Empty Chairs at Empty Tables – by BandGeek99
I'm really on a Les Mis rampage, aren't I? Ah, well, I suppose it's the curse of being a musical theater-obsessed fan authoress…
This is about Mustang as he deals with the death of his friends during the Ishballan War, prior to the beginning of FMA. Enjoy!
Roy Mustang sat alone in his small dorm room at Central HQ. His face was stubbly and unshaven, his hair tangled and unkempt. The black eyes that once were lit with a roaring flame were dim and blank, his face was pale, and it looked like he hadn't slept well in several weeks (and he hadn't).
He was barely twenty years old. He should have been in the prime of his life, drinking with his friends, finding a girlfriend, fulfilling his duty as a State Alchemist. After all, their motto was "Be Thou for the People".
But he couldn't. Not after what had happened, after what he had done. He didn't deserve it.
There was a gun in his hand and his long fingers ran along the barrel, twitching when they neared the trigger. One shot and it would be over with. His mistakes… they would be atoned. He could go to Hell where he belonged.
Tears built up in his eyes as he imagined the horrors of it. He'd blasted God knows how many people without a second thought and then let his friends die. Die, in some cases, at his own hands.
Major Joshua Marcus, frontline infantry. Deeply devoted to his fiancée Natalie Echo, he was a rather happy-go-lucky person who would buckle down at the first sign of trouble.
Lt. Ronald Newman, frontline infantry. Skilled with a rifle but hated violence, he was a loud, outgoing person who never really knew when to shut up.
2nd Lt. Robert Finch, frontline infantry. Quiet and reserved, he was always thinking of an easier way to infiltrate the enemy lines.
There were countless others that Roy had once laughed with, drank with, and thought of the future with. Every Thursday night, they went to a local pub and ate, drank, and sang their hearts out.
There's a grief that can't be spoken
There's a pain goes on and on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.
Roy smiled darkly as he thought about it.
Major Marcus would always start their conversations by saying, "When Nat and I get married, we're gonna live a in a huge house and we're gonna have a bunch of little kids that I'm gonna take to work with me!"
After that, Ronald would laugh and insist that there was no way Natalie would ever let any child of hers go into their war zone of an office.
Robert would watch this exchange as he downed a couple of beers, then loosen up and start singing at the top of his lungs a song that he didn't quite know all the way through.
"When I become Fuhrer," Joshua used to hiccup, "I'ma have ev-ev'ry chick in the whole m'litary wearin' a miniskirt!"
"I'm with yeh," Roy would say, slamming his glass onto the table. "More beers on me!"
"I'ma change this country!" Joshua would say louder, rocking back and forth. "Jeez, Roy, did anyone ever tell yeh yeh have lovely eyes?"
"Quit comin' onter the major, Major!" Ronald would shriek and start laughing harder.
Robert sang louder and the group would join in, making up words where they didn't know the real lyrics.
Here they talked of revolution
Here it was they lit the flame
Here they sang about 'tomorrow'
And tomorrow never came.
Joshua would ramble on about the changes he'd make for the sake of his country and the others would eventually drown him out with their singing.
Roy's faint smile disappeared altogether as he thought about the night before the largest battle in the Ishballan War.
That night, the group of them took a bottle of rum to the barricade where they were stationed, each taking a sip from the bottle as they sang quietly a soldier's drinking song that each Amestrian had learned in a former battle.
It was the last time the whole group would drink together ever again.
From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On the lonely barricade at dawn!
Roy buried his head in his hands, knowing full well that it was his fault that many of them died. In the heat of battle, he'd snapped his fingers at Ishballans, not knowing how many of his companions were amongst them. He'd fired his rifle into the crowds, not knowing who he hit.
He didn't deserve to live if they were dead. It was his fault, anyway, that they were dead. They could have lived. He could have commanded them to retreat, but instead he foolishly charged headfirst into battle.
The dark-haired man raised the gun with a trembling hand, putting it to his temple. No, that wouldn't do. He slid it into his mouth, moaning a little with fright. Much better.
Oh my friends, my friends, forgive me
That I live and you are gone.
There's a grief the can't be spoken,
There's a pain goes on and on.
He shut his eyes, exhaling gently. He couldn't run away from this any longer; whenever he walked down the halls of Central's headquarters, he kept thinking he saw Joshua chatting on the phone with his fiancée.
He caught a glimpse of Robert going through an old file cabinet, searching for a certain document of something or other.
He spotted Ron trying to surreptitiously shred his paperwork in an effort to avoid doing it.
It was too much.
Phantom faces at the window
Phantom shadows on the floor
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more.
Roy cocked the pistol and placed his shaking finger on the trigger, finding he couldn't pull it. But… he had to…
He couldn't. Roy pulled the gun out of his mouth and put it on his bedside table, shocked and afraid at the same time. He couldn't kill himself, but he could kill them? And for what? A stupid war with no rational purpose?
He bit his lower lip, trying to keep his composure but finding that he was a failure at it. He'd have to work on that at some point.
No… I have to do this… Roy cocked the pistol again and put it in his mouth, closing his eyes and bracing himself, but once again finding that he was unable to shoot. He sighed and put it back on the bedside table. If he couldn't kill himself, then he'd have to somehow atone for his sins.
"I'ma change this country!"
He curled his hand into a fist around his bedspread. He'd change this country, for Major Marcus, for Lt. Ron Newman, for 2nd Lt. Robert Finch, and for all of the people who were sacrificed needlessly in the war. It was the only way he could even begin to make up for it.
Oh my friends, my friends, don't ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Roy Mustang followed Major Edward Elric down a quiet side street on the eastern side of the city. "Why exactly are we down here again?"
"Major Armstrong needs you for something or other," the eldest Elric said quietly, striding on with a small, almost unnoticeable limp.
"What did you do to your automail this time?" Roy asked, for once not trying to be snarky or rude to his subordinate.
"Nothing," the blonde muttered, pulling his collar up further to keep the December air from hitting his face.
"Don't be stupid. Tell me what you did so I can call your mechanic."
"It's nothing, okay?! I just outgrew it a bit, is all," Edward snapped.
"Too tall for your leg?" Mustang smirked. "Interesting."
"Shut up, you!" Edward hissed, turning around. "I'm still growing, isn't it only likely that I'm gonna need a new leg once in a while?!"
"I didn't say anything of the short, Fullmetal," Roy said with a smirk.
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING SO SMALL HE CAN'T GO TO THE BEACH BECAUSE HE'D GET SWEPT UP BY THE OCEAN BUT WOULDN'T DROWN CUZ HE COULD BREATHE THE OXYGEN MOLECULES IN THE WATER?!"
"I didn't say anything of the sort, Elric," he remarked, striding a bit in front of the sixteen-year-old. "You really must learn to relax."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. I'm thirsty, I'm just going to get a bottle of water in here," Ed muttered, pushing open the door of a pub to his left.
Mustang recognized the place, somehow, in the back of his mind, but went inside with the major.
He instantly regretted it.
"Hey, Roy, guess what? Nat and I are getting married!"
"There's no way that Natalie would let any child of hers into that war zone we call an office!"
"Jeez, Roy, did anyone ever tell you you have lovely eyes?"
"Quit coming onto the Major!"
"Drink with me to days gone by…"
Roy felt his back freeze and his eyes averted to the corner booth between the front window and the wall, lit up with a large hanging lamp, and full of ghosts from his past. He gasped and bolted out the door and down the street, stopping only when he ran out of breath by a small grocerer's.
The colonel leaned up against the front window, panting heavily.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more.
Fin! Please tell me what you think!