Author: sapphyre_kikyo in collaboration with mfelizandy
Characters: Roy and Ed (Eventually RoyxEd)
The clocks in East City read seven AM. Most of the city was just waking up and beginning the daily bustle. Shop doors opened, street vendors started to ply their routes, and residents of the city flipped through their newspapers over breakfast. In a certain quiet residential neighborhood, Major Riza Hawkeye was unlocking her commanding officer's front door and sending her dog into his bedroom to wake him up.
The new recruits at the training compound beside Eastern Headquarters had been up for two hours. They'd suffered the rude awakening of reveille, followed by a session of derogatory comments by their commanders on the finer points of bed-making and boot-polishing. Then the drill sergeants had marched them to the mess hall for breakfast, marched them back to their barracks to clean the bathrooms, polish the windows, and mop the floors, then ordered them into their physical training uniforms—i.e., sweat suits. Two hundred sweat suit-clad bodies marched onto the still-bedewed grass of the parade ground, led by ten sergeants with ramrod-straight backs and faces that dared anything to cross them. The recruits, most of who had only arrived in East City the day before, came to a puzzled halt when they spotted the lone figure in the center of the sprawling, neatly-clipped field.
To begin with, the slim figure was upside down. As incredulous eyes watched, the person on the exercise pad spread on the grass pushed up from a headstand to a handstand. He then slowly shifted his weight and lifted his left hand, stretching his legs into a neat Y shape. Unhurried, he set his left hand down and picked up the right. Silence fell, and stretched as the recruits watched the body on the mat twist and bend in slow, graceful motion. Finally, both hands went down to the mat, and the owner of them flexed his shoulders and tossed himself to his feet, letting a thick blond braid slap down between his shoulder blades as he did. Upright, he turned out to be a rather small man, not much over five feet tall. His air of casual confidence, however, made him seem larger than he was.
“Good morning,” he said mildly, in a light tenor. “I'm Sergeant Major Edward Elric.” He didn't seem to be working at it, but his voice carried to every set of ears on the parade ground. “Before anyone asks, yeah, I'm that Edward Elric, and no, I'm not gonna do any stupid party tricks. My job is to teach you hand-to-hand combat techniques—eventually.” He raked the wide-eyed recruits with an evaluating gaze. “Before I can teach you anything, though, you gotta learn how to stand.” He strode over to a sturdy-looking young fellow, and without warning, gave him a sharp shove in the chest. The soldier dropped back a step, his face clearly offended.
“You had too much weight in your heels,” the diminutive Sergeant Major told him in a matter-of-fact tone. “Now I'm gonna do the same thing again. Don't try to push me away, just set your feet so you won't have to step back.”
The lesson moved on from the correct stance to warm-up and flexibility exercises that made the recruits wonder whether or not the Sergeant Major was entirely human. Edward Elric twisted and stretched with an easy grace that seemed more appropriate for a cat than a man. He also kicked hard, a fact not lost on those holding the practice pads for him.
“I hired you to train my soldiers, Fullmetal, not to break them.” Colonel Roy Mustang sounded more amused than upset.
“I haven't broken anything but a few illusions.” Ed bounced back and forth, breathing a little hard but otherwise apparently none the worse for wear. “And quit calling me Fullmetal. Or did you forget my name again, old man?”
“I'm not likely to forget a name that showed up on so many of the damage reports that crossed my desk.” Mustang strode easily across the parade ground with Hawkeye at his heels. He surveyed the ragged rows of panting, sweating recruits, and lifted an eyebrow. That was all the comment he needed to make. The sergeants started bellowing commands. Some of the recruits tried to straighten their clothing and rub away the worst of the sweat from their faces. Others did their best to approximate standing at attention. Still others attempted to salute. Mustang accepted the salutes as his due, and then said, “At ease, ladies and gentlemen.”
“What brings you over here anyway? You didn't really come to check up on the new recruits, did you?” Edward had mellowed somewhat in the four years since he'd restored his brother. He could now get through an entire sentence without cursing, and occasionally forgot to insult Colonel Mustang.
“It’s one of his tasks today.” First Lieutenant Hawkeye stepped out a bit to speak to Edward. “Greeting the new recruits and supervising the beginning of their training.” Her face was almost as bland as Mustang's could be.
“Yeah, right. You're just trying to wake him up.”
“Do I look asleep to you, FullMetal?” Colonel Mustang frowned just a little bit.
“No—but you're putting on weight, sleeping so late. You can't hide that potbelly under your uniform jacket forever.”
“As if I have time to eat. Unlike some people, I have an army to run.”
“I'm the one who runs them. Five laps around the base every morning, and five more at night. You should come try it sometime. You could use your breath for something besides talking people to death for once.”
“Maybe I should. It is my responsibility to make sure your training regimen is up to standards. You're known for your unorthodox methods, Fullmetal.” Roy ignored the growl that emanated from the smaller man at the repetition of his State Alchemist name. “After all, these soldiers will be coming to me after you. I’d hate to think you’re going easy on them.” He smiled that smirk that still made Ed's blood boil.
“Listen, you, if all you’ve come here to do is criticize me…then you can just go shove…” He stopped as Riza coughed and indicated the newbies who were staring in apprehension as their trainer started to insult his commanding officer. After several long, drawn out breaths, Ed managed, “Colonel, if you’d like me to show you how I’m training them…”
Mustang put a finger to his chin, indicating that he was debating that very idea. “You know, that’s a good idea.”
“Then pick one of them out and I’ll…” But he was cut off.
“Oh no. I don’t want to see how they fight.” Roy smiled and Riza sighed reproachfully, but took a few prudent steps out of the way. “They did just get started today.”
Ed glowered at the man. “Are you sure you wanna get your uniform all dirty?”
“I’m positive, Fullmetal.” Roy smiled again, making Ed’s eyebrow twitch.
“Stop calling me that! You know I’m not certified anymore, you bastard!” His fists clenched, Ed glared across the ten feet that separated him from the man.
“Oh, I know.” Roy shrugged, “But I was hoping you might reconsider.” When Ed’s eyes opened wide, Roy continued, “Let me offer you a wager. We'll have a sparring match. If I win, you reconsider. If you win, I’ll never mention it again.”
“Okay. I’m gonna kick your ass down, Mustang!” Ed grinned and he bounced towards the man, jumping high before meeting with a small flash of flame.
“You haven’t let me finish, Sergeant.” The Flame Alchemist went on smoothly. “This isn’t a purely physical fight. You know as well as I do that I plan on using my alchemy. It wouldn’t be fair not to let you use yours.”
“You bastard!” Ed cursed. It had been a long time since he'd mixed alchemy and violence. Not that he’d let himself get out of practice, just that he didn’t want to use that science as a weapon anymore.
“Remember who you’re talking to!” The Flame Alchemist snapped and Ed jumped just out of the reach of the tickling fingers of the flame.
“This won’t be like last time, Mustang. I know your tricks now.” Ed growled as he clapped his hands and created a solid wall between himself and the other alchemist.
“Every dog can learn some new tricks.” The wall exploded, and the rubble fell without reaching either the cadets on the right or the First Lieutenant on the left. “Let me show you some of mine.” He grinned at the now exposed man.
“Well, shit.” Ed grinned slightly before clapping and transmuting his arm into his famous broadsword.
Roy raised an eyebrow, let Edward close on him at a near-unnatural speed, then twitched aside in a whisper of fabric. “So my sources weren't exaggerating. You have been working out,” he said with a sharp snap of his fingers. The resulting gout of flame forced Edward to skip aside instead of kicking Mustang in the back.
“How else do you expect me to get these recruits in shape?” Ed demanded, catching himself in a low crouch. “I work just as hard or harder than they do—which is more than can be said for some people.”
“I suppose you have to work harder just to keep up, since just about every recruit has longer legs than you do.” Mustang grinned a little, then sent twin tracks of fire ripping across the grass toward Edward.
“You just can't help it, can you? You've got to make a &$%%# stupid short joke.” Ed threw himself forward into a forward midair somersault, and landed with his blade against Roy’s throat. Only an instant later, Roy's gloved fingers brushed the end of Ed’s braid, the striking surface at the base of his thumb rustling a little against the hair tie. Ed waivered for a moment and managed to nick Roy's skin, drawing just a drop of blood.
Before either of them could react, Mustang yelped and hit the ground butt-first. Hawkeye rose to her feet as though she hadn't just sweep-kicked her commanding officer in front of his troops. “This really isn’t the time or place, sir.”
Ed moved fast to take advantage of Mustang's vulnerable position. Unfortunately, Hawkeye anticipated him, and had her gun to his forehead before he could force the Colonel to yield.
“I think this demonstration is over, yes?” Hawkeye's tone was entirely too reasonable.
Ed let the sweat drip from his face before he slowly nodded. He watched her put the pistol away and turn to give the colonel a hand up.
“You have other matters to attend to this morning, sir.”
“Ah. Yes.” Colonel Mustang stood up and turned towards Ed as he dabbed at the blood with a clean handkerchief, “You’ve lost some finesse, to draw blood like that. We’ll finish this discussion later. Carry on.”
Ed gave the man a short salute before returning to his amazed soldiers. In another hour, they’d be trudging back to their barracks, telling each other troop and everyone else who’d listen how they’d gotten to watch a rematch of Fullmetal versus Flame.
To be continued...