Ed bangs through the door, shoulders hunched forward more than usual, but before Havoc can chirp a surprised, "Hey, Boss," Ed's pulled off his coat, jacket, and shirt and flung them on the Colonel's desk.
"I hope you're happy now, you boob freak!"
Havoc takes it in for a second before averting his eyes, unfortunately giving Ed a complete once-over because Ed Elric, badass extraordinaire, is carrying a set of breasts on his chest.
Mustang reclines back in his chair, a finger resting on his chin, taking in the situation calmly. "Is there something you'd like to say, Ed? Obviously there's something on your chest."
To his credit, Ed's head doesn't explode, even though his face is almost as red as Havoc's.
"Your book didn't pan out, Colonel," Al says quietly. Havoc glances over to the shutting door, wondering exactly how he'd missed the seven-foot-tall suit of armor.
"It didn't." Mustang's smirk is a bit enigmatic, but Havoc can't help but wonder if Mustang planned this—since when did things not pan out for him?
"I used to be a boy!" Ed moans, hands dropping to his side, his shirtlessness fully displaying his predicament.
"Stop whining, Fullmetal." Mustang is, as always, sensitive to Ed's emotions. Though in this case Havoc has to agree. While the change is rather alarming, Ed as a girl isn't quite as tragic as he's making it sound. In fact, with Ed's already long hair and youthful face, most people probably won't notice . . . at least as long as Ed covers his . . . breasts.
Havoc looks away again, completely disturbed by the fact that he's having to turn away from exposed breasts because they belong to Ed. "Could you, you know, cover up?" Havoc gropes for Ed's jacket, which is somewhere on the desk by his hand, and holds it out in Ed's general direction.
"You've seen breasts before. I think you can handle his." Mustang is possibly rolling his eyes, but Havoc is too busy alternating his gaze between the walls and ceiling to find out.
"It's all right, Lieutenant," Al says. He's taken a seat on the couch, one arm stretched across the back; he probably thinks this is hilarious.
Ed snatches the jacket so hard from Havoc's hand that the fabric snaps in the air. "I'm glad you're all so supportive."
This time Havoc knows Mustang rolls his eyes. "We'll help you, won't we?"
"Uh, how can I help? This clearly looks like a job for the State Alchemists!" Havoc laughs weakly, already dreading whatever assignment Mustang will give him to assist in this impromptu peep show.
"Damage control." Mustang's colonel-voice draws Havoc's eyes before he can remember that he's trying to avoid finding out just how perky Ed's new accessories are. "Ed lives in an all-male dorm and you're my only subordinate with private housing."
The air has surely left the room. "What about you?"
Mustang doesn't even blink.
"What about Hawkeye?"
"I can't live with a girl!" Thankfully Ed has wrapped his jacket around his shoulders and only a hint of cleavage bounces when he flails.
"Ed, you are a girl!"
"I've still got. . . ." Ed gestures downstairs and Havoc looks away again, blushing furiously, adding yet another bullet to the list of things he has never wanted to know.
"I believe the term is 'hermaphrodite,'" Al supplies.
"Thanks," both Havoc and Ed squeak.
Mustang covers his eyes, rubbing his temples (because this is so much more disturbing for him). "Look, Lieutenant, you're already involved." Mustang glares at Ed, like maybe Havoc wasn't part of the plan. "Ed trusts you and until we can work this out, I'm ordering you to provide housing for him."
"Sir. . . ."
"Colonel. . . ."
"Get him out of here." Mustang turns, heading to the door, and Ed scrambles to get his shirt on properly. When Al stands, he has a suitcase in his hands—the infamous valise that goes everywhere with Ed.
Havoc follows Mustang to the door and musters a salute even though he feels like his spine has turned to jelly.
"I'll be by after work tomorrow to help you figure this out," the Colonel tells Ed. He shakes his head again. "I can't believe you're so stupid."
"Colonel, it's my brother, of course he's this stupid."
Al's armor rings when Ed hits him.
"Good night, sir," Al says, the laugh evident in his voice.
The Elrics exit ahead of Havoc and Havoc can't hold in the defeated sigh.
"Good luck, Lieutenant." Mustang smirks like the complete bastard Ed always says he is.
"Thank you, sir." When the door shuts behind him, Havoc is sure he can feel Mustang's relief that he foisted the Elrics on one of his subordinates. Apparently one of the perks of being a colonel is that you don't have to provide housing for boys with boobs.
* * *
The next morning when they're late for work, Mustang barely looks up from his paper and Havoc takes in one perk of his new assignment: Mustang won't yell at him if he's busy controlling Ed.
Ed stays in the office nearly all day—which is rather unusual—but no one really comments on it since he has his nose stuck in a book—which isn't unusual. He's already learned how to hide his breasts, leaving on his coat and hunching his shoulders forward.
"So far so good," Mustang comments over Havoc's shoulder later in the day. "I'll be by later tonight to work with him." And that is all that is said about the matter until the evening.
The evening is when it goes to hell.
It starts when Ed says he's going to take a shower and Al hastily stands, offering to do some grocery shopping. Havoc should have smelled it then, but he just scratched his head and scribbled off a list for the younger Elric.
"Let me grab my wallet—"
"That's okay," Al says, already heading toward the door. "I can charge it to Ed's account. Okay, bye."
Havoc has four seconds to question the behavior before he hears Ed's curse from the bathroom and the clatter as something hits the tile. As Havoc creeps toward the door, the silence stretches until. . . .
"Could you . . . assist me?"
The shower's funny, Havoc thinks desperately. It's got that knob that you pull up and around twice to get any hot water and if you don't wiggle the pull on the drain, it stops up. That is absolutely what Ed is going to ask about. That and nothing involving his new boobs. Havoc won't even see Ed's new boobs because Ed saw last night how very uncomfortable Havoc is with Ed's new boobs and Ed is more sensitive than that. Ed trusts Havoc, Mustang said, surely Ed is more sensitive than that.
Havoc swallows and turns the doorknob, trying not to listen to the little voice in his head calling him an idiot.
Ed is not pondering the workings of Havoc's shower, but is instead once again shirtless, standing in front of the mirror, alternating his gaze from his boobs to his reflection.
"Oh God," Havoc cries, covering his eyes. "Ed!"
"Am I lopsided?"
Havoc feels the world tilt and he feels lopsided. Then Ed's hands are taking his and moving them away from his face. Havoc can feel the heat from Ed's body and he knows Ed's new boobs are there and he squeezes his eyes shut.
"Oh, don't be such a baby," Ed snaps. "Do you know how many boobs I've seen? Just mine. If anyone should be freaking out about this, it's me."
Havoc cracks open one eye and then the other. "Ed. I'm going to tell you this once. I love boobs. I love 'em. All shapes and sizes, and just, I love 'em." Havoc coughs and looks at the shower over Ed's shoulder. "You are pretty much turning me off of them."
Ed pouts when Havoc's eyes flick to his face. "Are you saying my boobs are ugly?"
"No, I mean. . . ." Havoc spares a quick glance and quickly assesses that—as he feared—Ed's boobs are quite lovely for being the product of alchemy and mounted on a boy. "They're nice, Ed." And then Havoc hears in his head what he said and what it means and something in his brain (like his will for sanity) pops and sputters out.
"You've hardly looked at them!"
"They're yours," Havoc says. "And as you pointed out, you used to be a boy. It's kind of creepy."
"I'm still a boy!"
"That's part of the prob—huh?"
Ed, still holding on to Havoc's hands, has moved them so that his fingers are brushing up against nipples. And—completely of their own volition—Havoc's fingers uncurl and his hands push forward until he's cupping Ed's breasts.
Stop, Havoc's brain screams, Hands, what are you doing?
Boobies!, Havoc's hands gleefully shout.
Shutting down now, Havoc's brain says. Which is a real tragedy as his brain was the only part of Havoc's body on his side.
Ed's skin is smooth, the nipple erect and pliant in Havoc's palm. His hands fit neatly over each breast, and when he squeezes slightly, Ed's chin tilts back and he gasps.
"They're not lopsided," Havoc whispers.
"You're going to be lopsided," Mustang growls. Havoc and Ed both spring back, turning toward the door. Ed hides behind Havoc, and Havoc feels his arms tucked in front of his chest. "What are you doing, Lieutenant?"
Havoc's jaw has lost all tension and hangs uselessly. He tries to stutter something out, but all he can think of is the way Ed is shifting behind him, brushing breasts against his back while Ed presumably reaches for a shirt.
"Ed?" Mustang's voice is slightly less harsh.
"I was curious!" Havoc finally feels Ed step away and hears fabric rustling. "I didn't really feel anything when I touched them so I wondered. . . ." Ed looks down and pokes at his right breast. "I don't understand why you guys care about these things."
It's a sacrilege in the Church of Mammary Satisfaction in which Mustang and Havoc worship, but Mustang seems to take Ed's comment in stride.
"You didn't have to involve the Lieutenant," Mustang says through gritted teeth.
"What? Was I going to ask you?"
There's an awkward hesitation before Mustang steps forward and pushes Havoc out of the room, slamming the door in his face. In the hall, Havoc's brain suddenly snaps on again and he beats a hasty retreat from the door. He hears something fall, a gasp, and some yelling, but thankfully can't make out any words, and before he considers his options too long, decides to grab a smoke and take a walk around the block—a very long walk in the cool night. He shoves his hands in his pockets and keeps them balled into fists, trying not to think about what other flesh they'd touched today.
* * *
"Sorry, Lieutenant, looks like your apartment has become alchemy central."
Al's right, they've pulled back Havoc's cheap solution to cold wood floors in the morning and set the rolled rug to the side. In its place is a transmutation circle, but all Havoc sees is his security deposit packing its bags and walking out of his life.
"That's the circle I used," Ed says. "The one you bookmarked." There's something slightly different about him. He's still in Mustang's face, still has boobs—which are bouncing under his shirt—but there's a strange something else about him. Like he's settled in some way. Havoc shakes it off, stamping his feet to warm up. He deposits his keys on the counter and picks up one of Al's sandwiches.
"That's why I'm suggesting that you make this change." Mustang points to the book in his hand. "Do you want my help or not?"
Ed crosses his arms and glares. "Do you really want me to answer that question?"
"Do you really want boobs?"
Ed bites back his retort and then looks over at Havoc. "Hey, sandwiches?"
Havoc smirks, but reaches behind him and grabs the plate, bringing the sandwiches to the living room. He sits back for a few moments, listening as the alchemists argue theory between bites and revise the doodles on Havoc's floor, Al taking the lead with the black marker. He can't even hope to follow this conversation, so he just lets it happen, praying that whatever they're talking about will solve the problem so that Ed never asks him to grope anything ever again.
"You think, maybe?"
"That's it," Mustang says. "Or at least what you should try next."
Ed worries his lip. "I don't really want to just. . . ." Ed mimes clapping his hands to charge his alchemy.
"Afraid, Fullmetal? What's the worst that could happen? You already punch like a girl."
Ed cuffs Mustang on the shoulder, but it lacks the force Havoc would have expected. Ed gets up, positioning himself in front of the circle, and takes a deep breath.
"Good luck, Brother."
Ed nods, claps his hands, and then charges the circle, blue light sparking off the circle and up on to his body. Havoc squints, turning away, the light too bright to look at directly. The lights in his apartment flicker and he smells something burning, like fetid peaches, sweet and wrong. All at once it's over and Ed leans back, looking down at his chest.
Havoc has to remind himself that this is a good thing.
Mustang arches one eyebrow. "Oh, so I was right then?"
Ed grumbles in his direction, but is carefully feeling his chest, mostly ignoring all else. When he pulls off his shirt, Havoc gives a relieved sigh at the visual confirmation of the transmutation, Ed once again looking like Ed and all male. "Thank God." Ed hugs his chest in some of the most awkward self-love Havoc has ever witnessed.
Mustang flicks his fingers, motioning Ed over. Ed carefully walks around—not through—the transmutation circle, and Mustang stops, hand half way to Ed's chest. "I'm sorry, Havoc, you're experienced with this, would you like to be the one rubbing your hands over Edward?"
Havoc and Ed both blush, and Havoc stands, carrying the plates into the kitchen. Al wisely follows, mumbling something about helping with the trash.
"I'm really sorry about all this," Al says. "Ed just . . . he's gets a little overconfident with his alchemy sometimes—especially when the Colonel 'suggests' something—and it leads to. . . ."
Havoc waves it off because despite his broken brain, it really is okay. With any luck, Ed would even be able to get the marker off the floor, which was just one perk of hanging out with so many alchemists.
Havoc watches from the door as Mustang carefully touches Ed's chest. His exploration is careful and reverent, and Ed doesn't flinch from his hands. Actually, Ed seems to lean into his touch, his eyes closed, and Mustang pushes closer, leaning toward Ed, their cheeks brushing intimately.
Havoc turns from the scene, catching his breath. Ed and the Colonel . . . ?
"Do you have another one of these?" Al is tying off the trash bag, pulling it from the can.
"Y-yeah." Havoc grabs one from under the sink, shaking it open. "So, uh, it's kind of late, will you guys stay here tonight?"
"I'd like to," Al says, loading the dishes into the dishwasher. "If you don't mind."
Havoc wonders how he knows the armor is blushing. "Oh. I'm sure he and the Colonel will want to . . . discuss the transmutation."
Havoc glances back into the living room and sees that Ed has his shirt on again and is once again in Mustang's face, ranting at him about something. Suddenly a lot of things make sense—like why Ed came to Mustang when he and his brother were probably perfectly capable of figuring this out on their own, and exactly why Mustang was so annoyed at Havoc for touching Ed, and . . . the gasp in the bathroom when Havoc left. Havoc makes a mental note to bleach everything in there. "They 'discuss' often?"
Al hesitates before putting in the next plate. "It's better that we don't ask."
Havoc boggles a bit, his mind still wrapping around Ed and the Colonel wrapping around each other. "Is that why you couldn't stay with the Colonel?"
"Where's your detergent?" Al opens the cabinet under the sink and avoids the question, while he pushes aside a roll of paper towels. "They try to be discreet. You're all right with it?"
Havoc nods—he felt up Ed's boobs, who is he to judge?—and wonders how he didn't realize it sooner. Ed and the Colonel are together so often, practically living in each other's pockets when they’re in Central at the same time. They eat meals together—the Colonel always bringing over Ed's forgotten silverware—Ed holds open doors for Mustang, Mustang loans Ed books from his private collection (apparently some on boob transmutation), sometimes they arrive at the office oddly staggered—like they've planned it to not look conspicuous. . . . But it had taken a pair of boobs for Havoc to notice what was actually fairly obvious.
Havoc leans against the door, crossing his arms over his chest. Ed rails at Mustang again, but Havoc barely hears the shouts of "This was your fault." He's only seeing how well suited they are for each other and how strange it is that he's never noticed. He shouldn't be too surprised, he thinks, it usually takes a pair of boobs to get him to notice anything.