Standard disclaimer: Not mine.
I edited this story by popular demand. Those who provided edits, I'd love to know what you think of my change. Yes, a long time in coming, but I just suddenly felt like going back and dealing with that issue, so I hope it's up to par. If not, keep providing feedback and I'll perfect this story yet! Thanks for reading!
It was an interesting sensation to not have your eyesight. To be sitting in a room, your eyes open and nothing but darkness visible. Your other senses strive to make up for that loss; ears hear more acutely, hands feel the very grain and essence of an object, nose detects the slightest change in the air. Sitting like this in the dark, I felt that I had achieved a small measure of understanding a blind man.
A thump startled me and my hand tightened on my firearm before I realized that it was just Black Hayate kicking in his sleep. I was so tired, so exhausted, but I could not sleep.
I wasn't a fearful woman. By far, I prided myself on my ability to deal with difficult and dangerous situations. That was my job, and what I had been trained for. But events of late had left me waking suddenly to noises—imagined or real—and consequently unable to sleep. Major Hughes' death had affected us all, Colonel Mustang more so than any of us, but I felt the tension and fear in the office. We were all running scared. We didn't know who or what had killed the Major, nor why. Any of us could be next. I, for one, would not be killed in my bed, nor caught unprepared.
My thoughts turned back to Colonel Mustang. He seemed so drained, so tired lately. I was worried for him. Losing a best friend can not only destroy a career, but a life. I wondered if he was self-destructing. I didn't know much about the Colonel's personal life, but I figured I probably knew him better than anyone besides Major Hughes had. I could picture him sitting in a typical bachelor pad, sitting alone in the dark with substantial amounts of alcohol, trying to replace the thoughts of his friend with a mind-numbing alternative.
Only my extensive training prevented me from firing off a shot as a loud knock sounded on my door. Instead, I slowly got to my feet, the knock sounding again. Black Hayate woke and came to my side as I moved silently towards the door. Standing to the side of the door, my back to the wall, gun ready in my hands, I spoke.
"Who is it?"
My voice was hoarser than I had expected. I attempted to swallow my fear, breathing deeply. As I did so, I caught a faint whiff of…
"It's Colonel Mustang. Sorry for dropping by so late…I…I'm not sure why I'm here. But I brought a gift to make up for the late hour."
If I had not known him as well as I did, I would have thought nothing of this. But I could tell by his voice that he was drunk. I sighed and switched my weapon to my left hand, unlatching the chain and twisting both deadbolts. Pointing my handgun skyward in a semi-prepared-but-not-overly-threatening manner, I opened the door, blinking rapidly at the sudden light.
He was alone, carrying several take-out boxes from a local restaurant. It was what I had smelled earlier, and the more intense aroma reminded me that I had not eaten dinner. He was still in uniform, but it was rumpled and crooked, and his hair was in more disarray than normal. His face was apologetic, except that his eyes…
I breathed in deeper when my eyes locked on his. I had never seen them so…tortured. Ripping my eyes from his, I opened the door wider and flipped on a light. "Come in, Colonel."
He did so, his normal gait obviously affected by the alcohol. He never stumbled, but walked slower as if to make sure that he would not sway or trip. He saw my small table and set the boxes on it. I shut the door, relocking all the locks, then moved to my kitchen counter. I flipped the safety on my gun and set it on the counter as he unloaded the boxes.
Suddenly, I realized that I wore nothing but a tank top and a pair of boxers. My face reddened slightly, but pride demanded that I act as if I were in full dress uniform, minus the saluting. I leaned against the counter, trying to appear casual in defiance of the blushing spreading across my face.
Finally he brought out several varieties of alcohol, leaving us with quite a feast on my small table. It made me uneasy.
He stood silently, facing away from me. He was staring at the food, his shoulders slumped dejectedly. When he spoke, his voice was quite, but broken. "I…bought this out of habit. Maes—Hughes—and I…he didn't like when I drank alone." My heart felt like breaking as well, to hear the pain in his voice. "Said it was a sign of alcoholism." He gave an empty chuckle. "I didn't know what to do with it…I just ended up here."
He seemed to shake himself out of something and his head turned, eyes locking on mine. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant. I…well…It just happened. I'll leave."
With that he began to pack it all back up.
"Colonel," I said, clearing my throat. "I didn't have dinner. Why don't we eat?"
I didn't want him to think I was trying to get him to stay for personal reasons, because I didn't. I simply wanted to make sure he was alright before he headed home. I had never seen him this vulnerable and it scared me. I didn't know this side of Roy Mustang, and I didn't know where this grief would lead him.
He studied me for a moment, then nodded. I moved to sit down across from him and began opening boxes to figure out what he had. I settled on a spicy noodle dish and we ate in silence. Black Hayate eyed us from the living room, but I got the indication that his eyes were more on the food than either of us humans.
"I think the reason I came here, Lieutenant, is because I think I can trust you," he said finally.
My eyes rose to his, and I knew they carried the same determination I felt in my heart. "You can, sir."
He was silent for a long time again, his eyes on his food. "If you were ordered to kill me by the Fuhrer himself, would you follow orders?"
His question shocked me. My hand froze in it's manipulation of my chopsticks.
"I would die for you," I whispered, bringing my head up. "My loyalty is to you, Colonel. Not the Fuhrer."
My words shocked him as much as they did me. I could hardly believe those words had just exited my mouth. Biting my lip, I looked back down at my food, swirling the noodles around absently. "I don't know what's going on in the military now, sir," I said, rushing as if I had never said those things as I had. "But something is happening, something is coming, and I don't know what. The only person I trust to do the right thing is you. And the only person I believe will do the right thing is you. I will follow you if it means my death, or my betraying the military."
He had stopped even appearing to eat. His face was so pained. "I could not handle another dying for me, Lieutenant. Not another," he whispered, so softly I could barely hear him. He dropped his head into his hands, his elbows on his knees. Before I knew what was happening, I was in front of him, half-kneeling, my hand gripping his forearm. "I'm not going to die, Colonel," I said quietly, forcing confidence into my voice. "I won't let them win."
His head was lowered, his eyes shut, but as I looked, I saw dampness on his cheeks. His eyes opened and I saw they were shining with tears. This was a part of Colonel Mustang I doubt anyone, excepting possibly Hughes, had ever seen. Maybe no one at all.
The look in his eyes was surprising. It was of…gratitude mixed with supreme sorrow. It was a heart-wrenching combination and this close to his face, I could make out every sorrow in his eyes, every worry line on his face…
My thumb was wiping the tears from his cheeks and he looked up at me in surprise. My face was perhaps six inches from his. I realized I was crying as well. A part of me reflected that I hadn't cried since I was ten.
"I won't leave you, sir. Ever."
Our lips met. I'm not sure who initiated it, but it didn't really matter. I knelt with one knee to the floor, my left hand on his neck and my right in entwined in his hair. I could taste the saltiness as tears continued to stream down both of our faces. His hands caressed my face, my hair so tenderly that it nearly broke my heart. My heart was racing and he finally dropped from his chair onto his knees in front of me. His tongue wound around mine, exploring my mouth as I did his. He was passionate but gentle, his teeth carefully taking my lower lip.
Suddenly, he broke the kiss. "I'm sorry, so sorry," he said, shaking his head and standing suddenly, staggering backwards slightly as he did so. "I didn't mean to…come onto you like that. You must think I'm terribly lecherous and weak."
I stood as well and closed the gap between us, taking his face in my hands. "Do you really believe that I'd let you 'come onto' me if I didn't feel the same?" I asked, eyebrow raised.
He shook his head ruefully, as if gathering his thoughts. He spoke slowly, deliberately. "I have loved you…so long…but Riza…I don't deserve someone so good, so loyal, so beautiful as yourse—"
I put a finger to his mouth. "Don't finish that sentence or I'll shoot you," I said, only half-joking.
He cracked a smile that time. "It's strange how a beautiful woman threatening to shoot you can make you feel so much better. Thank you, Riza," he finished seriously. He raised a hand to my face, brushing his fingers across my cheek, my lips. "Thank you so much." His face sobered. "I was falling and I didn't know how to stop myself. I knew that the only person who could help me was you. I wish…" He stopped a moment. "I wish I could assure you that you are not the replacement for that empty hole in my life. It's still there, I think. But you filled another, one that has been here for so long. Waiting for the right person. Waiting for you."
I started to speak, but he stopped me. "Let me finish. I have ached for you for so long, knowing that me coming into your life would be disaster on us both. Or so I thought," he amended, catching the look in my eye. "Now, I see…I need you. I can't live without you knowing that. I will need you as things get darker, Riza. Not for your skills or your talents. I just need to know that I have someone to…" he searched for words. "To…
"Be there," I finished for him and he nodded. "Be there," he agreed.
Those pesky tears were in my eyes again. "We'll finish this together, Roy. Whatever happens, we finish together."
So very gently, he took my head in his hands and kissed my forehead, pulling me to him. I wrapped my arms around his torso, hugging him tightly, my face buried in his chest, his chin atop my head. His arms tightened me to him and we stood there for a long while, finding the security that had been absent for so long in each others arms.