To say that Edward Elric hadn’t been part of the plan was a massive understatement. Everything was in place, every piece moved to the right square since Roy Mustang had, on a hot day in Ishval, looked up into the face of the man who had led their country into a pointless war and decided that he’d be the one to take him down. There was no need to go chase obscure little references down dirt roads that ended in the butt end of nowhere. There was no free slot on his timetable for charity work. Still, any State Alchemist worth his salt knew of Hoenheim Elric and the kind of research he supposedly did. What was there to lose, then, by looking up an odd missive on deaths and financial assistance?
He expected a boring ride into the country side and an even more boring day spent putting on a smile for country hicks and hoping that no traditionalist was going to recognize the symbol on his pocket watch and lift up their pitchforks against “magicians” who were doing “the Devil’s work” by changing what was not meant to be changed. What he got instead was a broken boy in a wheelchair with more bandages than clothes, and a soul stuck in a suit of armor that had nothing but a single blood seal keeping it from flying away. What he got was a transmutation circle in a room that smelled of blood and guts and burned flesh. The shake and crooked angles betrayed a child’s hand, but the formulae within the circle were ones that many alchemists could only begin to comprehend after a lifetime of studying.
That old woman guarding their door despised military folk and wanted them gone. That, of course, did not stop Roy from making his speech and walking away, knowing that the boys – Edward and Alphonse Elric, sons of a man who reputedly had no family – was going to play right into his hands.
The next few years were a study in irritation and what would later be known as the biggest test of his patience in his entire life. Trouble seemed to follow the Elrics wherever they went, and both of them were slow to place their faith in anybody – that included Roy, even if he had helped Edward become a State Alchemist and watched over their every need from a good distance. He complained, of course, seized every opportunity to knock back a few with Maes Hughes and rant about the vague reports and bratty attitudes and ridiculous tabs from distant cities. Hughes, however, was not nearly as sympathetic as he should have been.
“Let’s face it, Roy. You helped them because you wanted to. And if they had decided to trust you that quickly,” he had said with a wink, “you would have grown bored and stepped all over them a long time ago.”
Roy vehemently disagreed, denied it to no end. Then Hughes died ahead of him and he ended up lying through his teeth about it to the Elrics. They were kids – innocence was their right, and sometimes ignorance was the best form of protection.
As he watched Edward step out of his car, however, Roy found himself noting how strong the boy’s shoulder’s looked, or how broad his back was. Strangely, that it was after that time that the Colonel stopped shielding the brothers, and trying to get them to tell him everything.