Ed teaches his daughter a better way to scare off the monsters under her bed...
It was surprisingly rare that Trisha ever threw an actual fit: the kind that involved tears and screaming and tiny fists and feet pounding on the floor – or, as the case was now, on Ed's back and chest (respectively) as he threw her over his shoulder and carried her back into her dark bedroom and dropped her into the tangled mass of blankets and sheets that her bed had become in her fight to be free of it. She continued to squirm and kick as he held her in place and attempted to pull the covers up over her small body, with very little success. At least she had stopped wailing.
"Everything all right in there?" Winry called from down the hallway, her tone only mildly concerned.
"Fine!" Ed yelled back, a little more harshly than necessary, before turning back to his daughter. "Trisha," he said sternly, trying to be soothing as well as firm. It came out as more of a growl, and accomplished none of its goals, as Trisha continued to struggle while fat, hot tears poured down her red face. "Trisha!" he tried again, grabbing her shoulders and pressing her back into the pillows. "Calm down!"
She choked back a sob and blinked up at him, rubbing the backs of her hands across her damp eyes as she started to hiccup. She made a valiant effort to regroup, but only a few moments passed before her face crumpled and a fresh wave of tears rolled down her cheeks and chin. She fought Ed's hold at first, but then she was grabbing his arms and reaching for him with all her strength, trying to crawl into his lap. It hurt him to see her so upset, so he was more than willing to take her in his arms if it would calm her down.
"Don't, Daddy!" she begged, pressing her wet face into his shirt. "Don't make me!"
"You've got to go to bed, Trish," Ed intoned, rubbing circles into her back. "It's past your bedtime."
"Nooo!" she moaned, shaking her head and clinging tightly to her father. "No Daddy! 'm scared!"
"Scared?" Ed pressed gently, chuckling. This was a new one. "You? Never." Trisha was not amused. If anything, she cried harder. Sighing, Ed asked, "Why are you scared, Trish?"
"There's a monster!" she choked out between hiccups. "Outside in the tree!"
Ed froze, every single muscle in his body tensing. Trisha had never talked about monsters before, and Ed knew things, had seen things – things he'd thought long gone – that could certainly he counted as monstrous. With the smallest movements he could manage, Ed glanced out the window. Nothing showed between the yellow curtains but the branches of the tree outside and the lazy glow of the streetlamp. His heart started beating again.
"I don't see a monster," Ed said carefully, tightening his hold on Trisha. "What does he look like?"
"I dunno," Trisha mumbled, sniffling as she wiped her nose on his shirt. "Uncle Roy scared them all away for me and Siddy last night."
"What did he do?" Ed asked, arms locked around his daughter.
Trisha gave a little cough as she bit back another cry, and replied haltingly, "He – he looked under the bed, and checked the closet, and yelled in his big scary military voice," here, she sat up straight and squared her shoulders, setting her jaw and pursing her lips in the impersonation Ed always did of Mustang, "'You'd better go find another bed to hide under, cause these kids aren't on the menu tonight – and if any one of you says differently you'll have to answer to me!'"
Ed instantly deflated. All the fire went out of him, and something that felt like mirth – with just a tinge of relief – bloomed in his belly and crawled up his throat, where it stuck fast. It started as a snort, evolved into a chuckle, and had soon grown into full-blown laughter. He hugged Trisha tightly for an instant, then pressed her back into the pillows again. She put up no fight this time, comforted by her father's apparent lack of concern.
"Is that all?" he asked in disbelief, between a chuckle and a snort (as his humor devolved). "You're afraid of the boogie man hiding under your bed?"
"In the closet, too!" she exclaimed, as though this made the whole situation all the more dangerous – which, in Trisha's mind, was exactly the case.
"Oh-ho!" Ed scoffed in the dying throes of his light-hearted mood. "Of course! How could we forget the closet?" Then, to her surprise (and displeasure) he began to tuck her back into the bed as if nothing at all were wrong.
"Daddy!" Trisha squealed, kicking her legs in protest, as her eyes grew watery again. "You want the monsters to eat me!"
Ed shook his head, still smiling, and said, "No Trish. There's no such thing as monsters."
Trisha stilled and glared up at him for a few moments, before finally declaring, "Liar!" and redoubling her escape efforts.
"Am not," Ed protested, releasing her immediately. A frown began to work its way across his face. "Why would I lie to you?"
"You lie to me all the time!" Trisha insisted, jumping to her feet, wobbling slightly on the springy mattress. "And Siddy's never lied to me! She pinky swore that they were real!"
Ed's frown turned into a full-blown grimace. While he couldn't deny that he occasionally bent the truth when speaking to his daughter, he'd never lied to her outright; not that he could remember, anyway. She would have to learn about night terrors from the one little girl who was trusting enough to believe in them and trustworthy enough to be believed.
"I promise, Trish," Ed said, laying his right hand over his heart. "Cross my heart. Monsters aren't real. There's nothing to be scared of."
"I don't believe you," Trisha said simply, crossing her arms and turning her nose up to the ceiling as though she had been personally affronted by what was clearly a bold-faced lie on her father's part. "And I'm not going to bed until the monsters are gone!"
Ed's palm met his forehead with a hearty smack, and he ran the hand through his mussed bangs before letting it fall into his lap. He sighed laboriously, eyeing his daughter, sizing her up like and opponent in a fistfight – a very large, brutish opponent who'd brought a few friends along for the ride.
"All right," he said finally, crossing his arms to mirror her posture. "What do I have to do?"
Immediately, Trisha's entire demeanor changed: in the blink of an eye she had gone from snotty and misbehaving to sweet and complacent. She dropped back into the covers like a stone, and settled herself in without so much as a peep, pulling the bedding up around her chest. Ed watched as she wriggled around in the pillows, burrowing back into them until she had found a comfortable spot. She folded her hands as though about to begin a serious lecture, and looked up at him with a solemn gaze.
"First," she told him, raising her left hand with her pointer finger extended toward the ceiling. "You must check for monsters."
Ed raised an eyebrow at her, and then slid off the bed to land on his hands and knees near the footboard. With exaggerated slowness, and just a little bit of faked reluctance – if he knew one thing, it was that children liked things to be dramatic – he grabbed the bed skirt and yanked it up, peering into the darkness beneath the bed.
"Do you see anything, Daddy?" Trisha whispered shrilly down to him.
Ed rose quickly, laying a finger against his lips to silence her. She complied, clapping both her hands over her mouth as she watched him tiptoe to the closet with wide eyes. With slow, careful movements he grabbed the doorknob in his left hand, took a spectacularly deep breath, and threw the door open. Trisha's muffled squeal rang out through the room, followed quickly by a relieved breath when he slumped visibly in what could only have been relief.
He continued in this manner, checking behind the door and under the dresser, in the toy chest, and under her little desk, even going to far as to throw back the curtains and open the window, where a breeze that was only a little too cold to be pleasant swept into the room as he gazed out into the darkness.
"Well," he said, dusting off his hands as he closed and latched the window. "No monsters here. What's next?"
Trisha sat up again, and held up the first two fingers of her left hand. "Now," she continued in the same serious manner, "you must make sure the monsters won't come back by threatening to do bad things to them if they make me dessert."
Standing at the end of the bed, Ed put his hands on his hips, and glared around the room as though it were occupied with the invisible foe he now waged war against. "Listen up, monsters!" he said sternly. "And listen good, because you only get one chance! I'm Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, and if any one of you sets so much as a toenail inside my daughter's room – it will not be pretty!"
The silence that ensued rang heavily in the ear of both parent and child, and when Ed finally turned to face Trisha it was to find her smiling delightedly and clapping her little hands.
"I'd say that takes care of that, wouldn't you Trish?" Ed asked, nodding to himself in satisfaction. "You can sleep safe and sound now."
"Not yet, Daddy!" Trisha insisted, bouncing in place in barely contained excitement. "Not yet! Almost! There's one thing left!"
Ed sat himself down on the bed and made a show of dusting off his shirtsleeves and straightening his collar. Trisha watched with rapt attention as he straightened himself, and when it looked like he was finished she hunkered back down into the covers and pulled them up around her shoulders, obviously settling in for the night.
"Tell me what to do Trish," he pleaded, hands resting on his knees as he leaned over her. "How do I seal the deal?"
"Okay," Trisha began from her bower of pillows. "The very last thing you have to do is make sure that no monsters can come back into the room!"
"How do I do that?" Ed demanded, a feral smile working its way across his face. He should have been worried about getting Trisha all riled up just before bedtime – and just when it seemed she was finally calming down, too – but he was having too much fun to give it a second thought. He desperately hoped the final step involved something like stomping around the room while howling like a crazed canine.
With a sunny grin, Trisha threw open her arms and announced proudly, "You have to sing!"
Ed felt his smile falter. He stared at his daughter for a few moments, waiting for her to tell him it was just a joke, and that he was supposed to throw a sheet over his head and swoop around the room making ghost noises. Unfortunately, it appeared that she was serious.
"Sing?" Ed almost choked out. "You want me to sing? How does singing keep the monsters away?!"
Trisha shrugged. "Dunno," she said, "but Siddy swears it works."
"I can't sing, Trish," Ed said matter-of-factly, as if that somehow closed the deal. "I'm not gonna do it."
"Uncle Roy did it!" she exclaimed, a panicked look replacing the bright smile.
"Well Uncle Roy is an idiot!" Ed continued, trying to stay calm. There had to be a way to get out of this without ruining all of his hard work. "Singing does not keep monsters away!"
"Cassidy said so!" Trish shrieked as tears began to gather in the corners of her eyes. "Why would she say so if it didn't?!"
"It doesn't, Trish-"
"Then why did Uncle Roy do it?!"
"Trisha, this is silly-"
"You don't love me!"
"You want me to get eaten! You don't love me, so you're going to let the monsters eat me!" Then the tears fell, and the sobbing started.
"Trish," Ed sighed, reaching out to gather her up against his chest for the second time that night. This time she fought him, but she had no chance against his automail. "You know that's not true. How can you even say something like that?"
"Then- then why wont you," she began between sobs, "why won't you sing?"
"Have you ever heard me sing, bean?" he asked her gently.
Trisha shook her head, wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her nightshirt.
"You really don't want to," Ed intoned. "Your mom would pop me if she found out I'd been torturing you like that." Trisha didn't look convinced. "In fact, I'd probably bring the monsters back with my singing - that's how bad it is."
"You really think so?" Trisha asked quietly, her eyes widening in fright.
"I do," Ed told her, nodding sadly. "I sincerely and honestly do. They'd be back here in a flash if they heard me."
Trisha seemed to accept this, but didn't appear comforted. If anything, she looked all the closer to bursting into tears again. "Then what am I gonna do if the monsters come back?" she asked quietly, her mind running through all the terrible dishes the monsters could make out of her.
Suddenly, and with such force that it nearly knocked him over, and idea came to Edward: an idea that was so ingenious, so diabolical, so needlessly violent, that it was sure to work.
"You know what, Trisha?" he said brightly. "I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna teach you to be a monster hunter!"
Trisha's tears gave way to a strange look that was close to astonishment with just a hint of pity.
"Daddy," she said slowly, drawing out the syllables. "Do you know how to hunt monsters?"
"Of course!" Ed answered confidently, sitting up straighter. "I learned when I was just a little older than you! Izumi-sensei taught me."
"Oh." Trish gave a small exclamation. "I bet she's a good monster hunter."
"The best," Ed agreed, nodding sagely. "She taught me everything she knew – and now I'm going to teach you! Then you'll never have to be afraid of monsters ever again!"
"Really?" Trisha breathed, grasping his arms in her little hands. "Can you really teach me, Daddy?"
"You bet I can!" Ed laughed, and gave Trisha a playful shove, sending her tumbling back into her pillows. "By the time I'm through with you, you'll be the best little monster hunter in the whole country! They're gonna run and hide when they see you coming, Trish!"
"This is so much better than a lullaby!" Trisha gushed as she pulled her blanket hurriedly up around her shoulders, twisting against the pillows to get comfy!
"Of course it is!" Ed scoffed as he tucked the covers around her small frame. "You didn't think I'd let Mustang one-up me, did you?"
Trisha shook her head vehemently, grinning from one ear to the other.
"All right," Ed began, leaning in close. "The first thing you have to know…"