Equivalent Exchange

"But he's so short!"

Mustang sighed, he hated dealing with officers who didn't know the Elric brothers. He was tired of the remarks, although he'd made most of them himself. It got old. And he didn't like dealing with Edward's tantrums either.

"Yes, he's short. But he does his job." Roy couldn't help thinking, 'better than most.'

The Major nodded his head and handed Colonel Mustang the orders.

Mustang took the packett but the man's remarks had made him think. Something was definitely wrong with Edward Elric

He was 16 and not much bigger than a 13 year old. He ate like two horses but over the three years that he'd been a state alchemist he'd only grown about three inches.

Mustang thought back and realized that when Ed had com to Central he'd been 12. At that time he'd been the size of a ten year old. Something was wrong and he intended to find out what. He might get irritated with the runt but he was responsible for him.


Ed groaned. Mustang had a bug up his butt. Again.

This time it had involved medical test after medical test, until he felt like a pin cushion.

Ed grumbled to Al, "I don't know what that fire head is up to now but I don't like it. What if he figures it out. He might foul things up just for spite."

"Brother! Why would he do that?" Alfonce patted Ed on the shoulder. "You worry too much."

"And you don't worry enough. It evens out." Ed finished his breakfast and stood up, stacking his dishes as he did. "Will you wash up? Mustang wants me in his office first thing this morning so I better go. His grip on my leash is tight just now."

Al winced at this. The only reason Ed was a dog of the military was so he could have his body back.

"I'm sorry. Brother. Just – don't go out of your way to antagonize him. Please?"

Ed waved over his shoulder. "All right! I promise. But if he calls me short, all promises are off."


Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist, dog of the military, stood in front of his commanding officers desk and saluted.

Colonel Roy Mustang, Flame Alchemist saluted back.

"Sit down, Fullmetal. I've got the results of your tests. They all say the same thing."

"Yeah, and what's that? As if I didn't know." Ed plopped into a chair and slouched carelessly. "Fullmetal Pipsqueak needs to grow up. Fix it. Right? Well, forget it, no more experiments. Let it go."

Mustang eyed Ed for a moment. "All we found is a link from you to somewhere else. It's leaching your strength. Keeping you small. All we have to do is sever that link and you'll grow. Don't you want that?"

Ed looked at the major for a moment then asked, "Why? Why all this trouble for someone you don't even like?"

Mustang folded his hands, propped his elbows on the desk and rested his chin on his upraised hands. "What makes you think I don't like you ?" Ed's look make him chuckle. "I don't like your attitude. I don't like the fact that I have wound up responsible for a child." Ed opened his mouth to object but Mustang talked right over that. "Oh, please! When you came here you were twelve years old and the size of a nine year old. I won't tell you about the ribbing that brought on.

"But you're my responsibility. I use your talents, as I must. In return, I see to your health and well being as best I can. And let me tell you, young man, you sure don't make it easy.

Now, if there's some reasonable explanation as to why you would allow some outside entity access to your life force, please enlighten me."

So Ed spent several moments searching Mustang's countenance for some clue to his real intent. Mustang fought to keep his usually bland expression open. He waited for what seemed like an hour until Ed gave a small nod.

"All right. I"ll trust you. Seems like I have to, whether I want to or not.

"If I don't you might just go and do something bad and kill Al."

Mustang glared at Ed in fury. "Why would you think I might kill Al? That's ridiculous."

"Oh? You're ready to sever a bond you know nothin' about without asking me what it is. Or why I allow it."

"You know about it and allow it? Explain yourself. Now!"

Ed glared at Mustang until he began to squirm.

"Very well, I'll explain."

"We'll begin with the Law of Equivalent Exchange."

Mustang rolled his eyes. "As you wish. Shall I quote it for redundancy's sake?"

Ed had a little mercy on him. "I don't think that's really necessary. Just think about it. Then wonder where the life force, or energy, if you will, that powers a seven foot tall suit of armor comes from."


Mustang eye his office staff mercilessly until they were all squirming uncomfortably, wondering what one of them had done now.

"The next short joke at Fullmetal's expense will see you scrubbing floors for a week. Understand?"

The all saluted and snapped out. "Sir! Understood, sir!" but of course they didn't.