Title: Sleep Among The Dead
Rating: T (for character death and suicide)
Summary: "Congratulations, Mr. Fuehrer." He looked up from his drink, smiling just a bit at the woman standing in front of him. She wouldn't leave alone tonight —Sequel to The End's Beginning, Royai
Beginning Notes: So I decided the end of the summer deserved a one-shot. And what better story to write than a sequel to the one-shot I wrote in the beginning of the summer, right? If you haven't read my story The End's Beginning, then stop right here, go to my profile, and read it, otherwise you'll be so freaking confused it won't even be worth reading this. You have been warned.
Disclaimer: I do not own Full Metal Alchemist. Just the idea and the laptop I'm writing with. Please don't sue.
Sleep Among the Dead
Days go on forever
But I have not left your side
We can chase the dark together
If you go then so will I
~Anthem of the Angels by Breaking Benjamin
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.
"We've gathered here today…"
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.
"…in order to commemorate the election of the country's new leader…"
"I can't do it," Roy whispered, staring at the gun in his hand. He couldn't bring himself to look at Riza, whose gaze he could still feel drilling holes into his head. "I'm sorry. I just…can't."
"…Fuehrer-President Roy Mustang."
The applause that erupted all around him snapped Roy back to reality. He blinked, trying to look like he had in fact, been paying attention to everything that was going on around him. In reality, he could really care less about any of this.
None of it mattered. Because she wasn't there.
"Good." The single word surprised Riza more than anything. "You shouldn't do it. It'd be such a waste."
"But…but…" Roy gaped at Riza, unable to find the right words to express how he was feeling. "I don't…you said…"
"Well I certainly never told you to kill yourself, if that's where you're trying to go with this." Roy's mouth was still on the floor. Riza sighed as she stepped forward, closing the space between them and reaching a hand out, touching it to Roy's cheek. Her skin felt so warm…she felt so damn real…how was it possible this was all a hallucination?
It was with absolutely no feeling that Roy gave his inaugural address to the citizens of Amestris that had gathered on this amazing day. The day all of Roy's dreams came true.
Well…almost all of them, at least.
"That better not be what I think it is."
Roy looked over his shoulder at Riza, who was leaning against the wall of his study, watching him with cross eyes. "What do you know from alchemy anyways?" He grumbled as he slammed his book shut, looking away from her.
"I know my father attempted human transmutation after my mother died. I saw his notes, I remember what they looked like. After everything that's happened…have you lost your mind?"
"I'm not going to attempt anything," Roy snapped, ignoring the irritation he felt over arguing with a ghost. "It's just for…peace of mind. I'm not idiot, I know the stories, I know it's impossible. But that doesn't mean I can't research it, does it?"
"You're a man of action, Colonel. You could never just research something. You'd want to try. You can't try. You have too much you need to do to think about taking that kind of risk."
"I won't try it," Roy said, a bit annoyed that she didn't seem to trust him.
"Do you promise?"
Roy jumped a mile as he whirled around, the loud chorus of voices ringing through his new and greatly improved office. He smiled just a little as he found himself face to face Fuery, Havoc, Breda, Falman, the Elric brothers, and Winry Rockbell (those last ones were a bit of a surprise to Roy; he hadn't thought they'd bother making the long trip to Central for the inauguration, especially Edward).
"Way to go Mr. Fuehrer," the blonde man said with a bit of sarcasm. Roy smirked, his response to that already formulated in his mind. He raised his hand, shielding his eyes and looking around.
"What was that? I thought I heard somebody talking that sounded suspiciously like Edward Elric, but I don't see the little guy anywhere—"
"Who do you think you're calling a microscopic pipsqueak that could stand up straight under a bed?"
Winry and Alphonse grabbed Edward, holding him back and laughing. Roy knew he couldn't really torture the boy — man now, he supposed. Edward had grown quite a bit since the last time Roy had seen him. They were almost the same height now. But he was still easy to annoy, thankfully.
"Congratulations Sir Fuehrer," Havoc said with a grin, raising his hand in salute. Falman, Breda, and Fuery followed his example. "Hawkeye would be proud of you."
The entire room seemed to go still at the sound of Hawkeye's name. Edward, Alphonse, and Winry exchanged looks before returning their gazes to Roy, who was trying very hard to ignore the pain that threatened to overwhelm him. He hadn't wanted to think about Riza — not yet, at least. Not until he was in the safety of his house with a bottle of whiskey and his own personal ghost looking over his shoulder and scolding him for acting so irresponsibly on his first official night as fuehrer.
"Are you sure this is still Ishbal?" Riza asked as she looked around the area they were standing in. The Ishbal Restoration Project had been going swimmingly so far. Roy probably should have been more proud of himself than he was. This was one of the things he'd dreamed of since the Promised Day. He was finally beginning to atone for the sins he'd committed during the war. At least he was on the right track.
"It looks pretty good, huh?" Roy made sure he didn't move his lips too much. Anyone that passed by would think he was talking to himself. He didn't need to be branded as a psycho.
"Well the last time I was here it was in shambles. So compared to my memories it practically looks like a paradise." Riza smiled just a little. "You've done a good job here, Colonel." She still called him Colonel, despite his promotion to Brigadier General. Not that he minded. It was nostalgic, hearing his old rank spoken in her voice.
Okay, so he was psychotic. He didn't deserve to have it held against him.
"Fuehrer Mustang, sir!"
Roy rolled his eyes a bit as he turned to face General Alexander Armstrong and Lieutenants Denny Broch and Maria Ross standing in the door of his office, all saluting him. At the sight of the strong-armed general, Havoc, Fuery, Falman, Breda, Edward, Alphonse, and Winry all launched into a myriad of excuses as to why they had to leave and ran out of the room, leaving Roy to fend for himself. Roy sighed as he raised his head to face Armstrong. Sadly, the fact that he was Fuehrer wasn't going to save him from Armstrong's insaneness.
"Lieutenant…where do you go when you're not here?"
Riza looked a bit surprised by the question. "What do you mean?"
"I mean you don't just disappear and reappear on my whim, right? You must go somewhere when you're not hanging around me. What do you do, watch the others, wander around the country?"
Riza considered this for a moment. "I…don't know where I go," she admitted finally. "There's this place…I don't think it's Heaven, it's more of an in-between. The place where people go when they still have others that they want to watch over on Earth." She paused for a moment. "Brigadier General Hughes is there." Roy's head snapped up in surprise.
"You've seen Hughes?" Riza nodded slowly.
"He spends most of his time watching over his family, as you can imagine. Every now and then he pulls away to watch you though."
"Does Gracia seem him the way I see you?" Roy asked, taking a deep sip of his brandy. He usually needed alcohol when he was talking to Riza. It still freaked him out, even almost a year later.
"I don't think so. When Hughes died…Gracia missed him, obviously, but she didn't feel the same need to still be able to see him. She found it in herself to move on and continue raising Elycia, even as she was mourning."
"So Gracia was able to move on, but…what, I can't?"
"Does it really surprise you to hear that?" Riza asked, raising an eyebrow at her superior. "For the first four months you didn't even realize I was dead." Roy flinched at the blunt way she put it. "So no, you couldn't move on. You still can't."
"You make it sound like it's a bad thing," Roy mumbled, taking a sip of his brandy.
"With all due respect, Colonel, you spend your nights talking to a ghost. Are you sure it isn't a bad thing that you can't move on?"
Roy didn't answer.
Roy wouldn't deny, it was nice to just be able to get home. He let himself into the house, locking the door behind him, and finally managing to separate himself from the rest of the world. As great as today — as finally achieving his dream — had been, as everything had progressed, he found himself wanting to be alone more and more. To be in the safety of his apartment. To pour a drink. And to wait for Riza to come. Because surely she would. There was no way she'd be able to stay away on the day his dream — their dream — had been realized.
She would come. He'd just have to wait.
"Will you come to the inauguration?"
Riza sighed, biting her lip. "I can't," she finally managed to say. Roy raised his eyes, staring into Riza's amber orbs with some amount of shock.
"What? Why not?" He was surprised when Riza smiled softly.
"Because I don't belong there."
Roy snorted. Man, even dead, her view of herself was completely warped. "If anyone freaking belongs there, it's you. You're the reason I've lived as long as I have."
"Ironic considering five years ago you were going to kill yourself because I was dead."
"But I didn't," Roy insisted as he stood, crossing the room to where Riza stood. "And face it, if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have made it to that point in the first place. You saved my ass more times than even God can count. If anyone deserves to be there tomorrow, it's you."
But Riza shook her head. "The ceremony tomorrow is for the living," she informed Roy quietly, a sad smile playing at her lips. This is for you, and for everyone else to celebrate. A ghost has no place there."
Roy sighed, raising a hand and resting it against Riza's cheek. Good lord, she felt so real. It wasn't fair that she would disappear if he so much as blinked for too long. "She does if I want her there. It's my party after all."
Riza laughed, raising her hand to rest it against Roy's. "I'll be here when you come home," she promised quietly. "Take tomorrow for yourself. Forget about me, celebrate with the living. I'm sure Havoc and the others are going to want to celebrate, go out with them or something. You're about to become the leader of an entire country. You can't spend the rest of your life talking to the dead."
"Congratulations, Mr. Fuehrer." He looked up from his drink, smiling just a bit at the woman standing in front of him. She wouldn't leave alone tonight.
"Well that was sincere," he teased lightly as he stood up, crossing the room to stand in front of Riza, who tilted her head up to smile crookedly at Roy. "You know for a minute, with that tone, I almost mistook you for the know-it-all brat that used to make my life hell."
Riza laughed quietly. She would be the first, second, and last to admit that when she'd been younger, before she and Roy had become friends, she'd made the boy's life an absolute living hell. There was nothing she'd enjoyed more than a good practical joke at her father's student's expense. And Roy, of course, had been forced to endure it. Everyone, including Berthold Hawkeye, had believe that Riza was nothing more than a quiet, timid girl who there simply to be seen — never heard.
She'd had everyone fooled.
"You know you miss that."
"Oh yeah, I miss walking out of my room every other morning and slipping on a bunch of marbles," Roy chuckled. "Or you know, I miss sitting under a tree reading and having a balloon full of water that's been oh-so-cleverly strung over my head be shot down by that little slingshot you were so proud of toting around. Yeah, I really miss all of that Riza."
He was happy when Riza laughed again. It wasn't a sound he'd heard nearly enough when she'd been alive. Especially after Ishbal. "So what now?" She asked after a minute. "You made it to the top. What's the plan?"
Roy turned away from Riza, walking over to the table by his couch and opening the small, drawer, pulling out the gun he'd taken from Riza's so many years earlier. In five years, he'd been careful to make sure it stayed clean, though he never used it. Riza just stared at it. He wondered if she knew he had it. Probably. She had a way of knowing things she probably shouldn't have.
"Because you know, that worked out so well for you five years ago."
"Today's different," Roy said as he sat down on the couch, staring at the gun with hard, contemplative eyes. "Everything I had to live for is done. I made it to the top, just like I promised you and Hughes I would. I rebuilt Ishbal like I promised Marcoh. What's left?"
"Getting married, having children, growing old, dying naturally…you know, all the usual stuff that goes with living."
"The only person I have any interest in doing any of those things with already has a head-start on the dying part," Roy informed Riza. She sighed, rubbing her forehead tiredly.
"You have to let go."
"I don't want to," Roy said stubbornly. "I love you. I don't want to have to let go."
Silence. Roy raised his head after a moment to find Riza staring at him, a mixture of shock and — fear? Despair? Roy couldn't tell — in her eyes. Clearly she was reacting to his impromptu confession. "You're kidding, right? You're constantly lecturing me on not being able to let go of you, but you can't tell that I'm in love with you? Honestly Riza, I thought you were a genius."
"It's different having it confirmed," she shot back, shaking her head a bit. Roy sighed as he stood up, walking over to Riza once more. He tucked his fingers under her chin with his free hand (the gun was still hanging loosely at his side) and coaxed her head up to look at him. Before she could say anything, or even react, he'd leaned in, pressing his lips gently against hers.
The unfairness of her status as a hallucination had never been more blatantly obvious than it was in that damn moment. Roy regretfully pulled away, his eyes meeting Riza's shocked gaze.
"You still have a life," she insisted weakly. Roy chuckled a bit.
"I died a long time ago Riza. My body just hasn't caught up to my mind yet."
He took a step back, raising the gun to his head. Funny. Five years he'd stood in this exact same position, in the middle of Riza's living room, with a storm pounding away over head. And Roy, though for the life of him he couldn't figure out why, had been completely conflicted. The idea of having a gun to his head, even by his own hand, had terrified him.
It hadn't been the right time then. That was the conclusion he came to as he rested his finger against the trigger. His eyes met Riza's once more. She was staring at him steadily.
"You're going to watch?"
"It's the least I can do," she replied evenly. Well it wasn't like she hadn't seen people die before. Though Roy still wished she would look away. He was tempted to close his eyes…but no. He wanted the amber color of the eyes he loved to be the last thing he saw.
The sound of a single gunshot echoed through the air.
Author's Note: So I was kinda going to include the funeral scene. Finally decided not to. I'm pretty happy with this story though. It incorporates the ideas everyone had (Roy killing himself, Roy living on and completing their dream) and wraps everything up all nicely. Well, as nicely as suicide can be, anyways :-/ So ridiculously sorry if this touched a soft spot with anyone. I know how iffy this kind of topic can be with people, trust me. Without being too specific, I went through a very dark time once. I know it's uncomfortable, reading about these things. Please don't hurt me? Reviews are much appreciated, as always. I know everyone wanted a sequel to The End's Beginning, and quite honestly, so did I. Hope I did all right. Review please! — Sam