"So, you ever tried alchemy yourself, Archer?" The pale man turned his head in the direction of the voice addressing him as he sipped his cup of tea. Kimblee had slunk into his office from wherever it was he had disappeared to, apparently. The man had his uniform jacket open again casually, but Archer was still surprised that the man insisted on wearing one. Though, Archer probably should be keeping better track of where the mad bomber ran off to in his free time, but decided it wasn't worth provoking the man's temper. As far as he was concerned, as long as Archer didn't hear reports of things blowing up; they didn't. "What are you going on about now, Kimblee?"
The Crimson Alchemist smirked as he sauntered over to the man's desk and pulled himself up to sit on the edge. A neatly signed document crinkled beneath him as he made himself comfortable. Kimblee smirked while Archer frowned at it. Archer liked to work late, which was fine for Kimblee. It meant he could bother the man more openly without worrying about others in the office. Lying low from the other officers like Mustang was getting to be a real pain. Not that Kimblee enjoyed work, but the office and being with Archer was better than hanging out with Tucker all day. That guy was just plain creepy. "It was just a question."
Archer rolled his eyes and set his cup down precisely into it's place on the saucer dish. He pulled a paper out from a folder and scanned it quickly before deepening his frown. Hughes may have been efficient at his job, but that didn't mean anyone else could understand half of his notes. It was taking Archer an eternity to sort out his files and if he found one more picture of his predecessor's daughter slipped between report pages he was going to scream. "No, I can't say that I have."
"Huh." Kimblee looked at the man as he read. The alchemist didn't understand how he could just sit there and read all those papers. Sounded boring to him. "Wonder what type you'd be good at. I'm having a hard time deciding. Maybe ice?"
"Well, Tucker's good at the bio stuff and I'm good at blowing stuff up." Kimblee tilted his head. With skin that pale and eyes that blue, ice definitely seemed to suit him best. "Somehow I can't see you doing either of those. Fire definitely wouldn't suit you. Yeah, ice."
Archer flipped another page over in his stack and closed the folder. He frowned when he realized Kimblee was sitting on the file he was going to sort next. "If you're so bored that you're figuring out my alchemy type, I'm sure I can find something for you to do, Kimblee."
"Psh, it's after hours." Kimblee smirked and looked down at the symbol on his palm. "Not everyone likes overtime."
"Overtime shows dedication which often leads to higher consideration for promotion." Archer reached for the edge of the folder and yanked it out from under the alchemist. He smirked inwardly when Kimblee almost fell off his desk from having his balance modified. "There's a chair right next to my desk. Feel free to use it."
"For someone so bossy you'd think you had alchemic abilities." Kimblee smirked and leaned over. He made sure his hand was flat in the middle of the file Archer had just opened. "Most normal people don't think to order around alchemists that can blow them up at a whim."
Archer raised an eye-brow at the lunatic; he took the man's hand by a finger and removed it from his papers. "You're not going to do anything."
"How can you be so sure?"
"You like being in the military and I'm the only way you can stay here."
Kimblee frowned. Man had a point. Hell, he betrayed Greed to get back into the service; so much for bluffing. "Fine, but I can still cause you trouble you don't want. After all, you need me just as much."
"Be that as it may, what is it that you want?" Archer looked up at those yellow eyes and frowned. As much as he hated to appease Kimblee, he really didn't need things around his house blowing up again. He was still pissed about his trash cans exploding last week. "Because if you're only here to pester me than sit over there so I can finish this paperwork."
"I guessed that much."
"So, I can either sit and play with you or go blow someone up." Kimblee smirked. "Which one would you prefer? Need I remind you one will involve a slew of investigative paperwork."
Sometimes Archer hated being in the investigation department of the military. He shoved his folders shut with an irritated huff. It was getting late anyway. "Fine, what did you have in mind?"
"I want to see you try alchemy."
"You want me to try what?"
Kimblee laughed at Archer's face. It was in a contorted mixture of confusion, shock and irritation and it looked out of place for a man who mostly either frowned or smirked. "I've been talking about you and alchemy for like ten minutes. Don't look so surprised."
"I've never tried alchemy before, what makes you think I'll be able to do anything?" Archer pushed back from his desk after stacking the papers he wanted to look at tomorrow. He plucked his uniform jacket from the rack next to the wooden desk and pulled it on slowly. He shrugged on his overcoat shortly after and briskly walked past Kimblee. "Why don't we just go out and get a drink instead."
"Ah, but it'll be fun. I'll even show you how to do it."
"I'm sure you're an amazing teacher." The sarcasm was hardly noticeable. Archer shook his head before grabbing his things at the front desk. "And where prey-tell shall we have these lessons?"
"At Tucker's lab, of course." Kimblee smirked and jumped off the desk himself to trail behind his superior officer. He was originally just curious how someone so interested in getting alchemists to work for him could not have experimented himself; but the more he thought about it the more it made sense. Why would you want to hire others to do something you could do yourself? Now, Kimblee just wanted to tease. The chances of Archer actually transmuting anything was slim, but it would be fun to watch. "And then when we blow stuff up no one will notice."
"I'm not blowing up anything, Kimblee." Archer snorted. "I'll leave that to you."
"Well aren't you thoughtful." The alchemist smirked and through an arm around Archer's shoulders. "I didn't know you cared."
"Yes?" The alchemist drawled out playfully in contrast to the grit way the other man had spoken his name.
Shou Tucker sat in his lab thoughtfully. He was now free of the Homunculus, but now he was back in the hands of the military. The Sewing Life Alchemist wasn't sure which was worst, but on the bright side of things he no longer had assessments to worry about. A loud growl from the cage next to him disturbed his thoughts and he put a furry claw through the bar to scratch the dog's head. It seemed he and his furry companions had a visitor. "Lieutenant Colonel Archer, how nice to see you."
"Evening Tucker, how are the experiments going?" Archer shrugged off his overcoat as he entered the dark lab. At such short notice, a run down lab full of leaks and cracks in the walls was the best he could come up with for his latest acquisition. But it worked well enough as the cages full of beasts and other misfits testified. Besides, he doubted the large chimera of a man really noticed; all the complaints usually came from Kimblee. "The chimeras are coming along, I hope?"
"Oh yes, I'll have what you want in time. They'll be a wonderful defensive force." Tucker turned from his little stoop of a desk to turn to his new commanding officer. He frowned when he saw the other man, Kimblee, behind him. Last week he had blown up one of the prototype chimera for fun; a week's worth of efforts wasted for boredom. "And Kimblee is with you, I see."
"Howdy, old man." Kimblee smirked and walked over to a table and cleared off a space. "Archer's getting an alchemy lesson."
"Is that so?" Tucker hummed to himself.
Archer rolled his eyes. "We'll stay out of your way, so don't mind us."
"No explosions I hope." Tucker smiled softly as the man slipped off his coat and started rolling up his sleeves. Kimblee was rooting through a desk for paper and a pencil; Tucker assumed he was anyway.
"You and me both." Archer set his hands on the table. "Let's get this over with Kimblee."
"No need to be in such a rush. This is science, ya' know." Kimblee put some paper down on the table and pulled out a few pencils. "We'll do something easy."
"I still don't know why you're so fixated on this." Archer wondered briefly if Tucker kept any liquor around his lab. It seemed like he was going to need a glass. "What are you doing?"
"Drawing a transmutation circle, what's it look like?" Kimblee smirked and turned the page around. He tapped the circle with his finger as Archer watched it. "Copy that."
"Alright." The Lt. Colonel took a clean sheet of paper and pen and copied the circle apathetically. He frowned at his drawing; it wasn't exactly like Kimblee's, but it wasn't horrible either. "How's that?"
"A little crooked." Kimblee smirked. "Try it again. The circle's important!"
Archer huffed and tried it again more carefully this time. "What is this circle supposed to do?"
"You'll see." Kimblee grinned and crossed his elbows on the table. "Just draw it."
"Fine, fine." After about fourteen more tries, Archer finally produced a circle that Kimblee was happy with. It had taken him an hour, but he finally got the circle to perfection. "Alright, now what?"
Kimblee pulled his circle over and pressed his fingers against the circle. "Make contact with the circle, and then concentrate on the circle." He waited for Archer to mimic what he was doing before activating his circle. "Then, the transmutation should take place."
Archer frowned at his own circle as Kimblee's started glowing. How was he supposed to concentrate on a transmutation when he didn't even know what the circle was supposed to do in the first place? Archer decided to watch what Kimblee's did first before actually trying to activate anything. He could feel Tucker's eyes watching the two of them from the corner, but tried to put that thought to the back of his mind.
Kimblee smiled inwardly when he realized he had Archer's full attention; maybe the man was a bit interested for real. Archer the alchemist; that thought was almost funny. Kimblee couldn't picture Archer drawing circles for real. As the transmutation finished, Kimblee smirked and leant back with his arms crossed. "Tada."
"All that did was turn the paper black." Archer lifted an eyebrow before reaching over to the page. He pulled his hand away after touching it and looked at the black residue that rubbed off onto his fingers. Archer rubbed his forefinger and thumb together as he watched the substance spread and made note not to touch his coat. The Lt. Colonel was sure that it would be hard to get out of clothing. "Is that charcoal?"
"Yup. Changed it from plain paper to charcoal. Pretty neat, huh?" Kimblee pointed to Archer's circle and tapped it. "Now you try it."
Archer sighed. He wasn't sure of the point of this, but Kimblee looked pleased enough. The bomber almost looked eager to be sharing his knowledge with someone. Well, the faster Archer tried it, the faster he could get out of here and go home. The pale man put his fingers on the edge of the circle and took a breath. This couldn't be that hard, could it? "Alright, but we are not staying here all night if I can't do it."
Tucker rolled his eyes as the two fussed over the circles. Archer was frowning at the circle when it refused to even so much as glow. Kimblee may have claimed it was easy to accomplish, but changing paper into charcoal was actually required a fairly moderate amount of skill. Changing the paper into strips or folding it would have been easier. At the first burst of laughter and cursing, he assumed that Archer would eventually figure that out. In the meantime, Tucker turned to his own drawings. He had chimera to perfect. He had to do something to bide his time until he could get the proper resources to resurrect his dear Nina.
"Why are you following me, Kimblee?" Archer growled with his hands shoved in his pockets. That Kimblee had made a fool of him with that stupid paper trick. It had been nothing but a waste of time and it put Archer in a foul mood. He knew from the start that Archer wouldn't be able to transmute a thing. "You've had your fun, now let me go home in peace."
"What? Is it wrong to want to end the evening with a nightcap with my co-worker?" Kimblee smirked. Archer was pissed; he needed to relax more. "Or do you want me to say 'I'm sorry?'"
"You just want free liquor."
Kimblee skipped up the few feet and threw his arms around Archer's shoulders to fall flush with his back. The man tensed for a moment but relaxed soon enough. Kimblee smirked. "Guilty."
Archer stopped in front of his door to pull out his keys. Kimblee was still standing behind him with that smirk on his face that stated he was getting what he wanted no matter what his superior said. At least he had let go of his shoulders. Archer took a breath with his key in the door. "If a single thing gets charred, explodes, or any other form of damage takes place you'll regret it."
"I got it, I got it." Kimblee held his hands up in a reassuring manner; the transmutation circles on his palms canceled out any comfort the motion may have caused. "I'll leave your stuff alone."
"One drink." Archer's voice was clipped.
"You're so good to me."
"Shut up, Kimblee."
The first drink had been tolerable as he and Kimblee sat in relative silence with the shot glasses. Kimblee was behaving himself and the drink was warm and relaxed Archer into shrugging out of his uniform jacket. It was the sixth or seventh drink later that Archer realized he might need to acquisition better methods of making Kimblee do what he's told. The man had been rambling about the Ishbal war for the past hour and half after the first few drinks loosened his tongue. Archer was still working on his second glass of scotch; getting drunk around a psychotic bomber might not be in his best interest.
"And you should have seen them go boom! You would'a loved it ya' war freak. Blood ever'where!" Kimblee laughed, face flushed and water glass full of liquor in hand. He had ditched the tiny scotch glass three drinks ago. Kimblee swung his arm out in exaggeration as he continued his story. Archer was the first person he'd found who liked listening to his war stories. "I even found a bunch of 'um tryin' to escape...blew his arm off! Would've had more fun, but that idiot Grand was firing everywhere." Kimblee paused with a frown on his face. "Nearly hit me with those stupid canons, the bastard. No tact whatsoeva'-"
"That's all well and good, Kimblee." Archer interrupted and sat his drink on the side table and rubbed his eyes. "But it's late, if you'd be so kind as to head home so I can get some sleep."
"Back to the dorms?" Kimblee pouted for a moment before smirking and resting his chin on his hand. "No way, I think I'll just stay here."
"Kimblee." Archer growled as the man leant back onto his couch and stretched. "You can not stay here."
"Why not?" The man chugged the last of his scotch and absently set the glass on the ground next to the stiff couch. His hair was falling over his shoulder in the wrap; Kimblee played with it between his fingers. "I can stay right here and we'll go to work together tomorrow."
"For the last time, you can't come to work with me at the office." Archer stood from his seat. "If Mustang sees you he's going to throw a fit. You're not completely reinstated yet so you have to lie low or he'll get you thrown out before you're even in!"
"Fine, I'll leave after you and go back to my dingy little corner with Tucker." Kimblee snorted and snuggled deeper into the couch. He swung his feet up onto the side. "But for right now, I'm staying right here."
"I could always steal your bed, I think I'm being mighty considerate volunteering for the couch."
Archer looked into those glazed eyes and considered his options. The man was drunk, there were traces of irritation and challenge behind his gold eyes, and Kimblee's uniform was rumpled. It was also three in the morning and Archer was too tired for this. "Do what you want."
Kimblee smirked as the man finally undid the top button on his shirt and headed for the back of the room. Yawning loudly into his hand, Kimblee closed his eyes and fell asleep on the Lieutenant Colonel's couch. Archer was going to get him the rank of Lieutenant Colonel when he was reinstated properly, so he could give the man a break. For now.