Scientia Mortui

I wish I could say that I knew. That foreboding gripped me after that last phonecall, that I suddenly felt cold on the train, that I saw the faces of your subordinates and knew. But you always valued honesty, perhaps because you got so little of it at work, so I have to admit I didn't know. I was angry, at you for withholding information (frankly, Maes, you were never that good at dissembling), at the command for putting me in East City where I couldn't keep an eye on you, at Fullmetal for getting into trouble again. I was looking forward to dressing you down, maybe paying a visit to Gracia and Alicia once I'd made you see the error of your ways. I never imagined—

And why should I? You didn't tell me, after all. I knew you were hiding something, but how was I supposed to realise that it was that big, that dangerous, that you had gotten too close and—

Damnit, Maes, why? Why didn't you tell me? Why did you try and do it alone? What did you find that made you decide not to trust me? Just a word, a hint and I'd have been at your side. But no, you chattered on about Alicia and Gracia and me getting a wife.

And I hung up on you. The last time I ever spoke with you, and first I accused you of keeping information from me (which, to be fair, you were), and then hung up. Somehow, I feel I should have known. Should have said something.

But then again, our friendship was never built on words. Perhaps it is only fitting that it does not end with them either.

I wish I could say I knew. But I didn't. I didn't know on the phone. I didn't know on the train. I didn't know when I marched into the building and demanded to see you. I didn't even know when I saw that new subordinate of yours—and where did you find that one, I wonder?—pale and stammer.

"Sir, Lieutenant Colonel Hughes, he's, he's—"

"He's what, Private?"

"He's dead."

Dead. And the world dropped out from under me.

Only then did I know.

I wish I could say I knew. But then again, it's somehow typical of our friendship that I didn't. That your last words to me were "Oh, and get a wife!" and mine to you were "Not that big a...?!". No heartfelt declarations, no farewells. We never bothered with goodbyes because we didn't see the need, because we never expected they'd be permanent. I always thought you'd be there if I needed you, never doubted in your steadfastness. I trusted in you to be there just as you trusted in me.

It would have been a betrayal of our friendship to have known. To have known would mean I doubted in you, doubted your strength, didn't trust you to pull through. The fact that you didn't has no bearing on that. After all, our friendship wasn't built on words, on facts—it was built on trust.

Still. I wish I could say that I knew.

But I can't, because I didn't. And now all I can say is:

Goodbye, Maes.

I will miss you.