And All Manner Of Things Shall Be Well
a slice of life in the alchemical world
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist, nor any of the characters created by the honorable Hiromu Arakawa. Just any OCs I might come up with in the course of writing this story. I just like to plsy around
WARNING: May contain later episode and movie spoilers for those who haven't seen them yet.
PROLOGUE: Set four years after the invasion of the Thule Society. After decades of war with one country or another, ambitions have been realized. Roy has been inaugurated as Fuhrer and he has brought peace to Amestris. He can now justify "taking his next breath." Edward and Alphonse Elric have successfully completed their mission of the Affair of the Wayward Nuclear Bomb, and used it's power to open a Gate and return home. The country, and it's inhabitants are lurching towards "normal" - whatever that is.
HAVOC'S LAW: If any thing can go wrong, it will; and when you least expect it. Especially if it involves your girlfriend, and Roy Mustang.
Chapter One: In which Roy does some delegating...
"Man, you are looking sharp today"
Roy Mustang, former Colonel of the Armed Forces of Amestris; now Fuhrer Roy Mustang, leader of the country of Amestris (oh, sure, he had an Amestrisan parliament to deal with, but they were politicians, and all politicians were pussies), stood in front of three full length mirrors set up in his office, admiring himself from every angle.
He normally wasn't so narcissistic - ok, just a little narcissistic - but today the new uniforms, and State Alchemist pocket watches had arrived, and they had turned out better than expected.
Roy had set to work with a will redesigning the uniforms. He hated the color, the boxy cut, the layers, the blousy fabric (it didn't "breathe", and smelled bad when it got wet); hell, he even hated the clumsy thick-soled boots. Far easier to redesign were the pocket watches. They were the same silver as before, but the emblem of King Bradley - the left facing mer-dragon upon a pentagram field had been replaced with a right facing rearing horse over an elementary alchemy array.
When not working on redesigns of uniforms and watches, he was in endless dull meetings with advisors on matters of state policy: negotiating ends to the various wars Amestris was embroiled in (most started by machinations of the homunculi who wanted "ingredients" for the Philosopher's Stone), signing treaties and trade pacts with far away lands, appointing ambassadors to those countries, bringing most of the troops home, and making up to the Ishbalans.
That was going to be the hardest thing to do. Roy's guilt at his actions in the Eastern War, and the fall of Ishbal made the handling of this situation especiallyy tricky. If he overdid it, the Ishbalans would see it as a clumsy attempt to salve his conscience - but under-doing it would be seen as a lack of remorse.
And the Ishbalans were so touchy about religion - sure, it was important to many Amestrisans - Roy had bullied the parliament into adding a total religious freedom clause into the new constitution - but not enough to kill other people over it. Mustang had begun this work by reviewing all the cases of all the Ishbalan detainees in Amestrisan prisons. He had the investigations department to help in this task, the new head of the department was competent enough, but how he wished Maes was still here.
When the case of an Ishbalan holy man came up, Roy asked for a face-to-face meeting. He explained now he was Fuhrer, he was ending all persecution of Ishbalans, and he wanted to make amends for the excesses of his predecessor, King Bradley. (Oh, Fuhrer Bradley, Dante's homunculus masterpiece; Roy had flambeed him like charcoal. And he wished he could do it one hundred times over, he'd come to hate the bastard so much.)
"You can start by ending the torture of Ishbalan prisoners" the holy man had countered. Roy was shocked by the accusation, but when investigations by Lt. Colonel Armstrong backed the man up; Roy ordered the emptying of all prisons which used torture. Then he arrested and tossed into the same prisons all members of the military who had condoned the use of, or participated in, or turned a blind eye to torture. A kind of rough justice he thought, and said as much to Fullmetal, who replied it was more like a machine world concept called "karma".
Roy then asked the holy man how he could best atone for the wrongs Amestris had done to the Ishbalan people. A few weeks later, a special train arrived at the displaced persons camp, and the residents were surprised to see a tall, straight-backed dark haired man in the uniform of the "infidels" disembark.
They were totally shocked a few moments later when he and his aides fell to their knees in front of the headsman and performed the ancient Rite of Contrition. And letter perfect too. By the end, the headsman and most of the Ishbalans were convinced the Fuhrer's apologies were genuine.
He'd also brought back all the Ishbalan P.O.W.s - in comfortable passenger cars; along with the true criminals chained together in cattle cars (considering what was waiting for them, discomfort would be the least of their worries); he raised memorial stelae at the former site of their capitol city, razed so long ago in the Eastern War; and finally Roy gave back all the land which had been taken from them.
When they asked for the materials needed to build a new city, Mustang ruefully looked into the State Treasury, which he was sure had been emptied by Bradley's endless war mongering. To his delighted surprise, he discovered the Treasury was far from empty, indeed it was stuffed to the gills - and then some. He didn't know where all this money had come from, but he would put it to good use.
There was more than enough to give the Ishbalans the materials they needed; provide for the needs of injured veterans; rebuild the shattered infrastructure of Amestris - and pay for the design of those damned uniforms. Which is why Roy was admiring himself in his new dress blues. Not only would the formerly bloated military be lean and mean - it would be stylin'!
By happy coincidence, Amestris had recently signed a trade pact with the country of Bourbon; and a few weeks after that, the new ambassador had come to pay the first official visit. Wait. Scratch that. She walked right past Ensign Schieska, without waiting to be announced, and burst into his office while he was in his small personal washroom.
He came out drying his hands, to see this unbelieveably chic-looking woman examing his drawings. When he coughed politely, she started slightly, then looked up, her eyes shining. "Did you do zese?" she cried.
"Uh, yes, I did draw zem - er - them" Roy stammered, then shook his head. "Excuse me, but, who are you?"
Her high heels clacked on the wooden floor as she approached Mustang, "Oh, I am manners forgetting, I zink." She blushed, then extended her hand. "I am Piaf le Arouet, Bourbon ambassador to Amestris."
Putting aside the sudden urge to grab this woman and ravish her on his desk - right now; Roy gently pressed his hand over his fingers, bowed, and clicked his heels.
"Charmed, Madame Ambassador." he murmured before turning a dazzling smile loose at her.
It turned out, she was a graduate from Bourbon's diplomatic college, with a minor in fashion design. She didn't suggest too many alterations to his drawings, but Piaf was helpful in the selection of fabrics. The intrusion of this odd woman turned out to be quite a blessing in disguise.
Everyday uniforms would be of comfortable cotton, while the combat gear was to be of this newly developed fabric which would "wick" sweat away from the skin. From experience, Roy knew how smelly an army on the march was. In the field, their personal hygiene was appalling, and table manners non existent.
They belched, farted, scratched their private parts in public, hawked loogies, flicked boogers - and let's fact it, just plain STUNK. And that was just the men, the women were almost as bad.
O.K. His new Armed Forces of Amestris would be lean, mean, stylish - and it would no longer be possible to smell them coming a mile away.
One of the most intriguing fabrics Piaf had shown him, however, was something she called "kevvylar". "It will stop any bullet" she enthused. Once a vest of it was delivered, Roy just had to try it out - on somebody else, of course; so he naturally picked the hapless, bespectacled Kain Fuery as his guinea pig. He could have picked Major Edward Elric as a test subject, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) Elric was on leave back in Risembool.
Out on the parade ground at the Central barracks, Fuery sweated and fidgeted while Riza tried to get a bead on him. Roy had assured him the "kevvylar" would do it's job - but Fuery was born to be skeptical.
"Dammit, Fuery!" she growled "Hold still! Just in case Mustang is wrong, I'll make sure I don't hit any vital spots."
"Oh, like that makes me feel any better" retorted a visibly trembling Master Sergeant.
"Why, Fuery," Mustang smirked, Piaf on his arm "I never knew you had sarcasm in you."
Fuery's reply was drowned out by three loud reports from Riza's pistol; he flew backwards one way, his glasses the other, landing hard in the dirt with a grunt. Havoc, Bloch, and Falman ran over to see how he was, and after a few tense moments, Havoc turned and gave a thumbs up. They pulled Fuery to his feet, and Bloch gave him his glasses. All three walked the shaken young soldier over to Mustang.
He was breathing funny, but he managed a smart salute before he was helped to the hospital wing. Piaf was right, the "kevvylar" had stopped the bullets, but they'd left three nasty bruises on Fuery's mid section. Later that night in the mess hall, Kain picked at his dinner while he was complaining to the others how badly the bruises hurt. Havoc rolled his cigarette to one corner of his mouth before drawling "Oh, kwitcher bitchin', would you rather be a little bruised - or a lot dead?"
But for sheer looks, the dress uniform took the cake. It made a statement without shouting. A darker blue than before, it was cut slimmer, with black leg-skimming pants, accented with narrow red stripes down the outside of each leg. The women had a choice of the pants, or a slim, slightly above the knee skirt. Not the miniskirts the men had hoped for, but short enough to show man-pleasing legs off. Mollified they wouldn't have to wear the minis, Riza and the other women had also called off their threatened rebellion. Another crisis averted by the brilliant Roy Mustang.
That afternoon, the ambassador had just left him after an impromptu fitting - and snogging session. She'd also given him the best news of all - the Bourbonais were setting up new factories to produce the uniforms - and other clothing in Amestris. It looked like a win-win situation to Roy. His army got new uniforms, the people got jobs, and he, Roy Mustang, got a little lovin'. It was good to be the Fuhrer.
As Piaf walked away from the Central government building, she happened to encounter the newly arrived Edward Elric - and what Mustang referred to as 'the usual gang of idiots' - Havoc, Fuery, Valman, Bloch, and Breda - they all had shown up to meet him at the train station. The others - knowing what Piaf's visits were mostly about - stood and leered, but Ed bowed slightly and stepped aside for the lady to pass.
She favored the young alchemist with a gleaming smile; he was rather good looking, she thought. His blond hair was combed (Mustang had said, "When you return to duty, Full Metal, comb your hair properly, not with your fist"), but the bangs still flopped over into his eyes. At the back, it had been pulled into a neatly braided ponytail.
After returning home, Ed had gradually gone back to his old style of dress: black sleeveless shirt, overlaid with a black wool front zippered tunic trimmed in white, and black leather pants, cinched in with a wide brown belt. It was warm for fall, so he wasn't wearing his familiar red coat, nor the ubiquitous white gloves; so a silver chain running from a belt loop to his right pocket was visible. In the pocket was a new watch with the seal of Amestris - symbol of his status as a State Alchemist.
Piaf noted with approval his clothes were clean and pressed, but his road worn boots were rather unfortunate. "Sheet keekers" is Monsieur Roy had called them. She was too polite to stare at his right hand, which was of gleaming metal.
He was now of roughly medium height - not quite as tall as the Fuhrer - but he obviously had better manners than the louts who slouched along in his wake. They wore the new everyday uniforms, but poor posture of the quintet made them look like potato sacks. Disgusting. Even Fifi - the little dog which traveled in her oversize bag - seemed to agree, emitting a snippy little bark.
"Hello, doggy". Ed bent down and offered it his left hand to sniff, then drew back quickly when it snapped at him, making a bloody scratch on one finger.
Ed ruefully looked at the tiny wound, what had he been thinking? He should have offered the ugly little mutt his right hand - the automail one. It would have served the beady - eyed mop right if it had broken a fang.
The men behind him finally realized there was a pretty lady in their midst, and they straightened up. Havoc, ever the loser with women (like in the old days, Roy was still stealing girlfriends from him), tried to ingratiate himself with her.
"Pretty doggie - what's your name?" he crooned, foolishly extending a friendly hand - hadn't he seen what just happened?
"Yipe!" Havoc cried a nanosecond later after, the dog had nipped his digits hard enough to draw blood.
"Her name is Fifi!" snapped the ambassador - who was way out of Havoc's league anyways - "and she is a Bichon Frise!!"
Breda - who hated dogs, and had never met a foreign word he couldn't butcher, blurted out. "A 'bitchin' frizzy'? What's a 'bitchin' frizzy'?"
Ed and the others tried hard to hold back grins as the ambassador began to get ticked off. "No! You plebian barbarian! A BEE-CHON FRE-ZAY!!"
Unfortunately for Piaf, the angrier she got, the worse she mangled the Amestrisan language - it really did sound like 'bitchin' frizzy'!
"Pah!" she finally cried, "let me pass!"
Ed bowed again, his face impassive, something told him it would be a good idea to be polite to this woman. Central was crawling with foreign dignitaries recently,and any rudeness on his part could lead to a 'diplomatic incident'. He longed for the old days when not only could he be rude to everyone, he was expected to be rude.
"C'mon, you mongrels" he drawled to the others. No one took offense, they were 'dogs of the military'; mongrels, mutts, curs, stray dogs. It was someting to be proud of. Bow-wow! The group, led by Elric continued up the street, then up the steps into the same building the ambassador had just exited.
Inside the main two story high foyer, Ed felt they were finally out of earshot of the angry Bourbonais woman, and he could let his guard down. Havoc heard him make an odd snorting sound; he paused from sucking his wounded finger, to ask with an innocent voice, "Excuse me, Major Elric, but are you strangling a duck?"
That did it. Edward burst out laughing, and when he bent down to slap his knee (the left one with his flesh hand), the flood gates opened and the sweet sounds of hilarity filled the air. When Riza came out to investigate the commotion, it was to find the Fullmetal Alchemist, along with Roy's inner circle, laughing uproariously.
Most of them lay on the floor rolling around like hyper ten year olds who'd just heard an especially good poop joke. Falman was older than all of them, and supposedly more dignified, was doubled over in one wooden chair, stamping his foot on the floor; while Ed was rocking back and forth in another chair, holding his sides, laughing as hard as the rest, with tears rolling down his face.
Riza was touched. She couldn't remember Ed laughing in the old, grim days of the struggle against the homunculi. He'd been always sullen - sometimes snarky - especially when Roy was around to bait him with jibes about his short stature. Then a door banged open on the floor above, derailing her train of thought. "What's all that racket?!"
The men sobered up at once. By the time Roy had made it down the stairs to them, they were standing at attention and saluting. Much better. Now they stood up straight, the uniforms looked more like, well - uniforms.
Edward was still giggling, and Roy left him for the moment.
"Havoc, what's with your finger?" he barked, then waved off his explanation. "Never mind,you idiots - don't you have work to do?" Valman, Fuery, Havoc, Bloch, and Breda obediently filed out - with mostly straight faces - though an occasional 'hee-hee' was heard. Once the story of the 'bitchin' frizzy' spread around HQ, the barracks would be a laugh riot tonight.
Roy turned to Ed and regarded him. He glowered with his eyes, but his lips were curved in a smile. After another minute, he gave him a hanky to wipe his streaming eyes with; and waited till he got the last gurgle of amusement out of his system. "Upstairs, Major Chuckles, I've got a job for you."
END CHAPTER ONE.