1 If Happiness Forgets You
D M Evans
Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition. Time Line - Post Anime but with a vastly different ending (and hey some elements of the manga in there for good measure including a spoiler for issue #38 and 57
Pairing - let's just say it's polyamorous with both m/m and f/m pairings and if that bugs you, please don't read.
Rating - FRM
Summary - With the government reborn, and the brothers still wanted by soldiers loyal to Bradley's memory, Roy and Riza have their hands full. The last person they expected to see in Rush Valley was him.
Author's Note - Thanks to Mjules for all the betaing and suggestions. The story is better for it. This story is unusual for me since it's heavily anime influence with just a hint of manga (instead of the other way around), you'll see some things are very different than the ending of the manga however (like anything pertaining to Earth, the movie or Ed's fate). I chose this route mostly because I wanted to poke out Roy's eye and deal with the reality of that loss.
Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it. Jacques Prévert
Did he know that man? Mustang wondered briefly, finding himself coming under scrutiny in the crowded streets of Rush Valley. The lanky form seemed somehow familiar as did the loose-limbed walk. The pale, almost white hair wasn't familiar and Roy couldn't tell anything about eye color from this distance, not to mention the thick glasses obscuring the view.
The man seemed particularly interested in Roy, enough so that Roy found his thumb resting against his fingers in anticipation and his mind doing quick calculations to be sure to limit any civilian involvement. Roy had to turn his head to track the man.
Damn it! He hated his loss of depth perception and the huge blind spot. His hand involuntarily reached up and touched the patch covering the hole in his head where an eye used to be. The doctors said the socket was still too swollen to have a glass eye put in. Roy wasn't sure he wanted one. He'd let Riza make the call when the time came. She was the one who had to look at his ruined face when they made love, after all. It bothered her; he knew it did, but for all the wrong reasons.
With a subtle lift of his chin, Roy indicated the tow-headed man to Riza. When the man turned away sharply, Roy caught a glimpse of dark roots in his hair, a bleach job. Was this a man with something to hide or just a man who liked to alter his appearance for vanity?
"A danger?" Riza asked lowly, her hand resting on the butt of her gun.
"Not sure." It was a concern given how the military was now and how the fledgling government was struggling. Things had been crazy ever since Ed used the Philosopher Stone to call his brother's body back, losing the stone in the process. Ed remained still half a man but somehow didn't seem too horribly disappointed. Getting Al back had taken the edge off the young man's guilt, and made the automail less heinous.
Here in Rush Valley, Ed seemed more self-conscious than other places they had stayed in as they moved about, trying to hide, possibly because the poor boy spent half the time stripped to his shorts in public with automailers oooing and aaaahing over him like love struck girls. Roy almost felt sorry for the young man. Winry didn't help matters. He was surprised the girl didn't just parade her creation through the street like a show pony.
Roy had been dispatched, in spite of his rank, to watch the brothers. The new parliament feared that the brothers could be at risk from Bradley's supporters. Less than half the military actively backed the new government. Another quarter did what it was told without thoughts one way or the other. There were many high-ranking members who had broken away to regroup and try to reclaim Bradley's dream. No one was sure if they knew Bradley was a homunculus or not; either way, it didn't change things.
Roy knew this assignment was also to allow him time to heal from his wounds and to hide him as well as they hid the brothers. He had been the one to bring down 'the evil dictator' hellbent on wars they couldn't win. Mustang was a hero to the new parliament and retained his new rank as a brigadier general. His whole team had been promoted, except Ed who was deemed too young. Riza had come with him as his aide and more so because her sharp shooting skills were deemed necessary in protecting the brothers. If anyone suspected she was his lover, it was ignored and if anyone knew she was having severe doubts about herself ever since the incident with Archer, that too wasn't being addressed either.
Regardless, Roy was now saddled with keeping the boys safe from the remaining homunculi - or homunculus since the only one they knew might have survived was Gluttony - and other threats. He figured Rush Valley wasn't exactly the most unlikely place to find them if anyone knew about Winry, but it was big enough to hide in well. Roy meant for them to hide, and having some man staring at him was disturbing.
"He looks familiar somehow," Riza murmured, moving closer to them.
"Yes, and way too interested in us," Roy said. "Time to get interested in him. Can't risk anyone following us back to the Elrics."
Riza nodded and turned, heading off in the opposite direction. She cut up, out of the man's line of sight, traveling north, paralleling him. Roy would need to herd the man to catch the stranger between him and Riza.
The tall stranger picked up his pace, obviously aware Roy was following him. Roy had two advantages to balance out the other man's longer strides; the uniform, which cleared the path just by being bright blue and his slight form, which met with far less resistance from the crowded streets. Roy hoped it wouldn't become a foot chase. He was still in no shape for it, getting easily winded after the damage done to his lung. Riza popped out from the alley a block ahead of them.
The stranger cut hard to the left down another alley but that proved to be a miscalculation. It was a dead end. "Damn."
"Done running now?" Roy's fingers twitched, unused sparks forming.
"What do you want with me? Don't military dogs have better things to do than harass citizens?"
The man's voice sounded oddly familiar but Roy was sure he didn't know anyone with a southern regional accent. "With the state of the military today, we're all a little paranoid, especially when we come under surveillance." Roy moved closer as he saw the man eyeing the fire escape as a potential way out of the alley.
"No one was looking at you, dog. Shoo, I think your master's calling you." The man leapt for the escape.
Roy caught his arm, spinning the man around before he could get a hand on the rung. Roy pressed his fingers together, ready should the man have a hidden weapon. As determined as he was to escape, Roy suspected he did. There was something eerily familiar about the man's furious face, now that Roy was finally getting a good look at his features. The hair color was wrong. He was too well shaven and the glasses were all the wrong shape. Roy's gut twisted and his legs could have been stirred with a spoon. He could feel color leaving his face. "Ma-"
The man clamped a strong hand over Roy's mouth, bearing him back against the dirty wall. "My name is Luc Gibson."
Roy shook, prying the man's hand away. "You son of a bitch!" Mustang's fist lashed out, catching the other man in the eye. Roy suspected Hughes had let him hit him since he barely moved. Roy knew his supposedly-dead friend was a much better fighter than that. Mustang hit him again, wincing a bit, having forgotten how much it hurt when muscle and bone collided. He depended on his alchemy for the most part. He wasn't a brawler.
Hughes, however, was, as Roy was reminded of this when his friend counterattacked and the battle was joined in earnest. Roy realized he should have gotten away from the wall before hitting Hughes the first time. He was hemmed in and Hughes had the longer, stronger reach and a lot more bare-knuckled talent. He also fought dirty as hell. Two rapid fire blows crashed into the blind side of Roy's face, which was still very tender, flooding his solitary eye with tears of pain. Those blows were followed up with one to his solar plexus, leaving him sagging, gasping for breath against the filthy bricks.
The cocking of a pistol was thunder sharp in the alleyway. "Back away from him now."
Hughes complied without taking his eyes off Mustang. "You can relax, Hawkeye. I'm just knocking a little sense into our boy." He looked over his shoulder at her, that familiar smirk in place.
Hawkeye stumbled back, her gun wavering. "Hughes," she whispered.
"Don't know the man. My name's Luc Gibson." The smirk widened.
Roy pushed of the wall, wiping a trickle of blood from his lips. "What kind of game are you playing at?"
The smirk disappeared and a very unaccustomed grimness settled over Hughes' features. "A lethal one."
"I thought you were dead!" Roy swallowed hard. "How could you fake that and not tell me? How could you do it to your family?"
Hughes tore his shirt up, displaying the scars on his torso. "There wasn't much faking involved, Roy. The people, and I use that term lightly, who did this had to believe I was dead. It was the only way to keep my family safe." He let his shirt slide back down. "And I needed you to keep the investigation going very subtly. They wouldn't expect you to be able to solve it, but I knew you'd figure out something."
Roy scowled. "I tried."
"I know. Armstrong and Ross told me." Hughes said, and Roy felt gut punched again. Armstrong knew? "They tried to feed you what information they could, from what I've uncovered. I know how Bradley and the others underestimated you,"
"Eventually I became a threat," Roy said, his hand floating up to touch the eye patch.
"I heard you'd been hurt but I didn't realize..." Hughes reached for his friend.
Roy batted his hand away. " You trusted Armstrong and Ross but not me? What about your wife?"
"She knows," Hughes replied, not meeting Mustang's eye.
Roy's eye slotted. Riza took a step toward him and Roy froze her with a glance. "Then it's me you didn't trust."
Hughes' lips thinned. "Don't be stupid."
"Stupid? Oh, I think I've probably been that for a long time now." Roy pushed past his friend. Hughes grabbed his arm and Roy cocked back a fist. Hughes dropped his hand. "Come on, Hawkeye. We've taken up enough of Mr. Gibson's time."
"Roy," she said, holding out a hand to him.
He whirled on her, stunned to hear his name while she was in uniform, furious because he knew she didn't want to leave this alleyway. "That was an order, Captain."
She glanced away. "Yes, sir."
Roy stalked off. He didn't slow even when he heard Hughes telling him he'd be at the Nobody's Inn tonight. The invite was clear but Roy didn't want to hear it.
"Sir," Hawkeye called after him.
Roy picked up the pace. He hated the fractures building in his pride. Tears trickled down his face, an ugly wash of grief, anger, betrayal and joy. He dashed them away, unsettling the patch over his ruined socket. The eye might be gone but the gland was still there, soaking the black cotton.
Finally, Hawkeye dared to grab his sleeve. "Sir!"
He pulled free. "I'll be fine."
"No, you won't. Roy, I can't imagine what you're feeling," Hawkeye said, her own feelings leaking into her voice. He knew she had been fond of Hughes, too, had missed their odd relationship. "Or what the brothers are going to think."
Roy shook his head violently. "You can't tell them, Riza."
"We have to. He was like a father to Ed and Al." Her eyes misted up.
"And he'll guess they're with us. It's up to him to tell the brothers," Roy said, hating himself for it and for what he was thinking. "We don't know if he even wants to see any of us again."
"I'd say telling you which bar to find him in is a big clue that he's not going to just disappear," Riza replied, cuttingly.
"Hawkeye, I can't have this conversation now. I just can't." He held up his hands. "Please, let it be."
"Fine," she snapped. He heard the tears in her voice. Most people would never had understood how he, Riza, Gracia and Maes had fit together but it worked for them. He knew his lover was hurting, too, and he felt terrible because he didn't have the energy to spare and to help her.
"I'm sorry, Riza. I know I'm being selfish but I can't help it." He glanced over at her and saw from her face that she didn't disagree with his self-assessment. Roy didn't know how he was going to make it through the day and do his work. There was nothing but chaos inside of him.