Chapter Fourteen:

Return of the Emperor

Edward marched down the hallway behind the Lieutenant, his hands deep in his trouser pockets and a scowl plastered on his face. Nothing ruined his day more than having to go searching for the very man who called him here in the first place. Sigh.

Lieutenant Hawkeye reached the doorway, clutching a stack of papers close to her chest. "He's right through here, near the back. He's going to be happy to see you again, Edward. The man he's currently having an audience with will also be excited to see you."

Ed nodded and pushed the doors out of his way, squinting as lights glared at him. He felt like the brightness intensified, and muttered something under his breath. He finally caught sight of the blue and black mass that was Roy Mustang, but found his eyes stick on another silhouette.

"Oh, Edward!" the other person stood from his seat, making Roy turn and nod a hello to the young man. Ed sputtered and looked for something to throw at the other young man who had somehow slithered in front of him. "It's nice to see you again!"

Ed finally found his voice and ground out, "Ling… is that what you called me for, you bastard? You want me to baby sit this annoying Emperor? I can't… I won't do it!" He crossed his arms and felt a hand rest on his shoulder. He looked back at saw Roy standing behind him, and he huffed. "You honestly thought I would, you stupid-ass Colonel?"

Roy's eyebrow twitched, and he opened his mouth to speak when he was rudely interrupted.

"AND, another thing!" Ed ranted on, turning on his heel and marching around like a protestor, much like the ones that had temporarily ceased terrorizing Central from the West. "You called me away from Winry and Al, when I was JUST settling down and figuring out what to DO with my life! Mustang…!"

"Easy, Edward," Roy stepped forward with his usual mock-kind smirk. Ed huffed, catching his breath from his long-winded rave. "It's more… complex than you think. I need you to accompany the Emperor to the North. There, you shall meet up with General Armstrong, who requests your help. She promises that there will be a large reward if you take her up on this."

Ed stopped fuming for a second, looking on as if he'd heard something worth hearing. "General Armstrong? What could she possibly need my help with? I'm just me, no one special… I'm not even enlisted anymore!"

"That's where this comes in." Roy pulled out a pocket watch and shoved it in Ed's face. Before he could react and beat the man bloody, Emperor Ling rested a hand on his shoulder.

"Now, Ed, I understand you're trying to live your life your own way… but your country and mine might be under attack. Drachman soldiers were found underneath the Northern Fort, working as spies, and have waged war. Because Xing and Amestris were pronounced allies after the Promised Day, the damned Drachmians find it necessary to attack both of us at once to lessen aid coming in from other countries." Ed's eyes widened as the Emperor explained. "Their soldiers are taking refuge in the Xerxian ruins. I don't think you have much of a choice, Ed. There's going to be a war if we don't confront this now."

Ed was taken aback; after all that work keeping the Drachman forces out and saving the country two years ago (evidently and quite accidentally giving Ling the push he needed to become Emperor), there was a possible war in their midst, and unless he took up the General's offer, Winry might be in danger. I don't really have much of a choice Ed thought bitterly. "Fine. When do we leave, and can I give Al and Winry a call before we do?"

A slow smirk worked its way onto Roy's face. "Of course, Fullmetal. You're going to take the 6:30 train tomorrow evening, and will be accompanied by Hawkeye and myself until we make the switchover at the station in the mountains. That way we don't arrive in a State train. After exiting the civilian train in North City, you can book yourself a hotel room and can give Al and Miss Rockbell a call. This is a recruit-only mission; you can't bring Al with you this time around. Sorry, kid."

Ed huffed, looking at his feet as if they were a new scientific equation. It must be a pretty damn big deal if Al can't help me out on this. I'll call tonight before packing, too.

"It's fine, sir. But, can I ask you a question?"

Roy quirked an eyebrow at the young man. "I suppose, Edward."

"Is there a… possibility that… you can buy me something?"

"And what's that?" Roy inquired.

"Anything. Food." As if on cue, Ed's stomach growled and Ling toppled over laughing as Ed's cheeks flushed light pink. "I haven't eaten in about two days."

Roy let out a long sigh and, with a clapping Ed in tow, walked toward the kitchen with his wallet already fished out and opened.

"Can you tell me where Lieutenant Hawkeye's office is, please?" Winry's voice was timid as she spoke to a tall official dressed in the royal blue military uniform. The man had a rectangle-shaped face with a broad chin and a scruffy silver beard that wrapped around his chin. He sported a mustache as well, and ice-blue eyes. Compared to her, he was like a large box of manly proportions. She puffed out her cheeks when she didn't get an answer.

"Excuse me," she said, retaining a smile but speaking through her sparkling white teeth. "I said, can you tell me where Lieutenant Hawkeye's office is? Or, if she's not there, can you tell me where I might find—HEY!"

The man had walked off with a nonchalant frown tugging his lips downward, and Winry couldn't believe the nerve. She took in a deep breath and turned away from the lobby of Headquarters to stalk toward the Dining Hall to pick up something to eat. If he won't tell me where it is the blonde smiled as she rounded a corner, her destination closing in as she picked up her pace, then I guess I'll just have to find it myself.

Winry pushed through the doors, immediately being hit with new smells and older faces. The military was filled with older men and younger women, something she knew Ed most likely would've blamed on the current-Brigadier General now that he was aiding in the process of accompanying Grumman to judge State Alchemist exams. She let out a sigh of contentment and started to walk.

"Winry, is that you?" a kind voice spoke from behind her, and she turned around to look into the sunset eyes of Riza Hawkeye, holding a coffee and munching on a pastry. "My god, it's been too long. You look fantastic."

Winry nodded a hello to the woman and was practically pushed to a table to sit with her. "It has been a long time, hasn't it? Since you and Colo—Brigadier General Mustang recruited Ed to join the military. I never really forgave him for that." She let out a tiny laugh, which made the older woman smirk, and she crossed a leg over the other to start her friendly chatter with her long-time friend.

Riza stared into her coffee and spoke in a murmur. "I heard Edward proposed to you."

Winry flushed and nodded, sighing through her nose. "If you can call it that. He said to me 'I'll give you half of my life, so give me half of yours,' and then left for about two months after that. When he got back, he slid a ring on my finger."

"Aren't you happy about it?" inquired the Lieutenant.

"Of course I am!" Winry smiled and almost yelled. "Everyone seems to have known his intentions before I did, especially Granny and Al. They kept dropping hints, like 'have you and Ed spent any time together yet?' and other questions like that. Most of it was from the villagers, though. They knew before either of us did."

"That makes sense," Riza nodded, taking another sip of her coffee. "But I'm glad he finally stepped up. Have either of you said it yet—Winry?"

The older woman's question was cut off, because Winry was too busy staring at three figures making their way out of the Hall. One was tall with short black hair, wearing a Military uniform and sporting an exasperated expression. The second, shorter than the officer, sported a white and gold robe and long black hair tied in a low ponytail twirled over his shoulder. The third, the same height as the Emperor, sported a similar ponytail, but one the color of golden wheat. Her blue eyes widened.


I... am... so... SORRY. This is REALLY DELAYED! I just couldn't figure out a mission, and then I had to get rid of about half of the chapter because I'd rewritten a part already in the story. All excuses aside, here you go.

Thank yous and cakes go to: FortuneFishing, Queen NekoChan, brit02, Moon Godess157, Purple Dragon Ranger, and Hellocloser. And, to answer all questions, I had not intentionally broken off Roy's sentence at the end and it is going to be re-uploaded to fix the problem.

I hope you enjoyed this! Next chapter will be uploaded in a long while, because I'm currently swamped with school and Senior-itis. I won't abandon this, I promise! It's the inspiration that seems to run away everytime I go back to it.

Until next time, my dears~!