Weariness bound his body as tightly as atomic bonds held the rest of him together – and if it weren’t for the sheer science of it all, Roy would have assumed that he would have long since fallen apart back at Central City Grand Station. He looked like hell, and he supposed it was fitting enough of a description; considering the fact that now, more than ever, Roy Mustang was certain that hell originated within himself and spread outwards in columns of fire. The world had seen it happen, people knew that he carried its potential within himself, and he’d begun to accept it. Fire burned steadily within him, and without, his white desert coat was stained red with the sands of Ishval; his uniform underneath worn, tacked together in patches, and a sun-bleached blue.
Leaving Maes behind at the station had been easy. The much beloved (and much discussed) Gracia had met Hughes there, and really, Roy wanted no part in the reunion. Welcoming home parties were best left to people whose welcomes were sure to lift their spirits at the gate. The last appearance of a familiar face Roy had seen had not been a pleasant or an uplifting experience, and he’d said his goodbyes to the Cadet Hawkeye some hours back when their trains stopped off in Eastern. What she was currently returning to, he didn’t know. She’d already admitted there was nothing else but here, but with her back in the process of healing, and the war finally over, he could easily see her opting to muster out. Roy wouldn’t blame her, if she did.
That was a matter he tried not to dwell on.
In the end, it had seemed simple to just slip away while Maes swung his soon-to-be fiancee around, carrying his duffel and the weight of the war over his shoulder with pretend ease. There’d been a reason for the distinct lack of anyone to greet Roy upon his arrival home: the agreement had been in place for a long time. No one but the inside needed to know who his foster mother was, or even that he had one. None of the girls had shown, lest someone connect her face to Roy’s, and for the moment, the quiet silence, and the lack of questions was more of a relief than anything else Roy could have thought of.
People passed by, unnoticing, uncaring – too wrapped up in their own reunions and connections. On the surface, it was as if Central City had been filled to the brim with happiness that came only from a flood of relief. People who had returned were alive and the War of Ishval was finally over.
These happy families and friends didn’t comprehend, and couldn’t fathom the slick covering of despair of anyone who’d lost someone on the front. Joy existed in bubbles, and blotted out the disgusting truth: there were only this many men and women returning home. Countless numbers of others would never have these moments, and the death counts were high enough that Roy imagined that form letters were probably sent out. We regret to inform you…
Military Victory held a certain, rotten taste of failure in Roy’s mouth.
It remained as he found himself leaving behind a taxi, winding through the back streets of Central until he reached the one and only thing he could call a physical home, a place where his own greetings could and would occur, under pretext that things were better, now.
Madame Christmas’ Bar.
He leaned on the door, sloping into the room that hadn’t changed much, not at all. Roy dragged himself and the duffel to the bar counter, dropping the bag against the floor, and kicked up onto the stools, elbows placed firmly on the counter tops. Defiant as ever. But really, just too tired to stay upright without a good amount of propping.