A memory, old and weathered by time and an urge to forget, struck the man when he was sitting among friends and allies. It made him surprised, to be honest, that such a memory had been awakened, especially since it was so… silly. Within such a serious time, how had that of all things suddenly resurfaced? His initial thought of pushing it away was quickly overridden by an overpowering sense of nostalgia, and without another thought, the memory began to play back to him like a movie.
After a long day of studying and research, the man had decided to take a much needed break. As soon as he had sat up out of the chair he had been in, he sighed and stretched, yawning as he made his way to the hall. He had been working for hours—that much he had been sure of—but he knew not of the time. When he opened the door to leave his study, he was met with the pleasant taste of twilight; soft reds, oranges, and yellows reflecting off of every surfaces and flowing through the windows like honey.
The sight made his breath catch in the back of his throat and for a moment, he found himself unable to speak. After a few moments, though, he rediscovered his voice and called out, "Trisha?"
An oddly peaceful silence ruled over the house for a few moments before the soft sound of Trisha's voice replied. "I'm in here, dear! I'm just bathing the boys."
Raising his eyebrows, he hummed once to himself. Then, wordlessly, he headed off in the direction of Trisha's voice. It took only a moment or two to reach the doorway, and once he had, his eyes instantly met the three forms before him. The two boys with the golden hair were laughing and splashing in the tub while their mother washed them, being careful to keep her attention equally distributed between the two. She laughed every once in awhile at the boy's play, smiling throughout every second.
Hoenheim found himself unable to say anything, but somehow, Trisha seemed to sense his presence all the same. She turned to him with her signature soft smile and spoke, "I'll be just a minute, dear. Do you mind waiting?"
He was silent for only a moment before he nodded, making Trisha's smile widen. She nodded to him in response, and quietly, he did the same once more. Then without another thought he walked off, not even taking a moment to acknowledge the boys.
Which in retrospect turned out to be a much bigger mistake than he had expected. As he continued down the dusk-bathed hallway, he could hear the continued sounds of playtime and about ten seconds later, a sound he hadn't been expecting at all. He heard the sound of moving water, an excited cry of a child, and the gasp of a mother. "Edward, get back here!"
Hoenheim blinked in surprise at Trisha's words and turned from utter curiosity to see—to his shock—the toddler running toward him, soaking wet and as naked as could be. And not knowing what else to do, he simply stood there as the boy ran at him. Then the child reached his father and wrapped his arms around his leg, laughing the entire time. And Hoenheim, who was still in utter and complete shock, found himself unable to do anything as the boy laughed and called out, "Daddy!"
"Dear, will you get him?" It was Trisha's words that snapped him out of his daze a few seconds later, and what caused him to look down at the boy, who was still smiling at him. Just looking at the boy made it obvious that he had been oblivious to his mother's words. With that thought in mind, Hoenheim nodded to himself, which made the three year old tilt his head in confusion. At that moment, it was key for Hoenheim to be careful; the last thing he needed was a chase between him and his son to start.
So, being as cautious as possible, Hoenheim began to move slowly as he spoke. "Come on Ed. Let's go finish your bath." The instant he had said it, Hoenheim mentally kicked himself. There was no way that the three year old hadn't understood that.
And sure enough, the boy shrieked at his father's words, making him jump. Then without another word, the boy turned and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. Hoenheim followed a few seconds later, calling out, "Get back here Ed!" The entire time.
A combination of laughter and cries of excitement filled the air as the man chased his son, and to that man's surprise, catching the boy provided to be quite the challenge. Every time he had believed that he had successfully cornered Ed, the toddler found some other way to free himself of the situation, whether it meant running right underneath his father, or taking a courageous leap of faith under the table. Indeed the chase had been chaotic, and it only grew wilder when Ed ran right pass the bathroom.
"Do you need help?" Trisha asked as Hoenheim dashed after Ed, nearly slipping on one of the many puddles he had left behind.
Though she couldn't see the action, he shook his head. "I've got him, don't worry!" He exclaimed as the boy laughed yet again.
"You sure? I'm—Alphonse!"
I'm Alphonse? Hoenheim froze in his tracks as he stopped to glance back and ask what she had meant, but instead, he watched as the answer rounded the corner, laughing, wet, and naked like his older brother. He found himself unable to say or do anything yet again until Trisha ran in after him. "I've got Al, you get Ed!" She told him as the younger boy ran circles around the table, giggling the entire time.
After a moment of watching and thinking, the man nodded and dashed off in the direction that his eldest son had headed in, down the hall, and into the living room. It was dead silent for a second or two as he scanned the room for the boy, but the sound of his giggles quickly gave him away. Hoenheim glanced quickly to the right to see the boy's cow-lick popping up over the edge of one of the chairs. So that's where he was. Ever so carefully, the man tip-toed over to the chair. If he was quiet, perhaps he could catch the boy…
But to his surprise, he found that Edward had once again disappeared from his spot. Surprise filled his body as he glanced about, but the giggling from behind him quickly made him stop to turn back. He only got a glimpse of the boy running off yet again, but it was enough to make him dash off after him once more. Who would have known how hard it was to catch a toddler who didn't want to take his bath?
On his way down the hallway, Hoenheim passed Alphonse, who was still laughing as well. Following close behind was Trisha, who took only a moment to glance at him before quickly asking, "Any luck?"
"No." And the chase continued across the house.
For about five minutes, in fact, the chase brought the parents across the hall, under the tables, and around the furniture. And when it came to who the winners were in their race, it was more than obvious. Once the race reached the five minute interval, the two parents stopped in their places to catch their breath before standing up straight and continuing their race.
The race; however, quickly morphed into a search over the course of the next few minutes. Somehow within their panting and exhaustion, the two had disappeared from the house. After about five minutes of searching, the two walked up to one another.
"Have you seen—?"
"No. Have you—?"
"No. Where could they have gone so fast?"
"They couldn't have gotten far." Hoenheim said, "In fact, they may be—" and suddenly, he became dead silent. Something nearly inaudible had found its way to his ears, and he recognized it almost instantly. It wasn't the giggling of secrecy, no doubt, but the full-scale laughter of play-time and mischief. And from what Hoenheim could tell, it was coming from outside.
"Do you think…?"
"Yes." It took less than three seconds for them to read each other's expressions, and it took less than five for them to reach the backdoor. And a few moments later, it took less than a single second for them to be frozen in a wordless gap. Yes indeed, they had found the boys outside and playing in the mud. Their once golden hair now an earthly brown, their skin completely smeared in the substance; all the two parents could do was stare.
And that was when, Hoenheim remembered, he had suddenly started laughing with his wife joining along soon after. The boys started to laugh with their parents moments later, and since they had believed themselves to be free of punishment, the boys then slung a few handfuls of mud at their mother and father. For an entire moment afterward, their parents grew silent, and the boys had thought that they were doomed for sure, but a sudden splashing of mud brought about more laughter a few seconds later.
The family had played like that for what felt like forever until Trisha and Hoenheim finally brought the boys in for another bath (and Hoenheim helped the second time around). After that, the parents took turns watching after the boys while the other took a shower, and Hoenheim remembered that during his watch, he had read the boys a book. He had even used all the funny voices when he had read to them…
But perhaps his favorite part of that day was when he and Trisha had gone to bed early only to have two extra guests join them a few minutes later. He remembered so clearly when their sons had cuddled up next to them, and he remembered how he smiled when Ed mumbled to himself in his sleep and when Al started doing the same… and at that moment, he found himself smiling yet again. How much he missed those times, when things were simple and he could still smile… and when his eldest son still trusted him.
The man's gaze moved slowly as the power of his daze weakened, and before long, he found himself staring at Edward, who was sitting quietly among his chimera friends. His gaze—almost a glare—was focused on something else at the moment, and it made Hoenheim a bit grateful to be honest. It gave him time to examine his boy; his boy that no was no longer a boy. His shoulders had broadened over the years, his muscles had reached a man's definition; though he still wasn't the tallest guy around, it was obvious that he was not merely a boy, no doubt. No, he was becoming a man.
The thought made him smile, and although he did his best to restrain it, he couldn't hide it in time for when Ed looked over. When their eyes met, Hoenheim found himself unable to look away, and for some reason, Ed continued to stare at his father as well. It was dead silent, and for a moment, Hoenheim thought that the two would be stuck like that forever. And suddenly, somehow as he was staring at his son, he connected the image of the boy running around in the nude to the young man before him and he realized with a shock that they were the same person. And what did he do as a result? The only thing he could do; he laughed and laughed and laughed.
And Edward—who at first raised his eyebrows in surprise—growled at his father's actions and spoke, "What are you laughing at?"
Hoenheim did his best to contain his smile as he opened his mouth to in an attempt to speak, but the laughter quickly took over, making Edward's glare intensify. Although Hoenheim missed the times when life had been care-free and happy, at that moment, the laughter from memories of bath-time and his son's very presence was enough for him. At that moment it made him happy, and that was all he wanted.
I imagine that even though Hoenheim didn't spend a lot of time with Ed and Al, he remembered and cherished the times that he did. :)