This is a story based on an alternative ending to the Full Metal Alchemist anime. Throughout the story there may be references to both anime and manga though. Spoilers possible up to Chapter 80 of the manga. Enjoy!
"Okay, show me what you got," a young lieutenant said as he laid down his cards. "General," he added quickly as his opponent gave him a stern look.
A wicked smile spread across the General's handsome face as he clutched a cigarette between his teeth and eyed the young officer. Under any other circumstances a General wouldn't be playing cards with lower ranking officers. But this wasn't just any General. In fact he was the highest ranking General there was.
"Alright," he said as he prepared to lay down his cards. "You've asked for it."
"I'll believe it when I see it," the young officer said trying to be cocky but not feeling it at all. He didn't like the way the General grinned at him and he began to sweat knowing he should have folded a long time ago now. He watched in anticipation hoping beyond hope that the General was just toying with him and that he didn't just bet away his entire paycheck for the next two weeks. He really didn't want to be stuck eating in the officer's mess hall for those two weeks. They may be officers but they weren't fed like ones. Plus he was hoping to enjoy the company of a young lady or two after the game. But his hopes were crushed as he saw that he was a fool to think his two pair was going to be enough. The General's straight made sure of that.
"Well, lieutenant," said General Edward Elric as he raked the cash towards him as the young officer hung his head in defeat. "Better luck next time," Edward said as he continued to pick up everything and stand up.
"Now Ed," another officer chided. "Don't tell me you're leaving. You've gotta give us a chance to win some of that cash back."
"Sorry Jean, need to turn in early," the General said as he stuffed the money in his wallet. "You should think about going home too. You're not as young as you used to be," he continued pointing a bare finger at the aged Colonel Havoc. "And that's General," he added with a serious look but all the officers at the table knew he wasn't. They all stood to see him off with a mocking salute as the Fullmetal Alchemist left their presence giving them the bird behind his back.
"Oh Edward! Leaving so soon?" Exclaimed a pretty bar maid as Edward made his way out of the Rising Sun tavern.
"I'll make it up to you Darla," Edward said and winked as he walked out the door.
Edward strolled down the quiet dark streets and yawned. He really wasn't looking forward to the next day. That damn Mustang, Edward thought as he walked along. Always makes a big deal out of nothing. Just as he was about to climb the front stairs to his townhouse he happened to glance to his right and see two ladies step out of a taxi. Recognizing one of the ladies immediately a small smile crossed his face and he turned off the step and headed towards them.
"Gracia!" Edward called as he approached the two ladies. One of the ladies, slightly older than the other in her company, looked over in the direction she had just heard her named called from. Her face lit up when she recognized Edward.
"Edward!" she exclaimed with evident delight. "It's been so long."
Edward embraced her and Gracia held him at arms length to get a good look at him.
"I don't remember you being this handsome," she said. Edward smiled at the compliment, his ego already inflating.
"I must return the compliment," he said in return. "You look exactly as you did when I first met you." He was right in the compliment. Except for some fine lines and gray hairs, Gracia did look as she did almost eighteen years ago.
"No need to compliment me Edward," she chided. "I know what I really look like." Edward smiled and looked over at her companion.
"And who is this?" He asked indicating her.
"Don't act like you don't know!" Gracia exclaimed. Edward looked at her in shock.
"It can't be!" He said smiling.
"Hello, Edward," Elysia Hughes said holding out her hand as she smiled back at him. Edward couldn't believe how much she had grown and how much she resembled her mother. Except her eyes, Edward noted. She had her Father's eyes, full of life, good humor and a little mischief all mixed together.
Edward took her hand. "What happened to Uncle Edward?" He joked as they dropped each other's hands, rather reluctantly on Edward's part.
"I think I'm a little too old for that," Elysia said.
"Are you now?" Her mother said looking at her with a humored expression on her face. "You still call Roy, Uncle Roy." Everyone laughed good-naturedly as Elysia blushed. To save her from her slight embarrassment Edward offered to help them with their luggage. It was starting to pile up behind them as the taxi driver had been handling the chore himself.
"That would be very kind of you," Gracia said as she took a couple of suitcases in her hands and Elysia followed her lead. Edward grabbed a few and followed them up the steps to the front door of the townhouse they would be staying at.
"How long are you in town?" Edward asked as he followed Gracia and Elysia inside a roomy foyer once the door was opened.
"We're not sure yet," Gracia said as she looked around the room. Spotting the taxi driver that had followed them inside with some paintings she quickly went over and took them from his hands.
"Elysia, dear," she said. "Would you get the rest of the paintings and pay the driver?" She went into the main living room glancing at the paintings adoringly.
"Yes, mother," Elysia answered as she went back out to retrieve the rest of their belongings with Edward at her heels.
As Elysia retrieved the rest of the artwork from the trunk of the taxi she spotted Edward paying the driver then walk over to assist her.
"You didn't have to do that," she said as he tried to take the paintings from her.
"Don't worry about it," he said with the stack of paintings in his arms. "It's my pleasure," he continued smiling at her. His smile caused Elysia's heart to skip a beat. She smiled back trying to ease her nerves as they went in a slight flutter of confusion as to why his smile had caused such a reaction from her. Trying to ignore her sudden nervousness Elysia hurried ahead so she could open the door for him.
"These are real nice," Edward commented as he entered with the pile of artwork.
"Aren't they," Gracia said as she admired one in the living room. Looking up she swept her eyes across the room. "That's a good spot," she said as she headed for the fireplace. Edward carefully set the rest of the paintings down on the cushy sofa along with the rest. "Elysia painted them," Gracia continued as she cleared some candlesticks off the mantle of the fireplace.
"Really!" Edward exclaimed looking over at Elysia clearly impressed. He started sorting through the others and whistled. "These are really good!"
Elysia blushed a bit from the compliment as she walked over to Edward and picked up a painting to examine herself.
"Not really," she said after her inspection. "There's still a lot I need to work on."
"She's just being modest," her mother chided stepping back to examine the painting she had just placed above the fireplace. "She completely captures how I feel when I view the trees just outside my bedroom in the country." Gracia stood in silence looking at the painting for another minute as Edward continued looking through the rest. Sighing, Gracia finally tore herself away from the painting and turned toward Edward and Elysia.
"Would you like some coffee, Edward?" She asked smiling.
"Yes, I'd love some," Edward answered admiring a painting of a meadow with a gazebo nestled amongst some trees.