Roy is visited by an old friend. (HUGE MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR EP. 25, OR MANGA CHAPTER 15) (yaoi) (AU for end of series)
The pain faded. It never went away, but it faded, became something almost comfortable. A source of strength, rather than weakness.
The days went by, filled with purpose and work and...other things. And eventually there came a day, there came a night, when he could dream of an old, very missed friend without his heart tearing apart.
The eyes were the same. The smile was the same. The scruff of beard, the way he wrapped his hands around one knee as he sat on the edge of the bed, the--
"You know, Roy, when I said 'get a wife', this wasn't exactly what I meant." Hughes poked pointedly at Ed sleeping in Roy's arms.
--the same smartass sense of humor. But that was only to be expected. Just as it was only to be expected that Fullmetal, who had just spent three weeks in Lior and was strung so tight that it'd taken him two hours of enthusiastic and acrobatic lovemaking to get him to fall asleep with someone else within ten feet of him, remained blissfully asleep, undisturbed by the poke or the comment. It WAS a dream, after all.
Roy scowled but ran a hand through Ed's hair, easing a lock of it out of Ed's face with a tenderness he'd never show and Fullmetal would never allow in real life. "You have a problem with this?"
Hughes grinned. "Not at all. You two deserve each other."
"That doesn't sound like a compliment."
"Oh, but it is. The two most stubborn men I ever met, now together. The world is saved. You two can just gnaw on each other for the rest of your lives."
That was a disturbing image that Roy tried hard not to think too long on. As he looked at Hughes, sitting on the edge of the bed, uniform shirt and jacket slightly undone, five o'clock shadow on his jaw, it was as if Hughes had stepped right out of any of the nights he'd sat beside Roy at the officers' bar, the two of them swapping information lazily over exactly one whiskey apiece. More memories flowed across his mind: Hughes's voice crackling over telephone lines as often as not, Hughes standing proud and handsome next to Gracia at their wedding, Hughes holding Alicia out to him for the first time with tears in his eyes...Hughes lying in the casket at the funeral service, the casket lid closing....
"Roy." The hands on his shoulders were warm for a dream, Hughes' cologne-and-pine scent catching in his throat. "Roy. Don't do this to yourself. Let it go."
Roy's brow furrowed, hand curled demandingly around that too-solid, too-warm arm. "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you--"
"Roy." A too-solid shake, and were the eyes of dreams allowed to be Hughes' exact preposterous green-gold color? "It wouldn't have made any difference."
"I could have--"
"What, been there? You'd be dead too. Believe me. I know." The hands squeezed once more before moving away. "Everything worked out in the end." A fond smile down at Fullmetal, still blissfully asleep. "You two both made sure of it. I couldn't ask for anything else."
Roy remembered finding Ed kneeling in the middle of the church that had been the final battlefield, remembered trying to catch his breath as he ran forward, terrified that he'd been too late, too late again, goddammit.... Remembered the way his heart had leapt painfully when Ed had looked up, blinked at him, told him he was fine, and then keeled over in nothing more sinister than a dead faint. "He," Roy declared softly, "did all the work. Not that you're allowed to tell him I said that, though."
Again the warm hand on his shoulder. Dreams weren't supposed to be this solid, this warm, they WEREN'T. "He never would have even gotten there without you. I helped you get where you needed to be. You helped him get where HE needed to be."
For an instant, every action, every reaction, everything made sense, like the jolting understanding of seeing an array flash into being among seemingly random nonsense, perfect before his eyes. Just for an instant...and then it was gone.
"I should go." Hughes stood, running a hand through his hair, pushing up his glasses. He just stood there for a moment, though, looking fondly at the general and the alchemist. And looking up into his best friend's eyes, again Roy was struck with the dream-sense that there was something important he was missing, something terribly imperative that he was leaving undone. His tongue felt leaden. "Hughes. You're dead."
Hughes smiled, sadly. "Yes." He leaned forward, and his lips were warm too, as was the air that washed over Roy's face as Hughes leaned in to kiss his forehead, scented with pine and a cologne Roy knew better than his own. "Be happy, my friend."
Roy might have grasped at Hughes' jacket, or maybe not. His hand closed on nothing but air, either way. "Thank you. Thank you...."
"You're very welcome."
Hughes kissed the top of Fullmetal's head, and Ed shifted in his sleep, some inquisitive sound in the back of his throat, and when Roy looked up again, Hughes was gone.
He shook himself as Ed yawned, blinking. "What time is it?"
"I've no idea."
"Mmm." Ed pulled the covers up over his bare shoulder irritably before settling back down at Roy's shoulder. His eyes fell almost closed, drowsing. "I dreamt...I dreamt that I talked to Hughes."
And though later he would take Fullmetal's admission as part of his own dream, at the time it was comforting and fitting and he sighed the only thing he could as his eyes closed against gold-bright hair. "I know.... I know."