AN-- Yup, I've returned. This is just something new I'm trying out; I found the list of Royai themes and realized, 'wow, I actually have some ideas for them!'. So here they are. They will all be either Roycentric, Rizacentric, or Royai, obviously enough.

I won't be doing all the themes, just the ones that stand out, and I won't be doing them in order. However, if you're curious to see a rarely-done theme written, let me know and I'd be glad to give it a shot.

disclaimer for the whole thing: don't own. trust me, you'd know if i did. there'd be royriza smut in every episode.

Into the Liquid Inferno
(26. cureless)

Even though it's painfully hot, Roy can't remember the last time he felt this cold. His fingers tremble as he unscrews the cap off his canteen—

(Oh god oh god I killed so many so many all at once oh god it shouldn't be this easy to kill people…)

--where, inside, there's the echo of water sloshing about. The sound is torture to his dehydrated body; at the moment, he craves a drink as much as he does salvation from Ishbal. Greedily, he raises the canteen to his lips and takes a long drink.

It hurts.

It singes him, feels like it's burning—like he's swallowing fire. The water's a pile of blazing ashes in his mouth, a scorched wave down his throat, a fierce, fiery flash dropping into his stomach. It's almost like drinking battery acid; it stings just as bad.

Roy chokes, spits out the tepid liquid. He stumbles back against the brick wall behind him, the only thing left standing in a large pile of rubble. All of Ishbal looks like this, thanks to him and his fellow State Alchemists. Everything's been destroyed.

Numbly, he wipes his mouth and stares back down at his canteen in dazed confusion. The water's been there all day, no doubt warmed considerably by the blinding gaze of the sun, but even so—there's no reason for it to be as hot as it is. A minute ago, he was freezing; now it's as if he's snapped and set himself alight.

And, yes, a part of him knows that in reality, the liquid is only lukewarm. But his mind can't grasp the fact….

Roy is allowed no happiness here. Not even the momentary pleasure of a semi-cool drink on a withering day.

He turns the canteen over, watching listlessly as the water spills out. In the desert, water is a precious commodity, and wasting it is akin to murder, but…

What good will a mouthful of burning water do? he thinks, rather dully. He knows, now: it could be freezing cold and it wouldn't help. He still wouldn't be able to taste it. Just my mind playing tricks…but, honestly, what does Roy have left but his mind?

Not that he even really has his mind, these days.

He sighs, rubs his head. It's practically splitting open with pain. Not physical pain, either, just…

Just a dead, dry ache that seems to fairly scream of his cruelty. The one thing Roy's sure this war won't take from him is the knowledge that he is a monster.

A monster.

(All of them dead just following orders god I'm sick of this god I wish it would end…)

A devil, bathed in flames.

It makes sense, he decides after a while, that water should become poison to his system. He is the Flame Alchemist….and it was certainly foolish of him to think that a few wet, puny drops could quench his thirst. Redemption isn't that easy—Roy know he'll be thirsty the rest of his life.

That night, alone in his tent, he drinks himself into a drunken stupor, clutching at the smuggled-in liquor like it's his last lifeline. Unlike water, he discovers, the alcohol doesn't burn going down—at least, it doesn't burn any worse then it usually does. He's….not pleased to realize this, just…just relieved. Just flat-out grateful that there's still something he can drink that stays in his stomach.

It's not as if the booze dulls his thirst, though—come morning he'll be as parched and dry-mouthed as ever. Still, what the alcohol does is a welcome compromise—it makes him forget. For a few blissful hours, Roy's able to loose track of the incessant itch at the back of his throat. It's nice…for the first time in a long time, he's gone completely numb. Completely.

Sometimes Roy envies those who are dead. Death these days seems to him to be nothing more or less then a chance to be utterly unaware. Utterly submerged. To close your eyes and fade off into that unassuming blackness, to lose yourself in eternity's drifting waters…life is supposed to be the more-desired choice of the two, and yet…

Roy looks around at the 'life' he has and detests the irony.

Midnight passes. The distant screams that make up Ishbal do not. With all the fighting—

(murdering, ruining)

--Roy and the other soldiers have done, it feels as if the Ishbalan race should have been obliterated long before now, but still the cries continue, still far-off voices call out in the dead of night. Perhaps it's their ghosts that wail into the darkness.

Morning begins to break. The sun's pale strands seeping into his tent seem grey, seem sapped of energy. It's an odd phenomenon, because Roy knows that in a few short hours, the glare will be so hard and invading that all the world will feel baked into submission. But for now, the light is faint, weak, and cloudy against the dirt.

Roy's exhausted—he's spent most of the night tossing and turning, searching for that elusive lover, sleep. With morning's arrival he gives up and drags himself wearily from his cot. His stomach is churning, and his head's already beginning to pound. He hasn't had a good night's sleep since he's been here, and by now the tired, dragging lethargy has seeped right into his bones.

Idly, not quite sure he has the stamina to get through another day, Roy wonders about the end of the war. For so long, he's prayed for it…but really, he muses now, what's the point? It's not as if there'll be anything left of him by the time it comes to see it—too much of Roy Mustang has worn drearily away. Too much of him has turned into dust, powder, so much tenebrous smoke. Too much of him is dead.

The end of the war….

Roy wonders dully if he'll be able to recognize it when it comes.