Title: Bittersweet Promises (1/2)
Author: Lucifer Hisaki
Rating: R overall
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Pairing: Light One-sided Hughes/Roy implications, Ed/Roy implications, Ed/Alter!Roy
Summary: Everything is connected, especially if your first name has "Roy" in it. Feuer "Roy" Shiroima is a victim of visions about a man who is like him but not. The moment he is saved by a blond young man with molten gold eyes, his life changes. This summary does not do this fic justice.
Disclaimer: Don't own the fandom and I don't know if I have rights to Alter!Roy or not.
Notes: POST-MOVIE. Character Death, Angst. Fic submission to the Green Lion contest at Scimitar Smile Fic Archive. Didn't win anything though. Review? Please? Convince me that my writing is not crap-shit? I am greatly sorry if you are very confused. You're not the only one.

Bittersweet Promises †

It was strange, standing there again.

Only this time it was raining.

Light rain, an insult to his soul—his heart.

The moon was out overhead still, its light befalling on brass buttons and gold metallic medals of stained sinful honour, gleaming the black of boot toes, bill of a military issued cap; dark blue uniform absorbing the light and the rain into a harsh cold darkness of longing. Shadows gathered around wistful eyes of regret and pain, open for all to see if they only bothered to look. Rain seeped deep into thick fabric, reaching, touching, drenching the cotton black undershirt within; spreading further until water touched flesh and bone. Wind whooshed around him, chilling the air more than a winter's hail, mirroring the barren ice land of his heart, fluttering the tails of his dress uniform, creating small waves in the black of his sash.

It had been raining for far too long.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Rain fell with its supposedly soothing sound of sympathy but to him it was agony. Each drop, each sound, each moment of rain only brought memories of pain to him. Though, in reality, the harshest of rain he every encountered was his own.

Fingers roamed the surface of marble, the wet surface bringing a new cold to his soaking gloved white fingers. Manmade crevices brought agony and ache into his heart; a lone eye reading each cursing letter.

He had been here many a time before. Reliving sins of memories and regrets. Recounting everything that he had done in the past for the one six feet below him, a corpse of nothing but a restaurant for the earth and its inhabitants to feed upon slowly but surely, leaving behind nothing but two hundred and six ivory bones ready to be stained with dirt, grime and age. Nothing to be left of a man, a friend but a skeleton no one cared. Sooner or later, the plot would be used again for another death's funeral, the process beginning again.

A graveyard of memories long forgotten, never to be missed.

Each letter held different meaning but placed together, it became overwhelming. He wished it would rain harder, soaking his skin with cold and numbing pain. He wished he could die. But not this night, not this time. Not when he was so close.

His dream, his goal, it was finally back in reach.


And now he was alone.

It was strange.

The words choked him, throat tightening in wistful, painful longing. He stared at the tombstone with heavy eyes. Opening his mouth was the easy part; it was the speaking that made him hesitant. He wished someone was there but he knew this was the way it was supposed to be. He was alive. Maes Hughes was dead.

Roy Mustang was living.

Brigadier General Maes Hughes was dead.

General Roy "The Flame Alchemist" Mustang was alive and about to reach the crown he had long sought.

Maes Hughes, loyal friend and confidante, wasn't there to see it.

He closed his eyes in pain, wanting no more than to see Maes's face once more smiling at him. Taking a deep breath, Roy opened his throat, trying to say the words that brought the Alchemist to the grave. His uniform was more adorned with medals of sin and pain than ever before, reminders of the acts he had done to get this far—without his friend, his secret love. No words left his throat. Roy swallowed heavily before trying again.

"I-I did it," came out hard and fierce. His throat tightened more; it became harder to breathe, to speak, "Maes… I did it. I'm here. I'm going to be… Fuhrer."

Roy traced the letters of the grave marker harder, wanting nothing more than to speak to the body below his feet in person, to see the scuffled face smile with celebration and happiness. To forget the memory of a cold, empty sleeping face in a wooden coffin. Shaking his head, he tried to remember the speech he rehearsed in his head the moment Hawkeye allowed him a month's time for leave, to rest before the inauguration.

"I r-rose through the r-ranks without you here," he continued, choking on his words, breathing deeply, wanting to calm himself, to be the suave Alchemist everyone knew him to be, to put on his charade, his mask, once more. "I did it without you, Maes. You should have been here.

"With me."

The rain seemed to lighten even more but that didn't stop maelstrom in Roy's heart. His fingers tried to dig deeper into the stone. The Alchemist wanted nothing more than to be stone himself, unfeeling, unknowing, uncaring granite and marble only shaped by others with no will of his own. Once in a while he would have liked the role of the puppet but his pride and his dream would never allow him to be one of those mindless marionettes. Not anymore.

"Lieutenant Colonel Hawkeye gave me leave, Maes. A month's worth," he replied after a moment of silence, a deep breath inhaled, "The first thing I thought of was to come and see you. To yell at you. You were supposed to be here with me. You were supposed to help push me to the top. You weren't supposed to die, damn it!"

Roy shook his head violently, his hand slipping to the top of the gravestone, gripping the dark blemish white marble hard, knuckles whitening under the pressure, his breath quickening, hasting once more. Wracks of agony swept through his body, his shoulders shaking in the light rain. "You were my best friend, my damn almost-brother; we swore that we would always be there for each other, Maes. Where are you now, damn it? You're dead. Ishballa damn dead, Bastard. You should have known better! You should have told me about them. I could have helped. Being Fuhrer so soon could have waited. You would have been still be here for me.

"I know I'm being selfish, I know it's not your fault but I can't help it, Maes," he growled falling to his knees, his head banging lightly against the stone, the cursed letters glaring at him and his lone eye; so close to him, they blurred into everything and nothing. "You promised to be there for me, always. Now look at where you are! You're below me for good this time, Maes. I need you damn it! I always need you!" More than ever now.

"We need your expertise, Maes. A war is coming and assassinations have been abundant. They're killing our Fuhrer-elects, Hughes. …I think I might be next Maes. Our intelligence isn't the same without. It never will. You were the damn best we had. We need you." I need you.

"Maes…" Roy stared absently at the grave stone, not knowing what else to say. It had been years since his friend's demise. So many years, each year feeling like an eternity of hell, each month a walk through the gates of the Inferno, each day a knife cutting deeper and deeper into his gut, twisting with each hour, harder by the minute, falling deeper each second. Each breath he took, it felt like his last. A suffocating hell of living death. Nothing was ever the same.

It will never be the same without you, Maes. Just like it will never be the same with Fullmetal storming through my door. All I have left for living is my goal–our goal–to be Fuhrer. To bring peace.

Maes… I need you with me. I don't know how long I can support my own weight.

...My men… can't support me for long.

Suddenly, Roy was falling forward, pain flaring from a point of his neck. He felt his blood leaking out of him, voices speaking a foreign language, his vision, his world going black. His last thoughts were of a man with amber eyes and spectacled eyes and a blond teen with molten gold orbs of emotion. He whispered their names, not caring if it was out loud or just in his mind.

Then he knew no more.

† † †

A wail of harsh agony jolted him back to the present. The vision gone for the moment.

He looked up from his position on the floor, the cries of a woman in pain filling his ears with that scream of discontent, of horrid roars, of torturous screeches. Staring at her, he felt pity for her, sympathy for going through with what had to be one of the most painful experiences in her life. Tears were in her eyes, the panting of her body heavy, breath shortening with each gasp. Her hands gripped the edges of the surface she was on hard, knuckles white with the pressure and bawling grew louder.

Wanting nothing more than to be done with this, to see nothing more happen to this woman, to have no more blood on his hands. He continued his efforts, futile as they may be, to help her but in the end it was only a painful torture of deceiving words and lies that gave her life. The blood on his hands stained through his once pristine gloves and into his pale flesh. His skin was soaked in the crimson. Assistants fluttered in and out.

Still the screams climbed on top of themselves, he could hear nothing more than the howls and the harsh breathing of his own. He stopped his false promises, concentrating on his task. The stains grew larger, he felt himself drowning in them.

An old pain filtered through his intense devotion to his work, flickering in the back of his mind, originating from behind the cloth that hid the scars of his past. He ignored it with the shrug of his shoulders, pressing his hands harder against the women.

The female's screams deafened all ears; he felt the desire to cover his own, to stop the wails of pain from reaching his heart, his soul. If there was one thing he hated about his job it; he hated the screams. It was the one thing he could never truly ignore. They came back to him in his sleep, disturbing his slumber, wrecking havoc on his dreams. And as easily as they could be heard a new squeal of something else reached his ears.

For as long as the torture he put the woman and himself through. It was over.

In his arms lay a new born girl, covered in blood, flecks of crimson stained blond hair matted against a small fragile skull. She was too small, in his opinion but beautiful nonetheless. This angel was the reason why he chose his profession amidst the racist-torn world that is now his exiled home. Shaking his head lightly, he cut the life rope that led from the babe's abdomen to her mother's womb with ease. He smiled gently at the mother before frowning, turning his head so the woman would not see.

Standing up, he walked to the pile of towels and blankets on the dresser's surface, wiping as much blood as he could from the girl's body. The girl was premature, he could tell from the size of her body but hopefully she would live. She had to. He hated to lose lives but what he hated the most besides the screams were the useless, futile sympathy he gave to his patients' families. No matter how much he did to comfort, it was useless.

The doctor shook his head a bit more as he made sure the girl was breathing properly before walking over to the woman on the bed. His smile was bright and somewhat forced. The woman's midwife dabbed a wet towel on the sweat-soaked female's forehead, an exhausted but jubilant look on the latter's face made some of his charade real. It was… nice. This was another reason to why he took this job. To see the joy on their faces. Helping people, he knew, was his calling. He could see no other path for him to take.

If only I can understand these visions better though, he thought as he gently placed the babe into the woman's arms. His smile grew more kind and relieved, watching the mother stroke the soft skin of the newborn in her arms. Making a note to give her some painkillers later, he rose from the bed, walking to the door, opening the threshold to stare evenly, but not making eye contact, at the three men he had left there. The woman's husband, the tallest of all the men and the only brunet in the other room, looked at him expectedly. Smiling gently, he gestured them to come inside, head bowed, not meeting their eyes to return their inquisitive gazes.

He could feel the eyes of molten gold from one of the shorter blonds staring at him intensely but he paid them no mind.

They might have saved him but he did not know why they looked at him with disappointment. With regret. With longing.

Once all three worried men were inside the bedroom, the doctor spoke softly in a kind even voice, not bothering to raise it to be heard, knowing already they would listen, "She's very healthy but not out of the woods just yet." He kept his head down, using his ears to listen to the babe's breathing, hoping to his deepest part of his heart that nothing will go wrong. The baby was a very beautiful and innocent spirit of life.

"Her size tells me that she is premature… and some do not last for long." He let slide the worried gasps, already used to the haunting sound, that rang through the room, "but from what I can see… she will live for as long as there is care for her. She breathes well for a premature."

Walking to the other side of the bed the midwife tended to alone, he stared smiling into the closed eyes of the newborn. "Tell me… what is her name?" He looked up to amber eyes of the father, then to the crisp blue of the mother.

The father smiled at his child, joy in his eyes, the worry the doctor gave him falling to the back of his mind, a finger prodding the body of his offspring gently. The wife remained silent, nodding to her husband on the name they must have decided before.

"Her name," the father started, "is Alicia. Alicia Hughes."

Bowing lightly, the doctor returned the smiles the parents gave him, "A wonderful name for a wonderful babe. So it is, so it will be. Welcome to the world, Alicia Hughes."

The other men rounded the bed, wanting a closer look at the child. He stepped back to give them room, falling into the shadows of the other room, close enough to hear any cries of dismay so he may return. His family was long since dead. He was alone in the world and needed no real reminder of that. Helping others was what he lived for now. His bags were still near the door of the house, dried with caked mud. It was a miracle the contents were intact. And such was a miracle that he was alive.

Only a few hours before was he lying in the dry caked muddy dirt, almost ready to die without a clean drink and food, when the blond with gold eyes tripped over him.

His stomach growled lightly. He ignored it. He pushed away his own needs to help that of the mother, just as he always had in the past. What he did was for others. His own selfish needs could wait. It was just his way in life.

It made him who he was. Feuer Shiroima.

Sitting against the wall on the floor, he waited, eyes closed for when he would be needed once again. It was the least he could do to those that helped him in this country. A country that he didn't truly know if he belonged or not. With a grim smile, he swept away all those dark thoughts of his family past. He didn't need them now, nor any time at all. What had been done cannot be reversed.

Live in the now, not the past but learn from roads one has walked, look to the future but do not dwell much into it.

His personal proverb. It served him well.

The wind blew through the windows, the sunlight filtering through, most likely wishing to see the new babe in the other room. It felt comforting and warm on his weary body. It was the start of a new day and the week of rain had long since passed. Refreshing to his soul that he almost wished he could leave but he was needed there, just in case. Not to mention he hadn't the chance to thank his savior fully…

They also promised a good meal, his first in days.

A shadow fell over him causing him to look up into those eyes he didn't want to look into, he quickly turned his head away. It wasn't polite to look at others in the eye. The blond man cleared his throat, ready to speak as the doctor stood up to listen fully. Absently he noticed the other was half a head to a quarter shorter than him, most of his attention was on the words that escaped from a thin mouth.

"So who the fuck are you," the blond quietly yelled at him, hissing; forcing his neck to straighten, trying to look him in the eye but the doctor kept his eyes away.

Responding just as quiet, he briefly wondered if he should lead the other to a more isolated part of the house they were in but his need to stay near in case of anything stilled his muscles, "I am only a humble wandering doctor, sir. I come and go as I please."

The blond growled lightly, trying to keep his anger down, anger that was indirectly pointed toward the doctor. He had no knowledge of why he had drawn that ire from the younger male, part of him wanted to know why. "Sure, sure a doctor. That's fucking obvious. Tell me your damn name, Colo—" The blond cut himself off and again the taller man wanted to know why.

Keeping his interest out of his voice, he simply replied, "Feuer Shiroima. Feuer is my family name. Most people tend to call me Roy, however."

If possible, the blond's eyes narrowed, glare intensifying, muttering, "Roy. You just had be named Roy. As if one Colonel Bastard is enough, now I have to deal with two in my life time. As if this day can get any worse. You don't fucking act like the Bastard I know. You had to be different. You so fucking had to be Colonel Bastard with a gentlemen's pedigree."

"Excuse me?" Roy wondered what he did wrong, "But I believe you have me at a disadvantage, may I ask who you are?"

"Elric. Edward Elric," the blond, Elric, spat out the name, "Don't you dare call me shrimp, short or pipsqueak, Bastard. You got that!"

Roy blinked in confusion, wondering why Elric asked that of him. He nodded nonetheless, determined to get answers as to why the blond felt so much hatred for him. If only indirectly, somehow he knew he wasn't the true person at fault. He probably never was. He opened his mouth to ask for clarification when the midwife, Noa if he remembered her name correctly, gestured them back inside.

He smiled at the dark skin woman, wondering why she was blushing lightly at him but walked inside, head bowed in respect. Waiting for one of the new parents to speak up, he felt Elric stand behind him, a sentry against what ever loamed in the future, guarding not only the family but possibly himself. Roy was the stranger in this house, with his exotic looks and pale skin; his large black eye-patch of something over his right eye, covering not only the socket but a good portion of that part of his face.

Elric growled lightly but a look from a much younger dusky blond hair male silenced the sentry.

For a moment, he thought of kneeling but Roy decided to stand to gain a better look at the child, "Is there something you need me to do, Ma'am?" He ignored the angry sounds that came from the blond at his back with practiced ease of years past.

"Thank you," the mother whispered to him, "no one else would have came."

Roy shook his head in modesty, "I believe they would. It is I, who should be thankful. You all saved my life." Elric snorted. "And it is my pleasure to help bring your beautiful daughter into this world. It is my, after all, my profession as a man and a daughter." Again, the irritated blond interrupted him, once again he continued, "May I be blessed in knowing your names, Mr and Mrs Hughes?"

The father looked up from his intensive staring at his daughter, "Of course," he stood up, walking over to Roy, holding out his hand. "My name is Maes Hughes. The lovely woman," his smile brightened, gesturing to the exhausted woman, "on the bed is my beloved Gracia."

Nodding in acknowledgement, Roy took the hand into his own, noting it's strength. "My name is Feuer Shiroima. Feuer is my surname, yet most people choose to call me Roy rather than trying to speak my given properly," he smirked slightly, noting the widening in the eyes of the other blond male in the room, the one he could see but he could feel some shock from the man behind his back. He wondered if he did something odd. "It has been a pleasure but I suppose I must now be off—" His stomach growled loudly as if in protest.

The rest of the group laughed.

"I suppose it will not be too much to ask for that promised meal before I leave," he asked lightly.

The new mother, Gracia, smiled gently at him before turning his attention toward Noa, "Noa? Be a dear and help fix a hearty lunch for the nice man? I think I… would like to sleep now." That caused Maes to start fluffing her pillow rapidly but gently, worriment in his eyes, drawing a mirth-filled laugh from everyone else. To Roy, it was cute and full of devotion. He briefly wondered how that would feel if it was toward him.

Noa nodded, bowing her head to Roy which he returned. He heard the girl speak to Elric, leading him away through the door. Roy walked to the bedridden woman and took her side, sitting on the edge to take her pulse and temperature. The husband looked worriedly on but he merely smiled at Maes, indicating everything was fine. The other blond stood silently off to the side. Roy turned his attention to the newborn girl before he was satisfied. "Everything is fine for now, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes."

"Please," Maes asked, "Call us by our first names, Roy. We are friends are we not?" Roy returned the grin the bespectacled man gave willingly to him. For a moment, Roy felt as if he knew the other man for years.

"Maes and Gracia, then," he continued, nodding his head, "I suggest you rest, Gracia. Birthing is a very taxing ordeal for women and you do look as if you need it. Shall I assume Maes will want to stay with his family?" Roy tilted his head, knowing the answer already, moving away from the bed, toward the door.

The blond followed him, waving to the couple and their newborn, a bright smile on his face. Roy waved a small goodbye as well before the two unlikely companions found themselves in the foyer. The young man stopped soon after they closed the door, "I'm Alphonse Elric and I'm sorry about my big brother's attitude but…"

Roy stopped as well, "But what?"

"You remind him of someone from long ago. You look like him almost exactly," Alphonse continued, bowing his head, "You even sound like him, Mr. Feuer."

"Roy. Please, call me Roy and may I call you Alphonse?" Roy raised an intrigued eyebrow.

Alphonse nodded, "Roy, please forgive him. My brother and… him didn't really get along. I don't know why really but he always baited my brother, calling him short…" The blond shook his head lightly, probably in amusement, "I'm really sorry but he's normally not like this to strangers but your resemblance… is very striking, Roy. When you spoke back there… you really sounded like him, if a bit nicer and polite, sir.

"He was… my brother's commanding officer."

His eyes flickered toward the commotion in a different part of the house, he could hear the dishes and pans being rattled and used. "Your brother was military." It was not a question but Roy could see it, "He, however, was maverick, wasn't he? I don't see him as the sort to just follow rules blindly. He seems… nice." Nice wasn't the word he was thinking of but it would do.

The blond chuckled lightly, "He's the best brother I could ever have."

Roy turned to speak but Noa's voice cut through their conversation, calling them for lunch. A light smile lit his features, his body moving to the smell of food, mouth salivating with longing. It had been too long since his last meal. But when one was different, in religion or ethnicity, in this town, this country, discrimination was first of one's worries and fears. Roy had the bruises and beatings to show it.

Smiling at the dark skinned woman, he took a seat and gave his thanks to all of them. It looked delicious and it was. He noticed Alphonse didn't follow him but he paid the younger Elric no mind, thinking that perhaps he had something better to do than to sit down for a meal. Although he does look like he needs it. He is almost too thin to be healthy, Roy thought absently, digging into the meal before him. For leftovers, it was incredibly scrumptious.

The meal was eaten in silence, the blond, Edward Elric, glaring at him completely between bites, staring as if he wanted to see the insides of his soul. Roy paid him no mind.

It was a good meal.

Especially when Elric choked on a chicken leg when he accepted Maes's (no doubt Gracia forced him out to have some food to fill his stomach) offer of staying for a long while just so Gracia and Alicia have someone in case of an emergency.

† † †

Dear Winry,

Gracia and Mr. Hughes finally have their baby! And you wouldn't guess who is the doctor that overlooked the birthing. No, it's not brother which I think he's really glad about. We found the Colonel's double! And yes, brother is flipping out about it. Then again he was the one to find Mr. Feuer. (His name is Shiroima Feuer, btw. But he asks everyone to call him Roy.)

It was really odd or some weird twist of fate for Brother to find Mr. Feuer. He was lying in the dirt all injured and bruised. Mr. Hughes said that if Brother didn't find him, he might have died. I don't know about that but Colonel is strong… this guy, he's not military, Winry. He's a doctor! He certainly acts more polite and nicer. It's weird, I think.

Mr. Hughes is almost exactly like the Lt Colonel only more serious but I think that's because he didn't have a kid. I'm somewhat happy Mr. Hughes doesn't have a camera just yet. I can just imagine what sort of chaos would come of that.

Anyway, Mr. Feuer was really in a bad shape, I think brother must have been in shock when he found him in the alley, covered in dried blood and mud. He looked really bad when he came in to the house but Noa and I managed to clean and bandage him. I think Mr. Hughes offered him a hot meal and that's why Mr. Feuer decided to come with us. He awfully seems to be the sort who wouldn't want to burden himself on others.

Well as soon as Mr. Feuer was cleaned up, Gracia started going through her contractions and he changed in front of our eyes. We didn't know he was a doctor then but we were really lucky to find out he is! Brother and Mr. Hughes were out looking for a doctor to help Gracia. Her water broke earlier in the night, by the way. He really turned out to be very commanding. Brother said, "Yup, he's a Mustang all right." Though I'm pretty sure no one really heard him besides me. They just wouldn't understand, you know?

It had been a long time after Mr. Feuer and Noa disappeared into Gracia's room. I thought I aged a century just waiting for it to be over! Mr. Hughes was so white, I think he broke the armrest he was gripping so hard. I'm almost sure I heard wood snapping and breaking. Brother just watched the clock while he paced. I wonder if it was this bad when Mom had me.

They named the girl Alicia (I think it's this world's version of Elysia). I was somewhat expecting it, Winry. I mean… they're still our Hugheses but different cause they lived a different path than our worlds. I think it's the same with Mr. Feuer being this world's Colonel. I touched her too! Even carried her!

She was very cute!

In a way, I'm happy I was there. Especially since I never got to hold Elysia really at her birth because of the you-know-what. I'm not bitter about it but it's still a sore spot for Brother.

I better finish up soon. Lunch is going to be served soon and I had to write this after I asked for Mr. Feuer's forgiveness for my Brother's behavior. You know the one. I really wondered why Ed is so much against Mr. Feuer.

I have a feeling that Mr. Hughes would be giving Mr. Feuer a room here for some time. Probably the rest of his life just so Alicia has a doctor on hand for everything! And it would be nice to have one just in case Brother busts his prosthetics!

Write to you later again,

P.S. I was right. Oh and brother choked on a leg of chicken when he heard Mr. Feuer agree.

† † †

Arriving at North City station, Roy had to admit it was very deceivingly calm. Too calm. Then again all the hustle and bustle that was North City had been subdued by the war with the Drachma military, a war Amestris had no intention of starting, much less participating. But that was too much to ask for from a country that was completely barbaric in culture, hostile in military affairs. Regardless of the Brigg mountains separating the two countries, the people of Drachma wanted war, yelled for it, screamed for it, pounded the mountains with their blood-stained hands for battle.

They assassinated potential leaders for Amestris just so they can create their own holocaust.

Roy was one of the few left untouched.

Hawkeye became an ever present shadow at his back, protecting him, shielding him, just as she always had for years. Ever since Hughes died and before then still. It didn't help weeks before, Roy was found by the Central city's cemetery groundkeeper unconscious in front of Hughes's grave. He remembered nothing of what happened, only feeling a cramping in his neck.

The Flame Alchemist didn't like it.

His memory was sharp and remained to be so. It never ceased to fail him before, even when the Elrics were still in Amestris, bless their souls wherever they may be now. Roy looked away from the empty streets to the buildings, forcing the image of a bandaged child on a bed-arm and leg gone by a taboo long made known-out of his head. He is gone, a memory long past. Don't bother trying to remember, Roy.

Roy looked back toward the streets, walking with a confidence that he did not truly feel. Their destination was at the nearby prison where they managed to capture some of the people involved in the assassinations of the other Fuhrer elected candidates. It was, to most, suicide to watch the executions first-hand but Roy knew he had to show his power. Of all the still living Fuhrer-elects, he knew he was the most likely one to be chosen by the council of Amestris. He needed to exert his power as a General and as an Alchemist.

Even if it did mean burning those assassins alive.

A feeling that leaved more than a burning bitter taste in his mouth. It was times like these he wished he never joined the military but he had a dream to achieve. He promised so many to reach it. It was all he had left.

The car ride was uneventful; his crew merely looked out the windows to the cold autumn fields of North city. Winter was fast approaching and all didn't want a winter war. Many men and women had died during the skirmishes along the border. Already graves were filled with nothing more than bits of bones and metallic tags of the fallen. Some were sent back to their families but most left their final marks on the battle fields. Roy could hear the cries of women and children in his ears. His country cried. He fiddled with the cuff of his glove. The rough material of his gloves felt like a blade in his hand slicing the flesh, drawing the blood in an agonizing fashion; a splinter in his lion paw that refused to be plucked away so easily.

Soon they found themselves inside the outside walls of the prison. Cold, harsh and cruel wind attacked them the moment they left the confines of the car. Roy knew then something was off. Hawkeye shifted her grip on her handgun. Havoc lit a new cigarette, the butt of the previous, crushed on the ground with the heel of his foot. Fuery, Breda and Falman hung in the back, a shield protecting the first three, quiet sentries ready and willing to fight for their commander. Roy chose them well. Hughes chose them well.

Lines of light skinned assassins were placed against the far wall of the prison, the head warden nodded at the newcomers. Roy's hands sweated inside the pyrotex gloves he donned. There was no need for words to be spoken. They would just be empty, meaningless.

Roy swallowed the lump in his throat, hand poised to snap away those barbaric men and women to dust.

His fingers snapped but the explosion that occurred was not one of his own.

Chaos erupted in a rain of bullets.

It happened so fast. One minute Roy was standing, ready to drive those assassins to their makers. The next Hawkeye was ordering everyone to get him to safety, firing magazine after magazine at the unseen enemy. Havoc pushed him toward the prison building, Fuery and Breda soon after. Falman, off to the side, covering Hawkeye.

It wasn't supposed to be like this!

Then all he remembered was Falman's blood—and other things he didn't care to think too hard about—splattering on his face, the man shielding his body from a fatal bullet's flight. Roy's lone eye widened, skin paled. Pain flared from his right arm, his vision flickering black.


† † †


Roy jolted awake on his spot on the couch, a hand covering his forehead, sweat drenching his body in torrents. He looked around the room, hoping he didn't wake anyone. The clock said it was only two in the morning. Shaking his head, he wondered why it felt like he was truly there.

Only a dream, a vision, it's not real. You don't know a Falman. You never did, Roy. Just breath, calm down. He swung his legs off the couch and onto the floor, gripping the armrest hard to steady himself, standing up on shaking legs. "I need a drink…"

The floor felt cold against his bare feet, his blanket dropping to the floor, exposing his scarred bare chest and thin white pants. He passed by the master's bedroom, checking in on the weeks old babe and her parents. Roy smiled gently as he noted all three were sleeping peacefully.

His stride to the heart of the home was uneventful, only the light of the moon guided his way through the slivers of curtained windows. It was peaceful, tranquil but Roy knew it was only the calm before the storm. He could sense it brewing in the hearts of the natives. Thule Society rumors, whispers of blood, longings for battles, desires of reaping the living. He had seen it happen before but in this home, if only temporary, Roy fell into the false safety.

Even when a pair of gold molten ire-fueled eyes laid upon him every time he and Elric met.

The midnight bustle of the streets were the only symphony he heard and it was the only one he needed. Roy, by necessity, had become a night walker in sense. It saved his life more than once. So far he had been fortunate to be offered a board for sleeping in exchange for his taking care of Gracia and Alicia even though it was to the protest of Elric. Alphonse merely smiled at Maes and said it was good for them to have a live-in doctor. The elder Elric just walked off and wasn't seen for the rest of the night. When he returned, Elric made an effort to ignore or patronize him whenever possible. It was unfathomable.

Yet, Roy didn't place too much thought on the blond. It wasn't his business especially when he knew he was not at fault.

Finding a bottle of bourbon in one of the cabinets, he took it out reluctantly. He didn't want to burden himself on the kind couple but he knew that he needed something strong to help quell the remnants of the dream, vision, whatever. It wasn't easy seeing these visions of people—he supposedly knew dying—in front of his eyes. Even though he woke up before "Falman" fell, he knew. The man died. Having one's brain blow out literally was a good indication of such.

Obviously the connection between him and his "dream" self had to be close if he felt part of his soul shattering. But nothing compared to the dreams and visions he had years before. A vision of two doctors surrounded by their own blood. The feel of a gun in his hand, cold and heavy. A dream of a scared child with a rifle wearing fright-filled eyes of terror.

This vision was nothing truly compared to that.

He backed down a shot of the bitter liquefied amber. Fast and hard. It was exactly what he needed, the harsh flow of merciless liquor flooding the back of his throat. It was essentially painful. Just the way he liked it. He wasn't a drinker by nature but he knew when he needed a drink. Settling himself in chair at the wooden table, Roy looked outside the window. He only needed the light of the moon to see, there was no point in announcing he was there to the rest of the house.

"What are you doing here, Bastard?"

Roy turned to the blond in the doorway, "Good Evening, Mr. Elric."

The blond didn't look at him, opting to walk straight to the table and sitting down. They didn't exchange glances. It was always like this, they never made eye contact despite Roy's nature not to meet the eyes of anyone but from what he could tell, Elric always made eye contact. It made him who he was: forward, confident, determined. Roy sipped slowly on his glass. The full moon glared down at them from the window over the sink, its silvery-bluish light filtering the room in mysticism and mystery.

"Is there anything I can help you with," he asked staring at the moon in thoughtful tranquility, "It is the middle of the night, after all and it is unhealthy to be awake at this time. You do need sleep. It's good for the body and the soul."

Elric rolled his eyes, Roy could feel it, "Can't sleep, really."

He raised an eyebrow, "Want to talk about it? I know we haven't been on the best of terms though it's mostly your fault, Mr. Elric. I have no clue why you insist on having this feud with me. All I know is that you have some sort of ire toward me. May I ask why?"

"You look like him," the blond mumbled, head nestled between his crossed arms on the table. It was so soft that Roy could hardly hear the blond, "only not."

"Who," Roy blinked in confusion, "do I look like?"

"Mustang," was all the boy answered at first; the brunet stared at the Elric's hands in confusion. They were shaking. What for? Roy did not know. He sat there silent, drinking his bourbon. The bitter burn ravaged down his throat. "My commanding Bastard of a Colonel with a god complex," the blond clarified, head still nestled in his arms, "I never really thought much of him before I got Al back. And it wasn't until I saw you in that damn ditch, bloody and injured."

Tilting his head to the side, he stared at the window, "…You thought he was invincible?"

Elric gave a harsh laugh, "He seriously gave that sort of appearance, the Bastard. He was always sticking his face in my business, every single time despite what I told him." A rueful smile touched the blond's lips, his head leaving its nest to stare out the window. Roy saw this through the corner of his eye. "He always butt in, no matter how much I told him not to, yelling, insulting, whatever. You name it, I probably did it. Fuck, I was so young then. I done so many fucking things before I was even thirteen and Mustang was there during the real shit of it or at least in the real bad aftermath."

Roy didn't like the empty smirk on the blond's face. It struck at the heart of his soul with the darkness that it embodied.

"He was always there for us, always knowing exactly what I did, what we did. I don't even know how he knew, just that every single time I made my damn report, he would already know what I had to say," the blond snorted in irritation, "It was despicable. And the worse thing is that he never took me seriously, at least up front. I hated him, really hated him."

"So you are angered at me because of this web of hate?"

"No," the blond sighed, "I don't hate him anymore, don't really think I ever did really. I was a kid back then, a stupid naïve boy that grew up so soon. Al and I lost our mother when we were really young and we did something stupid. So stupid, it was considered taboo. My life—our lives—were never the same and it could never be termed normal. At least until Mustang came in. Insults and all, the Bastard."

"What did he do?"

"He gave me a routine, something to follow with little change. Each time I go and give him my report, I knew what he was going to do at least roughly. Insult on my height, being a fucking know-it-all about my last mission, berate me about my mistakes, rant about the spending I shot to hell… All of that. It was… nice, I suppose. Even if he had an ego the size of Germany," Elric chuckled, "There's this one time we dueled and I suppose I think then I understood him a bit more, even though he never told me why he hesitated at the end."

Roy blinked once more, briefly telling himself to stop doing that. "You dueled?"

"Yeah, we did. Though I was the one to throw the gauntlet to him, Mustang accepted," something of a smile reached the edges of Elric's lips, "In the end though, he overpowered me but then… he froze. I don't know why but his arm started shaking and a haunted look was on his face. Kinda like he was remembering something he didn't want to. He never told me what he remembered but if it was anything like the shit I gone through… heh." Elric laughed darkly, "Let him have his secrets. I would kill to know what it was though."

The brunet nodded, standing up to grasp another glass from the cupboard. He placed it in front of Elric, who looked up at him but Roy avoided his eyes. "You look like you need some of this." He waved a hand over to the whiskey in a manner that Elric's eyes widen slightly, "You do know how to drink it right?"

Elric smiled lightly, reaching forward for the glass with his left, "Yeah, I do. Don't like the stuff but I think you're right."

The moment their bare hands touched, Roy felt his vision flick, knees weakening and the table coming closer to his face. The last thing he felt was a pair of arms wrapping around his body, stopping his body from hitting the wooden table hard. He relaxed into them, the odd cold and warmth of the arms around him, resigning himself for another impromptu vision.

† † †

Writing a letter to any family member of a newly dead soldier is hard. Especially when one had seen the soldier die in an act of protecting oneself. It was, by no means, fair. But life was never fair. Roy should know. If it was, Hughes might still be alive. Would be alive. The pen in his hand refused to write another word as the wind from the open window blew a cold breeze, hinted with snow and ice, into the room. It was almost a far memory of the time he once lived in these parts of his country. Of when he thought he could rise no further, when he could only live with himself by settling with the lowest of low, wallowing in his self-pity.

So many years had passed since then. So many.

A pair of gold, molten eyes burn into through the memories in his head. Even now, he knew he would never forget Fullmetal. Just like he knew he would never forget Maes Hughes.

They were unforgettable.

Roy would never forget them, even if he had a choice to. They were too precious to him, though he would never admit that to anyone. He had loved them, still loved them but as what he didn't know. He didn't want to know. It would only make the guilt in his heart heavier. Just like each word of his letter was another bullet in his body, piercing him but never being the fatal blow. The blow he was waiting for all his life.

His hand was shaking, but from the cold or the reluctance to admit that Falman was dead, he did not know. It was only yesterday, hours before actually. Now here he was, writing a condolence letter to a family he never really known, never really met. Roy and his subordinate were never truly close, but the latter's death was a striking as Hughes. Once again, he felt he took his soldier's life for granted, like Hughes's.

Never take anything for granted, he remembered someone in his past telling him. Never.

But he did, he always did, even when he tried not to. It was hard to deal with loss, any loss, especially one so recent but Roy knew he had to pull through. Just like he knew he had to go back to that prison and truly exterminate their attackers. Hawkeye tried to convince him not to go through with it but now… Now it was personal.

Roy's hand clenched hard around his pen, any harder, he would crush it to pieces. Taking a deep breath, he stood up and ran a freezing, bare hand through his jet black hair, peppered with grey strands. So many years. He glanced at the ceiling, wanting nothing more than a bottle of whiskey or bourbon on hand but there was none.

Discarding his black coat, he draped it over the chair, walking to the window, staring out to the cold landscape that was North City. A frozen wasteland, he humoured, "Is this what you want me to lead, Maes? This barren land of no human sympathy or individuality? Of puppets and their cruel masters?" Roy's smile was grim, "I'll change this world. I can't die until I do. I can't come to you until I finish our dream. It's what we strive for, what we sacrifice for, what we die for. A brave new world."

Closing his eye, he breathed in the scent of decomposing humanity, of coming ice and snow, of death. He could feel the remnants of Falman's ruptured skull on his face, the blood, guts and brain bits that fell on him like rain. Useless. He could taste the coppery salt of crimson life on his tongue, the bitterness of life destroyed. The yells and shrieks of terror and need filling his ears. Was it only hours since he witnessed Falman die? Hours or minutes? Moments ago.

Gloves laid on the desktop, lying innocently next to the damning letter he was writing when he felt them, a gaze on his back. Unnerving in every way, it belonged to no one he knew but it was not hostile. With a heavy sigh, he turned.

Roy's lone eye widened.

"Who are you?" The words dropped from his mouth before he realized it. The image flickered.

The illusion looked at him, mouthing words that Roy did not hear but somehow did in the depths of his mind, …Who …are …you?

The General's stare turned blank but inside he was worried, was this death at his door? Was he going to die? Pain flickered in his arms, his vision blinking black as the mirage of the man before him disappeared and reappeared before him, "I'm Roy Mustang."

I'm …Roy …Shiroima …Feuer…

The Alchemist's jaw dropped, "You're… me?"

Roy was looking at himself but it was not him. Roy was looking at his Mirror. His Other. His Alter.

Then the world turned black and he fell to the floor in a thud, excruciating pain surging through his body, his vision turning into a void of nothingness.

† † †

When Roy woke up, he found himself staring into the worried stare of one Edward Elric, "…I spoke …to …him," left his mouth before he knew it. The blond blinked in confusion but Roy moved his head away as not to stare straight into the gaze of molten gold. He tried to stand up but a hand on his shoulder prevented him from doing so. Roy sighed lightly, cradling his head in his fingers, elbows rested on the table. In this new "vision," he found himself staring directly at the man he had become in his visions But, at least, he has a name now… "…Roy …Mustang…"

The hand on his shoulder froze before Roy found himself pulled back, forced to stare at Elric in the eye. He tried glancing away through the corner of his eye but the blond was determined, "What did you say?! Look at me, Bastard! Damn it, Roy. Look at me!"

So he did, he stared at those twin gold eyes with his lone single one, "All I said was Roy Mustang? Do you know him? …He looks like me…" He blinked, "That's him, isn't he? That's the guy you were talking about? Who I resembled?"

"Yes," the blond nodded, "but how?! You never seen my world or the Gate! It's impossible for you to see it, especially when you don't have the same thing as Noa! And what do you mean by "I spoke to him?" Is this the first time you seen him?! Roy, tell me please!" There was a hint of desperation in Elric's eyes, a need for knowing who this "Roy Mustang" was. It was disturbing that a man from his visions would spur such a reaction from the blond.

Is he really that important to you? A pulling in his chest hurt him as much as the phantom pains that ran rabid in his body, remnants from the vision, a reminder that what he had gone through was real. "…This …is the first time I spoke with him." He tried to look away but to his dismay could not, "Before… I was him. I became him. His every move, word, action. They were his and mine. We were one… but now…? This is the first time I found out who I was in those visions… He looks like me only… it's more like a mirror reflection, I think. His eye-patch… it was his left eye." Roy touched his own, "Mine is my right. I wonder how he lost his eye." The brunet's tone turned wistful.

Elric looked away, "You scared me the first time I saw you. He was always so damn strong and to see you in that ditch… Even if you have some differences, it's slight, damn it. You fucking look too much alike."

"But we're not the same," Roy replied lightly, "He's more… confident, assertive… powerful. I'm just a meek doctor."

"The hell you're not! You took control the moment, you heard Gracia was about to give birth! You acted like a soldier, a general, a leader! How does that make you meek?!" The blond met Roy's eye once more, taking a deep breath, "How long has this been happening?"

Surprised, Roy couldn't find any argument to what the blond had said about his actions during Gracia's labour and to his own shock, he found he loved hearing those words from the blond. Words that usually never really mattered to him before.

He took a deep breath and thought of how long had it been since his first vision but he couldn't remember. To him, he always had them. "I… don't know. I remember seeing a war through his eyes, Mustang's eyes but they were never really as strong as they have been recently…

"It's strange. I feel like I'm actually living them now… before I only seen them."

"Seen? Live? What?" Elric become more adamant. It's not hate, Roy realized, Hate does not bind them. "Tell me. I need to know what that Bastard Colonel put himself through, damn it. I need to know if I have to go back just to kick his ass back to sensible logic." Roy shivered at the suddenly coldness he felt in the room. The vision seemed to leave more than just phantom pains and images but the winter of that strange land lingered as well.

Roy shrugged off Elric's grip, "It's more… livid to me. Like they are my own experiences. Before they acted like dreams save for probably two or three… A child with a rifle… two dead doctors… an old friend's funeral." His voice shuddered, "A friend that looked like Maes…" The doctor's body shivered drastically.

Elric's eyes widen as he stepped back, hitting the counter with his spine, head shaking in denial, "That doesn't make sense! You can't see those. You were never there! There's no way you could have any contact with my world. His life."

"…He's my mirror, isn't he? My… Alter." He needed to know the answer, "I… read Parallel World and… I believe in it. He's my Alter. This… Roy Mustang… He's me but… not."

The blond nodded, "…Have you heard rumours about the Thule Society and their search for Shamballa?"

"Wasn't that a few years back? Two or Three?" Roy wondered what connection they had but it didn't take him long to realize the missing link, "Shamballa… they thought it was your world, right?" He smirked lightly. Elric stared at him strangely, seeing the smirk as if in shock. Roy could finally understand why he did, "So my gut was right. I had a feeling you weren't around here… You truly are a Maverick. Never thought it be a different world though." He felt like laughing.

"It's no Shamballa but it was home." Elric smiled lightly, "Though I would rather go to Resembool than Central I think. Just to see my mother's grave once more."

Roy looked at the blond, changing the subject with practiced ease, "So why are you up?"

"Couldn't sleep, was remembering Mustang." There was a more than a little hint of hesitance in Elric's voice, "I think… it's because I see you a lot, despite me not wanting too… I'm starting to remember him. I always thought… I would forget him, the damn Bastard. Even now you haunt me." The blond turned wistful, gripping the countertop tightly in his hand.

He glanced at Roy, intently, an odd look on his face, "You're not him… just like Alfons was never Alphonse. Like Hughes was never like my world's Hughes. But you look alive, sound alike, heck you're almost exactly like him only younger looking. The way you act, the majority of it anyway… it's not him but yet I feel he is."

"Maybe… we're not that different, after all," Roy muttered lightly, "A few years back, around the same time the rumours of Shamballa were dying down… I found something. A pocket watch."

Elric's eyes widened, "A… pocket… watch?"

The doctor nodded, pulling something out of his pants pocket, "I am never without it since I feel a deep connection to it. Didn't help I was also half-dying at the time either," his smirk was mirthless but he rolled on, "It was in the grass before me and I touched it…"

"What happened?"

"I… felt whole." Roy fingered the metal item in his hand before grasping the chain. The pocket watch dangled in the slight indoor breeze. Elric's eyes widened. "I felt better, healed. Complete… Maybe this… this is why?" He took a deep breath, "I think… this is probably why… he and I… are connected."

The blond took the watch out of Roy's hands, tracing the grooves on the front, "Amestris…" A small longing smile touched his lips. It was beautiful. Roy wanted to see him smile more. Elric opened the pocket watch and a note fell out but he paid it no mind. Sighing lightly, "It's not mine, that's for sure."

Roy looked down at the fallen piece of paper. "Look… a note."

"You never opened the watch?"

"It told me that it wasn't for me to open," Roy smiled mysteriously, not wanting to explain himself. The blond rolled his eyes and picked up the note, "So what does it say?"

Elr—Ed grinned, "You better come back, Shrimp. I still want that rematch, Kid."

They toasted each other with the bourbon; the brunet smirking and the blond grinning. Roy knew he finally had a new friend in this strange blond. He only hoped that maybe one day... he would be able to make the blond smile more brightly. Someday, I will get him to smile at me. Until then I will sated to be his Mustang's replacement.

He didn't understand why he made that promise; all he knew was that he wanted to see Ed smile at him.

It gave him something to strive for. A desire. A goal.

Roy smirked behind his glass, watching the blond finger the pocket watch with great devotion. Maybe… it's not hate that drives them but rather their… love.

It's beautiful.

† † †

Dear Winry,

Something strange happened last night. I don't know what but Brother suddenly got out of bed panting heavily and just left. I didn't dare go after him, who knows what he was dreaming about. And I don't think it was that good… But I don't think it's a nightmare at all. Does that even make sense, Winry?

Well I heard some ruckus downstairs and you know us Alchemist, always curious, I tiptoed toward the origin, the kitchen, mind you. Thankfully, Maes, Gracia and Alicia were still fast asleep. Noa, too. Anyway, I found Brother and Mr. Feuer talking. Insults, of course, then well…

Mr. Feuer fainted but Ed managed to catch him before hit the table. It was some time before he woke up but the look on Brother's face was… haunting, hurt… different. I don't mean that in a good way either. I think… it's almost the same way as when he had nightmares about the you-know-what. I wanted to go to him but… then Mr. Feuer woke up.

I left soon after but… not after I heard Brother harassing him. I think I caught the words "Bastard" and "Mustang." Could it be… Mr. Feuer and the Colonel met? It's absurd, I know it. There's no way for him to get in contact with the Colonel. It's impossible. Just like us coming back home is impossible.

Though sometimes… I wonder if there is a way to… you know… come back home. I know Brother said this is our new home but I miss Resembool. I'm sure Brother does too.

Something is odd here, Winry. I want to know what but… I'm glad that Ed and Mr. Feuer talked. Cause today it seems like… they're friends now. Kinda odd once you think about it, but Mr. Feuer is not the Colonel… at least not that much I say.

Brother still calls him Bastard though. I guess it's good that those to are actually talking somewhat decently though… it seems like Mr. Feuer is starting to act like Colonel Mustang a bit more. I wonder why he fainted but… when Brother came back to our room to sleep…

It seems like Mr. Feuer made him smile.

Ed needs to smile some more, don't you think?

Till next time,

Continued in Part 2 †

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