Of Infantile Tenacity

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"Wudda'ya mean, there's no more juice?!"

Colonel Mustang surveyed the scene playing out before him, delight glittering in his dark eyes and provocative smirk safely concealed behind his mug of coffee. Edward Elric was once again inciting a commotion, no doubt about something utterly insignificant and facile.

"I'm sorry, Mister Elric, but we've sold our last bottle. Perhaps you can choose something else to drink."

"There is nothing else! I wanted juice!"

The blond stood before the serving woman in the cafeteria line, positioned on the tips of his toes with his arms flailing about in his adoptive gesture of ire. The woman being addressed wore a frustrated expression as she nimbly ladled spoonfuls of stew into bowls.

"Are you sure there's no juice left? A hunnert-percent positive sure? Did'ya check the back?"

"I assure you, Mister Elric that I looked in the backroom. There is no juice left. We have several other beverages you can choose from."

"But I don't want other beverages! I want juice!"

Edward punctuated his words by stomping his foot. Mustang could sense one of his notorious tantrums coming on like cumulonimbus clouds roiling before a storm. He took an idle sip of his coffee.

"Mister Elric, please. You're holding up the line and there are other people who are waiting to be served," the woman said with a sigh. "I assure you we will have some juice by tomorrow. Now, please, take this drink and move."

She dropped a small bottle into Edward's palm and then gestured for him to leave. Edward remained still, and stared down at the drink in his hand, his eyes dilated and mouth agape.

The woman noted the boy's aghast expression. "Drink; it's good for you. It'll help you grow taller."

Oh! Now she's done it! Mustang promptly choked on his coffee, a medley of apprehension and anticipation playing in his dark eyes. He regained his composure, and watched idly from afar as the thunder rolled in.

-- --

"What's with the face, Chief?" Lieutenant Havoc inquired as he bent over to look at the young blond, gesturing lazily with a finger at the dark scowl the boy sported on his face.

Edward's frown arched even more, and he tenaciously crossed his arms over his chest. "Nothin'," he grumbled without meeting Havoc's gaze.

"Nothing, huh?" The cigarette protruding from Havoc's mouth bobbed as he spoke. "Someone call you short again?" He took a seat beside Edward, leaning heavily against the wall and fondling his cigarette.

"No!" Edward snapped briskly. He calmed himself down and then mumbled, "cafeteria ran out'ta juice."

Havoc exhaled a ring of hazy smoke. "So?"

"…I wanted juice."

"They can't have an unlimited supply of everything, Ed," Havoc sighed. "Is that what all the pouting is about? Juice?"

"The lady gave me… milk," said Edward, pursing his lips indignantly.

Havoc made a noise of realization, recognizing Edward's strong aversion toward milk, and recalling past incidents when he came in contact with the opaque liquid. "What did you do to her?" he asked.

"Nothin'," Edward mumbled, averting his eyes. "…I just.. kind'a threw the bottle.. at her head.. is all…" the last part emitted as a mere incoherent whisper.

"Edward." The colonel chose this time to intervene and stepped out from the wall, where he'd been diligently keeping an eye on the boy while finishing off his coffee. "You screamed profanities, called her an effing pig, and lobed a pint of milk at her head, ergo knocking her unconscious, and then screamed more profanities and stomped out of the room. I most certainly would not consider that 'nothin'."

Havoc blinked, taken aback by the young boy's aggressive actions.

Edward merely jut out his lip. "I wanted juice," he said stolidly, as if it excused his prior assault.

"For goodness sake, Ed. You're twelve years old," Mustang chastised, glaring chidingly down at the twelve-year-old blond. "Stop acting like such a child."

"I'm not a child!" Edward retorted fiercely. He stood up and stomped down the hall toward the military staff room.

"Where are you going?" Mustang called as he watched the young alchemist storm down the corridor, looking as though he would pull out a pistol on someone at any given second.

Edward snorted contemptuously. "If I can't have my juice then I'm going to take a nap."

-- --

Anyone who watches Two And A Half Men will immediately get this.

R.I.P. The server woman… oh, wait, she's not dead. Nevermind. .