A/N: This is my first angst Fullmetal Alchemist fic, so please be nice. I ruined my keyboard by spilling milk all over it during the writing of this, so PLEASE make it worth the price ofnew keyboard. Thanks, and hope you enjoy! (I think this falls under the category of Royai, but I'm not sure.
The golden light of the setting sun shone on a building adorned with the green, white, and gold flag of the Military. The swiftly fading illumination streamed through a window, casting shimmering yellow highlights over a mop of black hair. A man sat there in the otherwise deserted office. His head was on his desk, with paperwork as his pillow.
Colonel Roy Mustang trembled uncontrollably. He jerked up suddenly to stare into the waning sun, heedless of the tears carving jagged lines down his face. The night finally overcame the sunset, and dark clouds raced in to cover the stars. He looked down and rested his elbows on the desk, gripping the sides of his head.
But he couldn't stop shaking...
Devices so evil and unpredictable that even the Military fears to use them.
Anarchists have no such qualms.
In Central City, the infants and elderly were affected first. Babies cried in their cribs one moment and died the next.
They could be considered the lucky ones. They didn't have to feel the pain...
Those whose immune systems were better developed took longer to die. Thousands of young children were rushed to the hospitals, screaming, thrashing, wailing in pain until they, too, died.
All whom the weapon attacked died.
There were no exceptions.
And this was just the beginning.
Some, mysteriously, were unaffected by the weapon. They were the ones forced to watch as their loved ones suffered, hopelessly awaiting the inevitable.
Out of one man's trusted circle of subordinates, his friends, the weapon struck down the one person they had all considered to be invulnerable.
Because that's the thing about bio weapons. They strike indiscriminately, with no reference to rank or power. They just... do.
A relatively normal day at Central was shattered as First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye gasped and stumbled, catching herself on a desk to keep form falling.
Kain Fuery jumped up to support her. "Lieutenant, are you alright?"
The others stopped what they were doing and looked up. They had never seen Hawkeye ever falter, let alone fall.
"I'm... fine, Kain," Riza gasped. "I just lost my balance for a second. Thank you." She turned around and put her hand on Fuery's arm.
Havoc flinched- Hawkeye looked deathly pale, and she was shivering. "Lieutenant, I think you should report to the infirmary."
Riza glared. "I'm fine, Havoc."
Havoc lost his normal sarcastic tone. "Riza, look at yourself-"
"I have a migraine and a stomachache. I am not going to let it keep me from working." She paused. "It's not the weapon, if that's what you're thinking."
"No one said it was," Fulman said. "But just as a precaution-"
Roy Mustang and Maes Hughes poked their heads out of Mustang's office. "What's going on?" Roy asked.
Riza stood straight and saluted. "I'm sorry for the disturbance, sir, but-" she cut off and folded over, clutching her stomach, breath hissing out between her teeth.
Roy started forward. "Hawkeye-!"
She collapsed on all fours, coughing. Roy dropped to the floor next to her. "Call the infirmary!" he shouted. Time seemed to warp surrealistically as Hawkeye's entire body spasmed. Blood began leaking out through her clenched teeth as she tried to keep from coughing. Everything seemed to slow, then...
The small crowd of Military officers surrounding Hawkeye's bed was beginning to anger the doctors. Edward and Alphonse Elric, Hughes, Havoc, Fulman, Fuery, Mustang, and Breda stood as close to her bed as possible as the Lieutenant lay there, motionless.
"One of you can stay with the patient!" the doctor yelled. "The rest of you, clear out! We're packed to capacity as it is!"
They looked at each other. "I'll stay," Roy said, looking at Riza. "The rest of you, get back to work."
Any word of protest they had was silenced by Roy's expression as he looked the Lieutenant. His Lieutenant.
Back in the office, none of them had much heart for paperwork. Edward paced back and forth, kicking the wall whenever he had the opportunity. "Who does that bastard think he is?" he demanded of no one in particular. "'Get back to work.' Does he think he's the only one who cares for her?"
"Brother-" Al started, but Hughes beat him to it.
Hughes slammed Edward against the wall, all trace of the insane, bumbling Lieutenant Colonel who was obsessed with his daughter gone from his eyes. "You idiot," he said softly, in a marked contrast to the violence he had just exhibited. "Do you think Roy is doing this just to get out of paperwork! You aren't around that much, but even your younger brother noticed it!"
"Noticed what?" Ed demanded.
"The way the Colonel looks at her," Al said quietly.
"Mustang cares for her more than any of us, but he's too proud to admit it- even to himself. The rest of us know; the only two that don't are Roy, and Riza herself. Don't even try to judge the Colonel- you don't know what he's been through with the Ishbal Rebellion. I've heard him, when we're working late. He'll fall asleep and jerk awake, screaming. I pretend not to notice, and I don't ask questions. The only time he doesn't scream is if Riza is with us.
"So don't you even dare to judge the Colonel. You have no right."
Everyone looked at little Fuery, who crossed his arms and glared defiantly at Edward.
"I think that's the most words he's ever said in one go," Havoc whispered to Breda.
"Well, what do you want me to say, I'm sorry?" Ed bit out, butt he harshness wasn't there.
"You don't have to apologize to me," Fuery said. "The Colonel treats us like his sons. I think you're too hard on him."
Ed's eyes flashed. "I'm too hard on him!"
"Stay out of this, Al!" Edward jerked away from Hughes to stand in front of Fuery, but the young Master Sergeant refused to back down.
"What training did you go through here at the Military? None. Even after your help with the Haruko situation, the Fuhrer still thought you were too young to take the exam. Mustang stood up for you both. If you had failed, what would that have done to his career, not to mention the rest of us? He would have been demoted, the rest of us scattered to different stations at the very outskirts of Amestris. He took a gamble with you, Fullmetal, and when have you ever given him the respect he deserves? You owe him more than you know, but you sit on the couch and whine whenever you're given a simple assignment. The world doesn't revolve around you, and it doesn't revolve around your damned Stone!"
The others gasped, and Ed's eyes narrowed.
"We're not idiots, Elric, we know how you're using the Military to fund your own research. Truth is, I don't care. But if you want us to just hand you money, give you a title and position and paycheck and just wave you on your merry way, it isn't going to happen. Did you even realize that the Colonel only gives you assignments in areas where he's heard faint whispers of the Stone? No? Then stop whining and do your damned duty!"
Fuery stepped back and took a deep breath. He seemed to shrink, and become the little, timid kid who seemed to have wandered into the Military by mistake, when he really should have been in high school.
Edward just stood there, at a loss for words as Fuery went to sit as his desk and stare blankly down at his paperwork. He was trembling, and started when Havoc put a hand on his shoulder.
"Good job, son," Hughes whispered. "Edward will thank you later."
Fuery looked like he was going to cry. "Will Lieutenant Hawkeye be alright?" he looked up beseechingly.
Hughes shook his head. "I don't know, son. I don't know."
A female doctor took Mustang aside as Riza lay there, unconscious. "I've given her something for the pain, but there's not much we can do. She must be in the advanced stages of the weapon."
Roy nodded slowly. "Is there anything you can do, Doctor," he glanced down at her nametag, "-Rhade? Anything at all?"
Rhade looked down. "There's an experimental procedure, but it hasn't been tested yet. We don't yet know the long term effects of the-"
"Colonel?" a voice croaked. The two turned to see Riza on her side, looking at them. "What... are you doing here? Don't you have... work to do?"
Roy forced a laugh. "With you in here, you can't possibly expect me to get anything done."
Rhade politely but firmly pushed him out of the way. "Lieutenant, how are you feeling?"
"It feels like little spikes are stabbing into my brain. It seems like my skin is on fire, but I feel so cold..." she trailed off. "It's the weapon, isn't it, Doctor? I'm going to die, aren't I?"
Rhade looked down. "There is something we can try, but it hasn't been tested yet. The effects of the weapon may be cured, but you could still die."
Hawkeye nodded slowly. "Could you give me a moment alone, please?"
The doctor nodded moved to another patient. Roy made to leave, but Riza put a weak hand on his arm. "Colonel, stay?"
"Of course." Mustang knelt on the ground so he could be level with the Lieutenant.
Riza looked him in the eye. "Should I do it?"
"I'm no doctor, Hawkeye," Roy frowned.
"Roy, listen to me. I trust your judgement. I know you'll know what's best for me."
Roy laughed bitterly. "Riza, almost everything I've done ends up wrong. How can you trust me with your life?"
"Because you trust me with yours." Her simple gaze, honest and straightforward, was enough to make Roy want to rip this weapon out of her with his bare hands.
He sighed, took her hand in his and met her eyes. "I don't want anything to happen to you, but in my honest opinion..." he swallowed hard. "I think you should take the chance."
Riza smiled sadly. "That's what I was going to do anyway."
Roy smiled back, then ducked his head to hide the tears in his eyes. It wouldn't do to let her see his pain.
Mustang walked slowly into the office, and the room fell into complete silence.
Clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp. His boots rang on the hardwood floor like a death knell. The others looked at him, apprehension written on their faces.
"She's infected," he said in a monotone. "The doctors are trying an experimental procedure, but they don't know if it will work."
Clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp. Roy went into his office and locked the door.
Fuery looked like he was about to burst into tears as he put his head down on his desk. The others stood frozen where they were except for Hughes, who knocked on Roy's door.
"Go away," came the muffled voice from inside. "That's an order."
Maes sighed, reached into his uniform pocket, and pulled out a key. He let himself into the office and carefully shut the door behind him. "Roy-"
"No, Maes, go away." Roy stood at the window, hands clasped behind his back.
Hughes sighed and promptly ignored his best friend, seating himself on the couch. "Fuery gave quite the moving speech about you today, Roy."
Silence. Mustang didn't look away from the window. "Then he's a fool."
"Dammit, Roy!" Hughes slammed his fist against the cushions. "Maybe Edward is right, and you are a selfish, arrogant bastard!"
Roy didn't move. "Enough people have told me that, so it must be true."
Maes shook his head. "Look around you, Roy. You're not the only one suffering."
"It isn't their fault. It's mine." Roy finally turned away from the window. "If I had taken care of these anarchist terrorists, I could have prevented this! This is my fault," he repeated softly. "Mine. No one else's."
"You are arrogant," Maes said. "So, all this is your doing, then? The terrorists had nothing to do with this at all. No, of course not, it's all Roy Mustang, Colonel Screw-Up. Listen to yourself, Roy! Get out of this damned hole of self-pity, and we'll talk later." He made for the door, before Mustang's voice stopped him.
"Maes, don't go." The pleading of a child. "It's just... I can't live without her!" Roy's cry shivered through the office, and he started to shake.
Hughes dropped back to the couch. "We know, Roy. She doesn't."
"Now I'll never get the chance to tell her," he whispered.
"Why didn't you?"
Roy gave a choked snort. "Riza doesn't see anything in me. I thought maybe once I became Fuhrer- but no.
"I just couldn't get the nerve to seriously ask her out for the fear she'd say no." He laughed bitterly. "'Ladies man' they all call me, but here I am fearing rejection like a teenager. If God exists, he has a hell of a sense of humor."
Maes looked at him. "When Riza comes out of surgery-"
Roy noted how he's used 'when', not 'if', and he nodded. "I'll tell her. I just can't take this..." he paused, looking for the right word, then shrugged helplessly. "This."
Now, Roy sat alone in his office after ordering the others to go home and get some rest. They had grumbled, especially Fullmetal, but eventually did as he told them. he stared at the phone with a mixture of fear and hope, tears dripping down his face to be absorbed by his heavy uniform collar. He had never prayed before in his life, but he did so now.
God, Ishballah, whoever you are (if you even exist), please listen to me just this once. I don't really know how to go about this, so I'll be frank with you. If you can do anything, anything at all to help my Riza, please, I'm begging you, do whatever you can. If there's nothing you can do to aid her, then do nothing at all.
Roy ducked his head as hot tears fell silently, staining his paperwork. Please...
The phone rang once, and he snatched it up, suddenly so nervous he nearly choked on his own tears. "This is Mustang," he answered remotely.
"Colonel, could you come down to the infirmary?"
Roy rested his elbows on his desk and paused for a second, his fear jumping up several notches until it felt like he was going to vomit. "What's wrong? What's happened? Is she-"
"Lieutenant Hawkeye will be fine, sir."
Mustang nearly sobbed in relief, and he didn't trust himself to speak.
"Sir? Are you there?" came the voice from the phone, which lay abandoned on the desk. Roy was already out the door and running down the hall to the infirmary as fast as he could until he stood in the waiting room, trying to control his breathing.
He caught a stray glimpse of his reflection in a window, and he hurriedly wiped his cheeks and fixed his hair.
Doctor Rhade came into the room and waved him over. "Sir, come with me."
As Roy followed the young woman, he was struck by how different the infirmary was from earlier. Before, it had been filled with coughing and muffled cries of pain. Now, it was quieter, calmer... peaceful.
"Another hospital discovered an antidote, which, once paired with the procedure had cured the weapon," Rhade answered his unspoken question. "It is being administered to the victims now.
"Here we are, sir." She stopped in front of a hospital bed with the privacy curtains drawn around it. "I'll give you some time alone."
Roy nodded his thanks. "If you ever need anything, don't hesitate to ask, Doctor Rhade."
"Rhade smiled. "I'm just doing my duty, sir, no thanks are needed." She left to attend to another patient, who was asking for water.
Roy took a deep breath and pulled the curtains aside. "Riza?"
Hawkeye blinked in surprise. "Colonel-?" She made to sit up and salute, voice hoarse and unable to speak above a whisper.
"No, lay down," Roy said softly as he sat in a chair next to her and scooted it closer. He took her hand in both of his and looked into her golden brown eyes. "I told Maes I would do this... Riza, I don't want you to take this as another sarcastic comment or joke, but..."
Riza waited, not judging, face revealing nothing.
"I love you, Riza," Roy blurted out. "I don't know what I would have done if you'd..." he trailed off and nearly broke down again.
"Roy..." Riza whispered, and she used her free hand to beckon him closer so he could hear. As he bent down, she grabbed the back of his neck and pulled him into a passionate kiss.
After they broke apart, Hawkeye slumped back against the pillows. Roy laid his head on her chest as she whispered; "I love you too. I won't leave you, Roy, not for the rest of your life."
"Promise?" came his muffled voice.
Riza looked out the window, where the clouds were beginning to break. The constellation Orion shone through the window, and she stroked Roy's hair. "Promise."
A/N: Please review, and wish me luck with the keyboard situation