The grass was fresh-cut, and its scent lingered in the air. The wind was still. The sky was a pale blue. The air was cool, but not too much so that those without the heavy blue, formal military clothing weren't cold and we, wearing those formal clothes, weren't too warm. The weather seemed perfect for today's occasion...and how could I forget...the neat little graves scattered about, in rows, a gaping hole open to lay another loved one who had passed within. Yes, the weather seemed perfect for the occasion. Perfect for a funeral.
Everyone was here...those who knew him directly or indirectly. Well, except the Elric brothers. They had set off not long before Maes had fallen. Fallen...such a nice way to put it. He was dead. Gone. Never coming back. And my heart wasn't the only one broken because of it. He had such an impact on many lives...
We all saluted as they brought his coffin, at least, all of the military personal did. They were carrying him slowly, carefully, with the respect and grace he deserved. He was a great man and deserved the extravagance he was given, if not more so.
Armstrong, Archer, Hawkeye, even the Fuhrer had showed. Ross and Brosh...So many people had come to show their respects to the man who had come into everyone's lives, flaunting pictures and being the flaky man who had placed himself in harm's way for me. And of course, Elysia and Glacier Hughes were here as well. The moment they had started burying him, I heard her cries, and I was surprised that I was able to hold my composure. Armstrong and her mother, and many others who knew him could no longer hold their tears, but somehow...I found a way. The man who was the closest person in my life, the one who brought me from the brink of destruction...the one who saved me...
"Mom, why... Why are they burying Daddy? Why are those people burying Daddy? Why?" Elysia begged for an answer. She was young. Too young to understand the concept of death. She shouldn't of had to...it should have been me in his place...I had nothing to live for!
"Elysia..." I heard Glacier's voice ring out softly, sadness laced within the single word. Elysia continued on pulling on her mother's sleeve, I watched, unknowingly. I didn't want to see them lay him to rest. Hadn't knowing he was dead enough?
"I don't like this! If they do that, Daddy can't work anymore! Mom, stop them!" Her pleas to her mother...they tore at my heart, still I remained strong, and my face remained passive. I couldn't show emotion, watching them cover the bed of his resting place.
My eyes turned back to her and the little girl she pulled into her arms, crying, holding the confused girl in her arms. "Daddy said he had a lot of work to do. Make them stop! Don't bury him, Mom! Daddy! Daddy!"
That's what I wanted to say.
'Don't bury him!'
'He's not gone!'
'He has a job to do!'
'He can't go...'
'God can't have him! He's mine!'
'I don't want him to go...'
All things that had been repeating in my lonely heart since they started this. I wanted him back. I wanted to see his eyes, to hear his voice, to feel his warm touch, to smell that strange scent of his that always made me curious as to where it came from...I wanted him.
The people were leaving. He was buried, it was over. However, I didn't join them. I wouldn't join them yet. I wasn't ready to accept his passing, not yet. Here was the proof before me, and my head had accepted it, and was ready to move on...but my heart was the one who was lagging behind. I was expecting him to come up behind me and say it was a cruel joke. I'll probably be waiting a long time.
"Killed in action, and promoted two ranks...Brigadier General Hughes, eh?" I remained behind, staring at his grave. I knew Hawkeye was still there, probably telling everyone to wait, or try and get a ride with someone. There was to be a luncheon afterward, the Fuhrer had arranged it. But my musings were focused here.
I had removed my hat, my hair slicked back to go with this formal occasion, though a few bangs hand escaped and hung down on my forehead. However, I was still not able to bring myself to break down.
"The guy who said he would work under me to assist me...went above me. How absurd..." I paused for a moment, staring down at the grave marker and the ring of flowers left there. "Fool."
"Colonel..." Yes, she had remained behind me, waiting for me. She was always a faithful one.
"I have built a theory on human transmutation before. I was trying to remember it just now. Alchemists are such sick living things." Why did I tell her? Maybe because I was expecting her to scold me as Maes had when I went and pulled that mistake, studying the art of human transmutation. But now, I was angrier that he didn't bother to tell me anything. He left me in the dark, and when he decided to confess everything to me, he was killed! All because I didn't trust him enough to stay behind in East City! "Why did he not tell me if the Elric Brothers were involved? There was no need for him to do this alone."
Finally, Riza's voice rang out through my darkened mind. "Perhaps he meant it for your own good."
Hm? I turned to her, not even noticing that she was wearing a skirt. "How so?"
"When those brothers are involved, you sometimes cannot make a calm decision, Colonel." I stared in wonder at her. Was that true? Was I not always in my right mind when it came to them? But she continued. "Brigadier General Hughes kept the information about the Elric Brothers to himself...so that you can head to the top without any worries, Colonel."
Until the end...he was focused on my goal. Not his family, or his safety, but my goals. And I would never allow that to slide.
My nightmares...they will haunt me, and add another amongst the horrid ones I was already experiencing. That Hughes' death was my fault, and there was nothing I could do but sit and watch from the sidelines. Turning back to the grave, I brushed my hair back and slipped my hat back on.
"It's starting to rain." I stated calmly, as if I really was talking about the weather. I wasn't, but that wasn't the point. I didn't see Riza's expression to that, but after a moment of silence I heard her. "Yes." And, for the first time since I learned of his death, I allowed a tear to escape. That was my reason for the rain excuse. Silent tears...
I'll make sure your death was not in vain, Maes Hughes. I will do what you had decided to help me with, and I will get through this, knowing that you were there when I needed you. I still need you...that ache will never fade, but it's more manageable, because I know you're still here, still pushing me up from underneath.