Disclaimer: I do not own FullMetal Alchemist. Last part of Story Time.


"Right," Mustang began, launching into the last part of the story, "after all the bad guys had been washed out to the end of the train, only their leader, a man called Bald, was left inside."

"That's the silliest name ever," Ed giggled. "Why did his Mom call him that?"

Mustang smirked. "I guess she didn't have much of an imagination," he replied, making Al laugh as well.

In truth, he thought, Ed had a good point. It hadn't been the man's real name of course, revolutionaries dedicated to the overthrow of the government did not tend to go around using the name they were born with, but it was a rather stupid code name all the same. After all, the guy had definitely had hair, at least up until he'd charged at the Flame Alchemist point blank and had it scorched off.

"Anyway," he went on, as the brothers continued to laugh at the leading revolutionary's choice of moniker, "Bald was a bit bruised and battered from being flushed around by the water, but he wasn't beaten yet. He started to get up so that he could go back and capture the General again. But, just as Bald was back on his feet, the compartment door next to him slid open to reveal Maes, the knife-thrower."

"Quick as a flash, Maes hurled one of his throwing knives at Bald, but the huge bad guy blocked the attack with his left arm which was covered by his cloak. Maes's knife just clattered to the ground with a ringing sound, almost as if it had struck metal."

"Then he had automail arm like Jean's?" Ed yawned, covering his mouth. "Cool!"

Mustang smiled fondly at the boy. "Well, it was almost like Jean's," he clarified. "There was one major difference, though."

"What? What diff'rence?" Al demanded, tugging Mustang's trouser leg. The soldier shook his head with a sigh. The boys seemed to be determined to pull his clothes apart. At least Al hadn't gone for his shirt sleeve this time. He suspected it was barely hanging on by a thread as it was.

"Bald had a gun built into his automail," Mustang explained carefully. "So once the knife that Maes had thrown had fallen on the floor, he aimed it and fired. It was all Maes could do to get behind a compartment door and pull it shut without being shot." This was in fact, a slight deviation from what had actually happened; a bullet had grazed Hughes' shoulder when Bald had shot at him, but Mustang figured that there was no need to leave that in the story. It would only upset the children.

"Then," Mustang continued, "just as Bald was about to tear down the door to get to Maes, Jean came flying through the skylight on the roof of the train and knocked Bald off his feet. For a second it looked like Jean had won, but then Bald got back up and they grappled with each other."

Mustang paused and looked at Ed and Al. Both were obviously sleepy now, barely managing to keep their eyes open, but still fascinated by the story. Al was leaning against his brother in much the same way the boys had curled up against Mustang earlier and Ed was covering another yawn. Better finish the story quick, Mustang decided.

"Now," Mustang explained, "since Jean's right arm was automail and so was Bald's left arm, they were pretty evenly matched. But lucky for Jean, he'd had his automail made by Riza, who was an expert mechanic, even if she did have a scary habit of throwing wrenches at Jean's head. Bald, on the other hand, was using a piece of cheaply made automail that he hadn't taken care of properly. So, while Jean and Bald were wrestling with each other, automail against automail, there was a sudden loud CRACK and then part of Bald's automail split into a million pieces. And then Kain rushed into the train carriage and knocked him out with one punch."

"Kain's the best," Ed said sleepily.

"Nuh uh," his little brother disagreed. "Jean's way cooler."

"Kain!" Ed insisted with a yawn.

"Jean!" Al retorted, covering a yawn of his own.

"I can't finish the story with an argument going on, you know," Mustang drawled.

There was immediate silence.

"Right," the dark-haired man said, "now that I have silence. . . as soon as the train pulled into Central, Bald and his men were arrested by the military and the General got to go back to his office without anyone having to give anyone else lots of money." Mustang pointedly ignored Al's disappointed look and went on, "while Bald and his men were being held at the station, he got lose from the ropes that were binding him and attacked the Colonel who was in charge of the soldiers at the station."

This last bit of dramatic tension earned an 'oooh!' from the tired children and Mustang felt oddly gratified. "Unluckily for Bald," he said, "the Colonel was the State Alchemist who Jean and Kain had come to see and like me, he was very good at using his alchemy to create fire. Before Bald could get anywhere near him, the Colonel burned up his pants, so Bald had to surrender unless he wanted to run around Central in his underpants."

All right, that wasn't strictly true, Mustang admitted to himself, but that sort of humour appeals to small children, doesn't it? Sure enough, tired though they were, the Elric brothers were snickering at the thought of the big bad General-kidnapper losing his pants. Besides, he thought, I can hardly tell them I gave the man all-over second degree burns. That does not qualify as setting a good example about the safe uses of alchemy.

"And that," Mustang declared, "is the end of the story about the alchemists on the train."

"But," Ed protested, "what happened to Jean and Kain after that?"

"I'll tell you that another day, now I think it's time you two went to back to bed," Mustang replied.

Ed nodded reluctantly and shook his brother. "C'mon Al, we gotta go back to bed."

There was no answer from the younger boy. Somewhere in the last few minutes, Al had fallen asleep. Mustang sighed. He really didn't want to wake the boy, but the with the state his arm and leg were in at the moment, he couldn't carry the five-year old back to his own bed. He also didn't want to have to wake Trisha either. Mustang looked around the room as if the walls would provide him with an answer. What to do, what to do?

The walls failed to be of any help whatsoever, so Mustang let his gaze drift back to Al. And Ed. Who was now also fast asleep, curled up against his little brother. Mustang sighed again, this time rather resignedly and tucked the blanket more securely around the sleeping children. Then he pulled himself up on his crutch and hobbled towards the door, intending to head for the kitchen, which with a bit of luck, would still be warm. Maybe he could sleep in the rocking chair?

###

When he woke in the morning, he found a pillow and blanket around him that he didn't remember bringing to the kitchen. Trisha was cooking pancakes again. She looked over at his sleep-confused face and winked. "You make an entertaining storyteller Roy," she praised him.

He blinked at her, his head still fuzzy. "You. . . were listening?"

Trisha smiled sheepishly. "I was tired last night, but I couldn't seem to sleep either. The spare bedroom is next to mine and the walls aren't all that thick."

"Oh. . ."

"Like I said," she told him with a smile, handing him a plate with a fresh pancake on it, "it was a good story. Whatever did happen to those two boys?" she asked.

Roy swallowed reflexively. "They fixed themselves to their satisfaction in the end," he told her sincerely.

Trisha nodded. "Hard to believe, given the state you said they were in. I suppose that Colonel must've helped them a great deal."

"As much as he possibly could," Roy promised her. "He did everything he could."

"You know," Trisha said thoughtfully, "you named practically everyone else in the story. It's not really fair to leave the Colonel out."

Roy shrugged. "Well, I was pretty near the end, you know." He tried his best to smile. "You can name him if you like."

Trisha smiled. "Well then, since it's your story, let's call him Roy. After all," she said gently, "that is his actual name. Isn't it?"

Roy looked at her sharply and then sagged and nodded. "How did you. . . ?"

"The way you spoke about those boys," Trisha told the soldier, her voice still gentle and careful. "You weren't speaking about something you'd just heard or made up people. You spoke as if you knew them. You cared deeply about them."

"Yes," he murmured quietly, looking back not at her, but at a memory that she couldn't see. "I did. I always will."

The moment vanished when two hyper blond-haired boys under the age of seven whirled into the kitchen in search of pancakes.


I apologise to those of you who've been subjected to too much sappiness. Regular updates of Restitution will resume from now on.