Disclaimer: Full Metal Alchemist does not belong to me and I make no money from this work of fanfiction at all.

A/N: Feel sorry for Mustang. He's a bit more messed up in this story than he is normally. This story is written for shit and giggles, like many of my other stories. Probably OOC. AU of episode 13 and later for now.

Edward slumped, feeling beyond frustrated as Al ran away with the poor kitten riding helplessly in his armor.

Dammit, he needed Al right now. He was the only person who could bring him down after the Colonel's abuse. Ed hated being a dog of the military but needed the scraps they threw him.

What was even worse was the knowledge he needed Colonel Bastard even more. He had seen how a lot of the military higher-ups acted, and as much as he hated to admit it, at least this guy protected his own.

Fucking bastard and his short jokes… Morally bankrupt and ambitious womanizer… bloody manipulator…. Dog of the military… the fucking endless short jokes

By the time he had arrived at the Bastard Colonel's office, he had worked himself up into a frothing rage and was set to chew off Mustang's ears.

Trying to think of an appropriately stinging epithet fling, Ed pushed open the door preparing to stomp inside with a self-righteous tirade.

Then stopped.

The bastard had yet to turn around, his chair back to the door. That in itself was unusual- he had yet to enter that jerk's office once without him sitting there, fingers threaded and elbows on his desk below that damn smirk.


No answer.

"Hey, Bastard."

That usually brought a response about it being Colonel Bastard, Fullmetal.

Ed snarled. Of course, the sack of ooze was taking a nap while the First Lieutenant was busy.

"Hey- stop sleeping or I'm getting Hawkeye."

No answer. Apparently he was totally passed out. Growling more, he stomped over to Mustang's desk to shake him. For one thing he just wanted to shake him, and rub it in his face that he'd been caught napping. For another he needed to keep the asshole alive and functioning and not ventilated.

His automail hand was reaching out to grab his collar when he realized Mustang's eyes were open.

Edward was no stranger to seeing haunted and hollow eyes. He just never expected to see them burn holes into Roy Mustang's face. He had also never thought he would see Mustang's hands clenched and shaking on the armrests of his chair.

"Oi! Bastard- Mustang! Hey-"

He snapped his real fingers in front of his face. "You're not asleep, are you? Wake up."

This was creepy. The bastard normally didn't have expressions other than Official Bland and Smirking Smugly.

Black eyes flicked in his direction without focusing.

"Hey- Colonel."

Ed put his hand on Mustang's shoulder. "Snap out of it."

Mustang's lips curled back, in a grimace of fear or anger. Ed couldn't say.

"Mustang- Roy!"

With a slight indrawn breath, the older man pulled back to reality- and Ed backed away.

"You okay?" he asked, his brows knitting together in confusion. Not that the dark haired man warranted compassion, he just- well, Ed didn't want to get a new bastard to deal with. That was all.

There was a flash of surprise as Mustang realized something had happened, but nothing more.

"It's nothing, Fullmetal." His eyebrow twitched upwards, resuming the familiar Smirking Smugly expression. Ed was almost relieved…

Until he remembered he hated the bastard.

"What was that about, Bastard?"

"That's Colonel Bastard."

"Whatever! I need to give you my report!"

"Then by all means, begin, Fullmetal."

Not quite realizing he'd been neatly derailed, Ed started- then growled again when he did realize he'd been derailed.

Fucking bastard.

The report went mostly as expected- it seemed that no matter how hard he and Al tried to stay under the radar, Mustang was able to keep tabs on them.

"Yeah, yeah… I get the point. No matter where we go, or what we do, the Great Flame Alchemist, Colonel Roy Mustang, Hero of-"

There was a sharp crack and Ed instinctively flinched back. Mustang had slammed his fists against his desk, all but leaping over it to loom over him.

(He would never admit it later, but then he felt truly, truly short.)

"Never call me a hero, Fullmetal. I can overlook your insubordination but that I will never forgive."

Ed was used to their sniping sessions- or rather, he'd try to get leverage, the Colonel would coolly counter him and he'd be left flailing. (He didn't want to admit it was because of the short jokes.)

He had to admit that the bastard was actually scary when he was mad- black eyes narrowed in loathing not directed at the younger alchemist, but at the words he had spoken.

That was a first.

His skin prickled and a chill walked down his spine as he realized he didn't know if he would survive long enough to use this newfound soft spot on his nemesis.

He was about to do- well, something- when there was a smart rap on the door, and both men turned.

Booted feet pounded, lining the walls with soldiers of all ranks…

Then the Fuhrer strode inside.

Ed wondered if his day could get stranger. Looking at the complete surprise on the Colonel's face, he realized it just had.

It was confusing, and somewhat uncomfortable, to be surrounded by so many of his peers. Not that he couldn't have kicked all their asses without his automail, but still…

They were all… older. Really older; and ta- uh, more distinguished.

His mind stewed over what had happened earlier. He'd never seen anything throw Colonel like that; it was unnerving to know that the guy could just… slip away. There had been other questions he'd wanted to ask but they'd been interrupted- by the Fuhrer of all things.

Of course, the moment he was in deepest thought, slurping away at bad cafeteria food and vulnerable… the predator chose to strike.

"There you are! Look! Here is my darling little Elysia on her tricycle! She follows me everywhere on it like my own escort of cuteness! Don't you want to see the next ten?"

Choke. Cough. Sputter. Once Ed was able to breathe again he managed to look.

Ed had to admit the tyke was cute. There was no denying it. However, after the first twenty times he'd been ambushed in the past three years, it started to wear on his nerves.

"Major, you haven't changed at all…"

"It's Lieutenant Colonel now."

"Whatever." Brassy eyes gleamed. Hughes was normally a ready source of information; Ed just had to figure out what questions to ask.

"How's your search gone for the," Hughes started, and coughed. "The you-know-what gone?"

"Well, we have a few leads and I haven't gotten to ask the Colonel about them yet… " The two had their heads together, close enough that it would take a determined eavesdropper to catch anything in the cacophony of the filled mess hall. "Speaking of which, have you ever seen the Colonel act… well, odd? You know, not crazy but just sort of…"

Hughes frowned, eyes distant. "Lost?"

"Yeah, that's kinda it. Scared, too. It took me a while to get his attention- first time I've ever been in his office and he's not had me pissed off in two seconds. It was…" Ed didn't like the Colonel. Yet he'd been almost afraid for him right then.

"I'm sure you're imagining it!"


Hughes smile had turned massive. "And here is Elysia in her swimsuit! Isn't she the most adorable little angel you have ever seen in your life?"

Ed scrambled. Hughes was back in full blown photo-loony mode and damn if it wasn't fuckin' scary!

"Some other time; oh look, is that Al? I bet he's hungry I gotta run see you later!"

Ed was happy he restrained himself from making a door in the wall on his way out.

Hughes was still for a moment, smirking faintly on how he was able to distract Ed and run him off.

Kissing his daughter's photo, he tucked it back into his pocket, and headed to the door himself.

When he saw no one was coming in the hall he let the cheery façade drop.

"Dammit Roy… You'd told me you were getting better."

To be continued.