Burning Bridges

Henrika-Addicted to Fullmetal Alchemist as I am, I couldn't resist doing some interaction between Ed and Roy. Enjoy!

Roy Mustang was a logical person. He thought things through, either before or after the fact. When he entered his office that morning, sliding in an hour before lunch, he contemplated the lump on his couch. It was familiar, the red cloak and blond hair instantly giving away the identity of the person on his couch. Concern uncharacteristically seized his heart when he noted the absence of the lump's traveling companion. He rounded the corner of the couch, squatting beside the boy. "Fullmetal."

The blond didn't move. He was slumped over the arm of the couch, his head pillowed on his human arm. Mustang took stock of his condition. His automail was still intact, covered as it nearly always was. The deep black shadows ringing the boy's eyes spoke volumes and the occasional hitch in his breathing suggested nightmares as the cause. "Fullmetal."

He didn't seem wounded and there were no outward signs that he was doing anything other than sleeping. Leaning forward, Mustang noticed the report clutched loosely in the boy's hand, the bumpy left-handed scrawl detailing the events of their latest mission; written on the train back to Central. He switched tactics. "Fullmetal is so short he needs a ladder to see over ants."

Golden eyes snapped open, but there was a cloudy haze in them, leaving them glaring at the man in front of them purely out of reaction. The concern that had eased slightly seized Mustang again when there was no overreaction or snappy retort thrown back at him. Edward Elric sat up, slowly regaining awareness of his surroundings. He glanced at the clock on the wall and the glare returned with clarity. "Is there some reason you're never in your office unless Hawkeye is staring over your shoulder?" He handed the report to Mustang, who had stood. The black-haired man glanced over the pages.

"So you actually managed to avoid demolishing property this time?" Mustang smirked, ignoring the question completely. He expected the usual retort about his own skills, but the alchemist in front of him had flinched slightly, trying to hide it by looking down. "Where's your brother?"

"Rescuing some kittens he found over by the industrial district." Ed smiled, one of his rare true grins. "I said I'd go ahead and file the report." The grin faded. "Which is why I was here at 7 AM this morning after riding on the train all night. I expected my superior officer to be to work on time."

"Now, now, Fullmetal. You can't honestly expect someone as important as me to be in my office all the time." Mustang smirked again.

"Fine. There's your report. Mission completed." Ed readjusted his cloak and turned to leave, unable or unwilling to continue their standard insult volleys.

Perhaps it was fate the Mustang looked at the calendar or else he might have let the boy go. The brilliant black numbers on the wall gave the date as October third. Mustang knew the date had significance, knew that it involved Ed. "Fullmetal."

"What?" Ed whipped around exasperatedly, freezing when he noticed Mustang's gaze on the calendar. That look sparked Mustang's memory, bringing to mind a phrase, Don't forget. He remembered when Ed had turned in his pocketwatch all those years ago so he could investigate on his own. Mustang had opened it of course, saw the inscription that read 'Don't forget 3 Oct. 10' He'd had Hughes research the date, not surprised when it came back the date that the Elric house had been burned in Risenbool.

Mustang glanced at Edward who looked torn between bolting and breaking down. He tried a last-ditch effort to leave. "Unless you have another mission Colonel, I'd like to go find Al and get some sleep." He was almost to the door when Mustang stopped him.

"Edward." A fine tremor ran through the boy's shoulder as the automail hand tightened on the doorknob. "Did you manage to salvage anything from the house?"

"What house?"

"Your house. The place you lived in before you came here. The place you burned down on October third. The anniversary of which is today."

Edward didn't turn around. "When you burn a bridge Mustang, you don't look back. You move forward."

"Yet you carry the weight of the past. You carry reminders like this date." The elder man pointed out.

"Memories fade, but the past is still there."

Mustang resisted the urge to shake the boy who was still facing the door. "We can talk in circles for hours you know."

Ed sighed.

"Just tell me why you burned down your house." Roy had a feeling that that was the key to all of this.

Ed slumped against the doors. "You're a bastard, you know that?" He said, though there was no heat in the tone.

"I know. Why did you burn the house?"

There was silence for awhile. "It was the only way I could truly commit myself to fixing things. I burned the place so I couldn't come back to it, so I couldn't give up. I burned every memory because I had tainted it." Mustang heard the sound of metal crunching and realized his doorknob had been crushed. "But I've failed. I still go back, I still remember, and I still haven't fixed things."

Mustang was at a loss. He knew the boy carried guilt far beyond his comprehension and hid it extremely well, being beyond his maturity as well at times. This was a rare moment when Edward had let his guard slip, in front of him, of all the people he could have said this to. "Ed." He stopped, unsure of what to say. Ed filled in the pause, putting his defenses back into place.

"I tried to purify something with flames. You should understand that." He hauled himself off the doors, clapping his hands and fixing the doorknob.

"You can't carry the guilt of everything." Mustang protested.

Edward turned back, the smile on his face stopping any other words. "I've burned my bridge Mustang. I'll carry the weight of what I've lost till the end." And then he was gone, leaving logical Roy Mustang to ponder how what had started out as asking Fullmetal about his house had turned into his learning that Edward Elric was wiser than he could ever be.

Henrika- This fic wrote itself at the end. Turned out differently than I thought it would, but tell me what you think and review.