Disclaimer – don't own.

Wow – this did not go in the direction I expected it to... Still, Antigone (and everyone else) I hope it wasted some time pleasantly for you, at least.

No beta – typos. Blargh.


There was a pulling on his left hand, but Roy Mustang did not look round. Distantly, he felt the needle of the IV slide wetly from the back of his hand. Someone was checking it, he imagined, though he gave it little thought. Seconds later, it slid back in. It stung dully, but he paid it no heed.

His eyes were fixed on the small body across the room from him. Yellow, with skin puckered and thin, his daughter lay sleeping. Her head – no bigger than his fist, he estimated – was topped with a soft white cap and her tiny feet were capped in delicate pink booties. Wires sprang from her like fireworks and she had yet to open her eyes. She had yet to make a sound or move a finger. She was like a doll who'd been abandoned in the making. His soul ached for Riza and her tender heart. No doubt, with only Olly to distract her, her thoughts would turn to fault and 'what ifs'. It was her way.

After the doctor had issued his consent to Mustang, both men discussed the details. Mustang listened with a ferocity that had him shaking in the thin material of his scrubs. Figures and gases shot through his brain and danced in the inky redness behind his closed eyes. He worshiped the gate in those moments. He worshiped Bradley - Father even, for the horror of their ambitions had given him the blessed burden of the Gate's knowledge. Without it, he would be lost. The scars on his hands sang with the glorious pain of possibility.

He practiced breathing for the doctor first, then – with some trepidation – for Olly. Both went fine. It was easy, in fact. He lost himself in it: pulling out carbon dioxide and pushing in oxygen. Eventually, his breath matched their own and it took little thought from there.

But then he'd started on the baby. Her lungs – so tiny! - were barely enough to sustain him, and so after only minutes he was sweating and exhausted. He fell into a kind of trance. The only thing he had to do, he told himself, was keep breathing. For him and for his daughter. The doctor eventually hooked him up to an IV and then placed a bedpan by his cot. Staff came and went, amazed by this man. Then the press were crowding the doors of the maternity ward. A Christmas story for the nation: Flame Alchemist Rescues Daughter from Death.

Riza's voice came to him after an immeasurable time, a whisper in the haze. She said: it's been eighteen hours. And she said: you're suffering. He didn't answer, but watched their little girl as he had done until then. His wife's hand rested on his forehead, cool and calloused. Steady. So he was steady too. For their baby.

On Christmas Day, just when children across Amestris were tearing open their presents and hooting with delight, the weather calmed. Two hours later, the incubator arrived.

At eleven o'clock, the infant was placed into her sacred, life-giving box and Mustang – near passing-out – was moved to his wife's suite.

That evening when he woke up, Riza was in bed chatting to a fur-wrapped Madame Christmas; Breda was playing Solitaire on the floor by the door and Olly...

"Daddy," said Olly.

Mustang blinked the sleep from his eyes and glanced down, his neck aching. His son's chubby fingers were curled around the edge of the bed, and he was standing on his tip-toes to glare at his father. He had a note. "Oliver..." Mustang croaked.

"Here," he clipped, shoving the note against his father's arm.

"Maybe later, Olly... The baby? Breda... the baby?"

"Doing great, chief," Breda smiled up at his commander. "Really great. Doctor just came by."

"Here!" cried Olly. "Here! Here! Now!"

"Ah..." Mustang sighed and took the paper from his son. He opened it with some difficulty. Drawn in thick crayon was a picture that, while initially difficult to decipher, became much easier when turned on its side. It was a man: him (he could tell by the small head. A characteristic deformity Olly insisted his father had). And a woman: Riza, presumably judging by the helmet of yellow hair. On top of them, Olly had drawn a large red circle with an 'X' through it. To the untrained eye, they looked as though they were swimming together, or dancing perhaps. To Mustang's eye (the eye of a father) it looked exactly like – well – what it was...

At the bottom, Olly had written: "Daddy". Beside that, was a space for him to sign.

"Riza darling," Mustang said.

Riza looked at him, smiling with relief. Madame Christmas leaned on her hip, eyes glistening with a mixture of pride and long-suffering humour.

Mustang folded the note and ignored Olly's incredulous growl. "Do you know if this joint does vasectomies?"

Riza sighed and leaned back into her thick pillow.

"Go back to sleep, dear." she said.

Mustang scrunched the note and tossed it at her. It glanced off her cheek and fell to the floor. He folded his arms, pleased with himself and with the look of tired resignation on her face. "Call me a 'deer' again and I'll -"

"Daddy," Olly clipped. "Shut the mouth."


Thanks folks. Reviews are plesant as hell.