Disclaimer: Don't own it.
Roy woke with a start, feeling a sharp pain in the back of his head. His eye darted back and forth before settling on the tall, scrawny man shuffling down the aisle between the seats, all the while fumbling with an overly large suitcase. Shaking away the pain, Roy laid his head back against the seat and closed his eye. He felt a stir under his right hand that let him know Dakota had been woken with Roy's start. Gently stroking the fur on the puppy's back, Roy coaxed him back into content slumber. The Flame Alchemist sighed, the feeling that he'd been on this train for years once again settling in his mind. He knew it had only been a few hours, but he was anxious to reach Lior, where he knew Riza would be.
He wasn't sure yet what he would say or do. Various scenarios played through his head. In some, he walked straight up to her and professed his undying love, after which she would burst into tears and fall into his embrace. In others, he barely got two words in before his body was riddled with bullets, after which he used his last breath to profess his undying love but did not live to see her reaction. The former, he noted, was favourable, but highly unlikely considering the First Lieutenant's personality; for the latter, the opposite was true. Giving up and deciding to leave events to the power of improvisation, Roy settled down to sleep away the last leg of the journey.
Soon enough, the train had pulled up to Lior's station. Roy grabbed his dog and his bag, practically running off the car and onto the platform. As soon as he exited the station, he got the attention of a local grocer who was in the midst of rearranging cabbages in front of his shop.
"Excuse me, sir … Could you … direct me … to the … military offices?" he managed to ask as he caught his breath from the run. He let Dakota down, making sure to hold tightly to the leash. The man was happy to oblige, gesturing quickly with one tanned hand as he communicated the quickest route. Roy thanked the man and continued running, pulling Dakota away from the barrel of apples he had been sniffing.
Within minutes, Roy and Dakota stood in front of Lior Headquarters. After the skirmish that had resulted in the creation of the Philosopher's Stone, military command had deemed it necessary for the city to have its own Headquarters, rather than being under the jurisdiction of East Headquarters. For the most part, it was merely a precaution against any possible rebellions. The men and women stationed in the city spent much of their on-duty time with relief efforts, reconstruction, and policing. Roy sighed, squared his shoulders, and walked towards the building.
The Flame Alchemist winced as the brilliance of the whitewashed walls invaded his eye. It was a shocking change from the streets, which were quite dusty from the blowing sands. The woman sitting at the front desk, the only bit of furniture in the front hallway, stood and saluted him. "Welcome, Sir," she chirped happily, her messy brown hair and glasses instantly reminding him of the bookworm, Sheska. He nodded, and she resumed her place on the hard wooden chair.
"I'd like to know where I can find First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye." Roy reached into his pants pocket, pulling out a paper he had been issued with his train ticket. Handing it to the woman, he added, "This is for the commanding officer here,"
"Of course, Sir. You'll find First Lieutenant Hawkeye in the last room on the left if you take the hallway to your right." She smiled at him in a friendly manner. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
Roy hesitated a moment, wondering if it would be too much to ask the woman for such a favour. Finally, he decided it needed to be done. "If it isn't too much," he began, giving her his most charming smile, "would you mind keeping my dog and bag here while I speak with the First Lieutenant?"
Her eyes lit up as she noticed Dakota for the first time, making Roy think of a female version of Master Sergeant Fuery more than Sheska. "A puppy! How sweet! Of course I don't mind, Sir. You know, I sometimes watch over First Lieutenant Hawkeye's dog when she needs me to."
"Thank you. I'll only be a minute or two, most likely." AS an afterthought, he turned and added, "His name is Dakota," before steeling himself for Riza's reaction to his visit.
The hallway grew shorter and shorter, and Roy's steps grew slower and slower as he neared the door. In his mind, the scenario he had imagined on the train, the one featuring a bullet-heavy body, played over and over. He wouldn't have admitted it to anyone, not even for all the mini-skirt-clad women in the world, but he was afraid of Riza's anger as much as he was her seemingly likely rejection of him. He reasoned with himself that, even if she didn't love him in return, it would be enough if she resumed her post working with him. It would mean that she had at least forgiven him, something that would never happen if she was too angry with him.
Roy paused a few steps away from the door, staying close to the right side of the hallway so that he couldn't be seen. Listening intently, he tried to gauge how many people currently occupied the room. After a few minutes of listening, Roy had only heard one set of footsteps and the occasional rustling of papers. He breathed deep, trying to calm his racing heart and rein in his somewhat overactive imagination, and took the last few steps into the office.
He was forced to exhale rapidly as huge arms wrapped around him, lifting him off the ground and nearly snapping his spine. Fighting for breath, his feet returned to solid ground as the hulking figure in front of him moved back and saluted him. "Colonel Roy Mustang!" the booming voice of Major Alex Louis Armstrong shouted. "How wonderful to see you! Of course, the General telephoned me to inform me of the nature of your visit. Such a tragic story! To realize how important a person is, only to lose them to a faraway place!"
"So the military has nothing better to do that to gossip like old women?" Roy asked, frowning.
"The General felt it necessary to inform me, given the circumstances. Ah, so romantic!" Armstrong was sparkling with emotion, a state that made Roy anxious to leave the company of the Major.
"Then you understand, Major Armstrong, that I'd like to see First Lieutenant Hawkeye as soon as possible."
"Of course! I will retrieve her immediately! Please wait here a moment." Saluting Roy once again, Armstrong left the room, leaving the Flame Alchemist standing awkwardly in the middle of the floor. Turning to his right, he saw a group of six desks similar to those at his own office. He knew instantly which desk belonged to Riza because it was the only one that was completely devoid of any signs that someone sat there. Roy found himself walking toward the desk, the fingers on his left hand tracing the wood lightly.
"Did you need something from my desk, Colonel?" came the hard, calculating female voice from the doorway, causing Roy to spin around rapidly to face her. "Have you lost all your pens in your piles of unfinished paperwork, that you need to come to Lior to borrow one from me? Or perhaps you've simply brought that paperwork with you in the hopes that I would still finish it for you?"
It took Roy a few minutes to even process what she'd said. The only thought running through his mind was that Riza was standing in front of him, she was beautiful, and he had never been happier to see her. When her words finally reached him, he jerked back, hurt by what they implied. "Is that how you feel? You think that that's what I think about you?"
"Sir, you had me transferred without warning or explanation after years of working together. I cannot help feeling that you don't think very highly of me. Now, will you please tell me why you're here to see me? I have work to do, and I prefer not to put it off." There was an angry edge to her voice now.
"I will, but I would prefer that we didn't have that discussion here," Roy replied, his courage building at the fact that she hadn't shot at him yet, though he could see that her hand was dangerously close to her firearms. "Is there anywhere nearby where we could get a decent cup of coffee?"
Shock joined the anger on Riza's face. "Sir, I have work to do. I cannot just leave for a cup of coffee while I am on duty!"
"I think you'll find you can, Riza," Roy stated, walking toward her and wrapping his hand around the wrist that was straying ever closer to her gun. He pulled gently on her arm, persuading her to follow him back down the hall. "But I will explain all that after we get some coffee. I've barely slept, my nerves are shot, and I'd rather not botch this up if I can help it."
He could feel her resisting his pull, so he stopped and turned back to face her, but did not relinquish his hold on her wrist. He could see in her eyes the battle going on in her mind and waited patiently but nervously for the outcome. Finally, she took a step forward, though her face showed no change in emotion. "Fine. We'll go, and I'll listen to what you have to say. Anything more than that I cannot guarantee, Colonel."
Smiling on the inside, hope building in his chest, Roy nodded. "Thank you, Riza." He refused to revert to using her rank or surname. "Now, we simply have to pick up my things from your secretary and then we can talk."
He led the way back down the hall to where the woman at the front entrance sat. Getting closer, he could see that she had Dakota sitting in her lap, wagging his tail contentedly as she pet him with one hand and attempted to work using the other. Hearing them approach, Dakota jumped from the secretary's lap and began to yip excitedly at his master and the woman with him. Roy smiled, scooping up the dog and his bag, and thanked the secretary once more.
"Oh, it was no trouble at all, Sir," she piped, saluting him. "He's an excellent puppy, very well-behaved."
Looking behind him, Roy was amused to see Riza staring, speechless. He reached back for her arm again, and pulled her out of the building and into the sunlight. Clearly over her initial shock, she raised an eyebrow at him when she knew he was looking. "You have a dog, Sir?"
"Yes, and he will be explained along with everything else. Now, which was to the coffee shop?"
Riza gave a quick, "This way," before walking across the street, leaving Roy to follow behind. He kept Dakota in his arms, not wanting to have to watch the dog and have an ounce of attention leave the back of the blonde, uniform-clad woman ahead of him. She stopped some minutes later in front of a small building on a street corner and turned to face him. "This is it," she said before entering the shop. When Roy caught up to her, she was already giving their orders to an elderly man standing behind a long countertop and requesting a table outside. This puzzled Roy, as the shop hadn't had a front patio, and he doubted that there was any substantial property in the back, but he followed Riza and the man unquestioningly when they moved away, the man carrying a tray with their drinks.
They were led to the back of the shop, where the ascended a narrow set of wooden stairs. Roy had some difficulty with this, as he was still carrying his bag and Dakota, but pressed onward anyway. They emerged from the staircase onto the roof of the shop, and Roy was taken aback by the beauty of it. The owners had taken the time to plant grass on the roof so that a few small wooden tables and chairs sat on soft, well-kept turf. Planters and pts had been set around to add some colour, the vibrant flowers giving the place a very personal touch. The elderly man set the tray on one of the tables, all of which were unoccupied, and told them to call for him if they required anything else as he made his way back indoors. Roy set Dakota down and tied his leash to the chair, as he had seen Riza do with Black Hayate many times, before he sat down across from the First Lieutenant, who had already set their drinks out.
"Well," she began, "are you going to tell me why you're here, Colonel?"
"I'm here to tell you that you're being transferred again," he said lightly.
"I see," Riza replied tersely. "And why have you come to deliver this information? Did you put in another request? Was I not transferred far enough away the first time?"
Roy was amazed. He had never seen Riza Hawkeye so raw and bare with her emotions before. Certainly he had seen her angry before, but even that had been calculated, controlled anger. When something had been bothering her, she became distant and aloof until the problem went away, much like she had acted when she'd left the office the night she was transferred. Now, Roy thought, she seemed almost like an ordinary woman who'd been rejected by the man she loved. Roy tried not to think too much about the possibility that she loved him back, as it would only distract him from his own confession. He realized that he hadn't yet responded to her questions and blinked, his eye patch shifting slightly, as he snapped back to reality.
"No, Riza," he stated, his voice low and gentle. "That is far from the truth. I didn't even want you transferred in the first place." Surprised, she looked into his eye, but stayed silent so that he could continue. "I was signing paperwork without reading it, and unfortunately, the transfer order was in the pile that I signed. I knew nothing about the order until you came in that night to collect your things."
"And this new transfer order that you mentioned? I'm not even under your jurisdiction anymore, so why are you giving notification, in person no less?" There was still anger in her voice, but it had been lessened considerably by the confusion that was now apparent.
"The order is for you to return to me, in Central. General Hakuro approved the reassignment at my request." Not leaving her any time to question this, Roy took a deep breath and launched into a recounting of the events that had taken place after she had left. He told her how for two weeks he'd been unable to work, sitting at his desk, depressed and useless. He told her how Havoc had encouraged him to try to get her back, and he relayed almost word for word his confrontation with Hakuro, leading up to his last-minute train ride and surprise visit. He watched her carefully as he spoke, noticing as she gained control of her emotions. She was still confused, but her anger had almost completely disappeared, showing that she was understanding his deep guilt and regret. When he paused to let her speak, she thought for a moment before opening her mouth.
"Why, though? Why would you go through all that to have me reassigned, Roy?"
Hearing her use his first name again gave him a feeling of unsurpassable joy, and he knew for certain how he would answer her. "Because," he began, looking straight into her eyes with complete seriousness, "I realized something when you left. I realized that without you at the office, I didn't feel like I had any reason to work. And then I realized, when I couldn't meet you for coffee, that without you around, I didn't feel like I had any reason to exist. I love you, Riza. I'm just sorry that I didn't realize it sooner, and that it took hurting you and losing you for me to figure it out."
Shock was written all over Riza's face as he confessed his feelings. "I've loved you for a long time, Roy," she replied finally, smiling almost shyly at him. "When we met for coffee, a part of me hoped that something was finally going to happen. I kept my distance somewhat, though, because the rational part of me didn't think it was worth either of us losing our jobs over."
"Well, we've as good as got the General's permission, so I'd say that's not a problem anymore," he said with his usual self-satisfied smirk. "Will you come back with me, then, and see where life takes us from there?"
Riza stood up, smiling, and walked around the table to where Roy sat. "If you actually need me to answer that question," she retorted, leaning towards him, "then you weren't listening to what I said."
Without warning, Roy closed the small gap she had left between them. Wrapping his left arm around her waist and placing his right hand behind her head, he pulled Riza into his lap, deepening the kiss. The broke apart reluctantly when they needed oxygen, though their eyes never left each other. "Perhaps we should collect your things so we can go home?" Roy asked, his voice husky.
Riza nodded, slowly removing herself from Roy's lap. "It won't take very long," she said, tucking a few hairs that had come loose behind her ear. "Everything is still in boxes and bags, except for the things Hayate and I absolutely needed."
"You've been here two weeks and you haven't unpacked anything?"
"Unpacking signifies settling in for something long term," she said matter-of-factly as Roy dug into his pocket and placed a few coins on the drink tray, "and I don't think I wanted to accept that yet." Roy smiled at her as he untied Dakota's leash, slung his bag over his shoulder, and reached for her hand. "Why do you have that bag, anyway?" she asked, curiosity setting in.
"In case I needed to stay here for a while before you agreed to come back with me. I wasn't going to leave here without you."
"And the dog? You didn't explain that part, Roy."
"Fuery and Falman's idea of comfort," he shrugged. "He grew on me. I named him Dakota."
"He's sweet," she said, reaching down to scratch under the puppy's chin. "If he doesn't get along with Hayate, though, he stays outside. I will not listen to dogs fighting all day and night."
Roy stared at her, surprised by what her words implied. She laughed at his expression and stood to kiss him again. Roy couldn't have cared then if she had declared point-blank that she wanted to move to Ishbal and convert to the Ishbalan religion, because he knew that he loved her and that she loved him, and that he would fulfill her every wish so long as she was his.
A/N: Well, there you have it. The end. And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to take a shower to get rid of the sap that has invaded every square inch of me. That has to be the single most nauseatingly sweet thing I have ever written in my life.
I apologize for the long wait for this. You wouldn't believe how much trouble this last chapter gave me. I don't know if it was just writer's block, or if subconsciously I didn't want to end this story, or whatever, but to give you an idea, consider this: Every chapter you have seen thus far was written in three hours or less. This last chapter took me a week. The only things I had planned on ahead of time were the whack with the suitcase at the beginning, and the line about unpacking (it's amazing, the things you can think of while you're trying to sleep).
So now, all I have to do is go back and revamp some of those chapters. Just some general editing, fixing typos and awkward sentences (have you ever noticed how awkward the word 'awkward' is?), and changing a few minor things that bother me. And I'll probably take out a lot of the rambles on my notes.
Thanks to all of my reviewers and silent readers, especially those of you who have stuck with me since the beginning. Without you, I probably would have abandoned this story about three chapters ago. Check with my bio every now and again for new stuff by me! Next up is a Draco/Hermione for the Harry Potter fandom (because my best friend isn't into anime that much, and has been bothering me for a long time for something that she can actually read!), and after that, I'm not sure. If you have any story prompts or the like, feel free to drop me a line. It's hard to come up with everything all on your own!
Much love to you all,
Aindel S. Druida
PS. I would really appreciate it if you could leave in your review what you thought was the best part of this fic (an actual event, or an aspect, like characterization or whatever), and something that you feel is in dire need of fixing (except my typing. Please don't mention that one. I know it sucks, and there's nothing I can do about it).