Fullmetal Alchemist Fan Fiction ❯ Underneath it All ❯ Sudden Awareness ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Disclaimer: Nothing but what the plot bunnies deposit in my mind belongs to me and my only profit being the reviews of my dear readers.

Underneath It All
Chapter 01: Sudden Awareness

As per usual, the day found Major General Mustang toiling away at an unusually high stack of paperwork. He often took lunch in the presence of other officers of his rank but today he wanted something a bit more low key. Not wanting to be bothered with the ins and outs of military life this afternoon he decided to take lunch at a local café. He walked across the street to a spot he heard Havoc recommend on several occasions. When he entered he found the atmosphere likeable enough to decide to stay. The entire eating area was a complex series of high booths separated by lattice work. He sat at a booth and was staring at the menu when he heard giggling from the booth next to him.
“Well at least he is in your age range Sciezska.”
That sounds like Riza, thought Mustang.
“Oh quit acting like you are so old, you know you would do him in a flat minute!!”
“That may well be, but it doesn't erase the fact he probably sees me as somewhat of a mother figure.”
“HA!! So you admit it!”
“No one is denying that Fullmetal is the hottest thing on two feet Sciezska. It is just getting to him is the problem.”
Lieutenant Ross!!
“Yeah not all of us have been on dates with the infamous Fullmetal Alchemist. Two, might I add, at that!!”
Gracia Huges!!!!
Sciezska sighed and replied “Two and only two we haven't been out since, and that was months ago.” Following her statement an audible thump was heard.
“At least you got close to the promised land, I'm almost a decade away.” Riza chimed with amusement heavy in her voice.
“Hey, I'm not even in the race. Not that I want to be …” said Gracia.
“But??” countered Ross.
“But nothing it is just well …they sure didn't roll out like that 5, 10 years ago!!”
“No kidding with looks like his I would say Mustangs are on their way out and Elrics are in. His brother is not half bad either, a bit more on the adorable side as opposed to down right sexy, but attractive none the less.”
chimed Riza.
“True true,” agreed Sciezska “Ed also had a complete change in attitude once everything was situated with Al. He smiles now, I mean a real smile and jokes too. I really never thought Ed would be one to date around either but it seems like a lot has changed for him and about him since they accomplished their goals.”
“Flipping back to the whole Mustang thing when is the last time the dear Major General received flowers or cards Riza.” Questioned Gracia
“It's been a while, most of that sort of thing comes for Ed now, and I am really surprised Roy hasn't noticed.”
“I think he assumes that it is because of his new rank and most of his incoming mail is sorted and filtered now.”
answered Maria Ross.
“Poor Havoc is dying to rub it in his face but I talked him out of it.” Giggled Riza
“Did your talk include a pistol by any chance?” asked Gracia
Mustang ate his lunch when it came in silent contemplation. So Ed has become the topic of feminine conversation I see. When was anyone going to let me in on this? How the hell did I miss it in the first place? Was Riza serious when she stated that my adoring female followers have abandoned me? When did I fall out of the office gossip circle? Suddenly his lunch lost its appeal and the Major General sat there staring out the café window. Who knows how much time had passed before he snapped out of his stupor and decided to head back to the office. He had every intention of being blind no longer he was going to make it a point to notice what the Fullmetal Alchemist was into. When he returned to his office he left the door open, sat himself behind his desk and waited. It seemed like an eternity before Fullmetal was heard entering their section of the building. His ears were open and waiting.
"Good afternoon Major.” Was Ed's greeting to Riza.
“Same to you Lt. Colonel.”
“Ugh, titles.”
“You started it.” she said with a soft smile.

Riza smiling now I know something's up! How was all of this happening right underneath my nose?

“Touché, have you seen Jean?”
“Yes but I believe he is rather occupied. Anything I can help you with?”
“Now that depends completely on you and your mood Major.” He replied and when he did the most devilish smirk I have ever seen, outside my own, crossed his face.
He could see Riza's blush from here and that alone had him floored. He noticed Furey sat there watching the entire scene with a rather hard to read expression on his face.
“Well to answer your initial question Edward, I think it is Havocs turn to sort and distribute the mail so he is probably in the basement.”
“Oh for crying out loud, has no one decided to give the mail personnel their raise yet?”
Fullmetal responded.
“I am afraid not, so it looks like it will be your turn again before you know it.”
“Do the people that decide these things have any idea the work involved in doing that job?”
“Apparently not sir.” Furey answered.
Fullmetal gave a long exaggerated sigh as he turned toward the hallway that led toward the basement.
“Where are you off to?” questioned Furey.
“To help Jean sort the mail or at the very least convince him to give it a rest until we get back from lunch, I'm starving!”
“No offense sir but isn't that always the case.” Riza chimed in. And I watched as she suppressed what might have been a giggle
“As true that may be it still does nothing to alleviate my hunger.”
And Mustang watched in stunned silence as the both of them shamelessly gawked at Fullmetals' backside as he strolled off down the hall. Not one to let any opportunity, especially one this golden, pass him by; he decided to clear his throat loudly and it had the desired affect of snapping them out of their trances and putting an embarrassed blush on both their faces. He could feel the self satisfied smirk on his own countenance and carried on about his business until he heard the sounds of laughter coming from the hallway.
He looked up in time to see Fullmetal and Havoc emerge from around the corner. He had to admit he was a bit taken aback at what he saw next. Fullmetal was sitting on Havocs desk speaking rather animatedly to Riza about something he didn't really care to focus on. His focus was on how close Havoc was standing to the blonde alchemist. He could have possibly dismissed that as some sort of random oddity if he hadn't also noted the fond faraway look in the Lieutenants eyes as he watched Fullmetal. Just as he was about to dismiss the entire thing as a product of his overactive imagination, Havoc reached out and pulled on the long blonde braid that was now more than halfway down Fullmetals back. Ed didn't grumble, snort or complain as he usually did when someone dared to do that. No, instead his response was “I guess that's my cue to get going.” as he bounced off the desk all smiles.
“Hey you are the one who rushed me out of the basement like you were dying of malnutrition.” Havoc replied.
Off they went, joking and laughing as they exited the office. Mustang debated with himself for quite a few minutes before he gave in and let curiosity get the better of him and summoned Riza into his office and motioned for her to shut the door behind her.
“Is something wrong sir?” she asked
“No I am just honestly curious about a few things.”
“Oh I see.” She replied as the corners of her mouth curved upwards.
“From your expression I take it my eyes were not deceiving me and my assumptions are indeed correct.”
“Whatever do you mean sir?” she asked and he knew then he was going to get no answers without flat out asking.
“Just when did
Fullmetal and Havoc become so friendly?” he asked.
“About two months ago.”
“Uh yes, is there a problem with that sir?”
“Uh no it's just… well I….”
“Let me clear my previous statement up for you. It was about two months ago that most of us were made aware of Jean's attraction to Edward. Now they are not officially an item yet.”
“Yes, I feel that is something that will be happening in the near future.”
“Oh I see.”
“Is there anything else sir?”
“Yes … no…”
“How about we take a stroll around the grounds, you look like you could use some air.”
Without another word he stood and headed for the door.
Their walk started out in comfortable silence but Roy quickly grew tired of that and asked Riza a question.
“We did the entire office staff become such a social bunch?”
“I really can't say exactly when but I know I noticed it shortly after Edward returned to active duty.”
“That long ago?”
“Yes, the day that sticks out the most in my mind is the day Edward loudly announced that he could no longer take the monotony as well as the cafeterias food and decided we all needed to go out for lunch. Then it all just kind of snowballed from that point.”
“All of this from one day out to lunch? That's hard to believe.” he stated shaking his head in disbelief
“Yes and no. All of this is not the product of one day out to lunch, that is simply what started it all. We all go out to lunch as a group at least twice a week.”
“Every week? Even now? I had no idea.”
“Well we invited you each time we went in the beginning but after a few months of you declining we quit asking.” She replied
was Mustangs only reply.
She then proceeded to tell him how once they all got out of the office and got to talking about things other than work they all realized they had quite a bit in common. They made plans do it again later that same week and it has been every Monday and Thursday since then. He didn't know what was more shocking, the fact that all of this was going on right under his nose or the fact that all of this socialization started because of Fullmetal.
She then told him about how this whole thing came about between Fullmetal and Havoc. She said after a few months of them all going out together Havoc all but begged everyone in the office to be too `busy' to go to lunch one day so he could get some time alone with Fullmetal. It became a regular occurrence a couple of months ago for them to take off to lunch together on days when it wasn't a group outing. Roy then made a comment about not knowing when Fullmetal became so popular, and that stopped Riza in her tracks.
“Not to be rude sir,” she stated as she gave Roy a look that made him inwardly cringe, “but, do you know anything about Edward the person, as opposed to Edward the State Alchemist?”
Roy stood there watching her watching him and he knew she was waiting on a response and that this conversation would not continue until he gave one. But no matter how hard he tried, all of the information on Fullmetal that came to mind was related to his life in the military and his prowess as an alchemist.
Mustang lowered his head in resignation.
“I see. Maybe you should try to make an effort to get to know him; he is actually quite the conversationalist these days. Believe it or not he is one of your biggest fans, mind you he does not grovel in your presence like Furey, but he has always been the first to defend you when someone speaks ill of you.”
Just when he felt the day couldn't get anymore shocking, she informs him of this. He hated to admit it but he did find that hard to believe, and said as much.
“Oh come on Major, I am to believe this of the same individual who use to address me as Colonel bastard like it was my given name?”
“In all due respect sir, but that was years ago. Edward isn't a kid anymore.”
“A few inches and a couple of years do not, a man make.”
“Perhaps he is an exception to that rule like he is to most others. And perhaps a life altering journey and six years, to be precise, will do the trick.” she said in a tone that was just this side of condescending.
Forced into quiet contemplation by that tone, it slowly dawned on him that it had indeed been far longer in reality than it had been in his thoughts. That meant he was what? 22 years old now, far from the high strung overly gifted brat he first commanded at 12.
“You may be right about his mind set these days, but I am still hard pressed to believe I am in Fullmetals' good graces.”
“Okay, I suppose an example is in order. When an acquaintance, that shall remain nameless, was quick to get rather opinionated with why they felt you never wanted to join us all for lunch; Edward's response was to say, Hey cut the General some slack, he may have his reasons not to join us, he is actually pretty busy these days and it may not be the best for a man in his position to be seen socializing so casually with his subordinates during office hours.”
“Indeed sir, so now maybe you can extend him the same courtesy and cut him some slack.” She responded with a smile.
With that said, and Roy standing there with nothing to add, she checked her watch, saluted and left him alone with his thoughts.