house when we left, you know.”

“You want to risk having someone walk in on us?” Russell said. “Try explaining *that* to our little brothers!”

“Hey, you think I’d let us get caught?” Ed said. They were turning a corner now, approaching the inn, a large, white building with only a couple of lights on upstairs. The owner had kept it up even thought it hadn’t seen extensive use since Xenotime’s glory days as a gold mining town.

“What were you planning on doing?” Russell said as they entered the lobby. “Were you going to transmute trip wires in the hall?”

“I could come up with something a lot better than that!” Ed said as Russell approached the desk. “Like, a long-distance listening device. Or an alarm. Or . . .”

“Or we just do it this way, and save worry and alchemic energy,” Russell said over his shoulder as a clerk approached.

Russell felt rather strange saying he was there to claim a reservation for Edward Elric. It was as if years had melted away, and he was impersonating his companion again. Back then, Edward Elric was just a name, a vague description and a bunch of statistics to him.

Now, he was . . . more. A hell of a lot more.

*But I still don’t know everything about him,* he thought as he signed the guest ledger. *I have no idea where he disappeared for those two years. Or everything that happened between when he came to Xenotime and when he disappeared underground.*

He wanted to just sit Ed down and have a heart-to-heart. But he didn’t want to do that when he was in the middle of one assignment after another. He’d seen how stressful it had been for Ed to reveal just one painful fragment of his past to him, he didn’t want to put stress on him when he was facing who-knew-what in the line of duty . . .

“Hey!” Ed said, walking up to him. “You’re just staring into space!”

“Oh!” Russell turned around quickly, key clutched tightly in his hand. “Sorry . . . just thinking.”

Ed gave him the lopsided grin. “Planning on *thinking* all night?”

And then, it hit Russell just what they were there for, and a wave of excitement rushed through him like a river.

“No,” he said, leading Edward up the steps, wondering what would happen as soon as that door shut behind them. He was strangely nervous, even though it was nothing they hadn’t done before.

He tried to put the key in the door lock. It didn’t make it. He tried again . . .

“Oh, just let me!” Ed said, putting the box on the floor and clapping his hands together.

Russell whirled around. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Well, I’m not just going to stand here all night and watch you poke that key into the door frame!” Ed said, alchemic energy cracking bright and purple between his hands.

“You’re going to get us thrown out of here, blasting a door open like that!” Russell stabbed at the lock with the key again, and this time, thankfully, it went in.

“Who said I was going to blast it?” Ed picked up what he had been carrying and sauntered into the room, casually, throwing his coat and the box on the foot of the bed. “I was just going to tweak the lock.”

“I’ve seen you *tweak* locks before!” Russell said. “Like at Baddley’s! It’s a wonder that every one of them didn’t know that we were . . .”

Ed flung himself to the bed, bending his automail hand behind his head and looking up at Russell through his golden bangs. “Look, can we *drop* the lock thing? I haven’t seen you in weeks and I . . .”

Russell suddenly stopped, and looked at the boy lying on the bed. The casual way he was just draped there, the mischievous glint in his golden eyes, the tantalizing hint of belly where his shirt was riding up . . .

In a flash, he was lying next to him, pulling Edward into his arms and kissing him hard, one hand reaching up to yank on the tie binding his ponytail in place, freeing all that silken gold to spill around his shoulders. He felt Ed’s tongue teasing his lips, asking for entry, and he opened his mouth with a gasp, making a long, low sound in his throat as the other boy gently probed.

Ed’s mouth came away from Russell’s and began to kiss his ear, flicking his tongue against the hole. “Now *this* is worth the wait,” he said in a husky, sexy whisper as his hands moved down to the buttons of Russell’s shirt.

“Ohh, yes,” Russell replied, his own hands tangling in that seemingly endless waterfall of blond satin. “I can’t believe you’re here. You don’t know how much I . . .”

“Hey, what do you want to *talk* for?” Ed said, undoing the last button and trying to pull off his shirt -- and then realizing his suspenders were in the way. “These damn things . . .”

Russell sat up a bit. “Here, pull them down now.”

Ed peeled them off his shoulders, slowly, leaning over to kiss Russell’s neck, teasing the skin with his tongue. The shirt slid off next, and Ed moved down quickly, taking a nipple in his mouth and sucking hard, making Russell lean his head back and let out a deep groan.

“Ed,” he groaned, “I don’t know how long I’m going to last . . .”

“That makes two of us,” Ed panted, pulling away from Russell just long enough to strip off his own shirt. Both boys reached for each other’s pants zippers as their mouths came together again, pushing them down as fast as they could.

Russell slid his hand beneath Ed’s boxers and grabbed a handful of that magnificent ass, squeezing it hard, making Ed let out his breath in a long, low hiss. When his fingers teased the cleft between, Edward moaned, leaning back into his lover’s touch.

“I have an oil,” Russell said, between breathless kisses on Ed’s neck and shoulders. “It’s made to be extra-slippery . . .”

“We’re not gonna have time for that,” Ed nearly growled. “Get your pants off, I’m gonna make us both come fast, before I explode.”

Russell stripped off his own pants, a bit disappointed, but he knew Ed was right -- they weren’t going to have time to prep themselves for intercourse, their need was too great and too hot and too *immediate.* Ed rid himself of his remaining clothing and lay atop Russell, pressing their erections together and starting to pump his hips.

Russell leaned his head back, moaning at the feel of two hard lengths pressing together, rubbing, caressing, making the heat in his belly swell . . . He wrapped his legs around his lover’s hips, his hands grabbing for his bottom again, squeezing and massaging it as Ed’s tongue lingered on his lips and slid in and out of his mouth.

His hips lifted off the bed, moving with Ed again and again and again as he buried his face in the juncture of the other boy’s neck and shoulder, letting out one moan after another because it was so good, so very, very good . . .

Then, his whole body stiffened, and jerked, and he cried out as wave after wave of heated energy flooded every bit of his being, and after a few more thrusts, he heard Ed’s cry answer his own, and felt the wetness as his lover released himself.

Ed collapsed atop Russell, groaning, and Russell tightened his arms around him, kissing his forehead, his hair.

They just lay there quietly for a bit, Russell not knowing how long -- it could have been a few seconds, it could have been a quarter hour. All he knew was he felt sated, and a bit sleepy, and the scent of Ed’s skin plus the musk of their lovemaking was the sweetest smell in the world.

“Mmmm,” Ed said, raising his head to kiss Russell’s lips. “Okay, that was good.”

Russell brushed a stray lock of hair back from Ed’s eyes. “Do you know how beautiful you are right now?”

“Me?” Ed turned a deep red and looked away, and Russell felt the older boy’s body tense.

“Yes, you,” Russell said. “I mean it.”

“Hey, you’re the one who’s beautiful,” Ed said, pushing back the lock of hair that was perpetually in Russell’s eyes. “Even if you can’t see where you’re going.”

Russell lay back, settling them both into a position where he was holding Ed in his arms, the smaller boy’s head on his chest. “We didn’t look at that book yet,” he said.

“Eh, we’ll get to it,” Ed yawned, reaching up to stroke Russell’s hair again. “Who was that guy who left you those things, anyway?”

“Arthur Corley?” Russell said. “Just a rich old guy. Kind of strange. Collected everything under the sun. I used to do plant alchemy for him.”

“Think he was -- you know -- like us?” Ed said.

“Well, he *was* interested in alchemy,” Russell said, the fingers of one hand idly twisting a lock of Ed’s long, long golden hair, “but I don’t think he was actually an *alchemist . . .*

Ed raised his head. “I don’t mean the *alchemy* books,” he said. “I meant the *other* books.”

“The . . .” It suddenly struck Russell what Ed meant, and he flushed. “Oh. I don’t know . . . Corley never married. Some people said he was a real playboy, though.”

“They say that about a lot of people,” Ed said, reaching for the tissue box next to the bed and starting to clean himself and Russell up.

“He just didn’t seem the *type* to have a library of books like that,” Russell said.

“Like there’s a *type*?” Ed tossed the tissues in the garbage. “Sometimes, people who seem timid and innocent have secrets that you just wouldn’t believe.”

There was that haunted look in his eyes again, the look Edward wore whenever he was remembering something painful from his past, the things that he wouldn’t tell Russell about.

It pained him to know that his lover was carrying around burdens he couldn’t or wouldn’t share with him, burdens Russell knew he could help him with.

*I want you to finish whatever the hell you’re doing for the military,* he thought, *and come back here and sit down and pour out everything to me. You can cry all you want to, and confess anything at all, and I’ll just listen.*

As if to distract himself from whatever he was thinking, Ed reached over the side of the bed and grabbed the box, which had been knocked on the floor during their earlier activity. “Let’s take a look at this thing,” he said.

Russell sighed inwardly. Ed definitely wasn’t in an unburdening-of-sins mood. All Russell could do now was go along with his distraction.

Ed lay the box on the bed and clapped, and one crackle of energy later, it was a pile of twigs atop the book again. He lay the sticks on the night table, brushed off the cover and opened it. “Wild Desert Nights?” he said. “Could they have come up with a worse title?”

“Well, I don’t think they intended this to be great literature,” Russell said, leaning over Ed’s shoulder to look at it. There was a definite plainness to the book, from its undecorated cover to the no-nonsense, no-frills typeface. It was as if the publishers intended it to fade away to the very back of the bookcase, for it to be overlooked on any casual perusal of the shelf, to be found only by those who were specifically looking for it.

Ed flipped a couple of pages. “The desert prince gazed at the beautiful slave boy in front of him,” he read, “lying draped across the couch covered only by the sheerest of veils, batting eyes of azure at the virile male waiting to possess him. ‘I am yours completely, my lord,’ he said. ‘Take me, show me the secrets of rapture . . .’” He snorted. “What crap.”

The utter ridiculousness of the purple prose was amusing, Russell had to admit. “I wonder how much the writer got paid for this,” he said, reaching over to flip a few more pages.

“Whatever it was, it was probably way too much. I’ve seen better writing on a soup can.” Ed paused for a moment, his eyes scanning the page. “The young warrior flung himself in front of the prince,” he read aloud. “’I was supposed to be yours!’ he cried. ‘I thought I possessed your heart, your soul . . .

“’You are a fool,’ the prince replied. ‘You possessed my cock, nothing more.’

“’Then if that is all of yours I can possess,’ said the soldier, ‘I will possess it, but gladly.’” Ed just rolled his eyes.

Russell leaned over him and turned the page. A quick pass-over with his eyes told him that *this* was the page they’d been looking for. “His hands roamed over the younger man’s body,” he read, “questing, seeking, finding. His fingers grasped the twin buds that bloomed on the warrior’s chest, squeezing them like ripening fruits . . .”

“Hmm,” Ed said. “How about you lie on your back and read that again?”

Russell felt a twinge of excitement. He knew what Ed had in mind. He lay back, holding the book over his head. He began to read the paragraph again, and when he hit “grasped the twin buds,” he suddenly felt Ed’s fingers on his nipples, squeezing them firmly, the warmth of flesh one one side contrasting with the coolness of automail on the other, making it all the more intoxicating. He let out a small cry, feeling a twinge in his cock that surprised him -- it was too soon for him to be erect again, wasn’t it? But his body was definitely responding, warm tingles starting to move through his system.

“He rubbed them with his thumbs,” he said in a huskier voice than before, “coaxing them into hardness until they stood out from the man’s chest . . .”

The thumb of Ed’s flesh-and-blood hand began to rub in quick, firm circles on Russell’s nipple, and the younger boy groaned. Now there was definitely no doubt about it -- his erection was back in business. “One hand continued to roam his chest, flicking first one bud, then the other . . .”

Ed started to move his flesh-and-blood hand from side to side, caressing his right nipple first, then moving to the left, them back again . . .

And then, he bumped into Russell’s arm, jostling it, causing Russell to drop the book on top of his face.

He gave a start, then yanked it away. “What was that for?” he said.

“You were in my way!” Ed said.

“Well, *you* were clumsy!” Russell retorted.

“Hey, *you* try navigating around your arms!” Ed snatched the book away from him.

“You think it’s easy keeping out of your way? Why don’t *you* read?”

“All right, I will!” Ed flopped on his back, the book open above him the same way Russell had it. “He turned the delectable creature who was his main dish for the night . . .” Ed rolled his eyes again . . . “over onto his stomach . . .” Ed promptly flipped over, carrying the book with him, laying it flat on the bed. “He looked at the perfect mounds that were presented to him, firm and rounded, an exotic fruit waiting for the plucking. He began to kiss them, reverently . . .”

Russell took that as his cue. He bent over and began laying soft kisses over the curve of Ed’s bottom, and felt his lover stiffen in response. This was something they hadn’t done yet, and he realized he liked it, quite a bit . . . the firmness of Ed’s flesh felt very, very nice under his lips. He had to resist the temptation to caress with his hands, to nibble . . . not until the book said so.

“He kissed harder, savoring it, feeling his rod grow harder as his lover moaned from the depths of passion.”

Russell pressed his lips harder, lingering, nearly sucking, and sure enough, Ed let out a moan. The younger boy let out a sound of his own as he moved his head to the other cheek, drawing some of the flesh in his lips and tugging at it.

“The feel of it was warm, deliciously warm, “ Ed read through ragged breathing, “like the water of a crick that had been kissed by sunshine . . .”

Russell suddenly raised his head. “*Crick*?”

Ed twisted around quickly, his face bearing a look of frustration that his lover had stopped what he was doing. “Yes. That’s what it *says*. Crick.”

“Don’t you mean *creek*?”

Ed suddenly flipped over and sat bolt upright. “I know how to read!”

“But you said *crick*! Not creek!”

“Well, maybe it’s pronounced that way where *you* come from, but dammit, in Riesemboul, we say *crick*! Don’t you accuse me of not knowing how to read!”

“I wasn’t *accusing* . . .”

“Well, then what were *you* doing? You think I can’t read, then . . .”

“Oh, the hell with it! *I’ll* read!” Russell yanked the book back away from him. Much as he hated having to give up kissing Ed’s perfect ass, he knew if he reread the *creek* passage all hell would break loose again, so he flipped a couple of pages. “He cupped the sacs that lay beneath the prince’s fiery rod” -- Russell had to restrain himself from laughing -- “in his hand, letting his fingers gently caress them . . .”

He was going to need both hands for this, he was sure. He lay the book on the bed next to Edward and reached over for one of the sticks, putting it on top as a paperweight. He brushed his hands off on his pants, then did what the book said, very gently taking his lover’s balls in his hand, sliding his fingers over the surface. He heard Ed give a contented purr, and the heat in his own belly was flaring to new life.

“His other hand began to move along the length of steel before him . . .” Russell briefly wondered if he should be running his hand over Ed’s automail arm instead of his erection. “He caressed it as one would caress the blushing cheek of a maiden . . .”

He took the hardness before him into his hand, starting a gentle stroking, figuring this was what the author was aiming at. Ed was starting to writhe, moaning, one hand clutching at the sheets, and Russell’s eyes were fixed on his lover’s face, golden lashes gently fringed on his cheeks, mouth moist and open and panting, skin flushed pink . . .

He hoped the next line of the book would be “And then he took the prince, hard,” because that’s what he felt like doing.

Instead, it said, “His fingers danced on the silken mushroom at the tip and played in the opening, spreading around the drops of dew that appeared there.” Russell quickly complied, stroking the head of Ed’s erection, which was already moist with a few drops of pre-come. His own hardness was starting to ache for his lover’s fingers, his mouth, *anything* . . .

Then, his elbow hit the book, and it clattered to the floor.

“Damn!” Russell said, bending over to retrieve it.

Ed sat up. “Why did you stop?”

“You heard what happened! I knocked the book over!” Russell lay it back on the bed -- unfortunately, the stick had gone flying, so there was no way he’d be able to find his place again.

“The hell with the book!” Ed said. “It was just going to keep saying the same flowery crap!”

“Look, this was your damn idea in the first place. We *agreed* we were going to follow the book!” Russell said, holding it up like a preacher brandishing a Bible.

“What is this, alchemy?” Ed said.

“Well, you said before this was *like* alchemy! We were learning firsthand by experimenting!”

“Yeah, well, I figured it was the only way to get you to experiment, since that’s how you do alchemy! You always have to go by what’s written *in books*!”

“Don’t you start on my alchemy!” Russell nearly shouted. “You wouldn’t have had your megaweapon if it wasn’t for my way of working!”

“We almost *didn’t* have the megaweapon on time!” Ed grabbed a pillow with one hand, as if he intended to hit Russell with it. “We . . .” Suddenly, he stopped, and a sheepish smile came over his face. “Look at us. We’re supposed to be making love, we haven’t seen each other in weeks, and instead, we’re yelling about alchemy.”

“You’re the one who brought up alchemy,” Russell said, cooly, opening the book again.

Ed put his hand on top of the book. “Let’s just forget this thing, Russell. It sounded like a good idea, but . . . it wasn’t. Not at all.”

Russell looked down at the book. He was going to retort -- but he knew Ed was right. They hadn’t done anything but fight since they’d started using it.

“Look, we’ll just put this thing away, okay?” Ed took the book away from Russell, his eyes idly scanning the pages. “Besides, I thought this would be hot, but instead, it’s . . .”

He suddenly stopped, his eyes widening, and let out a loud, “What the HELL?” Russell scrambled over to Ed and began reading what his lover had been looking at -- and his jaw dropped.

They just sat there for a long moment, reading the page, eyes getting wider and wider. Then, Ed pointed to a passage and said, “Now *that’s* just not possible without alchemy!”

“I don’t even think it’s possible *with* alchemy,” Russell said, blinking.

“Sure it is. You just have to calculate *very* carefully,” Ed said.

Russell quickly slammed the book shut and tossed it on the floor. “I thought we weren’t going to talk about alchemy anymore.” And to emphasize what he was saying, he grabbed Ed in his arms and kissed him, hard, probing his lips with his tongue, and felt his lover open up for him, eagerly.

Russell rolled them both over so he was on top, his fingers lightly skimming Ed’s ribs. His mouth moved from lips to ear to neck, laying licks and kisses everywhere, gently biting and sucking at one spot on Ed’s throat that made the older boy let out a deep groan.

“What do you want, Ed?” Russell said in a husky, breathy voice. “Tell me.”

“How about putting that mouth a little lower?” his lover panted.

Russell responded by moving down to kiss Ed’s nipples, which brought a deep, throaty groan, but also a, “No, no! Lower!”

Grinning wickedly, Russell spread Edward’s legs apart and moved down to his right inner thigh. He touched his tongue to it, licking slowly upward, and he felt his lover arch, heard him gasp -- but he said, “Dammit, Russell!”

Russell kept concentrating on the thigh. He nipped at the sensitive flesh close to the juncture of leg and pelvis, drawing a bit of the skin into his mouth and sucking at it. He rubbed his cheek against it, feeling the taut muscles underneath, hard from countless hours of running and jumping.

With a few last kisses, he moved to where Ed wanted him, and began to lick along the shaft, running his tongue up to the head, where he swirled it around a little.

“Ooohhh, yeah,” Ed moaned. “That’s more like it!”

Russell opened his lips and slid down on the other boy’s hardness, groaning in his throat at the way it filled his mouth, how it felt moving over his tongue. Oh, yes, he liked this. He started to suck, his fingers slipping up Edward’s chest, seeking his nipples.

“Ahhh, yes,” Ed’s husky voice just made Russell feel even hotter, and he took his lover in even deeper, moving on him faster. He moved one hand to his balls, cupping and stroking like in the book . . .

An d he felt Ed push his head upward.

“What was that for?” Russell said, moving back up.

“You don’t want me to go off yet, do you?” Ed was pulling a bunch of tissues from the box next to the bed.

Russell frowned at that. “What are you doing?”

“Just something that’ll make things hotter a lot more than that book did.” He clapped his hands together and directed the purple sparks that resulted at the tissues. They transmuted into something that looked like a fuzzy oven mitt.

Russell leaned over to look at it, an odd expression on his face. “How is *that* going to . . .”

But without a word, Ed slipped the mitt on his hand, leaned over and kissed Russell, cutting off his words. Russell found himself being tumbled back onto the bed, his head hitting the pillow just as Ed probed extra deeply into his mouth with his tongue.

And then, something soft was surrounding his manhood, starting to stroke it lightly, up and down, and he groaned deep in his throat. It wasn’t Ed’s hair, Ed was still up there, kissing his ear and nibbling at the lobe.

“Ohhh,” he said. “What . . . is . . .”

“Take a look,” Ed said in a breathy whisper, his lips right on Russell’s ear.

Russell did -- and saw Ed holding onto him with that mitt thing, rubbing and caressing. The sensation was incredible -- the glove was a soft, soft, soft fur-like substance, making every movement of it against his skin tingly and tickly and so, so hot . . .

“You like this?” Ed said, starting to move the soft thing slowly up Russell’s stomach, to his chest, circling and brushing over a nipple before moving to its twin.

Russell just moaned loudly, “Ed . . . oh, Ed . . .”

Ed lowered his head to Russell’s left nipple, sucking it hungrily as the mitt continued to caress the right, and Russell whimpered at the combination of soft and tingly, hot and wet. He arched his hips, spreading his legs, mutely begging Ed to move down with the soft thing again.

Ed answered his plea, stroking the mitt back down over his stomach, moving to his thigh, where he swirled it in circles, teasing the place right beside his manhood before brushing over his balls. Now Russell arched and cried out, loudly.

“Ed,” he gasped. “So good . . . so good . . .”

As he began to caress Russell’s erection again, the softness enveloping him, surrounding him, seeming to penetrate to the bottom of his soul, Ed said, “Get me ready. I want to sit on top of you.”

Russell raised his head. “Hey! I thought I was going to be inside you this time!”

“You are,” Ed said, releasing Russell (making him groan in disappointment) and getting on all fours. “I’m just gonna be *sitting* on you.”

At the sight of that oh-so-perfect ass, presented to him like a gift, Russell wanted nothing but to be inside it -- and he didn’t care how. He reached up, caressing a curve tenderly, letting his fingers slip into the cleft just a little, then squeezing.

Reaching for the phial of oil he’d brought with him, he unscrewed the cap and poured some onto his fingers. That stuff had been the result of much experimentation in the lab. He’d wanted a substance that was slippery, and stayed that way, without being absorbed into the skin. And then, he’d had to tell Fletcher he was trying to come up with a more efficient automail lubricant (he could tell by his brother’s eyes that he didn’t quite buy it).

Leaning over, he parted the two cheeks, bending over to lay soft kisses over the curve of one as his finger slipped gently inside of Ed. He felt the other boy tense, and he caressed his bottom with the palm of his other hand, as if to reassure him that the pain was temporary, the pleasure would be worth it . . .

When Ed let out a loud moan, Russell knew he’d been successful.

He moved the finger in and out, slowly, feeling the muscles clench around it, drawing him in. His eyes fluttered closed as he imagined this sensation all around his hardness.

Oh, he was eager to feel it. He had to be very, very careful he didn’t go too fast, and hurt Ed, or not prepare him enough.

“Mmmm,” Ed said. “Good . . . more . . .”

Russell slid the finger off and reached for a tissue, wiping the finger off and relubing it, along with a second. This time, when he pushed them in, he moved up to kiss Ed’s shoulders and back, burying his head in the satiny hair, rubbing his cheek against it. Ed arched against him, his breathing coming heavily, and he turned his face back toward Russell for a kiss.

Their mouths came together, tongues sliding against each other, as Russell moved his fingers faster, Ed starting to buck back against him.

“Aaahh, dammit, that’s amazing,” Ed groaned.

Russell slid his fingers out. “Now what?”

“Lie down,” Ed said.

Russell spread some lube on his length, then lay on his back and watched as Ed positioned himself, straddling him, wriggling his hips to get in place. His first attempts at thrusts were not successful, Russell’s erection just sliding between the cheeks -- not that it didn’t feel incredible (Russell let out a small moan at the friction, and thought that he could just easily rub himself in the cleft until he came), but they both wanted something more.

Finally, Ed reached down, grasped Russell’s manhood --

“Watch it!” Russell said. “You’re squeezing it like a rubber toy!”

“Hey, you want us to do this or not?” Ed wriggled his hips again, and thrust down, and suddenly Russell was encased in *heat*, and Ed’s body was constricting all around him, not too tight, just tight enough to feel *good,* to send little shockwaves to the very tip of his toes.

“Ohh . . . Ed, that’s . . . that’s . . .”

He opened his eyes, and saw his lover above him, slowly easing down on his cock, his eyes closed, his head tipped back, golden hair spilling all around his shoulders, skin glistening with a light sheen of sweat . . . hell, even his automail seemed to be shining in the lamplight. His nipples stood out from his chest like small, delectable fruits, his own erection rose from a thicket of golden curls . . .

Russell thought he was going to come just from looking at him. Of course, the tight heat that was surrounding him more and more and *more*, totally enveloping him, was not hurting at all.

Ed paused, leaning forward, panting, the satiny curtain of his hair obscuring his face. Russell raised his head. “Ed? Are you all right?”

“Yeah, yeah . . . just need to . . . get used to it . . .” He wriggled his hips a little, then began a very slow thrust, pulling back bit by bit, creating friction that made Russell give out a loud moan, and then, when it was almost all the way out, he moved down again.

Russell was totally lost in passion now, his head starting to toss this way and that, mouth open in a gasp as his hand grabbed blindly at the bedsheets . . .

And encountered something soft and fuzzy. A wicked idea hit him. He turned the object over in his hand, looking for its opening.

When he found it, he pushed his hand into the mitt, then brought it up to Ed’s chest, sliding it upward until he found what he was looking for.

At the first contact with his nipple, Ed let out a cry, his head tossing back, and his ass tightened enough to make Russell let out a cry in return. He started to rub it up and down, back and forth, the soft material brushing over the supersensitive flesh, then moving to the other bud, swirling in circles.

His hips moved faster, and harder, pushing down on Russell more and more, sucking him into the fiery depths of himself, and Russell started to raise his hips off the bed, answering him thrust for thrust.

“Dammit, Russ,” Ed panted. “Dammit, that is just . . . “ The sentence ended in a loud moan, his head falling forward, then tossing back again when Russell moved lower with the glove, brushing just the very tip of his erection. The younger boy slid down the shaft with a rapid back-and-forth motion, then grasped it lightly and gently twisted his hand, making the softness slide all round Ed.

The boy’s moans were turning Russell on all the more. The sight of him, the feel of his channel squeezing him, the gasps and “ohs” and low, throaty purrs . . .

“More,” Ed cried. “Russell . . . I think I’m gonna . . .

Russell increased his stroking, moving from base to tip in a rapid motion, his own hips thrusting upward again and again, knowing he was getting close himself, so very close . . .

He felt Ed clench around him, and clench again, hearing him let out a long, keening yell. Russell kept thrusting his hips, feeling the heat, the tightness in his belly getting almost unbearable . . .

There was an explosion of fire at the very core of him, and he arched, nearly screaming, as his body pumped his essence into his lover in long, luscious shudders.

He felt Ed collapse on top of him. He wrapped his arms around him, still shivering from his own climax, and kissed him tenderly.

They just stayed like that for a long moment, snuggled against each other, eyes closed, panting.

Then, Russell opened his eyes, looked slowly over at Ed, and said, “Hey, beautiful.”

“Hey, beautiful yourself,” Ed said, opening one eye, then making an “mmm” sound and nuzzling the other boy’s chest.

It was only after he’d rested his cheek on Ed’s hair, breathing deeply of his chemical-and-spice-and-raspberry scent, that he realized he still had the mitt on his hand, it was resting on Edward’s back, and it was *not* dry. He quickly reached for a tissue to wipe it off.

“We can just throw that out.” Ed carefully pulled the mitt from Russell’s hand.

“Shame,” Russell said with a lazy smile. “I wanted to use it again.”

“You think I can’t just make another?” Ed said, reaching for other tissues to bundle it in, then dropping it in the garbage.

As Ed nuzzled against him again, Russell wrapped his arms around him, trying to think of creative ways he could enhance their lovemaking with his *own* alchemy. There was a way to get plants to expand and sway their leaves . . . he thought of getting an extra-soft plant to tickle Ed in all the right places . . .

Oh, yes, that was an interesting concept. He was going to have to think about that one when he got home.

But for now . . . he wanted to cuddle. And so, he did, kissing the top of his head while stroking the long, silken hair.

“I still don’t know why that guy had those books,” he said.

“So what’re you gonna do with them?” Ed yawned, his flesh hand idly stroking Russell’s chest.

“Probably sell them to a used book dealer,” Russell replied. “Very discreetly.”

“They can have ‘em,” Ed said, nestling his head in the juncture of Russell’s neck and shoulder. “Never thought dirty books would be so damn flowery.”

“What about your *book research* on sex?” Russell said, teasingly.

Ed raised his head. “I used *medical studies*. You think I’d go looking for something like *that*? If Mustang caught me with that kind of book, I’d never hear the end of it.”

“I’m sure the military guys have a *lot* of books like that,” Russell said, sounding very amused.

“I never had time to find out,” Ed said, dropping his head again.

And that just made Russell wonder what the hell the military was making Ed do again. He tried to push the idea away -- the aftermath of their lovemaking was no time to be *worrying* about Ed, about what could happen.

But he *did* find himself holding onto the boy extra-tightly as they fell asleep.

* * *

They slipped back into the farmhouse as the light of dawn was peeking over the horizon, thinking they were going to be there before everyone else awoke.

As soon as they saw Fletcher and Al sitting at the breakfast table, they knew they were wrong.

“Oh, hi,” Russell said, hoping the younger boys didn’t see how his face was flushed with color. “You two are up early . . .”

He couldn’t help but notice a quick, twinkly-eyed glance that passed between the younger boys, which just made him squirm uncomfortably.

“We figured we’d get an early start on checking the orchard,” Al said.

“And we thought we’d make breakfast,” Fletcher added, a too-wide smile crossing his face.

“Which book is that?” said Fletcher with genuine interest, pointing to what Ed was carrying under his arm. He hadn’t bothered to remake the box, since they thought they weren’t going to be encountering anyone.

“Just an alchemy text,” Ed said, quickly.

“Can I see it?” Al said, reaching out his hand to his brother, his eyes all innocence.

“No!” Ed said, abruptly, hiding it behind his back. “I mean, you saw this one before! We were reading it in the barn!”

Al frowned. “I thought we put that one in our suitcase?”

“Not that one, the other one!” Ed’s face was nearly as red as his coat. “I’m going to go use the bathroom!” He rushed up the stairs, and Russell figured Ed’s primary destination was not the bathroom, but Russell’s bedroom.

He knew he was going to have to check under his bed for the book before Fletcher found it.

* * *

Later that day, Ed and Russell were in the barn again, sorting books.

“Biochemical alchemy,” Ed said, looking at one spine, then putting it in a pile. “Alchemical history . . . metal alchemy . . .”

“I want that one,” Russell said.

“You can have it,” Ed said. “I remember seeing that book in Central. It’s so outdated that . . .”

And then, an unfamiliar female voice said from the doorway, “Excuse me?”

Both boys looked up to see a woman in her late 40s or early 50s, in a plain, blue-gray jacket and skirt, blond hair drawn back in a bun, a pair of half-moon spectacles perched on her nose. “I’m sorry to interrupt,” he said, “but the owner of this farm said I would find you out here . . . is one of you Russell Tringham?”

Russell stood up, wondering what kind of news he was going to hear now. “I am,” he said.

The woman walked toward him, hand extended. “Mr. Tringham, I’m Martha Woodham, Arthur Corley’s niece. I believe we saw each other at the will reading.”

“Yes,” he said, taking her hand and shaking it. “You were the executor of the will.”

“I came to see you about the books,” she said, her eyes scanning the barn. “I see they were all delivered.”

“Yes,” Russell said. “This is Edward Elric, by the way . . . a friend.”

“How do you do,” the woman said, nodding in Ed’s direction. Ed just waved.

“Are you here to . . . take the books back?” Russell backed up against one crate, almost protectively.

The woman shook her head. “I just want to make sure you find good homes for all of them,” she said. “My uncle’s library meant a lot to him. He used to tell me stories about how he acquired a lot of them. Like these . . . “ She pointed to the pile of history books. “They were given to him by a history professor he courted for awhile. She got a position at a university in East City and had to leave him behind.”

She walked toward a stack of novels. “This set here, the first editions . . . they came from a librarian he knew when he lived in Central. She was separated from her husband -- and in the end, she went back to him.”

Russell began to wonder if every single artifact and knickknack in the Corley house had been a remnant of an unhappy love affair.

“And those . . .” She pointed to a box of books on art. “From an artist. He was a . . .close friend of my uncle.”

Ed and Russell looked at each other. They didn’t miss the pause before “close friend.”

She smiled, quietly. “I knew him when I was a child, actually. He was one of the nicest people I ever met.”

“Did he . . .” Russell said.

“Pass away?” The woman bent over and picked up one of the art books, looking at it sadly. “He did. He was murdered.”

Russell and Ed both gasped. Russell wondered if it had anything to do with the man’s choice of lifestyle.

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Martha Woodham said, carefully replacing the book. “There was a robbery, he tried to stop it and got shot.”

Ed just sucked in a long breath. Russell looked at the ground, shaking his head. The person he’d once thought of as just a cheerful eccentric had definiely had a painful past.

“My uncle was rather withdrawn for a few years after that man died,” the woman said, walking over to the alchemy books. “And then, he met the man who gave him these. He became his closest confidant in life . . .”

Russell looked at the books, and had a sinking feeling about what he was going to hear next. He hoped he was wrong.

“He was a State Alchemist,” Martha Woodham added, looking at both boys. “He was considered one of the very best. He divided his time between Central and Xenotime but . . . when he was here, he was considered part of the family. And then, he went off to war, and was killed in the line of duty.”

Russell’s hand balled into a fist, and he bit down hard on his lower lip. His eyes strayed over to Edward, whose face was maddeningly unreadable.

“My uncle . . . he was never the same after that,” the woman said, sadly. “That’s when he started surrounding himself with *things.*”

“Wow,” Ed said. “Wasn’t exactly lucky in love, was he?”

This caught the woman aback -- she obviously hadn’t expected them to see through the veiled references to her uncle’s same-sex affairs -- but she smiled, gently, and said, “No . . . he wasn’t. And it’s a shame, because at heart . . . he was a romantic.” She looked at Russell. “You see why I want to make sure these books have a good home.”

“Mrs. Woodham,” Russell said, leaning against one of the crates, “why do you think your uncle picked *me* to leave them to?”

“Well, he knew you loved books, and that you’d take care of them,” she said. “And he *did* like you quite a bit. And, knowing him . . . I’ll bet he was thinking that some of the spirit of the books would rub off on you.”

“Spirit of the books?” Russell said.

“They were given in love,” the woman said. “I think he was hoping you’d find the lasting happiness in love that he never did. You’re still so young . . .”

Russell took a deep breath as his mind processed this. His eyes wandered over to Ed . . . who just sat deep in thought, one hand pressed to his chin, his brow furrowed.

“That’s . . . kind of him,” he said.

The woman pulled a watch from her skirt pocket, checked it, and said, “I have to go now. It was lovely meeting both of you.”

“Likewise,” Russell said.

As she left, both boys were quiet, thinking of the last part of her tale, of the State Alchemist who was the last great love of Arthur Corley’s life, who had died in the line of duty.

Then, Edward said, “Damn . . . Russell, did you know about any of this?”

But Russell was having nothing of changing the subject. He was going to address is fears of losing his lover *now.* He would be damned if the same thing happened to him that happened to Corley.

“Ed . . . what *is* it you’ve been working on? You said something about the ultraweapon . . .”

Ed blinked. “Where did that come from?”

“You know very well where that came from,” Russell said. “Just answer me.”

“Russell, I’m *not* going to die,” Ed said. “You think something like a bunch of pathetic people who think they’re revolutionaries is going to get in my way? Yeah, it’s true that they’re not giving up, but once we find out who their leader is . . .”

*I* want them to give up,* Russell thought. *I don’t want you in the line of danger all the time. Not when I can’t protect you . . .*

And then, an idea occurred to him. If Ed wasn’t going to stop working for the military, maybe there was a way he could at least help him -- and be able to keep an eye on him.

“But you said they’re working on an *ultraweapon.* Ed, that’s a *plant-based* weapon. I should be helping you with this.”

“I don’t want you working on this!” Ed leapt to his feet. “You and Fletcher were in enough danger with the Baddley thing, I don’t want you getting into trouble again!”

“And if I don’t help, they’ll make an ultraweapon before you do!” Russell said, jumping up as well.

“They’re not going to do that!” Ed swiped at his hair, pushing it out of his eyes. “They said they needed a plant alchemist as talented as Fletcher . . .”

“And how do you know they haven’t found one?” Russell leaned over, narrowing his eyes.

“That’s exactly why I don’t want the two of you involved!” Ed said, looking away. “They’ll go after Fletcher again.”

“Not if you and I protect him,” Russell said. “And Al as well.”

“Were we able to protect him the last time?” Ed said, whirling around to face him again.

“We didn’t know they were *after* him the last time!” Russell said. “Do you think I’d let anything happen to Fletcher? He’s everything in the world to me! He and . . .”

Russell stopped abruptly, looking away. The next word out of his mouth was going to be “you.” He hadn’t even been aware he was going to say it until it almost popped out.

*What would have happened,* he thought, *if I *had* said it? How would he have reacted? Would he have laughed? Been stunned? Or . . . told me he felt the same way . . .*

Slowly, he looked at Ed. The other boy’s face was unreadable. *He has to have figured it out*, Russell thought.

Then, a slow, half-smile spread over his face. “You’re stubborn as hell,” he said.

“Look who’s talking,” Russell replied, folding his arms over his chest.

Ed looked down, took a deep breath and said, quietly, “All right. I’ll talk to Mustang about having you help. But only if you do as much of the research as possible here, in Xenotime. I’ll come out to work with you whenever I can. And I’ll have them send a guard out here to make sure *nothing* happens to you and Fletcher.”

There was something about the firmness with which he said the last words, the way his eyes flashed, that made Russell feel that Ed *meant* what he was saying, with every ounce of his being.

It wasn’t what he’d been looking for. He’d *wanted* to be with Ed in Central, where he knew he could keep an eye on him and help whenever needed.

*But at least it means he’ll be coming out here more often,* he thought. *He can protect me . . . and I can protect him.*

“You have a deal,” he said.

He reached over and embraced his lover, and felt him hug back extra-tightly, his arms encircling Russell as if trying to shield him from harm.

Russell smiled a bit. He knew now Ed had understood what that unsaid word was. And he had his response.

They stayed there for a long moment, just holding each other, savoring each other’s warmth. Russell breathed in Ed’s scent, letting his fingers trail over the ponytail.

The words “I love you” were forming in the back of his head, and they wanted desperately to escape, but he held them back. *This isn’t the time*, he thought. *Not after that discussion we just had. He’d think I was being needy and clingy.*

So he just continued to hold him, letting his body convey what his words could not -- at least, not yet.

Ed finally broke the silence by saying, “Okay, now we know where those books came from.”

“He probably shared them with his lovers,” Russell said, “the same way we did last night.”

“Yeah, well, I hope they didn’t *laugh themselves silly* when they read that stuff,” Ed replied, looking up at Russell.

“I don’t think it was considered as silly back then,” Russell said, absently stroking his ponytail.

“Hey, if you *really* want the books to find a good home,” Ed said, “Al and I know someone in the military who’ll take them. She literally lives in mountains of books.”

“I wish I could keep more of them myself,” Russell said. “But I’m restricted to one bookcase.”

“You think that’s a problem?” Ed said. “You’re an alchemist, aren’t you?”

“If I make the bookcase bigger, Fletcher will know.”

“I’m not talking about making the bookcase bigger. Watch . . .”

Ed slid out of Russell’s arms and walked to the box of alchemy books, pulling out a particularly big one. He knelt down, put it on the ground in front of him and clapped. Purple lighting surrounded it, and it shrank by about a third.

“There you go!” he said. “Still readable, and you can fit more of them in the bookcase!”

Russell knelt beside him, picked it up and flipped through it. “This is great!” He gave Ed a smile bordering on a smirk. “Of course, I’d expect *you* to know everything about miniaturization.”

Ed’s response was to grab a large book and clout Russell over the head. Russell flopped to the ground, knowing he well deserved what just happened.

But he was smiling to himself. He definitely wasn’t going to toss Arthur Corley’s books away casually now -- not since he learned the story behind them.

“I think we *will* give the books to your friend in the military,” he said as he sat up.

“Even . . .” Ed pointed toward the boxes of erotica.

Russell shook his head. He knew he’d be keeping them. He’d shrink them to a *tiny* size, of course, and hide them in the very bottom of a drawer. He didn’t think that he and Ed would be using them again right soon, but . . .

He remembered what Corley’s niece said about the “spirit of the books,” about the man’s wish that Russell would be luckier in love than he was himself.

“I think Corley wanted me to have those most of all,” he said.


This fic was largely inspired by (slight spoiler alert) the episode toward the end of the series where we see Russell in a bookshop, happily freaking out over everything he finds there. I knew I wanted to do something involving Russell, Ed, books and sex -- and this fic resulted.

Steve Savage was, as he has done so often, the editor for this piece, and he was a *tremendous* help. Thanks also go to mistr3ss quickly, whose romantic RussellXEd erotica has been a *huge* inspiration to me; to Sonya, who is a wonderful friend as always; to Aishuu, who is always a tremendous help and inspiration; and to everyone at Hellcon (CAAAAAAAKE!)

Fullmetal Alchemist is property of Hiromu Arakawa, Square Enix and Studio BONES. These characters ain’t mine, I’m just borrowing them for a little while.