Disclaimer- I wish. I had no intentions to continue this... yet somehow, it happened. Hope it isn't too out of touch with the first piece.
Set a few weeks later. The other point of view.
It was both an acknowledgement and an order. I sighed, kicked the table leg in protest, but accordingly got to my feet and followed the bastard into his office.
It was only ten o'clock. No doubt he'd piss me off before the day was over and I'd have an excuse to ignore him.
"Close the door behind you, Fullmetal." My hand was still on the handle. I let it drop and shoved it back with a foot.
Mustang was already seated. He raised an eyebrow at my actions. "I said close the door, Fullmetal- though I may have overestimated your reach-"
And I knew he was only playing, being a bastard like every other time- but like every other time, I had to rise to the insult-
answer the insult- because rising implied I agreed with him, and I can think of nothing I'd hate more.
With the obligatory shouting and desk-kicking over with, I sprawled over one of his couches. "What've you got for me today, bastard?"
From somewhere within the city of papers that was his work-space, he pulled out a single sheet and held it aloft, eyes glinting in that come-and-get-it way.
I'm not his pet, damn it, and I refused on principle to walk the incredibly tiring five steps between my couch and his chair to take the paper from him.
So he waited, gesturing with the paper every thirty seconds or so. I kept glaring, waiting the bastard out.
After seven minutes, he sighed, and put the paper back down. "Come on, Fullmetal, my patience is in short supply-"
Five steps, and I had the satisfaction of denting the bastard's desk and snatching the sheet from under the hand covering it. If my automail twisted a finger, I'm sure it would be called an accident.
"-but yours is, as ever, shorter still."
Five steps back, ranting all the way, and things were as they had been minutes ago, only he had a bruised hand and I had the sheet. I skimmed through the three paragraphs before looking up from the couch to stare at him (not easy to do, but I had practice. Because while good military dogs accepted orders from in front of him with a salute, I was not his pet, damn it, and I would do so at my own leisure with a casual wave if he didn't annoy me too much).
"So I have free reign on this one?" All those three paragraphs had detailed was the situation. No orders, no suggestions-that-really-were-orders, no codes of conduct telling me what not to do that they might as well call orders because let's face it, they were fooling nobody.
The bastard looked momentarily afraid of the notion that was me, brother in tow, dealing with a situation without orders as I saw fit.
Then the fear passed as I'm sure he realised, like I did, that that situation occurred every time he sent me out, orders or no.
(Hey, I'm never gonna like him, or go out of my way to help him... much- yes, shut up-, or stop pretending I don't respect him- again, shut up-, but I've never seriously thought he was an idiot. Well, maybe that one time when it was raining. Then that other time when he dodged, and Hawkeye actually shot him- luckily, it was only a flesh wound, or she might have shot him again for scaring her like that- or when- well, you get the point. He's an idiot when he's actually being an idiot. When he's not, he isn't. Makes perfect sense.)
The bastard's voice dragged me back to the conversation. "-not free reign, you'll get your orders in a minute. You just need to answer a few questions first to prove your suitability for the mission." He let go of the smirk he'd been holding back for the last few minutes- because the bastard is much easier to read than he likes to think he is- and leant his elbows on the desk.
"Is this anything like the quiz Havoc made me take as a joke to decide if I was insane or not?" I growled at the memory. "As in, not exactly necessary?"
The smirk expanded. My right arm twitched with the desire to punch it.
I ignored both, again with practice.
"No, Fullmetal; if you'd read the information properly, you would realise that we are potentially sending you into a religious hotbed, full of indecision and immediate punishment of blasphemers."
"Sounds interesting," I admitted begrudgingly, because it did. My last few missions had been around East Central; something new would be nice. "But... you know me. Why are you even considering this?"
Mustang rolled his eyes. "Competent alchemists are somewhat-"
If he makes another joke about my height-
"-of a rarity, at the moment." His eyes showed the laugh that if he values his cheekbones, he won't release. He knew what I was thinking.
Eyes still laughing, he continued. "So much against my advice, I was told to at least try you for the mission." He leaned forwards until his chin was resting on his elbows. "Tell me Fullmetal, what do you know about angels?"
I shrugged, because honestly, that was his qualifying question? "Wings and feathers and shit? Looking after righteous people? Not a lot, really; somehow fictitious devotees of some god or another didn't come up in our research about philosopher's stones." My reply was every bit as scathing as he deserved for asking me a question like that.
Mustang... I can't actually tell what he's thinking. Why is he looking at me like that?
"Come now Fullmetal, that answer won't do." Is he... amused? Disappointed? Strictly neutral? I... I can't tell. "You must know more than that."
It's annoying for two reasons: I still can't tell what he's thinking, and well, I do. He wasn't supposed to know that, though.
I shrugged again. "What does any mother tell her children? The angels are watching over them." It was harder to get the next bit out, but I knew if I didn't tell it under my own terms, the bastard would make me tell it under his. "After- she died, I got curious. In between researching for, that, just once, I looked them up in Hohenheim's library. So, angels? Nobody can agree on whether they exist, what their names are, which religion they belong to. Archangels came up the most, messengers and generals of Heaven's army, the big four. Or seven, or two hundred for all we know." My fingers had started drumming at some point in the explanation. With some effort, I stopped them. "Why is this important?"
His face was still inscrutable. I couldn't tell why this annoyed me so much. Then he sighed, and finally I recognised his expression as tired.
"It's not, really," he said softly. "I just wondered..."
He trailed off, and I noticed that yet again, his eyes seemed to go past me. It didn't happen often; it was almost as though recently, he'd been making an extra effort to look me in the eye when giving me orders- but sometimes, he slipped up.
I had no clue what he expected to see. My shadow? What was so fascinating about that?
I snorted to break him out of his reverie. "Whatever, bastard. You gonna give me the orders or what?"
Without looking, he withdrew another paper from the stack and held it out to me. "Here, take them," he muttered. His eyes showed a weariness that belied his earlier cheer.
But I didn't like the bastard. I didn't care whether he got enough sleep, or if for some inexplicable reason, he suddenly disdained to look at me. It's his own damn problem.
Pissed me off all the same though, so I grabbed the paper and left without another word, slamming the door again behind me. The outside office seemed to gather that I was rather annoyed, and didn't ask for explanations.
I could still feel his eyes on my back, watching me go. I had no idea what he was looking for.
All I knew was that the bastard had found another brilliant way to annoy me. Only this time, he was clueless as to how he was doing it.
Pft. What do I care, anyway?