Prologue - Central City, 1895
It was a quiet evening at Madame Christmas' Bar. The regular patrons had already filed out into the Autumn night, leaving a lone figure sitting at the bar nursing a glass of whisky on the rocks. The girls that worked and lived there retired to their rooms a while later after bidding the older gentleman a good night. Being friends with a woman like Chris Mustang certainly had its perks. Besides being privy to some of the juiciest information in Central, the man also got to spend time with some very lovely ladies. The same ladies that gathered and gave him said information, at a fairly steep price, of course. You can't get something for nothing, after all.
The windows rattled lightly as the wind picked up outside and a roll of thunder sounded, heralding the beginnings of a storm. The man finished his whisky as the last of the girls left for the evening, the older ones that didn't live with the Madame. They hurried out once they heard the thunder, hoping to get home before the rain started. With all of them having gone to bed or back home, Madame Christmas finally directed her attention to the man remaining at the empty bar.
"Good to see you tonight, Major General."
Grumman grinned and fiddled with his mustache.
"Likewise, Madame. The girls are lively and lovely as ever."
Chris chuckled and refilled Grumman's glass.
"On the house, my friend."
Grumman lifted his glass in thanks and took a sip. Chris nodded and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, but before she could light one, the door to the upper floors of the bar opened and a little boy with a mop of black hair shuffled toward them, yawning.
"What are you doing up, Roy-boy?" she answered him, putting her cigarettes back into the drawer behind the bar where she kept them.
Roy noticed Major General Grumman and stopped walking toward his aunt. He straightened up and noticeably became a little nervous.
"Oh! S...sorry! I didn't know anyone was still here."
He scurried back to the door in an attempt to retreat. He was not supposed to be down here, especially when there were customers.
"It's fine." his aunt reassured him and Roy relaxed, walking back to her. "What's wrong, Roy-boy?"
Roy shrugged and looked at his feet.
"Nightmare." he replied after a few moments of deliberation. He seemed embarrassed to say anything, especially with a man he didn't know very well in the room. "I had a nightmare and I can't go back to sleep because of the thunder…"
He didn't need to elaborate any more. Chris knew that thunderstorms made him nervous. His parents died in a car crash in the middle of a storm five years prior and the boy had been afraid of thunder ever since.
"It's fine, go get yourself a glass of milk and come back."
Roy nodded and all but ran to the kitchen in the back room. Grumman turned back to Chris once the boy was out of sight.
"How old is he now?"
"He turned ten this year."
"Already? My, how time flies."
"That it does. They grow up so fast. In fact, he's taken an interest in alchemy. Found some of my brother's old books on the subject. I can't get him to shut up about it sometimes. Every time he finds something interesting he just has to come tell me and the girls about it."
"You say that, but I'm sure you all fawn over him."
"Ah, you know me too well."
Roy came back into the room moments later, placing his glass of milk at the end of the bar and hoisting himself up onto a stool. Silence filled the room as Roy drank his milk, eyeing Grumman as the older man finished his last glass of whisky for the night.
"Thank you Madame, it was nice chatting, but I feel I should be on my way. We'll save our conversation for tomorrow, perhaps."
Chris knew what he meant. With Roy having come downstairs unexpectedly, an information exchange would have to wait.
"Of course, Major General. Wouldn't want you to be caught walking home in that storm."
"Yes, yes, I best hurry along."
Grumman got up from his seat and made to leave, eyeing Roy thoughtfully. Instead of turning to the exit, he turned back to the Madame.
"You know…" he began, seeming unsure about voicing whatever he was about to say. "I do know someone… An alchemist."
This seemed to get Roy's attention and the boy turned to face Grumman, suddenly interested in the conversation. Chris remained silent, staring at the Major General, wondering where he was going with this.
"In fact, he's a remarkable alchemist. A genius even." Grumman sounded almost disgusted as he said this, but also impressed. His tone was very peculiar as he spoke. "The military has been trying to recruit him as a state alchemist for years. The stubborn man refuses vehemently, but I think he would be willing to take on a student, if you were interested in that sort of thing."
It took a moment, but once Roy understood what Grumman was saying, his face lit up with excitement.
"Really?" Roy asked, turning to fully face Grumman while still sitting on the bar stool.
Chris sighed. She should have known that was what he was getting at. The crafty old bastard. She cared for Roy as if he were her own son and she wanted nothing but the best for him. His happiness was her priority, but to send him away to study alchemy? She wasn't sure she'd go that far. She would be worried all the time. It made it a little better knowing that it was someone Grumman was familiar with, though the tone of voice he had used to describe this genius alchemist made her unsure.
"Who exactly is this alchemist?" Chris asked, her tone of voice clearly conveying her doubts.
Grumman set his focus back on her.
Ah, so that's why he was reluctant to speak well of the man. It was a known fact kept between them that Grumman hated Berthold Hawkeye. His dislike had mellowed out slightly over the years, but it was obviously still there, festering in the back of the Major General's mind. And from what Chris had gathered, Hawkeye had also disliked Grumman. In the end, Berthold Hawkeye and Grumman's daughter had eloped and never spoke to either of their families again, moving to a location Grumman only discovered because of the military's interest in Berthold's abilities as an alchemist. When word came back that Hawkeye wasn't even speaking to the military any longer, holing himself up in isolation because of his wife's death, Grumman's detest had soared. It had been three years since then and it still seemed like Grumman was still full of bitterness for the man that took his daughter.
The sound of Roy's voice broke Chris from her thoughts.
"Aunt Chris, I want to go!"
"It will be a lot of work. Alchemy is not a game."
Roy nodded quickly at his aunt's warning.
"I know, but I want to try. I know I can do it!"
Grumman laughed at the boy's enthusiasm.
"Well, it's up to your aunt, but I'll bet you'd make a great alchemist some day." he could see the fire in the boy's eyes. Alchemy certainly did seem to excite him.
Chris grumbled and looked from Roy to Grumman and back again, thinking hard. She felt Roy was too young to jump into this. He had only taken an interest in alchemy a year ago. Perhaps he would grow out of it. It might have just been a phase. But the look on Roy's face was enough to make her relent. He clearly wanted to study alchemy with a master.
"All right," she started, and she was sure Roy was about to explode from happiness until she continued. "I have a condition though."
Roy visibly deflated, but his look remained hopeful.
"If you do well in your schooling, I will let you go study under this Berthold Hawkeye when you turn fifteen."
Roy groaned, his eyes pleading as he looked at her.
"But that's five years away!" he whined.
"That's my condition, Roy-boy, and you can either take it and learn alchemy eventually, or leave it and never get to study under a master."
The fire returned to Roy's eyes and he jumped off the bar stool, crossing his arms.
"Fine. I'll be the best student. You'll see."
Filled with determination, he turned and walked back to the door that led upstairs, his posture straight and proud, like a soldier's. He stopped just inside the door and turned back to the Madame.
"Thanks Aunt Chris." he grinned before running back upstairs to go to bed, confident that the promise of learning alchemy someday would help him sleep through the storm raging outside.
Hey guys. I've been wanting to write a multichapter Royai fic for a while now, but I couldn't come up with anything other than a fic that told the FMA story as if Roy and Riza were the main characters. I know it's been done a bunch before, but I still wanted to try my hand at writing something like that. This will be based on the manga, with a bit of Brotherhood thrown in.
Yes, this will be long and probably take me quite a while to finish, but I'm definitely going to try get through it. Roy and Riza deserve a series all their own, and if Arakawa won't do it, then I will.
I hope you enjoyed this little intro. Feedback is loved and appreciated.