"This," grumbled Ed as he looked around the small stony cave he and the Colonel had been forced to take shelter in, "Is all your fault...!" He eyed the rapidly falling snow outside of their shelter with a huff. "Tromping around in the snow for several hours... and right after I finished two missions. Back to back!"

Roy Mustang sighed weakly in response. "...Fullmetal, in this particular case I wasn't the one who ordered--"

"Hmph. Makes no difference. You are the one who got his ass ambushed on a diplomatic mission to Drachma of all places..." He turned to glare at his superior officer, who had slumped to the floor as far away from the entrance to the cave as possible. "...And then... then you got lost! You are damn lucky I found you!"

"I know."

"Colonel?" Ed turned to look at the older man. Something was odd, something about his voice...

Mustang was shivering. Violently.

"Shit." Ed crouched on the ground by his companion and pressed his ungloved flesh hand to the back of the Colonel's neck. "You're like ice! How long were you out there anyways!"

His eyes were finally beginning to adjust to the dim light of their shelter, giving him a better look at his superior officer. Now that Ed could see and was actually taking the time to scrutinize the man, Ed saw enough to send a send a small jolt of panic through him.

Not only was Mustang shivering hard enough that Edward almost expected him to break his jaw, but he was also a ghostly shade of white. And, from what Ed could make out, his lips did not look to be the right color at all.

There was a long pause before the Fullmetal Alchemist received any sort of response from the shaking man, and the response, when it did come, was not reassuring at all.


"I said..." Ed leaned in a bit closer, trying to ignore the fact that Mustang was practically radiating cold, "How long were you outside?"

"Five or six hours... I think..." The man blinked blearily at him.

Well, hell.

"...We gotta get you warmed up." Muttered Ed as he got to his feet. Slipping his glove back onto his hand, he prepared to clap. He didn't have much in the way of elements, but he'd have to make do. Maybe create some fuel, see if the Flame Alchemist was coherent enough to give him a spark, and then make a door for the--

"Fullmetal!" Mustang sounded a bit more awake now.

Ed lowered his arms. "What?"

"You were not..." The older man gave him a look both bemused and worried. "Planning on using your Alchemy, were you? After both of those missions and..." He paused, seeming to have lost his train of thought. "Not safe. You are worn out. Don't..." His dark eyes studied Ed. "Risk a rebound."

"WHAT!" repeated Ed, this time in a louder voice. "Oh please, Colonel! I'm not one of those weak State Alchemists you must be used to dealing with! I am not going to get a rebound because I'm a little tired!" He glared at Mustang, insulted.

"It's not a risk we are going to take." His voice was firm.


"This is an order."

Ed's shoulders slumped. "Fine...! Whatever. Just freeze then!" He shot the older man a dirty look before turning away to position himself far from his annoying superior officer. Ed settled for staring out into the blizzard they had just escaped from in lieu of having another argument with the man. He was just too tired.

Mustang snorted, but otherwise didn't say anything. Several minutes passed in silence.

Finally, Ed gave up and turned to face his companion again. "...So do you have a better idea then, O great Flame Alchemist?"

There was no response.


Mustang still did not make a sound or move. In fact, he appeared to be asleep, his head lolled back ever so slightly and his back to the cave wall. His expression was slack, something Ed had never seen before, even during the few times he walked in on one of the Colonel's little 'naps'.

It was disturbing.

Ed leaned over to shake him. "Hey! Colonel! You awake?" Edward's eyes widened and his pulse raced as the first pang of fear hit him.

The Colonel had been awfully cold...

"Wake up, you bastard!" He gave the older man's shoulder a shove, more of a punch really. Still, the Flame Alchemist just sat there, unmoving. "Say something!" Ed gave him one final, desperate, and violent shake.

"...Fullmetal...?" Two dark eyes gave him a confused look.

"Oh thank..." The boy trailed off, feeling slightly embarrassed and almost giddy with relief.

"We need to get you warmed up... Hey!" Ed muttered an apology before slapping his superior's cheek. "Don't close your eyes! You are going to freeze to death! Do you want to die!"

"Not... presently..." Mustang responded weakly, bringing a shaking hand up to touch his cheek. "I..." Strangely, he chuckled. "Didn't even feel that..."

"Oh geez, you are out of it... Look, Colonel, you need something to get warm with." Ed shivered, he wasn't feeling all that much better himself, truth be told. "Me too. So unless you have a bright idea, I'm just going to go ahead and..."

"Even... without the risk of rebound... We are in a cave, Fullmetal. The smoke would suffocate us." The Colonel sluggishly shook his head, eying the rocky ceiling above them. "We need a blanket."

"We don't have one." Ed rolled his eyes at the ceiling and sighed. "We have nothing. Just the clothing on our backs and..."

Mustang had drifted off into unconsciousness again while he was speaking, his hand gripping the edge of Ed's long coat. The Fullmetal Alchemist looked at his commanding officer's too-pale and slack face, and then back to where Mustang's arrayed glove was gripping the red material.

That was it!

Ed grinned to himself as a plan began to form. He wasn't an expert at these cold weather emergencies, being from a far warmer climate, but he did have somewhat of an inkling of the more common treatments for hypothermia.

Body heat was the key.

It was far too simple really, all they had to do was share their body heat, and use his jacket as a blanket to keep it from escaping. It wasn't the best of solutions, frankly Ed would prefer a simple fire. But it would do.

It was all easy enough. All Edward had to do was remove... their...


His face now beet red, Ed prepared to remove his clothing first, with hands shaky from something he highly suspected wasn't the cold. Desperately, he tried not to look at the Colonel and think about the what step two would be.

Damn the man for looking so sexy. And for getting them into this mess in the first place!

He stripped down to his boxers as quickly as he could, in a hurry to both get this over with before he lost his nerve and to get himself... and more importantly Mustang... warm again before something horrible happened.

As he braced himself to take off the man's overcoat, Ed noted that this really had turned out to be one awful day.

The next few hours were sheer hell.

First of all, Ed had neglected in all of his planning to account for the fact that his automail would be no help at all in heating up his fellow alchemist. The things damn near took all of Ed's own body heat in fact.

It had taken some incredibly tricky and uncomfortable positioning, but eventually Ed managed to get as much of his bare flesh in contact with Mustang's as possible... with none of the automail touching.

Now the two were tangled together, practically naked for all intents and purposes. Ed had been sure he would die of complete embarrassment, but somehow that had not yet happened.

The Flame Alchemist looked... different... to Edward now. Ed had already noticed earlier how much of a change came over the man's face when he wasn't wearing that typical smirk of his. What he didn't count on was how much of a difference lack of clothing made.

He hated to admit it, but the other alchemist was quite an attractive person. Ed had found himself staring at the man more than once, and somehow the bastard had even snuck into a few of those dreams.

Now here Mustang was, more or less naked and in Ed's arms. Definitely the stuff of his more erotic fantasies... and yet...

He was still completely slack. It had been several hours now, and he certainly felt a bit warmer now. Ed had even noticed color slowly creeping into his cheeks... But still, the older man had made no signs of stirring. An attempt was made to wake him up not long before, but Ed had no success at all at rousing the man.

He was scared.

Edward knew he was far from an expert in these matters, but even he had heard some of the stories. How easily and often people died from the effects of lowered body temperature.

'Five or six hours' the other had said...

A fairly long time. Too long.

Pulling he other alchemist close to him as if he were some sort of stuffed animal, Ed tried to banish such negative thoughts. He didn't want to think of Mustang dying... there was no way the man could possibly ever... He was too stubborn and... and somehow constant.

"Idiot Colonel..." Ed closed his eyes, feeling suddenly drowsy now that he was heating up some. "I will laugh at you forever if you dare... give up... now. Just imagine how stupid it would look on the tombstone." Mustang was asleep, surely he wouldn't mind that Ed was probably a little closer than he needed to be. Or where his hands kept trying to wander to. "The famous Flame Alchemist dying of a little bit of cold... Pitiful."

He fell asleep in the man's arms not long afterward, dark thoughts still racing through his mind.


Someone was speaking to him.

Ed groaned and opened his eyes, trying to get his bearings. What sort of bed was he lying in! He had never slept on such a hard surface before, except for that one time when he and Al...

Slowly everything came into focus and Ed found himself staring at a grey and rocky ceiling.

Oh right, the cave.

"So you are awake." The voice came again, familiar. There was an odd tone to it Ed wasn't used to hearing.


Was that an arm slung over his middle! Who was he...!

Ed yelped and quickly pulled away, staring at his superior officer in mute horror even as his memories finally caught up with him. That was it. He was going to be struck dead of sheer mortification, right here and now!

Bracing himself for the inevitable taunt or smug line, Ed waited for the Flame Alchemist to say something about the odd situation they had woken up in. There was a lot that could be said about the... position... they had been in. He was sure Mustang would have reams of things to say about it.

But no words came. Instead, the older man studied him, a confused and soft look in his dark eyes.

A long moment passed in silence before Ed finally worked up the nerve to break it. "What?"

"I..." Mustang looked away briefly before returning his gaze to Edward. "I guess that was one way to fix the problem..."

"Didn't really have much of a choice." muttered Ed, trying to decide if that was an insult or not.

"You did well." The words sounded sincere. Ed blinked. Did Mustang just compliment him outright...!

His surprise only grew as the alchemist leaned over to place a still slightly shaky hand on his shoulder. "Thank you."

"I..." Ed swallowed, sure he was again beet red. "It wasn't like I would let you die or anything!"

Mustang chuckled lowly in response, looking as if he had just figured out something. "I see."

"What are you on about?"

The man shook his head, his smile disappearing. "Nothing important." He leaned over to grab his clothing. "It looks like it has cleared up. With any luck, we'll be able to find your brother, the Lieutenant, and the others in little time."

"Ah, okay..."

Reaching for his own clothes, Ed did his best to put the odd events of the night previous and the Colonel's cryptic words and actions out of his mind. They had bigger things to worry about.

It took Edward a long long time before he ever truly figured out what the other man had meant that morning.