It's late on a Friday, and the office staff has slid into that sort of yes-we're-working,-REALLY-we-are,-oh-go-screw-yourself mood that happens when it's not quite stressful enough to be peacetime but not crazy enough to be called wartime. Al's gone to visit Winry and nobody feels much like working, really. To make things even better, somebody has brought in a quarter-case of beer from old Sergeant Hauftrekk's retirement party the night before and the bottles have made their way discreetly among the desks.

Altenbier, dark and rich and heavy on the alcohol content; lovely stuff, especially on a Friday afternoon when it's too late in the day to do anything much other than busy-work.

Somebody comments laconically over his unlit cigarette that it'd be a hell of a lot easier to drink the beer if there was an opener around, and Why did Fury have to leave the damned thing at home if he was gonna sneak beer in in the first place?

Someone else makes a snorting noise and reaches for a bottle; a cap is flipped easily off with the edge of a metal thumb. There is an impressed pause and then bottles are passed over, opened, and passed back. It's noted that it's a real pity that some people don't have enough taste to appreciate good beer.

"Bleagh; most of it tastes like it needs to be returned to the horse it came from."

"Tsk; it takes maturity to appreciate a real beer, Fullmetal, especially an Alt." Someone's eyes grow outraged, beginning to glitter dangerously, but someone else continues on with a smirk. "Give yourself a few more years and a running start and I'm sure that someday you'll be adult enough to handle it..."

At the sound of a certain voice, the staff freezes guiltily (all except one, whose beer has quietly disappeared somewhere inside her desk. If a full team of tracking-dogs and Hughes himself had searched the desk, the beer would still have stayed hidden; she's good that way) and clutch their beer. However, they are ignored as an open bottle is hastily offered by Fury (and accepted) and their commanding officer returns cheerfully to his desk, leaving behind one rapidly-reddening bottle-opener.

The staff look at each other, look at their automail bottle-opener, and prepare to duck.

Not a problem, though; "SOME people need to learn when to keep their big traps shut—" and boot-heels stomp across the floor. A door is opened and then slammed shut, and the staff can hear (faintly, but enough):


Silence; people grin, or carefully avoid grinning; it is Friday, after all, and they've gotten very, very good at ignoring some things. Even Al just usually turns red and finds paperwork to shuffle or an excuse to head for the library, muttering all the while about research and cold showers. It's nobody's business but theirs, and nobody wants it any other way.

Somebody starts counting quietly to himself until a paper ball bounces off the side of his head. Then, amused and slow from inside the office:

"...and what do you think of beer now, Fullmetal? A good Alt has to be drunk in the proper surroundings, you see, and with the proper level of respect..."

"Jerk. 'Respect' my ass—"

"Do NOT make me spill my beer or I'll have to hurt you. An Alt needs an accomplished palate to properly appreciate the complex layers of flavor... the bittersweet aroma of the hops and how the bottle weighs in one's hand... like that... the caressing smoothness as it glides over one's tongue, like this...... ah. Yes, like that... Just like that, in fact..."

"... there's foam on your mouth..."

"Really? Where?... mmm..."

Yes, like that. It's Friday for the Colonel and for Fullmetal, too, after all.

More silence. Nobody is really surprised when somebody stands up and reaches for two of the bottles; she only has time for a couple of steps towards the door when it starts to open—

"Err, Hawkeye? Is there any of that beer left, by chance—?"

"Right here, sir." She holds them out, but the hand that takes the bottles is made of metal which clinks against the glass.

"Ah; good. What time is it?"

"Quarter to five, sir."

"...So it is. Dismissed, everyone; have a good weekend..."

People avoid each other's eyes, but almost everyone is grinning by now. "Thank you sir." A salute. "Have a good one yourself, sir... and Fullmetal as well."

A pop and the hiss of a bottle being opened. "Oh, we will, we will... dammit, Fullmetal, that's COLD—Give me that—" And somebody is snickering, and then the snicker is muffled softly, softly.

And because it's Friday, people hide their own snickers as they gather their things to leave; it's not until they're outside that they allow themselves to laugh.