Roy was a very busy man.
Now, this was not to say that he was too busy for dates, or for Edward - he always had time for Edward, shamelessly made time for Edward, and enjoyed watching his reactions to said time. But still, he was busy, and in some peripheral way, he knew that next month, when his rank rose again (or so it was rumored; these things got around in the military), he knew his workload would increase again, and his realm of responsibilities widen.
Of course, the latter was what he had the Full Metal Alchemist for. Roy smirked into his fingers; if he sent Edward to Hollin now, he'd probably clear up that whole dispute between the merchants and the farmers, and that alone would make life far easier ...
He was a bit surprised when he heard the metallic knock on his office door, but he bid the knocker come in. After all, only one person ever made that hollow noise on his door.
"Anou ... Mustang-taisa ..."
Alphonse Elric really was a kind soul, in a way that rather amazed the Colonel day by day. Occasionally Roy pondered what he would have done or felt if a brother's failed alchemy had left him bodiless, and he could only conclude that he would have hated the bastard forever. But Alphonse truly loved his brother, would have followed Edward to the ends of the earth if need be, and he would never complain about it.
His was the sort of loyalty that Roy wanted to inspire in his men.
"Come in, Elric-kun," Roy beckoned, and Alphonse clanked into the office, offering a meek bow that hardly suited his formidable appearance. "Good day to you."
Alphonse offered his tinny, nervous laugh. "Good day, Colonel."
Roy put down his paperwork and pen, choosing to welcome the distraction. "So, what brings you here?"
Alphonse hemmed and hawed, which wasn't too terribly uncommon. Unlike his brother, the younger Elric brother was unfailingly polite and twice as gentle, a soft soul to the core with a heart for the needy and a need for peace. When Ed yelled, Al calmed; it was how Ed survived some worser incidents, and how Alphonse helped hold his conscience, perhaps. But after some rubbing of his metal helmet and some glancing around, shuffling large feet, the younger Elric brother finally squared his shoulders, and spoke:
"What are you doing with niisan?"
Roy was a bit taken aback, but he folded his hands and rested his nose against them, hiding his smile. Indeed, at times he was as straightforward as his brother - but it would be in rather bad taste, he thought, to simply smile and smirk at him, or to tell him outright what had happened to their relationship. In some sense, Al probably did not want to know. What he really wanted to know was something else - a question of 'why', quite likely. So Roy said the only sensible thing he could. "Why do you ask, Elric-kun?"
Alphonse did not have to breathe in the traditional sense, but he still gave a soft 'gasp' at the question. "Well ..." he trailed off. "Niisan is more ... he is different," he finally said.
"How so?" asked Roy, intrigued. Edward's attitude towards himself was nothing amazing to behold - every moment with him was a clash of wills, with Ed fighting for life, dignity, whatever he might happen to be angry about at that moment - even their sexual relationship was rather violent in that sense, neither gentle nor sweet. He had not thought much about how their actions may have affected Edward's life.
"He's more angry," said Alphonse, and Roy didn't even attempt to hide his bark of laughter. In his mind he could hear Edward fuming in his room, pacing back and forth - he could see that angry glare turned up at him in all sitations. "But more often ... he is happy."
Roy raised his eyebrows.
"Niisan is a very cheerful person, Taisa," continued Alphonse, taking Mustang's silence for consent. "But sometimes he is cheerful because underneath he feels sad." He paused. "Niisan is often angry with you, but he has less dreams about ... what has happened. He doesn't pretend to smile as much." The suit of armor raised his head. "He is angry at you because you are you, not because he feels guilty."
Now, that was a thought, and something that Roy had not entirely intended. Indeed, taking Edward's mind off of things had been part of the original intention (it was more than just a bonus that Edward was cute and angry besides, so predicable and thus so usable), but to have become an object of anger to allow for its healthy release - well, it was the sort of therapy that one would never read about in a textbook, but any soldier knew well. Direct your anger at the enemy, and you'll fight better. Being angry at yourself for killing humans caused mistakes, so you had to not think about that - you had to focus.
So ... he was Ed's focus?
Best keep Ed's eyes front, then. Roy smirked into his hand again.
But Alphonse was still looking at him, waiting for a response. Patient to a fault. He could, after all, just stand there all day, all night, for years - his armor did not need to sleep.
Roy knew what to tell him. "Elric-kun ... I have been giving your brother some much-needed therapy."
There was a pregnant pause, and the younger Elric brother seemed to ponder Mustang's statement carefully, turning it over and over in his mind.
"I see," he said slowly, and Roy soberly thought that he had somewhat underestimated Alphonse's power of deduction. But if Alphonse had it sorted out, he did not say so. "I understand, Colonel." And then there was that soft gasp of approval as he offered another bow. "Please take good care of niisan."
"Of course," Roy said, and to his surprise, he meant it completely.
"Thank you, Mustang-taisa," said Al, and he clanked out the door again. "Please forgive the intrusion ..."
Roy smiled, and turned back to his paperwork. "Elric-kun ... you are never someone I qualify as an 'intrusion'."