girl_starfish (girl_starfish) wrote in fm_alchemist,

[fic] Cure All 3/?

Title: Cure All 3/?.

Author: girl_starfish

Archive: Scimitar Smile :

Category: Drama, Humour (so I've been told), shounen-ai, post series.

Pairings: None currently.

Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist and all characters property of Square Enix and Hiromu Arakawa.

Rating: pg 13 for implications.

Spoilers: Minor mention of events that take place during the series, but nothing that unfamiliarity with the events mentioned would be detrimental to enjoyment of the series or the story.

Notes: This is an ongoing fic, and I don't want to remark on the pairings at this point for the very simple reason that stories change as you write them, and although I know what pairings I'd like to see, I have yet to see if there will be a point in the fic where that will be a possibility. Please bear this in mind while reading. As the pairing is not the main focus of this fic, I don't believe this will pose too great a problem for readers. If you're really concerned by this, feel free to e-mail me and ask about it. I will say that I'm not suddenly going to turn around last chapter and make it het. Similarly, although this chapter is rated PG 13, the rating will almost certainly go up for some later chapters. I'll mark these where appropriate.

Thanks also to Jenny, Sol, sayrchan, Mikke and Sera for their constructive input and Elanivalae for some excellent beta-work.

Feedback: Thoughtful comment and constructive criticism welcomed, preferably as e-mail. ^_~ Thank you!

“I did not,” Edward said, arms folded defensively over the longest overshirt currently in his wardrobe, “scream like a girl.” He glared with menace at Mustang, who was now flipping through one of Edward’s textbooks and looking far too amused.

“I thought it was very in-character,” the Colonel said, raising an eyebrow at a full colour diagram of cranial functions. “Very in keeping with your disguise. Is this really what our heads look like from the inside?”

Edward grabbed the textbook away from him. “If you’re six months into gestation, then yes. But you’re missing the important thing here.”

“I was looking at that,” Mustang protested mildly. He had just enough time to duck.

The book bounced off the wall where his head had been with enough force to rattle all the books on Edward’s one overloaded shelf. “I don’t care! Just say what you want and go away!”

“Edward, Edward,” Mustang sighed, placing a hand over his heart in an overly theatrical manner that meant he was now being deliberately provoking and knew it. “How cruelly you wound me.” He paused for effect. “Did it occur to you that I might be visiting you for reasons that are entirely altruistic?”

Edward stared at him. Then began to laugh.

He was still laughing five minutes later, when Mustang’s patience ran out. “It’s not that funny,” the Colonel protested stiffly.

If Edward had been able to voice a reply, he would have argued that. As it was, he had just enough breath to gasp weakly, wiping tears away from his eyes.

“That’s better,” Roy said, satisfied. “As I was saying, there are times when I pay visits to acquaintances with no ulterior motives--” His expression soured as Edward collapsed again under another onslaught of laughter, clutching his ribs. “Do you think the dormitory has a good sprinkler system?” He drew his glove from his pocket.

That got Edward’s attention. He threw himself in front of his note books. “I’m not laughing!”

Mustang folded the glove away with satisfaction. “Good. Now where were we?”

“You were about to leave?”

The Colonel ignored Edward, settling back comfortably in the armchair. “Ah, yes. I just happened to be in the neighbourhood and thought I’d drop by.”

“So you snuck into my room?” Edward cautiously stopped hunching over his notebooks and began putting them in order.

“Edward, do you really think so little of me?” At his companion’s expression, Mustang explained. “I’m in uniform -- a colonel in uniform does not sneak.”

Edward paused, notebooks forgotten as a horrifying possibility crossed his mind. “You didn’t--”

“Your dorm-manager let me in.”

“Gah!” Edward wished that Pinako had taught them the really good swear words. He could do with a couple right now. “You didn’t -- damn, now everyone’s going to know!” He hit himself over the head with his good hand. “What are people going to think?”

Roy patted his shoulder. “That you have good taste in men?” he suggested silkily. He laughed as he avoided Edward’s clumsy swing, using his greater reach to keep Edward at arm’s length as the boy tried furiously to hit him.

“You don’t have to look so smug about this!” Edward yelled, finally realising it was useless.

Roy patted him on the head. “Now, then, Fullmetal, why don’t you tell me what you’ve been up to?”

“You know what I’ve been up to; I told you last night,” Edward grumbled, swatting Mustang’s hand away and deliberately turning his back on him, returning to gathering up his notebooks.

“Ah, but not in any detail.” Roy waited a moment, but when it was clear that there were no details forthcoming, prodded. “So, how was your day?”

Edward eyed him suspiciously. Just what was he after now? Step-by-step description of Edward’s research methods? “Okay,” he admitted reluctantly. “The morning lab was much the same as ever, and the afternoon lecture was boring, but I might be making progress with my research.”

“That sounds promising.” Roy picked up the last of the scattered notebooks and held it out to Edward.

The alchemist snatched it quickly, not trusting Roy at all. “Yeah, well, it’s slow work. Not exactly your style.” He began putting the notebooks away on the shelf, hoping the Colonel would get the hint.

He didn’t. Mustang leaned against the wall beside him, watching as he worked. “And how is your brother?”

“Alphonse?” Edward jumped as Mustang lent in, playing with the base of his ponytail, just where the hair met his nape.

“Do you have another?”

Mustang was so close that his breath tickled. Edward studiously ignored him. The Colonel was obviously fishing for a reaction. “Al’s just fine.”

“Oh? One might think that he would be lonely apart from his older brother.”

“They’d be wrong. We can manage being apart from each other, you know. We’re perfectly capable.” Edward shoved the last book back on the shelf and ducked out of Mustang’s reach. “Al turned sixteen last month. We’re adults now.”

“Sixteen? I’m sorry I missed his birthday.”

“Ah, its okay. I managed to get the whole day off. It was great. Gracia and Elicia took us out to dinner and we spent the day at the Museum of Alchemical Marvels.” Edward grinned at the memory.

“You took your brother to the Alchemy Museum for his sixteenth birthday?”

“No,” Edward said, defensive without quite being sure why. “Al chose it. It was his birthday.”

“I see.” How could those two little words manage to be so irritating? Edward would have ground his teeth if he hadn’t thought it would amuse the Colonel even further. “You keep in close contact, I imagine?”

“Yes,” Edward admitted. “So? A phone call every other day doesn’t mean anything.”

“One would be surprised if you didn’t miss each other.” Now Roy was doing the superior adult knowledge thing. “Especially given that the two of you are usually like each other’s shadows.”

“Shows what you know,” Edward’s tone was lofty. “We’re dedicated alchemists, you know. And it’s not like we haven’t been apart for long periods of time. We were apart almost a week once when we visited Izumi and I forgot about the yearly exam and had to go to Central by myself.” Although the main reason it had been a week was that Al had managed to get himself kidnapped in the few days Edward was in Central--

“All things considered,” Roy was smirking again. “I must say, I think you’re handling the separation remarkably well.”

“Thank you,” Edward said warily.

“Very well, in fact. That’s a very pretty dress you’re wearing, Edward.”

“I’d have thought it’s more utilitarian -- hey!” It was lucky he’d put the notebooks away; he had the urge to throw something at Mustang’s head, again. “Just what are you implying?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing at all.” Roy was seating himself in the armchair like he owned it. “And what does your dear brother think of the dress?”

“He hasn’t seen it, and if all goes to plan, he never will.”

“And how will you manage that?”

“None of your business.”

“Ah, but Edward --” Roy looked at him intently, and Edward found himself caught. His mouth went dry but he couldn’t look away. “You’re very much my business.”

He smiled, catlike, and the look deepened. There was an edge to it now that was almost -- predatory?

Edward took a step back, not sure what had changed but distrusting it. “I’m not--” he started, not sure what he was going to say.

Someone thumped on the door.

“Come in!” Roy called.

That snapped Edward out of it. “Hold it!” He demanded. “This is my room! I’m the one who says ‘come in.’” He paused for effect. There was giggling on the other side of the door. “Come in if you must.”

Judith stuck her head around the door; Sally and (thank god for small miracles) Olivia, were there as well. “Elisabeth--oh, you have a guest?”

Edward gave Judith a look that said clearly how unimpressed he was. Did she really think she was fooling anyone? However, Judith wasn’t looking in his direction.

“Guest would imply he was invited,” Edward grumbled as the girls made themselves comfortable on his bed. “He wasn’t.” He gave Mustang an acid glare, hoping he would finally take the hint.

Mustang was only looking more amused. “Surely you will introduce me to your charming friends . . . “ He paused. “Elisabeth.”

Edward whitened. Oh, shit. With just one word Roy could ruin everything! How had he not realised--

Olivia shifted closer, and Edward could see that she was watching him closely. Get a hold of yourself, Ed--

“Jude, Sally, Olivia, this is Colonel Roy Mustang. Mustang, this is Judith Law, second year; Sally Hulme, first year; Olivia Naylor; first year. There, I hope you’re all happy.”

“Delighted,” Roy lied, and Judith and Sally giggled. Edward could have groaned; this was a thousand times more nauseating than Karen in romance novel mode. He watched, glumly, as Sally, blushing prettily, said she’d never met anyone so famous before. As if Mustang’s ego needed anymore fuel.

“Don’t encourage him or we’ll never get rid of him.”

Mustang laughed, charming and suave. “Why Elisabeth, you sound almost as though you want me to leave.” He smirked, drawing giggles from Judith and Sally.

Edward hated him.

Judith’s elbow nudged his side. “Oh, Elisabeth! Surely you don’t want to keep this enchanting man to yourself?”

Enchanting? Excuse me?

“Yes,” Sally chimed in. “You have a boyfriend.” She tucked a strand of hair behind an ear, ducking a look at Mustang to make sure he’d heard.

Judging from his expression of supreme enjoyment he had. “Ah, yes, the much vaunted boyfriend. I have to say, I’m growing very curious about this extraordinary individual.”

Edward was about to throw him out of his room, secret or not, but Olivia’s words stopped him.

“Actually,” she said, studying Mustang’s face coolly. “That’s why we came to fetch you, Elisabeth. He’s on the phone.”

Shit! “And you couldn’t have told me earlier?” Edward growled, running for the door.

“It slipped our minds,” Judith and Sally giggled in a sickly-sweet way.

“Whatever. Look --” Edward paused in the doorway to glare at Mustang, “Don’t set anything on fire while I’m gone. And you guys --” he frowned at the girls. Judith and Sally were obviously a lost cause, but Olivia looked thoughtful. “Don’t encourage him.”

Karen looked up sulkily from the magazine she was leafing through in the common room. “Took your time.”

Edward grabbed the dormitory’s single phone, holding a hand over the speaking end of the receiver. “Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”

“I’m waiting for a call,” the girl said, self-important.

Edward waited.

With a glare, Karen folded up her magazine and sulked off down the hall to her room. “If you tie up the phone for an hour like you usually do, I’m telling the Matron.”

The door of her room clicked shut behind her and Edward sighed in relief. He took another breath before lifting the headset. “Al?”

“Niisan!” It was so good to hear Alphonse’s voice. Edward smiled at the familiar feeling of relief. “Did something happen? You didn’t call last night, and I’ve been waiting ages--”

He could picture Alphonse, twisting the phone cord as he spoke. “Yeah, sorry about that.” Even though his brother couldn’t see him, Edward found himself rubbing the back of his neck in an embarrassed fashion. “The girls weren’t exactly prompt in telling me you were on the phone.”

“But you’re all right?”

“Give me some credit.” Edward sprawled on the dormitory sofa comfortably. Somehow talking to his brother always made him more relaxed. “I can go two days without causing a major catastrophe.”

“Niisan--” Alphonse had that reproving tone in his voice.

“Yeah, I know, I know. But if anything did happen to me, I would tell you right away.”

“I know.” Alphonse sounded happier. That was good; Edward couldn’t have his little brother upset. “Um, the girl who answered the phone said something about your having a guest?”

“Yeah.” Oh, fuck. “As a matter of fact, we’ve got a problem.”

“Niisan!” He could hear Alphonse’s expression. “You should have--”

“I didn’t have time. Some soldiers were injured, emergency situation, and we had to patch them up. And one of them happened to be Mustang--”

“He recognised you?”

“Bitched me out for not reporting in and threatened me with Hawkeye. He knows or has guessed enough of what I’m doing here to guess our intentions--”

“Niisan! If he--”

“I don’t think he has. I mean, I was expecting all day today to be hauled in front of some military tribunal and all he’s done so far is smirk at me and flirt with my classmates. Unless this is part of some horrible revenge--”


“Fuck, it is, isn’t it? He’s planning to annoy me so much that I throw in the towel and go meekly back to Central -- that bastard!”

“Niisan, I don’t think that’s what he’s planning.”

“You don’t know how this man works, Al,” Edward warned. “He’s a twisted individual.” He was doomed.

“It doesn’t matter what Mustang is planning,” Alphonse insisted. “You’ve got to lose him as soon as possible.”

“Easier said than done,” Edward answered morosely. “He invited himself to my room. He’s probably still making faces at Judith and Sally as we speak--”

“He’s still there? Quickly, Niisan, now’s our chance!”


“If we meet at the train station, we can be in a different town before daybreak--”


“Don’t worry about packing! I’ll bring everything we need!”

“Al! We’re not running!”

The other end of the line went so quiet Edward was afraid he might have been cut off.


“Niisan, are you insane?” And people said Edward had volume. “Mustang’s found you, we can’t stay!”

“Look, Al, it will be okay. I think we can manage this.”

Silence again and then, “What did he do?”

Edward sighed. “He didn’t do anything.”

A couple of girls giggled as they passed on the way back to their rooms, and Edward straightened hastily, bringing his legs together quickly and tugging his skirt down. Damn -- must act ladylike.

“Niisan!” Al now had the ‘rapidly losing patience’ tone in his voice. “What did he do?”

“Al, really. He hasn’t done anything. Not that I trust him, but all he’s done so far is swan about in that irritating way of his.”

Alphonse’s response, when it finally came, didn’t sound very happy. “Truth?”

“Truth,” Edward assured him. “Look, I don’t know what he’s up to, but I’m sure I’ll find out soon and once I do -- then, if we have to, we’ll run.”

“Niisan, I don’t like this. I don’t want you to be in danger just for my cure--”

“Our cure, Al. Or have you forgotten that you’re going to fix me up once we get your body back?”

“You sound very confident, Niisan.”

“Yeah, I talked to Matthews today. I think we finally got the break we need -- he looked at my notes and he thinks it’s possible.”

“Niisan!” Alphonse was breathless, excited. “Really?”

Edward smirked, kicking back. “We got a lot of work to do first; but he wants to make me his research assistant. If he gets permission, I’ll be able to do second year papers --” Edward couldn’t help grinning widely. “Al, I think this time--”

“Niisan.” Alphonse’s voice was full of emotion.

They sat there in silence a few moments, and it was almost like there was no phone. He could lean back and find himself resting against Alphonse’s armoured body. The feeling was so strong, Edward shut his eyes, blocking out the drab dormitory walls.

“So, Al, tell me about the house.”

Alphonse’s voice was much more cheerful as he talked about the house. They’d realised that they’d need a place to set up a laboratory, and most likely a place for them to recover after the cure. Hotels and guest houses were out, and they didn’t want to rent -- it would be hard explaining any traces of an experiment to the landlord. ‘How did we get blood stains on the ceiling? Funny thing that. You see, we were experimenting with forbidden alchemy and --” No.

The obvious answer, then, was to buy a house.

Edward had spotted Alphonse mooning over the ‘For Sale’ section of the Central Bulletin. “Wouldn’t it be nice, Niisan, to have somewhere we could call ours again?” He’d looked bashful as soon as he said that, hiding behind the newspaper hastily. “Not that I regret what we did, but sometimes --”

Edward had said nothing, but he’d made an appointment with a real estate agent the next day.

“It makes sense,” he told Alphonse. “We’re going to need a base for our research and, well, we don’t have to run anymore. We’re making a new life for ourselves; why shouldn’t we have a house?”

The initial fuss over their ages had been settled by Gracia Hughes joining them to act as their guardian. Alphonse and Edward had then proceeded to meticulously examine and reject countless stylish townhouses, villas, and apartments, finally settling on the property the real estate agent considered most unsuitable. He’d tried to talk them out of the wide, sprawling garden, the town house that, though structurally sound, had not been kept up for years and the interior, which was, frankly, horrendous. Alphonse and Edward were adamant: This was their house.

It looked like a home. True, it had seen better days, and there was grass growing on the roof tiles, but it had a comfortable, lived-in feeling that none of the other houses had. It would take a lot of work to get it ready to be lived in, but without their Father around, the boys had been conscripted into doing ‘the man’s job’ about the house more often than not. It was settled: While Edward worked on a cure in the Maternity clinic, Alphonse would work on their house.

“I’ve got the kitchen almost finished. I’ve got a plumber coming by tomorrow morning to fix the pipes there and in the bathrooms, and I finished painting today.”

“Sounds great. Did you manage to find a table you liked?”

“Not yet, Niisan. If the plumber comes early enough tomorrow, I might be able to have a look before I meet you at the cafe.”

He’d almost forgotten. “I’ll see you then. Hey, Al, if you get time, could you look into something for me? See if you find out anything about what happened to Matthews and Zimmer in the war. Especially Zimmer.”

“Is there a reason, Niisan?”

“Just a feeling.” Some girls came into the dorm room, and Edward straightened. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then?”

“Niisan, what happened to your voice?”

“My what?” Damnit, Alphonse had heard him using Elisabeth’s voice.

“You sound different --”

Edward laughed nervously, conscious of the girls still lingering by the bookshelf. “Must be a fault with the connection. Well, got to go, Al! I’ll see you tomorrow!”

“Niisan, wait--”

Edward replaced the phone with relief. If Alphonse ever saw him like this, he would die.

“Trouble in paradise?”

They were third years, not students he was familiar with. Edward was uncomfortable with the way their eyes lingered over him, their smiles a little too polished. “I wouldn’t say that,” he said, standing, eager to retreat to his room.

“Be careful,” the taller of the two trilled, the malicious note now clear in her voice. “You don’t have nearly enough poise to handle a steady boyfriend and keep an army colonel on the side.”

Edward ground his teeth; the rumours had got that far already? “I didn’t ask Mustang to come here.”

“Whatever. Give it up, and tell your Colonel that if he wants a real woman to give us a call.”

This was an argument Edward knew he couldn’t win. He wasn’t even going to try. He headed back to his room with as much offended dignity as he could muster, looking forward to burying himself in a notebook and pretending the last few hours had never happened.

He paused, hand on his door handle. There were voices inside his room -- he’d forgotten Mustang was still there. Edward sighed. The last thing he wanted to do now was try and persuade Mustang to leave --

“-- not even sure she’s legal.”

That was . . . Olivia?

Edward tightened his hold on the door, Mustang forgotten, as he listened. What was she doing?

“She doesn’t have the experience the others do and sometimes the way she acts -- I’m almost certain she lied about her age on the application. Physical age aside, she’s just not used to this sort of thing. No matter what your intentions are, I advise you to leave Elisabeth well enough alone.”

“I assure you, Miss Naylor,” That was Mustang, his voice radiating charm. “That my intentions are purely gentlemanly--”

“If I believed that I would not have needed to bring this matter up with you. What I’ve seen of your intentions so far does not impress me at all.”

“Believe me, I would never press my attentions where they were truly unwanted--”

“Unwanted is one thing. Inappropriate is another.” Olivia’s voice was hard, and Edward thought he could hear Hawkeye in it. “You are a man of the world, at least ten years older than her, experienced, practiced and I’ll admit, relatively good-looking--”

Only good-looking? Edward couldn’t help a smirk at that. Mustang’s ego must be taking a dive. But Olivia’s next words caught him by surprise.

“I’ve no doubt that you could convince her to want you. The question that remains, though, is whether you should.”

The hell? Who did Olivia think he was? As if he would ever in a million years -- Edward waited for Mustang to scoff at the mere idea.

“I see.” He wasn’t scoffing. Instead he sounded thoughtful. “You are concerned for Miss Rockbell’s best interests then?”

“She’s happy,” Olivia said. “She’s smart, smarter than most of the girls here. She has a future, and a boyfriend who obviously cares deeply about her. Whereas everyone in Central knows your reputation as a lady-killer. Can you really tell me you’re what’s best for her?”

“Your concern does you credit,” Mustang said, and Edward was surprised to find him speaking openly, or at least as openly as he ever did, his voice free of either charm or authority. “However, Miss Rockbell means much to me. I’ve known her longer than you realise. I was an acquaintance of her father; I’ve seen her grow up. The last thing I want is to--”

The door to the dormitory hall opened, and at the sudden noise Edward jumped away from his door, startled.

Sebastian Scotts, still in his lab coat, gave her a bashful nod. “Did I startle you? I’m sorry. I was just looking for Miss Naylor.”

Edward lent against the door, taking a moment to steady himself. “You’re looking for Olivia?”

“Yes.” Scotts fidgeted with one sleeve. “I have some quadratic equations I’d like to discuss with her.”

Edward smirked. “Quadratic equations?”

He watched Scotts squirm in tortured embarrassment a few moments before taking pity on him, thumping on his door and opening it. “Oi, Liv! Doctor Scotts wants to discuss ‘quadratic equations’ with you.”

Olivia coloured, but there was evident happiness in her eyes as she stood. “I’m glad we had this talk, Colonel,” she said politely, squeezing Edward’s shoulder lightly as she passed, joining Scotts in the corridor and leaving Edward and Mustang . . .

. . . alone.

“What happened to Jude and Sally?” Edward asked, finding the sudden silence unnerving. Mustang was looking at him. He didn’t exactly want their inane giggling presence, but he could have done with a shield, some sort of distraction. Mustang was looking at him!

“The dorm manager came along to suggest they return to their rooms to prepare for curfew. I imagine I’ll have to depart soon.”

“That’s too bad,” Edward said with cheerful insincerity.

Mustang raised an eyebrow. “All those years of giving me reports and you still haven’t managed to lie like you mean it.”

“You know, some people value openness.”

“They wouldn’t be, I think, acquainted with your particular style of honesty, Fullmetal. I’ve heard the truth hurts, but I never realised you could bludgeon someone with it.”

“So says the man who uses it as a weapon,” Edward muttered darkly, surprised as Mustang laughed.

“Point taken,” Mustang smirked at him. “So, tell me, Edward, is my presence really so unbearable?”

He hedged, unable somehow to say yes. “How many trainee nurses do you know that hang around with army colonels? You’re going to get me noticed.”

"You really think you're not noticed now?"

“I can pull this off!” Edward insisted, fists clenching. “I’m close; I can make this work! I have to! Colonel, please! Don’t interfere--”

“Edward.” Mustang cut off his heated plea. “I don’t intend to stop you from pursuing your research here. However, I must repeat: Do you really think you’re not noticed now?”

“The showers all have locks on them,” Edward replied. “And I got permission to wear long gloves after I told the matron I was in an accident and--”

“That’s not what I meant.” Mustang reached over to tug the blue ribbon wound around Edward’s ponytail free. This brought him suddenly close. Edward found himself staring dumbly at the ribbon being held startlingly close to Mustang’s lips and wondering faintly when he’d stopped breathing. Mustang was looking at him again, a strange sort of knowledge in his eyes. “You really think that any amount of disguise is enough?”

Edward felt a sudden weight on his back and realised that the Colonel had stolen the hair-band as well. “Hey, I need that!” He snatched it back, turning his back to Mustang as he expertly gathered his hair up in one hand, biting down on the hair-tie as he stretched it ready with the other hand.

He realised his mistake as soon as he felt the hands on his shoulders. “Your disguise is certainly thorough,” Mustang leaned in, running his fingers along the sleeve of one arm and pausing where the glove started. “But there are some things it can’t hide--”

“Let go!” Edward tugged his hand away to elbow Mustang, but the Colonel anticipated this, catching his arm and using it to pull Edward to face him. The hand Edward threw out to steady himself somehow ended up on Mustang’s chest and he froze in confusion.

Mustang took full advantage of this fact, naturally, letting skilled fingers brush Edward’s cheek. “A mind like yours can’t be hidden, Edward.Your soul, your drive--they show in your eyes as they ever did.” The Colonel smiled, leaning in dangerously close. “You may have left the military, but your brilliance will call them after you all the same. What will you do when--” He paused.

Edward beamed at him. “You’ll notice that wearing a trainee’s uniform does not prevent me from performing alchemy.”

Mustang looked as calm as one could with a piece of sharpened metal aimed at one’s vital organs and let go of Edward. “Quite. I didn’t notice you clap.”

“You were too busy trying to convince me to join the military before the military found me, I imagine,” Edward shrugged carelessly, enjoying being one-up on Mustang. Inconceivable, really -- the man never let his guard down. “I should tell you I intend on doing neither.”

“Is that so?” Mustang had retreated, regaining some of his dignity. “In that case, it is surprising you have remained here, a place already known to the military.” He straightened his collar meaningfully. “Either you are not as adverse to joining the military as you claim or--” he glanced at the notebooks “--you can’t leave.” The look he gave Edward then indicated he knew exactly which applied.

Damn. “Oh?” Edward shrugged. “Isn’t it awfully presumptuous of you to assume you can predict my actions after two years of absence?”

“Nice indifference, Fullmetal. Someone less familiar with you might be fooled.” Mustang’s grin was pure revenge. “Someone who doesn’t know that you tap your cheek when trying to be devious.”

Damn him. Two years and he still couldn’t get the better of him. Edward decided this would be over sooner if he just agreed. “Fine. I will write you a report.”

“That’s not--”

“Is next Tuesday okay? I have an essay due Monday.”

“I didn’t -- will you deliver it in person?”

“In person? What, are you mad?” Edward gestured to his outfit. “You think I can march into the military headquarters dressed like this?”

“You could always come as yourself.”

“That would be even worse.” Edward sneered in the manner of a high ranking army officer. “‘Why, if it isn’t the Fullmetal shrimp. I haven’t seen you in what, a year? Two years? Have you been filing any reports? No? And I hear you haven’t been reporting for duty either. I wonder what you’ve been up to then -- can’t have been easy, you certainly haven’t grown any.’” He scowled, seeing the scene all too clearly.

“Point taken.” Roy smiled like the cat who has got the cream. “If I might suggest a more private location?”

“Such as?” Edward knew better than to expect a helpful answer from Mustang. Especially when he wore that expression.

“I know a very nice restaurant not far from here . . .”

“You have got to be out of your mind. If I meet you in a restaurant people might think -- they’ll think -- oh, god, they’ll think I like you!”

“How does seven sound?”


“Excellent. I’ll be here to collect you at quarter to.”

“No you won’t!” If he left with Mustang he would never hear the end of it. “If I have to meet you, I’ll meet you there.”

“Edward, you don’t want to go walking around these streets late at night in a nurse’s uniform, do you?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“I’ll have Havoc collect you.”

“No!” Edward’s howl of protest was so loud his neighbour thumped on her wall. Edward folded his arms, glaring mutinously at Mustang as he continued the argument at a more acceptable volume. “Havoc will laugh at me.”

“Edward, think of it this way. Havoc’s already seen you. Anyone else I send won’t have.” Mustang paused. “I could ask Major Armstrong --”

“Havoc will do. But I’m not meeting him at the dormitory. He can wait at the end of the road.”

“Agreed.” Mustang ruffled his hair. “Then I’ll see you Tuesday.”

Edward grunted.

“Sulking is a most unladylike habit,” the Colonel drew out his watch and checked it. “Ah, I’d better depart.”

Edward watched him leave but didn’t say anything. Yes, he was aware it was childish, but it did make him feel better.

“Oh, and Edward?” Mustang paused in the doorway, a charming smile on his face. “Wear something nice.”

“Get out of my room you lecherous middle-aged old pervert!”

This time the neighbours on both sides, not to mention the floor above, thumped.


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