Disclaimer: I don't own FMA, so there. Also, for sole purposes of this fic, both Hughes and Mustang have an office at Central HQ.
- - -
One could tell from the day's start, that things today would be somewhat different, and yet a little hectic. The sun had risen nearly 16 hours ago, and there still hadn't been a fire drill, or mountains of papers to be signed. Instead, birds sang beautifully, and there wasn't a cloud within a 200 mile radius. One might call it "peaceful".
But not Colonel Roy Mustang. Oh no, something was up, and he made it his own personal duty to find out what it was. Or rather, he made it the duty of his subordinates to find out. He, as he clearly told them on more than two occasions, was going to try his hardest to enjoy this blissful day as long as he possibly could. Unfortunately, with the constant phone calls from who was known as Mustang's best friend, Lieutenant Colonel Maes Hughes, and the unstoppable complaining from Second Lieutenant Jean Havoc, Heymans Breda, Sergeant Kain Feury, and Warrant Officer Vato Falman, seemed to make almost anything impossible.
At least, the colonel thought to himself, Hawkeye isn't adding to this stress by shooting rapid-fire at the rest of these clowns...
The lovely Ms. Riza Hawkeye. She had been serving under Colonel Mustang for longer than anyone on his current squad, and over time, he had become extremely fond of her. But by getting to know more about her, Roy had also learned that when someone says "every rose has its thorns", he knew he could easily put that label on Hawkeye. First Lieutenant Hawkeye had shown early on in her training with Mustang that she had the best aim and shot out of anyone the colonel had ever seen. Sometimes, he liked to think of her as his own personal bodyguard, for he, being an alchemist, had no use for a gun of any sort.
The last, and most likely to be the favorite of the colonel's squad, was Major, or State Alchemist Edward Elric. The boy was definately the youngest in the group, but perhaps the strongest after Mustang himself. Edward, age 16, who had his right arm and left leg made of automail, was more commonly known as the "Full Metal Alchemist", for his skill in alchemy was best used with metal. He, unlike anyone else that worked for Colonel Mustang, basically did what he wanted, when, and how he wanted it. His mission in life was to locate a Philosopher's Stone in order to regain his two lost limbs, along with the body of his younger brother Alphonse, whose body was lost in an alchemic experiment gone wrong, and now had his soul encased in a suit of armor.
"I don't understand this," Mustang said, seemingly trying to rid himself of a headache. It was obvious he still had his thoughts on what he thought to be the worst day in his life.
Mustang temporarily ceased his thinking, for right then he heard two pairs of feet loudly making their way over in his direction, most likely into his very office. He recognized the sounds right away, for you see, they were very distinctive: one pair always seemed to be stomping on the hallway's wooden floors, while the other, never on purpose, but was always the loudest, for the owner of said feet, had a familiar clanking sound, yet hollow sound whenever he, which was all the time, followed "The Stomper".
"Speak of the devil," Mustang said amusedly, as the two oak doors leading to his office were wrenched open. "Edward, Alphonse, I was just thinking about you two."
"Oh, don't start the politeness now, " said the short, blonde-headed one, more commonly known as Edward Elric. The teen reached behind him, violently grabbing for some rolled up pieces of papers from his back pocket, and slammed them on the colonel's desk. "This is the report you were so insistant on me writing on my findings in Degiorgio."
"Good work," Mustang said, ignoring Ed's cringe for thinking he had been treated like a true "dog" of the military. "Now, join me for a drink?"
Mustang gestured for his guests to sit down on the very large and comfortable, brown leather chairs placed convienently in front of his desk. When they obliged, he got up, walked over to a small, wooden cabinet on his left, and grabbed glasses not only for him and the Elrics, but for Hawkeye, Falman, Feury, Breda, and Havoc as well. Upon returning to his desk and distributing a glass to each, he sat upon his shivel chair, did a quick spin-around, and then propped his feet on the flat surface of the table.
"A pitcher of tea and a side of whiskey for later," Mustang said, pressing the red intercom button on his desk.
While patiently waiting for his order, Mustang called off his search for all the things he thought were making his day better than all the rest for the next 48 hours. Minutes later, a soft knocking could be heard against the wall of the colonel's office. Seeing that the doors hadn't been shut since the Elrics arrival, there wasn' a need for anyone to check the hall. Another moment passed before the delivery of the drinks made their way inside the overly-large office. But to the colonel's dismay, the tray was being carried by none other than Lt. Colonel Maes Hughes.
Upon his entry, and after the overdramatic groan from Mustang, Havoc, Feury, Falman, Hawkeye, and Breda, jumped up, and stood erect, saluting their superior officer.
"As you were," Hughes ordered, a smile on his face. The five subordinates immediately sat back down. Hughes walked over and carefully placed the tray full of drinks on the desk beside the colonel's feet. After that, he walked back into the hallway, and returned with a small wooden chair for him to sit on.
"Are we having a meeting or something?" Hughes asked, reaching for the pitcher of tea and beginning to serve everyone. "It isn't everyday that you have this many people in your office at one time."
"We just showed up," Ed said, taking a drink from his glass. "Mustang wanted me to write a report about what went on in Degiorgio; so we stopped by to drop it off. We hadn't planned on staying."
"Nonsense, Edward, what's the hurry? You and Alphonse are rarely in Central anymore... I see no reason why you can't stay a while," Mustang said, a kind of sardonic smile playing on his lips.
Ed said nothing, but rolled his eyes; he hated whenever the colonel was like this. He seemed to always want the company of no one but him, Hawkeye, and on those very rare occasions, Hughes. Then again, there wasn't a problem with them staying to finish their drinks.
"It's already dark out."
The sound of Hawkeye's voice immediately brought Edward back to his senses.
"Yeah, Al and I got here when the sun was beginning to set," he said.
"We had no idea what time it was," came the voice of Jean Havoc. "Colonel Mustang had us searching his office."
"And that's why you joined the military: to listen and obey every order given to you by your superior officer, no matter how farfetched they may seem," Mustang said, with the accompanying laughter from Hughes.
After this, the room faded into silence. Everyone looked to be doing their own thing: some looked out office windows, while others sat idley drinking their tea.
"Look, a shooting star!" Al cried, instantly ending the silence as his huge metal form jumped out of his seat.
"Let's all make a wish," Feury chided.
And so, everyone gathered around, except for Mustang, who was already seated next to the window, to make their wish. The star shot past, and nine pairs of eyes seemed to be twinkling as it flew by; and just as it was this morning, everything was peaceful, until...
"Lovely," Ed said sarcastically, starting to walk away from the giant window. It was only when he flew forward, and then heard the ear-splitting cry behind him, did he realize what had happened.
You see, right before their gazing of the shooting star, Mustang had removed his feet from his desk, and had placed them back on the floor to stretch them out. Only now did he realize his mistake in letting them drop to the ground behind the elder Elric, for when Ed had turned around, clearly not aware of his surroundings, he had accidently tripped over one of the colonel's outstretched legs. Unfortunate as it already was, it was made much worse, when Ed realized that the leg that was causing Mustang so much pain, was all due to Ed's left, and incredibly hard auto-mail leg.
Mustang had seethed, and was now holding on to his leg for dear life. It was obvious he was in pain, but how much pain only he knew. Maybe it was only bruised...or maybe it was something worse; it was hit painstakingly hard with a metal leg.
Hughes and Vato Falman dropped down beside the colonel, both immediately placing one of Mustang's arms over their shoulders. Together they hoisted him out of his seat, and hurriedly carried him down the right hallway to the infirmary.
- - -
Edward Elric and younger brother Alphonse had planned on leaving Central HQ soon after handing over his report, but after what happened, Ed had been overcome with guilt and decided to spend the night in one of the dorms, so that he could apologize properly. But now that morning had finally arrived, Ed began dreading meeting with the colonel at all.
So, instead of going directy to Mustang's office, Ed figured he would take a detour through the kitchen; he left Al back up in the room for fear that his younger brother would insist on him apologizing before anything else. To Ed's dismay though, one of the few people he was trying to avoid just happened to also be in the kitchen, grabbing himself a bite to eat.
"Hiya, Full Metal."
"Uhh...why hello there," Ed responded, rather uncomfortably. "Hey, Feury, thanks for letting Al and me crash at your place; I don't know where we would have stayed if you hadn't been around! But, you know, I had better get going... Well, see yah!"
Ed gave a small wave, and then quickly turned around and headed the other way, towards the exit. As he stepped into the hallway, he heaved a great sigh of relief from having dodged seeing the colonel. He was just about to take off in the opposite direction when...
...Feury came rushing out after him, carrying a brown paper sack in his hands. "I forgot to mention that Colonel Mustang wanted a word with you."
"Oh, is that so?"
Feury nodded, before saying, "I was just on my way to drop off this food for him. I'll escort you up there."
"Y-Y-You will? Isn't that thoughtful...?"
Seeing that innocent, yet completely clueless smile on Feury's face, gave Ed doubt that he'd ever be able to avoid seeing Mustang. Finally, after thinking of no other options, he took a deep breath, and said, "All right, let's go."
Feury led Ed through different flights of stairs, and around numerous twists and turns throughout the building. Ed was almost greatful, because he could have sworn that the sergeant had passed by Mustang's office more than once. Unfortunately, Edward realized that he was indeed very wrong about that one, when Feury escorted him up another flight of stairs, and then finally into the office on the right.
From getting a peek around Feury's shoulders, Ed noticed that after what happened last night, everything still seemed to be in order. All the chairs from their little drinking party still sat in front of the colonel's desk, clearly untouched. The pitcher of tea and the bottle of whiskey had been removed, probably into a cabinet somewhere.
But where was Mustang? Ed asked himself. Surely he had been let out of the infirmary this morning.
Ed scanned the room quickly, catching a glimpse of white, setting atop the brown leather couch. It was Colonel Mustang. He sat on the couch, wearing his blue uniformed pants and the white, button-down shirt he usually wore under his coat. For him not to notice the entry of his subordinates, he must have either been in a daze, or whatever he had his eyes fixed on really stole away his concentration. Ed followed his gaze and realized that the colonel had his right leg propped atop two thick pillows; that leg was also tightly wrapped from the tip of his toe to just above his knee.
"Good morning, Colonel Mustang," Feury said, startling Ed. "I brought the food you requested, and look who I found wandering around the dining hall!"
Mustang looked up, and it was only then that Ed saw the state he was in: his face was deathly pale, his hair needed a good wash, and his dark, sunken eyes gave Ed the implication that this was not the same man who had offered him a job with the military, nor the man he had grown to know so much about over the past few years.
"Thank you, Feury," the strange man said. "Set it on this table over here, would you? Ah, and Edward come have a seat."
Ed followed Feury, as he set down the paper sack on the coffee table in front of Mustang. When he turned to leave, Ed noted that there was now nothing he could do to avoid this meeting. He sat down on the small couch opposite the colonel, and proceeded with sitting quietly and waiting to be spoken to. But instead, Mustang found the paper sack much more interesting than anything in the world, as he looked the other way, and pulled something out. He turned to see what he had grabbed, and noting that it was a simple red apple, dropped it back into the bag, and began fumbling for something else. This continued for a few more minutes, as the colonel went through grabbing and returning apple juice, apple sauce, and apple cider. On his final attempt, he pulled out the same red apple he had grabbed on his first try. He stared at it a while, before deciding that that's what he wanted. After that, he rolled up the top of the sack and tossed it back where it started, watching as it slid the length of the table, and stopping before falling to its doom.
"You wanted a word with me...sir?" Ed added, hoping to get Mustang's attention.
Mustang looked up, his eyes widening some, as though he had just noticed the boy sitting before him. "Oh no, I'm fine," he said, taking a bite of his apple.
Ed felt his face grow hot. Mustang was toying with him, as usual. Feury had said earlier that the colonel had something to say, and the sergeant definately wasn't one for telling lies. So, Ed thought to himself. He would begin the conversation and hopefully leak out whatever it was Mustang had to tell him.
"So, Colonel Mustang, tell me: what did they have to say about your leg?"
"It's broken," he replied bluntly. Placing the apple between his teeth so as to use both arms, the colonel reached into his left pants pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a miniature model of the bones in his lower right leg. He tossed the model to Ed, and then removed the apple from his mouth.
Ed studied the toy a while, before looking up to ask, "What's this red X for?"
Mustang squinted his eyes to see where the boy was pointing. "That's where it's fractured; the lateral malleolus...it's where it connects with my ankle."
"Right... But how is that going to affect your job?"
"Very poorly," Mustang said, shaking his head. "The Fuhrer instructed me to use my sick-leave until I'm able to walk on it."
At the precise moment Mustang finished his sentence, a loud crash was heard just outside his office. Mustang sighed, and then covered his face with his hands. Ed, seeing his opportunity to escape, got up from the couch, and stealthily began making his way to the door. But before he was fully out, a hand reached through one of the open doors, and yanked him out by his jacket. When he was able to focus on his captors, Ed realized that it was none other than Mustang's five subordinates. Upon further inspection, he saw that the loud crash he had heard had been caused by Heymans Breda clumsily running into and knocking over a marble statue of King Bradley.
"What is it?" Ed whispered.
"We need your help on deciding what we should do about Colonel Mustang," Falman said.
"What do you--?"
"Fuhrer Bradley told us to find a "sitter" for him," Havoc said, silencing Ed with a wave of his hand. "We were told to keep him as far away from HQ as possible."
"I vote he stays with Ed," came Breda's reply. "It's his fault Mustang has a broken lateral what-you-call-it."
"What? No way!" Ed protested. "I can barely stand the guy as it is! Besides, Al and I don't have a place of our own."
"Fine then, I'll keep him."
The guys looked up, seeing no one but Hawkeye standing there with her arms crossed.
"Riza," Ed said, frowning some. "Are you sure about this?"
"Of course I am," she answered. "You men are being too stubborn."
"No!" cried Feury. "I've already left you with the burden of having to take care of that puppy, I can't leave you to house the colonel too!"
"You mean Black Hayate?" Hawkeye asked, before smiling. "It's no trouble, Kain; Colonel Mustang likes dogs anyway, remember? Look, I have a small house just outside of town that we can stay in. You can all trust me to make sure he doesn't do anything reckless."
"Oh, I see," Havoc said, taking a few steps closer to Hawkeye, and then leaning his arm on top of her shoulder. "You're just doing this so you can get on Mustang's good side. Hey, maybe you'll even get a promotion."
"I most certainly am not!" Hawkeye said, pushing Havoc away. "I'm doing this because none of you five have the guts to take responsibility to take care of your own boss!"
There was silence as the guys tried to process all of this. She was right, Ed thought. He, at least, should have offered to help out. Instead, he had been to cowardly to even suggest anything. And to top it off, he still hadn't even apologized for his actions from yesterday.
"So," Breda started. "Who wants to tell Colonel Mustang about his new living arrangements?"
- - -
There. Finished. What ending? That was the ending.
Nope, just pullin' your leg. See, this was originally going to be a oneshot, but once I started writing, the idea just kept growing, until eventually, I decided to save you all the trouble of reading for the rest of your lives, by making this a chapter fic. It'll be short, four chapters at the most, but I still hope you'll enjoy it.
By the way, if you hadn't noticed, this was my first FMA fic. I'm very pleased with the way it came out, even though I'm certain I messed up a few itty-bitty details. Review and tell me what you think. :D