Word count: 940 words
Characters: Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye.
Summary: When all is said and done, Roy pays a visit to Hughes’ grave.
Warnings: post manga/Brotherhood, so obvious spoilers; not a very happy fic overall.
A/N: The fic is unbeta'd, sorry. I never posted on this comm before, but I'm glad I got to participate before the end!
When all is said and done, Roy pays a visit to Hughes’ grave. It’s late afternoon, bordering on early evening, and the setting sun has painted the horizon with lurid colors. Hughes’ gravestone casts a long, thin shadow that cuts through the grass like the shadow of the homunculus Pride.
1885 – 1914
Loving father, husband, and friend
Below those words there’s a line from a poem that Roy vaguely remembers from Hughes’ poetry phase, back when he was trying to impress Gracia with his culture. Roy’s pretty sure Gracia actually saw through his game, and that the line is a sort of private joke, one that you’d have to be Hughes to appreciate. Maybe he’s wrong about it, but it’s a nice thought anyway.
Loving father, husband, and friend. Gracia was the one who insisted that they added the word ‘friend’, and murmured tearfully to Roy about how much her husband valued their friendship, how glad she was that the two of them had each other through the academy, and the war, and everything that came after. Roy had to keep himself from saying that if he’d been such a stand up friend, he wouldn’t have let Hughes get murdered. It seems unfair that Hughes lived through Ishbal and came out of that death trap of a desert alive, just to get killed in his own country, a few hundred meters from his work place. He didn’t say any of his thoughts to Gracia, because she already had enough to deal with without Roy pouring all of his guilt over her.
He sighs, and the breath stays trapped in his lungs for a moment before he exhales, like it doesn’t want to leave. The wind has picked up and it’s getting chilly, too chilly for Roy, who’s not wearing his uniform, just some pants and a shirt, not even a jacket. It smells like rain—how ironic would it be if it started raining for real?
“It’s over,” he says to the grave. The graveyard is so silent that the sound of his voice feels like an intrusion. “I found who killed you—he’s dead.”
He’s never talked to the grave before, and it feels as silly as he thought it would be. All of his other visits weren’t so much about Hughes as they were about him. He can be that honest with himself: he didn’t come to pay his respects, or to mourn his best friend in peace. Coming to Hughes’ grave always was a way of reminding himself of his purpose, of fanning the flames, so to speak. Today is different, though.
“We also uncovered the conspiracy you died for,” he says, because it seems like Hughes would care about this more. “We beat them. It was quite a fight, exactly the kind of freakish fight you hated. The country’s safe, or as safe as a country can ever be.” He has to swallow before he can continue. What else would Hughes want to know about? “Alphonse Elric got his body back. Edward got his arm back, and… Well, he’s fine too. They’re going to be able to rest a little, finally.”
Today is different because, Roy realizes it only now, this time he’s saying goodbye for real. The funeral was a performance he had to brace himself for, and his other visits to the grave were about revenge. The revenge, he knows, was more about himself than about Hughes. He’d needed something to do, even as a small part of him was aware that it was slowly poisoning him. Now that it’s done, it’s time to come to terms with the fact that Hughes is gone. He’ll never call Roy again in the middle of a meeting, or in the early hours of morning, will never talk his co-workers’ ears out about his daughter and wife, tease Fullmetal into a fury, or kidnap random people and invite them to his home. He will never do any of this because he’s gone.
The memory survives, as they say, but memories are a faint comfort. They don’t amount to the real thing. Roy wonders why he ever thought revenge would bring him relief, because all it did was to give him another set of memories, the bad kind: screaming, the smell of burned flesh, the savage enjoyment he felt then, and that turns his stomach now; Fullmetal and Hawkeye teaming up to talk him down from his crazed, vengeful pyromania; Envy in his worm-like form crawling on the floor, ending his own life.
“Colonel?” The voice tears him away from his dark thoughts—he’d forgotten that Hawkeye was waiting for him in the car.
She’s not wearing her uniform either, and it makes her look strangely vulnerable. She’s wearing a skirt, too long to show much of her legs, but Roy still wishes he had the energy to appreciate it.
“Give me a minute,” he says.
She turns around, giving him privacy. That simple gesture is enough to make something inside Roy snap, and he has to bring a hand up to his mouth to muffle the sobs. Hawkeye must hear him, but she doesn’t say anything. When the tears have dried up he signals to Hawkeye that he’s ready to go, and they weave their way between the graves together.
The sky is truly beautiful, charcoal-grey clouds at their backs, blue velvet above their heads, and orange, pink, and gold where the sun is casting its last rays. Temporary blindness has given Roy a new appreciation for that sort of thing.
“I will miss him,” Hawkeye says quietly.
“So will I,” he says.