Fullmetal Alchemist Fan Fiction ❯ Underneath it All ❯ Blurry Vision ( Chapter 2 )

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

**** Chapter Two ****
Chapter 02: Blurry Vision
Roy Mustang realized he had been missing an assorted host of things once he made it a point to listen to and become part of the `office' once again. It was a refreshing change of pace from his previous self imposed exile. He found himself leaning casually on Hawkeye's desk as they all listened to Breda's latest mission gone awry. He and the rest of the office found themselves in stitches by the stories end.
Mustang was making his way back to his office when the question he had been waiting on rang out, effectively stopping him in his tracks.
“So where is lunch going to be today people? I know it's hard to imagine but I'm a bit tired of the side street diner.” Ed asked as he kicked back in his chair and propped his feet up on his desk.
“I have to agree with you there boss.” Havoc chimed in as he pulled a lollipop out of his desk drawer and proceeded to unwrap it.
“Well we could always go to Greyden's on Helm street.” mumbled Fuery. Almost immediately the distinctive click of a pistol being cocked echoed through the office. All eyes were now on the newly commissioned Second Lieutenant.
“Uh… sorry Riza, I am guessing the staff there has not managed to get back in your good graces.” Stuttered Fuery as he held his hands up in defense.
Fuery received no more than a satisfied `humph' in reply as the Major put away her pistol. They all debated back and forth for a while before Roy Mustang cleared his throat thereby gaining the attention of the room.
“You have a suggestion Major General?” questioned Falman.
“Indeed I do. How do you guys feel about Bella Tornio's?”
Everyone stared wide-eyed at the General. Bella Tornio's was easily the best restaurant in town but it was not exactly casual and far from cheap.
“No offense General but that's a bit more than I wanna plop down on lunch.” Breda said shaking his head.
“Uh not only that but the wait is bound to be longer than the hour we have for lunch.” Ed added. Jean was about to chime in next when Roy raised his hand in protest.
“I figured this would be a grand time for me to show my appreciation to all of you for the hard work you do. I took it upon myself to make reservations there today and it is my treat.”
“Hot damn!!” shouted Breda, “Now you're speaking a language I can understand.”
Everyone was in eager agreement with this and they were all swiftly readying themselves to go. Ed was at the head of the bee line they were all making for the door when Riza's firm voice stopped them.
“But Major General Sir, this still doesn't clear up the time constraints.”
A multitude of whimpers and muffled curses was heard from the crowd that had now stopped in mid stride.
“At ease Major, am I correct in assuming I am the highest ranking officer in this division?”
“Yes sir.” She replied looking rather confused about what this had to do with the tentative lunch arrangements.
“Then who will be tracking your absence if I am with you?”
A minute smile spread across her lips and she replies with a simple, “Understood.”
With that settled they all filed out of the office, grabbed a couple of cars and proceeded to the restaurant. When they arrived they were guided up to the second floor and out on the terrace. Two of the wait staff came up to them and promptly took their drink requests.
Roy found the conversation that was taking place around the table highly amusing and rather informative. He had no idea that they all had so much in common and knew so much about what was going on in each others lives. Yes he had indeed been out of the loop too long.
When the drinks arrive and all orders for food are placed the conversation turns to the upcoming meeting with the leaders of Xing at the embassy and the ball that follows. For reasons unknown to Roy, Ed seems to know all of the ins and outs concerning the entire affair.
“Hey Ed are you still trying to get out of going to the ball?” joked Breda as he took a healthy bite of the steak he'd been slicing.
“No I think I will just suck it up and do my duty. It can't be that bad.”
Roy was now officially confused. One, he couldn't understand how Ed seemed to know so much about the upcoming peace talks with the Xingians. Two, why did FullMetal think his presence would be required at the ball? Only those who will be present at the meeting were asked to attend. Roy asks him these questions and is met with a table full of silence and stunned looks. Further bemused by this, he sat there eagerly awaiting his answers.
Minutes passed and the only notable thing that happened was the grin that slid across Riza's face. Still confused Roy finally spoke up.
“Well is anyone going to answer?”
“You're kidding us right chief?” asked Havoc in a voice that clearly said he felt Roy was either joking or insane.
“No I'm not. Why would I be?” Roy responded dryly.
Havoc started to say something else until Ed held up a silencing hand.
“Well for starters Major General I am a liaison and ambassador on behalf of Amestris.”
“No offense FullMetal but I find it hard to believe that you would be chosen as a liaison or ambassador. What kind of qualifications could you possibly have to end up in such a position?”
The silence at the table was now heavily ladened with shock and ire.
“But Sir how could you not know…” Furey began but he too was silenced by Ed. Riza's grin simply grew wider.
“Well for one, I spent the first four years I was in the military basically traveling the world.”
“I am well aware of that FullMetal, but well traveled does not mean well seasoned.”
“It does if after all is said and done you end up able to speak eleven different languages and of those eleven you have native fluency in nine. Xingian happens to be one of the nine.”
To say that Roy Mustang was shocked would have been the understatement of the year. A wiser man would have apologized, bowed out of the discussion and asked questions later. Not Roy, he remained undaunted and oblivious to the amount of cold stares he was getting due to his line of questioning as well as his responses.
Ed tried to let it go and continue on with what had started out as a carefree lunch but the Major General was going to have none of that. Roy proceeded to ask questions and he received calm remarks and answers from Ed in return.
Roy found out that the reason Ed knew so much about the peace talks was because he was the reason they were happening to begin with. Ed was the one who brought the idea to governments table and as a result he was handling the initial long-distance negotiations with Xing. Ed was also the reason why the rulers of Xing were even considering setting foot on Amestrian soil. Something they had previously vowed to never do. Roy was then bombarded with several different stories from all those around the table about everything Ed's gone through over the past year and a half to make this happen.
Through all of this Roy kept his air of indifference. On some level he still refused to believe that Ed was the driving force behind what is bound to go down in history as one the greatest alliances ever formed.
Roy's attitude did not go unnoticed. He made one flippant remark too many and First Lieutenant Jean Havoc excused himself from the table.
Ed let out a soft sigh and said, “Well that's not how I had planned on getting him out of the room but I'll work with it anyway.”
Confused again Roy just sat there blinking as the others swiftly changed the subject to yet another thing he was not aware of. Apparently Havoc had recently purchased a home and they were all trying to plan a surprise housewarming party.
“Do you have it?” Ed asked as he held his hand out to Breda.
“Yeah, but I don't think you're going to need it.”
“Well I need something to keep him distracted and occupied while you guys work out the details, so hand it over.”
Roy watched as Heymans reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out a couple of cigarettes and a book of matches. When he placed them in Ed's outstretched hand Ed wasted no time getting to his feet and following Havoc.
“Remember Al and Gracia are handling the food, Maria said she bought him cookware, Danny picked up the cooking utensils and I got the desk and chair.” With that said Ed disappeared into the restaurant.
Heymans Breda looked in the direction that Ed left and shook his head. “Ed has no idea that he's all the distraction needed to keep Jean occupied.”
“He is refreshingly oblivious in that sense Lieutenant, and I wouldn't have him any other way.” Chimed Riza before she took another bite of the seafood salad she ordered for lunch.
A short uncomfortable silence fell over the crew. Not being able to stand the tension any longer Furey quietly cleared his throat, looked over at Roy and spoke.
“Obviously you are not aware of a few things sir.”
“Like?” questioned Roy.
“Well for starters we all have a lot of respect for the Lieutenant Colonel. Not only for what he has done but for the things he continues to do.”
Roy didn't' respond he simply arched a questioning eyebrow at Fuery.
“Look at what he has arranged to happen between Amestris and Xing. As well as all the work he does for the youth in Central and the time he spends researching medicinal plants and herbs.”
“FullMetal studies something that has nothing to do with alchemy?” scoffed Roy, “You're kidding right?”
“No,” replied Falman who had up until now remained silent through the entire meal. “I wouldn't laugh too hard General. If it wasn't for Ed you wouldn't be attending the peace talks at all.”
“Excuse me? What does Ed have to do with me being present at the embassy this spring?”
“Well if you must know the `powers that be' decided early on that your presence was not necessary.” answered Furey, “Ed was the one that argued with the commanding General and persuaded him to convince the board that your presence would be an asset. Did you not wonder why you were the last person to receive an invitation?”
All eyes fell on Roy and he wanted nothing more than to crawl in a hole. After that he ate his meal in relative silence and he actually absorbed very little of what they all had to say concerning the housewarming party for Havoc. It was ironic how he felt inferior sitting there surrounded by a group of his subordinates.
His mind was running a mile a minute as it tried sort out and process everything he had learned in the last hour. He had judged FullMetal by what he knew of him in the past. And the fact that he has been selling the kid…no… the man short because of his own lack of knowledge was enough to make even Roy Mustang feel guilty.
He knew he owed Ed an apology, but eating crow was something he was never very good at. He was in the middle of trying to come up with a way to do it and still salvage some of his dignity when Riza called his name.
“Yes major.” He replied and his voice sounded small and foreign to his own ears.
“I was wondering if you wanted to contribute to the surprise party.”
Her tone was gentle and forgiving. It was obvious to Roy that she felt sorry for him at the moment and was trying her best to include him in the discussion.
For that he was grateful.
“Sure, tell me what's left to get and I'll pick from that.” Roy answered.
Falman flipped through a small notebook that Roy hadn't even noticed until now and said, “A bookshelf and drinks seem to be about it.”
“Consider the list done. You'll just have to tell me what kind of drinks you have in mind.” Roy replied as he offered up a warm smile that he was relieved to see returned by everyone at the table.
Breda was about to speak when Riza suddenly made a statement about how backed up the mail has been getting since the workers went on strike. The Major General was only puzzled by her statement for a moment because right after she spoke Ed and Jean walked out on the terrace.
With the two blonde men back at the table finishing their lunch the conversation turned back toward work related things. The group was standing to leave before Roy worked up the courage to voice the apology he knew FullMetal deserved. Instead of the smartass remark he expected in return, he received a `thanks' and a `don't worry about it I'm not'. Roy would have felt better if the Lt. Colonel had sworn at him and threatened to kill him. With this quiet acceptance of his apology he really felt like the bastard Ed use to accuse him of being.
* * * *
Two weeks later the General found himself back at Bella Tornio's only this time he was alone and it was after hours. He had a taste for one the pasta dishes and decided to indulge himself. The waiter seated him at a small table near the center of the restaurant, took his order and disappeared.
As he sat there waiting on his order Roy's mind wandered back to the surprise party last Saturday. Everyone had actually managed to get all of the things for Jean's house and the food ready during the three hours Ed had him shopping downtown. When Jean walked through the door of his new home and saw all of us as well as all the things we had brought with us his jaw dropped. He said thank you to all of us more times than I could keep track of. After that the food was served and drinks were passed out. By ten that night we were all feeling rather relaxed, thanks to Breda adding rum to the punch, and a good time was had by all.
Roy then thought about how little he has seen of the First Lieutenant since then and made a mental note to drop by Havoc's new home to see what the man was into. His mind had drifted to work related musings when a small fit of laughter caught his attention.
Roy raised his head and looked around to find the source of the laughter. When his eyes traveled to the far left side of the dining area they fell upon Ed and Jean. Slightly surprised to see the two of them here he decided he would be sociable and say hi. He was still a few tables away from the duo when Ed spotted him and waved. Ed actions caused Havoc to turn around and see who Ed was waving at and when the First Lieutenant caught sight of Roy an unreadable expression crossed his features.
Roy was a bit surprised to see them both dressed as they were. Ed was wearing a deep purple dress shirt, tie and black slacks and Havoc was dressed about the same only his shirt was blue and he was sans tie.
“Good evening Major General.” Ed said with a smile.
“And the same to the both of you. What brings the two of you here?”
“Just grabbing a bite to eat and having a few glasses of wine while we wait.” Answered Havoc.
“Well have a seat sir, the wait staff said the food was going to be a while with them one cook short and busier than usual.” Ed added as he leaned over and grabbed an empty wine glass off the table next to them and poured Roy a drink.
The three of them had been talking for close to half an hour when Ed excused himself.
“Too much wine?” asked Havoc with a grin as Ed slid his chair out and got to his feet.
“Yeah, that and not enough food.” Ed replied as he returned the smile. “Order another bottle while I'm gone I'm beginning to think that 1865 was a better year than I previously thought.”
With that said he strutted off towards the back of the restaurant. As he went by the majority of the people around him turned to watch. Roy didn't even realize he was among those people until Havoc's voice snapped him out of his reverie.
“Excuse me sir.”
“Yes Jean, and call me Roy we're out of the office, there's no need for such formalities.”
“Ok, Roy… please don't take offense to what I'm about to say.”
“I will try my best Jean.” Roy replied, now feeling a bit wary about what was about to pass the Lieutenants lips.
“It has taken me a long time to get to this point and I would kinda like the moment to myself.”
“I'm not sure I'm following you Jean.”
Havoc let out a heavy sigh and said, “True Ed and I are here to get something to eat but us being here together is not a coincidence.”
Roy sat there confused for a moment before realization started to slowly dawn on him. His mind went over how the two men were dressed. The way they had been treating each other and hell even the hour and environment itself screamed what Roy had never even considered.
They were on a date.
And Roy Mustang had just become a third wheel to Jean Havoc… what was the world coming to.