A/N. FIRST: This story is an extended version of Destined to Repeat's Asymmetrical, which she had been kind enough to let me borrow. All the beginning prompts belong to her solely.
SECOND: The reason I've re-posted this instead of chapter eight was because I felt the first chapter was kind of lacking, as well as number four. I won't be totally re-doing it, just cleaning it up a little. Then, I'll finish eight, because I already have some ideas for that.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own FMA. I don't own the prompts. End of discussion, as my lawyers love to say.
1) Neither would ever admit it, but there were nights that Roy woke up feeling sick from a dream of sending Ed to the mission that would finally kill him; and Ed woke up thinking that somehow, someone had finally managed to defeat the undefeatable Colonel.
Mustang stared at the wall, ignoring the three fingers of whisky clenched in his hand as he tried to count the number of cracks spiraling away from the baseboard. Twenty-three. Twenty-four. Twenty-six…no, twenty-five?
Damn. Lost count again.
He started over, taking as sip of the hard liquor and trying desperately to forget. One. Two. Three.
Trying to forget the dream (nightmare) that had sent him stumbling for the alcohol without bothering to look in a mirror or go back to bed. (Sleep would never come. Not after that.)
The whiskey burned his throat, leaving a pleasant sting at the back of his mouth. He hummed appreciatively as he continued his hopeless quest. Seven. Eight. Oh, he hadn't seen that one earlier-nine.
He shuffled his feet on the coffee table, rubbing one socked foot against a bare one as he remembered staring down at those same feet, only booted and covered with someone else's blood. He huffed and scratched at the back of his head, ruffling up previously sleep-mussed hair. Well, this wasn't going away any time soon- better settle in for the long haul. He drained back the rest of his shot (and no, he hadn't gasped when it hit the back of his throat, merely coughed…a bit) and filled it up with more of the golden liquid.
"Drink of the gods." He murmured to himself before laughing and slumping back against the worn couch. Now was as good a time as any, and he let the memories (nightmares) wash over him.
First there was the file, sitting there oh-so-innocently on his desk with the word 'Confidential' stamped across it in loud red letters. He recalled flipping it open and staring uninterestedly at the small black print before he called Lieutenant Hawkeye into the office and asked if the Elrics were in town.
Fast forward to that afternoon and the older boy was glaring at him across his desk, irritation and exasperation in his gaze.
"Come on, Colonel! We just got a lead, and now you're sending me out to look for Scar? What the hell is wrong with you?"
And all he did was shrug, hand Fullmetal the orders and shoo him out of his office.
"This needs to be finished, Fullmetal. Do it quick."
He hadn't seen the boy for two hours after that, telling himself that the slight tugging at his gut was just nerves that he wouldn't get his paperwork done in time to please Hawkeye.
Speed up again and he hadn't even taken the call that would destroy his life.
Hawkeye answered the phone, relieving the Colonel of the headache that had slowly been building between his eyes. He faintly heard her calm voice rise in concern in the other room and had his head perked in confusion. What on earth could get his usually collected Lieutenant so riled?
He jumped when a knock sounded on his door and only just managed to make it look like he had been busy with paperwork before Hawkeye stormed in and demanded he pick up the phone. He didn't need to be told twice and he had barked "Mustang" into the receiver before he knew it.
Fast forward past the call from the chief of police, past the tense car ride filled with fingers rubbing together and hammers snapping closed, past leaping out of the car as soon as he heard the explosion, and past running around until he saw the hand clamped across his subordinate's face.
Stop right there.
That was what had him rushing for the liquor cabinet and draining three glasses before he could breathe. That was what had him slumped on the couch and glaring at the wall, glancing occasionally at the clock to see if he could go to work yet. That was what had him scared out of him mind.
He remembered the sheer and utter panic that flooded him as he saw the bright red coat flare up behind the blonde as Scar let that damned transmutation take hold and Edward was blown backward off his feet. Blood spurted everywhere, painting the shops and streets around him. His small subordinate landed with a sickening thud on the cobblestone paving, sprawled out like a forgotten rag doll. He ran forward, forgetting that it was Scar standing not three yards away, focused only on getting to the limp teen laying in the street.
"Ed! Edward!" He'd called, stumbling to a halt right in front of the blonde and then freezing.
There was no way he was alive.
Roy stared down at the body in shock, ignoring the mutilated chin and throat, staring only at the closed eyes that used to hide fiery gold. Fiery gold that he had seen not two hours ago…gone. Blown out like a candle.
He dropped to his knees in a daze, blood immediately soaking into the deep blue military fabric. This was his fault, all of it-his fault.
His gloved fingers brushed against Edward's flesh arm, and it was when Roy was just in the middle of trying to shake the boy awake that he woke up.
And here he was, counting cracks in the wall and waiting to go to work while drinking whiskey on his couch. He took another sip just as he reached twenty-three and set the glass down next to the bottle on twenty-four.
Lost count again.
He muffled the burp that slipped past his lips and wearily got to his feet. Five o'clock was a good time to head to work, right?
He half-heartedly pulled on his uniform, locating his other sock and tugging it on before his boots. His hair was still ruffled, and his uniform shirt was untucked, but he'd shown up looking worse before. He hastily shoved the liquor back into the cabinet and cleaned up the glass he'd gotten out before stepping out onto the landing and locking the door behind him.
When he got to the garage, he wasn't surprised his car was broken, climbing out and tucking the keys in his pockets as he hit the streets. A few early morning joggers waved to him as he passed by and he nodded back. One woman shot him a sly smile, but he just wasn't feeling it today and she jogged by without a response from him.
He arrived at HQ before he'd really meant to, walking through the gates and waving to the sergeant on guard before jogging up the steps and shouldering open the door. The receptionist shot him a smile that he tried to return before trudging down the halls and somehow ending up in front of his door.
Hawkeye was already there (no surprise) along with Falman and Feury, who were chatting quietly at their desks before he came in. Roy ignored their stares of shock and confusion, shuffling past Hawkeye and fumbling open the door. She followed him a few steps and then paused in the doorway, watching him collapse against his desk. His head hit the wood with a thump, followed by his shoulders and arms.
He sat there, boneless, for a couple minutes before the Second Lieutenant cleared her throat and said, "The Elrics will be here in a few hours. I would prefer it if you looked at least a little presentable when they arrive."
With that, she closed the door and let him contemplate in peace.
Edward slid a hand across his face and stumbled down the train steps, feet dragging wearily behind him. His mouth widened in a yawn and he stretched his arms above his head with a satisfying crack. A groan slipped out as he rubbed his sore neck with an automail hand.
"Ngh, Alll!" He whined, dragging out the name while staring up at his younger brother. "Why do we have to be here so damn early?"
Alphonse sighed behind him, armor clanking as he stepped down onto the station platform. Bright red eyes shot the blonde an exasperated glance as he set the tattered suitcase down and observed the clock above the station house. "It's not that early, Brother. Only ten o'clock."
Ed huffed at him, rolling his eyes and stretching his arms in front of him this time. "Only ten o'clock-yeah, right." He too glanced at the clock and then groaned. "The Colonel's gonna have my ass if I'm late for a report again. Better make this fast."
He trudged forward, leaving Al to pick up the suitcase and hurry after him, tinny voice calling out for the shorter boy. "Brother! Wait up!"
Edward didn't slow, trusting his brother to cut through the crowd quickly and catch up by the time he reached the street.
There was another reason he wanted to get this over with.
It was irrational as hell and stupid to boot, but these stupid nightmares wouldn't let him sleep, and that was something he needed, dammit!
He pushed around a few station-goers and dodged under a man waving around newspapers before he reached the sunlit streets of Central. A few people brushed by him as they hurried to get to their jobs, and it was the rushing of a nearby car that sent Ed into flash backs.
Ed was standing there, watching as someone grinned evilly at the Colonel, striding forward menacingly as Roy helplessly tried to ignite wet gloves. "Mustang, look out!"
But it was no use. The man was shoving Mustang forward just as the car came barreling around the corner. The driver couldn't stop in time, shouting as he hit the Colonel full speed. Edward shot forward, but there was nothing he could do to save the crushed body of his commanding officer.
He shook the thoughts out of his head, looking up just as Al reached him and nodding when his brother made to call a cab. "Thanks, Al."
"No problem, Brother…Hey, Ed…" He started, turning to face the blonde while waving a hand absent mindedly in the street.
"You seem kind of…distracted…lately. I noticed on the train that you were all jittery until you fell asleep."
Ed stared up at his younger brother, conflicting emotions evident in his gaze. Should he tell Alphonse about the dreams or just brush him off? After all, it wasn't like there was really anything to worry about.
He was saved from making the decision by the taxi that drove up, parking on the curb while the cabbie yelled at them to get in. Ed clambered in first, squeezing into the corner while telling the driver to head towards HQ. As soon as Al squeezed in, the driver merged easily back into traffic and the rest of the ride was spent in silence.
Ed tried not to think about the nightmares, about Mustang sprawled out on the street while Ed tried to shake him awake, the dark hair splayed out and eyes unmoving beneath closed lids. He sighed heavily and let his head lean against the window until they arrived. He squeezed out after Alphonse, letting the metal boy lead the way up the white marble steps and into the grand foyer. The receptionist smiled prettily at them, saying hello and asking how they'd been.
Ed replied with a distracted wave and a 'good', leaving Al to take care of the polite stuff while he stalked down the halls.
This would be quick, just pop in, say hello to the crew, turn in the report and make sure Mustang wasn't dead, splayed out in the road because some moron had shoved him in front of a car. He slowly gathered speed until he was running down the halls, brushing by sergeants and generals alike until he found himself in front of the office door.
Ed took a moment to collect himself, shaking his head and straightening his coat. The door creaked open loudly as he stepped through, announcing his arrival with squeals and groans. He slammed it shut with his foot, grinning widely at the men (and woman) seated in various desks around the room.
"Hey, Edward! How's it going?" Breda asked, standing up and slapping him across the back. Havoc and Feury greeted him in much the same manner while Hawkeye and Falman opted for polite handshakes. Ed greeted them each in turn, answered all their question and smiled at the right times until he could break away and knock on the Colonel's door. He heard shuffling paper and a faint cough before a deep voice said "Come in."
He opened the door, this time with no squeals or creaks and easily strode into the office, golden eyes searching around the room until he found Mustang seated at his desk.
There were a few moments of tense silence in which both men evaluated each other, Mustang checking to make sure Ed's face was still there while Ed verified the Colonel was still whole and well. (Both were relieved to find that the other was indeed not bleeding or sprawled out on the street, dead.) The silence stretched until Ed shifted a bit and Mustang cleared his throat.
"Fullmetal. I see that your mission was a…success." He said after a slight pause, and Ed nodded slowly, edging further into the room and drawing the papers out of his jacket pocket.
"I've got the report here."
"Ah, good. You can just leave it on my desk…"
Ed resisted the urge to twitch at the tense atmosphere, walking forward and placing the rumpled files on the desk. The silence came back with a vengeance, taking over the room until the awkward feeling grew and grew and grew and-
The both paused and glanced at each other before Ed ducked his head and nodded at Mustang. "Good to see you again, Colonel."
Mustang grinned and inclined his head in return. "Good to see you too…shrimp."
And the offices rang again with the shouts of one Edward Elric while Roy Mustang smirked in the background.
A/N. Whew! I feel much better about that one. What about you guys?