Would'ja look at that? I updated. It's amazing what rereading a fic can do for inspiration. Especially for once you don't get the urge to rewrite the entire thing after finishing as what usually plagues me after reading a fic I haven't updated in a while.
But I digress. Enjoy the next chapter! Thank-you for reading, reviewing and returning after such a long break between sections! Love 'ya!
"I think you need a drink." Greed chuckled as he stood up and rounded Roy's desk. He hummed happily as he opened the drawer he knew to contain a bottle of bourbon thanks to Maes' borrowed memories. Many a night had the man in glasses arrived to find Roy nursing a bottle for little more reason than he had a bad dream. Greed lifted it and chuckled as he swished the liquid about. "Hitting the bottle hard lately, Roy? There's only a third left."
Roy continued to stare at this self proclaimed monster that shared a face with Maes Hughes and tried to lift himself to his feet. This 'Greed' was sitting at Roy's desk now, feet on the surface as he tilted the bourbon bottle in his hands inspecting the liquid like he'd never seen it before. Roy had lit him on fire not two minutes ago. He had burnt down to the bone and now he was as healthy as when he first arrived. Was this what it meant to be a monster?
"You definitely look like you need a double right now." Greed chuckled as he watched the alchemist's face. You could practically see the man's brain overloading with information. Greed flipped a glass up from the drawer and poured it full to the top before picking up the glass. He hung it in front of Roy's face with a smile, "Drink up, now."
Roy took the glass on instinct and swallowed before sitting in the guest chair and leaning his head on his wrist. Maybe this was all a bad dream and he'd wake up soon in his bed next to some stranger smelling of liquor. "Why are you here?"
"I want you." Greed smiled and refilled Roy's glass absently encouraging the man to drink again. Roy would be far more manageable if he was drunk. "Not much more complicated than that, really. I want you to belong to me completely as my 'best friend' and as a gesture of good will, I want to finish what your previous companion started."
"I have no intention of belonging to you." Roy hissed before staring at the full shot glass. How many times had he tried to cover up Hughes with this bottle? If that couldn't work, the imposter in front of him certainly wouldn't be able. "You can't replace Hughes."
Greed chuckled and picked up Roy's hand with the glass and pushed it in the direction of his face, a bit splashed over onto the gloves Roy had replaced on his hands. "I have no intention of doing such a thing."
"Then why do you want to be friends? To do what you say you are?" Roy tossed the drink down and shoved the glass away on the table. "If you're not trying to be Maes Hughes, what are you doing?"
"I am not trying to be Maes Hughes. I may have been born from him, and share his face but I am not your Hughes." Greed tilted his head and lowered his voice. Roy needed to be very clear on his this one fact if things were going to work out. "But I do intend to take everything that he had or wanted and make it mine. And once I've taken everything that he ever held dear and made it mine, I'll move on to acquiring the next thing that I desire and so forth. This isn't about replacing someone, it's about leaving him with nothing until no one even remembers his name."
Roy's breath was caught in his throat. Despite the similarity, he could say this was a facial expression he had never seen on Maes Hughes. Something completely unique to the man, no, not human, sitting before him. Roy had seen anger and he'd seen Hughes' own sense of fury and above all he knew the man could be intimidating but this…this was something else. This was murderous; evil. The Colonel had been positive he'd looked into the face of evil before and stood strong, but someone seeing that face on someone he cared about so deeply chilled him. Roy needed to get as far away from this person as possible. The fear was creeping down his spine in a way he had never felt before.
Greed filled Roy's glass a third time, taking notice of the way he had stiffened. Was he coming on too strong perhaps? Not that it really mattered in the end. A cooperative Roy would be preferable, but he could deal with an uncooperative one just as easily. "Nothing to say? That's not like you at all, my friend."
"We're not friends." Roy's fists clenched and he refused to reach for the bourbon glass again.
"Not yet." Greed circled the amber liquid in the glass slowly. "But we will be. For now though, it's alright if you've decided to be stubborn. It won't change the fact we'll be working together."
"Maybe you do need to drop this stubborn streak of yours and pay attention instead." Greed sighed and tried to relax himself to create a more casual conversation. "Hughes happened to take making you the Führer very seriously, I'll have you know. Which means that I too, take this goal seriously."
"I don't need your help." Roy spoke through gritted teeth. Hughes shouldn't have been involved with his plans to begin with. Even if solving things politically was well, Maes idea in the first place. The monster had the indecency to laugh at him. "What exactly is so funny?"
"You don't need my help? A man who's less informed than a teenage boy doesn't need my help?" Greed smirked and chuckled softer. He had almost forgotten his information about Fullmetal and his lies. "Or have you blocked it out that Fullmetal lies to you quite regularly?"
Roy's voice was practically a snarl. "Leave the boy out of this."
"But he's so important!" Greed crossed his arms on the desk. "After all, he's the one in a personal war with the homunculi on his hunt to find the Philosopher's Stone. Edward Elric happens to be very well informed with information he didn't find privy to share with you or one Maes Hughes." Greed paused thoughtfully. Without Edward Elric, Greed could never have been born; he really should thank the boy some time. "Who may still be alive had he known."
"I will deal with Fullmetal." Roy stood and looked down at the other man. He couldn't afford to be afraid when other lives were on the line. Especially when the one in trouble was Edward. That boy had enough on his plate as it was. He didn't need to add the worry of an unstoppable monster to the list. "I am warning you to stay away from him."
"Warning me?" Greed scoffed and jumped up on the desk to give himself the height advantage. Roy managed to keep his calm and stay in place, expression unwavering. Good; future leaders needed a backbone. "What're you going to do to me Roy? I'm indestructible. Didn't your little fire stunt convince you of that?"
"It just means fire won't hurt you. Nothing is indestructible."
"For all intents and purposes," Greed dropped to sit on the desk and put himself eye to eye with Roy, "to you, I am. And I really hope you remember that Roy because I am more than willing to take things in a different direction if you choose to be uncooperative." Greed smiled and grabbed Roy's chin roughly to pull it close to his own face. "If I have to break you like the horse you're named after to make you the leader of this country, than I will be more than happy to comply, Roy Mustang."
Edward Elric sat looking outside his window biting his lip, rubbing the small piece of red stone in his hand. It hadn't left his pocket since they found it in that old apartment. The Alchemist was scared of letting it fall into the wrong hands considering how much power it had and what he had seen others do with it. Ed tried not to think of how good it felt between his fingers, cool and smooth.
"Is something bothering you, Brother?" Al asked meekly as he walked up behind Edward, clinking the while. This 'chimera' case really had brought down his big brother's mood. Then again, discovering yet another Homunculus was born into the world could do that. Al was disappointed that Mustang coming over to visit more often hadn't lifted Edward's spirits yet. "You haven't said anything for a while."
"I'm just thinking, Al." Ed shoved the stone in his pocket and turned around to face his little brother. Needn't cause him to worry just yet. "Guess I'm tired."
"Have you decided what we're going to tell the Colonel about the case? We've searched this city head to toe and there's no sign of the homunculus. I don't think he's still here, Brother."
"Then we'll probably tell Mustang the chimera left the city and get permission to go hunt him down." Edward clenched his metal fist and listened to steel grind. A constant reminder that what happened in that apartment, and in his own home so many years ago, should never happen. "We need to handle this as quickly as possible before this new one starts discovering his powers like the others."
"But how are we going to find him?" Al questioned, hovering as quietly as he could behind Edward. "We don't even know what he looks like!"
"That doesn't matter Al," Edward pushed himself away from the window and headed towards the bed. If they were going to go chase down a homunculus outside of Central, they'll need the Colonel's permission to leave. What Ed wouldn't give for the freedom to just pick up and go as he pleased. He would miss the Colonel's stew, though. "We can't let it run around free. We should have noticed someone performing human alchemy in Central and stopped it before this even started."
"Maybe we should just let this one be, Brother. We're technically not involved with this one." Al twiddled his fingers together. He hated to let something like this go, but there was no way his Brother could handle taking on all of the world's problems. He was barely keeping up with his own. "So for once, why don't we let someone else handle it?"
"That's not true Al. The Colonel bastard gave us this assignment and we're going to see it through." Ed dropped his shirt on the floor as he started to climb under the sheets. "We're not kids anymore, Al. We have a job to do even if it is a bigger job than we thought."
"Then maybe we should tell him what we're really going up against." Al pleaded. "We shouldn't do this alone, Brother."
"No." Edward replied instantly. "The Colonel and everyone will just be in danger if they know about the homunculi. We can't tell them."
"No buts, Al." Edward fell against the pillow. "Just try and get some rest. We'll ask Mustang for permission to hunt down the 'chimera' tomorrow when we see him." Edward turned towards the wall and pulled the blankets up as high as they would go. He was cold tonight, for some reason. "You'll see it'll all be fine. Goodnight, Al."
"Have a good rest, brother." Al sighed and walked over to the wall to sit and meditate. Al had a bad feeling about the next day.
"You were the one who gave Gracia the flowers." Roy spoke quietly as he sat slumped in the stiff chair, his legs sprawled out in front of him. Things had settled into an awkward silence that lasted a few hours after Greed's declaration to break him as Roy had no immediate response. He wanted to be angry, but he was still frightened, which in the end disgusted himself. Roy needed to gather his thoughts. So instead he stayed quiet in the oddly companionable silence before the thought struck him concerning Gracia. "And the locket."
"That was for the Little Lady." Greed smiled, now once again in Roy's chair, feet propped on the desk comfortably. He could sit here all night now that things were calmer. Considering what type of fireworks he was planning to set off, Greed planned to enjoy every quiet moment he could get. "She would have liked it had the Lovely Lady actually given it to her."
"Gifts from stalkers shouldn't be worn." Roy muttered. "It only encourages them."
"True, but I'm not really a stalker." Greed licked his lips. So all that following them around was probably considered stalking. The homunculus liked to call it research. "Well, not that I'd admit to anyway."
Roy sat up suddenly. Greed had mentioned he wanted everything that had been a part of Hughes's life. And it occurred to him that included his wife and child. "What are you planning to do with Gracia and Elysia?"
"Don't worry." Greed chuckled at Roy's renewed, and completely justified, worry. But he had enough trouble with overprotective Roy over Edward, he didn't need him to freak out over the Ladies as well. "I have no intention of breaking them, though I do plan to eventually introduce myself." Greed snickered. "Well, to the Lovely Lady. I've already said hello to the little one."
"You saw Elysia?" Roy almost stood, but a single look kept him in his seat. The alchemist made a note to figure out how to kill a homunculi. This was worse than trying to fight in the rain.
"Yes, she's very smart." Greed popped his feet into the air before setting them on the ground. It was nearing four in the morning and there would be soldiers arriving for the earliest shifts soon. "She understood perfectly that daddy had an important mission and had to stay undercover."
"Monster. I know." Greed snickered and walked past Roy. "But, you and I have much to discuss and no time. So for now, why don't you sit tight and I'll catch up with you later." Greed pat Roy on the head. "I'll be seeing you around."
"Oh! Right." Greed spun on his ankle back to the very confused Roy. It was so much fun drawing all sorts of different little facial expressions from him. He could believe easily that it was Hughes' favorite thing to do. "And by the way, this is a little secret between you and I. So don't go telling your little pet Fullmetal about me. If he can tell little white lies, I'm sure you can manage."
Roy didn't have time to respond as Greed had already disappeared. So not only was he impervious to damage, he was incredibly fast. Roy didn't even notice him leave the room. The alchemist took a few steps back and looked at his desk, the bourbon bottle empty and shot glass still full. He downed it in a gulp and collapsed in his desk chair, warm from being occupied for so long. Roy wasn't quite sure what he was going to do from here on out.
Hours passed since Greed made his exit and Roy didn't see a point in heading home to just turn around and come right back to work. On the bright side, he'd get to see Riza's shocked face that he made it to work on time. Until she put two and two together of course and realized he broke his promise to go home right after picking up his papers. Hopefully she'd have enough sense not to say anything if he left the shot glass on the desk.
Hawkeye was strangely understanding at times.
Sure enough, his lieutenant managed to take one look at the glass, gave him a nod and said nothing more about the subject. He was thankful for her discretion though he was sure he'd be shot at this afternoon to make up for it subtly. Understanding didn't always cover up anger.
It was a shame Fullmetal had decided to make things complicated this morning. The boy had presented him with a sadly, reasonable request. It was sad because after last night there was no way he was letting that boy out of his sights until he had dealt with Greed. Roy crossed his fingers together on the desk. "Absolutely not."
"What?" Edward shouted and slammed his hands down on the Colonel's desk. This was supposed to be easy! Go in, get permission, get out of central and hunt down a dangerous monstrosity. Why was the Colonel saying 'no'? Didn't he trust Edward to do the job? "You said this was my case!"
"And you investigated it. You've submitted a report saying the chimera," Roy was proud that he didn't stumble over the word after discovering Fullmetal's lie, "has most likely left the city. As such I'm reassigning your case to a field agent."
"But it's mine." Edward bit his lip. He was whining like a little brat. That was not the way to get to the Colonel Bastard. He needed to prove he could be a mature adult and argue his case. "I mean. You gave me this assignment and I want to see it through to the end. Quitting in the middle is unacceptable."
"That's not always how things work, Fullmetal. And this is far from quitting a mission; reassignments happen all the time. You started and now it's being handed off to someone else more suited."
"I'm not suited to hunt down a chimera?"
Roy flinched at that word again and took a deep breath. It was almost hard to believe that Edward could, lie, so easily. He was searching the boy's face for any tells that he was lying but couldn't find a one. Roy wondered if it was Greed who was lying, but he needed more information. And to do that, Edward needed to stay in Central. "You're perfectly suited, if the Chimera was still in Central. You believe it has left, so therefore the assignment is passed to someone outside of Central."
"But if you sign this I can leave Central and-"
"No, Fullmetal." Roy cut him off sternly. Time to play the military dog it seemed; Edward needed to remember just who was in charge. Roy shifted his hands slightly on the desk to pull his body forward to look Fullmetal in the eyes. "You neither have, nor will be receiving permission to leave Central at this time. If I find you've taken so much as a step outside of his city I will have you arrested and punished. Is that understood, Fullmetal?"
Edward gaped at the Colonel. This is the same man who played cards with him and made stew? Who was able to create such caring eyes with those, oppressive things looking at him now? "Colonel."
"No buts, Fullmetal." Roy closed the report on his desk and pushed it to the side. He'd have to think of something to make sure if Fullmetal looked up who his case was given to that it looked good. No need to waste a soldier's time when Roy already knew where the monster from the assignment was hiding. "Take the rest of the day off to gather your thoughts. I'll have a new assignment for you tomorrow morning. You're dismissed."
Edward fumed and clenched his fists, eyes burning. He wanted to shout and to yell, but the rest of the office was staring at them and the Colonel resembled a statue. He wasn't budging on this issue. Yet. A new plan of attack then; that's what Edward needed. "Fine."
Roy watched Edward march out with a stiff salute and resisted sighing. He waited for the boy to completely exit his wing of the building before relaxing in his seat and holding his head. He needed to remember to pick up an extra bottle of bourbon before the day was out.
"Sir?" Hawkeye approached his desk tentatively. Something was wrong with Roy this morning. Ever since she saw the bottle and glass on his desk she had been running through her mind the dinner with Gracia and the events of last night hunting for anything that might have set him off into a depressed spiral. After seeing him snap at the Elric boy, she was certain something was wrong. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Lieutenant." Roy looked up at her concerned face and realized he wasn't quite ready to deal with pity or understanding right now. Thankfully for once, he had a good excuse to escape. "I have another meeting I need to be at, if you'll excuse me."
"Sir." Hawkeye replied as Roy made his way from the office and down the hall to see Archer for a meeting concerning Liore. She walked over to the desk and put the shot glass back its drawer and wondered how Edward could have overlooked its presence. Roy's depression was common knowledge among his peers, but most had enough sense to pretend it didn't exist while still being careful. She supposed it was just his youth showing again; most children didn't realize that grownups had problems.
It also did not help that boy was unpredictable and Roy was strangely fond of him. Riza sighed. And now they were in yet another fight, only this one she couldn't quite see the reasoning behind. Why did Roy want to keep Fullmetal in Central so badly? Was there more going on that she knew? Why was Edward pursing this case with so much gusto for something that probably crawled off and died in an alley? So many unanswered questions. Riza straightened her back and headed towards her own desk to finish her work.
Riza Hawkeye would just have to find out some answers.