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Ficlet: Everyone's a Critic

Title: Holiday ficlet #2, Festivus: Everyone's a Critic
Author: bob_fish
Characters: Roy, Riza, Madam Christmas and her girls
Rating: PG? For wine consumption and the trauma of the family holiday?
Word count: 610
Setting: Fullmetal Alchemist, post-manga
Summary: Your family, they give you no respect.
Notes: Second in a series of seasonal FMA ficlets, each vaguely inspired by a different winter festival. Note #1, regular readers of mine might notice this fits into my ongoing post-manga 'verse, but it's written so that it could be read either way. Note # 2: Festivus is a pretty much made-up holiday from an episode of Seinfeld, "The Strike". Prof. Wikipedia and Dr. Youtube have all the details.
ETA! I dared cornerofmadness to write a sequel to this about Riza's hangover, and she did. It is hilarious and you should go and enjoy it here.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All hail the Great Cow!



"You're too thin, kid," says Roy's mother, "Stop picking at your food, eat properly." He feels like saying, for god's sake I'm thirty-one, but he can see what sort of mood Madam Christmas is in. Shutting up will leave him marginally more dignity.

To his left, Madeline tops up Riza's glass when she's not looking. This is at least the third time she's done that. The first time Riza saw and said yes, the second time she saw and said no but got topped up anyway (because that's how it works in Roy's family), but the third time - well, apparently even the eyes of the hawk get a little less sharp after three and a half glasses of good claret.

He lets Madeline get away with it. Riza is starting to be happily tipsy, genuinely relaxed, and she needs to relax, they both do, but by god you have to battle her (and she's stubborn) or sneak around her (and she's observant) to get her to wind down, sometimes. She always guards him, keeps that little bit of watchfulness, even when rationally she knows they're in safety. But then he can hardly talk, he does exactly the same thing to her, and he knows that sometimes it annoys the hell out of her. Here, though, here in the heart of his brilliant, devious, decent family, guarded and in the middle of a holiday dinner with no duties to rush off to for once, he knows that neither of them can be in danger.

Well, not physical danger, at least.

"So," says Madam Christmas, clinking her glass with a ring. "Let's talk about why you're not Fuhrer yet, kid."

Well, this was inevitable. "Look, you know how delicate things were after the coup. We need to move forward slowly and carefully if we want to avoid a civil w-"

"Don't take that tone with me, you think I don't keep up with politics? I've been in politics since you were in short pants, kid. It's been nearly a whole year, you live in that office, we barely get to see you. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask what exactly you've been doing with yourself." And she gives him the stare. He's never managed to do it quite so well as she can.

"Well, we've actually gathered a lot of support over the last couple of mon-"

"Yeah," Vanessa cuts him off. "When we went on the run, we had to spend three days on the sleeper train to Aerugo, no shower and the restrooms stank. And you're not Fuhrer yet? What are we, ch-"

"No, look, it's not that I don't appreciate everything you've done, but I've said this before, we need to win over the neutral contingent of the military so I can take power peacefu-"

"Yeah," says Bao-Yu wearily, "What they said. Stage another coup, be Fuhrer, we're all getting sick of the futzing around. Your guys smacked down Bradley's ass, and he was all ripped and monstery and everything, Hakuro's just some dude with gout."

"That's not exactly the point. Look, you're a student of history. You want a repeat of the Fifty Years' War, or the Avantine Feuds with twenty candidates for duke all poisoning each oth-"

"Whatever. He's fat, he'll fry like a side of bacon. Snap already." What is it about family arguments that seems to instantly halve everyone's intelligence?

Roy looks around for an ally. He catches Madeline's eye. She just nods at him, sagely and aggravatingly, and passes over the wine.

Roy sighs, scrubs a hand through his hair and tops up his glass.

In vast, incomprehensible betrayal of their solidarity, Riza starts quietly giggling at him.

Comments

( 66 comments — Leave a comment )
cornerofmadness
Dec. 29th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)
"Whatever. He's fat, he'll fry like a side of bacon. Snap already." What is it about family arguments that seems to instantly halve everyone's intelligence?

best line ever.

Roy it never pays to go home for the holidays
bob_fish
Dec. 29th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Even Roy with his coolest family ever is not exempt from the drama and the hassle. XD At least there's good wine?
(no subject) - cornerofmadness - Dec. 29th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - cornerofmadness - Dec. 30th, 2009 05:12 am (UTC) - Expand
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havocmangawip
Dec. 29th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
Well done! I love it. I can so picture Roy getting "no respect" at home. The "short pants" comment from Madame Chris made it for me. :D

bob_fish
Dec. 29th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
Ha, thanks! You're always five years old to your parents.
enemytosleep
Dec. 29th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
And now for the Feats of Strength!

Oh Roy, why aren't you fuhrer yet? DOn't you want to avoid this at your family gatherings? XD At least Riza will keep her mouth shut about it.
bob_fish
Dec. 29th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
Would you wrestle Madam Christmas? I would run a country mile not to. If Riza gets nominated I wouldn't even bet on her to win in her current condition. XD
(no subject) - enemytosleep - Dec. 29th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
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became_fire
Dec. 29th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
I loved this, all the wonderful awkwardness of a family gathering! The final line really got me too, I love the idea of Riza giggling at Roy 'in vast, incomprehensible betrayal of their solidarity' :D
bob_fish
Dec. 29th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks! He's pretty mockable, he should expect it by now. And she's known him since he was a teenager, after all, he shouldn't expect much respect from her either XD
evil_little_dog
Dec. 30th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
I think I've been at this family gathering before. :D
bob_fish
Dec. 30th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
Ha, thanks! It's distinctly familiar to me too. I thought around this time of year, we'd all be inclined to sympathise with Roy.
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jezebel_social
Dec. 31st, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
Loved this. We get to see a side of Roy (and Riza) rarely seen. :)
bob_fish
Dec. 31st, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Hee at the icon, I love it when they get shouty with each other.
(no subject) - jezebel_social - Dec. 31st, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
ratatusk
Jan. 2nd, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
lol. I love how family simplifies problems down to: "Just do it, you idiot."

Poor Roy, even Riza is giggling at him.

*loves*
bob_fish
Jan. 2nd, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes. I particularly enjoyed the fact that despite the fact that they're all spies, Madam Christmas is an expert on politics, and Bao-Yu is as Roy points out a history student, none of this stops them all tipsily ragging on Roy and reducing the complexities of Amestrian politics to 'Roy faffing about again'. Ah, families. *runs away from them*

Thanks!
fractured_chaos
Jan. 7th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
Oh lordy! I'm with Riza.... quietly giggling! XD
bob_fish
Jan. 7th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)
Hee - thanks!
( 66 comments — Leave a comment )