Summary: Roy has a love-hate relationship with the rain. Giftfic for a friend.
Warnings: Gratuitous amount of Royangst (no surprise there), mentions of sex (Roy/Kimbley). You have been warned.
The day the weather became his sworn enemy was the last day of his National Alchemist Qualification Test, when it'd rained so long and so hard during the practical exam that he was sure he'd fail.
Holed up in the library on Judgment Day with the table kissing his forehead and Maes prattling on and on about this new girl he'd met, and all Roy could think about was how badly he needed the clouds to stop pissing on his hopes and dreams. Maybe this was his punishment for all the tears his spurned lovers had shed over the years, but wasn't this a bit excessive? Equivalency didn't even begin to cover this at all . . .
The stream of words stopped, and he felt Maes lean in closer. "Hey, Roy," he said, "it looks like it's clearing up."
And, oh, it did clear up – for a while at least. But because the universe still hated him (clearly), it started raining again while he was out on the parade ground.
And it rained and rained and rained, and the drizzle turned into a damn downpour, and it wasn't like he could leave in the middle of the exam with everyone's eyes on him to buy something (god, even some flint and tinder would be great). So he waited until he was the last person left to go on the minute hope that it would stop raining, swore when it didn't, and decided to bow out gracefully just when Maes ran up and shoved a small lighter in his hands.
He set the atmosphere on fire that day, sent the flames rushing heavenward like they were. Passed him on the spot.
Maes had cocked an eyebrow afterwards and grinned. "Flashy."
Flashy to hide his lack of control. It'd been a simple matter of splitting all the atoms in the air, all the way up to the sky, in all directions, because he wanted to burn the damn clouds out, evaporate them to kingdom come.
And he did, it was easy with all the water (and consequently, hydrogen) in the air, ironically enough, but because the universe hated him, he caught a cold the next day anyways.
It never rained during the war, and Roy could never forgive the weather for that transgression, even though he knew they were in the desert and to expect something other than a sprinkle was crazy.
But if it rained, he couldn't – he couldn't – make a spark. Useless gun-bait running around on the field with a useless gun in his hand because he couldn't hit a target unless he was at pointblank range (and don't think about that, never think about that), and maybe he'd be shot, be put out of his misery like a rabid dog. Then he'd never have to feel the guilt, god, the guilt tightening like iron cords around his lungs and heart until he couldn't breathe anymore.
But it didn't rain. And Ishbal burned like all the fires of hell. Some nights he could still feel the heat licking at his face, could still smell that bitter, distinct odor of cooked bodies drifting on the dry wind, even when he tried to drown himself in the smell and taste of Kimbley's sweat, in the tang of sex hanging heavy in the air of their tent. Bloodstained palms skimming over sweat-slicked skin, and maybe it was the threat that made him arch into that dangerous touch, the knowledge that Kimbley wouldn't be gentle that made him rock back into the harsh thrust of Kimbley's body, and it hurt, oh it hurt.
And, afterwards, lying under Kimbley's body in the dead of night, Roy still couldn't help but think that, if it rained, at least it'd wash away the smell, even if it didn't kill him.
It rained the day Roy arrived at the little town located in the middle of nowhere, which he found courtesy of the note he kept dry and folded in his pocket. Not a downpour but certainly not a drizzle either, and he frowned as he stepped off the train and onto the empty platform. Flicked the hood of his jacket up and peered out at the swamped countryside where the green blurred into the brown blurred into the gray and wondered where the hell the Elric brothers lived.
It'd been a long time since he'd had to ask anyone for directions. Unfortunately, however, the weather also chased everyone inside and the nearest house was . . . Actually, he couldn't tell where the nearest house was, even though he was squinting through the sheets of rain.
So he picked a path and wandered until he found a house, rapped on the door, and learned belatedly that, no, I'm sorry, the Elric brothers live in the other direction, right over that hill.
It was on the crest of that hill that he saw the telltale signs of alchemy being performed, saw the blue glow crackling through the windows of the house and shimmering through the rainwater, and he ran, sprinted down the hill, tripping and sliding in the mud, fuck dignity and pride.
He still arrived too late and found a bloodstained floor in the place of two young children.
Later, on the train back to Eastern HQ, he kept replaying it over and over again in his mind. The rain, the blood, the hill – where the hell had he gone wrong? Maybe if it hadn't been raining, maybe someone would've been taking a walk and given him directions from the start, or maybe he wouldn't have lost his footing there on that path, and maybe – just maybe – he would've gotten there in time to stop them.
The look in the eyes of the Rockbell girl as she leaned over the small, vulnerable figure lying prone in bed haunted him for days afterwards.
Whoever said that the rain washed away the past and let you begin again clearly had been looking at too many pictures of bright flowers and fresh grass after a nice spring shower.
Roy stared out the window at the gray drizzle, paperwork untouched and pen resting open on his desk like he planned to pick it up and work, dammit, but even with Hawkeye there looking at him (she'd never stoop to glaring, he didn't think), he couldn't dig deep enough within himself to find that spark of survival instinct . . .
"Permission to speak freely, sir."
Hell. This was going to be bad. He could feel it brewing already. Like the particularly bad coffee he'd had this morning (which really had been the perfect precursor to this day). "Hawkeye—"
"That was incredibly stupid of you, sir."
He sighed. "Thank you, your opinion has been duly noted," he said testily – or at least, he started to say it, but she cut him off before he'd even gotten the first syllable out.
"If you were looking to throw your life away, there are far easier ways to do it. Otherwise, don't sacrifice your life, your goals, or the future of this country just for a flashy display of ego."
And he wanted to whine, he really did. She didn't understand, he'd just forgotten – forgotten what? That his gloves were useless in the rain? But it wasn't as if he had a deathwish. (Or maybe you do, his heart said, tightening, and images of two doctors sprawled out on the ground, blood soaking into the dirt, flashed through his mind like clockwork, old scars opening fast and dribbling red memories into the rain.)
She knew him better than he knew himself.
"You're right," he said and cleared his throat. "I obviously wasn't thinking and that was a foolish risk. I apologize."
She nodded like she was satisfied, headed for the door, but right before she left his office, she turned and said: "And sir, if you ever plan on pulling something like this again, inform me beforehand and I'll take care of it for you."
No sign of a joke in her eyes. Her hand clutched her pistol.
Roy bowed his head meekly over his desk, picked up his pen, and scratched a signature onto the page in front of him.
The sun brought everything into sharper focus, like he was looking through a magnifying glass, and even then he felt like he was floating in some twisted, surreal dream. Crying in the background, indistinct words wrapped tight around a wail that cut through his nerves, and he couldn't understand it at all – why it happened, how it happened, when it happened, and most of all, what he was supposed to do now that it had happened.
Maes, you've always believed the best in me, he wanted to say, looking down at the grave afterwards when everyone had left, at the fresh plot of dirt, a startling dark brown against the green of the neatly clipped lawn. Equations and arrays flashed across the back of his mind, and every time he blinked, all he could see was that familiar dark room filled with that damp, musty scent of old books, chalk dust, and wet paint.
It's called a taboo, he'd said, all those years back. Forbidden alchemy. And Maes hadn't recognized them, all the circles drawn across the floor and walls, scrawled onto the pages of his notebooks – and of course he wouldn't, he wasn't an alchemist after all, couldn't tell the human transmutation arrays apart from simple change-of-state arrays. But he'd dragged Roy back from the edge, steadied him on his path, supported him from below to push him to the top.
Brigadier General Hughes. He almost laughed at the absurdity of it. Two ranks higher and two meters below the ground.
And it rained later that day like it couldn't not, drops running down his cheeks on a cloud-free day with the sun burning high in the sky like a furnace, and he wondered why the heavens weren't crying with him.