Title: The End's Beginning
Summary: "The hardest part of letting go is saying goodbye." But why should he let go when she's still right here? —Royai, One-Shot—
Beginning Notes: This is just kind of a thing that came to mind while I was working on a music video. It's a weird idea, for sure, but if you've read my stories before you know I go for the weird. If you don't…you're in for one helluva of a ride /insert evil laughter/ Anyways, this is set post-final battle, and just for the hell of it, we're going to say Roy somehow got his eyesight back. It could happen, you know…okay, no it couldn't. But whatever. This is Fanfiction. Deal with it.
Disclaimer: Don't own Full Metal Alchemist or the song Hello by Evanescence
The End's Beginning
If I smile and don't believe
Soon I know I'll wake from this dream
Don't try to fix me, I'm not broken
Hello I'm the lie living for you so you can hide...
~Hello by Evanescence
He watched in horror as the blood spilled from the wound left behind in the wake of the sword being drawn across her smooth, vulnerable skin. Amber eyes met obsidian for just a moment before her eyes rolled back, and she was released, her body falling against the hard stone floor…
It had been two months.
"Is something wrong, Colonel?"
Roy Mustang looked over his shoulder at the blonde woman standing behind him. Until that moment, he hadn't realized he'd stopped walking. They were standing in front of Central HQ, watching the construction take place.
"I was just thinking, Lieutenant." he sighed as he turned away from the building he'd once thought of as a safe haven, and began walking again.
It had been two long months since the battle with Father and his remaining Homunculus. Life had, in that time, more or less returned to normal, save for the fact that Roy and his subordinates, along with basically the rest of the soldiers stationed in Central, were temporarily out of a job. Roy would admit that, for the first few days, the time off had been nice. Time to process everything that had happened. Time to re-adjust to life. Time to relax.
Now he was bored. And itching to go back to work. As strange as that may have sounded.
"What were you thinking about?" Riza asked as they walked. "You looked strangely serious."
"Nothing much," Roy admitted, looking down at the ground, watching his feet move. "It's just…weird, I think. It's only been two months since everything happened. And life has basically already returned to normal. That's strange, don't you think?" Riza didn't answer. Roy tilted his head back to look at the sky. "I think it's strange."
"If you say so, sir."
Roy was surprised, when he reached his floor of his apartment building, to see Fuery and Breda sitting against the wall on either side of his front door. He automatically looked over his shoulder, but Riza had disappeared some time back. "Afternoon, Colonel," Breda said as he and Fuery scrambled up, saluting their superior.
"Breda, Fuery." Roy acknowledged the two dryly as he unlocked his door and pushed it open, stepping inside. "Come in. Can I help you?"
"We were just…checking in," Fuery said hesitantly as he and Breda followed Roy into the apartment. "Seeing how you're doing."
"You haven't been around headquarters much," Breda added. "I mean, I know you don't technically have to be, we're not either, we just go to check in sometimes, and we don't blame you for not wanting to be there…"
"I appreciate your concern," Roy said as Breda's voice drifted off. "I don't need a babysitter, but I appreciate the concern all the same."
It had been this way for weeks now. Fuery, Breda, Falman, or any combination of the three would turn up on Roy's doorstep with smiles and hesitant words as they said they were simply concerned about their superior. But there always seemed to be something else on their minds that they never got around to saying. Roy tolerated it; he could acknowledge that they were worried about him. But it was very annoying knowing they wanted to say something, but couldn't find the words for it. He really wished they would just spit it out.
Fuery and Breda stayed for about ten minutes, following the formula to a T; they made random small talk with their colonel and exchanging uncertain looks before bidding Roy farewell. Roy rolled his eyes as he closed the door behind them. Clearly his subordinates wanted to talk to him about something. If only they could pluck up the courage…
"Lieutenant…Lieutenant, answer me…please…"
Her skin was deathly pale, save for the dark crimson liquid that stained her neck and seeped into her jacket. She was mostly still, save for the tremors that rocked through her body from his arms, which held her tightly.
"You should go to the office."
Roy, from his spot on at his kitchen sink, looked over his shoulder and saw Riza sitting on his couch in the living room. "What?"
"You should go into the office today. You haven't been in since…everything happened, have you?"
Roy considered this for a moment, returning his attention to the running water as he filled a glass and took a deep sip. "What about you?" He asked finally. "When was the last time you went in?"
Riza didn't answer for a minute. "I'll go in when you go in," she said finally. Roy looked back at her, and saw that she had crossed her arms over her chest. "Don't be so childish as to turn this on me. You're the superior, you're supposed to be setting an example for the subordinate, remember?"
Roy chuckled despite himself. "Am I the superior? I can never tell with the way you always order me around, I could have sworn you were the one above me."
"Only in your mind, Colonel." Riza smiled softly. Roy stared at her for a minute, shaking his head a bit before turning and heading to his room to change into his uniform. He really wasn't doing anything, he could stand to swing by the office for a few minutes, see how the construction was going up close instead of just watching it from the street.
The walk to HQ was a quiet one. Roy shoved his hands into his pockets, keeping his eyes on the ground. Riza had disappeared again; she seemed to like to do that. Roy wasn't worried. She'd turn up again. She always did.
The sun was shining, beating down on Roy as he walked through the streets. The sky was almost flawless, not a cloud in sight, and the sun just about dominated everything. Roy squinted a bit the one time he did try to look up, and he quickly averted his gaze to the ground again right after. He must have been spending too much time inside lately, if he couldn't stand the light. Maybe after he left the office he'd spend the rest of the day outside, wandering around. It certainly wouldn't kill him…
He stopped in the courtyard for a few minutes, looking around at the reconstruction that was currently going on. It was coming along pretty good, he thought; the building was almost recognizable again. His eyes swept over the people, hard at work trying to restore the battle-site to its former glory.
After a moment he made his way into the building. A few people stopped what they were doing to salute him. He inclined his head just a bit to acknowledge each person, but didn't stop until he was standing in the door of his office.
It was empty in the room at the moment; no Falman, Breda, or Fuery. Roy sighed as he stepped all the way in. It was messy; someone had been in there looking for something, from the looks of it. The desk drawers were open, papers strewn everywhere, books yanked off the shelves and tossed to the floor. He wondered why none of the others had bothered to pick up the mess.
He ventured further in, and somehow found himself wandering over to Riza's desk. He ran a hand over the smooth wood, his eyes dodging up to the seat that she'd almost never occupied; she'd always been too busy running around the office making sure everyone else was doing their work. And yet somehow all her own work always seemed to get done on time.
I never knew if I should be impressed or frightened by her, Roy thought, a bit amused, as he picked up a pen that was sitting on the desk and twiddled it between his fingers.
"What a mess."
Roy looked over his shoulder and saw Riza standing the middle of the office, looking around. "Looks like somebody was looking for something. They probably did this right after you turned traitor. Looking for information on what your goal might have been, or something."
"Yeah…probably." Roy made his way over to his own desk, which looked like it had been hit twice as hard as any of his subordinates'. The drawers were completely pulled out and dumped on the floor, papers scattered everywhere, some having been ripped in the haste that had been looking for information. He knelt down next to his desk, sifting through the papers, wondering if he'd even find it…
He smiled a bit has he took the rectangular picture in his hand, holding it up so it was in front of his face. It was a photo of himself, Fuery, Havoc, Breda, Falman, and Riza in their old office at the Eastern headquarters. Roy and Riza were both giving the camera tolerant looks; Falman hadn't even bothered to acknowledge that a picture was being taken; Fuery, Havoc, and Breda were all grinning, clearly enjoying their brief moment in the spotlight.
It seemed so long ago now that the picture had been taken. It had only been a year and a half, really, maybe closer to two years.
It felt as if it had been a lifetime.
"You know, I kind of miss being back East."
The words were greeted with silence. Roy looked over his shoulder, and saw that Riza was giving him a rather strange look. "What?"
"You loved it when you were transferred to Central," Riza reminded him. "To you it was another step closer to achieving your goal. Why in the world would you miss being back East?"
"It was quiet there," Roy replied simply. "And we were all still together. Havoc wasn't in a wheelchair, Fuery, Breda, and Falman weren't off in some remote corners of the world, and you…" His voice drifted off for a moment. "Maybe I just miss the quiet."
"It was never quiet there," Riza disagreed. "Not with Havoc and Breda together, it wasn't."
Roy chuckled. He couldn't deny that was true. Havoc and Breda in the same room was usually a recipe for disaster. "Remember when they tricked Fuery into believing that girl from Intelligence was sending him love letters?"
To his surprise, Riza laughed shortly. "And one day they set him up to meet her in when she would be alone her office, and they hid in a closet with a camera so they could watch."
"And when she slapped Fuery and threw him out of the office they took pictures," Roy concluded the story with a grin. "Poor Fuery, he was so embarrassed afterwards. You made them destroy the negatives so they wouldn't be able to use the pictures against him."
"Did I?" Riza sounded surprised to hear that. "I don't remember that part."
"I do. All of us had only been working together for a few weeks, they freaked out when you pulled your gun and told them to destroy the negatives or else. They really thought you'd shoot them if they didn't listen." Roy laughed a bit. "You were usually the one who stuck up for Fuery, though, weren't you?" Riza didn't answer. After a moment, Roy looked back at the photo, smiling sadly. "You were the one kids always picked on at school. I remember some days you'd come home completely out of breath, because you ran the entire way. Some times you came home with cuts or bruises. And no one ever stood up for you, did they?" Again, no answer. "That's why you always defended Fuery. You knew what it was like to be the one everybody was against."
Roy's head snapped up. Riza was gone. And Major Armstrong was standing in the door of the office, concern written all over his face. "Are you okay, sir?"
Roy stood up, shoving the picture into his pocket. "I'm fine, Major. Why wouldn't I be?" Armstrong didn't answer. "It's been awhile, hasn't it?" Roy asked finally, changing the subject. "How have you been?"
"I have no complaints," Armstrong replied with a sigh. "I've been helping with the restoration efforts."
Roy's eyes swept over Armstrong's muscular build. "I'm sure you've been a huge help to everyone, too." He looked around the office again, making a mental note to come back soon and start cleaning the place up.
Roy's gaze snapped back to Armstrong, who was giving him an unreadable look. "Yes, Major? Do you have something you want to tell me?"
Armstrong sighed, as if something — his courage, perhaps — had failed him. "No, sir. Nothing."
Roy left the building deep in thought. Everyone's acting weird, he thought as he started down the sidewalk. "What do you think is going on, Lieutenant?"
"I don't know, Colonel," he wasn't surprised when he received a reply. He hadn't actually known she was walking behind him. He'd just assumed. But he'd known he wasn't wrong. "You're not going home?" She asked when she saw what direction they were going in.
"It's too nice of a day to stay cooped up inside," Roy responded simply. "A walk isn't a bad idea, I've been staying home too much anyways."
Riza didn't answer. They walked in silence for awhile, Roy still wrapped up in his own, confused thoughts.
"She lost too much blood…perhaps if we'd gotten to her sooner, there would have been a way to save her, but as it stands now, it's very likely she won't make it through the night. Her body is in extreme shock, we've already attempted a blood transfusion, but at this point, it won't do her any good…I'm sorry."
Roy's head snapped up just in time to see a pink-ish blur running at him, and then he was tackled at knee-level. "Hi Uncle Roy!" Elycia Hughes chirped happily as she looked up at her late father's best friend. Roy smiled as he rested a hand on Elycia's head.
"Hey Elycia. Where's your mother—?"
"I'm right here," Gracia Hughes huffed as she ran up to her daughter and the colonel. "I can't always keep up with a three-year-old, you know, she has stronger legs."
"That's right!" Elycia spoke up. "Daddy use to say I'm the fastest girl in the city!"
Gracia and Roy exchanged a quick smile. "How're you doing?" The former asked finally, her voice turning down to a low note. "I haven't seen you since…"
Her voice drifted off, as if she couldn't bring herself to talk about the last time they'd seen each other. "I'm okay," Roy supplied an answer quickly before turning the topic away from himself. "How've you been, Gracia?"
"Hanging in there," Gracia replied simply, patting Elycia's head. "Right Elycia?"
"Right!" Elycia agreed, clasping her hands behind her back. "Guess what Uncle Roy? We're going shopping!"
"Ahuh! Mama said I could get a new dress, and then we could go and see Papa and I could show it to him." Elycia looked absolutely thrilled at the prospect of that. "And she said we could go visit Aunt Riza too, 'cept Aunt Riza doesn't like dresses or girly things that much, but I still want to show her."
Roy's eyes crinkled, and he shifted his head to look at Gracia, who was giving him an apologetic, sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry," she said quietly. Elycia, who was still talking, didn't hear her mother speaking as well. "She doesn't realize…I remember how hard it was to hear Maes' name, right after he died. Elycia doesn't understand."
Neither did Roy. "Uncle Roy?" He looked down at the tiny girl, who was giving him a strange look. "Are you okay? You have a funny look on your face…"
Roy tried to smile as he patted the girl's head. "I'll just leave you to your shopping, then," he said as stepped around Elycia, walked past Gracia, and started down the sidewalk again. "See you later."
He stopped and looked over his shoulder. Gracia was watching him with sad, concerned eyes. "The hardest part of letting go is saying goodbye," she told him finally, her voice quiet. The words made no sense to Roy; who exactly was he letting go of?
He turned away from Gracia without answering, continuing his walk.
Roy didn't bother responding. He knew Fuery, Breda, Falman, and Havoc were standing (or in Havoc's case, sitting) behind him, all giving him the same, apologetic, concerned looks he'd been receiving for days now. He wasn't interested in facing them. Instead he kept his eyes on the headstone in front of him, trying very hard not to see the name engraved in the granite.
"It's late, sir. We should go."
"Nobody's telling any of you to stay here," Roy snapped at them, his voice coming out much harsher than he'd attended. He didn't care. "Leave if you want to."
"Come on Colonel," Havoc spoke up, his voice surprisingly quiet. "You can't stand out here all night. And we're not leaving you here alone. Let us take you home."
Home. The word rang, rather strangely, in Roy's ears. What was home, exactly? The empty apartment he returned to every night after work? But that wasn't where he wanted to go…
A hand rested itself on his shoulder. "Come on, sir." It was Falman, surprisingly, who spoke. "Lets go."
Roy stopped walking, surprised to find himself standing at the entrance to the cemetery. Sometime while he'd been lost in thought, his feet had carried him here. Strange. He couldn't remember deciding this was where he wanted to come.
And, just like always, there she was, standing at his side. Where she belonged. "Yes sir?"
He thought about Breda and Fuery, in his apartment the night before, tip-toeing around their words, as they always did when they talked to him. He thought of Armstrong, hesitating as he spoke, as if there was something he wanted to say, but he couldn't bring himself to.
"You know what it is. This…thing they're all too afraid to say. You know what it is, don't you?"
Silence. "So do you," Riza answered finally, her voice guarded. Roy turned to look at her. Amber eyes met obsidian.
Yes. He knew.
He started through the cemetery, his feet carrying him to the stone he'd only been to once, but already knew far too well.
He poured another glass of scotch, staring at it for a moment before throwing it back. It burned as it went down, but he wasn't about to complain. The burning feeling was better than everything else he'd been feeling for the last week.
Empty liquor bottles littered the floor of his messy apartment. The shades were drawn, preventing any light from seeping in; other than the small lamp in the corner, it was completely dark. Roy could barely see his own hand in front of his face.
But he could still pour glass after glass of alcohol. He could no longer remember the last time he'd been completely sober.
"Honestly…look at this place. Look at you. This is disgraceful."
Roy's head snapped up, his eyes widening in surprise. And there she was, standing in the middle of the kitchen, looking around, disapproval evident in her expression. "This is a fine example you're setting," Riza informed him, a bit sarcastically, as her eyes swept over the apartment. "Locking yourself up, drinking yourself into a coma…what exactly are you doing?"
Roy rubbed his eyes quickly, blinking, and wondering just how drunk he really was. This wasn't possible…was she really there?
Her expression softened when she saw the look of shock and disbelief on his face. "Really, Colonel. Snap out of it. Stand up and keep moving, you still have dreams you want to achieve, don't you?"
Roy scowled a bit, looking away from her. "What's the point?" He muttered, his fingers playing with his empty glass. "You're not here anymore to follow me to the top."
"What are you talking about?" Riza sounded a bit confused. Roy shifted his eyes to look at her again. "I'm right here."
Roy came to a halt, having reached his destination. His eyes swept over the headstone in front of him, reading the first the years of birth and death before settling on the name.
Roy stared at her name for a long, long time. "So what?" He asked finally. "Am I crazy?"
"Not crazy, no," Riza replied quietly.
"I'm hallucinating," Roy informed her harshly. "You're dead, but I can still see you, still talk to you. I've been seeing and talking to you ever since your funeral. Whenever I say you're name, you appear, and I see you, and I talk to you, and you answer, that's the worst part. You always answer."
"You're not crazy," Riza promised. Her tone of voice made it very hard for Roy to argue.
"You're always here," he said finally.
"You're dead, but you're still always here. How am I not crazy?"
Riza sighed, looking away from him. "It's hard to explain. I'm here because…because you want me to be here. It doesn't make you crazy. It just means you can't let go."
Roy wasn't quite sure what the difference between being crazy and what she'd just said. The fact that he was even thinking about it had to say something about his mental health, didn't it?
"So if I say go away…you will?" Riza nodded slowly.
"For a little while…unless you really decide you don't want me around. Otherwise I'll come back, eventually."
Roy looked at her for a long time. "Go away, then," he said finally. "Even just for a little while."
He turned away without waiting to see if she disappeared.
The door to Riza's apartment gave way easily, and Roy stepped inside, looking around. He'd been walking for the last three hours, trying to sort out his thoughts. It had started to rain when he'd turned onto the street that led to Riza's apartment building.
And now here he was. Standing in the middle of her living room. He walked over to the table beside the couch, pulling open the small drawer and finding a handgun inside. Of course. He picked it up, weighing the smooth, heavy metal in his hands.
"I have no desire to live a happy, carefree life all alone."
"What are you going to do?"
Roy looked over his shoulder at Riza, who was standing behind him. "I don't know," he admitted, surprised that the fact that he knew he was talking to a hallucination didn't bother him.
He knew what he wanted to do. It was whether or not he had the strength to do it that mattered. "I don't want you to disappear," he said finally, looking back at the gun. "And I don't want to spend the rest of my life talking to a hallucination. I don't suppose you'll tell me what to do, will you?" He looked back at Riza, who shook her head.
"I can't tell you anything."
They looked at each other for a long time. Thunder rumbled in the distance. "Well?" Riza asked finally. She sounded genuinely curious, and strangely enough, Roy was reminded of a long ago time, back before anything — Father, Homunculus, Ishval, all of it. When he'd just been an alchemy student, and Riza had just been his teacher's daughter. She'd peaked over his shoulder one day when he'd been studying, and started asking all kinds of questions. She hadn't been trying to be annoying; she'd just been curious. She'd been so innocent then…as had Roy.
He really wanted to go back to that.
There was a flash of lightning, and Roy counted. One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, four—
Thunder clapped right over head, cutting off the mental counting. Roy exchanged a look with Riza, who was watching him with some amount of interest, still waiting for an answer.
Another flash of lightning. Roy raised the gun, beginning the count again.
One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thou—
The sound of thunder echoed through the air, swallowing all other noises.
Author's Note: And…this is where I leave it. I shall leave it to your imaginations to decide whether or not Roy killed himself. Anyways, said this was weird, didn't I? The idea of Roy or Riza dying and leaving the other behind in a depressed state has just been done to death. I wanted to put a different spin on the idea. How'd I do? Review please and let me know? I was kind of nervous about posting this, opinions would certainly be nice. So…press the button. The button is your friend. Press it and type words. And if you must criticize, please be nice. I'm a very fragile girl. Thanks for reading! — Sam