Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist belongs to Hiromu Arakawa, Square Enix, FUNmation and anything else I've forgotten.
Warnings: Somewhat boring introduction. Maybe some mild OOCness. Spoilers about Roy and Riza from the movie. Please don't read if you don't want to know them.
Acceptable. It was such an ugly word. To be acceptable, you had to reach a certain standard and surpass it. Unacceptable was even worse. It meant you were flawed and fell below that point of approval. That lead to much disappointment.
Riza always hated hearing "This is unacceptable, Riza." She despised seeing the frustration in her parents' faces, and hearing the displeasure in their voices. Somehow, a lot of those times had been the times she worked her best, where nothing good came out. And later, everything would be taken in without a word.
Because of that, Riza always threw herself into her work...and just worked. Most of the times, to the point of exhaustion; she was determined to make everything sufficient and satisfactory.
She could never stand Roy's disappointment, though it rarely came. Because of that, it hurt her twice as much, and left her twice as broken, and even harder to get up again. He was everything to her, even if he didn't know it. If she couldn't do enough for him, then she was good enough for him.
She could never forgive herself that night when he fought the homonculus, Pride. True, the mission had been a success, but because of her timing, she failed herself when Roy had been injured.
"The world is imperfect," he told her. "That's why it's beautiful." She could feel her resolve breaking every time she thought about it. That's why she would always remember his words; to remind herself of her failures for him. He would never know how much his words affected her heart.
That is also why she distanced herself from him as much as she could after he recovered from his injuries. First, busying herself with paperwork and assignments when possible. Then staying at Central City for the first time by herself when Roy left to become a private at the border. It was scary, without him there to back her up and no one else to back up either. For the first time, she'd truly felt lonely without him. True, there were some of the other officers there, like Havoc and Fury. Even Armstrong dropped in every couple of days to show off his muscles (though she suspected it was only to make sure Breda kept up his Armstrong-esque physique). But things weren't the same without Roy. Things could never be anymore different. With him there, she was truly somebody. First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye. With him gone, she had no place. She was just Hawkeye. Nevertheless, despite how she felt, she could never make herself leave Central to go find him. Her pride would never let her.
However, that didn't mean she didn't think of him everyday. Each day when she woke up she'd wonder, Is Taisa up yet? During the day, as she worked, she would sometimes stop to look out the window, thinking to herself, I hope he isn't procrastinating too much. By the time she got ready for bed, she would always berate herself. Stop thinking about him, Riza! You sound like a lovesick fool! But always she'd go back to thinking about him again.
Something things just can't be helped.
She stared cautiously at her bathroom door. She could've sworn she heard her front door open and close. She set down her brush and slowly reached for the doorknob when she heard Black Hayate barking like mad. Then a moment of silence, followed by a set of heavy footsteps. Her heart wretched, what was going on out there? As the footsteps came closer, she turned off her bathroom light and groped for her gun hidden behind the toilet. She undid the safety and cocked her gun, waiting. When the footsteps sounded like they were right next to her, she threw open the door, swinging her gun up to meet...a white glove?
The surprised Flame Alchemist stared back at her, just as bewildered as her. Then he smiled ruefully. "I should've known to expect something like this from you."
She shook her head, turning away to put her gun back. Suddenly, she thought of something. "How'd you get in here?" she asked, looking at her superior suspiciously.
She could just barely see the ghost of his usual haughty smirk grace his face in the dim light of her dark apartment. "Well," he started. "You always said your door was opened to me." She frowned. "And uh," he looked down at his hands. "I jimmied the lock a bit."
She looked past his shoulder to se the doorknob melted into a shapeless glob. She shook her head again and responded, "Well, I should've known to expect something like that from you."
She looked up at him to see him staring at her. When he said nothing, she stepped away to walk towards her table. Suddenly he blurted, "Why didn't you come with me?"
She froze, and glanced back sharply. "What are you talking about?" she asked quietly.
He was silent for a moment. Once the words were out, there was no going back. "You know what I'm talking about." He answered, just as quietly.
She didn't respond, instead gracelessly falling into a chair, and shifting a few objects on the table. Finally she spoke in a toneless voice, "What if I just didn't feel like leaving Central?"
She heard the scraping of a chair and the shifting of clothes, as he settled down into the chair across from her. "I don't believe you." He said, accusingly.
She stiffened, her hands, pausing their movement. Suddenly a larger, warm hand covered hers. "Please don't tell me you didn't care." She heard him whisper to her across the table.
But I do, her mind protested. I care a lot. Instead, she stumbled uncertainly, "T-taisa...?"
He paused, and quickly withdrew his hand. "I'm sorry Riza," he apologized stiffly. "I don't know what came over me. I apologize for interrupting, I'll be leaving now." With that, he stood up and walked to the door.
She wordlessly followed him to the door. He stepped out. Without turning around he said, "Goodbye Riza." and started walking away. She watched his back as he slowly moved down the hall.
"I do care," she whispered, and he froze. "More than you can imagine." She quickly shut the door with the image of Roy's wild face flashing before her mind. It had been full of hope, desperation, and heartache...Could she dare to hope? Suddenly exhausted, she collapsed against the door. She felt it shake behind her as he pounded on it from the other side. Gradually, the pounding slowed down, until it stopped completely. She didn't move, listening for fading footsteps. She heard none, and slowly the door was pushed open beneath her slack legs.
She stepped away and waited for him to come in again. "Riza," she heard him say, almost seeing him out for her, behind her back.
"Don't." she said sharply. He didn't say anything, but slowly, his arms came to wrap around her waist. Almost immediately, she stiffened, then relaxed and leaned back into his chest.
"I won't." he whispered back, burying his face into her hair, breathing in her unique scent. "Never again."
She felt unwilling tears spring to her eyes. "I can't..." she stammered out.
They were on a totally different topic now. He frowned. "Why not?"
She hung her head. "I failed you as a subordinate, and a follower. It's not acceptable for someone like me." She winced, hearing the horrible word that haunted her throughout her entire life.
She felt his arms tighten around her waist. "Didn't I tell you before?" he asked, not unkindly. "Only the imperfect things in this world are beautiful."
She nodded, unable to trust herself to speak. He leaned into her. "Do you know why I came back?" She shook her head, mute. "I came back," he started slowly. "Because it didn't feel right being there by myself, I was lost and empty. I came back..."
As she listened to his soft voice murmuring beside her ear, she knew his heart had been with hers the entire time...
...Because without you, I'm nothing...
A/N: This is
going to be a slightly longer than usual note. I have to say that
after typing this up and proofreading it, that I'm not very
satisfied with this piece. But I tried my best to tweek it so that
it was better than what I had originally written. Also, I have
finals next week, and right after they're over, I'll be off on a
vacation trip with my family. So please don't expect any updates from
me for at least a couple of weeks. Thank you, and have a great summer!
Oh yes, and please drop a review!