Chapter 1: Tired
When she had woken up that morning, the blonde knew that she should have stayed in bed that day. She was achy and shivering but quickly passed it off on the cold morning and her auto-mail. Unfortunately, she had to hand in her report on her latest mission to Mustang. Maybe if her brain wasn't so fuzzy with fever she would have thought of the more sensible options: calling in sick, asking for a time extension or sending Al to hand in that report.
Yes, that would have been the sensible thing to do. Instead, she sluggishly got out of her single bed in the military barracks. She didn't even have the energy to go on her usual complaining rant about how uncomfortable it was. She slowly got dressed in her trademark black shirt, leather trousers, red coat, platform boots and white gloves. Glancing out the window as she attached her silver pocket watch to her belt she shivered again. She looked at Al who was engrossed in an alchemy book by the table in the other corner of the room. She was grateful that Al was not paying attention to her. If her brother knew how lousy she felt right now, he surely wouldn't have let her leave.
She tucked her report under her arm and quickly slipped out the door without a word, not trusting her voice to speak.
"Si... Brother!" – Al called after her, correcting himself quickly in case someone else could hear, but she decided to ignore it and keep walking in the hallway. Al sighed disapprovingly when he got no answer. If Ed thought the details of her health could get past her brother, then she couldn't have been more wrong. She really should have stayed in bed that day...
Edward Elric could be described as many things. Being ordinary was most definitely not one them. He was well-known for becoming the youngest State Alchemist to date, performing transmutations with the mere clap of his hands, he was considered a child genius in alchemy. Few people knew about the fact that the Fullmetal Alchemist had two artificial limbs, better known as auto-mail since he had used them with such proficiency that rivaled his own flesh and blood ones. The list of trusted acquaintances that also knew the reason behind this fact, or that why his brother, Alphonse, was an empty suit of armor, was even shorter. By a long mile. But Ed's biggest secret, that only a handful of people were privy to, was that his name wasn't Edward, more precisely, he wasn't even a he… Her name was Edeline.
To tell you the truth she was always a tomboy, she never dressed or acted girly. So when, after her failed human transmutation that she attempted with her brother at the ages of 11 and 10, Lt. Colonel Roy Mustang visited her at Granny Pinako's and offered her the State Alchemist job assuming that she was a boy, she saw an opportunity to make everything right that she just couldn't pass up. You see because of an executive directive from the Führer President female State Alchemists were simply not allowed in the military, despite the fact that there were no problems with female soldiers. So Ed lied. Well at least about her name. Her gender was just a lie of omission.
And she managed to keep it a secret for almost three years now. No one in the military knew her real identity. When she and Al burned their house down, they also burned any official documents that could reveal the truth. In Resembool the state authorities were not as tight as in Central or East City, so they also had no records of Edeline's birth. They checked. After she became State Alchemist the documents were substituted with the fake information that she gave to the military.
She was very careful about concealing her gender. During the entry exams, it was quite easy. At the age of twelve, before puberty hit, only little tricks were needed to fool doctors. And they never made her strip beyond underwear. Nowadays she just refused any medical attention, bandaged her chest tightly and wore slightly baggy clothes. Her trademark red coat also did wonders. Al was reluctant to the idea at first but went along with it. Fortunately, he never messed up by calling her sister in front of others or by her full name ever. Her childhood friend Winry and Granny Pinako also knew about her attempt to conceal her gender and went along with it on the few occasions that any of them came in contact with the military.
Three other people knew that she was a girl, but they wouldn't have known of the gender swap for obvious reasons. Hohenheim, their father, hasn't been seen ever since that fateful day when he left his family ten years ago. He didn't even know that the siblings' mother, Trisha, was dead, so why would he know what Ed decided to become a dog of the military? Izumi Curtis, their alchemy teacher and mentor, and her husband knew her as Edeline too, and she wouldn't dare to face her with this new development in her life. Everyone else was blissfully oblivious and assumed her to be named Edward, and she fully intended to keep it that way.
Edeline pulled her red coat tighter against her now uncontrollably shaking body as she walked the cobblestoned streets of East City toward the Eastern Command Base. There was no denying it she was definitely sick… She felt so stupid for not thinking of something to get out of this sooner. She tried to adjust her pace to a bit brisker walk, hoping that the friction warmed her up a little but just ended up breathless, sweaty and utterly spent by the time she reached the gates of HQ. Then after stumbling her way in she was faced with the massive staircase leading up to the offices of the higher ranking officers.
Mumbling an assortment of swear words mixed with colonel and useless, she dragged herself up through several flights of stairs. Ed paused and leaned against the doorframe before entering the office where Mustang's subordinates worked to catch her breath. She felt really dizzy as she looked at the green walls and carpets but also determined to hand in that report no matter what if she had already made it this far. She put her face in her hands to rest to bit then pushed herself off the wall with a big breath trying to muster up the energy to face the Colonel but just ended up sending herself into a coughing fit. She didn't even hear the big oak door creak open behind her and almost jumped out of her skin when she felt a hand on her right shoulder.
"Are you alright, Ed?" a concerned Lt. Hawkeye asked who came out to check what the source of the ruckus was in the hallway.
She was seriously like a mother hen sometimes, Ed thought.
"Yeah everything is fine, just swallowed the wrong way," she croaked, barely managing. When did my throat get so sore?
Riza took in the boy's pale demeanor, not believing a word he said but let it go.
Ed walked past the lieutenant into the office gathering all of her strength to not sway or fall flat on her face. Havoc and Breda exchanged glances with each other, then with Hawkeye behind Ed's back. Riza just shook her head as she followed the blonde in gesturing them to ignore him for now. Ed strolled past the other subordinates, not daring to look at them, not wanting to see their worried expression. She opened the door and stepped into the colonel's office.
"Oh, Fullmetal, you are early. How unusual…" Roy paused as he glanced up from the massive stack of paperwork on his desk and took in Ed standing before him.
He was really pale, and beads of sweat were forming on his forehead despite the chilly temperatures outside. He had either just run a marathon, or he was sick, Roy pondered to himself.
"Here's your report, bastard," Ed tried to say as evenly as possible, but even to her own ears her voice was raspy and stuffed up. As soon as she placed the papers on Mustang's desk, she turned around as gracefully as she could and started to walk out of the office when Roy called after her.
"Wait, Fullmetal. Sit down until I read it over," the Colonel gestured towards the couch in his office. The blond alchemist grumbled at her plans being crossed by Colonel Bastard, but the sofa was actually starting to look quite inviting. She was so, so tired and still chilled to the bone from the cold autumn air outside. She might as well sit down and rest a bit.
Roy eyed Fullmetal suspiciously as he plopped down on the couch grimacing as if regretting the sudden movement. The Flame Alchemist turned back to the report in hand and read it over quickly. It was alright. At least considering Ed's standards. He suddenly got an idea, and an evil smirk appeared on his face as he peered over the paper only to find Ed fast asleep on the couch, his head hanging back on the seat.
Propping his head on his fist, Mustang took a moment to watch over his young subordinate. He looked so childlike in his sleep. With his stubborn and feisty personality, it was easy to forget that Ed was barely fourteen. He snored a bit as he apparently had trouble breathing through his nose. Seriously why did he even come in if he was feeling this unwell? I would have given him the time extension… Mustang mused but then quickly realized that probably was not the case, he would have given Ed hell about trying to skip.
Just then Riza entered, probably wondering about the quiet in the office. Usually, by this time, the loud banter and flame war of insults would have started already between the two alchemists. She glanced at the sleeping form of Edward and instantly furrowed her brows. She made the few steps to the couch placing the back of her hand on the blonde's forehead. Subconsciously Ed leaned into the cool touch which felt so good on her all too hot skin.
"He has a high fever," she commented quietly to Roy as to not wake the young alchemist.
"We should take him back to his dorms to sleep it off. I can drive him," Roy suggested. He was clearly concerned for the well-being of his underling.
"Don't think it's such a wise idea with how high his fever is. He should see a doctor. And after that, he will need someone to look after him. Al is only thirteen, I'm not sure he would know what to do," Hawkeye admonished his superior for his thoughtlessness.
"And your suggestion is, Lieutenant?" Roy inquired with a big smirk, a little too cheeky for the sniper's liking, who felt an intense itch to pull her gun on the alchemist.
"He should probably stay at your place. More appropriate with his gender."
Oh, if they knew…
Chapter 2: Double crap
Roy and Riza were sitting in the colonel's private office on the couch across from the one where Ed was sleeping, wondering if they should wake him up or let him sleep.
"We should check his fever."
"There should be a thermometer in the first aid kit."
"But he would wake up if we put it in his mouth."
"We should just wait then until he wakes up on his own."
"But that couch looks really uncomfortable like that, maybe we really should just wake him up and take him home to a bed."
"We really suck at this you know…"
They were going around in circles in hushed voices for the past twenty minutes, unable to decide what they should do with the sick child on their hands. Neither of them was ever faced with a situation like this before. True, Riza had her ill father to take care of once upon a time, but that was entirely different. Plus they have never seen Fullmetal sick before, so who knew how he would react if they tried to help him. He was usually so adamant about his independence.
"Maybe we should just call Al to let him know what's going on," Roy sighed getting fed up with the lack of action.
"And leave the responsibility of taking care of Ed to a 13-year-old? How very mature of you, Colonel," the lieutenant reproached pinching her nose in frustration. "Anyway, I will get that thermometer and wake him up, it's no use pondering on the possibilities. In the end, we will just have to see what help he will even accept from us."
With that, she swiftly got up and left the room to look for the first aid kit in the other office. Roy glanced after his subordinate, forever grateful for her straightforward and efficient personality.
Hawkeye came back into Roy's office in a matter of minutes with said thermometer. She sat down carefully by the sleeping boy, placing a hand on his shoulder, lightly shaking him awake.
"Ed, we need to take your temperature," she coaxed him gently. When she got little to no response, Mustang tried a different approach.
"Come on, pipsqueak, I can't have you napping on my couch all day," he teased, hoping to get some sort of reaction from the blond alchemist, knowing full well that comments about his height would snap him to attention.
"Who are you calling…" Ed mumbled listlessly opening just one eye when she suddenly turned away from the lieutenant by her side and started coughing violently. When the fit subsided, she glanced at the two adults who were watching her with worried eyes.
"What?" she challenged, but there was no real force behind her voice, she noticed much to her disliking.
"Take your temperature, please," Riza handed him the thermometer expectantly.
Ed glanced back and forth between said object and the motherly blond woman sitting next to her, then finally took it from her with a huff, somehow sensing that she was not getting out of this otherwise. Both Riza and Roy seemed to relax immensely that Ed was not putting up a fight. At least yet. A few minutes later the lieutenant took the glass stick from Ed's mouth.
"Just as I thought, way too high for my liking. 39.1," she said handing it to the colonel, then addressed the blond alchemist. "Ed, we really need you to see a doctor."
Panic was evident in the young man's face, although neither officer understood the intense reaction.
"No. I'm going back to the dorms," Ed declared getting up from the couch with haste when suddenly her legs gave away from under her. All she managed to say as her face accelerated towards the green carpeting as she lost consciousness was: "Crap."
When she came to again, she realized that she had no idea where she was. Cream colored walls greeted her as she looked to her side. Feeling around she found that she was in a double bed. Clearly not in the barracks or at HQ. Suddenly panic came over her again, and she quickly glanced under the blankets only to relax just as quickly when she saw that she wasn't undressed, only her red coat and boots were missing.
As she slowly sat up to take her surroundings further in a cool washcloth fell from her forehead. Someone was taking care of me, but who? As she looked around, she noticed the room she was in was simple but very nicely decorated, cream and brown colors dominating the furniture, with some pale green accents in the form of the curtains and decorative pillows. It was a much nicer shade of green than the minty green of the walls in Command Center. Clearly someone with much more taste had decorated this place.
She slowly moved to the side of the bed when dizziness washed over her again. She clutched her head and leaned forward to stop the spinning and noticed her hair falling by her face. Someone had undone her braid. Probably so that she could lie down more comfortably. Al suddenly came to her mind, the gesture would have been so typical of her brother, but he was nowhere to be seen. He wouldn't have left her in an unfamiliar room alone even for a second since he didn't need to sleep, eat or go to the bathroom in his current form.
When the walls finally decided to stay in their rightful place the blond alchemist got out of bed and found her belongings on the chair not far from the bed. She got into her boots and coat and walked to the beech-tree door. She checked the hallway then seeing that the coast was clear she quietly made her way towards what she suspected to be the exit, only to be halted in her tracks by a stern voice.
"Just where do you think you are going, Fullmetal?" Roy asked from the entrance of what Ed assumed to be the kitchen, his arms crossed in front of his chest, obviously not pleased with the escape attempt. He was not in his uniform anymore, instead in a more comfortable white linen shirt matched by brown pants.
"Home… By the way where the hell am I?" Ed inquired. She needed the information if she was going to find her way back to the dorms in her state.
"My apartment. You passed out in my office. We thought it would be best if you could rest up more comfortably," he informed with a smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. The memory of Ed almost falling flat on his face was still quite amusing to him despite the concern he felt for the blonde's well-being. Roy had caught him just in time to save him from his fate. "You are welcome, by the way. I caught you when you collapsed. Falling on your face would probably have crippled your already small stature."
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO TINY THAT THEY CAN'T BE SEEN BEHIND THE COUCH?" Ed fumed then immediately regretted it when the yelling sent her into yet another torturous coughing fit. "Damn you… bastard," she mumbled in between taking breaths and coughing.
Roy took pity on him and came to his side, starting to rub small comforting circles into Ed's back when he stiffened and leaned away from the touch.
"Don't touch me," she managed when the fit finally came to an end. She didn't want to risk the colonel feeling the chest binding that came around her back but barely had the energy to stay upright.
Noticing his discomfort Roy tried to motion Ed toward the couch in the living room, earning himself another angry "Don't touch me!" but Ed found his way there nonetheless.
"Where is Al?" Ed questioned raspily after collapsing on the sofa.
"We called him not too long ago, he should be on his way," the raven-haired man offered.
"'We' as in?" she pushed further. Why do I have to drag everything out of this man? Not that she was too forthcoming with him most of the time but still.
"Colonel Mustang and I," came the answer from Hawkeye as she walked into the living room from the kitchen with a bowl of what seemed like chicken soup. She gave a murderous glare to Roy for riling up the already sick boy as she set the meal down on the coffee table before them. "Eat up. It should do you good."
"Not hungry," Ed huffed. She knew she was acting like a petulant child, but she really wasn't hungry and just wanted to get out of there. She didn't need them, or a doctor touching her in a wrong spot and find out her secret. As soon as Al got there, she would leave with him. I need to leave… her thoughts were beginning to get sluggish, and she felt way too hot in her coat but had no energy to take it off. Crap, she would have thought if she was still conscious as she slid further into the couch, falling asleep again. Roy and Riza just rolled their eyes at the stubbornness of the young alchemist.
Roy picked him up yet again and took him back to the guest room from where he escaped earlier, taking off his boots and coat. He had a strong sense of déjà vu. Learning from the earlier mistake, he decided to get a book from the library and make himself comfortable in the chair by Fullmetal's bed in case he woke up again.
Chapter 3: Sleep talk
Roy was still sitting by Ed's side reading when Al arrived. Hawkeye showed him to the room they were staying in.
"He is sleeping at the moment… here you go, just in here… Colonel, I have to leave now, before I go I will get some medicine from the pharmacy and drop it off, then will be back to check on you guys tomorrow," she informed with a professional smile. She threw one more worried glance towards the sleeping form of the boy then took her leave.
"How's Brother doing?" Al inquired whispering as he made his way to the bed as quietly as he could.
"He has a really high fever… Also, a stubborn personality and just refuses to get help even when he clearly needs it," Roy mumbled the last part almost only to himself, but Al caught the gist of it.
"Yeah, he is like that sometimes," Al said apologetically scratching the back of his head in embarrassment.
He looked over at his sister to see how she was doing for himself. She was really pale except for the unhealthy flush high in her cheeks which made her fever evident, the cool washcloth on her forehead seemingly not helping with the situation. Her breathing was also a bit labored, she was stuffed up and couldn't breathe through her nose. Her brows were furrowed marking her discomfort. Al mentally kicked himself for letting her go in the morning. He should have known that she would push herself too hard. Just when Al wanted to ask if there was something else they could do for Ed, she started mumbling in her sleep.
"I'm so… sorry, Al… it's all my fault… I really am a terrible si…"
Al realized his sister, completely unaware of her words was about to let her bigger secret loose with Colonel Roy Mustang sitting just a few meters away from her.
"No, you are the best sibling anyone could wish for," Al cut in quickly to cover up the almost slip up taking his sister's hand in his big armored ones. "Is there anything we could give him to bring his fever down until Lt. Hawkeye gets back?" Al inquired from the raven-haired alchemist, hoping he didn't catch anything suspicious in the exchange.
"I'll go check, I might have one or two aspirin lying around," Roy offered without hesitation.
He would never admit it face to face, but he was anxious for the older Elric brother. It was not uncommon to die from high fevers, and since the young alchemist had refused to see a doctor, Roy felt pretty useless, unsure what else he could do for him, a feeling he really despised.
Roy rummaged through the cabinets but came up empty-handed. He suspected this was the reason the lieutenant went to the pharmacy in the first place. Just as he gave up, he heard his front door open. His trusted subordinate had come back with a paper bag full of medicine.
"Thank Truth you are here," the colonel sighed in appreciation as he took the bag from her. Riza just chuckled at her exasperated commanding officer.
"I got fever reducers and cough syrup. Let's hope that's enough. Good night, Colonel," she smiled to herself sadly after she turned around.
If she were to be completely honest with herself, the situation was all too close to the daydreams she often had… ones that she knew had little to no chance ever becoming a reality. Mostly because of the anti-fraternization rules, but also because she was never quite sure where the colonel's heart lay. She dreamed of being together with Roy, having children, taking care of them… But she was content with just protecting her superior's life. As long as he was happy she was happy. Simple as that.
Mustang noticed his lieutenant's solemn tone and slight hesitation before exiting, but by the time he got himself to ask her about it, she was gone. He decided not to ponder on the matter too long, instead got a glass of water in the kitchen and the thermometer from the bathroom cabinet and headed back to the guest room.
"I couldn't find anything but Hawkeye was just here and dropped these off, it should help…" Roy trailed off as he glanced up while entering the room.
Ed was tossing and turning in his sleep, evidently having a nightmare. Al looked helpless. Roy quickly crossed the room to Ed's side and gently shook him awake.
"Come one, Fullmetal, wake up," slowly his efforts paid off, and Ed came to, groaning in discomfort.
"What happened?" she asked with irritation, rubbing her face with her flesh hand while struggling to sit up in her bed.
"You are feverish and had a nightmare," Mustang stated matter of factly then handed him the thermometer. "Here, take your temperature."
Ed complied without a word. She leaned back against the headboard and folded her arms as she took said instrument into her mouth. She only noticed now that she glanced up that her brother was here, which made her glad, but she also wondered how long she had been out, looking around the room again, seeing if she could spot a clock. As if Roy could read her mind he answered her silent question.
"It's half past seven," he said with no mirth in his voice. When the time was up, he took the thermometer out of the blond boy's mouth. 39.8 he noted the reading.
"Your fever spiked again. Take two of these," Roy handed him the bottle with the fever reducers then the glass of water. When Ed suspiciously lifted a brow, he amended exasperatedly. "They are just fever reducers for Truth's sake. I'm not trying to poison you."
Ed held eye contact for a while trying to gauge if her commanding officer had any hidden agenda. She was always cautious when things came to him.
"Just take them please, Brother, they will help," Al chimed in, trying to lift the heavy atmosphere.
"Fine," she replied in a clipped tone taking the damned pills and shoving them in her mouth then drinking a gulp of water, somehow managing not to choke on it.
"Now that you are awake, you should really eat something. I assume you haven't eaten anything today," Roy stated, his voice stern and authoritative but somehow caring at the same time.
Almost fatherly, much to Ed's surprise but it still made her blood boil that he thought he could tell her what to do in such manner. SHE WAS NOT HUNGRY! Why couldn't he just get that, let her the fuck alone? She was about to snap at him for it when Al – noticing all too well when his sister was about to explode – cut in again to bring her to her senses.
"You need it to get your strength back to get better faster," Al's comment made Ed guiltily avert her gaze from both of them. Here she was wasting precious time they could be spending searching for a way to get Al back in his real body, and she was even making it harder for everyone. She hated being dependent, she hated being taken care of, but then and there she decided to suck it up. Her feelings were not the most important thing at the moment. She looked down on her hands that she had knotted together in her lap and took a shuddering breath.
"Some chicken soup would be nice if you have it. Thank you," she finally whispered, not making eye contact.
Roy was dumbfounded at the sudden change of attitude. He didn't think he ever heard the boy say anything polite before, let alone a thank you.
"Uhm… yeah… coming right up," he mumbled getting up from his seat to leave for the kitchen and heat up the soup Hawkeye made earlier.
As he exited the room, a single teardrop escaped from Ed's eye making its way down her cheek marking her hurt pride. She brushed it away quickly before Al could notice but she was too late.
"Sis…" he started quietly, making sure they couldn't be heard.
"Al, please don't. This is humiliating as it is," she said still not looking him in the eye.
"You know the Colonel really does care about us," Al added.
Yeah I know, Ed thought.
Chapter 4: Shower
Ed ate her soup in silence, neither of the males cared to talk either to fill the awkward void with chitchat. She only managed to get about halfway through the bowl though before she was absolutely full. She never really had an appetite, to begin with. Ed stared at it trying to decide what to do if she should let Mustang know she was done. She wondered if he will get angry with her for not eating it all. Her mind trailed off wondering why she was feeling timid around the colonel all of a sudden. It's not like she cared about ranks before, their usual banter went way over the line many times, and she never cared what he thought of her or their exchange. Actually, she often thought the bastard even enjoyed it. Although he did get pretty pissed if she dared to call him useless… which she did… often.
"All done?" Roy interrupted her musings after she hadn't touched her food for a couple minutes. She just nodded lightly.
"Don't worry, I hadn't expected you to fit that all in you anyway," Roy winked at her with a hint of teasing in his voice.
"Who are you implying is so small that they can't eat a full bowl of soup?!" she retorted raising her voice.
She should have been able to learn by now that it was not a good idea with a sore throat. She winced at the pain in her throat and started coughing. Roy quickly snatched bowl from her so that the contents wouldn't spill on the bed. Damn you bastard! was her only thought as she regained control of her breathing.
"Cough syrup?" Roy offered good-humoredly. Ed hated him so much for enjoying her misery.
"Fine, whatever," she huffed grabbing the bottled medicine from the night table.
"Wait a sec, I will get a spoon for that," Roy started out of the room with the bowl in hand.
"The spoon I used for the soup will be just fine," Ed rolled her eyes at his absent-mindedness, extending her hand for Mustang to give her the utensil. Roy looked down at the bowl in hand then back up and let out a nervous chuckle as he came back to the bed.
Ed tried to measure out her medicine on the spoon, but her hands were shaking too hard with fatigue, so Roy stepped in, pouring it for her, then feeding it to her. She was actually thankful for the fever at that moment as it concealed her blush of embarrassment that crept up her cheeks at the gesture. No one has ever fed me anything since mom… she wondered to herself but quickly shut down that train of thought before her heart could constrict.
"It will probably make you drowsy, so just go to sleep, Ed," Roy instructed after a few minutes, but Ed was already sliding down from her sitting position too tired to react to him ordering her around.
"M'kay," she mumbled as she turned on her side curling up as she fell asleep.
During the night she sort of hovered on the edge of sleep and consciousness for a while, she was way too hot to sleep comfortably. She tried to kick off her blankets, but somehow they always made their way back covering her all the way to her chin.
When Ed turned on his back after a while, Roy decided to place back the wet washcloth on his forehead, which seemed to cool down the teen after a few changes as he stopped trying to throw off his covers. Roy sighed in relief as he saw that Ed started sweating finally. Al didn't seem to share the feeling.
"Why is brother sweating so much?" he asked worriedly from the older alchemist.
"It's a good thing. It means his fever is breaking," Roy explained.
"Ah… okay," Al mumbled back as he relaxed. Well as much as a big suit of armor could relax.
After some time Roy fell asleep in the armchair beside Ed's bed, snoring away lightly as his head fell back in an awkward position. Al picked up the book from the floor that the colonel was reading earlier and found it was an alchemy book he hadn't encountered yet, so he happily dug in while waiting for the morning.
Ed woke just after sunrise and actually felt much better, also quite icky and disgusting. She was in a real need of a shower. Al looked up from his book as he saw his sister sit up in her bed.
"Good morning, Brother. How are you feeling?" he greeted in his usual cheerful manner after glancing towards Mustang, not really sure if he was awake or asleep but not wanting to risk it.
"Better actually. At least I don't feel like I'm on fire anymore," Ed laughed placing a hand behind her head.
"Glad to…" Al began but was interrupted by a startled Mustang.
"What… where… who is on fire? Wasn't me…" Roy mumbled confusedly as he woke up disoriented. There was actually a little drool hanging from his mouth, and the whole scene just made both Elric siblings chuckle a bit at the Flame Alchemist.
"How are you this morning?" he finally asked Ed after rubbing the sleep away from his eyes.
"Better as I was just saying to Al. I think my fever went down. I was wondering if I could use your shower?" she asked in such a sweet manner it made Roy actually doubt it actually did go down and got up to place a hand on Ed's forehead which made Ed blush again.
"Yeah, probably. Take your temperature just to make sure," he muttered as he flopped back down into his chair.
He didn't get very much sleep last night. Sick kids really took just way too much work. He was up until 1 AM changing the wet towel on the boy's forehead by the time he was finally able to get Edward to settle down as his fever broke. He was happy that it seemed to last till morning.
"38.2," said Ed checking the reading, growing impatient with Mustang who seemed to space out.
"Good," Roy felt relieved, this was much more manageable.
"About that shower…"
"Right. I will get you a clean towel and a change of clothes. The bathroom is the first door on the left in the hallway," he informed exiting the room.
Ed scooted to the side of the bed, throwing her legs off the side, testing if she would be able to keep her balance. She got up, a bit shaky.
"Do you need help?" Al offered.
"No, I'm fine. Thanks," she said as she made her way to the door slowly. Mustang was just leaving the bathroom as she got out on the hallway.
"I set the things on the counter. Just yell for me if you need help," helpful Roy was sure a rare sight for Ed.
"Mmh," Ed mumbled in acknowledgment. She already knew that was soooo not happening.
The blonde entered the bathroom which was a nice creamy-brownish color like the room she stayed in and also quite spacy. She hadn't seen a bathroom like this before. It actually had a double sink, a shower, and a bathtub.
As she started undressing, pulling her shirt over her head, she lost her balance and fell back on her bum, giving out a little yelp while her auto-mail arm hit the side of the bathtub with a loud thud.
"Is everything all right? I'm coming in!" came the frantic voice of Mustang over the door.
"Yes! Everything is…" she started then horror sat in on her face as she saw the door open and the colonel enter. Her face flushed red in an instant as she realized that she was practically half naked with her superior staring at her. "Get the fuck out, you moron!" she yelled picking up the nearest thing to her – which was incidentally a bar of soap – and throwing it towards the bastard as hard as she could, but missed him by inches as he quickly exited closing the door behind himself.
Chapter 5: Revelations
When Ed got back to the room after showering and changing, Roy was nowhere to be seen. She clenched her fists together, vowing to punch the raven-haired alchemist in the face the first time she saw him after this.
Roy was actually sitting on the couch cross-legged in the living room with his hand to his mouth, deep in thought. He was still in the same position an hour later when Hawkeye let herself in with the spare key she had.
"Is everything alright, Colonel?" she asked as she took in her superior's somber expression.
"Yes, I just have to step out a bit to check on something. Do you mind staying till then, lieutenant?" he gabbled in one breath, not really waiting for an answer, already pulling on his coat and opening the front door.
"Sure. No problem, sir…" Hawkeye answered surprised at Mustang's behavior, but there was no one there to hear her anymore. Something must have happened, she thought.
Riza decided to go check on the boys and found them deep in discussion about some kind of alchemy theory, Ed gesticulating animatedly to Al about his ideas on the matter. Ed's face was still pale, but he had a much healthier complexion than the day before. Al was the first one to notice her standing in the doorway.
"Oh, hi! Good morning, lieutenant!" he greeted, waving toward her.
"Good morning. Where is that bastard?" Ed asked grumpily folding his arms in front of his chest. Riza might have been inclined to think that something really did happen based on Roy's sudden exit, but she couldn't be sure about Ed's reaction. He always seemed to be upset with Mustang.
"The colonel had to take care of something, you are stuck with me until he gets back." – she informed with a bit of humor as she noticed Ed looking a little disappointed that the commanding officer wouldn't be there for a while.
"Have you eaten anything yet today?" she asked as a second thought.
"No," Ed replied curtly, not looking her in the eye. What's with everyone and her eating habits?
"I'll whip up something, will be right back."
It was well into the afternoon by the time the Flame Alchemist returned, with a folder in hand. He found Al and Riza talking in the living room. They must have come out to let Ed sleep.
"Welcome back, Colonel," the lieutenant greeted, getting up from the couch. "Sorry for not staying longer to chat, but this will be my cue to leave. I left some soup in the kitchen," she said to the both of them as she got ready to leave.
She already stayed longer than she originally planned and with Mustang on "house call," the paperwork at the office really needed her attention. Also with no supervision, the other men in Mustang's team are bound to slack off. Just like their commanding officer, she added mentally.
After Riza left, Roy went to Ed's room and sat in his usual chair. After he found that Ed was looking better, soundly asleep, he just kept staring into space at nothing in particular. Al came in later too, his armor clanking slightly as he tried to be quiet and sat in the other chair picking up the earlier book. After a few hours of Ed not waking up, Mustang decided to retire for the night. Hopefully, with Ed feeling better, he wouldn't need the older man's constant attention, and Mustang really needed a good night's sleep after the night and day he had.
It was in the middle of the night when Roy awoke to alternating soft thuds and bit louder clanks of flesh and auto-mail legs walking the hardwood floors. He got out of bed and went to open the door to his bedroom on the end of the hallway to find – just as he suspected – Ed sneaking around bundled up in a blanket.
"Just where do you think you are going, Edeline?" he inquired humorlessly as he flicked the switch on in the hallway.
Ed froze in place for a moment then turned around pretending to ignore her name.
"Just went to the bathroom. See no boots," she said sticking out her flesh foot at the slit of the blanket around her and wiggling her toes a bit to show that she was not planning to escape like last time. When she got no answer and was met with hard onyx eyes unfazed by her lame joke attempt she cast her eyes down on the floor.
"How did you find out?" she asked finally embarrassed.
"Saw the bandage around your torso when I opened the door on you in the bathroom. Also, the very feminine reaction at it got me thinking," he smirked a bit as he recalled the flying soap bar.
"I figured that much…" Ed mumbled as she blushed at the mortifying memory. "But how did you find out my name? I thought there were no records of my birth."
"Well, yes, the whole situation got me thinking. And everything just sort of clicked into place by this revelation. Explained why you were avoiding doctors or adamant about people not touching you. So I went and checked at the archives today, and yes indeed the only records we have under Elric is what we filed when you joined the military and your mother's death certificate. At first, I didn't know what to believe. Until that is I realized, there was no record for Alphonse, and that Elric is your mother's maiden name. Did you know that in Amestris it is customary for children to inherit their father's name, even if the parents are not married?" he asked rhetorically not expecting an answer and just kept on with the explanation.
"It took me some time since you didn't supply your father's name on the form, but after a few phone calls, I managed to find out that his last name is Hohenheim. And guess what I found? Records for Alphonse and Edeline Hohenheim. My only question is, why?" he asked desperately.
"What do you mean… you surely know why…" Edeline sighed. "Female State Alchemists are not accepted. This was the only way for me to get access to the resources the military provided to return us to our old bodies."
"That's not what I mean. I can fully understand the gender swap. Why lie to me?"
Edeline didn't know what to say to him. She pondered her answer for a few minutes looking everywhere but Mustang.
"You never asked, you just assumed when we first met, so I just went with it. I didn't know then if I could trust you. Frankly, I didn't trust anyone. I didn't know if you would still help us if you knew. If you were willing to bend more rules for us," she explained, her eyes trained on the floor, shifting from one foot to the other.
"Why not say anything since then? You know me now. You know I would do anything to protect my subordinates," he challenged so sadly, it made Ed flinch away a bit with regret, but she had even less answers to that one. Why haven't I? she wondered.
"I honestly don't know," she whispered finally so softly that she wasn't even sure Roy heard her.
But he must have because the next thing she knew is that she was drawn in a big fatherly hug by Mustang. It was so alien and so comforting at the same time it made her freeze in her place for a moment. Then it almost made her cry. Almost. She buried her face in the chest in front of her and mumbled the only question that came to her mind.
"Are you going to tell anyone?"
"No. Not if you don't want me to."
"Not even Hawkeye?"
"Not even Hawkeye."
Ed seemed to relax a bit at that but then suddenly whipped her head up again.
"But what about the records? If you found them, surely others can too!" she exclaimed panic-stricken.
"I have the only copies right here. You can do whatever you want with it. I also filed Al's alongside your fake one under Elric, so it's less suspicious," he said with a mischievous smile on his face.
"But… but… how?" she looked shocked. The Colonel Roy Mustang tampering with official documents… go figure.
"Oh… the archive lady has a thing for me, it wasn't that hard," Roy smirked.
"Womanizing bastard…" Edeline mumbled inaudibly. Or so she thought since said bastard laughed out at that.
Just then Al stuck his armor head out onto the hallway. And was shocked to see Ed in a bear hug.
"Brother is everything all right?" he questioned just as Roy released the blanket bundled Ed from his arms.
"You can drop the pretenses in front of me, Al."
"It's fine Al, he found out."
The blond alchemist entertained Mustang in his humble abode with her presence and antics for a few more days, just to make sure she was fully recovered. They never really spoke about the incident ever again, but in the end as a sign of trust, Edeline left her records with her commanding officer for safe keeping since she wasn't planning on living her whole life as a male. Just until she could get Al's body back.