Al is reading the newspaper while Ed preens and luxuriates in the shower—or, as he phrases it, scrubs the sand off real quick. But that’s all right, because Al likes to keep an eye out just in case a plausible lead crops up in a community of pygmies that would admire Ed for his height.
“Al,” Ed says. His head appears around the bathroom door, although the water hasn’t stopped running. Al briefly considers trying to explain the concept of a drought climate again. “Didn’t we buy this shampoo just last week?”
“I think so,” Al says. “Why?”
“Because it’s almost empty, that’s why,” Ed says. He frowns at Al suspiciously. “Have you been drinking it again? I told you that it doesn’t taste as good as it smells.”
Al vaguely wishes that he could see his own agonized expression, because it’s probably pretty hilarious. “Brother, I was three. I think you can let it go now.”
“Not a chance,” Ed says. He produces the guilty bottle, which does indeed appear to be fairly low. “So—what? Someone’s been stealing it?”
“Brother,” Al says, “it’s much simpler than that. Look at us.”
Slightly uncharacteristically, Ed follows instructions, blinking through the water dripping from his bangs. He takes in Al’s long, tawny ponytail and then glances down at the bright gold strands plastered all over his own shoulders.
“Oh,” he says. “I see.”
Al smiles sunnily.
Ed rubs at his chin and then raises a finger in revelation. The shower is still going behind him.
“Well,” Ed says, “shampoo will just have to come out of our state research budget from now on. Mustang can think of it as a Good-Lookin’ Emissary Tax.”
“I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to see that on the invoice, Brother,” Al says, struggling to keep from laughing.
Ed grins. “He’s going to have the best-groomed dogs in the whole military.”