All characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa though I'm not sure the name Chistabelle is even canon. My poor attempt at another fandom. Enjoy. :)
Roy can count the people he trusts on one hand and that's never really been a problem. They stand as a human pyramid in his mind's eye, himself watching on from afar. These are the ones he'll protect when the time comes and, in turn, they'll watch his back and shoot him behind. It's a blessing really. If he goes down the wrong path, he can at least trust his killer.
Standing at the bottom of his pyramid are his strongest, the best of the best. Even now, he sees them as individuals. He drinks with Breda. He sits with Havoc at a café, watching women like the perverts they are. He discusses politics with Falman. He even remembers ruffling Fuery's hair on his first day. Each of them, they mean something else to him. They mean the comfort of East City and then the normalcy they provided in Central.
As his base, they're probably the most capable of pulling a pillar from beneath him. These are the people that could let him plummet, have always had the power to do so. But as his subordinates, they never have. As his friends, he trusts them not to. In fact, they make him smile and he notices their individuality spill out from one hand of trusted beings to another.
He met them on a day where rain crashed at the window panes and reminded him how useless he was. They'd been brought in from various places around the country, rounded up by Grumman for doing him a favour. The older man had put him in his place once the last of his new subordinates- Fuery, because his clock ran slow- stepped in to his office. Back then, it seemed a little crowded. He came to change his mind on the matter.
Grumman had introduced Roy as a hero of Ishval, a gleeful – no, regretful – smile and pain clouding his eyes. It was a low blow, they both knew, but a useful one. It told Roy that he'd been given strong men because, while not one of them smiled at the name (he smells burning flesh even now, the grease around his lips would've scared off anyone), not one of them balked.
Jean even stood up straighter to meet the Flame Alchemist, a smirk playing around his eyes. They said that it wasn't behind them yet, but we'll sure as hell force it there. Grumman had given him good men and Roy trusted them before he'd even learnt their names. It should've been something he regretted and yet, it never was.
There's two of them on the next level, even though only one of them would've been more than enough to bear the weight. Alphonse is stronger by far, literally built from steel armour. It occurs to Roy now that he's probably physically weaker than he'd ever been, nothing but skin and bones and blond hair the last time they'd met. Still stronger than him by far. Much kinder too. No, Alphonse Elric would not shoot him from behind out of anger. But he'd seen it in the dark emptiness beneath his visor. He'd shoot him out of pity instead and then regret it for the rest of his life. He wouldn't force the boy - he was still a boy, wasn't he? Almost fifteen when he'd gone home.
His comrade would probably shoot him in the foot for the sake of it – Fullmetal would almost do it, Roy had been sure to keep a gun away from him all those years. But the boy would surely remember the phantom pain of missing limbs, the very real agony of automail, and hand the gun straight back. Hell, he probably wouldn't even take it in the first place; he'd learnt that from Hawkeye. Edward Elric was a civilian now, basically a veteran before he was even old enough to enlist the long way around.
Those boys were anguish on steel legs and that was why he cared around them. He wouldn't admit it to Fullmetal at least (though he wasn't really Fullmetal anymore, was he?), but those two were much stronger mentally than he'd ever been at their age. They had such a black and white view of the world, no sense of grey until they'd joined the military, and that was why he trusted them. No, he'd never give them a gun if the time came. He'd given them a smile and Fullmetal would try and punch it off his face. It was all he could expect from his fellow alchemists.
He hadn't a family when he was seven years old and she'd owned a bar, which was what she called it. Occasionally it was a bar of classy ladies choosing their next customer, but that was all she'd say about it. It paid the bills, she said. She wouldn't take cheek from an orphan – but she'd say it with a hug and a smile. It was all he'd wanted from Christabelle.
She had her own children when he'd come into Central with nothing but the clothes on his back and almost all his teeth. One of her girls took him in, gave him bubble gum and a hand to hold whilst she'd spoken to Christabelle. Madame Christmas was what she'd asked him to call her as he was hoisted onto her hip and given a place to stay that night and all the nights to come.
Christabelle, his mother for all intents and purposes, had been the one to seek out a tutor and then an alchemist to teach him when he'd taken an interest in it the day one of her girls started talking about her boyfriend's talent. She'd clothed him and fed him and kept him out the cold and without her he'd have died a long time ago. If he couldn't trust her, then he couldn't trust anyone.
He'd never give her a gun though; she had too much spite for ex-husbands to be trusted with one. She'd smack him over the head, tell him to get to the top and he'd vow to make her life better one day.
In truth, Maes had nearly always been either at the same rank as him or higher. He'd have been one of the two he'd trust to stab him from the front, with a photo of his family and a sudden dagger to the heart. It was funny, for all those years building up to the inevitable calling him an unnatural freak all the way from the academy to the last battlefield, Maes had only shown people the photos of his family. Soon after he'd passed away (it made him sick to think about it), Gracia had called him with unspoken tears over the phone. When he'd died, there were more photos on his person.
Roy had gone to meet Gracia in person the very same day, greeted by apple pie and the aura of family. The photo she'd shown him then had forced him to hold tears until he was alone in his own apartment, though he'd never admit it. It was one from the academy, an uncomfortable smile plastered across his own face and a shocker from Maes. That idiot carried a photo of all the people he cared about, even one of a topless Major Armstrong as he flexed a muscle.
Now, Roy carried the same photo in his wallet, along with images of all the others he trusted. He kept it as a silent reminder of his closest friend, along with a knife he never learned to throw nestled in the back of his boot. The truth was that Roy had trusted Maes from the first day they'd fought on the same side. He was one of the first people he'd protected (failed to protect) and Maes had always done the same for him, even until the very end.
When he was fourteen, he'd managed to anger his sensei by spilling the cup his daughter had just placed in front of him. Hawkeye-Sensei had gone to kick him hard in the shins as punishment, but she was faster. She was always faster. At age thirteen, Riza had ended up with a horrible bruise on her thigh, an insult in her ear and a new friend by her side. He might've fallen for her there and then.
She'd said once that she'd follow him into hell if the time came, but that was after Ishval. She'd followed him into hell before, onto the battlefield with dreams of peace and innocent eyes. They'd both been down there before and he trusted her because she was willing to do it again. They didn't need hell to be burnt more than they had, his gloves and her back were truth enough of that. He trusted her because, even if she hated him for his sins, she didn't show it in her kisses.
That was the first case where the other person had trusted him first and he loved her all the more for it. She stood at the top of the pyramid, the only one truly willing to shoot him from behind to keep his – really her – dream alive.
Roy chuckles lightly at the scotch in his hand and rests a head on the desk littered with unfinished work. He'd said he loved her, didn't he? That was what trust was to him and, thinking back on all the others, he decided.
Havoc and Falman stood together, holding up Alphonse whilst Fuery and Breda gave them moral support. Edward leaned on his brother with a scowl, Christabelle's feet on their shoulders, their arms wrapped around her ankles. Maes had better balance than all of them, standing on the platform his mother held on her shoulders alone. Then there was Riza on Maes' shoulders, both of them laughing at Roy's expression in the dark office. Sure, it was dysfunctional, but the people he trusted held each other up, protected each other.
He loved them all the more for it.