Waiting For You
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine; otherwise I'd have changed the ending to the anime and the movie. Once again, be warned that there are spoilers for the anime and the movie in general, especially the ending of the anime, and that there is implied shounen ai (Roy x Ed) in this story. If you're uncomfortable with that, please don't read this and flame me for not warning you. That said, happy reading!
I've heard people call me names behind my back. Hell, some even do it to my face.
Cold, heartless bastard.
They're right, you know. I really am one. I have to be one in order to get to top with my sanity still intact. I pretend that it doesn't faze me, but it scares me sometimes, how close to the truth they might be…
That maybe, my goal of becoming Fuhrer is not to make the world, as we know it, a better place. Maybe…
Maybe it's just my selfish goal. To have everything in the palm of my hand.
So I won't be lonely anymore.
It was after the last battle when I first started to think about it properly. My injuries had almost healed, reduced to just a patch over one eye and a limp that was barely visible. Riza still fussed over me, refusing to let me take care of myself. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate it, but somehow, having all the care and concern just didn't feel right. Like I didn't deserve it.
She told me that I had been in a coma for almost a week. The doctors had a ball of a time trying to bring me back from the brink of death, but they succeeded. Mostly.
She said that it was probably thanks to my stubborn streak, that it'd take more than a few pieces of metal lodged in me to kill me off. I wonder if she was right. I guess that means we have one more thing in common, wouldn't you think so?
What she tells me makes me think about how we first met. I remember, it was raining, and you were half-dead. I never expected you to live through the transmutation, but you did. It wasn't a pretty sight to see you lying unconscious in the Rockbell's house, bloody bandages and empty spaces where your arm and leg ought to have been. That was when you first caught my attention. I've often wondered why I extended the invitation of becoming a National Alchemist to a child, and why I'd always sent you on missions that were more complex than they appeared on the surface.
It was only when I was lying flat on my back, with nothing to do but think, after that last battle when I finally hit upon the answer. You reminded me of myself. But unlike me, you had the courage to follow your dreams. Compared to you, I was a coward.
You dared to transmute your mother, even though you knew it was forbidden. I didn't dare try. Even if Hughes hadn't stopped me, I doubt I'd have gone through with my plans to revive the Rockbells.
You dared to become a dog of the military, even though you knew what pain and hardship it would bring you. Yet, you never abandoned your humanity, you always tried your best to get around the rules that bound you. I wish I could say that much about myself, but the truth remains that even though I had staunch supporters in my climb to the top, I was exploiting them, and that I had thrown away my humanity long ago.
I can almost hear your sardonic laughter, see the way your eyes crinkle as your mouth twists upwards. I wonder if you know…
How much respect the Colonel, whom you loathe so much, has for you.
"Gone? What do you mean gone?" I struggle to sit up in the bed.
"You really shouldn't be moving around so much, Colonel." Riza slips her arm around my shoulders and helps me into a sitting position. "You've only just woken up." She starts smoothing down the blankets; Riza Hawkeye, the woman who doesn't fidget.
I grab her wrist. "Tell me what happened. Please."
There is a long silence, broken by the sound of Black Hayate's paw thumping on the floor as he scratches behind an ear. A nurse's trolley rattles by outside. The blades of the ceiling fan spin lazily in the afternoon sun.
"We received a report a few days ago. The Philosopher's Stone that was transmuted in Lior was destroyed, along with all the Homunculus, with the exception of Wrath, who has gone missing. This was the account given by one of the survivors from Lior. She came to Central with a boy named Alphonse Elric."
I jerk involuntarily. "Alphonse? Elric? Is he really Edward's younger brother?"
"I've only met him once. The physical resemblance is there, but he does not remember anything that happened the past four years. His last memory is of transmuting his mother."
Riza's eyes turn sad, and I know the answer before she speaks. "He's gone. There's no trace of him anywhere. Not even a body."
Equivalent trade, I suppose. A life for a life. Just like the first time we met. You probably knew what would happen if you brought your brother back, but you still went ahead with it. It's strange, knowing that I'd never see you again, never have the chance to poke fun at your height or entertain myself by engaging your sharp wit and even sharper tongue in an argument over nothing.
But it's stranger still, this feeling I have. I'm not as sad as when Hughes died, maybe because he was a closer friend than you were. But…
There's something in me, telling me that you're still alive. Somewhere.
I know I'll meet you again someday.
I stand stiffly at attention, ignoring the dull ache in my leg or the sweat beading my brow. The light is trained on me, the rest of the room is in darkness. I can hear the whispers of the panel, but I cannot hear what they are saying.
Funny, how things turn out. The last time I was in this situation, I was trying to buy you time. I was trying to protect you.
I was confident back then. But now… I'm not. Justifiable or not, what I did was unacceptable. And I am going to be punished for it.
The whisperers fall silent and a raspy voice speaks.
"Brigadier General Roy Mustang is hereby cleared of the charge of the disappearance of Fuhrer King Bradley due to insufficient evidence, even though eyewitness accounts place you at the scene. However, it remains a fact that you mobilized the troops placed under your command into a revolt against Central. Furthermore, you did not follow the orders given to you, but sent a subordinate disguised as you to the frontline while remaining in Central.
"Under normal circumstances, your abuse of power and act of treason would warrant an immediate discharge from the military. But taking into account your spotless record so far, we would like to hear the reason as to why you would do this. For the last time, I will ask you this question: do you wish to explain your actions, Brigadier General Roy Mustang?"
Do I wish to explain myself? Of course I do. All the years I spent enduring the urge to kill myself; all the sleepless nights haunted by the ghosts of my past; all the hard work I've put in…
Everything. Everything I threw away, because I believed in you.
But now, they won't believe me. Not even if I told them the real truth. Not even if I have evidence. Even if I did, what's the point?
I am past caring.
"No, sir. I have nothing to say with regards to my conduct. I will accept my punishment accordingly."
There is a silence. I can see my future crumbling around me.
"Very well then. The Council has come to a decision. Brigadier General Roy Mustang is hereby demoted to the rank of Corporal and will be transferred to the Northern Headquarters."
I appreciate Breda and Havoc's visits. It brings back the memories of happier times. But I am also reminded of my failure. Failure to see my dream through, and to protect you. Although I suspect that if I had actually told you that I wanted to protect you, you'd have thrown a fit and started shouting. It's an amusing thought, and the image of you stomping around screaming makes me smile.
I can hear snatches of their conversation, carried to me over the howling wind as I stand guard outside the cabin in the desolate landscape.
"Should have… Lieutenant Hawkeye… but… not… person… he's waiting for."
Riza. She was my pillar of strength during the time right after my demotion. But after I refused to pull myself together, or rather, didn't dare to pull myself together, she'd given up on me. Probably left me to finish sulking by myself. And truth to tell, it was nicer and easier to feel like a victim than to try to overcome all the obstacles in my path. I haven't seen her since the day she saw me off the station. And in a way, I'm glad I didn't have to see her disappointed gaze directed straight at me.
I wonder what you'd say if you saw me in this state, standing out in the snow. Probably thrown something at my head and called me a coldhearted bastard who only cared about himself…
It's been two years already. Where are you now? How have you been?
When are you coming back?
It takes the simultaneous earthquakes to bring me to my senses. That, and the appearance of the foreign invaders. Things like these don't happen by coincidence. And anyway, I'm not one to believe in coincidence, fate, whatever it's called. But somehow, I know. I just know…
The conversation I had with Winry confirms that feeling. She tells me that Al and Wrath have left for Central. They don't have any business in Central, unless…
My heart is racing even as I hang up the telephone. Could it be really possible?
I have to find out. I have to go to Central no matter what it takes.
I want to see you once again.
The train has barely pulled into the station when the ground suddenly heaves and the carriage is rocked by the sound of an explosion. I leap out and run to the entrance of the station. I stare up at the sky and am speechless. Giant machines flying effortlessly in the air? Where did they come from?
There is another explosion, this time closer to the station. There are screams as people start to panic. There is an empty car nearby, abandoned by its owner in favour of the train pulling out of the station, jammed full of people trying to escape Central. I get into the car and gun the engine, driving straight towards Headquarters without thinking. It's the first place I have to protect because you…
You stand in front of my desk, hands on the table, demanding why I didn't tell you this or that. I pretend to ignore you, but your tirade amuses me, even as you grow more irate at being ignored. You don't see of hear the others in the office laughing silently at you as you attempt to get my attention. And you always came back for more.
No, you're not there anymore. But still. I must protect that place, because I have friends there.
The road is blocked by debris and I am forced to complete the journey by foot. I arrive just in time. The armoured invaders have almost breached the defenses. I'd like to think that I saved the day, but there are more important matters at hand. Riza is there, and she salutes me with a tiny half-smile. It means that I have redeemed myself in her sight. But still, I cannot have her involved in what I am about to do, so I take off in the balloon before she even registers that I'm not fighting with my back to her anymore.
As I rise higher in the air, I see the blue crackles of energy beneath one of the airships. Then, a rapidly growing tower of concrete. With two gold-headed figures kneeling on it.
I can't help smiling. You're back. You really did come back.
I've often wondered how I'd greet you when we see each other again. Maybe I'd ruffle your hair and comment about how short you still are. Or maybe I'd just give you a nod and have a conversation with you like I'd last seen you an hour ago. Maybe I'd even give you a hug or a thump on the back. Or maybe…
"Looks like you bring chaos and destruction with you the minute you return, eh, Full Metal?"
Your outburst is expected, but it's toned down. Maybe you're just too focused on the battle ahead. Then again, maybe you did grow up, wherever you've been this past few years. It suits you, this slightly more sober and mature personality that you've taken on. I'd tell you so, except we're too busy dodging bullets and the like.
I wonder, did I come by myself because I wanted to meet you alone? Well, I wouldn't have met you alone, because your little brother is here, like a shadow, as always. Still…
I guess I did come in useful, because I'm the only one among the trio with the speed and accuracy to take out the weapons at a distance with my alchemy. But as both of you disappear into the interior of the airship, I have a weird feeling. As though I'm going to lose you again.
Al comes out first. There is an explosion and a column of smoke from the hole where he exited. I grab onto him before he gets swept off the wing by the air currents. And when you appear, I know what you have decided. Your eyes were always particularly expressive; you made a terrible liar whenever you tried to cover up your reports about your assignments.
I have to hold Al back as he desperately lunges towards you. But you turn your back on us. You don't say goodbye. You know that you have to do your duty. And that is all that matters.
I wait until you have vanished completely into the darkness of the airship before I release Al. He falls to his knees, sobbing at being separated from his brother once more. I sigh in exasperation.
"What are you waiting for? Get back up there, you idiot."
He stares at me incredulously.
"The longer you wait, the further we fall from that ship. Get going!"
His eyes light up. I imagine that you will have that same glow in your eyes when you see that you're not alone in the other world.
"The gate, it's in the underground city…"
"I know. Now, go!"
He claps his hands together, just like you do, and there is a flash of light. A thin pathway extends back towards the ship we were just cut off from, and Al scrambles nimbly up it, back towards his brother. When he reaches the top safely, I break the base and watch as the airship does a nosedive back towards the hole in the ground where it had come from, before I set about to scratching an alchemical array on the piece of junk I'm freefalling with and activating it.
I arrive at the underground city after a few detours and hurried explanations to the others after I landed. You've probably reached the other world by now.
I hold up my hand, ready to blow the gate to pieces, but I stall.
Is it because I'm afraid you haven't reached the other side yet? That, if I destroy the gate here, you might be caught in limbo between two worlds? What if the gate on the other side was destroyed before you got back?
No… it's not that… I already know, deep in my heart, that you have arrived safely. Then, why?
I'll never see you again.
Is that the true reason why? If I destroy this gate, perhaps, your only route to come home will disappear. And I'll never see you again.
There wouldn't be any harm in leaving the gate as it is, right? Then that way, you can come back…
But this was something you entrusted me with, although indirectly. And I know that you trust me to do it. I cannot imagine what will happen if this situation were to occur again, just because I wanted you to come back.
Even as I hesitate, I feel a calm settling over me. Somehow, I know that you will come back one day. Both of you. And you won't need this gate to do that.
I snap my fingers. The gate explodes, as does the ground around it bearing the transmutation circle. Another pile of rubble in an already collapsed city.
And as the dust settles, I feel at peace with myself. And I understand what was happening, this whole time when you were gone…
"Take care of each other… take care of him, for me."
I want to see you again. And next time, I won't let you leave..
… I was waiting for you.
My first FMA fic! This was pretty hard to write, considering the fact that I haven't written for a million years. It turned out different to how I wanted it to, probably because I was rushing to finish this before the plot bunny abandoned me, so this took a total of 2.5 hours to write… bleh. Could have been better if I didn't start writing it 1 hour before I was supposed to go sleep.
The Roy x Ed pairing has always been a rather interesting one, IMO. But that doesn't mean I don't support Roy x Riza. So the whole story is actually open to interpretation as to the exact relationship Roy has with both of them.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please review and let me know what you think: D