Roy's life can be broken up into simple categories. What he remembers, and what he doesn't remember.
Warnings: Spoilers for Roy's past, mix 'n match anime and manga, and a lot of my own opinions.
Notes: This started off simply enough as a 'one thing-two sides' type fic. I just got it into my head; 'He remembers-' and 'He doesn't remember.' Then it decided to grow on me. It grew in a way that made it hard to keep the two sides thing going, but refused to make sense without it. Or it could just be my inability to write anything longer than a short scene looking for validation. Forgive me for the vagueness of the academy part, I have nothing to compare it to. And I'm still struggling with the rank structure in this series. While you're forgiving, forgive the completely unoriginal title. I suck at naming things.
Dawn of Man
He doesn't remember his early years.
He was an only child born to a fairly successful business man and his wife. Needless to say Roy Mustang was spoiled rotten as a child. Anyone who would later know him would not be surprised at that fact.
He had a good childhood. Nothing traumatic or startling happened to him, which is probably why he only has vague memories of trees climbed and faceless friends running around.
He remembers his first truly clear memory.
Loud music played through the streets and Roy laughed as his Daddy swung him up onto his shoulders. From his new vantage point he could see more of the fair.
"Do you see her?" Daddy asked as he slowly spun around.
"Um," Looking away from the candy tent, Roy looked around for his Mommy's blue dress. He saw it after the second turn. "There!"
"All right, hold on," Daddy said before plunging into the big crowd on the street.
Roy clutched at Daddy's hands and looked at the tents they passed. Something flashed bright and red to the side. "Daddy, can we look at the toys?"
"We need to get your mother first," Roy giggled as he was playfully bounced around. "Don't you remember? Daddy doesn't have anymore money because a certain someone used it all to eat a bunch of candy."
"You ate candy too!" Roy shrieked indignantly. "I didn't eat it all by myself!"
Daddy chuckled and swung him down onto the ground. "You could have if I'd let you."
"Could have what?" Mommy smiled and bent down to scrub at Roy's face. Roy screwed his face up and tried to back away, but she wouldn't let him go. "Hold still Roy. We're going to have to hurry if we want to make the next show."
Roy rubbed at his face as Mommy finally let go of him. "I want to look at the toys."
"We will, after the show," Mommy said as she held his hand.
"What show?" Roy swung their hands and reached out for Daddy's.
"An alchemy show," Daddy held his free hand.
"Ok," Roy walked swinging their hands. First going the same direction, and then going the opposite. "What's a 'alchemy?'"
"It's magic," Mommy said as she traded money for tickets.
"Really?" Roy asked in awe.
"Well..." Daddy coughed slightly and rubbed his stomach. Mommy smiled at him. "Sure, Roy. It's really magic."
He doesn't remember when he decided to be an alchemist.
It was a vague thought after seeing the performance which was actually more sleight of hand than alchemy. It was wrapped up with the other ideas he had of being a fireman, a soldier, and ruler of the world.
He remembers when he first became an alchemist.
Roy knew that his classmates thought he was weird. No other fifteen year old boy spent more time in the library than outside beating other boys at sports. The fact that he could and did beat his classmates at any sport was the only thing that kept them from making fun of him.
To his face at least. Roy had overheard many jokes about him when no one noticed him around. He frankly would have preferred being teased to being talked about behind his back.
The librarian smiled down at him as he entered the building, and Roy smiled back. The woman had been charmed by the young boy studying alchemy, and often let him get away with taking more books than was allowed. Roy actively encouraged her by being as nice and cute as he could stand being.
The library was nearly empty and he had no trouble getting his favorite table in the back corner. Dropping his bag he set off to find what he needed. Twenty minutes later Roy was back at the table trying to make due with two of the five books he'd wanted. A question to the librarian had revealed that a local alchemist had taken the others out and wasn't due to return them for another week.
Roy scowled. He needed those books to become an alchemist.
Technically Roy already was an alchemist. He could create, use, and understand most Arrays. He could look at an item, name it's components, and be able to transmute it into at least two other things. He knew the history of alchemy, and knew the knowledge hidden in books like only an alchemist could.
Still Roy did not consider himself a real alchemist. All he'd done was copy what hundreds of others had already done. A real alchemist studied the world and tried to find new theories or experiments to conduct. A real alchemist would be remembered through his work.
He wanted to do something new, something that would forever be connected with his name. His project. He had decided to keep it simple and basic. The Elements.
It was surprising how little work had been done focusing on the four elements. Then again, he wasn't very surprised at all. The four elements of earth, air, fire, and water were more along the lines of spiritual magic, and alchemy, as a science, scoffed at it. Which irritated Roy to no end. Just because something was considered mystical didn't mean it could not be examined by science.
Roy flipped through his notes and wondered if it would do him any good to stay longer in the library. Deciding he had what he needed he left and started home.
He wanted to be able to control the Elements, and just the Elements. Many alchemists often used all four Elements, but only in conjunction with something else. Their goal wasn't in using the Elements it was in something else. Roy thought that if he concentrated on only the Elements he could open up a path to new studies.
Or older studies as Roy wasn't entirely convinced the old myths of powerful sorcerers weren't just people's embellishment of an alchemic reaction.
In order to control the Elements Roy knew he had to first truly understand them. Creating them and using them to another goal was simple, but creating only an Element and controlling it promised to be more challenging. The books he had wanted were the only ones he could find that detailed the Elements in both scientific as well as mystical terms. The two he had were most detailed about the Element of Fire.
It was as good a place to start as any.
Logically, it would be the easiest to know. For fire to exist it needed oxygen, fuel, and friction. It is heat and has the power to break down other substances and create new ones. Of the Elements it was the most feared because of it's potential to devastate.
Roy let himself into his house and ran to his room. He still had a few hours before his parents returned, and he wanted to try a little experiment on his own.
He doesn't remember the disaster that followed.
He spent a week in the hospital with a concussion and minor burns. A week of answering questions about how he could be found relatively unscathed in the middle of the ashes that used to be his home. It's a good question. The only answer that Roy can think of is that he'd had enough control to keep the fire from harming him, but not enough to keep it from consuming the house. He'd probably got the burns after being knocked out. He honestly can't remember.
It opens up a new door in his research. One which, in his overconfidence, he'd ignored. Fire needed oxygen to exist. The Element of Air. It's possible that in concentrating on only the fire he'd ignored controlling everything else. Hence the current disaster.
The questions are uncomfortable and Roy feels more than a little afraid of the men asking them. A few police officers and some soldiers. Roy doesn't need to see the chain coming from one's pocket to know they're State Alchemists. They've been asking him the most detailed questions. What did he do, how did he do it, what books did he read, did he have copies of his notes.
They never ask him why he did it.
He tells them some of the truth. He doesn't remember what he did, or how he did it. Mostly he just lies to them. No, he doesn't remember what he wanted to do. The last thing he remembers was going to school earlier that morning. He must have decided to do whatever he did later in the day. All of his possessions were now ashes, how could he have copies of his notes?
Roy protects his research with a possessive pride. He'd be damned if some other alchemist stole his work for their own. He continues to answer their increasingly angered questions with the same lines. The police have long since gotten what they wanted and are anxious to leave. One of them finally interferes when it looks like one very irate alchemist is about to touch Roy.
Roy has only a few minutes to feel relieved before his parents come in. He isn't sure what is worse. Dealing with the State Alchemists, or listening to his mother cry.
He remembers the fallout.
The military academy had been a highly 'suggested' future course for Roy. It had become 'suggested' shortly after the school he'd been going to refused to let him attend anymore classes.
Roy would have been more angry by the government's actions if he didn't think it was a good idea. His acceptance of it had stopped his father in mid-rant.
The Academy was located ten miles out of the city, and all of its students lived on campus. His room and courses had already been taken care of by the time he arrived. All basic level classes and rudimentary alchemy, utterly boring. They'd assured him he'd get to pick his next courses, but only when they had a better understanding of what he knew.
Something they were probably regretting now. Roy watched the rainbow colored foam bubble out of the fountain in the main courtyard. He was particularly proud of this foam, the different colors remained bright and separate. His previous attempts had always ended with the colors running together in a bland gray color.
Roy was never one to remain bored for long if he could help it.
"That is a vast improvement," Maes Hughes whistled as he looked out the window. A few instructors were trying to find the valve to shut the fountain's water off. "Now that you've succeeded what will you do next?"
"I'm not really sure," Roy shrugged. Maes had caught him the first time he'd tried his foam out. Roy had promptly 'found' a stash of risquÃ© photos in Maes' room. The two had become fast friends. "I'll think about it for a few days."
"Hmm, how about the cafeteria?"
"No way," Roy shuddered. "It's too dangerous to transmute something if you don't know what's in it."
"It can't be any worse than what they already serve," Maes yawned and stretched his arms backwards, conveniently knocking back a couple of students trying to look out the window. "Girl's wing?"
Roy ignored his friend's hopeful look, "I refuse to help further your career as a stalker."
"That's because you're a cold hearted bastard with no hormones," Maes scowled at him. "You're a disgrace to men everywhere."
"Oh, you wound me," Roy said in a deadpan voice.
The hall quickly filled with curious students. They pushed through the crowd and headed towards less populated areas. The friends walked in silence, both lost in thought.
"Oh," Maes grinned widely and glanced at his companion. "Have you heard the rumors about the East wing?"
"The-" Roy frowned slightly as he thought. There were a lot of rumors about every dormitory wing. "You mean the one about a ghost?"
Their matching grins made a passing instructor stop to watch them suspiciously.
He doesn't remember his first few years in the Academy.
Not much had been taught to him that he didn't already know. Not many of the other students had shown any interest in befriending the small kid who'd shown up in the middle of the year. So the time he didn't spend sleeping in class or raising hell with Maes was spent in the library working on his personal theory.
He remembers his last years in the Academy.
Roy stared, amazed at the tiny flame that flickered above his palm.
He'd done it. It had taken him five years of secretive study and experimentation to finally get it right. He wanted to laugh and dance and pretty much act like a complete fool. The only thing that kept him from doing so was that he might wake his roommate, and Roy didn't feel like dealing with the stupid bastard and his phobias.
It wasn't like Roy had meant to set his bed on fire. He'd just really, really wanted to and the fire had apparently responded to his sub-consciousness. It wasn't like he was hurt by it anyway. Much.
He needed to get out.
Slowly closing his hand he felt the flame extinguish. He quietly gathered up all his equipment into a bag and slipped out of his room. The halls of the academy were dark and silent. Most of the curfew violators were in bed by midnight, and the few sweeps that were done at night were often noisy and easily avoided.
So he was very surprised when a hand shot out of a shadow and dragged him into a side hallway.
"Wh-?!" Roy's voice was muffled as a strong hand clamped tightly over his mouth. He stared angrily up into laughing green eyes. Maes pressed one finger tightly against his lips before slowly removing his hand from Roy's face.
Roy frowned at his friend but stayed silent as the other student glanced out of their shadowed spot. Maes stayed absolutely still and silent for a few more minutes before slowly pulling himself back into the shadows. His eyes had a bright manic gleam to them and his lips pulled back in a stupid grin that showed all of his teeth.
Roy winced and pitied.
A soft scuff was all the warning the trio of girls got before Maes exploded from the shadows and dropped to his knees in front of the short brunette. Leed, Roy recalled her name as they all shrieked.
"Alma! My beautiful love, the bright silver moon is humbled by your presence. Just as I, your humble servant, am ever humbled by your divinity," Maes grabbed the scarlet faced girl's hand in both of his, ignoring her frantic attempts to reclaim it. "The angels must have wept bitter tears to deliver something as gorgeous and innocent as you into this crude, bleak world. But despite their pain I will be forever grateful for the bright light you are in my bleak world! For I would be nothing more than a cold, lonely corpse were it not for the life giving radiance of your pure soul. I cannot imagine the torturous hell my mortal days would have been were it not for you. Alma, my guiding star to the paradise I can only find with you..."
When left to his own devices Maes could go on for hours. Which, while quite amusing to watch, wasn't something Roy had the stomach or patience for right then. Sooner or later someone would come to investigate all the noise being made. Roy didn't really want the punishment that came with breaking curfew. Not when he'd been so successful in avoiding it.
Striding into the hall Roy grabbed the lobe of his friend's ear and twisted. Maes' deluge of love confessions ended with a pained yelp and he futilely tried to get away. Leed's two friends glared murderously at him as they took the opportunity to run.
"What the hell was that for?" Maes loudly demanded as soon as Roy released him.
"For making too much noise," Roy glanced down the halls for any sign of a sweep before starting to walk away. "You would've gotten us all into trouble."
"Oh," the stricken look on his face didn't fool Roy for a second. "I would never want my love to get into trouble."
Roy looked back at his friend and smirked. "Since when have you liked, Leed? I thought you were still pining after Saunda," the glazed expression that flitted across Maes' face confirmed Roy's suspicions. "You're patrolling the halls at night."
Chagrin chased the daze away and Maes shrugged philosophically, "It's part of my course. It's pretty interesting who I see and where I see them go. More importantly," he added with a wicked grin and a subtle nod towards the hall the girls had taken, "who I see them going with."
It took Roy a few seconds to wrap his mind around the full implications of that statement, and it took him several minutes to restart it after it crashed in the gutter. Maes whistled a cheery tune as he kept Roy from crashing into anything solid.
He doesn't remember when the war started.
The large headlines of hostilities in the East had been gracing the front pages for longer than he remembered, but Roy hadn't been reading them then. It had become another fact of life for Amestrians. It fell into the background for many. Only thought of when a particularly bold act made the news.
He'd been too busy studying. Studying for the final exams for the Academy, studying for his final exam as an alchemist. Not that Roy was really worried. He knew it wouldn't matter how well he did on his examination to become a National Alchemist. His specialty pretty much guaranteed him the military would give it to him, the fact that he actually wanted to be an officer as well was probably just icing for them. It was just a matter of pride for himself that made him study.
He remembers when his war started.
He was wearing his best pressed dress uniform with the rest of his graduating class when he was handed his orders to ship out. The gold embossed thick vellum, proof of his graduation, was handed to him underneath a much simpler letter. They were sending State Alchemists to war.
It gave him just enough time to pack and say good-bye.
The news, to put it lightly, hadn't gone over very well with his parents. His mother had spent the time crying into his shoulder, making him promise not to do anything stupid. Roy could only nod and hold her loosely. He was shocked to realize just how small she was, how old she looked. His father stood to the side, saying nothing but blinking back his own tears.
It was almost a relief when his father gently took his wife and led her out of the train station. Roy felt an immediate pang of loss when they disappeared into the crowd.
"Hey," Maes appeared next to him, or he might have been next to him for a while. It was hard to tell sometimes.
"Hey," Roy smiled slightly at his friend. "I thought you had a date to beg for."
"Nah, some things are more important," Maes shrugged lightly. "Besides I wanted to make sure you don't do anything stupid out there. It'll be at least a month before I can be there to bail your sorry butt out of trouble."
"Trouble?" Roy looked up at Maes with his most innocent face.
"Stop it," Maes laughed. "Every time you do that I expect the police to start asking questions."
A sharp voice rose above then din of the station calling for boarding. Roy grabbed his bag and Maes helped him lug his trunk into the train. His position afforded him a compartment with one other alchemist. The older man smiled at the two young men before returning to his book.
"Well," Maes clapped him on the back. "I'll see you in a bit, and it better not be at the wrong end of a court marshal!"
Roy happily kicked Maes off the train.
He doesn't remember much about his first day in Ishvar.
Roy had never liked traveling by train. The sense of land moving beneath him hadn't allowed him to sleep for more than a few hours at a time. The eight hours spent in the back of an old deuce going over what felt like every pothole in the world hadn't helped either. It left him too exhausted to do more than salute and pull his boots off before collapsing on a hard cot.
He remembers his first night spent in Ishvar.
After six hours of the deepest sleep of his life he woke up hungry. He left the small tent in time to see the sun set. The sky was a deep red color at the edge of the horizon, but above and beyond that it was black and clear. Roy spent several minutes admiring the vast sea of stars that were usually lost in the brightness of Central.
The camp wasn't like anything he imagined it would be. It was, however, exactly what he expected from the military. Neat, ordered, and disciplined. Neat in that there was nothing to make a mess of, ordered in some strange pattern that made sense only to mad men, and disciplined in that 'better to ask forgiveness than permission' way. It was the military at its purest, and Roy smiled ruefully as he ducked into the mess tent.
And nearly walked right back out. He wasn't sure if the smell was from the food or the tightly packed men sitting at the tables. He concluded it was the food when an unidentifiable thing was put onto his plate.
"Good day today," the old cook grinned at him, black holes were teeth used to be, "Usually the air isn't this clear. Sand storms cloud up the sky."
Roy nodded and shoved himself into a small empty spot on a bench. The soldiers on either side of him looked up, but didn't say anything when they saw his rank. He briefly contemplated the food before digging in. Field chow always looked ten times better than it tasted, and this meal didn't look fit to be fed to a dog. Hunger, however, was a miraculous spice that made even the worst seem divine.
More people trickled in and Roy growled a little as his bench was compacted even further. If this was what it was regularly like he would start taking his meals in his tent. Something crunched between his teeth making him grimace. He spat it out onto his plate and prodded it with his fork. It looked like some sort of a thin shell, as it was in what appeared to be the meat it couldn't be an egg shell....and he wasn't going to think about it any more because he was too hungry to skip a meal.
After his meal, Roy wandered through the camp trying to pretend he wasn't lost. He wasn't. He knew exactly where he was, he just couldn't find his damn tent. Rows upon rows of identical brown tents with no distinguishing marks led him on for several minutes before he abruptly found himself in front of the command tent.
After reorienting himself he walked back to his tent without further confusion. Near the flap he found his trunk. Pleased Roy dragged it in and set it up near his cot. He searched through the clothes and found a worn brown journal. Laying back on his cot he wrote well into the night before falling asleep again.
He doesn't remember his first briefing.
The small tent was brutally hot and stuffy. Too many people were crowded into it, and the flaps were sealed tight against eavesdropping. Roy swallowed against his dry throat and felt another bead of sweat roll down his shin. He hadn't even known it was possible for shins to sweat before. It was a distinctly unpleasant feeling.
The General was pointing to a map. Roy knew he should be paying attention, but the heat combined with the fact that he was still tired refused to let him concentrate. He'd just have to ask someone else about it later.
He remembers his first mission.
A building. A single building was his target. A small militia had holed up in it and were using it to attack convoys traveling the nearby road.
Dust billowed out behind his vehicle as he was escorted to the site. A mile out the Sergeant stopped the convoy and turned to Roy, "How would you like to do this, Sir?"
It was a good question. Roy studied the target, the enemy had picked a good site. There was only open ground leading up to the building absolutely no cover for them to use. A sheer cliff of rocks rose up behind it, broken only by a small gap to allow passage. For a convoy passing through it was the perfect place to be killed.
A flicker of movement drew his attention to the roof of the building, but he saw nothing else. A lookout. They undoubtedly knew the convoy was coming. The cloud of dust they'd kicked up was too big to not have been noticed. They would have no element of surprise.
Not that he needed it.
The building would be like most other local buildings. Made with baked clay over a wood frame, all dried out from the constant burning sun. Roy smirked. All he had to do was get close enough and one spark would be more than enough.
"Spread our force out so they have to focus on more than one target. Everyone else goes in slow and keeps their heads down. I go in fast and light the place up," Roy glanced over at the Sergeant who was nodding. "Once it goes up everyone else comes in to catch anyone running out. Will that work?"
The Sergeant nodded and began to bark orders out to the men. Soon they were lined up and ready to go. At Roy's nod his driver stepped on the gas and pealed out onto the road. Roy rubbed his fingers together feeling the sparks leap off, and focused on the building. He could see it, but he couldn't feel it. As soon as they got close enough for him to feel the air around it, it would be over.
They were half a mile away when the first shot rang out. It went wildly off target, still too far away for the rifles the Ishvarites used to be effective. Roy just hoped that his range was a little better than theirs.
The dusty jeep steadily ate up the distance. More shots were being fired. Roy could see through the mirror the rest of the troops spread out behind. And then he couldn't. He could feel the heat where a bullet tore the mirror from his jeep. A quarter of a mile more and he felt more. Dry wood, air flowing around and inside the building.
"Stop!" The vehicle skid to a jarring stop banging him painfully against the door, but Roy didn't notice. He was focused on the dry wood beneath even drier clay.
The sparks left his hand, too small and too fast to be seen. To travel that amount of distance with no fuel it had to be small. The building was dry and the first sparks easily began to burn. By the time the vehicle fully stopped the outer wall was smoldering and Roy increased the oxygen around it to turn it into a raging inferno.
The roaring of the flames nearly drowned out the roar of the other vehicles passing him by. It's enough to break him out of his focus. He had enough time to wonder about the jeep's broken window before another small inferno ignited, this one in his arm. Roy only knew that he screamed when the driver jerked his hand away with a hurried apology.
The left arm of his uniform is torn and darkening with blood. Roy felt a distant amazement at not having felt it before, but then he tended to block out most things when doing alchemy. The driver wrapped a bandage around his arm apologizing every minute. The building burned and Roy heard the retorts of gunfire. He leaned his head back against the seat and closed his eyes.
He doesn't remember the first night he got drunk.
The near bloodless rout of Roy's first mission had delighted the soldiers at camp. His exploits became more bold and ludicrous with each telling of the story. By the time they'd bought him his sixth beer he'd charged the building alone with a single rifle and only used alchemy after taking out the hundred blood thirsty Ishvarite in it. He had no idea how he could have done that and only gotten away with a flesh wound, but as another beer was placed in front of him he found he really didn't care.
He remembers the first time he wanted to be drunk.
The alchemists filed out of the tent to prepare for the next wave of attack. Roy quietly walked into his own tent and sat on his cot. The lamp made the red gem of his new ring glint. Studying it he could feel the power that surrounded it. With it he'd be nearly unstoppable.
Marcoh's face stayed in his mind. His horrified anger. His creations were meant to give life, not take it.
But it was for good that they had to be used this way. Roy could see as clearly as anyone else exactly how long this war would be dragged out. The Ishvarite were a stubborn enemy and would fight to the death. At the rate the army was going it would be several years before the Ishvarite could be quelled, and it would cost them dearly in lives. Already a draft had been proposed to bring in new soldiers to the undermanned front lines.
If they used the stones to end this war those new soldiers wouldn't have to die. It was a terrible round about way to save lives, but Marcoh would have to be satisfied with it. There was no other way. The war had to end.
The hours slipped by slowly as Roy repeated his thoughts to himself. He tried to forget Marcoh's face, and wished he had a bottle of rum with him.
He doesn't remember the massacre. Even though he does.
He felt it. Roy felt every molecule of oxygen around him for two miles. He felt every thing that could be used as fuel. He felt every source of heat and flame. He felt it and he could use it!
Roy didn't think he even needed his gloves to start the fire. He tested his theory, reaching out to /push/...and eight blocks of the city burst into flames. The fire roared up high into the sky lighting it like day. Two miles away he can feel its heat on his face and he desperately tried to dampen the flames.
Control eluded him as he was overwhelmed with the power. It's intoxicating what he can do with it, but it was new to him and he wielded it with all the grace and finesse of a child. It took him several minutes of struggling to stop the fire. Most of it.
Iron Blood laughs heartily and slapped his back, "Good start, Mustang! Now let's finish this."
The large man strode towards the city. It took Roy a few moments to make himself move. He follows the other alchemists and stared down at the hand that wears the ring. It's trembling.
The sheer power the small stone grants him is amazing. He wants to experiment with it, learn what its limits are. The experiments he could do with it, Roy couldn't even begin to imagine them. The possibilities were mind boggling. With this much power-
He'd reached the city without realizing it. The other alchemists had spread out and were long gone. Roy stared silently at the charred and smoldering remains of the city's edge. Up close he gets a better feel of how much damage he'd done, and he hadn't even been trying.
Gunfire snapped him out of his awe, and Roy was diving behind the blackened remains of a wall. Instinctively Roy snapped his fingers to send a gout of fire towards the enemy. The 'gout' incinerated them instantly and engulfed another three blocks of the city in flames. It was accompanied by an explosion as someone, perhaps Kimberly, blew the next few blocks away.
Screams sounded through the night as Roy stumbled forward. He entered a street in time to see a crowd of Ishvarites get torn apart by stone and iron bullets as Iron Blood laughed. Another block was blown away and Roy looked over in time to see a mother and two children fall under the collapsing remains of a building. Their thin screams blending in with the dying city.
"Mustang!" Iron Blood's bellow echoed above the screams and grabbed Roy's attention. "Burn it! Burn it all!"
It was a simple forward movement. Each alchemist doing what they did best, but not going too far ahead of the others lest they get caught by another's alchemy. Mechanically Roy paced slowly behind the advancing line burning everything he passed, trying not to see the mutilated bodies or the occasional wrecked toy. Trying not to think.
He burned the city and he burned the bodies. That was all he knew and that was all he did.
He remembers the moment after the massacre. He remembers it very clearly.
The girl looked up at him from her sprawl on the floor. Blood pooling on the floor underneath her. Her red eyes wide with utter terror as she pointed the trembling rifle at him.
Roy stared down at her, gloved fingers ready to snap. Don't, don't, please don't. The words echoed in his mind and burned his throat, but he was too afraid to let them out lest they startle the girl. Make her scared enough to die. His hand was trembling as much as hers, his labored breath was louder.
A soft sob tore through the silence. He slowly shook his head. Her muscles tensed and the rifle steadied. He screamed because she couldn't.
He doesn't remember the celebration after the massacre.
The fall of Ishvar was a huge step towards victory. The soldiers broke out half empty bottles of rum and too warm beers. The alchemists were hailed as heroes. The next day they would have to go in and see the damage done, see the horrors their 'heroes' had wrought. But for that night they celebrated.
If Roy had been a little less numb he might have killed them all.
He remembers the mission he took to get away from the celebration.
Roy stared at the couple numbly. Iron Blood's orders echoed in his mind perfectly with the man's earlier orders. Burn them, shoot them. He couldn't tell which order the man wanted him to carry out.
"Sir?" Was that his voice? When did it become so hoarse and broken?
"That's an order, Mustang," It wasn't the bellow from the city, but the low voice was every bit as effective. Marcoh's pleadings fell into the background against it.
Roy slowly turned his head back to the couple. He wasn't very surprised to see he was looking over the barrel of his gun. The couple look back at him pleading with their eyes even as they softly murmur farewell to each other. Marcoh's voice raises as Roy stared back at the couple helplessly.
Roy's entire body flinched at Iron Blood's shout, and just before he pulled the trigger he recognized something that might be pity in the Rockbell's eyes. Two shots and the doctors fell to the floor unmoving. Roy stared down at them thinking that it shouldn't be that easy. It really shouldn't.
Marcoh and Iron Blood argued behind him. Their words meaningless as Roy stared at the spreading pool of blood. The edges touched the broken frame of a picture, and Roy felt his mind begin to unravel.
He doesn't remember breaking.
It was a good thing they had taken the stone away from him earlier. There was no telling what Roy could have done with that much power at hand. Maybe he wouldn't have done anything, the horror of the massacre still too fresh. Or maybe he would have incinerated everything within a five mile radius. Including himself.
What he did do was find the nearest bottle of alcohol and did his level best to crawl into it.
He remembers being fixed. Sort of.
Someone had removed the bodies and attempted to clean the mess up. There was still a dark stain on the floor and Roy picked up the broken picture. The Rockbells look so happy and alive. The picture came out of the frame easily and he turned it over. The date on it was only a few weeks before the doctors had come to the front. He turned it back over, and couldn't stop his knees from folding.
The picture floated to the ground with his bottle of liquor. He wasn't sure what it was, he didn't care much beyond the fact that it was alcohol.
Screams fill his head and he shut his eyes but that's a mistake because he can see the writhing forms of burning bodies. He wrenched his eyes open, but now he's staring at the happy, dead Rockbells lying in their own blood.
And the girl-her scared red eyes, happy smile just like her mother's, blood caked in her bright blonde hair. He wasn't sure which girl he's thinking about, but he owes them. Oh, he owes them both.
With a sob Roy scrabbled for his gun. He yanked uselessly at it before remembering to slide the safety strap --in a war zone, he'd laughed at first-- out of the way. It's weight was solid and familiar in his hands and shook as he puts it under his chin. He shut his eyes, even though all he saw was fire.
"Don't!" It's another order he obeyed even as his mind screamed at him to do otherwise. Marcoh stood in the doorway looking old and very tired. "You were just following orders," Marcoh looked down at the damning stain, "I am responsible for this. They were doctors like me, and saved lives, but I..."
"What should I do?" He'd gotten used to the way his voice sounded.
"Can you not say anything and let me go?" Marcoh asked with a weary smile.
Roy stared after the man comprehension coming slowly. The man would- Roy knows what he's thinking and knows exactly how far he'll get on his own. Hope is a painful thing for one so low, but he welcomed it nonetheless as a chance to pay back what he owed.
He doesn't remember the fallout of Marcoh's desertion.
The bottle might not have been an answer, but Roy had felt a week of drinking himself stupid would do no harm. It served him well when it came his turn to be interrogated by Blood Iron. His confession of seeing Marcoh off on an east bound train wasn't treated as the truth it was. Mostly because he'd also confessed to being scolded by his dead grandmother, that if he squinted hard enough he could almost see something sexy about Iron Blood, and that he liked the company of golden retrievers in ties and jackets for a good game of poker.
Or so the rumors went.
Roy could never remember, which was a pity as he would've paid dearly to see old Iron Blood's expression. It was probably for the best that he didn't remember though. The rumors also spoke of a volatile fling with Kimberly, and the way the bastard always smirked at him afterwards never failed to make him pray to a god he didn't believe in to never remember any of it.
He remembers following up on Marcoh's desertion.
"Are you insane, Roy?!" Maes' voice was hushed in what could be either awe or horror. Looking at the other man's face Roy thought it might be a combination of both.
"Quite possibly," Roy smiled as his friend lightly banged his head on the small table in Roy's tent. The Intelligence officer had only just come back from a mission, and had gone straight to Roy when he heard of Marcoh's desertion. Roy had promptly spilled his guts. "But I don't regret it, Maes. I did the right thing."
"Quite possibly," Maes parroted back as he tiredly rubbed at his face, "but it's sheer luck that you weren't caught."
"Luck?" Roy snorted and managed a faint smirk. "Luck has nothing to do with it. It was sheer genius and guts on my part."
"Let me get this straight," Maes stared at his friend in disbelief, "it was your genius idea to get drunk off your ass and call Iron Blood a sexy bitch?"
"No, that was the guts part," Roy smiled faintly at his friend's reluctant laughter. "My genius is me asking you to help me."
"Damn," Maes sobered quickly. "You always get yourself into the worst possible fixes, don't you?"
Roy shrugged and stared down at his empty glass. There was a pattern that the two had developed in their academy days, between Roy's alchemy studies and the classes Maes hadn't been allowed to talk about. Roy would get himself into a mess and immediately seek Maes for help. Maes would come up with an intricate plan which Roy would listen to before completely disregarding it and making his own plan. Maes would loudly bitch about it and quietly fix all the little problems Roy would never notice before they became big problems.
It was a pattern that worked well for them.
Roy poured them both another fifth of whiskey, hesitated, and doubled it, "What should I do, Maes?"
He doesn't remember leaving.
The days had dragged by after Ishvar's fall, and the alchemists were rarely called on to fight. Roy was prone to keep company in his tent and out of the general populace. Few people besides Maes sought him out. His driver, a few officers, and occasionally some of the other alchemists.
Eventually they were called back. Roy spent the two day trip either sound asleep or staring out at the impossibly green land of his country. The vivid color never lost its strangeness no matter how long he looked.
He remembers his first day home.
His room had been converted into a guest room not long after leaving for the academy. It was still his room though and he felt a sort of peace fill him as he laid there. Through the door he heard the murmur of his parent's voices. It was easy to lie in his old bed and let his thoughts drift to nothing.
It's a fragile peace. Shattered as he shifted his weight and the paper crinkled loudly. Roy sighed and sat up. All he wanted to do was hide in his parent's house and let the world continue without him.
The paper was a way to that. It would allow him to leave the military with the highest of honors and benefits. It would turn him back into a civilian with no obligations to remember the dead of a horrible war.
Roy knew his parents wanted him to take it. His mother had cried when she first saw him. No, she hadn't. She had cried when she saw him and recognized that, yes, this haggard man with scars on his body and in his soul was her son. His father hadn't said a word. He'd only wrapped his arms around Roy and held on tightly.
They didn't like what the military has done to their boy. If he left they'd do everything they could to help him. Make him forget.
It was too easy.
Roy tore the paper into small strips. He couldn't. He didn't deserve to forget just yet, and he had a lot to do before he could.
He doesn't remember the award ceremonies.
As an alchemist that helped to end the war Roy was expected to attend countless ceremonies. Rank advancement, memorials, decorations, commendations. They all ran together as Roy smiled and politely applauded the awards given to murderers. At the end of it Roy came out with a small command of his own, a Crystal Pentagram, a Medal of Valor, three Brass Stars, and the 'undying gratitude of the citizens.'
He remembers his first day of running his command.
Roy sat at his desk and pretended to look bored as he studied the people under his command. A few veterans and a lot of younger enlisted soldiers who hadn't made it out of training in time for the war. For the most part they all seemed to be utterly worthless.
"Would you like some coffee, Sir?" Private Fury asked with a smile.
Except Fury, Roy liked the younger enlisted's enthusiasm. He felt that Fury could be someone to be trusted. The fact that he made a damn good pot of coffee was just an added bonus. "Thank you, Private."
Roy sat back in his chair and enjoyed the coffee while considering what to do. He needed a good group of people that he could trust. He had the beginnings of a plan. An insane and suicidal plan, which Maes had been kind enough to point out at every available opportunity, but it was a plan.
His first step would be to get his staff in order. Which would be a complicated shuffle of finding people he could trust, getting them in his command, and shipping off the others. All without anyone taking too much notice and asking pointed questions he didn't want to answer. It was a complicated task that promised to take up the better part of a year or two, but he had plenty of time.
He had the rest of his life if needed.
Roy fished for a pad of paper and began his list. Mostly it was of people he'd known in the war. He could get Maes to check more thoroughly into them, and add in any suggestions of his own. Smyre, the driver from his first mission seemed a good candidate. Hawkeye could probably be easily transferred; he didn't think there were many people who could deal with her in an office job. Havoc might also do.
Roy stayed in late, considering and rejecting candidates for his staff. His current staff left the second their shifts were over. Except Fury, who asked if there was anything he needed done, and then left a fresh pot of coffee when Roy dismissed him.
Roy circled Fury's name.