AN- Assorted Royai one-shots. Old work alert.
It never failed to surprise Roy Mustang, how the simplest questions could drive him completely crazy. Like 'what's your favorite color?' for example. He never quite knew how to answer that one. At least, not after Ishbal. He knew he was reading waay too into the question, but either way, the fact remained that he had no answer to give. And when he considered the choices, he only became that much more uncertain.
Red wasn't an option, it reminded him too much of Ishbal. Red was fresh death. Red was blood oozing out of people and staining the sand beneath. Red was the thick ooze drying on his uniform, a permanent stain. Red was anger, anger at himself and at his lot in life. Red was the color of the eyes of the Ishbalans…the people he had slaughtered.
Orange? Orange…orange was fire. Orange was destruction. Orange was the burning flames of a Hell far worse then anything the devil could claim bragging rights to.
Yellow was out too. Yellow was the sun, the sun that hung over Ishbal and never stopped burning. It shinned, unrelenting, burning skin and bleaching bones. Under it, everything looked harsh, sharp, unforgiving. Yellow was also a good word to describe himself, he thought, and that was certainly no compliment. No, yellow was definitely not very high on his list.
Green, then. Maybe green….no, not green either. Green, as he thought about it, green was decay. Green was rot. Green was that sickly color injured limbs turned right before they were hacked off. Green was what his face turned immediately after his first battle, when he finally had a chance to look around. There was blood and fire, and not much else. Bodies were everywhere. Some poor souls still burdened with life cried for help, for water, for Mother. They were largely ignored. Why bother? If they were soldiers, they were replaceable, and if they were Ishbalans, then they'd die anyway. The military took no prisoners.
Nearby, a few soldiers given that tedious job of shooting the Ishbalan survivors went about its grim way. As Roy watched, one soldier found a young boy—maybe ten, maybe twelve years old—who opened one eye and whimpered a bit. Roy wondered what he was thinking. Was he scared? Desperate? Lonely? Did he, a child given the job of being an adult, now revert back, instinctively, to his true nature and cry for his mommy to come and make everything ok again? Or had he seen too much? Was he already an old man at heart, cynical and welcoming his death?
Whatever the case, in a few seconds it wouldn't matter. The soldier took careful aim—lest he waste one of his precious bullets—and fired neatly into the boy's chest. The boy's body jerked, his mouth flew open, his eyes rolled up in his head. Blood dripped from his mouth. For several moments, the body continued to twitch. Just like a dog's.
Roy, a new recruit, still young himself, still new to the battlefield and its gruesome truths, had to turn away. He could still see the boy when he closed his eyes, though…he vomited, a green puddle forming at his feet.
No….green wouldn't work, either.
So, his favorite color wasn't red, orange, yellow, or green…what did that leave? Brown? No, brown stood for the bodies, thousands of them, that sat and slowly baked in the sun. Ishbalans were dark-skinned to begin with—they turned almost black after lying around for a few days.
Black…hah, not likely. Black was death to the extreme, more so even then red. Black was nothing, was no one. Black was the end of everything. Hell wouldn't be a pit of flames, Roy figured, it'd be black. It'd be emptiness…despair…
He wasn't sure, of course, but if he had to choose, he'd paint his soul black too.
Blue was the color of the beautiful sky over the desert city, clear and pure. Who would have guessed, looking at that sky, what it shined over? Likewise, purple was the sunsets of Ishbal, as was pink….they'd been famous for those sunsets, once. There was so much open land, you couldn't help but have a good view. But that had been long ago, before the city was engulfed in war, and clouds of brackish smoke filled the air and hid the sunsets. Roy secretly lamented the loss of beauty like that. There wasn't enough of it in this world.
Roy sat at his desk and contemplated all this. He'd gone straight through the rainbow, and had found exactly….nothing. Oh well, it wasn't an important question anyway. But still, it would be nice if he could come up with an answer…
"Sir? Are you done with that paperwork?"
He looked up to see First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye standing at attention in front of him. He instantly got lost, as he always did, in her eyes-her beautiful, amber eyes that, whether shining with anger or softening with a smile, never failed to make his heart race. He could and did get lost in those eyes…it was a little 5-second slice of heaven.
"Yeah, I'm done. Mostly."
"Yeah…I mean….you know…"
"You haven't started yet, have you, Colonel Mustang."
How did she do that?
Riza sighed, but didn't seem to be able to muster up enough anger to convince him she meant it. Maybe it was because she was so used to him slacking off by now.
"Well, it's too late to get started now…you'll have to finish tomorrow morning, sir."
"Yup, guess so….heading home now, Hawkeye?"
"Well then, wait up."
It was their typical routine. He would walk her out of the building, before they went their separate ways home. Sometimes he asked if he could walk her all the way to her door, but she always refused. She said it would make no sense, since he lived in the opposite direction. He'd tried to explain that love made no sense, that was why it was love at all, but she had ignored him. She always thought he was fooling around when he said stuff like that. Oh well.
The two walked down the hallway, side by side. Riza cast a concerned look at her colonel.
"Sir, before…you seemed to be lost in thought about something."
Roy grinned ruefully. She knew him too damn well.
"Oh, it was nothing important."
"The usual maudlin thoughts, Hawkeye. Nothing to worry about."
She gave him a dirty look, one that said quite clearly that she felt his grim daydreams were something to worry about. He held up his hands in defense.
"I'm serious!" He laughed to prove it to her. "Heh, I'm not about to do anything crazy, if that's what you're worried about."
"Yes sir…" She paused, uncertain. "But, sir…what was it you were thinking about?"
"Oh….just how sometimes there are simple questions that can't be answered. Know what I mean?" He assumed she didn't.
"Yes sir." He looked at her, surprised. "I understand. But you have to understand that, even if you can't find the answer, you should still ask the question."
He shook his head, grinning. Jeeze, all he'd been thinking about was his favorite color, or lack there of…except…on a deeper level, he'd been thinking about something much, much different. And Hawkeye had hit the nail dead on, as always. He found it ironic, that to the question he really wanted an answer to-the question of if he really was a monster-she didn't give him a response. Instead, she just told him to keep looking.
But in a way…in a way, that was exactly what he'd wanted. No one could answer that question for him- he'd have to figure out where his soul lay on his own. What he wanted was someone who understood why he had to keep asking the same thing over and over again…because, maybe some day, there'd be an answer. It seemed Riza understood that just fine.
Amazing, wasn't it?
He looked at Riza, intending to thank her, but instead stopped dead in his tracks. Of course! He had it! The answer! Not to the big question, but to the little one—what his favorite color was. It was so obvious! Why didn't he see it before!
His favorite color was amber!
Amber, the color of Riza's eyes. When he thought of amber, he thought of Riza, and that was nothing if not a good thing!
Heh…he shook his head, amused. In less then five minutes, Riza Hawkeye had answered a question that had been bothering him for days…and helped him at least come to terms with a second one. How the heck did she DO that!
Roy grinned, and ran to catch up with her. He was going to ask her if he could walk her home again today, he decided. Sure, she had said no before, but, hey…'you should still ask the question', right?
Besides…he was feeling lucky today.
AN- NOTE- fixed-up version because the typos were driving me nuts.