Series: Bringing the Puppy Home
WARNING: RATED M FOR Language, violence, adult themes, yaoi, character deaths, spoilers.
Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist in its entirety belongs to Hiromu Arakawa, all story and character credit goes directly to her.
A/N: Welcome to my very first story. I am absolutely in love with this anime, and I honestly can't tell you how this brainchild formed. But I can't wait to have it out here for (hopefully) you all to enjoy. Thank you!
Chapter 1: Say Goodbye
Colonel Roy Mustang tapped a finger on his mahogany desk, eyebrows twitching in annoyance. His other hand was currently occupied by the phone, and the person on the other line was luckily residing across town. If not, the gloved hand with the tapping finger wouldn't be tapping; it would be snapping. Only to cause more renovations for an office that already carried its own weight in insurance.
"Fullmetal...this is the last time I'm going to ask," Mustang growled into the phone, eyes narrow. Hawkeye had just walked into the brightly-lit office, still blinking as she set down a new pile of papers to be signed by the colonel at her own desk. "I want that report here today! You've been putting it off for over a week!" Roy shouted into the phone after a few seconds of silence. Angry squeaking could be heard on the other end, and First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye could only smile and stare for a few seconds before she felt Roy's dark stare. The man held the buzzing phone a few inches from his ear, grimacing at the noise, yet glaring at Riza. She elegantly looked past the colonel to the wall and took a seat at her desk, eyes lowering to study the documents that were there waiting for her.
After the angry mess of a yelling voice quieted, Mustang ran his free hand through his dark hair, sighing, but not in defeat, in hopelessness. "I don't care if you haven't been feeling well! I'm not the one who's been screwing around for the past week, am I? And I'm not the one who signed up for a mission that I thought would be easy, either! The report needs to be in TODAY!" After a few seconds of more raged squeaking, Roy slammed the phone down with an angry huff.
"Easy on the phone, Sir," Hawkeye corrected automatically, sitting down at her desk to look over a few files. Roy made a shaking fist and growled to himself.
"Why won't he ever listen? If I don't get that report in soon, I'm going to be in deep water," Roy thought aloud, pressing two fingers to his temple dramatically. His blue military uniform contrasted sharply with the walls, and Riza could just see the movements out of the corner of her eye. "The more laboratories in illegal use that we find, the more nervous the higher ups here in Central get. If they don't get their results on this latest one, it's going to be pinned on me. All because a damn kid has deadline issues."
Riza cocked an un-amused eyebrow. "With all due respect, Colonel, Edward just got his brother's body back a few months ago. Can't you just let it slide? I'm sure Alphonse is on his mind much more than you or this report. To be truthful, I don't blame him."
Roy growled a warning, fingers itching to try out his gloves on the pristine office. "Then. He. Should. Not. Have. Gone. On. The. Mission."
"Well, Sir, you did more or less place the mission onto his shoulders," Hawkeye replied, looking up from her post screening of the documents that were to be sent. Roy stood from his seat and turned the face the window, his sharp eyes piercing the scenery below. Hawkeye, feeling a protective mothering instinct rise within her despite knowing she was over reaching her boundaries, continued. "Edward was visibly resistant, obviously not feeling up to par with the mission requirements that you laid out before him."
"I then asked no more of Major Elric than I do of my other men, Lieutenant. Fullmetal had taken his leave of absence to be with Alphonse, and it was time for him to return to duty," Roy snapped, his voice carrying in annoyance. He glared at a random object outside the window, a person moving across the parade ground several stories below. "Feeling well or not, feeling like going or not, he is a soldier, just like you and I. There is no excuse."
"Of course, Sir," Hawkeye replied in an apologetic manner, lowering her gaze in slight embarrassment for being reprimanded. She considered the files before her for a moment, before looking back up. The colonel had already turned his gaze back out the window. She thought it amazing how the colonel could seem so angry, and yet still have the soft look of someone he was very fond of in his eyes. And she knew better than anything that the softness wasn't pointed at her. "I apologize if you are feeling stressed. Everything has been less than sane for these last few months," she said, her voice low but strong.
Roy's blue eyes grew darker, if at all possible, and a puzzling frown swept across his handsome face. "You could say that again. Ever since Fuhrer Bradley disappeared and Hakuro took over, it's been drastically different," Roy murmured, just loud enough for the room's other occupant to hear. He placed a hand on the tan wall beside him and studied more of the figures moving about a few stories below. "They sure did move on quickly. Didn't waste a second of breathing time."
Mustang leaned back away from the window, turning around slowly before sauntering back to his desk. As he fell back onto the chair, he let his head clunk onto the wood.
Hawkeye watched him for a moment, not surprised by his behavior, but not accepting of it, either. Glancing at a pile of papers on her desk, she smiled to herself and remembered what she had come to the office for in the first place. Standing and picking up the Flame's paperwork at the same moment, she quietly walked over to his desk.
"Sir?" Riza said, and received no answer. With a sigh, she picked up his head, placed the paperwork underneath, and let his head fall back down. She got no reaction from Roy, who seemed to have had his fill of the real world for one day.
"I need some coffee...Lieutenant?" Roy moaned tiredly, not moving from the position his subordinate gave him.
"Yes, Sir," Hawkeye replied quietly, turning her back to him. Mustang breathed a sigh of relief as he heard the click of her boots echo on the hardwood floor, and he opened his eyes. He lifted his head and let his gaze wander to the outside world; to put things in a more specific way, at the entrance gate where a certain Elric would be arriving soon.
As soon as the blonde woman thought she was out of ear shot of the colonel, at the door, she let her thoughts slip loose into words. "If I'm going to have to put up with any more sexual tension between those two…" Riza muttered well under her breath, knowing better than letting Roy hear what she had just said. It had been going on for well over a year now, the both of them dancing around each other, and while every now and then one of them would land a solid blow it wasn't enough to get them to admit what they felt. As she opened the door, she heard a loud noise of disgust.
"I HEARD THAT!" Roy bellowed, jerking his head up to give her the stare of death. But, as quick as he was, the door to his office was already shut. He growled and plunked his head back down.
A very pissed off looking Edward Elric sat with arms defiantly crossed, carelessly seated on one of the two leather couches that were place in Mustang's office. His braided blonde hair was tousled from the walk to the military station, and he was still wet from the downpour that had started not ten minutes before he arrived. Even though his everyday look was relatively normal, his striking golden eyes were looking for blood.
"Why do I even have to come here in the first place?" He grumbled loudly, shooting an 'I-hate-the-world-even-more-than-I-normally-hate-you' look in the colonel's direction.
"Because I'm your higher-up. And it was an order." Roy was calmly sitting at his desk, hands folded under his chin as he gazed at the teen. He felt Edward's strong eyes piercing him right back, and he could also feel the resistance Ed was creating in the air. Closing his dark eyes, the colonel felt another horrible headache coming on; he found it humorous to call them 'Ed-aches' though he never dared to announce this out loud. He rather valued his life, and his current Ed-ache was enough of a pain without having to deal with whatever Edward would be glad to dish out onto him.
"Psh..." Was all Roy got in response, a then a loud sneeze as Ed lurched forward. His eyes were closed for another three sneezes, and when he finally stopped, the younger alchemist had to catch his breath. The colonel was failing miserably at the laugh he was trying to hide. With his ebony eyebrows quirked curiously, the man forgot that just putting a gaze on Edward was the wrong thing to do. The kid was quick with the comments, and the backhand he laid out on Roy was quickly given.
"What are you staring at?" Ed growled, coughing twice soon after. They were deep and raspy, not quite what Roy would think of as 'healthy-sounding'. But then again, did coughs ever sound healthy?
"Not staring, just looking," Roy countered, replacing the flush of his cheeks with the coolness of the back of his hands. If he could survive this meeting with Ed and escape without embarrassing himself noticeably, or any bruises, it would be a miracle. "And besides. You know perfectly well why you're here. I need that report in; it was due days ago."
"I've heard it all before..." Ed grumbled, flicking his damp golden hair over his shoulder. His tawny-colored eyes sought comfort from the colonel's gaze by staring at a nearby wall.
"Then do you have the report?"
"Are you prepared to hand it over?"
"May I see it?"
Roy was taken aback slightly, but not in a big way. He had fully expected Ed to try and play his little mind games, so the older man wasn't surprised when the teen playfully refused. With a deep sigh of frustration, Roy looked to the blonde, who yawned to spite him. "Fullmetal. The report. Now."
Edward idly leaned back into the couch and closed his eyes, clearly ignoring his superior, a pleased look coming upon his face. Grumbling many colorful words, Roy pressed two fingers to the side of his throbbing head. "What do kids like? Candy?"
"For the last time, I'm not a GOD DAMN KID!" Ed ranted, giving his superior a pissed look. A mixture of disgust and bewilderment shone on Roy's face, and his black eyebrows were furrowed to match the expression. Ed had to admit...the colonel looked...slightly intriguing when he was angry. Ed flushed slightly at that thought, quickly turning his head away.
"This is the last time I'm going to say it. Give me the report, and the faster you do it, the faster you can get your ass out of here and home," Mustang sighed, pointedly looking towards the door. The younger alchemist followed Roy's gaze, shaking his blonde head before shifting around a bit.
Reaching into a pocket, Ed produced a thick bundle of papers stapled together quite a few times to get it to hold. With a snort, he pitched them at the older man, crossing his arms afterward. Without breaking his stare on the teenager, Mustang stuck his hand out and snagged the report in his hand, bringing it down to his desk without a sound. Still staring, he smoothed the papers out, and waited for the response he knew Edward was balling up inside.
Grimacing, Ed flicked himself on the forehead and sighed. "It's not like I have anything to look forward to." At those words, Roy detected a faint hint of sadness in Edward's gruff voice. He gazed up curiously, only to see the blonde's head turned slightly away, but his eyes looked so...lonely. Cocking his head to the side, Roy wondered why.
"What about Alphonse? Thought he'd be staying with you since he got his body back," the man spoke, leafing through the last few pages of the report in disinterest.
"He was going to, but Al's decided to stay at Risembool and recuperate there for awhile. He's been gone for about..." Ed paused, counting silently, "Three weeks. Thought everyone knew." Letting his counting hand drop, Ed sighed in boredom and unfairness of it all. Roy sighed at his pathetic attempts to keep the office away from the eerie quiet feeling. If Riza had been in the room, she would have sighed about there not being a reason to bring her gun out on the two men.
"Well, we obviously didn't know you have been here without your brother. Do you think it wise to leave him without proper security?" Roy snapped, all too aware that he was setting foot on forbidden ground, but not bothering to stop himself. Was Edward aware of how dangerous it was out there? Did he honestly think that little of all the years the two had put together to get Al's body back?
Ed sent a rather perturbed look Roy's way. "Do you really consider Alphonse to be so helpless? I've never beaten him once in a sparring match, and if you recall I kicked your ass a couple of years back."
The colonel, who had been flicking through the pages of the blonde's report and ignoring what said alchemist had to say, frowned. "Looks as classy as ever, Edward. Are you naturally left-handed, or is it just an on-going joke you've been keeping to yourself?"
Edward's head snapped up, bangs flying into his face and for a moment shielding his eyes from Roy's view. The boy brushed them away in what looked to be a reflex, as his angry expression didn't so much as falter. "At least I can write more than two sentences without getting distracted."
Roy, knowing he really shouldn't press the issue if he wanted to get his headache to go away, couldn't find it within himself to help it. For some reason that Roy couldn't put a finger on, he felt that the intricate balance of friendliness and insult that they shared could be easily upset. At one point it time, he had gone along with it out of true feeling, bickering with the golden boy any time they were within reach of each other. But slowly, over time, he had felt something else rise within him, something that wanted to stop the insults where they lay in his mind, and perhaps carry on like decent individuals. But Edward himself showed no signs of wanting the same, and so the backhanded way they danced around each other would have to continue.
The colonel smirked, looking up from Ed's report but making a gesture that suggested he was underlining words. "Those two sentences don't count if they're nothing more than a doctor's hasty prescription."
"You know what? I swear you just make me come in here so you can feel like you've got at least some sort of hold on me, Mustang," Ed griped. He snapped his fingers, a look of mock surprise on his face. "Or maybe His Excellency thought it amusing to force his young subordinate to walk in a torrential downpour?"
"No way to speak to your superior, Fullmetal," the Flame chided, his depthless eyes holding Ed captive. They stayed that way for a few moments, Roy's smirk slowly growing wider as Ed slowly became more flustered. A blush spread high across the boy's cheeks, but he snorted and became quiet nonetheless, turning his attention back to the military issued pocket watch in his hands.
Roy quickly uncapped one of his many black pens from its cup (thoughtfully kept full by Riza) and scribbled a messy signature out on the last page of Edward's report. He was feeling too lazy to really read through it all, but just for the simple fact that the teen had actually turned in a report, he was satisfied. When the signature was complete, Roy dumped the pen not so kindly into the cup, and then pitched the report at the pile on the other side of his desk. Thus, considering he hadn't had his required five cups of morning coffee, was a very big pile.
"Other than the obvious issue, this looks good, Fullmetal. But, I do request that you stay here until Hawkeye returns from her duties," Mustang informed Ed, who was still slightly out of it and looked up as if this was something new and a ridiculous request to boot. Shaking his dark head, the older alchemist rested his chin on two hands, face blank.
"Why?" Ed's voice had a touch of a whine to it; just enough to be heard. The teen frowned at himself, clearing his throat as he felt his face heat up again.
"I already told you beforehand; I'm your higher-up, and it was an order. Lieutenant Hawkeye shouldn't be much longer, anyway," Roy replied coolly, ignoring the immaturity in Ed's tone of voice. His statement wasn't exactly a lie, besides the fact that Riza was probably going to be awhile more than 'just a bit longer'. And if he was going to have to be in the same room with the teen for awhile, he was going to make it as bearable as possible. Even though Roy didn't really mind being alone with the blonde, he still didn't want to be beaten and/or killed just because he decided to poke fun at Ed.
"Whenever you say that, Mustang, there are always three or more good reasons to doubt you," Ed grumbled softly, just loud enough for the colonel to hear. And of course, he portrayed the innocent boy who never meant to let an insult as such to be heard by the man he was insulting. It wasn't the risk of being yelled at or punished, but the simple fact that Roy could come up with a cleverer, pride-bashing statement made Ed try to play the role of the good guy. Cocking his blonde head to the side, Ed drifted his gaze away from Roy's.
"She's my second in command; it's necessary that she looks over these reports." The dark haired man countered, keeping his eyes solely on Edward. He wasn't stupid, let alone deaf, but he didn't feel like arguing. The mind-prickling headache was turning, slowly, into a migraine, and Roy was about to climb up the wall.
"What you mean is she needs to look at the stuff that you don't feel like doing?"
Ed growled his displeasure, slumping down into the couch until his feet could actually touch the floor. However, his black leather pants decided to stick slightly to the couch, and since he wasn't very fond of having material jam up in certain areas, Ed was quick to resume a sitting position. Drumming a gloved finger on the couch, Ed opened his mouth in an attempt to complain. But he was cut short by the slam of an office door and the soft thuds of military boots on the floor. The blonde froze, a look falling over his face that read something along the lines of, 'shit, not the trigger happy lady'.
The blonde woman serenely walked by Ed, balancing a cup of coffee in one hand and carrying an extra stack of paperwork for Roy in the other. The teen snickered as Mustang visibly paled, possibly because of Riza and her gun, the paperwork, or perhaps both. A bullet whizzed past the blonde alchemist's head, embedding itself in the black couch right above his left ear. Edward stiffened instinctively, snapping his mouth shut and not bothering to regain any dignity. A single choked cough escaped his lips, but nothing more.
"That's a good boy." Riza smiled sweetly, clicking the safety on before turning to the black-haired alchemist and setting down his long-awaited coffee. Ed's golden eyes were wide, and they stared at Roy as the man paled another few shades. The blonde almost snickered again, but as soon as his mouth opened, Hawkeye clicked the safety back off.
"You wanted to see me for something else, Sir?" Her innocence seemed to give the colonel enough confidence that she wasn't going to shoot at him, but his nod was carefully slow. Roy's hand snuck towards the report, grasping a hold of it before handing it over to Riza.
"Please look over Fullmetal's report for me, Hawkeye. The First Lieutenant's signature is also required," Roy explained unnecessarily, taking a sip of his coffee as Riza plucked the report from his hands.
"Of course, the colonel is required to read it himself. Hopefully, you did read it," Riza snapped, quirking an eyebrow as a guilty look filled Mustang's face. Ed grumbled to himself, feeling it was now safe to move, and began drumming his fingers against the couch. The sudden ring of the phone caused the young alchemist to flinch in surprise, but Roy graciously grasped it and shooed an extremely annoyed, but knowing, Hawkeye away from his desk.
Sighing and grumbling to herself, the First Lieutenant swiftly walked out of the room, report in hand, and quickly closed the door behind her.
"Hello, Colonel Roy Mustang speaking. Yes...yes, he is here. Do you need to speak to him, Miss Rockbell?" Ed jerked his head over toward the Flame alchemist, his eyebrows dipping down in frown. Seeing that he had the blonde's attention, the dark-haired man motioned for the teen to come over. Jumping to his feet, Ed hastened his pace towards the colonel's desk, biting his bottom lip lightly. Roy solemnly handed the black phone over to Edward, their fingers brushing slightly. Ed blushed a deep crimson, turning away in embarrassment as Roy smirked. Glaring at nothing in particular, Ed fumbled with the phone slightly before holding it to his ear.
"Winry?" Ed breathed, catching unwanted attention from Roy, who stared curiously. The sound was very faint to the two other officers in the room, but the noises coming from the other end of the line was obviously from someone sobbing. Edward's gloved hands slipped slightly on the phone as he stood beside Roy's desk, the older man leaning forward in his chair. "Winry? What's wrong? What's happening? Is it Al? Is he okay?" Ed asked, his heart beginning to thump in his chest. Sure, the mechanic cried a lot, just not with this much panic and sadness; something was seriously wrong. "Winry, what's happening? Tell me now!"
Roy folded his hands under his chin, listening to the voice on the other end calm down slightly, and then go quiet. The silence spread through the phone and into the office, a blank look traveling into Ed's expression and silencing him totally. Seconds slowly ticked by. A minute. Two. "Yeah. Yeah, I heard you, Win. Shh, please...please stop crying, you're going to break me." At the last word, Ed's voice cracked, and his hand flew to his eyes. "N-no, no, I'm fine, stay home. I said stay the fuck home! Yes I'm serious! Don't you dare come out here! You hear me? I'll be in touch soon, I've got to...got to go," Ed whispered, taking in a big, shaky breath and letting it out quickly. "I know, Winry. Talk to you soon." But he didn't hang up at first, not until Roy could hear the other end of the line click, and even after he heard the outrageously annoying trill that signaled no one on the other line.
Roy's eyebrows furrowed in worry. "Fullmetal?"
Ed failed to answer, but a look of despair slowly crept its way into his eyes. He felt his throat get tight, tighter, tighter even, until he cracked. The phone found its home soon enough as he slammed it down into the cradle, and only then did he remove his hand from his face. Roy's eyes widened. The glove was wet. And not from the rain, no, they'd had time to dry. Tears had done this.
This was not the first time Roy Mustang had seen Edward Elric cry. The boy had been crying the first time they'd met, bandaged and bleeding and screaming at the top of his lungs. He had been crying after the battle on the train, holed up in a bathroom stall, not able to deal with what he'd just gone through. He'd cried when he'd seen what remained of Nina and her dog on the alley wall, when he saw the little boy's dead mother that reminded him so much of his own, and when he had barely escaped death from Barry the Chopper.
But this was different. Something was wrong, seriously wrong, and the Flame could easily read it in his young subordinate's eyes.
Edward could feel his face grow hot, tears threatening to overflow as his head fell, mouth opening but no sound coming out. His blonde bangs shaded his face, and a muffled cough turned into a small cry. "Elric?" Roy tried again, standing and leaning over to the teen, lifting Ed's face with his thumb. Ed jerked away from the touch violently, his golden eyes tear-washed and glazed.
"D-don't touch me. I've got to go, I've got to leave, now," he whispered, stumbling away from Roy and his desk and the telephone that never seemed to give him good news, stumbled along until he got to the couch, grabbing on for dear life and clutching at his chest. He couldn't let go.
Roy pushed his chair back and swiftly made his way over to Ed, a little voice in the back of his mind telling him that maybe he should have called for Hawkeye, that he didn't know how to deal with this, and something very, very bad was about to happen.
"Al was gone. Missing...for a week...he's dead..." Ed coughed painfully a few times, another choked cry escaping him. "Didn't know...I didn't know...he's gone...Al...he's...Al's dead!"