Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Spoilers: through 51
Summary: Roy hasn't learned from other people's mistakes.
Previous Parts: Prologue | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Pat XI | Part XII | Tag filter
Notes: Once again, many thanks to daringu for the beta. We're almost at the end. Yay.
Roy's kitchen is nothing like Gracia's kitchen. His is bare, sparse. Hers is bright, filled with appliances and the occasional stain (remnants of Alicia's younger days). Nothing alike.
He sits in his, after sitting in hers, inspecting the envelope she had given him. It's not that he doesn't trust her (it's hard to think of anyone he trusts more); he's nervous. This is Maes' last gift to him. One that Maes didn't want to go through the usual channels. He wonders what it is.
The envelope is crumpled slightly in his hands: he'd gripped it a little too tightly when coming home. There is nothing written on it, no "For Roy", no "To that kid I used to hang out with", nothing. Roy considers for a moment that Gracia may have given him the wrong envelope by mistake, but he knows that Gracia wouldn't make that kind of mistake.
Carefully, he breaks the seal and empties the contents onto the table. A letter, two teeth, and twenty cents.
The teeth are far too small small to be adult. Children's teeth, then. Their teeth, Roy remembers now. There's still a picture somewhere in the old family albums, (buried still because he hasn't looked at them in years) of the two of them grinning at the camera, missing incisors (Roy the left, Maes the right). They were the first they'd lost, and they'd decided to embark on a scientific adventure of sorts.
"Of course the Tooth Fairy exists, Roy. Stop being such a spoil-sport."
"Our parents just made her up. And I'm not a spoil-sport. You're just a loser."
"I'm not a loser, you are."
"I may be a loser, but you're still wrong."
"No, I'm not."
"Fine. We'll do an experiment. If she does exist, it doesn't matter where the teeth are, right? We'll bury these, and then stick the next ones under our pillows. If she does exist, the teeth won't be there when we dig them up tomorrow morning."
"Okay. I'll bet you twenty cents you're wrong."
They'd buried the teeth in Maes' backyard, and the next day, they'd discovered that the teeth were still there, but Maes had insisted that they simply hadn't waited long enough and the tooth fairy shouldn't be expected to read their minds and was probably still searching the grounds for their teeth as they spoke.
That day, however, they lost their other incisors, and the day after that they'd been given fifty cents each, which they'd happily spent on ice cream. And the bet was forgotten, by Roy at least.
But Maes had remembered, apparently. Remembered well enough to dig up the teeth sometime before he'd moved into a larger house further down the street when he was fourteen. Remembered well enough to pay his debts after death.
The letter is clearly written in Maes' handwriting, and Roy tries to place the time period, since it's not dated. High school, probably, when there was a carelessness to the way he'd formed his shapes, especially when they were passing notes back and forth during class.
So you won, you bastard. Here's your twenty cents. Also included are the teeth, because, really, what the hell am I going to with them?
It's not signed, but it doesn't need to be.
Roy is torn somewhere between laughing and crying. He wants to do both. It's Maes, the way Roy remembers him, the way he always was.
And something in Roy breaks.
In some ways, the grief he'd felt before this moment was just a pale imitation of the real thing. The sadness, the pain, the full force of his loss, the smiles, the kisses, the laughter. They all wash over him, and for the first time, Roy allows himself to fully immerse himself in the memories instead of pushing them away.
It's cleansing, in its own way, but Roy knows that there is no peace to be found here. Like there is no peace to be found in remembering Ishbal. No possibility of forgiveness. It is merely the crystal clear understanding of purpose when the way becomes clouded.
Maes is never coming back.
And the thought does not hurt him anymore, does not choke him until he cannot breathe. He can accept it. He can feel the truth in it. Not rightness, per se, but something close. Maybe the immutability of it.
This is the epiphany he was craving, the one he couldn't get from Wrath, the one he couldn't get from Gracia, because it was never in their power to give.
It was always Maes', and here the distinction is perfectly clear.
Maes is never coming back, but maybe if Roy is lucky (if he is extraordinarily lucky) they will find each other after death.
The phone rings, shaking him out of his thoughts. Havoc. "I know it's your night off, Sir, but there's been another murder."
"Pick me up when you can," Roy says. He puts the letter, the teeth and the money back into the envelope and pockets them.
He didn't need to speak to the colonel. He really didn't. There weren't any questions that gnawed at him until he couldn't think straight. There weren't.
The fucking cunt hadn't been in the office today. Hadn't been at home either. But Wrath had a surefire way of contacting him.
The man he found this time wasn't quite right. Too tall, eyes too light, but it didn't matter. He had to make do, but the colonel would know, the colonel would understand.
The job was rushed, careless, but he didn't really care about. The words were written quickly, almost too quickly, and he hoped that when the police found the body, his message would still be legible. This was important.
But it wasn't as if he really needed to speak to colonel. He really didn't.