So I was gone for a while that time... felt badly for it each month. But such is life it seems. I'm already halfway through the next chapter, as I wanted to be sure that the buildup to it was what I wanted it to be when I got to the major parts. So here's hoping.

I feel badly enough that I'm not going to make you all sit through a rundown on what I've been up to the past few months. I torture those of you on my FaceBook with that enough as is. Love you all.

Please forgive me for the lateness, and I hope you enjoy the chapter.


Chapter Forty-Six

It was late when they'd finally arrived back to Central that night. The sandstorm that had delayed them hadn't taken a considerable amount of time in blowing past them, but the condition in which it had left the roads leading back towards civilization had left much to be desired.

And such was the state of their house upon their arrival, that when Roy finally made it upstairs to the bedroom he was considering drastic methods for a solution to a certain continuous problem.

"I'm going to stuff him into a box." Roy grumbled, his voice rough from exhaustion.

Edward followed him into their bedroom, shutting the door behind them to be sure Hazel didn't disturb Roy in the morning. "He'd just chew his way out, he is a squirrel." He pointed out with a sympathetic smile.

"A cement box." Roy clarified as he started towards the bathroom. "If I'm not out in ten minutes, assume I've fallen asleep in the shower."

"I'll just switch it to cold water then, shall I?" Edward enquired evilly.

Roy didn't have the energy to scowl at the ghost, merely grumbled something unintelligible under his breath and closed himself in the bathroom. He had several pounds worth of dust and sand to wash away before he could finally climb into bed. And it had been several years since he'd wanted so badly to climb into bed and collapse in sleep.

Edward watched him go with a faint smile, they had just been through a long day, and Roy was showing it. Turning from the bathroom door, he floated over to gather up Roy's suitcase and bring it to the bed. He opened it only long enough to locate the storage crystal that they'd purloined from the ruins, and leaving the remainder of the suitcase for Roy to deal with, he floated up and over the bed to settle down on top of the blankets and continue examining the crystal.

The more he thought about it, and considered the level of alchemy that his father, and he himself for a time had practiced, the more he was considering the idea that if this crystal contained any alchemic information, it would have to be accessed through alchemy.

He just wasn't sure how to go about discovering what circle was needed when he had no real reference material and was unable to execute alchemy any longer.

With a last, musing frown directed to it, Edward reached over to Roy's nightstand and carefully tucked it inside the drawer. Knowing that it was now secure from being broken until he could investigate it further at a better time, he picked up his latest book from beside the lamp and buried himself underneath the blankets to read and wait for Roy.

Roy was out of the bathroom within the allotted ten minutes, a towel hitched around his waist and his hair still dripping water. "I never realized I was this pale until I washed my tan off." He commented in amused sleepiness as he hunted for a pair of sweatpants.

Edward looked up from his book, his mouth going somewhat slack as he found himself staring at the taut muscles of Roy's back and the way stray water from Roy's hair was – he quickly looked down again with a flash of hot annoyance with himself. What was wrong with him lately? He'd seen Roy's back before, and it was hardly anything worth seeing. Giving himself a rough, mental shake that he thoroughly deserved, he replied perhaps a bit more unsteadily than he'd have liked. "You'll always be a pale, narcissistic pyromaniac."

"Probably." Roy agreed a tad morosely, and pulled the sweatpants on underneath his towel before casting it aside. "Now I, for one, need some sleep before tomorrow. Else I'll just be riding the carousel all day, and not on one of the ponies, mind, on one of the bench seats. And I'll be sleeping."

Edward chuckled, his uncertainties fading from his mind again as he turned to Roy who was busy sliding in underneath the blankets with him. "Then sleep. If you fall asleep at the carnival tomorrow, I dread to think of what pranks Maes would play on you."

"And you'd let him." Roy stated, completely non-accusatory.

"I would." Edward agreed firmly, and with a rather smug grin. "I might even unknowingly help him."

"Xerxian gods save me from half-Xerxian ghosts." Roy muttered as he burrowed into the blankets and turned his head into the pillow. "Just don't let me sleep past nine a.m."

Edward found his smile softening as he watched Roy begin to quickly sink into the unconsciousness of sleep. He could tell by the man's relaxing expression and the way his breathing steadied out, and how his shoulders slumped down out of the perfectly correct soldier posture he carried himself with. "Somehow I don't think your enemies would fear you if they saw you this way. It'd hard even for me to reconcile the man I know with the one they must."

Settling further into the covers, Edward piled another pillow underneath his head so that he could continue reading more easily. He should be able to finish his book by then, he expected. And then – he smiled excitedly to himself – then he would beat Roy awake if needed in order to go to the carnival.

As such, the night passed too slowly at first, for a ghost who was excited for the coming day, but before too long he became absorbed in his book, and he didn't notice the passing of time any longer.

Only when he came to the last page and laid aside the book did he look over past Roy's head and to the clock. After a moment of reflection on their late night, and on the time remaining until he needed to wake Roy lest Maes pound down the front door, Edward decided that he would brew coffee.

If Roy would need anything this morning, it would be coffee.

And it would give him something to occupy himself with, instead of risking that he'd forego letting Roy sleep any longer in his enthusiasm to go to the carnival.

Only once the coffee was well into brewing did Edward venture back upstairs, finding that in his absence, Roy had stolen all the pillows on the bed and had wrapped himself around them greedily.

"At least you don't try and steal all the blankets." Edward muttered with a bit of a smirk at the sight, before making his way around the bed to crawl back onto it happily enough. Without any pillows now, he propped his head up on his arm as he reached over to tug repetitively on one of the pillows that Roy had an arm wrapped around. "Roy, you're doing absolutely nothing right now for your fearsome reputation."

His answer was Roy's arm clenching tighter about the pillow in the circle of his arm and the man's head burrowing deeper underneath the blankets.

Edward smirked faintly, and with no hesitation whatsoever, he released the pillow in order to tug the blankets down to the man's chest. "Roy!" He whispered loudly, insistently. "Carnival. You, me, and the happy Hughes family. But mostly for me. So you'd best start looking more alert."

Roy stirred restlessly, his face scrunching up a bit at the absence of the covers that had been keeping his neck warm.

"Roy…" Edward called again softly as he settled in closer to the man so that he could partially rest his head on the pillow the man's arm had stolen from him. "Are you certain that a cute, fluffy thing wouldn't help you wake up?"

Roy stirred again, his arm flexing around the pillow as he was drug from sleep slowly.

"Because I can go get the cute, fluffy thing if you like." Edward offered in amusement, although he distantly realized that he had no inclination at all to leave the bed. Which was odd enough considering that he should be beyond control in his excitement to go to the carnival. Yet he felt as if he was under some sort of peaceful spell that kept him completely at ease to just be here taunting Roy until he woke. "Roy…" he entreated again, "I made coffee."

A rough grumble met that statement, and Roy stirred further this time and finally blearily opened his eyes to look at Edward in confusion dulled with the vestiges of sleep. "I have your pillows." He murmured sleepily.

Edward smiled brightly at him, "and if you don't return them by tonight, I'll steal all the blankets."

Roy chuckled into the pillows he'd snagged for himself, gradually feeling more coherent under that beaming smile. "How did I manage to get them from you?"

"I made coffee, you repaid me by thievery." Edward informed him solemnly, but with mirthful light in his eyes.

"Then I must make proper reparations for my grave misdeeds." Roy decided, although he made no move to relinquish the pillows in question. "What do you suggest?"

Edward met the teasing look in Roy's eyes with one of equal amusement, and after a moment of consideration, sat up. "I'll think of something, thief. For now though you can finally get out of this bed so we can go have some fun! I've never been to a carnival before… you'll have to show me how it's done!"

Roy chuckled at the excitement beginning to color Edward's voice. "Then I had best get dressed and have some of your coffee. I have this suspicion that I'll need the caffeine."

Edward's face split into a wide grin. "Why, Roy Mustang, it's almost as if you know me."

Roy huffed in amusement as he worked on sitting up with a groan, and lazily flipped the purloined pillows in Edward's direction. "I take offense to you believing you're worth knowing."

Edward gasped in mock indignation, his silver eyes tracking Roy's somewhat stiff movements as the smirking man eased up off the bed and made in the direction of his closet. "I take offense to your offense!"

Roy laughed freely this time, his laughter soon accompanied by Edward's own as he hunted for a shirt. "Give me about five minutes… will you check on Hazel's food supply for me while I get ready?"

"Fine." Edward moaned, still exuding mock indignation. "Treat me like your slave why don't you." And in as perfect an imitation of Roy's tone he could manage began to float his way towards the door whilst parroting: "wake me up at nine a.m.; by the way, I'm a tired and crotchety old man so subliminally I'm sending you the message that I want you to make coffee; feed the family pet."

Roy threw a clothes hanger in Edward's direction, the object clattering against the door as Edward darted out of the room just in time with a peal of laughter. A few more laughs made it out of himself before he trailed off with a fond smile and a shake of his head. "Family pet, huh?" He repeated with the same fond smile, before resuming his endeavors to make ready for their day.

When all preparations were said and done, nearly half an hour had elapsed before Roy and Edward were well on their way to Elysia's school.

And Roy was beginning to be grateful that Edward was unable to consume coffee.

"Come on, Roy!" Edward whined loudly as he continued to jog in place in midair as he hovered several paces down the sidewalk from Roy. "If you continue taking so long you're going to grow moss!"

Roy hid his grin from behind the rim of his travel mug, taking a leisurely sip of his coffee and not at all increasing his pace. Instead, he stopped in order to look up at the morning sky and release a breathy exhale of dramatic wonderment. "Would you look at that sky, it's so blue!"

"Oh for the love of –" Edward planted himself on the sidewalk and sent an exasperated roll of his eyes to the apparently distracting sky. "Roy! You're impeding my childhood with your sudden descent into being an octogenarian!"

Roy cracked a grin at that, and began strolling towards the ghost again. "It's such a lovely morning."

"Finally!" Edward exclaimed in relief as Roy started moving again, and once the man reached him rebuked, "I thought you were the Flame Alchemist, not the Dying Ember Alchemist?"

Roy sent Edward a withering look.

Edward smirked back at him before darting off further down the sidewalk with a squeal that seemed to encompass all the excitement and happiness in the world in that single, shrill and drawn-out note.

By the time they had just spotted Elysia's school ahead of them, Roy was finally feeling entirely awake and alert, and Edward was bouncing down the sidewalk with energy the ghost wasn't even trying to contain as his wide silver eyes glittered in excitement as he continued to wheedle Roy to move faster.

It was in this moment, that Roy decided there was nothing for it, and he lobbed his travel mug away into some bushes. He'd buy a new one.

"Race you."

Edward was left staring open-mouthed in shock as Roy suddenly pelted ahead of him down the sidewalk as if loosed from a cannon. "Foolish mortal." He declared with a devilish smile, and promptly darted after him.

Roy didn't need to glance over his shoulder to see where Edward was, the devilish cackling growing closer to him was evidence enough. It only made a wider grin split his face, and caused him to ease into a swifter run as he allowed the exhilaration of the run to take him.

"You can't beat me, Roy!" Edward crowed in delight as he continued to gain on the man, "I have no wind resistance!"

Roy fought down a laugh, and instead focused on the gates of the school that were growing ever closer. It might be true, and that Edward would overtake him, but he wasn't one to back down from a challenge he'd posed.

Edward pelted after him, keeping just in range to overtake him when it came time. He would allow Roy the idea that he was winning… for now. He wouldn't have to wait much longer to win this race anyway, the crowd of parents and children that were gathered together chatting amongst themselves as they slowly filed in through the gates of the school were growing quite near.

He knew that Roy would have to slow down soon.

So it was only when Roy was about to reach the main gates of the school that he darted ahead of him with a whoop of victory before turning to smirk imperiously at the man who had come to a stop not far from him. "Loser buys the winner an extra carnival ride." He declared.

Roy huffed out a short laugh through catching his breath once more, and with an amused shake of his head at Edward that had nothing to do with negating that demand, he straightened his shirt and began to look around for Maes, Gracia, or Elysia through the crowd of other parents and children. Some of whom were eyeing him a bit warily thanks to his sudden descent into their midst.

Edward thought nothing of Roy's silence, he knew what it was for, and he too began to look around through the milling parents and children as they made their way… somewhere. "Maybe if we follow these people? I'm guessing that's where the rides are, and I want to go on some carnival rides!"

Roy smiled at that, and meeting Edward's eyes, nodded. He didn't see them anywhere, so they must be out on the school playground around the back of the building. So together they began to make their way in that direction, noticing as they went that the schoolyard was becoming increasingly, alarmingly more festive and chaotically cluttered with brightly colored banners and balloons.

Yet when they reached the school playground, Edward and Roy became witness to the sort of chaos that only children with access to cotton candy and endorphin-producing rides could create.

Children of all ages were rushing from ride to ride, screaming their delight to one another as they caused parents and ride operators alike to engage in spontaneous ballet to avoid trampling on them. Food vendors were hawking their sugary treats to any and all, swooping around with a practiced grace that never once threatened to upset their wares. Teachers who were supervising the event looked rather as if they needed something more than coffee to get them through the coming hours; and the parents who weren't running about like children themselves seemed to be of the same mind as the teachers.

Maes and Gracia Hughes were one of the parental exceptions.

Roy and Edward had finally spotted them among the chaos. They were seated on a metal, enclosed bench with a safety bar, and were whirling around a fixed pole at the center of this multi-bench ride with Elysia sandwiched between them – and they were all screaming at the top of their lungs.

"We're riding that." Edward decided immediately.

"I think you have to be over a certain height to ride that." Roy muttered to him with a smirk as he watched his best friend clutch at the safety bar with a death grip as he was whirled around in circles. "Why don't we go take you over to the little floating ducks. If you get one with the right color dot on the bottom you get a prize."

Edward kicked a convenient rock at Roy's shin. "Elysia is riding it!"

"Precisely my point." Roy's smirk turned evil.

"I'll start letting Hazel in the bedroom on weekend mornings." Edward crossed his arms over his chest while glowering at the man.

"You're sitting on the outside." Roy replied immediately, starting forward towards the thankfully short queue and fishing out several bills from his wallet.

"That's what I thought." Edward agreed and trotted after him.

Roy had just purchased a ticket for himself and was joining the queue when a blur of dirty-blond pigtails and a delighted squeal launched into his legs, causing him to momentarily almost lose his balance.

"Maybe Grand should take notes," Edward observed dryly, "his assassins need to be about knee-height and exude innocence."

Roy ignored that, and instead swept the young girl who'd accosted him into his arms. "Well what have we here, a rampaging criminal!" He declared with a grin, before tossing her into the air much to her squealing delight.

"Uncle Roy!" Elysia declared enthusiastically, and as said uncle whirled her around in a circle quickly, she shrieked through her giggles.

"Roy!" Maes grinned heartily, stepping over on somewhat wobbly legs to give him a sturdy smack to the shoulder. "I knew you'd show."

Roy regarded his best friend with a raised eyebrow as he settled Elysia on his hip. "No you didn't. Admit it, you were worried I'd stand you up." And without waiting for a response, cast a teasing eye over Maes's posture. "Are you drunk? Or just that unsteady after going around in a few circles?"

Maes snorted and waved a flippant hand. "You always think I'm drunk."

"True." Roy admitted with a grin.

"Of course Uncle Roy would come!" Elysia finally piped up from her perch, tired of listening to the adults talk about things she didn't understand. She understood that her Uncle Roy had come to the carnival for her, that was all that was important right now. "He promised me." She told her dad in a fair approximation of a reprimand.

Roy grinned as Maes gaped at her, before hurriedly grabbing for his camera much to Roy's annoyance. Yet it was Gracia's appearance at her husband's side that had him smiling pleasantly again, and ignoring the sudden rapid-fire clicking of Mae's camera. "She's becoming her mother's daughter."

Gracia returned the smile, and lowered her voice as if to impart a dire secret, "of course she is. It teaches her how to better persuade things from her father."

Maes stopped taking pictures in order to give her a pout.

Gracia promptly reached up to prod her husband's glasses askew.

Roy grinned at them both, shaking his head at the picture they made. If he were completely honest, there was no woman better than Gracia for dealing with his absolutely insane best friend. And he'd nearly told her as much on their wedding day.

"I amend my earlier statement," Edward spoke up at Roy's side as he watched them as well, "I really like her."

Roy tried to convince himself that he hadn't felt a hot coil of jealousy at the words, telling himself that it was ridiculous. Besides, he reminded himself gruffly, he had no right to consider Edward as his yet. But it didn't stop him from feeling that way. Not truly. So he took the opportunity the moving queue presented as a chance to clear his mind and deposited Elysia back onto the grass. "I do believe it's my turn to get dizzy. How about I meet up with you afterwards?"

"Carousel, Uncle Roy!" Elysia insisted, tugging at the hem of his shirt.

Roy grinned down at her, "the carousel it is."

"My baby girl will look so cute on one of those horses." Maes gushed at the idea, and promptly began ushering his daughter that direction. "Don't you take too long, Roy!"

Roy smirked after them, before winking at Gracia as he moved towards the ride along with his queue. "I hope you forgot his extra film."

"I can't guarantee he didn't stuff some in his socks before we left the house. Just in case." Gracia laughed, and began to follow after her husband and daughter with a wave. "See you there, Roy! And I'm really glad you came, by the way."

"He had no choice in the matter." Edward assured her, before bouncing forward in pace with Roy. "Is there any way to make the ride go faster?" He enquired, casting it a thoughtful look as children and parents began to file into their respective little enclosures for the experience.

"Some of us don't want to be ghosts yet." Roy informed him quite matter-of-factly as he stepped into his own enclosed bench area and pulled the safety bar down. "Now get in here and hold onto this bar."

"Yes, Colonel." Edward gave a mock suffering sigh as he settled in and gripped onto the bar as well. "At least there's the risk of danger in that we don't know how substantial this safety bar will stay for you, now that I'm holding it."

"Fantastic." Roy muttered in the face of Edward's pleased cheerfulness. Clearly there must not be too much of a risk if Edward was cheerful about it, but even so…

"What is this thing, anyway?" Edward asked as the last of the passengers filed onto the ride and the ride operator made for the control box.

"A tilt-a-whirl." Roy murmured with a slight smile. "Great to use on dates, it flings them right into your side."

Edward snorted and gave a roll of his eyes. "I'll be doing no such thing."

Roy didn't feel the need to argue the point, not when he was fighting down the giddy, stupid smile that was threatening to appear. It hadn't slipped his notice that Edward hadn't denied being his date, even if he knew it was a coward's delight he felt.

But then there was no time left to ponder it, as the ride accelerated rather quickly.

And then the screaming began.

Edward couldn't feel the rush of the wind against him, nor the force of their rotational speed that pushed everyone else furthest from the center point. But he could feel the pressure of the safety bar in his hands whipping him around in circles, and it was wonderful.

In fact, just as wonderful as listening to Roy shriek in his ever-manly way was.

Edward gave a wholehearted effort to trying to mimic Roy's shrieks.

Something the man could only glare at him for after the ride had come to a stop and Roy was left to try and wobble his way back out to the masses.

"I assume you're generally steadier on your feet than this if you have someone to impress?" Edward teased mercilessly as he hovered over Roy as the man did what was barely passable as walking.

"You mean you're not going to nurse me back to health?" Roy enquired under his breath as he turned his steps in the vague direction of the carousel.

"Oh, hardly." Edward grinned mercilessly. "I'm going to enjoy every second of you wobbling about."

Yet by the time they reached the carousel, and the waiting Hughes family, Roy's steps had become quite steady and sure once again. Much to Edward's disappointment.

Elysia immediately ran up to Roy as he approached, demanding to be picked up, and once she was, immediately started chattering away to him excitedly. "You'll ride the carousel with me and mommy, right? Daddy is gonna take pictures!"

"Sounds just like him." Roy observed as he bounced her slightly in his arms and turning his attention to his friends. "How early did she drag you out of bed for this?"

"We got here about an hour ago." Gracia smiled easily as she watched them. "I'm guessing that was around the time you rolled out of bed, though."

"Naturally." Roy smiled back. "I needed some sleep after the past few days."

"Which reminds me," Maes began with a narrowing gaze as he considered his best friend and colonel. "Just where did you run off to Thursday and Friday? Riza was livid. I went over to your house Thursday night but you weren't there."

"I took a spontaneous vacation." Roy shrugged, unconcerned. "It's something I've been realizing I have needed to do for a while now. I'll handle Riza come Monday morning."

"You and your need for excitement." Maes muttered, but wasn't quite ready to let the matter drop. "I'm an investigator for a reason, Roy. But I couldn't find a trace of you, anywhere. Where the" he paused to glance down at his daughter before amending, "where were you?"

"If you ever become good enough to track me when I don't want to be, you let me know." Roy smiled at him, adjusting Elysia in his arms to be able to clap a hand to his friend's shoulder. "When that happens, I'll know I need to step up my skills."

Maes rolled his eyes and sighed. "I'm not going to get it out of you, am I." He mumbled in a reluctant, nearly defeated, tone.

"No." Roy agreed and gave Gracia a somewhat apologetic look. "It's rather a private matter for me."

"Were you with him?" Gracia asked with a sudden burst of intuition, her eyes beginning to sparkle in amusement. "Maes told me you have a secret informant."

Edward felt a flutter of appreciation at the title. Yet it was nothing on the strange tugging sensation he felt in his chest when he saw Roy crack a shy smile.

"You were!" She delighted.

"Carousel!" Elysia finally demanded, tired of this conversation she couldn't understand.

Roy, exceedingly grateful for the distraction, boosted her fully into his arms with a beaming smile. "Quite right! Shall we go get in line?"

"Yay!" Elysia cheered exuberantly.

Edward could only laugh at them, and as Roy moved off with her still in his arms to go purchase some tickets to the carousel for them, he followed along beside them with his own eagerness. While it was hardly bound to be an adrenaline-inducing ride, he wanted the full experience of the carnival.

As Roy moved off with their daughter securely in his arms, Gracia turned to her husband with a knowing smile on her lips as she watched Maes's expression. Waiting a moment longer to be sure that Roy could not overhear her, she finally asked, "would I be correct in guessing he's in love with this informant?"

Maes chuckled faintly, his eyes dancing in amusement as he watched his best friend purchase carousel tickets with one hand while with the other he gripped firmly to Elysia's hand as the girl spun this way and that with excitement. "Yes… and if that little display right now tells this investigator anything," he smiled over at his wife in a mixture of relief and happiness, "he's finally realized it for himself."

Several minutes had elapsed and Roy had just turned to find out where Gracia and Maes had run off to, abandoning their daughter on him, when Gracia came up beside him.

"Ah, there you are." He smiled, passing her the ticket he'd purchased for her. "I thought you two had abandoned me."

Gracia laughed at the idea. "Not at all. I was just informing my husband the limit on how many carousel photos he could take."

"None?" Roy guessed hopefully.

And then they were being ushered through the portable gate that fenced off the carousel.

Gracia ended up taking Elysia at that point, whisking her daughter up onto a jeweled pony while she herself sat sidesaddle a prancing tiger.

Which left Edward and Roy to their own devices.

Edward couldn't help the laughter that slipped out of him, and while he didn't know while he was laughing, he didn't wonder to it as he allowed Roy to pursue him towards the far side of the carousel where fewer parents and children had gathered. Everyone had naturally tried to take the spots closest the entrance, leaving the further side somewhat less occupied.

More available for them to talk.

And as Edward leaped up atop his mighty rearing steed, grasping the center rod in one hand as he stood atop the fiberglass saddle, he swung his free arm regally to gesture to the rather large white rooster next to his impressive stallion. "Look, Roy. I found you you!"

Roy eyed the rooster balefully, and then eyed the smirking Edward now swinging to and fro as he stood there on the carousel stallion he'd chosen. It didn't take him long at all to decide.

"Hey!" Edward declared indignantly, "this is my horse! Get off it!"

Roy laughed openly as he settled astride the stallion, Edward's feet just in front of him on the saddle. "Not anymore!" He declared and shifted back and forth with a satisfied smile in a parody of making himself comfortable.

Edward scowled down at him, and spinning to stand now atop the head of the stallion, he squatted down to be more at eye-level with the man. "Go ride on the rooster. Birds of a feather should flock together."

Roy burst out into a peal of laughter that he didn't deign to control, despite whatever looks he might get for it. Shoulders shaking in mirth, he could only laugh harder under the unimpressed look being leveled at him. A look filled with amusement that he could see Edward was trying not to show.

"Go on then," Edward began with amusement coloring his tone despite his best efforts, "fl –" and with a yelp of surprise he was cut off as the carousel stirred to life, and he was flung off balance around the rod he'd been leaning into and back around into the saddle, just in front of Roy.

Roy continued to chuckle, though it was quieted as he wrapped an arm around Edward's middle on the pretext of holding onto the center bar himself as the carousel stallion moved in soothing up and down rotations as the platform circled them about. "Easy." He whispered as he bent his head towards Edward's ear. "You're supposed to stay seated once the ride is in motion."

Edward couldn't stop the unknown shiver that flitted through him at the words, spoken so closely to him. And turning his head to catch Roy's eyes he felt his hands unconsciously grip harder onto the center rod as he found Roy barely inches from him, and those dark eyes watching him with a glint of some emotion that made him swallow reflexively. "You and your arrogant male posturing. I got here first."

Roy chuckled deeply, noting with a flash of heat the shiver that raced through Edward's softly glowing form at the sound. "I can't ride an inside carousel animal, Maes would think it odd."

"He thinks you're odd anyway." Edward replied matter-of-factly, turning away as he heaved a sigh and leaned further back into Roy, not caring that he was probably passing through the man a bit. It was Roy's own fault.

Roy gave a soft smile and raised his head to look over the crowd of parents watching their children from outside the gate, and Maes among the throng of those happily taking photographs. "Besides… would you really rather I sit over there?"

Edward was studying Roy's gloved hand grasping the center bar with his own, and slowly letting his hand slip down until it melded with Roy's he smiled faintly, and answered just as quietly. "Don't ask me idiotic questions."

Roy spent the entire remainder of the carousel ride trying to quash the urge to smile stupidly.

Only once the carousel had creaked to a halt in order to let everyone off, did Edward slip off and placing his hands on the fiberglass horse and on each side of Roy's leg he looked up at the man with an amused smile.

"Next time, I'll just have to force you to ride the rooster." He predicted firmly, and with a mischievous glint in his silver eyes.

Roy looked down at him with a smile pulling at his lips and an answering gleam in his eyes as he hopped down as well to fold his arms across the fiberglass saddle and lean forward in engaged interest. "Oh? And how do you propose to manage that?"

"By riding it myself." Edward laughed and pushed away to go track down the Hughes family.

Roy followed after him with a faint smile, and shoving his hands into his pockets he chuckled to himself. How well Edward knew him. Even so, it made a warm contentment spread through him to know that Edward wouldn't mind him doing so again.

They reached the Hughes family in the middle of Maes happily chatting with his daughter about the carousel. And after a few more moments of excited laughter and minor debating between the adults, they moved on to the next ride.

Teacups.

Elysia immediately commandeered her mother to be with her on the ride, firmly telling her father to "just ride with Uncle Roy". A statement that left Maes gawping unattractively and everyone else laughing at his dismissal.

So it was that Elysia and Gracia got into one teacup, leaving the men to themselves for the moment.

Roy finally rolled his eyes at his shell shocked best friend and grabbing him by the arm, hauled him towards a garishly painted teacup.

Edward followed them up until the point they were about to sit down before pausing, a grin suddenly blooming on his face. "I'll catch up with you after. I'm gonna ride with the girls."

Roy barely had time to register that before he was left gawping himself at Edward's swiftly retreating back and ominous laughter. "Oh dear…" he groaned, only wondering what mischief the ghost had planned.

"I know!" Maes agreed morosely from where his head was between his hands. "My little girl…"

Roy looked down at him with a certain measure of friendly disdain before shaking his head and sitting down himself. "Oh don't take it so hard. She just wants to be with her mom for the moment. And honestly, I can't blame her. You and the teacup rides never have really meshed. Just try and avoid my shoes."

Maes rolled his eyes and looked up from his hands. "I'll have you know that was years ago, and I'd just had food poisoning two nights ago. My stomach wasn't so hot that day."

Roy smirked and gripped the center wheel of the teacup, giving it an experimental jerk and was satisfied when the teacup rocked and shook against the locks not yet released on it. "Oh yes…. This will be fun!"

Maes glared at him.

"Take her into the fun house next. You can bond over distortion mirrors. She'd get a laugh out of seeing her daddy shaped as an ostrich." Roy suggested innocently.

"So I heard you paid off all lingering tabs at the bars." Maes suddenly queried, his tone making the change in subject rather obvious. "It wouldn't have anything to do with your secret informant, would it?"

Roy narrowed his eyes at him. "You and I both know I have never had a tab anywhere. If you want to say something just say it."

"Who is he? He's more than just an informant to you." Maes gripped onto the center wheel as well as he felt the motorized hum bring the teacups to life. "And a better friend than I must be; you've never taken me on a spontaneous weekend vacation to someplace unknown."

Roy gave a sharp yank on the center wheel, causing the teacup to spin wildly. He waited until the spinning had abated a bit and Maes didn't look quite so cross-eyed before answering quite calmly, "he's reckless, troublesome, difficult, and entirely too damn brilliant."

"So I should pull my tux out to iron?"

Roy sent the teacup into a violent spin.

Meanwhile, Elysia was sitting in another teacup, her hands thrust high into the air as she shrieked her giggling enthusiasm as the teacup whirled around fiendishly fast.

Gracia, on the other hand, had given up trying to stop the careening speed of the teacup and the center controlling wheel that was now a blur of corrugated steel. Instead she found more interest in clinging to the seat with shrieks far less enthusiastic than Elysia's.

Edward was laughing maniacally as he operated the ride for the girls. Neither of them were in danger of slipping out or hurting themselves otherwise, but he continued to keep a close eye on them even so as he helped them with the teacup operation.

When the ride was over, both Hughes parents collapsed outside the gate to the ride looking faintly green around the edges. Elysia the only still-enthusiastic one between them.

"What happened to yours?" Edward asked with a chuckle as he joined Roy in looking at them with amusement.

"He was being my best friend." Roy said idly in his observation, one gloved hand fisted against his chin. "Yours?"

"The ride isn't allowed to go nearly fast enough." Edward noted with some disappointment in his voice.

Roy huffed a laugh out into his glove, casting a somewhat rebuking look at the ghost. "Want to go find something else to amuse us?"

"Yes!" Edward grinned enthusiastically.

Roy smiled as he took his hand down and stepped towards his downed friends with bright cheer. "Well I'm off to go earn some stuffed animals. You two catch up after you've had a bit of lunch. I think I saw a pizza vendor hawking not far from here."

The answering groans he got caused him to beam the brighter.

"See you in a bit!"

Edward hurried after Roy with a shake of his head and a humored roll of his eyes. "That was mean."

"That, my dear ghost," Roy corrected fondly, "is what friends are for."

Not long later, and with the Hughes family from their mind for the moment, Roy and Edward stepped up to the shooting gallery area.

"I know you've used guns, and we've one in the house. But are you sure you can operate a most likely rigged children's weapon?" Edward queried smugly as he leaned in beside Roy as the man took up a pistol cache-loaded with pellets.

Roy's only answer was to address the game operator. "How many points to get the big one?" He asked, pointing with a free hand towards the giant purple rabbit hanging suspended from the tent with its other plush companions.

"Two hundred, sir." The game operator smiled easily, crossing his arms across his chest and looking towards where the moving targets jolted and flipped up and down at random on their trajectory around the platform. "It's a mighty big task in thirty seconds."

Roy snorted and raised the pistol. "I'll hardly need that many."

What followed was a cacophony of minor bangs, clangs, and rattles.

When Roy's thirty seconds had elapsed he had nearly emptied the attached cache of pellets, and laying the pistol aside with his smug smile returning, he addressed the game operator again. This time, the man didn't look so certain of himself. "I'll take the big one."

The game operator looked wide-eyed and slack-jawed from Roy, to the targets which had all been felled, and then back again as he turned a bit pasty. "R-r-right!" He stuttered out, and stumbled over to release the giant purple rabbit and thrust it at Roy. "Congratulations, sir!"

Roy closed his arms on the rabbit imperiously, smiling his gratitude to the children who had gathered to watch and were now clapping for him excitedly. "Just pretend those targets are your homework. Destroy it all." Were his parting words of wisdom before he nimbly exited their crush.

Edward floated up and over them with barely-stifled giggles as he fell in beside Roy again. "You're merciless."

"Maybe." Roy smiled cheerfully, turning his steps to a stand where people were throwing balls at cans in order to earn a prize. "What do you want me to win for you? This is for Elysia."

"I don't need one."

"No one ever needs one of these things." Roy objected as he steered them in the direction of his next imminent victory. "But I'm getting you one regardless, now spill."

Edward gave him a look that Roy merely smirked at before glancing over towards the prizes. "Very well… that big sheep."

"Then the big sheep you shall have." Roy agreed, and setting Elysia's giant purple rabbit atop a convenient stool against the booth, he bought his way into the game.

Over thirty obliterated tin cans later, Roy was carting off a giant purple rabbit and one massive sheep under each arm and enjoying all the envious looks that children were shooting him.

Several minutes later found Roy using the massive stuffed animals to block anyone's view of the fact that Edward was pulverizing a whack-a-mole game with alarming accuracy. So it was that Edward found a new addiction in arcade games, and Roy found out that his neck was a convenient spot for Edward to loop his horde of paper prize tickets.

Following several tours of the dart boards and a very firm decline on Roy's part to have his weight guessed – much to Edward's snickering delight – they tracked down the Hughes family once again. Roy at least wanted some lunch, and perhaps by now his friend's stomachs would have settled enough to join him.

"Dare I ask what poor booth you attacked in order to get those?" Maes asked his best friend warily as Roy joined them on the grass underneath the shade of one of the schoolyard trees.

Roy snorted and thrust the giant purple rabbit into Elysia's arms as she squealed in excitement.

"Thanks!" She promptly began cooing over the plush rabbit, entirely ignoring her grilled cheese.

"And who is that one for?" Maes prodded as Roy sat down with one arm still firmly clamped around a massive plush sheep.

"Not for you, that's for certain." Roy informed him flippantly.

Edward beamed as he settled in next to Roy, reaching out to pat his first-ever stuffed animal. "I like my new sheep. It'll work as an emergency pillow in case you steal mine again."

Roy flagged down a food vendor as he mulled that over… and decided that on the next reasonable opportunity, he was stealing Edward's pillows again. Just to be able to see the apparition wrapped around a massive fluffy sheep. So with a new plan in mind and a subtle smile he bought himself two slices of pizza before waving the vendor off.

Maes was smirking at his evasive best friend, and eating a few more bites of his mustard-doused hot dog, he wondered if it were possible to stalk Roy after he left the carnival. He felt nearly certain that the massive plush sheep was being given to this mystery man that Roy loved. And he was beyond curious.

Roy could feel the weight of Maes's stare, and glancing over at him with a reproachful look, he shook his head. "I'm going straight home after this. So whatever madness it is you're concocting, stop."

Gracia looked over at her husband in time to see him deflate, and she chuckled before turning to Roy. "You've been busy since you ditched us. And had a measure of success, it appears. What are you going to buy with the prize tickets?"

Roy shrugged as he leaned over into the stuffed sheep and closer towards Edward as he precariously perched a pizza slice onto his fingers. "Haven't decided yet."

"Something loud!" Edward announced helpfully, beaming with pride at all the tickets he'd acquired from simply working off some pent up aggravation. Picturing those moles as Grand's face had helped immensely in his quest for prize tickets.

Roy barely managed to choke back a laugh at Edward's idea, having to bite down on the sudden suggestion that he get the ghost his own toy box. But as surely entertaining as Edward's reaction would be, if ever he told Maes about Edward, this would not be his chosen moment. So he wrestled his thoughts away from his mouth… opting for a smirk instead.

After that, everyone seemed to fall to the task of eating, leaving Edward to flop down onto his back, curled somewhat behind Roy and pillowing his head on the stuffed sheep as he watched over them through partly closed eyes.

Once pizza slices and wedges of grilled cheese had been finished off with hardly a crumb wasted the group finally rose from their shady picnic spot and pressed their way back into the crowd of screaming children and otherwise general chaos.

"What are we doing next?" Edward asked eagerly as he bounded at Roy's side.

Roy chuckled to himself, casting a teasing glance Edward's way before turning to Maes and Gracia. "So, where were you wanting to go next? I'll come with you."

Elysia cheered, waving her stuffed rabbit by one paw.

Maes immediately whipped out his camera to start photographing his excited daughter, leaving a resignedly amused Gracia to answer their friend. "We were considering the bumper cars."

Roy burst out in a short, abrupt laugh before nodding his head. "Yeah, sounds like fun."

"What are bumper cars?" Edward asked in confusion. While he felt he grasped the concept, he was baffled. What fun was bumping some cars together?

Roy could only shake his head in amusement, knowing exactly what awaited them once Edward discovered what bumper cars could do.

It didn't take Edward long after the group had joined the queue for the bumper cars to discover just what they were. And just why Roy seemed to be having trouble not laughing helplessly as the man watched him curiously.

"Yes!" Edward declared, straining over the temporary fence that formed the queue in order to get a closer look as his feet kicked through the air. "Yes! We are so riding those!"

Roy bit the inside of his lip to at least keep from laughing, although nothing could be done for the grin on his face. Quickly he glanced over to see that Gracia and Hughes were both busy with their own hyper charge, and turned his attention partly back to Edward in order to murmur: "Sit with me, I'll let you drive."

Edward practically bounded over the fence in his eagerness, but somehow he managed to contain his enthusiasm from launching him over to join the fun immediately. As the queue slowly moved and group by group, children and parents drove the bumper cars, Edward watched avidly.

Beneath the glimmering sparks showering from the charged ceiling, a frenzied mêlée was taking place.

Fifteen bumper cars large enough only to fit an adult and a child were careening about a polished floor, guided by reckless laughter and a clear disregard for anything remotely resembling safe driving. And everywhere they were crashing into each other, bumping free, and skidding off again to find another victim to ram mercilessly into the guard wall.

To Edward, it was one of the most brilliant things he'd ever seen created without the use of alchemy.

And then Gracia was taking the camera from Maes, laughing and kissing her husband's cheek before shooing him off with Elysia. Hefting the camera, she winked at Roy and headed to one side to take pictures.

Roy looked over to catch Edward's eye, and smiled.

Edward grinned back up at him, and taking the plush sheep in one hand, he used it to tug Roy forward eagerly. "Come on, Roy!"

Roy wrestled down a laugh and followed as led where he joined Edward in a lime green bumper car. He managed to fold himself in well enough, although Edward's constant running commentary on this being the reason he hadn't wanted his weight guessed made it a bit difficult not to give up and just try and beat the ghost with the plush sheep.

Edward waited impatiently for Roy to get seated, and once the man had he rather easily melded into the bumper car next to him. Flashing a smug smile at the man he reached across Roy in order to grasp the side of the wheel that Roy wasn't. "Took you long enough, I'll drive. Else we'll never get anywhere."

Roy's reply was to stuff the plush sheep onto the seat and directly through Edward.

Edward gave a mildly unimpressed look to where the sheep's head was sticking out of his chest before giving Roy a reproachful stare. "Baa."

Roy choked on his laughter, trying to fight it back with the fist he'd stuffed to his mouth.

Edward grinned at him, "just do whatever you must to make this thing move, I'll handle the rest."

"That should worry me more than it does." Roy admitted in a mutter.

Edward merely sent him a quick grin before looking around avidly as the remainder of this group of passengers finished getting into their respective bumper cars. Not that he planned to single one or more parties out in this mutual thrashing activity, for it was just that, and he planned to thrash mutually.

Roy merely rolled his eyes, and as he saw the ride operator step atop his platform and reach for the button to release power to the cars, he slammed his foot down onto the accelerator.

Edward yelped, nearly tossed from the bumper car at the sudden movement, only held fast to it by the grip he had on the cheap plastic steering wheel. A wheel which he jerked spastically in his endeavor to center himself with the ride again.

Roy was no longer trying to hold back his laughter, and meeting Edward's scowl, he shrugged with an innocent smile.

"Bastard." Edward muttered under his breath, though a grin was soon creeping onto his face.

This way and that, Edward wove the bumper car sharply to cut an aggressive path across the floor. Several times they were sent skidding off from the skills of another group, but Edward was fairly certain he'd sent more people into the guard wall than had done similarly to him.

Even Gracia and Elysia were not safe from his attentions.

It was in one such pursuit of the mother and daughter that the car came to a gradual but clear halt that had nothing to do with the ride being over.

Not when the other participants were still zipping around to crash into each other, and them.

Edward growled low in his throat as they were jostled once again by a whooping pair of kids, turning to pin Roy with a dark look. "Roy…"

Roy chuckled and looked over at Edward with a relaxed sigh. "Yes, Ed?" He implored as if he had all the time in the world to discuss why their bumper car had stopped moving.

"Don't "yes, Ed" me, you insufferable man!" Edward berated him anxiously, giving several jerks to the steering wheel. The last of which was aided by Elysia sweeping into them with a gale of joyous laughter. As soon as Edward righted himself again, he glowered at Roy. "You're supposed to be helping me?"

Roy slammed his foot down again, sending them straight into another bumper car. "But I want a turn to drive." He teased, easing the bumper car to a stop once more.

Edward was about to argue when he thought better of it, and with a retaliatory smirk, he swung his leg through Roy's own to press the accelerator down himself at the same time he released the steering wheel.

Roy, to his credit, managed to seize it in time before they went head-on with the guard wall, and as Edward crowed with laughter, he swept them around in a left turn in order to resume pursuit on Gracia and Elysia.

Edward's laughter had calmed somewhat in way of adrenaline, however small chuckles still made it out of him as he applied constant pressure to the accelerator so Roy could pursue the girls. Looking up at him, Edward shook his hair free of his eyes before leaning back against the bench seat in order to watch the focus and amusement play out on Roy's face.

His gazing was cut short, however, when Roy finally did catch up to Gracia and Elysia, causing the bumper car to jolt them both with the impact.

"That was hardly smoothly executed, you nearly brought us to a full stop!" Edward chastised him with a grin, coaxing the accelerator down again as Roy turned them off in a different direction.

"Did you not feel them crash into us earlier? All is fair in war and bumper cars, my ghost." Roy waved the matter off, heading them towards a new target.

Edward merely gave a humored shake of his head as he settled back in again, focusing for the moment on keeping the accelerator pressed down, and watching the enjoyment on Roy's face. The intense focus in the dark eyes, the permanent twitch of his lips to show the laughter he was internalizing, and the minor flashes of annoyance whenever someone else would knock into them and send them off track.

And he had to wonder, was this how he had looked to Roy?

Smiling faintly, Edward looked back out over the floor just in time to see them knock three other bumper cars into one another before Roy was pulling them free of the crush.

Then all too soon, the subtle whirr of the bumper cars ceased, and they all began to glide to a halt either on their own, or by colliding against other bumper cars or the guard walls. It raised groans of disappointment from more than those among the living.

Edward lamented the end of the fun with a sigh, sitting back in the seat as he wrapped his arms around the plush sheep sitting inside his body. "We need to do that again."

Roy looked over with a smile, only to chuckle softly as he nodded down at Edward's torso. "You're making the sheep glow."

Edward's eyes widened marginally, and with a noise of amazement, he realized it was true. The white portions of the faux fleece were glowing faint silver where they passed through him. "I've never seen that happen before."

"Me either." Roy murmured with a thoughtful glimmer on his eyes. "I wonder if only I can see it. Probably."

"Well, if Maes asks why the sheep is glowing, you'll know for certain." Edward pointed out, and gave a quiet, miffed sort of laugh as he looked down at himself again. "I guess we should go rejoin them?"

Roy tilted his head in consideration, happening to catch sight of Edward's leg still stretched and tangled through his own. An inexplicable soft feeling coiled inside him at the sight. Why had it taken him so long to notice how close they'd become? How comfortable they were with each other.

"Roy?" Edward pressed with a frown, confused at his silence. He hadn't thought they'd been knocked around too hard, but then he was a ghost. He hadn't exactly felt the jolting and jarring as Roy must have.

"It's nothing." Roy answered after a moment, hastily stuffing his thoughts away. Now was not the time for them. He could air them out when they were truly alone.

Edward was doubtful, but he conceded with a nod and passing the massive plush sheep back into Roy's care, he floated up out of the bumper car to fall in step with the man to the exit where the Hughes family was waiting.

"Knock you a bit hard, did we?" Gracia asked smugly as Roy approached.

"Although it was a valiant effort," Roy proclaimed grandly to her, tossing an arm about her shoulders to steer her off towards Maes, "I have been hit by Hazel harder than you."

Edward could only smirk as Gracia smacked Roy around the head. "Where are we going next, Roy?" He asked eagerly as he floated through the air beside him.

"Where to?" Roy parroted for him obediently as the group strolled onwards.

"I was thinking about some of those miniature roller coasters." Maes suggested before looking down at Elysia with a bright smile. "How about it, hunny, roller coasters?"

"Yes! One that goes way up high!" Elysia suggested adamantly.

"Way up high." Maes agreed sportingly with a wink to his wife and friend. "Shall we find the tallest roller coaster, you two?"

It was agreed upon unanimously, and Maes took his daughter's hand in one of his own, Gracia dancing around back behind them to grasp her other hand as they swung her back and forth as Elysia shrieked with joy.

Edward and Roy trailed behind them somewhat, Edward sidling in to float almost against Roy. Looking at the man's profile a moment, he smiled to himself before looking forward again and reaching out to grasp his massive plush sheep around one ear and letting it be the anchor that continued to pull him along.

Roy took one look down at the hand before flicking his gaze briefly to Edward with a soft smile.

Edward saw Roy readjust his arm around the sheep, but said nothing when the man's hand was suddenly angled up next to his own. He said nothing. Just slipped his hand down and through Roy's.

He only let go once they boarded the first roller coaster.

They road every roller coaster available. Visited the shooting gallery once again where Maes demonstrated his own skills while Gracia helped Elysia with her aim. They even visited the duck pond that Roy had alluded to Edward about earlier, and were entirely washed out without even a single prize.

Near the end of it, though, Elysia was beginning to show signs of being tired in the way that only a young child could. While she was still hyper, she was becoming rapidly fussy. Which meant that the group was soon trekking across the grounds to the mini Ferris wheel that had been erected as a means to give Elysia one last carnival ride, but one that would help unwind her at the same time.

They were small Ferris wheel cars, allowing only two people at a time. Or as the ride attendant was bribed into, two people and a small child.

When asked if he minded, Roy had snorted indignantly and promptly told his friends that he didn't need either of them wondering what he was doing to the other should someone be put in a Ferris wheel car with him.

A statement which went over both Elysia and Edward's heads.

Whereas Elysia's curiosity was expertly redirected, Edward's was not.

"What does it mean?" Edward asked again, having been hushed with a look the first time. The look he recognized as the one that meant Roy would explain later. "What are these Ferris wheel cars for that they'd be worried about you riding with one of them?"

Roy chuckled as he snapped the tiny door shut and settled onto the small seat, fixing his gaze on the ghost. "Usually people end up kissing on them." He managed to get out smoothly, not revealing at all the pained twist in his chest at his present situation.

Edward burst out laughing and curled up on his opposite bench seat to gaze out the window as they were lifted into the sky. Resting his head back against the smooth glass his laughter faded into a content smile. "And here you are with me."

"Where else would I be?"

The strange guarded tone to Roy's voice made Edward look over, finding an indiscernible expression on Roy's face. An answer didn't come easily to him, or quickly. Slowly he shifted into a more upright position as he considered the question. "You could be anywhere else," he realized it for the truth, yet it wasn't the whole of it. "But you chose to be with me."

Roy couldn't seem to recover fast enough from the pained plunge his heart had taken, to the disorienting leap of happiness those last words had caused.

Edward smiled at the man before looking out the window again. "I'm glad."

And he was.

As he gazed at Roy from the corner of his eye, he wrapped himself in the sense of peace and security the man brought to him. Roy had saved him from unending solitude. Roy had given him a semblance of a life back. Brought him into his home, his family, and treated him… worried over him as if he were still alive.

And in turn, Edward had begun to discover things about himself that he hadn't known before. Things that Roy had brought out in him, or made him feel.

No… he didn't want to trade his time with Roy for anything. Even if Roy could be anywhere else, he was selfishly glad that Roy was here, with him.

From across the Ferris wheel car, Roy had propped his elbow on the back of the bench seat and was looking over at Edward through an internal cacophony of nerves only barely tempered by that unexpected sense of peace, relief, and exultation he felt in knowing that he loved this ghost that was to blame for his nerves.

It was a peaceful ride with a comfortable silence as they both sank into their own thoughts. Then all too soon it seemed they were being ushered out back into the madness of the carnival.

Not long afterwards, once they'd found each other again the group headed towards the prize tent so that they could all exchange their prize tickets won at some of the arcade games. Being in agreement that Elysia needed to be taken home soon for a nap.

"What would you like?" Roy whispered to Edward as the Hughes family began milling around the tent with their daughter. Oblivious to him for the moment.

Edward moved in closer to Roy, so the man needn't talk any louder. "Something loud." He reminded the man with a chuckle, and smiling at the look on Roy's face, he reached out to grip the plush sheep again. "Come along then, my ticket bearer."

Roy allowed himself to be led into the throng of children and parents all clustered around various toys, candy, and books that were being offered as prizes. "How about we get you a nice quiet pop-up book?"

Edward shot Roy a glare that nearly dissolved the man into laughter, and rolling his eyes led Roy to table after table as he examined what was being offered that were in his prize ticket range.

And then finally, he found it.

Sitting innocently on one of the tables was a remote control car.

"That one, Roy!" Edward insisted, pointing to it with a hopeful look tossed in the man's direction. "Hazel would enjoy it."

Roy wondered if he shouldn't feel so inclined to find it adorable that Edward would think to get something for Hazel as well as himself. And while he had the suspicion that the remote control car in question would more than likely end up chasing him around for Hazel's benefit, he couldn't refuse that hopeful look in Edward's eyes.

Edward grinned brightly when Roy gave a mock suffering sigh and waved over one of the prize tent workers. Within moments the prize tickets looped around Roy's neck had been exchanged for a boxed remote control car.

"Thank you!" Edward beamed up at the man, giving a small laugh. "It should be loud enough."

"I'm never going to get any sleep." Roy reflected morosely, fighting back a smile at Edward's cackling laughter.

After a few minutes of waiting, the Hughes family was done as well and the group began to weave their way out of the crowds. It was late in the afternoon at this point, and after bursts of excitement and waiting in lines for the better part of the day, Elysia was the signal that it was time to leave for the day.

"My angel needs a nap," Maes yawned at the thought as they all walked towards the school gates together. "And so might I."

Gracia laughed at him lightly as she guided the tired Elysia by one hand. "You always need a nap if she does."

Roy gave a lofty sigh and sent a resigned gaze skyward, "great to know that my investigator is so fond of naps."

Maes shoved his colonel by the shoulder, disappointed when the man barely budged for it. "Good thing you have two of us then, hm?" And with a sly look added, "you're not the sort of man to keep a carnival stuffed animal for yourself. Are you giving it to your informant?"

"He better, it's mine." Edward told Maes firmly.

Roy gave Maes a dirty look, his arm tightening about the plush sheep protectively. "I'm certainly not going to give it to you."

Maes grinned at him unrepentantly. "Ah, so it is. You could have brought him along you know, win it for him in person. Isn't that more your style?"

"If you value your ability to continue being conscious for the rest of the day, you'll shut up." Roy glared at his best friend. Very aware in this moment that Edward was right beside him, and he didn't need Maes spouting off anything unnecessary before he'd had a chance to confess on his own without being under duress.

The situation would be different if he didn't love Edward, he'd just allow Maes to make a fool of himself.

But that was not his situation.

"He did win it for me in person, and there was no way he was leaving me at home." Edward stated firmly, despite being unheard.

Roy felt himself warm ridiculously at the words.

Maes burst out laughing and held up a hand in a placating wave. "Fine, fine."

Somehow the group made it to the sidewalk outside the school without Maes being knocked unconscious by Roy. They got around to saying their goodbyes once Elysia took a breath from whining that she didn't want to leave yet, and after Gracia had all but blackmailed Roy into coming over for dinner again soon, they all parted ways to go home.

Edward floated down to walk next to Roy, his hand gripping onto the stuffed sheep again and his head leaning unconsciously toward Roy's arm. "Thanks, for today."

Roy looked down, a tugging sensation in his chest as he noticed how Edward leant into him. Smiling softly he reached his free hand over to place it through Edward's on the sheep. "You're welcome."

"You still need to take me to the zoo and the circus." Edward reminded him helpfully with a bit of a laugh, and he looked up to meet Roy's gaze with a teasing smile.

"That I do." Roy agreed with an answering smile, and knew that he would have plenty of time to do all the things he promised he would, now that he'd finally sorted out his heart. "And wherever else you want to go. All you have to do is ask and I'll find a way to make it happen."

Edward flashed him a quick grin before looking away, his head falling on its own back towards the man's arm. His mind beginning to consider other things he had always wanted to experience as a child. Either those that his mother had refused him to do, or those that he'd been unable to do after he'd died.

"Edward?"

Startled somewhat from his thoughts, Edward hummed in query as he focused back on Roy.

"There's something we need to talk about when we get home. Will you promise me you'll hear me out?" Roy met the sudden, confused expression on Edward's face with what he hoped wasn't a nervous look of his own. "Please?"

"Yeah…" Edward frowned at him in worry as his mind raced to find answers for him. "Are you okay?"

Roy's nerves shattered at the burst of helpless laughter that made it out of him, and with a tiny groan he shook his head as he smiled fondly down at Edward. "I'm more than okay, Edward."

And he hoped beyond hope that he still would be, after the greatest show of his courage he'd ever give.

Edward frowned a bit, not entirely sure he believed it. This was, after all, his personal idiot. Some leeway had to be given in certain things the man claimed. Knowing, however, that he'd get no clarification standing here on the sidewalk, he lightly tugged the man forward again by use of the plush sheep. "Come on then, let's go home."

Roy followed obediently, trying not to notice that with each step towards home he took, his heart pounded louder in his chest.