Title: So, There Was This One Time...
Author: Kristen Sharpe
Date: December 10, 2012, finished: December 30, 2012
Continuity: Mangaverse, during the six month timeskip.
Disclaimer: "Fullmetal Alchemist" belongs to Hiromu Arakawa, Square ENIX, Studio BONES and various other parties.
The last military pursuit was days behind, the campfire was pleasantly warm, and the minions were squabbling again. Lately, Greed had come to rate all three as the high points in his current existence. And, that was possibly the most depressing thought he had ever had. He had struck out on his own to reclaim everything Father and Wrath took from him, and what did he have to show for it?
Okay, he had minions. Minions were always a good start. And, two chimera built like trucks plus an alchemist who could just clap his hands and make with the magic was a really good start. Now, he just needed everything else. Money and women and something better for entertainment than watching the minions try to kill one another. Not that that wasn't hilarious. For the first month. But, it was the second month now, and the routine was getting old.
Propping his chin in one hand, Greed called across the small clearing. "Oi! Don't you three have anything better to do?"
"No," answered the burly Heinkel before resuming his apparent effort to tear Ed's head off while Darius cheered him on.
But, the momentary distraction had been all the outnumbered alchemist needed. Twisting, Ed rammed his steel-capped automail knee up into Heinkel's groin. The results were unsurprising. Howl of pain, crow of triumph, death threats, blah, blah, blah.
Greed felt the urge to beat his head on a tree when he realized he could literally predict the entire brief battle except for the exact sequence of curse words. But, his guesses weren't far off. Heinkel had a pattern. And, why did he know that? This was getting bad.
As Ed hopped triumphantly around the clearing, Greed jabbed a hand at him. "Okay, I can't take this anymore. Alchemist, make cards."
Ed stopped to glare at him. "Out of what?"
"I don't care. Whatever. Sticks. Spit."
Ed didn't even dignify that with a reply. Instead, he rolled his eyes and stomped back to the edge of the fire farthest from the two chimera.
"Even if he can make cards out of spit, I'm not playing with them," said Darius, moving to settle himself back on the log the two chimera had claimed.
Resuming his own spot at the other end of the log, Heinkel grunted an agreement.
"Well then," said Greed, "is there anything you can do that doesn't involve me having to watch you three whine and moan all day?"
His only answer was a series of growls. Greed huffed and leaned back to look up at the sky and wonder how to go about claiming the stars for his own.
Silence settled over the little clearing.
"This is even worse than that first bigwig they had us babysit," Darius muttered to his partner. "Remember, that general in the south?"
"The one with the… hat?"
"Yeah, that one."
"Talk about crazy."
The chimera shared a sigh of disgust.
And, Greed felt curiosity bite.
It felt a little like that big-mouthed prince, actually. But, when he cast about in his subconscious, he couldn't sense the brat scheming anything, just muttering about dumplings. Whatever; he was too bored to care if the prince was scheming. Even that would be more interesting.
"What hat?" he asked finally, sitting up.
The two chimera traded a glance.
"It was metal," Darius offered. "Real old-fashioned looking."
"I still think it was something he stole from the mess," said Heinkel.
"It did look like there was a handle at the back," Darius conceded.
Greed stared at them. "I thought you said this was some general."
"It was." Darius rolled his eyes. "It was the first job they gave us after…" He gestured at himself, wordlessly referencing the solid, hairy build that even in human form hinted at the gorilla alchemically fused with him. "And, they wanted to see if we'd try to run or do something crazy, so they assigned us to 'guard' some general they didn't need anymore."
"Because he was completely crazy," said Heinkel. "He wouldn't go anywhere without that hat. And, he was always talking to himself, muttering about his car turning into a gargoyle and demon faces in his room and some alchemist that…" Heinkel trailed off.
As one, three pairs of eyes slowly traveled to the far end of the firepit.
"Mmm," Ed's grin was slightly feral as he leaned forward, hands under his chin, "I might remember that."
Greed snorted. "Kid, you're crazy." Then, his eyes brightened with a sudden possibility, and he looked quickly from Ed to the chimera and back. "So, who's got the best story?"
"Huh?" Heinkel stared at him from under lowered brows.
"You two or the brat," Greed continued. "Who's got the most bragging rights?"
"Me, obviously," said Ed, grinning madly.
Heinkel rolled his eyes.
"We were with the military," said Darius, already dour face drawn down in a scowl. He shot Ed a look. "And, not the traveling kid alchemist part of it either. The regular military's not exactly fun and games."
"Ah, c'mon," Greed wheedled. "You're chimera. They don't go to that kind of trouble and then assign you the boring jobs. You guys must have done something exciting."
"Well," Heinkel began, "there was this one time..."
"And then," Darius schooled his face into mock innocence, "I just looked at him and said, "Sir, I don't know what you're talking about."
"While it was still on fire?" Greed cackled.
"That's nothing!" Sometime over the last hour, Ed had drifted closer and now sat gathered in a loose circle with the other three. "Okay, so I stopped the landslide just inches from the town..."
"I thought it was feet a minute ago," Heinkel muttered.
"It was probably a mile at the time," said Darius.
"I still think he caused it," said Greed. "I want to know what that earthquake alchemist guy really called him."
"Probably got mad that he was being beaten by a runt and said so," said Heinkel.
Ed scowled at them. "Anyway," he continued, louder, "I stopped the landslide - the landslide I did not cause no matter what slander that idiot was spouting - inches from the town. And then, Colonel Mustang showed up." Ed drew himself up straight and swept his long hair back with a hand. "Fullmetal!" he barked, lowering his voice, "what's the meaning of this?" Ed spread his hands. "What do you mean, Colonel? I saved the town and even gave them a new wall for protection."
"A thousand cens says it had monster faces all over it," said Heinkel.
"Gargoyles!" Ed snapped.
"Is there a difference?"
"Obviously. Gargoyles are functional."
"For scaring people off."
As the two began to bicker in earnest, Darius looked to Greed. "So, what about you?" he asked.
Heinkel and Ed froze inches from each others' throats.
"Yeah, what about you?" Heinkel's moustache twitched in a smirk as he sat back. "A homunculus ought to have some good stories, right?"
Good stories. Greed stiffened, remembering bloody talons and dead eyes fixed in betrayed confusion. Each image shot through with the static of older, half-formed memories, flickers of a life dead and gone.
"Ha!" Ed snorted into the sudden silence. "Of course he doesn't! He's all talk!"
Greed jerked out of the memories with a sneer. "I just don't want to put you clowns to shame."
"Yeah, I'll bet." Ed sniffed. "Hey, wanna hear about how I once made an entire lake from one girl's tear?"
"I think we've heard enough of your crazy stories" said Darius.
"Oh, come on!" Ed flailed. "Mine's way more awesome! I got this amplifier I thought was a Philosopher's Stone and—"
And, there was something in the glance Ed darted his way that made Greed suddenly wonder what the kid knew.
'You told him yourself you were the new Greed,' the prince's voice finally piped up inside. He continued before Greed could offer a retort. 'Anyway, I know some stories.' A knowing smirk filled his mental voice.
'And, why should I let you talk?' asked Greed. 'You already got on my case about what happened back there.'
The brat's smirk faded into something more serious. 'That's why you should treat this family better.'
'Family.' Greed snorted. 'Don't get the wrong idea, brat.' He considered a second. 'Still, if you know a way to get them off my back...'
Ed was still waving his arms and shouting when Greed abruptly smiled and threw his head back in a cackle.
"What do you know," said Greed, "I do have a good story. This prince guy tells me he once left the runt here picking up the tab for fixing half a town."
"Who're you calling a ru—?" Ed's words tumbled over themselves "Wait. The idiot prince?" He seemed to regain his wits then. "Hey, he started that fight!"
"Yeah, and then left you to take the fall." Greed held up his hands in an unsurprisingly perfect mimicry of Ling. "Sorry. I no speak your language.'
"And, he was gone over the side of the roof while you were still gawking," Greed continued.
Heinkel and Darius snickered.
"Oi!" Ed snapped.
"Oh, and then there was the hotel bill," said Greed. "I'm starting to be really glad I brought you along. You never know when I might need a fall guy."
"I'm not your fall guy, and I brought myself along!" Ed roared.
Heinkel and Darius were laughing in earnest now.
"You know, I pulled something like that once," Heinkel began.
Mood restored, Greed leaned back to listen. And, ignore the smug satisfaction radiating from his "passenger".
'Like I said, don't get the wrong idea,' Greed warned again.
'Whatever you say.'
And, if the answer was a too-cheerful sing-song, for once Greed found that he didn't care. There was no pursuit for miles, the fire was warm, and the minions were entertaining.
"So, how long did it take him to figure out what was on the other end of the rope?" Darius asked.
"How should I know?" Heinkel grinned toothily. "I was long gone by then."
There was a collective guffaw.
Yeah, life was good.
At least, until they ran out of stories.
Note: Written for the fmagiftexchange prompt: "Team Greeling bonding time.". And, yes, yes, I did sneak in a reference to the FMA "Prototype"/pilot story.