It’s a recurring nightmare, but every sensation is as fresh as the day he lived it.
Blood, dull and coppery, bright against the desert sand. The harsh ringing of explosions. A child’s scream. Terror in foreign eyes. Desperation.
The fear in his own heart. Sweaty palms. Palpitations. Breathing ragged. Just a child himself. Playing dress-up in a man’s game.
Words in a foreign tongue. Heavy and unfamiliar on his tongue, probably incomprehensible. The crackle of gunfire. A kneejerk reaction. The rasp of special fabric. A snap. Orange flame splits the dawn.
And Roy wakes up shouting. He’s covered in sweat, staring blankly into the dark, trembling from head to toe. It’s too damn hot so he throws back the blankets. Above the ceiling fan churns a lazy puff of air on his damp skin. He shivers, feeling vulnerable in his nudity.
Roy wipes a hand down his face, heart hammering in his chest. He swallows thickly, still tasting ash and grit on his tongue. Phantom sensations.
“Roy?” Maes’ voice is still thick with sleep.
“It’s nothing.” His own voice is strained, hoarse, betraying his anxiety.
“Liar.” More alert now, Maes has always had a sixth sense for knowing when something is wrong. Especially when it comes to Roy.
“It was just a dream.” A memory of a terrible reality. “Go back to sleep.”
“No.” Stubborn to a fault, Maes is. He rolls over and even in the dark, Roy can tell that Maes is watching him. “Talk to me, Roy.”
He sighs. “It’s nothing you don’t already know.” He flops back down to the bed, curling on his side, staring away from his best friend and lover.
“Tell me how I can help.”
Roy closes his eyes, breathes in and out, trying to calm himself. “There’s no helping me.”
Silence sweeps into the bedroom and Roy feels the bed shift. “I’ll make some coffee,” Maes offers softly, his tone holding an edge of disappointment.
Roy turns over, quick as a snap, his hand snatching out and curling around Maes’ arm. “No coffee.” He struggles to catch Maes’ eyes in the dark. “Stay.”
No argument is offered. Maes lays back down beside Roy, pulling the alchemist into his arms. “I can’t stay forever, you know.”
Roy curls closer to him, tucking his head under Maes’ chin, listening to his heartbeat. “Just for now is fine.”
Maes’ arms are a protective, warm barrier around him. “I’m only a bandage, Roy. You need to try healing.”
He inhales the lingering scent of cologne on Maes’ throat, memorizing all the little details. “Maybe tomorrow.”
Roy closes his eyes and sees the past again. Maybe this time he can stop himself. Maybe this time, it’ll be different.
And maybe he’ll wake up in the morning with Maes still beside him.
A man can only dream.