Why They Call It Falling

Shades of Grey Series #3 - Shade Fog

D M Evans

Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition. I don't make a profit, heck I probably lose money taking away time I should have been working.

Pairing - Roy/Riza

rating - FRM (for violence and sexual situations)

Time Line - Several months post Ishbalan war and is my own special blend of anime and manga verse

Summary - On a routine mission to check out a problem on the border of Drachma and Amestris something goes very wrong

Author's Note - Thanks to SJ for the beta AND for Christopher Aurin's name and his first poem. This is written for the colorific challenge and is the third in the series. You don't need to read the other three to understand this one. It does build off the history I created for Mustang (though that doesn't much come into play in this story).

Story #1 - The Roots of Violence

Story #2 - Ashes and Bone

Chapter One

Light glinted maliciously off glass. "What are you going to do about it?"

Roy's lip wanted to curl but he kept his mask in place. "Call."

His taunter's eyes gleamed behind his glasses as he laid down his cards as the train whined going up another steep hill.

"Damn it!" Sergeant Dinwiddie slapped his cards down on the little tray passing as a card table, between the two bench seats.

"Glad I folded," Lieutenant Swackhammer said, leaning back against the worn seat cushion.

"Come on, Roy, show your hand," Hughes urged, his hand hovering over the pot.

Roy laid out his hand, slow and deliberate. Hughes' grin crumbled seeing he was beaten. Roy's mask cracked slightly as he swept the money towards him.

"I hate you," Hughes grumbled.

Roy just cocked up an eyebrow at his friend, his lips quirking. He leaned over and looked at the only other soldier in the train car. Her face was shielded in part by the book she had her nose in. Her honey-wheat hair was piled atop her head casually. He liked it. She had caught his eye from the moment she had been assigned to his company soon after he had returned in so-called triumph from Ishbal.

Newly promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, he had been given a staff, only the best for him so they said. The military made a spectacle of him, one of the youngest Lieutenant Colonel's ever and he despised every moment of it. He didn't deserved to be praised for what he had done in the desert. The military didn't care for his opinions on the matter, not that he shared them with anyone but Hughes. The military was about its image and being young, handsome and powerful, he was good for it, so he got his office and his staff.

Cool, efficient, and deadly with a gun, Hawkeye would certainly be an asset to his team. Moreover, the longer she was around, the more she crowded into his thoughts. Roy didn't know why since she hardly ever spoke to him outside of business. Still, he'd catch her watching him with those beautiful brown eyes. He almost wished she wouldn't because he couldn't read the thoughts behind them. Worse, the air of mystery made Hawkeye more alluring and that was the last thing he needed in a junior officer.

"Join us, Lt," he invited.

Hawkeye looked up from her book. "Thank you, Lieutenant Colonel, but I'm fine."

"Are you sure? It's like taking candy from babies." Roy smiled, gesturing to his card-playing companions.

"Hey!" Hughes protested, shuffling.

"Really, sir, I'm fine as is," Hawkeye said and turned back to her book.

"I don't think she likes me," Roy said softly to Hughes.

"I can't see how that would be unless she actually knows you." Hughes smirked and Roy's eyes slotted.

"Or heard of your reputation, sir," Dinwiddie added.

"He's got you there," Hughes grinned and started dealing.

"I protest this sullying of my good name." Roy pouted, noticing a hint of a smile on Hawkeye's face. She was listening at least and he couldn't decide if that was good or bad. Probably bad.

Roy tried to put her out of mind. It didn't bear thinking on. A junior officer was strictly off limits. It was the fast track to dishonorable discharge. He had no problems getting more than enough civilian sex that he didn't need to put his career in danger. Roy's eyes flicked to his cards, a truly crappy hand. He needed to get back in the game and bluff but his head wasn't in it. Forbidden fruit danced in his mind's eye. He couldn't help the stray sexual fantasy about Hawkeye. Certainly any man looking at those lush curves would indulge in a thought or two. What interested Roy more was the sheer volume of non-sexual thoughts that percolated through his mind about her. Those were far more dangerous than the idle desire to dip inside her and see how she tasted.

"Fold, he muttered, giving up before his distraction cost him. Maes' eyebrows twitched. Roy knew his friend had picked up on his distraction. The man's eyes flicked over to Hawkeye and for a moment Maes' carefree demeanor fizzled away, replaced with a grimness. It was only momentary and then the perkiness returned.

Roy knew Maes wore his goofy skin like armor. No one could really know what lay behind the smile except for his closest friends. Maes traded on being underestimated. Roy doubted anyone but him knew of the knives Hughes had hidden on his person. Maes' shield was a bubbling disarming personality. Roy used brash arrogance mixed with just the right amount of laziness - both of which sadly came naturally to him - as ways to make others underestimate him as he slowly scaled his way higher.

"Knew your luck wouldn't last," Swackhammer chortled as Roy put his cards face down on the tray.

"Can't win them all." Roy shrugged. "Deal me out."

"You sure?" Maes asked, surprised

"I'm sure." Roy slipped away from the tray of cards and sat across from Hawkeye. Hughes' look went dark again. Roy ignored him expertly, taking a glance at what Hawkeye was reading.

"And she appears before me like the sun, Turning all my thoughts and memories to ash," Roy quoted.

Hawkeye lifted her gaze up from the book, her eyes studying him curiously. "You know Christopher Aurin's poetry?"

Roy's eyes flicked over at the men wrapped back up in their game then he leaned forward a bit, a smile on his face. "Don't let it get out but I like literature."

Hawkeye made a noncommital noise, pushing back in her seat. Roy took that as his cue to sit back. He knew what she was thinking. 'Was this a line to seduce her, a little poetry to ease his way into her pants,' and the truth was he had done it before with many others. "I wouldn't have thought that, sir."

Roy mentally poked at that statement, wondering if it was flat out disrespect, disbelief or disinterest. Whatever it was, Roy was more persistent than to let it bother him. "Really, how so?"

Hawkeye put the book in her lap with a little sigh as if he were a burden set on her shoulders. "I suppose I never thought much about what you do off duty, including your reading habits, sir."

Roy tried not to flinch. That was a little painful to his ego. "I have a wide range of interests and apparently you do as well." Roy gestured to the book. "Somehow I didn't picture you reading poetry either."

"Too lady like for me? Her lips tightened slightly as if that were an old criticism that still had the power to hurt.

"No, that's not it. I just don't know anything about you. I would like to though," Roy replied.

Her eyes narrowed. "You think that would be proper?"

He paused for a moment, debating if he should push further. "I'm not looking for anything too personal, Hawkeye. I know something about the likes and dislikes of everyone in my immediate command. It enables me to anticipate what the team needs and what they'll do in certain situations," Roy replied but Hawkeye didn't seem entirely convinced of it. He leaned closer to her. "For instance, and he'll kill me for saying it, but Hughes likes to cook and he's damn good at it." Hawkeye's lips flicked up hinting at a scintilla of a smile. "Dinwiddie likes to run. He runs at least ten kilometers every day unless he's on a mission. Swackhammer likes animals so much he's willing to pay to live off base so he can have his cats and dogs."

Hawkeye smiled openly at that. "And you, sir, do they know anything about you?"

"A little. The commander does need to keep a certain amount of distance but they know I like the occasional game of chance." He waved a hand at the other soldiers. "I like chess and I'm rather good at it. And," he paused to move closer. "What they don't know." He pointed again to Hughes and the others. "I enjoy theater."

The look of disbelief strengthened. Hawkeye had the air of a woman who suspected she was being toyed with. "Really?"

"Very much so." Roy made a face, wishing he hadn't brought it up because now he simply wanted to take her to the theater and that was something he couldn't do. He could never been seen with this woman in public in a non-military situation. He couldn't screw up his plans just because he found her to be attractive and wanted to know more about her. Still, looking in her eyes was like free falling from a cliff. It frightened him. Hearts weren't supposed to betray their owners like this. How do you fall for someone you don't even really know? Maes would have some sappy, romantic explanation, after he's done kicking your ass for even thinking it.

"Roses," Hawkeye mumbled, a hint of said coloring touching her cheeks.

Roy blinked "What?"

She closed the distance between them and whispered. "I love flowers and I try to grow roses around my base apartment. I just tell everyone they were there when I moved in." Hawkeye sat back and her eyes narrowed. "And if you tell them, sir, I'll be forced to shoot you."

Roy laughed. "Understood. It's safe with me." Roy felt Maes' eyes on him. He'd be getting a talking to later but compared to some of the other lectures he had endured in recent months, this wouldn't be do bad. Mostly Hughes' lectures were born out of Roy's self-destructive behavior of late.

When the friends had gotten back together upon Roy's so-called triumphant return from Ishbal, Maes was shocked at the change in Mustang. Roy found himself so unable to cope with the things he had done, he had started hiding in a bottle. Even now he found himself wanting whiskey to wash his sins away. After one too many times of calling up Maes in the middle of the night to come get him from the hellhole bars or hotels he had dropped himself into, Maes told him exactly what he thought of Roy treating himself like a cheap whoreThe fight that broke out after that was worst than the one when Maes found him hung over, surrounded by carcasses of animals he had tried to bring back, transmutation arrays painted on the apartment floor.

Human transformation had seemed a way to pay back his debts from the desert. Roy had to undo what he had done to that poor boy, to the Rockbells. He couldn't give back anything to the Ishbalans as a whole but those three people, maybe. He knew the risks of what would happen if he was exposed for trying the forbidden alchemy and didn't care. Even when it became clear he would have to die in equivalent exchange, he still forged on, desperate at least to bring back the doctors who had done nothing but try to help. Hughes' intervention had brought home that it just wasn't going to work, which only served to make his drinking worse until the blow up between friends just days before this mission.

Maes was still pretty pissed at him and he wasn't helping matters by flirting with Hawkeye. Roy knew he didn't have many friends and he should treat Maes better but the ugliness left in his soul from Ishbal had begun to rot him. One hit infected wounds with alcohol, so why not an infected mind? Because you wake up, naked and sore, still reeking from smoke and sex and booze, frightened at what you've done and you wake up your best friend to come to some horrible dump of a hooker hotel to get you because you're too drunk to even walk home if you could find your pants in the first place. Maes probably saw this flirtation on the train as yet another way of Roy hurting himself and he probably wouldn't be wrong. Still, he could have been a little nicer. Roy pouted suddenly at the thought. He still had bruised ribs from Maes knocking sense into him.

Roy's eyes flicked over to the card game. "You sure you don't want to join us, Hawkeye? We still have a few hours before we reach Buichail."

Hawkeye sighed a little. "All right."

"Deal us both in next hand, guys," Roy said. He caught the look in Maes' hazel-gold eyes and knew he'd be in for it later.

X X X

Riza looked over her cards at the irritated faces of her fellow officers. Only Hughes and Mustang looked amused. She had, of course, neglected to mention she was very good at this card game. What was she even doing playing with them? Well, there was probably no harm in a game with all of them. There had been far more danger in the private conversation she had been having with Mustang. What was she thinking allowing him to engage her like that?

Did he know she watched him from the corners of her eyes? Did he know that she had agreed to this game just to make him stop talking to her privately because she didn't know if she could stop herself from asking him all the questions she'd been dying to ask ever since being assigned to him? She wanted to know all the things he didn't allow to show. Riza sensed there were depths to him beyond what she saw at the office. Hell, no one could be that shallow and arrogant, right?

And the real mystery of her desire came in at that point. She hated arrogance. She hated womanizers. Mustang was supposed to be both and yet she couldn't get him out of her head. The warm tingle in parts best not thought about didn't come as a surprise. Mustang was attractive, especially with those exotic jet eyes of his. He reminded her of a cat she once had, all liquid and languid, rousing himself when he felt like it and not before. There was something sexual in the way Mustang carried himself, in his mannerisms. She noticed it - most women around the office did - but that was easy enough to ignore. Little fantasies were just that, dreams. It was the desire to know him better that bothered her.

Riza picked up her cards, keeping her face placid. She'd win this hand, too. Long ago she had made herself a promise to not fall for her commanding officers. There was a reason they were forbidden fruit. She would not let a man in command of her use her and toss her aside when he was done. She had seen that happen to various friends over the years. She would not be that weak, that foolish. She would have no one saying she slept her way to the top. She was not cheap and she'd be damned if she acted that way. Riza wanted her skills to be the only thing people remembered about her. If that meant she had to terrorize a few men until they took her seriously, so be it. Besides, that was half the fun.

Riza tossed in a few coins into the pot, noticing those beautiful black eyes watching her. A smile seemed to be hiding in the delicate features of his face. Men shouldn't be pretty like that. They should be rugged and handsome. You like rugged, not something that looks like a Xing doll brought to life. Her mind was not particularly successful in convincing any other part of her of this, especially parts that had been ignored for a little too long. Great, you're on a long mission with four men and all you're thinking about is sex. This is going to be rough.

Riza laid down her cards triumphantly. Mustang smirked at her and promptly beat her fantastic hand much to the groans of the others. Okay, so maybe she could hate him just a little, too. Did he have to look so damn smug?