peppermintwords has asked me to share this, otherwise... trust me, it'd still be hidden.
Fandom(s):: Fullmetal Alchemist.
Characters/Pairings:: Roy Mustang; Mustang!spawn; slight Roy/Riza.
Summary:: Roy's small son has an 'imaginary friend'.
Disclaimer:: I'd just make them all sluts, if I owned them. Consider yourself disclaimed.
Spoilers for Episode 25 "Farewell Ceremony". Future fic/AU/AT, whatever you want to call it,.
The kid's known as 'Junior' because having two Roys is confusing, giving him some horky nickname is too weird, 'Roy Junior' is a little too much of a mouthful, and 'little Roy' brings up all kinds of awkward images that must be repressed.
It was, Roy mused, divine justice that he'd wound up with a family after all. He'd always told Hughes that he couldn't possibly find the time, and when his friend had been killed, the pressure to make time had been lessened dramatically. But, amazingly, things had settled down, and some years after his friend's death he found himself standing over a hospital bed, watching in wonder as his son was born.
Four short years later and the same boy was still keeping Roy on his toes. He'd never understand how children could be so manipulative. And what was worse, little Junior knew full well he had his father wrapped around his little finger, and used that information for all it was worth.
His wife, who was a little more resistant to the boy's antics, just laughed and informed him that she'd been putting up with the same thing out of him for years, and he might as well just get used to it.
It was all a little unreal at times, and many times, Roy had wished his best friend could be there to see all this taking place. After all, it was kind of his fault, for putting the idea in Roy's head in the first place.
Roy had been forced to work late, again, and was just on his way to change out of his uniform when he heard Riza's voice coming from down the hall. He abruptly changed course, heading instead for his son's room, leaning against the doorframe and stuffing his gloves into his pocket. Riza was sitting on the bed, reading a bedtime story to Junior.
Mother and son looked up when they heard his approach, and while Riza gave him an "I'm relieved to see you're home safe" smile, Junior shot right out of the blankets, off of the bed, and charged at maximum velocity for Roy's legs, yelling "Daddy!" gleefully as he ran.
Roy caught him seconds before he actually hit, and lifted him to sit on his hip. Undaunted, the little boy buried his small, dark head in Roy's shoulder, threw his arms around his father's neck, and clung for all he was worth.
"Shouldn't you be in bed?" he asked, unable to hide a smile, directing the question at Riza more than at his son.
Junior shook his head, pulling back to excitedly proclaim, "Mama let me stay up!"
Roy raised an eyebrow at Riza.
"He wanted to wait for you. I figured it wouldn't hurt to let him stay up a little late."
Roy smiled and tickled Junior slightly, making him giggle. Then he sat the boy on the floor, watching as he padded on bare feet back to his bed and climbed in, crawling back under the covers and looking expectantly between his parents.
Riza bent down and kissed his forehead, pushing the bangs gently out of his eyes. "We'll finish the story tomorrow."
"Okay, Mama. 'Night."
"Goodnight, Junior." She stood and started to move out of the way for Roy, but was stopped by the boy's half-anguished cry.
"Mama, you have to say goodnight to Rupert too!"
Roy frowned, confused. Just who was Rupert? To his utter and complete surprise, Riza didn't even appear fazed by the odd request, simply smiling and answering to the closet, "Goodnight, Rupert."
Her hand found Roy's arm by the door and she gave it an admonishing squeeze, but she didn't say anything to explain the situation. Bewildered, he perched on the side of Junior's bed, trying to look like he wasn't affected by what was going on.
"You have to say goodnight to Rupert too, Daddy," Junior said firmly.
"Who is Rupert?" Roy asked slowly.
Junior looked pleased that he'd asked. "Rupert's my friend. He sleeps in the closet."
Roy turned and looked at the closet, unsure of what he'd find. There was a blanket folded neatly in the floor, but other than that, the closet was devoid of any 'friend.'
So Junior had an imaginary friend. From somewhere in the back of his mind, Roy remembered that imaginary friends were a common part of childhood, but he couldn't remember what exactly he was supposed to do. Should he play along or gently explain to the small boy that his friend didn't really exist?
"I know you can't see him. He says so," Junior explained before he'd had a chance to do anything. "He knows you think he's not real. But you should believe him, Daddy, because he brought your friend too."
"My friends are all at home, son. You know that," Roy started to say, but Junior shook his head.
"Not this one. He's standing right behind you."
The boy's determination made Roy pause. It took a lot of self-control not to turn around and indulge himself in this insanity. He was about to explain that nothing could logically be there, but he had a feeling it wouldn't do a damn bit of good.
"He said to tell you what his name was."
Roy sighed, finally admitting defeat. "All right, Junior. What's his name?"
"He said you'd know it better if I said it like this." And with Roy watching in disbelief, his son puffed up his chest, turned his small mouth down in a perfect imitation of his father's scowl, and snapped in the deepest voice he could muster, "Hughes!"
Roy went completely still. Other than the pictures sitting on Roy's desk at the office and the smaller one at home, Junior had never even seen Hughes. And what he did know was that the man was 'your uncle Maes, who died before you were born.' It was impossible that Junior knew that. Impossible. This shouldn't be happening.
Finally, he bent down and kissed his son's forehead. "Goodnight, Junior. Goodnight, Rupert."
As he was shutting the door behind him, Roy could have sworn he saw a man standing by the dresser, grinning cheekily at the both of them. He stood outside with his hand on the doorknob for a few seconds, shaking, trying to compose himself before he went any farther.
Even though it defied logic, maybe his best friend could see his family after all.
Riza couldn't help but pause in the shadows outside the room, listening as Junior explained all about his imaginary friend to his father. She heard when Roy began what she knew to be a gentle let-down-- after all, the man was a scientist, what else could he do?
What she hadn't expected was Junior sweetly informing his father that a man who had been dead for nine years was standing behidn him, and she hadn't expected Roy to freeze up like he had.
Silently, she slipped down the hall and into the living room, smiling briefly to herself when she heard Roy telling 'Rupert' goodnight as well. They always did say that children were more receptive to mystical things, and besides, not everything could be explained with science.