Summary: It looked like an innocent alchemy book, but it was anything but. After activating it, Edward becomes a four year old child in body and mind and the only person eligible to take care of this child is a reluctant Colonel Mustang.
Disclaimer: I do not own FullMetal Alchemist
Pairings: Roy + Edward
It had been a small book in the back of the library that had caught the blond alchemist's attention. Covered in dust, the pages were a slight yellow that made it tear easily when Ed had first opened the book. Most of the books in Central's library were well read and also well taken care of, so it didn't explain why this book, thick with material involving alchemy, had been so carelessly ignored to age with old texts that had long since been forgotten.
The librarian hadn't even known of its existence when he brought it forward so he could check it out. Instead, she pushed it towards the blond, smiling sincerely, and asked him to keep the book – it wasn't receiving the love it deserved in the library. Ed, after much persistence from the librarian, had dragged it back with him towards his bedroom. An hour later, he was addicted to its every word, loving each drawing and text that explained even the most forbidden of alchemy.
What he loved most, however, was the information it gave on the philosopher's stone, along with the alchemy circle needed to transmute the object he so desired with a list of equivalencies that had been monitored over time. His new best friend, the blond hugged the book tightly. Sure, that alchemy circle was smudged, maybe even difficult to read, but nothing was difficult for him! Ed analyzed over the drawing before looking over his metal arm. No matter what the cost, this was going to be worth it.
He had been so enthralled with the words, he never noticed his brother enter the room and try to grab his attention until the bitter cry of the soul brought him back to earth. "What are you reading, big brother? I thought you said you read everything in the library."
"Apparently I hadn't." Ed smiled. "This, Al, is the book we've been looking for!" He all but shoved the page he'd been reading up on in his brother's face. "The philosopher stone! The transmutation circle design, all we needed to know had been in the back of the library with all those service manuals that no one ever reads!" As if it were made of glass, he put the book down and swept his eyes over the floor. Their dorm would have to do, he thought as he reached through the desk by his bed and pulled out a marker. "Give me a second to draw their design out – I'd feel a lot better if it was drawn rather than an image I thought up." He fell to his knees and flicked the cap of the marker off.
"Big brother, I don't think we should mess with this circle until we have it checked over with other state alchemists, to ensure it's the real deal." Alphonse flinched as the flat smell of permanent marker washed over the room, like an intoxicating aura. "The Colonel might want to know what this is as well, in case something bad happens to us." Again.
Almost with a sneer of pride, Ed waved his hand dismissively. "And let our findings be lost in all the red tape? I've read all the notes over and over again, and the equivalency is actually reasonable compared to a lot of the alchemy we've seen, and most anyone who's used this to make the Philosopher Stone signed their name at the bottom, along with the year of use just to confirm it." He had glanced it over numerous times, and had noted that all the names listed over hundreds of years had been respected alchemists. He fully believed what he read, and for such men to have lived until a ripe old age happily, it had to work.
"Big brother…" Al whined fruitlessly as Ed's wrist flicked a symbol mirrored in the book before continuing on with his circle. "…Something bad is going to come out of this, I just know it." Still, his words fell on deaf ears as his eager brother finished his alchemy circle, looking at it with awe. "Let's just put a rug over it and leave it, Ed. Something like this, so easy to obtain, couldn't be good. Look at us already, what more can this take from us?" His brother's life? Al shook his head, not wanting to think of it. He stepped towards the door.
"We won't know until we try Al." Ed scribbled out the last part of the circle. It was rather easy to assemble, but that didn't mean anything! It just meant Central was full of idiots (something Ed knew for the longest time).
Again, the armor scooted towards the door. "I'm going to get the Colonel to look it over first, Ed. That way we can be sure nothing will happen!" That said the hunk of metal ran down the corridor fast, leaving Ed to his musings as the blond double-checked his array. Looked good. With what little information available on it, he was a little concerned about the outcome, but not enough to stop his actions as he settled forward on the ground and stationed both his metal hand and his real hand against the circle. This could just be a dud; just in case he planned to process the energy elsewhere if anything went bad.
Like magic, the circle began to light up. In gust of wind, Ed felt himself tighten up and clench the ground to keep from flying. How powerful! He screamed as his skin started burning, but no matter what he did to abandon the circle, he found himself unable to pull away even as items that had surrounded his room began breaking and crashing to the ground. Dirt he hadn't known about flooded his eyesight as Ed fell against the ground, bowing towards the circle as his skin began to burn and shimmer. But people had survived this. There were names listed on the side…
What have I done was the last thought that entered Ed's mind as he fell unconscious. The lights cracked above him, sending the room into darkness. The door was thrown open but it was too late as the circle deactivated and everything crashed to the ground. "Full Metal! Are you okay?" Roy screamed across the room as the dust settled to the ground. In the middle of a room, a child sat up. Everything was quiet as the soldiers and Al stared in the room at the little blond child who was no more than four years old. Little Ed blinked at them before he threw his head back and screamed out, "Mommy-!"
"Colonel, what should we do about this?" Riza put her hands on her hips as she watched Havoc give Edward a lollypop. Happily, the child stuck the large ball of sugar in his mouth and suckled it, his large eyes intent on Breda's impersonations. Everyone else in the room was still surrounding the child as Roy sat at his desk with the journal in his hands. In the distance, Al squeezed tightly in a ball. "Havoc! Take that cigarette out of your mouth!" She grabbed the stick from the blond Second Lieutenant's mouth.
Glancing up from the journal, Roy rubbed his temples. "I'm not surprised Full Metal wasn't listening to your warnings, Al." He put the papers down. "Though it would be nice had he. These papers were listed as burned years ago. They aren't reliable in the least and has nothing to do with the Philosopher's Stone as it list. It's a gift of eternal life if you keep using it. It takes years off your life, but you're never sure how many you lose. Some people have disappeared because they used it to a point they weren't even born; some it took a week off. These names are those that have tried it but not all of them succeeded. I will admit this much – Ed has his arm and leg back. I suppose that's an accomplishment."
"But look at him!" Al waved his hands frantically.
On the table, Ed popped his sucker out of his mouth. He ignored the plush toy Fuery tried putting in his face in favor of staring over at the body of armor. "We have armor like that at home! Mister, why are you wearing your armor?" He kicked his legs out, thumping them noisily against the table he was sitting on.
Rubbing the back of his head, Al leaned forward. "Eh. Heh. It, uh, looks cool?" He tried.
"Not really." The little boy sucked harder at his candy, turning to face the soldiers that were trying to entertain him. "Where's my mommy?"
The group stopped moving. Plopping on the couch, Al lowered his head in his hands. It seemed like forever before Roy stood up. "Your mother sent you here on a small vacation. You were interested in some alchemy and we're here to give you a few lessons to decide if you want to be an alchemist."
The look on the blond's face proved that the boy was really thinking about Roy's statement. Leaning forward, Ed opened his mouth. With wide amazement, he watched the candy fall onto the carpet. It was quickly forgotten when the blond hopped down and ran towards the phone on Roy's desk. "Mommy says I'm too little!" He reached for the phone. Quickly, Roy hung it up again. "I want my mommy!" Ed fell on his bottom and pushed away fat tears with his fist.
Running over next to the blond, Fuery put the stuffed toy in the boy's hands, but Ed rejected it. Throwing his head back, the little boy began to cry loudly. "Gah! Will you shut him up?" Roy stuffed his fingers in his ears. Leaning down, Riza awkwardly lifted Ed into her arms, but it didn't help matters as the boy began wailing louder and flailing his arms. "That's not helping! Do something!" Running forward, Al reached for his brother, but Ed pulled away and screamed more. Giving up, Roy reached over and pulled the boy from Riza and into his own arms. He didn't relent his hold no matter how much Ed fought to break free. After a little while the boy calmed down and the Colonel sat the child on his desk. "Your mother told us," he continued, "that she couldn't teach you. She wanted you to learn properly so you don't make mistakes. You'll just be here a few days or weeks then you'll be home with your mother. Okay?"
Rubbing his moistened eyes, Ed nodded. "Are all of you alchemists?" He whispered with a hiccup.
"Well, he is. The rest of us are just…here?" Havoc chose his words carefully. Breda, Fuery, and the others quickly nodded. Roy blinked before putting his hands on both sides of Ed.
"You don't look like an alchemist…"
Suddenly, Ed grunted and crossed his legs. "Is something wrong Ed?" Fuery leaned over the desk. Ed pulled away slightly towards Roy's ear.
"I have to go peepee…" He whispered nervously. Blinking, Roy sighed and helped the boy down. Ed stood still, holding his hand to Roy. "Mommy goes with me 'cause Al and I make messes." He shook his hand with want, his knees bending as he bounced in his spot. From the distance, Al snorted down a laugh as Roy took the blond's hand and led the boy to his private bathroom. Ed tugged again, pointing towards the bathroom.
"You can go yourself," Roy unclasped their hands and walked back towards his desk. When he seated, he noticed that Edward still hadn't gone in the bathroom and was standing cross-legged, grabbing himself. "Go to the bathroom." He ordered. Instead of turning in the bathroom, Ed stood still for a few more seconds before waddling back towards a chair in the room. "I thought you had to go pee." Roy whispered.
"I, I don't gotta anymore." Ed hid his face.
Standing up, Al lifted his older brother up and turned towards the bathroom himself. "It's okay, Edward. We'll just change your pants. Can someone get us the smallest uniform you can find or PT shorts?" Nodding, Falman walked out of the room and returned with the smallest shorts they had and gave them to Al. Riza phoned someone to clean up the puddle in front of the bathroom while giving a concerned look to the wide-eyed Colonel.
"He can't help it, Colonel?" She offered. "Okay, so know we have to decide what we're going to do."
"It's simple. I'm going to ask for fellow state alchemist to analyze this circle and develop a countering circle and we'll return Ed to his proper age. Until then, we treat Ed like this child he is and hope that no repercussions occur in the end with his memories." Roy settled back and shut the notebook. "Afterwards, we burn this book." He leaned back as the door opened to his office and Ed strutted in wearing over-sized clothing. The first place the little blond ran was to the colonel's lap, climbing up to stare into the man's eyes.
"When are we going to study alchemy? Can we start now? Please, please, please?" He begged.
Ignoring the blond, Roy continued. "Now, who's up to keeping Little Ed?"
"I'm not little!" Ed threw baby punches and kicked as Roy held him away.
Riza rubbed her chin. "Well I can't."
"Dorms won't let me."
"I'm certain some medical research said smoking around a young child isn't healthy."
Al raised his arm in the background. "I can take care of him!"
"No!" Ed screamed. "I wanna stay with mister teacher!" He reached his arms around Roy's neck. All eyes turned onto Ed, not ready for his input. "Metal-man's," they assumed he meant metal man, "scary! I want mommy to find me with teacher!" He tightened his arms as Roy tried pulling away. "Don't make me go away, mister teacher! I'll be good! I'm sorry for peeing my pants!"
Uncomfortably, Roy unclasped the boy's tightened grip. "Get him a dorm then! I'm sure there are some extras."
Almost smugly, Riza stepped back. "You know the rules, Colonel, children aren't allowed in dorms and if one is to be in there, they can't be left unsupervised. Obviously the only one still open to take care of our bundle of joy is you. And dorms won't be an issue. It just works that Edward," she earned a smile from the child, "wants to stay with you. What's the worse that can go wrong?"
"I'm not parental material." Roy snorted. "I can see him on fire by tomorrow. I have no extra bed at my apartment for children. No children clothes. No toys. He'll be bored out of his mind, and you heard that Alphonse wants to take care of him."
Glancing up in disbelief, Edward looked at the metal encased shell. "You're name's Alphonse? I've got a brother named Alphonse! You can call me Ed! But not Eddie! I hate Eddie!"
If he could, Al would be smiling as he took the little blond's hands in his metal ones. "I'll call you Ed, then. You can call me Al, if you want."
Clearing his throat, Roy drew the attention back to himself. Riza stood behind him with a telltale look taking her face, her gun returning to the pocket under her jacket. "I'll take Edward with me then. Tomorrow, we'll have a meeting to decide what to do go from here. Dismissed." An array of salutes was given to him before his office emptied, leaving him, Al, and Edward - the latter fighting not to suck on his thumb as he looked around. "Edward, why don't you go…do whatever it is kids do while I talk to Al about…grown up stuff?" The man stumbled on the last words. Especially since Al wasn't a child, but the pre-teen was probably affected at being the oldest little brother. Nervously, the boy dropped to the floor and ran towards the door. He almost tripped once before he was running out of the office. "So, Al…" Roy chose his words carefully, "think about it this way. You finally can get all that stuff you couldn't have until you were older than Ed?" Stupid joke, but he couldn't help trying to ease the mood.
"Why can't Ed come stay with me?" Al slammed his hands on the table.
"We're not sure how much this might affect him if we turn him back into an adult. We have to keep his real memories there and this new childhood as part of the old one without contradicting anything. You wouldn't want him to be confused when we get him as a sixteen year old again, do you?"
Al nodded. "I want him to be okay…"
"Then trust us. Be 'Metal-man' and a friend to Ed, and we'll help you refrain from bringing up a past he doesn't have right now. Remember, he's now a four year old child whose mother's alive and alchemy is a far off dream for him." Roy clasped his hands under his chin. "Don't worry so much. He'll be safe."
"Okay…" Al whispered. Turning to the door, he abandoned the Colonel to continue reading up on the alchemy circle that caused the entire situation.
"Stay." Roy looked over his shoulder as he walked down the hall of his small, two-bedroom apartment and into his home office where he kept extra blankets and pillows. When he returned to the living room, he noticed that the little blond hadn't stayed put as he ordered. Edward's (the teen) clothes were thrown about in the room, but the child was nowhere to be seen. Scared that the blonde had left the apartment, Roy ran to check if his door was still locked as he always did when entering his personal home. It was, meaning Ed was somewhere inside. "Elric!" He yelled down the hall.
When he found his bedroom door, he was initially concerned that Edward was in there. It wasn't messy…to say. There were still remnants of his last one night tryst in random areas of the room, but that didn't mean Edward wouldn't have gone in there. Cracking the door open, Roy stuck his head in the room, and Ed squealed loudly. With the blankets over his head, the little blond shuffled to the end of the bed. "Didn't I say to stay in the living room?"
Giggling, the lump in his blankets shifted but other than that Ed remained quiet.
Carefully, Roy approached the bed and reached under the blankets. Grabbing Ed's sides, he lifted the child up into his arms. "That's my bed! You're sleeping on the couch." Squealing, Ed flailed his arms as he was carried back in the living room and deposited on the couch. The lights were dimmed as Roy returned down the hall. "The bathroom's right here. I'll leave the light on tonight."
The child lay still for a while. His golden eyes watched the lights in the back from one room to the other until Roy returned to his bedroom, yawning. Again, Ed waited, watching the clock above the radio click as the hands turned. When both fell onto the highest number that Ed couldn't read, the boy rolled off the couch and ran to climb in bed with his teacher where it was comfortable.