Title: Come What May
Series: Part one of Our Sinner's Redemption
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Pairings: Darius/Edward Elric/Heinkel, pre-Edward Elric/Roy Mustang
Warnings: Ed's potty mouth, spoilers for FMA:B ending, canon-typical violence, pile 'o OCs, survivor's guilt, angst, original character death, slow build (btwn Ed & Roy), referenced underage relationships, off-screen violence against women
Summary: After the Promised Day, with his alchemy still intact thanks to Hohenheim's sacrifice, Ed finds himself and his chimera team getting dragged into the shadowy world of military secrets in an attempt to keep Bradley's legacy from causing a civil war.
A/N: I had a lot of trouble with the end of last chapter and the whole arrest and everything, honestly. Because I've known for chapters who was involved and how Ed was going to find out and all of that, but I never quite sorted the actual act of handling this giant clusterfuck. Whoops? I hope it's not nearly as cringe-worthy as I felt it was while writing the damn thing.
They made it into Central shortly after four in the morning, Darius driving because he was better with tricky manoeuvres, and Heinkel sitting in the passenger seat because he was the better shot, and Ed wanted them in their strongest non-chimera positions, should things go completely to shit. Evan was sitting in the back seat with Ed, taking deep, even breaths to help calm his nerves, while Ed found himself rubbing his thumb over the scars of his lighter, letting the familiar shape settle him.
"That one," Evan said quietly, breaking the tense silence of the car, and Ed slipped his lighter away and pulled on the glove he'd removed as he looked out at the large house Evan was pointing at. It was suitably impressive for a member of the brass with a family, at least twice as large as Grumman's townhouse, though it had the same tiny front garden that most homes inside Central's city limits boasted. It was dark enough outside that most people would want lights on to move around, if they were awake, and the Beardmore house had lights on on the ground floor. "Kitchen and dining room," Evan offered before Ed could ask. "House staff, mostly. My father should be up by now, eating breakfast, but Mother and Kenny won't be."
Ed nodded in understanding; that didn't really change any of his plans, but it helped to know that their prey would be relatively secluded from the rest of the household. "Good."
Darius rolled to a stop the next house past their target, shutting off the lights, but not the car properly. Ed knocked his shoulder with a fist as he shoved his door open, and Darius muttered, "Don't get shot."
"I'll try to remember that," Ed retorted before he stood and quietly closed his door.
Heinkel and Evan had also both got out, and Ed and Heinkel followed Evan to the edge of the fence surrounding his family's home. There, Heinkel stopped, his gun drawn, while Ed followed Evan to the front door, which the private unlocked with his key before stepping inside and leading the way to the dining room.
This had been his choice, letting his father know who had betrayed him, and Ed respected that, even if it made him more than a little nervous.
"Evan?" a male voice called, sounding surprised, as he stopped in the doorway of what must have been the dining room.
Ed stopped next to Evan in the doorway, barely glanced at the stately room before focussing on the man seated at the head of the table on the far end of the room: dark hair receding, not quite portly, but clearly not in shape, either; Ed had seen Beardmore in person twice before, at the funeral and the memorial, and he still couldn't see the family resemblance to Evan, even with the man's expressionless mask broken, his eyes widening with disbelief.
And then, before Ed could hope to say anything, fury bled across Beardmore's features and he stood, levelling a gun that Ed hadn't seen him pull on his son. "You little traitor," he snarled.
Ed stepped forward, placing himself in between Evan and his father, because there was no fucking way he was going to let a member of his squad be shot. "You had best hope that's a headshot, Beardmore," he said, his voice hard, "because I guarantee that nothing less will stop me from seeing you face a firing squad."
"Put it down, Father," Evan added from behind Ed. There was a faint tremor in his voice, but he sounded more determined than anything else, and Ed wouldn't have been surprised to find him pointing his service revolver at his father around Ed.
Beardmore's jaw clenched and he slowly set his gun on the table before raising his hands in a show of surrender. "What are you intending to do, Elric?" he demanded, very obviously going for a mocking tone, but far too stiff to pull it off. "You may not respect the chain of command–"
"Oh, you're right, I don't," Ed agreed, starting around the table, his hands held close enough together that he could clap and activate an array before Beardmore would be able to pick up and aim his gun. "But Amestris has a rather helpful history of her Führer giving executive power to officers when they're needed to handle something above their command." He smiled widely, didn't even try pretending it was anything other than mean. "Even your precious Bradley did so, giving the Crimson Lotus Alchemist the power to overrule Armstrong up in Briggs."
He stopped next to Beardmore – who had stiffened in that way that soldiers did when they realised they were fucked – and picked up the man's gun. "There is a piece of paper floating around Central Command somewhere," Ed continued, "which gives me the power to do whatever it takes to hunt down and drag in the fucker responsible for feeding information to those terrorist groups. Information like where my team was while we were in the west and north, the names of the soldiers who helped us bring down larger groups, and my birthday and the fact that my best friend lived close enough to the Rush Valley station, that a train exploding would probably kill her."
From the doorway, someone drew in a sharp breath, even as Beardmore spat, "It's a shame they missed."
Ed stepped up behind Beardmore, grabbing his hands and roughly yanking his wrists together behind his back. "Major General Rodrick Beardmore," he said, recalling back to the wording Heinkel had walked him through in the car en route, forcing his voice to remain flat, to not show any of the rage he felt at the proof that Winry had been the target of that bomb, "I'm placing you under arrest for the crime of conspiring with terrorists against the military and the people of Amestris, which includes, but is not limited to: passing confidential documents or the information held within said documents to enemies of Amestris, supplying the enemies of Amestris with military weaponry, pointing the enemies of Amestris at specific military or civilian targets, and plotting with the intent to commit treason against Führer Grumman." He clapped his hands together and transmuted the gun into a particularly tight pair of cuffs that only alchemy would be able to remove from the fucker.
"I wasn't the one to start this, Elric," Beardmore snarled.
"Start walking, or I swear I'll drag you out of here by what little hair you have remaining," Ed shot back, gripping the fucker's forearm tight enough to bruise.
Beardmore obediently started walking, his head held high.
Ed stopped him in the doorway, where he found that a woman in a dressing gown and another woman wearing an apron with old food stains on the front had joined Evan. "Evan," he called, and the private left off glaring at his father to look at Ed. "Please gather the household and keep them away from wherever your father was most likely to keep his documents. I'll send Heinkel in to help you."
Evan nodded. "Sure thing."
Ed pushed Beardmore to get him moving again, but before he could go far, the woman wearing the dressing gown lightly touched his shoulder and quickly withdrew her hand to clasp it with her other one against her chest when he looked at her. "What about us?" she asked quietly. "What about my children and me?"
Evan clearly took after his mother, for they shared the same wide nose and thin lips. "So long as there's no evidence of your involvement and you don't hamper my investigations, nothing. Should you, yourself, be found guilty, care of your youngest son will be given to whichever of his brothers is most able to support him and also uninvolved." Because Evan's youngest brother wasn't eighteen yet, and even the military would be hard-pressed to pin much on a minor if both he and his mother insisted he was forced into any involvement.
"And if all of my elder sons are found to be involved?" she asked.
"Evan isn't." Just like he'd told Grumman that Wackett and Gloria were uninvolved in the Dublith group, no matter what any of those fuckers said, he would stand between the military and Evan and keep his squad member well out of range of any firing squads.
She swallowed and nodded, something very like gratitude in her eyes, then stepped back, giving him clear permission to carry on removing her husband without further hindrance.
Ed sent Heinkel in to help Evan in keeping the household in order, then shoved Beardmore to the waiting car and directed Darius to drive them to the prison.
He scowled at the prison addition being built where lab five had been as they got out of the car; he'd heard about that while he'd been in the south – given the influx of terrorist prisoners, they'd needed the space – and had immediately set about writing Grumman a nasty note to send with his next report, only for Heinkel to confiscate it while Darius thoroughly distracted Ed. And then, because his team sucked, they'd sat him down, dragged the full story out of him, and then laid out the arguments for using the abandoned lot for a prison addition, forcing him to see the sense, even if it did still make him, in turns, sick and furious.
"Not the time, Ed," Darius reminded him as he took over directing Beardmore, since he could actually see over the fucker's shoulders. (And his head, unnaturally tall arsehole that he was.)
Ed huffed and led the way into the prison, pulling out his pocket watch to serve as proof of who he was, should he need it.
He didn't – the guard at the entrance recognised him – and Grumman had sent ahead orders that Ed would be bringing in a prisoner that morning, and he was to be placed in one of their most secure cells and held until the trial, despite any complaints he might make or what anyone thought of him. And there was definitely some surprise at Ed dragging in a major general, but the prison guards kept any opinions to themselves and it was, in all, a fairly uneventful drop off.
Before he left, Ed peered at Beardmore through the window of his cell and asked, "Do you want to tell me where the evidence I need is? I'll find it either way, make no mistake, but you're welcome to prove you're not completely without any honour."
Beardmore turned his back on him.
Ed shrugged and left him, not having any interest in wasting any more time than was necessary dragging answers out of a man who clearly had no intention in giving them to him.
They went back to the Beardmore home and, between Evan's familiarity with his father, the chimeras' heightened senses, and Ed's own alchemy bypassing any locks or traps, it didn't take them long to find all the evidence they could possibly need. They also found names and positions for a number of terrorist groups all over the nation, as well as a list of military members in Beardmore's pocket, and the growl of victory Heinkel let out when he found those lists actually made the hair at the back of Ed's neck stand up, even as he put on a ferocious smile at the break they'd just been handed.
At around six-thirty, a handful of MPs showed up with orders from Grumman to keep the household under house arrest, which Mrs Beardmore bore stoically, even as her youngest son chafed at the fact that he was stuck indoors because of his father. When Ed, his team, and Evan left for Command a little after eight – after they'd all changed into uniform, because Ed had no interest in rehashing that argument with Grumman – he had to argue Evan's inclusion with the major in charge, but his word that he would accept responsibility for the private got them past.
When Ed led the way into Grumman's outer office with his usual lack of decorum, the absolute last thing he'd expected was for Second Lieutenant Days to stand from her desk and lead the rest of the office in a round of applause. So, naturally, he stopped just inside as the noise washed over him and sort of stared around at them in disbelief.
Grumman appeared in the doorway of his inner office, wearing that punch-worthy smirk, and that shook Ed from his shock enough for him to point at the bastard and snarl, "Shut the fuck up." Which had the added bonus of stopping the applause, but he was beginning to suspect Grumman's staff was becoming as inured to his manner as Mustang's team had, because he didn't get any of the familiar disapproving glares.
Grumman's smirk just widened. "Come through, Lieutenant Colonel," he ordered, before stepping back into his office.
Ed sighed and jerked his head at his team and Evan, then led the way into the inner office. When Grumman raised an eyebrow at Evan, who brought up the rear of the group, Ed suggested, "Next time I tell you I trust my squad, don't fucking question me."
Grumman leant back in his chair, one hand smoothing over his moustache and fully hiding his mouth. "Please close the door, Private Beardmore."
"Sir!" Evan replied with a stiff salute, before doing so.
Ed sighed as Evan joined him on one of the couches, the chimeras taking up the other. "We need to work on your response to authority," Ed complained to him.
Across from him, Darius snickered and Heinkel shook his head.
"What have you got for me, Lieutenant Colonel?" Grumman interrupted, before Evan could do more than look slightly horrified at the suggestion that he would ever be anything other than respectful to the Führer.
Ed flashed the bastard a sharp smile. "Incriminating documents, a list of those members of the military in his pockets, and positions of groups that we haven't corralled yet."
Grumman's eyes gleamed and he leant forward over his desk. "Well then," he said, his voice taking on dark tones, "I guess I won't be demoting you after all."
"Seriously, sir, go fuck yourself," Ed retorted as he tossed the folder of documents onto the desk, then settled back against the uncomfortable couch. (He wondered if the bastard was in a good enough mood to let him fix them? Probably not. More likely, they were kept uncomfortable to torment visitors other than Ed, like members of the brass.)
Grumman opened the folder and started leafing through the papers. "Did you find anything on the other Beardmores?"
"Nothing explicit," Ed allowed. "Given how Evan found out, I wouldn't be surprised to discover his elder brothers have been warned away from areas where a large attack was due to take place, but I'm not inclined to hold any lack of reporting the warning against them. That said, if the tribunal doesn't try making connections, I'll be shocked."
"They're not on this list?" Grumman asked, holding up the list of military personal that Beardmore had in his pocket.
"They weren't when we found it," Ed returned, because he had no interest in playing word games with the bastard. "Nothing in that folder has been altered in any way."
Grumman nodded and set that paper and the four under it to one side. "I'll see this information disseminated and the named members of the military brought to Central for trial. Private Beardmore."
Grumman motioned to the phone on his desk. "Unless you would prefer to leave the matter to myself, this is your chance to ring your brothers and inform them of current events. They were both confined to their dorms this morning, but the only reason passed on to their commanding officers was that they were related to an active military investigation."
Evan swallowed. "Could I use a different phone, sir? One not–" he motioned to the phone on Grumman's desk. "You might get an important call, and I wouldn't want to hold up the line."
Grumman's moustache twitched. "You may use one of the phones out in the office."
As Evan got up to do so with a salute, Ed glanced at Darius and raised an eyebrow. The man sighed, but obediently stood and followed Evan with a dry, "I hate babysitting duty."
"I will kick you somewhere unfortunate if you don't shut the fuck up," Ed called after him, and Darius flashed a smile over his shoulder before he closed the office door behind himself and Evan.
Grumman started going through the paperwork with one hand and picking up and dialling the phone with the other, asking occasional questions between ringing the various commands and ordering their commanders arrest the names on the list, or gather a squad to take out a local group.
He took a break to discuss the trial with them, once Evan and Darius had returned, kindly giving Evan the chance to step back and leave just the evidence they'd gathered to pin his father, but Evan held firm that he would stand against him at Ed's side.
Finally, Grumman nodded and admitted, "That should be all, for the moment. I'll contact you with information about the trial as it comes in."
Ed and his people all stood, the other three saluting formally, while Ed just gave a nod. "You know our hotel," he said.
Grumman's moustache twitched. "Indeed," he agreed, having already ascertained that Evan would be remaining with Ed and his team, rather than his family's home, until the trial was over. As they turned to leave, however, the Führer called, "Lieutenant Colonel."
Ed glanced back at him. "What?"
"Think on where you'll go once the trial is over," Grumman suggested as he picked up his phone's handset to continue going through his list. "With this information, I won't need you hunting for whispers."
"We're going to Ishval," Ed said, without even having to think about it, and Grumman glanced at him, one eyebrow raising. "Don't bullshit me, bastard. The only reason I've been fucking around the country is because there wasn't anyone else to do your dirty work. If you're done using me, I'm going back to my fucking commander."
Grumman snorted. "Fine. If you'd rather return to being the brigadier general's problem, I won't stop you. Do try not to get sent back to me too quickly."
"Go fuck yourself, sir," was Ed's retort, before he jerked his head at Heinkel, and the man finally opened the door to the outer office and led the way out.
They'd stopped for lunch on their way to the hotel, which may or may not have been a good choice, as it seemed to serve as the last straw on all of their backs, after the long few days, and they were all dragging a bit as they grabbed their things from the car and started into the hotel.
After they'd got their key – one room, because it was easier to keep track of everyone that way, and they were all far too tired to worry about sharing the beds between the four of them – Ed stopped at the sight of the public phone and sighed, because there was one person who really needed to know that everything had worked out, and Grumman wasn't likely to ring him, not with the pile of work Ed had just handed over. "Go on up," he ordered when the others looked back at him. "I need to make a call."
Darius grabbed his suitcase from him without a word, and the others continued upstairs, while Ed walked over to the phone and started dialling.
"Ishval Command," Fuery offered cheerfully when he picked up.
Ed managed a tired smile. "Hey, Fuery."
"Ed!" Fuery recognised, and a rush of noise came through from the other end. "Shut up for a minute!" he ordered with a laugh, clearly aimed at whoever was in the room with him. "The chief'll be back in a minute, Ed. How're you doing? Everyone's been a bit on edge since we got the warning from your private, and then with the Führer ringing through yesterday..."
Ed snorted, but didn't argue that claim of ownership; it was more than clear where Evan's loyalties lay, at this point. "It has been a fucking long couple of days, but we got the break we needed. Trial's soon. Next week, I expect."
"The trial-trial?" Fuery asked, and Ed could practically hear the held breath of everyone on the other end.
"The one where we put the mastermind away for good," he agreed.
"They did it!" Fuery said, clearly to the rest of the room, and the cheer that came over the line was even more rewarding than the moment they'd found the hidden evidence.
"Congratulations, Fullmetal," Mustang said, clearly having taken the phone from Fuery.
Ed closed his eyes, felt somewhere between drained and elated, and he bowed forward a bit, almost curling around the handset. "When this is over, is it okay if I come home?" he asked, only to realise what he said after it was too late to stop himself, and he really hoped Mustang assumed he meant Resembool, didn't realise that Ed's tired mind had stupidly started to equate 'home' with the fucking bastard, for reasons that Ed...didn't really want to examine. Ever. He hurriedly corrected, "I mean–"
"I think," Mustang interrupted, his voice gentle, "that Ishval is stable enough for you to visit for a few months."
Ed swallowed down a block in his throat; okay, so Mustang had realised what he meant, inasmuch as he assumed Ed meant Ishval, hopefully not that he'd meant Mustang. "Kay. I've gotta– I promised to get a bit lost, first, take the wrong train or whatever, but I– We'll–"
"We're not going anywhere," Mustang promised. "We'll leave a light on for you."
"Thanks," Ed whispered and, fuck. This shit was why his brain had decided Mustang was fucking home, he just knew it. Fucking bastard and his stupid nice face.
"Go get some sleep, Ed. You sound like you need it."
"You're not wrong," Ed admitted. "The others already went up, but I knew I should let you know that everything's good and we're coming h–" Oh, he was not doing that again. Seriously, where was his brain-to-mouth filter today? "That we're coming out there, and–"
"Go. To. Sleep," Mustang interrupted, sounding far too amused. "Don't make me ring Gracia and have her put you to bed."
Ed snorted, because she totally would. "Fine, fine, I'm going. Night, Roy."
"Good afternoon, Ed," Mustang returned, and Ed knew he was laughing at him, now.
"Bastard," Ed complained, and it came out way too fond, so he quickly hung up and rubbed a hand over his face. "Ugh. Hate him so much," he muttered, even though he didn't. Didn't hate him even a little bit, any more. As if that wasn't patently obvious.
He shook himself and dragged himself upstairs to their room. Didn't even bother knocking, since he expected everyone had already crashed, just alchemised the lock open, let himself in, and locked it back up the normal way. Evan had ended up bunking with Heinkel – probably the wiser choice; Darius tended to get a bit grabby in his sleep – and Ed undressed down to his boxers and vest, then crawled into bed next to Darius, only for the arsehole to immediately hug him close.
Ed elbowed him. "Not yer fuckin' teddy bear," he muttered, and Darius huffed a quiet laugh into his hair. Ed sighed and gave in to the inevitable; if Evan woke first and asked any awkward questions, he'd weather them then.
As it turned out, Evan's questions had nothing to do with Ed's relationship with his team, but rather, his relationship with his CO.
"What's up with Brigadier General Mustang?" he'd opened with, and Ed just sort of blinked at him from over his breakfast – which was actually breakfast, because they'd all been exhausted enough to sleep until way too fucking early the next morning. "I mean, you complain about him all the time and you always call him names, but you... You were okay with being his dog, and when Grumman asked–"
"Ah," Ed said intelligently, before shoving another forkful into his mouth and hurriedly swallowing it. "You have to realise, when I joined the military and got tossed into Mustang's command, I wasn't inclined to even pretend I cared about authority."
"And that's changed how?" Darius offered as his two cenz.
Ed elbowed him. "You can shut up," he ordered, before looking back at Evan, who looked amused by either the byplay or Ed's comments. Or both. "Insulting Mustang and bitching about him to... Okay, pretty much everyone, that's how I sort of proved I wasn't doing anything for him, but because it served me."
"Surprisingly introspective," Heinkel said mildly.
"You can shut up, too," he ordered, and Darius snorted into his food, while Heinkel very pointedly took a large bite. "You both fucking suck. Arseholes."
Evan snorted and, when Ed shot him a scowl, ducked his head, as though that was sufficient to hide the wide grin he was wearing.
Ed rolled his eyes and huffed. "The rest of it..." He shrugged a bit. "When things went to shit two years ago, he gave me a good reason to trust him, and he hasn't let me down yet." He glanced back down at his food, offered, "He's a good commander, when he's not being a lazy bastard, and he fucking cares about the people under him. Too much, sometimes."
"So he's like you," Evan suggested. "He'd step in the path of a gun, take a bullet to protect one of his own."
Ed remembered a rainy day when he'd bowed to death and Mustang had offered himself up as a target in his stead; remembered his guilt over Hawkeye's wounds in hospital; remembered, above all else, what Hawkeye had told him, the night that they became aware of just how far the rot had spread through the country: That Mustang would climb to the top so he could protect as many people as possible, and then he would give Amestris' people the power to protect themselves. "If he could," he said simply, quietly.
Evan stared at him for a moment, then nodded. "Okay."
Ed took another bite, debating with himself, before he finally added, "Not that I'm going to let him get in the way of any bullets. I really don't want to have to tell his niece he got his fool-self shot." Because it wouldn't take Evan long to discover Mustang's relationship with the Hugheses, with Ed wanting him to stick with a member of his team, not unless he decided to avoid the Hugheses entirely. Which, yeah, no. He could never do that to Elicia.
Evan blinked, while Darius started laughing. "Niece?"
Ed flashed him a smile. "My sister."
Evan's eyes went wide. "He–"
"Same relation," Ed added, because his whole squad knew he wasn't actually related to the Hugheses. Then he narrowed his eyes at the private. "That stays off military lines."
Evan straightened and saluted him. "Yes, sir!"
Ed scowled and punched Darius when he failed to muffle his amusement. "What have I told you about calling me sir?"
"Not to, sir!"
Ed just closed his eyes and groaned.
Elicia was, of course, ecstatic to have Ed home for the weekend, and meeting another one of his friends was also awesome in her book. Gracia, too, was clearly happy to see him, though she did ask, "Did something happen? You're back sooner than we'd expected." Because the last two times Ed had come back to the city hadn't been happy occasions, and if the papers had got wind of Beardmore's arrest, they didn't know enough to connect it with the terrorist attacks.
Ed smiled and shook his head. "We caught a break. Gotta be in Central for the trial."
Elicia clearly didn't understand, but Gracia's eyes filled with tears and she drew Ed into a tight hug, whispering, "Congratulations."
It was a different sort of congratulations from the team out in Ishval cheering over the phone line, less a celebration of a victory and more a warm sense of accomplishment, like the first time he'd shown Mum his attempts with alchemy. He hugged her back and couldn't bring himself to care how rough his voice sounded as he whispered, "Thanks."
"What happened?" Elicia asked.
"Your big brother caught the bad guy," Evan offered, and it was probably for the best that Darius and Heinkel had begged off this visit, because Ed didn't really want to hear Darius' commentary.
Elicia had cheered, and Ed had ended up having to pull away from Gracia so he could pick Elicia up and get a sloppy kiss on his cheek, which led to him twirling her around in the middle of the living room while she squealed and held on for dear life – as if Ed would ever drop her – while Gracia and Evan both laughed at them.
After Elicia had calmed down a bit and settled for colouring with Evan while he obediently regaled her with tales of the daring princes Beardmore (stories from his own childhood, Ed suspected), Ed left them to 'help' Gracia with the celebratory pie she'd decided they needed. (Which really involved a lot of stealing tastes while she pretended she wasn't watching him.)
"Does this mean you're going to be back here for a while?" Gracia asked as she turned to get something out of the refrigerator.
"Probably just through the trials," Ed admitted once he'd pulled his sticky finger from his mouth. "Grumman said I could get out to Ishval. Finally."
Gracia let out a quiet laugh. "Oh dear. Does Roy know you're coming?"
"Yeah, rang him yesterday to let him know. He said it should be okay for a couple months." Ed gave an exaggerated roll of his eyes. "What does he think I'm going to do, start collapsing buildings on people for the sheer amusement factor?"
"Don't listen to his lies," Ed insisted, failing to hide a grin, and her laughter was far louder that time.
"What?! What?!" Elicia called, dashing into the kitchen with crayons in her hands and sliding (purposefully, by her stance) on the linoleum a bit, her socked feet lacking traction. (Ed suspected she'd picked that up from Al, who'd been in the habit of mocking Ed by sliding past him when they were both walking in the kitchen, as Ed rarely wore a sock on his automail, since it just destroyed them.)
"Your Uncle Roy is a lying liar and your mum believes him," Ed complained, which didn't seem to help Gracia's amusement any.
Elicia blinked at that. "Why's he lying?"
"He's going around telling people I only exist to make trouble for him."
Elicia blinked again, then pointed her crayons at him. "Not a lie!" she sing-songed, before giggling.
Ed gave a dramatic gasp. "No! He got to you, too? How could he?!"
Elicia rushed forward and hugged his legs. "I still love you!"
"Oh, well, I suppose that's okay, then."
Gracia snorted. "Why don't you take your big brother to colour with you before he eats all my filling."
"It's good filling, though, right?" Ed said to Elicia, who giggled and nodded before looking hopefully towards the worktop.
Shaking her head, Gracia pulled out a small spoon and scooped out a bit of filling, then handed it down to Elicia. "Go, shoo."
Laughing, Ed let himself be led to the living room by an extremely smug Elicia with a spoon in her mouth, and they joined Evan on the floor around the coffee table. "Wanna see me colour a page really, really fast?" Ed asked as he collected one of the sheets and started picking through the worn crayons; he'd very likely end up buying her more at some point over the next couple days.
" 'Ow faf?" Elicia asked around her spoon, leaning forward.
"So fast," Ed promised, setting his chosen crayons on the page and the box to the side. "Ridiculously fast."
Elicia finally pulled the spoon from her mouth, her eyes lighting up. "Super crazy madness fast?" she suggested, and Evan coughed into one hand, grinning.
Ed grinned at her. "Super crazy awesome madness fast," he insisted, before clapping his hands together and activating an array to disperse the crayon wax into the right spots in the image.
Elicia's eyes went wide and she immediately grabbed the picture once the transmutation light died down, sending the remains of the crayons flying across the table and floor. "Amazing," she breathed.
Next to her, Evan looked pretty impressed himself.
"Fast enough for you, Princess?" Ed asked as he picked up some of the fallen crayons, feeling quite smug; he'd never actually tried that before, but he'd seen an array in Colourway's notes for doing that with paint, and it wasn't hard to adapt it for using with coloured wax.
"Do it with me!" Elicia demanded, grabbing another picture and scrambling around the table, shoving at Ed until he shifted back enough for her to sit in his lap.
Ed snorted and leant forward, over her shoulder. "Do it with you, huh?" he asked, pulling over the crayon box and tilting it towards her. "Pick out your colours."
She did so, telling him exactly where she wanted each one as she placed it. As soon as she was sufficiently pleased with her decisions, she held her hands over the picture. "Okay, now we do alchemy!" she declared.
Grinning, Ed caught her hands and clapped them together, making sure his own hands touched enough to form the necessary circle, then pressed their hands down on the picture.
As soon as it was done, she picked it up and scrambled out of Ed's lap, heading towards the kitchen as she called, "Mama! Mama! I did alchemy!"
Ed snorted and set about cleaning up the mess of crayons again. Colouring with alchemy used up more of the crayons than just doing it by hand, apparently; he really would have to buy her a new set.
"That's a pretty cool trick," Evan offered, sounding like he meant it.
Ed grinned and shook his head. "Ultimately useless for anything other than amusing her, but we need alchemy like that, I think. Something that's sole purpose is to amaze people, make them smile."
"Are you going to teach her?" Evan asked, jerking his head towards where they could hear Elicia chattering proudly at her mother in the kitchen, and Ed suspected Gracia was trying to find the tape so they could put the picture up somewhere. "Properly, I mean."
He snorted. "Make no mistake, if she's got the talent, she's gonna talk one of us – Mustang or my brother or me – into teaching her, but probably not for a good few years, yet." He sighed and slumped against the table. "Maybe Al will have learnt alkahestry by then and he can teach her that, instead. It's more healing arts focussed."
"Trying to keep her away from the military?" Evan guessed.
"I will 'lose' her application or alchemy exam if she tries it," Ed muttered, and Evan snickered.
"Big brother!" Elicia called, dashing back into the room with a new colouring-in book, one with a horse on the front. "Mama says we have to do a horse for Uncle Roy!"
Ed grinned. "Your mum is awesome," he insisted, and she giggled as she climbed back into his lap and started flipping through the book. "We're running a little low on normal horse colours, though."
Elicia paused in her flipping to consider her crayons. "Pink," she decided, before going back to finding the perfect picture.
"You're pretty awesome yourself," Ed offered, trying very hard not to laugh, while Evan shook his head in disbelief on the other side of the table. "Should we name it after him?"
Elicia shot him a look. "Of course."
"You are going to get charred," Evan pointed out as Ed chortled and hugged the girl in his lap.
"Oh, but it's going to be so worth it," Ed insisted, before leaning forward to help Elicia tear the page from her book.
And, yeah, looking at the finished product – a pink horse with a flowing red and orange mane and purple hooves, Mustang's name printed along the top of the page in bright green – Ed was absolutely going to get it when he handed this over, but at least he'd die laughing.
As soon as the press heard about the trials, they became an Event, and Ed found himself disgustingly grateful for how ridiculously over-sized his team was, because Darius and Heinkel could easily shove people out of their way, could bracket Evan and get him away from the flashing camera bulbs and the chattering reporters while Ed stood behind them, casting around his best unimpressed stare until the vultures shut the fuck up. And then he turned around and followed his people in, because he was looking at between two days and a week's worth of sitting in a courtroom, playing at respect for the line of brass who didn't want to believe one of their own had been plotting treason since shortly after the Promised Day, and he did not have the patience to deal with the press on top of everything else.
Second Lieutenant Days met him just inside the doors, looking as strained as Ed felt. "Thank you for not making a scene," she said as she fell into step with him, motioning to the right to indicate where they were headed.
"If they're there tomorrow, I make no promises," Ed returned.
"I'll show you a back way in after we're done today."
Ed glanced at her, torn between suspicion and gratitude. "Fine," he decided, and thought he saw her smile before they were waved into the courtroom and separated to go to their designated seats.
"Did you make a scene?" Darius murmured as he sat down.
"I'm saving it until I have specific generals to bitch about."
Heinkel groaned, while Darius and Evan both let out strained laughs.
"Apparently, there's a back door. If they've managed to keep the vultures away from it, we may just survive this mummer's play without me getting court-martialled."
"A true miracle," Heinkel muttered.
Then Grumman called them to order and Ed and his team shut up.
In the end, the trial took three days, which was both better and worse than Grumman's original assessment. The back door did turn out to be free of press, so Ed didn't get the chance to insult any of the generals, which Heinkel was clearly relieved about. (Actually, by the last morning, it was clear Ed and his party were the only ones using the back entrance, which left him suspecting Grumman had set it up just to keep Ed from causing trouble. Which, well, Ed appreciated the reprieve from the press – for Evan's sake, if not his own – enough that he couldn't quite muster up sufficient irritation to call the bastard out.)
The only hold-out ended up being Lieutenant General Peabody, who – according to Evan – had been quite fond of the eldest of the Beardmore brothers while he'd been stationed in South City before the Promised Day, and so was likely dragging things out due to misplaced fondness. That said, it was clear he was only barely clinging to his stance by the time they broke for lunch on the third day, and when he came back, he'd given in entirely, which wrapped the mess up quite nicely.
As soon as the verdict was handed down, Ed stood and, looking straight at Grumman, demanded, "Nothing I do now is going to change his sentencing, right?"
Grumman sighed and waved a helpless hand in a 'go ahead' gesture.
"What's he–?" one of the other generals asked as Ed stalked over to where Beardmore was being helped to his feet by a couple of MPs.
"Move," Ed ordered, and they both stepped hurriedly out of the way.
Beardmore smiled at him. "And what do you intend to do, dog?"
Ed didn't smile back. "Exactly what I promised Evan when he came to me." Then he drew back his fist and punched the fucker in the face. There came the satisfying sound of something breaking, and Beardmore fell back against the retaining wall and crumpled to the floor, looking rather like he couldn't believe that had just happened, while blood started running from his nose.
He wasn't the only one, as the rest of the room had fallen deathly silent as Ed turned, offered the Führer a mocking salute, then looked at his team and Evan and jerked his head towards the door. They fell in around him obediently, Evan wearing the widest fucking grin Ed had ever seen on his face, while the two chimeras brought up the rear.
"Lieutenant Colonel," Grumman called before they could exit.
Ed stopped and spun, turning his best glare on the bastard once Heinkel was out of the way.
"I expect to see all four of you in my office tomorrow morning."
"If you, for one fucking second, think–" Ed started.
Grumman levelled a flat stare on him. "Seven hundred hours tomorrow, Lieutenant Colonel."
Ed snarled and stormed out of the room, the others hurrying to follow him. "Fucking bastard and his stupid lying fucking face," he muttered, didn't even bother fighting when Heinkel very firmly took hold of his shoulders and steered him to the back entrance, avoiding any chance of letting Ed near the press when he was in a temper. (Always a wise choice.)
"He's not going to punish Ed for punching my father, is he?" Evan asked, sounding worried.
"I really hope not," Darius replied, a hint of irritation in his voice. "And I'm not just saying that because I don't want to deal with Ed in a temper."
"We'll go pull Elicia out of pre-school," Heinkel announced. "Gracia will understand."
Ed deflated slightly. "I'm going to punch that bastard in the face one of these days," he complained.
"You're going to punch him when he retires," Heinkel reminded him.
"Gonna punch him before that."
"No, you're not. You're going to have fun with your sister today and report to the Führer's office tomorrow with your good soldier face on."
"And then we'll lose whatever orders he passes on and just make for Ishval anyway," Darius offered.
"Not. Helping," Heinkel hissed.
But Ed perked up at that point, feeling rather more cheered. "Right. Short of clapping me in irons, there's nothing he can do to make me dance to his tune."
Heinkel sighed. "I don't want to end up on the AWOL list again."
"Technically," Darius pointed out, "you and I were on the 'Missing, Assumed Dead' list; Ed was the one who went AWOL."
"You're the least helpful partner I've ever had."
Ed rolled his eyes and pulled open the door of the car. "Right. Back to the hotel to change, then breaking Elicia out of pre-school, then ice cream."
"It's too cold for ice cream," Evan pointed out, because it was the first of November and expectedly cold.
"Elicia and her uncle would disagree with you," Ed informed him, before ducking into the car.
(It turned out it was a little too cold out for ice cream in the park, but they all ate it anyway, laughing through the chill.)
Bright and early the next morning, Ed, his team, and Evan made their way up to Grumman's office. Someone had left the door to the outer office open, which meant Ed couldn't kick it open, which just made him twice as cross as he had been.
"He's waiting for you," Days said from her desk, not even bothering to look up.
Grumman's inner office door was also open, keeping Ed from announcing his entrance as loudly as possible, and he found the reason for that standing with Grumman before his desk: General Bess, and Lieutenant Generals Peabody and Spencer were all in attendance.
Ed stopped across the coffee table from the lot, holding out one arm to stop Evan from taking what was becoming his regular place at Ed's side, making sure the private stayed behind him. "What do you want? Sir," he asked, forced his tone flat, rather than the demand he'd wanted to make, because he really had no fucking clue what was going on here, and he didn't know the other generals well enough to guess how they'd react to his usual lack of deference. (Some military sort took it in stride, others took time to get used to him, and a few were just way too fucking uptight.)
Grumman let out his punch-worthy laugh. "You're not in any trouble, Lieutenant Colonel, not this time." And, before Ed could comment on how much his jokes sucked, Grumman ordered, "Line up."
Ed set his jaw and dropped his arm, let Evan fall in at his side. Heinkel stepped up to Ed's other side, while Darius took Evan's other side. And, no lie, Ed was really fucking glad his team was there; as much as he trusted Grumman not to turn into a threat, it would always be reassuring to have the two arseholes at his side, especially when he had someone else to protect with him.
(Fucking shadows; he was never this paranoid before Grumman dragged him into this mess. Or was he? Perhaps Bradley and the Dwarf in the Flask were the real culprits behind his paranoia. After all, they were the ones who'd been willing to take hostages to enforce compliance.)
Grumman and the generals all picked up, off Grumman's desk, boxes that Ed was familiar with, had received one very similar to while he'd been in hospital after the Promised Day, once everything had been sorted and the new command could sit down long enough to pass out the awards to those soldiers who had earned them. And the sight didn't really relax Ed any, but at least now he knew for sure that Grumman hadn't been lying about them not being in trouble.
"Lieutenant Colonel Edward Elric, Second Lieutenants Heinkel Potez and Darius Wright, Private Evan Beardmore," Grumman said, his tone formal, and Ed sensed more than saw his team and Evan straightening, "in recognition of your service to Amestris in apprehending the terrorist organisation headed by Rodrick Beardmore, I, George Grumman, the Führer of Amestris, bestow upon you the honours for meritorious service.
"Additionally, in recognition of their continued exemplary service, I am promoting both Second Lieutenants Potez and Wright to First Lieutenant–" okay, Ed could totally get behind that "–and granting both them and Lieutenant Colonel Elric the Distinguished Service Cross, for going above and beyond the call of duty while hunting the terrorist organisation." Grumman paused there, an expectant look on his face, and Ed sighed and joined the other three in saluting the bastard, actually being fucking serious about it, for once. Grumman and the three generals saluted them back and, as they dropped their hands, all started across the room.
Given he was the tallest of the generals, Spencer was the one to approach Darius, while Bess – the next tallest – went to Heinkel. Evan ended up with Peabody, and Ed got, of course, Grumman.
"You're a bastard, sir," Ed muttered as the man expertly added his new honours and medal to the line on Ed's chest.
Grumman's eyes gleamed. "If this keeps up, Lieutenant Colonel, I'll have to promote you again."
"Kindly resist the urge until I'm eighteen, at least."
"Perhaps," Grumman said, amusement clear in his voice, "Ishval is the best place for you for a while." He stepped back, done. "Do give the brigadier general my regards."
"Would you prefer scathing, or generally ill-tempered?" Ed retorted, and couldn't help but note the twinkle of amusement in Bess' eyes; clearly, he was of the military sort who took Ed's insubordination in stride, which explained some why Grumman had trusted him to sign the notice about arresting Beardmore.
Grumman's moustache trembled for a moment before he said, "Lieutenant Colonel, First Lieutenants, Private; with gratitude, you are dismissed."
Ed obediently performed another perfect military salute – it was probably a record – with the other three, then led the way through the outer office – firmly ignoring the staff saluting them – and back out into the hallways of Command. "I hate the military," he muttered as he slowed down to a more normal pace.
Evan tapped his new honour. "Harold's gonna shit himself," he said of his eldest brother, who had – according to Evan – spent all five years of his military career, so far, trying to avoid being singled out or promoted, though their father had managed to force him up to warrant officer.
Ed snorted and ruffled his hair. "Are he and Arthur coming back to Central?" Because both of Evan's elder brothers had been a bit back-and-forth on the matter since Evan had filled them in, and he'd taken some leave in hopes that they'd come home and the whole family could talk.
Evan sighed. "It sounds like Arthur will, but I dunno about Harold. Maybe hearing I got an award will have him rushing back, if only so he can sit me down and explain the dangers of becoming too noticeable." He shook his head and drooped slightly. "Like our father being a traitor hasn't already marked all of us for years."
Ed gently bumped Evan's shoulder with his. "Remember what I said," he offered, referring back to an earlier conversation about what his father's treason meant for Evan and his brothers. "Anyone starts giving you shit, you send them to me and I'll straighten them out. Forcefully, if need be."
Evan managed a smile. "I know. And if you can't straighten them out, you'll find someone who can."
"Damn fucking right."
Evan was quiet for a long moment, before grabbing Ed's shoulder as he stopped in the middle of the parade ground. "Ed?"
Ed stopped with him, the two chimeras following suit a couple paces ahead. "What's up?"
Evan took a step forward and wrapped his arms around Ed's neck, hugging him hard, and Ed didn't even have to think about it, found himself hugging him back just as tight. "Thanks," Evan whispered.
"Any time," Ed promised, fully meant it; he would protect his squad, would be, as best he could, their advocate and strongest defence against whatever they came up against while in the military. He would be, for them, what Mustang had once been for him, was still for him, when he needed his CO to step in and do what he lacked the political sense or rank to do.
And perhaps it was time he learnt to use the shadow world he'd been thrust into. He'd ask Mustang what he could while they were in Ishval and relatively removed from those who listened at unguarded doorways. Because what good was his fame or that list of favours waiting for him to cash in, if he didn't use it for those people who stood with him?
He pulled back, offered Evan a smile that, he hoped, showed none of his thoughts, and offered, "Want a ride back to your house?"
Evan nodded and let out a quiet, knowing laugh. "You can change there, too, if you want to get out of your uniforms." He glanced at Heinkel and Darius, including them in the offer.
"Knew I liked you, kid," Darius returned with a grin.
Ed laughed and ruffled Evan's hair. "Come on, then. I wanna be well out of Central before we have to stop for dinner."
"What is that supposed to imply?" Darius demanded.
Ed winked at Evan, and the private joined him in laughing at Darius' expense as they led the way out of Command.
"This," Darius commented after about forty minutes, "is not the way to Ishval."
Ed flashed him a smile. "Good catch."
Heinkel sighed and pulled out the map, as if that would really help them when Ed had gone off-road as soon as they'd passed the last of the estates clinging to Central, intending to meet up with the main road out to New Optain without having to skirt around the banks of Lake Rheos. "Ed," Heinkel said.
Ed rolled his eyes. "We're getting lost."
"...you're shitting me," Darius complained.
"Where are we getting lost?" Heinkel pressed, trying to trace their route on the map, while Darius peered back over the seat at him. "You're going north?"
"I'm going east."
"Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Twenty Questions?" Darius complained.
Heinkel tapped against the map, the sound loud in the car, and Ed glanced up at the rear-view mirror, raising an eyebrow at his reflection. "One of your squad is in New Optain, and that second lieutenant is out in Youswell."
"Morgan," Ed agreed, approving. "I promised Mayor Halling I'd get lost and pay them a visit next time I was in the east. Might as well field my squad's calls and answer any questions they have myself while we're out there, right?"
"Does Mustang know we're not heading straight there?" Heinkel asked as he folded the map back up.
Ed shrugged. "I told him I was going to take a detour. He should even know where, since he was there for my original conversation with Halling."
Ed rolled his eyes. "Who here's the commander?"
"Heinkel," Darius informed him, and Ed didn't even need to look to know he was wearing a shit-eating grin. "I thought you knew that."
"I'm gonna boot both of you out the fucking door," Ed muttered, and Darius laughed at him while Heinkel snorted.
Ed sighed and resigned himself to never being taken seriously by his arsehole team.
A/N: This is the end of the first part of the Our Sinner's Redemption series. As you can probably guess, the second part – titled We All Need Saving – will involve some time in Ishval, and a great deal more Ed and Roy interactions.
No word, yet, on when that will be going up, as I do have a policy of not posting until a fic is done, and I really want to work on getting my NaNo piece – titled Reverti Ad Praeteritum, for those who care – finished (finally) and get that started posting before turning to focus properly on this series. Sorry. Sort of.