"Mustang, you fucking traitor!"
Roy pulled himself out of the horrified stupor Wrath's smiling face had sent him into and barked out a mirthless laugh. Without taking his eyes off of the Fuhrer, the colonel answered Ed scornfully.
"Fullmetal, do you actually think I'd ally myself with him?" As Roy's words shook, the blond looked back sharply, almost as if he were trying to guage his superior. Gazing past the shorter alchemist to the threat the homunculus presented, the colonel didn't continue but simply set his jaw.
Wrath seemed incredibly amused by the exchange. Smiling benignly, he took a leisurely step towards the bed where Winry lay, chuckling when Ed jerked in response. He looked like an indulgent father more than anything else, and that was the tone he took as he spoke.
"My, Edward, did you really think our dear Colonel Mustang set you and your brother up? Tsk. He'd no more work with me than you would." Bradley shook his head, but smiled once again as Ed's face darkened. "You were, however, set up - all of you."
Bradley's voice had an almost lulling effect. The hissed, "You - " that escaped Al cut through the air like a knife after the Fuhrer's words.
The indulgent smile widened. "Good, good! Alphonse, you are a sharp one. Your first statement was absolutely correct, as well - it was too easy, wasn't it? If I had actually intended to hurt Miss Rockbell, you would have taken much longer than you did to find her - if you found her at all." Wrath's smile had taken on a frightening twist.
He began to stroll back and forth, apparently enjoying the feeling of two pairs of eyes following him, three people's full attention bent on his every movement. He was between them and Winry, and though he wore no sword at his hip, Roy was sure that the Elric brothers had noticed the one leaning against the headboard of the bed. The odds were utterly against them, and they could do no more than listen as Bradley continued.
"So you found her - congratulations! I left enough of a trail to make it quite easy, but I do admit myself impressed at your alacrity. You found out that she was gone... when?"
"...The day before yesterday," supplied Ed, stiff and reluctant. Roy could tell by the clenching of his fists that the blond alchemist knew full well that Wrath knew every move they'd made in relation to Winry's dissappearance. It was infuriating to have to play along with the game.
The President went on blithely. "Ah yes - I remember. So, you found out two days ago, contacted our very own Colonel immediately, and left together with your brother the next morning. You arrived in Rush Valley at three and at the workshop just after three thirty, and went to the hotel around six... at which time Colonel Mustang left. He returned to you but an hour ago, at around five o'clock." Bradley grinned hugely at Roy, who felt his breath stop. It was truly stunning to realize just how much the homunculus knew. He closed his eyes, only faintly hearing it when the Fuhrer asked him, "So, Colonel Mustang - what did you do last night, that led you here with such admirable speed?"
Swollowing, Roy steadied himself, and with effort looked his enemy in the face. The patch that hid the Fuhrer's 'Ultimate Eye' mocked him as he spoke. "One of Miss Rockbell's friends was previously a thief. Though she now works honestly, she remains in contact with a few old collegues, and has access to information that I, as a State Alchemist and Colonel in the Amestris Army, do not. I met with her after Fullmetal and his brother went to the hotel. She brought me to certain individuals who had been in the area at the general time it is believed Miss Rockbell was taken."
Ed was staring at the colonel as he paused, comprehension dawning in his golden eyes. Roy could see the boy's expression and almost smiled, but Bradley moved slightly and Roy's eyes flicked back to him, prompting his expression to remain stony and his narrative to continue.
"I met with several persons and asked about all of the comings and goings they had observed from eight thirty in the evening and on. I met with three individuals, and after a time they concurred: only two people, together, entered the shop after nine, and they left fifteen minutes later. The time works with that recorded on the note; one of the two patrons was on crutches, and from all accounts missing a leg.
"When they left, the crippled individual was a bit unsteady, and his companion went around to the back of the shop where he had apparently parked a car. The cripple was helped into it, and the two drove off."
Wrath had been looking prograssively more pleased as the colonel spoke, and it seemed that he could no longer contain himself. "The... individuals you talked to - it dawned on them as they recounted their observations what they had observed had been, in fact, a kidnapping?"
Roy nodded stiffly, resisting the urge to clench his teeth and fists. It was so hard to force himself to be blankly professional what with all of the adrenaline coursing through his body. It took an effort to remain still and keep his gaze even.
King Bradley's wide grin became conspiratorial. "So, Colonel, tell me - what roused your suspicion in the first place? I didn't expect anything to strike you for a few days, at the least."
There was silence as the coal-eyed man paused, thinking. Slowly, he said, "It was a combination of factors - no one thing in particular drew my attention, but all together, little details added up. The back door closing. The layout of the room. The reflectiveness of Miss Rockbell's automail order. The position of a wrench on an otherwise neat worktable. It didn't mean anything, but it spurred me to talk to Miss Rockbell's friend."
"And after that, it was simple enough to follow the path of the car," Wrath concluded, looking exultant. Not waiting for his subordinate to agree, the Fuhrer laughed and clapped his hands, murmuring, "Good, good!" to himself and pacing the room.
Broken from his trance of professionalism, Roy sucked in a shuddering breath, his posture sagging noticably. But though he was physically drained, his eyes remained furious and sharp, never for a moment leaving the face of his superior.
Ed was the one to break the charged silence that had built. "Give Winry back to us, Wrath," he said, voice tight, an edge of preemptive fight in his tone. The determination in every line of his body was genuine, but it was obvious he expected no less than to be attacked for asking. He had stiffened in anticipation and Al had shifted his stance, and behind them Roy straightened slowly.
The Fuhrer looked at the Elric brothers in suprise, as if noticing them for the first time. He looked back at Winry's inert form with an almost puzzled expression, then to Roy, who still watched him with a furious intensity. The Homunculus' face changed as his gaze left that of his subordinate, and by the time it swung back to Ed it seemed that Bradley was savoring a very funny private joke. The three before him tensed.
"She's all yours."
It took a moment for the words' meaning to dawn on the alchemists. In that time, Wrath had stepped away from the bed and his sword and retreated towards the wall beside him, grinning at the expressions on their faces and bowing them towards the mechanic. To Roy, that grin was one of the most horrifying things he had yet seen, though it seemed on the surface no different than the gleeful smiles given during his report. While that unspeakably dangerous smirk was in place and pointed in his direction, urging him to come forward, the colonel had no intention of moving an inch from his position just inside of the door.
Bradley laughed aloud as it became apparent that not one of the three alchemists trusted him in his sudden relinquishing of Winry. Sweeping a courtly bow so perfectly executed it could be nothing but utterly mocking, he murmured, "Until next time, Sirs," and strode out of the room. He was gone in an eyeblink, without touching any of them. Only a moment's pause had been given to Roy, in the form of a nod and a deeply unsettling, knowing grin. Several seconds were needed by all three to register what had just happened.
A waking hiss of breath from Winry jogged everyone out of their stupor. Ed gave a start and took a stumbling step towards the bed before he got his legs under him and made a dash for his mechanic; Al followed eagerly, if more slowly, still turing the events of the past day or two over in his mind.
He didn't make it halfway across the room before coming to a sudden halt, a peal of disbelieving laughter escaping him. Ed whipped around to face his brother, a question already on his lips, and almost as if on cue Winry groaned again. The elder Elric rushed to her side without hesitation, but the younger remained still.
"It was all an experiment," he said in a hushed tone, nothing but reverance in his voice.
Roy paled as this final piece clicked into place. He only watched distractedly as Ed bent over Winry, Al pacing slowly towards the pair and gently scooping the girl into his arms. Too many possibilites to bear swirled behind the black eyes; they squeezed shut tightly, trying to block it all out, to push unwanted imgaes from his mind. It was only when he felt a hesitant touch on his shoulder did Roy once again crack open his eyes, but the look on Ed's face was enough to make the colonel wait for whatever he had to say.
It took the blond a moment to gather himself, and when he did speak it was the most subdued Roy had ever heard him.
"I'm sorry, Mustang." Neither one needed that elaborated. "And... thank you. I don't know how long it would have taken me to find Winry..."
Before Ed could continue, Roy put up a hand. "Edward," he said tiredly, "I thank you for the apology and appreciate the thanks... but do you really think anything needs to be said at this point?" The shorter alchemist seemed to accept this after a pause; Al's approach with Winry in his arms would have halted the conversation either way.
"Come on," Roy said, unconsciously echoing himself as he led them out of the house, into the morning. As troubled as he was, it could wait.
It was a beautiful day.
AN: And so ends Trump Card, my first multi-chapter fanfiction in about three years. A huge thank you to Yellow Mask (who beta'd every chapter and saved me from airing some really shameful typos and misspellings) and to everyone who reviewed, favorited, or watched this fic. You guys are all awesome.
Hopefully, this chapter served its duty well. I tried to explain everything without being too wordy, and to close it on a note of hope in the most hopeless of times. Or something.
Also, I hope that it became obvious here that Roy is as much (if not more so) the main character as Ed, which is why I originally had this under Roy M. and Edward E. Oh well .
Again, thank you all.