Edward Elric has been in the cabinet for three hours now.
He transmuted it shut with huge, no-nonsense padlocks and then, as an afterthought, made a few air holes. Small whimpering noises can occasionally be heard from inside. Alphonse Elric stands next to the altered cabinet; occasionally he taps worriedly at it, trying to elicit some sort of response beyond the whimpering. He hasn't had much luck--at least, not since officers Havok and Breda showed up. They stand a good few feet back from the cabinet now, watching it with some trepidation.
The whimpering dies down for a bit. Breda glances sidelong at Havok. "We're not getting anywhere," he says.
"Not our fault," Havok says. "What got him so worked up, anyway?"
Al shuffles nervously from his place next to the cabinet; he knows more than he's letting on. Mercifully, neither officer notices. They're too busy trying to discover a way out of Patching Up Ed's Sanity Duty. "I don't know," Breda says, shaking his head.
"There's got to be someone else who can get him out of that," Havok says.
"Isn't Armstrong here at the moment?"
"No! I mean, yes, but--"
At about this point they receive a vigorous reminder that Armstrong is not the only visitor from Central City at the moment. Footsteps sound in the hall outside--the kind you get when someone's not quite rushed enough to run, but is far too enthusiastic to proceed in an orderly fashion.
"I thought someone was in here!" By the time Hughes steps inside the room it's too late to run. "Someone left a kitten outside! It's all right now, though--Elysia just loves it. See, I have pictures!"
When subjected to a certain stimulus repeatedly and relentlessly, the human brain eventually devises a defense against it. One can only inflict baby pictures upon any given individual so many times before they lose all meaning.
"--look, the kitten lets her pick it up already! I knew she was good with animals!"
This is where a little fatherly creativity comes into play. There are a great variety of different ways in which one can ambush the unsuspecting (and even the suspecting) with a photograph, and at one point or another, Maes Hughes has used all of them.
"See, she got it to fall asleep on her lap! It loves her already! No surprise there--"
Nevertheless, by the time anyone gets a word in edgewise, Havok and Breda have already gone a bit slack-jawed and vacant-looking as their mental defenses come into play. It's Al who finally breaks the spell, timidly wondering, "Um, Lieutenant Colonel--"
Freed from their trances, Havok and Breda leap into action before Al can even finish his question. "I've got to run--"
"We were just waiting for someone who could deal with the kid to get here!"
"No idea what's got him so upset, got to go now--"
Their running footsteps fade into the distance quite fast.
Left alone in the room with Al and the cabinet containing Ed, Hughes calmly puts the pictures away, pulls over a chair, and sprawls in it. "I heard there was a problem here," he says to Al. "Any idea what's wrong with your brother?"
The cabinet whimpers again. Al casts a worried glance at it, then looks back at Hughes. "I don't know. We were about to leave when he remembered he had one last report to give the Colonel." Actually, Ed's words were more along the lines of 'If I don't get this one stupid thing to him right this minute the bastard'll never let me hear the end of it,' but Al is not about to say so. "So he stopped back here for a bit and went to see Colonel Mustang."
"I'm not actually sure," Al admits. "I was in the hallway when I heard the door to the Colonel's office slam, and I saw my brother run by really fast. By the time I got here, he was already in the cabinet."
There's a moment of silence, and then the cabinet says, "Never coming out."
"That's an improvement over the whimpering," Hughes asides to Al.
Inside the cabinet, Edward lapses into fiercely stubborn silence. It draws on into long uncomfortable minutes. Al stares at his brother's self-imposed prison with as much worry as he can emote, which is quite a surprising amount. Hughes fixes a vaguely concerned look on the clock.
Finally, an unusually subdued voice emerges from the cabinet. "Al, I'm hungry. Get me something to eat, will you?"
"Nii-san," Al tells the cabinet patiently, "if you come out of there, you can get it yourself."
"Never coming out."
"You know," Hughes says, "I think that's where Colonel Mustang stores his notes."
There's a pause, and then Ed speaks again, this time with a nervous edge to his voice. "I don't know. It's dark in here." A beat, and he adds, "Anyway, they can't be his. None of the papers in here are sticky enough."
"Nii-san!" Al says, never mind that he's not entirely sure what his brother meant by that.
Hughes just grins at the cabinet. "Tell him that sometime, will you, Edward? Where is the Colonel, anyway?"
This time the silence has an edge of terror to it. Al leans closer to the cabinet. "Nii-san?"
"I don't--" A violent rattling noise comes from the cabinet. "I don't know!"
"Ed, are you okay?" Hughes asks.
"No!" This is quite vehement. "I just saw--I mean--" He slows, the heat leaking from his voice. "Yeah. I'm fine. I'm just. Fine."
"What happened?" Al asks. Hughes remains silent, fixing the cabinet with a bemused look.
Ed doesn't speak for another long moment. Finally, reluctantly, he says, "Well..."
He didn't want to venture back into the headquarters to hand in the report from Lior City. He knew, just knew, that Mustang would find some way to rub it in. 'Why is my door open? Did someone forget to close it when they left? I certainly didn't see anyone open--oh, there you are, Fullmetal, I didn't even notice you beneath that stack of papers that you should be filling out!'
But if he didn't, it'd be even worse when he got back the next time. So Edward made his way down the halls. They were oddly empty--somehow, just about everyone had found a reason to be elsewhere. He let out a hesitant breath of relief: maybe Mustang wouldn't be there, and he could just drop the report and run.
But any attention paid to the hallway leading up to the Colonel's office dispelled this hope. A low rumble of peculiar noise came from the room: rustling and bumping overlaid by a sharp voice. Curiosity, as usual, got the better of common sense and pushed Ed forward until his hand was on the doorknob. He turned it and pulled the door open just enough for him to get an idea of what was going on.
And he froze, trauma glassing over his eyes and halting his mental processes in an instant.
Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye knelt on Mustang's desk--more specifically, she knelt right over him. He was sprawled out on the desktop in a rather dubious state of partial dress. His jacket was draped on his chair and his pants had been wrenched down to his knees (and he had apparently not been wearing anything beneath those pants), but at least his shirt was still on his person. For creative values of "on his person," anyway. It was entirely open, and it looked like some buttons may even have been torn off. More curious still, one of his wrists was bound to a corner of the desk with a strip of black leather.
Hawkeye planted one hand firmly on Mustang's bare chest for a moment, then yanked his shirt further aside. She was wearing less than usual, herself--her pants and jacket were also on the chair. More peculiar than that, though, was the fact that she was holding a ragged piece of leather in one hand. It looked like it might have been miniskirt-shaped once, but now it was missing a strip of about the same dimensions as the one tying down Roy's wrist.
"--much as I appreciated your fine form while fighting Fullmetal, Colonel," she was saying, "I will not--"
She paused to take the ex-miniskirt in her teeth and tear off another strip from it. "I will not wear a miniskirt." She grabbed his free hand, pinned it down, and bound the leather around his wrist. He opened his mouth to speak (although with a look on his face suggesting he had no idea what he'd say) and she gave him a fierce glare. "I will show you that aforementioned appreciation on my own terms."
She set both hands down firmly on his now-bare shoulders and abruptly shifted her position from a kneel to a very limber split indeed. Mustang arched back against the unyielding surface of the desk, dark hair splaying out in a sweat-damped circle around his head. Without any conscious consent from the more calm and collected parts of his brain, he exhaled a ragged, shivery gasp that he then tried very hard, without much success, to turn into something more nonchalant and jaded like a pleased sigh. His fingers curled and uncurled feverishly, never reaching close to his restraints.
Hawkeye smiled. She hooked one leg around one of his, then leaned forward and undid just one button on her shirt. "On my own terms," she repeated.
Mustang's eyes narrowed. "Is that a challenge, Lieutenant?" he purred, and then he twisted one bound wrist to press it against the rough edge of the desk.
She settled her hands on his hips, pressed herself harder against him, and fixed him with a stern glare. Up until the point where he shifted his hand around again, and there was a crude array scratched shallowly on its back. He gestured, and the neatly ordered buttons of her shirt snapped right out of the fabric at the sudden blast of air behind them.
Without missing a beat, she slapped him hard across the face.
He blinked. Then he licked his lips and, very slowly, grinned.
All of this took in the vicinity of two minutes. Really, this shouldn't have been nearly enough time for the tiny scurrying imps inside Edward's brain to find their proper places on the treadmill again after being knocked off in the first place. But in light of the circumstances, they found their stations again faster than they otherwise might.
And Ed, still standing behind the barely-opened door, gave an earsplitting shriek, turned, and pelted down the hallway.
"And that was hours ago," Edward says in a numb voice.
Silence rules the room from door to cabinet for at least a minute. Then, finally, Al says, "Nii-san, are you sure that's what happened?"
His only reply is a low whimper.
"I think," Hughes says carefully, "that I'll go have a talk with Colonel Mustang. Edward, if you're comfortable sleeping in there tonight, I'm sure you won't get in trouble. But you'll probably be a lot happier if you can leave." He gets up, offers Al a quick, reassuring grin, and makes his way out into the hall.
He's not halfway to Mustang's office when Hawkeye rounds a corner right in front of him. She salutes and starts to weave around him.
He moves to block her path. "Lieutenant! Just the person I wanted to see--well, one of them--I was just talking to Edward!"
She stares at him for a long moment, expression more like steel than ice (which, after all, does melt). He smiles sunnily back at her. "Nothing happened," she says flatly. "Nothing. Happened. Sir!"
"Okay," he says docilely enough. "I didn't say anything did." She stares at him a moment longer, then relaxes very, very slightly back to her usual level of tension and starts to walk away. Which is when he adds, "But it sounds like you and Roy very much enjoy a good desk. I know what my wedding present to you two will--"
She spins about and drives her fist squarely into his face, sending him stumbling against the wall. "Nothing happened."
She salutes and walks away.