spinny roses

And Return to Nothing

chapter 4.

"Oh, this would look so good on you!" Edward sighed as he was dragged around the store, different pieces of fabric being draped over him. "Mm, very nice. The ladies would love to run their hands over that. Oh! Edward, what do you think of this?"

"Just pick what you think would be best," he told Lady, bored. How could girls find this fun?

The woman ignored him, pulling out more pieces of fabric and giving a commentary on each. Finally, finally she paid for it and proceeded to drag him to the tailor. Edward's head spin as she and the tailor measured him, pointing out what styles would look best on him and what styles would grow with him...

"Hey! Who's as small as a piece of rice and just as easy to miss?!"

Lady finished the negotiations, and bent down slightly. "Edward, I'm going to leave you here for a few hours while the tailor tries out a few pieces of styles on you. Be certain that he knows to alter the clothing we brought with use, okay?" Without waiting for Edward to answer, she left.

The boy blinked a few times. "She's like a whirlwind," he said to himself, half in awe. "So, what will you need?"

The tailor sneered at him, his good manner that had emerged with Lady gone. "It doesn't matter. Just stand there."

Edward just looked at the tailor, surprised. He had been incredibly sociable with Lady, bargaining with her and joking around. Now the tailor puttered around his shop, muttering darkly about Lady's choice of profession. And occasionally pulling in something about her new student in his nice shop. Edward looked away as the tailor started draping clothes over his body.

"This will do," the man finally grumbled. "Try it on." A finger pointed over to a changing screen.

An evil smile crossed Edward's face. "Sure thing!" he chirped, and proceeded to take off his shirt. Without slowing to pay attention to the old fart's sound of protest, he carefully pulled off his pants. Wouldn't do for his automail leg to rip the fabric. Finally, he pulled on the clothes the tailor set out. "Huh. Nice fit."

The man snorted, then checked how things fit around his shoulders and chest, as well as waist and hips. "Not that bad. This will do." He started making a few notes, then asked, "Do you have any money?"

The evil smile got bigger. "Not on me, but why don't you ask Lady when she gets back? I'm certain the Lt. Colonel gave her something to pay for this. If not, you could always bill Lt. Colonel Roy Mustang himself."

Service was a lot better after Edward said that.

The stuff he put up with. Edward sighed, flinching away from Lady's face so close to his. Her breath stank of alcohol. "Can we go now?"

Lady giggled at him. They had come for last minute alterations, and as usual, Lady had run off to drink herself silly. It seemed this time she had outdone herself. "But Edwaaaaard," she drawled, "you look greeeeaaat." She nuzzled his ear. "Roy's going to be so turned on when he sees you."

Edward's ears burned so badly he was certain they were on fire. "No he's not," he mumbled, taking a small pleasure in how the tailor paled at the sound of Mustang's name. He looked down at his clothing. The style was somewhat similar to the military uniforms, toned down to fit Edward's age and looks. Most of his outfits were black or a subdued blue, red, or green color. The one he had on now was a very deep navy blue shirt with black slacks. "Let's pay and get going."

"Mm." Lady threw a bag at the tailor. "Here! That should cover it. Let's go show Roy!" She pulled him out of the store, ignoring the babblings of the tailor about how honored he was that "Lt. Colonel Mustang's prodigy and beloved mistress" came to his store. "Mm, but you do look good enough to eat."

Edward blushed even more deeply as she proceeded to nibble on his ear. "Lady!" he hissed. "We're in public, and I'm your student!"

"Right!" she chirped. "And I'll be teaching you that." Lady leaned heavily on him, unable to fully support her weight on drunken legs. "Strong, aren't ya?"

Entering Mustang's house was the best thing that had happened that day. The Lt. Colonel looked up from the paper he was reading, and sighed. "Lady." He stood, taking her dead weight from Edward's side. "Is that what was picked out? Not what I had expected, but nice."

Mustang took Lady over to the couch while Edward watched nervously. Lady and Mustang shared a wicked sense of humor, and Lady had already attempted to have Edward watch as "education." Thankfully, the boy ran upstairs before the two of them went anywhere. He wouldn't put it past her to try again.

"Edward, quit dancing around," Mustang said mildly as Lady unbuttoned his shirt. "You still have that volume of alchemy waiting for you...?"

That didn't need to be said twice. Edward started up the stairs, then paused as he heard Lady's soft voice peppered with giggling. It might have just been his imagination, but it seemed like that wasn't pillow talk. He started back down the stairs, quiet.

"He's passed many lessons," he heard Mustang's voice muse. "Including getting your drunk behind back here."

Lady laughed, her voice much clearer than before. "Well, it gave me a good reason to finish off the scotch," she told Mustang, her speech almost sober-steady. "But, Roy, he's only twelve."

"And how old were you?"

A moment of silence, then, spoken sullenly, "Thirteen. But this is different. He wasn't kicked out of his house. He doesn't have to start with sex right away." Her tirade was cut off by a sudden explosion of coughing.

"No, Lady, I won't get you any more alcohol."

The coughing slowed, and the only clue Edward got to what she did was Mustang's sudden laugh. Must have glared at him. "Roy, you're being heartless!"

"I'm being practical."

The sound of the slap she gave him made Edward wince. "No, you're not. He's seen too much of the world already. Do you want to break him?"

"I'm not going to. I will research the clients quite well. If it appears it will be anything he can't handle, Edward won't be going to that person."

"Roy..." A heavy sigh.

"Are you up to it tonight?"

"No, Roy. I barely made it back here. I should go back to my home. And Edward shouldn't walk me home this time. I'll be okay. I promise."

Edward watched his hands clench and relax. He had watched Lady for the last few days. She had quickly lost the bounce she had when they first met. If anything...

It wasn't a cold.

"But I'm going to say goodbye to Edward, okay?" The sad note in her voice pulled Edward away from his thoughts. So she knew, despite her claims otherwise. "We know you're there, Edward, so come on down."

With a loud sigh, he came down the rest of the stairs. "I never figured out how you guys knew I was listening," he said sourly.

"Secret," Lady said cheerfully. "I'm going to leave now, okay? But, Edward..." She motioned for him to bring his head close to her. "Repeat after me," she whispered. "Major Hughes and Second Lieutenant Hawkeye still remember what happened when Roy got drunk."


"What happened when he got drunk?" Edward asked, enjoying the scandalized noises Mustang was making.

"If you meet Hawkeye, ask her who Armstrong is and how he relates to Roy. She'd be more than happy to tell you."


Lady looked up at him, innocent. "Can't let the boy be in this household unarmed, after all." She got up slowly, waving behind her. "Come visit tomorrow, okay?"

There was a car in front of Lady's place. That wasn't normal. The car was black. The windows were covered. Where was Lady? Edward looked up at Mustang, then back at the car. That car was too familiar.

"Yo, you guys know this lady?" The driver stuck his head out the window, speaking around a cigar. "You're a little late, if you're gonna visit her. Though, if ya want some souvenirs, ya better get them before the looters do."

Edward pushed the Lt. Colonel out of the way. "Wait, so she's dead for sure?"

"That's what happens when they're not breathin'."

"That's enough, Edward," Mustang said finally, voice rough. "Thank you, sir."

Edward took a step forward. "But it... she... it was too fast!"

Mustang grabbed him. "That's enough!"

The driver shrugged, and started the car up, driving away.

"Wait! Stop, damn you!" Edward struggled in Mustang's grasp. "Doesn't anyone care? What about her family?" Mustang wrapped his arm around Edward's chest, but he fought against that as well. "Damn it! I just met her. This isn't fair!"

Mustang let out a shuddering breath. "It... it was, Edward. It was an equivalent trade."

"No, it wasn't." He wasn't going to cry. "Death isn't ever an equivalent trade." Not going to cry. "I just met her." Not going to! "I won't let this happen to any others. We have to find the Philosopher's Stone, or how to make it."

After a few minutes, Mustang released the boy. "There will be an event in two weeks," he told him, voice detached. "The men and women that will be there are well known for dipping their fingers into political waters. I will reveal you then."

Edward nodded. "I understand."




Oh, he understood.