Ed's eyes opened blearily, blinking in the fading light. The first thing he realized was that he wasn't where he'd fallen asleep. Instead of a semi-comfortable couch, he was on the bed. Which meant the idiot colonel must've carried him to bed like a little kid.
The second thing he realized was that there were grunts and mumbles coming from the bed beside him, which was probably the cause of him waking. Edward sat up sleepily, rubbing his eyes. He squinted at the dim outline of Mustang on the bed, shuffling around. There was a book on the floor next to the bed, left open and pages bent.
"Colonel?" Ed whispered into the dark room. "Colonel, are you awake?"
He didn't get an answer, but Roy groaned lowly, fighting his blankets with renewed vigor. His mumbles increased in volume.
"No… kill me instead… please…" The older man was muttering frantically, hands groping thin air as his eyes darted wildly behind closed lids. "Leave them alone… kill me…"
With a start, Ed realized the man was having a nightmare. Was it about Ishval? He pushed the blankets off of himself and got up cautiously, watching Roy toss about. He stood uncertainly by the bedside, fiddling with the hem of his shirt and chewing his bottom lip.
The man went still for a brief moment before launching into desperate flailing, his face scrunched up against some unseen agony. Hurriedly, Ed reached out and grabbed his shoulder, shaking him roughly.
"Colonel? Hey, Colonel!" He didn't dare raise his voice too high, for fear of someone hearing him call out the rank. "Wake up!"
Roy's eyes flew open and his fist smashed into Ed's face. Pain flared up as he staggered back, clutching his now bleeding nose.
Through the pain he saw Mustang blink and realization dawn on him. "Oh, shit." Roy breathed. "Shit, Ed, I'm sorry. Fuck, I didn't mean to hit you."
A flash of irritation spiked up in Edward, but faded just as fast as it came. His superior looked like a mess, his breathing ragged and eyes wild with both fear and guilt.
"It's okay." Ed said after a second, holding his nose. "I startled you." He turned and walked to the bathroom, flicking on the light as he grabbed some tissues. He held the wad to his face, trying to stem the blood flow. After a few moments, Roy appeared in the doorway, looking a bit more awake.
"Let me see." He said, stepping up to Ed, who backed up a bit and shook his head.
"It might be broken. Let me see." Something in the man's tone made Ed look at him again. There was… a need in his eyes. Like he needed to see for himself that Ed was okay. The boy wondered about the nightmare, and what could've made the man so unsettled and afraid.
Ed relented, and allowed Roy to take hold of his chin and tilt his head up. Dark eyes skimmed over the damage and he nodded. "It isn't broken, but that's gonna leave a bruise."
"Yeah, no kidding." Edward pulled back and pressed more tissues to his face. He walked out of the bathroom and settled on the couch. A few seconds later and Roy sat beside him silently. Gold eyes flashed up to his commanding officer. "What… what was the dream?"
Mustang didn't reply to the question for a moment. "Don't push on it too hard or it'll bruise worse." He said, sighing heavily. "It… I dream, sometimes, about Ishval. It's to be expected, really. I just… sorry, Ed, I didn't mean to wake you, and definitely not to hit you."
"I had a nightmare too, last night, remember?" Ed reminded him. Mustang didn't answer, and Ed's eyes wandered to the clock. "It's seven now. We slept through dinner." He commented.
"Are you hungry?" Roy murmured, and Ed was more than a little startled at the note of gentleness and care in his tone.
The boy shook his head. "Nah, it's fine."
But the older man was already going into his bag. "I have a few snacks that I grabbed earlier, just in case. You should at least eat something."
Ed caught the apple Roy had tossed at him and sat back, scooting over as Mustang collapsed beside him with a heavy sigh. The man ran a hand through his hair, and Edward noted how his entire form seemed to sag. Like he was trying to crumple inwards, and disappear entirely.
Ed bit into the fruit thoughtfully, moving so that he sat cross-legged. "Do… do you maybe want to talk about it? You said it was Ishval."
Surprised eyes met his own, and Ed shifted his weight somewhat uncomfortably.
"…I dreamed of Ishval." Roy said finally. His voice was soft, as if he didn't dare disturb the quiet of the evening. "But not just Ishval. I dreamed… that I hurt people. Not just the Ishvalans, but people that I knew, people I love. I watched from outside my body, and at first… I didn't even realize it was me. I hurt Hughes, and Hawkeye… the rest of my team… You and your brother."
Ed tilted his head at the mention of him and Al. He'd never really considered that Mustang might actually care. He knew, to an extent, but had never truly thought about it. Certainly he didn't think it was enough for the man to have nightmares over them being hurt.
When the teen didn't speak, Roy continued. "I… I watched myself kill you, Ed. I saw myself burning you, and you were pleading – begging – for me to stop." His hands were trembling, now, and Ed thought that if Roy's fists were any tighter he would break his own fingers.
"But you didn't." Ed pointed out. He shuddered at the thought of being burned to death, but he swallowed hard. "Colonel? You didn't… really hurt me. Or Hughes, or the Lieutenant."
Mustang looked at him, and Edward was taken aback at the look in his eyes. It was dark – haunted – and, Ed realized, probably how he himself looked after a bad nightmare.
"I didn't, except I punched you." Roy pointed out.
Ed couldn't hold back his exasperated groan. "I already told you, Colonel Idiot. You didn't mean to do that, it was an accident."
"I still punched you."
"Yeah? Would you feel better if I punched you back?"
Silence answered him, and Ed took another bite. Honestly, most of the time he didn't understand Mustang. He thought he had a decent grip on the man, sure, but when it came down to it… he barely knew a thing about the man's own demons, or about how the man really saw the Elric brothers. He could be a bastard all day long, taking every opportunity to tease Ed mercilessly. But then he could turn right around and make sure Ed was eating, or make sure Ed wasn't injured.
Well, if there was one thing he was certain about, it was that Roy cared deeply for his subordinates.
The clock counted the seconds as they passed, and they didn't speak again.
Ed's eyes opened again, straining to see in the darkness. His pillow was firmer than he remembered, and… it was breathing?
He glanced down and realized that he and the Colonel had fallen asleep slumped on the couch, with Ed propped against the man's side. The boy's face flushed with embarrassment and he thanked the stars that Roy didn't notice.
Then he realized what had woken him.
It was a tingling feeling, deep down in his gut. A low, burning warning that something was wrong, that someone was there. Ed sat up further, scanning the darkness warily. His ears struggled to hear anything, any sound.
Ed elbowed Mustang sharply in the ribs, causing the man to cough and sit up with a grunt.
"…The hell, Fullmetal?" He mumbled. Ed was very still, and Roy seemed to catch on quick. "What is it?" He asked in a low voice.
"Something's wrong." Ed whispered. He knew this feeling. He had it sometimes when he was out with Al, on a mission, when they were being watched. It was an instinct, and Edward knew that it couldn't be wrong.
He stood carefully, and Roy followed suit. The boy moved towards the window and carefully peeled back the edge of the curtains. Golden eyes scanned the building across the way, then the street below. A figure stood across the street, under the dim glow of the street lamps. The figure was looking up, seemingly right at their window, and Ed couldn't help the small shiver that ran down his back.
"Colonel." He hissed. "There's someone down there."
Roy joined him at the window, very carefully pulling back part of the curtain. As he did, the figure turned away and began to walk down the road.
"He's getting away!" Ed said in a gasp, and whirled around, running to the door.
He ignored his commanding officer and dashed out into the hall, skidding down the stairs and around corners until he burst through the front door. He saw the figure glance back at the loud slam of doors and start to run.
"Hey!" Ed shouted, sprinting after him. "Stop!" He chased the figure, bare feet thudding on the pavement. His metal foot clinked noisily while his flesh foot scratched against small rocks. They whipped around a corner and Ed collided head on with someone else.
"Edward?" Leopold asked, confused.
Ed grumbled as looked past the man, and cursed as he saw a car speed away. "Who ran by here?" He demanded.
"Just some guy." Leopold answered, confusion still clear on his face. "I didn't see him. What's going on?"
"You let him get away?!"
"Let who get away?"
"EDWARD!" Roy came charging towards them, shirt un-tucked and disheveled. He halted just short of crashing into them. "What in the world do you think you're doing?!"
"Going after the guy! I might've caught him but I ran into Leopold! And he let the guy run right past him!"
"What guy?" Leopold asked again in exasperation.
"Relax, he didn't know Ed." Roy replied, one hand out and placating.
"I know that! I just – ARGH!" Ed's grabbed at his hair in frustration, ruining his meticulous braid. "I want this mission to be over already." He didn't want other people to get hurt, and he wanted to get back to Al. Belatedly, Ed realized his right foot was stinging. He stood on one foot and took a quick look, hopping to keep his balance. Small scrapes littered the skin there and he scowled.
"Okay, what is going on?" Leopold said loudly. Both alchemists looked at him, and Ed scratched at his head.
"I woke up, saw a guy watching our window outside, and got into a chase. I crashed into you and guy got away." Ed growled out.
Leopold rubbed at his neck. "Oh, well… my place is right over there if you'd like to discuss this. It's safer than talking about it at a hotel or on the street."
Ed opened his mouth but Roy cut him off before he could speak. "Thank you, Leopold. We'll make this discussion as quick as possible."
Leopold nodded, leading them across the street. "It's no problem. Sorry that I interfered, Edward." He tossed the last comment back towards Ed.
The blonde scowled, and Roy sent him a sharp glare. Sullenly, he shoved his hands in his pockets. "Yeah, whatever, it's fine. You didn't know anyway." Leopold's house was surprisingly close to the hotel, and it only took a couple of minutes before the man was fumbling with his keys to unlock his door.
"How's your nose, kid?" Roy asked softly, standing behind Leopold at Edward's side. Ed glanced up at him.
"S'fine." He mumbled. "Doesn't hurt anymore." A small lie, and Ed resisted the urge to rub at the dull soreness he felt. Roy didn't say anything, just reached out and ruffled Ed's hair, further destroying his already-messy braid.
"What happened to your nose?" Leopold asked as he shoved the door open.
"I clocked him in the face." Roy stated simply.
"Colonel Spastic clocked me accidentally in the face." Ed corrected.
"Oh." Was all Leopold could say. He showed them inside and into the kitchen, and Ed hopped up on the counter while the man rummaged through his cabinets.
"What're you looking for?" Ed asked as Roy frowned at him and gestured for him to get off the counter. Ed ignored him.
"A first-aid kit." Leopold answered cheerily. "You scraped up your foot, so I figured I had some Band-Aids around here somewhere."
"It's appreciated, Leopold." Mustang said smoothly, sitting in a chair with a pointed look at Ed. "Now, did you happen to see the person when they ran by?"
Leopold tossed Edward a few Band-Aids. "Not really. Male, average height. It's dark out, and I wasn't really paying attention."
Roy sighed. "Well, we can't blame you." He ran his hands through his dark hair, puffing out his cheeks as he exhaled heavily. "If that was our mystery killer – which, obviously it probably was – then what was he doing? Why was he just standing outside our window?"
"Watching us, obviously." Ed supplied, pressing a Band-Aid to his foot. He grimaced at the discomfort, and at the thought of them being watched.
"But why?" Roy pressed. "How would he even know where we're staying?"
"You said earlier that the killer was targeting friends and family of military guys." Ed shrugged, pointing at Leopold. "You're supposedly old friends with this guy, so the killer's just doing what he does. Stalking his victims." Edward suppressed a slight shudder. He and Al have dealt with many things, but he never liked being followed. There was something especially creepy about stalkers. The Colonel was likely the next target, and Ed hated that thought. What was he supposed to do if Mustang got kidnapped?
"Colonel, what if he goes after you?" Ed asked, interrupting whatever Roy had been saying to Leopold.
Roy looked at him. "What do you mean? He won't catch me, first of all. And on the off chance that he does, I'll be relying on you to get me out." He smirked, leaning back in his chair nonchalantly. "I'm sure you could do it."
"Well, yeah." Ed said, his teeth bared in a taunting grin. "I could, but will I? That's the real question here."
"Shut up, brat." Roy rolled his eyes. "This isn't the time for jokes." Still, Ed was pleased that the mood was slightly less tense now.
Roy and Leopold went back to talking about a new hotel for them to stay at, and Ed yawned and let his attention drift. His eyes followed the line of clutter on Leopold's counters – the man was surprisingly messy, it seemed. There were books, plates, papers, and… the takeout from earlier? The box of leftovers was opened and half-eaten, a fork still haphazardly shoved in it.
"Hey, Leopold." Edward butted into their conversation once again. He pointed. "You didn't give it to Annie?"
Leopold followed his finger with his eyes and his mouth formed a silent 'oh'. "I tried, but she told me that she wasn't feeling well enough to eat."
Ed frowned. "She's gotta have a hell of a fever, is someone there to help take care of her?"
"I check in on her most days. She lives alone." Leopold mused. "She's a sweet woman, Annie, and a hard-worker. She manages on her own, but I like to pop in. Especially like now, when she's ill."
Roy nodded. "Send my regards to her, next time you visit." He stood. "Tomorrow Ed and I will move to that other hotel you just told me about. It's too late tonight, but I'm sure our culprit won't try anything else for now."
Edward yawned again and scowled. "Hey, Colonel Jackass, can we go? I'm tired still." He shuffled on his feet, the kitchen tiles cold on his bare foot.
"We're going." Roy promised. "Thanks again, Leopold. I'll call you in the morning, after Ed and I make our hotel switch."
The other man nodded, a large smile in place. "Of course. You two be careful, alright?"
Both alchemists nodded, and Ed raised his hand in a wave. "Bye, Leopold." He called as he followed Mustang out. Almost as soon as the door shut, Roy glared down at Ed.
"What?" Edward asked, squinting at him.
"What were you thinking, running after him? You could've been hurt, and you could've blown our cover." Roy's voice was stern and quiet, practically hissing the words. Ed gritted his teeth together and avoided his gaze. He fidgeted as he walked. He wanted to argue, wanted to tell Mustang that he could've caught the guy and the mission would be done. But as much as he hated to admit it, Roy was right. There was a chance that the man could've been armed, and what civilian teenager goes charging after potential stalkers anyway?
"Sorry." He bit out. "I… I didn't think. Like, at all. I just really wanted to catch him."
Roy looked slightly taken aback at how easily Ed was cooperating. "…Well, I'm glad you understand. Don't do that again – think next time. You have a tendency to sometimes make incredibly brash and reckless decisions."
"Yeah, yeah, I know." Ed grumbled. "I already said sorry."
"Hopefully he doesn't get suspicious." The Colonel murmured. Louder, he nudged Ed into a faster pace. "C'mon, let's get back and get some real sleep. On the beds, this time."
"Race you!" Ed blurted out and took off, the Band-Aids threatening to come flying off. He grinned to himself when he heard Roy's running footsteps instead of the expected scolding words. He nearly laughed, but he couldn't shake the feeling of uneasiness that had been growing in him since he'd woken. Even now, racing his superior officer to their hotel room, Ed's eyes flew from shadow to shadow, keeping watch. He was sure Mustang was doing the same.
Ed shoved nearly half the bagel into his mouth in one go, cramming it in ravenously. He was starving, and of course Roy had insisted on switching hotels before anything else this morning.
The aforementioned Colonel was watching Ed eat with something akin to fear in his eyes.
"Are you breathing?" Roy asked, his own muffin untouched in front of him as he watched his young subordinate scarf down his breakfast.
"Mm hm." Ed hummed in response. "S'not my fault you wouldn't let me eat earlier." He said around his food. He swallowed roughly and moved on to his eggs. They had moved to a hotel on the other side of town, and had to call Hawkeye to let her know about the move. She hadn't been happy to hear of their suspected stalker.
"And you promised I could talk to Al after breakfast." Edward added, shoveling the scrambled eggs into his mouth.
"You have to survive breakfast first." Mustang snorted, finally picking up his muffin. "Please don't be an animal. Chew."
"I am!" Ed insisted. He swallowed hard and pushed his plate away. "Can I run up to the room and call now?"
"Fine, but later I want to talk to the local police about all this." Mustang said.
Ed snorted. "Okay, but will they let you?" He didn't give Roy much of a chance to respond, already skipping out the door and rushing to the room. As it so happens, the phone was ringing when he opened the door.
Edward hurriedly picked it up, pressing the cold receiver to his ear. "Hello?"
A crackle on the other end, and then a tinny voice echoed out. "Brother?"
"Al!" Ed grinned widely. "Great! I was just about to call to check up on you! How are things?"
"Things are fine here. Normal. Havoc almost lit his desk on fire." Alphonse giggled a little. "I thought Lieutenant Hawkeye was actually going to shoot him for that one."
"Nice, wish I'd been there." Edward huffed a little.
"What about you? Have you been taking care of your automail? Are you and the Colonel okay?"
"Automail's fine, I wouldn't risk Winry's wrath. And we're good. Colonel's a jerk as always."
"Relax, you know I'm only half-joking." Ed sat on the bed and pulled his hair from its braid. "Seriously though, we're okay."
"How's the case?"
Ed chewed on his lip. A girl died. Someone was watching us and I'm actually pretty worried that the Colonel will be taken. "Ah, not much. Nothing for you to worry too much about."
"The Lieutenant said you moved hotels." Al's voice was timid, cautious. His brother was probably worried sick.
"Yeah." The older Elric scratched at his cheek. "We… we saw someone watching our hotel room last night, so we moved just in case. It's fine."
"Brother! That's not fine!" Al's voice had increased in volume. "What if you or the Colonel get hurt!?"
"Aaaal." Ed drew out his brother's name in fond exasperation. "Don't worry too much. We'll be good. And if something does happen, then Hawkeye can send backup and we'll bust some heads."
A moment of silence. And then Alphonse spoke again, his voice downtrodden. "I wish they'd let me come with you. I miss you, Brother." Ed could practically see the cloud of gloom over the giant suit of armor.
"I miss you too, Al. But you know you'd never pass unnoticed here." Ed reminded him gently. "At least I know you're safe in Central, okay? I'll be back soon."
"Okay." The younger brother said. A voice spoke in the background, and Ed heard some shuffling before Alphonse spoke again. "Lieutenant Hawkeye apologizes, but she says she needs the phone. Call me later today."
"Will do, Al – no cats in the dorm while I'm gone, remember!"
"Okay Brother!" Al said in a suspiciously innocent tone. Ed pressed his lips together and made a mental note to do a fur-sweep when he got back. "Bye Ed!"
"Bye Al!" Ed hung up and flopped backwards onto the bed, sighing heavily. He had only been lying there for a minute when someone knocked at the door. Ed sat up quickly, watching the door somewhat warily. He crept over and readied himself before opening it.
Leopold stood before him, a friendly smile in place. "Oh, good morning Edward." He beamed. "I was on my way to go see the scene of the crime from the other day, and I thought maybe you and your father would want to come." The man glanced to the side and Ed took note of a group of people chatting in the hall that signified emphasis on their cover.
"Well, Dad's still down there eating. I'll leave him a note and you and I can go." Ed said, popping the joint in his arm as he stretched his arms in front of him. "He can catch up."
Leopold nodded, and waited patiently while Ed scribbled out a note that said exactly what time he was leaving, who he was with, and where they were going. He knew that at least this time around Roy would be pissed if he wasn't given specifics.
"Okay, all set." Ed said, grabbing his hair tie and quickly braiding his loose hair. He followed Leopold out and into the warm late morning air.
The streets were fairly crowded today, and Ed was mainly at ease. Leopold was easy to talk to, and Ed found himself sincerely liking the man. They talked about trivial things mostly, the walk passing quickly and soon Ed noticed the gravel under his feet as they neared the same spot. The crowds had thinned out and were now non-existent, and Ed could hear the river again.
"How are you liking Clearlake?" Leopold asked as they walked. Ed kicked at a rock.
"You mean besides the whole murderer thing? It's alright." Ed shrugged. "I haven't really had time to form an opinion on the town itself."
Leopold lowered his voice. "When this is all over, Ed, maybe you and Roy can come back down to visit and I'll show you the better side of Clearlake."
Ed grinned. "Sure. Bring along Annie, too, I think I'd like to meet her again." A bird suddenly took flight off to his left, and there was a prickle on the back of Ed's neck.
Leopold gave him a quick smile. "Yes." He said softly. "Annie would love that, I'm sure."
Edward frowned. "Is… is she not doing too good?" The uneasy feeling was back again, the same tingling sensation he got on missions with Al, and last night.
Leopold shook his head. "Sorry. I just feel bad for her, since she's so sick. She really does mean a lot to me."
"Good friends?" Ed said with a somewhat forced smile. His instincts were squirming, yelling for him to get away from here.
"Very." Leopold admitted. "In fact, I had plans before all of this to ask her out. Do you think I should?"
"I say go for it." Ed nodded. "Nothing's stopping you." His volume dropped and he hissed. "I think we're being followed." Leopold visibly tensed at this. "Don't turn around yet. Just keep walking." Of course this would happen, and of course only once they were far from crowds too.
They kept walking, and Ed was now certain that if he were to turn, he would see another person somewhere behind them. The gravel gave way to smooth pavement as they moved closer to the populated part of town, detouring from their original destination.
Suddenly Ed felt with absolute certainty that he had to turn around this very second. He jerked to a stop, surprising Leopold, and whipped around.
His eyes looked straight down the barrel of a handgun. He barely had time to draw a sharp breath before there was another sound behind him and pain exploded on the back of his head. Ed hit the ground hard, and his vision faded quickly to black.
A/N: Sorry for the wait! Ah I hope I didn't rush this chapter. Explanation for chapter 3's title: A yellow/orange/green(ish) sky is a phenomenon that sometimes happens before a large storm. :) Reminder that I am on tumblr as luminescent-bat! Come interact with me! Thank you, and thank you for the reviews! As always, they are greatly appreciated and don't forget to leave more!