She had always wanted to know what had happened to her parents. Ever since that letter, ever since that day, she had always wondered, always speculated. Had it been a lost bullet? Had it been a stray grenade? Had it been an Ishbal, or had it been a State Alchemist? Had they suffered? Had they watched as their blood slowly poured out of their bodies to stain their hands, and their clothing, and their skin?
She had been angry when she fist got the news. They were dead. Both of them killed at the same time. She would never see them again. She would never hear their voices, see their faces, and feel their warm embrace when she had nightmares late at night. And she hadn't even said goodbye. Of course, she had kissed them goodbye before they left, but she hadn't done it as if it were going to be the last night, the only time, she'd be able to do so.
She remembered crying herself to sleep that night. She remembered crying herself to sleep that week. She remembered clutching the doll Edward and Alphonse had made for her when she was younger that month; clutching it and wishing with all her might that the two boys might be able to do something for her. She knew it was impossible. Her grandmother had explained it to her after the boys' visit had rekindled some hope in her that no, they couldn't do it. That no, they would lose more than bargained for if they tried to. That no, they couldn't bring the dead back to life. That no, no soul could be saved once it had joined God in Heaven.
She had always wanted to know what had happened that day to her parents, and now she didn't know what to do with the man seated in front of her, black hair glistening in the lamp light and black eyes looking anywhere but at her blue ones. She didn't know if she should scream, if she should cry, if she should kick him, punch him, scratch him, or just stay quiet. Why now? she wanted to ask. Why did you come now that the past is so far behind me and that the pain has eased to a bearable amount?
Instead she found herself cursing Edward for not having told her prior to this encounter. She cursed him with a passion for not letting her know who her parents' assassin had been as soon as he had found out. She cursed and she screamed and she cried and she calmed down, took a deep breath, gripped her hands together and sat back down, watching as the man in front of her squirmed for a quick second before settling down again and continue staring at anything but her.
She sighed, her blue eyes burning but (maybe?) understanding. What do you want from me?
Black eyes looked up, unsure but resolved, the man she had heard so much about from Edward shining right through the doubt and insecurity. Apologize. Can I? Can I ask for this from you? Am I worthy of receiving this from you?
She stared and thought about it. He didn't sound like a bastard. He didn't sound stuck up like all the times Edward had talked about. She looked at him and didn't see a thirty-six year old Lieutenant General. She looked at him and saw him as he had been as he had stared at her parents' dead body, as he had stared at the dark pool of blood that would never wash off the cold stones, as he had stared at the blood with the cold revolver to his pale, warm throat.
After all these years, you still think about it? You still see them cold and dead and unmoving?
She saw him nod, black eyes lost and unsure where to look at, unsure whether he deserved to look at her. She felt like a teacher punishing a misbehaved student, which was a ridiculous thought to have at a time like this, but she had it anyway and let herself have it because she needed the distraction. She needed the reassurance this wouldn't break her. She needed to know this wouldn't ruin her friendship with Edward. She couldn't hate this man even if she wanted to hate him, to strangle him, to shoot him, to kill him and see his blood pool around him like her parents' blood had.
Revenge isn't going to bring anything back. You just have to live. Live and be happy.
She had heard Edward say that once a long time ago, when they were still young and still stupid and childish. She had heard him and understood him, and decided that maybe he was right. She had heard the words and decided that maybe Edward was older than he seemed. And she knew that he was older because of the man in front of her, because of the man who has time and again pulled him for his darkness (a darkness neither she nor Alphonse could have won against). She had heard him and promised herself she would do anything to keep their friendship.
I can't hate you. I can't do that to him. It might not have been his fault by default, but he had pulled the trigger. He had signed their names in blood. She wouldn't hate him, but she wouldn't like him. She would tolerate him. For Edward's sake, I'll hold myself at bay.
She watched as he got up, blue uniform pooling around him, hands going straight to his pocket as he nodded to her, turned around and walked out with his back straight and head tall, the arrogant and smug air returning to him. And she understood then that he had to be a bastard so he could live with himself, so others would hate him so he wouldn't have to hate himself. She knew it was easier to deal with other people than oneself, and perhaps she understood him.
She had always wanted to know what had happened to her parents, and now that she knew, she didn't know what to do with herself. She had always wanted to avenge their death, to make sure the one who had committed the act knew what he had taken away from her, and she decided, as she watched her door slowly close by the act of white gloves, that he knew. He understood. He would live with the sin.
She took in a deep breath, clenched and unclenched her fists and breathed a sigh of relief as the knots in her body relaxed. Time to go back to work. Time to go back to life and back to the present and forget her hatred and her sorrow and just live. Live and be happy.