"Look, just do what you have to do and get this over with, stop looking at my chest," Edana grunted and squirmed, looking off to the side.
"Like I'd want to look at your practically non-existent chest," Will snorted. "Just hold still, the more you fidget, the longer this is going to take."
"WHO THE HELL ARE YOU CALLING FLAT-CHESTED?!" Edana shrieked and flailed, then her eyes widened as she overbalanced the chair and it went toppling backward. As luck would have it, the bridge of her automail foot caught Will squarely in the nose as she went heels over head.
Will sat hard, tools scattering around him as he cupped his hand over his nose, eyes watering. Edana scrabbled to a sitting position, frantically tugging her tube top up where it had slid down after making contact with the floor. Panting slightly, she looked over at Will, who raised his hand and gave her a middle finger salute.
"Yeah," she snorted, "like that would ever happen."
First Lieutenant Hawkeye sighed and clasped his hands behind his back; out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lieutenant Colonel Hughes' face split into a slow grin.
"Don't be too sure of those charming looks, Ryan," Hughes said, slinging his arm over the back of his chair and tilting his head. "Not everyone is swayed by your hips," he laughed as his ex-lover furrowed her brows slightly.
"Don't be so crass Maes, it's unbecoming of an officer, not to mention it could get you in trouble," Ryan said smoothly, putting her elbows on the armrests now and templing her fingers. "That little blonde is a spitfire to be sure, but she doesn't have what it truly takes to make it to the top of this man's game. She's got herself in a twist over some information I'm not willing to just hand out for free, she has to earn it a little. This little charade she's playing is for show and nothing more. She thinks she can threaten me because she has the tomboy act so down pat, I would really hate to use fire to tame those eyebrows, but I'm not about to. Damn, she needs a good plucking."
Hughes laughed and tossed his head back, he then schooled himself and reached up to straighten his glasses, shaking his head.
"I guess now is a good time to tell you that the Fuhrer has already approved," he grinned wickedly. "I'm here to make the arrangements, we're going to let you use the parade grounds," his eyes flashed and his smile cut as Ryan took a deep breath and gave a very tight smile.
"Never let it be said you never gave as good as you got," she said, tilting her head down slightly and looking at him from beneath her lashes. "I guess you were more upset over our little break up than I guessed."
"Oh, you keep telling yourself that," Hughes said, getting to his feet and offering a salute. "It's not what I tell my wife."
They regarded each other silently for a long moment until Hawkeye shifted and cleared his throat.
"That bitch has no idea what's coming," Edana cackled. "Just you wait, Al. She's going to be crying all the way to the salon. She thinks she's something else with that office and rank and all those men kissing her boots."
"What are you planning to do?" Alwyn said, walking right behind Edana now and practically hanging over her head. "I'm not sure this is the best way to get the information you want, you could try asking again, only nicer this time and refrain from the name calling."
"What am I planning to do?" her elder sister laughed. "I think it's obvious what I plan to do," Edana thrust her automail fist into the air. "I'm going to plant a few solid pounds of Risembool milled steel right in her catty, smirking face is what I'm going to do. Will is going to weep for joy as I put his automail on the map! The Fullmetal Alchemist is going to send The Flame Alchemist crying for her mother and a plastic surgeon. Oh Al, she'll be so upset, she'll miss that next manicure, such a crime." Alwyn's sister's attempt at an evil chuckle filled the hall, but it squeaked at the end and they both winced.
"Really sister," Alwyn squeaked, "how rude!"
"It's not rude," Edana snorted. "Men are all the same, they only want to chat with you because you got a big chest plate! Besides, you're only fourteen and that's too young to be listening to these bastards!"
"I'm never going to have real boobs am I?" Alwyn whined as she and her sister walked across the parade ground to take their places. "I mean, when I get my body back, do you think they'll have already come in?"
"I don't know," Edana said, "Maybe, I hadn't thought about it," Edana shrugged off her coat and Alwyn immediately offered her arm as a coat hanger.
"Well I think about it," Alwyn said. "I want to have a boyfriend someday, boys like things like boobs."
Edana wheeled her arms once and gaped up at her little sister.
"Don't even think things like that!" Edana choked. "Boys and boobs are a bad mix, bad mix! You might actually attract one with them, but then they want to do things like touch them, and if they touch them, they are touching you and I'd have to kill them!" she shrieked.
Alwyn put her hands on her metal hips, her sisters red coat sliding down to hang from one wrist, and shook her head.
"What about you, I saw you and Will..." Ali started.
"SHUT UP!" Edana screamed.
"Quite a turn out, wouldn't you agree Lieutenant Hawkeye," she asked, a slow smile crossing her face.
"As you say ma'am," the Lieutenant returned, unreadable as ever. The Colonel nodded once and looked over at Second Lieutenant Havoc, who gave her a slow smile and a broad wink.
"I think it's time we give the gathering what they're looking for," she said. "Someone tell Maes to get this show on the road, I have an appointment later and I don't want to be late for it."
As if on cue, the squeal of feedback from loud speakers made the circuit of the parade grounds and a familiar voice rose above the cheering masses.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Hughes crooned into the microphone, "thank you for joining us today and taking a break from that daily soldier grind. East City headquarters is proud to present a one on one match, featuring two of our loveliest recruits to date! But first," Hughes walked over to a large board draped in a tarp and reached up to grab the rope hanging from it's side, "please take a look at my daughter who just turned three years old!" Hughes yanked the rope hard and the tarp slipped from the top of the board, fluttering toward the ground. Elysia's smiling face beamed at the assembled masses who were struck dumb for a moment in disbelieving awe.
Ryan put on a delicate scowl and put a hand on her hip.
"You know what this is about," she said lowly and Hawkeye inclined his head to her. "It's because I told him I didn't want to ruin my figure in childbirth," she said with a touch of venom. "Fickle bastard is rubbing it in that he found some tramp to spread her legs and squeeze out his brat."
The First Lieutenant just sighed and Havoc shook his head, grinning, cigarette butt tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"I'm not the fatherly type myself," he said and looked the Colonel sidelong. She gave him a smile that didn't reach her eyes and turned her attention back on the parade grounds. By now, the chorus of catcalls and jeers had reached deafening levels and the board was struck from behind, causing it to teeter and then topple forward onto the man standing beneath it.
"That's not nice," Alwyn said beside her. "The Lieutenant Colonel loves his daughter, I think it's sweet."
"He loves her enough to make a freak show of her at the age of three, you think she's going to thank him when she gets older and everyone tells her they remember the day her dork of a dad was brained when a big ass portrait of her put the smack down on him? Therapy Al, years and years of therapy," Edana shook her head.
"You know, I don't think it's right for you to fob your own issues off onto other people," Alwyn said. "Just because you don't happen to be fond of daddy doesn't mean other girls don't like their dads either."
Edana whirled, mouth open to retort, when the feedback from the speakers kicked in again and everyone winced, letting out a disappointed sigh as Hughes was hauled, alive and kicking, from beneath the toppled sign. He straightened his collar and waved to the crowd, grinning.
"I'm okay!" he announced as choruses of 'who cares!' and 'damn!' rang out. There were a few more things tossed in his direction, but it died down quickly enough.
"Now for the main event," Hughes announced and the crowd broke into a deafening roar. "In this corner, the Hero of the People, Hell on Wheels, Little Miss Red Riding Hood, EDANA ELRIC, THE FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST!"
Alwyn was holding her sibling aloft as Edana's legs whirled and she frothed at the mouth.
"I'll Little Miss Red Riding Hood your ass into next Tuesday!" she shrieked in Hughes' direction. Alwyn was grateful that Edana was so incensed with Hughes she was failing to hear the jaunts of 'You mean that's a girl?' and 'How can you tell, she has no chest!' around them.
Hughes gave a pregnant pause and extended his arm just as the other procession stepped out onto the parade grounds.
"In this corner, back by popular demand! The Fire, the Flame, she'll burn your ass to ashes and make you beg for more, The Colonel voted Most Likely to Make You Think Naughty Thoughts. The one, the only, COLONEL RYAN MUSTANG, FLAME ALCHEMIST!" Hughes crowed.
The Colonel didn't so much as walk across the parade ground to her designated spot, as she seemingly made the space between where she was and where she wanted to go fold to her command. She came to a stop, one hand casually in her pocket, the other on her hip. Behind her, the crowd had not simmered down yet and calls of 'Give me your number!' and 'Give me back my boyfriend, you bitch!' still rang out. She tilted her head slightly at Edana and her infamous smirk sauntered across her lips.
"I would have thought better of you than this flagrant bid for attention," the Colonel said smoothly. "Is it because people have a hard time determining your gender, or is there more to it?"
"You just keep smirking to yourself, cunt," Edana snarled. "You're going down, and when you're lying there in the dust at my feet, you're going to start talking. You're going to answer all my questions, you're going to tell me everything I want to know, you're going to even tell me things I didn't ask about but you think I might want to know anyway."
Hughes approached them then, looking between them.
"Ladies, let's make this a fair fight," he stared.
"Get clear, Maes," Ryan sighed.
"I'm going to ruin that nose job," Edana taunted.
Maes brought the microphone to his lips.
"Okay, one... two... three..." he then turned and flat out ran for the barrier set up around the parade ground. "FIGHT!" he yelled into the microphone as he made a dive for cover.
Edana blinked after him, her eyes widening slowly as she whipped her head around to look at the Colonel who casually extended two white gloved fingers and let out a little sigh.
"Oh dear, too slow," the Colonel said, and snapped.
"I was born ready," the Colonel called. "What's the matter FullMetal, don't you know you have to be on your toes to survive in a place like this? Don't you know you need your wits and charm and your very small endowments to speak for you? It's not easy climbing the ladder in this very male dominated career, a real woman knows when to act." The Colonel merely shifted her hips and snapped her fingers around, sending a small barrage meant to heard the girl into a corner, but Edana was a very unpredictable kitten; she was agile to the point of theatrics and she twisted out of the way just in time, leaping to the top of the barrier and throwing herself into the startled crowd.
The Colonel signed and shook her head.
"You're not going to let a group of men shield you, are you?" she called out. "It's beneath you, really. I've always thought you prided yourself on your independence, yet here you are, running to a group of men for help. Show some backbone, little girl. You certainly can talk a vaulted fight; I say it's time to put up or shut up. Now where are you? It's not easy to pick you out from the other boys; I think I'd have a hard time even if you were fighting topless."
"YOU PURILE BITCH," the scream erupted from the Colonel's right. She turned elegantly and gracefully lifted her fingers. The men behind the barrier screamed in abject horror and there was a mad stampede, but it was too late as the explosion rocked the whole of the fairground, sending bodies in every direction.
Ryan raised her hand to her mouth and covered it as she coughed delicately.
"That might have been a bit of overkill," she murmured to herself, "but they can't say I was going easy on her."
She peered hard into the surrounding gloom, eyes scanning back and forth on the off chance that Edana's usual luck had held and she'd come through the blast unscathed. A small figure suddenly loomed up before her and she smirked wide, lifting her hand.
"I'll give you this," she said. "You're a persistent little minx, back for more?" The smoke swirled by on a sudden gust of wind and the air began to clear. A stone mannequin sat in front of her, a stone tongue was extended in tribute. The Colonel's brows furrowed and her mouth pulled down on the side. Where was Edana? A noise behind her sent a chill up her spine and she turned quickly, bringing her hand up. There was flash, a glint in the sun, the feel of cold metal across the back of her hand and a blur of gold and black in her peripheral vision as a figure hurdled past. It was only then that she felt the air on the back of her naked hand and glanced in time to see the ruined remains of her ignition cloth glove flutter to the ground.
"Not such hot stuff now, are you?" Edana cackled. "We all already know how much you love the sound of your own voice; well guess what fire-bitch, now it's my turn. First off, I'M NOT FLAT-CHESTED, I got just enough upstairs to make me interesting! Next, I don't need a man to do shit for me, but they make convenient cover! Last, say hello to bitch-slap Elric style!" Edana slapped her hands together and slammed them to the ground. The alchemic reaction lit the sky around her, causing her unbound hair to dance wildly as the ground beneath her feet heaved and shot upward, raising her on the rounded barrel of a large cannon, the muzzle of which was pointed at the Colonel.
"Any words of wisdom to impart now, Colonel Easy?" Edana asked, leering down from her perch. "Ready to swing those hips out of joint, running in surrender?"
The Colonel let her usual, slow smirk cross her features, her lashes touched her cheeks once and she opened her eyes again, only half lidded.
"My darling child," she said. "You will never get anywhere in this life if you are not prepared for every occasion. You'd do well to take lessons from your betters." She slowly drew her hand from her pocket where it had been for the entire battle. Edana had taken the casual posture as a mock of the battle and an insult directed at her, but her eyes widened as the Colonel lifted the gloved hand in her direction.
"True ladies plan for every contingency," the Colonel said, and snapped.
"Now, we were speaking of surrender?" the Colonel said. Edana sat half up, panting, blinking hard against the dust and smoke, but the Colonel suddenly looked different, her eyes clouding for just a moment.
Please don't make me hurt you, just put the gun down... the Colonel said as softly as she could. Put the gun down...
The boy wailed in terror, he jerked his hands up, bringing the gun around.
The Colonel's eyes widened and she snapped.
"About that surrender," Edana leered from her kneeling position. The Colonel swallowed and started to speak, but another voice interrupted them.
"Brilliant, well done," sounded the Fuhrer's baritone as he approached through the smoke. He raised his hands and clapped. "Just what I'd expect from two talented alchemists."
"NO," Edana cried. "Don't stop us now! I'm not done yet!"
The Colonel lowered her hand and took a step back before turning to the Fuhrer and saluting, thrusting her chest out.
Edana scowled and got to her feet, transmuting her arm blade back into it's original form and wiping her arm across her soot-smeared face.
"I trust you'll have your men clean up the mess you two have made," the Fuhrer inquired politely, his single eye lingering somewhere in the vicinity of the Colonel's medals.
"Yes sir," the Colonel said. "I'll get them right on it. I'm sure Major Elric will be happy to help as well."
"Very good," the Fuhrer said, "why don't you accompany us back inside and we'll all have tea. Really, the smoke in the air out here is quite stifling."
"Lieutenant Hawkeye, if you'll muster the troops?" the Colonel said, walking by slowly, glancing over at Edana who had turned three shades of purple. "Tell Major Elric to join me later in my office, I have something I need to share, a little girl talk."
Hawkeye saluted as the Colonel and the Furher's party walked away.