Warnings: Angst. Sex.
Notes: Written entirely to Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" on repeat; the lyrics at the beginning come from the same.The entire story has absolutely no basis in canon, thank god.

"To the End"

"Well, maybe there's a god above
but all I've ever learned from love
was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
it's not a cry that you hear at night
it's not somebody who's seen the light
it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah...


She wore a red dress that night; there was to be no more blue between them. She wore a red dress, even though red made her look drained and gaunt, even though it drew out the color in her eyes in a way she made no secret of disliking. She wore a red dress because her options were blue and black and red, andby process of elimination it was the last.

He'd cooked for her, that night, such as he could. He'd never learned to cook, so what should have been sumptuous came out burned, or flat, or just wrong. When he pulled a charred loaf of bread from the oven and seen her jaw tremble, he'd collapsed, defeated, and told her that they could just order something. She'd caught his hand and told him thickly that if he threw that bread out, she'd never forgive him. They'd made a feast of it, tearing away the blackened crust for the doughy interior, using the flat taste of it to force down anything that rose.

The champagne was good. He knew his wines, and he'd spared no expense, so for all that the meal was terrible, the champagne and the brandy that followed were good, sweet, intoxicating. The brandy in particular – that had a pleasing burn going down, and the fire of it numbed his throat. That was nice – not having to feel what rose in his throat. Even she, notorious teetotaler, smiled weakly, but smiled, at the taste of it, took a second glass when it was offered, nursed it as they sat in the stillness of the evening, listening to the cicadas.

He could have wished for rain, that night. He would have thrown all the windows open so that the billowing chill would seep its way into the room. He would have loved the way the glass rattled. He would have drawn her outside, into the storm, made her leave that red dress behind – if it were raining, they might have stood together in the storm that came from heaven like weeping, like purification, like a baptism. They might have stood out there, his warmth keeping her from chill, her steadiness keeping him from being swept away, in the cleansing rain.

But it was hot, that night, and humid. He had thrown all the windows open, but all the damp that sidled in was a summer damp. So they sat, the two of them, in the stillness, hands clutching at hands, intoxication nearby, and listened as red light faded into no light, as insect-chirps muffled by heat rose in a natural symphony.

It grew too dim to see, eventually, so he went and lit a gaslight. The renewed illumination upon her face, the renewed sight of her, was at once beautiful and cruel. It made him dizzy. So he took some more brandy and went to the phonograph and played a song familiar between the two of them.

She stood when he held out his hand. She slipped her arms about him, then took his shoulder and hand. He gripped her waist. They swayed, slowly, even though the song wasn't particularly slow, each afraid that faster movement would part them. It might have been any time, then – faces distorted by the flickering light might have been younger, and the insects might have sung for centuries. The hot air filtering into the room might have been air from anywhere. But for the scent of smoke, each breath might have been the first.

Minutes passed, and the music stopped. The phonograph hissed, then clicked off. They didn't part. They kept dancing to the song of the evening, the stillness, the cicadas, the far-off putter of a car, the muffled shouts of children, the whine of a mosquito, the distant soft laughter of young lovers.

Their lovemaking was desperate, that night. There was something bitter in it, something that hurt. When they finished, when they were too exhausted to continue, he lay collapsed upon her, his chin trembling spasmodically upon her breast. She ran her fingers through his mussed hair, twisted the locks into small ropes, and blinked away the moisture that fogged her sight.

Neither slept. Both of them were too scared. Sleep accelerated time. They lay, instead, intertwined, breathing together, biting lips or pinching flesh when the mind grew too fogged. They talked sometimes, and lay sometimes in silence, watching as room's firelight was joined by silver moonlight, listening as lovers' laughter faded away. Night's end always meant that lovers had to part.

She was the first to stir when the sun rose, roused from her sleepless stupor by the cruelest of all lights. She shook him awake to say her goodbyes. He couldn't think at this time of the day; she knew that. He acted on instinct alone. It was by instinct alone that he found her, seized her to him, crushed her into him, held her there for so long, trying to memorize the feel of her flesh upon his.

It was their last embrace. It was, perhaps, their last meeting. They wouldn't see each other in court – though they stood trial for the same crime, they would be facing different courts-martial.

The air was hot, even though the sun had only just risen. A morning like that could only mean an oppressive day. Riza slipped into the clothes she had kept here and said her final goodbyes. Though she thought of the past, she was consumed with dread of what was to come.

Roy watched her from the window as she left, walking down the street with a purposeful stride. Something within him broke. The heat of his grief was barely palpable against the heat of the day.