Brief Tragedy of Flesh
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.
Rating - FRT
Time Line - Some time after Ishbal but before Ed takes the State Alchemist Test (yeah that's a span of several years I know, I know) But has definite spoilers for manga 57!
Pairing - Roy/Riza
Summary - Riza's life and heart get put on the line when she gets kidnapped by unknown enemy agents
Author's Note: Figure that now that #58 is out today all of this will be rendered moot (darn RL for not letting me get the chance to put it up any sooner) but I had fun writing it so why not post it? Thanks to SJ for the beta
OF all the souls that stand create
I have elected one
When sense from spirit files away
And subterfuge is done
She had failed him. She had let herself be taken and Riza tried not to let her humiliation at being captured overwhelm her. It wouldn't help. She had no idea where she was, only that she was blindfolded, bound and very cold. Riza was lying on something hard and ungiving. There were no sounds in the room, no unusual smells, nothing to clue her in to where she might be.
The last thing Riza remembered was walking home with her groceries and a handsome dark-haired man passing her. There had been a sting on her side, like a bee sting then the world went black. When she came to, she was here, groggy and cold. Riza knew she had been drugged. By the handsome young man? She assumed it made sense that her attackers were Creatans since she was currently in the West but why would they take her when they had other officers of much higher rank and importance than she held? Did Roy know she was gone yet? Was he frantic and trying to hide it? No one could know she was more than his adjutant, but Roy had trouble hiding it sometimes.
"I think that someone has awoken." The voice was strange, not quite male, not quite female. Riza could almost feel the person oozing out of the shadows that she imagined had to be there. Shadows seemed appropriate. She couldn't see anything. The blindfold was a good one. She tried not to wince, feeling hands on her. The hands were soft yet strong, heavy. They skimmed over her bound arm then over her torso. Even though they trailed over her breasts there was no feel of sexuality behind the hands. It was more like a doctor examining a patient "You can't fool me." He pinched her side.
"What do you want with me?" she asked, trying to keep her voice cool and calm.
"Heard a little birdie tweeting, telling tales about you." The voice sounded amused. "Heard you're a living weapon. You're a naughty girl if its true." He snickered.
A cold sweat popped out on her flesh. He knew. Somehow he knew. Riza couldn't fathom how this man would know. Oh, there had been risks of being found out, of course. The tattoo artist might have talked about it despite the hush money given. Roy had been horrendously paranoid about anyone finding out about the array he had drawn and the tattoo artist transferred to her skin. Roy had reason to be paranoid. She had allowed herself to be transformed into Roy's weapon. She was an extension of him now.
"I don't know what you mean." Riza tried to sound more confident than she felt.
"You'll have to forgive me if I don't take your word for it." His strong hands flipped her over.
Riza's bound wrists dug into her belly. Fear trickled up her spine. She was so vulnerable in this position. Bound, blindfolded and now in a position that she could barely kick out even if she could move with her ankles trussed together.
Thoughts percolated through her mind. Riza knew what could happen to a woman prisoner. She had seen it in Ishbal from her own comrades. One of the things that really made her first notice and love Roy was how he, Hughes and Armstrong had hunted down and turned over for prosecution soldiers raping Ishbalan women. Most generals were more than willing to turn a blind eye to it. All three men had taken rips in their personal files for being too sympathetic to the enemy.
Riza didn't know what she feared most, torture or rape. Death, she knew she should fear that the most but oddly only in the sense that it would make her failure of Roy complete. "Get your hands off me."
"Feisty, isn't she?" Her captor chuckled lowly and Riza got the impression he had to be talking to someone other than her.
Riza strained her ears but heard no one else until a low, almost familiar voice said, "Let's see it then."
Riza's collar cut into her throat as her captor grabbed her shirt and ripped it open, struggling with the cloth. It was never as easy as romance novels would have a reader believe. The hand that skimmed over her back was warm, soft, almost feminine in spite of its strength. Riza couldn't help the way her flesh fluttered and twitched as he traced her tattoo.
"I'll be damned," the androgynous captor said. "There it is, Wrath."
Riza heard the other man move, listened to a clattering noise as he walked. Was that a sword and scabbard rattling against something? She tried to inch up the blindfold against the cot was she was on but it was tied very tight. It only moved a little, not enough to let in more than a little light.
New hands splayed over her back, rough, calloused, used to holding a tool, or more likely, a weapon. The sandpapery fingers traced the elaborate array as if drinking in all the details, all that she was meant to be to Mustang. Now Riza knew why she had been taken and not some higher ranking officer. These people were interested in the tattoo. Could they use it? Surely Roy wasn't the only alchemist who could make flame or maybe he was? Wasn't that how he became a State Alchemist? What if they meant to use her? Could she stop them? What happened to her if these were Creatan dissidents who could use her against her own people? She would rather die than allow Mustang's array be used by anyone other than him.
Wrath's hand moved up the base of her neck, a twisted imitation of what should have been an arousing caress, then his coarse fingers settled over her pulse point before digging in. Riza winced. "What are you up to, you upstart alchemist? Why did he do this to you, beyond the obvious? Who does he need you to help him attack?"
"I don't know what you're talking about. It's just a tattoo," she said, knowing that bluffing wouldn't get her anywhere. They not only knew what it was for but who had engineered it. Still, she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of a confirmation.
"We both know it's far more than that," he said in that strangely familiar voice.
"It's just ink." Riza fought not to tremble.
"As you wish. Sadly, you'll have to pay in ignorance then. Envy, remove the tattoo," Wrath said so nonchalantly that it took a moment for it to register in Riza's mind what he had said.
With a strangled cry, Riza kicked out with her bound feet and connected with something. Whoever it was groaned.
"That hurt. Fine, we'll do this the hard way," the androgynous - Envy? - voiced person said.
Riza tried to scream as something tore into the right side of her back but something wet and salty filled her mouth. She could smell the blood dribbling out of her mouth. Whatever had punctured her pulled out, slowly, twisting its way free of her flesh. She nearly blacked out.
"You want to play with fire, I say we play," Envy said, his tone so creepy a shiver raced up Riza's spine, breaking through the agony that had enveloped her.
Riza heard the distinctive metallic scraping of a fireplace screen being pulled back. She fought to move and fell off of whatever she had been lying on. Crashing into the floor jarred her senseless for a moment then she tried to inch her way along blindly. Someone laughed, deep, throaty, Wrath probably. Riza knew she had no real chance at escape and that she was merely amusing them as she tried but she couldn't just lie there and let them skin her back or whatever it was Envy had in mind.
"She's escaping, Envy," Wrath said lightly. She expected him to laugh.
"Spare me from the never say die types," Envy replied. "Fire for fire, what say you, Wrath?"
Riza screamed, spraying blood from her lips as something heavy and hot slammed against her left shoulder. Wood from the fire, the small part of her mind still able to think, realized. Pain from the burning thrummed through her, sickening her. The smell of burning flesh caused nightmares of Ishbal to spill through her mind, only this time she was the one burning. Over the sizzle of flesh and her screaming, the sounds of gunfire echoed. The burning log lifted off her shoulder.
"Think they came for her?" Envy asked.
"I wouldn't be surprised. Leave her. Let's go. We can't be discovered here," Wrath replied. "They'll need to work their way through the dissidents first. That'll slow them down."
"It's not like we have anything to fear from them," Envy retorted derisively.
"Father wouldn't want us to be seen," Wrath said.
Riza barely registered any of the conversation through her agony but the mention of 'Father' seemed to have its effect. She heard the men leave. The only thing she could concentrate on was attempting to worm her way to freedom but with the horrible pain in her back and the bleeding, she wasn't getting far fast. She could smell smoke, thicker than what should be in her room, felt an oily slick around her mouth. Mustang was here somewhere and whoever had participated in taking her were very sorry now and very dead.
She winced, hearing the door coming down and a deep voice booming, "Over there, Captain."
Armstrong, she couldn't forget that voice. The captain would have to be Hughes. Of course, Mustang would bring the people he worked closest with in Ishbal, a team he could trust. Even though Riza knew these were her friends, she flinched when someone touched her.
"It's okay, Hawkeye. We're getting you out of here." The hands went to the blindfold and she blinked up through the tears of pain looking into Hughes' sober face. It frightened her. She wasn't used to seeing him this way. "I need to try and stop the bleeding."
"Lieutenant Colonel, she's here," Armstrong bellowed as Hughes wadded up the blindfold and pressed it over one of the wounds.
Riza heard Roy's approach. He wasn't even caring about decorum. Would he race around like that if it was Hughes who had been taken captive? The look on his face gave him away even more. Roy knelt beside her, his hand trembling slightly as he touched her lower back.
"Hawkeye..." Mustang's voice caught. "She's bleeding so much. We need to slow this. I could cauterize..."
"No, too deep," Hughes replied and his fingers brushed Riza's bloody lips. "I think she's lung struck. If you seal it off now, she'll drown in her own blood."
"We'll get her to safety, Flame," Armstrong said. "You need to finish the mission."
"Damn insurgents," Roy said, letting his fingers stray across Riza's neck casually. The look in his eyes was anything but casual. "Take care of her for me," he added as he unfolded from the ground. "You'll be all right, Hawkeye, that's an order."
She couldn't talk but she managed a faint smile for him then promptly blacked out when Armstrong lifted her up.
X X X
Riza wished consciousness would have left her alone. Even through the thick wool of pain killers, some of the raw agony from her back filtered through. She lay face down on scratchy, thin hospital sheets. The stench of antiseptic burned her nose. She wanted to just fall back asleep but realized she wasn't alone.
Roy squeezed her hand. "You're going to be all right, Riza," he said softly.
"The array...is it?" she broke off, her tongue feeling too thick for her mouth.
"It doesn't matter. All I care about is you," he said, leaning down so his lips were at her ear.
"Ruined." She sighed, realizing that her captors had succeeded. She was no longer a part of Roy. She had been cut off from him and somehow it felt like losing a limb.
"You will never be ruined," he whispered. "I love you."
That was so soft she almost missed it. "Roy...Envy..."
"Riza, rest. We can worry about who did this tomorrow when you're more awake. Most of the dissidents have been handled."
"The ones...did this...ran." She wished that was more coherent.
"I figured we didn't get the mastermind." He kissed her cheek. "Later, Riza. It can wait. We missed them but there'll be other times. I'll stay until you fall back asleep."
Riza interlaced her fingers with his before fading back to black.