Jellybean Whisperer (theregaltigress) wrote in fm_alchemist,
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FullMetal Alchemist Fan Fic: "On the Wings of a Dream" - Chapter 3

FullMetal Alchemist Fan Fic:

Title: "On the Wings of a Dream" - CHAPTER 3

Authors:theregaltigress and crazyloststar
Editor: theregaltigress

Characters: This: Al, Riza, Havoc, Fuery (The Rest of the Fic: Ed, Roy, and more. :) )
Rating: This Chapter: PG (The Highest Rating of the Rest of the Fic: R)
Genre: AU (sky_dark's BLTA AU, to be precise), This particular section is cute humor and a touch of suspense, (The Rest of the Fic: Generally Humor, Drama, Angst, Romance, Fluff)
Pairing(s): This: Al/Riza (pending) Roy/Ed (implied), (The Rest of the Fic: mention of Past!Roy/Riza, Havoc/OC)
Length of this (Mini-)Chapter: 5,893 words
Length of the (Edited) Story to Date: 27,548 words

As this fic is inspired from sky_dark's BLTA (("On the Wings of a Dream" takes place somewhere approximately between BLTA Chapters 7 and 9, so it is a 'tweener fic), so if you haven't read that far into her wonderful fic, you might find a few spoilers within. To get the full impact of this story series, familiarity with "The Adventures of Roy Mustang: Sex Ed Teacher" and its continuation, "Better Living Through Alchemy" would be particularly helpful, but if you aren't, hopefully we can get you up to speed. :) This is based on sky_dark's unique AU "take" on the end of the series, so there are some post-episode 51 "whiffs" and flickers of some movie backstory within the story as a whole. Obviously, since we are not sky_dark, this is not canon to BLTA, but as writers we are trying to stay as true to the characters/events in it as we possibly can. :)

CHAPTER 1: PART 1 (Includes Summary/Prologue) + Art
CHAPTERS 5 - 8+: Editing in Progress
APPX. CHAPTER 9: Riza(/Al) Ficlet
APPX. CHAPTER 10: Al/Riza Ficlet


The previous day had come and gone without anything eventful having taken place, and though it was an early Friday morning, Alphonse was just as eager to be at work as was custom. He planned out his entire day with the utmost precision so that, with any luck, he might be able to leave work on time in order to spend some quality time with Edward before his brother would have to leave for Central City the following day.

In order to accomplish this, Alphonse Elric, the Theorem Alchemist, had arrived precisely on time to work, as usual. He had a few errands to run in the morning hours and had spent upwards of an hour combing bookshelves at the local branch of the state library, and another forty-five minutes (precisely) reorganizing his notes.

The next thirty minutes, however, were spent somewhere between reading through alchemy journals and trying to sort out why he was so bothered by what Ed had said in reference to the Colonel. The only person he'd been even remotely at ease discussing women with was Lieutenant Pharr, occasionally Breda or Havoc, and flickers here and there with Pirate.

Truth to be told, however, he sometimes wished he could discuss such things with his brother: they'd been so close when they were younger, always sharing stories, ideas, adventures, and just about everything with each other. In their time apart, however, something between them had changed. Though it had, in a roundabout way, independently matured them both, the end result was still somewhat flawed. And while part of Al WANTED to repair that schism, he wasn't sure how.

And he was certain Ed interfering with the Colonel would certainly not help Alphonse's confidence in his brother, even if Ed had, as always, the best of intentions.

Al sighed rolled a hand over his face as he toyed with his bangs. His inner-dialogue began to play itself out when, through two fingers splayed across his face, he gazed over the room and caught one of the officers looking at him questioningly. Al managed (with some effort) to force one of those: 'Oh! I was just concentrating really intensely!' smiles before he snapped the nearest journal shut and began to gather his things. He'd "wasted" enough time, and got up to put some of the numerous books he had been referencing back in their proper places. He took some amount of pride that he could remember where each and every one went back: a trait few would be impressed with aside from perhaps Sheska, but the sense of control and order it brought was enough to momentarily distract Alphonse from his pondery on the other brother Elric …. and of Riza.

Al strode down the hall with a sense of confidence and control. He snapped a salute at Sergeant Fuery, who seemed to be on his way somewhere in a hurry, and then Alphonse made his way to the men's restroom in what had become a vital part of his morning ritual.

The ritual existed with one expressed purpose: to look appropriate for Riza. Al couldn't pinpoint exactly when this had slipped from a casual custom to full-blown necessity, but he suspected that change had taken place in the last three years, give or take a few months.

While he used to spend some amount of time in front of the mirror assuring he looked proper and professional for other military personnel (after all, depending on how you looked at it, Alphonse had historically become the youngest certified State Alchemist). It was important to him that he looked the part as much as possible so others might look at him as a peer rather than a child.

To his pleasant surprise, the lengths he went to be aware of proper decorum, etiquette, and other such manners had meant that, at least to Al, he had achieved vastly more at a young age than most officers had originally thought possible. He was punctual, thorough, and had an eye for detail and a memory like a steel trap.

…which might have been why each time before he paid a visit to the Colonel a visit, Alphonse found it necessary to make sure he looked his best.

He was certain his brother would not understand it in the least, and that Ed would probably find no lack of humor at his younger brother's behavior, but Alphonse found it of the utmost importance that everything about him was in order.

He took off his steel-blue coat and leaned over the counter to check his teeth. Finding everything in order, he popped in a breath-mint as he turned to one side to check his blond ponytail. With a frown, he noticed a few stray hairs, and that it wasn't "quite" centered on the back of his head. Muttering, he took it down from the blue hair band that had held it firmly in place.

Al let the blond mane fall about his head as he ran his fingers through the hair to pull out the knots. Remembering where he was, he casually slowed his movements to a standstill, then, and listened carefully. When he didn't hear anyone, with a slow peek, he glanced under the row of stalls. Finding them empty, the state alchemist cautiously pulled a compact comb from his briefcase and tugged at his hair in a rapid manner, as if he was afraid of being caught doing some sort of illegal act in the men's lavatory.

After a rushed two minutes of frantic combing, Alphonse put his hair back in its ponytail and turned to confirm both its placement and fine form. He certainly thought it looked dashing! He assumed the Colonel did as well, seeing as she'd seen fit to compliment it some years earlier. She hadn't called it 'dashing,' sure, and Alphonse's young mind had staggered so badly that even to this day he wasn't QUITE certain what she'd said, but he knew it was a compliment. Of that much he was certain.

Somehow that thought reminded Alphonse to casually raise each arm and check each armpit to make sure he couldn't sense anything that would blatantly give away his nervousness.

So as it was, the Theorem Alchemist found himself in fine form and adjusted his suit once again before he tossed his coat back over himself and fixed the seams so they hung over his shoulders just so. Satisfied with that aspect of his appearance, he straightened himself up and looked at himself in the mirror, venturing a smile. The smile had a hint of confidence, but certainly even Alphonse wasn't so blind as to be unaware of the sort of bashful and boyish look the smile had when he was thinking of the Colonel even in passing.

He tried a few more toothy smiles, a casual smile, even a salute and somewhat awkward grin, and through all of them he couldn't quite escape what Ed had said that morning.

Eventually another officer entered the bathroom, and Alphonse scrambled to look casual about why he'd been saluting himself in the mirror. It earned the young man a strange look from the lower-ranking officer, and Alphonse found this to be an opportune moment to grab his things and scramble back into the hallway.

He made it a good five steps outside before he realized he'd forgotten his comb on the counter, however. With speed and agility that would have impressed the most trained athlete, Alphonse turned in one smooth blur to dash back into the restroom and retrieve his tell-tale comb from the empty counter.

Within a few minutes (and precisely sixty-two steps!), Alphonse had arrived at the final turn in the hallway before the Colonel's office. Before he chose to make the turn, however, he took a moment to breathe into his hand to make sure that it, like the rest of him, was still thusly acceptable.

To be on the safe side, he quickly and discretely popped another breath mint.

Fifteen steps later, he was outside her office, and with a deep breath, he ventured an even two knocks to make himself known. Then he waited. Still, even after this many years, there was always a feeling of blissful anxiety about being in this familiar, welcome spot.

She was sifting through papers, sighing slightly to herself. Hayate was already back to sleep under the window, the morning rays warming his fur no doubt. Riza wished she could be curled up under the warmth of her own covers, and this thought brought about a small yawn which she quickly covered with her hand. But it was Friday, the weekend was near. She was looking forward to spending it at the shooting range most likely, after running her usual errands.

Riza lifted her head as she heard the familiar two knocks on her door, and glanced at the clock on the wall. Right on time, as usual. She couldn't help a smile, and glanced at Havoc, who was standing in for Lieutenant Pharr. Havoc stood and walked over to the door, toothpick bouncing in his mouth. He grabbed the doorknob and pulled open the door, while Riza decided that she suddenly had important paperwork to shuffle through.

Al had been in her services since not long after he became a state alchemist, and was, without a doubt, one of the most dedicated officers she had ever encountered. He had so much drive to succeed for a young man, and Riza often wondered if it had something to do with his double, maybe triple? Life. Going through something like that could really open one's eyes, she was sure, and create some sense of determination in making this life count.

She finally looked up as she heard his footsteps across the floor, his dark blue cloak swirling at his feet, ponytail swinging slightly. His appearance, as always, was impeccable. Always so professional. He really has grown so much . . . She smiled as he approached her desk, and she stood to greet him in their morning ritual. She quickly thanked the gods that she had this pleasant Elric to greet every morning, and though the other was an amazing person as well, she preferred this one by far.

"Good morning, Lieutenant. It's good to see you, as always."

"Colonel. Lieutenant," Alphonse managed a salute to his superior officer and then Havoc, the salute's precision matched only by Al's smile, which threatened to overtake his face. It was as if every step the Elric took towards Riza's desk, the more his heart began to step up its pace. He didn't know why the Colonel had this effect on him, he really didn't. She was his senior officer, after all, and they knew each other well enough that it wasn't as if his nervousness was caused by some bizarre need to make a good first impression.

No, I just want to retain a good impression! Alphonse justified to himself privately. After all, she is the Colonel, and I don't want to lose face, or my job because I was careless. It's perfectly justified-Did she just say it's 'good' to see me?

Alphonse's smile grew a bit bigger. It was endearing how the smallest compliment could seem to make his day and send him floating on cloud nine.

'As always…' his mind reeled in barely-restrained bliss.

What was it that he should say? If he parroted something similar back (true as it would be), it would seem unimaginative, predictable. His brain scampered for ideas until he settled on, "It's good to see you too, Colonel!" His voice sounded a bit higher than he'd intended, and he continued quickly to cover it, "I was just reporting in on the Mitchells' case." In a smooth move he managed to somehow wrangle a small leather-bound journal from his briefcase along with a small pamphlet of papers. "These are the updated notes, and you'll find my report has a summary of the progress I've made so far."

He gestured to a few pages further into the report, "I put the first part in chronological order, and the second part has bullet-points with the same information in an order that's a bit easier to digest, since I know you prefer to be able to reference it more quickly that way," she smile he offered her at this last point seemed to be particularly pleased and meant for her, and only her. And I'd gladly do whatever you need me to so you can get your work done with as much ease as a woman like you deserves.

He stepped forward to gingerly offer the care-package it to her.

Riza returned Al's salute, and smile, and sat back down as he began his report. He was always so precise with his information, nothing like the sloppy, incomplete reports she would see his older brother attempt to hand in to Roy.

She glanced through the report as he explained all the organization that he had laid out for her. "I can always expect nothing but perfection from you, Lieutenant." She took the report that he carefully handed to her, and laid it on her desk on top of the other reports. "I will be sure to review this promptly. I have some duties today that will be taking me out of the office, but once I return this will be my first priority."

She heard a cough from the other side of the room, and noticed Havoc was staring at the two of them. She raised an eyebrow, but ignored the man, and looked back to Alphonse, who was still smiling just as he had when he walked into the room. She imagined that the same smile had been there the first time she met the boy, trapped in a suit of armor. She somehow always knew that warmth the smile held was there. . .

She coughed as she brought herself back around from this train of thought. "Havoc, please brief the Lieutenant on his next assignment." She reached into a drawer and pulled out an envelope and handed it to Al. "I must be leaving the office for now. I will be back in later this afternoon."

She couldn't help but notice Havoc jump too quickly to run over to Alphonse and pull him over to the big table, but she was in a rush and needed to leave, so she decided to think nothing of it. Maybe the man just needed one of those horrible cigarettes. She looked once more to Alphonse and nodded to him.

"I will see you Monday, then with what you have found so far on this assignment?"

Alphonse had turned at Havoc's cough as well, but seeing nothing, his attention (every ounce of it) was again focused on Riza. Al let himself glow in the presence of her compliment.

She can always expect nothing but perfection from me! He remarked to himself with a sort of unrestrained boyish glee, and let himself imagine, if even for a moment, how the compliment might have sounded if she'd used his name instead. But somehow, the way the Colonel said "Lieutenant" when in reference to Al had a sort of special quality the younger brother basked in. Like "Pirate" in place of Roy, the way Riza and Alphonse used their formal titles had an air of blissful professionalism to it that Alphonse relished. To boot, the title was something Al took quite a bit of pride in: he would never have imagined that when he planned to retire at the young age of eighteen (in body, at least), that he would have been a Lieutenant Colonel in the state military!

…but he doubted that honor meant quite as much were he not diligently serving under the Colonel.

He wondered, in passing, what life was going to be like without that "honor" once he was let loose.

The moment he could start to feel his smile falter from the thought, he abruptly shoved the feeling out from his mind and instead sought to focus on the present. He noticed he was looking at Riza as she spoke to him.

It wasn't at all uncommon for her to have things to do, or to have to rush out of the office, but somewhere deep down, Alphonse always HOPED it wasn't one of those days. He much preferred moments when neither of them had to be anywhere, and for a few minutes they'd just… talk. Usually it was about work, or Hayate, or rumors or other activities that floated around their military lives. Yet, it was exchanges like that Alphonse relished. That feeling of connecting as peers, as friends, that's what it was.

There were few moments that compared to it for Alphonse. Although he likewise appreciated every single one of them, be it when they chanced to pass each other in the halls, or when he'd chance to see her grabbing lunch in the mess-hall and would sometimes even dare to comment about the day's cuisine (if it could be called that…). Or even the few, the VERY few blissful times something was going on after work, such as the recent office party, that, however briefly, put Riza in the same orbit as he.

…of course, he rarely said much at those encounters outside of shop-talk, since he found his astute little mind often seemed to fail him entirely when she was around. He could do alchemic calculations backwards and blindfolded, but that woman? He couldn't hope to understand her, no matter how hard he tried. Did she have his effect on everyone?

"I will be sure to review this promptly. I have some duties today that will be taking me out of the office, but once I return this will be my first priority."

Back in the land of the present, Alphonse listened to her explain that she had to go. Or was she apologizing? No no, I'm probably reading too much into it… she just must be really busy… Alphonse observed.

Then he caught it. Something in how she was looking at him, and not just talking to him, observing him. He was certain of it. Oh, what he would have given just to know what she was thinking in that moment!

But as soon as it had come to pass, it was broken as the Colonel (and not Havoc this time) had coughed. Perhaps a cold was going around, or some other unfortunate malady? He'd have to make sure he paid even closer attention to his health: he could afford to get sick with such little time remaining in the military's service.

Alphonse graciously received Riza's envelope (and in fact held it as if it had been a priceless glass artifact) and nodded his head in an informal bow. The alchemist also noticed Havoc jump at the Colonel's words concerning briefing Al. He cast the man a curious look before Riza's voice lulled Al away once again.

Al managed another nod, this one more pointed and formal, as if even unopened, the envelope the Colonel had bestowed upon him held some undoubtedly important assignment that only further proved the well-placed trust she had in him!

"I'll report to you whatever I've found, Colonel. I won't disappoint you!" Alphonse confirmed with the utmost certainty in his voice as he saluted her once again, his ponytail coming to attention behind him as well. His eyes were focused, and he now wore a determined face that still hinted of a smile hardly buried far under its surface. The smile, of course, had to do with his present company, and not the distinct allure of a new assignment on a Friday, of all days. A day when he'd hoped to get out early to spend a bit more of the evening with Edward before he had to head back to Central the following day. Oh well....

Even after his brother had come home, the Colonel, Riza, was still his "cause." He was there to serve the military, yes, and initially only to bring his brother safely home from wherever he had disappeared to, but in the present moment, and in most recent times, he was more specifically there to serve and protect her. (Though he chastised himself for thinking such a thing: after all, the Colonel could more than fend for herself!)

No, there really could not have been a further difference between how he and his brother had once performed in their similar positions as State Alchemists.

As the Colonel got up to leave, however, Al couldn't help but be reminded of Ed's idea of offering to walk Hayate. Al would have to deliberate further on the feasibility of that course of action… when Ed wasn't in East City, preferably.

It took a bit of courage on Alphonse's part to (nearly) blurt out the remainder of his thoughts, "And in case I miss you later today, I hope you have a relaxing weekend!" After the words came out, he wondered if it was too bold of him? Too familiar? Had his tone of voice been as shaky as it felt in his throat? How was it that with a simple smile, she could unwittingly turn him from a cultured young man to a babbling shadow of his enlightened self?

I should have thought to rehearse that in the mirror earlier… he whined to himself.

Riza smiled at Alphonse's never disappointing commitment to his work. That was another thing she could always expect from him. Here it was, Friday, and she was giving him an assignment, and he took it without so much as a flinch. She felt a slight twinge of guilt at doing this to him, especially with his brother in town (which in itself was a rarity these days. The General really did like to have Edward to himself as much as possible), but she knew Alphonse would be the one to get this done quickly.

"I hope you enjoy your weekend as well, Alphonse. Tell your brother not to be a stranger and come around more often." She opted to call him by name this time, something that they reserved for when speaking on a more casual note. But she certainly didn't mind saying his name every now and then.

She grabbed Hayate's leash off the desk, and her companion walked over immediately. It was not unusual to take Hayate with her when she had duties out of the office, so she hoped that this did not seem out of character.

Havoc had stood and was now jogging to the door to open it for Riza. He sure was in an odd mood today, she pondered. She walked up to Alphonse, to his right side, and nodded to him, before moving forward to leave her office and leave Havoc to the debriefing.

Her mind though was racing, despite the calm demeanor on the surface. She only hoped she could get things taken care of as discreetly as possible.

The world seemed to be dancing around Alphonse as he heard the Colonel say his name. His smile grew even that much more as he stood there, repeating her words inside his head and committing their every sweet inflection to memory. She didn't say 'Al,' like brother does, she said my whole first name, he floated, … it sounds so strong, yet casual when she says it!

His heart rate peaked as she passed by him, "I will!" he managed to dazedly respond before she left the office.

The dark blond alchemist was left alone with Havoc, still basking in the Colonel's perfect afterglow. Al wasn't certain he really WANTED Ed to come visit the particular military branch, since it was to Alphonse, his own private haven. But since Riza had asked him, he was obliged to pass the information along to Ed … and hopefully when next he visited East City he could give the other Elric a tour of the restructured establishment. And I can cross my fingers he behaves and doesn't embarrass me.

Though, after their lunch two days prior, eating with any of the other officers, no less Al's superiors, and certainly the Colonel was blatantly out of the question.

Alphonse turned his attention to Havoc when he had shaken himself to his senses. While Alphonse tended to focus his attentions on Riza in her presence, he was too careful of an observer to have missed Havoc's sudden sprint for the door. He nodded to Havoc and exercised his vocal chords while he let his pulse return to normal, "Did I miss some 'fun' before I arrived? You certainly seem in a hurry this morning," he grinned, "you'd better be careful, or else it might tarnish your relaxed image."

Alphonse really wanted to ask how long the Colonel was due to be out of her office so he might be able to plan his own day accordingly, but he guiltily admitted that such a question would appear too prying.

Though, if Havoc offered it, Al certainly wouldn't turn the information down.

Whatever it was must be important to have sent her out so diligently. It was clear, to Al, that something had seemed just slightly "off" in her manner. She must be working on something important!

And it was at that moment that Alphonse had an amazing epiphany: And she'd waited for me to come before she left!

…well, perhaps it was pure chance, and maybe she just needed to make sure her letter was given directly into Alphonse's able hands, but somewhere in the young man's mind he conclusively decided there was a distinct possibility the Colonel had waited around … for him … before she went on her mission!

Quite suddenly, Alphonse wasn't so saddened she'd had to leave so soon. She waited! His inner voice shouted with glee.

It took a moment for him to realize he was still holding Riza's letter in his hand a bit too loosely. With careful fingers he opened it with the utmost precision.

Havoc realized after he had already started his run for the door that it had been quite out of character. But he had to admit, he was a bit nervous at the plan that had been laid out before him by the older Elric brother this morning. Havoc knew he meant business, because Lord knew that Ed did NOT like mornings, and him being up so early and dressed at the station. . . Ed was not messing around.

At Alphonse's comment, Havoc pulled the toothpick out of his mouth, wishing he could light up a cigarette right at that moment.

"Press is press, isn't that what they say, Lieutenant?" he laughed and popped the toothpick back in his mouth.

Havoc turned on his heel and walked over to the table as Alphonse opened the assignment, a small smirk on his face. His plan of attack, as per Ed, was to get his brother out of here, and to Riza. Fortunately for Havoc, Riza was slightly sloppy (for once. . .) and had left one small note on her task list of where she was going this morning. What it meant, he had no idea. But at least he knew where to send the kid.

He sat at the desk and leaned back, propping both his legs up on the table, crossed at the ankles.

"So this assignment is fairly simple, as you can see we just need to investigate some reports of theft in the area. They seem to be related; same way of breaking in to the buildings, same signs of alchemy use, generally always it is the same stuff being taken, nothing fancy. Problem is these guys are good. We gave this to you since you can generally pick up on the most random shi-details." He really needed to watch his mouth. . .

"So basically what we need you to do of course is first investigate the places robbed, see if there is anything the other guys missed." He grabbed a folder that was on the desk and slid it across the table. "That's all the current info they have on the case. Although to be honest, its crap. They really have nothing."

He crossed his arms behind his head and yawned, waiting for the right moment to spring his "other" assignment. It took everything in his power to keep a straight face.

Alphonse was more than accustomed to Havoc's "manner" by this point: his memories placed the man in Al's far past, when he had still inhabited the suit of armor, but also once he had become human, and Al, lacking his brother's company and guidance, had initially attached to Havoc like a sealed puppy-dog.

So, Havoc's manners aside (and his feet on the Colonel's desk! Alphonse always had to restrain himself from berating the man when he saw Havoc do that!), Alphonse had a great deal of respect for the man before him that had taken the once innocent and confused younger Elric under his wing with no questions asked.

Eventually Alphonse had levitated more to Pirate and the Colonel, but whether Havoc would ever be fully aware of it or not, Alphonse always felt as if he could never totally repay the debt he owed this man: a debt that was made even clearer once Alphonse's memories had returned and he'd begun to piece together the fractures chronology of his life.

Alphonse's eyes glanced over the letter in his hand as Havoc spoke. His comment on being good with "random shi-details," was taken as a compliment, certainly. A pat on the back was a pat on the back: even if it wasn't eloquently worded. But it was Havoc, so that sort of thing was to be expected.

When he was offered the folder, Alphonse took it and immediately began paging through it, willing himself to commit as much to memory as possible, "Robberies? Hmm, I'll definitely check into it and see what new information I can uncover." He continued flipping through the folder, "there really isn't much here." Alphonse took inventory and nodded to himself while Havoc finished up what he was saying and seemed to wait for Alphonse's attention.

After about two minutes, bright bronze eyes looked up at Havoc, "I should get started right away. If I can figure out a pattern in what the thieves are doing, perhaps I can help put a stop to them before they strike again." The young man rolled his fingers over the folder, seemingly tempted already to whip out a fresh journal and begin making notes, but he seemed to rein himself in for the moment. He needed complete concentration to begin sorting out what little was known about the case so he could formulate a proper plan of attack for the mission.

Havoc couldn't help feeling...slightly...guilty...about the second assignment given by one Edward Elric. But hell, it sure sounded a lot more interesting than hanging out here trying to decipher Fuery's notes on the last case. That man sure knew how to make work even more monotonous.

He smiled as Alphonse went on in his usual manner, already trying to dissect the case in his mind, he was sure of it. One thing Havoc had noticed about Al once he had returned was how much he could pick up from the tiniest hints. Havoc sometimes wondered if being like an observer in that suit of armor attuned him to the body language of others somehow. Either way, he was hoping he was masking his own intentions well enough that the kid hadn't caught on to this second plan of attack. If Al had any idea what was in store, he knew it would cause quite the fight between the brothers.

Havoc yawned and stretched, and once more removed the cig from his mouth as he sat upright in the chair, placing the empty hand on the desk.

"Before you go though, Al, I do have one favor to ask you. I have this assignment that Fuery has a few missing links on, and so I'm heading out to fit the contacts to the information given. I think your smarts would really help this go quickly. We just need to go into the marketplace and hunt down some witnesses." He was thinking about every word he said, making sure not to ramble on, give away too much in his voice.

He knew just as well as FullMetal did that Al had it for Riza since possibly as far back as when he was that suit of armor. So it followed he was not the least opposed to the idea of getting the two more familiar with each.

The strange relationship that had sprung from what had seemed like pure hatred between the fifteen year old FullMetal and the General told Havoc that these days, anything was fucking possible. He tried not to show a facial reaction to this thought, to the memory of when he figured out why the then Colonel was no longer dating women. Roy's face had been...classic.

"So whadya say? Shouldn't take longer than an hour, maybe two at the most. Fuery's notes should guide us most of the way." He leaned forward placing the toothpick in his mouth, putting on his best smile.

Alphonse Elric had already deduced the likelihood of getting off from work early was already an abandoned cause from the new assignment he'd been given. He'd run some rough calculations and in his head had been restructuring his day when Havoc brought up a proposed "second" assignment. Never one to put up a complaint (and rarely one to say "no" to additional work, especially as a favor to a friend), Al looked across to Havoc.

His mind began to recalculate how he was going to spend his afternoon (and likely some of his evening). Instinctively he wanted to work on the assignment Riza had given him first (pleasing her seemed to always be a raw priority for him), but Havoc, while he didn't ask for favors all the time, didn't frequently ask for what might be considered a "personal" favor, so he was more than happy to (slightly begrudgingly) reschedule his day in his head yet again.

"An hour or two? Hmm," he considered, though since he wasn't sure where this other errand was going to take him, he wasn't able to schedule things directly. He assumed Havoc's estimate included travel time, but Havoc wasn't always one to bear in mind such things. Though, even with more than a few unknowns, Al still knew his answer, "Yeah, I'm sure I can fit it in," he smiled, and then the smile turned to a grin. It wasn't the same grin he'd had years earlier when he was like an eager puppy; all but wagging his tail for scraps of attention and praise, but a hint of that still remained in the smile nonetheless.

If Alphonse thought anything of Havoc's mannerisms, he wrote it off as a bit of nervousness for requesting Al's help. And, more work or no, Al was always happy to help.

"My skills are at your disposal, as always, Havoc, " he said with a flourishing hand movement and that same boyish grin.



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