AN: I wanted to write this wa~ay earlier and planned to have it finished on Christmas, but since I didn´t… rescheduling ^^° At least I can start this fic on Christmas. Which actually is only possible because my awesome beta did a wonderful job within such a short time! Thank you, Ca11iope :D
Celebrating and Mourning
Edward did not consider himself to be a grumpy person.
Nor had he ever considered himself to a person easily annoyed by something as simple as a holiday, and definitely not to the point of almost hating it.
No, he could not remember ever being this pissed off over something this insignificant. And yes, being called short didn't count because it was definitely significant! Also unjustified, damn it! He wasn´t short!
Being bumped and squeezed by people he constantly had to look up to holler protests because they hadn´t noticed him in the crowded tavern was not a sign that he was vertically challenged in any way. These people were just freakishly tall!
And happily singing, or rather bawling out Christmas tunes, though Edward could not recall the somewhat suggestive verses as part of the carols he had learned as a child. The improvised lyrics were putting the other bar patrons in a good mood, too, even if they were doing nothing for Ed's own.
Dodging around another drunken obstacle Ed quickly lifted his arms to avoid crashing face first into a set of … boobs. He stared like a deer in the headlight at the impressive appendages – and his hands, pressing against the soft jugs. His eyes wandered up, past a spectacular display of cleavage – and damn, if that dress were any tighter, her tits would probably be squeezed out with enough velocity to rocket against the ceiling – to a too pointy chin, softly curved lips, a small, pretty nose, and glassy eyes that betrayed the boozed-up state their owner was in. Her light brown hair might have started the evening neatly styled, but now hung messily around her shoulders.
The woman looked down on him – not short, damn it! – then at his hands, frozen against her chest, then back to his face before she leered in a way only people who were way too drunk could leer.
"I´m sorry!" The apology sounded more like a squeak, and Ed quickly snatched his hands away, turned his back, and ran for his life.
Or rather, squeezed his way through the press of drunken bodies. Earning a few choice curses, he dodged some elbows and weak punches, making his way through the crowd. As he neared the exit, someone took the opportunity to grope the red leather covering ass. Routinely, Ed grasped the pinky and bent it backwards, which earned him a pained howl and the quick removal of the molester's hand. Whatever devil had possessed him to wear red leather pants hopefully would remain in its lair and never come out again. The fore mentioned devil, otherwise known as Winry Rockbell, could keep drinking along with her boss and Paninya. Ed had had enough of watching them ogle the guys, making fools out of themselves while commenting on the various outfits, and even worse, on the people wearing them.
Note to self: never take fashion advice from two party girls and a gay Automail shop owner again, no matter how much they insisted that red was fitting for a Christmas get together. Those damn pants probably had more fingerprints on them than were stored in the Investigations Department's archives. Sure, he probably would have worn leather anyway, just the usual black, but his wrench wielding psychopathic friend had promised that if Ed wore anything other than red, she would make sure it was blood soaked enough to pass for red anyway. Ed held no illusions about her having any inhibitions in this regard.
Al, the traitor, had fled the scene early with some paltry excuse Ed had not been able to hear. The younger Elric had obviously planned ahead, not simply running for his life like his older brother was now doing. Al had taken his jacket as well, while Edward's was still on the ale-bench besides Winry.
But Ed would rather freeze than go back in there.
He'd had enough. Enough of the scrambling, the jostling, the over enthusiastic mass of people eager for unnecessary touches. Even the companionable hugs tended to turn into lingering touches, and then into groping. Ed felt no desire to find out what would come next.
And he had no desire to see Winry or Paninya participating in that kind of thing either. And certainly not Mister Garfiel.
Ed finally gained the door and stepped out into the fresh air. Freezing, but otherwise content to be out of there, Ed made his way over to a more civilized part of the Christmas market. Despite the fact that the sun had long since set, there were still plenty of children in the square, mostly sleeping babies in carriages, but some older kids as well, running and playing amongst the Christmas celebrants. His grumbling stomach reminded Ed of the fact that the only thing he had consumed so far this evening was too much mulled wine. No food. The fresh - and freaking cold – air helped to clear his head, but now, out of that damn tavern, he noticed just how much the alcohol was getting to him.
So, food it was.
Roy considered himself to be a patient man. Someone used to risky and critical situations. He was discovering, however, that there was one task that could quickly and efficiently bring him to the brink of a mental breakdown.
Not that he was a father of course, but he sure as hell hoped to become one, and soon.
Even with all the stress, the numerous headaches, that lack of sleep, and loss of personal privacy required to bring home dates, Roy was doing whatever he could to convince the court to grant his adoption of his niece Jiao Lan and his nephew Ze Ren.
And speaking of niece… where the hell had the girl run off to this time?
The now familiar feeling of panic once again took hold of him, and after a quick examination of his surroundings, Roy's mind once again started to regale him with dozens of worst case scenarios involving the girl. Having seen what could become of the victims of kidnapping, the images supplied by the Colonel 's mind were unsettlingly vivid in that regard. The experiences of the last few days tempered his worry however, resigned to acceptance that the girl had managed to slip away again. She did it so often Roy had lost count.
Thankfully, he developed a routine for when his niece managed to vanish, and mentally he checked off the kind of stalls in this Christmas Fair most likely to attract the girl's attention. Calling out for her in the crowded market was out of question. She likely wouldn't hear him anyway, and his nephew had finally – and thank god for that – managed to calm down and fall asleep, head leaned on Roy's shoulder, drooling on his uncle's jacket.
Roy was beyond caring about that sort of thing.
Currently, his main concern was finding his wayward niece.
By now, Ed had absolutely enough of being bumped into.
The happy cry of "Fairy!" however, prevented him from taking retaliatory action against the – child? What the fuck? Big, dark eyes looked up at him. Correction, stared at him like he was some kind of wish-fulfilling wonder.
"Can you make my wish come true?" the little girl chirped up at him, eyes adoring. "I promise, I´ve been a good girl, and mama and uncle told me that on Christmas Eve the wishes of all good children come true."
Oh great. Didn't people ever get tired of filling their kid's heads up with superstitious bullshit? And just where did this kid think Ed fit into the tale, to expect him to make it come true? He was an alchemist, not some – hold on.
The girl wrapped her arms around his leg and nodded stubbornly.
"Can you?" She asked again, onyx eyes filled childish curiosity, glowing with hope.
Ed idly noted the Xiangese blood in the girl's parentage as he thought over possible answers. Not really wanting to crush the girl's belief in mystical creatures, he tried to maneuver his way out of this by denying his own part in the tale without casting doubt on the tale itself.
"Uhm… Hate to break it to you, but I´m not a fairy," he informed the girl.
The child only blinked disbelieving, then nodded.
"Oh, that's right. Uncle said fairies are girls." Now, wasn´t that a smart man? The child embracing his leg seemed to consider something and then asked. "Um… so are you a…" she hesitated, biting her lip, "…a boy fairy?"
Trying not to laugh at her adorable display of childish logic, Ed shook his head. "Nope. I´m not a Christmas elf either," he informed her, and blinked. Where the hell did that idea come from? He was feeling more and more out of his comfort zone.
"You are a boy though, right?" She questioned sheepishly.
"Yes." Where the fuck were the girl's parents. Uncle. Whoever.
"No fairy?" Now she appeared ready to cry.
Sighing, Ed tried to avoid heartbroken eyes brining with tears, and cast his eyes desperately around the busy square for anyone who appeared to be looking for the little almost crybaby. The small hands on his hips – the only ones he didn´t mind this evening – started to shake and there was a suspicious sniff coming from down there.
Oh hell. This was bad.
"Look." He had no idea what to say. But the child indeed stared at him, eyes still misty but once again filled with hope.
Crouching down, Ed was a bit disturbed by the fact that this put him exactly at the girl's eyelevel.
"If you tell me your wish, I´ll see what I can do, okay?" He was an alchemist, wasn´t he? It couldn´t hurt to transmute a doll or some other desperately wished for toy for the kid.
In the blink of an eye he had the overjoyed girl clinging to his neck with a delighted squeal.
And an irritated voice interrupting her wish making.
"Jiao Lan!" Damn, that name was a mouthful. Wait a second, Ed knew that voice. "How often do I have to tell you-" The voice stopped abruptly when Ed stood up, quickly putting his hands around the small body to hoist her up when the skinny arms refused to let go of his neck.
Roy Mustang stared down at him.
The bastard was wearing a black suit. No Christmas-suitable red, no snowy white or mistletoe-green. And no military blue. He certainly looked… different. Even more so considering the young child sleeping peacefully in his arms, drooling on his shoulder.
"Uncle! Look, I found a fairy!" The girl in Ed's arms chirped.
"Uncle?" Ed repeated, too shocked for anything else. He never heard of any Mustang-siblings. Oh hell, there were more of his kind around? Could someone please turn back time to the moment he didn´t know? He´d prefer to live in happy ignorance.
That infuriating smirk was on that smug face and Ed was almost grateful for it. It was just too strange hearing Mustang talking and acting like some worried parent.
"A fairy, really?" The amusement was back in that voice, but it was lacking the usual mocking undertone. Probably because of the children.
Ed blushed. "I´m not!" he protested. "I have no clue where she got that idea from!"
The smirk only grew wider and the blond knew that his superior would never let him live that one down. Once the Christmas break was over, he would probably hear jokes about him looking like a girl from the whole office. Except maybe Vato Falmann. The man didn't have a single humorous bone in his entire body. For which Ed was quite grateful at the moment.
Ed was sure his superior would take the opportunity to fire an immediate shot at Ed's ego, but instead, the man stepped closer and shifted his attention to the girl with the jaw breaking name.
"He´s right, sweetheart." Oh hell, the Colonel sounded like some lovesick parent again. This softly smiling man so did not match the smug and arrogant bastard who teased his long suffering subordinate on a daily base. "Why do you think he's a Christmas…" Ed could literally see the word 'fairy' on the tip of the man's tongue as the corners of Roy's mouth twitched. "...elf?" he finished, sounding as if he was guessing what she wanted to say.
Did Mustang really just skip the chance to insult him? One look in his superior officer's onyx eyes and Ed knew it would eventually cost him. And after the Colonel shifted his eyes to the girl and back to him, he had a pretty good idea just what exactly. It was kind of creepy, but somehow both of them came to a silent agreement. The word 'fairy' would not leave Roy's lips, as long as Edward would keep his own mouth shut about this rather adoring, parental side of the mighty Flame Alchemist.
"He´s so pretty!" The girl instantly started to defend her point. And Edward instantly opened his mouth to argue it. He was not 'pretty'. Girls were pretty, not men.
All Roy Mustang did was nod in earnest, obviously agreeing with his niece and inviting her to continue.
'He´s agreeing because she´s a child. He´s humoring a child, and… I drank too much. It´s the alcohol.' Mentally trying to excuse the heat in his face, the Fullmetal knew it was a lost case when Roy sent him an amused glance.
"And golden." Jiao Lan continued. Well, no one could argue that one. Edward would never call his eyes or hair golden, more like piss yellow and blond, but he knew a lot of people who agreed with that description, Alphonse the most important one.
"And short!" the girl continued, eyes wide and innocent.
What. The. Fuck.
That little monster clinging to him had three seconds to run for her life.
The little girl turned to Ed. "Mama said fairies are small," she confided.
Ed's rage was at an unbearable level. He was just about to drop her to the ground and give her a piece of his mind, but in the same instant, Ed caught sight of the grief stricken look on the bastard's face ... and he couldn´t.
Ed suddenly understood the unadorned black of Roy's attire.
It was the color of mourning.
My plot bunnies are some crazy mutants who won´t let me write the normal, sappy and easy kind of fanfic for Christmas ._. They just love to complicate my life ;_;