Disclaimer: I always want what I can't have. Ownership of Fullmetal Alchemist continues this woeful trend in my life...
Edited: 14th July 2011. No change in the actual content, just what lines were italicized. Thank you Ghost Wulf :)
Over the years, Roy got used to Edward's infrequent visits. He even began to look forward to them; often finding time in his day to muse over when Edward's next visit would be and what new disaster he would bring. Roy could always tell when Edward had made it to the office at least ten minutes before the blond made it through his office door. It was in the way that the whole military seemed louder, livelier, brighter than it was before Edward was there.
Each time Edward stormed into his office, sulky and defiant, Roy took a moment to be amazed. Teenagers grew much faster than Roy remembered from his own experience. Edward always seemed to be a little bit taller (not that Roy would ever admit it to Edward directly), his hair would be a bit longer, his voice was steadier, his gait a bit smoother, and his eyes shone just that little bit brighter. Edward's golden eyes never seemed to show the horrors that had battered his soul with each failed lead and each new glimpse into the despair that was mankind.
At darker moments, Roy wondered how long Edward's resilience could actually last.
When Roy first offered Edward the chance to join the military, it was a calculated risk. Edward wasn't a child in his eyes, he was an opportunity. He was the one discovery of alchemic genius that could catapult Roy's career and set him closer to his ultimate goal. Ishval had hardened Roy's soul and made it possible for him to push aside his misgivings at bringing a child into the ruthless wolf's den that was the military. Roy told himself that it was necessary, that Edward needed to be watched, and that Roy was doing him a favour.
Now, Roy laughs at his own desperate attempts at comforting himself with that lie.
Edward always had a way of succeeding where others would have failed. He did it with his usual brilliance and flair for disaster. Buildings, even whole towns, were never spared from Edward's well-meaning wrath. Roy would always sigh and berate Edward for leaving such a mess, but the job was always done, and damned if it wasn't done even better than intended. Roy just never thought that he'd become one of Edward's brilliantly successful, but well-meant disasters.
Well, fool for him for underestimating the sheer brilliance that was Edward Elric, because no one could ever claim to be apathetic toward the young alchemist.
At times, Roy resented Edward. He resented him for growing up when he couldn't see. For taking that step closer to becoming an adult when Roy wasn't there to guide him, to watch him and take pride in the person Edward was slowly becoming. Most of all, he resented Edward for making him care.
With any chance he could, Roy would scan the teen quickly; desperately checking for any new cuts or bruises. At some point (Roy still, for the life of him, doesn't know when) Edward became more than just another stepping stone on his path to Fuhrer. Edward became the child that he was entrusted with. He stopped being a tool to make Roy look good, and became a person whose well-being mattered to Roy and kept him awake at night worrying.
Edward was like the sun. He burned with an inner fire that Roy could never come close to recreating. He was a fire that made the Flame Alchemist seem obsolete, and instead of resenting the child for it, Roy revelled in Edward's strength. Edward was everything Roy wasn't. He was strong, but not just as a weapon. He was innocent and not (yet) jaded. He was honest and not a liar. Edward was everything that Roy had the potential to be if Ishval had not crushed his soul first.
Roy swore to do anything to protect that. He'd do anything to stop Edward from becoming him.
So he hoarded Edward like a jealous lover. Never allowing the military to reassign the blond. Refusing other commanding officers that showed an interest in the child to come near him. Sending Edward far away on long missions just to get him out of their reach so others would never have the opportunity to sully Edward with their demands which would invariably ruin his bright eyed innocence. Roy did all these things and more for Edward; not that the blond would ever know. It was better if he never found out either. Roy knew Edward would have blown up at any insinuation that he needed looking after and any hint that his successes were because someone else was pulling some strings for him (not that Edward needed that much help, Roy conceded with a wry grin). It would have been too much of an insult to Edward's stubborn independence. So Roy kept silent and so did his subordinates because they had also come to love the blond in their own ways.
Edward would never realise that Roy was always at his laziest whenever he came to visit because when Edward was close, it was the only time Roy didn't have to rush around frantically to ensure the blond's safety and well-being. He wasn't up all night making frantic calls all over the country to make sure Edward's missions ran as smooth as possible, and he wasn't spending most of his office hours making threats (promises) to other military personal against trying to steal his Edward from him. When Edward was in the office, in front of him, in his range of vision, was the only time Roy could completely relax. It didn't matter if Edward thought he was lazy because Maes had once mentioned that being a parent was a thankless job. Roy could see his point.
(Maes also said that the only thanks a parent needed was being able to watch their child grow up healthy, and that a child's happiness was all that a parent could want. Roy could see that point too.)
Roy watched Edward, year after year, mission after mission. He despaired with Edward over every false lead and he felt joy like Edward with any breakthrough. He watched silently as Edward pushed himself over and over again to the brink of exhaustion over his guilt from what he had done to Alphonse. At those times Roy just wanted to grab Edward and shake him; he wanted to yell at him (stop blaming yourself! You were just a kid! Let me shoulder some of your burden; you damn stubborn brilliant child!), but he never did. Instead Roy remained a silent, watchful protector of the Fullmetal Alchemist.
Sometimes Roy would let himself be honest and admitted that he didn't want Edward to see him as a father figure because Roy didn't want to become another disappointment to a child whose life already had more than enough of them. He wanted to spare Edward from his own shortcomings that Roy knew he had. So he kept his distance and allowed other people to enter Edward and Alphonse's lives, and let those people attempt to become guardians to the boys. All the while knowing that they'd all fail because the Elric (his) boys would refuse to make any more ties to people they could lose.
Roy wanted to say that he cared about Alphonse just as much, but he wouldn't lie to himself. The younger Elric was harder to read and didn't seem to need as much support as his older guilt-laden brother. Alphonse was luckier than Edward in some ways. He had a brother who would do anything to protect him and shield him from harm. Alphonse always seemed to bounce back easier than his brother as well. So Roy watched Edward more carefully than Alphonse because Alphonse was always going to be safe. His older brother would protect him from the world, and Roy would protect them both by watching over only one.
Being a parent was never what Roy intended. It wasn't his goal or part of his plan, but he had to admit, he was getting used to it. Even if it was a thankless job, Roy knew it was the one job he didn't mind doing.
Author's Notes: So this one's been sitting on my hard drive since what seems like forever. I wrote it ages ago, but was never really happy with it. Still not to be honest, but since I have it, I might as well post it.
Ideas are hopping around for another Roy/Ed fic but I can't seem to pin one done to actually write a cohesive one-shot, woe. Hopefully I'll have one soon!