Take a Picture
It was all Hughes' fault. Hughes and his ever present camera.
The first photo was a commemorative one in front of the Central Academy for Alchemy where Edward received his state certification. Ed was obviously in it, he was the candidate after all. Which meant Al was naturally in it as well. And Nina of course, the little girl refused to be left out. The only one that looked out of place was Roy. That was Hughes' idea too.
"I don't want a picture with him!" Edward roared, waving his arm at the Lieutenant Colonel as if he were swatting away a fly. Roy let out an amused scoff and slipped his hands into his pockets.
"You should be so lucky, kid." Roy said and Edward glowered.
"Now, now," Hughes said brightly. "There's no need to be like that. And really Ed, if it wasn't for Roy you wouldn't have been able to join the exam in the first place right? He's your sponsor after all!"
Edward glared at Hughes for almost ten minutes before he finally caved and looked away with a huff. "Fine. Whatever. I don't care."
Hughes gushed his happiness as he positioned the four of them on the stairs. Alphonse was obviously in the back and Nina was perched carefully atop his left shoulder. Roy stood to the left as well, Nina towering over his head, while Edward stood to the Lieutenant Colonel's right. He crossed his arms moodily and looked as far away from Roy as he could manage without hurting his neck.
Roy chuckled and rested his elbow on the boy's head. "Really Ed. You're acting like such a little kid."
"Who are you calling a tiny pipsqueak so small a mouse could use his head as a footrest?" Edward roared, swinging at Roy's arm as if to rip it off.
"I'm taking it!" Hughes warned, though the young alchemist obviously didn't hear.
The finished product was certainly amusing. Edward was locked in the motion of swinging at Roy who's hand was pressed firmly against the boy's forehead. His elbow was locked, keeping the Fullmetal Alchemist a good two feet away as he looked smugly in the opposite direction with his free hand still tucked in his uniform pocket. Al was fretting over them, trying to calm them down, and little Nina was laughing so hard she looked as if she would fall.
She did fall, actually, and all three of them had made complete idiots of themselves while trying to catch her.
The second photo was taken by Breda in the office. It was Al's eleventh birthday and they wanted to celebrate it in style. The party had come as a complete surprise to the Elric brothers. It had been held in Roy's office since it was the only other place the boys went aside from their dormitory. No one ever told them that the whole thing had been Roy's idea in the first place.
Ed and Al had just come back from another one of their missions, another one of their dead-ends, and Ed was less than happy. He especially didn't want to be giving a report to the so-called 'Colonel Bastard'. So while Edward was never very polite in regards to Roy, he gave an extra conscious effort to be a pain in the ass as he stormed into the office with Al following resignedly behind.
The door flew open wide but rather than bang against the wall and bounce back like it usually did, it collided—rather painfully—with Havoc's face. The Second Lieutenant yelped and pushed the door forward so he could tend to his nose and Ed was so surprised he didn't move in time to stop the door from hitting him in the face as well.
"What the hell is going on here?" Ed roared, nursing his bloody nose which was, thankfully, not quite as bad as Havoc's. "Why the hell is someone behind the damn door?"
There was a moment of silence and then Roy couldn't take it anymore. He burst out laughing and Ed's eyes quickly shot to where he was hiding behind the desk.
"The hell is so funny?" Ed asked, more embarrassed now than angry. Roy tried to answer but he couldn't. It was just too funny.
"Well the Colonel did warn you Havoc," Riza said, coming out from behind a filing cabinet with a sigh. "You really should have known better than to insist on hiding behind the door."
"I didn't think he'd throw it that hard!" Havoc protested, though his words were almost indiscernible due to the swelling of his nose and cheeks. The door had gotten him good.
Fuery, Falman, and Breda all abandoned their hiding places as well while Roy slowly got himself under control and climbed off the floor. Ed stared at them like they were dancing on a tabletop singing "For the Love of the Fuhrer".
"…Aren't you people a little old for hide and seek?" Ed asked and Roy couldn't help but snicker.
"We're not playing hide and seek Fullmetal." He said. "We were trying to surprise you."
"…Well you sure as hell managed, that's for sure."
"Not you, Edward," Riza said as she pulled two ice packs from the freezer. She handed one to Ed before passing the other to Havoc who took it with a muffled thanks. "Alphonse. It is his birthday, right?"
Edward stood frozen, his mouth opening and closing like a landed fish. Al's surprise wasn't quite so external but they could still feel it radiating off of him in waves.
"I…this is for me?" Al said, noticing the scarce decorations, a small bundle of wrapped gifts, and a small cake with a single burning candle resting on top.
"He can't eat cake." Ed blurted and the silence turned a bit awkward.
"I can assure you we're all aware of that fact, Fullmetal," Roy said, his voice coated with annoyed disappointment. "We took that into account."
"It's not a real cake," Riza explained. "The Colonel transmuted it from polishing wax."
"Polishing…wax…?" Al asked. "But, if it's made of wax then you can't eat it."
"Of course not," Breda said. "It's your cake, Al. You're the one that supposed to enjoy it."
Eventually Edward and Alphonse started to relax and the party was able to start. Al got several gifts that were all something an eleven year old alchemic genius would like and enjoy. Then everyone sang happy birthday and Al waved his hand to blow out the candle. Ed pestered his brother to tell his wish but Al stayed cheerfully quiet about it.
"Alright everyone!" Breda declared. "Let's take a picture! I've already got it set up!"
Everyone piled next to the Colonel's desk, except for Breda who was taking the photo, and Roy found himself suddenly squished up next to the Fullmetal Alchemist.
"Oh, hey there, Fullmetal. I didn't see you down there." Roy teased but for once, Edward didn't rise to the bait.
"Why are you guys doing this?" Ed asked low enough that Al wouldn't hear.
"What are you talking about?" Roy said. "It's Al's birthday. We celebrate everyone's birthday here."
"But…you know he doesn't get any older."
Roy turned to Ed, completely serious for the first time in a while. "Edward, just because your brother's soul is trapped doesn't mean he isn't getting older. Years pass and with them come experience and wisdom." He rested a hand on Ed's small shoulder. "Al doesn't need a body to earn his age."
Edward started at him, his expression completely unreadable to Roy. His face was painted with an emotion the Colonel had never seen before. It looked something like pain, but it was softer, sadder than that. And yet hopeful and maybe even just the slightest bit happy, as strange as that was. Ed ducked before Roy could finish his evaluation and the Colonel's eyebrows shot up when the younger alchemist lifted a bright red sleeve to cover his face.
"Ed…" Roy said, his voice a bit unsure. "Are you…crying?"
"Like hell I am," Edward said, his voice muffled in his sleeve.
"Everyone smile!" Breda shouted and Ed barely had a chance to look up before the camera flashed. Because of that, only Edward's eyes were visible in the picture. In a rare show of courtesy, Roy never teased Ed about the redness of those eyes.
More photos followed the second. Some were more formal, most were not, but all of them were about Edward and Alphonse. You could read the years in those photos because they were all neatly labeled with names and ages along with the month, day, and year before being carefully filed into one of the many leather bound books Hughes had shoved his way.
And then Hughes died and all hell broke loose in Amestris. The homunculus rained havoc in the streets, Ed and Al were separated, Roy became the leader of a coup and for that one seemingly endless year there were no photographs of anything. There was no time to celebrate or have fun or just relax. Everyone was too busy, shackled by a world of chaos that they couldn't seem to escape.
And then it was over.
The next photo, Roy had no idea what number it was, was taken by Fuery while Edward, Roy, and Alphonse were all confined to the hospital. Ed was bandaged, Al was emaciated, and Roy couldn't see but they were all seated together on Al's small bed.
"Are you ready, sir?" Fuery said and Ed suddenly spoke, his voice low and slightly hesitant.
"What is it Fullmetal?"
"I…I just wanted to say thanks."
"Me too." Alphonse said, squeezing Roy's hand with his own warm and human one.
Roy was silent for a moment before he smiled and squeezed Al's warm and human hand back. "You're welcome."
"I'm taking it," Fuery said and Roy faced forward.
He couldn't see the flash obviously so he relied on the movement of Edward and Alphonse to tell him when Fuery was done. It would be several months before Roy would actually see the photo and carefully trace Al's human—human!—face with the tip of his finger. It was the first photo they had where all three were smiling.
Years passed and more photos followed, though they were fewer than before due to distance and lack of time. You could still count the years with them, they were still carefully labeled and filed away into leather books. The only difference is that Roy had to buy the albums himself now.
Roy had accomplished his goal of becoming Fuhrer, he now stood at the top of the military and had for many years. His first act was to abolish the military state and set up a democracy. He never did get around to changing the female officer's uniform to ones with mini-skirts, but it was on his to-do list.
Ed and Al were both married. Ed to Winry—no surprise there—and Al to a pretty Xingese princess named Mei Chang. That was a bit more surprising to Roy, but only a bit. He happily attended both ceremonies and took so many pictures that he was forced to fill two and a half albums for each. Hughes would definitely be proud.
Roy's own marriage to Riza was equally well documented. It seemed his little photography habit had rubbed off on the Elric boys at some point. Not that he was complaining.
Finishing up with the stack of photos he was sorting, sent to him by Winry so he could 'be there' for Trisha's first birthday, Roy lifted a leather bound album off his photo shelf. By the time he was done putting the photos away, the book was filled and he still had two pictures left over. The first was a family photo with the Elrics all smiling happily at the camera and Roy couldn't help but smile back. He set that one on the table and made a mental note to buy a frame.
The last picture surprised him. It was one of the very, very few that he never got a copy of.
It was taken in Central by Hughes only weeks before the homunculus incident began. His entire unit had the day off for the first time in a while and Alphonse wanted to visit the local fair. He said it reminded him of Resembool. Edward, Riza and Roy accompanied him but everyone else had made other plans. When Hughes found out he happily tagged along, grateful for the distraction from his loneliness as Gracia and Elicia were in the south visiting Gracia's parents.
Edward was running a fever that day and decided not to tell anyone. He didn't want to ruin Al's fun. He actually managed to hide it rather well; acting his typical, obnoxious teenage self. Hindsight would later inform Roy that Ed was being a bit more withdrawn and lethargic than usual. It was a bout of dizziness that gave him away as it suddenly hit and he all but collapsed.
Al was frantic while Roy hurried to the boy's side and pulled him upright by his automail arm. Edward swatted at him with his free hand but the movement was sluggish and weak.
"Get off me, ya bastard," Edward said. "I'm fine. Just a little dizzy."
Riza approached with a frown and pressed the inside of her wrist against his cheek. Her frown deepened.
"You have a fever," she announced and Ed scowled.
"I'm fine. It's just a cold or something. Would ya let me go already?" Ed said, pulling away from Roy before stumbling back to his knees. He braced himself against the ground with one hand while the other wrapped around his stomach.
"I…don't feel so good."
"Are you sick brother?" Al asked, hovering and fretting over Edward like a giant metal hen. "Are you going to throw up? Do you need a doctor? Does he really have a fever?"
"He'll be fine," Roy said, pulling Edward to his feet a second time. "So long as he doesn't push himself, that is."
"Should I carry him?" Al said and Riza pursed her lips.
"I don't think that's a good idea," she said carefully. "Your armor is bulky and isn't exactly designed for carrying other people. Not ones as big as Edward at least."
"Big," Roy snorted. "Right."
"Who're you calling so small he could be a rodeo star in a flea circus?" Ed said but it was lacking in his usual enthusiasm. Riza sent Roy a glare and he lifted one hand in a sign of truce.
"Oh…" Al said, apparently not hearing Ed's lackluster rant. "I suppose you're right."
"I don't need to be freaking carried," Ed groused, trying to shake Roy's hand off a second time. "I'm fine. Just a little dizzy."
"You look more than just a little dizzy, Ed," Hughes said in concern. "How long have you been feeling like this?"
"I dunno," Ed confessed. "A few days, maybe?"
Riza checked his temperature again. "You really are warm Edward. We should probably take you to a doctor."
"…I don't need a doctor."
"Sorry Fullmetal, but you don't get a say." Roy said. "You had your chance to take care of this yourself and you didn't so now we'll take care of it for you."
"That a threat?" Ed sneered and Roy chuckled.
"Not a threat Fullmetal, an order."
It said a lot about Ed's state of being that he didn't protest more vehemently. "Fine." He muttered. "But I don't need to be carried."
Ed was practically asleep before they even left the park.
"Should I carry him?" Hughes asked but Roy was already shrugging off his suit jacket and passing it to Riza.
"I've got him," Roy said. "He's my subordinate after all."
Alphonse helped Roy position Edward across the older man's back. Ed unconsciously huddled close to Roy's warmth, his fever making him feel rather cold. Alphonse hovered directly behind Roy, just in case Edward started to fall, and Riza walked by his side. Night had fallen and it was a bit cooler than normal despite being mid-summer. Edward shivered in his sleep and Riza draped Roy's jacket over the boy's shoulders at the same moment Roy glanced back in concern.
There was a flash of light and Roy sighed before glaring at Hughes in utter annoyance.
"Is this really the time to be taking pictures?" He asked and Hughes grinned.
"You'll thank me someday." Hughes said and Roy rolled his eyes.
Almost ten years later, Roy stood in his living room looking at a copy of the photo for the first time. He was surprised at how tender Riza looked as she gazed at Edward, her hands till on his shoulders and he noticed, for the first time, that Ed and Riza had the same hair color. Only part of Roy's expression could be seen because, even though the photo was taken almost strait on, his head was turned rather far in an attempt to look at the small alchemist.
Ed's face was slightly flushed but he looked surprisingly peaceful, his arms draped haphazardly on either side of Roy's neck. And Al's hulking metal form was hunched over slightly, in the middle of a panic attack no doubt, but he brought a strange sort of balance to the photo and made it look…right.
Roy turned the photo over and his eyes widened slightly in surprise. Printed neatly on the back in Hughes' writing was the date the picture was taken. But directly over the date was a short description written in what he instantly recognized as Edward's handwriting.
"Roy Mustang, his wife Riza and their sons Edward and Alphonse," Roy read aloud before falling silent. Tear prickled at the corners of his eyes and he brought up his freehand to cover them before laughing. It was several minutes before he was able to speak again.
"You were right." He said softly, his eyes still covered with one hand. "Thank you Hughes."
The next day, Roy stopped by the general store on his way home from work and bought two mahogany frames.
End Take a Picture
Kaliea: I wrote this in one sitting with only the first line in mind and somehow it turned into this. I'm actually rather pleased with it though. For my first FMA fic I don't think it turned out badly at all ^-^ Besides, I totally heart Parental!Roy. And to my great joy there's an uber huge amount of Parental!RoyEdAl scenes in FMA: Brotherhood. It gives me so much to work with! Anyway, thanks for reading, and don't forget to review!