Measure of Time

chapter 1.

It had been a while since Roy Mustang had found himself in a mood this good. In retrospect, it had also been a fair amount of time since he'd found himself to be so nervous about something so blatantly trivial. Compared to what he'd done, and what he'd seen, this was something to look forward to, certainly something to appreciate and remember.

He had confided his feelings as such to Captain Hawkeye; she had muffled soft laughter behind her hand and insisted that there was nothing that could possibly be worse than what they had all faced over the past few years. Mustang couldn't safely say that he had thought of it from a comparative perspective, and upon reflection he found it to be superfluous anyway, because the suffering he had endured over the past few years was vanishing like smoke against a brighter dawn.

He was still nervous, and his fingers shook as he looped the buttons on his shirt through the buttonholes one by one, carefully, using the very tip of his thumb and smoothing the hemline down after each motion caused the material to lie crooked.

There was really too much good happening today to allow room for imperfection, in his humble opinion. There had been minor delays, little things that had annoyed him but not yet ruined the constant underlying mood of the day; there had been an hour's delay in train times that had thrown out his plans, but barely, and the final result regardless of lateness or measures of time was undoubtedly something to cherish. Hawkeye had managed to convince Fullmetal to come up from his hometown, and Mustang wasn't entirely sure whether that was a curse or a blessing in disguise at first, but it seemed to make his adjutant smile a little more than was normal so he decided to grin and bear it regardless of the circumstance that resulted.

He grabbed his jacket off the back of the single wooden chair at his table, and swiped irritably at a few flecks of dust that had settled on the stars on the shoulder overnight. Watching the slight smears that doing this had caused appear on the otherwise flawless stars made him grow to be irritated with himself, and he breathed on the buttons and then rubbed at them with the cuff of his dress shirt to return them to pristine condition. He sat down on the bed, meticulously smoothing down his uniform pants with bare hands as he did so, and grabbed his boots, being careful to lace them evenly and to tie the knot tight enough to last the whole day. Once he was done with that slightly tedious task (thanks to whoever had decided that the boots needed to be laced through ten times; he'd have to change that) he moved over to the small dresser next to his bed and grabbed the final two things that would make the uniform flawless; the formal hat, complete with the polished emblem of the Amestris (the last time he'd bothered to wear it, the occasion have been far more bleak) and the Pyrotex gloves he used to perform his Flame Alchemy.

Feeling more confident in himself since he'd first heard the two pieces of news that would change his life barely four days ago, he smoothed his hair out of his eyes and put the hat on, and tucked his gloves safely into his pocket just as he heard a sharp knock at the door. He walked through his small apartment, wondering how the Hell he could ever muster the room for another tenant, and opened the front door to reveal Lieutenant Hawkeye in the official female formal uniform, and the Fullmetal Alchemist standing awkwardly the standard two paces behind her.

"Good morning, Sir," she greeted Mustang.

"Good morning, Captain. I see you have already been to pick up Fullmetal from the train station."

"Yes, I'm afraid we're going to have to go back there thanks to the delay in the train times."

"No problem, no problem," Roy replied, now directing his smirk at Edward, "I didn't expect that you would come all the way from Rizenbul for this, Fullmetal."

"Don't think I'm here to see your smug face again," Ed grumbled, "I'm not going to enjoy watching you have your ego stroked."

"I don't know why else you would want to travel all of those hundreds of miles," Mustang yawned.

"Let's make this very clear: I'm not here for you," Ed snapped. Hawkeye allowed herself a small smile that was quickly hidden as her superior faced her again.

"Well, shall we be going?"

His adjutant saluted and stepped out of the way to let him through and did not miss the suppressed happiness in his voice. Barely finding himself able to concentrate on anything other than where they were headed, Mustang headed down the three flights of stairs to the street, slightly unnerved by the clicking of Edward's boots in the otherwise silent stairwell.

All the way to Central Train station, Edward kept opening his mouth as if to say something, but whatever he was thinking never seemed to have the will to make itself heard, and the car trip was made in relative silence. Mustang wasn't sure whether Edward was just rethinking what he was thinking before he actually said it, or whether Hawkeye was intervening in some way, but either way he was extremely thankful for the quiet.

They arrived at the station quicker than he anticipated, and out of habit he reached into his pocket for the silver watch that certified him as a State Alchemist and flipped it open; it was still ten minutes until the train was scheduled to arrive but there was an irreversible will in his mind to be there when the train pulled in so he excused himself to both Edward and Hawkeye and stepped out of the car. If either Fullmetal or his adjutant started speaking he wasn't able to hear it; he wasn't sure that he would have paid enough attention to hear it even if Edward had been talking as loudly as he did whenever someone took a stab at his height.

Feeling self-conscious in his uniform, the stars on his shoulder being too many in number to denote anyone but someone important, Roy wasted the ten minutes until the train arrived by watching the seconds and minutes tick down on his pocket watch so constantly it was nearly unnerving. He was so rapt in watching the red seconds hand circling the watch face that he jumped when the announcement came over that the delayed train from East City was pulling into the station.

He stood, not so quickly as to catch attention, he hoped, and watched the carriages click by one by one with dark eyes until the train had come to a complete stop. Watching all the passengers file out and into the arms of loved ones did not particularly appeal to his emotions; mainly because the one person he was looking for was not among them, and suddenly he felt jealous that these people took the simplicity of running to embrace one they had missed for granted.

Mustang waited until all the other passengers were gone, until finally it seemed to have occurred to the station staff that extra assistance was required to get their last passenger off the train. With his heart lodged firmly in his throat, he watched as Jean Havoc moved his wheelchair to the edge of the carriage door carefully and then stood (stood, albeit slowly and with such major assistance from the station staff) while his wheelchair was lifted down from the carriage and safely to the platform. Unable to hide his grin at finding that Marcoh had indeed done his job, Roy hurried over and before Havoc could barely realize who it was standing in front of him, swooped down and pressed his lips against the younger blond man's with all of the want and pain of two years separation.

Breaking away and leaving himself ample room to breathe, Mustang murmured against stunned, parted lips, "I missed you."

"I missed you too, Boss," Havoc grinned, recovering from his surprise and reaching out to take Roy's hand, "But we should get going, otherwise you're going to be late and Hawkeye's gonna tear a strip off me if that happens."

"Right," Roy replied, a small smile still upon his lips, "Let's go."

"Let's go get you sworn in, Fuhrer Mustang," the blond teased, and Mustang batted ineffectually at the back of the blond's head as they moved back towards where Fullmetal and Hawkeye were waiting together.

Indeed, he couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so whole.