Fandom: FullMetal Alchemist
Summary: Ed and Al's search for the Philosopher's Stone, as seen through the perspective of Roy Mustang.
Links to previous chapters here"
Lieutenant-Colonel Roy Mustang didn't have any time to relax after the end of the State Alchemist exams. The next morning that he returned to the office, he found himself promptly swamped by a most serious case.
A serial killer was targeting women in Central City, kidnapping them and then dumping their brutally mutilated bodies on the streets. Roy grew more and more disgusted as he read the case files, not just from the description and photographs of the victims, but also from the inability of city police to catch the culprit. City police had no leads at all and were only now turning to the military for help.
He was glad to accept the task-- it would look good for him when he solved the case. He had perfect confidence in that, especially since he was able to co-opt Maes Hughes into helping. The only question was how long it would take. Twice police had arrived at the crime scene moments too late, given the fresh state of the evidence. He scoffed at the incompetence displayed. He was turning over how someone could have vanished practically under the noses of the law enforcement when Edward Elric bounced in.
The young alchemist grinned at him, brimming with glee at his newly acquired status. Roy barely glanced at him, reached into his drawer and took out the heavy silver watch.
"There you go," he said, tossing it over to Ed.
"You know there had to be a better way to hand this to me," Ed yelped after barely catching the status symbol.
Roy snorted. Ed would soon realize the watch wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Some alchemists relied upon the array inscribed upon it to enhance their skills but Roy was of the opinion that any alchemist worth his or her salt wouldn't need it. Roy himself barely ever took his out and he was sure that Edward had enough power of his own to ever need to rely upon it.
"Congratulations, you are now a dog of the military," said Roy, a touch more bitter than he meant to be. "Lieutenant Havoc, take him home." He really didn't want to deal with an exuberant Edward glowing with the success of his achievement. Not while he still had a mountain of reports to read.
Roy nodded to Havoc, knowing the man would also remember to remind Tucker of his upcoming evaluations. It was a peripheral order anyway. The man was under the command of Brigadier-General Basque Grand and Roy expected the general would take care of him. The Iron Blood Alchemist certainly kept the chimera research under wraps, sealing them in the First Sector Library under regulations which Roy hadn't even been able to access.
At any rate, he had more things on his mind than Edward Elric.
Roy was quickly called to the scene of the crime when next the serial killer struck.
"What's the situation?" he asked the first officers at the scene.
"It's a young woman, Sir! Looks like the same ammo of the serial killer. She's been cut up bad," the officer said. "Sir, it seems that she has a child."
Roy's gaze moved to the sobbing child struggling in the grasp of several uniformed men. He turned to Riza and nodded. In such a situation, he had no qualms appealing to her. Hopefully, a woman's touch would be enough to calm the child. Despite Riza's no-nonsense exterior, she was very kind at heart.
He listened to more reports from his men, while ordering a cordon to be placed and all vehicles and buildings in the vicinity to be searched. A car drew up and Roy caught a glimpse of Hughes getting out. He was shocked to see Edward Elric accompanying him.
He strode over to his friend, ready to scold him for dragging Edward to the area. While Edward was not a civilian, he was definitely uninvolved. The shrieks of the victim's child however, interrupted him before he could say anything.
Roy turned towards Riza who was trying to lift the child away from his mother's corpse. Instead, the child, clinging with tenacity, grabbed at the shroud covering his mother and pulled it away.
Roy winced at the revealed sight. He was about to yell at somebody to go cover it up again when a second set of screams set up in counterpoint to the victim's child.
He crossed the two steps separating him from Ed and grabbed at him. "Edward!" he exclaimed, alarmed to see the young alchemist suddenly screaming wildly. Edward thrashed in his arms calling for his mother. While he held him, Roy was reminded of how very young he was, and how he possibly wasn't over the trauma of his mother's death.
Fortunately, Edward slumped into a faint before a thrashing automail limb hit Roy.
Realizing he'd made enough of a scene with Ed, Roy quickly called Havoc over. Handing over his burden, he instructed the man to take Edward back to Tucker's home.
The next time Roy saw Edward Elric was once again at another crime scene. This time the victim was but a splatter on the wall and Ed once more traumatized before it. Roy sat with Riza in his car while he debated how to deal with Ed.
"If there were ever a thing known as an act of the devil, this case must be it," he said bitterly to her.
"We State Alchemists are the military's human weapons. If there is a need, we will be called to duty, and if there is an order, we must soil our hands," he continued. He didn't know why but finding out about Tucker's act didn't shock him as thoroughly as he thought it should. He reasoned it out.
"What Tucker did and the position we are in right now are the same, if we look at how both affects human lives."
Riza simply gazed steadily at him. "That is how an adult thinks," she said soberly. "But those two are…"
She was right. The Elric siblings were not adults, and Roy cursed himself for putting that expectation on them. But he knew he couldn't afford to indulge them.
It was with grim determination that he stepped out of his car into the pouring rain. Slowly, he walked into the dim alley. Edward was standing at the end, watched by a still Alphonse. Over and over again, the young alchemist clapped his hands and slammed them against the blood splatter on the wall.
Roy watched the action until he couldn't bear it anymore.
"It's useless," he said sternly. Edward and Alphonse whirled around to face him. "It's impossible to rebuild a life form that has lost its life already, no matter how good an alchemist you are." Roy knew exactly what Ed was contemplating. He had to put a stop to it.
"Reviving a useless chimera, what good will that do?" he said harshly. He tried not to be affected by the way Ed was glaring daggers at him.
"There will be much worse things down the path you two have chosen. You must accept this. Even if you must force yourselves to, and move on."
It was the voice of reason but why did Roy feel so dirty for saying the words. Yet, he refused to permit himself to falter.
"Accept this?!" Ed yelled, lunging at him.
Roy reacted automatically. He grabbed at Edward's blood-soaked wrist, pulling him close till they were face to face, heated breaths fogging between them in the cold air.
"You have a goal you wish to accomplish, right?" He knew that was Ed's Achilles Heel. Above all else, he wanted to restore Al. It seemed that he had struck a chord, because the helpless fury in Ed's eyes turned to anger directed at him.
"Do you have time to stand around like this?" Roy pressed on, hating himself for being so hard on the youth but it was better like this. Better than him lost in a morass of self-blame and despair. Oh yes, Roy knew that Ed blamed himself for not being able to save Tucker's daughter. And yes, Roy was deliberately turning the focus of Edward's pain away into hatred for him.
"This is a job for my department to investigate. Go away." He knew Ed wouldn't take that as absolution but at least it would remove him from this gory scene. The young alchemist looked worn and at the end of his strength. Roy nodded to Alphonse, and then deliberately turned away, dismissing the two of them. Besides, he didn't want to see the blazing hate in Edward's eyes for him anymore.
Thankfully, the brothers left and Roy was able to confer with Hughes.
"This case is odd, it doesn't seem connected to the other cases. The victim isn't a woman and it seems to have exploded from the inside, not mutilated..." Roy wondered if Hughes was thinking the same thing-- that there was more than one killer out there on the loose.
Roy was awake the rest of the night dealing with the situation. The next day, he directed Havoc to find the Elric brothers and give them a task. He knew that if the boys were left unoccupied, they would get into trouble. Since he had few resources among Alchemists to deploy, he decided the boys would best be useful in collating Tucker's research.
Unfortunately, the task wasn't to Edward's taste because the young alchemist was back in Roy's office a few days later. Roy looked up, raising an inquiring eyebrow as the young man slammed open his door and marched up to his desk.
"I want to help catch the serial killer!" Ed declared, his shoulders stiff with defiance.
Roy swallowed a sigh. He really didn't want to have to deal with this right now. "I cannot permit it."
The returning protest was swift. "Why? The serial murderer might have done it to Nina. I'll help find him!"
"What about the job I ordered you to do? What happened to the analysis of Tucker's research?" Roy cursed at Ed mentally. He had thought it'd be enough to occupy the prodigy for a while.
"I don't want to do that." Ed's answer was practically a whine. "I'll investigate the matter on my own."
There the ultimatum was out. Roy really didn't like this aspect of Ed. He was being a total brat. There was no answer he could make but call the challenge.
"Then leave that behind." Roy pointed to the silver chain hooked into the pocket.
"I was planning to." Challenge called and answered.
Sitting at his desk after Edward's departure, Roy turned the silver watch in his hands. He wasn't sure if he should feel disappointed or relieved that Edward's career as a State Alchemist had been so brief. On the one hand, it removed the youth from grasp of the military and those who would use his talent in the worst ways. On the other hand, Roy would no longer have any contact with him. He wondered about the twist in his heart at the thought of not being able to protect the two Elric brothers anymore or see the great things that he was sure they would do.
At any rate, the matter was out of his hands. He did however alert Hughes to watch out for Edward, just in case the boy got into trouble. He knew his friend had bonded with Ed and Al when Elysia was born.
Much later, Riza returned, visibly shaken. She reported an odd encounter between the Fuhrer and Alphonse. Roy listened carefully and was mystified. Why would the Fuhrer encourage Alphonse in searching for the Philosopher's Stone? Especially by tempting him with information that only State Alchemists could access?
Roy didn't have time to wonder much about it before the serial killer case came to its dramatic close.
A frantic call from Hughes and Roy was on his way to the meat factory. Listening to Hughes' debrief, Roy waffled between anger and concern. He paled to hear that the young Miss Rockbell kidnapped by the vicious killer and grew furious to hear that Ed had run off alone without telling anyone.
He calmed down when he saw Edward. The teen was huddled in a bundle next to Alphonse, cuts all over his arms, shivering and crying in a state of shock. Seeing the wretched state he was in, Roy resolved to do a better job protecting him in the future. He couldn't offer any comfort and instinctively understood that only Al could console Edward at this time. The only thing he could do was direct the cleanup.
When next he saw Edward Elric, he was glad the young Alchemist had recovered his spirits. Once more, he stood before Roy's desk, his stance challenging and confident.
"A condition?" Roy blinked at him. So the young man wished to return as a State Alchemist.
"I will abide by the military's missions. But I want you to give me all the information related to the Philosopher's Stone," Ed said. His entire body language spoke of not taking no for an answer.
"When I'm not on a mission, please let me to look for the Philosopher's Stone."
So this was the white whale that Edward meant to chase. Roy leant back in his chair and thought quickly. If he allowed Edward back under his command, he would have a second chance to protect the Elric brothers. And if they were after the Philosopher's Stone, they would need protecting.
Just as payback for all the grief Ed had given him during this case, Roy couldn't resist answering. "Do you want your crime of performing human transmutation known to the public? Your brother will be sent to some lab because he's a case of rare transmutation."
He watched Ed pale a shade and relented.
"I can threaten you by saying that," he said. "But very well. I have a condition of my own. You will report everything you learn about the Philosopher's Stone to me." At least this way, Roy could be kept on top of things and see any threats coming. People who searched for the Philosopher's Stone had a tendency to die messily.
Seeing Edward's quick nod and returning grin, Roy knew they had come to an understanding. He reached across his desk and pulled out a large envelope, handing it over to Ed.
"The Fuhrer has given you a second name," he continued, smiling at the thought of its irony.
Roy watched Ed pull out the paper within and read it. A slight frown marred his brow. He turned and looked at Roy quizzically.
"State Alchemists are given a silver watch and a second name," he explained. "The second name you will carry is FullMetal. You will be the FullMetal Alchemist."
Ed's grin broadened. "I like it. I will bear it."
Roy watched him and knew he would indeed. But deep inside, he wondered if one day Ed would forgive him for taking him back, and placing the expectations and burdens of an adult on his too young shoulders.
Notes: Roy is a manipulative bastard but you guys knew that already. This was a hard chapter to write because there were so many scenes to transit between. It's particularly hard when Ed and Al go off to do their thing and Roy doesn't know any of it. I could imagine he'd have been really busy though, given that he was the point man for coordinating a city-wide hunt for a serial killer.