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"I'm not going to beat the crap out of someone just because you told me to, Mustang," Ed said flatly, crossing his arms and glancing at the man in question—a nonplussed private who was trying to look as if nothing had happened.

Mustang raised his eyebrows. The order had been rather joking, but the challenge in Ed's voice was hard to back down from. "Oh? Not even if it's an order ... Fullmetal?" The Colonel narrowly saved himself the disgrace of fumbling for Edward's name (Id? Alex? Eowan?) by resorting, once again, to his title.

There were times when Roy wondered if Fullmetal saw through his trick, like right now, when the young man was looking at him askance as if he'd asked the boy to swallow a worm. "You can't order me around like a bodyguard, you have Hawkeye for that," he pointed out briskly. "This guy just called you out." A smirk curled around the edges of his lips and his golden eyes narrowed. "Useless."

Mustang bristled slightly, but he had one last card to play. "He called you short." Now that was an out-and-out lie, but Mustang supposed he would stop Fullmetal if it got messy.

Eventually.

Well, actually, rather quickly, since Fullmetal could get brutal and the private should be dealt with in a more civil manner, with perhaps an official reprimand for talking back to one of his superior officers. But watching the cogs turn behind Ed's eyes was almost worth it.

Almost.

"He did not!" Ed finally sputtered. "You made that bullshit up—which means that really it's you who thinks I'm short! Well guess what, Mr. Impotent-in-the-Rain, I'm the perfect height, and it's all of you who are freaks of nature and overly tall! I should beat you up on principle, Mustang—"

Luckily, Hawkeye showed up before anything of the sort could be done, and the matter was dealt with swiftly and nearly painlessly (although Ed's feelings were perhaps a bit wounded and Mustang's head ached).

"His name is Edward, you know," Hawkeye reminded her superior officer after Edward had left. "And he doesn't need provoking."

"I think sometimes he just needs an excuse to be childish, actually," Mustang answered.

"Still," Hawkeye said firmly.

"Yes, Lieutenant," Mustang nodded, and that was the end of that.