A/N: Look! I'm really not dead! I just haven't been posting much. Sorry about there, heh. Anyways, this was a part of a challenge I took part in. I was to write a story, completely, in 30 minutes. This was what came from that. I'm actually fairly happy with it. I hope you all are too!
"All I'm sayin' is that I don't think it's all that normal. When was the last time you saw someone that age, that small? He's the only one that I've ever seen." Havok shook the cigarette in his hand in Breda's direction a few times before putting it back on his mouth.
Across from him, Breda was idly spinning a pencil in between in his hands. He shrugged at Havok's question, small unconcernec frown on his face. "Eh, I dunno Havok. A lot of people are pretty short. I mean, I'm not the tallest person out there."
"Yeah, but you're in your thirties. And you're not all that short, Breda. Pretty average height. But Boss, now he's tiny for his age. He's tiny for any age!" Havok countered. He threw one hand around in the air as he spoke, putting much more enthusiasm behind his words then Breda had put behind his.
The subject for their conversation was, of course, the youngest member of their squadron. How they had gotten onto the topic of Edward's height, an overly dangerous thing to be discussing at any time, was through a very long process involving sticky tape and no extra paper work that Roy really hadn't payed any attention to. This topic had his attention though.
Truthfully, he didn't have any idea as to what Havok was trying to hint at. Breda didn't have any idea either though, nor did he look as though he found the topic all that interesting to talk about, but of course he could have just been trying to end it for safety's sake in case Edward happened to walk by the room. He was sure the hefty man didn't want to die just because Havok was being curious.
But Roy didn't really blame the chain-smoker either. The younger alchemist's height was something that he'd been pondering himself these past few months and the facts that he'd come up with weren't all that pleasing.
When the golden haired boy had first joined their ranks, at the young age of twelve, he'd resembled an underfed eight year-old. Small in stature, thin in frame, the only thing that showed he wasn't someone there to visit a parent was the look in his eyes and the way that he walked.
Now, at the age of sixteen, he was finally looking like a twelve year-old. Still small for his age, or as Havok had put it for 'any age', he'd filled out his body enough to no longer be referred to as scrawny. The determined look was still in his eyes, still burning and daring to be told that he was wrong, but it was over-shadowed by tiredness most days now.
Even the boys weight was something of a thing to talk about. Roy had seen the boy eat enough for two grown men in one sitting and yet, in all the years that he'd worked at the military, Edward had only gained about three pounds. If that much.
In fact, the whole thing was enough for a bit of concern on the Flame alchemist's part. Combined with the curiosity that he always felt when his youngest subordinate was concerned, and a little prompting on Riza's part, he'd even found a way that he could find out if anything was wrong physically with the younger boy.
Almost a week ago, he'd sent Edward off to the military run hospital for the standard, once a year, brief physical. Only this year, with just a little bribing on his part, he'd added on an extra exam to Ed's look-over. The results for it were going to be coming in later that evening...It was just a shame that whatever he found would stay between himself, Ed and possibly Riza if it wasn't too serious.
It looked like Havok would forever suffer from not knowing.
"Fullmetal. Sit down." Roy gave the golden haired boy a brief nod and motioned to the chair in front of him. He was keeping his face as carefully blank and uncaring as he could, though that was a feat made difficult when he spotted the dark spots under the younger boys eyes.
Edward raised an eyebrow at Mustang, confusion showing briefly in his eyes, as he slouched down in the chair. He'd almost instantly been put on edge. Roy never had him sit down unless there was something serious going on. And that meant that he was going to have to actually behave. "What's going on, Mustang?"
There was silence for a few moments, stifling and thick with tension, before Roy found himself lacing his fingers together and resting his chin on them. He hadn't really thought about how to bring it up to Edward, he'd just called the boy to his office right after reading the results. Best to just say it.
"The results for your exams came in this evening, Fullmetal. There's something in them that caught my eye. An unknown source draining energy and nutrition from your body. Is there something that you want to explain to me or should I just have them run another test on it?" He raised a thin, black eyebrow at the younger boy.
The flaxen-haired boy tensed, shoulders visibly stiffening up, eyes widening slightly. It was clear that he was doing everything he could to keep his face looking neutral; a failing battle if there was one. "No. You don't have to have any test run on it. In fact, you should just keep your nose out of it. Leave it be."
"Leave it be?" The note of disbelief in Roy's voice was hard to miss. "You have something sapping your energy and you want it to be left alone? I want answers, Fullmetal!"
There was another stretch of silence then, more awkward then the last one, before Edward sighed. One gloved hand was run through his bangs, the flaxen locks twisting through his fingers, before he turned a tired gaze on Mustang again. "Fine. I'd rather just tell you now before you go poking your nose where it doesn't belong and mess everything up."
Roy leaned foreword slightly as Edward spoke, his curiosity getting the best of him as his professional demeanor dropped. "Mess up what, Fullmetal?"
"Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy's first law; the Law Of Equivalent Exchange." Something happened in Edward's eyes then. The vibrant gold, though tired looking before, darkened and dulled to a muddy looking amber. "Now think about that and then wonder where the life-force, or energy as you put it, to sustain a seven-foot tall suit of armour comes from."
"Colonel, did you speak to Edward about the medical findings?" Riza sat a small, neat stack of papers down on the edge of Roy's desk as she spoke. There was a curious look on her face but it was obvious that she wasn't going to pry any further into then Mustang would allow.
"Yes, Lieutenant, I did. Every thing's settled now. No need to worry." Roy turned his eyes away from the lemon-haired woman, his own onyx eyes settling on the stack of paper in front of him. Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see a soft look cross Riza's face as she nodded and walked out of the room.
Yes, everything had been settled now. The tie was still there, still sucking the precious life-giving energy that Edward's body created, and it would most likely be there for a long time. Not much had changed from it all but, Roy did know one thing that would be different from then on.
He would never be able to make another short-joke about Edward without feeling a pang of guilt, and a pang of pride, shoot through him.