Title: An Unexpected Gain
Recipient: CornerofMadness (prompt 3: Chris Mustang didn’t exactly have a life style conducive to taking on a small child. I’d like to see her in the early days of taking care of Roy.)
Rating: PG-13 to be safe.
Characters/Pairings: Roy Mustang, Madame Christmas, and a few minor OCs
Word Count: 2188
Summary: She never wanted to take care of him, but maybe he would teach her how.
Notes: I hope this is what the requester was looking for. If not, I am very, very sorry! And of course the characters are the cow's not mine.
The police dropped him off- this small, quivering mound of dark hair, dark eyes and pale skin. They said that he was five years old, though by his size he looked much closer to four.
“His parents were killed in a car wreck. He was asleep in the back seat. Doesn't remember a thing. You're his only relative in Amestris. We can't track down his mother's family.”
Good luck with that- she thought to herself, taking another long draw on her cigarette. The little boy was awake, but he might as well have been a zombie. He was clutching a well worn, one eared rabbit like it was the last thing he had in the world.
She guessed that it was.
“What about his clothes and such?”
“Here is the key chain that was in the car. I'm sure the house key is there. It isn't our job to get his things.”
She nodded, taking note of the name on his badge. She knew enough people on the force that she could have him scrubbing latrines in less than a week.
“So.. that's all then?” The annoyance and fatigue seeped from her voice.
“That's all. He's in your hands.”
As the policeman turned away, she asked, “What's his name?” It was sad that she didn't even know her nephew's name, but her and her brother weren't on the best of terms.
“His name is Roy.” That was the last thing the policeman said before he closed the door much harder than necessary.
She looked down at the little boy, who was still staring at the rabbit in his arms. She knelt down and looked at him.
“So... Roy. Do you know who I am?”
“My... foster mother.” His voice was so small and scared. He didn't even know that she was his aunt. Maybe his father had never told him. She knew that she was the black sheep of the family. Running a whorehouse does that to a person.
Well, maybe it was better he didn't know. Perhaps he wouldn't notice that she had the same dark hair and eyes that he did, although he had inherited his mother's round face and thin eyes.
“Yes. I'm the woman who's going to take care of you from now on. So you can call me Aunt Chris if you want.”
“I'd... rather not.”
“Okay, how about Madame Christmas?”
Roy shrugged, and she let out another long breath of smoke. She knew she shouldn't smoke with his small, fragile lungs, but she needed a cigarette tonight more than ever. She wasn't close to her brother, but they were family, and his young son had been there when he died. She had absolutely no idea how to deal with children- especially young children.
“So... are you hungry? Thirsty? I can pour you some juice or milk.”
He shook his head.
“Want a sandwich, or maybe some soup?”
Another head shake.
“What do you want, Roy?
His big,dark eyes actually looked up at her for the first time. “Nothing.” Was his only response.
An awkward silence hung in the room- dark and foreboding.
“I... can show you to your room if you like. It isn't much, but we can get you some better sized furniture and decorations this weekend, okay?”
He shrugged, again. She was convinced that he had totally shut down.
Chris led him up to the third floor, where the girls slept when they were “off duty”. She paused at the last room down the hall.
She wiped away a few cobwebs, and knocked some dust off the bed, causing them both to cough. “I'm sorry, it's all we have right now. We can work on it in the morning, but it's late and you need to sleep. Is there anything else you need?”
A head shake.
“Okay, I'll be downstairs for a while if you need me. Goodnight, Roy.”
He didn't say a word- he just stood there. After another few moments of awkward silence, she left the room and closed the door behind her.
Halfway down the stairs, she realized that she forgot to ask him if he wanted some water by his bed, in case he got thirsty. She turned around and was about to knock on the door when she heard a noise. He was crying, his sobs echoing in the empty room.
She knew that she should go in, hold him tight and rub his hair and tell him that it was going to be okay. But she was not a warm, fuzzy kind of woman, despite the business she ran. It seemed ironic, but with her line of work, she had to learn to keep business separate.
After a few minutes, the crying seemed to slow, and then fade out. She figured he cried himself to sleep. Satisfied that she would be free for the rest of the evening, and not tired after the events of the evening, she decided to pour herself a stiff drink and get some paperwork done.
The next morning- despite her late night- she was up before most of the girls. There were one or two that usually beat her down to the bar, which was nice because that meant piping hot coffee first thing. And there was no better way to start a morning than with a good cup of-
Her thoughts were interrupted when she saw Felicia and Diane, two of her early risers, doting over a thoroughly miserable Roy.
She couldn't help but chuckle. It was nice that they were taking such a shine to the boy. Maybe she wouldn't have to deal with him. She was way too busy to be stuck with a child.
“So, Roy-Boy. You doing okay this morning?”
He shook his head.
“You don't like pretty girls fawning all over you?”
He shook his head again.
“Hmm. I guess girls are yucky to you, huh?”
Roy shrugged. It was frustratingly hard to get more than a couple of words out of him. She wasn't sure if he was shy by nature, or if it was a product of what had happened.
“Are you hungry yet?”
Well, she thought wistfully, at least I got him to say something.
He motioned towards a plate of eggs, bacon, and toast. It was far from empty, but at least he had attempted to eat.
“Well, good. You're a skinny little thing. You need to keep your strength up. Have some orange juice. It's good for you.” For a moment, Roy hesitated, then he took the glass in his two little hands and brought it to his face, keeping the rabbit pushed against his body, tucked tight in his arm.
Unfortunately, trying to hold both at the same time was too much, and his grip on the glass slipped. The orange juice spilled all over his shirt, the rabbit and onto the bar. The glass bounced off the bar and fell to the floor with a loud crash, shattering into tiny pieces that went skittering all across the old, pitted wooden floor.
He looked up at Chris, a large frown on his face. “I'm sorry. “ He said, miserably. Even though the bunny was sopping wet, he clutched it fiercely to his chest, a sobbing whimper barely escaping his lips.
“It's okay, Roy-Boy. Stay on the bar stool until we clean up the glass.” Thankfully, Felicia was already on it. She grabbed a broom and a dustpan and swept the glass up, while Chris made sure there was nothing on the chair, the bar, or in Roy's arms. She nodded with satisfaction when all three looked clear.
“Roy, why don't you give me the rabbit? I'll clean it off and give it back to you when I'm done. Felicia can find something for you to wear while we wash your shirt, too.”
“Roy. The longer you wait, the harder it'll be to clean him. If you don't clean him, his fur will mat and get sticky and smell bad.”
His little hand was shaking visibly when he held it out, holding the rabbit by its remaining ear.
“Thank you. I'll have it back to you as soon as I can.” She looked over to the girls. “Please find him a blanket and clean his shirt while I work on this.”
Half an hour later, she came back with a still wet, but clean rabbit. Roy's eyes lit up when he saw it. He hopped off the bar stool, shedding the blanket that was around his body and ran over to her, snatching the rabbit from her arms and clutching it to his naked chest.
Chris shot him a look of anger, but when she saw his whole body relax as he held his most prized possession, her frown melted away. “Just be more careful when you're eating, You have to put the rabbit down when you eat or drink. He can be next to you, but not in your arms. That's the rule, okay?”
He nodded slowly. “Okay, good.” She looked up to Felicia. “I have to do some work to do. You are responsible for him until tonight.” She walked back into her office, closed the door, and lit a cigarette, slumping into her large, overstuffed seat. That kid was draining her energy. How was she supposed to do this?
She sighed and rubbed her eyes, looking at the stack of papers on her desk. This was enough to get her mind off of the kid for a while.
By the time the paperwork was done- with frequent interruptions by phone calls, visitors, and occasionally Felicia- who had about as much experience with children as she did- the sun had fallen below the horizon, bathing the sky in beautiful swaths of oranges and reds. The joint was going to be hopping soon, and she had to get the kid to bed. But how?
Chris walked out into the bar. Most of her girls were already out, all painted up and dressed to the nines. They were sitting close to one another, munching on food and engaging in lighthearted conversation, waiting for it to start getting busy.
And- just as she imagined- Roy was in the middle of all of them. He had his shirt on again, and she could only guess that the rabbit had left his iron grip the entire day.
As she approached him, she could tell that the kid was tired, but as soon as he saw her approaching, he immediately perked up, like he didn't want to show any weakness.
“Hey, kid. Do you want a sandwich?”
She was sure he was going to say no, but to her surprise, he nodded his head. Felicia, who had become very protective of him already, poured him another glass of orange juice, while Jane, their resident stand by chef, whipped him up a quick sandwich.
He nodded his thanks and started to pick up his sandwich, but he stopped immediately when he saw Chris frowning at him. It only took him a moment to figure out why. He sighed and put his bunny down, as close as he could to himself on top of the bar, then went to work on his sandwich.
She nodded and smiled, watching silently as he ate. At first, he ate with gusto, but with each passing moment he slowed down, his eyelids getting heavier and heavier with every bite. Soon, his head dipped down, and he leaned his face against the remaining half sandwich, his black eyes finally closing.
Chris sighed. What was she supposed to do, wake him up and force him up the stairs? Or carry him and hope he didn't wake up and freak out because she is holding him? After watching him for a moment, she and Felicia situated him in her arms and put his bunny in his lap. To her surprise, he didn't wake up, but he snuggled into her grip, his eyes still shut tight, dreaming whatever it was that little boys dream.
It was an agonizing walk up the old, creaky stairs. She was sure that they were going to wake him, and he did stir a little, but it was only to wiggle into a more comfortable position in her arms. Finally, opened his door and laid him down on the bed that was his, at least for the foreseeable future.
She tucked the sheets in around him, and wrapped his little arms around the bunny. He smiled in his sleep and held it tight. “Mmm... night mommy...” He mumbled, still deep asleep.
Chris smiled sadly. She knew that he had not meant that for her, even if it had felt surprisingly... nice to hear it. The poor kid had been through so much, and it wasn't going to get any easier from here.
But maybe, just maybe, if they worked through it together, things could be okay.