Title: After the Fall, Chapters 1 and 2
Beta: Chapter 1 beta'ed by cuylerjade Chapter 2 no beta
Characters: Roy x Ed (and a tiny bit of Hawkeye emo in chapter 1) And maybe even some implied Roy x Hughes...
Rating: R to NC-17 overall for language and nudity--- PG-13 in chapter 1 for Hawkeye emo, and PG for chapter 2, both have a little language.
Warnings: The story changes the continuity just a little bit from when it takes place at the end of episode 25 in the TV series. It takes place after Hughes' death but before Ed, Al, and Winry take the train to Rush Valley.
Summary: After the funeral for Maes Hughes, Roy was feeling rather... vulnerable.
Copyrights: The characters obviously belong to thier creators, not me.
Read all the parts of the story so far HERE!
After the Fall
The sky had been gray and cloudy that day. Big, black clouds, heavy with moisture, ready to burst forth with their precious liquid. Thankfully though, the rain had held off, at least until after the somber ceremony. And he had wished for it to rain, at least the rain would have made the thoughts he had been having of setting himself aflame impossible. As it was, the sky was still black - dark, forboding and inhumane. Yet he was still here, soaking wet and miserable.
The funeral had been a rather boring affair, as funerals usually go. The preacher had a dull monotone voice that got under your skin and grated you down to your last nerve, but being a man of the cloth, he was of course safe from any sort of retaliation that the annoyance of his voice would cause.
The colonel resisted the urge to keep checking his watch, knowing that it was terribly rude of him. That was especially true since he was standing so close to the widow and her child, who was now tugging on her mommy's arm and asking when daddy was going to wake up. It almost brought a tear to his eyes. Almost.
As a colonel, he couldn't cry. He had to be strong and stone faced. He kept telling himself that. No matter how many times he repeated that mantra to himself, he could never quite totally believe it. Quickly he looked around at the faces close to him. Some were red-eyed, with tears streaking their cheeks. Others were as stone faced as him. Some didn't really know Hughes and didn't care about this whole affair, and others, he figured, were trying to hold back their emotions and be the good soliders they knew they should be.
Time ticked away ever so slowly, the preacher droning on and on about how Hughes, who was posthumously raised two ranks, was in a good place now, and that nobody there should grieve for him. He had been taken up into Heaven, which made the much of the sobbing and crying start again anew.
Not for the colonel. He fought back the lump in his throat, the tightness that shortened his breathing to almost wheezing, pathetic gasps, and the wetness that wanted to well up at the corners of those almond shaped black eyes. With an abrupt clearing of his throat, he fought it back and straightened himself up, playing the good wooden soldier, the ever loyal dog of the military.
It was probably an eternity for all of the people at the funeral that bleak and overcast day. When the preacher eventually told everyone to go in peace, there were more than a few sighs of relief. Some people were finally able to stop holding back the well of emotions that they had been damming during the service itself, and started to cry and hold each other, finally looking to others for support.
But still, the colonel stayed, his face an emotionless chisled stone. The guests slowly started to trickle away. At first, the ones who didnt really want to be there quickly dissapated - the generals and other military men who only knew Hughes in passing and had been orded by thier superiors to be here, though for the most part they had better things to do than to get all depressed by watching peple cry over someone that they may or may not have seen walked past while strolling down the hallways at Central.
Some took at least a few moments to walk over to the grieving family and said a little prayer or words of sympathy to the widow and her small child, who by now had cried herself to sleep and was resting under the umbrella, tucked safe and warm in her mother's arms.
Others stayed for a while longer. Some knelt down at the grave and talked to Hughes for a few moments. They were having one last conversation with a man who loved to talk about anything and everything. Although to many, it semeed most of the time the conversation went back to his daughter and whatever her latest exploit was, from her first swimsuit, to whatever she had last cooked with her mother.
In a slow trickle, the people eventually filed out. The group of people closest to Hughes- Havoc, Armstrong, and Fuery all filed past the colonel. They put their hand on his shoulder and gave him a gentle pat, not having any words that would ease the pain he was rather unsucessfully trying to hide behind those dark black eyes of his.
Hawkeye stayed for a few moments longer. Gently, she rubbed the back of his signature white glove, the one with the red Flame Alchemist's circle on it, with her own naked hand. She opened her mouth once, then a few moments later, closed it again. She was not sure what comfort she could be to him now.
Deep in the dark recesses of her mind, she knew what she wanted to do to help ease his suffering. There was nothing she would have wanted more than to take him in her arms and hold him tight to her and never let him go. He would be so close to her that scarcely a breeze could slip between them. She would hold the colonel hard and fast, bare naked flesh against bare naked flesh, and she would lean up and softly whisper in his ear that it would be okay. She was here for him now, and she always would be. Then they would kiss, a long, languishing kiss that took both of their breaths away. Neither of them would want it to end. Not a word would have to be spoken as they would be together, so neither of them would have to feel so empty and alone.
She knew, though, that it wouldn't be okay for either of them. She knew that she could offer him no comfort or words to slow the ache that was the colonel's heart for the man who by most accounts had come to be more of a talkative little brother to him than a subordinate officer.
Even Riza Hawkeye eventually and wordlessly slipped back into the ever-increasing darkness of night. He didn't even notice her leave. He didn't notice the wind blowing colder or the sun slowly sinking in the west, first bathing everything in a dull red-orange glow, then fading into ever darker purple and blue hues, before the light finally faded far beyond the horizon.
When he couldn't read the headstone any more for lack of light, he finally snapped back into reality long enough to figure that that there was really no reason at all to stay any longer. The chill in the air bit thru his trademark blue State uniform, flapping the stiff fabric in the breeze and causing his hair to brush over his eyes and flicker in the wind.
With a very light drizzle, barely a mist in the air, the clouds finally let loose their moisture. It took only a few brief moments for the light mist to turn into a
steady rain, then finally a torrential downpour, with raindrops moving at an awkward angle, cut and shaped by the wind. The wind and the rain cut the colonel deep, thru the clothes, thru the skin, all the way to the bone. Was it the cold, or was it something else - something more sinister that was biting him that deep? He tried to move, to step away from the grave of his dear friend Hughes, but his feet may as well have been made of lead, as he couldnt seem to will himself to shift even slightly.
He stood in the cold, and stared at the gravestone. It was tall and proud, hard and angular, just like the man that was buried undereath it. Every word, every single letter of the headstone for Maes Hughes was burned into his brain like a snap from his fingers. He wanted it that way. He didn't want to let himself ever forget about this wonderful man who was brought down long before his time.
This was his burden, his curse to carry with him for the rest of his life. His burden was to remember the man who had left a wife and young child behind- while he, still without someone to love, stood there with the pouring and driving rain, the heavy droplets stinging him as if he was willingly standing in a swarm of bees, the rain soaking him to his very core. He was very much alive, but wishing with all of his heart that he wasnt at this moment.
Guilt, it seems, can sometimes be worse than death.
After the Fall
It hadnt taken long for the mound of freshly dug dirt that covered the casket of Maes Hughes to become a slick, ugly orange-red mound of mud in front of the tombstone that slid down little tracks in the dirt like miniature rivers and pooled around the colonel's now dull and dirty black boots.
This thought both comforted, and disturbed him at the same time, how easily life is to clean with rain, yet how easy it was to just get carried
away from everything and everyone that you ever cared for, or who cared for you. He had cared for Maes Hughes, like a little brother, like a superior officer like... more perhaps?
The Flame Alchemist shook his head, trying to shake those rather unnerving thoughts out of his swirling and tumbling brain. He gave a long, drawn out sigh. Thru the the rain he watched the smoke from his warm breath hit the cold air and rise up into the sky. It felt like that was a little bit of his soul leaving him. Perhaps it was. After a time, he looked up from the gravestone, and had to blink the rain out of his eyes. He thought he had seen something, a sudden movement from the corner of his eye.
He gave a slow, long pan around where he was, to see an empty graveyard, save one. He had to squint his eyes in the rain that was now driving against him in sheets. He thought he heard something. At first was guessing that it was a product of his imagination. 'Who else would be here?' He thought. But as he squinted more and covered his eyes with a rain soaked gloved hand, he could see in the distance, a shape. At first it was an amorphous blob, it could have been a pile of leaves for all he could tell. But as it moved closer it formed a human-like mass, albeit a rather short one.
The clank of metal that he heard coming from the figure in the distance was faint at first, but as it approached he could hear it better. The metal was creaking and arguing with the rain that was seeping into those automail joints. The colonel peered harder into the distance to see the form take shape. He knew who it was now, but he didnt really believe it. The form finally came into the small amount of light that was left close to the grave, close to where where Roy was standing. There he was, his blond hair wind-whipped and wet, matted clumps sticking to his head, his coat floating like a flag in the howling breeze. It was Fullmetal.
'Why is he still here?' was the first thing that went thru the colonel's mind. Part of him just wanted to yell at this dumb kid to go home, it wasnt his burden to bear! But somewhere, deep inside of him, he was glad to see another person here. He lacked the spark to move himself. Maybe he just needed someone else there to fan the flame.
As the Full Metal Alchemist approached, Roy looked back down, to feign interest about him coming over to talk to him. At first, he was afraid this
was going to be another bullshit 'no words need to be said' visit, like when Hawkeye awkwardly hovered beside him a few moments before. But as soon as the creaking and groaning of automail stopped, a gentle human hand lain softly on his shoulder. 'Oh this again..' Roy quickly thought, though the thought had hardly finished registering thru his brain when Ed softly spoke. "I am really sorry, Colonel Mustang. I know you two were close." Ed was silent for a moment, not sure if what he was saying was helping, or if it was even registering in those even more faraway than usual black eyes.
"Thank you Fullmetal..... Edward." he corrected himself. He wasnt really in the mood for all the stupid, bullshit formality hoops that the State usually made him jump thru. Sometimes the dog of the military's leash was short, indeed.
"I guess I never really thought about it before, but he really was like a little brother to me. I always felt rather protective of him, like a man and a pet... a well loved pet." He cringed a little as soon as he said it, realizing how absurd and almost insulting that was. It wasnt at all the way he meant to say it, though it was the way he felt.
As he turned to look to Ed, to judge his reaction, Edward had that same mischevious, smartass little smirk on his face that Roy had seen many
times before. The look of someone who knew what was going on and was happy to be in on the joke. "I know what ya mean" he quipped. "I feel the same way about Al sometimes." Edward shifted his weight to the other foot and put his hands on his hips, in a rather comical pose. He gave Roy a little wink, that smile spreading even broader on that round face of his. It was such a wide, embracing, infectious smile, that it actually made Roy smile for the most brief of moments. That was something that he hadnt done since before Hughes died, and it felt.. rather nice.
'Edward', Roy thought. 'He always has a way of making someone smile at the most absurd times. That is a nice quality I never thought about...' He
shook his head hard like a wet dog, soaking both his and Ed's coats with even more splashed rain. Desperatly, Roy tried to get those wandering thoughts out of his head. He had had those kinds of thoughts before, about someone else. But he knew in his heart that they were wrong, and he had learned to supress them out of necessity. Not because he wanted to, but because he needed to. The military didnt like those kind of feelings, and besides, the guy was married. Roy had no idea if he had even felt the same way. Of course, he will never know now. He didnt like these feelings and thoughts that he was having, the same thing he had felt for another long ago. They were leading him to a wierd and somewhat scary place... a place that he at least thought conciously that he really didnt want to go.
So...er.. whada ya guys think? Please tell me!!!!!