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"Are you sure this is a good idea, Master?"

Ah, Amestris had done much for Ran Fan, letting her learn she could actually question him. Ling appreciated that, truly. She was his best advisor, counselor, and friend. Someone who loved him for more than his birthright and, with that love, questioned him and his decisions. Even Mei Chang didn't talk to him as Ran Fan did.

He gestured at her. "Your mask. Take it off."

There was only the faintest hesitation before Ran Fan obeyed. Her face was nearly as impassive as her mask, but her eyes expressed her emotions in ways that reminding Ling of a brave young man from Amestris, whose brother was here in Xing, learning alkahestry. "Young Master." The faintest disapproval darkened her features.

Ling beamed at her. "I believe that it is a good idea. It will foster relationships between Xing and Amestris!"

Ran Fan's eyebrows twitched.

"Yes, yes, those kinds of relationships, too." Ling rubbed his chin, thoughtful. "If Al returns home with alkahestry, then the alchemists of Amestris will be extremely indebted to us."

Her eyes narrowed minutely.

"What?" He turned fully to face Ran Fan. "Do you think I should've allowed Al to return to Amestris with Ed?" Ling pouted. "Mei would be very disappointed."

Ran Fan sighed.

"Well," Ling agreed, "yes, she would be disappointed about finding out Al is my lover, this is very true. But you are an excellent guard. I am positive you will protect Al and me from any threats." He grinned. "Even those from my half sister."