"Package for you, Elric."
Ed looked up as the door to his cell opened and a thick package thudded to the ground, wrapped in familiar brown paper. "You're letting me get a package," he said, a little incredulous, looking up at the guard.
Foley tipped his hat slightly. "Don't question it, Elric." The door clicked shut behind him.
"I think Foley likes you," Marley observed from the top bunk. "You do him a favor or something?"
Ed smiled fondly, rolling off his cot to pick up the package. "He's just a skeptic," he said, smoothing his hand over the paper before climbing back into bed and carefully opening it up.
It was a book.
Lost and Found
by Foley James
The cot above his squeaked. "Mind if I ask what you got?"
Ed shook his head unconsciously. "Just a book." It got published. I can't believe Winly got it published. His mouth slightly parted, he opened to the first page. Dedicated to the little brothers in the world. "I can't believe it," he mumbled, flipping forward the next few pages.
Yes. Yes. It was perfect. There were the patterns at the bottom of every page, just as he'd asked. Al was going to love it.
The lights clicked off, and Ed slept with the book under his pillow that night.
"Six years," Ed mumbled under his breath the next morning as he stood under the freezing water in the shower. "Six fucking years, and I'm right back where I started." He raised his voice. "Take one more step and I'll castrate you."
The cat-calling inmate hesitated.
"Ee's tellin' de truth." It was Leesy, who had been an inmate for a year longer than Ed (in for murder). "I seen 'im do it."
"Yeah, don't mess with that one. He might be small, but he'll kill you and no mistake," Marley added, just as the water shut off.
Ed went for a towel, shooting a dark glance in the direction of the cat-caller, and he eyed Edward nervously before backing off.
As they left the showers, Ed elbowed Marley in the side. "Who're you calling short?" he demanded under his breath.
"No one, I suppose," Marley answered with a very Colonel Shit-like smirk, but he walked off before Ed could say more.
Ed snorted. Have I grown up? He didn't feel any murderous rage for the insult to his height; he only felt a vague irritation. Maybe it was something else; something ... Ed laughed to himself under his breath over breakfast. He couldn't afford the anger any more. Mustang's posse had put up with him so well, he thought fondly. If he punched Marley for calling him short, Marley wouldn't be on 'his' side any more.
"Something funny?" asked Kingsley, who happened to be sitting across from Edward today.
"Mind your own business," Ed said with a smirk. "You're always so damn nosy." He sucked down orange juice.
Kingsley smirked as well. "Then stop laughing at things that aren't there, Elric."
"Maybe I'm laughing at your face."
"You got a problem with my face?"
"You got a damn ugly face," Ed sneered.
"You'd know, wouldn't you? Yours is so pretty it's no wonder everyone wants you sucking their cock."
"Is that a proposition?"
"You want it to be one?"
"I don't suck cock. You really that desperate?"
"You don't have room to talk. You got that girl that visits all the time."
"Awww, poor Kingsley wants a visitor," Ed trilled. "Sorry, you can't have mine."
"So she is your girlfriend!" Kingsley crowed.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Ed shoveled the last of the food on his tray into his mouth and got up from his seat. "Later, Kingsley."
'Later', it turned out, was while Ed was shuddering-cold and fresh out of his shower. Kingsley practically threw himself at Ed on the way to the mess, slapping him on the back of the head as he passed. "Skinheads have a problem with you flicking 'em off. Gonna start something in the mess," he muttered.
Ed rubbed the back of his head. "Then keep your fucking head down, for fuck's sake," he grumbled. "Don't hit so damn hard!"
"Stop flicking off the damn skinheads, then!" Kingsley retorted, and then he was gone.
Supper was louder than usual—not unusual when inmates were expecting a good brawl. Ed kept his head down as he passed through the tables, hearing what was being said. Elric's posse. Elric's gang.
Ed shook his head slightly at the titles. What kind of bullshit ...? But it was somewhat true, he admitted inwardly (at least), that he had a following—made up of the loners and stragglers, for protection (he smirked) and comradeship. It was unexpected, to say the least, and now he could barely call it a 'following'. More like a ... "Fuck, I have a gang," Ed breathed in horror, about to take a seat.
That was when the skinhead suddenly leapt up from the table next to him and threw a punch.
Ed leaned out of the way. "Shit, that was amateurish," he sneered, and snapped an uppercut with the heel of his hand into the skinhead's jaw. The skinhead went down like a stone, onto the table, and Ed climbed the bench so he stood over most of the inmate's heads. "You want to pick a fight? Come and get it!" Ed snarled.
He got his fight.
Ten minutes and a bloody nose later, 'Elric's posse' stood victorious.
Their reward was three days without breakfast.
"Shit, we can live without breakfast." Marley seemed not to care as they climbed into their bunks that night. "It's a small price to have you on our side."
Ed raised an eyebrow. "Am I supposed to be getting paid for covering your asses?" he asked.
"Shut up, Elric," Marley said with a vaguely fond tone. There was a pause. "Can I read that book you got when you're done?"
Ed sighed, rolling his eyes. "It leaves this cell, you die," he said, but he handed the book up. After all, it wasn't like he was going to read it; he had more writing to do. The sequel was almost done.
"Hey, this looks kind of interesting," Marley observed about ten minutes later. Ed nodded absently. ... Allen was not the sort to hold grudges. He grasped Thomas' hand ...
There was a soft sound at the door.
Ed looked up instinctively, part of him ready to snap to his feet (part of him would always be ready to snap to his feet at the sound of a door opening, he thought), but there was only a letter. He rolled out of his cot and flipped it over. "Winly," he said quickly, to dash Marley's hopes before they could grow. It was less painful that way. Ed tore the envelope open, and a clipping fell out onto his lap.
ROY MUSTANG NEW FUHRER
Military Coup Brings New Regime
Ed stared at the piece of newstype straight out of the Risenburg Time.
"He did it," Ed breathed.