This isn't where he had planned on being. In fact, it hadn't been more than a passing glimpse of a thought these past few years. So why he was here now, in this place of all places was beyond him.
He had only meant to pass through the town; it wasn't like much would have changed anyway. Rizenbourg was too much of a farmland; a backwards, forgotten chunk of land to grow. He knew what changes had been made – like the new train station or the newly paved road going straight through the town – and he knew what still marked Rizenbourg as Rizenbourg – the rolling, grassy hills, the Rockbell Automail shop. He also knew what was no longer in Rizenbourg.
If forced, he just might admit that he held a soft spot for the town somewhere within him. It was quiet, quaint, and reeked of a homeliness that he knew he would never enjoy again. But also, if forced, he just might admit that he desperately hated the town for those same qualities.
Rizenbourg had played its part in his life and now it meant nothing more to him than a little dot on a map or perhaps two hours of boring countryside landscape passing by the train window.
And there he was. Standing in the last place that he would have considered as a rest area; a detour in a progression of more important places and duties in his life. It was already late in the day and he had missed the last train simply for this one place. His schedule had been thrown off by a whim; a sudden, unexplainable – at least he claimed it was – reason to visit this site and just...look.
No one else was around, but he expected that. For as large as Rizenbourg actually was, the population was sparse and distributed fairly widely across the land. And this wasn't a spot for a great number of people to visit. There was evidence in the fact that weeds had grown up around the stone, a few tombstones had cracked, broken or tumbled over in decay. Some old, withered flowers had been ground into the dirt, perhaps by some old visitors but more likely just from passer-bys.
He snorted at the mess even as he carefully knelt down to pull some of the weeds out of the way. Possibly, he thought, it was his sense of duty and responsibility that made him return and made him...
But his sense of duty seemed to be limited as of late. Ever since the war. Duty was not served to those who did not deserve it.
Perhaps it was out of love and affection that he returned. He remembered caring about this place, about these people at one point. It couldn't have been that long ago if he could still remember – if he still cared to remember. In fact, if he thought hard enough he was sure he could still remember people's names and what they looked like.
So why, after all this time, he had finally decided to pay his respects...he really didn't bother with the why so much as he was there and might as well do it now.
With a final swipe at the stone, the dirt and weeds were clear and an etched name marred the nearly perfect rock. What a waste.
He stood there for a moment more, contemplating what had led up to this moment, both his and hers. He had never much believed in chance or fate but that man decided his own destiny, purpose. It was too big of a risk to leave it in the hands of anyone else. But this moment he would not have chosen on his own. Damn philosophy and free choice.
As the sun sank lower behind those grassy, rolling hills and the name became one patch of dark, Hohenheim picked up the flowers that had landed at his feet. Some of the flowers were torn and wilted, broken and destroyed. He must not have taken such a good look before purchasing them. Well, it was too late to mend the mistake now and the train would come too early in the morning for him to return. He did have a schedule to keep with.
With one final look at the gravestone, he carelessly tossed the flowers back on the ground. Some of the petals broke off and scattered over the stone he had just cleaned. Psh...what a waste.
The sun finished setting as he turned his back on the gravestone reaching into his jacket for a cigarette. It irritated him that the light wouldn't catch right away; it would just be an annoyance to have to buy a new lighter already. Taking a deep drag, he stood on the hill and watched the sky for a moment. Only when the first stars came out did he set off for the central part of the town. Perhaps he would buy a drink, for posterity's sake.
Without once looking behind him, he flicked the cigarette away.