Merry belated Christmas, everyone! Wow, it's been forever since I wrote a good FMA fic, hasn't it? Lucky for any one who reads my stories, this one happens to be a monster. I was planning for it to be a sweet little oneshot, and here I get angst and drama! Oh well, I guess it's good when things don't go the way you planned.
And if you were wondering, this is Parental! RoyEd, no yaoi, blah blah blah. I was seriously craving some fluff, and well, this is the result. I hope you enjoy it. Also, thank elriclover07 for playing beta for this one!
After you're done reading this monster fanfic, be sure to check out my profile! I put a link in for a YouTube page. I dunno about you, but I immensely enjoy two people mouthing chipmunk songs and slowly beat each other up. Ha! So be sure to check it out, because I have NO idea when my next FMA story is going up. But why think of the future when we have this story here today? On with the fic!
Disclaimer: Lucky for all citizens of the world, I do not, and will never own, Fullmetal Alchemist. Yay!
"I don't see why we have to do this…" the short blond mumbled, his arms crossed tightly over his chest.
"Don't be childish, Edward. This is important," Colonel Roy Mustang replied in a dignified voice, his gloved hands carefully straightening his well-maintained military uniform.
Edward slammed a neatly written, golden trimmed document on the raven-haired Colonel's desk. "But this is stupid!" he whined childishly. "What the hell does a blindfold obstacle course have to do with military duties?"
"Trust is an important aspect here, Ed," Roy stated calmly.
Ed let out a large sigh dramatically escape from his lips, slamming a hand on the desk with a peculiar clink! It sounded like wood hitting metal.
"Do watch where you're slamming your automail," said Roy, turning his back to the golden-eyed teenager. "That's a new desk."
"All the better reason," Ed mumbled, taking off a crisp, white glove and revealing five fingers made of metal. He casually flexed each one, a finger clicking for every bend he performed.
"Very well, Fullmetal," sighed Roy, registering the use of Ed's military-assigned name. "You be sure to show up at headquarters at six tomorrow. I'd rather not go into what would happen if you decide to skip it."
Ed snorted nonchalantly and rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, you'll definitely be seeing me there." Roy heard a heavy set of doors close, indicating that Edward had left the room, and he sighed again and sat down at his desk.
So it had been three years that Major Edward Elric had been working underneath him, and he knew as good as nothing about the fifteen-year-old. He only possessed the faintest knowledge of the boy's past, and he knew nothing of Ed's actual personal life. For some reason, he occasionally felt a deep, genuine concern for the military's youngest member.
Perhaps it was because Ed lost both his parents at such a young age. Maybe it had something to do with the walking sullenly in Roy's office on some days, hopelessly dead to the world. Whatever it was, it was annoying the hell out of Roy.
Then, conveniently enough, the Fuhrer had made a large announcement. "It seems like all of those who are serving our military are somehow weary and precautious around each other," he had said in a would-be-knowledgeable voice, earning the snickers of many who had heard him. "This does not appear well to the people of our state. Therefore, I decided to open up the ultimate test of trust…a blindfolded obstacle course." He smiled joyfully as he announced something truly fantastic.
If the room was alive with chuckling before, now it was deadly silent that anybody could have heard a pin drop…even a deaf person, Roy had mused.
Many soldiers looked as if they wanted nothing more than to groan their displeasure aloud as, one by one, they found out about the "ultimate test of trust", or at least in the Fuhrer's words.
Roy didn't want to do the blindfold test. But if it meant gaining a mutual understand of Ed, then he wouldn't mind giving it a try.
Of course, Ed would probably pair up with someone else, making the whole project a waste of time. That was pretty much what always happened with one of the Fuhrer's "genius ideas".
Jerking from his thoughts, Roy returned to his paperwork, his hand unconsciously signing his name on the important-looking documents while his thoughts drifted back again to his teenage subordinate.
Nobody was expecting a surprise visit from the Fuhrer that day.
He was supposed to be working on some sort of project at Southern Headquarters, but for some reason he just merrily waltzed into Central Headquarters, waving to all of the lower officers as he passed by.
Roy had to admit, he was more than a bit irritated when he found himself standing in front of his own desk, firmly snapped into a professional salute.
"Well, I see you are working as hard as ever, Colonel Mustang," the Fuhrer commented in his polite, gentlemanly voice, observing the neat, orderly office with the eye that wasn't concealed in a black patch.
"Yes, sir," said Roy. "What brings you to Central today?"
"I came to witness my blindfold test event," the Fuhrer stated simply. "But more importantly, I came to you to warn you of what lies ahead. I have included many upper boot camp-level obstacles, especially for state alchemists. It may even have obstacles that require the alchemist to transmute blindfolded."
Roy's dark obsidian eyes narrowed. If an alchemist could not determine the status of the situation, then a transmutation could be incredibly dangerous. Surely the Fuhrer knew that…
"Yes, sir," said Roy, trying to mask his discomfort. The Fuhrer's eye that wasn't in a patch narrowed into a small slit of teal, as if in thought.
"You and Fullmetal are two of the most prized state alchemists," he spoke slowly, as if Roy wouldn't be able to understand him otherwise. "It certainly would be nice if the two of you were partners for this project."
"I will work on that, sir," replied Roy, his mind reeling.
A warm smile broke over the Fuhrer's face. "That's all I wanted to say," he said pleasantly. "I'll see you at the even tomorrow, Colonel."
"Good day, sir," Roy said back to the Fuhrer's retreating back. The doors swung back with a creak and finally slammed shut, leaving Roy alone with his thoughts for the second time about Ed.
So. He and Ed were partners for the trust exercise. It was almost too perfect.
Ed wouldn't exactly cherish the thought, but it would make the challenge ahead of them somewhat productive.
The sun had just finished setting over the peaks of Central, leaving the edges of the sky with an uneven coating of rusty red, and the center a navy blue and specked with a meager amount of stars.
Edward jammed his gloved fists into the overlarge pockets of his red cloak, grumbling all the while he was walking to the headquarters.
"I don't see why the hell I have to partner up with Colonel Bastard," he complained under his breath. "This whole thing's a load of bull, just going to all this trouble for nothing…"
Ed insisted that Alphonse, his younger brother. didn't come. It would only take a minute, and besides, Al had already busied himself to making dinner, and Ed was starving…he probably hadn't eaten in days…
It may have had something to do with the fact that Ed was studying and rereading every alchemy book from front to back, hoping to find a tidbit to lead him to another clue of the Philosopher's Stone.
In an attempt to bring back their mother after she died of chronic illness, Ed had lost his arm and leg, having them replaced by cold, hard automail. Al lost his whole body. He barely clung to the edges of the living, remaining anchored only by a soul attachment to a suit of armor that happened to be in the basement at the time. Because of Ed's foolish desperation, his younger brother was trapped in a large, unfeeling body and could barely be considered human. Only Ed could restore his younger brother's normal body, but with their severe lack of leads…
That was why the stupid obstacle course was time that could be better spent. Being stuck with Mustang didn't help too much, either.
Finally, Central Headquarters loomed in front of Ed. Sighing, the boy pushed open the doors to the large building and stepped inside.
"Good evening to all of you," Greeted Fuhrer King Bradley to the small caucus that assembled itself in front of him. Only about half of the state alchemists had shown up, perhaps less, which was just the number Roy was anticipating.
"As you know, tonight we are performing an important ritual of trust"-Roy caught Edward rolling his eyes-"So I'm glad you could all make it," said Bradley in the same sickly polite voice. "Trust is an important aspect of our military. Major Elric, Colonel Mustang, why don't you demonstrate this aspect?"
Damn, now he wants us to be the examples? thought Roy in aggravation as he pushed a hesitant Ed up to the front of the tiny group.
"Why don't you wear the blindfold, Fullmetal?" asked the Fuhrer, smiling and holding up a black blindfold. Roy swore he saw a thin layer of hot pink creep up the boy's cheeks as he tied the blindfold snuggly around Edward's head.
"Can you see?" he muttered to the boy, well aware that the two of them were being watched. Ed shook his head, and Roy placed his palms on Ed's shoulders. He noticed the younger boy tensed at the sudden contact, but let it roll of his back then.
The Fuhrer nodded, the annoying smile still playing at his lips. He then proceeded to throw open the doors to the next room. "Be warned," he said to Roy as the young Colonel gave his subordinate a shove into the larger room "This obstacle course isn't for the faint at heart."
Roy felt his grip on the teen's shoulders tighten, making Ed perk his head up curiously. That obstacle didn't look like total hell assembling itself, but it did look rather tricky.
Eager soldiers poured in after Roy and gathered in clusters, ready to watch the two biggest names in the human artillery. Roy sighed, taking in his surroundings.
The first obstacle was easy…a large wall that had to be stepped over. Roy urged Edward forward, and pinched the boy's sallow shoulders to stop him with his hand.
"Step higher, Edward," he warned. "A big hurdle's in front of you. Step higher."
Roy sensed hesitation run off the boy, almost as if…
He doesn't trust me. Without a moment's pause, Roy grabbed Under Edward's knee and hoisted it up, allowing the teen's heel to brush the very top of the hurdle. "Go on. Step over," he muttered gently, placing the foot down on the other side of the fence.
Slowly, still hesitantly, Edward lifted his other foot and brought it over. The faint sound of clapping came from the group of soldiers.
Several hurdles later (a good half being almost as tall as Ed), Roy found himself in front of a rather challenging obstacle…a wall with several notches to climb in, ascending from the floor to a high platform, rising at least twenty feet off the ground.
Roy inhaled sharply, pushing Ed to the wall, who hesitantly obeyed the pressure. Most of Roy's directions had to be verbal…
"Okay, Ed," he said loudly, earning the glances of many chatting soldiers. "If you bring your foot up, you'll feel a notch that you can stand in. Put your foot in."
Ed gingerly felt his around so he could find the indent. It was shoved in several inches, and Ed placed his weight on that foot, and continued to feel around the wall for the next notch.
For several moments with a baited breath, Roy watched his blindfolded companion slowly, carefully scale the wall. He bit his tongue when Ed almost slipped on the now further spread indents, stopping himself from yelling the obvious like, "Be careful!" or "Don't fall!"
When Edward finally reached the platform, Roy let out a small breath of relief, but still felt incredibly strained. After all, Ed was standing twenty feet off the ground, without knowing it, and Roy couldn't feel assured with the constant risk.
Roy raised a finger to his chin, carefully looking for the safest option of what to do next. The platform was tiny, only large enough for one person to stand on. Luckily, Ed was small, (Roy smirked), and so he could easily fit on the platform.
There was one thing that puzzled Roy…on the platform, there was a large stack of wood piled haphazardly. He didn't know what it was doing there…
"Some of the obstacles may require an alchemist to transmute blindfolded."
It slapped Roy in the face particularly hard. He bit his lip, and began to slowly explain to the confused teen standing high above him.
"Edward," he stated slowly, snatching the boy's attention. "On the edge of the platform you're standing on, about…" he surveyed it thoughtfully, "two footsteps forward, there's a pile of material. Go there, and transmute the wood into something to get yourself down with…like stairs. After that, you're done. I promise."
Ed began to step forward, but what happened next almost made Roy's heart give out.
He watched in sheer terror as one of the black, platform heels of Ed's bootd slipped off the edge of the high platform. He could barely hear the collective gasp of the now gossiping soldiers.
Then Roy heard a loud clap and witnessed an alchemic blue flash of light explode in front of his eyes. He used his elbow to protect them from the dust that had collected from the loud transmutation.
Edward was hanging on, for dear life, to a spike of earth that had risen higher than he had once been standing, for the platform had become material for the transmutation.
One hand, covered in a now skewbald pinto glove, barely clung to the skinny platform, precariously slipping a fraction of an inch. "Edward…" Roy breathed, taking in the severity of the scenario.
Roy's heart gave another lurch as half the platform toppled on edge, spreading Ed's two hands so far apart, trying to transmute would send him crashing downward.
Roy exhaled a shaky breath as he assessed the situation. Climbing down was impossible with the too-thin, dangerously swaying spike that rose from the ground. It was already buckling from Ed's slight weight alone.
There wasn't much time. Roy had no choice but to act on his growing impulse.
The Flame Colonel wasn't too experienced in regular alchemy (1) and there were hardly any materials to try, but it was his only chance of saving Ed. He quickly drew a large transmutation circle on the floor with a small piece of chalk he managed to dig out of his pocket, and dragged some of the fallen debris into its dead center. Concentrating as hard as he could, he placed his hands on the edges of the crude circle.
To his very slight relief, a golden glow erupted from the faint outline of the circle, and a large platform began to raise itself high off the ground. Roy scrambled up the rough edge of it, all the while admiring his handiwork. (After all, he hadn't done something like this in a long time…)
He focused his attention on the boy that was dangling above him, on the verge of falling. He sighed in frustration…Ed was still too high! There weren't enough materials to transmute Roy's own platform higher. That left but one dangerous option.
"Edward," Roy called, shakily extending his arms. "Ed. You have to fall. I'll catch you."
It occurred to Roy how horrible it must have been to be hanging in the air, not being able to see. He softened his voice and dulled it to a placid tone. "Edward, it's okay. Just fall. I'll catch you."
The golden-haired teen's hands were trembling far beyond his control, his knees slightly knocking in the air. He looked reluctant to let go, to release the one real thing he could hold on to before slipping into darkness.
"Edward," Roy called, stretching his arms out further in what could be considered a warm, welcoming gesture. "You can trust me."
He watched as the boy's back rose and fell with his heavy breathing. All of the sudden, he heard a wild cry from Ed as he began to hurtle toward the ground. Adrenaline pulsed through Roy's veins at the blink of an eye as he positioned himself under Ed, and caught the falling boy in a death grip, one arm around the boy's thighs, the other hand supporting his head.
For a second, Roy felt as if his weight would make him topple forward, but he remembered the youth he was holding in his arms, and took a weak, shaky step back, barely making himself upright.
Resounding cheers and applause echoed from the soldiers in the corner, but Roy busied himself to helping Edward. He used his index finger to rip the knot out of the blindfold, sending it gently, delicately floating to the ground.
Edward's eyes were squeezed shut and beads of cold sweat adorned his pale face. Roy settled the younger alchemist's legs over his own hips, realizing they were shaking and bouncing uncontrollably. Roy sighed and pressed Ed's face in his shoulder. Then he noticed something else.
He vaguely remembered Riza telling about a strange, sweet scent a newborn gave off. It sounded like parental hallucinations to Roy, but he realized that Ed was giving off the same scent. It was almost like some sort of pheromone of helplessness… (2)
Helplessness. Nobody dared lump Edward and the word helplessness in the same category. Why? Simply because Edward Elric was never helpless. It was like an inhuman trait of his…always strong, always looking out for his little brother. But helpless was a good word to describe the shaking boy he was cradling at that moment.
"Excellent, excellent work," said the Fuhrer, smiling and approaching the two of them.
"We appreciate your compliment, sir," said Roy, unable to salute from the dead weight in his arms.
"Yes, well done indeed. I understand that Fullmetal isn't feeling too well, but would the two of you be interested in assisting here if things get out of hand again?"
"I'm sorry, sir, but I think we both had enough for one day," Roy stated, his voice more than a little bit cool. With that, he hoisted Ed up higher and carried him into the dark, frosty night.
Ed felt his eyes crack open very slightly, and then close again from the bright, fluorescent light. He realized he was lying on his back on the soft, leather padding of a couch. He tried again and squinted his eyes, and when he didn't feel the pounding in his head, peaked them open all the way.
He was in an office, and Colonel Mustang was sitting by him on the couch, looking worried but relieved. "You okay, Ed?" he asked.
"Nngh…" was Ed's response. He hastily tried to sit up, but Roy placed a firm hand on his shoulder, forcing him back down.
"Don't try to get up just yet. You had a pretty severe shock on that obstacle course…"
It flashed through Ed's mind quickly…the pushing upward platform that made his stomach ache, falling into darkness to be greeted by warm arms…
The two of them sat in thoughtful silence for a few moments. Roy sighed and moved one of Ed's blonde locks out of his eyes. "That was some scare you gave us, kid," he said. "Do you think you can sit up?"
Roy eased his arms under boy's shoulders and slowly lifted upward. To his relief, color was slowly returning to Ed's cheeks.
Ed hugged his knees to his chest, looking incredibly insecure. Roy felt his heart go out to the unsure child. "Wha…" he started slowly, softly. "What happened after I passed out?"
Roy sighed in frustration and rubbed the back of is neck. "The Fuhrer wanted the two of us to stay and assist the others, but I turned him down. I don't think he knew if you were unconscious." Roy's normally tranquil expression turned into a small scowl. "It was his genius idea to transmute blindfolded which I didn't think was too smart."
Ed sighed and clenched his knees tighter to his chest. He looked so lost and alone, Roy could feel sympathy dragging his heart. Finally, an uncharacteristically small, broken voice came from Ed's lips.
I just wanted to say thanks…for catching me," he said quietly, his tone of voice raised a few octaves.
Roy's expression softened as he placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Thank you for letting me," he said quietly. "You seemed reluctant, though. Why?"
Ed's eyes widened suddenly and a choking sensation clogged his throat.
The golden-haired boy clung tightly to the bought of the pungent smelling oak tree. "Mom!" he called, tears running down his pale cheeks.
A beautiful woman loped to her son, preparing to rescue him from the tree. She smiled reassuringly at the blonde three-year-old boy and held out her arms.
"You can fall, Edward," she said soothingly. "I'll catch you."
The boy slid off the branch into his mother's arms, burying his face in her shoulder.
The smiling four-year-old girl sat high in the limbs of the tree, looking like a princess with a crown of flowers placed over her long braids.
"Widdle big bwudda!" she called summoning a twelve-year old boy with a golden braid of his own.
"Nina?" he asked, stepping closer to the girl in the tree.
She giggled and bounced in her spot. "Catch me, widdle big bwudda!"
The boy spread his arms and she fell into them, laughing. He began to laugh, too, as the two of them keeled to the ground.
His brother was vanishing in a flash of screaming, writhing light.
"No, Al!" the older brother yelled, trying to take the vanishing boy's and.
Their hands were just inches apart, barely colliding, when the smallest hand vanished into a flash of white light.
He had missed.
Blood seeped form the cracks of the alley wall, rain filling the nooks and crannies as he sobbed wildly...
The inhuman thing sent its hand forward, lurching toward the small, frightened boy…
"Edward!" yelled Roy's voice as Ed's shoulder was gruffly shaken.
He looked around to find himself back in Mustang's office, sitting on the couch with the Flame Alchemist trying to arouse him from his trance. It took Ed a second to realize that hot tears were cascading down the contours of his cheeks, the clear, salty liquid finding its way to the ground.
Ed quickly tried to hide his face through his curtain of golden mane, but knew he failed miserable when he felt a calloused hand reach under and pat his cheek. "Ed, what's the matter?" came Roy's concerned voice.
Ed sniffled, unable to stem the flow of stubborn tears t hat leaked from his eyes. "I don't deserve anyone's trust…I don't deserve to trust anyone…" he choked, his breath hitching in what came dangerously close to a sob. "Al trusted me…Nina trusted me…Mom…Mom…"
Roy practically pulled the kid into his lap, desperate to stop the boy's tears that were weighing his heart with sympathy. Ed held completely still, allowing Roy to rub his back to try and calm him down.
"Shh, Ed. It's not your fault. We all make mistakes," he soothed, breathing in the scent of helplessness again.
Ed hiccupped in response and rested his head against Roy's shoulder, trying to take the true moment of what it was like to have a father. "But, but…Al…he must hate me…" Ed choked on the difficult words that were too heavy to leave his mouth.
"Al doesn't hate you," reasoned Roy, ruffling Ed's golden hair.
"Yes he does."
"No he doesn't, and you know it." Roy sighed and rested his cheek on the teens' head.
"But…but I wouldn't mind if he was just angry at me, but…he's just…disappointed…" Edward burst into a renewed fit of fresh sobs that tore through his small body.
"Hush," Roy said quietly. "Yes, Al isn't happy with his current body. But Ed…" he pulled the boy tighter to his chest. "Everybody knows that Al still trusts you."
"He shouldn't," Ed wailed. Roy took the boy's automail hand and gently ripped the soiled glove off, exposing the cold, metal fingers.
"Look, Ed," he said firmly. "You gave this arm up just to save him. He knows that, no matter what, you won't let him die." He encased the cold, metal hand in his own and pulled it close to him to warm it. "And that, Fullmetal, is trust."
Ed sighed and Roy let go of his hand, the older man smiling encouragingly. "You're right," Edward said, looking lost in thought. He took several deep breaths and hastily wiped his tears away.
Roy smirked. "Is there any time I'm not?" he questioned. Ed looked as if he were desperately biting back a sharp-tongued comment, and Roy's expression softened.
"I'm driving you home tonight, Ed," he said, feeling along the inside of his top right desk drawer for a set of car keys. "You're much too unstable to walk home alone in the dark."
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING SMALL?!" demanded Ed, his voice drastically rising in volume.
Roy looked confused. "Nobody."
"Oh." Ed began to stand up, picking up his crimson coat, when he stopped and turned to face Roy.
"Thanks," he mumbled, embarrassed. "For everything."
Roy chuckled and ruffled the boy's blonde hair again. "No trouble, Ed," he said quietly, while grabbing his own black coat from the hanger by his door. "No trouble."
(1) They don't mention Roy doing alchemy that isn't flame alchemy, but he had to start somewhere, ne?
(2) Pheromones are body chemicals given off for survival. Humans do kind of have a scent of helplessness that stimulates other humans to help. I but I had to write it in. :D
I hope you enjoyed this loooooong story. Be sure to review, because I like reviews, and check out xflghtcoaster's YouTube page when you're done! (Remember, link on my profile….)