Summary: A regular transmutation goes bizarrely awry and leads to a situation Edward and Alphonse never expected.
Previous Parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6
Dawn was just beginning to creep over the slanted rooftops of Central when the Elric-Kyoudai stepped off of the late train. Edward scratched at his throat, yawned, then stretched his arms out above his head.
“How did you sleep, ‘niisan?” Alphonse asked, stopping short slightly behind his older brother. Edward scratched the back of his head and failed to stifle another yawn.
“Not enough,” he muttered bitterly, glancing blearily around the platform. There were a handful of the familiar blue military uniforms, but no one that Edward recognized. Mustang knew that they were *supposed* to be heading back to Central, but sometimes there was no telling if he knew when they arrived or not. Due to the lack of escort, Edward was supposing “not”. He headed towards the nearest exit off the platform. Alphonse, who was still looking around, eeped and followed him.
Edward stomped down the stairs out onto the street. “How much do you want to bet that smug bastard is still in bed?” Edward punctuated that statement with another yawn, better suppressed than the last. He lightly smacked himself in the face. “I need coffee. And more sleep.”
“We can find a coffee shop easily enough,” Alphonse clanked along behind him as Edward stalked purposefully in one direction. Alphonse glanced at the sky, wondering if his brother knew that he was going the direction directly opposite headquarters. Deciding that it wasn’t the time to question his older brother’s sense of direction, he instead pointed out a nearby coffee shop. “See? There’s one.”
“Perfect.” Edward veered in that direction. The coffeehouse was rather busy, despite the earliness of the hour (or perhaps because of it). In spite of that, it took Edward no time at all to get a warm drink and something to eat.
It was going to be a gorgeous day. The rising sun had turned the clouds that skidded along the horizon a dark shade of rose. With the exception of that sparse cloud cover, the sky was clear. Edward and Alphonse sat outside, on one of the many public benches that lined the boulevard. All around them, people just beginning their day hurried along.
Edward watched the people around them as he gnawed at his breakfast, some soft, warm bread from the coffee shop. Alphonse shifted nervously every so often, moving his weight around. Edward finished his breakfast, then sat back, looking up at the early morning sky. “…Shouldn’t we get going?” Alphonse asked. He shifted oddly when Edward turned toward him.
Edward stared at him for a long moment. Then he shook his head and sighed, rolling his eyes heavenward. “All right, Al. Let’s see it.”
“What?” Alphonse squeaked.
The older Elric brother settled all the way on the bench, hooking his arms over the back and looking sidelong at Alphonse. “The cat, Al. You obviously picked up a stray again when I wasn’t paying attention. So let’s see it.”
Alphonse squeaked again, then shook his head emphatically. “No, no, you’re wrong, ‘niisan!”
“I’m not stupid, Al. And you *know* how that bastard colonel gets whenever you bring cats with you into the base. So let’s see what you picked up this time.”
Alphonse flailed mentally for a second. “Uhh… you can’t!”
Edward stared at him. Well, at least he had gotten an admission out of Alphonse that he *had* picked up something. It did explain his odd behavior, even this early in the morning it was rather hard to miss. “I can’t?”
“Yeah. Uh … she’s very shy!”
This time Edward blinked. “’She?’” he repeated mildly.
Alphonse would have bitten his tongue, had he one. He couldn’t believe he’d already let slip that something was wrong, but Edward noticed. It was hard for him to slip anything by his brother, especially when he was an unwilling accomplice. “Yeah … yeah! I’ve decided it’s a girl-kitten. And, she’s really shy AND asleep right now, so you can’t see her.” Not for the first time, Alphonse tried to do his puppy-dog eyes. “Please, ‘niisan … let her alone. She won’t make any trouble.”
His older brother shook his head. “I am NOT getting fried by Mustang because you couldn’t leave a stray alone. Let her loose.”
“Yes, right now.” Edward was starting to look irritated. “There isn’t that much traffic yet, so she won’t get trampled. Plus, if you’re quick no one will see inside your armor. Let the stupid cat out so I know that you won’t try to sneak it onto the base.”
Alphonse hesitated, and Edward started to glower at him. “If you don’t let that cat loose, I’m going to transmute you open,” he threatened.
As Alphonse started to unhook his chest piece, a car rumbled up behind them. Edward glanced back over his shoulder in surprise, and Alphonse quickly hooked his chest piece back.
The back door opened, and both the siblings could see inside the old black car. “Well, well. Look who finally appeared in Central,” Colonel Roy Mustang said, managing to smother the yawn that started before it could badly compromise his image.
“Colonel,” Edward all-but growled. Alphonse glanced at the sky, certain he was sitting in a beam of light.
“Get in, Fullmetal,” Mustang said. “Might as well get the fun stuff out of the way first, don’t you agree?”
Edward snarled something unintelligible to himself as he stood, and Alphonse followed him around to clamber into the car. Edward pinned Alphonse with a glare as they all smashed together in the backseat, then Edward climbed up (making sure to plant a boot somewhere on Mustang, sure to leave a boot-print), and over the back of the front seat. “’Morning, Lt. Hawkeye,” he said, much more pleasantly.
“Good morning, Edward,” Riza Hawkeye said pleasantly, glancing in the rear-view mirror. “And to you too, Alphonse. Back to base, sir?”
“Yes, lieutenant,” Mustang said, crossing his arms and frowning at the back of Edward’s head. The car rumbled noisily up the street.