The golden boy sits at the bar, hair loose around his shoulders. He is too young to be here, but Chris doesn’t know that she cares. The Promised Day has come and gone and there is hardly any point in keeping up any last remaining pretenses of childhood. From what she can tell, everyone in Amestris had died and risen again and this boy had saved them. What was a drinking age in the face of that?
Chris considers Edward, a boy whom she did not think she would ever actually meet, especially not without Roy by his side. She knows of him nonetheless, or really, she knows the basics. She had watched Roy draw him into the military, for reasons she still did not fully understand, and from what she knew if she had thought about it she would have assumed he’s be back in Resembool by now. Chris isn’t sure she understands it, but she doesn’t have to. For her, it’s still Roy’s business.
This boy, young man really, is in her bar though. Alone. He looks to comfortable with it for it to be anywhere near his first time in a bar, let alone a bar like the one Chris runs. She does not know if this surprises her. She does not know if he knows where he is.
She doesn’t ask. She offers him another drink.
He looks at her when he accepts and if he knows who she is he doesn’t show it.
“Do you think we ever get to be normal?” He asks, a few drinks in and bleeding into his surroundings.
Chris catches the ‘we’, she watches Ed twist his hands around his beer. One rough and scarred and thin and delicate (an alchemic miracle Chris is uninterested in understanding).
“Don’t know what you mean,” Chris says. She likes her life, likes the drama and secrecy and like the safety she can give to her girls.
Ed just nods, but he looks close to tears and Chris is unprepared for that. She’s just about to summon one of the girls to take over when he composes himself.
“Thank you,” this weird golden child says, “Madame, for the drink.”
He gets up to leave.
“Maybe ask Roy-boy,” Chris says, despite herself, “he’s always cared more about that sort of thing.”
Ed’s eyes widen just a fraction, “I’ll keep that in mind.”
It’s deep into autumn now and its been months since Chris has seen Edward. She’s filed it away, carefully, but put it out of her mind.
“Roy-boy,” she greets, “it’s been a while.” It had been since the Promised Day, but all in all still a more frequent visit than normal from Roy.
“Hey Chris,” his voice is gravelly, exhausted.
Its going to be one of those kinds of visits. Chris pours him a drink before he can ask.
They stand in silence across the bar from each other as he drinks, slowly and steadily. He places the glass down when he finishes, all slow, measured movements.
Chris watches him, thinks, and realizes what today is.
Roy sits then and he crumples. He does not cry or make a sound, but he has never looked so lost. Chris does not have it in her to tell him to get his shit together, she gives him grace, just this once.
“How long has it been now?” She asks and from her, that is grace.
“2 years,” he says.
Chris sighs, “I’m sorry Roy-boy.”
He doesn’t say anything at all for a moment, “I was so angry Chris. For so long. I could have...” He trails off. “I don’t have it anymore I don’t think. I just want him back.” Chris examines him cautiously at those words. Roy doesn’t seem to notice, but all the same says, “but it’s not possible.”
“No,” Chris says, “its not.”
Edward is back. He is, somehow, more golden than before. It is nearly summer, but not yet and most citizens of Central are paler than normal this time of year. Edward’s skin is golden, he looks stronger, healthier.
His eyes are tired, dull.
He walks into the bar like he hadn’t meant to at all. He stares for a moment before moving to the bar and taking a seat as if in a daze.
Chris watches him do this. She recognizes the empty look in his eyes, knows it is not alcohol or drugs, but something else.
She brings him a simple drink, just a vodka soda, watches him take the cold glass in his hands. There is no sudden shock, but slowly, almost, his eyes begin to refocus.
When he has gathered himself enough he raises the glass towards her in thanks and she mutters about babysitting, which gets her a small smile.
She is surprised then, when Roy comes in.
It is his third visit in a year, practically unheard of.
He sees Ed and stops, “Fullmetal?” He asks.
“Don’t call me that bastard,” Ed says without any bite.
Roy looks at him, looks at Chris, looks back at Ed, “What are you doing here?”
Ed frowns at him. “Having a drink?” But seems unsure himself.
Roy laughs a little, uncomfortable, “Aren’t you still a little young for that?”
Ed shrugs like it doesn’t matter and at this point, Chris supposes, it doesn’t. The damage is done.
Roy sits by his former subordinate, his eyes focusing on Edward like a cat’s. The focus drives away, however temporarily, the despondent look in his eyes from when he had entered.
“How’s Winry?” He elbows Ed, who has just taken a sip.
Ed chokes and sputters, turning red, “None of your business!” He gets out, but immediately deflates, “We’re getting married.”
“What? Congratulations Fullmetal!” Roy grins and then opens his mouth to call out to the bar. Chris watches this train wreck in slow motion and, feeling merciful, cuts Roy off with a look.
Ed is not smiling.
Roy frowns, but he has not connected the dots yet, not completely. “Getting cold feet?” He asks.
“No,” Ed insists, “sort of,” he amends, “no.”
Roy, for once, waits for Ed to continue.
“Its not that,” Ed struggles, “I love her, I do, I just,” Ed waves his hands like it explains everyone.
“It’s just what kid?” Chris asks. If Roy is surprised by her involvement he saves it for later.
“It’s just, not like that,” He says, “I love Winry, but not in the way I’m supposed to.” As soon as he says it he clams up, face red and eyes focused down.
Roy stops, gears turning.
Chris nods to him.
Roy looks away and slowly, begins to speak, “I loved someone, in a way I was not supposed to.”
Ed looks up at him.
“I loved them, with my whole being, but it wasn’t enough. There were too many risks,” Roy breathes, “he got married.”
Ed is silent, hanging onto his every word.
“And then, you know,” Roy laughs, “I lost him. And then I lost him for real and just maybe, maybe if I hadn’t done what we were supposed to do, we could have had more time.”
There is a short beat and then Ed asks, “Hughes?”
“I loved him,” Roy says simply.
Ed nods, clearly in his own head.
‘Do you have someone?’ Roy wants to ask, but doesn’t. Too much has been said already. “Another drink?”
Ed shakes his head, “I have to catch a train.”
“Going home?” Chris asks.
“No,” Ed says, “I need a ride to the dessert. I’m going go Xing.”