The wind was tossing Ed’s soaked blond hair about viciously, whipping it across his face and neck. His flesh hand brushed them away absently; but the yellow strands weren’t the only things being brushed off.
His hand left his face and dropped limply back to his side, very slightly wet. And it sure wasn’t because of the rain.
‘Oh no,’ Ed was dimly aware of thinking. ‘No, not this again. Please....’
There were so many people gathered around, huddled together in groups, trying desperately to share warmth and consolation.
Off to Ed’s right, a small flock of people---dressed in respectful, mourning black instead of the usual military uniform---were attempting to comfort each other while trying to comfort themselves at the same time.
‘No.....I can’t stand to watch all this again...’.Ed tried to block out the images, without success ‘No....’
‘That was Havoc,’ Ed thought vaguely. ‘Yeah...Havoc was the first one to lose it...’
Jean Havoc shook his fist at the sky, screaming almost incoherent curses while tears shimmered in his eyes. “Why the HELL did this have to happen?!”
“Sir,” said a priest in calm, slightly exasperated tones. “This is a wake----”
“YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW THAT?!”
“---and you need to be respectful----”
“TO HELL WITH RESPECT!!”
“----or you will be forced to leave.”
Havoc glared, red-rimmed eyes deadly. “You just try it, old man.”
“With all due respect, sir,” the priest’s voice was soft, almost understanding. “For the love of God, shut the hell up.”
Havoc stared for several long moments. Then, he seemed to crumble before Ed’s very eyes, falling to his knees and beginning to cry uncontrollably.
The priest smiled sadly and walked away. He had seen this sort of thing many times before, but it never got any easier to watch.
Hawkeye, Fury, Hughes, and Armstrong all moved to comfort Havoc, supporting him with their arms and their sympathetic, tear-filled eyes.
“I hate this....” whispered the distraught Havoc, breathless from crying.
“You hate what...?” Fury’s questioning voice was hesitant and melancholy.
“All of this....” Havoc waved a hand vaguely, gesturing at the entire funeral scene before him. “This whole....damn....WORLD!!”
And he broke down again.
Hawkeye knelt beside him, tears glittering as they fell from her eyes as well. “It’s going to be all right....everything’s going to be just fine...”
“No it’s not,” whimpered Havoc pathetically. “Things will never be the same without...without...” Havoc couldn’t continue.
Hawkeye’s tears were streaming freely now, trickling down her cheeks.
Just several meters away, Ed leaned against a crooked tree, eyes shut tight as though to block out the pain.
Ed’s eyes opened slowly, the usual golden luster dulled and almost lifeless. Hawkeye, having left Havoc with the others, was standing in front of him.
“Are you all right?”
“No I bloody well am not,” replied Ed tonelessly and without venom.
Hawkeye smiled weakly, holding her umbrella over Ed’s head. “You don’t need to catch a cold, Ed. Especially not after...after...” She broke off, looking away.
Ed’s eyes were clenched shut again.
“Havoc’s nearly hysterical,” commented Hawkeye softly, looking over at said man. “And so is pretty much everyone else....”
“Including you?” Ed’s question did not demand an answer.
Hawkeye smiled again, without happiness, without humor. “Including me.”
Ed nodded. The rain poured down relentlessly.
“Would you like to see him?” asked Hawkeye softly.
Ed’s head snapped up. “See him?”
“You can, if you want,” the Lieutenant replied, just as gently as before.
Ed’s pained eyes were hesitant, reflecting his uncertainty. His fists clenched at his sides. “I---I don’t know if I can,” he answered regretfully, staring at the muddy ground.
Hawkeye nodded, not pushing him to do it if he didn’t think he could.
The pair stood beneath the tree, letting the wind and the rain envelope them in a quiet bubble of
non-feeling, though their grief was still painfully evident in their heart and souls.
“Are you going to see him?” asked Ed, breaking the silence.
Hawkeye seemed to consider this, tilting her head to the side and closing her eyes briefly.
Seeming to come to a conclusion, she opened them again and nodded once. “I think I’ll go now,” she stated quietly, making it clear that Ed didn’t have to come if he didn’t want to. “I’ll go ask the others in case they want to accompany me...”
“I’ll come with you,” said Ed, surprising Hawkeye (though she didn’t show it). “Just to the....the coffin, maybe. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to look at---at----the....inside.”
Hawkeye sensed his discomfort and did not argue.
The two walked slowly, a tad cramped below the umbrella. Ed’s shoes were quickly soaked through, but Hawkeye’s boots (a result of her much better foresight) were much more successful at keeping out the water. They sloshed messily through puddles, not caring when flying droplets stained their clothes dark with dots of water.
“Hey,” greeted Hawkeye when they had reached their fellow military members. “Feeling all right, Havoc?”
Havoc looked her straight in the eyes, a smile plastered on his (tear-stained) face. “Yeah, just fine. I feel just great, Lieutenant. Why do you ask?” He grinned brightly at her.
Hawkeye was not fooled for a second. Ed wasn’t, either. Havoc’s eyes were shadowed with grief, his voice still slightly cracked with sorrow. And, Ed realized as his eyes roamed over his military friends, the others were no better. Hughes especially was looking like....well....like his best friend had died.
“I’m going to go see....the Colonel, Havoc. Would you like to come with me? Any of you?”
She was unable to say his name. Ed didn’t blame her; he couldn’t either.
Everyone but Hughes shook their head. He walked over to her side, his strides strong and purposeful....but if anyone cared to look closer, one could see he was shaking, just a little.
Hawkeye led the two men to a nearby building, holding her dripping, folded umbrella with a tightly clenched fist. It looked every bit as dangerous as the guns she had been forbidden to bring to the funeral. The crowds inside parted respectfully to let the trio pass.
The open casket was placed against the eastern wall.
Ed stopped before it, determinedly turning away, shoving his hands in his pockets and staring resolutely at the other side of the room. Hawkeye and Hughes, after steeling themselves with deep breaths, looked inside.
Several moments passed in relative silence, no comment coming from either Hawkeye or Hughes. Ed shifted about nervously. He was almost curious, almost curious about what ---or, rather, who---was inside that casket.
Well, actually, he knew quite well who. It was just that, for a moment, he almost wanted to see what he looked like.....almost.
Then, without warning, Ed heard someone burst into barely-controlled sobs behind him. He turned, making sure his eyes would not wander inside the coffin by accident.
Both Hughes and Hawkeye were crying, Hawkeye’s head supported on Hughes’s shoulder, Hughes’s arm wrapped loosely, as comfortingly as he could, around her, tears streaming silently down his face. Hawkeye’s sobs were the ones Ed had heard; she was crying desperately, painfully, her face and broken voice stricken with grief. Hughes looked at Ed, watching him steadily, his empty gaze holding no emotion but the pain of losing his best friend.
While many would have thought Hawkeye’s reaction was incredibly out of character, Ed knew better. Riza Hawkeye had more or less dedicated her life, her heart and soul, to protect the man currently laying inside the casket. He had been her commanding officer first, of course, but then...well...she had said herself that she killed others---that she pulled the trigger on her well-used guns---of her own free will in order to keep her Colonel safe until the day he reached his goal. She loved him, of course---maybe not quite the way a certain blonde alchemist did, but she loved him all the same. To think that, after all this time, after all this effort, now that he had been so close---so close!---to his goal, that something like this should happen....and he was taken from her so suddenly, so cruelly....Ed damn well did not blame Hawkeye for crying.
At that moment, Ed felt something creep into his mind and soul.
Yes...I remember that feeling....it was really weird....
It must have been. For Ed suddenly found himself taking two small steps forward, resting his hands on the edge of the beautifully carved and intricately ornate coffin, and gazing inside.
Oh no....please, not this part....no, I can’t....I-I can’t see him again, not like that....
Roy Mustang lay inside, head resting on a white satin pillow, surrounded by---from the looks of it---almost a hundred white roses. His raven black hair was carelessly, yet elegantly, framing his face with a dark halo. The ebony locks were strewn across the pillow, a sharp contrast against the pale fabric. His head was tilted very slightly to the side, towards Ed, several strands of black falling onto his peacefully, permanently closed eyes. His mouth was not curled in its customary smirk; rather, his pale pink lips were curved into a very faint, but very real, smile. The smallest hints of a smile, and this confused Ed. It was almost as if he didn’t mind being dead, thought the world would be better off without him.
Mustang’s---Roy’s---hands were folded neatly, one on top of the other, and laid on his unmoving chest. He was dressed in black, all black, making him stand out even more amongst the frosty white roses. His skin was deathly pale, almost as white as the flowers he was surrounded by, and his elegant eyelashes cast melancholy shadows onto his snowy cheek.
He looked, in Ed’s opinion, utterly and completely innocent.
The white roses, the black clothing, the folded hands, the pallor of his skin, the few silken rose petals that had fallen, lying softly on his cheek and throat...
And the eternally closed eyes.
Ethereal. Yes---Roy was ethereal...ethereally beautiful, angelically pure, lying still and immortal in that bed of heavenly roses...the color of purity, the essence of innocence.
‘He’s only sleeping,’ thought Ed in a shocked daze. ‘He’s only sleeping, he’s going to get up any moment now and stare at us all and ask us why the heck we’re doing this....and I’ll feel really stupid.....after all, I’ve seen that look on his face so many times, I can tell when he’s sleeping.....he’s....only...sleeping...’
Several long moments passed. Hawkeye cried, Hughes was silent, and Ed waited, holding his breath, eyes glued to Mustang’s prostrate figure, waiting for him to wake. After all, everyone must have made a mistake. Mustang was only sleeping...
But as the minutes dragged on and Mustang did not wake, Ed’s panic grew. He waited expectantly, but the seconds ticked by and still Mustang did not wake....
And suddenly, Ed lost it.
“THE HELL, Mustang!” he screamed to the motionless body inside the casket. His hands gripped the edge so hard he felt the wood crack under the pressure of his automail. “What the hell were you thinking?! You can’t just leave us here, you useless bastard Colonel! You can’t do this to us, and QUIT SMILING, DAMMIT, IT’S NOT FREAKIN’ FUNNY!”
Roy continued to smile slightly, completely unruffled (as expected) by Ed’s outraged words. Ed could feel tears burning in the corners of his golden eyes, stormy with grief and inner emotional turmoil. He gripped the coffin so hard a chunk of it came off in his automail hand and he leaned in close and scrutinized the pale, empty face; and perhaps that was what got to Ed the most: the emptiness, for Roy’s face always held some kind of emotion, some kind of fiery spark that warmed Ed from the very core. Unable to stare at the cruel, pure emptiness, Ed screamed to the unmoving Colonel,”Damn it, Roy, you better get up quick or I’m going to kick your ass for doing this to...to...” he flapped his arm at the speechless crowd behind him. “To...all of them, and to Riza and Maes and Havoc and all the others...and to...to...to...” he choked, tears almost---almost!---spilling out of his eyes. “To me....”
Roy did not move.
“You can’t do this,” Ed whispered brokenly, his face barely an inch from Roy’s. “You can’t....I swear, I’ll never forgive you for doing this to me....damn it, wake up, Roy....wake up...”
Roy did not move.
“Damn it,” Ed choked out hoarsely. “If you won’t wake up, then I’ll have to wake you!” He swept his head downwards, lips capturing Roy’s smiling ones in a fiery, desperate kiss. Ed’s flesh hand gripped Roy’s cold one----how could human flesh be so unbelievably cold?---and clung on tight, fingers laced together.
Ed choked on a sob in the middle of his last, grievous kiss to Roy, his agony breaking some internal dam.
A single teardrop landed on Roy’s pale, cold cheek, where it stayed, as if reluctant to leave Roy....
That’s how I felt...I didn’t want to leave him....
The teardrop was followed by another, then another, all landing with soft plips on Roy’s still, angelic face.
....and I didn’t want him to leave me.
Ed broke the kiss, the very first kiss that Roy had not returned. His hand trembling violently, he caressed Roy’s wintry cheek, brushing his own tears away and tenderly stroking the raven hair. And some part of himself was still hopeful, clinging on the one single shred of hope that, with the desperate kiss and the gentle caresses, he would wake Roy and everything would be all right. After all, the kiss-and-touch method had never failed before. Roy had always woken up when Ed decided to rouse him in such a fashion, always, he had understood that it was Ed’s way of saying ‘Wake up, I need you right now’. It was his way of asking for the older man’s help when he was in some sort of emotional dilemma, his way of telling Roy it was an urgent and a greatly significant matter. Roy never questioned Ed’s reason for being so gentle, and he always stopped whatever he was doing to give Ed the attention he needed at that moment. If it wasn’t so important, Ed would probably pounce on him and shake him violently, swearing and complaining all the while.
So the kiss-and-touch method was Ed’s last resort, his last hope. And when Roy peacefully ‘slept’ on, unresponsive and completely oblivious to Ed’s agony, Ed knew, undeniably, that Roy was dead.
Ed collapsed onto the floor, his back leaning against the ornate coffin. He drew his knees up to his face and rested his elbows on them, burying his face in his arms. The sobs came freely now, unstopped and unstoppable, bringing forth rivers of tears that coursed smoothly down Ed’s cheeks and dripped onto his clothes. He cried long and hard, pitiful whimpers and near-hysterical screaming (of nothing, or of Roy’s name) punctuating his sorrowful weeping. The crowd of ‘mourners’ ----Ed felt a deep hatred for them all of a sudden; how could they be mourners?! They weren’t mourning Roy at all, no, mourning was what Ed was feeling, mourning was the wordless grief that was pouring from Ed’s mouth----had drawn back, wide eyes watching the petite blonde figure leaning against the coffin, shocked into a respectful silence. Hughes and Hawkeye were kneeling beside Ed now, looking uncertain and worried. Ed felt Hughes’s hand on his shaking shoulder and he rudely shrugged it off, recoiling from the touch of another who was not his precious Flame Alchemist.
Hughes did not take the action personally; he almost expected Ed to act this way. He had never been overly fond of physical contact, except with his brother, Winry sometimes, and Roy later on. Hughes sighed in a depressed sort of way and said quietly,”Ed...come on...we should go, come on...”
Hawkeye sniffed and wiped her lingering tears away. She smiled as bravely as she could and joined inHughes’s efforts at getting Ed to leave with them. It was getting kind of dark...they should be getting back to Central...
“Come on, Ed...get up...”
“Go away,” whispered Ed feebly, his voice muffled by his arms.
“Ed,” sighed Hughes dully. “We need to get back to Central before it gets any darker...or wetter...”
“Leave me alone.”
“The Colonel would have wanted us to leave,” said Hawkeye softly, her eyes brimming with tears at the mention of ‘the Colonel’. “I don’t think he would have liked for us to be so sad over him....and especially not you, Ed. He never wanted to cause you pain.”
“Don’t talk about him!”
Hughes and Hawkeye both sighed simultaneously. They were in no mood to argue; they were exhausted, both physically and emotionally.
“All right, Ed,” said Hawkeye resignedly. “I’ll leave my umbrella with you. Come back to Central soon, okay? We’ll wait for you.”
She and Hughes left, eyes downcast, shoulders sagging. Ed stayed by Roy’s casket, breathing raggedly and eyes red from crying. A respectable amount of time after Hughes and Hawkeye had left, Ed slowly dragged himself to his feet and stood, swaying unsteadily. He swiped the back of his arm across his face, trying half-heartedly to wipe the tears off. Most of the other people had gone now; Ed could hear quiet murmuring coming from outside, but no one was in the room anymore (except for Ed himself, of course).
After staring unseeingly at the wall for several moments, Ed snapped himself out of his daze and looked around, searching for the exit. Having found it, Ed proceeded to steel himself for the most difficult part of his departure: the actual leaving.
For whatever reason, Ed felt as though he shouldn’t leave. It was as if some part of him was screaming for him to stay, to stay.....with Roy, perhaps? Maybe that part of him was giving him a reason of some sort....a reason why, as everyone else left, Ed should stay by Roy’s side. Perhaps part of Ed was guilty for not being able to protect Roy, and the only solution his desperate heart and mind could come up with was to stay with Roy now, refuse to leave him and protect him when it was already too late.
But every second he stalled made it harder for Ed to leave. A weight was anchoring him to the ground, he needed to go soon or he would break down and very well might never leave this spot for the rest of his life.
Ed turned and gazed desolately into the casket, looking upon Roy’s face--it had always been pale, but now it was unnaturally so--for possibly the last time, ever.
‘Will I never see him again...?’
Faintly, in the back of his mind, the heartbroken Fullmetal Alchemist was dimly aware of what this meant, this loss of Roy. There would be no more affectionate name-calling, no more good-natured swearing and banter, no more gentle hugs and passionate kisses....Ed would never hold Roy in his arms again, would never prod him awake when he fell asleep at his desk again, would never hear Roy’s beautiful laugh again, would never again see the sparkling charcoal eyes dance with happiness or glitter with tears, would never again wake up in the dark dusky hours of cold morning and pass the time staring at the sleeping angel beside him and stroking the pitch-black locks of hair...
Unconsciously, Ed had once again begun to cry.
No longer caring and no longer bothering to try and deny the fact that he was openly showing emotion, Ed touched Roy’s cold right cheek in a gentle, trembling carress.
“You bastard Colonel,” whispered Ed, his voice cracking and tears dripped from his golden eyes.
“Stupid cruel Taisa, I hate you and I’ll kick your ass for doing this...”
No response. Ed’s tears came faster. His mouth ran on automatically. The words came from the depths of his soul, the words he meant every word of and needed to say but had not been able to express properly before...
“I’ll miss you, dammit,” he told the motionless body, running his fingers tenderly through the raven hair one more time. “I’ll miss you like hell and I’ll never forgive you for leaving me like this. I’ll never forgive myself either,” he added, feeling the sobs catch in his throat. “Never. I couldn’t protect you, even though I swore I would. And now look what happens. I leave for a short little mission and I come back to find out that you’ve gotten yourself killed. I was so mad, you know that? I was so mad that I destroyed the whole damn battlefield and killed pretty much everyone who was against us....I hated them, Roy. I try so hard not to hate or kill anyone, but I did hate them. And I don’t care. They took you from me, Roy. They took you away....Hawkeye had to whack me on the head with the back of her gun before I came to my senses. Then she told me I had been crying while I was destroying the battlefield, and screaming things no one could hear....she says a lot of people thought the end of the world had come.” Ed laughed, bitterly. “The end of he world, Roy! This is the end of MY world...the day I come back and find out you broke your promise and didn’t wait for me...” Ed didn’t know what was stranger--the fact that he was talking to a dead body or that it felt so right, so comfortable. But it WAS Roy, after all....and maybe that made it a little less strange.
Ed brushed his lips against Roy’s, tears sparkling on his lashes. “Goodbye, Roy. I wished you could have said goodbye to me....no, actually I don’t. I never want to hear you say goodbye....then I wish you could have kissed me one more time, before you left. Just once.." Ed blinked rapidly. Since when were there so many tears inside of him? “Goodbye, Roy. Goodbye, dammit, I love you....”
I love you...
Ed tore himself away from Roy’s side, eyes never leaving the pale, empty face, the closed eyes. Something within him commanded his legs to move, to carry him farther and farther away from the casket (which was now missing a chunk near the top). He could hear a voice inside saying in a firm, forceful voice,”Leave now, you can’t do anything more for him. He doesn’t need you anymore and you can learn to cope without him. He’s just one more casualty in this merciless war called Life....”
But another part of Ed was crying helplessly, huddled in a dark corner and whimpering Roy’s name. He could feel his heart breaking inside him; the pain engulfed his senses and took him over....
Ed was outside now. The rain had lessened somewhat, sprinkling gently onto his face and hair. Ed looked up in surprise; he had not realized his legs had carried him outdoors. The wind whistled softly through the leafless trees, ruffling the golden strands that had escaped the tight braid. Almost everyone had left by now, and Ed was left standing in the shadows, alone.
Alone...yes, he would always be alone now. Without Roy...without his stupid bastard Flame Alchemist who he loved so dearly...
Ed threw his head back and---facing the stormy gray sky, the ashy thunderclouds, the icy droplets falling almost apologetically onto his face---screamed as loud as his lungs allowed, hearing a roll of thunder echo his stricken voice,”ROY!!!!”
Ed awoke abruptly, still screaming. He sat up on instinct, his golden eyes blank with terror, his heart thumping at abnormal speeds in his chest. Upon realizing the screaming voice was his own, Ed allowed the cry to falter and die away, trailing off into the silence.
Recalling his horrid dream---nightmare, Ed corrected himself---Ed’s brain re-lived the terrible scenes until one thought pervaded his haunted mind: Roy.
Ed, against his better judgement, gave way to utter panic. Where was Roy?
The blonde whipped around, prepared to kill whoever had caught him unaware in his moment of vulnerability and discomposure. However, some part of Ed recognized the voice---how could he not? It was the one voice in all the world right then that was capable of putting meaning back into Ed’s life.
Indeed it was. Roy’s concerned face, framed with locks of messy black hair, met Ed’s eyes. “Are you all right, Ed? You were screaming and thrashing around and crying...you even took a chunk out of the bedpost with your automail hand, look---” Roy gestured towards said bedpost, which was conspicuously missing a hunk of polished wood. “I thought you’d gone craz---oomph!”
Ed had thrown his arms around the man, effectively cutting him off. He squeezed the poor Colonel’s chest mercilessly in a crushing hug of death, crying and blubbering incoherently.
“Wha---What the hell happened, Ed?” gasped Roy, struggling for breath.
Ed’s hysterical voice rose a pitch. Roy still couldn’t make out a word.
“Talk clearly, Ed! And calm down...”
Ed’s babbling ceased, but the tears didn’t.
“Better. But seriously, I’m having trouble breathing here...”
Ed did not loosen his grip.
“Okay...really starting to suffocate...”
Ed did nothing.
“Asphyxiation.....I see little spots...”
Ed still did not loosen up.
“...you trying to kill me here? I know you hate me, but I’m really...going...to die...if you....keep...this...uhh.....” Roy felt faint.
Upon hearing the word ‘die’, Ed immediately released Roy, who fell onto the bed, gulping in air.
“Air is good.....”
Ed reattached himself to Roy, more gently this time. He continued to cry softly.
“Okay, Ed...now that I am reassured of my continued existence....what the hell happened to you?”
Nothing. Then, ”A nightmare...”
Roy absently ran a hand through Ed’s hair, which dampened with sweat. Ed closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling. “What was it about?”
“You,” whispered Ed.
“No wonder you were crying,” snorted Roy. “Should have known....”
“It isn’t funny, Roy,” protested Ed, his voice wavering and choked with tears. He hugged Roy tighter, burying his face in the cloth of the man’s pajama top.
“What happened?” Roy’s voice was kinder now, having sensed Ed’s distress.
Ed did not answer. Instead, his embrace grew even tighter.
Ignoring the light-headedness he was getting again, Roy interpreted Ed’s silence correctly and said, softly, “You were dreaming about my death, weren’t you?”
Ed began to cry harder. “Yes,” he breathed.
Roy sighed heavily. “Oh, Ed,” he said simply.
“It was terrible,” Ed cried. “You were lying there...and Havoc was screaming and Hughes and Hawkeye were looking at you...and I couldn’t take it and it was raining and it hurt so bad....”
Roy didn’t understand any of that, but he made a sympathetic noise and rubbed Ed’s back comfortingly. “I would have thought you’d be happy, Ed...what with all the times you call me bastard and say you hate me and swear to kill me one day...”
Ed’s reaction was immediate. His head snapped up, his tear-filled eyes hazy. He looked Roy full in the face, right into the man’s dark eyes and said frantically, as though he was afraid he would never get the chance to say this again, ”Never, Roy. I will never hurt you and never even consider actually killing you. You hear me? I know I say all that, but I don’t mean it---I don’t And I can’t hate you, either, Roy. I will never hate you. I love you too much...too damn much....” His voice cracked. He hugged Roy tighter, more protectively. “And I won’t let anything happen to you. I swear. I couldn’t bear it if I lost you...in my nightmares or otherwise...”
Roy’s expression softened considerably. “Ed,” he replied soothingly. “Quit being so freaked out, I don’t plan on dying anytime soon.”
“But you might leave me anyway,” cried Ed. “Your damn military missions....you have no idea how worried I get whenever you go off for one of those....I keep thinking,’This is last time I’ll ever see Roy again. And I’m just letting him walk away...’ “
“Those missions can’t kill me,” said Roy confidently.
“There’s a first time for everything.”
“Yeah, well, if that happens I’ll leave my house and all the food in it to you in my will.”
“This isn’t funny, Roy!” Ed was becoming hysterical again.
“I’m sorry,” was the reply. And Roy really was sorry.
“Just promise me you won’t leave me,” said Ed beseechingly, hiding in Roy’s shirt once more.
“I promise,” said Roy without hesitation.
“Can you keep it?” Ed’s eyes were desperate.
“I can try,” said Roy mildly. “But everyone dies sometime...”
“Then I’ll die with you,” replied Ed firmly.
“It’s not a promise, it’s a fact,” snapped Ed with a bit of his old temper back.
“How could that be a fact...?”
“I can’t live without you anymore, Roy. I just can’t. The nightmare proved that.”
“You have Al,” protested Roy.
“Al is fine on his own. He doesn’t need me. But I need you, Roy. Too much.”
“And how do you think he’d feel if you killed yourself or something?”
“He’d get over it....”
“Would you? If Al killed himself, would you ‘get over it’?”
“There, see? So stop with this morbid talk. You’ll get along fine without me.” Roy ruffled Ed’s hair affectionately.
“Don’t say that,” whimpered Ed. “Don’t talk about when you might die...”
“It’s just truth, Ed,” sighed Roy. “Face it, I’m older than you. If I don’t die from sickness or some mission, I’ll still die of old age before you...”
Ed’s tears began to wet Roy’s shirt again.
“Oh, come on, Ed....don’t tell me you didn’t know that....”
Ed cried harder.
“Damn,” muttered Roy. “All right, Ed----”
He freed himself from Ed’s protective hug and lay down beside him, hands on the blonde’s trembling shoulders. Said blonde watched him with wide eyes. “Okay, here’s the deal: I promise not to leave you---for as long as I can, anyway. If for nothing else, I promise I’ll come back from every stupid mission just to see you again. All right?”
Ed nodded, too tired from his crying to protest.
“Good. But you have to promise me something, too.”
Roy’s next words were gentle, for he knew they wouldn’t be painless for Ed to hear. “When I die---yes, Ed, don’t cringe, I will die---you have to promise not to bring me back.”
“Why not?” Ed had been pondering that very thought. “Don’t you want to live again?”
“And if you kill yourself in the process?” Roy raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think I’d want to live without you anymore than you’d want to live without me?”
At this rare admission of affection, Ed felt a bit better. He smiled weakly, a smile that lit up his whole face.
“So promise, Ed.”
“I promise,” replied Ed. “But I’ve got another idea---”
“Oh, no,” groaned Roy playfully.
“When you go on missions....I want to come with you.”
Roy sighed. “You know I’d like that, Ed...but---”
“Don’t tell me it’s too dangerous,” snapped Ed.
“I know you can take care of yourself,” Roy smiled fondly. “It’s just...” he grinned sheepishly “I don’t think Hawkeye or the Fuhrer would allow it...and I don’t want to get shot, personally....”
“I don’t care what they say,” snarled Ed. “I’m coming with you from now on.”
“Don’t,” growled Ed. “That nightmare scared the shit out of me and I’m not letting it come true. So I’m coming along. Deal with it. If anyone tries to keep me from going---”
“Pity them,” sighed Roy resignedly.
“Exactly,” said Ed in a satisfied tone.
“You don’t need to protect me, Ed. I’m a good decade older than you are....more, even...”
“I’m well aware of that,” said Ed, burrowing into his shirt again. “But I like protecting you. I feel better when I do it.”
Roy laughed softly. “All right, then, Mother,” he said teasingly.
Ed growled, but without venom. “Shut up.”
Roy laughed again. Ed smiled a little, though it was hidden by Roy’s shirt. Nothing lifted his spirits like Roy’s laughter.
“Good night, Ed,” said Roy sleepily, lying back down and yawning. “No more nightmares, okay?”
“As if I could control them,” grumbled Ed, lying down with his arms still around Roy.
“Then turn them into nice dreams,” was Roy’s suggestion.
“I can’t,” protested Ed. “They’re too real...I can’t tell when I’m dreaming...”
“Then kill everything,” muttered Roy into his pillow. His sleepiness was making him just a little cranky.
“Oh, what a lovely idea,” replied Ed, rolling his eyes.
“I know. Don’t I always come up with great ideas?”
“Shut up, bastard.”
“Now there’s the Ed I know,” laughed Roy, hugging Ed lightly with one arm. The Fullmetal Alchemist sighed contently and snuggled closer to Roy. The older man dropped a kiss on his forehead and closed his eyes, sighing, ”Sweet dreams.”
“I hope,” Ed replied softly, a bit of fear seeping into his eyes.
“You’ll be fine, just calm down, for heaven’s sake. It’s not like I’m going to drop dead in my sleep right now.” Roy snickered at the idea.
Ed sighed unhappily and curled up against Roy, closing his eyes but far from sleep.
“I was just kidding, you know,” muttered Roy, closing his eyes as well. Since when was Ed so sensitive?
Silence enveloped the pair, a comfortable sort of silence. Outside, the darkness of night was fading away, giving way to the approaching dawn.
“Damn it, Ed,” growled Roy, but without anger. “It’s almost morning already. How on earth did you manage to talk to me for this long?”
“Your own fault,” mumbled the blonde. “You could have just ignored me and gone back to sleep.”
“Not when you were so upset over that nightmare,” replied Roy wearily. He flipped the covers off and swung his legs over the side of the bed, standing up gracefully despite his exhaustion. “Well, I’ve got to go...”
Ed caught his arm just as Roy was about to walk off to change. Golden eyes wide and slightly afraid, Ed said quietly,”Remember to come back...?”
It was a request, a plea.
Roy smiled and ruffled Ed’s hair affectionately. “I will.”
Ed smiled, let go of Roy’s arm, and promptly settled himself back under the covers.
Roy changed quickly into his uniform, running one hand carelessly through his already messy hair. Dropping a final light kiss on Ed’s cheek and receiving a grumpy ‘go to work already, you lazy excuse for a Colonel’ in return, Roy laughed and said, in a mock-commanding tone, “I’ll see you in the office later, Fullmetal.”
Golden eyes followed the Flame Alchemist out the door.