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02 April 2007 @ 09:45 pm
Through the Looking Glass, Darkly  
Title: Through the Looking Glass, Darkly
Author: Lucifer Hisaki (mercy_slays/luciferhisaki)
Rating: R
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Pairing: Edward Elric/Roy Mustang
Summary: Oil and alchemic aftermath residue...
Disclaimer: You do not have a legal suit. So don't even try.
Notes: steelandsparks's entry for anniversary contest.
Word Count: 7045

Through the Looking Glass, Darkly

Oil and alchemic aftermath residue, maybe even a hint of summertime sunshine. Just the smell of it brings a small twitch to his otherwise stoic lips. The mere action sets his nerves on fire; it has been too long since he has shown anything akin to a smile, let alone a smirk.

He shakes his head slightly, shrugging off his heavy coat and feeling the side of the wall for the rusting hook he had installed several years prior. Hanging the coat, he bends down to take off his wet boots, snow desperately clinging to the sides of the leather, his feet slightly moist and wet with the melted ice that has managed to creep inside. He doesn’t mind that feel much anymore; he is used to the snow clinging to his body, just like he is used to the ice that surrounds his heart.

Ice.

Winter.

It is always winter in this part of Amestris. Deep into the year there are only three months that can be considered summer, an elusive time of life and sunshine. Times he wishes to be completely removed from. He does not want to have summer again. Summer meant living and he feels too cold, too dead to live. There is no more fire in his heart, only sparks of emptiness left inside.

Sighing softly, he turns, head bowed, to the intruder in his home. It is dark and he does not bother to put on a light. It wasn’t like there was a need for any torch or fire in this outpost. He lived without them now, preferring to let the cold wrap around him like a mother’s embrace. Lifting his head, he stares blankly into the darkness, unable to move his lips more than a mere twitch. He cannot speak. He believes he has forgotten how. Opening his mouth, he tries to again and fails. Nothing comes out; his thoughts remain stubborn, not wanting to be heard or leave his lips, to fill the silence between him and his guest.

He hears a scoff and his lips twitch again, hand moving to set his cane against the wall, the soft clang of wood against metal falls into the void between him and his guest. He takes a step forward, stumbling slightly, not turning toward the intruder in his home. He hears the scuffle of feet before he feels hands and a surprising flash of gold shimmers in the darkness—but how can that be? He only knows of darkness and nothing. He has no more colour in his life so how can he see gold? Impossible, he thinks. It probably is just a figment of his imagination—and thoughts of bewilderment emerge from the depths of his once frozen mind, a pathway to his icy heart starting to warm.

Memories of a time long ago fill his otherwise black vision. He almost believes he could taste something warm in his mouth: sweet and bitter. He thinks it reminds him of something but then it turns into ash.

He finds himself helped into an old wooden chair. The hands on his long sleeve shirt are warm and cold at the same time, a breath of hot air tickles down his cheek. He flinches. Unused to the touch of a warm body, he finds himself wishing his guest had never come. He knows who it is and that alone scares him. You should not be back… did something happen to you? To your brother? Your only way back is gone… Shivering, he rubs hard at his biceps, wishing that he didn’t remember the feel of warmth, something he avoids now.

Wishing for the cold, he sighs softly and wonders if he’s dreaming, if he’s finally gone insane. There was no way for him to return and it has been too many years since he’s last seen his guest.

"Nice place you got here," reaches his ears, the words are a familiar sarcastic sound in his ears.

He does not know what to think. Five words, five syllables, five different tones in the same pitch, they continue to cycle in his mind, growing larger with each repetition. His guest sounds older, worn, he notices idly. Maybe even tired. He shrugs a bit, turning his face slightly to the sound, unsure of what to say. His mouth continues to refuse to form anything.

“I mean it’s not exactly one of the best places I’ve been.. but I suppose it fits you. It’s too plain, though. I always imagined you were the sort that liked a lot of personal stuff or something,” the voice trails off into silence.

He is appalled by the realization that he’s straining his ears to hear that voice again.

No, don’t go… Talk to me some more please. Don’t leave me here alone…

He tries again to speak, still nothing comes out. His fingers curl against his pants, knuckles turning white with frustration though all he sees is black. The sound of something moving, just to his right, causes him to raise his head, turning slightly toward the sound, trying to pinpoint what and where it is. He opens his mouth again, trying to speak out in indignation, to give some sort of protest. All that comes out is silent air, nothing else.

His guest takes a deep breath—he feels as if he is right next to him, breathing into his ear. His body shudders, from anxiety or cold, he does not know—before speaking again, “I never thought I would find you here though. Then again, I suppose I never thought I’d see you again. Strange how it seems that after all this time… we would finally get the chance to meet again, huh?

“How long has it been?”

“…S-seven years…” an unfamiliar choking voice fills the gap of silence in the room in answer to the question his guest had spoken. He is surprised by the tone, unbelieving that it is his own. How weary it sounds. How old and tired it is. Was that truly his? Where has his arrogance gone? His confidence? His pride? Was all that was left of him a ghost of the man he had once been?

Shaking his head a bit, he lifts a hand, placing his palm against the old rough wood, feeling every single groove in the surface, grazing across the table for the glass of water he had placed there before leaving his home earlier that day. He can’t feel for the cool smooth surface of glass against his fingers. No doubt that had been the object that he heard being moved. The soft caress of something cold and smooth touches his lips. He opens his mouth, letting his guest help him drink before choking on the water. It tastes horrible; unclean.

“Seven years, really? I find that hard to believe. Then again I suppose… it is ironic that I would be here now. Some reunion huh? Seven years exactly I think, judging by the calendar you have on your wall, not that last one was much with Central being attacked and all.” The voice is closer to his ear now and he turns his head more to the sound but he finds that his movements are hindered. “You really did come off as someone I never thought I see like this.

“Thought you would be Fuhrer by now, really.”

His arms feel heavy like there is a force pressing against him, paralyzing him. He can’t move his legs but a touch from his guest on a shoulder somehow frees him. Sighing softly, he turns toward where he believes his intruder is.

“You really… don’t know where I am, do you? Idiot.” His guest scoffs, “You really are pathetic, you know? I never thought you would let yourself fall this far. I mean if you just open your eyes and see. You could find me just fine, right?”

He wants to chuckle but instead he chokes again and something odd but familiar fills his throat. Why would he taste blood? That doesn’t make sense. No sense at all. How could he have blood in his mouth? Shaking his head again, he tries to find where his guest is only to feel breath on his neck. He stiffens in surprise and fear but he doesn’t know why. There is no explanation why he should feel breath there. Before, if he remembers correctly, his guest never once tried to move close to him for anything over than a punch to his face and he does not think the person in his home will hit him.

“Hey, I really don’t like having a one-sided conversation, you know?” He almost feels the ghost of lips against his flesh. He feels his body growing colder except for where his guest breaths on his neck and where the other’s hand is on his shoulder. “You could speak for me right? You didn’t lose your voice I think.”

“W-Who are… y-you,” he manages to say, appalled that he still sounds the way he did a few moments ago. Trying to stand, he feels the hands on his shoulder push him back down on his chair.

“Don’t you remember me? That’s really pathetic, oh morally-bankrupt Colonel-mine,” he hears laughter and tries to find the speaker, unnerved that he cannot find where the guest is and that his vision, his entirely black sight, seems to plunge him more into his darkness. He grips the chair armrest hard enough that he knows his knuckles turn white. “Why don’t you open your eyes and see, damn you? You know who I am.”

He tries. Oh how he tries to. But he knows his eyes are open, they always have been but his vision has remained a void. Now he turns his head from side to side, noticing with each movement that he can barely move. Where is he? A sharp hiss of breath, he starts to rise from his chair only to be pushed back down. He feels something underneath his hands, warm and thick. It is also familiar. He gasps, trying to take his hands off the substance but his guest pushes against the back of his palms. It is blood he feels his hands being drenched in.

No, no, no. Please let me remove my hands! No more blood. Please no more blood! I don’t want any more blood on my hands!

A chuckle sounds throughout the outpost and he freezes again. He would recognize that laughter from anywhere. It’s loud and heavenly. His lips twitches into something of a smile but he frowns when the visitor refuses to release his hands. Fingers curl, gathering more of the substance and he shies away; vomit rises in his throat. He does not know whose blood it is but he doesn’t care. Blood is blood and it always feels the same. He hates it with his entire being.

“What’s wrong, Colonel? It’s just a little blood. Didn’t think it would affect you that much. I guess I was wrong in thinking you were completely untouchable… Heh. That’s good to know, though a little too late, I think.” The voice is mocking him now and he chokes on air. He thinks that his mouth is filled with blood.

Coughing, something wet befalls onto his front. It’s slimy and he knows it’s clinging to his body, seeping through his shirt and onto his flesh. Blood is on his body now but why would it be there? He is not injured. Moving his head down to sniff at the substance on his torso, his guest grasps his chin and raises it.

A set of cold, ice cold lips cover his and he feels even colder than before. His body shivers in response. Something tries to force his mouth open and when it passes through his lips, he tastes ash and blood. Hot ashes and warm blood. He remembers Ishbal.

It’s a bitter taste in his mouth. A taste he knows he will never ever get rid of, no matter how many times he tries to repent for his sins.

The taste of ashes and blood give way to scorching dry, gritty sand. He chokes again. Bombs go off, filling the silence that had enveloped the outpost the moment he felt lips on his own. They are loud, repetitive. He thinks they have just gone off then and there. It can’t be memories he’s hearing. The sound of them is too familiar, too massive; too real. This is not a dream, he tells himself silently, wishing he could bring his hands up to cover his ears but his body refuses to move. He hurts all over. Along with the explosions, there is the constant maniacal laughter, terrified shrieks; cries of dying men, women and children.

Oh the children.

A reel of recollections plays in his mind. His blood runs cold. He cannot breathe. Black and white images take over his vision. A headless child, the burned remains of another, the severed remnants of an infant; the screams of one more before bullets silence her—she was only three, she didn’t have to die! Why must we kill the children? What is wrong with you all?! Can’t you see this madness?!—and so many more but one image, conquers his soul, It always would.

He sighs in anger, in self-hatred.

There is a pain in his chest. It throbs with each second, with each breath he takes. He wonders why. There is no recent memory of him becoming injured and the pains from that fateful night with that homunculi were long gone. He has no more phantom pains, so why would he feel one now?

It makes no sense.

But nothing about this ever did, so why should he care?

The mouth against his pulls away and he opens his eyes. He staggers in his seat, drifting to the side until a hand holds him up. He opens his eyes and stares bewilderedly at what he sees. Colours and the desert. Where has his outpost gone? Why is he in Ishbal?

Ishbal…

He hears the guns, the screams, the cries from both sides of the battlefield—how could he not? They are fresh as the day they happened; he has remembered them—all of them brings him to sorrow and he feels empty. Impossible, he thinks, dropping to his knees, cradling his head in his hands. The bile rises in his throat, body heaving. He’s choking again. He still can’t breathe. He feels numb and cold even amidst the scorching desert heat. Convulsing, he drops to one knee on the ground, hand moving to steady himself (why is he wearing gloves? Shouldn’t he be barehanded as he was in the outpost?), fingers digging into the gritty, dry, blood-stained sand; grains of which slipping through his grasp.

The body he wears feels more tired and yet more energetic than it did when he was in his cabin near the northern border of Amestris. He stares around him, trying to take the images of the desert and form reason from the chaos he sees. There is no order here, just like he had always known. He is alone. From the depths of his mind, he wonders where his guest is. Blinking, he raises a hand to touch his left eye. He feels the roughness of his white gloves and he can see them as clearly as he can with the destruction that surrounds him, threatening to engulf him entirely like it once tried to do so many years ago. Old, he feels so old.

Something or someone moves before him, blocking his view of the city below.

Before him stands a familiar man in a trench coat and black military-issued boots. The bright blue of the Amestrian pants peer at him against the darkening landscape; night is falling. He spies a stark, pristine, white glove. The arm of the person before him raises, fingers poised into a familiar position. He knows what comes next; it is the only coherent thought he has, despite all the confusion he has.

Scrambling to his feet, he lunges to the soldier before him, arm outstretched as if to try and stop the man before him, a young man just shy of twenty winters. He screams, loud and long, at the top of his lungs.

Everything shifts around him.

He touches stucco-like walls with bare, blood-drenched fingers. The walls grate against his skin and he feels as if needles are pressed one by one into his body. Before him is a window into a home and what he sees inside, freezes the blood in his body. His breathing deepens in fear. Yelling loudly in protest, he slams the side of his fist against the window and for a moment he believes he had gotten the attention of the person inside. The figure turns to look at him and instead of a look he knew was on that soldier’s face, something demonic stares back at him.

The eyes are red, crimson like blood, cat-like black pupils staring at him. A feral grin revealing fanged teeth smirks back at him and the gloves are tattered pieces of fabric clinging to clawed hands and talon nails but the array—his array—is still intact. The fingers are poised to snap.

Grin widening at him, he holds his breath; his chest convulses in pain, constricting with each breath. His eyes fall shut.

He opens them.

His hand is shaking, before him is the child that always burns lividly in the back of his mind, always to be remembered. This scene replays again and again; he does not remember a day that he never thought of this moment in time. Staring at the human—they’re not monsters, damn you! They’re not the scum of dirt on the soles of our boots that you try to make us believe. They’re living, breathing humans!—before him, his breathing shudders. The eyes of the boy in front of him are fearful and wary.

Red eyes close and a young dark skin hand reaches for the rifle, body jerking back. His fingers move into the motion of snapping but he finds himself frozen once more. It is hard to draw air into his body as he tries to move his body.

He blinks and finds gold molten orbs staring back at him from a dark tanned and grim-covered face. They are not fearful but rather something else. Something more familiar to him if the eyes were in the face of another. The boy’s mouth begins to move and his ears hears nothing but the other’s words.

“What’s wrong, Mustang? Don’t you know what happens next? Don’t you know there is nothing you could do to forget it? That all you have in front of you is an order to kill?” Laughter, dark and cruel, rings through his ears. He wants nothing more than to see the child be mute. Those words are not ones that he knows the true owner of those eyes would say. They are demented, two condescending. Perhaps perfect—perfect for him to hear those words as the scene before him plays. He deserves it, those words.

That cruelty.

He gave death without mercy, after all.

“You gave up, Mustang. So why not be a good dog and do what your superiors ask? Be the weapon they all know you to be?” Shaking his head fervently, he tries to step back but he cannot move from the position he is in. Trapped in this posture, his breathing quickens in fear. He closes his eyes, trying to do away with the imagery before him with all his heart and whatever fragments that are left of his soul.

Upon opening them, nothing has changed and he tries to speak out loud but the pain surges from his heart and through every part of his body. I didn’t give up! I don’t have a choice! I had to follow their orders! I have no free will! He wants to speak them out but his mouth remains shut. His vision flickers and blackens.

He’s sinking.

Stumbling, he stares in shock at the ground that was once solid stone. It is now a deep crimson sea of blood and slowly, he feels himself being devoured by the ocean of liquid murder.

“You aren’t the man I thought you were before,” the words surround him, constricting his air, killing him slowly, “The man I knew never gave up. He would always think straight but what do I see now, Mustang, disgusts me.

“If only Hughes could see you now.”

The breath stills in his throat and he tries to fight against the force that pushes him down into the murky sea of carmine. He looks frantically to and fro, trying to find the origin of the voice, wondering what had he done to cause such ire and hate.

Large panes of glass emerge from the quicksand-like substance that continuously tries to divulge him into its depths. They are clear and pristine. Perfect, disgustingly perfect. The glass soon turns opaque and colours fill the surface, depicting reflections. The bile in his throat rises; the churning in his stomach turns more in greater turmoil. Each image is that of him performing act after heinous act. He is a demon. He is the Devil in this mockery of his past.

Each reflection grins a wide, blood-lusty smirk of need, of want, of desire.

It’s in their eyes, he could tell. They want more murder, more blood; to become more of the one-man genocide that he knew he truly was inside. With one snap of his fingers, he could rain down hell in a matter of seconds. No one would know. No one would see. He was death’s reincarnate, back then in Ishbal. All he ever did back then was follow blindly but now he had his eyes open, or did he…?

Strong arms squeeze at his chest. They are invisible to him but he hears panted breathing, hard and loud. Words of contempt and hatred are whispered to him as he feels the appendages tighten around him, crushing him. The pain in his chest flares even more and he chokes on air and the blood that finds its way down in his throat. Distantly, he believes there is the noise of a familiar voice, his own, pleading for more. More what? Suffering, hatred, even need.

Harder, faster, deeper. Give it to me! I need to forget! Please give me more! I need it! False gods, please. Take me! Rape me! Don’t make me remember! He had forgotten how many times he had whored himself for physical satisfaction if only to quell the shrieks of his demons that grew by the day with each life he extinguished.

Darkness flickers at the edge of his sight, threatening to do him in but he gasps loudly and tries to move once more. He stumbles forward, hands thrown in front of him to brace himself against the bloody surface of the “sand” that he is slowly being plunged into. His hands meet grass; sharp and crisp grass. He stares at the vibrant green and watches as slowly the foliage turns into murky brown and then crimson red before turning green again as nothing had happened.

Before him is another familiar scene. He watches mutely as dirt is piled into a grave, six feet deep. Standing hesitantly, he walks forward and glances into the face of his mirror. This reflection is stoic but there is a gleam of devilish righteousness in that person’s eyes. He knows what this image of himself believes. It’s not hard. This being, this fragment, thinks that Hughes’s death is justified and feels no remorse for the friend that is buried before him. If anything, the shadow would use Hughes’s death as a platform for his own needs and wants.

Revenge is not on this reflection’s mind.

His chest hurts, even harder than before. He feels his heart bleeding.

Closing his eyes tightly, he opens them to see the grave before him, complete with a tombstone. The ground is soft with damp, fresh dirt. He is alone until he hears soft footsteps against the grass. Without turning, he knows who it is. His subordinate or at least what he would think as his subordinate. She speaks and he notices the voice is different, more masculine in sound and much tarter.

“Didn’t you promise him long ago that you would make this country for the better?” The voice is soft, almost rueful and comforting to his ears. “Then why did you give up? Why did you allow yourself to turn blind?”

“…I-I… don’t know.” He blinks in surprise, not expecting himself to be able to speak in this odd reality. “I… just chose… to give up. Maybe… it’s because I am blind. I cannot see anything anymore. My path, or what I had once though of my path crumbled before me. I… I don’t have the strength to make a new one.”

Sighing, he looks at the grave marker and bends down on one knee, tracing the engraving. Maes Hughes. His lips twitch into a frown and he shakes his head before standing, gripping the cap in his hand tighter, knuckles turning white beneath the donning of pristine ivory gloves. Bringing his free hand, he stares at the plain surface of the back of his gloved hand. He watches stoically as a pin drop of crimson appears before spreading. Until the cloth is a ruby red.

“I… lost my way. Without you or him here… I just lost my way. Do you know how much I tried to save others that I forgot to save myself? I couldn’t--wouldn’t—save myself no matter how much I knew… I had to.” His voice is weary, similar to when he was in his outpost. “Do you know how many days, I tried to tell myself that I needed to get back onto my feet only to remain stalwart?

“Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second.”

The footsteps move closer to him and he turns to look at the blond. The familiar male is dressed into the standard dress uniform of his rank. It is not his subordinate that is next to him and that is fine, he thinks. He knows now that nothing is what it seems. Staring blankly at the figure, he idly wonders why the illusion chose to wear military State blue and not the red he always identified him with. He shrugs and looks at the sky; a tear blurs his vision.

“It’s… cold. And… It’s-It’s going to rain today.”

“No, it’s not. You only think it is, Mustang.” He glances at the blond who shakes his head at him. The gold mane glimmers seductively in the light of the sun that he cannot feel on his face.

It is his turn to shake his head. “Perhaps but I can’t even feel the sun on my face. Everything I see is either in black or white or red. Red like blood.” And it is, for the longer they stand before the grave, the more the colour fades into a dull noir setting, blood drips down the surface of the marble, vibrant and demanding. “…Am I… dying? There is a pain in my chest and my head hurts. This is not real but am I in a blasphemer’s hell? Are you my tormentor?”

His companion laughs.

Glancing back to the tombstone, he notes that the name on the marker has changed to his own before back again to the original text. A sign? Perhaps. I already know… I’m dying inside.

Closing his eyes again, he opens them to see a familiar street and a very familiar blond standing in front of him. He smirks despite the pain he feels from not having done it in a long time. Bringing his hand up as if to salute, he stops before completing the action, the arm falling back down at his side. He raises his left for a handshake instead.

The blond before him stares at it for a moment before moving to take it. He knows that the alchemist (the teen) wouldn’t but he is surprised when the other does, pulling him closer to the younger man. He looks into the other’s face in confusion before shaking his head, a hesitant smile on his lips.

“Don’t think I ever saw you smile before, Mustang. Can’t say I hate it,” the younger man tightens his grip on the hand he holds, “But I’m not here to torment you. I’m passed that. I’m here to help you.”

“Help me,” he asks with a laugh of disbelief, “And what would that be any use to you? You’re not real.”

“I’m real enough to do this.” Once again a pair of lips meets his own and his eyes fall shut. A budding warmth spreads from his chest despite the pain and wetness he feels. The cold that once embraced his entire body thaws and he moans into the kiss, wondering again if he has finally gone insane. This should not be happening despite how unreal this place is. The lips are soft and warm. A tongue licks his lower lip before teeth gently nibble: a silent plea for entrance.

He gives the blond what they both truly want. A kiss of desire, need and want—this forbidden fruit that he had thirsted for in only in his subconscious and dreams—that he thought was impossible when they were together in the real world. This kiss alone would suffice for all the mayhem he encountered. Here, he feels safe and complete. Whole. It is an addicting feeling, one he hasn’t felt in so long.

He moans softly, wrapping an arm around the other’s waist before they pull away for air. Staring down into the blond’s eyes, he is unnerved by the hint of red in the gold irises. He shakes his head, trying to dissuade the image but instead he falls straight into the ground.

The hand on his doesn’t let go, instead it clenches tightly around it. He holds onto it in his hysteria. He is neck deep in the sea of blood and the stench is freshly horrid. Eyes wide, he tries to yell for help but he chokes. Blood fills his mouth and his left eye darkens to blackness, pain fluttering as he thinks his eye is being sliced open. Only through his right could he see. His body grows cold in the crimson ocean. He can barely move. His grip is slipping.

“Don’t let go!”

Oh how he tries not to.

A massive pane of glass hovers behind the blond who holds his hand. He watches in anticipation on what it shows but nothing appears except for a dark black that bleeds from the corners, moving slowly to the center. Within that darkness, he sees himself as a child—he looks seven and beaten within an inch of his life. His mother stares down at him, holding the cane she uses to stand and walk (and beat her only son). Tears are cascading down the cheeks of the boy he sees and he whimpers.

Despite everything, he is only a boy with nothing. Useless.

“Do you know how much of a waste you really are?! How much my life would be better if you were not here?! You, I should have killed the moment you breathed! I knew then how much of a hassle, how troublesome you are! Worthless! Useless! Unneeded! You should not exist!!” His mother’s voice shrills in his ears.

His grip lessens and his right eye closes.

For one eternal-like second, he gives up.

“Mustang! Is this what Maes would want?! What I would want?! Don’t give up?”

The voice is so far away from him; he can barely hear it but something in him fights against the force that continues to pull him down. He yells toward the sky, stating he cannot give up, will not give up. Roy Mustang never surrenders! He does not care if his voice does not ring out loud, only that the thought remains in his heart, his mind. It vibrates within him, spreading heat and fire to every part of his body.

A right eye flares open. He stares as floods of colour light the sky. Fireworks? He laughs maniacally and feels the blond pull him up. His feet stand on solid ground again and the glass pane before him clears into a true mirror.

This time stands a man in an Amestris State Uniform but the stars and stripes are that of a Fuhrer’s, not a General’s, Colonel’s or even a Corporal’s. His image is older with laugh lines around his eyes and a hint of a smile on his face. His expression is kind and confident. Over his left eye are scars from the bullet fragment that entered the eyeball so many years ago and of the scalpel blade cuts from the surgical removal of the eye. The man in the mirror wears his scars proudly. His hands are bare, tucked into the pant’s pockets but the hint of a white glove and hints of a familiar array peek at him from within the other’s clothes.

Who is this man he sees? This man who is comfortable in his skin and clothes that would never back down or lose his way?

He bows his head slightly in acknowledgement and the reflection does the same. The hand on his own tightens and he stares at the owner, noticing that the blond is gripping him with both hands, a brilliant smile on the younger man’s face. He stares at the blue sleeve of his jacket and glances up his arms to the shoulder bands, noting the rank it shows.

Fuhrer.

“Welcome back, Fuher-elect General Roy Mustang,” his companion speaks, “Welcome back to the land of the living.”

“…Are you… leaving me?”

“Only for a little while,” the blond smiles, dressed in a red familiar coat and black outfit (the blond turns just enough for him to see the Flamel insignia on the back), “You can never get rid of me that easily, but my job here is done…for now, anyway. You’re the Mustang I remember now and I have the Gate,” he notices how much of a curse that word seems to be on the other’s lips, “to thank for that.”

He frowns and shakes his head, “Please… don’t go. What if I falter again?”

“Then you’ll remember what you saw. Change this country. For the better, like you promised him.”

Roy nods briskly, “Like I promise you.”

He raises a hand (It’s bare. He’s not wearing his gloves and for that he thanks whoever is in charge of this reality that he is in) and strokes the side of his companion, Edward Elric’s face and smiles softly at him, “I won’t ever forget you.” The brunet leans down and kisses the blond lightly on the lips, “I can’t… you changed so much and the world will never forget you.”

“I know,” Edward replies with a grin of his own, “As long as you’re the man our country needs.” He kisses Roy back, deepening the kiss, “I just wish… we had more time.”

“Time? Time for what?”

“For this.” The younger alchemist pulls Roy closer and presses his body against the older man and for a moment, Roy imagines that he and the blond are in a bed. Their nude bodies rolling against each other in a dance of intimacy—and dare he think it? Love?—something so much more. The taste of the other is not one he would forget. How could he? It was sharp, yet it had a certain tang of something. Roy wishes he could stay longer, if only to taste the young man more.

When they pull away from each other, Roy sighs softly and rests his forehead against the other. “I really… don’t want you to go.”

“I have to. I don’t belong here. Now… wake up and see what has to be done. Don’t turn Blind again. Become the man in the mirror. Your country needs you. Live, Mein Fuhrer.”


Roy Mustang blinks and stares at the pristine ceiling above him. His head hurts and a groan falls from his lips, bringing about the attention of the other persons in the room. Pain flares from his chest. Trying to sit up, two hands are braced against his shoulders, pushing him down. He stares at those hands and wonder why they are not mix-matched. Shouldn’t they be one flesh and one of automail? Eyes following up the arms, he looks into the concerned but relieved expression on his subordinate’s face.

“Welcome back to the land of the living, sir,” she replied softly, a rare smile emerging from her usually stoic lips, “You had us worried.”

He opens his mouth but only choked sounds come out. A rim of glass is pressed to his lips before cool refreshing, clean water cascades down into his throat. “…H-Hawke-eye…”

A finger is pressed to his lips, “Don’t speak, sir. You’re still recovering.” Roy notices her smile is bright and wide. “Do you remember anything?”

Shaking his head, he glances around the room and notices another one of his subordinates calling for a nurse. His lips quirk upwards slightly and his eyes close for a brief moment. When he opens them again, he is in the same room with Hawkeye. Roy sighs in relief and turns to look at the blonde at his bedside, wondering where he is. A hospital is the most obvious response but he can’t remember what had happened. Had it only been hours? Or days? Maybe weeks?

Hawkeye smiles at him and sits up in her chair, “Knowing you, sir, you’re probably wondering where you are. It’s Central Medical, sir. You’ve been out for at least two days. Gave us quite the worrying considering how much you almost actually left us.”

Central Medical…? Shouldn’t I be at my outpost…? But why am I here in the hospital…? In Central? He shakes his head in bewilderment before a small voice tells him that he had always been in Central, ever since that fateful day he sent the Elrics away for good.

I had… really lost my way, huh? He smiles ruefully, finally remembering that for all the time that past he had become a shadow of the man he had once been. In him, only shades of the Flame Alchemist flickered in a losing battle but now… Now he thinks the fire within him has finally became a raging blaze once more.

Turning his gaze back to Hawkeye, he listens to what she is saying. “Don’t you remember? You were performing a speech for your inauguration when two members of the old Bradley loyalist regime came to assassinate you? We thought you died, sir. In fact you did. On the operating table. You were shot in the chest and another bullet nicked your head. Near your… right eye, sir. Frankly… it’s a miracle you’re still alive.” It is left unspoken that he could have lost his sight completely.

Roy raises an arm and touches the bandage on the side of his forehead, flinching slightly in pain. He nods at the blonde and looks around for the window. Is it day outside, he wonders? Would there actually be the sun just outside that window? Or would it be overcast and cold? Just like when he was in his outpost? The place where he had felt his deepest of lows without any sight of the light or hope or courage to do something different? Roy does not want coldness anymore. He wants to live again.

It was time he stopped being a living corpse and do something that is needed.

For the country.

For them.

And most of all, for himself.

He shivers and motions to the window. He wants to see the outside world. He has a promise to keep and he plans to keep it. It’s all he has now and Roy knows that will be the driving force.

Roy Mustang, the Fuhrer-elect, refuses to give up again.

Never again will I surrender. This I promise you. Maes. Ful- Edward. I will be the Fuhrer this country needs. If not for myself, then for them. For you. Always.

The curtains open and Roy finds himself smiling for the first time in months. The sun is out and there is a warmth on his face that he hasn’t felt for so long. So long. It feels nice, wonderful. Amazing. The cold that remains inside him finally melts.

“…W-what… d-day is it,” he asks of his subordinate, noticing that a doctor has just walked through the threshold of his room.

Hawkeye tells him and his smile widens.

Ten years since that last real goodbye he had with Edward Elric. Ten years since he had almost saluted his former subordinate only to hold out his hand to the blond alchemist. He wonders if they were to meet again if his former subordinate would take his hand rather than swat it away.

“…W-we should make this a holiday. It’s one real… anniversary of sorts, don’t you think?” He glances at the female as the doctor takes his vitals.

She smiles back at him. She knows what day it is.

“Of course, sir.”

Edward, he thinks, thank you for kicking this old horse back into motion. I won’t let you down.

Fare thee well… I just wish… I could have thanked you in person.

A soft, familiar voice echoes through his ears.

You’re welcome, Colonel mine. Now get to it. These people need a Fuhrer, a damn good one.

Roy laughs suddenly, seemingly hysterical, and shakes his head. The rest of the people in the room look at him in confusion but he waves them off, not wanting to explain. They wouldn’t understand. “We should… make a memorial for a certain short Alchemist. Though memorial wouldn’t be the word… He’s not dead, after all. Don’t think he could really die, you know…?”

And he won’t be for a good long while. Not when I hope to “see” him again every year. If only in my dreams.

All I ever want is to see him again, just to have a reminder of what I need to do. If only once a year in a dream that would suffice.

So be it had been asked and so it shall be given… It shall be done.

He stills at the ominous voice, not knowing who it belongs to but somehow the idea that he does emerges from the confusion in his mind. He smiles softly to himself and nods.

Thank you… Gate of Truth.

A memory from that last encounter he had with Edward Elric, the remembrance of strange aircraft and armour suits attacking Central comes to surface and plays before him. He had seen the Gate but asked nothing of it. Idly, he wonders if that was the reason for his near-death dreams.

Equivalent Exchange…? I suppose that is fine.

Roy smirks into the eyes of the people surrounding his bed, feeling more like himself by the second.

“So… when’s my new inauguration date?”

The End

I live off your reviews, so please feed me? Thank you.

 
 
secretfreakysecretfreaky on April 5th, 2007 12:46 pm (UTC)
Very well done! It was so disturbing at first: all the flashbacks and guilt. The ending was sweet without being gushy.
frenchie7 on April 5th, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)
...
. . . Wow!

I'm slightly crying with the way it ended. From happyness and sadness because I feel like Roy and how he's no longer going to see Edward and that's a pain I won't be getting rid of until get some air or something. I'm happy Roy's listening to Ed's 'ego boost'. He'd make a good Fuhrer.

So powerful. The details are my sugar. I love LONG stories like this because I know the writer spent time on feelings and thoughts and that's what affects me most.

Very good! Yummy!

-Frenchie7
Daniellepeppermintwords on April 6th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
I want you to know that I really loved this story. It was poignant and beautifully-written, so vivid that I could picture everything :).
Orion117orion117 on April 10th, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading this. The way you used all of his senses during the dream sequences made it really powerful.