DISCLAIMER: Fullmetal Alchemist and all canon characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa. The rest belongs to me.

WARNINGS: Coarse language, because Edward Elric = potty mouth. ;) And there's probably going to be a bit of OOCness mixed in there, too.

A/N: I've had this idea for a pretty long time and I think it's quite original. I wouldn't know, having not read a lot of FMA fics. But I really love it and I hope all you FMA fans out there will enjoy it! :D Happy reading!

EDIT 14/02/2011: Corrected the ton of grammar and punctuation mistakes this had.


EDWARD ELRIC: STORYTELLER EXTRAORDINAIRE

Alphonse Elric did not look the least bit surprised when the door of the little dormitory room he shared with his brother was banged open by an automail leg that belonged to said brother, and the short, seething form of Edward Elric stormed inside, cursing loudly. His golden eyes sparked dangerously and the sound of his grinding teeth reached Alphonse ten feet away.

'I told you there was no point in going to the colonel, Brother,' the empty armour murmured gently from where he was sitting on the bed, an alchemy book open on his lap.

Edward continued on with his furious rant of profanities and his younger brother, used to his elder's antics, simply shook his head in mild amusement.

There was a reason, though, for Ed's anger and, as far as the Fullmetal Alchemist was concerned, he had a damn good reason to be currently cursing Roy Mustang's very existence. Earlier during the day, the colonel had summoned Edward to his office where he had briefly informed the young teenager that he would be sent on another mission for the military within a week's time. Ed had been perfectly fine with that; what he had not found so agreeable was the fact that, when he had very amiably asked the colonel whether he and Al might pursue the Philosopher's Stone until his mission, Mustang had answered with a flat and resounding, 'No.'

'You will stay in Central this week, Fullmetal. You and your brother may hunt the Stone after the completion of your mission.'

That, for Edward, was completely unacceptable. He could not stay still in Headquarters for seven whole days without doing anything! The colonel knew it was imperative that the Elric brothers tracked down the Philosopher's Stone, so Edward, for the life of him, could not understand why Mustang would not allow him to do a bit of snooping around about the Stone until he had to leave for his mission. Seven days could yield a lot of results with the right stroke of luck, after all.

He had left for the colonel's office again that evening, determined to have his way though his brother had advised against it.

'It wouldn't do you any good, Brother. The colonel won't concede, I know.'

But Edward, of course, had disagreed. In fact, it had almost led to a quarrel that ended in a ridiculous bet: if Edward won and managed to change the colonel's mind, Alphonse would have to allow his brother to ride on his armour shoulders during their hunts for the Philosopher's Stone. But if Alphonse won – and this is where it gets ridiculous – Edward would have to tell Alphonse ... a bedtime story.

Yes. You read that right. A bedtime story.

As unbelievable as it had sounded, Ed had been in far too much a hurry to head up to the colonel's office that evening to spare any time to ponder on his brother's strange bet. Besides, at the time, he had been confident that he would win anyway. Just be polite, request the colonel to reconsider his decision nicely, point out the advantages of letting him leave for a week and then come back to do the mission – surely Mustang would not deny him, right?

Wrong. And considering his explosive re-entrance into their dorm room, Alphonse knew that, too.

'Calm down, Brother,' Al admonished when Edward threw a punch at the wall with his automail arm and, consequently, left an impressively detailed dent.

'Ugh, I hate that man!' He said furiously, storming back and forth across the room. 'Really, a week! There's a week before I have to do that stupid mission and he's got me locked here in Central where I'm just supposed to do nothing! He won't even let me use that time to look for the Stone even when he bloody well knows how important it is to us, that bastard! He's holding me back on purpose! Gah, I hate him!'

'Calm down,' repeated Alphonse soothingly. 'I did tell you it was pointless, Brother.'

'Yeah, rub it in, why don't you?'

Had he still had his eyes, Alphonse would have rolled them. 'You know I don't mean it like that. Anyway, just let it go, Brother. Getting angry at the colonel wouldn't do much good.'

'It does me,' growled Edward, flexing his fingers and looking ready to abuse the innocent wall again.

'No, it doesn't,' Al said firmly. 'Just let it go.'

With a groan, Edward flopped down on the wooden floor, but he took no notice of his brother's advice. Taking a deep breath, he reeled off on another string of curses and swear words and Al was left to shake his head hopelessly.

'Brother, just stop. Besides, aren't you forgetting something?'

'What?' grunted Ed, still irritated.

'I won,' reminded Alphonse, struggling to mask his smugness. 'Which means you have to tell me a bedtime story.'

'Oh, man, you were serious? Darn it, Al, you're fourteen! You're not a kid anymore.'

'We had a deal, Brother. You promised.'

'It's not even close to bedtime yet! And why the hell a bedtime story –?'

'You promised!'

'All right, all right, fine! I'll tell you a bloody bedtime story! Once upon a freakin' time –!'

He abruptly paused, realising that he had no idea how to continue. How did you tell a bedtime story anyway? He had not heard a single one in years, and what little he could remember consisted of Prince Charmings and Damsels in Distress and pointlessly spectacular rescues from vicious mythical creatures. What the hell was that all about? And his little brother actually wanted to torture him by forcing him to tell a story like that? The sheer stupidity would cause his genius IQ to nosedive!

Flinging an annoyed scowl in Alphonse' general direction, Edward cleared his throat and thought for a moment, but all that came to mind was an image of Roy Mustang's smug face, which he mentally hacked at with an imaginary hatchet until pretty-boy Mustang resembled nothing more than a bloodied, mangled corpse.

How do you like that, huh, Colonel Bastard?

Edward scowled and crossed his arms pettily. Honestly, Mustang was the jackass of all jackasses! No wonder his subordinates, with the exception of Lieutenant Hawkeye and the rest of Colonel Shit's unit, all seemed to hate him! Why, if he were in one of those ridiculous fairytale stories, he would be the hideous hag with the basket of poisoned apples, or the demon werewolf that snacked on innocent, sleeping children or even the evil dragon that kidnapped the pretty princess...

Speaking of which... Ed's golden eyes lit up and his lips stretched over his teeth in what could only be called a diabolical leer. Now there's an idea...!

'Brother?' Alphonse spoke up. He sounded just a tad impatient. 'Aren't you –?'

'Oh, I'll give you a bedtime story, Al,' Edward interrupted, grinning manically. He rubbed his hands together in a gleeful manner that sent shivers running down Alphonse's metallic spine – figuratively, of course.

'I'll tell you a bedtime story like you've never been told a bedtime story before!' Cue Mad-Evil-Genius-Alchemist Laughter of Doom that inevitably evolved into Goofy Coughing Fit.

And yes, he did know how technically stupid that just sounded, but, come on, that was hardly the point.

'Now where was I?' Edward began in as dignified a manner as possible once he had his voice back in control. 'Oh yeah, the beginning: Once upon a time, in a land far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far –'

'Brother, I think you've made your point,' Alphonse said dryly.

'– far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far –'

'Brother!'

'– far, far, FAR away, where the entire landscape was ravaged and barren and torn apart by the claws of –'

'Don't you mean lush, green and bountiful?' supplied Al helpfully. 'Because, you know, usually, fairytales take place in beautiful countries with huge rainforests and lovely hills and pretty pretty flowers...'

'Oi, who's telling the story here?' snapped Ed, annoyed. 'And did you just say pretty pretty flowers?'

Alphonse faltered for a moment before he straightened and challenged defensively, 'So what?'

Edward just raised an eyebrow at him, but upon remembering that he was talking to the very hunk of armour that adopted every pitiable ball of fluff that meowed at him, he decided that it would be best to let it go.

'Anyway, like I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,' Ed shot a warning look at his brother before continuing, 'in this shitty, godforsaken piece of land, there lived a princess that was pretty and beautiful and gorgeous and cute and delicate and all that useless princessy crap.'

'But, Brother, how can a beautiful princess live in such an ugly place?'

'Al!'

'Sorry.'

'So, anyway, she was called ...' Edward's face twisted into a mischievous grin. 'Princess ... AL.' Oh yeah! Was he brilliant or was he brilliant?

Alphonse quickly raised one armour hand and asked interestedly, 'Wait, is her name spelled E-L-L-E?'

Edward gaped at him in disbelief. Was his little brother for real?

'Eh ... sure, that's right,' he answered dryly.

'Is it short for something? Like, maybe ...' Al paused, thinking deeply before he perked up. 'Oh, is it short for Ella?'

'No, it's short for Elle-phonse,' drawled Edward, voice dripping with sarcasm.

This time, Alphonse caught the joke. 'Oh, very funny, Brother,' he deadpanned. 'Absolutely hilarious.'

'Don't I know it?' The older Elric smirked proudly before going on, 'So, yeah, Princess Al.' He winked at the armour. 'Well, she was the ... er, the last and only living heiress of her family because – and pay attention to this part 'cause it's gonna get damn good –'

'You don't say,' Al muttered, eyeing the wild-bordering-on-insane grin on his brother's face.

'– because her entire family was eaten alive by a humongous, evil, terrorizing dragon that had taken over the lands! And that's not all. This fire-breathing dragon ate everyone else in the kingdom, too! And what's more, that evil, wicked beast stripped the land of the lush, bountiful greenery it once had! He burned down all the huge rainforests and lovely hills and pretty pretty flowers –!'

'Your sarcasm is noted and much appreciated. Let's move on,' said Alphonse primly.

'So, once he was done turning the kingdom into a barren wasteland, he sneaked into the castle one night where Princess Al lay sleeping –'

'How can a humongous dragon sneak into a castle?'

'He just can! And then he kidnapped the unsuspecting princess and whisked her away to his scary dragon's lair –'

'Wait, wait. Why would he kill everyone in the kingdom, including the royal family, but leave the princess alive and then kidnap her?' demanded Alphonse confusedly.

'Because that's what evil dragons do!' exploded Edward in frustration. 'Dammit, Al, just let me tell your stupid bedtime story without interrupting me every five seconds, will you?'

'OK, OK.'

'So, the evil dragon took her to his lair where he chained her.'

'How ...?'

Edward glared at his brother and he shut up at once.

'And poor Princess Al was sobbing and wailing like anything as she pleaded with him to set her free. After all, he was a big, carnivorous, strong dragon and what could she do to fight him? She, a poor, defenceless, delicate, fragile, pathetic princess...'

Disgruntled at this blatant and completely false jibe at his physical strength, Alphonse grumbled under his breath, 'I'm not a weak little princess,' which his brother pointedly ignored.

'But all the dragon did was laugh in her face and then he told her –'

'Oh, he can talk?'

'– and he told her that he would remove the chains on one condition: she had to agree ... to marry him.' Edward smiled triumphantly at his own shining brilliance.

Alphonse, however, was not of the same opinion. For a moment, he just stared at his older brother before remarking flatly, 'You do realise that that is impossible in every sense of the word –?'

'Of course, it's possible; it's a fairytale, for alchemy's sake!' snapped Edward impatiently. 'Now shut up and listen. So, the dragon said he would release her if she married him, but of course Princess Al, who had spent her life saving herself for some boring Prince Charming in stuffy clothes like all prissy princesses do, refused to do it and that shocked the dragon to no end.

'Because, you see, the dragon never thought that anyone would ever say no to him. In his eyes, he's the handsomest, strongest, wittiest, best dragon around! He thought he could have anything he wanted and do whatever he wanted and that he was the king of the entire world. But he didn't know that in reality, everyone hated him! Not only the people that lived there – he liked eating them so they wouldn't like him, right – but even all the other dragons thought he was full of shit!'

'Even more dragons?'

'The other dragons knew the truth. He was just a stupid, smug ol' bastard that thought he was above the rest. He was a rotten, spoilt good-for-nothing stinky brat! He bossed everyone around and made them do his dirty work while he just lay on his crappy bed of treasures and did nothing. And he's a total pervert that tried to get it on with every female dragon and princess he saw! And, of course, he wasn't handsome at all. He was utterly butt-ugly and bat-shit insane and all the dragons liked to call him Dragon Bastard! Or Dragon Shit. Or maybe even Dragon Motherfu –!'

'Is this dragon here,' interrupted Al, looking shrewdly at his brother, 'by any chance, a vulgar reference you're making to Colonel Mustang?'

'What?' Edward looked round at Alphonse, appearing greatly offended. 'Of course not. I would never! Why would you make such a baseless accusation...?'

One could almost see the younger sibling rolling his nonexistent eyes as he imitated his brother's irritable voice to uncanny perfection, '"I hate that stupid Colonel Bastard!", "Colonel Shit is such a –!"'

Edward frowned. 'Hey, that is so beside the point!'

Al looked pointedly at his brother and he hastened to add, 'I mean, it's not relevant to the story's plot.'

'What plot?'

'Anyway, Princess Al refused and Dragon Bastard grew so angry he let out this great, deep roar – actually, he thinks he's so great because his voice is so deep. But really, it's not! He'd never admit it, but it's this really high-pitched girly scream. He could put that princess to shame – and he told her that he would keep her prisoner forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever –'

'Brother, you're doing it again.'

' – and ever and ever and ever until she married him, but again she started crying and said no, she couldn't marry him because she only wanted to marry a Prince Charming and the dragon roared again – you know, that girly shrill screech which he'd never admit to? – and he stomped away, all huffy and pouty like a little wimpy baby.'

'He doesn't sound like a terrifying dragon anymore,' commented Alphonse.

'Well, he's not! He pretends to be, but he's a total coward. Everyone knows that! Anyway, Princess Al was stuck in that dark lair, chained and alone –'

'I still don't understand how a dragon can chain –'

'Al. Who's telling the story?'

'... you, Brother.'

'Good boy. Let's keep it that way. So, she was in there, all alone and terrified. Once a day, Dragon Shit would come to her and renew his proposal of marriage.'

'That still sounds –'

'And each day, she refused. But the dragon left her alone most of the time, and one night, when she was sure he was gone, she started crying for help, for anybody to save her. You know, in pure Damsel in Distress style. You know how that works, right? So, she was wailing and whining and acting all princessy when someone, who was galloping by on horseback, heard her pitiful cries of woe.'

'But I thought the dragon had eaten everyone in the kingdom?'

'Well, this one was from a different kingdom and, before you ask, he was just passing by, doing whatever princes do – because that's what he was! A prince! Prince ... Edward! And he was brave, courageous, and chivalrous with a heart of pure gold! And he was very handsome – way more handsome than Dragon Shit thinks of himself. Best-looking in the entire world, really – and he was tall. Like, really tall. Taller than Dragon Bastard even!'

'I see,' said Al wryly. 'So, basically, Prince Edward was a giant. Or a troll, maybe?'

Edward scowled at him and made himself more comfortable on the floor. 'Oh, all right, so maybe he was not that tall, but still, he was tall. Tall. Tall!'

'Another point very well made, Brother. Do continue.'

'All right, no need to be so pushy. So, this really tall and good-looking Prince Edward the Magnificent –'

'That's his title? Really? Kind of clichéd, isn't it?'

'– Prince Edward the Magnificent heard poor Princess Al the Pathetic calling for help and, at once, he turned his noble steed around and charged bravely into the heart of the dragon's lair. Princess Al sobbed with relief to see that the awesome Prince Edward had come to save her sorry ass and he cut down her chains and set her free. Then he swung her up onto his stallion and was about to hightail it out of there when, through the gloom, with glowing eyes and elongated claws, emerged ... the dragon!'

Alphonse shook his head in amusement. 'Saw that coming.'

'Smoke puffed out of his bogey-filled nostrils and fire licked at his saliva-dripping fangs as he stood there, blocking the one and only exit. But, no, the brave Prince Edward could not be so easily deterred! He stepped away from his horse and Princess Al, drew his sword and shouted, "OI, COLONEL SHIT!" '

'Dragon Shit.'

'OI, DRAGON SHIT! HOW DARE YOU KIDNAP THIS POOR LITTLE PRINCESS AND TRY TO FORCE HER TO MARRY YOU, EH?'

'How did he know –?'

'OH, YOU CROSSED A LINE THERE, BASTARD, YOU CROSSED A LINE! YOU GOOD-FOR-NOTHING, FILTHY, TWO-FACED, LYING, SUCKING-UP PIECE OF SHIT THAT THINKS THE WHOLE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND HIM! YOUR ASS IS MINE!'

'I ... don't think Princes talk like that...'

Edward was no longer listening. He had leapt to his feet and was currently waging a one-on-one battle with a "dragon" that only he could see. Frankly, Alphonse thought his brother rather looked like he was dancing the cha-cha-cha on a bed of hot coals – wearing ridiculously high heels at that.

'The dragon lunged at Prince Edward and he rolled away – like this – and jumped to his feet and slashed at the dragon's hind leg with his sword. Whoosh! And blood squirted everywhere and Dragon Bastard shrieked with pain – that's even more high-pitched than his girly roar of anger, mind – and trampled around. Then the prince leapt onto his tail and cut off the tip – more screams of pain – and ran up the dragon's spiked back, plunging his sword everywhere he could reach!

'Dragon Shit bucked around and threw off the prince, but he was ready for it and landed on his feet, right in front of the dragon! Then the dragon breathed this huge ball of fire at Prince Edward who ducked it and ran right under the monster's belly and – and ... AND CUT OFF HIS BLOODY BALLS, YEAH!' Edward began to laugh hysterically, stopping his fight with thin air for a moment.

'Oh, boy...' Alphonse covered his helmet-face with a hand, shuddering. That was going just a little too far...

'Yeah, how do you like me now, eh, Colonel Shit? Hah!'

'Dragon Sh –'

'Yeah, yeah, whatever. So, there they were, Prince Edward armed with a bloody sword and Dragon Shit in pain and ball-less' – Edward laughed uncontrollably again – 'and they knew that the next strike would be the last! They circled each other, slowly, calculatingly, and at last, Dragon Bastard leapt forward, breathing fire, but Prince Edward was much quicker. He dodged the flames – just like that! – and lunged and drove his sword straight through the monster's heart! AAHHH!' With a war-cry, Edward jumped up, thrusting his automail arm out.

'And with one last shrilly girly scream, the stupid dragon burst into flames and died on the spot!'

Alphonse looked wearily at his brother as he pointed out the obvious, 'But he's a fire-breathing dragon. How can he burst into flames and die?'

'Oi, I'm the storyteller! Don't question me. So, the amazing and daring Prince Edward slayed that bastard of a beast –'

'Slew.'

'– and rescued Princess Al and galloped away into the sunset to his palace –'

'Please don't say they got married and lived happily ever after,' begged Alphonse quickly. ''Cause that would be just creepy, Brother!'

'Don't be an idiot. This is a fairytale; of course Prince Edward and Princess Al got married and had lots and lots and lots of children and lived happily ever after and, heck, that is weird!' exclaimed Ed, realising what he was saying. He exchanged a look with Al and they both shuddered.

There was an awkward minute of silence. Then Edward cleared his throat, plopped down on the wooden floor again and spoke matter-of-factly, 'So, I did my part. There's your bedtime story.'

His little brother chuckled and leaned back on the bed. 'Really, Brother? Because, to be frank, that story sounded to me like a release for you to vent your anger at the colonel. And at me, too,' he added as an afterthought.

Edward looked up, startled. 'Don't be silly, Al. I wasn't angry at you.'

'Sure, you weren't. "Princess Al the Pathetic".'

The older Elric flushed and looked away, a little shamefaced. 'Yeah, sorry about that. I guess I was a little irritated what with the colonel holding us here for a week and you just demanding a bedtime story out of the blue, especially when I was already –'

'About to blow your top?' supplied Alphonse simply.

'Aw, c'mon. Surely it wasn't that bad.'

Alphonse just chuckled and shook his head. Lying back on his bed, he fixed his brother with a look and said softly, 'But, you know, Brother, I don't think your story was entirely fair. Colonel Mustang isn't as bad as you make him out to be.'

Edward scoffed contemptuously, but did not reply.

'Truly,' his brother pressed on, his voice quiet and serious. 'I know you're angry that he won't let you search for the Philosopher's Stone within this week and that you aren't ... er, very fond of him generally' – his words were met with more scoffs and eye-rolling – 'but, you know, the colonel really likes you.'

His words were so surprising that Edward literally fell over – and that was quite a feat considering he was sitting on the floor and all.

'What are you on about, Al?' Ed laughed uncertainly as he pulled himself up. 'Colonel Bastard – likes me? Yeah right. The man hates me, little brother, just like I hate him!'

'No, he doesn't.'

'Yes, he does!'

'Then why does he go out of his way to help you with everything you need?' Alphonse asked pointedly.

Edward rolled his eyes, exasperated. 'That's the point, Al. He doesn't do that! In fact, he does the opposite. I mean, seriously, if he wants to help, then he'd let us go and have a look around for the Stone instead of locking me up here in Central for seven days! He knows how important that Stone is to us. But does he help? No!'

'You're being unfair, Brother, and narrow-minded,' Alphonse said. Seeing Edward opening his mouth to retaliate, he continued hastily, 'First of all, you know that when you're a State Alchemist, your priority will always be your duty to the military. Colonel Mustang ordered you to stay back because he knows you will not be back on time for your next mission. Face it, Brother; every time we go to look for the Stone, the journey takes at least a few weeks. Seven days is not enough, not even for a small venture. That is why he refused to let us go.'

The older Elric's face was marred with a scowl, but he did not argue, knowing that his brother was right. With a nod, Al went on,

'Apart from that though, you cannot deny that Colonel Mustang has done nothing but help you from the day you called him at that railway station. He gave you the opportunity to become a State Alchemist and he gives you all the information you ask for and provides whatever funds and help you need.'

Still frowning, Edward turned his face away resolutely. 'Perhaps. But he still doesn't like me. Honestly, Al, haven't you ever heard the way he speaks to me? He's always condescending and looking down on me and' – a dangerous vein began to throb on Ed's forehead – 'he's always joking about my height and making sarcastic remarks about everything I do...'

Alphonse gave a light laugh. 'That doesn't mean he hates you, Brother. Different people have different ways of showing affection.'

'You seriously cannot think that –!'

'I do.' Al did the closest thing to a shrug he could do, which was to twitch his upper arms slightly.

'I don't believe it,' muttered Edward. With a groan, he threw up his hands. 'Well, why are we talking about Mustang anyway? Talk about my bedtime story. That's why we're here! Apart from the Princess Al and Dragon Bastard thing, it wasn't bad, right? Right?'

'Well, it was certainly quite catchy.'

Edward visibly started. He felt his blood run cold. That wasn't Alphonse' voice...

With a feeling of dread in his stomach, he hesitantly turned around to face the door. It was open and leaning against the doorframe with his arms folded across his chest was the last person Edward wanted to see right then.

'Colonel!' Alphonse quickly sat up on the bed.

Colonel Roy Mustang nodded in silent acknowledgement. Behind him, Edward noticed Lieutenants Hawkeye and Havoc in the background. Hawkeye was as expressionless as ever, but her colleague had just the slightest touch of amusement on his face – a look, Ed realised with dawning horror, which was reflected on Roy Mustang's handsome features as well. Peering more closely, he noted the relaxed postures of all three of them (Mustang in the doorway and his two subordinates leaning against the wall beyond) and knew immediately that they had been there for quite some time.

Shit.

'How much did you hear?' He asked guardedly, standing and turning to face them fully.

'Quite a lot,' answered Mustang conversationally. 'You have a way with entwining people into fairytales, Fullmetal. I admit that I had never dreamed I would one day play the part of a terrorizing fire-breathing dragon in a bedtime story. That was certainly an eye-opener.'

Edward glared at his superior, hating the tiny smirk on his smug face, but Alphonse quickly spoke up before he could say anything,

'Well, see, Colonel, you are the renowned Flame Alchemist, after all, and you're a skilled fighter. The role suited you perfectly.'

'Thank you for the compliment, Alphonse,' answered Mustang pleasantly. 'Perhaps you could also explain "Colonel Bastard", "Dragon Shit" and "cutting off his bloody balls" in equally flattering terms?'

Alphonse went quiet at once and Ed felt his face colouring up. It was not that he had not insulted Roy Mustang to his face before (he had, too many times), but he knew that he had crossed some lines in his "bedtime story" – OK, a lot of lines – and those were not things he ever wanted Mustang to hear from him.

It was too late for that, apparently.

The Colonel continued to watch them, his lips still twitched up in apparent amusement. His eyes did not reflect anger or threats of court-marshalling them, but there was something in his manner that made Edward feel distinctly uncomfortable and, heavens forbid, guilty.

Well, damn! If he was feeling guilty about insulting the colonel which was something he did on a daily basis ... well, that was not good.

Coughing slightly, Edward began to stammer, 'Eh, look, Colonel, about that ... um, I was just ... We were – Alphonse and I ... We didn't, I didn't mean to ... I mean ... What I'm trying to say is – I'm s...' He trailed off, unable to squeeze the proper words out.

Without waiting for him to finish his ramblings, Roy Mustang straightened to his full height and looked Edward squarely in the eyes. Taking on his professional manner, he intoned, 'I came here to inform you, Fullmetal, that I talked with the Fuhrer and arranged to send you on your mission the day after tomorrow instead of a week from now. This is so that you can complete your mission sooner and hasten your return to Central upon which I'll give you and your brother leave to pursue the Philosopher's Stone.'

He paused for a moment to scrutinise the open-mouthed Fullmetal Alchemist before adding dryly, 'It dawned on me the ruckus you'd cause if I held you here for a week and, frankly, I have enough on my plate without a volatile teenage State Alchemist that is prone to emotional explosions chewing on my backside, as well.

'That is all. You will be briefed on your mission tomorrow. Have a nice evening, gentlemen.' Nodding to the two Elric brothers, Colonel Mustang left, his lieutenants following him dutifully.

There was complete silence in the room for a few minutes before Edward blurted at nobody in particular, 'He talked to the Fuhrer?'

'He's letting you leave early,' murmured Alphonse. He ruminated on that for a few moments and then laughed. 'See, brother? He does go out of his way to make things easy for you! The colonel knows you hate the idea of spending a week doing nothing. He moved up the mission for you so that we could search for the Stone again sooner after you return.'

Edward ran a hand through his blond fringe, still processing what had just happened. '... Yeah.'

'That was very nice of him,' prompted Al.

His brother just grunted something as he threw himself onto his bed, still looking stunned. Alphonse decided to take that as agreement.

They lay wordlessly like that for several minutes until Alphonse chose to break the silence:

'So, I guess I was right, huh, Brother?'

'About what?' mumbled Ed.

'Colonel Mustang does like you!'

'Shut up,' Edward snapped, but his voice was not entirely devoid of warmth and pleasure this time, something that Alphonse was pleased to note. 'Talk about something else. Talk about, say ...' he frowned slightly when a sudden question occurred to him. 'Hey, Al,' Ed said softly. 'Why exactly did you want me to tell you a bedtime story, anyway?'

Alphonse took a long moment to respond. 'I kind of have these flashbacks of how ... how Mother ... you know, used to tell us stories when we went to bed. I ... I just wanted to remember how that felt like.'

Edward blinked. Oh damn. Had he known that, he would have made more of an effort.

Trying to keep things light, he asked jokingly, 'Well, how did I do, then? I rocked, didn't I?'

Alphonse chuckled. 'You sucked, Brother,' he told him bluntly.

'Ouch. Well, I'll do better next time.'

'You don't have to. That story tonight – Princess Al and the dragon and Prince Edward – it was so ... well, it was so you, Brother. I wouldn't have it any other way.'

'... Thanks, Al.'

Though he could not see it, Edward knew that Alphonse was smiling at him and, closing his eyes, he snuggled deeper into his bed and smiled back.

Goodnight, Brother.

END


A/N: LOL I enjoyed writing that way more than I probably should have. In any case, I hope that it at least made you smile :)

Quick Disclaimer: The joke about Princess Al's name being spelled E-L-L-E was actually borrowed from a funny Death Note comic. Credit goes to mayanna on deviantART.

Also, the whole "fairytale" aspect was loosely inspired from the fanfic "The Wizard and the Wyrm" (which I still have yet to read dammit).

Please leave a review and share your thoughts and constructive criticism, yeah? I'd love to hear them. :D