disclaimer I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist.
pairings None. Well…maybe some RoyRiza. But only if you squint. And promise not to tell anyone I told you to squint.
timeline After 'Roy's Big Move' to Central. After Hughes (cough.) Before any really scary shit happens. Manga-verse.
notes (laughs weakly) OK. I'll admit it. I was sucked in. But only a little bit! (Okay, body and soul) And the worst part is, I was sucked into the one fandom that I swore I would never be sucked into.
I used to think, come on! every time someone mentioned this show. After all, its about TWO BROTHERS (one of which doesn't have a body, and the other was missing an arm and a leg) and ALCHEMY and the MILITARY, and-and (here, my friends' synopsis'—if you could call it that—would invariably die down to them muttering something suspiciously like "But one of them wears leather." And then they would nod firmly and say once again, "It's good.") the MILITARY AND ALCHEMY.
Quite frankly, I never got it. Sounded boring to me. And I was of the opinion that all those ratings were probably due to one poor sod who locked himself up in his bedroom with a gazillion TVs all tuned to FMA, desperately trying to keep his favorite show on the air.
Then I tried the manga. And a whole new world opened up to me. A world where I actually cared about the military, and about alchemy, and siblings. A world where I can nod along and say, "Yes. The leather."
And I never want to leave again.
So this is my first offering. Please be gentle, because even though it's my first, I worked really hard on it. And it was my first coherent thought after dragging myself from the manga files on my computer. And please review. And also know that I'm not to familiar with the FMA section of fanfictiondotnet, so know that if I used something already taken, or expanded on a cliché, I didn't mean to.
It tries really hard to be angst, but somehow, I don't think it tried hard enough. If you know what I mean.
warnings Mild swearing, nothing too serious (I think, I could be wrong) and rain. Which I think is a repeating theme in this fandom/series. Other than that, unless you tend to run screaming from Roy fics, you should be fine. Oh, and beware the tense changes that I couldn't and probably will never be able to fix.April Showers
It was raining again.
The kind of rain that, though it wasn't hard enough to make one worried, it seeped into everything, and made everyone feel damp and wet even after hours out of it.
It was more of a mist than anything else, at times, and he sighed, turning from his window, because he knew that this kind of rain wasn't the kind to just stop. It would last and last, and somehow he knew that by the time it ended, everyone would feel like moldy bread (though why this was, he didn't know) and want to run out screaming from the office that they were gonna bring back the sun, even if the had to kill themselves to do it. Or maybe that was just him.
He reflected that it wasn't supposed to rain as much in Central. (Another reason he had been looking forward to a transfer, though, officially, he had only had a promotion in mind)
But it was raining now, and he was listless.
He had a faint stirring in his bones like maybe he should be out there somewhere, doing something, and even though he should have been too old for feeling like a superhero, (superhero was perhaps too strong of a word, only Fullmetal believed himself to be a superhero, but whatever he felt, it was something along the lines of action and change) he still tapped his fingers against his papers slightly.
Fidgeting. He told himself harshly, and stopped.
It was supposed to rain less in Central. Not that supposed to ever amounted to much in his experience, and he sighed, and told himself he was acting too childishly, and that he should just let it go.
He told himself that he was being a baby, quite frankly, and that there was really nothing to worry about, since nothing would be happening to him anyways, and if something did…well. There was Riza, and Havok, and a score of men waiting at the drop of a hat—his hat, let's not forget—to go out and risk their lives to protect him.
Not that it had worked with Hughes. Damn. He clenches his fist and his teeth hard enough to see stars and to squeeze back the something (they were tears, but he would never admit that he was crying) that were threatening to clog up his eyes, and gives his desk a glare. A glare worthy of starting its own fire, gloves and flint or no.
And of course, if there was a fire, then he wouldn't have to worry about all the work he still had to do.
His hands twitched again, twitched in the direction of the drawer in his desk that contained his gloves, and he transferred his glare to them.
Then sighed; defeated. There wouldn't be any work done by him today. Not that he was surprised. Not that anyone would be surprised. Havok was taken to saying that the day work would get done by the Colonel was the day they got a new Colonel. Jokingly, of course, and only out of his hearing—and Hawkeye's too, just to be certain—only he didn't seem to aware that his superior didn't just rise to the top on his good looks—much as he would insist otherwise—and alchemy skills alone. He seemed to forget that Roy Mustang rose through the ranks on being sneaky—and, of course, Ishbal, but really, why sweat the details? But he was rather taken to saying it all the same, especially after another load of paperwork was dumped on him by a laughing Fury, saying something about how sorry he was and how the Colonel had run away yet again to have late night dinner with the Girl of the Day (said girl being, of course, well-endowed in the chest area to make up for certain lacking endowments in the brain, and a thing for men in uniforms. Military uniforms, and colonel wasn't exactly a rank to be ashamed of. Especially not a colonel with promise of promotion. You know. Just after he assassinates the Fuhrer.) and that if he hadn't, then the work would be done and everyone could go home, and wouldn't that make a great change, and in fact would make his week, whatever-was-left-of-it?
And every time he turned around, the pile of paper on his desk just grew higher. And he hadn't even seen Riza creep in. Not that he could figure out how anyone could creep—though hers was more of a glide—under a stack of paper probably bigger than her—blame that on his overactive imagination. (Which he did whenever he woke up in a cold sweat, screams imbedded into his ears.) He knew—the sneakiness again—that whenever it rained the only person walking through that door to his office would be Hawkeye. Unless the Elric brothers were in town, in which case that door would be locked, and would remain locked until the day they left. (this would be explained away by a mysterious jam, and if one was in that office with him, one would notice that he started at every clapping noise, and at any sound that even faintly resembled chalk on walls. Not that he was pointing any fingers. Not that he could point them low enough anyways.) But he knew that when it rained, and someone had to talk to him, they either put it off, (praying that it could wait until a day when sun was promised) or wheedle at Hawkeye. Not that either of the two were really workable, come to think of it. But she was more pliable in the rain.
But the only thing anybody could be sure of was that there would be no work done. Or, to be more precise, only enough work done so as to not arouse suspicion. But it's not like there was work being done on sunny days either, so that was okay too. And any arguments were from Havok again, this time complaining that any marginally good day would invariably lead to the Colonel having a picnic with some girl in some park, and that with the amount of sunny days they were having this year, it was a wonder that he had enough money left for food, since it must all be spent on cleaning the damnably dry-clean only military suit. Whereupon Fury smacked him and told him to stop complaining like a woman, and that it was annoying the crap out of him, and that it was his own damned fault he didn't have a girlfriend. And Hawkeye said quietly (the men exchanged glances, since she didn't normally participate in jokes, being stiff with honor and duty) that the Colonel didn't need any money for food, since he was out on dates every night and he had the cafeteria ladies here charmed enough to have them keep a tab for him, and isn't that right, sir? And he had melted out from the shadows (scaring the living shit out of his men, and he could hear Breda mutter loudly that a few years were shaved off his life) with a slight smile on his face, along with a look that plainly said, Aw, you ruined my fun, Riza. And he should have known better than to try anything with her around, since she knew him too well, and even after her almost-joke, she was still wearing a look to answer his. Don't call me by my first name, sir.
He pushed his chair back and got up slowly, chuckling to himself as he thought that perhaps he was getting old. And soundly pushed the memory of the white—but it was only gray! His mind interjected, and probably not that far gone, since I'm under thirty, and it was probably just a rebellious black trying to be different under the light—hair he had found that morning out of his mind, to have it rest beside Ishbal and Hughes, and any other skeletons that he was hiding. Or, he would amend, scarred corpses.
And looked out the window at the rain that was not-quite rain, and tried hard not to think about going home.
There was one other person that was allowed to (not afraid to) enter the Colonel's office when it was raining. Correction: there had been. But he was gone now, ashes to ashes and all that, (dust to dust) and if anyone asked, not that anyone would, since the answer was written so clearly on his face, he would say that he was over it. Over it, and ready to move on with his work. And when he was really gone—Havok was always extra careful about this one, and Breda had enough caution for all three of them—they would remark that he really was a crappy liar.
And if no one ever burst into their office anymore (Maes had lived and worked in Central, but seemed to have spent most of his time there) and dragged his mortified superior out to play in the puddles with his daughter anymore, then, well, one could say claim everything changed eventually. One could also claim that Hughes grave was never void of flowers, which shot that other theory down to hell. (Play, more often than not degenerated to Roy, with greater force than necessary, slamming the unfortunate Lieutenant-Colonel into the mud and spending the next hour—while Hughes recovered—telling his daughter that his father was a weak man and that she should never follow in his footsteps and that she should grow up to wear miniskirts everyday, and that if any of her little brat-heh, friends had any hot single moms, she knew where to reach him.)
So now it was just Hawkeye, and even though she held greater rank, no one envied her. The same way no one envied those poor bastards that crossed the Flame Alchemist the wrong way when he had his gloves on. After all, he wasn't a national alchemist for fiddlesticks, and though he wasn't some genius like Edward Elric (or, as Roy referred to him gleefully, the Fullmetal shrimp-brat) he wasn't exactly missing an arm and a leg either. And any idiot who believed the troubles in the East story was exactly that; an idiot, since who has a little brother that likes to dress up in a suit of armor anyways, and Roy's men—and woman—were picked for the intelligence that he lacked. (Or so they said on Friday nights, filled up with booze; the real military man's relaxation.) And he really was a good shot with that flame.
Of course, you get a guy who's wearing flame-retardant clothing, and he's basically shot to hell, alchemist or no. There was heavy money placed on who would invent something like that first, Mustang's enemies, or friends. The odds actually lay with Riza, who, when asked, would only shrug—and, occasionally, if she liked you, smile a little bit—and stay silent.
And Roy knew of this, of course, and would silently wonder why everyone thought him stupid. And why everyone seems to forget his years in the military. More than Fullmetal, certainly, and even that shrimp knew how to shoot a pint-sized gun. Not well, of course, but well enough so that he wouldn't blow his own head off. Not that he particularly minded of course, since it was their miscalculation, not his, and no matter what, he would always be one step ahead of them. Another reason why he kept a gun holstered at his back.
He placed a fingertip on the cool glass and watched the spot of mist it left behind, smiling slightly while wishing to hell the rain would stop and he could finally go home, instead of always glancing over his shoulder.
A crash came from the other room, and he started, jerking in an unprofessional way that would have earned him glares and murmurs of him being the living example of why one shouldn't be promoted so much so young, war hero or no, had he been in public. As it was, in the sanctity (or prison, he would often think wryly on those sunny days when one couldn't even see the floor through the paperwork—overactive imagination again—and he wasn't allowed out until it was cleared, and he wouldn't feel like jumping out the window, though he would rather risk a broken neck than try and walk through the door, with lieutenant Hawkeye waiting on the other side.) of his office, the only embarrassed looks he earned were his own.
But after that died down, he was suddenly filled with paranoia.
Enough paranoia to want to run over and check his files, to make sure that the Elric brothers were coming next week, that Riza hadn't marked anything as Urgent, and had just fired off a warning shot. That Major Armstrong wasn't due to make an appearance about nothing in particular
But the panic subsided—along with the deer-in-the-headlights look, or, as Fury liked to call it, the scared-rabbit look—and he slumped down again, knowing that he couldn't have missed anything.
And if Armstrong really was showing up, then he had a roomful of men (and a woman that carried loaded guns) and a dog ready to take the poor bastard down.
Of course, they weren't so ready to make the rain stop.
A knock sounded at his door, and he let out a sigh, knowing that it would be Hawkeye at the door with papers again—no one else knocked like her, piercing, yet polite at the same time, and he always wondered how she could free up one hand to do the required knocking and not drop anything—and knowing that she knew that he was in here.
He told her to come in, then blinked in surprise, as she stepped in holding a tray.
Well, he had been partially right.
She asked him if he would like some tea with the same tone that she used when she asked him if he wanted that man shot for troubling him, or if he would mind finishing this report before he left on a date, sir, and he could do nothing but blink at her stupidly.
She closed the door with one hand, then straightened and saluted him, and he barely had the presence of mind to nod at her while his mind wondered if she had ever done any waitressing before.
But he managed to regain his composure as she made his way to his desk and laid the tray on one of the precariously swaying stacks of paperwork and started to clear a space on it. (The desk.) She didn't mention that nothing had gotten done since the last time she had been here, and that he was out of his seat when she came in. She just started to clear a space neatly and efficiently, ignoring the tray as if by ignoring it, it wouldn't dare to fall on her. Knowing Hawkeye, this was a plausible idea.
He had regained his composure enough to say mildly that while he appreciated the sentiment, Lieutenant, he wasn't really in the mood for tea, unless she had something stronger…?
By then she had finished clearing the space and had laid the tray onto it. Straightening, she dug in the pocket of her uniform for a second before producing a bottle. A bottle of scotch. A bottle of scotch which she presented to him with the same sobriety and dignity as she would a new report, or some killer's head.
He blinked at her again, and his hand twitched toward the bottle before he could call it to heel.
He laughed (a harsh, bitter, laugh, and he wasn't even aware of how it sounded, and nor was he aware of her slight wince as she heard it) and told her that, while it was a funny joke, Lieutenant, it wasn't a very plausible one, and now if you would stop tempting a dying man with food, per se, and tell me who put you up to this, I promise I won't punish the poor bastard (or you). Too much.
She only shook her head, and told him sharply that if he didn't want it, she would put it away, and good riddance, since she was not one to approve of drinking on the job. (Or not doing work on the job, she added, and he winced, knowing that if it was her, she would have been able to squeeze a jibe at his laziness somewhere in there)
Whereupon he leaned forward from his leaning position by the window so fast that it was more a jerk than a lean, and grabbed the bottle, and said, no, grinning a little crazily all the while, no Hawkeye. That won't be necessary.
Then, examining his prize in the half-light of the cloudy day, thanked her for it, saying that she was a proverbial angel.
She almost ignored him at that. Pouring his tea for him anyways, just saying that he betterdrink it diluted, since it would be too strong otherwise, and if he was caught at it (and she was caught aiding and abetting) then no good would come to either of them.
As an after-thought, she told him briskly, sounding as if she was rattling off some orders, that he looked like he needed it.
And he smiled at her crookedly, not taking any offence, since they both knew it was true, and only told her instead that he was glad she had noticed. (She dared to roll her eyes.)
He accepted the tea and gave up the bottle so she could pour for him (neither of them trusted him with liquor) and only after taking a sip (and sighing happily like he would on his birthday—no, scratch that, the day of a promotion) did he inquire about the noise.
She looked a little surprised, and told him that Fury had managed to drop a whole stack of papers, and he relaxed visibly at this, and she smiled a little bit.
He made a weary joke about the weight of those things, and she nodded politely.
And then he told her conversationally—more to the teacup than her, really, all chipped and probably older than him—saying it in the same tone he might use if he was commenting on the weather, but that wasn't a really good analogy, was it?—that when he was little, he had always liked the rain.
She allowed an iota of surprise to register on her face before she wiped it out and nodded with the same efficiency that she used whenever he cracked a weak joke.
He continued anyway, talking about before he was into alchemy, before he was in the military and a career and advancement took hold of him, grabbed him so hard he couldn't breathe anymore, before he even dreamed about a future and a war in which he might have to burn men—and not just men, but women and children—alive, about before.
He told her that he had once loved running through the rain and splashing in puddles. He told her that when he was little, he had hated the smell of flint and smoke and sulfur. Hatred of the smell of burning bodies went unsaid.
And she nodded, and said that she was sorry, that she wasn't aware of that, sir.
And he waved it off with one hand and something about her needing to ignore an old man rambling, and she smiled slightly, and said—to his eager eyes—that of course the colonel wasn't an old man, and that of course he never would be.
They lapsed into comfortable silence, and he leans against the window, and suddenly hopes that it is raining indoors, because raindrops feel like they could start to roll down his face any minute, and he turns his face away from her, but not before she could see, and not before she told him softly that she was sorry.
And she said it in a voice like maybe she meant it, and hearing it, he feels like she understands, and he really does want to cry. Only he doesn't, and instead takes a sip, and wishes he could blame it on the tea. (Only she made that, so perhaps…the rain would be better)
And then, because he wanted to pretend that things were normal, and that he was only a normal colonel having (spiked) tea with his lieutenant, he asked her what had possessed her to come in here and offer him refreshments.
They both looked away from the mounds of papers, (though it was hard to find a place to rest the eyes on that wasn't covered by it, except for, of course, each other) and he chuckled weakly.
She looked him in the eyes and said to him clearly (he was caught by surprise by this, and would stare quite openly at her for quite awhile before he caught himself) sounding very good-subordinate-y and soldier-like, and if they hadn't known each other for so long, he would have thought nothing of it, "Because you are always depressed when it rains, sir."
After she left, taking the tray and (he was sorry to see) the scotch with her, he would sit down at his desk—still a little stunned—and wonder how much fire it would take to burn his gloves.