"…Hey, Mustang, care to give me a light?"

Roy and Havoc had met up after school, discussing what pointless school drama had transpired that day. The latter was fighting to contain his increasing anger. "Can't you go without smoking once in your life, Havoc?!"

Havoc winked, twirling his static cigarette. "If you do it, I'll vote for you."

Roy grumbled something nasty under his breath about loyalty. "You're going under the assumption I have matches. The people at the front gate went through my stuff and didn't find any, remember?"

"Hm." Havoc raised his eyebrow skeptically. "You wouldn't be Roy Mustang, pyromaniac extraordinaire, without your fire, now would you? You've gotta be hiding them somewhere. Now spare one and give me a light, wouldya?" He waggled his cigarette in front of Roy's face.

Pyromaniac extraordinaire…? "…Fine!" Roy snapped louder than he meant to, alerting Havoc to the fact that he was successfully pushing Roy's buttons. Havoc smirked.

Roy set his pack on the ground and began to rummage through the outside pocket until he pulled out a pencil case. Unzipping the case, he pulled out an ordinary-looking pencil and popped off the eraser, then shook the pencil upside-down. Rather than lead, a match fell out the top of the pencil.

"How clever," Havoc said, chuckling. "People at the front gate wouldn't think to uncap every one of your pencils, now would they?" When Roy scowled silently, Havoc continued. "How many decoy pencils have you got in there?"

"Decoy pencils…" Roy muttered, obviously exasperated by Havoc's dramatization. "Twenty. Thirty pencils total." Quickly and efficiently, he struck the match against the side of his backpack, and grimaced as he used it to light the cigarette in Havoc's outstretched hand. "I feel used." He blew out the match and tossed it, grinding it into dust with the heel of his boot.

"Thanks," Havoc said, ignoring Roy's last comment and sticking the cigarette between his teeth.

"You do realize that's a disgusting habit and you're probably going to die early from lung cancer because of it?" Roy asked, coughing hoarsely as the wind blew a cloud of smoke into his face.

Havoc shrugged.

Desperately, Roy tried to sidestep the smoke, but the wind seemed to be taunting him, blowing it in whatever direction he went. "And you do realize that secondhand smoke can kill also, and that you might be slowly murdering me by smoking?"

Another shrug. "No one's forcing you to hang out with me, you know."

Roy blinked smoke-induced tears out of his eyes. "Yes, but –" He sighed, knowing it was useless. Havoc's drawly way of speaking and lackadaisical attitude often got on Roy's nerves, despite how hard he tried to maintain a level temper.

"You know, you look pretty stupid right now, running away from a cloud of smoke," Havoc commented.

Roy whipped around angrily, opening his mouth to make a sharp retort. "Maybe I should take another match out right now and –"

"Yo!"

That voice! Roy swiveled around to see Hughes jogging, almost skipping towards them in a jaunty fashion. "How's the future president of the student body?"

"Honestly, I'm fed—"

Hughes cut him off abruptly. "Just passing by, but I can't stay, though, because… I'm going on a date… with Gracia!" He smiled winder than Roy thought was physically possible on a face.

The pyromaniac's patience was thin. "Go, then! Just go. I don't want to hear another word about your perfect girlfriend, or I'll… torch you or something. Just go."

Hughes chuckled, but continued on his way. "Jealous much?" he asked as he left, but before Roy could think of a snappy comeback, Hughes was too far away to hear him.

"I better go too," Roy said gruffly, glancing over his shoulder as a last-minute check that none of the other boys were coming. "I told Riza I'd be at her house by now. She's was, er, assigned as my study-buddy. Apparently to make sure I'm actually doing my homework like I'm supposed to…" He stated this last fact with more than a hint of mortification.

Havoc's eyes twinkled knowingly. "Yeah, okay. Have fun 'studying'," he chortled, playfully blowing a cloud of smoke in Roy's face.

He coughed. "I will," he replied, face deadpan as he ignored the jab. With a final look of annoyance at Havoc, Roy turned and left, his black coat blending in with the dark of the city.

***

Where is he?

Gracia bit her lip nervously. Not only was Hughes not early, as he usually was when he took Gracia on dates, but he wasn't even there, and it was fifteen minutes past when they had arranged the get-together. With one last desperate look out the door to make sure he wasn't coming, Gracia took her cell phone out of her purse slowly, stalling in case he showed up in the next few seconds. Deep in her heart, however, she felt he wasn't coming at all, and something was definitely wrong. This was confirmed when she dialed his number, held the phone to her ear -- and it didn't ring. The call went to voicemail.

"Maes? Where are you?" Gracia's voice shook as she spoke into the phone once the beep to leave a message had sounded. "This isn't like you. Is something wrong?" Then the hang-up button. Call terminated on the screen. She stared at it for a few moments, her mind churning. What should she do? After deliberating she decided to give a quick call to Roy Mustang to see if he'd seen Hughes around.

"Hello, Gracia," Roy replied cordially when he answered the phone. "What's up?"

Gracia tried to sound casual. "Oh, well, nothing really, I was… just wondering… if you'd seen Hughes around, that's all."

"Hughes? Yeah, I saw him a while ago… he said he was going to meet you…" Roy trailed off, sounding concerned. "Is he not with you?"

Gracia swallowed. "No, and I tried calling his phone and it went straight to voicemail… I'm… it's not like him."

"No, it's not." Roy sounded nervous, more so than Gracia had ever heard from him. "Something must have happened to him to hold him up," he continued, confirming her fears.

"I was hoping you wouldn't say that," Gracia replied with a weak attempt at laughter. "What should I do? Should I try calling him again?"
There was a pause. "No… if he's not there by now he probably won't come… tell you what. I have to walk to Riza's place, and I'll look for him on the way there… but otherwise, we'll have to just ask him about it at school tomorrow. Okay?" Roy's voice was soft, trying to reassure both of them.

Gracia sighed. "All right. Sorry about the panic."

"Don't worry about it. I'm a little worried too," Roy answered dryly. "See you tomorrow, Gracia…" And before waiting for Gracia's departing "goodbye", Hughes' friend hung up, leaving her silent and alone.

***