Dates

Roy used to be able to tell time by his women. Not down to hours and minutes and seconds, no, but weeks. He could measure off days of the calendar by it. Monday he would go to this bar and meet a woman, Tuesday was a secretary, Wednesday was a woman from a military bar, Thursday was someone from the library. These were all 'quick' things, brief interaction, enough sex to satisfy, separation. The weekend was for long dates and dinners and romance. Fridays and Saturdays were devoted to them; any type of woman from any sort of place as long as he could lose himself in it. Sundays he kept free not for the sake of any religious commitment but to rest.

He had rules for dating: No men; even for the rare one he was attracted to, it was too risky, as his reputation could make or destroy him. Work came first; any date would be cancelled if his phone rung. No subordinates; it would interfere professionally. No alchemists; there was too much chemistry between alchemists and too much competition as well.

As he gets older he begins to lose track of time.

Tuesdays and Thursdays vanish first. Then Wednesdays, then Mondays. He holds onto his weekends the longest, makes excuses for them, bends a rule here and there where it would let him keep them but they vanish as well, eventually. He keeps his reputation almost entirely because nobody could believe that rakish Roy Mustang would be without a date. He has to hesitate before signing and marking documents, glancing to Hawkeye until she clears her throat and murmurs the day at him. He signs it and looks down at it, 3.7.16, and it's an unfamiliar thing.

He blames it on age, first. He has less desire when he's older, he tells himself, and so he needs something else to orient himself towards. It's mostly a lie. He still has as much desire, is an ambitious man just on that side of thirty and there are times when he wakes alone with the blankets a torture on his skin and his only comfort is himself, which is no comfort at all. It is an age thing, but it is not his age.

Roy wakes from dreams of silver and gold, the alchemist's whispered formula to perfection. Silver limbs, the brush of cold metal against his skin, the feeling of it in his mouth, fingers twisting. Gold hair and eyes, fierce, dangerous, forbidden. It is a felony to transmute gold; it would break the economy. Roy is not a criminal. He cannot, will not, fall prey to that strange disorienting gap of age.

His notebooks are filled with women's names and they are unfamiliar to him. They blur together into a strange monstrosity, a chimerical woman, AnneMarieSusanJosephineAlexandriaEthelJane. He runs his fingers over his own notes and struggles to remember his code. He has not seen these women in weeks. He thinks it must be weeks. It may be months. How many months have passed? He looks out of the window and sees snow.

It is wrong, he knows, to find himself measuring how time passes by the dates Hawkeye murmurs to him, that he writes down and uses to mark when Fullmetal leaves on a mission, when Fullmetal returns, when Fullmetal hands in his report, when Fullmetal leaves.

Each year between them comes to a two week period, he finds when he lets his mind wander, gazing out the window and ignoring the paperwork in front of him. Each year between them was once the number of women he would have in two weeks. Almost. There were sundays, after all.

It's summer when he caves, when Fullmetal returns from a mission and gets pressed back against the brick wall at the back of the quad, around where the janitors will leave the garbage. "How old are you?" Roy demands and he bites at Fullmetal's lips, keeps him from answering for a long few minutes, he's not sure how long, until Fullmetal manages, sullenly, "Eighteen."

"Oh thank God," Roy sighs and sees Ed stiffen and snarl. It's captured him. He'll break every rule.

Hands smooth down his hair, gentle in contrast to that fierce expression, hands fist in his uniform and tug him down again.

After Roy's knees are sore and he leans his head on Ed's hipbone and asks, quiet, "When is it, today?"

Ed's voice is wry, wry enough that he might just understand. "It's now," he says.

"Ah," Roy says, amused and content. "Of course."