Joined: 18-April 06
Member No.: 34,836
"His Highness, Prince Claudio Rico Aerugo!"
As the majestic wooden doors open, several men of red uniforms strode in across the red carpet, which both of its sides stood each a line of men in blue uniforms. The presence of the red uniforms instantly heightened the hall's tension to its peak while watchful eyes fixed on the passing group of strangers. However, most of the attention was concerted onto the younger man on the lead. Mustang noticed the newcomer. If he had to comment on, fearless was the best way to describe the aura that the newcomer transpired.
Unlike his officers, Bradley had not overwhelmed by the new appearance. "Prince Claudio!" Rising from the chair of state, Bradley greeted, with a warm beam. "As the State's Fuhrer, I welcome you."
"Thank you for your hospitality," the prince said, "Today shall be the memento of peace between two great countries."
"Indeed. To express my sincerity, I invite you and your company to the fuhrer's residence throughout your stay."
"I regret to say that we have to decline because our accommodation has already been taken care of. Nevertheless, it will be an honor to visit you at your official residence if you can give us a tour."
"Certainly. My secretary will make an arrangement. Shall we proceed to the conference room?"
Mustang watched the prince and his company followed Bradley as they exited the hall. He did not even realize that his eyes had been fixing on the prince the entire time. The royal figure had an unusual aura, not due to his appearance, but some quirk feature that Mustang could not exactly describe it.
A general called and diverted Mustang's attention. It was Grumman. "Can I have a word with you?" asked the general.
At night, the envoy returned to their designation, a mansion at the outskirt of Central. After having a private meeting with his minister, Claudio of Aerugo went back to his chamber. The prince was not prepared to sleep, just yet, as he was expecting a visitor.
"The messenger is on the way to Aerugo, your highness." Said an official clad in Aerugo military uniform.
"How long will it take?" Asked the prince.
"Two days at most."
"Hopefully we'll receive an order before Bradley takes his move."
"Rest assured, your highness. Our men have infiltrated into his defense. We'll be ready to counterattack when needed."
"Oh, I'm sure Bradley would have planned the same, if not more."
Slap! Slap! Slap! They had been hearing that sound for several hours in the still car. Summer was always the favorite season for the insects, especially parasites. Breda, in the driving seat, lowered his binocular and turned his head to the back. "Cut it off, sergeant major!" He shouted in a suppressed volume.
"I'm trying, sir. But they keep harassing me."
"They seemed to like you a lot, don't they?" Falman, commented.
"I would rather that they do not." Said Fuery, hand slapped hardly on his neck.
"I want to leave the hell out of here as much as you do, kiddo. Just hang on until the colonel comes back." Breda said, as he peeked through the binoculars again.
"You are under arrest for trespassing!"
They jerked in shock. Breda immediately turned his head back and saw a man in civilian clothing leaning against the door. "Colonel! That's not funny!" Breda said angrily.
"Relax, folks!" Mustang chuckled. "Found anything suspicious?"
"Nothing. Not even signs of movement. What exactly are we looking for?"
"I'm not sure. Lieutenant General Grumman is not too convinced that Aerugo would make a compromise. So, I initiated for a covert investigation."
"Lieutenant General Grumman? You are not expecting us to believe that, are you?"
"Why would I lie? Besides, you have no right to question your commanding officer."
"Ex—commanding officer, to be exact." Falman corrected nonchalantly.
Mustang darted his irritated eyes to the second lieutenant in the back seat. It was true, nonetheless, that all his loyal subordinates had been relocated to other divisions. That was the cruelest thing Bradley had done to him, so far.
"He's right, colonel. We are volunteering to help you. Unless you divulge your true intention, there is very little we could do."
"Divulge what? I told you everything I knew." Mustang said, perplexed by Breda's implication.
"You're envying the prince. He has wealth, power, and not the least… women."
"No, I'm not!"
"Yes, you are."
"I am not in a mood for verbal fight now. This investigation will carry on with or without you."
"Intruder!" So they heard.
Mustang immediately squeezed himself into the backseat while Breda stepped on the acceleration pedal.
"Stop!" Mustang called out and the car skated to a halt.
"What's the matter, colonel?" Breda cried out. "We must leave now!"
Mustang did not reply. The way he perked up his ears had prompted Breda to follow. Then, they heard the cry. "A gunman! Protect the prince!"
Without further delay, Mustang and his team get out of the car and rushed to the mansion. It was dark in the woods but the light guided them to an open area, where they had the first sight of the intruder dressing in black from head to toe.
"Hold it right there!" Falman cried out.
Three handguns and one flame alchemist readied for a blast. The math was easy. However, with his gun still raised, he was not preparing to surrender.
"Don't risk it. Surrender now and you will not be harmed," said Mustang.
His advice was unheeded. The group then heard a metal canister was dropped. Smoke permeated the air right away and choked them. In the mist, Mustang saw a shadow fading away, presumably the fleeing intruder.
"Oh no you don't!" Mustang said with his mouth muffled by his sleeve. Raising his free hand, he ignited the air and flared the flame straight to the shadow. He tried to locate the intruder, but the smoke became too intense that he could hardly open his eyes.
"Colonel!" Mustang heard his team called. He then turned around and ran away for a clear air.
Breda, Falman, and Fuery were already out of the smoke fog.
"You see him?" Mustang asked.
"No. I guess you missed," replied Fuery.
Mustang stared at the smog. "I didn't," he said, turning away. "Let's go before the Aerugos find us!"
Fuery blinked at his superior officer, watching him leaving. Breda and Falman smirked, leaving as well. The young sergeant major was dumbfounded by those expressions. "What does that mean? How do you know, colonel?"
"I have burnt a lot of people, sergeant major. I know."
Knock! Knock! Knock!
"Come in!" said the Fuhrer.
The door was opened. There, an officer stepped in and bowed.
"Ah! Lieutenant Hawkeye!" The Fuhrer put down his pen, holding his hands together. "I thought you are on sick leave. How are you feeling?"
"I'm feeling much better, your Excellency." Hawkeye answered drily.
"Glad to hear that." Bradley stood up, pacing slowly to his secretary's side. "You have no idea how disorganized this place was when you were gone just for a day."
Seeing Hawkeye's grim face remained unfazed, Bradley dropped his jovial countenance. "Right," he said. His right hand rested on Hawkeye's shoulder and gripped it with force, watching her grimaced in pain. "First thing first. How do you explain your failure in that mansion?"
"Okay, colonel! We believe you! But what do you want us to do?" Fuery exclaimed.
"Whatever you can. I understand that your relocation is only temporary. But for this investigation to continue, I'll need as much assistance as possible. Therefore I'm asking for you guys. Are you in or out?"
Breda, Falman, and Fuery looked at each other, and then faced Mustang, whose eyes had proven a pure motive. They had to admit that it could be their last collaboration under Mustang's lead. Weighing in all factors, they finally came up with a decision. "Hell! Do we even have a choice?" Breda asked. It was a question with an answer he already knew.
Mustang smirked. "No, and this task force is official—"
"Hey, hold on a second! Just to be clear!"
The call diverted everyone's attention to the bedridden veteran, who had an unlit cigarette fluttering as he spoke. "I'm not counted as part of the team, am I?"
His question returned with four pairs of squinting eyes. "Seriously?" His voice echoed in the hospital's hallway.
"I see." Said Bradley, released his hand. Nothing else was spoken.
"That's it?" Hawkeye asked, in a mix of fear and surprise. "You are going to kill them, aren't you?"
"Ha, ha, ha, ha!" Bradley laughed out loud. "Do you really want them dead so badly?"
"I'm giving you another chance, lieutenant. Prove that they worth my wait."
"Sir, yes sir!" Hawkeye saluted to dismiss herself. She stopped as she approached the door.
"One more thing, lieutenant. I am not a man with great patience. So please use your time wisely."
Hawkeye heard every single word. She closed the door behind as she left hastily, carrying an immense pressure upon her shoulders. One life for five. That would be a price that she was willing to pay. With her hands already smeared with blood, it made no difference to her.
She stopped and looked up, watching a familiar figure ran up to her. "Colonel Mustang!"
"Hi." Mustang managed to blurt out, but lost his trail of thought. The awkward silence crept in.
Weeks passed since the relocation was ordered. Mustang and Hawkeye met each other every day, even several times. Without being bound by work, their conversation soon became brief and trivial, as if they had lost the connection. Hawkeye knew what he was thinking and his concern. Nonetheless, there was nothing much she could reveal to him. Even so, at the look of this caring superior officer in front of her – rubbing his neck while stammering clumsily for several times only to seek out her well-being, warmed her heart. She appreciated it and she wanted him to know.
"I'm fine, colonel." She beamed. "Thank you."
The rubbing stopped at once. "Good to hear that," Mustang said. "I… ah… I shall leave you to your work then." He walked pass her.
The colonel turned around.
"Please take care."
Mustang waved in acknowledgement. Subsequently, they departed.
"He always has such a good timing," Hawkeye thought.
In the afternoon, the new established task force had begun a comprehensive investigation on the mysterious intruder and Aerugo's royals. So far, there was no report of suspicious burnt patient being admitted. It was also puzzling that the Aerugos took no further action on the intrusion, as if it did not happen. Mustang scratched his head. The delicate relations between Amestris and Aerugo had confined the task force to limited resources that was insufficient for any proper detective work. Another option was available even though it was more of a fluke – Bradley's approval. Mustang dismissed that thought quickly. Asking for a homunculus for mankind's benefit was a disgrace and a castle built in the air. Human's pride aside, why would he help? When Grumman came into his office, Mustang's logic was forced to be reassessed. Grumman, with a proud leer on his face, showed a sheet of paper with Bradley's signature and stamp. Reading it three times, Mustang slumped in his chair. His wish was granted. Of course, the world was governed by the law of equivalent exchange and the price was a full report of his findings.
It did not take long for one to figure out Bradley's purpose. Mustang was a double-edge sword that had to be kept at bay, even with Hawkeye as hostage. What harm could he make by signing a paper? As long as Mustang and his henchmen were under constant surveillance, the homunculi would have one less thing to worry.
Later that night, Mustang paid his visit to the retired soldier and recounted the episode.
"Well, that's a giant step to start with, isn't it?" Havoc asked.
"Or a big trap. After going through all those set ups, I had learnt my lesson." Mustang said.
"Don't be so grey, will you? Your face has ashen a lot these days. I'm not trying to scare you, but you look worse than any patient living in this hospital."
Mustang did not respond to Havoc's statement. His straightened face in disguising any sign of weariness prompted Havoc to change the topic.
"Have you seen her lately?" Havoc asked out of the blue. It did not take Mustang by surprise on the mention of 'her'.
"Every day, everywhere, all the time."
"You don't seem happy about that."
Mustang looked away. "It has been less to talk about."
"Other than work, it wasn't like both of you had exchanged much words before."
"I understand. But something just bothers me."
"Go talk to her then. He didn't bar you from seeing her, did he?"
Mustang reckoned the person who Havoc referred to as 'he'.
"He didn't. But why risk it?"
"Risk? Is risk your concern?" Havoc did not anticipated for a reply and continued, "It may sound illogical but sometimes… I just wonder why I am the one lying here."
Mustang could not answer. He did not have one. If there was a way to reverse his retired comrade's ordeal, he would strive for it at all cost.
"I don't know if you have noticed this or not but you have always assigned Lieutenant Hawkeye close to you whenever you are on the field. But you didn't that day!"
Mustang was speechless with Havoc's analysis, shuddering at the possible outcome had he chose Hawkeye to be his wingman instead of Havoc.
"Do you blame me?" Mustang asked. His tone was imbued with guilt and sympathy.
Havoc stared at the colonel. Mustang bravely looked right into his eyes, as if he was embracing himself for a verdict.
"Yes!" It came out affirmatively.
Ashamed, Mustang lowered his head, pondering for a mean to atone his sin.
"I knew you would give me that look," said Havoc. "I won't forgive you Mustang. I will never forgive you."
The images of Havoc gritting teeth, clenching fists, replayed in Mustang's mind again and again.
"If you let her slipping through your hands just like that, I will never forgive you."
Mustang could not wave away those words. The retired veteran was right. It was not his preference to pick a member beside Hawkeye as his partner. Had he chose Hawkeye, the person who would be paralyzed and lying on a hospital bed then… Mustang shivered upon that thought. If he knew one of his subordinates must be the sacrifice, he would have gone alone.
"You have a soft spot for children."
Perhaps Alphonse Elric was the cause of his choice, but it did not matter now.
Weeks of sleep deprive had taken its toll, maybe he really need to find a chance to speak with Hawkeye, or he was used to Black Hayate's barking… Mustang blinked at that thought. Did he just hear Black Hayate?
The fluffy creature was standing by Mustang's foot, wagging his tail in delight.
"Why are you here?"
Mustang knelt down and petted the black dog. "Wait! If you are here, then the lieutenant…" He looked around and saw no sign of Hawkeye. Instead, his eyes were captured by the crowd, which he walked into subconsciously. Since the visit of Aerugo, Central had become a much active night city. What used to be a quiet street instantly turned into a tumultuous gathering spot. However, it was not the first time this street had this kind of transformation. He had seen this scenery three years ago. Back then, he was not alone. He smiled. The feel of her hand in his was still fresh in his mind. He would never forget that instant bliss. If it was not for the decoy mission, he would not have the chance to experience it.
Mustang shook his head thinking he must be too tired. By the time he looked down to where the dog was, the creature was gone. It must be an illusion stimulated by that street. He simpered at his own idiocy and proceeded to the nearest café.
"Mr. Miller! You are late! How could you let your pregnant wife wait? Now hurry! She's sitting around the corner." Ushered the old café owner.
Mustang did not say much to the owner's comment but left a brief 'thank you', as he winded through the tables, and abruptly slowed down only a table away. Unbeknown of his presence, the woman was sitting on the chair enjoying her tea, a hand caringly stroking her bulging stomach.
"I'm really sorry that I'm late, honey," said Mustang, and pecked a kiss on the woman's cheek. "Shall we go?"
Slowly and cautiously, the woman rose on her feet and took Mustang's arm. Together, they walked out of the coffee shop.
As soon as they stepped out, Mustang let out a laugh.
"What's so funny?" The woman asked.
Touching his mustache, Mustang replied, "Do you remember what Hughes used to tell me?"
The woman did not answer. Even though it was unclear under the street light, he knew she was blushing. Contentedly, he continued, "I actually like bringing my 'pregnant wife' home. What do you think?"
"I don't know. I may end up shooting my 'husband' for being late."
"Ouch!" He muttered, as if he had been literally shot on the chest. Mustang then cleared his throat as an implication of topic change. "What happened?"
"He wants me to take down the subject."
Mustang tasted the bitterness in his mouth. The homunculi had pushed it too far. "So it was you in that mansion."
"I had to."
"I could—" Mustang shut his mouth immediately after realizing that he had raised his voice. "I could have killed you, you know that?"
"You didn't and you wouldn't, even if it wasn't me."
She had made a point. He would definitely catch the culprit alive for interrogation. "How is your wound?"
"It's healing fine. Don't worry. It is not the first time."
He did not know if those acrid words were intended to stir his old guilt or to assure him that she could take care of herself. Nonetheless, the notion of killing her with his hands had overpowered his sense of remorse. "How could you be so calm? I'm getting you out of there."
"No!" She let go of his arm. "Don't do anything. You might get everyone killed."
"I am not risking anyone's life. That includes you."
"Colonel… The only way we could all get out of this safely is the 'promised day'. You know it!"
Mustang knew nothing could persuade her once she had set her mind. The couple turned into a dark alley and uncovered two sets of clean blue uniforms behind the large cardboard. "I understand. But do not attempt to pull this out on your own. This is a request, as your friend." He said, as he threw his blazer and outer pants in a trash can.
The woman disposed the maternity dress and the pillow in the same way, as she had already changed into her blue uniform. "I told you everything, didn't I?"
"You don't have to anymore. A task force has been established and this is our last contact. From now on, we have your back," said Mustang, as he buttoning up his jacket. He later heard her hairclip clicked.
"Till 'Promised day'." The lieutenant said before disappearing into the darkness.
"Till 'Promised day'." Mustang tore the sticking mustache on his face and pulled on his ignition glove. In a snap of his fingers, the trash along with the mustache was turned into ash within a second. Mustang took a last glance at the dark alley and walked to the opposite direction, where the crowd was. "Be safe, Hawkeye."
"Oh! Have you heard about it?"
"Prince Charming is still single! There's rumor saying that he's looking for a wife in Amestris."
"No way! Does that mean that we'll have a chance to become the princess of Aerugo?"
Both women stared at each other, inhaling slowly and deeply, before they held their breaths.
"Hello ladies!" Breda greeted as he arrived at the reception. "Could you do me a favor and see if there is any mail for me?" He trailed off, confused, as the two female officers before him were as still as a rock, as if they were wax statues. "Um… ladies? Is everything all right?" Breda asked. His head tilted forward. It was a mistake which he would soon regret.
"Gyah!" The high-frequency squeal almost broke Breda's eardrums. While the second lieutenant winched in agony with buzzing rang in his ears, the receptionists retreated in a hurry.
"Oh my god! Oh my god! I need a new hairdo."
"I hope it's not too late to get a new dress!"
"Wait! My mail! Ah!" Breda covered his ears as he felt his eardrums were about to split.
"What on earth was going on?" Breda entered the office with a puzzled face.
"What is it? Second lieutenant?" Fuery tilted his chair and balanced himself by gripping on the desk.
"The women in this headquarter! They are like shorted wire for unknown reasons! Have you noticed the lines outside the women's bathrooms? They also like squealing a lot!" Breda's attention was diverted from his complaints to the man sitting at the furthest center of the office. The man was best described to be sprawling rather than sitting on the chair. His head was thrown back and dangling like that of a ragged doll. If it was not for the neck, his head would certainly drop to the floor because the back rest was not high enough to support it. Were the rest of the soldiers in the office not still carrying out their routine as usual, Breda would have cried out for stumbling upon a homicide victim.
"Hey…" Breda said, obviously still doubting what he saw. "Did Havoc come back or am I seeing the colonel's soul escaping from his mouth?"
Fuery shrugged his shoulders. "You tell me." He replied nonchalantly before returning to his work.
"I have lost my charisma!" Breda heard Mustang bawled.
"He's been like that since he went through the list," Falman added as he placed a folder on one of the two-foot stacks on Mustang's secretary.
"Wait… The phone book? The one with all the women's names?"
"Isn't that the only one?"
Breda was getting irritated by Mustang's languidness. He was not anticipating on wasting time on this temporary assignment to be under a flat-tire. "Oh come on, Colonel Mustang!" Seeing the rest of the members not attempting anything to improve the situation, the second lieutenant stepped in as he approached the colonel, who had his eyes close. Breda grabbed the colonel by his military jacket. "Get a hold of yourself!" Breda yelled.
It seemed to be effective. Mustang opened his eyes and stared at Breda. For a moment, the second lieutenant gulped and expected a harsh reprimand. It did not happen. Instead, Mustang dropped his head like a dead corpse. "Are you serious?" Disappointed, Breda let go.
"We've tried everything. None of them worked. I would suggest, Breda, that you help us with the paperwork. As you can see, we are critically understaffed," Falman said.
The newly promoted second lieutenant was correct. With Havoc's retirement and Hawkeye's absence, the team would soon be overwhelmed by paperwork if they did not start doing it. "Oh hey! Lieutenant Hawkeye!"
"I'm doing my paperwork. I'm doing my paperwork…" Mustang repeated himself.
Breda turned to his colleagues and asked, "Have you tried that?" Falman and Fuery were staring at the scribbling colonel, speechless.
"We… kind of forgot about it," Fuery replied shyly.
Breda mockingly mouthed a 'ha-ha!" to the junior officer.
"You set me up, Breda? That is insubordination!" Mustang stood up.
"How is getting the commanding officer to do his paperwork an insubordination?" Breda fought back.
"You lied to your CO!"
"You were neglecting your responsibility!"
"I was depressed."
"Oh yeah! I have lost my charisma!'" Breda impersonated Mustang, added some wailing at the end. "That sounds very convincing."
Falman and Fuery giggled at Breda's act.
"Stop laughing, both of you, or I'll get you court-martial."
As the quarrel continued, a corporal leaved the office and went to another room, where the Fuhrer was as he drank his tea. The corporal slowly transformed as he approached the Fuhrer. "How long are you going to send me for this boring task?"
"I told you not to leave them off your sight, did I not?" Bradley asked.
"Those simpletons have been doing nothing but horseplaying."
Unknown to the corporal, Fuery was hiding around the corner outside of Bradley's office. With such significant intelligence in his hands, Fuery rushed back to Mustang's office to reveal his findings. "You were right, colonel!" He told Mustang, who was resting comfortably in his chair.
Mustang straightened his spine and leaned forward to his desk. On cue, Breda and Falman stood by Fuery.
"Gentlemen!" said Mustang. "It's time to hunt."
Immediately after he left the Fuhrer's office, the corporal walked back to Mustang's office. The staffs were all occupied to their respective work. The corporal scanned the room. There were four empty seats, including Mustang's. "....!" cursed the corporal. He dashed to the window behind Mustang's desk and looked down. Mustang, in his business coat, was walking to a car parked at the plaza. Falman, who wore a sweater, held the door for him. Before entering the car, they glanced to their surroundings as if they were inspecting for followers.
Realized that he was late, the corporal ran out of the office.
Falman looked at the rear mirror as he drove the car. He asked, "Do you think it will follow us?"
Mustang folded the newspaper and put it aside. "It will. That's its job."
Falman said nothing further. However, Mustang noted the uneasy facial expression on the rear mirror. "Is there anything else?"
"Uh… nothing, sir. I was just wondering… isn't the operation suppose to be today?"
"And we are handling 'it' now, simultaneously?" Falman asked, emphasizing on 'it' as he spoke.
"I don't see a problem."
"I thought you would prefer to monitor the operation yourself. I mean… since she won't be able to contact us and after what happened last time…"
Last time… Mustang remembered 'last time'. That was the soreness that would never go away. He did not even want to recall how close he was to killing her.
"How could you be so calm? I'm getting you out of there."
"No!" She let go of his arm. "Don't do anything. You might get everyone killed."
"I am not risking anyone's life anymore. That includes you."
"Colonel… The only way we could all get out of this safely is 'Promised Day'. You know it!"
Mustang knew nothing could persuade her once she had set her mind. The couple turned into a dark alley and uncovered two sets of clean blue uniforms behind the large cardboard. "I understand. But do not attempt to pull this out on your own. This is a request, as a friend." He said, as he threw his blazer and outer pants in a trash can.
The woman disposed the maternity dress and the pillow in the same way, as she had already changed into her blue uniform. "I told you everything, didn't I?"
"You don't have to anymore. The task force was approved and this is our last contact. From now on, we have your back," said Mustang, as he buttoning up his jacket. He later heard her hairclip clicked.
"Till 'Promised day'." The lieutenant said before disappeared into the darkness.
"Till 'Promised day'." Mustang tore the sticking mustache on his face and pulled on his ignition glove. In a snap of his fingers, the trash along with the mustache was turned into ash within second. Mustang took a last glance into the dark alley and walked to the opposite direction, where the crowd was. "Be safe, Hawkeye."
"It is not a particularly difficult operation," Mustang said nonchalantly. "She will be fine."
"Right," Falman conformed, despite his superior's brief response and extreme tranquility exacerbated his worry. Mustang might have a cool head most of the time. However, he was also a protective leader. It was rather odd to Falman that the colonel would send a team member to execute a mission alone and without any back-up. The objective was very simple, probably the easiest one that the team ever had. But, any military action that qualifies to be an 'operation' has certain level of unforeseen jeopardy. Did Mustang not notice what he had? Falman cleared his throat, hoping that he could better express his anxiety. "Still, it is rather risky to infiltrate that place solo."
"Solo? Who told you that it was a solo mission?" Mustang crossed his arms and raised his eye brow.
"Um… Sorry sir. I didn't know that you had reinforcement in place."
"Of course I had arranged reinforcement! What am I? An uncaring commanding officer who would send his subordinate for suicidal mission?"
"You did send Edward Elric for that kind of task before," Falman murmured.
"I can hear that!" Mustang threw the newspaper to the front.
"Sorry colonel!" Falman yelped as he straightened his spine in horror.
"I had explained many times that Fullmetal was more than capable to handle it alone. How was that a suicidal mission? Besides, there were only a few chimeras in there—"
"A total of thirty-seven of them, to be exact," Falman thought. This time, he was mindful not to say it out loud. He recalled that Edward was hospitalized for a few days after that assignment. That incidence had instilled fear in the military for Mustang's iron fist. But, they did not know that it was only a small prank that went awry.
"—If it wasn't for the military banquet, I could have exterminated those pests myself," Mustang ranted.
"So you have sent Edward to support Lieutenant Hawkeye?"
"Seriously, what kind of retard will send a kid for that? Who is he going to disguise as? Her baby brother? Ha! ..."
Falman sighed, slightly regretted that he had asked. He could barely ignored Mustang's escalating agitation and unending insults to the famous Fullmetal alchemist as it was getting harder for him to focus on driving.
"Don't worry," Mustang said.
Falman looked back to the rear mirror to find that Mustang was no longer in a rampage.
"He is one of the most formidable combat alchemists I've ever worked with. Hawkeye is in good hands," Mustang smirked.
It took Falman a minute to mentally examine his encyclopedic list of combat alchemists that Mustang had ever associated with. When a name synchronized with his reasoning, Falman lost words. Mustang did not lie. That alchemist was indeed more than a competent reinforcement. He could be the ultimate safe guard. Falman confirmed his evaluation of the war hero. Whether that person liked it or not, Roy Mustang was an overprotective man, especially when it came to the one he cared.
"Yes, Second Lieutenant Falman…"
"She will kill you."
"I know King Bradley is a tyrant. But, I don't know he is also this old-schooled." Prince Claudio was sitting restlessly near a round table, whispering.
"It is a little obsolete but undoubtedly reliable diplomatic measure. I personally think that Fuhrer Bradley is a brilliant ruler. A crown princess from Amestris will not only strengthen our tie with this powerful country but will also provide you a strong ally to support our kingdom. Why don't you choose one, Your Highness?"
"What? You are not expecting me to marry some general's daughter, are you? Who knows if they will pull out a drill on me! I will be killed, by them!"
"You are exaggerating, My Lord. They all look like lovely and elegant ladies to me." The old servant smiled to the crowds of women standing before him and the prince.
"If that is the case, why don't you marry them instead and stop pestering me?" Claudio rose on his feet but was stopped by his servant.
"Your Highness, please, Your Highness. You cannot just leave the ladies here. At least, talk to them. You know, it's a diplomatic gesture."
Claudio paused and looked at the older man. "Right, it's politics." Claudio licked his lips nervously. "I'm now Aerugo's ambassador."
"Yes, yes." The servant returned an awkward smile. He later let out a long sigh when Claudio walked to the crowd and said, "Ladies!"
The women were exhilarated to see the prince in closer proximity. Giggling merrily, the servant reached for his tea.
"Good afternoon! I should first express my gratitude to Fuhrer King Bradley for being so kind to have arranged this meeting. It is my honor and pleasure to meet you all."
It was all going accordingly as he expected. The servant sipped the hot liquid into his throat with satisfaction. "Oh, my young prince! You are just as tactful as the late king was!"
"However, I have no intention to take any of you as my wife. Thank you for your time." Claudio finished hastily.
The women gasped at the prince's speech but leaved the court reluctantly.
As the crowd dispersed, the prince turned to his back to smirk at his stiffened servant. The poor old man had lost strength in his hands and dropped the tea cup onto the grass. "I see that as a sign that you have approved my diplomatic skill," said the prince. It was now his turn to sip his tea.
"What an utter disgrace! This is not an elegant approach that I would expect from a royal!"
Prince Claudio spurted the tea from his mouth at the dawn of seeing the sparkling muscles flexing before him.
"Today, I, Alex Louis Armstrong will show you the art of courting from the Armstrong family..." Said Armstrong, changing several poses to showcase his naked upper torso.
"Colonel Roy Mustang, I am so going to kill you!" Thought Hawkeye, her fists and teeth clenched in anger.