Title: Family Ties

Rating: G, eh.

Fandom: FMA

Characters/Pairings: Ling and Mei, implied pairings towards the end

Summary: The Royal Family of Xing is an awful family to be born into…and nobody knows that more than the members themselves.

Setting: Xing, around seven years pre-story. Headcanon says Mei is older than she looks, so she'd be around twelve in the actual storyline So she'd be about five here.

A/N: These two are siblings. Yes, yes they are. And I love sibling fics. Too much. And there's nothing Royal Family-centric around here, so yeah.

This wasn't easy to write. First up is that they never interact at all, hence the past setting. Secondly I have no idea how they might act back in the day. So excuse the crappiness.

Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist/Brotherhood.

The sunlight drifts in from the oriental windows of the garden corridor, giving the afternoon air a dusky, almost ethereal glow, indeed, befitting the royal garden of Xingese royalty. He gazes, almost impassively, at the beautiful flowers from every region in the world, the majestic trees, the broad fields.

"Beautiful," he murmurs, as if almost to himself, his face unmoving. Then he feels, if very faintly, the chi of two feet as light as feathers leaping in the roof above, and his breath hitches up once again, and he remembers why he is here – I am on the run. I must not forget –

Slipper-clad feet dash down the regal corridor, panic once again returning to his young mind. Already-closed eyes close even harder and he swerves to avoid the wall up ahead, slipping into a dark passage he knows well enough already. He clutches his chest tightly, panting heavily, and watches through dark, half-lidded eyes the assassin pass by the hidden corridor. And he wonders, for a fleeting second, if Fu and Lan Fan are okay, if they had taken care of the other one.

"Go, young lord," Lan Fan had hissed to him, and he had mused about why she was calling him young lord when he was just a few months older than she was, and then he sees the two black-clad warriors on the roof of the palace, and realized the danger he was in. "We'll take care of this."

"Run!" Fu had murmured, and Ling needed no second command, dashing down the hallway as fast as his eight-year-old legs could carry him.

Ling sighs and slips away back into the sunlight when he is sure he is safe, he takes a shortcut to the garden where his bodyguards are. Now, if he remembers correctly, if he took a right turn here, he would be able to – oh crap. Wall.

"Where do you think you're going?"

He freezes up and doesn't turn around, instead facing the wall. "To the bathroom," he replies lightly – he's always been one for teasing, as Lan Fan is apt to tell.

"You aren't. The nearest one is over there."

Ling tries very hard to stop a chortle escaping him – the voice seems to belong to a female, and a very high-pitched one at that. But he'd seen from experience that if she was able to corner him, she was not one to be underestimated. "Who are you?" he decides to ask.

A light giggle reaches his ears. "Turn around and see for yourself."

He obliges and has to hold his breath to stop from laughing when he sees the person in front of him. He was right, it is a girl, and if he estimates correctly she is three or four years younger than him. He raises one royal eyebrow and asks again, "Who are you?" and wills himself to stay calm. She is not to be underestimated.

She flinches, and glares at him. "My name is Mei Chang, seventeenth royal princess of Xing." Ah, the Chang clan. He has heard of them, but only in passing from Fu, who has said that they were not doing so well lately.

He laughs lightly. She is so young, she can't be older than five, and yet it is like she is mature even beyond his years. "So you are my sister," he muses, filing the name with his many, many siblings – but, he has to admit, she is the first sister he has encountered. But of course he is royalty, and his sense of politeness should not be hindered. "I am–"

"I know who you are," she cuts him off sharply, "Ling Yao."

And it clicks in his mind and he knows, in that split second, why there are assassins chasing after him now. "You sent them," he breathes. "The assassins."

"Of course," she replies with a swish of her braid – quite a proud motion for a little girl, he thinks. "You know what they say – eliminate the competition."

He smirks. As proud as she may be, she is young, still so young – and so naïve. "Is that so? You are my sister, are you not?"

She glares at him, and her young hands reach towards the throwing knives. "I am not your full-blooded sister," she hisses.

Ling shrugs lightly, his mind racing – he has to get out of here before the assassins come back. "Perhaps. But we are still related. Still family." He remembers Fu's words in the back of his head: Always remember, young Lord, sometimes nothing is more important than family.

She mumbles something incoherent, and even he can't hear it. "Pardon?"

Mei sighs, dropping her guard. "I said, sometimes I wish I wasn't."

Ling knows it's the perfect time to make a run for it, but part of him wants to hear her out. And he stays. "Why?"

"I'm sick of this," she mumbled. "Trying to eliminate my siblings – my family. This is the third assassination attempt this week. I'm tired of being a princess if this is what I have to do."

Ling moves over to her and pats her on the head. For a moment, he wonders – what the hell are you doing, this might be one of her ploys, but he doesn't listen. You be quiet. Shut up, she's only five.

She might attack you, the voice warns.

She doesn't.

"Hey, don't worry about it, little sis," he tells her brightly. "This is some screwed-up family we were born into, but we just have to make the most of it, I guess."

Mei smiles a little. "You're right." Suddenly they both freeze up, both of them feeling the flow of energy a few meters away. "Go," she tells him. "I'll take care of them."

"All right," he breathes, and dashes in the opposite direction. Had he been going any faster, he wouldn't have heard the two words that had slipped from her young mouth.

"Thank you."

When he sees her again, he is a young adult, she still has the body of a child. He remembers, and she forgets. Or perhaps she just does not say anything.

But it doesn't matter. When all is said and done and Ling sees Edward hugging his brother's recently returned body tightly, a smile is etched on his face and he remembers, for a single fleeting moment as Ling, that nothing is more important than family.

He smiles lightly, and understands.

And when he sees Mei hug Alphonse's body as if the world was about to end – crisis averted, actually – he is reminded once again, that she is, if not fully, still his family. "You really are an idiot," he tells her, letting just the tiniest hint of sibling affection slip through. "You get involved in some other country's problems and don't even get a Philosopher's Stone out of it." He grins, and brags - something he - they - would have been able to do long ago had they not been of rivaling families. "But don't worry," he grins glancing over at Lan Fan, "My house will protect your house."

And he remembers, again, Fu's words – may the old man rest in peace – Nothing is more important than family.


*UPDATE: 6/13/10* I tweaked the ending to match the ending of the manga somewhat. I changed the dialogue a bit because it's from memory and I was lazy and didn't want to look it up. D:

Anyway, who wants to hear the story of how this story came to be~?

(No? Just skip then if you don't want to. D:)

This story was originally an AU for a totally unrelated fandom: Axis Powers Hetalia, and I was writing it for its resident Chinese not-really-siblings, China (whose official name is Yao Wang) and Taiwan (whose fanon name is Mei). When I realized it was going totally out of character (and Rain came on my computer - yeah, I love the song that much) I SAW THE PARALLEL and just rewrote the whole thing to fit China. I mean Xing.