Roy Mustang hated rain.
It drizzled down mercilessly, accompanied by the subdued crack of lightning, miniscule drops of liquid effortlessly sliding down any surfaces they could get a hold of. Numerous puddles were quickly formed by the pelting drops digging into the earth. No one could exactly see in a weather like this; the vision was too blurry and vague. Amorphous gray clouds completely blocked any shred of the sky, providing an aura of lingering melancholia.
His gaunt chin held up the position of aristocracy, perhaps with the hint of faint youth. Narrow eyes of mahogany contrasted lightly against his peach complexion, few strands of short, black hair falling down unevenly. A grimace emerged from his pale lips from the countless roars of periodic thunder this morning.
She had uttered those words; to be more specific, she had uttered one simple word stabbing Mustang's pride. Hard.
He was useless in the rain. Perhaps it was not because of his glove, which could only be activated when around moderate temperature without water, but she had meant something else.
Oh, he knew his subordinate well.
He had seen her lush, cascading blonde hair clipped up everyday. The canine would loyally follow her every step, as her hands nimbly retrieved paperwork due this morning. He had seen her give a curt "Good morning, sir," and threaten the pistol to his temple when Mustang was obviously procrastinating regarding his usual lazy demeanor. He liked to observe her- quietly and discreetly. The strange thing was, he safely assumed Riza Hawkeye didn't notice.
It was as if the woman didn't even care. She would sit down nonchalantly, waving off an airy sort of look, her stern disposition remaining adamant. Despite her soft, pastel hazel eyes, they still bore strictly at her superior. Mustang dared not provoke his first lieutenant's anger, for she was the only one who could retort back to his comments.
In a way, it was ironic. Roy Mustang, the higher rank, fearing his own subordinate?
The word rolled off with distaste. Subordinate sounded too orderly and forlorn. His gaze idly traveled up to her, organizing the paperwork that were already signed with incoherent flourish. His pen had run out of ink; it would be the perfect excuse.
"Riza, would you get me another pen?" Her name came off so easily. He could not believe how simple it had been. The 'R' had been emitted from the deepest corners of his throat, slurring a little on the 'z,' accentuating the name. Hawkeye merely sent up a questionable gaze, sacrificing her own ballpoint pen. He was surprised by her calmness.
"Of course, sir."
There it was again: the excessive and consistent use of the word 'sir.' It implied nothing more than a strangled relationship between two different ranks, and yet Mustang was getting a bit agitated. First the rain and now the icy distance between them. The acquisition was certainly not charming.
"Tell me, first lieutenant," he sarcastically emphasized the bearer's given name, twirling his pen carelessly. "Am I really that useless in the rain?"
Mustang was surprised. The reply was simple, although short, with the right dosage of honesty. She had answered a tad too abruptly; perhaps that was why Hawkeye was avoiding eye contact.
"At times," she finally added, having resumed her normal pace of thought. She seemed a bit flustered at this question- guilt?
Mustang eased naturally, tilting his chair once, his feet on top of the desk receiving a disapproving look. Ah, his little Riza.
"I hate rainy days," he murmured to himself.
The subservient melody of the rain continued to persist. Military grounds were soaked to the edges, the faint whiff of clovers wafting around. It seemed the sky was starting to clear, although it was not certain. Pale dapples of gray merged with darkness, but a sliver of turquoise could be seen, barely.
"I'm quite fond of the rain."
Dear god- did she just say that? Hawkeye immediately lowered her head to the immense piles of paperwork the Colonel was supposed to do, feebly hoping he had not noticed the impulsive comment by the supposed strict lieutenant. Unfortunately, Roy had sharp eyes for any excuse of a distraction.
"It's settled then," he announced, smiling his usual arrogance often implying another one of his exaggerated ideas. "We're taking a walk."
To avoid work, the blonde thought.
"Colonel...need I remind you it is raining?" she asked neutrally.
"That's why umbrellas exist, Riza."
Ignoring his subordinate's startled reaction, he hastily grabbed the black object perched, or rather withering, against the wall from the lack of use. Mustang rarely used umbrellas unless they were a necessity; he didn't want her to get wet, now did he?
It was too late. He had breezed past the office and door, leaving nothing but the faintest scent of cologne he always wore. Hawkeye sighed, exasperated. Normally she would have forcefully persuaded his mind...but the question, "Can anyone refuse a walk in the rain?" was still left in considerable doubt. She was just about to leave, rather unwillingly if she might add, if not for one thing.
It figured. Mustang had forgotten his coat.
They were at the cemetery again.
Flat slabs of stone stretched yonder, and engraved in it were writings of the bearer's name. Despite the umbrella holding the two in confinement, Riza Hawkeye was soon to get wet, considering she had given the colonel his coat. Roy was, as she had predicted, in a quiet, contemplative mood. He always was whenever he just 'happened' to wind up in front of Maes Hughes' burial ground.
Droplets slid off the sturdy structure. They fell endlessly from the sky, and Riza loved it. She loved how the rain would share the perfect sense of loneliness. She loved how it sounded, just the sheer melody of nature pouncing down on people's stereotypical beliefs. It was lovely on how it continued to wash away her emotions, feelings, right in front of a gone Lieutenant Colonel...
"You're holding in a lot," he remarked, disrupting her thoughts.
"I would assume that would be any diversionary, sensible person's tactic," she responded coolly, her gaze faltering to the damp clovers huddled underneath, brushing gently against her boots.
There was an awkward tension. Silence is golden, she constantly reminded herself; but at times like this, she futilely wished something would shatter the uncomfortable pause. The only sound that continued to persist was the downpour of rain, as they hit the top of the umbrella with a strange hollowness, reminding Riza of the same loneliness she had thought of before.
"You don't need to, you know," Roy commented airily.
"If I feel I have to, I must," she said in a robotic voice, as if in a trance. Her lips were firmly set together in a tight, obdurate line, obviously aware of the growing discomfort. Mustang had tried so hard to appear carefree and smug in front of the brothers. They were mere children; they would not have noticed. But Riza did.
They were veiled, cleverly hidden clues. At times, she would come across a rather disheveled colonel with a glazed look imprinted on his face. Quite often he smoothed out his pair of gloves with the alchemy array, stroking it carefully and thoughtfully. She noticed empty glass bottles loitering around the office floor in the weekends as well, although this was understandable, not that she approved of excessive liquor habits. If a man had his somber moments from time to time, then so be it.
Riza felt useless.
Oh, yes, she had his back with her excellent sharpshooter skills. Her dexterity and firmness to keep the Colonel up his feet was most remarkable...but how did one aide a man who had just lost his best friend? She chastised him when he wasted the military's phone bills on numerous dates, defended him, kept his promise, kept her oath, tried her best – now what? A glint of tears emerged from the rear view of his face, or that could have been the rain alone.
She stepped up next to him, and by an oddity of compassion, touched his military dress coat barricading his chest, his heart.
"You have great courage here, Colonel," Riza said in one of her rare gentle voices. She hoped, although it might have been a rather small, insignificant one, that she might be able to provide at least a shred of encouragement.
The colonel flinched once, then relaxing. Physical contact had never aroused to the subject. Now, Riza felt uncomfortable. She mentally reprimanded herself at this gesture, a gesture she certainly would not have made in the first place. Slowly, her hands retreated, if it not for the colonels' grabbing onto it, preventing it from fully sliding back to her sides. She stared, perplexed.
Quietly, he uttered, "Let it stay."
The rain stopped just then.