Hagaren belongs to someone who is Not Me, and they wouldn't sell it. ;o;
Author's Note: Now that this series is over and I have seen the last heartbreaking episode, I feel ready to try a fanfic. XP
This is my first foray into this section of the site, reading-wise. I skimmed a few fics to get a feel of how the section operates...it pleased me...lots of mature writers and gorgeous stories. Such a shame, what's going to happen once the series starts airing here and becomes popular. u.u;
w w w . shimegami . com / ichijouji
Riza Hawkeye had always enjoyed hot lemon tea in the mornings, with a tablespoon of honey, as she sat alone in the crowded mess hall. It was arguably her only known vice.
She never socialized, never sat willingly at occupied tables, and never ate breakfast. More than once the men in her training class (for although females were by no means a rarity in the military anymore, Private Hawkeye was the only one in this particular group of recruits) had attempted to capture her eye, in either the classmate or romantic sense, but the blonde soldier had no interest in speaking to them. She merely sat down, eyes riveted on the steaming tea, seemed to contemplate it for a few moments (ten, on a good day for her observers), drank it, and departed. Since she was always the first one "out on the road" in the mornings, the breakfast stage barely consumed half her mealtime, she was on her bunk studying by the time the other trainees returned, and formed up for parade by the time the stragglers emerged from the mess hall. She was first for anything, best at everything, and ahead of everyone.
Except one person.
"She's going to think you're a stalker," Maes complained, burying his head in his breakfast tray. "If she complains, you'll be iced in an instant--are you even listening to me?"
"Mmhm." The grin on Roy's face was somewhere between admiring and lewd. "Like she's aware of anything besides that teacup of hers."
"It doesn't matter about your marks or your record if she goes to the officers. No more military career for you. Gone. Harassment charges."
"We're never spoken."
"She is. Not quite so much as my Glacier, but..." Maes sighed contently, keeping his eyes on the mess hall door. To his credit, Roy did not dispute his friend's opinion on Glacier, instead waiting for Maes to turn the conversation back to Private Hawkeye. "She's also really damned smart, or she wouldn't be at the top of the class. So I think you should stop following her around."
"You worry too much," Roy replied, nonchalant. He grinned boyishly at the back of Hawkeye's head, admiring her shining blond hair in its neat braid. He was still grinning when she whipped her head around and caught his eyes with a glare that could have melted steel. Without a word she rose from the table, leaving the teacup on the bare wood, and stalked out the door.
The grin slipped off Roy's face. "Oops. She saw me."
Maes sighed, half under the table by now, expecting the worst. "Come on...let's go pack your bags."
--To their surprise, Roy hadn't been called in to see their commanding officer, nor had he returned from parade to find his bed stripped and his duffel packed on the floor. Both recruits were more surprised, however, when Private Hawkeye did not come out of her room for breakfast the next morning. Roy rose early as usual and loitered by the mess hall window until 0800, waiting for her to emerge, until Maes had finally finished eating and dragged him out to form up in rank. Sometime between the window and the door Riza had left the barracks and stood in her usual spot, front rank, left flank, and the two boys stood on the opposite end of the platoon with mixed emotions. Roy was disappointed that he would not have the opportunity to watch her during morning physical training...Maes was still wary that one or both of them would be publicly shamed at any moment by whoever Miss Hawkeye might have told.
By the end of PT, nothing had happened. Private Hawkeye had not even so much as looked back at either of them. When the two young men sat down for lunch, Roy betrayed no sign of worry, and Maes began to relax as well. He was naturally the more easygoing than Roy, but his lackadaisical habits (oversleeping, staying out late, smuggling beer into the barracks) had taught him when to exercise caution, and when he could get away with things.
Roy, being at the top of the class somehow without ever trying, never bothered with such worries--then again, Roy never got caught.
Still, a strange sense of melancholy had settled over their heads, and not even Maes' best jokes could coax a smile out of Roy. The raven-haired young soldier fell asleep that night wondering, as he stared at the bottom of Maes' bunk, if the reason she had gone without her tea that morning was him.
The next two days passed repeating the same cycle as before, ordinary--except for Private Hawkeye missing her morning ritual. Maes had brightened up considerably, chortling at breakfast about Roy's close brush with death and humiliation. Roy grinned emptily at his French toast, stirring it around in a pool of syrup.
"What's that you've got there, Mustang?" Maes used his fork to poke at the mug on Roy's tray. "That doesn't look like the usual liquid asphalt."
Roy drew the mug closer to him, almost defensively. "It's tea. I needed a change."
"Of course not." Roy narrowed his eyes.
"Ohoo! How desperate he is! Look at that!"
Roy ignored his friend, instead choosing to stuff a forkful of French toast in his mouth and wash it down with a swig of the tea. It was slightly bitter, clearing his sinuses almost immediately. He remembered, too late, that she usually sweetened it with honey.
Riza Hawkeye had usually enjoyed spending her off-time in the shooting gallery, but as of late she had taken to lying on her bunk and studying, away from prying eyes. As the only female in D Company, she had been awarded the single-bunked room usually reserved for non-commissioned officers, which had a second entrance and lockable doors. It was small, but it was private, and had proved immeasurably handy in the past few weeks.
The loss of her target practice time annoyed her, but it was just as well. Some of the less-tolerable male trainees had found out that it was where she spent her free time, and began coming in droves to watch her shoot, irritating her and interfering with her concentration. Riza had no problem with any particular male in the company, but their tendency to stare and make passes at her was something she had not yet gotten used to. She knew they watched her closely during mealtimes and physical training, which couldn't be helped, but the ones that had the gall to gape at her during breakfast and her free time angered her to the point that those activities weren't worth putting up with it.
Pigs, she thought to herself, glaring scornfully at the door that led out into the main barracks. It had been difficult getting going these past few mornings with only cold, bottled lemon tea to wake up to, but she had done it. She planned to buy a kettle for her room on their next trip off-base.
Riza turned the page of her citizenship notes, noting the time as the light peeking in under her door abruptly shut off. She turned off the lights in her little room and switched on the bunkside lamp. Though there was no enforced bedtime, the men usually turned the lights off at 2200, since many had trouble getting back up for reveille at 0600 the next morning. Generally the barracks went completely quiet by 2300, long before Riza had laid down her books for the night.
They didn't know it, but she aspired to go higher than any of them. The post she wanted was in Central City, renowned as both the home of the National Alchemist Guild and the station of some of the best sharpshooters in the military. The process of being accepted at faraway Central, however, was difficult and selective. Riza intended to top everyone in the company if she had to in order to get what she wanted. It was for this reason that she studied day and night, practiced in the shooting gallery for hours, exercised rigorously, and easily outdid the other recruits at both field exercises and academics. She functioned perfectly on five hours of sleep, provided she had tea in the mornings, a habit or vice that she'd carried since college.
2330. The blonde rose from her bunk and twined her hair into a long braid, vowing to get it cut short one of these days. She laced up combat boots over green cargo pants and pulled on a black military-issue sweater with her rank displayed on the epaulets. Then, leaving the lamp on, she slipped out the second door and walked down the dirt road to the brightly-lit mess hall, mug in hand.
The mess hall, besides its large selection, had the added benefit of being open 24 hours for the patrols, MPs, and entrance gate staff, all of whom were forced to keep irregular hours. Trays of cookies and rolls were always out for those who had to miss one of the after-hours designated mealtimes, and the tea and coffee dispensers always kept their contents hot and fresh. Riza strode to the hot water dispenser and washed out her cup before filling it with the boiling liquid, adding a teabag from the basket nearby. Then, feeling indulgent, she took the full bottle of honey to one of the tables and sat facing the exit.
She always steeped it for two minutes in the evening, no more, no less. A morning cup after a long night would need at least three minutes, but Riza wanted this cup to relax her, not to waken her just before bedtime. She closed her eyes and breathed in the tangy citrus scent.
Someone was there. Riza's smile melted and she glared up at the man standing over her table. He had longish black hair and piercing eyes, and she recognized him right away as the recruit who'd been ogling her at breakfast a few days back. "You."
He hurriedly sat down without asking, expression shameful, preempting her from standing up and leaving right away. "Listen, Hawkeye, about the other day..." The man clasped a porcelain mug in his hands, steam issuing gently from it. "I didn't mean to insult you or anything. I...felt bad about it."
She wanted to snarl a reply and leave him sitting there, but something in his eyes stayed her. "I see."
"I thought maybe you'd be coming here after hours, so I stayed up...I just wanted to tell you that I won't even lay an eye on you after this. I'll sit far away if it makes you feel better, but you shouldn't miss breakfast on account of it...if that's why..."
"You've been watching me."
It was more of a thoughtful statement than an accusation, but he flinched. "Listen, I didn't mean anything by it, really. It's just that...well, you're good-looking, that's all. And smart. Don't you expect some of us to be interested?"
"It's not that..." Riza frowned, staring into her cup. "I don't have time for a boyfriend. I don't like having all these men drooling over me, especially when my back is turned."
"You must have some pretty high ambitions, if all you ever do is study and practice. I heard you're a great shot with a pistol."
"People tell me that."
"What are you aiming for?"
"What? I...I just want to graduate from here with a good profile, so I can be posted somewhere that suits my skills." Even though she didn't feel uncomfortable talking to this man, she wasn't interested in sharing her dreams.
"A sharpshooter," he mused. "Maybe you'll go to Central. I want to go there, too."
Her head snapped up. Another recruit trying for Central? She didn't even remember this guy's name, but she knew he wasn't one of the ones to come to the shooting gallery to practice. That was what Central was famous for, other than alchemy. "Really? That's pretty far from here. Why not Eastern, or one of the outposts?"
He leaned close, as though telling her a great secret. "I have to go to Central. I'm studying to be a National Alchemist."
"You practice alchemy?"
He nodded proudly. "My father taught me it from when I was ten years old until he died. I want to join the military at Central and then take the National Alchemist Exam."
Despite herself, Riza was impressed. She felt herself opening up slightly to the man, whose expression had softened into a smile. "I'd like to go there, to Central, and take the firearms training."
"That sounds like it would be great for you." The raven-haired young man grinned and sipped a bit of his drink, twitching slightly at the sour tang. "Too bitter."
"You have lemon tea," Riza observed.
"Yeah." He looked embarrassed, directing his eyes at the tea rather than at her inquisitive gaze. "There was no honey up there, so..."
She slid the bottle toward him. "Here, I took it. I wasn't expecting anyone else to be in the mess hall."
"Thanks." He took the bottle and measured out a careful tablespoonful, using her spoon.
She wondered if she should be angry, but instead she started to laugh, slightly flattered.
"What's funny?" he inquired.
"Nothing, nothing." She graced him with a rare smile and accepted the spoon from his outstretched hand. "All this, and I don't even know your name, Mr. Alchemist. You already know mine."
"It's Roy," he said, perhaps a bit too eagerly. "Roy Mustang."
The next morning, Maes leaned over the edge of his bunk to kick Roy out of bed, as was their usual morning custom. To his surprise, the sheets were undisturbed, neat hospital corners still tucked in from the day before. His combat jacket was thrown carelessly on top of a storage box.
Maes yawned and tumbled off the top bunk, landing on the tiled floor like a cat. He sat on Roy's bunk to lace up his boots and run a comb through his tousled hair before heading out to breakfast. I wonder where he went. Probably stalking Private Hawkeye again, and didn't even invite me! Well, there were plenty of people Maes could eat breakfast with, if Roy was too occupied. He fell into step with a group of men who were joking about last night's poker game, following them into the mess hall, where he chose a large plate of bacon and eggs.
They sat at a table near the exit, still laughing amongst themselves, and it was not until Maes was halfway into his scrambled eggs that he looked up and spotted the back of his best friend's head sitting at Private Hawkeye's usual table. A forkful of eggs stopped halfway to his mouth. My God, Roy, you must really want to die today!
To his surprise, however, Miss Hawkeye looked anything but homicidal. She sat smiling with her chin balanced one hand, the other stirring the contents of a white porcelain mug. As Maes watched in disbelief, she laughed at Roy's reply, rubbing sleepily at her eyes with the palm of her hand. Roy's body language was relaxed and cheerful, shrugging in response to whatever the female soldier had said.
"I can't believe it," Maes said out loud and went back to his scrambled eggs. The other men looked at him questioningly, but he shook his head. Better to put up with Roy's bragging later than cause a scene here. Damn that guy for getting her! How DOES he do it!?
At the other table, Riza smiled as Roy grimaced at the taste of his sixteenth cup of lemon tea. Wordlessly she slid the bottle of honey over and handed him the spoon.
Author's Note: I have never drank so much tea in my life than I did while writing this fanfic.
Also, I hate it when FFN cuts out my HTML's double-spacing between paragraphs. Anyone know how to get around this?