My...only excuse is that I sorta...forgot I hadn't finished this. A review recently made me look back and say "hey, the epilogue isn't done" and so here it is.
God bless you all for putting up with me. Thank you for the support and kind words, the feedback and encouragement, the critiques. This was an amazing learning experience. Thank you so much.
Rock on, you're all the best!
Roy looked to the file on his desk, then back up at the small figure that had just dropped it there. Edward's face was a careful mask, concealing his emotions behind a stony expression of contempt. It had been nearly a week since they had first boarded the train bound to Central...and away from the border.
Since the end of that mission, things between himself and Fullmetal had been...strange, to say the least. Their playful banter was gone, and so were the not so playful jibes, and really just any form of conversation. It was like neither really knew how to speak to the other any longer, and Roy was loath to admit it, but he hated it. At least Al had been there with the rest of the team to meet them at the station, something Ed had needed desperately. Whether he would admit it or not.
...now, however, Roy could not help but notice the one rather glaring tell the boy could never hide: His brother was not here. If Edward had left Alphonse behind, it was because he had something he wanted to say...and he did not want to say it in front of his little brother.
"Can you please excuse us, Lieutenant?" he requested, nodding towards the door. Gracefully, Riza nodded, heading over and stepping out, closing the door behind her.
"Will you talk now?"
"Talk about what?" Edward ground out, scowling.
"Whatever brought you here, report in hand early." Fullmetal folded his arms over his chest defensively, and clamped his jaw shut. He also refused to make eye contact. That was not like him. "Ed?"
"Get over yourself. I just wanted this crap over with so Al and I can get back to what's important."
"I can wait all day." Really, did Ed have no idea how easy he was to read? It was almost funny.
"Then you can face the Lieutenant when your work isn't done." The brat had the audacity to smirk.
Roy picked up a quill pointedly, looking down at his paperwork.
It was a full ten minutes of Roy rereading the same sentence fifty-nine times, and daydreaming the rest, before the kid's stubbornness broke and he sighed. Loudly.
"Yes, Edward?" he asked, looking up calmly.
"I, uh...wanted to thank you." His expression took on a note of surprise, as though shocked he had actually said anything, followed by anger. "And that doesn't leave this room, you hear me, Colonel?"
"Thank me for what?" he asked, genuinely surprised.
Completely ignoring his tantrum sent Edward for a loop, the boy clearly struggling to collect himself. After a moment, he settled for a scowl. "Nothing. Just..."
"Nobody's here but us. You can say it, Ed. We were both there. It's nothing new." Roy was surprised by the quiet reassurance in his own tone, and judging by Fullmetal's expression, so was he. Then the fight left him, and he just looked...like a kid.
"For...coming for us. For getting us back alive...and, for what you said. You know, about me...saving them. I...I didn't save them all, but...but I didn't totally fail...and..."
"Every life saved is one more person who would not be here without you," Roy replied, finishing the thought for Edward. "Every loss is a tragedy, but if you dwell on them, you lose the ability to celebrate life and the living. It's something I struggled with, still struggle with, even, but I'd like to believe that this trip brought me a little closer to understanding that. You did, Ed."
Edward looked surprised, but this time, instead of scowling, he offered a weak smile instead. "Yeah...I think...I get it. Thanks, Colonel. I'm...glad you were there."
Standing, Roy rounded the desk, stepping over to stand in front of the young blond. "I'm not glad you were dragged into that, but I am glad you were there. Without you, there would be four fewer children in this world today."
Ed's eyes welled up, and he stubbornly looked away, sniffling softly. "Yeah...I...yeah."
Grabbing the kid's flesh shoulder, Roy did not allow himself to think, and instead tugged him into a tight hug. Ed's body was stiff, as though he intended to push Roy away, but that did not happen, and after a moment, much to Roy's surprise, a single arm wrapped itself around his back.
"This doesn't leave this room," he said after a moment.
Edward scoffed. "Damn right."
~Three Months Later: East City~
"Why the hell are you summoning me back here?" Ed demanded, kicking open the door to Mustang's office. Behind him, Al said something about not destroying military property, but Ed was not really listening. He was pissed at the damn colonel. "You're wasting our ti-"
Ed froze, Mustang smirked, Al said something else, and Lilley grinned and waved.
Lilley grinned and waved.
"It's good to see you too, Fullmetal."
"There's a dog in your office," he quipped brilliantly.
"I see your genius is as hard at work as ever."
"Shut up, Colonel Ba-stang."
"Brother? Who is this? Do you know her?"
"Al...can you wait outside?" Ed asked.
"Why, Brother? Who is she?"
"I'll tell you everything in a minute. Just wait. Please."
Clanking, then the door closed behind Al. Edward rushed forward, kneeling beside Lilley's chair.
"Lil...it's...how are you? And is that Twilight?"
"Yep! I got to keep him after all. They said that since..."
Ed was only half listening as she regaled him with news on what everyone was doing. They were all settling in just fine, all of them together in Central. Lilley's family had taken a trip out East, to visit family, and so they had stopped here on the way by.
They were alive. They were recovering. They were living.
He smiled. Maybe Mustang was right. Sometimes.