Disclaimer: I don't own FMA.

Notes: Look! A new mini-series! This has elements of normal FMA and AU!FMA. You'll see what I mean when we get on to the next chapter. This one is just normal. I'd like to say thanks to Lone-Whippoorwill for inspiring me to write this. I was going to PM you and say thanks as soon as I got the idea and started writing it, but apparently PMing you is disabled. You suggested something else, but it made me think of this, and if you hadn't made the suggestion I wouldn't have been writing it. So here we go, and I hope everyone enjoys my new 5-part miniseries (not including Prologue and Epiloge, so really it's 7-parts . . .)

"The Family Hedge" by Dailenna


It has often been said that the unit under the command of one Colonel Roy Mustang was like a big family. Although odd, this is undoubtedly true. Each officer fulfilled his or her position steadily, with a mind for the care of the others in such a whole sense that it seemed true familial care. Safety became an issue when in a tight spot, because each person was so ready to keep an eye out for the safety of the others that they often put themselves into positions of trouble just so that the rest of the group didn't get hurt – which ultimately meant that others still would put themselves into further positions so that the original risk-takers wouldn't be injured.

It wouldn't take long for an observer to be able to sort the unit out, and decide who found their place in which role, because each person fit perfectly into their own niche. It seemed almost as though each role had been designed especially for the person who filled it. The whole unit had their place, and there were even a few members under different command who somehow wheedled their way into being a part of this unique family.

A general family structure compromises of some basic roles that sometimes are played by more than one person, or occasionally are all occupied by the one individual.

The first and foremost role to be filled in a family is that of the caretaker. Sometimes this person might find that they must care for themself, and themself alone, which is most often the way it is when they have no one else around them. This person will be the one to make sure the family as a whole is in good health, and that everything is provided for them. It doesn't matter whether it's a family of one or one hundred. They are the person who takes care of everyone in the most basic way.

The next role is that of the person who makes sure responsibilities are upheld. This person is often seen as the disciplinarian of the family, and depending on the manner in which they discipline and the frequency with which they do it, their family may like them more or less. A disciplinarian with too weak a hand will not be respected, and the household will become lax, achieving none of its goals, and growing up without the sense of decency and propriety their neighbours may have. A disciplinarian with too strong a hand begs to be loathed. They are often resented for keeping the rest of the family from what they want, because the other family members see punishment too often to realise its purpose. A disciplinarian with a firm hand can often get across their message that in this or that case certain behaviours are not tolerated, and that is because of the family's own good. Disciplinarians with firm hands might seem harsh while they set down the rules, but they are usually seen as fair and loving, nonetheless.

Beyond these two governing roles, there are also the people who are led and watched over by these positions. These people can be those who need to be cared for, or those who need to be given a free reign over their actions. They can be those who the rules are made for, or those who seem to be made for the rules. They can be children, adults, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents or grandchildren – it doesn't really matter. Each person has their own place in the family structure, whether they're a dominating egoist or a diminutive altruist with an inferiority complex.

A family can't thrive without differing personalities. Those with volatile characteristics butt heads with one another, finding argument after argument, and longing for the day when they don't have to be together anymore. Those with peaceful natures might be able to coexist with one another, but when they're confronted with the great, wide world, their optimistic viewpoints come to a crashing halt around their feet – unless they've become prepared for it.

When the two personalities grow up around one another, coming to understand each way of life, they are able to absorb some of the characteristics of the other sort of person. Aggressively typified people might learn how to listen to those less willing to force their opinions on others, and passive responders could learn how to speak up for themselves, and how not to feel quite so endangered by the loud, outspoken people around them. It is necessary for different personalities to be able to get to know each other over time for them to be able to get on in a world dotted with those differing viewpoints.

Colonel Mustang's unit was filled with people of every different personality trait and skill, and although they might have been so internally different, because they had been united behind the same cause for so long, they were that family that outsiders may have glimpsed.

There was no doubting that every person in that small group of followers was fulfilling some special role in the Mustang family. You only have to look close enough to be able to see it all.