Fandom: FullMetal Alchemist
Summary: Ed and Al's search for the Philosopher's Stone, as seen through the perspective of Roy Mustang. Spoilers for most of the anime.
In case any one needs a refresher, chapter 1 can be found here
Roy Mustang had been expecting the door to open when he knocked. But nothing happened, not even after he tried a second time. Unused to being ignored, he leant forward and pressed his ear to the wood. Evesdropping wasn't beyond him after all. Hughes would be so proud.
Raised voices filtered through the thick panelling. Panicked tones conveyed a situation that muffled words could not. A child's pained cry wrung at his heart. The people inside were obviously too preoccupied to answer the door.
He tried the door handle and found it swinging open easily. He shook his head at his idiocy. Why'd he even bothered to knock? This was the countryside, not the city. People here probably didn't even lock their doors, secure and confident in their bastians of safety. He almost felt bad entering without permission.
The warmth in the house was too alluring to pass up, imparting a pleasant heat to his drenched body. He hadn't realized he was shivering lightly until he stopped. His muscles had been a mass of tension since his gory discovery at the Elric house. But something in the Rockbell house soothed him. It could have been the small vases of rainbow-hued wildflowers haphazardly tucked into the corners, or the bright-cheeked grinning faces in the photographs on the mantle that he refused to look too closely at, or the messy scattering of tools all over the floor. The place had a lived-in look.
A part of him rejoiced that she had such a place. Another part of him shrieked accusations that he'd not done anything to make it better. Forcibly shaking his head, he shoved those thoughts away. There was nothing he could do right now. Right now, his concern was the Elric brothers. And they were obviously here.
He took another few strides and paused as the cascade of words drifted clearer to his ears. A childish voice, too high to be an adult, too low to be a girl's, was raised in panicked explanation.
"I don't know what happened. I just know when it was over, I was like this and Nii-san... Nii-san... there was blood everywhere."
Will Nii-san be all right?"
Roy moved closer to the door, noting casually that the occupants in the bedroom hadn't noticed him yet. He wondered how much more of the sordid tale he would hear. There was the girl, hovering over a small form swathed in so many bandages he was barely able to identify as human. Then there was an old woman, her demeanor grave, obviously troubled by the state of her sudden visitors.
At the far end was a looming suit of armor. There was no mistaking that it was the speaker, however incongruous it was to hear the voice of a child resounding hollowly from it. If a suit of armor could display tension and worry, then that was what it was doing. Waves of confusion and anxiety fairly rolled from it. No, him.
The old lady was speaking again but Roy had heard enough.
"These boys attempted human transmutation," he interjected. Three startled gazes fixed upon him. Roy saw the assessing way the old lady took his measure, especially the blue uniform beneath his dripping trench.
"Who are you?" Aunt Pinako asked.
"Lieutenant-Colonel Roy Mustang. I am a State Alchemist." He held out his silver watch, emblazoned with its distinctive pattern. He was ambivalent about using it. It identified him as an alchemist who'd sold himself out as a dog of the military, to gain the vast benefits in exchange. On the other hand, if he'd achieved his goals, then the watch would no longer be an object of disgust. He watched the elder Rockbell carefully. There was alarm in her eyes-- clearly she knew what penalty the state had for people who dared to break the law against human transmutation. Roy kept his face perfectly bland, unsure how to ease her fears that he would harm the Elric brothers.
Reaching into his pocket, he dug out the rumpled letter which had brought him here and showed it to them.
"We received this letter recently. We are interested in Hoenheim Elric. But if his sons can perform human transmutation, they are even more interesting."
He met the old lady's hostile stare steadily and was relieved when after a long minute, she sighed and backed down. Somehow, she'd seen through his intentions. Either that or his natural glamour with women worked in his favor this time. And he hadn't even smiled at her. Roy was amazed at his own ability to charm sometimes.
Nevertheless, he carefully avoided the gaze of the little blonde near the bed. He didn't know what he'd do if he confronted her. Would he see reproach in her innocent eyes? Hatred? What would he do if he did? Break down, grovel at her feet and beg for a forgiveness that he knew he didn't deserve? No, this was not the time nor the place for it. Perhaps when he was the Fuhrer and could make amends... Or perhaps he was just a coward after all.
"When he is well, tell him to come to me in Central." It was all he could manage to say in the growing silence. A slight movement on the bed caught his eye. So, the boy there was awake and listening. Good. His respect for him mounted. A genius alchemist combined with such incredible courage -- to have done the impossible by affixing his brother's soul into a suit of armor, sacrificing his own limbs in the effort. All at the spur of the moment. The mere thought humbled Roy.
He wondered if the boy would be strong enough to take up his challenge. Roy wouldn't blame him if he'd decided to stay in this backwater village forever and nursed his wounds. But that would leave his brother trapped like this. He shot another glance at the figure on the bed and was met by a slitted glare. No, Edward Elric would come to him, he was too filled with a fire driving him forward. Roy wasn't sure if he should be gratified or dismayed by the prospect.
There was little else he could say or do, and so he inclined his head to the group and left, back out into the cold and pouring rain.