Some spoilers to the end of the series and the subsequent movie.
No One But You
It is days like this that I really understand what it is to have you not here. She turned twelve today, Maes, twelve. Elysia's really growing up, almost faster than I can count. She is just like you, wandering around with her camera and eagerly taking pictures of everything she sees.
The trees, the stars, her neighbors, her dog, her Uncle Roy. Whatever her innocent little eyes can take in, she captures with her camera and in a way, captures my heart.
It is so cute that it makes my spirit ache. So much like you… you would be so proud of her; you really would.
My reasons for wanting you here are purely selfish. I still love you; did I ever tell you that? Did you know or was I too much the stubborn bastard? I should have told you because I valued what we had. Every last kiss and touch, every last murmured good night in the darkness when no one could hear but just the two of us…
There were many women who tasted the body of the Flame Alchemist, even before you married her, but they could not touch my heart… that only belonged to you, Maes.
I never resented her, you know, never felt any hatred towards Gracia for taking you from me, for having your affections. She is truly a beautiful woman, in both body and spirit. I can understand your attraction.
She was so lucky to have what I could not. Damn societal values and perceptions of what was right and proper. She could hold you when she chose, touch and feel everything that made you real… as I have always wanted.
I think there was a part of her that knew. She could tell what I held in my heart, and she never faulted me for it.
"We all loved him," she had said to comfort me on the day of your funeral. It was her husband that had died yet she was trying to soothe my tormented heart. "Some of us more than others," she added in a more quiet voice, something behind those soft eyes of hers.
Gracia is a good woman, Maes. You chose well. For the path that we were forced to take, I am glad that your road was not too ragged, not too rough.
Still, there are days that I wish I had not been such a fool. If I had been there when you called… if I had not allowed the fate of those two boys to cause me to act stupid, I might have been there for you… I would have been there for you. I failed you on that day, though I know you would have sharply chastised me had I said that to your face… had you lived.
There is an abrupt sense of loss in my life, without you here to rein me in and make me see reason. I make mistakes, simple little things that I should have known better. I was so stubborn… so prideful, and I almost lost my life because of it, instead sacrificing only my eye… and in a way, the very thing which made me the Flame Alchemist.
Considering what you had given, it was a small price to pay.
I always thought that life wasn't fair… that somehow it seemed the short end of the stick was always being offered to my drowning self. I think I see myself as a monster of sorts, whose humanity has been taken by the things that have happened to me. That inside I have only a void where my feelings should be and everything outside is just shallow and false, a mask.
But I never really considered the validity of those thoughts until the day all my worst fears came to head.
Edward, lying in broken and battered pieces in a hospital room, and you… taken from me by the hands of a monster. You died alone, thinking only of your family as you wished you could say one last goodbye.
I wish that I had been able to say goodbye.
I was angry at first… so very angry. You made me a promise. I would rise to the top, and you would support me all the way. It was the best we could do, the best that was available for society's rules… for the way life had dealt our hands.
But it was a sad attempt at facing the pain… a pathetic way of coping with the very grinding of emotional destruction in my heart. Did you know that I still dreamed of you? Even after you were gone my heart still thought of what could have been in another time, another world… another life.
There was even a time that I considered following Edward's path. In the dead of the night when I lay alone, gazing up at the ceiling and running through the very events of the day. Elysia's impassioned cries, wondering why her "Daddy" wasn't coming home. Gracia's fight against her tears, clinging to her daughter tightly as if afraid to let go. Me simply standing there, fighting back my own sorrow and solitude.
I wondered how hard it could possibly be to create the Philosopher's stone.
I was tempted, Maes. Oh gods, I burned to try and bring you back. Not just for me but for them, too. Elysia should have a father and Gracia, a husband. It was not right.
If anyone should be lying beneath the dirt right now, it should be me. For my mistakes and wrong choices… if anyone deserved such a fate it is me. Not you... not a good man like you.
In the end, I made the decision not to but only because I knew you would not have approved. And seeing the pain that Edward had gone through, the near-loss of his brother, I had to make sure I stayed around for them. In a way, they have helped to heal my heart, giving something else to live for, even as my heart still lied in shattered pieces from your loss.
I cannot imagine moving on. I cannot imagine attempting to love another or settling down with someone…. anyone who is not you. I am content to spend my life with my memories, with whispered names on the wind and gentle touches ghosting over remembered flesh… calloused fingers and emerald eyes… grinning… You always smiled, even when you were serious. That I cannot give up, that I cannot forget.
My heart will not allow anyone but you, Maes. No one but you.
It still craves your presence, aches to hear your voice again, even if that was all I could have. My memories and your friendship, they are all that society would allow us, all that the military would consider decent among men.
There is pain in the still of the night when I am alone, dreaming of secret times, quiet liaisons, and stolen moments. How you felt buried deep inside of me, how I sounded gasping beneath the warm weight of your body, the reflection of dim light on those glasses that you refused to take off… so you could "see every expression" on my face.
After a while, I was forced to learn where to put it, where to hide so that my suffering did not show. Whether it was on paper or within a locked up box deep inside.
I've met someone, Roy. I think it is time we faced the truths of what we cannot have…
I've met someone…
Words, so many coursing through my mind, things you have told me… things I remember and things I would rather forget. Moments where time froze, stole my breath, and drained me of all that I still clung to.
I've met someone…
There was a time I had dreaded those words, a time I knew that they were inevitable, but I feared them nonetheless. A man like you, at some point someone would come along who would also see what I saw. Someone you could actually be with… without the secrets and the dark.
I cannot hate Gracia. I cannot. It is not her fault, the blame is ours, the blame belongs to society and rules. Like our liaisons, our shared hearts, I held my secrets. You even made me your best man.
Everything had its place, in all its necessity. And with the burying of my emotions came a numbness of fear that I had forgotten how I felt. It only made me wonder if I was even capable of doing so, of truly caring.
I worried that as the years passed, I would forget what it was to even have you, if merely for those moments. I agonized that I would not remember how it felt to have your love and so I grasped onto each memory, locking it in a place that no one else could touch. I would not allow it.
It is Elysia's twelfth birthday… and though no one says it, I can see it. I can feel it in the air. You are on everyone's thoughts. She is growing old without you, we both are. It hurts so very much, and the pain never dulls, never grows easier to bear. But it does become lighter; it does. It becomes something that is a part of you, like it has for me.
I wish you could see her, the smile and laugh that is so much like yours, though she is beginning to look more like her mother now. She has her eyes and genial character, her outlook on a positive life and inner strength that enabled her to survive her father's passing.
That bright grin though, the irrepressible curve of the lips that never seems to fade, even when she is trying to tell me something important… that is all you.
Do not worry; I will make sure no harm comes to your family. I will continue to look after the both of them. They are after all, as precious to me as you were… are. It is the least I can do.
Though I still think and dream of you, Maes. I believe that I can bear it, this weight; it is a comfort to me. It is how I know you are not truly gone and someday… when I can rest beyond this life, when all my responsibilities have been as guarded as I can give them, I will find you again.
We can go to a place where the only thing that matters is love. I can be happy in your presence, though I know that your heart belongs to her. I can be content
in the moments I was given. I could live in my memories, live in the times when I was most happy.
Yes, I think that will be my heaven, if indeed a man such as I, is worthy of that place.
The first thing I would say to you… I have long thought of that.
There will be tears more likely and welcome hugs, and if I am lucky, perhaps an innocent press of lips, something that I have longed for. There will be words, so many of them. Things that were left unspoken that should have been shouted to the world.
I love you, Maes. I think I always have.
And on that moment when I see you again… it will be the first thing I say.