Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist.
Notes: This is the first of 3 stories focussing on Roy and Riza's relationship with their kids as featured in the oneshot, Skirmish. It's based on a very funny article I read a while back. I've classed it as T here for the language and implied language so be aware those of the faint hearted!
Anyway - enjoy and thanks for reading!
ps - for those in the know, part two deals with that mustache.
pps - please check out my profile for links to two amazing pieces of art illustrating scenes from Quiet Crown. Even if you're not engaging with the fic, the artwork by Fudfoodle and hand-made-city is really very excellent and worth your time.
There is nothing in the world like settling down with a good book on a miserable, gale swept night, Roy decided. With a long groan, he stretched against the soft, worn leather of the sofa and smiled to himself as the fire crackled satisfyingly in the hearth. Upstairs Riza was putting their daughter to bed, pulling the soft blankets up to the girl's chubby, dimpled chin and singing to her in the timid, sweet tone she had cultivated since their marriage. On the rare occasions when he caught her, she would stop suddenly, embarrassment rushing to her cheeks. He liked it, worshipped it in fact: the tender pact between his wife and daughter, the mystery of the bedtime ceremony open only to the women in his family. He welcomed the exclusion with good grace, and looked forward to those fleeting moments when he would hear Riza's soft voice drift above the quiet noises of a settling house.
He was distracted from his thoughts by the telltale, haphazard footsteps of his son marching into the lounge. For all his six years, Olly Mustang hadn't quite mastered the art of entering a room delicately. When he came, quietude went.
When he spotted his father, relaxed and quietly ensconced in his reading, the boy bounded across the room and leapt onto the sofa with a brazen, "Yeah!"
Roy issued a small cry and reached for his brandy perched on the arm of the couch (a habit Riza often scolded him for. The sheer liability of having a six year old should have been enough to caution him, she would say.)
Olly pushed himself back against Roy's side and pulled a dog-eared comic from the waistband of his pyjamas. Heaving out a sigh characteristic of an eighty year old man, he started poring over the pictures with apparent concentration: a perfect miniature of his father.
Roy shrugged, finished his brandy in one gulp to prevent any spillage and stretched his arm around his son before resuming his reading. He managed to read all of two words – very plump – before Olly shifted and turned his dark eyes upwards.
"Dad?" His voice carried more conspiracy than all the briefcases of all the spies in all the novels in all the world.
Roy didn't look up from his book as he answered. "Yeap?"
"Is there a worser swear word than fuck?"
Roy was glad he finished his brandy. If he hadn't it definitely would have ended up watering the carpet. At Olly's shock utterance, he jumped half a foot off the seat.
"Olly!" He yelped, then hushed himself when he realised that his wife was in danger of hearing them. "Where did you learn that word?"
Olly sighed. "That's an elephant."
"Irrelevant..." Roy murmured his correction, mustering himself for another one of those conversations where his son ran circles round him while he tried to recover from the first thirty seconds. "Olly, you can't use words like that. Who taught you-"
"Well is there?" The boy interrupted boldly, seemingly growing impatient with Roy's irrelevant investigation.
Roy started to rack his brains in an attempt to figure out who could have been the perpetrator of the heinous crime of teaching his son such a foul word. His money rested on Havoc. There was that day he looked after Olly during Riza's check-up...
"Da-a-a-a-d..." The boy whined eagerly. "Is there a worser word?"
Roy considered his options and decided that as long as Olly thought the 'f-word' was the worst word in the Amestrian language he would steer well clear of it – hopefully.
"No. There is no worse word. That is the worst word ever."
Olly pursed his lips and cocked his head at Roy. "You're lying."
With that, he shimmied forward on the seat and slipped off it clumsily. He exited the lounge without so much as a 'good night.'
Roy blinked after him, totally flabbergasted. Not wanting, or able perhaps, to return to his reading, he switched off the lamp, extinguished the fire and made his way upstairs to bed. The Flame Alchemist would grill Havoc in the morning – so to speak.
The following night, Roy busied himself at his desk reading over a report due at the council first thing in the morning. Riza had popped over to Gracia's with Lia for a late tea and Roy had opted to stay home, relishing the chance to have the house to himself. As much as he loved his family, there were times when he needed to have some 'Roy time.' His son immediately threw his head up and whinged until he was allowed to stay home too. He said he wanted some 'manly time' with his father but Roy knew better than to believe him.
"Dad." A raspy voice sounded behind him.
Roy stiffened for a moment then continued checking over the document. "Yes, Oliver?"
"You're the best Dad ever, out of all the Dads in the whole of Amestris and the world and all the oceans, lakes and seas!"
Roy turned a suspicious eye over his shoulder and seeing the earnest, bright face of his first born, felt a little guilty for presuming the boy had ulterior motives. He smiled widely. "And you're the best son, better than every other boy that's ever been and ever will be."
"There's a worser swear word than fuck, isn't there?" The child beamed.
Roy's face dropped momentarily before a badness took him and he responded with a magical, gloating, fatherly twinkle in his eye. "Yes, there is!"
Olly grinned with satisfaction, not yet beaten, and stepped forward with narrowed eyes. "What is it?"
"It's c-" Roy shirked, horrified by how close he had come to sharing the worst word in the Amestrian language with a child of six. "Uh...I..."
Olly took another step closer and rested his small hands on Roy's thigh. He looked up with dangerous eyes. "Tell me."
"No." Roy said indignantly, suddenly feeling walled-in and claustrophobic. Surely this could not be a child standing so determinedly before him. A changeling perhaps...
Olly jumped up and down on the spot. "Just tell me Dad. I swear I won't repeat it. It's just for me, just so I know. I just need to know it and I swear I won't use it on anyone. Tell me. Please."
If knowledge was power, Olly definitely had the makings of a future Fuhrer. It was frankly quite terrifying.
Roy glanced down at his son, then away to the door uncomfortably. His hands grew clammy and he struggled to think of a way out of his fix. Tiny, plump fingers drummed on the top of his thigh, counting out the seconds while he deliberated, like an executioner readying the axe to fall on its victim.
"You won't tell Mummy we had this chat?" Roy asked quietly, his eyes darting back to the door.
Olly gasped with excitement and shook his head violently.
Roy stared down at his son, feeling a bead of sweat run the length of his back. A long silence followed.
"No." He said finally. "I can't. She'll kill me. Definitely this time."
"Yes! Yes!" Olly took a deep breath and drew out the next word for three or four seconds. "Yes!"
"No. I can't Olly. Mummy will shoot me dead."
"Well then how come you almost told me?"
"Because I'm an irresponsible father! I was swept up in the magic of the moment!" Roy practically squealed, backing against the hard wood of the chair.
"You're unfair. You're a lousy Dad who almost says cool stuff and then doesn't say cool stuff at all. You should have definitely told me because now I'm a disappointed boy and I'll turn to drink and blame my dad and be all hairy and homeless and steal from bins..."
As Olly rambled on, Roy desperately searched the room for some way out of his predicament. His eyes landed on his finest idea in years: the book on Ishballan Agriculture he had been using to compile his report. 'Perfect,' he thought.
"Okay, okay..." Roy said, throwing his hands up in surrender.
Olly quieted and looked at his father with wide, expectant eyes.
"It's batata." Roy said conspiratorially so it didn't sound anything like its true meaning: the Ishballan word for potato.
Another long, tense silence followed where Olly didn't even bother to blink, lost as he was in his processing of the word.
"Batata?" He asked at last, his face souring.
Roy sat back, quite satisfied with himself. Olly may have been good, but Roy was the original master of manipulation; he couldn't be outfoxed.
"That's the worst swear word of all time." He said sagely. "But you must never, ever use it."
Olly turned his head to the side and contemplated what was said, his dark locks glinting with the light of the desk lamp.
"Batata?" He repeated, disappointment eating at his usually cocky countenance.
"Yeap: batata. That's it. There's nowhere left to climb after batata. It's the worst word in the whole world."
Olly scuffed his foot with raw agitation. He was not weathering the revelation very well.
Roy continued wisely, crossing his legs and leaning one arm back on the top of his chair. "You see, Olly? Sometimes the 'getting there' is better than the arriving, don't you think? The mystery is better than the finding out? Hmm?" Roy's face darkened as his son curled his lip in response. He grunted and returned to his work. "Anyway – don't tell Mum."
At that, a key sounded in the lock and the door pushed inwards as Riza entered with their sleeping daughter slouched against her hip.
"Mum!" Olly screamed and ran to her. He pointed an accusing finger at Roy. "Dad told me the worst swear word ever in the Amestrian language and I didn't even want to know or anything. It's batata! Batata!"
Riza fixed Roy with an unimpressed stare and pushed the door closed behind her. Roy managed to pull himself together enough to throw out a weak shrug before turning back to his work with a reddening face.
In the playground, a small fat boy slammed into Olly and sent them both crashing to the ground.
"Batata." Olly muttered darkly. Experimentally.
"I feel awful." Roy confessed to Riza in bed a few nights later. "It's embarrassing. I'd rather him swear like the Northern infantry than run about throwing out random Ishballan words for root vegetables."
Riza puffed out a hot breath of air and tangled her fingers in her husband's dark hair. "You need to revise. The potato is a tuber, not a root."
Roy pulled back his head to look at her, eager to make her understand his quandary. "I've tricked my own son, Ri. I'm going to have to tell him that batata isn't the worst swear word. I have to tell him what it actually is. Better he's accurate and savvy than some oddball cursing the other kids with the ingredients of a well made dauphinoise."
Riza turned amber eyes on her husband that made her feelings clear without an inch of uncertainty. "You will not tell him, Roy."
Roy mumbled incoherently.
Riza sat up and looked at him squarely as she reached back and yanked off the lamp. Her stern face lingered in the darkness before him as his eyes adjusted to the loss of light.
"Okay." He said, pulling his wife closer to him and sighing heavily.
Roy was sitting in his office when there was a light knocking followed by Fuery pushing open the door. Olly strolled in under the Sergeant's arm, a cunning look shaping his dark features.
"Hi." He said.
"Hi." Roy replied, curious.
Silence filled the room for a long time and Fuery looked uncomfortable to the point of fainting. Something about Roy's sharp mouthed son set the young man on edge.
"So Mummy said she'll meet you outside in ten minutes." Olly said, playing distractedly with the quick of his thumb. His little satchel shifted on his narrow shoulder as he worked. "I'll see you down there, Daddy."
"Okay." Roy smiled weakly, wondering why the boy had bothered to walk the whole way up from the car just to say that much. Riza could have just phoned from the main switchboard. Something was awry; the tension of the room attested to that much at least.
"Okay." Olly chirped and moved towards the door. He paused under Fuery's arm and looked back over his shoulder at his father. "Oh," he said. "C**t."