This shouldn't be as... nerve-wracking as it truly was, Alphonse thought, flicking the curtains aside to peer out into the dark steet. After all, his brother had gone out to dinner with the Colonel—and while Al couldn't say he approved, he was certain the Colonel wasn't stupid enough to try anything with Ed on a first date. Still, the meal should be over by now, and Ed should be home; dropping the curtain, Alphonse retreated to one of the dorm's two small beds, flopping down on the hard mattress while his hands tangled together in his lap.

This wasn't like Ed, he thought vaguely and with more than a little amount of worry. His brother wouldn't normally forget to call him, and let him know that he was fine; something must have happened.

The Colonel, Al decided, grimly. That bastard. My brother's young and naive and this is only a first date—I'll kill him.

He climbed back to his feet and peeked out of the window, again. It was pitch black outside, the streets empty, and yet there was no flash of gold and red, stomping down the paving; there was only stillness, silence.

Damn, Al thought, too worried to concentrate on such things as his language; If he's—if he's—they'd better have gone drinking or something. No, not drinking, god knows what the Colonel might do to my brother if he's drunk...

He was so preoccupied with his thoughts, the telephone beside the bed rang three times before it finally registered. He bolted for it, ending up sprawled painfully, across one of the beds; jammed it to his ear and said, "Brother?"

"Hey," Ed replied; he sounded tired, and a little bit dazed. Al listened intently, but there was no drunken slur in Ed's voice. "Look. Uh, I'm not going to be home tonight, okay?"

"Why not?" Al demanded, sharply. "Where are you?"

"... At the Colonel's," Ed murmured, and Al could almost sense his sheepish blushing, the way he'd be fidgeting awkwardly.

"Oh," he said, mind a blank; "Call me when you come back tomorrow, okay?"

"Yeah—'course I will." In the distance, Al could hear Roy's voice, a soft murmur. He couldn't make out what the man was saying, but suspected it couldn't be good by his brother's stammered, "Look—Al. I g—I gotta go, okay? Call you tomorrow, look after yourself, sleep well, good ni—"


Al stared at the receiver in his hand, then slammed it back onto the hook, feeling the anger and worry and confusion boiling inside him. It was the Colonel, he thought; that smirking, arrogant, obnoxious, child-molesting flirt—

For the first time in his life, Alphonse Elric found himself flipping through the phone book in a vague search for a professional hitman. When he couldn't find one, he slammed the phone book shut, grabbed his keys, and stood up. If Roy thought he could get away with this, he thought grimly, the man had another think coming.

He stopped only once on his vengeful march to Roy's house; ducked into a small, shady shop on the corner of a disreputable neighborhood, where he treated himself to some brass knuckledusters.