He Brought Him Grapes
Edited RolePlay By Interstella and 'Jordan'.
Golden eyes were closing slowly, the rhythmic thud-ud of the passing ground causing a deep drowsiness, the lullaby formed from a soothing repetitive motion was slowly sending the youth to sleep on his chair. He was stood on the preverbal edge between sleep and wakefulness, yet every time that comforting abyss was within his grasp, it was snatched away by his churning thoughts.
His eyes finally shut, and there he was, the image that was always present when he concentrated on nothing in particular. Impossibly dark eyes peered at him from behind gloved hands as the man in his mind smirked, his pale skin stretching in his trade mark half smile. The vision only lasted half a second before those unique amber-golden eyes shot open and their owner shook his head roughly with a sigh.
It had been like this for a while now, his retinas permanently imprinted, and his mind only thinking of him. But why? Was it really only his hormones? That had to be it, he was a teenage boy, it was perfectly natural to have a crush, right?
Another sigh escaped his lips and he slumped further in his seat. Sulking a little, he turned to the other occupant of the private cabin. "Hey, Al, wanna play more cards?" He asked, obviously trying to take his mind off something. He only hoped his brother wouldn't be able to tell what was clouding his mind.
Alphonse was intent on watching the scenery go by from out the window - it was nice and peaceful. Until, that is, Edward spoke up. It wasn't that it wasn't nice to talk to his brother, but he was asking about yet another game of cards. That had to be the fiftieth game in a row And Alphonse was beginning to feel suspicious that there was something fishy about Ed winning every single time.
Al turned to look at the blonde sitting across from him, his armour glinting at the shift of the light from the window. Edward looked tired, in fact, the last time Alphonse had looked at his brother his eyes were closed and he had assumed that he was asleep. Now that he thought about it though, Ed had been acting a little jumpier than usual lately - if that was even possible. Alphonse gave that phenomenon a little extra thought for a moment before remembering the more important matter at hand.
There was something the matter with his big brother. Alphonse could tell - he always could.
"Alright, Brother, what's the matter?" Before Ed could respond, Al's mind started racing with all the possible ways that Ed would try and lie his way out of talking about his feelings, and all the possible ways that Al would have to steer him back onto the one-way street to fessing up.
Grumbling under his breath about 'over observant brothers', Ed shook his head and looked at Al, trying to put on a normal expression. A slight uptip to the right side of his mouth, the slight narrowing of his golden eyes… Even his shoulders were relaxed a little. If Al thought there was something wrong, he might as well make his brother believe that it was something he was planning, rather than an infestation in his subconscious mind.
"What're you talking about, Al?" He asked, making sure to put just that tiny hint of a jovial tone into his voice. One did not work under that manipulating bastard of a colonel and not pick something up, now was the time to put what he'd learned to the test. Could he now do the one thing that he'd always failed at before? Had he been around Mustang enough to manipulate the more observant of the Elric brothers?
Damn, he'd thought of him again. And what was worse, he'd looked to him for ideas! No. This had to stop. He wouldn't even admit to himself that this was anything more than a simple chemical reaction in his body.
Despite the denials, Ed had figured something out, thanks to his circling thoughts on that one specific man. And if all else failed, if he couldn't convince his brother that everything was fine, he might, might begrudgingly confess to that one, tiny, traitorous, insignificant, momentous morsel of information.
Still, there was the chance that Al wouldn't see right though his pathetic charade, and would take his words at face value. So he had to try. "We gonna play, or what? Or are you just afraid to loose again?" he bated.
"Hey, I'm not afraid of losing! You're the one that's been cheat– " Al caught himself suddenly. Ohoho Ed was good.
'Nice try, Brother,' Alphonse thought, quick to catch the sudden change in Edward's demeanour. It was a close call, too. Where had Ed learned to be such an actor? It was a good thing Al had taken precautions, being sure to be observant and more or less had seen this coming as a possibility.
Mentally frowning, Alphonse took his deck of cards and started shuffling and dealing them. If Ed was going to act wise, then two could play at that game.
"Fine, Brother. If you say nothing's wrong, then nothing's wrong." Without realizing it, Alphonse found himself in the midst of a game of "secret agent". A game that no one else new about, which made it all the more exciting.
The rules: Make note of every movement, expression, and comment from the target whilst keeping up the nonchalant act.
The objective: pinpoint the reason behind Edward Elric's distress. Oh yeah, and report back to Super Secret Spy Headquarters.
Piece of cake. No one knew Edward more than his own brother did, and in this suit of armour it was physically impossible for Alphonse - or should it be 'Agent 009'? - to make any sort of facial expression that would give away his mission. No doubt about it, Alphonse was going to make sure that his brother be the first to crack.
Al's instant agreement startled Ed, causing him to pause a little, and give his younger brother a suspicious look. What? Had it worked? Ed highly doubted it, especially with the way Al's sentence had been cut off. So what was going on? Keeping his guard up, Ed smiled and forced himself to relax as he pulled the table down from beside the window.
He'd have to pay attention to every move his brother made, but more importantly, he had to keep winning the games. "Hey, let me deal?" He asked, knowing that that was the best way for him to slip the cards up his sleeve. Trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible, he schooled his features into making Al believe there was nothing wrong.
Twenty minutes later, Ed was feeling slightly better about himself. With a score of three to one, he packed the cards away, knowing that if they continued playing, Al would finally catch him red handed, and that would be the end of those games, and their train rides would once again be consumed by boredom.
After putting the cards back in his pocket, he felt a little relief at Al's lack of questioning. If the youth had truly disbelieved his claim to being 'fine', he would've pushed until Ed had been forced to give out that other truth. Neither truth would be fun to explain, and while there was always the possibility that Al would understand, there was also the distinct, and more likely possibility, that he would be disgusted and disappointed. Unlike Ed, Al was stuck inside a suit of armour and had never gone through puberty. His mind wasn't tainted by hormones, because they simply didn't exist in his body, and they hadn't before either. So Al probably wouldn't be able to comprehend that it was something that couldn't be helped.
With another sigh, he turned to the window, resting his head on his flesh arm as he glued his eyes to the passing scenery. For a few moments, he forgot about his 'poker face', and about the fact that his brother was sat right there, and had previously been questioning him on his mood.
In the distance, he could see Central. They couldn't be more than an hour away. Finally, they were nearly home. So why was he feeling nervous to hand his report in?
Alphonse watched as his brother leaned back in his seat again. He kept sighing and looking gloomy; Something really must have been eating him. Alphonse, following Edward's example, turned to face the window. In the distance he could see the city of central steadily approaching and that's when something seemed to click in his mind. Was Ed upset to go back?
By the time the train had arrived in Central, Al had managed to think up multiple reasons for Ed not wanting to report back. Oddly enough, all of them seemed to point toward Roy Mustang. Now that he thought about it, it seemed like every time they had to report back to the Colonel, Ed would complain about having to go through his teasing (usually about not being able to see Ed over the height of the desk). But it didn't seem like that was the reason at all this time. This time Edward seemed legitimately distressed and Al was starting to get concerned.
As the train hissed to a stop, the brothers set to their normal routine. Alphonse would offer to carry Ed's bag and Ed would insist on carrying it himself. Then they exited onto the platform.
"I wonder if Mustang has another mission for you soon, Brother," Alphonse commented off-handidly. "I guess we'll find out when we get there."
"Hn. I guess." Ed muttered, stretching and rolling his arms, thankful to get away from the cramped space of the train. Truthfully, he was trying to ignore his brother's words – they reminded him of his own thoughts too much.
Picking up his suitcase, he surveyed his surroundings - an old habit he'd picked up after being picpocketed a few times on his missions to the outer edge – usually in the east. The golden orbs ghosted over the pale faces that littered the station, until one caught his attention. "Why is Hawkeye here?"
It wasn't uncommon for someone from Mustang's office to pick them up if it was particularly cold or raining heavily, but today was a fine day, the sun was high in the sky, and it wasn't too hot. So why was the lieutenant there? Curiosity got the better of him, and he moved to stand near the other blonde.
"Lieutenant Hawkeye…" He said, allowing a small amount of suspicion to enter into his voice. "What's up?"
She smiled at him, her expression a little guarded. "I've come to inform you that I'll be taking your report for this mission." She explained to him, nodding a greeting to Al.
"Why? The bastard too damn lazy to take it himself?" Ed asked, not really caring how rude he was towards the colonel. Placing his case on the ground, he put his arms on his hips and took half a step back with one leg, staring at Hawkeye. He wasn't trying to be rude to her specifically, he was just a bit grouchy from the train ride with his thoughts.
"Actually," Hawkeye began, gesturing for the Elric brothers to follow her as she walked, "The Colonel has been taken to hospital." The way she said it spoke volumes of her irritation, "So I have to cover-"
Whatever else she had to say was lost behind Ed's outraged cry of "What!". When she'd spoken, it had taken him a second to comprehend what the words had actually meant. As soon as he understood, his face had drained of all colour and he'd picked up his suitcase.
Without a single glance behind him at the bewildered lieutenant or his brother, Ed ran out of the station, heading in the direction of the hospital.
Alphonse stared dumbfounded after his brother, hand suspended in the air as if reaching out to him, but Ed was already long gone. The younger Elric lowered his hand awkwardly, turning his head to face the Lieutenant.
"I really don't know what's gotten into him this time." He said softly to the lieutenant that was just as befuddled as him.
Roy had been staring at the ceiling for a while now. The choice of paint wasn't nearly as interesting as it could have been, honestly. He made a mental note to remind himself that when he was Fuhrer he would order murals in the hospital rooms.
Eyes drooping into slits, the colonel rolled onto his side. He still felt somewhat fatigued and achy from the stomach flu that had gotten him checked into the hospital. Damn, he was so bored. But at least he wasn't working. A gentle wave of nausea bubbled up from his stomach at the thought of the stack of paperwork he would find on his desk when he ran out of excuses to stay bedridden. And to, think that he'd be there to greet it soon. Far too soon. Now that it came to it, Roy realized that his head was starting to hurt again. And the fact that he had stopped vomiting two days ago didn't mean he couldn't find a way to trigger his gag reflex.
Slowly, the dark charcoal of his eyes disappeared behind his heavy eyelids. Honestly, all this thought about work was starting to wear him out. As Roy began to drift into unconsciousness, he couldn't help but wonder how much more interesting his day would have been if he had the chance to hear that report he was looking forward to getting from FullMetal.
When Ed got to the hospital, he demanded to know where Mustang was, refusing to take no for an answer. It took him twenty minutes to get the number out of the nurse, who didn't believe that he was part of the military. His mind was spinning and he wasn't thinking straight, it took him that long to realize that the proof he needed was in his pocket.
After flashing the watch, he was lead to a hospital room. "So, what exactly is wrong with him?" He asked quietly, a little afraid of the answer.
The nurse that had been leading him to the room smiled softly. "It's just the stomach flu. Evidently he made it seem worse than it already was to get out of paperwork." She looked at Ed in that way that he hated, a condescending smile a mother or an aunt gave to a young child. It wasn't her fault that she saw a kid in Ed. He was only young, and his short stature made him seem younger than his sixteen years. Still, he didn't like the way people often treated him.
"Don't worry," She added, "He's perfectly fine. He should be able to go home in a few days." The tone which she used was sickly sweet, as if she was comforting a ten-year old that has lost his puppy.
Her words, more than her tone, caused Ed to stop. That's right, he just stopped. Eyes bulging slightly, a vein throbbing in his temple, he stared at the nurse. "He's fine?" He asked, "He's okay!" His voice was raising a little as he got angrier and angrier, "He's making it look worse than it is!?" As if sensing that the youth before her was about to get violent, the nurse put her hand on his shoulder, holding him back slightly. "LET ME IN! LET ME SEE THAT BASTARD!" It didn't take him long to break free of her grip and burst into Roy's room.
"MUSTANG YOU BASTARD!" He yelled, throwing the grapes (that he had previously bought in a hasty decision down in the hospital store), directly into Roy's face. "GODDAMN IT!" And with that, he turned and stormed out of the room, passing Al and Riza in the hall. Furiously storming away, he didn't stop, only thrust something at Riza as he passed. Looking down, she looked at the papers Ed had given her.
A little confused, she looked at Al, as if expecting him to know what was wrong with his brother.
--- End Part 1 ---