Four ways Roy Mustang could have lost more than Maes Hughes if he'd tried to bring him back.
I. He sees his lighter. The top flicks open, closed again. Something's wrong -- the gloves are too big. No; the hands are too small. They aren't his hands. Their rough fabric flicks across the wheel of the lighter and there is a spark and a sudden jump of flame. He feels his heart quicken at the sight of it -- fire, he sometimes thinks, is the core ingredient of his substance.
A soft patter begins, growing louder until it echoes, a cocoon of sound drumming out everything else and then suddenly it isn't just sound, it is rain, and it drowns the lighter and soaks the gloves and then he sees her face, her blonde hair plastered to her skin, her eyes rimmed with red, and sees what she is looking at. Two cold gravestones, side by side.
Brigadier General Maes Hughes. Lieutenant Colonel Roy Mustang.
His heart stops, cold, as she takes off the gloves and lays them on the fresher of the two mounds -- his -- but she hesitates, then slips the lighter into her coat pocket as she turns away. Before she can take a step, she looks over her shoulder and says bitterly, "You knew better, sir. You knew." She sniffles, and he thinks that even if it weren't raining, her face would still be wet. "But I can't blame you. I'm not even an alchemist and I want to try."
II. He wonders how on earth he managed to kill something that was already dead. He thinks it must be God's way of punishing him; making him live to see this day. Making him stay completely whole through the process -- not losing a leg or an arm or even a single hair off his head. He wishes he had lost his eyes so he wouldn't have to see her accusing glare behind the black gauze of her veil.
He can see the hatred in the set of her jaw, the anger trembling in her delicate mouth, the hopelessness swimming in her blue eyes. She hates him more now than she ever did. She would gun him down like a dog in his own blood given less than half a chance.
He doesn't blame her; he's taken everything from her. His ambition is the reason her parents never saw her grow into the beautiful young woman she is and his selfishness is the reason that she is burying both of her brothers today. If he ever had any hope of absolution, such foolish dreams are gone now.
As the funeral procession leaves, she stops by his side to snarl at him through clenched teeth, "I will not stop until you're dead -- and you will suffer."
Everything in him wants to open his stance, hand her his revolver, and tell her to take aim wherever she pleases. It is killing him to know that the earth holds three of the finest men he's ever known, and it's all his fault. All of it.
III. Tristitio, he calls it. All of the Seven were taken in one form or another, but Sadness first occupied the place on the list that Sloth would later appropriate, and he thinks the name is so fucking appropriate it might just kill him. (He wishes it would.)
This is as far from the original as he could have come and he blames himself every time he sees those sad eyes and hears Gracia's scream echoing through the corridors of his memory. Even the creation of his own hands went to her, and the only mercy he was shown is that Elicia did not see the mockery of her father. The mockery that he had made.
Still, horror though it is, he can not bring himself to kill it (how does one kill a homunculus anyway?) and it stays in his room, breaking his heart anew each night with its weary sobs. It is tired of living, it whispers in his ear; hopeless and dead in its heart.
"There is nothing here for me," it whimpers, the voice alike and yet so unlike that of the man it is supposed to be. "Kill me," it begs, but Roy always kisses him instead. The salt taste is wrong and he knows this is nothing, nothing, nothing, but goddamn he misses him and he can't stand to hear those words coming from a mouth that looks so much like the one it was made to copy.
He'd done a damn good job in all the ways that didn't matter, and it is his fault that Maes is dead and now Sadness is his bedfellow.
IV. He knows there is a reason for these gray walls that do not hold onto the sunshine. The light slides right off the surface like the blood that won't wash off his hands but he won't think about that. He can't.
Some days he is clear, and those are the days the guard at the door will talk to him for a little while, let him pretend everything is normal. But some days, everything is wrapped up in gray and he can't remember his own name or the particular rhythm of her heartbeat or why he doesn't hear it any more when he lays his head down on the mattress at night.
At night it all comes rushing back and he sees her enter the room, sees himself shouting in a panic, telling her to get out, dammit, get the fuck out now! but it's always too late, it never changes. Even in his dreams he can't stop it from happening and the whirlwind around him turns dark and then red with her blood and the last thing he remembers is reaching out for her hand and seeing it disintegrate in front of him, hearing her scream and the arrhythmic pulse of a malformed body that won't live past Roy's next breath.
Nothing's right and everything's wrong and it's a relief when they come to arrest him but God it's just not right when they don't execute him on sight. "KILL ME!" he rails at them, but they don't. They bind him and tie the long sleeves of the white padded shirt behind his back, and he breaks down and sobs, and the first night he beats his head bloody against the stone wall but the guard sees before he can do any real damage, and now he is here, where the walls are soft and the floor is soft and everything is soft except the sharp edge of everything wrong that he swallows with every breath.
"NO!" he shouts at the ceiling when he wakes up in a cold sweat, his arms tied behind his back even now so that he can't claw at his eyes to scratch out the images. He screams some more and doesn't care what anyone thinks of the once-great Colonel Mustang because he isn't sure that's even him. He's been stripped of all his titles, denuded and denamed, and at least that much feels right. At least Hawkeye was promoted posthumously because she'd been coming to look for him. It was considered the line of duty, though he knows the real reason.
It had nothing to do with duty and everything to do with love and now he doesn't have anything at all... and as always, it's all his fault.