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Save Tonight (The Puppy Pile Remix)

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Hughes wakes up first.

He lets his eyes open slowly, not daring to move his hands to wipe away his sleep, all too aware of the press of bodies that have trapped his arms in place. There are feet on his lap -- small feet sticking out from beneath military-standard unisex trousers -- and he knows they must belong to Riza Hawkeye. More interesting is the warm heat of the body lying flush against his own, separated only by the thin cotton of their rumpled shirts, sinewy back muscles fitted to the contours of Hughes's chest. It's a sensation both familiar and alien at once, the ghost of a recurrent memory from years before -- before Ishbal, before Gracia, before the birth of his 2-year-old bundle of joy. He and Roy haven't woken up together regularly since the Academy, haven't done so at all in over three years, and despite all that's changed, Hughes can't help relishing the moment.

He remembers the night before with the clarity of an investigative officer with a high alcohol tolerance: drinking too-expensive beer, miming filthy charades, twirling the girls around to the sounds of Aerugeon jazz. An impromptu housewarming for Colonel Mustang, finally fully settled into his own apartment in the East over a year after his transfer. Hughes doesn't know when he'll next have the opportunity for a night like this. The army keeps him busy; his wife and toddler keep him busier still. It's a life he wouldn't trade for anything, but it leaves little time for visiting the best friend who lives half a country away.

Hughes glances down through lowered lashes and sees Lt. Rebecca Catalina, kneeling at the foot of the sofa where he, Roy, and Riza are sprawled. She looks like she hasn't slept in several days, but her tired eyes are laser focused on Riza, whose sleeping head is resting on Roy's lap. Rebecca's hand is half-lifted, hovering above the tangles of Riza's pale hair, frozen in indecision about the propriety of combing them out with her fingers. Hughes catches her eye and smiles with understanding before she can panic, then deliberately closes his own eyes and settles his head back onto the hard curve of Roy's shoulder.

Hughes knows how the future will go, spiraling out from this moment of stillness. Roy's future is with the girl lying in his lap. Their destinies are inextricable, and Hughes and Rebecca will have to find different paths. Hughes knows he's already found his, knows he's a lucky man. But leaving the past on the road behind him has proved more difficult than he would have thought.

A few minutes later, Hughes hears Rebecca popping up and grabbing a camera, fiddling with its dials and apertures. Hughes keeps his eyes closed as the others begin to wake to the glare of her flash, muttering the kind of stream-of-consciousness non sequiturs Roy used to claim he would say in his sleep. He doesn't want to lie to his friends, but for these last few moments of connection to a past that's slipping farther and farther away, he's willing to make an exception.