Disclaimer: I don't own FMA, I just like to annoy the characters.
Author's note: A pleasant little series of oneshots which supposes what would have happened had certain things occured differently, or side stories never covered in the manga/anime. Just think of them as off-the-wall omakes.
Warnings: enough sweet fluffiness to give you a sugar rush.
II. Birthday Surprise
On a hot, still summer afternoon in Risembool in Eastern Amestris.
Inside a second story room in a pale blue house, a young boy with mussed blond hair sat at a child-sized desk. A large sheet of off-white drawing paper was on the surface in front of him, and scattered on either side was a collection of fat crayons in many different colors.
His tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, the boy held a crayon in one small fist and diligently worked on drawing a large red heart in the middle of the paper. Just above the heart, in dark blue crayon were the words
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMMY!
One extra "m", but three year old Edward Elric was just learning how to spell.
Below the heart, in dark green crayon, was written:
I LUVE YOO!
The "E" was backwards, but Edward really did love his mother, truly he did. As he drew, Edward paddled his feet, strapped into blue sandals. back and forth in the air and he occasionally paused to scratch a day-old mosquito bite under the left sleeve of his red shirt. He was so intent on his work at drawing the perfect birthday card, he didn't notice the pit-pat of tiny feet approaching him.
Not until he felt something warm and wet falling on his blue shorts did Edward look down with a frown to see his little brother, one and one-half year old Alphonse, who was drooling around the chunk of apple he sucked on. He wore only a cloth diaper in the extreme heat of late summer.
Alphonse gave Edward a big, gap-toothed smile the instant he was noticed.
"Go 'way, Al! I'm doin' sumthin!"
Edward set down the red crayon and he picked up a pink crayon to color the inside of the heart, and Alphonse squealed with glee at the sight. He dropped the apple on the floor when he pointed at the crayon. "Color!"
"Oh!" Alphonse exclaimed a beat later when he realized he'd dropped his snack. He bent awkwardly down to retrieve the apple, which he stuck back into his mouth.
"Yuck". Edward muttered in disgust because he thought his little brother was so gross.
Alphonse copied him because he loved to do whatever his big brother did. "Yuck!"
That gave Edward an idea and he set the crayon back down before he stuck his fingers into the corners of his mouth, pulled them back, and then stuck out his tongue and crossed his eyes. "Bleh!"
Alphonse responded with a high-pitched giggle, he dropped the apple a second time and made a sloppy attempt to copy Edward's funny face. He giggled again when Edward switched to pushing up the bottom of his nose with two index fingers, and then pulled down the skin under his eyes with his thumbs.
Alphonse laughed so hard he fell down on his diapered bottom. He smiled hugely at Edward before he again picked up the apple stuck it back into his mouth and commenced a half-hearted gnawing.
"'K, Al, now go 'way, I'm busy!"
Edward turned back to the desk and picked up the pink crayon again, causing Alphonse to forget about the apple once and for all. He dropped it on the floor, pointed with a finger dripping with drool and apple juice and yelped in a high-pitched voice "COLOR!"
His big brother sighed with exasperation. If he gave in, he wouldn't finish his mommy's birthday surprise. But Al would start crying if he didn't, and mommy would come up to see what all the noise was about. Her birthday surprise would be ruined.
"UP!" the toddler demanded in a scary, I'm-losing-patience tone.
Edward heaved a melodramatic sigh, and Alphonse grinned as if he knew he'd won another battle, and held his arms up in the towards him. The younger boy tried to help Edward by standing on the chair rungs, but his hands and arms were slippery. He wore only that cloth diaper and there was no way Edward was going to touch it, so he tried to wrap his arms around Alphonse's body.
"Unnnfff!" Edward grunted as the chair began to tip dangerously to the left. He could feel his center of gravity heading for the point of no return. He pulled once more and suddenly Alphonse was more or less in his lap. He squirmed around until he was sitting up and facing the desk, and straddling Edward's right leg. Equilibrium restored, the chair tipped back and its right legs thumped solidly on the floor. The sound startled Alphonse whose big dark brown eyes became even rounder, tears vibrated in the corners of those eyes and his lower lip stuck out.
"It's O.K. Al, don't cry." In a breathless voice, Edward hurried to assure Alphonse, half-afraid a storm of noisy tears would soon follow. Alphonse's eyes brimmed over and a few tears dribbled down to join the drool on his cheeks, he sniffled a few times, but didn't cry. Edward smiled at him and Alphonse scrambled to sit up and smile back through his tears. His little brother was so easy to amuse, but, he would stay cheerful as long as Edward was. Alphonse was a generally happy baby who responded quickly to the moods of others.
Women and girls gathered around to "ooh" and "ahh" whenever the Elrics went into the village, and Alphonse really was a cutie. His untidy hair the color of warm caramel, enormous brown eyes, chubby red cheeks and sunny disposition endeared him to everyone. The attention Alphonse received made Edward a bit jealous and he'd developed a tendency to act up whenever too much fuss was made over his little brother.
So Alphonse could coo and smile and blow bubbles from his little mouth, big whoop. Edward could already sit in his potty chair by himself, he knew some colors, he could spell a few words - and he could count - to FIVE! Alphonse mostly just drooled and filled his diapers. That wasn't so special. Sibling rivalry the adults would chuckle before they patted the top of Edward's head and told him to be a good boy.
But for all that, Edward himself had a soft spot for Alphonse. Mommy told him over and over again he was bigger and stronger than Alphonse, so it was his job to take care of and protect his little brother. This made his three-year old chest swell with pride, and when they walked into the village, Edward always went a few steps ahead to watch for nonexistent dangers. You never knew when pirates - or - something might come roaring into the quiet valley.
"COLOR!" Alphonse demanded again and Edward's mind snapped back to the here and now. Alphonse was reaching for the pink crayon, but his short, sausage round arms couldn't quite reach. He started to whine, a low pitched sound like a threshing machine starting up on a distant farm field.
"Here, Al, lemme gettit!" Edward reached out, picked up the crayon and handed it to Alphonse, who responded with a small whoop of glee before he stuck the dull end of the crayon into his mouth. "No, Al, don' do that! Ick!"
"Ick!" Alphonse repeated, he turned and looked up at Edward, and then gurgled happily, the crayon still in his mouth. Edward smiled, despite his annoyance at drool on his pink crayon. Alphonse returned the smile, his nose was running with green snot and his diapered bottom straddling Edward's leg felt suspiciously damp.
'K, Al. Wanna help me color mommy's card?" The toddler's face lit up like a jack-o-lantern and he nodded happily. Alphonse took the pink crayon out of his mouth and reached for the paper, but Edward seized his chubby wrist just before he could color outside the lines.
"No, Al, you gotta color inside the heart!"
Alphonse started that whine again. "COLOR!" It was his way or a storm of tears.
"Yeah, Al, you can color, but do it inside the heart, 'k?" A light went on in Edward's head when he realized the secret weapon that would bring instant cooperation from Alphonse. "Color inside and Mommy will be happy." He said it in a voice too sly to come from a three year old boy.
Alphonse hesitated. He wanted to color his way, but he also wanted to make Mommy happy. A happy mommy who stacked wooden blocks for him to knock over, sang lullabies to him before his nap, tickled his belly and said silly things like, "I'm going to eat your chocolate ears!"
Two opposing ideas warred in his young mind: Color his way versus make mommy happy.
The scales tipped back and forth for a moment before a happy mommy won.
Alphonse stopped resisting and he let Edward guide his hand while he scribbled inside pink the lines of the red heart. After his arm got tired, he let go of the crayon and watched while Edward finished the job. When that was done, Edward gave him a light green crayon and helped Alphonse sign his name on the bottom right side of the heart.
Edward wrote his name in sky blue on the opposite side of the heart:
Not perfect, but he was just learning how to spell and he didn't quite have the hang of writing his and Alphonse's names yet.
"Edward! Alphonse!" a much beloved voice drifted up the stairs and through the half open door of the play room. The brothers looked at each other and said "Mommy!" at the same time, Alphonse's voice a high-pitched squeak. Footsteps tripped up the stairs and the voice called again, closer this time. A petite and trim woman with long chestnut hair pushed the door fully open and entered.
"There my little ruffians are! What have you been up too?!"
"It’s Mommy!" Alphonse crowed with delight at the sight of her and he bounced up and down excitedly on Edward's leg. She bent down and picked him up after he held his chubby arms out to her. Edward sighed quietly with relief because Alphonse's bony little pelvis had been digging in and his leg was going numb. "What's this?"
"Card, Mommy! We made a birfday card for you!"
She smiled and it seemed another sun had come out inside the playroom because every inch of her face lit up. Even the plain knee-length blue dress she wore seemed to glow. Both boys basked like cats in the warmth of her approval.
Mommy was happy.
"That is beautiful, and so sweet of you two, but now it's..." she sniffed and wrinkled her nose. "Oh, somebody needs a fresh diaper!" She walked out of the room with Alphonse, whle making faces that caused him to giggle. "Eww, Mr. Stinky Butt!"
Edward was left alone with the card, and he felt strangely dissatisfied. His original plan had been to go downstairs to the kitchen and surprise Mommy with it. Al had ruined it - but maybe not all was lost. Edward hopped off the chair, then he padded cautiously to the door and peered around it down the hall to the room where Mommy was changing Al's diaper. A high-pitched shriek of laughter erupted followed by Mommy's lightly scolding voice, "Alphonse! That was naughty! Be a good boy and hold still!"
No, Al, be a bad boy. Edward thought. Be very bad and keep Mommy busy.
Edward backtracked to the desk, and then crawled underneath it. Right against the wall he pushed down on one end of a floor board and the other end tilted up. He reached into the exposed cavity and pulled out a small book bound in brown leather before backing back out. Back in the chair, Edward looked at the cover which bore slightly incised gold lettering. He carefully sounded out the words in a low whisper:
He didn't quite understand what the words meant, but his agile mind got the gist of it. Edward opened the book partway, folded in half were several sheets of white paper and he took those out. They were covered with doodles for the most part, drawn while he was bored and idly flipping through the books pages. It didn't have many pictures in it, but it did contain a lot of diagrams of circles with symbols on them. On one of the papers, Edward had drawn one of those diagrams; a circle bisected with four large triangles pointing in different directions.
He replaced the other papers inside the book, closed it, and set it aside before placing that diagram on top of the birthday card. Edward smoothed out the fold lines as best he could before he placed the fingers of both hands on the circle and concentrated. A low hum which he felt more than heard came from the circle and blue light crackled above the ink lines. Spots of other colors began to shimmer in the light, they sparkled and danced for a moment and then fell onto the surface of the card where they continued to sparkle.
Edward was sweating by the time he lifted his fingers and the glow and the hum faded. He picked up the paper and smiled at his handiwork. Now several dozen tiny stars, in all different colors sparkled around the heart. Mommy would love them because they shone like her hazel eyes.
"Edward! Supper is almost ready! Wash your hands and come downstairs!" He could have died right then because her call sounded so close, fortunately his mother's footsteps went the other way down the hallway, to the stairs. Edward re-folded the paper, put it back into the book, and restored it to its hiding place underneath the desk. He picked up the card by the edges, being careful not to touch the stars and walked out of the playroom.
Down in the kitchen, Mommy had just secured Al into his high chair and she smiled broadly at Edward after he entered. "Let's hang up that card where everyone can see it," she suggested and held out one hand. The smile faltered when she saw the sparkling stars on the card.
"Edward," she began, she looked at him and smiled, and then back at the card where her smile faltered a second time. "Those are pretty, but how did you make them?"
"Secret, Mommy," Edward returned her smile with an innocent beam of his own.
"Secet!" Alphonse piped up and banged his child-size spoon on the high chairs wooden tray. "Secet! Secet! Secet!" Once he learned a new word, Alphonse would repeat it almost continuously. It distracted Mommy enough that Edward knew she wouldn't ask any more questions.
A couple of hours later, after the children had their baths and a bedtime story before they went to sleep, Trisha returned to the kitchen to finish cleaning up. She scraped left over food from dishes before putting them in the sink to soak in warm water; she would wait and wash them with tomorrow's breakfast dishes. Then she turned out the overhead light and plopped down with a sigh into one of the wooden chairs around the table. His chair, the one he once sat in for meals, before he told her "Goodbye" for the last time and walked out of their lives.
Trisha sighed again and looked at the card Edward had made. Even in the semi-dark, the little stars scattered about the heart shone like tiny night lights. "Oh,Hohenheim. Edward has your talent. I wish you were here right now because he will need your guidance." She could almost feel his warm hands on her shoulders, and she longed for his touch. Although her rational side told her she'd probably never see him again, Trisha still wished he’d walk in through the kitchen door right this minute.
Trisha rose from the chair and stretched her arms overhead and yawned. She'd had a long day with two active toddlers and tomorrow would be more of the same. But despite her sadness, she felt a warm glow whenever she looked at the card and the winking lights on it.
It was a beautiful birthday card.
Even if today really wasn't her birthday.