Disclaimer: I do not own FMA
Warnings: Goodbye, tissue
Mindless Babble: One Shot so you don't need to follow it.
Col. Roy Mustang opened his office to see his five subordinates gathered around his desk. They were staring at something out of place on the usually organized work area. Curiosity urged the colonel closer.
A rectangular red box with a white envelope attached to it had been placed in the center of the table. A single word had been carefully printed on the envelope so as to be sure it would only be opened by the intended receiver.
Somehow, those three letters sent a shiver up the man's spine. It wasn't the box itself. It was the handwriting; the very familiar handwriting. Gold colored eyes that glared from under honey-spun hair sprang to his mind's eye
Col. Mustang reached out to take the envelope and was horrified to find his hand was trembling. Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye, Second Lieutenant Jean Havoc, Warrant Officer Vato Falman, Second Lieutenant Heymans Breda and Master Sergeant Kain Fuery leaned in closer to hear what had been written.
Roy (And everyone else who I'm sure are listening),
I wanted to tell all of you, actually speak the words I want to say, but I knew that if I did, you would prevent me from leaving. That and I don't think I could bear saying the words again and again. So I've decided to take the coward's way out and tell you in a letter.
I love you. You became our family after Al and I lost everything else. You cared about us and made us feel like we had a home to come back to. You risked your lives to save us time and time again. You were there for us every time we got in too far over our heads, ready to pull us out. And you were there to pick up the pieces after we failed.
I know some of us never got along as well as we should have and we've definitely had our share of fights (Flame vs. Fullmetal comes to mind). But in the end, we fought side by side as friends. And that is what made me think of all of you as my extended family. Please let Lieutenant Ross, Sergeant Bloch and Major Armstrong know that they were a part of my family as well.
A few things:
Riza: Keep protecting him even if it means pulling the trigger.
Havoc: Remember when I asked why you followed him? I understand now.
Falman: Relax. Enjoy life as it is.
Breda: Dogs aren't all that bad.
Furey: Your kind heart is both your strength and weakness.
Mustang: In the words of Maes Hughes, Get yourself a wife!
I'm leaving now to die on my own terms and not from some stupid mistake. Don't come looking for me. You'll know when I'm gone. Al will let you know.
I'll leave you with this:
All is one and one is all.
Mustang didn't know whether to laugh or cry, a sentiment that was carried by the others gathered around him.
"I don't understand, sir," Hawkeye said staring at the letter. "Why now?"
Mustang sighed as he opened the box to find it full of handmade candy from a shop in town they all visited and would later deny ever have gone. "Edward came in contact with some tainted Red Water not to long ago. It really messed him up; for a few days he couldn't even perform simple alchemy with a circle. It was an accident but he really beat himself up over it. I thought he was getting better…"
The voice was familiar but different. The officers turned towards the door and the one who had spoken. At first they thought it was Edward, so similar in appearance was the speaker. Mustang was the first to realize their mistake.
Gold eyes peered through honey-spun hair. Lines of salty water traced the 14-year-olds cheeks. Clothes that were just a bit too big hung on the small frame. A silver watch danced in a ray of sunlight, dangling from the boy's wavering hand.
"He was loosing control; his power was coming back too fast and too strong. He had to leave." Al's soft voice held so much loss that even Mustang felt his heart break. "He had enough control to give up his body for mine. His soul was gone when I went back to the Gate."
The weight of his words impacted everyone in the room like a physical sledgehammer. Edward was gone. Their annoying, bratty, arrogant pip-squeak of a little brother was never coming back.
Hawkeye was the first to break down, the tears flooding from her eyes. Mustang took her into his arms and buried his face in her soft hair, holding in the tears that threatened to fall from dark eyes. He looked up when he heard a soft whimper, like someone trying very hard not to cry.
Al stood there, bathed in the light from the hall. Tears streamed down his face as he clutched the pocket watch his brother had treasured. His body trembled from the depth of emotions that ran through him.
Mustang released Riza with one arm and invited the younger Elric brother into the circle. Al took a step forward and suddenly found himself enveloped in a three person hug. One by one, the wall of military discipline crumbled as the four officers wrapped themselves in the blanket of family, joining the embrace.
"I'm heading back to Resembool," Al said softly. "I'll be coming back to take the State Alchemist exam in the spring."
Mustang nodded. While they hadn't talked about it, he knew the surviving Elric brother would be following in his brother's footsteps. In the back of his mind, he wondered what kind of name would be given to young boy.
"Understood. I'll see you then. But are you sure you won't stay for the service?"
Al shook his head. "No. One will be enough for me."
Mustang cast his eyes downward. The officers needed closure but so did Al and his family. Al would be headed home to tell the Rockbells that one of their extended kin would never be coming back home. He didn't envy the boy.
"Well then, all I can say is safe journey and I look forward to seeing you again."
The boy nodded and turned to walk past the assembled officers. He reached the door and turned as a commotion erupted behind him. A sad smile appeared on his lips. Nine military officers in full dress uniform stood at attention facing him, saluting.
"Thank you," Al whispered before disappearing into the hall.
Mustang sat alone in his office going through the paper work that had piled up over the past few days. He was still struggling with the emotions that had been threatening to overwhelm him since the service had ended earlier that day. They had buried an empty casket under dark storm clouds. No one missed the irony in that fact.
With a sigh, Mustang started on another stack of reports. Even though his world seemed to come to a halt, the world around him kept moving forward. Just then, his stomach reminded him that he had skipped dinner. With another sigh, the colonel opened the top drawer of his desk where he usually kept a hidden granola bar. His hand hovered over the red box that he had forgotten about. Slowly, he withdrew it and set it on his desk. He stared at it for a few moments, letting the memories flood through his brain. Then he opened it.
On the inside of the lid, in the same familiar handwriting that had been on the envelope, a message had been written that had gone unnoticed the first time he had opened it.
It's okay to cry.
Dark eyes closed for a second as Mustang listened to the rain pounding on the window behind him. Then the floodgates open and the tears rushed past the wreckage of discipline. Roy's head fell onto folded arms and he wept in sorrow and shame.
Shame? Yes. He had broken the promise he had made to himself as he stood over the two bodies watching the back of a soldier as he deserted the military. He had promised that he would not cry ever again.
In a darkened corner, a shimmering mass of gold, black and silver stared at the colonel. He willed for the man to look up, wishing he could go to him instead of waiting. After several minutes, the spirit was finally rewarded with bloodshot eyes widening in surprise at the sight of him.
Edward Elric smiled and waved, saying goodbye to a friend without words, before disappearing forever.
Roy's lips curved upwards in a shaky smile as his world started to move forward again.