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What Ed did on his holiday

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Breakfast at the Elric/Mustang household: they sat opposite each other, quietly sipping coffee. It was a blessing to be with a partner who was as grumpy in the morning as yourself, and Roy, once he was capable of forming the thought, thanked whatever higher power might be out there for it.

Ed was waking up to the point where his plate became interesting, he raised somewhat from his slump and picked up his fork. Roy took another sip of black coffee. His memory jogged him, he remembered who he was again, what he did and what he was supposed to be doing.

"Ah, yes," he said. "I forgot to tell you yesterday; I'm going on a trip to Harung next week, inspection of Western Headquarters."

Ed peered at him. For a moment it looked like he was wondering who the hell Roy was again but apparently he came to the right conclusion in the end.
"How long is that going to take?"
He frowned a bit, spearing more on his fork than ought to be humanly possible.

"A week, perhaps two, I suppose," Roy sighed. On the one hand: nice trip, meeting new people, getting them to fawn on him. On the other, two weeks with no Ed. That evoked images of an endless desert, dried out bones and tumbleweeds.

Ed chewed and swallowed.
"I could come along," he offered.

It was an attractive idea but Roy just couldn't fit it in.
"In what capacity?" he asked. "You'd have to come as one of my staff and it'll be a pain to get alone together."
He braced himself for what he knew was coming.
"I hope to gain support for my cause while I'm there and don't want any suspicion about my person. Central is different, people here tend to be pragmatic. I don't know enough about the West to take chances."

He carefully glanced over at his lover who appeared frozen, fork poised halfway to his plate. Roy kept an eye on that, ready to dodge if necessary. Ed let go of the thing, it clattered to the table with an ominous clang.

"If this is you main concern," he said, in a voice that would be a snarl later in the day. "I could just leave altogether. I don't want to be in your way, if all this is inconvenient there is no need..."

"Shut up," Roy interrupted the tirade. "You know better. I don't want to hear it, you know what? Why don't /I/ quit? We'll be free to do whatever we like, or whatever you like anyway. No more social responsibilities, no more political manoeuvres. Screw the country, why should we care at all?"

"Don't be stupid," Ed slumped, hand on his forehead. "Of course you have to go on. Damn, you think I'd have anything to do with the military at all if it wasn't for you?"

Roy was taken aback, Ed bitched about the army all the time but he had never stated his reasons to stick to the military this clearly before.

"I can't take you along," he didn't manage to keep the pleading out of his voice completely.

Ed took a deep breath, released it again. He narrowed his eyes in thought for a moment.

"I know!" he announced, recovering the abused fork. "I'm going west on my own. Nothing to do with your trip. We can have secret meetings, it'll be fun."

Roy smiled at his enthusiasm.
"It sounds lovely but I'm afraid I won't have the time to plot rendez vous."

"You don't have to," Ed waved the fork around cheerfully. "Leave it to me. I'll meet up with you, all totally discreet like. Nobody will even know I'm around."

"Ed, you're quite well known," Roy felt he had to point this out though he hated to dampen the infectious enthusiasm. He loved seeing Ed's eyes shine and his grin being a real smile.

"Don't worry about it," Ed devoured his eggs with renewed vigour. "You think I can't lie low? I do it all the time. Harung will never know what hit it."

Roy looked at the plan from all angles and though he saw several flaws he couldn't resist. Ed was happy, disaster averted and he would probably have enough room to spin potential damage to his advantage.

"We can at least travel together," he offered.

"I'm looking forward to it," Ed grinned around his last mouthful. "Hell, it'll be like a vacation."

*

Travelling put aspects of people's personality in a new light. Ed, who did this on a regular basis, made himself at home in the compartment, lounging boneless on the bench, legs spread out in front of him. Roy, sitting across from him, looked exceedingly prim in comparison, knees together, hands folded in his lap.

"I like this," Ed confessed. "Much more fun than travelling alone. Care to play cards?"

"No thanks," Roy said sweetly. "You always cheat."

Ed shrugged.
"So do you"

"Which is exactly why we shouldn't play each other, my love. What would be the point?"

Only a very few poker nights with the boys had established the rule they were not to be partnered ever, on pain of pain. A shame, really.

"We could make out," Ed suggested.

"Not with Hawkeye around," Roy said. "I love that woman dearly but she scares the hell out of my libido."

"Then what?"

"We could have a civilised conversation," Roy said. "We never do."

"For a reason," Ed pointed out. "Every conversation between us becomes either a fight or sex."

"True," Roy sighed. "Isn't it great?"

"Yeah, enough with the mush," Ed squirmed. "Have you read Bicker's article on the use of Mercurius in the third quadrant?"

"That was utter nonsense," Roy frowned.

"Yes," Ed shook his head sadly. "We really should make out."

"Stop it," Roy smiled and reached out to caress Ed's jaw-line. "I'm beginning to think it was a really bad idea to let you come along after all. You are a terrible distraction."

"That's my strength," Ed agreed and smiled. He leaned forward and kissed his lover on the mouth. "I'm already having a great time," he teased.

The train came to a shuddering stop, wheels screeching.

"Strange," Roy commented, peering out of the window. "This appears to be the middle of nowhere. Is this a regular occurrence, oh seasoned traveller?"

Ed's mouth flattened to a thin line.

"It happens," he said carefully. "But I find it mighty strange that it happens right now, with the esteemed General Mustang on board."

Roy raised an eyebrow. Ed moved from his position on the bench to the window and opened it, in one fluid movement.

"I'm going up on the roof for a bit," he announced. "Just to check things out. Behave properly, right?"

"You're telling me?" Roy snorted. "Try not to break anything."

A shot was fired somewhere close by, causing their heads to whip towards the sound in perfect unison.

"Be fucking careful," Ed snapped and swung out of the window.

*

It was easy to be on the roof of a standing train, Ed noted, as he remembered the first time he had been in this position. There were more shots and incoherent screaming very close by and he knelt with his ear to the roof to better hear what was going on.

"Don't try anything, General," an unknown voice said. "Or your subordinate gets it."

"Sorry, Chief." That was Havoc, sounding strangled.

"Okay," said the voice of Roy, in soothing tones. "Take it easy, I'm not doing anything."

A head stuck out of the window and looked around. Ed quickly moved backward, as quietly as possible.

"All alone in the compartment, General?" The unknown voice came back. "You really think you're something else! We heard about your flashy alchemy. Gimme those gloves."

He hadn't heard anything of Hawkeye yet, quite possibly she was elsewhere, hurting people. Time to find that out. He had to fight the impulse to kill them all and so remove the threat from Roy but that just wasn't a good idea. Damn, he should not let the man out of Central, where he had his full staff and tons of military personnel surrounding him, including Al.

As he moved towards the front of the train a head popped up right in front of him, between two cars. He took a slide forwards and kicked the man with a carefully aimed flesh foot, causing him to topple backwards and himself on top of him in an instant. The guy, a typical guerilla wannabe in camo, was out. He slapped his hands together and transmuted him with his gun to the metal railing. One down. Since he was here now anyway; he slapped his hands again and turned his arm into his trademark blade. Time to kick some ass. Something moved in the corner of his eye and he swished toward that, blade at the ready.

"Fullmetal," Hawkeye hissed from the shade, gun drawn.

"Fuck," he hissed in return. It so paid to look first before slicing. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," she said calmly. "Havoc was taken hostage though. What's the status with the General?"

He explained how he had left the situation. Since she had seen nobody in the car she had come out of, it seemed the attackers were all in the one with Havoc and Mustang. They agreed there had to be people up front at least, keeping the driver hostage. This is where the agreement ended since Ed wanted to go straight back to Mustang and take out all the assailants there, then mop up what was left, while Hawkeye thought a safer way might be to take a methodical approach and sweep down the train starting at both ends. Hawkeye won the brief staring competition and volunteered to start at the end of the train. Ed cursed soundly but complied in the end, convinced by the very unnerving way she handled her gun in his direction.

"And you are not to go in until I'm in position," she warned him.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," he scowled. There was a chance he might be there before her, since he had to secure the engine but she had to get past the military car before she could begin her sweep.

She smiled briefly.

*

It had been so much easier when he travelled with Al! Al had been nearly invincible, bullet-proof at least and that made a big difference. And now he had to take orders as well, or, as she called them, strong suggestions, but with Hawkeye that was the same thing. There was no way he could go against her. He jogged next to the train, keeping an eye out for any movement. The passengers cars were behind the military car, in front of it were a couple of freight cars, then the tender and then the engine. There was no-one to be seen. There were three or four people with Roy and Havoc, there was the lone guy he had left alchemised to the railing, they seemed a spare lot.

Talk about arrogance! Roy didn't see the need to travel with more staff than his two aides, especially when Ed came along, officially or otherwise, but train-robbers were not supposed to know this. And these guys had gone straight for Roy, they were after him. It was quite possible one of his many enemies was behind this, and these guys were mercenaries. Lovely. Someone leaned out of the engine's doorway and he dropped to the ground instantly, rolling for cover under the tender.

Nothing for it, he crawled the rest of the way, coming to a stop under the engine itself. He strained to hear the talking inside but there was little. He touched his finger tips together and then the side of the train, creating a small periscope. There were two guys with guns, and two engineers, looking disgruntled. Good, they must be itching for a fight. He curled up, rolled over into the open, multipurpose circle at the ready, and jumped to his feet, up into the car in a single movement, grasping the barrel and transmuting it to scrap before the guy could even move. He punched him in the face with his other fist, into the other bloke and grasped for that gun as the guy tried to aim it at him. The engineers saw their opportunity and grabbed the guy from behind. There was a brief fight, ending with both hi-jackers out on the floor and both guns disabled thoroughly.

"Thanks," one engineer said. "That was neat work! You're an alchemist, right? They forced us to stop and then their mates jumped on board a bit back."

"I know," Ed said. "They are holding General Mustang and his aide hostage. Lieutenant Colonel Hawkeye is back there looking for other hi-jackers."

"Let's get them," the other engineer said, rubbing his hands.

"No," Ed said. "You stay here and get the train ready. We'll get them. And keep an eye on these guys."

They nodded, he had managed to impress and awe them. He moved back through the freight cars, just to be sure and found no-one. Unless the passengers car was crawling with bandits, which he seriously doubted, these guys really were a sad bunch. When he came across the first guy he had met that one was still out. Time to be really careful now. He was not going to wait for Hawkeye, to hell with it! The whole thing was starting to bug him. It was beginning to look like they were only here for a quick job and he dreaded to think what that might be.

*

The periscope trick was unnecessary now since he could peek through the glass doors of the cars, while still being far enough away not to be seen. There was an armed guard at each exit of the car that contained Havoc and Mustang, and the two others were in the narrow gangway outside their compartment. He studied the situation for a few moments, memorising positions and climbed up on the roof again. Quiet, quiet.

He moved slowly and nearly bumped into Hawkeye who was waiting for him. She raised an eyebrow. Oh, well. He pointed to the roof and pretended to clap his hands. She nodded curtly and moved, quiet as a cat, back to the far side of the car. He looked at the roof, projecting what and especially who would be where. Arrays formed in front of his mind's eye. he closed his eyes, sorting them, adjusting and merging and took a deep breath. Alright, this had better work as it ought. Stealth and speed was required and if it made one noise too many they might take panic and shoot.

He knelt down on one knee, and clasped his hands. The air was still, nothing to hear but the faint buzz of voices below and the creaking and cranking of the cooling rails and the train itself. He took a deep breath and touched the roof, willing the reaction. He looked up at Hawkeye who was watching him intently, with a faint frown. The silence was deafening. He could feel the power building, getting into position, throbbing in his head but not in the outside world. Stealth alchemy, he should definitely do a paper on that one day. And then it was ready, he released it and things happened so fast they were nearly impossible to follow.

The alchemical reaction slammed into place instantly. The roof was a wedged slab of metal precariously balanced on a simple axle. It tilted and slammed into the floor below, effectively forming a wall separating the compartments from the gangway. The bandits had just enough time for their mouths to fall open before the wall fell over and trapped them in whatever space was left when the roof hit the outer wall. It made a humongous clang and shook the car violently.

"Neat work," Hawkeye said, duly impressed.

"Four in one," Ed said smugly "Let's go get them. " He jumped down from the roof himself.
"You better drop your weapons and come out," he shouted. "The wall won't hold much longer!"

Havoc stuck his head out from the compartment and whistled.

"Overkill, Fullmetal," Mustang said, climbing what was left of the roof from the compartment wall.

Ed showed him his tongue.

*

The next bit was basically wrap up. They collected the guys, tied them together and the train went on. The guys seemed to have had a vague idea of capturing the famous General Mustang in exchange for some of their comrades but they had been so badly organised, it didn't seem very serious. Ed had his doubts but decided not to voice them

The rest of the trip was uneventful.

"That was amazing work," Hawkeye said. "I was just beginning to wonder what you were doing and then it seemed to happen all at once."

"That was what I was going for ," Ed said. "I was worried they might do something so I prepared the reaction until it could be done instantly. Stealth alchemy. It was Al's idea."

"Alphonse is collecting some ideas on delaying reactions," the General said. "I don't think he meant it quite like this.

Ed shrugged.
"It's where I got the idea."

The General beamed at him proudly. They were now fast approaching Harung.

"Time for me to split," Ed said cheerfully.

"I feel bad about you leaving now," Roy said, mouth drawn down. "You did a good job today, I sometimes forget how much you are a part of the team as well as my own."

"So you want to reward me by making me attend the official welcome?" Ed wrinkled his nose. "No, thank you. Don't worry, you'll be seeing me soon enough."

He pressed his lips to Roy's and walked out.

*

Ed leisurely walked the streets of Harung, taking small, winding streets on his way to the university's library. This was really as good as it got. Nice town to explore. No immediate trouble, just a few things to keep an eye on, and Roy around, now doing whatever, being infuriatingly slick most likely. Ed liked being at home, in principle, but there were always obligations, many of which required him to dress up in a suit. He had heard some rumours that the place was not as quiet and peaceful as it seemed right now but it wasn't actually his problem, was it? He was here incognito and if he wished to take his time to check out the bookstores on this very street he could. Life sure was grand.

*

"Edward," a familiar voice called out, pleasantly surprised, as he was browsing the shelves of a most interesting little second-hand bookshop.

"Old man," he frowned. "How did you get here?"
Creature of habit, he still bristled whenever he encountered his father, even though that had become a fairly regular part of his life. Hohenheim travelled around a lot but took pains to stay in touch.

"I'm doing some research for the university here," Hohenheim said, calmly, never one to let his son's ire deter him. He even reached out to stroke Ed's bangs from his face, and Ed let him, albeit with a sneer.
"You look well. What brings you to Harung?"

Ed shrugged.
"I came with Roy, who is sucking up to the military here."

"Ah," Hohenheim was still undecided on the subject of Roy Mustang. On the one hand, Ed was happy, something that had at one time seemed practically impossible. Mustang treated Edward well, loving and respectful. On the other hand, this was /Edward/, beautiful, brilliant Edward who deserved nothing but the very best and Mustang was an incredibly manipulative bastard who seemed to enjoy provoking Edward's rage. He knew better however than to voice his opinion, Edward would not be interested at best and furiously resentful at worst.

*

"I understand from Alphonse you never told him about our time together."

They were having a cup of tea in Hohenheim's apartment, courtesy of the university. No matter what had occurred in the past, the name Hohenheim still made scholars jump with joy and they had practically begged him to stay. He had been happy to oblige for the time being.

Ed shrugged once again.
"There's no need for him to find out. I know Al, he'd worry and feel guilty and that's all bullshit anyway. He's doing fine now, why saddle him with more baggage that he already has?"
He glared at his father.
"Don't you dare tell him!"

"I am in a difficult situation," Hohenheim said, carefully neutral. "One son forbidding me to explain matters to another. How do I avoid accusations of preference, Edward?"

Ed frowned.
"That's bullshit. You don't prefer me over Al," he said with finality, it was unthinkable. No-one who knew Al could possibly prefer Ed. Except perhaps Roy, for some unfathomable reason.

"I have lived with you for three years," Hohenheim said as he looked at his son over the rim of his cup. "I cannot help but feel I know you better than I do Alphonse. You yourself expect me to heed your wishes over Alphonse's."

Ed made a frustrated growl.
"I'll talk to Al when I get home," he spat out.

"That is very wise," nodded Hohenheim, perfectly placid.

*

Gods, he was tired. He loved glad-handling people, networking and schmoozing but there were limits to small talk and bad wine. He sighed with relief as he closed the door of the nicely appointed hotel-room behind him, one hand already undoing his uniform collar.

"You're damn late," said a voice from the darkness, a familiar voice, he realised after his heart tried to escape through his mouth.

"Ed," he managed after a few moments. "How did you get in?"

A light next to the bed went on, revealing Edward, sprawled naked and glorious between the sheets. Roy felt parts of him wake up.

"The window," Ed made a vague gesture. "The security here sucks."

"No security is prepared for you, love," Roy let his eyes feast on the spectacle in the bed as he undid his buttons. Ed noticed his gaze and wriggled about to offer a better view of his spread legs with an evil little grin. Roy swallowed, tugged the jacket from his shoulders in his hurry to join his enticing lover.
"Have you been waiting long?"

"Mmm," was Ed's noncommittal reaction. "You look tired."

Roy shrugged, toeing off his boots, unzipping his pants.

He crawled into the bed and wrapped himself around the lean body available, burying his nose in the glorious hair. Ed's smell, his taste, nothing could be as pleasurable. His fatigue melted.
"This was a great idea," he admitted. "I don't like to sleep alone."

"My ideas are always good," Ed smirked and let his hands roam, caressing and teasing the planes of Roy's chest. "You don't like to admit it because you want to call all the shots."

"And you're always so gracious," Roy sighed and let his lips run along the neckline offered to him. Ed arched his back in pleasure, making a sound halfway between a sigh and a moan that send a jolt down Roy's groin.

"I like this," Ed admitted. "I get all the fun and none of the official, boring stuff. It's great."

Roy laughed and rolled them over.

*

Hohenheim had asked Ed to come with him and meet his colleagues at the university so there they went, walking the narrow streets of Harburg in a leisurely fashion, when they heard running footsteps behind them. It turned out to be Havoc, who stopped in front of them, panting, leaning his hands on his knees as he gasped for breath. When he found he could move again, he reached out to put one hand on Ed's shoulder.

"Boss," he managed after a few moments. "Bad news, the Chief has been abducted."

Ed snarled, a positively frightening sight.

"Who did that," the voice was a hiss that sent a primordial fear through Havoc's spine. "Where are they?"

Havoc had heard the rumours of Ed's forked tongue but never believed them until now now. He cowered.

"Will you please come with me, so we can get our plans in order?" he ventured, as meekly as possible.

The flames in Ed's eyes were still flickering, indicating his fury, but he got coherent enough to nod.

"Yes. Go on. Go home, dad, we'll meet later."

"I'm coming along," Hohenheim decided. "You might need a second pair of alchemic hands."

Havoc swallowed at his tone of voice, the same definite stubbornness that no argument, good or bad, could sway. Ed didn't even try, he just shrugged.

"Whatever, just don't get in my way." He turned and strode towards the military headquarters.

*

The mountain was indeed riddled with natural tunnels, just as the military personnel at Western headquarters had said when they had stood around, studying the maps of the area. They had not been happy when Ed had shown up, but there was no arguing with him now and he had declined to join their search-party in favour of going ahead by himself. Havoc and Hawkeye has elected to stick with their colleagues, knowing this kind of thing was Ed's forte. Hohenheim however had glued himself to Ed's side and stubbornly followed, until the latter had grudgingly accepted his presence.

"This looks like the place was fucking designed for a nice revolt," Ed growled as they made their way inside.

Hohenheim patiently jogged behind him and looked around.
"Naturally formed caverns, very useful. Cheap resource. Of course there is some danger with patches of shifting rock. I suppose that is an acceptable risk."

Ed sighed.
"Listen, dad, I let you come along because you were stubborn and I have no time to argue right now. I don't need a running commentary, I only want to find these bastards, kill them and retrieve Mustang, preferably in one working piece."

"Commendable," Hohenheim said placidly. "I'd be offended by your rejections of my sensible observations but I understand you being worried about the fate of your..." He hesitated just a moment too long.

"My what?" Ed growled. He felt horrible, sick with worry and the inevitable guilt. He had been careless, had taken for granted that the immediate threat had been removed with the group on the train, and had allowed his attention to wander to his own selfish pursuits instead of staying focused on what ought to be his prime concern, Roy's well-being. He didn't want to attack his father, knew there was no real reason but it did feel good to lash out.

Hohenheim's patience was legendary and with reason. He reached up to push his glasses up his nose and took a few deep breaths.
"How do /you/ refer to your relationship?" he inquired, not a trace of the annoyance he might feel in his voice.

"I don't want to talk to you about my relationship," Ed's voice cut steel. "You don't get to have an opinion. Or at least, I don't care to hear it."

His ponytail swished as he turned sharply, choosing a passage at random.

"Damn you," Hohenheim followed determinately. "You are the one who chose to throw in his lot with a much older man, Edward. This raises questions, whether you like it or not."

"I have heard it all a long time ago," Ed growled, low. "I'm tired of it. Did he mess with me when I was a kid in his command? No, he did not. Am I looking for a father figure since I grew up without one?"
He cut his searing gaze to his father. "I have a father, no matter how I might feel about him, that's quite enough for me. You are it and you aren't fit to lick the ground he walks on. I trust him with my life, hell, with Al's life."
He turned another corner and stilled, then backed up slowly.
"This is it," he hissed. "We found the base."

*

Ed entered the small room and stood stock-still on the threshold. Chained against the wall with crude iron chains was Roy Mustang, pale and absolutely still. Ed felt the blood in his veins stop flowing, frozen on the spot, unable to move or think, held in place by dread. He's not... He's not. Can't be. He started to shake, feeling sick, which at least allowed him to move again, go forward and face truth because he owed that to his lover and to himself.

He squatted down next to the slumped body and reached out a trembling hand, brushed the dark hair from his eyes. The skin under his fingers felt fever hot and the touch invoked a tremor. Ed drew breath, finally, shuddering, some of the excruciating fear leaving. There was a nasty, bloody bruise above Roy's left eye and his eyelids were dark. He frowned slightly now, wincing as he gained consciousness.

"Roy," Ed heard his own powerless voice, a mere whisper. "Roy, can you hear me?"

The eyelids fluttered and Ed gently stroked his shoulder, eyeing the chains. That was easy enough to fix but better to assess damage first, it didn't look too great. Roy moaned, pitiful.

"Hurts," he complained, voice cracked and he squinted against the light.

"Looks like you were hit on the head," Ed commented and shielded Roy's eyes with his hand. "You look like hell. Can you move? I'll take care of these chains in a second. What the hell happened? How did you end up here?"

A few moments of silence as Roy searched his memories.

"Don't know," he admitted finally. "Where am I? Who are you?"

Ed's eyes snapped to his, narrowed.

"Say what?" He frowned, clapped his hands and lightly touched the chains which exploded in fine dust.

"Neat trick," Roy said and tried to rub his wrists, clumsily with unfeeling hands.

"Here," Ed took the hands in his, rubbing with his flesh thumb.

"You have automail," Roy noticed the hard touch of Ed's right hand.

"Uh-huh," Ed pursed his lips. "Can you tell me your name?"

Roy tried to think, winced.

"Not really," he said. "That's not good, is it?"

"You were hit pretty hard," Ed said, desperately working to keep his face blank so as not to show his concern. "We'll get you to a hospital soon, no problem."

"You know me," Roy said. "Did you come to find me?"

"Oh, yes," Ed lied. Well, he had been aware that Roy was somewhere to be found so it wasn't really a lie. He just hadn't been necessarily searching for him in particular.
"I'll take care of things, you just take it easy. Can you stand up?"

This was harder than it seemed, once on his feet Roy was wobbly and swaying alarmingly.

"Lean on me," Ed invited.

"I dunno, you seem kind of small," Roy mumbled but leaned into him anyway. It was that or keel over.

Ed ground his teeth and contorted his face but managed not to scream.
"I know that, thank you so much. Don't worry, I can hold you up."

"You smell very nice," Roy murmured, somewhat dreamily. "Very, very nice. Nice hair too, you're pretty."

"If I find you're fucking me around I'll kill you," Ed got out through gritted teeth, staggering as Roy all but sprawled over him.

"Hmmm?" The man seemed determined bury his face in Ed's hair.

"Roy, this is not the time!" Ed slung an arm around his middle to hoist him up, steering them towards the doorway. "Let's get you to safety, okay? You can grope me later."

"It's a date," Roy said happily and let himself be moved.

*

In a narrow passage way outside the inhabited area Ed pushed his lover into Hohenheim's arms.

"You take care of him as I sort this out," he panted. "Mustang is seriously concussed and needs a hospital. Take him there."

Hohenheim struggled to get a good hold on the hapless General who was so out of it he had trouble understanding the presence of a third person.

"But!" He got out as Ed moved away, reaching after him. "Where are you going? I want to come with you! You said I could grope you."

"You are going with my dad," Ed ordered. "You need a doctor. I'm coming as soon as I can."

He made a face, then decided to hell with it, and pressed a quick kiss to the General's lips.

*

Hohenheim looked at his son as he disappeared in the gloom and fought the urge to go after him. Edward could take care of himself, he knew that to be implicitly true. He focused his attention on the wounded man in his arms. Would it be presumptuous to take it as a sign of trust that he had been given the fate of this man in his hands so easily? The dazed and not quite conscious General blinked at him painfully a couple of times.

"I have no idea what's going on," he complained. "Why did he not stay with me? I want him."

"He will return to you when he can," Hohenheim said. "We really need to get going. You are hurt and need proper care."

The General leaned on him with all his weight, which wasn't all that much luckily, he was a lean man and not particularly tall. In fact, Hohenheim realised, it was the man's projected personality that made him seem a lot taller in regular circumstances.

"Let's go," he said firmly, hauling the man forward. "Edward would be devastated if you wouldn't make it and he'd definitely never forgive me. Don't die on me, for gods-sake."

"No," Mustang agreed. "Can't die. Got things to do. Things..." He trailed off, frowning and wincing.

They moved forward, painfully slow but certain. They were barely out in the open when all hell broke lose in the far distance behind them.

*

Roy woke up slowly, and with him the pain in his head, from a distance though, he was thoroughly drugged. The hospital smell explained that one. Hospital. Good, probably. Memories caught up with him: encountering a group of men in the streets near Western Headquarters, being clubbed and several confusing flashes of events after that. Time to face the current situation. He opened his eyes to a darkened room. By the bed was a person, blonde and dressed in blue.

"Hawkeye," he managed with a cracked voice.

"Sir," she stood at once, eyeing him over. "How are you feeling?"

"Like shit," he admitted. "My head is killing me, I'm parched. What happened?"

She held a glass of water to his lips. Amazing how swallowing could pound through your head.

"You need to rest. We'll cover events later on. Sir."

He closed his eyes.

"Hawkeye, don't take this the wrong way, I'm always very happy to see you, but is Edward anywhere near?"

"He'll be here in a minute," she reassured him. "The nurses insisted he'd take a shower and change clothes."

"Did he get me out? I seem to recall seeing him."

"He did. It will be a while before we'll know the identities of the faction that kidnapped you, they didn't come out of this entirely unscathed. We did establish that they are part of the same group that we met on the train and that organisation is now entirely dismantled. And out of a headquarters."

Though her voice was perfectly neutral he could tell this was just fine as far as she was concerned. The door opened and Ed came in, damp hair loose over his shoulders.

"He's awake? About time."

"Be nice, Edward," Roy murmured. "My head feels like it's about to explode."

Ed moved to sit by the bed and took Roy's hand in both of his, cool and warm, familiar, soothing.

"You'll be okay," he said. "Ill weeds and all that. You stupid git, you should be so grateful that I insisted on coming along."

"I am," Roy said. "If you shut up and let me sleep."

"Sleep then, bastard," Ed settled down, his flesh thumb gently stroking the back of Roy's hand.