Published on / 32 Chapter(s) / 7 Review(s)
Post-series Fullmetal Alchemist Roy/Ed story; the first chapter started out as a one-shot of angst, but grew into plot-complicated family saga.
Chapter 1, Waiting
Roy Mustang quietly shut the door to his apartment and then leaned against it, staring at the ceiling. Demotion. Transfer. And not just a simple transfer; no, he'd been transferred to an outpost so remote, they must have dug it up out of the bowels of the military archive, just for him. He sighed, then pushed himself off the door and walked numbly to the bedroom. Intellectually, he knew he was lucky he hadn't been executed. Emotionally, he felt like he had been.
The former state alchemist sat down at his desk and stared at the surface. It was neat, if a little dusty. After all, he used this desk for little more than letter-writing, and he'd had little enough time for it in the past few months.
He put a hand over the large patch that now covered most of the left side of his face, then slid it off. He set the stiffened fabric on the desk and carefully fingered the still-tender scar where his left eye used to be. Ugly thing. And much less than he deserved.
Roy opened the top drawer of the desk and reached under the stationary for a small stack of photographs. He pushed the drawer shut, then held up the first of the three photographs.
Himself and his staff, not long after their transfer to East City. His staff was fanned out on either side of his desk. Hawkeye, looking beautiful and dangerous. Havoc with his cocky grin. Breda, his uniform jacket unbuttoned and his posture sloppy. Falman, stiff and formal. Fuery, looking nervous and uncertain. And there he was, sitting behind his desk and smirking like he owned the world.
Foolish, arrogant idiot.
His staff, though. They might not look it, but they were the best in the military, not only for how well they did their job but for their convictions and morals. He couldn't have asked for better people, and he knew his sacrifice was worth it if they could escape blame.
Roy set that photograph down on the desk, next to his eye patch, and moved on to the next one. Himself and Maes Hughes, before Ishval, both of them in dress uniform. Maes was acting the idiot, as ever, hamming for the camera, while the young Roy only looked annoyed at his friend.
He sighed and set the second photograph down beside the first one. They'd always figured that if one of them were to die in the line of duty, it would be Roy. He drew more attention, made more enemies, and put himself in danger far more often. Maes was always the lovable goofball who did the serious work behind the scenes, unnoticed.
But someone did notice.
He stared a moment more at his younger self and his best friend, then picked up the last photograph.
A teenage boy in a red coat walking next to a large suit of armor. The camera had caught them by surprise; Edward was looking over his shoulder, his mouth open in speech, his expression open and unguarded as it had never been when talking to his commanding officer. Roy didn't know who of his staff had taken the picture. It had shown up on his desk one morning, and he'd decided to thank the photographer by letting them keep their anonymity. He smiled to himself, trying to picture the brothers' reactions if they found out he had a photograph of them. Alphonse probably wouldn't do much except smile and rub the back of his head in mild embarrassment. Edward . . . ah, Edward. The boy would probably sputter and turn red, demand to know why he had it, and accuse him of all sorts of things.
Roy missed them both.
He fingered the edge of the photograph, then set it down next to the others. He opened the second drawer in his desk, and pulled out his handgun. It felt strange in his hands. He'd only learned how to shoot because it had been a requirement to join the service. He'd always used his alchemy, found it to be much more reliable, much easier to control. The only time he'd been ordered to use a gun—
This time, there would be no Marcoh to take the blame, no Maes to come and beat sense into him. There was no one left who thought him capable of such a thing. He wondered how long it would be before someone came to look for him. Would the blood be dry? Would his body be starting to decay? Not that it would matter.
He checked to make sure the gun was loaded, then set the barrel under his chin.
Don't be an idiot, Colonel.
It's Corporal, now, he corrected the voice that suddenly spoke in his head.
So? You're still the same shithead bastard. Now stop being an idiot. It's not like you.
He choked on a laugh.
Oh, it's quite like me. And why shouldn't I? My life is already over.
Your life isn't over, you're ending it. Big difference.
I've lost my career, my rank, my title, my ambitions . . . you. There's nothing left.
You only think that because you're standing still. Start moving forward.
You're stronger than this, Colonel. Get up and walk.
But I'm so tired.
Then crawl. It doesn't fucking matter how, just move forward.
Roy closed his eye and bowed his head, the barrel of the gun digging into his skin.
There's nothing left. No reason to move forward. Not any more.
Isn't there something you've been wanting to tell me? Something that's been eating at you? If you keep this up, you'll never get the chance.
I never will anyway. You're gone. Maybe dead.
Do you really think I'm gone for good? Come on, this is me we're talking about.
That's nothing more than wishful thinking.
If I come back and find you've killed yourself, I'll never forgive you.
Now stop being an idiot, you idiot.
Roy slowly uncurled his finger from the trigger, then, slowly, set the gun on the desk. The sound of it hitting the wood was sharp in the silence of the room, almost like a gunshot itself.
That's my Colonel.
He waited, but the voice was silent. His momentary insanity seemed to be over.
He pushed the gun to the side, then picked up the last photograph, the one with a boy in a bright red coat.
"I'm waiting, Fullmetal," he hissed around the tightness in his throat. "I'm waiting, so you better not disappoint me. Come back alive." Then he dropped the photograph and buried his face in his hands.
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