In the Rain

It is raining as he walks into the alley, thick heavy drops that splash on the wet ground. If he were a religious man, a poetic man, he would say the sky is crying. But he is not, he is just another soldier and he is only irritated at the water that soaks his hair, his coat, his gloves, at the damp that makes his power useless.

And after all, no amount of rain can wash the blood away.

Edward is standing at the far end of the alley, hands clenched against the wall as if in a desperate attempt to draw back what has been lost. His gloves are soaked with blood—

and for a moment, Roy remembers another time, another place, another man with bloody gloves as Ishbal burned—

and just for that moment, he cannot stop the fury that rises up in him, for how dare this boy look like Roy did then, so broken—and yet he was not the one who spilt the blood, he does not have to look at the burnt, smoking husks of what were once human beings and realise that he killed them, that he is a murderer and nothing can wash that stain away—

But there was no rain in Ishbal, and Edward looks so fragile, so young with his head bowed, rain soaking his clothes, his body shaking with suppressed sobs—

The moment passes.

He is a child still.

Roy feels empty with the anger gone, and he wishes he were someone different, Hughes maybe, or Tucker, who would know how to care, how to soothe this broken boy, take him into their arms and make him whole again.

All right, maybe not Tucker.

His presence is noticed. Al whispers something to his brother, who turns around.

And Edward's golden eyes are filled with anguish, with shock and numb incomprehension that will soon turn to grief—but also with anger, and Roy knows what he must do.

He does not know how to put something broken back together with soft words and sympathy, only how to reforge it with harsh remarks, in anger—but perhaps that is just as well. What does not kill you makes you stronger, after all, and Edward will need to be strong.

The child is a soldier now, and soldiers cannot afford any weaknesses.

And as he continues speaking, as the anger in those eyes grows until it overwhelms all other emotions, glaring at him through the falling rain, Roy realises that Edward will hate him now.

But that is quite all right.

After all, Roy hates himself as well.