Edward Elric stared into the tired eyes of his reflection. He was wet and shivering, wearing only a loosely tied towel in the bathroom. He leaned on the sink, mismatched hands clutching at the white porcelain. He forced himself to take a long, hard look into his own face.
Once, when he was very young, his mother had looked at him with her sad, lonely eyes and sighed into his hair as she hugged him close, murmuring, "You'll grow up to look just like your father one day, Edward."
He hated that he could see Hohenheim in his face. His father was written in the golden color of his eyes and the sharp angle of his jaw and the color of his skin. His ears, his eyebrows, the shape of his nose… they were all copies made from the man who broke his mother's heart. Hell, even his trademark golden braid had given way to his father's high ponytail sometime over the years. He had tried not to notice.
Sometimes, Edward found it hard to believe that he was even related to his mother. He wasn't lucky like Al, whose hair had taken a darker shade and whose eyes were a golden grey and whose jaw was less angular. In fact, the only physical trait that Ed shared with his mother was her height, after he had hit that final growth spurt (she hadn't been that tall, but Ed wasn't complaining- it was better than being short).
Ed blinked away from his face, following the line of his neck down along his broad shoulders in the mirror. Another thing he inherited from his father. He had told himself growing up that his muscle build and strong shoulders were all due to Izumi's tough training, but he could only lie to himself for so long before it started to sound fake and forced.
He leaned back away from the sink when he noticed the distressed sound the porcelain was making under his right hand. His automail arm and leg were the only things that Edward did not inherit from his father; looking into the mirror, they were the only obvious difference between them.
Edward curled his metal hand into a fist and swallowed hard.
He hated it. Not the automail itself, of course- Winry was an excellent mechanic, no matter how much he complained about her, and the limbs functioned better than he ever could have guessed, but he hated that he was stupid enough to get himself into that situation. He hated that they made him different. He hated that he was glad that they made him different.
Edward thought he could almost see the guilt that was tearing up his insides through his reflection's eyes. He had turned his mother into a monster. He had turned his brother into an object. And he still got to walk away. It wasn't fair.
Even though he hated what the automail stood for, he was glad that Al never had the chance to permanently restore his original limbs. His brother had gotten his body back and the monster without his mother's soul was put to rest. He didn't deserve that kind of happy ending. He didn't deserve to be forgiven. He needed the punishment of those metal limbs to keep him from physically punishing himself.
Edward hated mirrors. Sometimes he didn't know if it was really him looking back through the glass. If he stared too hard, he turned into a tired and broken version of his father, and when he tried to alter his vision to pull his own face back into focus, Ed sometimes saw the face that Envy showed him just before Envy killed him. When the lights were dim, he saw the face of the boy he killed in London.
Sometimes he didn't know which mistakes he had made. Sometimes he didn't know which mistake he was.
With a snarling yell, Edward pulled back his metal fist and slammed it into the bathroom mirror. Shards of his father's tired eyes and his half-brother's smirk flew past him, pulling at his skin and hair, and shattered on the floor. He fought back the threatening sobs for a moment before allowing himself to collapse, spread out among the shining silver splinters.
Edward didn't look up when Roy slammed the door open with frantic concern. He turned on his side to curl up on the floor, hands pulling on his long bangs to cover his face as he choked back his tears. He wasn't allowed to cry. Everything was his fault anyway.
He didn't hear Roy's footsteps as they came closer to him; he didn't notice when the older man knelt down in the glass. When Roy's warm hands landed on his wrists to pull his clutching hands away from his hair, Ed jumped, startled and afraid, but Roy's movements were slow and gentle as he pulled Edward up into his chest. Ed coughed and choked into Roy's shirt, determined not to break down completely.
"What did you see in the mirror?" Roy's voice was low and tight, and when Ed looked up at him, there were tears on his cheeks. He took a shallow, shuddering breath before answering.
"Every betrayal I've ever faced. Every mistake I've ever made. I've made some pretty fucking awful mistakes, Roy." His voice croaked, heavy, and broke as a sob finally forced its way through his throat. His eyes lowered to stare at Roy's shirt as his vision blurred. "How can you stand to look at me?"
Roy reached out a hand to smooth away the tears from Edward's face and brush away the bangs from Edward's forehead. Ed couldn't help but lean into the soft touch, even as he told himself that he didn't deserve it. He knew Roy deserved better than him, someone whole and unfractured, but he selfishly couldn't pull himself away.
"Because through all of the things you've been through and everything you've done, you've never lost sight of the people that you love." Ed felt the soft press of Roy's lips on his forehead. "Even as you are torn apart, even as you face decisions that no child, no human being, should ever have to make, you love with everything you have." A kiss on his cheek. "I can only hope to return a fraction of that love."
Edward felt his own tears on Roy's face as they kissed. He hands shook as they held onto Roy's shoulders. He could feel the glass biting into his right leg, and he could hear it shifting under Roy as Roy pulled him close again, but he couldn't bring himself to mind. In that brief moment, in Roy's arms, wrapped in Roy's love, all the hurt and the guilt drained away.
The reflection didn't matter.