Title: Food For Thought
Summary: The quickest way to Edward's heart was through his stomach.
Edward was in a foul mood.
It had been raining all week, his brother had found another kitten to bring home out of said rain, he's report was ruined when he tripped into a rather large puddle just outside Central, and now he was standing in the middle of the Colonel's office, letting the dirty water drip onto the ground. Hawkeye had cast a disapproving glance his way at first, but nodded when he gave a small wave. Havoc was smartly sitting across the other side of the room, hiding his silent laughter with a cigarette.
A quick look at the clock told him it was lunch time, and he guessed the others had gone to the cafeteria – Colonel included.
Of course, his stomach chose that moment to remind him that he'd skipped Breakfast.
The sound caught Hawkeye's attention – did she ever miss anything? – and a small smile crawled onto her face. Edward felt his face heat up slightly and made a 'Ch' sound as he turned away from her. He wandered over to the far wall after a few minutes, and began looking at the photograph's he'd seen almost a hundred times before, briefly catching the noise of a phone being dialed. The Lieutenant's voice became background noise as he became engrossed in committing the faces to memory – which wasn't too hard considering most of them were of the Colonel and his loyal staff.
Time passed, and soon the sounds of laughter, talking and boots scuffing against cheap military-building flooring drew his attention. The door opened and closed, and he glared at the raven-haired man who caught his gaze. "FullMetal, nice to see you."
"Took your sweet time," He grumbled, glancing at the clock once more – nearly an hour had passed.
"Yes, I had to pick up some things," He merely explained, dumping a navy blue towel over Edward's head. Pulling it back to rest on his shoulders, the teen opened his mouth to retort when a chicken salad sandwich was shoved in and a bottle of apple juice thrown at him. He managed to catch it with ease, but stared dumbly at it for several seconds before he noticed the Colonel smirking.
He took the sandwich out of his mouth with his free hand, swallowing the stray pieces. "What-"
"I don't see your report with you; care to explain?"
"Not my fault… If it hadn't been raining for so damn long--"
"You can tell me your story in my office, short stuff."
"I'm not short!"
"And I've finished my paperwork. Now get in there," he said, jerking his thumb towards his office.
The sudden call from behind him was enough to make him stop and turn, but when he saw who had used his name his jaw dropped. Roy Mustang was walking up to him, a brown shopping bag cradled in his arm, wearing his military pants and boots – save his jacket – and that insufferable smirk.
Coming back to himself, the young alchemist clamped his mouth shut and glared. "What are you doing?"
"Ah, even the great and powerful need to eat, Edward," he said, coming to a halt a few feet away.
"…Why do you keep doing that?"
"Doing what?" The Colonel asked, his smirk growing more annoying by the second.
"Calling me by my name; you don't do that. You're a bastard," he pointed out.
"I resent that you'd think so poorly of me, Edward!" He exclaimed, making a poor woman crossing the bridge look at the two curiously. The blonde quickly killed the snooping with a pointed glare, and she kept walking with a huff. The raven-haired man watched her leave with an amused smile. "We're no longer in the office, why bother with formalities?"
"Does that mean I can call you Roy?" He asked, one eyebrow arched.
The older man snorted, "No. You can call me Mustang, Sir or your Highness."
"You're a real Bastard."
"If that's what you think," He said with a shrug, "Oh, almost forgot," he muttered reaching into his shopping bag. Edward frowned a little as he watched the man shuffle around and mutter to himself as he looked for whatever it was.
A moment later, Roy smirked as he pulled out a small plastic container – Central Deli was printed on the side, and as his superior took a few steps forward and placed it in his hands, he instantly recognized the contents – fried dumplings in sweet and sour sauce. "I thought you might like them. I got them for myself, but you look like you need them," He said flippantly.
"'Thank you, your Majesty' will suffice."
"Not on your life," Edward said with a snort.
He heard the ruffling of fabric next to his ear, and when he looked up he was met with the site of the Colonel sliding down the dilapidated wall next to him. Edward would never admit it, but the man's warmth was a welcome barrier against the harsh winter winds that ravaged the abandoned town. Their shelter was small, and did relatively nothing, but it was the safest building and kept the snow off them.
"Here. I've only got two, so enjoy it while it lasts," Roy said, holding out a small packet.
Edward frowned, "What is it?"
"Hot pocket. Now eat before it gets cold."
He took the offering, and smiled – he didn't want to state the obvious.
It was an ungodly hour – the twilight between night and morning where the sun hadn't risen, but the moon hadn't completely faded. The streets were quiet, the fresh snow crisp under his boots and he loved the sound it made when it yielded to his weight. It would be gone in a matter of hours – dirt and run-off water combining with it to create a thick mush, so unlike its predecessor. However, in the gentle light of the fading night, it was an almost magical time that he'd come to easily appreciate.
Central base was just as blissfully quiet, and he took a childish enjoyment in the way his footsteps were the only thing he could hear over the whispered buzzing of the lights above. When he finally reached his destination, the sun had just began to peak over the horizon and he took a minute to stand near a window and watch as it slowly rose further, casting the morning glow over the now-waking town.
A small snore caught his attention a moment later, however, and he curiously followed the noise into his office.
What he found was a small bundle of clothing on one of the sofas – the unmistakable red jacket was hazardously thrown over his small frame, and his boots rested under the coffee table. He smiled, and as quietly as he could, closed the door and walked around the leather seat, dumping a brown bag on the table as he went.
Edward's face was relaxed as he slept, but his presence must've been felt by the teen, and oh-so-slowly, unusually dim golden eyes opened. He licked his lips, and the teen didn't need anymore than a few seconds to notice him leaning on the back of the chair. "Urg. You're here early. Why?"
"Paperwork," Roy replied, almost in a whisper – it seemed wrong to disturb such a blessed silence with such a trivial thing as talking.
"Right." As he sat up, his coat pooled around his waist, "You're a morning person, aren't you?"
"Not usually, no."
"Whatever. Report's there, I'm going to go get some food," Edward muttered as he scrubbed the sleep from his eyes with one hand, and blindly reached for his boots. The Colonel chuckled, committing the image of a groggy Edward with bed hair struggling to do such a simple thing as putting shoes on.
"No need. I have breakfast right there," Roy said, pointing to the bag on the table. Ed eyed it curiously, "Little café on Third opens early for tradesmen. They got my order wrong anyway."
"Nice - castoffs. How generous of you." Despite the grumbling, he still took the bag and opened it up.
With a small laugh, the older man walked to his desk and prepared himself for a hard day ahead that would probably consist of nothing but paperwork, complaints and being shot at. He'd be hungry for a little while – considering the bagel the blonde was eating was his favourite kind and his breakfast – but he could always get Kain to go get another for him.
It was going to good use, anyway.
It was such a common thing now, that it had become a part of his routine; Edward would do something stupid, provoke the wrong person, and more often then not managed a three-day stint in the hospital; sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. He'd get the call from one of the nurses, already irritated from having to explain to the young Major that he had to stay for the minimum amount of time required by his injuries.
He would be granted leave for half a day to debrief his subordinate, and that usually involved a small trip into the Markets.
"Be thankful-" He'd always start as he entered the room, "-that I even do this for you."
The boxed lunch would be put on his hospital-standard tray, and between the giant mouthfuls of whatever it was, and Alphonse's insistence that he slow down, Edward managed to get out a small thank you.
"Just eat it."
"It won't kill you."
"How do I know that?"
"…Shut up and take a bite."
"-Wait! You don't even know if it's any good!"
"I've eaten it plenty of times – each time I cooked it. I'm sure this time is no different."
"…If I get sick, you'll never cook again and Hughes stops taking pictures."
"I have no control over Maes, and you know it."
"Then find a way."
"…Okay, deal. Now eat."
Edward took the first bite, complained the spaghetti tasted bitter, and five minutes later asked for seconds much to Roy's amusement.
They were both a shivering wreck, bundled up in military issue blankets and anything the staff could spare to keep them warm. It was almost comical the way Alphonse's teeth rattled together, or the way Edward was shaking so badly that he could see it from across the other side of the room – but both Elrics almost died just only an hour earlier when the makeshift ice-rink gave out from underneath their feet, plunging them into sub-zero water.
"W-well, y-you s-s-said I s-s-should exp-peri-ience t-things-s, B-Brother," Alphonse stuttered, managing a small smile.
"Not what I meant, Al." Edward's controlled voice was only betrayed by the bluish hue to his lips and the constant shaking. He glared when his younger brother started laughing, "What?"
"D-Don't b-be s-so up-pt-tight!"
"I'm going to have to agree with Edward on this one Alphonse," Roy said, walking through the open door to his office, "As strange as it is."
"Oi! Don't encourage him!"
"Here," Roy said, simultaneously rolling his eyes and handing them both a ceramic mug, "Hot chocolate and Hawkeye's bringing in some soup that I made in a few minutes."
Alphonse sighed into his mug as he took a grateful sip, but Edward arched an eyebrow, "You cook?"
"Learning to, actually," He said, lowering himself onto the Red Oak coffee table in front of the boys, "It's turned out well, if I say so myself."
"I c-can't wait!"
Edward snorted, "That only because you think everything tastes wonderful, Al. And why do you need to learn? You're General Bastard – you can hire a cook."
"You'll find out soon." Was Roy's only answer before Hawkeye interrupted, bringing with her two shallow bowls of something, that Edward had to admit, smelled extremely good. She waited patiently as the boys rearranged themselves into a position where they wouldn't spill anything, while the General took their mugs from them.
Alphonse inhaled it with a gusto that surprised both General and Lieutenant Colonel. Edward watched him for a moment before trying a spoonful and letting it sit on his tongue as the warmth spread through him. He was surprised when he realized what type of soup it was – "Chicken Noodle?"
"Hey, I didn't say it was gourmet," Roy defended, catching Hawkeye smiling out of the corner of his eye.
"I'm not complaining," Edward said with a shrug.
"I love it!" Alphonse exclaimed with a happy sigh, much to his brother's disgust. "You have to cook this again, General!"
"I will." Roy's laugh made the blonde roll his eyes. "Good to see some colour back in you both. Your clothes will be done shortly and then you can go, but try not to drown this time?"
"Hah. Very funny."
"We promise General Mustang!"
"Suck up," Edward muttered with another spoonful of soup in his mouth, ignoring Roy's smile and missing Hawkeye swiftly place a thick brown envelope on the General's desk amongst a stack of paperwork.
(A) That envelope will appear next chapter
(B) I think doing a chapter on what happened at the ice-rink would be fun… because Edward angst is so much fun.
(3) Yes, there will be another update in the next month… - Unlike last time.
(D) I can't remember who my FMA Beta is, so if you're out there, drop us a line?