A/N: I'm still obsessed with Hagaren...
Notes: The paper-crane legend does not belong to me. For those who don't know, supposedly, if you make a thousand paper cranes you get a wish.
Warning: Language, shounen-ai, lots of crack. I dunno what possessed me to write this. Characters may be slightly OOC.
Ends and Means
Will Turner: This is either madness... or brilliance.
Jack Sparrow: It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide.
-Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Roy Mustang simply did not allow himself to be squicked. That he knew. Sure, he flinched, he winced, he cringed, heck, he even twitched. He was human, after all, and to feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up was a naturally human instinct.
So it was quite understandable that when a voice echoed smugly from the back of his head that yes, he was thisclose to getting squicked, he mentally shoved a fistful of something down the voice's throat. And then snapped metaphorical fingers to set said voice on fire, if it had been possible. However, it wasn't, so the Flame ended up with a massive headache instead.
And then he picked up his pen and shuffled his paperwork, trying to focus on signing his name on the dotted line and ignoring the fact that on the couch in front of his mahogany table, a fifteen-year-old Edward Elric was sprawled out and positively leering at him.
Fullmetal did not leer for no reason. He screamed, yelled, and generally made a scene by letting the whole world know exactly how he felt.
He certainly had no reason to do so right now; as far as he knew Roy owed the blond boy nothing -- leads on the Stone were few and far in between and Ed had been cooped up in the Central Library for the past few days.
He was not squicked. He was...um, curious. Yes. That was it, curious. Not, for the lack of a better word, weirded out (because Colonels did not stoop down to such crude language. Pssh. Weirded out.).
That didn't stop him from sneaking another glance and confirming to himself that yes, those tawny, hawk-like eyes were still regarding him with predatory smugness. When Fullmetal leered, the promise of payback swam in those twin orbs. However, in this leer, there was this something unreadable that remotely resembled how one would appraise a prized possession.
Suddenly, his collar felt unbearably tight.
Ed knew he was uncomfortable.
Damnit. Roy was supposed to be the manipulative bastard here.
He cleared his throat, and the boy's eyes shuttered even more. "Fullmetal."
"Yes, Co-lo-nel?" Ed had drawn out the syllables of his rank and made it sound like a purr. A very convincing one.
"May I ask," he tried to keep his voice even, lacing his hands together and abandoning all hope of finishing his paperwork before the noon deadline, "To what honor do I owe your...unwavering attention?"
"What?" he said defensively, draping himself more on the couch with a exasperated sigh. "Is it so wrong to watch you work once in a while?"
Roy opened his mouth to point out that as a rule, blond whirlwinds of red coats and automail generally did not sit still in one place for very long periods of time, but he noticed exactly how much Ed had draped himself, and he choked on his words.
Ed started leering again.
"Um," Roy successfully picked up his fountain pen on the fourth try, "Well then, Fullmetal. You'll have to enjoy yourself for the rest of the day, because I am certainly not playing any of your games until this paperwork is finished." He patted himself on the back for not stammering once, and for sounding very professional.
"Alright, Colonel Bastard," Ed answered, actually not protesting for once, as he curled up from the couch and stretched luxuriously, having a very remarkable resemblance to a (not cute, no) blonde cat.
Who just got to the cream, judging by the infernal smirk gracing his lips. "See you around."
Roy blinked. Was it just him, or were those pants looking a bit...tighter?
It happened again two days later.
Roy had trudged down the hall to the infirmary, a stack of medical records under his arm as directed by Hawkeye and her trusty .45 caliber pistol (as she had been kind enough to inform him that it was a newly-issued one and therefore less likely to jam when fired). The requests for sick leave had to be signed and delivered by four o' clock in the afternoon, so there he was, considering another request for a box of painkillers.
There was a rather loud racket coming from one of the outpatient's quarters, and Roy sighed. Was it too much to hope for at least some silence, in the infirmary, no less?
He unceremoniously dumped the stack of records on the receptionist's desk and ignored the reproachful shouts of the nurse-in-charge -- some Mary-or-the-other had left him another call -- , and headed straight for the resident pharmacist.
He must've looked like hell, because the pharmacist had done a double take and stepped back slightly when Roy rapped sharply on the glass window. "A sheet of paracetamol, please."
The pharmacist blanched quite comically, and pointed a shaking finger in the direction of the (escalating) racket. "Sorry, Colonel, sir. Fullmetal emptied our shelves."
Roy touched a hand to his temple and tried to massage the throbbing vein. Though technically it was an officer's right to ask for free medication, emptying Central's stock in one go was something not quite acceptable. Especially when painkillers were involved. Painkillers were sacred, next to coffee and freedom from Maes' voluminous photo albums.
He growled a 'thanks' and swept back down the corridor, hoping to the high heavens that Fullmetal had better have a good reason for doing this.
Roy wrenched the door in question open, and metallic noise and loud screaming met his ears. "Fullmetal, what do you think you're --- "
His voice died in his throat when he saw the scene before him.
On the patient's bed lay two panting blondes; one was under the other, gripping automail tightly in one hand and a wrench in the other, while the other one was hovering over her, trying to wrestle said wrench from her grip.
It was...a very...compromising situation, considering Ed's state of undress, which consisted of nothing but boxers and a snarl. Winry Rockbell's customary headscarf was knocked askew, and her jumpsuit was currently pooled on the floor beside the bed, leaving her with a black...thing that could hardly be considered a top and very short shorts.
The fact that both were panting heavily did not help one bit.
"C-colonel!!" A blushing Winry easily threw Ed off and into a heap across the room. "It's not what you think!!"
"You were merely trying to get Fullmetal to sit still, were you not?" he said dryly, stepping inside and snatching a sheet of painkillers from where they were stacked on the bedside table. "Shrimps are known to be jumpy when taken out of water, you know..."
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING AN ULTRA-SMALL SHRIMP!"
Roy raised an eyebrow at the outburst. Edward had stood up, shaking indignantly, chest heaving up and down from the effort of trying to make his eardrums bleed. His hair was free of its usual braid and was tied up messily -- antenna slightly crooked -- , giving him the illusion of having just gotten out of bed. Roy raked his eyes over the trim figure appreciatively, and grinned.
"Put on some clothes, Fullmetal, and let the world get some quiet. Not all of us have hearing problems, unlike some species of shrimp..."
Ed colored a very admirable shade of puce, and Roy stepped out of the door gracefully, taking the sheet of painkillers and whistling. Ironically, his headache was already gone, and he had no need for them.
Although...he looked back in the general direction of the door, which had eerily fallen silent...He had known for years that Edward never took painkillers voluntarily--he had suffered through automail surgery without a single word, and Roy heard that the pain was excruciating.
Another stack of paperwork awaited him.
Now, that one, Roy was definitely not expecting.
He was sitting at his desk, the usual thing he was compelled to do, intent on not scrawling his signature on what seemed to be a bottomless stack of highly-official looking documents, and wondering if Hawkeye realized that his fingers would not be able to snap anytime soon if she kept on dumping these papers on him.
Speak of the devil...
Roy hastily tried to look like he's been signing papers for the past two hours and discreetly shoved the chain of paper cranes under the desk with a well-polished shoe. "Yes, Lieutenant?"
The auburn-eyed woman stepped inside the office with a sigh and Roy noticed her hand twitched uncomfortably close to her handgun. "You've finished quite a lot of paperwork, sir," she noted in a disbelieving voice, and Roy beamed.
"Yes, of course."
"You've just forgotten to shove your three-hundredth crane under your desk with the rest of them."
He blanched, and followed the direction the barrel of Hawkeye's gun was currently pointing at, and cursed his inability to attend to details. On the other hand, it was his three-hundredth crane, and only seven hundred more to go...
The click of the safety being released filled the room, and he immediately sat up straight in his chair. "Oh. Well."
Hawkeye fired off one shot and he managed to dodge it quite gracefully, saving himself from diving headfirst into the carpet by scrabbling at the table and sending the reports flying everywhere.
"You have thirty minutes. Sir." The title sounded very much it had been tacked on by an exasperated tone, and Roy was very grateful that the sharpshooter had put up with him for years. Of course, the fact that he also served as free target practice added to the benefits.
She turned on her heels and swept out of the office, closing it firmly behind her. Roy heaved a sigh and started picking up the infernal pieces of parchment. He was seriously debating incineration of the whole stack when the mahogany door creaked open once more.
"Hey, bastard," Ed stuck his head into the office, and for some reason he looked very much like he was trying to stifle a giggle. "Um. What if Riza told you she's been madly in love since the very first time she laid eyes on you?"
Roy blinked disbelievingly. "What?"
Ed looked over his shoulder, and grinned. "Don't make me repeat myself, I know you understood me perfectly well the first time."
He raised an eyebrow. "Considering the fact that Hawkeye threatens me with a loaded gun on a daily basis, I can truthfully say that I'm not inclined to believe that notion."
The blond alchemist snorted. "You could've just said I don't believe you. Saved you a lot of time."
Roy rolled his eyes and resumed picking up the scattered papers all over the floor.
"Hm." The door opened wider. "What if Havoc was the one who told you?"
"Told me what?" he muttered distractedly, hunting for the second page of article XXVI of the revised Amestrian Constitution.
"That he's been madly in love with you since the very first time he's laid eyes on you?"
Roy choked and the papers flew all over the office once more. He whirled around and stared at the now-snickering boy, who abruptly stopped laughing. Golden eyes narrowed and he cocked his head to the side, apparently deep in thought.
He hoped he didn't have too much of a resemblance to a dying goldfish. "Fullmetal, I--"
"Or maybe Fuery?" Ed inquired further, ticking off gloved fingers. "Falman?"
"Let's see now. What if Breda confessed his undying love for the great Flame Alchemist?" Ed was still watching him with that calculating expression, why, Roy had no idea. The look of horror on his own face was probably a very good example of sheer terror. "Or um, maybe, Sheska? Ross? That receptionist?"
They both winced, metaphorical pink sparkles suddenly glistening out of thin air. Roy palmed his forehead. "Thank you for the mental images, Fullmetal."
Ed sighed frustratedly, muttering something close to the lines of 'damnit' and 'not working' and 'killing traitorous staff'. He stepped inside the office and kicked the door closed, before wandering over to him and snatching the nearest sheet of paper he could.
Ed fixed him with a scowl. "Don't ask."
They spent picking up the rest of the papers in silence.
Roy was wondering when the child prodigy's screws would come loose once more, but he did not expect that it would hit him with the force of something that weighed a metric ton. Actually, weighed more like a six-foot-tall suit of armor, specifically.
Alphonse Elric loomed over him, rubbing his helmet sheepishly and extending a hand to help him up. "Sorry for that, Colonel."
He took the offered hand and gingerly dusted off the front of his uniform, trying not to look too annoyed. It may have been just an accident, but it still hurt, because suits of armor were made of metal, and being the middle of a floor-and-armor sandwich wasn't exactly conducive to everyday living. "It's all right, Alphonse, I --"
"AL! DAMNIT! GIMME MY COAT!"
Suddenly Roy found himself apologizing into empty air as the younger Elric muttered a hasty 'SorryagainColonelSeeyoulaterBye!' and dashed off into a hurried retreat, and it was only then that he noticed the bloodred coat clutched tightly in his other hand. The sound of clanking armor gradually faded away, only to be replaced by the sound of sheer rage that was Edward Elric.
Roy did a double take.
Edward Elric in a --
The boy skidded to a stop next to him and backhanded him furiously with, thankfully, his flesh hand. "Damnit, stop staring, perverted bastard!"
The elder Elric was wearing the standard-issue military overjacket, blue with white piping, but his lower half was currently wearing something Roy had wanted the entire female populace of the Amestrinian military to wear for a long time.
Seeing how the skirt flared over very well-toned legs, and how those calf-high boots accented Ed's tanned skin (never mind the automail--wait, was that a ribbon tied around above the knee?), Roy was currently satisfied with wishing that Ed would wear the miniskirt instead of the entire female half of Amestris. His gaze traveled up to color-dusted cheeks, and he had to resist the impulse to dodge ocular fire.
Wait. "Fullmetal. Are you wearing pigtails?"
Ed's blush returned full-force, giving him the odd look of a very ripe tomato just waiting to be poked. And poke Roy did. It was so much fun to push the boy's buttons; it was his stress relief, in a very twisted way, and he was sure Ed thought that same way too.
He gathered a lock of soft blonde hair and twirled it around a gloved finger, leaning in very close to the boy, who had started breathing erractically. Golden eyes widened and the bridge of his nose bore a startling resemblance to the coat in question in the aspect of color. "Do I even want to ask?" he drawled, tipping up Ed's chin very, very slightly.
A very pregnant pause.
And then Ed kicked him in the groin and sprinted away, screaming insults for the whole office to hear.
Roy looked up from his place on the tiled floor and slightly uncurled from the fetal position Ed had left him in (for while Ed had backhanded him with his flesh hand, the foot with which the boy had kicked him was not), watching the blond run down the corridor, skirt whipping upwards.
Wow. It sure was one hell of a view.
Roy lay back down and sighed, wondering if he'll ever have the capacity to have children ever again.
A whole week of nothing but awkward encounters with not only Fullmetal but with the staff as well; he had walked into his outer office with his entire staff deep in whispered conversation in one corner, found a little black book with a list of cenz, decided that his overcoat was missing and it had been later found clutched in the arms of one asleep Edward Elric (with a sheepish Alphonse explaining that his older brother had decided it would make a better blanket than the standard-issue ones that came with the dorms), and many other incidents that Roy would not rather puzzle out the deep inner workings of.
There was that one time he found a stack of dirty magazines stuffed into his desk drawer. He had immediately immolated the pile and thrown the ashes back out into his outer office, grumbling all the while. Surprisingly, none of his staff was even remotely surprised. Ed just sneezed, and Hawkeye waved the dust off as if it was an everyday occurence.
There was even that one time when Hughes had called right in the middle of a staff briefing and interrogated him on what he wanted in a wife. A wife! For crying out loud, Roy swore, if Maes wasn't his best friend...
And there was that time when Armstrong and that elder Rockbell had him on a three-way conference...
A whole week.
A whole week, one that found the Fullmetal Alchemist, once again, on his couch. But not leering this time. Ed kept throwing accusing glares at him, as if the whole week was his fault.
Roy set down his pen and sighed dramatically. "What did I do this time, Fullmetal?"
"Why the hell do you have to be the most difficult man on the face of the entire planet?" The blond alchemist rattled of in a very accusatory tone, getting to his feet and stomping around the office like a child throwing a tantrum.
Roy watched him try and dismantle the couch pillows. "What on earth are you talking about, Fullmetal?"
"Arrgghhh!" Ed snarled at nothing in particular, before tossing his head indignantly in Roy's direction and storming out of the office. "You win! You win everything, bastard!"
Roy would like to say that he was torn between following the young alchemist and signing the very important paperwork, but seeing that he'd face inevitable death by automail rather than immortality by documents filed in triplicate, well...He stood up and followed Edward, careful to hide from view the rather long chain of paper cranes (which totaled 743 at last count).
The moment he stepped out of his office his staff fell deathly quiet. Apprently, they were expecting him to remain inside all day.
"Um," Havoc tipped two fingers to his brow in a salute. "Hi, Chief."
Beside him, Breda shifted slightly to hide his fellow officers, who were currently gathered around Falman's station like a huddle of soldiers at the front lines. Small, scared, and deathly pale. Of course, soldiers at front lines did not have small black books with them.
Roy felt his lips thin into a line. "Hello," he said matter-of-factly, savoring the look of pure surprise on Ed's face. To his older brother's left, the armor that was Alphonse Elric squeaked. "Oh? What's this?"
Ed started stammering. "I, um, well, I, we -- Havoc!"
The cigarette almost fell from the Captain's lips. "Don't look at me, chief. Look at her."
Hawkeye waved at him with her gun. Roy swallowed, shot a scorching glare at Havoc (who made a sound that suspiciously sounded like 'eeep') and returned his attention back to what he presumed was a small betting pool. Something that involved him, no doubt.
"May I ask," he said slowly in his most dangerous voice, "What is going on here? Do you know that gambling, of any form whatsoever, merits a court-martial?"
There was silence for about a minute, during which Fuery continued to wring his hands, Falman scribbled something in the notebook in question, and Black Hayate barked twenty-four times. "Well?"
"All right, all right," Ed threw up his hands in pure frustration and sprawled back in his seat. "We had a bet to see if I could make you blush, you goddamned idiot."
Roy blinked, taken by surprise. "What?"
"I'm starting to think you have a hearing problem, Colonel Bastard," the blond alchemist muttered sarcastically. "Anyway, point is, I lost, so go away and let me settle my accounts."
When Roy showed no intention of moving, Ed's tone took on more of an annoyed tone than anything else. "Shoo, shoo, I say," he pouted, waving gloved hands in a shoo-ing motion, looking very much like a small, defeated child. "Damnit, dog of the military, I said, shoo!"
The underside of his left eye started to twitch. "So everything that had been happening the past week..."
Havoc nodded enthusiatically, and there was a faint chorus of 'traitor' coming from the other office staff. "Yeah, Chief. Boss here tried everything. Put in a lot of cenz too."
Roy snatched the book from the table and mentally cursed Falman's cramped writing. "Fullmetal...aha." His eyes widened at the number hastily written under the child prodigy's name.
"...that's quite a number of zeroes," he said, unable to think of anything else to say.
For some unknown reason, Ed had buried his face in his hands and mumbling. If it wasn't for the fact that Ed prided himself on following through with his actions, Roy would say that the boy was mortified.
"Hmmmm..." Roy tucked the book under his coat and made a shrugging motion, "That settles it, then. It seems that I win. Get back to work."
Hawkeye cocked her gun. "Only if you do, sir. And we are running out of official documents for your chain of paper cranes. I suggest you leave the papers unfolded?"
Roy took one glance at the barrel of the gun and shot her a weak smile. "Yes. Of course, Lieutenant. Although..."
His staff had already dispersed throughout their stations, and the sound of shuffling paper filled the room. The Elrics were already on their way towards the door, and it was still hard to tell where Ed's face ended and his coat started, judging from their similarity in color.
"Fullmetal," he called, and they halted, Alphonse twisting back. If armor could smile smugly, then this one was doing it now. "Exactly why did you need to bet so much?"
Alphonse was most definitely snickering by now.
Ed bristled as though Roy had offended him in the worst possible way. "Bastard."
"I'm ordering you to answer, Fullmetal," Roy added, genuinely curious by now. What would the alchemist want that merited such embarrassment on his part alone? So if they had planned this...then...the miniskirt had been worn voluntarily? "Why?" he couldn't help but some rather hopeful.
Ed made a noise that vaguely sounded like 'pfft' and turned around. "I hate you."
"I know that," Roy retorted lightly.
Alphonse nudged his older brother, and said older brother looked back up at his sibling imploringly. It seems that they had reached some kind of understanding.
"Um, ahh, well, ack," Ed had started stammering again, and the boy, as far as Roy knew, only stammered under extreme pressure, "Ack. Ack. I don't have to tell you this."
"Court-martial," he reminded them smugly.
"Exactly why I hate you," he snapped back. "If you just really wanted to know, I wanted the money so that I could...uh..." Ed scratched the back of his head, "well, since, you know, the past couple of years, well, um," he spread out his palms, "You've been, I don't know, helping Al and I out so much, and then...you know...um, Hawkeye told me your birthday's coming up and I wanted to...um, I just..."
Roy resisted the urge to slap the younger alchemist upside the head. "The point, Fullmetal."
Ed turned a slightly deeper shade of red, if possible. "I wanted the money so I could buy you something for your birthday, and I needed a lot, seeing that you're a pretty rich bastard -- I think you've got everything."
The word 'what' was on the tip of Roy's tongue once more and he bit it back. "Oh, really?"
Ed marched over to him and waved Al's hasty intention of stopping him away. A gloved finger started prodding him roughly in the chest, and golden eyes looked up at him filled with determination. "Damnit, Mustang, it's not like I've never shown my appreciation before. I meant every word...and..." he started patting his pockets, bringing out something and shaking them very close to his face.
"...see?" he crowed triumphantly, dangling a pair of gloves before his eyes. "Because I know I've mutilated a lot of your gloves, um, I thought I'd make you another pair. Ha. You haven't got that, and don't you dare wear this one out, because I've embroidered the circle and transmuted the thread so that it's in no danger of unraveling no matter how many times you snap your fingers and --- "
The blond alchemist suddenly froze, as if to realize the implications of what he had done.
However, Roy was currently too busy trying to process what Ed had just done for him. He had no idea that somebody so brash could be capable of such handiwork, he thought, taking the gloves and examining the array. Of course, Ed was a child prodigy and could draw perfect arrays blindfolded, but embroidery took a lot of time and patience...
"Brother? Brother?" Alphonse Elric's voice cut through his thoughts. "The Colonel's blushing!"
The volume of activity in the outer office ceased. Ed seemed to snap out of his trance and stared at him, holding his gaze and for a minute, Roy forgot to breathe.
"Brother, he's blushing harder!"
And then Ed's fist was swinging back and Roy suffered the second swollen jaw he had had in a week.
"MORON! WHY COULDN'T YOU HAVE BLUSHED EARLIER?"
The Fullmetal Alchemist stomped out of the Flame's office in a whirlwind of blond hair and red coat, and this time, not one, but two alchemists were blushing very heavily.
"Um, so those gloves fit you?"
"Perfectly, Fullmetal. Thank you."
"...stop making me blush, Roy."
"...did you just call me Roy?"
"...I hate you so much."
A laugh. "I feel the opposite way, Ed."
A moment of silence.
"Idiot. Hey, need some help with the paper cranes?"
"Sure. I actually need only eleven more before I have a thousand."
"What are you gonna wish for, huh?"
"Hmmm...I already got my wish, so..."
"...I thought I told you to stop making me blush!!!"
"I can't help it, Ed. You're too cute."
"I can make you blush again, you know."
"And that would be how?"
"Ed, wha -- mmph!"
...told you it was crack.