Well, this is my second FMA fanfic and my first attempt at RoyxRiza.
Note to self, set better music on playlist when writing. It's not good when you're in the middle of an angsty scene and the "Numa Numa Song" starts playing…
By Your Side
Riza sighed. She wasn't very fond of long train rides and she had been on far too many recently. The Colonel and his subordinate were riding the late train to Central from the east. He had asked her to book him a ticket, and she had insisted on accompanying him. If something was going on, she'd make sure she was there to protect him.
She glanced toward the window. The Colonel was sitting with his head resting against it and his eyes closed. She couldn't tell whether he was asleep or not, but she assumed he was since he hadn't been sleeping well lately. She thought of waking him and insisting that he would have a headache if he slept like that with the way the train shook, but thought better of it. It was foolish of her to treat him in such a caring fashion.
She frowned and looked back at the book she'd been reading. He could never know she cared about him, at least that's what she told herself. She didn't want to believe that he knew how she felt and still went on about his latest date right in front of her. No, he wasn't that kind of man. He thought of her as his Lieutenant, nothing more.
Movement from beside her brought her out of her thoughts. She turned toward the window again.
The Colonel gave her a sleepy smile. "Don't you ever sleep?"
"Of course, sir," she said, "I sleep at normal times, not on train rides or in the office."
He must have been very tired, because instead of his usual sarcastic remark, he said, "You do realize we're probably going to be on this thing most of the night."
"Yes," she said, "I read the schedule."
He shrugged. "Suit yourself."
She returned to her book, intending to actually read some of it this time, but before long her mind wandered back to him.
She sighed again and closed the book, figuring she wasn't going to get any reading done when she wasn't focused.
She looked back at him and found that he was asleep again, this time slouched in the seat with his arms crossed and his chin resting against his chest. She had no idea how he managed to sleep in the most uncomfortable positions. But then again, he had probably gotten used to sleeping in the records room and the basement of the library, so the train was probably very comfortable to him.
'I wonder if he'd think my bed was comfortable,' she thought. A second later she berated herself for being so irrational. She figured she must be tired, as that could be the only explanation for the way her brain was acting.
'Or you're in love,' she thought before she could stop herself.
Damn it, she supposed she was. Of all the inconvenient things to have happened, she'd fallen in love with her superior officer.
She looked up to see a man in the crisp black uniform of a private, saluting her.
"Yes, Private?" she said, curious as to why he was there.
He lowered his arm. "Phone call from Major Armstrong in Central."
Wondering why in the world the Major would be calling them on a train, she followed the man to the phone terminal.
"Major?" she said, after picking up the receiver.
"I'm sorry for the phone call, Lieutenant Hawkeye," Armstrong said, "but I thought you and the Colonel should know."
The flat, businesslike tone of his voice made her more confused and a little bit scared.
"Know what?" she asked, not sure she wanted to know the answer.
"Lieutenant Colonel Hughes is dead."
She nearly dropped the receiver in shock. "What?"
"You will be informed of the details upon your arrival."
She took a shaky breath and managed to thank the Major before hanging up.
She leaned against the wall, a hand over her mouth, staring wide-eyed at nothing. She could hardly believe it. Hughes was gone, the man she had known since she'd joined the military. She'd never see him again, never hear his voice on the phone, never be shown another picture of his daughter...and she had to tell the Colonel. That was going to be the hardest part of it. She swallowed the tears that were threatening, straightened her shoulders and left the terminal.
When she returned to her seat, she found the Colonel still asleep. She sat down beside him and took a deep breath. "Colonel?"
He awoke instantly and looked at her for a moment, before a look of confusion appeared on his face. "Lieutenant, what's wrong?"
She took another deep breath, her heart aching. "I was just on the phone with Major Armstrong." She took yet another breath. "Hughes is dead."
The Colonel looked at her in sheer disbelief, before his face returned to it's normal impassiveness.
"I'm going to step outside," he announced, his voice emotionless.
She stood and moved aside to let him pass, then sat back down. She figured he needed time alone and she would let him have it, but if he wasn't back in half an hour, she'd go after him.
When half an hour came and went and he still hadn't returned, she went after him. She knew that some alone time after this sort of news was good, but company was better. No one should be alone with that kind of grief.
She found him seated on the small balcony at the rear of the car, staring blankly at the sky.
He looked at her and there was such sadness in his eyes, that she had to look away.
"Come inside," she said, "It's cold."
He stood, but didn't move to go inside. Instead he turned and placed his hands on the railing, clearly intending to stay. She moved to stand beside him, even though the space was barely big enough for two people.
She looked at him and saw that he was staring again. She felt a little foolish for coming out here, when she had no idea how to deal with him in the state he was in. She was so used to the Roy Mustang who made bad jokes and slacked off on paperwork. She was used to the fierce determination as well, but she wasn't used to this and she didn't like it one bit.
At this rate, she figured it might be best if she left and waited for him to come in on his own. She turned and headed for the door, but his voice stopped her.
"Don't go," he said.
She turned back toward him and he looked at her with that sadness filled gaze that made it hurt to look at him.
"Please," he said, stepping forward so he stood directly in front of her.
Before she realized what was happening, his arms were around her and he was hugging her tightly. She returned the embrace, a bit surprised by his actions. She'd wondered what it felt like to be this close to him, and in any other situation she would have enjoyed it, but not like this, not when he clung to her as if she were the only thing he had left, not when he was trembling the way he was.
She just held him as he broke down, trying to be as much of a comfort as she could, which wasn't so easy since she really didn't know what she was doing, especially when the crying became heart wrenching sobs.
She rubbed his back awkwardly, not caring how out of line it was, or that he was hugging her so tightly it hurt. All she cared about was making him feel better. That's all she had ever cared about.
She was relieved when the crying subsided and he loosened his hold on her.
He laid his head on her shoulder, still shaking. "This is going to be hard."
She wasn't sure what to say to that, because she knew it was the truth. It was going to be very hard to get used to Hughes not being around.
"But at least you'll be by my side," he said.
So, he really did care and appreciate her support. That was good to know.
"Always," she said.
They pulled apart just as the train rolled into Central.
Well, that's the end of the first part. Yes, there will be more when I get time to write it, which, knowing my schedule will be tomorrow. I have a very boring life.