A/N: Um...I live? Sorry guys, I know my updates have been sporadic. But I appreciate you guys hanging in there...it means the world to me!

So, I had SO MANY people message and review, asking me to write more about Ed and his kids. In fact, so many people asked that I'm considering writing a separate story about Ed's kids and Mustang's group across the years. We'll see, it depends upon time.

This story takes place in a kind of AU future (SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE END OF BROTHERHOOD) where Ed lost his alchemy to save Al but continued working for the military. Ed is 22 in this story, and the kids are 18. I didn't mess with any of the ranks (even though I know they would have all moved up by now) because I couldn't actually remember the chain of command and my Google search failed me.

Thanks for reading!

I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist.

Party Foul

Ed was at a party. A glittering, glamorous affair with attendees decked out in svelte suits and sparkling gowns. The music was smooth and elegant, the finger food refined, and the champagne endlessly flowing. There were enough pretty faces in attendance that most twenty-three year olds would be on the prowl and having a blast.

Ed thought longingly of the books he'd abandoned in his quiet apartment and resented the party for existing at all.

"I want whiskey," he said as Al handed him a fragile flute of champagne.

"Brother. This is a charity ball. A military sponsored charity ball. There isn't any whiskey."

"This is Mustang's fault."

Al rolled his eyes and sipped his own champagne before asking, "What is, Brother?"

"All of it. Everything. Ever."

Al had built up a Zen-like tolerance to Mustang-based bitching. So he just smiled and let Ed pout himself into his drink. While Ed was busy discouraging people who looked like they might want to talk to him (by projecting the sheer force of potential to offend at the entire room) Havoc and Breda snuck up to stand at Al's side.

"Wow. Ed's busting out the crazy eyes early this evening," Havoc observed. "I mean, usually he waits until the really important people want to talk to him before he fails to impress them by terrifying them instead."

"Like last year," Breda sighed. "With the general. And the smiling. And then the screaming."

"He has new books at home," Al explained, and then said with great patience, "Brother, put your teeth away."

Ed, in an accurate demonstration of how well he listened to orders, stretched his aggressive smile even wider.

"I would ask you to start drinking," Mustang said, appearing out of nowhere with a blank faced and beautifully dressed Hawkeye at his side. "I really would, because it makes you so much more of a pleasant human being, Fullmetal. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to encourage your intoxication. Because of last year."

Ed pivoted to turn the full force of his all-teeth smile at Mustang. However, after years of dealing with Edward Elric and his crazy, Mustang just cocked an eyebrow and smiled at the woman looking horrified over Al's left shoulder.

"Don't know what you're talking about, Bastard," Ed shot back and took a slow, deliberate drink of his champagne like he hadn't been whining for whiskey five minutes ago. "That was the greatest party. The best."

"There are laws," Mustang reminded him. "Brand new laws that were written because of what you did that night. Brand new laws that were unanimously agreed upon by politicians, Fullmetal."

"That was such a great night," Havoc said fondly. "I mean, the chainsaw alone-"

"We promised never to speak of it again," Riza interrupted. "There was a pact, Havoc."

"Yes, good," Al agreed.

"Aw, but I want to hear the details!" a new voice sang out.

The entire group froze like they'd just heard the sound of a serial killer creeping out of the shadows. Breda actually paled and Ed hissed over his drink.

Nessa, Callie, and Jake grinned in response. Well, the girls grinned, and Jake offered a kind of sleepy-eyed smile.

"Who let you in," Mustang said, and it really wasn't a question. "Because they are fired, so fired."

The group never got the chance to answer because Ed started waving his arms in the air, drink and all. Havoc ducked before the champagne could destroy his suit.

"What. What is that thing. That you are almost-wearing."

"A dress," Nessa said and batted her eyes at him. Ed resisted the urge to slam his face off the nearest table. "I mean clearly it's a dress, how are you still so bad at girl things, it has glitter and everything."

"I can see your….stuff. Your girl stuff. The stuff is everywhere, Nessa." At his shoulder, Mustang snickered into his drink and Ed wondered if he could transmute poison, if that was still a thing.

"Don't hate," Jake yawned, somehow managing to snuggle into his suit like it was a pair of pajamas.

"Seriously," Callie agreed. "Do you know how long it took? To get her into a dress, any dress at all? There were traps, Mr. Elric. Transmutation circles and a catapult."

Ed froze and said, "Traps. In the dormitories."

Callie re-evaluated her life choices in the space between two heartbeats and said, "Um."

"Are they still standing?" Ed managed, and rubbed at his temple where the headache was building. "The dormitories?"

"I mean…rubble is like our trademark anyway, right? People expect it when we're around."

On Callie's left, Nessa made her eyes huge and sad and whispered, "Daddy Elric doesn't like my girl stuff?"

Behind him, Al and Havoc started choking on their horrified giggles and Ed looked hopelessly around the room for a stronger drink or an escape or maybe a convenient enemy assassin to knock him unconscious.

"You're responsible for this," Mustang informed him, fingers pinched over the bridge of his nose. "The politicians are in the corner of the room and they look nervous already and everything about tonight is going to be on you, Fullmetal."

"But Colonel, didn't you miss me?" Nessa said and Mustang froze (She'd called him Sugar Daddy once, two years back. Standing in his office and smirking for all her sixteen-year-old self was worth. Mustang had spent five solid minutes choking and wheezing on the beverage he'd been unfortunate enough to be drinking at that particular moment. Ed had had to exit the room because he was getting laughter-tears all over the carpet).

"I did something terrible in a past life," Mustang informed Hawkeye mournfully. "To deserve all these teenagers."


Fuery was not present for the group's arrival, and therefore not prepared for Nessa to launch herself at him the second he walked through the door.

"What is her thing with him?" Breda asked. "Every time, Ed."

"Nessa loves Fuery," Ed replied around the hand he'd pressed over his face. "Loves him. She thinks he's a snuggly woodland creature."

"Plus, he gave her chocolate once," Callie added. "Which is actually the fastest way to buy Nessa's affection, we tested the theory and everything."

"Control your children, Fullmetal," Mustang said. "Hawkeye, tell him."

"That joke? Still not funny," Ed said.

"No, it really is," Havoc insisted. "Remember that time that we papered your door with brand new parent brochures from the medical office? So great."

"Good movement in that dress," Hawkeye said approvingly and Mustang had a tiny aneurism made of panic.

"Are you training her?" he hissed and Riza flashed him the blankest of faces.

"Of course not, Sir. She's Edward's charge. Nessa, Callie, Jake and I occasionally have 'girl time'. With chocolate. And gossip. And sometimes weapons and battle strategies."

"Jake is not even a girl."

"I'm flexible," the boy said around a yawn.

"Um…Nessa," Al said delicately. "Fuery's face is turning blue. Blue, Nessa, that's not a normal color, maybe let him go now?"

Ed sighed deep and said, "Nessa, loosen the death grip. How many times do I have to tell you that this isn't a fight, you say hi before you strangle, that's how polite society works."

"Sir, Yes Sir," Nessa said and let Fuery drop.

"Hey Fuery," Breda said. "Welcome to the party."

Fuery wheezed against the floor tiles.


Falman's arrival was also marked. Not by a flying tackle-hug that caused a General's wife to shriek in alarm, but by the sudden and silent absence of a member of the trio.

"Jake's missing," Callie said.

Mustang tensed and said, "Is that bad?"

Ed shook his head and waved him off. "It means Falman's here."

Callie, Havoc, and Ed found them in a corner fifteen minutes later. They weren't speaking, but their shoulders were touching as they leaned up against the wall and watched the party.

"No equations this time," Ed told them. "I'm serious, Falman. Mustang will start politely flipping the tables if he has to pay to re-paint Jake's wall math again."

Falman smirked a little, and nodded. Jake pressed against the wall like it was the only thing holding him up and gave Ed a surprisingly sweet smile.

"Hi Falman," Callie added brightly before they walked away.

"You're not going to stay with them?" Havoc asked. "Keep an eye on Jake?"

"Jake likes the quiet," Ed replied. "Especially at things like this."

"Lots of people know how smart Jake is, especially after the last mission we went on," Callie said. "But they ask him all kinds of questions that he doesn't want to answer."

"So, he stays with Falman," Ed finished. "Falman doesn't care if he talks; he likes it quiet, too."

Havoc was quiet as they worked their way back to the group (it wasn't difficult-people practically leapt away from the resurgence of Ed's crazy eyes). Mustang was out greasing wheels and shaking hands but everyone else was still huddled together, like they always did at events outside the office, caught and comfortable in the orbit of each other. They were watching with a kind of horrified amusement as Nessa waved aggressively in Falman's general direction, nearly taking out two officers and a tray of finger food.

"It's creepy," someone next to Breda whispered. "Look at them, they're not even talking."

"Of course they're talking," Breda snapped and then dragged Nessa away because she'd heard the comment too and looked ready to pounce.

"You just can't see it," Fuery added, with a smile because he understood that the orbit of their group looked so strange to anyone outside of it.


Forty-five minutes eventful minutes later (Nessa had scandalized an entire battalion of military wives by transmuting her 'really fucking impractical shoes' into army boots-while the female officers in the room looked on in silent approval, Callie had disappeared with Hawkeye to Mustang's hilariously straight-faced panic, and Jake had gotten into a lazily spoken but angry eyed fight-not fight, Jake destroyed him and how did Ed keep forgetting about his epic temper-with the smarmy Colonel who'd wandered over just to tell Jake everything he'd gotten wrong on his last mission), Al and Breda were pretty much pinning Edward to the wall as they watched some slick-haired officer lean into Callie's personal space.

"Let me go, I'm not gonna hurt him!"

"Doubt," Al replied. "So much doubt, Brother."

"I'm just going to break his fingers. Just his fingers, Al, so that's all right."

"Wow," Breda said and pinned a little harder. "Hawkeye's there, Ed. She's not going to let anything happen."

Havoc, who was watching the scene with a great deal of amusement, said, "C'mon Boss. Callie is eighteen, you know."

Ed went very still. His head swiveled in Havoc's direction and he stared with the eyes of a predator.

"Brother," Al said warningly, but Breda just snorted and let Ed loose.

"No, that's fine," he said. "You can beat on Havoc, that's allowed."

Havoc shrieked a little (because he had pride but he also knew better) but Mustang appeared out of nowhere, his Edward Elric damage control sensor finely tuned, and snagged Ed by the back of his suit jacket.

"Leash it, Fullmetal," Mustang said. "Callie is a big girl. She doesn't need a babysitter."

"He has his hands all over her."

"Okay," Mustang said reasonably. "Okay, no he actually doesn't. He's not even touching her, Fullmetal, wow."

Ed hissed and said, "But he's thinking about it."

"You need to learn-"Mustang started, but then he stopped. Because the officer who was hitting on Callie had a commanding officer, who had slimed his way up to Riza's side and was currently leering at the low cut of her dress.

"I need to learn?" Ed repeated.

"Standard flanking pattern," Mustang said, smile so aggressively pleasant that it sent a man on his left skittering away towards safety.

"Got it."

They moved their way through the crowd and the crowd, not being completely stupid, shifted quickly out of the way. They were just approaching Callie and Hawkeye, and Ed's blood was beginning to pump in the anticipation of a good beat down, when he heard Callie loudly and cheerfully proclaim, "And that's how I completed the mission by choking a man with my thighs!"

Mustang made a noise like he'd run right into a wall. Ed snorted in spite of himself at the way the blood drained from slick-haired officer's face. The commanding officer who was invading Riza's space stared at Callie for a moment before turning back to the woman in question.

"Is that…one of your soldiers?" he asked.

"No," Hawkeye said with a benevolent smile. "Not mine, sir."

The commanding officer resumed his leering.

"She did, however, learn many of her fighting moves from me," Hawkeye added with great serenity and the commanding officer went as pale as his subordinate.

"I'm going to…go," he said. "Away. Quickly."

"Of course, sir."

The man brushed by Mustang in his hurry to get away. Hawkeye turned to follow his progress and seemed not at all surprised to see her superior standing behind her.

"Come to save the day, sir?" she asked and Mustang rallied quickly from his instinctive wince.

"Fullmetal was concerned," he said coolly. "For Callie's virtue. I thought I would accompany him so as to avoid another international incident."

"Oh, really," Callie said with a smile as gentle as Hawkeye's own.

Ed felt his blood freeze in his veins and said, "Uh."

"No wonder she's your favorite," Mustang muttered.


Introducing Nessa and Armstrong remained the worst possible idea, and Ed was never actually going to forgive Havoc for doing it.

Because Armstrong? Loved Nessa. And it was so amazingly, horribly mutual. The first time they'd met, they'd ended up destroying the outer office (but not Hawkeye's desk because even Armstrong knew better). The second time they'd met, they'd moved their 'frivolity' (as Armstrong called it) outside at Mustang's loud and desperate insistence, only to stagger back in three hours later covered in rubble and hollering gleefully about 'so much broken, oh my God'. And the higher ranking officers had learned, after only one mission, that assigning Ness and Armstrong together on a mission was a recipe for disaster in the shape of emotionally traumatized civilians and property damage that challenged even Ed's impressive record.

Which was why, when Ed heard a booming, "GREETINGS NESSA, COMRADE IN ARMS AND DAUGHTER OF MY HEART" he dropped the champagne glass he was holding and ran in a way usually reserved for life or death situations.

Nessa was already wrapped in Armstrong's embrace, feet all the way off the ground.

Ed opened with "No" because it needed to be said.

Nessa was ignoring him, in the way she did whenever she found his orders inconvenient and laughing as she slapped at Armstrong's shoulders.

"Was waiting for you to get here!" she said. "It's been so, so boring, Alex. Save me."

"As my lady orders, so shall it be!" Armstrong thundered and popped her gently back on her feet. "What game have you crafted for us this time?"

"No," Ed repeated, a little desperately.

"It's your turn," Nessa said. "I came up with the game last time, it's your turn Alex, don't be lazy."

Armstrong tapped his chin and said, "Arm wrestling is a skill passed down the Armstrong line for-"

"Holy shit, no," Ed interrupted, because Nessa's eyes were already starting to glow.

"Hell yes," she countered. "Don't listen to the boring one, Alex, let's-let's do this shit, I'll get a table."

"Okay," Ed babbled, because this was spiraling so very quickly. "Okay, let's just…take a step back for a second. Armstrong, remember last time? With the visit up north and the snowball fight and the ice dragon, remember that?"

Armstrong winced and said, "Ah. Yes. My sister was most displeased."

"She definitely was," Ed agreed rapidly. "And do you remember what she told you?"

He didn't move to cover his manly area, but it was a near thing. "Yes, Edward Elric, I do."

"Great," Ed said. "Great, so where do we keep the property damage?"

"Colonel Mustang's headquarters only."

From across the crowd, Ed could almost hear Mustang's squawk of outrage, which was really his own fault for having ears like a bat.

"You are the worst," Nessa told him. "The actual worst, you destroy my fun always and forever." But she was grinning.

And Ed grinned back at her, because he'd never actually been able to help it.

"If you bring down another chandelier I'll wring your neck," Ed told her fondly.

Ed was sitting, finally sitting, when a General found the nerve to talk to him.

"Really," he whined into the champagne that he didn't even want and then turned to face the General's smarmy grin.

For fifteen agonizing minutes, Ed listened as the General waxed poetic about Ed's alchemic past. As he rapturously described the missions Ed had undergone and expressed his 'everlasting regret' about Ed's current lack of 'physical power'.

And Ed, never one for staying quiet but forced to hold his tongue (because the new Fuhrer had made it clear that he already questioned Ed's ability to train his kids without alchemy of his own, that he was considering relocating them to 'more effective management' and when was Mustang going to overthrow this guy already) deliberately eased his fingers off of the champagne glass because his arm was no longer automail but he was about to shatter it all the same.

Ed was just imagining how wonderful it would be to show this General just how 'qualified' he was by feeding him his fist, when bodies dropped into the chairs on either side of him, and another presence took up the space at his shoulder.

"There you are, Sir," Nessa said and Edward shut his eyes for a moment because that was the special kind of anger in her voice, the one that resulted in explosions and weeping politicians.

On one side, Callie was smiling wide and bright enough to clean bone. And on his other side, Jake was sitting at perfect parade rest for once, spine straight and ready instead of curving.

"I'm afraid we need to borrow Major Elric for a moment," Callie said sweetly, but way too sweetly, Ed had once seen her smile like that and then knock a man unconscious with his own show.

"Come on, Sir," Jake urged and wasn't that a marvel, Jake forcing him to move, and Ed did so while repressing a snort because his kids calling him 'Sir' would never not be absolutely ridiculous.

"But," the general started and then Mustang was there, sliding into Ed's abandoned seat with a smooth smile and a ready remark. Hawkeye was at his side, helping hide Ed from view as his kids hustled him away. Al caught his eye as they walked and smiled in a way that told Ed he'd seen what was going on and possibly been the one to sic his kids on it.

They found a mostly secluded corner behind an unnecessarily large potted plant. They grouped together, Jake reclining against the plant, Callie closest to the party, and Nessa against the wall at his side. Closing ranks, Ed recognized, and felt something warm rocket down his spine.

"I didn't need a rescue," Ed said, quietly for once.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Callie smile (her real smile this time, soft and warm) and Jake laugh a little at the ceiling.

"Whatever, Teach," Nessa said and bumped her shoulder against his.

And just because they were hidden, Ed let himself smile a little at the floor.