Title: Too Grown.
Author: Bri (acquisition).
Pairing: Roy Mustang/Edward Elric.
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist.
Theme: # 20 かえり道 (The Road Home)
Disclaimer: Neither the characters nor the show belong to me, sadly; otherwise, there would be quite a few changes... >.> Sigh, my life.
Notes: I had no beta, so there's bound to be a handful of mistakes in here. ;_; Please don't shoot me. Also, angst warning, just in case anyone is sensitive about those sorts of things and prefer not to read them.
It was inevitable. Inconceivable, and yet at the same time, inevitable. You'd never really imagined such a contradiction but you realized that, with Edward, everything was a contradiction. Because he'd been hard-hearted and brutal and harsh and caring and loving and dedicated, absolutely dedicated to everything he had ever done. It was the bad traits he carried that made this inevitable, but it was the overwhelming amount of good ones that made it inconceivable.
But it was you that ultimately led him here, wasn't it? To this cold place, a literal final resting spot and no matter how hard you wished, you knew he wasn't going to come home the next day. Or the day after that, or the day after that, or the day after that, and now Winry is devastated and Riza is upset, though she, too, knows that this was inevitable.
You'd worn your hat today, so no one could really see your face. The combination of your hat and your hair hid it nicely, and you'd only taken it off once, out of respect, when you knew you should. Every time someone had come to you, attempted to talk to you, you wouldn't answer. You didn't really want comfort, because the responsibility for this was heavy on your shoulders, and for anyone else to share the burden, well... that just didn't seem fair, because it was yours, and it was all you had left. No one was going to take that from you, too.
So you didn't say a word.
It almost got to you, listening to everyone tell stories about him and talk about him as though he was already in the ground and buried, and so you blocked it out. You blocked it out, and you replayed your own memories inside your head, ones that other people didn't know details of and never would. The details weren't theirs to know; they were yours now, yours and yours alone because the only other person that knew was... well. Gone, and it was your fault, because you'd been the one that got him into this.
You remembered him as a child – bright-eyed and bright-haired and smiling or fuming because of something you'd done or said, and in your mind, this made you laugh. For a moment, you could pretend that this was still a reality and that he'd never grown up, never gotten old enough for active military service. In your head, you could lie to yourself and say that you hadn't been the one to give him that uniform. You could say you hadn't been the one to tell him that it was only for a just-in-case situation. You could even say that you'd never met him, never planted the seed that got him started in all this. He should have never been a State Alchemist, and you should have never gone to that house.
Of course, no matter how many lies you told yourself, you still had the memories. You still had every one of these scenes in your head, and though you'd drank an obscene amount since you were told that something had happened to Edward, you just couldn't drown them. Sometimes they even got worse, clearer, and in those moments he was there and then he would disappear right as you reached out to him.
"What’s this for?"
You remembered the day you gave him his uniform, told him that it was mostly standard procedure and that chances were, he'd never have to put it on. He had, though, because you remembered helping him get dressed. He'd never actually worn a uniform of his own – the closest he'd ever come was your jacket. You both stood in front of the mirror and looked, together, at him in this strange and foreign new outfit of his, and at the time it wasn't complete. You brushed his hair, and he watched you in the mirror as you did it, watched as you put it up in one of the bigger clamps he kept, arranging the gold strands so they wouldn't touch his neck (because that was against regulation) but could still fall. He snorted and said it looked like his head was a fountain, but in the end, he'd half-smiled and accepted it.
He picked up his glasses, but you had taken them out of his hands and put them back down on the counter, taking the opportunity to really look at him. When had the child you'd taken under your wing and into your heart grown into this young man that stood before you? How had you missed it? You had given it to the fact that his growing had been undetected by you because you were around each other so much, and you'd watched every step of it, every small hint of maturing until you had failed to notice anymore.
But there he was standing before you in this military uniform looking every bit the adult you knew he would be one day, and you hadn't really known what to say. You're so grown up seemed inappropriate, and you're beautiful didn't really work for something like this, so you'd simply wrapped your arms around him and pulled him close to you. This man, you realized, had never been a child to begin with.
"I'm sorry, Edward."
You were sorry, because you'd known that you'd given him his death ticket. Part of you still believes he knew, because his arms had gone around you, too, and he'd pulled your head down and kissed the top of it and told you that it was all right, he understood, and he loved you anyway.
Later that night, you took a picture of him. He was smiling – maybe even grinning, and before the night was over, you'd made love to him. You kept that picture in your office now, because it was something to hold on to, something to keep you from dying yourself.
The dull thud of dirt hitting the top of hollow wood brought you out of your drowning. Inside your jacket pocket, your hand gripped a ball chain necklace tightly, feeling letters from the dog tags there imprinting into the palm of your hand. You hadn't realized things had gone so quickly, and that people were already starting to leave. But you were more and more relieved as the graveyard emptied, regardless. Riza tried one last time to speak to you, offered to drive you home, but you shook your head. You'd walk, you said. You'd walk, because Ed and you always used to walk home together. You wanted this last time.
She nodded and left, because she understood.
You stayed as he was buried, watched as his space was filled and covered and once again, you were asked if you wanted a ride home. You refused, as expected. And then you found yourself inexplicably alone. It was strange, considering you hadn't been truly alone in such a long time now. Ed was always there. Ed had always been just in the other room, or right on the other end of the couch, or on the other side of the bed, and you could always reach out and close the distance.
This time, the only thing you touched when you reached out was cold, flat stone. At some point you'd gotten to one knee and your fingers traced the outline of everything carved into the tombstone, his birth and death dates, yet somehow they always came back to his name. Edward Elric.
Your forehead pressed just above the carving, eyes closed, trying your absolute best not to break into a million pieces, but that seemed such a high goal now. You sighed, and your warm breath clouded the cool stone. You hadn't realized how cold it was. Fingers came then and traced your own name into the clouding, then slid back down to the actual name of the one in the ground beneath you.
This was your fault, and that knowledge seemed to get heavier and heavier the longer you kneeled here, pressed to what was left of him. You kissed the stone and closed your eyes, then pulled yourself up. Someone – you couldn't remember quite who it was or when they'd done it – had given you a rose during the service. You took care in winding your own tag necklace around it and then laid it down on the still-loose soil, closing your eyes and silently hoping that he knew how sorry you were, how much you regretted this, how much you loved him and missed him and that your new gift to him would be your own sanity, because you couldn't keep it after this.
The wind blew, and it was an icy shock that ran down your neck and slid into your jacket with you. It made his absence a little more real, and you turned to go.
The road home that night would, inevitably, be a little longer and colder than it had ever been before.