Title: The Animal
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Edward, Breda, Hawkeye.
Summary: Ed was used to seeing strange things around Mustang's office, but this was new.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Written as a 2014 Trick Or Treat Exchange gift for Allekha. It was written quickly in the last few hours before the fic exchange deadline, so I apologize for its roughness.
Edward Elric was used to seeing strange things around Mustang's office, but this was something new.
The animal looked somewhat like a cross between a pig and a bear cub, with its blunt snout and shaggy coat of dark, bristly fur. Its small, bright eyes were mostly hidden beneath thick brow ridges that also obscured tiny nubs of ears. Miniature tusks protruded from under its jowls, and its stumpy legs ended in split hooves. It sat placidly on its haunches, its sharp little teeth grinning through wiry, yellowed whiskers.
It was tethered by a leash that trailed from the collar fastened around its thick neck… and the other end of the leash was attached to the desk of Heymans Breda, who sat staring down rather glumly at the creature.
"What is this?" Ed queried as he stepped closer, tilting his head sideways to study the animal. He was suddenly glad he had sent Alphonse to the library for a certain book. His actual reason was that he anticipated a rather… lively conversation with Mustang about the mission he was just back from, and he didn't want Al hovering anxiously while he exchanged bad words with his superior; but now, it was just as well that Al didn't see this pathetic little beast. It was a monumental task to pry him away from small critters, even if they were as ugly as this one.
Breda morosely shrugged his dense shoulders. "Some kinda chimera. It's supposed to be evidence in a case against an alchemist who was doing illegal experiments, or something. Lieutenant Hawkeye ordered me to babysit this thing."
That was decidedly odd. Combining animals like this was reprehensible to people with any sense of decency, but it wasn't strictly illegal—and the military itself had certainly sanctioned its share of such research. Furthermore, Edward couldn't see how a chimera of such a mundane sort would have any value as evidence against an alchemist who was doing even worse deeds.
"It won't bite if I try to pet it, will it?" Ed asked, maintaining a casual tone to his curiosity.
"Nah. It's pretty friendly." Breda gazed musingly at the animal. His expression softened a little, and he reached down with one hand, to give its head a reserved pat. "It behaves itself really well, too. And it's kinda funny. So it's actually… not so bad."
Ed knelt down beside the animal, offering his flesh fingers to be sniffed. After doing so, it raised its head and smiled up at him—and he knew.
"Jeeze, Breda. Are you really that much of an idiot?"
So saying, he rolled the stout little beast over on its back, feeling softness in places where there should have been firm muscles. His fingers dug through the matted fur until he found the ridge of metal he was looking for, and he followed it up to a slightly protruding tab between the front legs. When he tugged at it, the rough, hairy skin began to split down the length of the creature's belly—allowing patches of softer, black-and-white fur to spill out from underneath.
With a few more tweaks and pulls, an elaborate, extremely detailed ensemble of costuming and prosthetics peeled away… and Black Hayate let out a cheerful yip as he began wagging his newly-freed tail.
The sound Breda made as he hurtled up on top of a row of filing cabinets was considerably more than a yip.
"What have you done?"
At those words, delivered by a cold female voice, Ed's blood froze. He gulped hard, and slowly turned to face Riza Hawkeye, who had evidently just stepped into the open doorway of the office.
"…Um?" Ed whimpered helplessly, his steel fingers hastily dropping one of the fake hooves.
"You ruined the entire plan." Hawkeye's voice was low and steady, but that only made it more frightening. "We were hoping to cure Breda of his fear of dogs, by letting him get used to an animal he thought was a chimera—and then showing him it was Hayate all along. But now you've blown his cover." Fists clenching, she narrowed her eyes at Ed. "Do you have any idea how much effort I put into creating Hayate's disguise? How much time I spent training him for this?"
Maybe it was the sound of Breda whining softly in the background, but the small part of Ed that wasn't terrified wanted to laugh…
Except that under Hawkeye's glare, the whole terror thing was a little too much to overcome.
© 2014 Jordanna Morgan