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Okay. This is the last chapter, with the Epilogue.

I just want to take this time to thank everyone who has stuck with me on this. It has been 4.5 months of work, but I enjoyed every chapter.
I want to especially thank johns_elizabeth for putitng up with my IMs in the middle of the night to talk about what to do next.
I also want to thank secretfreaky, thincirithel, binaryalchemist, and hieronymousb for giving me great comments and advice through the whole series.

If you guys liked this series, take a look at the new one I am writing for the <"lj user=55themes"> community. It is also Mustangx Hughes and starts in the academy, but it will be different enough I hope that you will all like it as well.

Take a look!



Title: A Perfect Circle (The Seed of the Fire- Chapter 25) (and Epilogue)
Author: SeaweedOtter
Pairing: Roy Mustang x Maes Hughes
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: AU, Set before the anime started, while Maes and Roy were roommates at the military academy.
Author Note: The story will mostly follow the manga, but it may have a bit of both.
Summary: Pull your dress on and stay real close / Who might leave you where I left off? / A perfect circle of acquaintances and friends / Drink another, coin a phrase… “Perfect Circle”- R.E.M.

I have the awesome johns_elizabeth as my advisor.


Read all of the chapters so far HERE!



Many cups of coffee were consumed that night, and a host of good brainstorming ideas came from the evening that Maes had visited. Even though he was the best man, Roy had never been much of a planner- and knew very little about weddings. He helped Maes and Gracia out as much as he could- but for the most part, he found that it was best when he stayed out of the way and simply helped and encouraged the couple when needed or asked for.

Some deep, dark part of Roy’s mind- the part that apparently attempted to keep him sane, kept telling him that all of this was just a dream, and that he would wake up soon- or that something was going to happen and he would end up with Maes. This wedding wasn’t going to happen. But the more rational part of the alchemist’s brain knew that this wasn’t true- though the less he thought about what was actually about to happen, the better he felt- and that was good enough for him, for now at least.

In the days following that late night brainstorm, dresses were ordered, cakes were picked, and photographers were chosen. They decided the colors that they were going to use, the flowers, the location, and all the other things that need to be done before a wedding. Roy had no idea that it was going to be so complicated. It made him very happy that he had never found a woman who he’d wanted to settle down with.

Besides- his heart had already been taken, long ago.

Months of preparations finally came down to the last few days. The wedding quickly approached, and everyone fell into a panic. There were cake issues, photographer mix ups, and worries about the weather. But when the day before the wedding arrived, it heralded the beginning of a beautiful weekend, and all of the issues had been resolved. That left Maes’ last night of freedom relatively worry free.

This was perfect for the bachelor party.

On his last night of bachelorhood, Maes was treated to a night to drinking and debauchery, courtesy of his friends and co-workers. The groomsmen- Armstrong, Breda, Havoc, Fuery, and Falman, along with the best man Roy, took him to a bar in downtown Central, where the beer flowed, and the women wore rather revealing outfits.

When the bar closed down, they were somehow able to stumble to another one that was just down the street- holding each other up in a precarious balance of human limbs along the way. More alcohol was imbibed, and after the second bar closed, the party moved in a caravan of cabs to Maes’ small apartment.

It didn’t take long after they arrived for Roy to start telling stories about how the two had met at the academy. Their first impressions were somewhat less than extraordinary. Maes had thought Roy was a womanizer, and Roy had thought Maes was a nerd. But despite all of that, they had still become fast friends.

Even through the haze of alcohol, Roy knew that he had to be careful about what he said. Despite the fact that Roy had come to trust his men with his life, he had never told any of them his deep, dark secret. They didn’t know about the past that he and Maes had shared together. A couple of times that night, Roy had come close to spilling information, but either he would change the subject quickly, or Maes- who had much less alcohol- would interject and make sure that Roy didn’t do anything they would both regret.

It soon became rather apparent that none of the men had the capacity to get back to their own apartments or dorm rooms that night. Maes made as much space as he could on the couch, chairs, and spare bed.

Straws were drawn for the only available bed, and Fuery- the man who took up the least space- won. He offered it to Armstrong, since he knew the giant hulk of a man would be miserable curled up on a small couch, but Armstrong refused, being too much of a gentleman to take what he had not earned.

The youngest, and smallest, was also the first to fall asleep. Fuery headed back to the bedroom not long after arriving at Maes’ place, and listening to a couple of Roy’s yarns about Maes’ practical joking streak while at the academy. Soon after, the groom to be put on coffee for the rest of the men, and they continued to talk about whatever popped into their inebriated brains, until they started to drop off, one by one.

Quite surprisingly, the largest man- Armstrong- took his leave next, finding a somewhat comfortable and plush rug to curl up on with a pillow and blanket supplied by the host. Being in the military, all of the men were used to sleeping in less than ideal conditions, so there were no complaints about the accommodations.

Falman was the next to drop off, not long after Armstrong. He found that of all the places that were available to sleep, the floor was suited best to his rather stiff style of sleeping- which seemed to match perfectly with his stiff style while awake- Roy noted jokingly.

Both Breda and Havoc, being pretty good at holding their alcohol (they had been drinking buddies while in basic training together), were able to stay up for a while, but eventually they both succumbed to sleep as well. Breda took the couch, while the much taller Havoc stretched out his long legs in a large, overstuffed chair- and promptly started to snore almost immediately.

Roy tried to keep up the conversation with Maes for a bit, but his mind and his heart were not in it. He knew that in the morning, his best friend and lover would be married- and then there would be no more kisses or caresses down by the lake, no more quick and clumsy groping and licking and sucking in a tent in the middle of the desert, and no more gentle, passionate lovemaking in some random hotel in the middle of Central.

This was it. After tonight there was no more Maes and Roy as lovers. He’d been trying to not think about it for as long as he could, but it was finally dawning on him. He wasn’t going to wake up and find out that this was a bad dream. There wasn’t going to be a last minute reprieve, where Maes decided that he wants Roy, and not Gracia. Maes wasn’t going to call off the wedding. And he was certainly not going to leave the woman that the loved with all his heart and soul for a broken solider, who he couldn’t even walk down the road with, or hold hands- without the fear of being ridiculed- or much, much worse.

“Roy, are you okay?” Maes asked, gently rubbing the palm of his hand on Roy’s shoulder. “You look a bit distracted.”

The alchemist took a deep breath and looked down at his hands, which were resting in his lap. “I… I don’t want you to go, Maes.” He said, frankly.

Maes chuckled a little. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m getting married, but I’ll still be here in Central, with you. You’re still on for our Friday night bar sessions, if that’s what you’re worried about. I’m not gonna be *that* tied down! You don’t think you can get rid of me that easily, do you?”

“That isn’t what I meant. I…” Roy sighed and closed his eyes. “Never mind.”

Realization hit the older man quickly. “Oh.” He said, softly. “Yeah, I know.” He ran a hand through his hair and pushed his glasses- that had somehow miraculously (despite several spills) managed not to get broken- up onto the bridge of his nose.

“You know I care for you. I always will. No matter whom I’m with. But, when I marry Gracia, I’m will only be with her. When I was with you, I was never with anyone else.” Roy let out a deep breath, his mind wandering back to the huge fight that they had had during basic training. It seemed like a whole lifetime ago.

“I know. I wouldn’t expect any less from you, Maes. That’s the loyal kind of person that you are. I guess I have a few things that I could learn, huh?” Roy gripped the fabric of his pants tight, digging his fingernails into and through the thin material, leaving red marks on his skin.

“You’re a good man, Roy. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, even if it’s me.” Maes flashed a goofy smile that faded after a moment. Roy finally looked up from where he had been staring at his hands, glancing at his lover with red-rimmed eyes.

“I know you’ll probably say no, and I can’t blame you. But… could I sleep in your bed tonight? Just one last night- before I have to say goodbye to you forever?”

Maes was silent for a moment, scratching his chin. He softly nodded his head. “I know that it’s probably a bad idea. It’d be better if we didn’t do this. We both know what’s going to happen, and it’ll just hurt us both more. But I can’t say no. I guess I was kinda hoping that you would ask. I didn’t have had the guts to do it.”

Without another word, Maes took his hand off of Roy’s shoulder and stood up, walking back towards his bedroom. For a moment Roy didn’t follow. He contemplated what the man had said. He knew just as well that this was going to make tomorrow even worse for him- but the regret that he’d had have over not being able to spend one more night with his lover would be a thousand time worse. That he *was* sure of.

Roy stood up and walked out of the living room, down the dully lit hallway, and into Maes’ bedroom, where he closed and locked the door behind him.
___________________________________________________________

In the morning, Roy awoke first. The rays of the sun had barely worked their way over the horizon. He yawned and stretched, but didn’t move. He wanted to remember the two of them- together like this- one last time, and savor it for as long as he could.

He spooned up behind his lover, their curves gently meshing together. His arm was draped over Maes’ side- his hand resting on the man’s flat stomach. Maes had a gentle smile on his face, even in sleep. He was so peaceful and carefree, which was surprising before such a big event

It amazed the alchemist. He’d hardly been able to sleep last night. Mostly, he had stared up at the ceiling and thought about the good and bad times the men had spent together. That night, Maes had hardly stirred- only occasionally speaking some sort of slurred gibberish in his sleep, or turning over onto his side. Roy guessed that alcohol was the main factor, but he secretly hoped that it was the comfort of being in his former lover’s arms.

Eventually Roy moved, getting up from the bed as silently as he could, and put on his clothes from the night before. After taking care of his business in the bathroom, he made a phone call, and then went back into the main room to start rousing people from their slumber.

It took a while for everyone to become awake and aware enough that Roy could trust himself to leave them without fear that they would fall back asleep. When they were up and moving, he walked back to the bedroom, closing and locking the door again.

For a moment, he stood and watched as Maes started to stir gently, in that half awake, half asleep time when a person is somewhat aware of their surroundings, but they aren’t quite cognizant enough to know what’s going on.

Roy smiled and went to his lover, gently brushing a hair away from his face, and giving him a light kiss on the forehead. “Wake up, Maes. You need to get moving. Today’s the big day.”

A soft smile came to Maes’ face. He opened his eyes and grinned at Roy. “Morning.” He said, his voice thick with sleep.

“Morning.” Roy replied. “I already got the rest of the guys moving. Our tuxes are in the hall closet, and I called the bakery. They’re going to deliver pastries soon. That should get everyone going.”

“Huh. Looks like I made an excellent choice in my best man.” Maes finally sat up in bed, stretched lazily once, and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

Roy smiled back and gave Maes one last kiss, then stood up and walked to the door. “I’m going to go make sure that the guys are still moving around. I’ll see you in the main room, in a bit.”

“Okay. I’ll be there soon.” Maes paused for a second. “Hey, Roy?”

“Yeah, Maes?”

“You know I’ll always love you.”

Roy smiled sadly. “I love you too.” He left, closing the bedroom door behind him.






EPILOGUE





It wasn’t a rainy day, but the sky was overcast and threatening- just like it had been on the day that his best friend- and former lover- was laid to rest.

Since that day, many months ago, Roy had tried to visit the grave as much as he could. He usually stopped at a flower shop that was on the way first, and picked up a few red carnations to put on the grave. Maes had always loved the color red, and Roy knew the underlying message that a red flower sent.

Red. The color of love.

Red. The color of blood.

Hawkeye had always been good about driving him to the graveyard, and then waiting in the car. He’d always appreciated that, but it had become increasingly important recently. He’d never bothered to learn how to drive. He had always had transportation in the military. Now that he only had one eye, any hope that he’d ever had of driving had been lost for good, with a single bullet to his face.

It’d been hell, those weeks that Roy had spent in the hospital. For a while, he was barely clinging to life. Although Hawkeye had found him only moments after he’d been shot, head wounds were always notorious bleeders, and he’d come dangerously close to bleeding to death on the steps of the former Fuhrer’s mansion.

Even after he had awoken, he’d never told anyone about what he had seen while he was unconscious. When he was hovering somewhere between life and death, Maes had frequently visited him. At first they didn’t do anything but stare at each other. Roy couldn’t believe that he was really seeing his lover, and Maes didn’t want to believe that the alchemist might have been dying. As they started to talk, they reminisced about old times, and Maes asked a lot of questions about his family.

As time went on, and Roy slowly improved, the older man knew the meetings were fleeting, and in the last conversation that they had before Roy awoke, Maes told him again that he loved him- and that he would be waiting for him on the other side. But he also warned Roy that he shouldn’t make any attempt to die before his time, or they would never be together.

That was when Roy awoke with a start.

It took several more weeks in the hospital for Roy to heal, and even longer for him to convalesce at home. He mostly stayed with Hawkeye- who watched over him, fed him, and with the hospital’s instructions- changed his bandages. Roy appreciated that she didn’t cringe when she looked into the hollow, dead socket that used to contain an eye. Now it was just scar tissue and thinly stretched skin- forever marking him as an abomination to all.

In the time that Hawkeye was taking care of him, he had grown to care for her, a lot. The undercurrent of his feelings for her had been there for as long as Roy had known her, but to him she’d always seemed to be the unattainable beauty- granddaughter of the general and his subordinate officer. He liked to think that she’d grown to like him as well, but something held him back from asking her about it, and she was never bold enough to approach the subject with him.

And then he went to visit his lover’s grave again.

The first time that he’d been able to visit the grave after finishing his recuperation, it was gray and dreary. The clouds hung low and dark in the sky, and it had threatened to rain at a moment’s notice. Towards the end of the time that he’d been staying at Hawkeye’s apartment, he’d tried to visit the grave, but the doctors had insisted that he wait until he was totally healed before taking such a mentally and physically stressful trip.

When he was finally able to see his best friend’s grave again, Hawkeye drove him down the street- stopping at the flower shop as usual. He bought some red carnations, and she took him to the graveyard- where she stopped the car. It didn’t need to be said that she would wait here for him. They both knew the routine.

Roy walked to the grave- flowers in one hand, and a drawing by Elysia in the other. He kneeled down and put them both on each side of the gravestone, straddling the name that had been chiseled into the rock.

“Maes, I can’t do this.” He started, his voice cracking after the first word. “When I thought I was going to die, I thought about you. I *still* think about you, a lot. I think I saw you when I was in the hospital. I told you about your daughter, and you told me not to be stupid and kill myself.” He tried to chuckle, but it came out as more of a sob.

“I don’t know what to do. I’m broken. I can’t even snap my fingers. When I try, all I see are the people that died at my hands- those innocent lives that I took in the name of our military. There’s no use for a half-blind man whose only talent isn’t even useful any more.” Roy took a deep breath and steadied himself on the stone, his knees weak from even this small amount of effort.

“I put in for a transfer, up north. And I’m not a colonel any more. I re-enlisted as a solider. No more Flame Alchemist. The secret to that deadly art will die with me- in the frozen wastelands of the mountains.” For a moment, he was quiet. He let the wind run through his long, disheveled hair- he’d taken to wearing it longer. At first, it was because he was too sick to cut it, but then he found that he liked how the longer bangs partially hid the huge black patch that covered his non-existent eye.

He stood up, and was about to go, but then he turned around again. “Maes, its Hawkeye. I… think that I care for her- a lot. I’m not sure if she feels the same as I do or not, but I just can’t get close to her. I can’t stop thinking about you. And I know you’d want me to move on. There is no use pining for the…” He paused for a moment. “…for the dead. I don’t know. I just don’t know what to do.”

At that moment, there was an intense clap of thunder, and lightning lit up the sky. The rain started- not with a drizzle, but with a downpour. Roy stood- silently watching the picture that he had just put down smear and run in the rain, bleeding its colors into the stone for a moment, and then soaking into the grass.

Roy smiled gently, and put his hat back upon his head, shifting his thick gray military greatcoat on his shoulders to keep the rain off of him. “I guess I can’t ask for more of a sign than that.” He said, shrugging his shoulders.

“This may be the last time that I get to visit your grave. If the transfer up north goes through soon, I’ll be leaving on the first train that I can catch. I haven’t asked Hawkeye to come with me, but I seriously doubt that she would.” He sighed softly.

“I guess it doesn’t matter how I feel about her. If I go north and she doesn’t follow, then there won’t be a reason for her to wait for me to return. I have every intention of living out the rest of my life up there. I’ve been watching Gracia and Elysia as much as I can for you, but they’re both very strong and happy- and they’ve moved on with their lives. I guess it’s about time I did the same.”

Roy bent down again and laid his forehead against the cool marble stone of the grave. “Goodbye, Maes. I love you. I always have, and I always will. Maybe I’m not crazy. Perhaps I was really talking to you in the hospital. And if I’m lucky I’ll get to see you again. But for now, I need to forget. I have too many painful memories, and I just can’t bear this burden any more.”

He closed his eye and pressed his head closer to the gravestone, glad that his tears were quickly washed away by the downpour. He stayed there, until he felt a soft hand on his shoulder. “We should go now, sir. I don’t want you to get sick out here.”

Roy stood up and adjusted his hat and coat. “Okay.” He said, his voice barely over a whisper. He looked down at the grave and smiled weakly. “Goodbye Maes. I know we’ll meet again, sometime.” Without another word, he turned and followed Hawkeye, who was already slightly ahead, back towards the car and the rest of his life.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
binaryalchemist
Jun. 4th, 2007 12:19 am (UTC)
((YAY! I get first comment!!))

Oh...what a wonderful, heart-wrenching finish to an amazing series. I've savored every chapter and it's run such a wide range of emotion, from humor to pathos to searingly erotic...to touching and then to a bittersweet, perfect ending. You should be so proud to have accomplished this arc...and I can't wait to start on the next one! Cheers to you!!!!! ::huggzzz!::
thincirithiel
Jun. 4th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC)
I don't no if I can say anything that hasn't already been said. This fic... it's no longer a fic. It's a complete story. And the topic of this chapter was nothing but perfect.

You let it stay as a mystery did Mustang and Hawkeye ever end up together and I'm pretty sure there's no better way to end it.

Be proud. Be very proud.
secretfreaky
Jun. 4th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
*wiping tears away* So heartwrenchingly beautiful. The ending and epilogue make me want to bawl my eyes out. Incredible story. *bows*
sayhello
Jun. 8th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
Hi! I just read this whole fic all the way through. :-) Really interesting take on their relationship. Although I really wanted to smack Hughes a lot for being an insensitive so-and-so! And the epilogue brought me to tears. Just so very sad. I hadn't really thought about how Roy/Riza seemed like this lovely couple by the end of the anime, but by the time "Shamballa" starts... well, he's up north, and Hawkeye's nowhere around. Good job. I'm kind of new to Roy/Hughes, I'm mostly an Elricest girl myself, but I'm finding myself drawn to this pairing recently. (If you have any recommendations of other good Roy/Hughes to read, that would be wonderful!)

I *really, really* hope you don't mind if I bring up a couple of inconsistencies I found towards the end of your story. I only bring it up because I think it's a good story. (I happen to beta in another fandom, so I notice this stuff) Things like this are so much easier to see when you read a story straight through.

In Chapter 24, you have Maes meeting Havoc, Breda, Fuery & Falman for the first time when they start to work for Roy, but back in Chapter 14, in Gracia's letter, she mentions that Maes knew Havoc in basic training. And in Chapter 16, Maes mentions that he picked up his smoking habit from Havoc while in basic training, and says that Havoc, Breda & Fuery were just starting their training when he was finishing up his.

Also, in the epilogue, you say that Roy regrets never learning to drive, but when they went on vacation to Gracia's family's place by the lake, you have Roy driving them home.

And lastly, when Roy goes on his forced vacation (to the lake, etc), he reports to General Hakuro. When he comes back, you have him reporting to General Gran. I suppose he could have been re-assigned, but you don't say that, so it seems inconsistent.

Again, this is totally meant as concrit, nothing else. If you would prefer I not post such things, please feel free to delete or screen this post, and tell me to go away.
harmonylsc
May. 14th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
Hi there --- I LOVE YOUR WORK!!!
Hi --- just wanted to say, i love this fic and some of the others I've read so far that you've written. I wrote a Roy/Maes one i thought you might be interested in --- let me know if you'd like to read it and I will put you on that filter. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, i know i'm coming into this fandom late but i LOVE your writing! :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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