Xannee (xandrabelle) wrote in fm_alchemist,
Xannee
xandrabelle
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Fic: The Secret of the Stone - Chapter 4

Title: The Secret of the Stone
Rating: PG
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.

Here's Chaper 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.


It seemed that nothing could deter the Elric brothers from their purpose because the next morning, the two were sitting in Roy’s office, deep in the heart of the military headquarters in Central.

“So have you decided to take the test?” he asked, studying the odd duo closely.

“Of course!” Edward’s retort was satisfyingly quick if lacking proper respect. “Shall I wag my tail while I’m at it?”

Roy harrumphed resignedly, nodding as he did so. He hadn’t expected any less. He noted that Alphonse’s posture was stiff with disapproval but the large suit of armor didn’t say anything to admonish Edward. Roy supposed that Al was probably used to his brother’s attitude.

Drawing out a file from a stack on his table, he pushed it at Edward. “We’ll arrange for you two to study in the most appropriate place.”

Ed reached forward and read out the title on the cover. “The Sewing Life Alchemist?”

“Shou Tucker. He is the foremost expert in Bio Alchemy,” Roy replied. He could see the wheels turning to understanding in their heads by the sudden excitement on their faces.

Roy had researched Tucker thoroughly before deciding that he was the best candidate to take care of the boys. The man had a large house with an equally large library and from his records, a four-year-old daughter he seemed to dote on. His research would be interesting to the boys even though it appeared that the Alchemist had made little progress since his spectacular success two years ago. Roy had spoken to the man about taking the boys in and gained his eager agreement. Tucker it seemed was more than anxious to be useful to the military.

Roy led the boys out to his requisitioned car and gave directions to Tucker’s house. “Two years ago, Mr Tucker succeeded in transmuting a chimera that spoke human words, and thus received the title of State Alchemist,” he informed the boys.

Ed’s eyes were wide with amazement. “A talking chimera?”

Roy wasn’t sure if the young Elric had ever come across the term and decided to explain himself. “A chimera is an animal put together from two of more animals with different genetics. Of course, the amazing thing is that this particular chimera understood and could speak human words.”

Roy could see their growing excitement in their pleased exclamations. They were practically bouncing with anticipation, though it was odd to see a suit of armor getting excited. It made him feel rather like a benevolent uncle bestowing a treat upon his favored nephews.

Roy wanted to laugh even more when they arrived before the large mansion. If he had to put a word to it, cute was the only way to describe Ed’s reaction on seeing it. However, he did manage to keep his stoic face as he rang the front bell. That is, until the big fluffy dog that bounced out of the bushes decided that Ed made a good carpet.

Fortunately, Roy’s low chuckles were lost in Ed’s panicked yelling and Al’s desperate “Nii-san!” cries as the younger brother tried to calm his elder. The dog though was tenacious about sitting on top of the protesting Ed while it grinned and thumped its tail.

Roy was debating what he ought to do to get the diminutive Ed back on his feet when the front door opened. That the little girl that came out, so much tinier than Ed, could get the dog under control amused Roy even more.

The Lieutenant-Colonel managed to school his expression back to blandness when they were all ushered into the house. Tucker apologized for the mess on the floor and began to scramble about, picking up his books. Roy shrugged, not bothered by it in the least. No one who loved reading could fail to understand why there were books all over a house. Seeking to put them all at their ease, Roy made quick introductions and was glad to see the mature way Al handled Nina’s question on how he was able to carry so much weight around.

“We’ll have a chance to discuss about their situation in the future. But please take care of them now,” Roy said pointedly to Tucker when the man stared hard at Alphonse. He was glad when the alchemist sent Nina away.

“Can we see the chimera that you transmuted?” Ed asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

There was an awkward pause before Tucker confessed sheepishly. “I’m afraid it died a little after it was made.”

The man quickly changed the subject and offered to show the boys to the library. There was little left for Roy to do so he nodded to Tucker and made his farewells.

Roy didn’t see or hear from the two for a long time after that. He received regular progress reports from Tucker, who was all too eager to supply him with information on what the boys were studying. Roy himself was busy with the paperwork of preparing for the upcoming state alchemist exams. Every year, there were many applicants. Despite what people said about being a dog of the military and being sent to the frontlines to kill people during a war, the pros of being a state alchemist often outweighed the cons. Since everyone else on the testing board outranked him—the Fuhrer, Brigadier General Basque Grand, General Hakuro—Roy, as the low man on the totem pole, had to do all the actual work.

He was so caught up with work that he barely noticed the days fly past until the first snows fell. For some reason, he was flipping through Edward Elric’s records when his eyes fell on a date. Picking up his phone, he dialed his best friend.

“Hughes, can you do me a favor?” he asked after patiently listening to his friend’s usual spiel about how his pregnant wife was so lovely.

“Roy, my man, you mean you’re finally going to let me match make you with a nice girl?” Hughes grinned into the phone.

“No,” Roy snapped, trying not to sound too cross. He did want a favor from the other after all. He settled back and explained the situation. “You remember the Elric brothers? One of them, the elder one, Edward, it’s his birthday today.” He knew Hughes remembered Edward. It would be hard not to since their first introduction had been so dramatic.

“I was wondering if you and Gracia could, you know, celebrate it with him.”

There was a long pause from the other side. Roy was amazed that he’d managed to shut Hughes up for even a minute.

“You really care about what happens to those two boys?” Hughes finally said, his tone thick with fatherly pride at Roy’s display of kindness.

Roy snorted, avoiding the answer. “I was just thinking it’d be good for you to practice taking care of some kids, with your own on the way,” he replied gruffly. “Anyway, those two boys, they don’t have anyone but each other. I think they’d deserve a home-cooked meal on a birthday. Gracia cooks so well.” Roy knew he was laying it on thick but Hughes was always eager to listen to praises of his wife.

Hughes rose to the bait. “Of course she does, she’s perfect. But why don’t you come along as well? You haven’t gone to visit them at all?”

“I can’t,” Roy declined. “I’m going to be their examiner. I have to maintain a proper distance. As it is, there are going to be people who will accuse me of trying to score points with those boys. Especially when they show everyone how smart they are.” Of that, Roy was certain.

“All right, all right, I’ll tell Gracia to prepare dinner and go pick them up.”

Roy hung up with a distinct sense of satisfaction. The Elric brothers need never know he was watching out for them. It was best this way.

The next Roy heard from Hughes was late that night, when his friend called to exclaim over his good news—his daughter was born. Roy was impressed that the Elric brothers had helped Gracia, and was glad that his friend’s wife hadn’t been alone.

The days passed, growing ever more hectic for Roy, until the day of the State Alchemist exams.

Notes: I figured that Hughes had to have known somehow that it was Ed's birthday and who best to tell him about it than Roy?
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