Characters: Roy, Maes, and an extremely small Elicia
Word count: 923
Setting: Fullmetal Alchemist, a few years pre-manga
Summary: New babies make nutcases of us all. Although in Maes' case the difference is not particularly noticeable.
Notes: Third in a series of seasonal FMA ficlets, each vaguely inspired by a different winter festival.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All hail the Great Cow!
Maes looks even more of a lunatic than usual. His hair is sticking up, the not-really-a-proper-beard needs a trim, and there are purply smudges under his eyes. He looks, in fact, like a man who hasn't slept for a week. Which he probably pretty much hasn't.
"Come in!" he whispers theatrically, and waves Roy in the door with one hand. The other arm is full of baby. Her very small head is cradled in his hand, and he holds her casually along his forearm, little legs dangling either side of the crook of his elbow, as if he's been holding new babies his entire life. It was obvious all through the pregnancy that he was going to get worryingly into this whole fatherhood business. It's showing signs already of becoming worse than the football obsession, worse than the getting-into-Investigations smugness, possibly, god forbid, even worse than the whole wedding thing. "Gracia's asl-eeeeep." He puts a finger to his mouth emphatically. Roy resists the urge to roll his eyes. After all, right now, Maes is actually entitled to act slightly insane. For once.
Roy steps into the living room, and attempts to find a chair that isn't covered in balled-up cloths, items of clothing or unidentifiable baby accoutrements. He'd never really considered that babies were things that particularly required accessories - boobs, diapers and a blanket, sure, but what's that wooden thing with the bells on supposed to be for? And the cloth things, and the mat, and the funny thermometer? Maes and Gracia were never exactly the tidiest people, but right now their living room looks like the baby things section of a department store coated itself in spittle, then exploded.
Now that he thinks about it, perhaps all this is normal. He hasn't exactly known a lot of babies. Even his youngest sisters came to the family old enough to pull his hair and run away; even his foster mother, matriarch of a whole clan, has never changed a diaper in her life.
Roy does, however, know enough to know that when you're visiting friends with a new baby, you're supposed bring along a thing. He pulls a parcel out of his folded coat and hands it over. Maes takes it with his baby-free hand and then waves it at the newly-minted Elicia Hughes (how weird is that? A minute ago she was a nameless tadpole, now she's a tiny little citizen with his best friend's name). Elicia Hughes is not particularly interested in the parcel. But then, her eyes aren't really open. Doesn't it take a week for babies' eyes to open or something? Or is that squirrels?
"Look!" whispers Maes. "Look, Uncle Roy brought you a thing!
"I'm an uncle?"
Maes beams at him and starts tearing into the wrapping with his teeth.
"You could have asked first," says Roy. "I'm not sure I like 'Uncle Roy', it makes me sound ancient." Of course Maes is his age and a father, but given that the whole baby thing was deliberate, looking ancient obviously isn't a big problem for him.
Maes waves the present. It's some kind of one-piece, footsie pyjama baby outfit. Thank god he got Hawkeye to go with him to the department store and help pick, he probably would have ended up buying one of the things with bells on and then been completely unable to tell Maes what it was.
Maes lays the baby outfit along Elicia's little frame. It's too big, which is totally deliberate, she's going to grow into it in about thirty seconds' time. Gracia is going to be pleasantly surprised at his competence here.
Maes narrows his eyes. "Did Hawkeye pick this out?"
"It's possible that she helped."
"Did she get all broody when she saw the little booties?"
"No, Maes, that would be you. She's twenty-three, she's a career soldier, has it occurred to you that she might not want to settle down with ten babies right now?"
"Right now, you say? Aha. Aha." And then the verbal ahas segue into quiet, aggravating laughter.
"Stop that, I am not acknowledging your point. Stop it."
Then the inevitable happens. Maes moves over, and where a normal person might ask do you want to hold her, Maes just deposits her in Roy's arms. He has no idea how to take her, so he does it automatically. His mother used to have an extraordinarily lazy cat at the bar, who liked to lie with his paws in the air while you held him, so Roy just goes for that pose. It seems to work on babies too.
Elicia Hughes is even tinier close up. She feels very warm, and her sleepy little face, while on first glance just looks generically, charmingly babyish, after a second, clearly has Maes' wide mouth and Gracia's upturned nose. His friends have made this strange little creature, there's something quite amazing about that, he thinks as she slowly opens her tiny, perfect eyes. It's actually rather moving -
She throws up on his shirt, casually, and goes straight back to sleep.
"Just a bit of posset," says Maes cheerfully, as he throws Roy an allegedly clean muslin cloth, one of the dozens currently draped around the living room. "I don't know why baby puke is called posset, do you, isn't it a drink or something?"
"It's a dessert. With lemons and cream. Which I liked, and can now never eat again."
"You'll get used to it! You know, baby barf doesn't even smell that bad, it's just milky. Even her poop-"
"I'll take a raincheck, thanks, I really will."