-

The Gift

24

The Gift

-

December 25th – Monday – Christmas

Ed's eyes cracked open and he looked around in the darkness. The last thing he remembered was talking to Al...

I must have fallen asleep... he thought.

Getting out of bed, he padded softly over to where his pocket watch was stuffed in his pants pocket. Fishing it out, the teen depressed the button and squinted hard at the watch face.

It was a little after 5:00 in the morning.

He sighed. Putting the watch back in his pocket, Ed dropped the pants on the floor and walked over to the window. It was still dark out, but the storm had stopped and the colored lights that were on the house lit up the fresh snow. It all looked so peaceful...

How fitting, he supposed. Christmas should be peaceful... Regret swept through him as he thought about how he could have been spending it with Roy...

Ed rested his head against the window and felt the cold seep into his skin.

Roy...

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I just want to see you... That's all I want for Christmas... just you..."

Ed blinked his eyes, trying to keep himself from crying anymore. He knew he wouldn't find Roy under the tree. That was the one present he wouldn't get.

He blew his breath against the window making it fog up and quickly drew the array that the colonel had drawn on his gloves. That only served to make him even sadder so he quickly wiped it away.

Ed let his eyes scan the area as he wondered if the train line would be sending out any trains today.

Suddenly he caught sight of something moving through the snow and he squinted his eyes, trying to see what it was. He watched for several minutes until he was sure it was a person, then felt his heartbeat quicken when he realized the heavy brown coat was the same type that was issued to military personnel in the colder regions.

There was only one military person that he could think of that would be coming toward the Rockbell house.

Trying hard not to get his hopes up, but failing miserably, Ed hurriedly pulled on his pants, then his boots before grabbing his red coat and rushing out of the room. He knew it was cold out there and that he should probably put on socks and maybe his jacket as well, but he didn't.

He couldn't wait any longer. He had to know...

Hurrying down the stairs, Ed freed his hair that had gotten trapped against his body when he'd put on the coat and quickly ran his fingers through it. Not as good as a comb or a brush, but it would do.

Fumbling at the locks on the front door, Ed finally let himself outside and rushed to the edge of the porch. The man was closer now and Ed could see that he was the same height as the colonel. The man's head was lowered and the hood of the coat hid his face, but Ed was sure.

"Roy?" Ed shouted, hopefully.

The man stopped his slow trudge and lifted his head. The cowl fell back a little and straight black hair poked out.

It was him...

Unwilling to wait for Roy to come to him, Ed rushed down the steps and stepped into the snow, but he heard Roy shout, "Stay there!" It was good advice given that the snow came almost up to Ed's thighs.

He watched as the colonel trudged faster and finally made it to the porch. Climbing up the steps, Roy pulled the hood from his head. His cheeks and nose were red and his eyes also held a pinkish hew, as if he hadn't slept recently. Those eyes gazed down at him in nervous apprehension.

"Ed..." he said hesitantly, his breath coming out in little puffs. "Ed...I swear, I've never cheated on you. I swear it. I've always been faithful."

Ed swallowed and the tears that had been threatening earlier finally freed themselves from his eyes and trickled warmly down his cheeks.

A slight breeze ruffled the colonel's fine, black hair and he pulled off the heavy brown gloves that were covering his hands before reaching into his coat and pulling out an envelope. For a moment he simply stared at it, then gingerly held it out to Ed.

"This is for you," he said quietly.

Ed sniffled and quipped, "You came all this way to get me to do your paperwork?"

Roy chuckled and shook his head as he stared down at the teen with a fond look in his eyes.

Swallowing hard, Ed opened the envelope and pulled out the documents. As he scanned over them, his eyes widened and his breath caught in his throat. These were...

He gazed up at Roy in wonder. "These are..."

A smile touched the older man's lips and he nodded.

Ed looked back down at the forms and said, "These are...but how? I thought... I thought you said it was too much of a bother to get these..."

"I did, and it was," Roy said, pain filling his voice. "That's why I was gone so much. I was always given the run around, and then they'd call and tell me to come in, then they would say never mind, or I'd have to wait hours before I could get into a meeting that had been scheduled for earlier..."

Ed swallowed hard and blinked more tears from his eyes. Roy had always said that to get the Fuhrer to sign off on a relationship between a commanding officer and his subordinate was a real pain, but Ed hadn't really thought of what it all entailed.

"I wanted to have them for you for Christmas. Maybe it wouldn't have happened if you hadn't left," he said with a mirthless laugh. "I stormed into the Fuhrer's office and demanded that he sign the papers. I guess that's what he was waiting for. He said that if someone was willing to risk their rank by barging in and demanding it after all the runaround, then he was sure that such a relationship was solid. I guess he wants to be sure people are serious before giving permission."

Roy shook his head. "A little ironic, I suppose, since I wasn't sure how stable our relationship was after you left..."

"Roy, I'm sor..." Ed began, but the colonel put his finger to Ed's lips.

"I know. I understand... I was wrong to do it the way that I did. I'm the one who should be asking for forgiveness, not you." The colonel reached down and moved a few strands of Ed's hair away from his face with one of his fingers. "Do you forgive me?"

"Of course!" Ed cried.

Roy smiled. "Good, because I have one more thing for you."

Again, the colonel reached into his coat, and pulled out a small box. "It isn't wrapped. Sorry..." Roy murmured as he handed it to Ed.

The teen gazed at the small box, then opened it. Inside, glinting brightly in the colored lights was a small, gold ring.

Ed blinked in confusion.

A ring?

Roy was giving him a ring...?

He didn't wear jewelry... why would he give him a...

And then it dawned on him.

Eyes widening in shock and surprise, Ed looked over to the colonel, who was now kneeling in front of him.

"Ed..." Roy whispered. "I don't ever want to be without you. These past couple of days have been torture. Before, when you've gone away to look for the stone, I always knew you'd come back to me, but when you left on Saturday... I just..." The colonel looked down for a moment before looking back up. "I was afraid I'd lost you forever with my carelessness."

Ed pulled the ring out of the box and stared at it for a moment, then his eyes caught on a small marking on the ring. He brought it closer to his eyes and inspected it. A small transmutation circle had been skillfully etched into the surface. By itself, drawn on some sort of mineral or element, it was a very powerful array, but when combined with another mineral or element, it had an even greater power.

With the array already drawn on the gold, all he would have to do is press it against another mineral to activate it. Different minerals produced different effects. He could do what this circle did with just his hands, but if he was ever in trouble... If his other arm was ever taken away...

"This is amazing..." he breathed, again admiring the skill it must have taken to etch such a small array into the ring and still have it accurate.

Roy nodded. "The woman who did it, her name is Lisa Frentera. It was her number you found. It took me forever to convince her to etch that particular array in there. She does etching at night as a side job. Those were the only times I could catch her..."

"I'm sorry..." Ed whispered. "I'm sorry I ever doubted you."

Roy shook his head. "I told you, you have nothing to be sorry for."

Ed nodded and the colonel held out his hand. Sensing that he wanted the ring, the teen dropped it in his palm. When he got it, Roy put it between his fingers and looked at it, then at Ed. The colored lights danced in the colonel's eyes, leaving Ed mesmerized.

"You're like the circle on this ring. You're powerful and have much potential, but I think that when you're combined with another element, that makes you even greater. Will you let me be that element? Will you let me help you when you need it, and comfort you when you need comfort?" He raised the ring. "Will you marry me?"

Ed blinked away more tears, only this time they were tears of joy. "Yes," he said shakily.

With a smile on his face, Roy took a hold of Ed's real hand and slipped the ring on his finger before wrapping his arms around the teen and burying his face into Ed's chest. He stayed that way for a moment, before standing. Leaning down, Roy brushed his lips against Ed's.

"Merry Christmas, Ed," he said softly.

Ed wrapped his arms around his new fiancé and murmured, "Merry Christmas, Roy."


And Merry Christmas to all of you!

This has been my gift to all of you. Thank you so much for all the encouragement you've given me, not only with this story, but also with my other ones. I really hope you enjoyed this and the way it was presented. It was really a challenge to meet some of the deadlines, especially near Thanksgiving since I was so busy with school, but it was worth it.

I've thought here and there about continuing this in some way, perhaps writing the wedding or checking in on them here or there or something... though if I did, I wouldn't give out dates like I've done on this first part. Well, we'll see. If I do, you'll get an update notification because I'll just add it to this story. If not, then, haha, you won't. Technically, though, this is the end of the story.

Again, thank you for all the encouragement and support. I hope you all have a merry Christmas, and a happy new year!!

- ZaKai Stonewall