Originally written for 30 Kisses on Livejournal.

The girl's name was Elizabeth, and she was blond, and he brought her gardenias.

He almost never brought flowers to the latest notch on his bedpost. That would personalize her too much, and that was the last thing he wanted. It was harder to stop returning her phone calls when he'd brought her flowers. Harder to pretend he wasn't going to hurt her.

But earlier that day, Colonel Roy Mustang was going through some paperwork he hadn't managed to avoid, and he'd found himself looking at some files of Hawkeye's. They reminded him: her full name was Elizabeth.

He'd been on his way home that night. From there, he planned to call his latest flame (flame was a good term for it, short and hot and you could blow it out without any trouble) and tell her that it was over between them (not that there'd been anything in the first place). He wouldn't tell her why, of course. But he knew why: she was too close to the real thing now, too much like the cold hard flint that sparked the fire rather than the more ephemeral flames themselves.

Instead he found himself in a flower shop, listening to the girl behind the counter go on about the symbolism of flowers. She was dark-haired, he noted, and her nametag read Irene. He made sure to smile handsomely at her; she was an excellent candidate for his bed.

She broke off, flustered, at the sight of his smile. "W-why don't you just get some roses? That's always romantic."

He thought, for just a moment, about buying the roses and simply giving them to her. But roses felt too much like a lie, and not an excusable one. Instead he pointed at a bouqet of white flowers. "Those. What are they?"

"Gardenias," she said. "They tell the lucky girl you give them to that she's lovely."

"I'll take a dozen," Roy said.

As she gathered the flowers for him, she said, "They also mean that you have a secret love."

The girl's name was Elizabeth, and she was blond, and that was the only reason he brought her gardenias.

Instead of going to his own apartment, he went to hers. He knew perfectly well it would be for the last time he'd see her. But it was the first time in a long time that he gave anyone flowers.

She wanted the love that she was sure lay smoldering behind his calm smile and dark gaze. She wanted to unwrap him and fix what was broken inside. They all did, and that was what drew them to him, whether they knew it or not.

When he let her pull his clothes away, she was so dazzled that she mistook his bare skin for a bare soul, and she stopped prying deeper. They all did, and that was what let him escape.

He always escaped. He always escaped. He gave them a kiss and a night of his life, and then he was gone.

When he left, already trying to forget her name, she was still asleep, and he made it home before the gathering clouds unleashed their rain.