When that which is and that which was

Apart, intrinsic, stand,

And this brief tragedy of flesh

Is shifted like a sand

Emily Dickinson

Chapter Two

Riza winced, dragging herself up and out of bed. Her breasts twinged, having been squashed all night from her sleeping on them. She was getting so tired of not being able to lie on her back then she remembered the last time she wasn't able to sleep on her back. Tears came unwanted and unbidden. The memory of fiery pain - so appropriate for what she had done - only served to remind her what she had lost.

Riza had insisted on mirrors so she could see her back when the nurse changed the dressing. The burns were terrible and the rents in her flesh just as bad. The array was ruined and through all the pain killers which didn't dull all the pain, she wasn't sure she had told Roy that destroying her array tattoo was the intent all along. They kept her on so many pain killers on the ride home, she didn't have any recollections of the trip.

She managed to get to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet and getting back up were agonizing. Why were back injuries so excruciating? Maybe she had left the hospital too soon. Her friend, Emmie, was a civilian nurse and had agreed to sleep over on the couch until Riza was more on her feet. Riza had protested it was unnecessary but this proved it was. At least, Emmie would arrive later in the day to start her babysitting. Until then, she needed to make herself some breakfast.

When Riza shuffled into the living room, she was shocked to see Roy curled up on the couch. He had helped Havoc and Hughes to bring her home and stayed long enough to be sure she was tucked into bed for the night. He was supposed to let himself out, not go to sleep on the couch. His hands were tucked in tight, pressed against his lips as if he had been sucking his thumb during the night. Given his oral fixation, second only to Havoc unless she missed her guess, it wouldn't surprise her. His bangs were over his eyes

"Roy, what are you doing here?" she hissed, hating to wake him. He looked peaceful, which he rarely did.

His head jerked up, sending his hair back out of his eyes. "Huh?"

"You didn't make it further than the couch last night."

He rubbed his face. "Wanted to be here when you woke up. Didn't mean to fall asleep in the uniform, though."

"Roy, what if someone sees you leaving here for work?" She glared at him. Now was not the time to get caught.

"My day off." He pointed to one of the rucksacks that had been carried in last night. "Mine." That explained the mystery of how she had so much stuff at the hospital. "I'll change and make us something to eat. Do you need me to change your dressings?"

Riza shook her head. "Emmie will be here later. She can do it."

Roy swung off the couch and helped her over to it. She sat, clinging to his arm for support. Roy gently put her feet up on the couch pillows then disappeared with his rucksack. Riza pressed a couch pillow to her face. It was warm and smelled of him. She hugged it tight, trying to will some of her pain into it and some of his comfort from it.

Roy came back with pillows from her bed and a comforter. He propped her up better and covered her before heading for the kitchen. She winced, hearing him banging around in there. She had never seen him cook. She dreaded knowing what he was doing to her kitchen. He eventually came back with some coffee then with some fried eggs and toast that looked edible. He handed her the plate then went to fetch his breakfast. He sat on the floor, leaning on the couch while he ate.

"Thank you, Roy." She reached out, ignoring the twinging in her back, so she could run her fingers through his soft hair. "We have to talk about this."

"Eat first," he ordered.

Riza sighed and finished her meal then let him clean up after them. When he came back, Roy paused for a moment in the doorway, his dark eyes studying her. He looked so unusual dressed in his casual clothes, which were purposefully anything but blue. Still, even his casual clothes has a crispness to them, a formality he just couldn't quite shed. She'd like to see him in old, worn clothing, just once, maybe working in a garden or fishing or something that she grew up thinking was normal. The only time she saw him like that, which was rare, was when he was in the little lab in his basement, cooking up something for his alchemy that tended to reek. She pointed to the battered, green chair catty-corner to the couch. "Have a seat so we can talk." She knew Roy's inclination would be to curl up on the floor at her feet again like a faithful dog and while she liked having him close, this was important. She needed to be able to look him in the eye and see he was actually listening and not daydreaming.

He sat with a curious look on his face. "What's wrong, Riza?"

"First off, I'm sorry," she said, her voice cracking in spite her best efforts. She promised herself that for him she'd be strong.

Roy got off the chair and snugged up against the curve of her hip. His questing fingers wrapped around her hand. "For what? Riza, it's not your fault you were captured and tortured. Blame the Creatan rebels."

"I'm not sure I can." She squeezed his hand hard, desperate for his touch.

Roy's brow knit and he looked at her expectantly. When she didn't oblige immediately, he asked, "What do you mean, Riza?"

"Did I tell you about Envy and Wrath?"

His face took on a broody aspect that perplexed her. He seemed upset. "You kept trying to. It upset you so much but you couldn't get the words out in any way that made sense. You'd get so frustrated that your vitals went all crazy and the doctors would shoo us out of your room. What do those emotions have to do with anything?"

"Not emotions, code names." Riza steeled herself against a tremor of pain that fired through her when she tried to sit up straighter. Roy put a hand on her shoulder, gently holding her down. "They're the ones who did this to me, Roy. I got the impression that they were merely using the rebels as a cover. It was me they wanted."

Roy's face twisted. "Why? I mean, you're special to me but in the grand scheme of our military, you're just a second lieutenant, a very skilled marksman but we have lots of those."

Riza's lips pinched. She knew he was right but no one wanted to hear they weren't special. Of course she was thinking as his lover, not as his aide at the moment. "It's because I'm special to you, Roy."

His almond eyes narrowed. "I don't understand."

"They knew about the tattoo," she said and watched the color leave his face as if someone had pulled the plug.

"What?" The word squeezed past his tight throat. She watched his larynx bob as he tried to swallow.

"They knew I had the tattoo even before they looked for it. I was taken for a reason. I was out of uniform when I was captured. They had to have known who I was. They wanted to know why you had tattooed the array on me." She felt his hand tremble in hers. "Envy and Wrath didn't name you but they knew who you were. They wanted to know who you planned on attacking using me as your touchstone."

Roy's face transformed from pain to sheer acrimony. The look in his dark eyes frightened her even though she knew it wasn't directed at her. She wished she could shove Envy and Wrath into the path of that dark heat of Mustang's ire. "How could they know?"

"I don't know, Roy, but they did. I pretended I had no idea what they were talking about. I told them it was just ink but they didn't believe me. They were also smart enough to know I'd never tell them anything or maybe they didn't care. Wrath ordered Envy to remove the tattoo. If you hadn't come when you did, I think they would have skinned me." She shuddered then groaned from the pain. Roy's hand moved to her hip. "Or burned it off since Envy was pissed that I kicked him."

Roy's back seemed to wilt as his head dropped to her stomach. "I'm so sorry, Riza." The words were muffled against her body.

Riza stroked his hair. "It's not your fault either, Roy."

He looked up at her. "Of course it is. I put that tattoo on you. Somehow someone found out and they made you suffer for my hubris."

She held out an arm to him. "Come here." Riza tried to shift on the couch to make room for him.

He caught her arms. "You're going to hurt yourself."

"Hush." Riza bit her lip as she managed to move enough that he could slip his slender frame around her then dropped some of her weight on him, melting against him. "Do you know why I allowed you to tattoo the array on my back?"

"I asked when we first talked about it but you wouldn't say." Roy's hand trailed over her cheek.

"Because it was yours." She caught his hand. "I was afraid at the time, if I said that, you'd change your mind. I did it because it made me a part of you. I became something more than I was."

"You were always something special, Riza. You didn't..." Roy started to say but she put her fingers over his lips.

"Let me do the talking, please. Roy. I know I didn't have to do it. But it made me feel...so connected to you and now they ruined it." Riza's voice choked off and she couldn't hold back the strangled sob that poured out of her.

Roy's arms slipped around her waist. "Nothing is ruined."

"You haven't seen how bad it is," she wailed against his shoulder.

He gingerly pulled her tighter to him. "I don't care. As long as they didn't take you from me, we'll get through it. I'm so sorry they hurt you because of me. I would never want anything to happen to you because someone is trying to get to me. And if you were gone...I'm lost. I can't do this without you."

Blindly, she tried to press her hand over his mouth. She knew he loved her. Hearing it now just made her loss seem keener, too hard to bear. "I can't talk now. You needed to know what happened. They took a part of me away and it hurts too much to say anything else."

Riza loved that he listened to her, that he didn't try to say anything more. He didn't seem to quite know where to put his hands so not to hurt her so they lay tucked against her belly but Roy locked his leg over hers possessively. That firmness of touch, his need to keep her close and safe warmed her as she cried quietly against him. Finally, the tears stopped and the pain killers threaten to suck her back under. Still, there were worse things than actually having the opportunity to fall asleep in her lover's arms. Those opportunities were rarities. The sound of someone knocking at the door dragged her back to consciousness.

Roy got up, looking at the door.

"It's probably Emmie. Please go let her in," Riza said, rubbing her puffy eyes. She missed feeling the warmth of him next to her and wanted him to tell Emmie to go and come wrap back around her again but she knew that wasn't going to happen.

Roy nodded and went to let the nurse in. Just as he had Hughes to confide in, Riza had Emmie and the nurse knew about Roy and why that had to be a secret. She was just glad Roy and Emmie got along effortlessly. He let Emmie in. The nurse gave him the once over then turned her attention to Riza.

Emmie eyed Roy sourly. "Are you wearing her out, Mustang?"

"I'm fine, Emmie, well as fine as I can be. It's the pain killers wearing me out," Riza said, placatingly.

"I'll get out of the way and go," Roy said.

"Oh, please, Roy, stay a little. We can play games. I can't just lie here all day. I'll go insane," Riza said. Games were safe. She wouldn't have to think about what she had lost if she had something distracting her. Roy seemed to sense that and settled back in the chair.

"What kind of games?" Emmie asked, setting her nurse's bag on the table.

"Anything but chess or goh." Riza leveled a look at Roy. "How about backgammon?"

Roy wrinkled his nose. "I hate that game."

"What's wrong with backgammon? It's fun," Emmie countered, getting dressings out of her bag.

"I strategize and I'm winning and she'll come along, roll doubles and beat me with no planning at all." Roy pouted, waving a hand at Riza.

"That's why I like it. Okay, how about cards so we can all play at the same time?" Riza offered.

"All right. What can I do to help, Emmie?" Roy pointed to the dressings.


"But I can help," he protested.

"Shoo. Do I come into your lab and play with your chemicals? No, alchemist, I do not. You stay out of my medical supplies." Emmie pushed him toward the door. "Besides, no woman wants to see her lover to see her all beat up. Go take a ten minute walk."

"Okay, okay I'm going." Roy broke away from Emmie and circled back to Riza. He leaned down and kissed her hard. "I'm going to go call Hughes. He's in investigations. I'll tell him what you just told me."

"Tell him they answered to someone named Father." Riza squeezed his hand. "They were both afraid he'd be angry if they got caught which is why they ran off and left me."

"Okay." Roy kissed her again then headed out the door.

Riza watched him go, then glanced at her friend. Emmie shot her a curious look but didn't ask about it. She knew better. Riza let Emmie take her shirt off, knowing the nurse was right about one thing; she didn't want Roy seeing how terribly injured she was. He'd see soon enough. A bubble of dread floated up inside her gut. She was suddenly ashamed to let Roy see her naked ever again. She hated those men for making her feel like this. They had no clue what they had taken from her. They couldn't have hurt her more if they had raped her. What they took could not be retrieved.

As Emmie's skilled hands worked, Riza pretended the few tears on her face were from pain and not loss. She had killed many times in Ishbal and elsewhere. She had no taste for it. She regretted it being part of her job. If she ever had Envy or Wrath in her sights, she wouldn't hesitate to blow their brains out and she would enjoy it. A harsh twisted smile touched her lips at the thought. Self pity wouldn't get her through this but grim determination would. She would prove herself more than her loss. She was Roy's weapon before she became his canvas. She would be his weapon again.