Acknowledgement: A note of sincerest thanks to Bookwrm389 for being the best beta a girl could have wished for. Thank you for putting up with the awful sentence structure, the late night emails, the general heartbreak and angst and for always, always making me feel good about what I'd written. Also, my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who took the time to leave a review (save for narusasumi), favoritize this story, add it to their alerts, PM me to discus plot and/or point out cannon/plot inconsistencies. You guys kept me going throughout this whole train wreck of a fic!
Only Almost Here…
Ten Years Later
Under a dreary sky, Captain Denny Brosh passed the newsagent some cenz and thumbed through his paper listlessly. The weather had been morose for days, as though lying in wait for the final moment when the heavens could no longer contain their sorrow and burst forth with a flood of rain.
The soldier cast a cursory glance at the first page, which was still running the same story it had been for months albeit from different angles. Ever since the new law passed which modified the Fuhrership into an elected office - elected by the masses no less – the Times had had a field day covering every aspect of this decision. The politics section pondered the effects of the new democracy on Amestris and its standing in the world while the gossip section not-so-subtly insinuated that the new decree was to blame for the retired Fuhrer and his ex-wife's recent divorce, despite both parties having released a joint statement insisting it was a mutual decision and that they wished each other the best of luck. The business section sought the silver lining by focusing on the expanded commerce that had opened up between Amestris, Drachma and Creta thanks to the new Amestrian Ambassador, Iolanth Lukashenko, who had been awarded that position in a settlement as some liked to think.
In Brosh's personal opinion, it didn't really matter how the former First Lady had gotten the position. It couldn't be denied that she was doing a lot of good with it. And a good economy had never hurt anyone, especially in these times.
However, the front page today had something else to announce, something that tore at the worn out man's heart too much to read it carefully. He merely noted the time, the venue as well as the listing of names, not bothering to look into the overly-dramatized whys and the hows.
Tucking the paper under his arm and patting down his uniform one last time – full uniform, even though he wasn't required to, this was his sign of respect to them – Captain Denny Brosh made his way to Central High Court with heavy steps, hurrying slightly, afraid of the rain that could break out any minute.
Elizabeth Grumman stepped off the train at Central Station, marveling at the fact that very little had changed in all the time she had been away. The grey benches were still grey and stiff, too few to actually accommodate all the passengers disembarking and still covered in graffiti. The ticket counters were still situated to the right, the station master still wore the ridiculous wig and carried the overlarge whistle he would never actually blow.
"Come on, Riza, they're here," a blond head appeared beside her, and she smiled softly. Some things never changed, she supposed, including Jean Havoc wanting to get out of a locomotive as fast as possible. But he was right. They were indeed already there and waiting.
The retired General took her first steps on Central soil in a decade and a half, and she couldn't help feeling glad that she was taking that step towards him. Coming to him seemed like coming home in so many ways.
Though he had always been vastly different in appearance from her, she felt as though she was walking to a mirror image as she slowly made her way to the Flame Alchemist – accompanied by his own set of guards. His figure was slightly stooped with age, as was hers, his temples dusted with grey, as were hers. He wore thin-framed glasses just like her, his eyes full of an emotion she never thought she would live to see.
As she was sure, were hers.
There was quiet pride in her voice when she reached him and saluted – again, no longer a necessity but a habit too old to die out now – and in his as he greeted her. However, a moment later, she was forced to amend her opinion on everything being the same when Roy Mustang took her into his arms in front of everyone and kissed her on the forehead, securing her at his side with a silent promise to never let go.
"Come on, Fuery, we have to go," General Breda said gruffly to the Major.
"I… don't think I can," the younger man replied, his head lowered and eyes downcast.
The redhead didn't respond, simply made a noise at the back of his throat that let the Major know what he thought of his cowardly decision.
"I know what you're thinking, General. And yes, I don't have what it takes. You were the one who told me that some twenty years ago when I joined under His Excellency right? You told me I didn't have the stomach for the job, and you were right. Because if the 'job' involves watching those two commit the legal version of public suicide, then I don't," Fuery glared at the hard marble floor.
"It's all very easy for him. 'It's a new era for Amestris, we're doing it for the future, take care of Iolanth, assist her in her duties as ambassador.' But what about us poor sods who are going to be around after they're gone?" The Major's vision was slowly becoming blurry behind his glasses as his monologue continued.
"I have every intention of following his orders. I've been doing so for too many years to count. But I made the one mistake they told me – you told me – never to make. You and Havoc used to say that they're not my parents, or my friends, and they don't exist for the sole reason of bailing me out of trouble and comforting me when I'm down. But somewhere along the line, I did end up believing that they were."
At the last sentence, Fuery's voice finally cracked. "And now you want me to watch them die? I'm sorry, Sir, I just can't."
For a moment, it seemed like Breda was going to agree or at least show some gesture of compassion towards the younger man. Certainly, his hand did move slightly from its position by his side. But the next moment, the redhead was turning away and muttering "Suit yourself" before heading out the door, leaving Kain Fuery to sink down on his desk in grief and sorrow to mourn the deaths that had yet to occur.
He had made good on his promise, perhaps the most important one he had ever made. He hadn't let her move from his side all the way from the station to the court, one arm resting permanently around her. She had leaned on him all the way, and he had taken quiet pleasure at the ability to finally hold her like he had always wanted to in public, for all to see.
And now as they walked with the guards to the center of the field, he noticed familiar faces all around. Havoc stood to one side, his hand hovering near Rebecca Catalina's as she watched the two prisoners being escorted to the execution ground. Breda stood next to Iolanth, who was wearing his own large overcoat over her clothes. He had no doubt this was just as hard on her as it was on any one of them. Roy offered her a smile even as he tightened his hold on the blonde by his side, and he hoped his apology would be clear. Falman stood discreetly in a corner, visible only because Roy was searching for his shock of grey hair. Sciezka was, no doubt, home with the girls. Fuery, as he had expected, was nowhere to be found.
In a way, he was glad really. Though the Major was now a grown man, to Roy, he would always remain the kid who had stammered "M-m-aster S-Sergeant Fain Kuery, at your service!" on his first day at the office. No, Fuery didn't need to see this. He was a good man, one who would live and shape this country into what it should be. At least he had Maria to help him through it
Some of Roy's sisters were also there, standing at the very edge of the crowd. Vanessa was openly crying, having somewhat settled into the role of Roy's caretaker as well as the bar's top hostess and owner after the Madame's death four years ago. He wasn't overly concerned. Business would always be booming for them.
The long recitation of war crimes finally ended, and now the firing squad was being asked to take their positions. Hawkeye looked up at him and he hoped his own eyes reflected as much peace as hers.
"Ready Sir?" she asked in a whisper, and he nodded, holding her closer still and feeling glad that his last breaths in this world would be tainted by the scent of her hair. His last tactile sensation would be the feel of her skin, and his last sight of her wine-colored eyes glittering golden in the last rays of sunlight.
"Stay close by, Lieutenant," he whispered back, not sure why he was using her old rank after so long.
"I will," she assured him. "We made a promise, after all."
"I love you…"
"I'll be right here, Sir," she said, locking her gaze with his.
Iolanth Lukashenko felt the grass tickle her bare ankles as she stooped to place a fresh bouquet of flowers near the graves. It took some work, seeing as the small area was already so full of arrangements from so many people, and she could barely locate a spot for her own humble offering. It had been three months and the flow of flowers didn't seem to have slowed down one bit. She could see the yellow daisies Fuery usually left peaking out from behind Sciezka's lilies. An arrangement of violets similar to the one on Maes Hughes' grave not five feet away were also present, a testament to the fact that Gracia Hughes had been around recently too.
The blonde took a moment to pray in silence. Roy had never been very religious, but she knew he would have appreciated the gesture. She herself had a firm belief in the almighty and knew that both Roy and the woman he loved – the only woman he ever loved – were looking down on them from somewhere. And she was going to make them proud.
Burying her cold fingers into the pockets of Roy's black overcoat, the Ambassador felt the first drops of rain descending from the heavens above. Unknowingly, her personal guard came up behind her, a black umbrella already open.
"It's raining, Ma'am, we had better get going."
Breda never came to pay his respects. At least, that was what he would have people believe. The single blue rose left always between the two names on the headstones told a different story. Her eyes traced the first few drops of water making their way down the delicate petals and knew there would be a fresh one tomorrow in its place.
"I suppose you're right."
Taking a last look at the names and dates etched in stone, Iolanth felt glad she had insisted on the simple inscription that joined both the graves.
"They died as they lived, by each other's side."
End Note: *is shot by reviewers*
Upcoming Project (s): Getting some sleep (working on it), Reading "The Toll" (done - and it is full of win!) and "Team Players" by maryh10000, Studying for exams (see: getting some sleep), Turning 22 (on the 22nd), An Ishval related bunny that will not leave me alone (because my muse is addicted to angst).
PS: "Dear Arakawa" hates me!
PPS: Happy Royai Day, everyone! Sorry I couldn't offer something happier.