She honestly found it easier to stare than to speak sometimes.

It wasn't like she was completely silent around him; oh no, she was always correcting him, chiding him for slacking off on duties… but God forbid that she open her mouth and something not work-related pop out. Havoc, Breda, and the rest of her comrades would never let her hear the end of it. She was Riza Hawkeye, appealing to the eye, but not to the ear.

That's why she just watched.

She watched him flirt relentlessly with anything in a skirt, she listened to him brag about his 'perfectly friendly and harmless' escapades with said thing the next day…

And never did Riza allow herself to say something on the subject. She kept her blonde head buried in her paperwork, never once glancing up from her desk.

Everyday, coming into work became a bittersweet deal. He would be there—those intense dark irises focusing on her and her alone when she came into the office, if only for a fleeting moment… it was enough to propel her through the day.

Or so she thought.

Riza had always considered herself a strong woman. She could face down criminals without batting an eye, but when Roy Mustang began speaking of how he had spent the night prior with a woman other than she it was just…

Well, unbearable.

Each day became progressively worse. Each morning, it was harder and harder to wake up, and suddenly, that friendly greeting Taisa always gave her wasn't enough.

It could have been anyone else. Yet I'm cursed to protect and to love the man who seems to love all women except for me.

And it was her burden to bear, and hers alone.

So she watched.

o-o

The alarm awoke Riza from a dreamless sleep at the break of dawn with its normal incessant drone. She slapped at it, lamenting the start of a new week.

The Lieutenant Colonel rolled out of bed, bleary-eyed and drained. Her head felt like it was going to explode. Her entire body felt like it was made of lead, adding insult to injury over her already weakened being. Black Hayate sensed the lack of life in her as he gently pawed at her ankle.

Shedding her nightclothes, Hawkeye grabbed her blue uniform and tugged into it. Riza dragged herself to her nightstand, flinching at the sight of her bedraggled appearance. Her face was a ghoulish pallor with black circles beneath her eyes (which refused to go away), and her blonde hair was sticking up in all the wrong places.

She began to pull a brush through her tangled mane, knowing she was fighting a losing battle. Realizing she was going to be late if she didn't hurry, Riza clipped her half-assed brush job against her head and dashed out the door and into the dormitory hallway.

Roy didn't live in the dorm like the rest of them, so he was usually the last to arrive. Riza trudged into the office, dropping herself into her seat and sitting there, unmoving, for an indeterminate amount of time. It could've been seconds, minutes, or hours until the rest of her co-workers arrived – Hughes, Havoc, Breda, Falman, Fuery… everyone but her Mustang had come.

They all greeted and regarded her in a questioning manner, noting the distinct difference in her manner, posture, and look. She'd been losing weight for a while now, but after the holiday break, she supposed, it had become more apparent to the outsiders.

"Lieutenant Colonel?"

It was Fuery. He was easily the most caring out of the bunch, and the concern in his eyes was evident.

"I honestly doubt Hawkeye looks like this because of a hangover," Havoc stated in his usual blunt manner. "You shy from liquor like a virgin on her wedding night." But even his joke – as much in poor taste as it was – seemed only to veil his worries.

The group of them had worked together for countless years, and never had Riza Hawkeye come into the office looking like this. The very thought that she would look anything except for brash and official was unheard of!

Riza jerked in her chair as Hughes knelt beside her, feel her forehead with the back of his hand like a worried mother. "Sheesh, there," the spectacled man said. "That's one helluva fever. You can call in sick, you know."

Riza just glared. She didn't know why, but his words angered her. "I'm perfectly capable of putting in a nine to five work day, thank you very much."

Hughes was about to say something in turn but at that moment, the door to the office opened. As Roy walked in, all of his subordinates stood in salute, even Riza. But her migraine protested the sudden movement and she nearly missed the seat as she sat back down.

And what was worse, Roy was all smiles as he took his place at his desk. Usually, his happiness would have lifted Hawkeye's spirits, but not today. Not with that grin on his face. She knew what that meant.

Who was it last night, Roy? Was it that Grace woman? Or that blonde I saw you with the other day? Was it fun? The thoughts ran bitterly through her head and made no effort to banish them.

Hughes, who knew her all too well and could tell that she was in bad shape, cleared his throat.

"Riza, can I talk to you outside for a minute?"

"No."

"Yes." He took her by the arm and dragged her from the room, not even bothering to glance at the other occupants of the room.

When they were outside and out of an earshot, Hughes released her from his grasp and turned to her, expression uncharacteristically serious.

"If it's a picture of Elysia I don't want to see it." She snapped.

He glowered a bit. "This is about you, Hawkeye."

"What about me?"

"You. You're clammy, you're shaking, you're feverish. Lately, you look as though you've just been wasting away." Riza was about to counter his comments but he stopped her. "Don't bother denying it. I think everyone except has noticed it except for the one person you actually care about." Maes saw the way she flinched. "I thought so. Riza."

As if it wasn't strange enough that he had addressed her by her first name, he grabbed her by the shoulders, too. "You're making yourself ill. You need to talk to Roy."

Her magenta eyes widened. "Is… is it that obvious…?" She whispered.

"Beyond a shadow of a doubt."

She sighed, defeated. "It's useless. He's a… swinger; I guess you could call him that. And I'm just his 'loyal subordinate'," Riza spat out the last two words. Her usually calm eyes were alight with a storm whose rains soon threatened to flood over.

"But even if nothing will come about it, won't you feel better with Roy having knowledge of how you feel?" When Hawkeye didn't answer, Hughes patted her shoulder once more before turning away. "I'm needed in Central for a week or so, and the train's leaving in a few hours. I'll see you then, all right?" He offered a final smile and parting words before rounding the corner towards the exit. "And when I return, Hawkeye, if you and Roy aren't all over each other, I'm taking you out to a fancy restaurant. My treat."

Then her old friend was gone, leaving the stupefied blonde in his wake.

And that's when Riza Hawkeye decided that watching wasn't enough.

o-o

The next few days came and went in a blur. Riza had been preparing—preparing for rejection, preparing for the various possible outcomes of her confession, hell, she even prepared what she was going to say in the mirror.

She was like a high school girl again.

Possibility number one:

Riza would completely lose it and just tackle Roy across the desk.

ColonelIfuckingloveyou!

…No.

Possibility number two:

She would tell him like a civilized adult, and he would polite decline any further relations with her outside of work.

Yeah, she could see that happening.

Possibility number three:

She would confess, and he would laugh and call her a joke.

Riza prayed to God that wouldn't happen.

And possibility number four?

Well… she didn't let herself hope.

At least I'll get a dinner out of this.

And finally the time arrived when she knew she could stand putting off the inevitable no more. Today Riza would tell Roy how she felt.

And if he didn't like it? So be it.

o-o

It was a snowy, frigid Thursday morning when Riza headed into work, bundled in her down feather parka, prompt as usual. She had left the dormitory early to run a few errands, braving the storm to purchase something special.

She was still sick as a dog, but today had to be the day. She couldn't bear the apprehension any longer, out of fear that her own thoughts and tribulations would drive her mad.

Her heart was fluttering with a giddy nervousness in her ribcage. Hawkeye had it all planned it out in her normal efficiency—she would wait until after Havoc and the others had left the office, and seeing as though Mustang was usually the last to depart, she would tell him then. Riza was braced for whatever outcome this could produce.

Or so she kept telling herself.

So wrapped up in her other subconscious was she that she barely noticed that all the normal occupants of the Eastern facility were standing outside the building rather than inside until she literally ran into the man who had been causing her so much grief.

"Woah there!" The raven-haired Colonel said as he steadied his subordinate as she almost toppled backwards. "Be careful there."

"C-Colonel?" She blinked glazed magenta oculars, looking around at the large group of people assembled outside in the freezing cold. "Why is everyone here already? And why aren't they inside?"

It was Falman who answered. "I'm supposing you forgot to set your clock behind, am I right, Lieutenant?"

Hawkeye had to restraint from physically slapping her forehead. "Please tell me you're not serious."

"Oh, he's serious," Fuery butt in. "But it's just as well that you were late, as… well…"

"I'm sorry, all right?" Havoc snapped shrilly, folding his arms and looking away. "I didn't know that they would ignite so quickly! And then Falman distracted me and I didn't--"

Breda finished for his co-worker. "…Havoc set our office on fire and got us all evacuated from the building."

An austere silence fell over the small crowd as a small troupe of firemen entered the building.

"You did… what?"

"I-I'm sorry!" Havoc cried, using Breda as a shield from Hawkeye's piercing gaze. "Please keep the gun in the holster, please please pretty please?"

Riza sighed, lowering the hand that had been twitching over the weapon. She was too weak to bother killing Havoc today. "Is everything in the office destroyed?"

Roy scratched his head. "Nearly all of our paper work is gone, I think."

Riza put a glove-covered hand over her eyes, taking a deep breath. If what he said was truthful, all of the work she had been doing on their most recent case was obliterated. Most of those documents were the only copies… her head was spinning. She should be able to remember the majority of the information but… no; her memory banks were refusing access at the moment. Oh God, she was hot, so hot. Despite the chilling temperatures Riza found it tempting to just tear off her coat.

Too much to deal with…

"Hawkeye? Hawkeye!"

"Yes Taisa…"

The last thing the Lieutenant Colonel remembered were a warm pair of arms wrapping around before her world went black.

o-o

The next half hour or so passed by in a complete blur to Riza, who watched things though a blur-filled haze. She vaguely remembered people shouting her name as someone else lifted her from the ground, and whisked her away. There were shouted orders, and Riza was tempted to try to respond to them had her body agreed.

Now she was being taken from her workplace.

But the day's not over with yet! I've got so much work to do! And the Colonel…

Unfortunately, the person carrying her was no mind reader and didn't yield to her silent protests.

Riza recalled a pair of intense blue eyes examining her own before she sank back into darkness again.

o-o

"Goddammit, turn off the heater."

Riza dimly heard a snort from across the room as she tossed her covers from her in a fevered daze. Something damp was draped across her forehead, the cool a welcome change to the untamable heat. Dear God, it felt like she'd been stuffed in an oven!

The person who was trying to calm her fever was muttering something to himself (or herself, for all she could tell), bustling around the bed in what could only be a pace.

"Roy…!"

The shuffling of the other person came to a halt at her meek cry. She could sense them come closer, and she felt a gentle hand against her cheek.

"I'm here," came the reply. "You've really done a number on yourself, Riza."

She could feel Roy brush the hair from her forehead away as she crack open her eyes. It was all a dream; it had to be a dream… the feel of his calloused hand was more than she had ever dared to hope for.

"The doctor will be here soon."

I don't want a doctor, I just want Roy Mustang.

Riza didn't realize that she had said it aloud until a second later when she saw the shock register in his face. A mental slap in the face wouldn't have been enough to justify what she was feeling at the moment.

Possibility number five, huh?

Bandaids could cover the bullet holes, she supposed.

o-o

And there you have the first half of this lovely little ditty (hah, I've always wanted to say that). My first Full Metal Alchemist fic, and it really doesn't take place in any particular place in the series either, so be gentle. The second chapter will contain the entire scenario from Roy's PoV and the ending. See you then!

Please review!