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Giants in the Forest

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They’d been running for a while now. 

Well, okay. Maybe running wasn’t the best word to describe it, more like high-speed stumbling. Ed had already fallen twice, his balance skewed by the fact that he was missing an arm. The mud-slicked forest floor wasn’t helping either. 

Both times, Mustang had hauled him up with the hand that wasn’t twisted to hell continued on, tripping through a disgustingly beautiful mass of trees and shrubs. It had no right to look this serene when they were so battered and exhausted.

At some point, Mustang had put an arm back around Ed’s middle. Wordlessly, and for that Ed was thankful. He could barely stay upright and his pride was already in shambles. He didn’t need someone insisting he needed help, no matter how true it was. 

There were still twinges of severed nerves from his torn-up arm. Each time it happened, his whole body would lock up for a few seconds and he’d wish he was able to grit his teeth but that hurt too. He settled for a hiss and biting his tongue. To make matters worse, his other arm, the one made of flesh and blood, had been busted as well. Breathing was a chore, each intake felt impossible and it was getting harder to press down the coughs that tugged at his lungs. 

Ed stole a glance to the older man beside him. Concussed, bruised, and doing a wonderful impression of an animal that’d been shot but refused to go down. He absently wondered if the inevitable hangover had caught up to him yet, or if all the other wounds were drowning it out. Ed’s attention was forcefully yanked back to the present when Mustang staggered. 

Ed caught him and immediately decided it hadn’t been worth it because his shoulder might as well have been set on fire. He didn’t drop the man though. Somehow, his grip held. 

“I think,” Mustang said between gasps, “We’re far enough.” 

Ed scanned the area, struggling to regain control over his breathing. 

It was insultingly scenic. 

Terricotta-coloured stone layered with greys and pale yellow made up a tall cliff, the colours disappearing under a halo of red leaves that dripped over the ledge. The ground was a patchwork of warm colours and trees, a smattering of leaves clinging to their branches. Frost crept around the edges of the wind, tainting it so that each breeze cut into his skin with a gentle vengeance. 

Amongst the rocks, there was a half-hidden crevice big enough for two people.

“C’mon.” He didn’t bother with a gesture. Ed just waited for the tell-tale grunt as Mustang dragged himself along towards their destination. It wasn’t a very big cave, only about five feet in height and six feet across. Good news was that it was carved deep enough into the cliff that they weren’t out in the open. Once he was a good few paces away from the opening, Ed collapsed against the wall.

Mustang sat down hard, ducking his head down into his arms that folded across his knees, panting. 

He could hear the attempts at breathing exercises bouncing lightly off the walls. Ed let his head rest against the stone, the tiny grains catching his hair. They scarcely moved for the next five minutes. 

Ed let his eyes screw shut, drawing in air that felt too thick, wincing when a cough forced its way out.

It was Mustang who broke the relative silence. “You okay?” 

“Fuckin’ peachy.” He opened his eyes to the rapidly dimming space, wishing once again that the Flame Alchemist hasn’t lost his damn gloves. 

Mustang’s eyes were locked on him, but he couldn’t really pinpoint what he was staring at so intensely. His mouth was twisted into a hard frown. “You’re hurt,”

Ed glanced at his splintered automail port. “Gee, what gave it away?” 

Mustang shook his head and shuffled closer to where Ed sat. “Other arm.” 

Oh. Right.

He looked down at the mottled ring of purple and red that snaked around the base of his shoulder, peaking out from under his collar. Mustang scowled at him. “Why didn’t you say anything?!” 

The bite had returned to his voice for a moment, and had it not been directed at Ed, he might’ve been a little relieved. That note of boldness had been missing from his words for a while. If Ed could shrug, he would’ve. “In my defence, I was hoping you’d be too concussed to notice.”  

“That’s a terrible defence!” He settled beside to Ed, frown deepening into a jagged line marring his face. Mustang meet his eyes, silently asking for permission to assess the damage, to which Ed stiffened but eventually lowered his head in surrender.

He tried not to wince as it was prodded at or when he could feel the bones in his shoulder grinding against one another. 

He heard a string of profanities. “It’s dislocated. I can set it back though.” A few days ago Ed would’ve been shellshocked at the apologetic turn of phrase, now he just huffed and braced himself. 

“Knock yourself out.”

One hand gripped his forearm sternly while Mustang’s elbow pressed against his collar. “Three… two…”

The jolt of pain ricocheted up his arm.

His vision swam as a relentless surge of dizziness and nausea crashed over him. He expected to cry out; to suck in a sharp breath and try not the shout; to screw his eyes shut and hiss. He didn’t expect to simply list to one side, a numb feeling creeping over his neck and spreading rapidly to the rest of him. 

“Hey!” Ed flinched at the hand that kept him upright, “Don’t pass out.” Mustang said—no, that was an order. 

Ed clamped down on the soft part of his cheek and blinked hard, willing the spots that taunted him out of existence. “Wasn’t planning too.”

He watched Mustang sit back with a heavy sigh. “We need to stay awake.”

“If only you didn’t get conked with a shovel.” Ed muttered, prying his eyelids open to watch a bitter chuckle slip from Mustang’s lips. 

“If only you weren’t at risk of going into shock.” 

The space was washed in blues from the last hints of daylight. At least the moon was bright enough to cut through the dark. He couldn’t see much, but it was better than nothing. Ed tried not to dwell on the panic that still thrummed through his veins. There had been far too many close calls in a very short amount of time, and they weren’t even out of the woods yet.

Literally. They were in the middle of a goddamn forest.

Mentally, he shook his fist at the sky and renounced nature. Physically, he was ready to fall over and sleep for six months.

“Let me see your hand before you screw it up worse.” 

Mustang scoffed, “Good to know you think so highly of me.” 

A crumpled and shaking set of digits pulled into focus. Ed squinted as he looked them over, selfishly wanting to demand Mustang draw some sort of array that would give them light, maybe even a little heat to stave off the chills already buzzing through his spine. He kept him mouth shut and cataloged the information before him: Right hand, all of them were clean breaks and none were dislocated. No broken skin either. Hooray!
Still probably hurt like hell.

A helpful little voice reminded him of the loud snap that rang out when Mustang’s fingers had been bent out of shape. He calmly shot the little voice in the head.

“We should immobilize them. Hold on a sec,” He held the wall and padded to the mouth of the cave, running his hand over the ground until he found what he was looking for: a long, thin stick. Ed broke it in two, then halved those pieces. 

“Pass the pliers.” The metal tool slid over the ground and Ed was suddenly glad the shirt he wore was three sizes too big, because it meant he had plenty of fabric to tear into bandages. 

“You know what you’re doing, right?” Mustang ground out, “I kinda need my hand.” 

Ed kicked his shin. Not hard enough to bruise, but enough for there to be a rather indigent yelp from the older man. “I get by just fine with one, Colonel.” There was a huff from the older alchemist.

Ed rolled his eyes knowing full well no one could see it, “But yes, I know what I’m doing. It’s not gonna be fun though.” 

His point was proven in the following minutes. Mustang spat curses that he’d never heard the man use before. It was actually a bit impressive how many ways he found to tangle and reshape the swears he bit out. He’d have to start up a Mustang-exclusive swear box at some point. Open a new bank account for it, perhaps.

Ed could only barley see his handiwork once it was done, but considering it was dark and he only had one arm, it looked pretty good. 

The four fingers that had been mangled were held straight by a makeshift splint and wrapped in the remains of his shirt sleeve. Mustang’s hand had stopped trembling, so he assumed it was working just fine. 

The older man seemed to snap into Colonel Mode once his hand was steady. 

“Fullmetal.” Ed looked up at the silhouette sitting across from him, “Injuries?” 

He paused, running through a mental list of everything that wasn’t his very clearly absent arm. He knew that Mustang was already privy to where he’d been tagged, but he didn’t have the energy to protest.

Which was a damn shame because arguing with Mustang was the best direction he could hope for right now. 

“Well, I’m going to have a nice new set of scars on my arm once this is all over. Dunno about the one on my face though, kinda shallow.” He conveniently failed to mention that taking in a deep breath felt like someone kneeing him in the solar plexus, but there’s nothing either of them can do about that right now. The mark at his collar had tired itself of bleeding and was on the mend. 

No use in adding those to the list of things to leave on the back burner until it boiled over. 

“Can you be serious for once in your life?” 

Ah hah! There’s the exasperation. Maybe he did have enough energy for an argument after all.

“Nah, ‘fraid not.” Another sigh and the faint sound of something being ripped. 

“Here,” A piece of cloth fluttered down in front of him, “clean up your wrist best you can. Let’s hope your face isn’t too messed up.”

The slice across his cheek barely stung, a trail of blood was lazily leaking from the corner. Where the knife had caught his ear however, was a different story. Mustang was trying to be careful, Ed could tell as much by the way his hand stopped to hover every few seconds, but it didn’t stop the urge to deck the man when he touched the newly missing slice of his skin that ran an inch deep. 

Ow!” Ed leaned away when a fresh stream of blood came from the nick. 

“Shit, Fullmetal. You’re gonna look like a stray cat that got into a fight.” He had the nerve to sound amused. Ed should’ve been pissed. He was, actually. But once again his temper was reigned back by the tiny bit of comfort found in the fact that Mustang was still a bastard who wasn’t above bullying him.

“I’m going to beat you to death.”

“With one arm? Sure.” 

Ed let his head thump against the wall, “You’re on thin ice.”

Arguing was a good distraction. 



Roy was torn between professionalism and pettiness.

Should he hold his head high and accept his painfully dull fate? Probably. 

But there was also the option to drag his whole team down to hell with him. They all said they’d follow him to its depths willingly. Really, they dug their own grave.

“You’ll all be coming with me,” He announced to a chorus of groans. It was Ed who seemed not to care, much to his (everyones) surprise. 

After one too many sceptical glances the kid snapped, ”What?! It’s not like he—“ Ed jabbed a finger towards Roy. “—hasn’t been complaining about this for, like, a month. You guys had to have seen this coming.”

More sighs and half-hearted excuses to get out of going out to Flamborough, the quiet town north of East City that harboured little love for the military. Some higher-up had decided that the solution to this would be to hold an event there commemorating… something. Roy had only skimmed the paper he’d been given and couldn’t be bothered to remember what bullshit they’d be pretending to celebrate. 

This was to get into the good graces of the people who lived there, nothing more. 

When force wouldn’t work, they’d apparently thought flattery and spectacle would make for a good substitute. 

Whatever. All he had to do was show up. 

The guests seemed to be pulled from a hat, though he was relieved to hear that somehow Hughes had found a way to receive an invite. Roy was tempted to bring Al along too, if only to keep Ed from being himself, but Ed had waved him off. 

“Even if he wasn’t an empty suit of armour, he’d be miserable. Too many strangers.” 

It didn’t sound like a lie, and Ed had no reason to want Al to stay behind, but some warped sense of paranoia nagged him to be sure there wasn’t something more to it. Upon sneaking a call to the younger brother, his suspicions were put to rest. Al politely informed him that he would rather someone steal his helmet than go to a party. It would only be a few days anyways, he could manage just fine. 

“For Colonel Mustang.” The young man at his office told him, presenting a letter with the red stamp. Roy knew that seal. And he had a pretty good idea of what the letter was going to say.

Lieutenant Hawkeye has been requested to aid Major General Ferdinand Čatloš in Central Command.” 

Had it not been a crime, he would’ve burned that letter right then and there.

Why Hawkeye was being called to Central, he had no idea. The letter kept itself vague enough for him to suspect it wasn’t urgent, but in all fairness, his predicament wasn’t all that pressing either. Besides all that, Roy knew the Major General. Not well, mind you, but enough to respect him.

The man had been one of the earliest to speak out against the very liberal use of firearms in non-life threatening confrontations, as well as more recently pressing for restorative justice in the east. He was one of the few Roy might call a good person in the patchwork of indecency that made up the military. So he signed away his best player and hoped that she didn’t kill him for it. 

It was temporary, the letter made that clear enough. A month at most.

The train ride to Flamborough was only about half a day, so the six of them piled into a car, sans-uniforms, and watched with mild awe as Ed fell asleep before they left the station. It was an uncanny ability that they were all partially aware of—the amount of times they’d found the kid passed out in ridiculous places was proof—but it never stopped being strange. 

“How does he do that?” Havoc whispered, “It’s like he can sleep on command.”

Roy shrugged and pulled a deck of cards from his pocket.

Within two hours he was seven hundred cens poorer and regretting to dare play against Falman. At some point he made a pack with Breda and Havoc to take full advantage of the open bar and let god take the wheel from there. It was stupid, but than again, this whole event was stupid. They might as well have a little fun while they were there, right? Fuery would be their designated driver, as was tradition. 

Roy had lost a total of twenty-five hundred cens when they reached their stop and his ego was in terrible shape. Wasn’t his luck just stellar today.

The second the train halted, Ed was up and retrieving his bags before any of them had a chance to poke him awake, much to his and Breda’s disappointment.

Havoc once again stared, bug-eyed and oddly impressed. “How?! They didn’t even announce the stop!”

Breda helpfully elbowed the blond in the ribs.

There was an inn not far from the train station, it was the smaller of the two available lodgings in Flamborough and, more importantly, it was away from the noisier parts of town. 

A young girl who couldn’t have been more than a few years older than Ed blinked at them as they entered the humble building. She read off the pricing and barley managed to keep her jaw off the floor when Falman started counting out bills. 

“That’s… a lot of money.” The poor girl was eyeing them like they were a rare animal she was trying to catch. 

Ed grinned at her. “We robbed a bank.” 

The party, if you could even call it that, was predictably boring. People stood in huddled crowds, sipping drinks and laughing at jokes that weren’t funny. It took him all of thirty minutes to give up on his responsibilities and make good on his promise to Havoc and Breda.

Roy found them at the side of the room, sitting with Ed, each with a drink in hand. It was still a little odd to see them in civvies—they’d even managed to bully Ed into an oversized dress shirt and slacks—but the goal of this whole thing was to seem like less of a threat and more approachable.

Which seemed counterproductive to Roy but it’ll be someone else’s demotion if this falls through.

He wished he could chastise Havoc and Breda for letting a fourteen year old drink, but they technically had no say in it. Amestris doesn’t have a drinking age. Whatever genius had decided on that had clearly never met a teenager. 

He collapsed into a chair next to them, plucked Havoc’s drink right out of his hand and knocked back what was left of it.


“Hey! Get your own damn drink.” Breda snickered until his glass was suddenly missing as well. 


He turned to Ed, who scowled back, “Don’t even think about it.”

Roy thought about it. 

Then his hand darted forward before the blond could pull away. “Asshole!”

He nearly choked when the liquor hit his tongue. Mostly out of surprise.

Roy expected that he’d gotten something spiked or maybe snagged cider like Breda. Roy sputtered, putting the still half-full glass down. “Was that rum?!” 

He looked at the blond alchemist, who wore a rather lost expression that didn’t suit him at all. “Yeah…?”

Roy rounded on the other two men who looked equally confused, “How much has he had?” They shared a look. The same one they shared whenever they’d broken another office chair or lost a bet. 

Havoc scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. “I… wasn’t really paying attention.”

Ed was glaring, arms crossed with a mildly insulted frown.  

He snatched his drink back from Roy, whose head was spinning at this revelation that his teams youngest member was sipping rum like an old man. “You’re missing two limbs. How are you not at least tipsy right now?” 

Ed’s expression went from offended to smug. “Oh you poor, poor fool. Tell me, Colonel, do you know what the favoured drink of Resembool is?”

“Oh god don’t tell me it’s beer.”

“Vodka. Literally just... straight vodka.” All three of them blanched.

“People let kids drink hard liquor?!”

The brat had the audacity to cackle in his face. “You say that like they would’ve been able to stop us.”

Upon closer inspection, the signs were there. His cheeks were tinted pink and he leaning on the table a little heavier than he might’ve otherwise. It was still logic-defying. Every piece of evidence pointed to Edward Elric being a goddamn lightweight! 

Barely five feet tall and half metal… 

“I need a drink.”

“You just stole two!” Havoc shouted at Roy’s back as he strode towards the bar. This was certainly a twist. He hoped Hughes didn’t stumble into Ed anytime soon, he would either verbally berate him for the rest of the night or never let him live down that Ed might be able to match him blow for blow. He ran a hand through his hair, attempting for a casual air as he approached the bartender. The man nodded to him politely. “Evening, sir.” 

Roy smiled and found it wasn’t as forced as he thought it would be. The man had the stature of an ox and could almost be the same height as Major Armstrong, but his eyes were far too soft to make any of that intimidating. The silvery locket resting on his chest only added to the warmth. “What’ll it be?” 

“Whiskey on the rocks.” The man glanced at him almost… nervously. Roy was taken aback for a moment but the bartender spoke before he could consider why he would seem uncomfortable. 

“You’re from East City, aren’t you?”


That made sense. These people don’t like the military; of course he might be wary. So Roy flashed his classic smile that alway seemed to win people over. “Yeah. I’m guessing you know whose who then?”

A glass filled with amber slid into his palm, the chill of ice seeping through the sides. The smell was strong and familiar, with a note of something bitter that Roy hadn’t expected.

The man shrugged, brushing his curly blond hair away from his face. “A few, here and there. Just what’s in the papers.”

He leaned forward, his voice going quieter. “Colonel Mustang, right?”

He nodded. “Roy is fine. This is an informal function, after all. And you are..?” 

The bartender bowed his head for a split second. “Pavlo. Pleasure to meet you.” 


His eyes were downcast, tidying up glassware that was already in order, fiddling with a vase of pale purple flowers perched on the corner of the bar. He looked almost apologetic, somehow.

Roy took a long drink and chalked up the strange expression to his own misreadings. Some people just have that sort of demeanour about them, he supposed. Pavlo rested his hands on the bar with a rather serious look. 

“I hope you don’t mind my asking, but are you staying at the inn down by the station?” 

Roy took another swig. “Why do you ask?” 

His bulky frame seemed to curl, like he was trying to appear smaller. He adjusted the flowers again, then wiped his hands on his apron. “It’s just… the road it’s on, Wult street, it’s not all that safe after dark. If that’s where you’re headed after this, I say go in through the back.” Roy frowned. They hadn’t been informed of any actual insurgency in Flamborough, just the distant threat that it could happen in a few years if left to fester. 

“What, are there bandits or something?” His other questions died in his throat when Pavlo smiled grimly.


He couldn’t really gauge how serious the man was being, probably due to the alcohol that was filtering into his bloodstream, but Roy chuckled regardless. “Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.”

Roy stepped away from the bar and wandered into the jumble of military personnel and civilians. It was strangely peaceful, the gentle buzz of booze draining him of stress and… something else that he couldn’t quite identify, but it certainly was making his limbs feel as pleasantly fuzzy as his head. 

He bumped into a middle aged man, who steadied the both of them with indifference. 

“Careful there. Almost lost your drink.” Roy muttered an apology as he stepped around another cluster of people. Security was still checking everyone who walked through the doors and Roy couldn’t remember how long he’d simply been weaving between chattering guests to have ended up near the entrance.

“Hey,” Someone tapped his shoulder. He turned to find a pair of golden eyes watching him critically. “Havoc’s been looking for you.”

Roy’s eyebrows pinched together. “Why?” 

Ed tilted his head. “Cause you went to get a drink, like, an hour ago.” 

Roy looked at the glass in his hand. The ice had melted. Huh. “Guess I did.” 

The blond crossed his arms. “Yeah and you’ve been staring at the door for ten minutes.” Roy blinked. That couldn’t be right. He’d only just glanced over…

Ed had that energy about him when he was working or solving some alchemic equation, a hard crease running through his brow and a half-frown pulling at his lips. Suddenly his eye’s went wide and his hands dropped to his sides.

“Oh my god you’re drunk.”

Which was a weird thing to say because Roy honestly didn’t feel drunk. He’d gotten himself hammered enough times (maybe too many times) to recognize the sensation and this… wasn’t it. He hadn’t bothered to think about it before, but this was a lot closer to the viral numbness that came with anaesthetic, or when blood circulation grew lazy and filled his hands with pins. Roy stared down at his subordinate. “I’m not.”

He saw Ed’s signature smirk flashing. “Oh, but yes you are.” His smile grew wider, somehow. “Holy shit. This is amazing.”

Roy’s ears had started to build up a shallow, consistent ringing. It wasn’t loud but it made it very hard to focus on anything. He heard the patter of footsteps and Ed was gone. Where to, he wasn’t sure. Maybe to tell Hughes or Havoc about his sorta-but-not-really-intoxicated-state. Without thinking, he reached out and grasped the wall. He half hoped Ed did bring someone with him because the way the room was tilted didn’t really bring him comfort.



Ed marched up to where he’d left Havoc and Breda. Fuery had joined them, dutifully nursing a glass of water. Ed wore the most shit-eating, triumphant grin anyone could imagine. “Was anyone going to tell me that Mustang’s a lightweight or was I just supposed to find out that glorious fact for myself?”

Breda nearly spat out his cider, “Are you kidding? The Colonel? That man could down a barrel of gin without blinking.” Ed shot him an unimpressed, disbelieving raised eyebrow. He gestured to the entrance where the man still stood. 

“He’s had half a cup of whiskey and is standing at a forty-five degree angle.”

“Fuery saw him chug a glass of wine before a meeting once,” Havoc piped up, his head resting lazily in his hands and a lopsided smirk teasing at the corners of his mouth.

Ed looked to the dark haired man for confirmation. His palm hit the table, “You two said you wouldn’t tell anyone!” Fuery yelped. 

Well that threw a wrench in his good mood. 

The gears in his head started to turn and grind sluggishly, weighed down by a buzz and confusion. They couldn’t be lying, unless somehow they’d coordinated this. Which was ridiculous because if Ed knew anything about Mustang’s team, it was that each and every one of them would jump at the chance to harass their commanding officer. Any and all teasing material was fair game. 

“So he’s not..?” Fuery shook his head, shooting a quizzical squint to the young alchemist. 

“It takes a lot to knock him down.”

Well that was mildly disappointing. It would’ve given Ed something to hold over the Colonel whenever he insisted on being a jerk. More-so, however, it was concerning. 

“You don’t think...”

“What?” Breda was staring at him through hazy eyes, his face flushed and words beginning to blend together. 

“Nothing. Uh, Fuery, care to join me for a walk?” Ed noticed how his expression grew hard in a way that didn’t seem right. 

Once they were out of earshot, Fuery fixed him with a worried expression. “What’s wrong?”

“Something’s up with the Colonel. He’s pretty out of it, but if it’s not the alcohol, than what?”

Fuery brought a hand to his chin thoughtfully. “What’d you think are the chances that someone spiked his drink?” Ed refrained from slapping his forehead. 

Of course. Of course. They were at a social event and somehow Mustang managed to have an enemy here. “We should probably get him out of here.” He cradled the bridge of his nose between his fingers, willing the warmth of rum to dissipate so he could focus.

Without preamble, the two strode over to where Mustang was and each grabbed an arm. When he didn’t protest, any semblance of amusement fully vanished from Ed’s mind as he scanned the older man. He looked just about ready to pass out and, if it had been from drinking, Ed would’ve been trying not to bust a rib laughing. They managed to lead him out and into the backseat of a car before he actually did fall unconscious on the ride to their inn. 

“Shit.” Fuery spared him a quick glance as he drove, headlights cutting through the darkness. 


“Whatever was in that drink must’ve had a delayed effect cause that was one hell of a decline.” 

Feury hummed in agreement, “He was upright and still somewhat coherent before. He knew who we were and now...”

“Now he’s out like a light.” Ed finished with a sigh, combing a hand through his hair. He watched the road whizzing by out the window, the shops and homes that lined the street suddenly looking much more gothic and unwelcoming. Picket fences became more like dark bars, windows throwing distorted reflections back at him.

“Did you see him with anyone?” Asked Fuery.
Ed held back a scoff. “That antisocial idiot? Take a wild guess.”

The dark haired man deflated by a millimetre. Ed scrubbed his metal hand over his face, hoping the cold would shock some sense back into him.

“What I don’t get is how.” Ed said, “They were searching every person who attended, even went through their damn purses! How could they have missed this?”

Fuery’s face was pinched in concentration, his grip on the wheel tightened exponentially, tearing around the corner onto Wult street before suddenly slamming on the breaks without any of his usual grace. The phantom impact nearly had Ed bashing his nose against the dash. “What the hell, Fuery?” The man pointed to something outside. Ed stared ahead blankly.

“You gotta be kidding me.” 

They were still a couple hundred yards away from the inn, but lingering outside were three shadowy figures, just barely visible thanks to the lamps settled around the inn. They were dressed in black, each with a hood dropping low over their eyes and bandanas covering half their features. He could see at least two weapons, both held loosely in the hands of the figures without a care in the world. He felt a pang of anger deep in his gut because seriously?!

Half an hour ago he’d been joking with Breda and stealing Havoc’s food and now, what? They’re being stalked?

Set up?

Was this a goddamn assassination attempt?

Had Mustang pissed off someone again and they were taking payback to an extreme?

This was all playing out a little too neatly and it left a sour taste in his mouth, like it had been planned. The escalation was almost comical. Except it wasn’t and there were a bunch of guys dipping in and out of sight, probably waiting for them to stroll up to the inn and beat the hell out of them. 

“We can’t risk going in.” Fuery’s voice took on an air of confidence that was rarely heard, “I think we should wait. Give it twenty minutes and if they don’t leave, we slip away and call local authorities. We can’t start a fight.”

A sober Edward would’ve protested that he could always start a fight. It was a matter of persistence, really, but tipsy Ed and sober Ed are two different people and, thank’s to an adrenaline rush, he was caught right in the middle of the two. His mind ran a mile a minute, skimming through all the clues and facts that he’d picked up and tucked away but still feeling the tingle of warmth messing with his coordination. So he just nodded and sat back, periodically checking in on Mustang who seemed alright.

Aside from the whole probably getting drugged thing, that is. Relatively alright, he amended internally. 

Time was certainly passing, but he could hardly tell how fast or slow because everything in the vehicle seemed to be sluggish and warm. Like, really warm. In a way that made him want to take a nap or at the very least close his eyes for a while, but he managed to snap them open every time they dropped. He was reasonably sure he wasn’t supposed to be able to hear his heartbeat. Ed scrubbed at his eyes.

Wait, had there been three guys or four? He blinked and their numbers changed again. Ed wished his head would kindly stop spinning in circles; it was very distracting and—

He jumped when a hand grabbed him by the forearm and pulled him towards the door. “Get out!” A voice shouted. Mustang.

Another item to go on his list of things that weren’t adding up because last time he checked, the Colonel was snoozing in the backseat. But still, he was yanked out of the car by the older alchemist and dropped unceremoniously onto the asphalt. 

As soon as the outside air reached his lungs, he coughed and gasped. The fog that had been waltzing through his head began to clear away as he felt a faint trail of heat rising from the inside of the car. He mutely noted footsteps stumbling to the other side of the car and the sounds of what he assumed was Mustang dragging Fuery out as well. The glow of streetlights turned harsh on his vision as he pushed himself up, a dull pulse sending dizziness through him. He saw a very drowsy looking Mustang, using the vehicle to keep his balance, kneel behind the car. 

Ed trailed after him. “What’s going on?”

He watched Mustang tear a wad of dirty fabric from the exhaust pipe with a growl, “Someone tried to give us all carbon monoxide poisoning.” 

Ed frowned, “Hold on, carbon monoxide is invisible and odourless. How’d you—”

“I’ve spent enough time with flammable crap to know.” 

Fuery padded over, a hand pressed to his temple. “How do you feel, sir?”

“Like someone dumped narcotics into my glass.” Mustang was still kneeling, drawing in measured breaths, trying not to sway and failing spectacularly. 

“Looks like it hasn’t worn off Colonel. Give it a minute.” Mustang, the stubborn bastard, ignored Ed and rose to his feet, turning pointedly to Fuery.

“No one else came with you?” He asked, to which Fuery nodded. 

It really did look like a strong wind would send him sprawling, but maybe now wasn’t the time to antagonize. “Go back. Get everybody out.” 

The shady group was still slinking around near the inn, inching closer to where the three stood. Fuery’s eyes went wide, and he jerked his head towards the masked people, “But sir, there’s—“

“Only three of them,” Mustang cut off the younger man, “You’re unarmed, Fuery. We should be able to take care of a couple of amateurs.” 

Fuery glared up at the Colonel, “With all due respect, sir, you were drugged. I don’t think you’re in the best shape for a fight.” 

Ed clapped him lightly on the shoulder, “Don’t count his stubborn ass out just yet. Adrenaline can overpower almost every mind-altering substance. ‘Sides, if this goes south there needs to be someone—“

He stopped mid-sentence to tackle Fuery to the ground. There weren’t three anymore. Four more had appeared out the mouths of gapping alleyways and had been creeping up on them. The first three were a distraction.

Okay, so they weren’t amateurs. He rolled to his feet and whipped a metal foot to their attacker’s ankle, sending them to the ground with a cry. Heat brushed over the back of his neck when a familiar snap rang out. Ed hauled Fuery up, ducking around what appeared to be a metal pipe that swung towards his head. “Go!”

He hesitated for a split second, his face twisted up in a panic before scrambling between two of the masked people. One spun around and stalked after the man. Ed could only hope he didn’t know how to use the quarterstaff strapped across his back. A fist flew towards his face.


He jumped away, standing back to back with Mustang, taking in their fun little predicament with a critical glare. “Ideas?”


Ed huffed and readied himself for an endurance match. “Very helpful.” 

They split and dove into the small crowd of dark clothes and haphazardly put together weapons. The occasional snap rammed through the air, followed by controlled bursts of fire. Three charged at Ed. He skipped back, using the car like a springboard to land behind them. Before anyone could turn, he swept their legs out from under them. 

A baton came dangerously close to his arm and Ed noted how they all were carrying blunt weapons. Not a sharp edge in sight.

The same baton was jammed into his shoulder-blade when his swing grew sloppy and oh joy, the thing was electric.

The shock didn’t last long, only enough to daze him and allow the assailant to get a solid hit on his jaw, but it still sent him reeling. 

Before he could sock the guy in the nose, Ed was violently ripped from his concentration when a hard clang spread over the street like a shockwave.

For just a moment, it was quiet save for the metallic ring. He turned and watched Mustang fall, a man standing over him holding a fucking shovel. It was dim enough that Ed couldn’t tell if the dark spot beneath Mustang’s head was a hazy shadow or blood. 

He growled and pitched forward, ready to turn the road into a sinkhole, but was knocked aside by a hulking frame before he could even bring his palms together. A hand fisted into his hair and the ground rushed forward.

Something warm trickled through his hairline.

The weight pressing over him vanished. For a moment, he could see shoes moving towards him, voices speaking in flittering whispers. Instinct was begging him to move. Ed watched as Mustang was manhandled into the back of a licence-less truck, panic retreating to make way for numbness. He struggled to suck in air until a pair of hands were carelessly dragging him forward.

Had Fuery made it out? He hoped so. Otherwise they were screwed.