Author: miserywhip, no beta.
Rating: PG for vulgarities.
Characters: Roy and Ed. In a non-pairing manner, which may change if the fic continues. Various small part OCs, Al and Riza for brief moments.
Warning: This fic takes place after an alternate ending for the series, although I'd like to say there are no spoilers or references to the series at all, since it's AU. If you notice anything that could be considered a spoiler, let me know. Restored Al, Ed is no longer in the military but they live in Central.
Edward knocked on the door of his brother's bedroom as he walked by. Hair in mild disarray from sleep, Alphonse emerged from the room and peered down the hallway at his older brother's retreating back.
"I'm going to work." Edward announced. It had become a custom for them, ever since Ed had opted for a less dangerous job.
"Be safe! Have a good day at work, Brother." Al answered, following tradition. Since he no longer shadowed his older brother they'd picked up this habit, a ritual that was fueled by the dangerous lives they'd once led.
Edward slipped into his coat with smile. A life that seemed like a dream, it was so far in the past. The blonde exited the house wondering what today would bring as he started his walk down the street. It was less than ten minutes to walk to the diner on the corner, and Ed hummed to himself as he made his way down the sidewalk.
They hadn't left Central, despite having no need to remain there. Winry was still cross that they never came home, but they visited often and Edward preferred the busy life of Central to quiet Risembool.
Life had indeed become peaceful for the Elric brothers, and the older of the two couldn't be happier.
"Thank God, you're here." Eleanor gasped when Edward arrived. He stared at her in confusion as he slipped out of his coat and hung it up with the others. Grabbing a pen and notepad to start the day he waited for an explanation. He didn't have to wait long. "There was some sort of lunch party planned for this big company and they've just been seated. I need you to help with that before you even look at your regular tables."
Edward grinned, slipping the notepad into the pocket of his black apron and tucking the pen behind his ear. "No problem." He answered, heading out to help take the orders of the table mentioned.
"Jack, where did we ever find him?" Eleanor breathed once he left the kitchen. It seemed like there was nothing he couldn't do, and she couldn't remember how they'd gotten along before he was hired.
"I believe he was in the military as a kid. The 'Fullmetal Alchemist' or something, but that was years ago. You gotta have discipline to work in the military." Jack answered as he pulled two peices of steak out of the ice box.
"What an odd title...Fullmetal, I wonder what it meant." She murmured, turning to leave the kitchen.
"Who knows?" Jack answered with a laugh. "It doesn't make a difference now, does it?"
"I guess not." She replied, departing to meet the next customers.
- - - - - -
"Edward," Jennifer snapped to grab the blonde's attention. He was supposed to be on break, and after that damn lunch party he deserved a break. He glanced up with a groan. "We ran out of tables to seat people, so we had to give someone to you."
With a nod Ed pushed away from the wall he'd been leaning against. The dinner shift meant that people sat longer, which meant that tables opened up slower so there were less tips. Considering how small the menu was this made most of the waitstaff very unhappy.
Walking out, the young man withdrew his notepad and reached for his pen. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Sir." he began, as the figure behind the menu was clearly male. "My name is Edward, and I'll be your waiter tonight." He sighed, noticing the lack of cheer in his own voice and feeling unwilling to do anything about it. "Can I start you off with a drink?"
Golden eyes by this point had lowered to the notebook in hand, to write down an order and he didn't notice the menu land on the table. "Fullmetal?" The word was blurted out so suddenly Edward's head jerked up. "What are you doing here?"
The last person Ed ever expected or wanted to see at this job was Roy Mustang. So, of course that meant he'd be the first.
"I work here." Ed answered, keeping his tone cool and professional. "What are you doing here?"
"Having dinner. I believe I'm allowed?" Roy's insufferable smirk was present, as he spoke.
"Of course." The blonde answered, still trying to keep in check. He
couldn't afford to blow up at work and he wasn't the same kid anymore. He'd matured some - at least enough not to let Colonel Sarcasm get to him.
"I'm sorry, Edward. I was just in shock over the fact that for four years working under me you called me all sorts of things. Yet, the first day we see each other since you left the military, you call me 'Sir'." Roy picked up his menu again, scanning it.
"Irony at it's best." Edward answered, sourly. "May I make a suggestion?"
"Be my guest, Fullmetal."
Roy had almost expected a response along the lines of 'Get out of my diner, and never come back or I'll transmute you into something irrepairable.' The next thing out of the blonde's mouth was definitely a surprise. "The steak here is the best," Edward answered, trying to ignore the humored expression on Mustang's face. "Today's special is a chicken dish though, that-"
"Don't hurt yourself going through the pleasantries, Edward." The smile on Roy's face almost resembled sincerity. "I'll take whatever you suggest."
Golden eyes flicked up to meet the older man's darker pair, as if to find the underlying joke behind those words. Then he jotted something down and turned from the table to get Mustang's order.
"Damn him," Edward muttered as he cleared the table off. Roy Mustang had not changed in four years, except in rank. Ed had noticed a lot more color to the uniform, but he didn't ask what that meant and certainly hadn't looked long enough to figure it out for himself.
First that party, then this. Could the day get any worse? Once he cleared off the table that Roy had been sitting at he retreated to the back room to rest his weary legs on a stool provided for that purpose. It was just another two hours, he reminded himself, and then he was out of there.
- - - - - -
Alphonse easily noticed that there was something different about his brother, when the older Elric got home. Whatever it was Edward wasn't sharing and Al wondered if he should be worried, or figure it was probably not important enough to talk about. Edward certainly didn't seem to think it was worth discussing as he headed into the bathroom for a shower.
He was in the shower for so long that his brother began to wonder if something had happened to him. The steam coming out from under the door told Al that it was a long hot shower. Ed was obviously frustrated about something and his little brother wanted to know what it was.
When Edward emerged from the bathroom donning nothing but a towel Alphonse couldn't help but think he looked a lot like his younger self. Of course with the obvious differences in his limbs, but Edward's hair was loose, as it rarely was - and his face was screwed up in frustration. Apparently, the hot shower hadn't helped in the slightest. Al half expected the first words out of his mouth to be, "That damn Colonel."
It wasn't too far off.
"Who does that bastard think he is?!" Edward demanded, storming into his room. Al had not seen his brother so worked up in a long time. He waited for Ed to get dressed, hoping to ask him what had happened when he emerged from his room.
Except for the fact that Edward remained in his room. He changed and went directly to bed, and Al didn't see him again until the next morning.
- - - - - -
"Brother? What happened yesterday?" Alphonse asked as they sat down for breakfast the following morning.
Edward regarded him thoughtfully as he took a seat at the table. "What about yesterday?" The blonde asked, as if he'd forgotten his outburst the previous night.
"You were really mad about something." Al answered, wondering how his older brother could have forgotten something that had angered him so much, so easily. "What was it?"
Realization seemed to have dawned on Edward as golden eyes widened. "Roy Mustang." He answered, shoving a forkful of food into his mouth.
"Mustang?" Al asked, about to question such a response when Ed explained on his own.
"He came to the diner last night." Edward answered, "That damn bastard hasn't changed one bit." He snapped. "He was confrontational and just plain rude."
- - - - - -
"Edward Elric?" Riza asked, turning from the window she was gazing out of. "Just what are you planning, Sir?"
"Nothing." Mustang answered with a smile. "I just bumped into him, that's all."
"Those boys have been through enough, I think they deserve whatever life they have now." Hawkeye insisted in her usual warning tone. Her superior officer knew it well.
"Edward is a full grown man, now, Colonel." Roy answered, continuing to smile. "Besides, I'm not looking to drag the Elrics back into the military." He replied. "I was just out having dinner."
- - - - - -
Edward cleared off the tray and started back towards the dining area, carrying the empty tray in one hand to clean off his remaining tables. That's when he saw him. The blonde froze in place and gritted his teeth, wondering for a moment if he could find someone else to wait on that table.
No, he decided, there was no way out of this one. He pulled out his notepad and approached the table with the caution reserved for a dangerous animal.
"Good evening, Edward." Roy greeted him. "I hope you don't mind, I found the food here to be so good that I thought I'd come back a second time."
"Just don't make a habit out of it." The blonde answered, before catching himself. "What can I get you tonight?" He asked, holding the notepad ready.
"I rather like it here." Mustang answered with a smirk. "The hospitality is something I haven't seen the likes of in years." At that Edward did his best not to respond with a derisive snort. "I'd like to try something different tonight, if you have another suggestion."
Edward quirked a brow at the older man before writing something down in his notepad. It made dealing with him peacefully short. He turned and left the table without another word.
When the blonde returned with his dinner Roy regarded the younger man with raised eyebrows.
"I hope that's not poisoned, Fullmetal."
"Stop calling me that."
The tone in Edward's voice made Roy pause. He glanced up at the blonde in confusion. "What's the matter, Edward?" Obviously, he'd struck a nerve of some sort.
"I'm not in the military anymore." He answered. "So, stop calling me by a military title."
"I'm sorry," Mustang replied, surprising Ed with the sudden apology. "Force of habit, I guess you could say. I wasn't trying to upset you, Ed." There was a silence between them for a moment that made the dark haired man uncomfortable. "That's never been my objective, you know."
Edward snorted, "Sure seemed like it." A couple seated themselves at one of his tables and he excused himself with a bow. Something the older Elric reserved for Roy or Izumi. "Let me know if you need anything else, I have another table to get to." That said, the younger man walked away.
When it was clear that Roy was done eating Edward returned to his table with a tray to clear the dishes. "Can I get you anything else?" He asked.
"Have you gone on break yet?" Mustang asked, shocking Ed completely.
"Yes..." The blonde answered hesitantly. "Why?"
"It's been four years, Edward. I'd really like to catch up." He smiled. "I know where you work, so you can't get out of it." The younger man opened his mouth, but before he could speak Roy was talking once more. "When's your next day off?"
"...Thursday." Ed answered, reluctantly. He was sure that Mustang was up to something, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was.
"I'm all set for my check, Edward." Roy responded to the question that the younger man had forgotten he'd asked.
Without waiting for another word, Ed turned and nearly fled back into the building. Of course when he returned it was to discover Roy Mustang was not yet done with him. The darker haired man glanced at the bill and pulled out some money, handing it over to the blonde. He couldn't help but smile a his fingers brushed against the flesh of the other man's hand. "So, Thursday it is. I'll meet you here at 6:30."
Before Edward could protest Roy stood up. "Oh, and bring Alphonse if he wants to come." He said suddenly. "It's been awhile since I've seen him, as well." With that he put a hand on Edward's shoulder, which was notably softer than it had been years ago and walked away.
The blonde waited for the man to be clear of the patio to check how much he'd paid. Having almost expected to be shorted Ed was surprised by the generous tip. He was fairly certain Roy had paid out of his own pocket, too. Which made it all the more remarkable.
This wasn't the first time Ed suspected Mustang was up to something, but this time he wasn't too sure he wanted to find out what it was.
My poor excuse for writing this fic:
A friend of mine stumbled across a fic that had Ed as a waiter, convinced that the story could be an interesting concept if written well I dared to attempt it. I hope I managed a passable job...I think it's fairly rushed in parts but I had fun writing it, constructive criticism is welcome but please don't take it too seriously - it was mostly written as a joke.
cross-posted: fm_alchemist, steelandsparks and maybe more later...