Look who's still alive! Since I'm still a bit stuck with my main fic Numb I took the time and edited this first one shot of mine because I actually like it and think it deserves another chance because I did a real crap job with the formatting when first posting it. So have fun and enjoy!

Thanks to xIcyChanx for helping with editing!

And thanks to those who drop a review :)

Avaricious Fire

Edward never really understood why people were so fascinated with Mustang's Flame Alchemy. He had to admit that it looked cool and Mustang knew how to put on a show, wielding the flames with that casual look, but still; The trick wasn't that mysterious, right? All Mustang did was form an tunnel of oxygen and some other gasses and send a spark to ignite it. And still people thought that it was something really special and Mustang just had to know a secret since he was the first alchemist who put that fire alchemy to work while others kept it theoretical. In Edward's point of view Mustang was simply the first alchemist who was dumb enough to waste what talent he had to complete an art that could only destroy and was useless in the rain. He could understand why other alchemists didn't bother to develop that into more than some theories.

So he scoffed at the pair of gloves that rested in the corner of Mustang's desk while he waited for the colonel to come back to his office. Then he picked them up. He might know how the alchemy worked, but the ignition cloth was still something he was interested in. He knew it was custom-made and expensive and he never had the chance to look at it, though as an alchemist he had a natural curiosity and the wish to know everything. He brushed his thumb over the glove he had taken. It was rough - no wonder Mustang didn't wear them all the time, the cloth would rub away his skin. The array was stitched with utter precision. He wondered dimly if Mustang did that himself. Shrugging he pulled the glove on. It was too big for his hand, he realised with annoyance.

"Stupid over-sized Mustang," he grumbled as he tugged at the cloth until the array lay smoothly over the back of his hand. He regarded his handiwork and rubbed his thumb against his fingers. Little sparks crackled. Maybe he should burn something - just to show Mustang that he isn't as great as he thinks, he thought as he watched the sparks die. He took a blank sheet of paper from a drawer and folded it into a boat. When he was ready he put it in the empty space in the middle of Mustang's desk and snatched the glove again.

The door opened and Havoc stepped in. "Hey chief!" he greeted, before he halted and frowned. "You really shouldn't do that. Hawkeye shoots at the colonel the moment he makes fire in the office and she'll shoot at you, too. If Mustang doesn't kill you first for taking his gloves. He really gets angry when it comes to that. And besides, do you have any idea what you're doing?"

"Relax Havoc, I know the trick! And if Mustang decides to act like an ass then I'll just give him his own medicine!" He waved the glove for emphasis and grinned.

"I'm not convinced that this is a good idea," Havoc said, frowning even more.

"Just watch!" Ed told him and took aim.

The array glowed ever so slightly and even though he had to concentrate quite a bit the air finally bent at his will, molecules moving and forming a tunnel to the paper boat. He snapped. The fire followed the path he built for it and enveloped the boat, burning it down.

"See?" he said, turning to Havoc. The man's eyes widened in horror, making Ed turn back just in time to shift the air again before the fire could get them. It was fueled from the still burning remains of the paper boat and flashed back at him when he had scattered the oxygen tunnel, thinking that that would prevent it from coming back at him. But he achieved the opposite, made the flame go wild, following the scattered oxygen, grasping onto the desk, the waste bin, a filing cabinet and almost Ed and Havoc. He stared at the raging fire in shock, unable to stop the array on his hand. His puzzled brain tried to instinctively transmute further to try and get that fire under control. But it was impossible, the flames would not follow the oxygen tunnels any more. They were independent now, devouring the interior of the office.

Fire, fire everywhere and he couldn't put it out!

He could distantly hear Havoc shouting at him, shouting for others. But what should he do? He was helpless, the fire wouldn't do what he told it to! Suddenly Havoc stopped shouting and Ed could feel another presence behind his back. Someone grasped his still gloved hand, making him aim at the burning desk.


The voice was calm, fearless, reassuring, steady. Edward clung to it and tried to follow the instruction. If the voice was so calm then it knew how to help.

"Breathe and focus on the array."

Ed shook his head, trying to step back. He couldn't do that! The voice was calm, its owner could control the fire, but not him! He bumped into the solid chest of the person behind him. It blocked his retreat, but god, he felt safe with that presence to lean against. So he took a deep breath.

"Good. Now focus on the array. Cut your energy from it."

"But..." He shivered. He couldn't let the fire roam completely free, could he?

"Cut it off and collect yourself for a new transmutation." The hand that kept his arm up squeezed his wrist reassuringly, the deep voice soothing.

Ed swallowed and leaned further back into the warmth behind him, a warmth so very different from the dangerous heat of the fire he was facing. When it didn't budge, he knew that the order was safe, that he could do what was asked. So he freed himself from the array.


Relief flooded through him. He was fine, the calm voice had set him free, now it would take over right?

"Now focus on all the gasses that hinder a fire and suffocate it. Search them in the air."

"Can't...can't you...?"

"No. It's your fire. You started it, you're its master, so you'll put it out. Just use your stubbornness, I know you've got plenty of that." There was no judgement, just plain listing of facts in that calm and soothing voice. Ed nodded a little. He was stubborn, had to be in this world. So he focused on the air - the array glowed as he dumped every gas that would suffocate the fire down on the flames, shielding them from what they could burn until they died. He stared at the blackened, ruined office, afraid and scared that the flames might start to come up again.

"Good. Now stop the transmutation and give me my glove back."

Edward jumped. With the shock spell of the fire gone he realised that he had pressed himself into the chest of the adult behind him like a scared little kid. And what made it even worse was that the adult was none other than Colonel Roy Mustang, the Flame Alchemist himself.

He pushed himself away and turned around, beet red and shoulders hunched, ready for Mustang to show him how flame alchemy was done right by killing Ed for what he had just done.

Mustang held out his hand, no emotion on his face as he did so. Edward pulled off the glove, trying to find something to say as he handed it back. The colonel took the glove and held it up. His face was still blank but Ed could see the cold anger beneath.

"Never. Do. That. Again."

Ed nodded, feeling like nothing more than a cockroach under Mustang's unwavering stare.

"Are you a five year old that can't be left alone with a lighter? Or are you just that arrogant? You could have killed yourself!" Suddenly Mustang was shouting, waving the glove around with one hand, the other balled up to a fist at his side. Ed stared at the colonel in utter shock. He had never seen the older Alchemist yelling this angrily and desperately at anyone or anything.

"Hell, you could have brought down the whole building and everyone inside!"

Mustang stopped and pressed his left hand over his eyes while his right protectively cradled the glove against his stomach.

"Fire is greedy, avaricious, Fullmetal. It couldn't care less about biting the hand that fed it. It burns everything. Never ever try to use it if you don't know exactly what you're doing." He dropped his hand, looked at Ed with disappointment in his eyes and shook his head a little. "Did it really not occur to you to just ask me for information when you felt interested in the gloves?"

"Thought I already knew. And never thought you'd take the time to explain them to me," Ed mumbled, eyes cast down.

"Fullmetal, I'm an alchemist and I hate paperwork. Why would I not take the time?" Mustang asked in a lousy attempt at his usual sarcastic tone. It sounded just sad.

"You would have taught me?" Edward asked him, surprised.

"I would have satisfied your curiosity as far as I could and then I would have told you that I promised to never pass on the secrets I know." He walked over to the remains of his desk and sat down on his scorched chair. "The military has got enough horrible weapons as it is."

Edward stared at the colonel. Seeing this healthy, living man between the burned furniture made him swallow. What if there was a blackened corpse instead? What if he had hurt Havoc? He glanced at the lieutenant who stood discretely next to the door, waiting for his orders as Mustang inspected the damage. A little pale but unharmed, thankfully unharmed. And what if he had killed himself? He would have never seen Al get his body back!

"I'm sorry," he said, looking from Havoc to Mustang. "I was stupid."

Mustang looked at him for a while, unreadable black eyes staring into Edward's golden ones. Then the colonel turned to Havoc.

"Are you all right?"

"Yes, sir, I'm fine. Could use a smoke though..." Havoc managed to grin a little.

"Did someone stop the fire alarm?"

"Hawkeye's at it."

"Very well, then go kill your lungs." Mustang rolled his eyes, smirked and waved Havoc away.

"Thanks Colonel! Don't kill the Boss, remember I'm unharmed!" Havoc left them with a sloppy salute, already happily fumbling for his cigarettes.

Mustang turned to Ed again. "Help me tidy this up, the less chaos I've got to explain, the better."

Ed nodded and moved immediately.

They set to work. Mustang simply drew transmutation circles in the black grime and soot that covered everything now and Ed clapped his hands. They restored the office surprisingly fast, and surprisingly well, to the best they could. Ed flinched as Mustang stared with a grim expression at the remains of some paperwork. This they couldn't save and the colonel would hate him for having to redo the papers, even more than for destroying the office. Finally Mustang sat back behind his desk again and pulled open the drawers, sighing in relief when their contents seemed more or less unharmed. He closed them again and leaned back, fixing the door with a waiting stare. Not three seconds later did some general walk in.

Mustang stood and saluted. "Sir."

"At ease," said the man as he looked around the office. "What happened?"

"Some little accident with this," Mustang explained and held up his transmutation glove. The general lifted an questioning eyebrow and just when the colonel was about to say something Ed couldn't take it any longer.

"It's my fault. I took the glove and tried to use it without asking for instructions first."

The general gazed at him for a while, then turned back to Mustang.

"Kids," the colonel tried with a shrug.

Ed had no intention to scream at his judgement, because at the moment he felt like just that; a stupid kid.

The general laughed a little."They need to learn somehow," he then said good-naturedly before gazing around the office again. "The money for the reconstruction of this office will be taken from your account, Major Elric. And I guess the colonel has something else for you in mind?"

Mustang nodded. "He burned quite a lot of paperwork, I think it will be enough to let him make the new copies I will need. Per hand of course."

The general nodded, too. "I think this is a good idea. I look forward to revisiting this office in a week and see the major at work." He gave a nod, then left.

Ed watched as Mustang exchanged a look with Hawkeye and then took a few items from his desk drawers to carry them over to his smaller desk in the outer office.

"Come with me, Edward," said Hawkeye. Ed didn't complain as she set the remaining desk in the bigger office up for him. She then went to another office to fetch the papers he would have to copy and Edward sat there awkwardly. He glanced at a sympathetic Fuery who tried to give him a reassuring smile over his radio. Breda and Falman nodded at him and shrugged, telling him they didn't judge him. Havoc was still out smoking.

Ed stared at his desk until he remembered that Al was waiting for him. He swallowed and glanced at Mustang who was reading through some slightly charred paper he had saved from his desk drawer. He swallowed once more, stood and walked over.

"Colonel?" He actually considered saluting as Mustang's gaze flickered from the paper to him, waiting for what he had to say.

"May I call Al and tell him I'm going to be late?"

To his surprise Mustang nodded immediately and gestured to the phone that sat in the corner of Hawkeye's desk before he settled to reading again.

"Thanks..." Edward walked over to the phone and dialed, waiting for Al to pick up.

"Alphonse Elric here," the friendly voice answered.

"Hey Al, it's me. I'm going to be late. Did something stupid and have to suffer the consequences. I'll explain it to you later."

"Brother, are you hurt?"

"No, I'm fine, the only thing hurt is the colonel's office, but like I said, I'll explain later. Just don't worry. Use the time to read or phone Winry or whatever, but don't go and pick up stray cats again okay?"

"Uh okay...see you later then?"

"Sure, see you." He hung up and walked back to his desk, just as Hawkeye re-entered the office. She put a giant stack of papers in front of him and started to explain how to copy them. Ed took the pen given to him. Had he known before how much paperwork the colonel had to do, he would have never touched the glove. He might even not have called the man lazy whenever he complained.

He worked through the hours, not daring to stop when the rest of the office got ready to walk home at 5pm. He knew he would only be allowed to go when Mustang was and the colonel signed and filled the copied formulas on and on until 5:30.

"You can stop," he told Ed when he finally stood and put his things away, before grabbing his briefcase and coat. Ed did as he was told and grabbed his things, too. They were the last in the office so Mustang locked the door after Ed. The Fullmetal Alchemist wasn't sure whether he should wait for the colonel or just walk away so he settled for walking slowly enough for Mustang to catch up easily. They walked through the halls in silence. It was raining heavily outside, causing the Flame Alchemist to sigh. Ed swallowed any comment including the word useless. Mustang seemed to realise that. The colonel raised an eyebrow at Ed, then looked at the rain.

"Want a ride?"

Ed stared at him in utter disbelieve. Mustang offered him a ride. Why?

"I won't lecture you any more. I just don't want you to catch a cold and spread it around my office."

Good explanation, though was it true? Only one way to find out. Feeling like he was walking into the lion's den Ed nodded.

The colonel drew up the collar of his coat and walked over to one of the cars, unlocking it quickly. Ed dropped in the passenger seat. It was nearer to Mustang than the back seat but hiding back there just didn't feel right.

True to his statement Mustang didn't speak a word. He just drove.

"Uh, do you know where our hotel is?" Edward asked.

The colonel nodded.

"Okay," Ed said, slightly surprised. Mustang just stared through the windshield. Edward decided that it was awkward to be alone with the older alchemist without arguing or at least talking. So he tried to think about things to say.

"I'll bring a new copy of the report I was supposed to bring in today tomorrow."

Mustang nodded.

Edward felt a funny mixture of anger and fear rise within him. "Is this a silent treatment?"

Mustang shook his head.

Ed stared at him.

And suddenly the colonel burst out laughing, hard enough that the car swayed on the road as his hold on the steering wheel loosened.

"Mustang, what...!" Edward screeched at him.

"Your face when I shook my head...!" the colonel managed between laughing. Edward stared at him even more confused and Mustang pulled the car over to the curb and stopped it as he fought for control.

"What's so funny about my face?" Ed yelled.

"Well, you looked like this!" Mustang pulled a dumbfounded face that had Edward laughing within a second. And then they sat there in the car in the rain and laughed like idiots until some other car honked as it passed them.

"Right. I'm on the street." the older alchemist chuckled and started driving again.

They were silent again but this time it didn't feel so suffocating.

When Mustang called a "See you tomorrow at 8 o'clock sharp, Fullmetal!" and Ed answered a "Don't have a choice, do I?" before slamming the door shut, they almost sounded cheerful.

The next morning they were bickering over their paperwork like nothing ever happened.