Quiet Lies the Hearth
It’s simple in a way things aren’t simple anymore. It’s the way the wood grain of the doorframe is rough underneath Roy’s hands and the smell of burning cedar permeates the entire house. It’s the poetry in the moment, in the soft glow of the oil lamp and the flickering licks of flame in the hearth.
Ed’s dozing, curled up over a book in that sad monstrosity of a couch he convinced Roy to buy a few weeks ago, the one with the drooping cushions and the appalling paisley print. Because it was soft, Ed had said, and now he’s got his bare feet shoved under the middle cushion to keep them warm. Every couple minutes one of the logs on the fire makes a popping noise, and Ed snuffles sleepily. His reading glasses have almost slipped off his nose.
Roy crosses the room and seats himself on the edge of a cushion, reaching up to take the glasses off and set them carefully on the coffee table. The book follows, and from this close Roy can see that Ed’s hair is curling slightly at the ends, still damp from a shower. His gaze slides lower and he realizes that Ed has stolen one of his sweaters (again), the gray chenille that he swore he’d never touch because, quote: “chenille is the gayest fabric on the planet.” It’s much too big for him. Roy draws a shaky breath and pulls off his gloves, sliding his hands under the frayed edges to smooth over Ed’s hips.
When Ed arches, skin impossibly hot and soft, Roy remembers that his hands must be freezing. He stiffens, but can’t bring himself to pull away. Ed’s body heat and the warmth from the hearth are already seeping into his bones, replacing the chill slowly but insistently. Awake now, Ed sits up, and Roy’s hands slide around his sides to rest on his lower back. Ed’s eyes are clear and Roy waits for him to say something for a long moment.
“Aren’t you going to yell?” Roy asks finally.
“No,” Ed says quietly. “It was a shitty book, anyway. Beulens wouldn’t know an asymmetrical array from his asshole.”
Roy’s lips quirk and something tight in his chest loosens. Ed wraps his arms around Roy’s neck and sighs. “It’s nearly nine,” he mumbles into the junction between Roy’s ear and jaw, “Did you eat anything?”
“Yes,” Roy says. “Hawkeye brought me some cheese sandwiches and the world’s oldest meatloaf.”
“Shit, and you actually ate it? You sorry bastard.” Roy takes a deep breath and smells the smoke in Ed’s hair, that slow sharp wood scent underlain with a hint of whatever shampoo he must have used. It is cool against Roy’s nose, individual flyaway strands tickling as Roy exhales. “Al sent me over with some leftovers, in case you hadn’t. They’re in the fridge if you want them.”
“Not particularly,” Roy rumbles, trying to lick at a stretch of bare shoulder. He’s slightly disappointed when Ed pulls away and just looks at him, following the planes of his face, the dark bags under his eyes, the new worry lines across his forehead, the hair clumping where he’d been pulling at it in frustration. A real catch. What seems like a dozen different expressions flit across Ed’s features as he raises one hot hand to push Roy’s hair back. Then he scowls and leans up, presses his lips briefly to the top of Roy’s head. Roy blinks once.
“You better not fuckin’ taste like meatloaf,” Ed says, then kisses him.
Roy opens his mouth in surprise. Ed’s tongue is almost hesitant against his own, but hot and wet and tasting so overwhelmingly of Ed that Roy wants to suffocate on it. Just pull Ed on top of him and forget that he needs to breathe. They break apart and Roy feels the loss of it in his gut. He reaches out but Ed extricates himself from Roy’s arms and clambers over him.
“Be right back,” Ed says, flushing. “Take off your goddamn boots.”
Roy hits the back of the couch with a whump and Ed is gone. He scrubs at his face with the heels of his hands and blows messily, staring at the fire in the hearth. Strange shadows play on the walls behind him. He shakes himself and bends down to undo his laces and jerk off his boots.
When he looks up again Ed is standing in front of him, blushing furiously and holding the tube of oil Roy keeps in the dresser next to his bed. “You’re not wearing any pants,” Roy says.
“Shut up,” Ed says, and Roy can’t help himself; he starts snickering. It’s a little hysterical, yes, but the last of the tension seeps from his shoulders and he’s smiling, actually smiling for the first time in what feels like days. “You’re such an asshole,” and all of a sudden Roy finds himself flat on his back across the couch, a frowning Ed straddling him.
“Ouch,” he complains mildly, reaching up again to slide his hands up Ed’s chest underneath the sweater. It’s just as warm as it was before, the faint tracery of scars something for his fingers to follow, silky even through the calluses. He finds a nipple and tweaks it, getting a hiss for his efforts. “I think the most amusing part is that you kept the sweater on,” Roy continues, and ducks when Ed tries to hit him.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Ed says, “I like this sweater, okay? It’s soft.” Anything Roy might have to say in retort is lost when Ed bends down and kisses him, tongue rough and wet against his own. He can feel the smile playing around Ed’s lips and groans, fingers tightening on Ed’s thighs. Ed gives Roy’s mouth one last lick and wriggles down, scraping his teeth down the line of Roy’s neck. His fingers make quick work of the clasps on Roy’s uniform jacket.
He gets stuck on the buttons of Roy’s dress shirt, though, and has to sit up. Roy follows and snatches another kiss, and together they get both jacket and shirt off somehow, tossing them to the floor. Then he’s pushed down yet again by an automail hand. His ribs stick out a bit more than he would like, shift under skin that is so pale it is nearly translucent. He really should eat more, just like he should spend less time at the office and maybe get more than three hours of sleep every night.
“God,” Ed says, eyes dilating, and then Ed is licking him, sketching paths down Roy’s chest with his tongue. Roy arches into that wet heat as it moves lower, skates the skin just above his pants. He swallows convulsively and shudders when Ed opens his mouth and bites.
“Ed,” Roy groans, “Ed, please.” His own voice sounds cracked in his ears, threaded through with something broken. “Please,” whispered one more time when Ed looks up sharply, luminous eyes wide. It’s too much; he’s too tired, he wants this too much, wants Ed too much to keep playing these games. A tiny smile darts across the corners of Ed’s mouth, a smile Roy has seen before, like the smile Ed gets when he’s spent all afternoon methodically disproving some fundamental tenet of the latest alchemical theory. It should piss him off but it just turns him on more, and his hips jerk helplessly upward, seeking friction.
“Okay, okay,” Ed says. He digs around in the cushions and unearths the bottle of oil. “Shit, you’d think you were the one who was sitting here all afternoon, waiting for you to get home, thinking about how much I want your cock in my mouth, how much I want you to bend me over this couch and fuck me until I can’t see straight anymore, how – ”
“Edward,” Roy growls warningly. He gropes for Ed’s hip but Ed scoots backwards, settling his weight on Roy’s knees.
“Right, yeah,” Ed says a bit breathlessly. Roy forgives him almost immediately for being a bloody tease because Ed is undoing Roy’s pants and shoving them down along with his underwear to free his cock. They don’t go down very far, with Ed sitting on him, but they go down far enough and Roy almost wants to hiss with the relief of it. “Fuck,” Ed says, then fumbles with the oil, pulling the cork out with his teeth and pretty much upending the whole bottle onto Roy. “Been waiting too fucking long,” he mutters before giving Roy’s cock one or two perfunctory tugs to spread the oil around, then positions himself over it and sinks down with a sigh and a grimace.
The heat is incredible. Roy has to close his eyes for a few seconds to ground himself. His fingers dig into Ed’s hips hard enough to leave marks and he groans out loud. This is it, what he’s been working for, the reason he’s been forgetting to eat and sleep. This, this beautiful boy who is biting his lip and moving above him, golden hair hanging over his face like a curtain and firelight gleaming off his skin. This, he will keep safe if it kills him.
Ed gasps and fists one hand into the couch and wraps the other around his cock. He throws his head back, exposing the line of his throat, and Roy can see the tracks that the sweat makes down his skin. Then there is nothing but the pull of Ed’s body on Roy’s cock and the low gasping noises that Ed is making, and Roy’s hips stutter up and he comes with Ed’s name on his lips. Ed follows soon after, jerking once or twice then collapsing panting across Roy’s chest.
Roy doesn’t even really remember when Ed gets up to clean them both off put a few more logs on the fire. He does remember when Ed drags a quilt over and covers them both with it, tucking his face into Roy’s neck and exhaling warmly. He can feel the soft threads of the sweater against his skin. The new logs snap in the fireplace and the couch creaks underneath them.
This is how he will fall asleep, Ed draped like a bony blanket over him. And when he wakes up in the morning, Ed will have reheated the leftovers Al sent with him and they will eat breakfast together. Ed will smile, and probably grumble a bit and yell a lot, and Roy will kiss him to shut him up and remember why it is worth it.