Fighting Words

By Crack Alchemist

PG-13 for silly violence

Maes/Roy – Crackbrothers at the Academy

"What are you looking at, you undersized, alchemist freak?"

"Who are you calling so small he can't be seen by the naked eye!"

Maes grabbed his friend around the middle just in time to keep Roy for leaping on his verbal assailant with both feet and hands. "Roy, you can't!" he hissed in his friend's ear, dodging the swinging fists. "Lowerclassmen!"

Roy heard the reminder and subsided, panting in his anger. He was thoroughly tired of being accosted in the mess hall. He didn't care if his assailant topped him by a head and a half and probably outweighed him by at least twenty pounds. Four years of it and he was truly and utterly through. He would remember all of their faces, yes he would, and when he was in command–and taller–they would all pay for it.

"Yeah, four-eyes," one of the other hatchet-faces said, "why don't you take a leash to your little play-toy there and get out of our faces!"

Roy looked at his friend, whose eyes suddenly narrowed. He watched the dull red color creep up Maes' neck and stepped out of the way just as Maes cocked his fist back and let it fly.

"Lower–!" Roy tried to give the same warning to his friend, but as he heard the crunch of their assailant's nose, he realized he had failed miserably. "Classmen..." he finished softly, then stepped back, fists raised, ready to defend their honor.

They tried. It was an honest effort on their part. But, with four on their side and two on his, Roy knew it was going to be a quick thing. He could even identify the exact moment in which he realized that their entire cause was lost and that they were in for what would normally be termed a world of hurt.

He raised his hand to snap his fingers, a last ditch effort to stop the chair swinging toward his head, when his head suddenly snapped back and he found himself flat on his back, his right eye screaming, his hand neatly pinned by a boot heel pressed to his chest and a sidearm pointed directly at his nose.

"Now, now, sir." Came a smooth voice, as delicate as spring flowers. "That wouldn't be playing fair, now would it?"

Then he heard the sound of whistle blowing and knew that it was all over.

They tried to maintain their dignity for all of ten minutes, standing in front of the Headmaster's desk in the man's private office. Their status as upperclassmen gave them the dubious honor of a private audience with Headmaster Genevra Hickerson. She looked them up and down for that length of time, then waved them into the two chairs.

"Fighting?" She asked. "Again? In the mess hall?"

"She pulled a gun on me!" Roy tried to protest.

"Yes, only after you threatened to incinerate the entire mess hall," the Headmaster spat. She shook her head. "I knew that when I sponsored you, you would be nothing but trouble."

"They started it, sir," Maes said, his voice surly for once.

"They started it? And you couldn't be the bigger men and just walk away?"

"We tried, sir, but they pushed us–,"

"There were four of them," Roy muttered under his breath. "And one of them was armed."

Hickerson shook her head again. Roy uncharitably hoped the damned thing rolled off. "I can't believe you. One more month, you two have. One more month and you can't behave yourselves for that long!" She patted the two rather large folders on her desk. "I thought I'd seen the last of these things, but no." She flipped open the first one. "Second Lieutenant Mustang–,"

Roy gasped and tried to sit upright. His ribs complained.

The Headmaster gave him a look. "Until you cross those hallowed doors and make it into the real world, you are merely a Second Lieutenant. Maybe not even that, if you say another word," she growled. "When you're in the military proper, you can take your rightful rank as Major. If I feel you deserve it." She flipped open the second folder. "First Lieutenant Hughes."

Maes wisely kept his mouth shut.

The Headmaster looked at him. "How is it that you can scrap like that and your glasses remain unbroken?"

Maes pushed the spectacles back onto his nose. "Not sure, sir. Practice?"

Hickerson made a rude sound. "Practice, my ass. Well, let's see..." She considered the laundry list of infractions in each folder, ran her finger down the list of demerits they'd accumulated over the course of this year alone. She looked back at them, ran her gaze over each of their wounds. She took an extra minute, steepling her fingers in front of her face and meditating on their punishment. Then she sighed and snapped shut the folders.

"Given the extent of your... injuries, and the utter indignity you both suffered, being trounced so thoroughly by a quartet of girls, I'll give you each four demerits." She held up her hand. "But I better not see either one of you in my office for the rest of this month. You hear me? Now, get out and go clean yourselves up."

They both stood slowly, each bruise complaining, each welt screeching. Roy was certain his fingers were sprained–his snapping fingers, at that. He clutched his hand to his chest for a moment, bewailing the temporary loss of his most precious weapon, then recalling they were still in the presence of a superior. He reluctant brought his hand up to salute.

"Out! Out!" Even as they left, Roy could hear Hickerson muttering to herself, and would even swear he heard a light chuckle before the door shut behind them.

Maes looked at him. "You're way too sensitive about your height," he muttered.

"You're way too sensitive about your play-toys," he shot back. "Four-eyes."

"Knee high to a humming bird."

"Hey, who are you calling–,"

"Your momma. That's who I'm calling so short that they have to stand on a box to see over a blade of grass."

"You suck."

"You swallow."

"You like it."

"So do you."