Riza smiled as she pulled the blanket over the sleeping Amelia. Her daughter was always hard to get to sleep – Riza sometimes felt she spent half the night pacing and rocking her in her arms before she dropped off.
'But I wouldn't have it any other way,' she thought as she stroked Amelia's mop of blonde hair.
A soft knock sounded on her door, and Riza blinked in surprise. She checked the clock – it was late, and she wasn't expecting any visitors.
She was careful to pick up her gun on the way to the door, only to find she needn't have bothered.
He looked haggard, his eye bloodshot as though he had been crying. She opened the door to him automatically, even though her logical mind screamed at letting a man that had hurt her so deeply into her home again.
He stepped inside, blinking as she put her gun back on the table. "You had a gun?"
"It's very late, Roy, and I wasn't expecting anyone."
He nodded, looking slightly sheepish, as though he had never considered the lateness of the hour. "I...did I wake you up?"
Riza shook her head. "I just managed to put Amelia to bed."
Uncomfortable silence reined.
Then Riza sighed wearily. "What are you doing here, Roy?"
"I...I wanted to talk to you," Roy said at last, stumbling over his words. He could have sworn he'd had this all planned out – what he was going to say, what he was going to do – so why could he think of nothing now?
Riza's eyes hardened. "I think we've said all that needs to be said."
Roy's eye closed briefly. "I don't think so."
Riza bristled. She wasn't about to sit here and listen to some placating lie delivered to soothe his own guilty conscience. She opened her mouth to retort furiously, when he raised a hand to forestall her. The gesture had no affect – it was the expression on his face that caught her attention.
"Please, Riza, just let me say this, and then I promise that if you still want to throw me out...I'll go."
Slowly, Riza closed her mouth, her eyes warning him that whatever he was going to say, it had better be good.
Roy took a deep breath, trying to prepare himself. He wasn't stupid – this was probably his only chance.
"Riza, I love you," he stated simply. She flinched as though struck, and he hastened to continue. "I know you think I've said that to all the women I've slept with, but you're wrong. I know it seems like an oxymoron, but being...the way I was...seemed to give me an appreciation for what love really is. And I can honestly tell you that I have only told two women that I love them, and one of them was my mother."
Riza's eyes widened in surprise.
"Even though I...slept around...I vowed that the only woman I would say that to would be the one I truly wanted to spend the rest of my life with. You."
Roy sighed softly. "Riza, I don't make any attempt to defend my history, but I think I have to say something to you in regards to it. Those women...they were substitutes, Riza. When we...when we were...suffice to say, I'd have to bite my lip to keep from calling your name."
Riza was stunned. He'd wanted her for that long? But then why hadn't he acted on it?
"Why didn't you...?"
"Why didn't I say anything?" Roy supplied, proceeding at her nod. "The truth is, I never believed you could fall in love with me. I'm not an idiot – I know I don't deserve you. The idea that you could ever love me back..." he laughed, a short, self-deprecating laugh. "It just never occurred to me – I knew you were so far out of my league...and you deserved so much more than anything I could offer you."
"But I acted on it eventually," he continued. "And it wasn't what you think – it was far from a needy fuck, or a desire to assure myself I was still desirable after Archer nearly killed me. It had nothing to do with my injury...but it had everything to do with this..."
Riza blinked in surprise as he stepped closer to her, and his hand rose to brush against her right arm. Beneath the sleeve of her shirt, his fingers caressed discoloured, thickened flesh. The scar where Archer's bullet had caught her in the arm.
"He could have killed you, Riza," Roy whispered, his breathing uneven, his voice tight. "If he had aimed just a little to the side..."
He broke off, swallowing harshly. "When I came out of the cellar and saw him standing there...I froze. I knew he would have had to come through you to get there, and I thought...I thought he'd killed you."
Roy's eyes closed, the memory of the despair that thought had caused rising to choke him. "I saw the gun...and part of me just...didn't care. Something in me simply wanted to die when I thought you were dead."
His eyes opened, and locked with Riza's. "Then when I woke up in the hospital and saw you sitting beside me, unharmed except for your arm...it just hit me how close it had been. I realised just how close I had come to losing you without ever telling you how I felt. And I promised myself I would tell you before we left the hospital."
Riza's brow creased in puzzlement at that. "But you..."
"But I kissed you several weeks after I'd come to stay with you, I know." He looked down again, embarrassed. "The truth is...I lost my courage. I kept telling myself that this was the day, this was the day I'd tell you...but the fear kept overwhelming me. I was so afraid you'd reject me...but I managed to conquer my doubts eventually, and I've never regretted it for an instant."
Silence reigned for several moment. Roy was trying to gather his thoughts, and Riza had been shocked speechless by his confession. The fact that he'd been so afraid of rejection showed how much it must have meant to him. But if he really had loved her, why did he leave?
"Why did you leave?" she murmured at last.
Roy chuckled bitterly. "Honestly, I don't know. Everything that seemed like a good reason at the time just seems so idiotic now. I have no excuses, no explanations. I'm sorry, but I truly don't."
Riza nodded. She believed him – the sincerity in his voice was palpable.
"I meant it when I said I loved you, Riza. I loved you then, I love you now, and I think I'll always love you. But I also respect you. I respect you enough to make your own decisions. So if you decide that you don't want me, I'll leave and never mention this again. But...just tell me one thing..."
When he looked up, the tear running from his eye startled Riza.
"...do I have any chance? Any at all?"
Riza paused. Could she forgive him? Did she love him enough to give him another chance?
A little voice in the back of her head was screaming that he'd left her, that he'd hurt her, that she was a fool if she put her heart on the line once more...
But she loved him. That was the crux of the matter – she loved him...she loved him for so long, she didn't know how to stop.
Riza stepped forward, closing the gap between their bodies. She reached upward slowly, her lips meeting his in a soft touch that sent her reeling – reality was so much better then her memories. He returned the kiss without hesitation, keeping it light and gentle, almost reverent.
When she pulled back, she could see his astonishment. It was written all over his face.
She smiled reassuringly. "Yes. Yes, you have a chance. A very good chance, I'd say."
Roy hadn't realised how tense he was until his muscles sagged in relief. He had a chance! She might not have forgiven him completely, but he was surprised she had forgiven him at all.
"Thank you," he whispered. "I never thought...I didn't even dare to hope that you could ever give me another chance..."
"You'd thought I'd toss you out on the street?" Riza asked, mirth dancing in her eyes.
"I expected it," Roy said, his voice serious. "But I...I just had to make you understand that I love you, I'd never use you like that..."
He jumped as a sudden wail split the air. "Wha...?"
"Amelia," Riza gave a wry smile. "She doesn't sleep for long, unfortunately. I'm working on encouraging her to sleep for the entire night, but it's not working very well."
Roy followed her into Amelia's room, watching as she hefted the child into her arms.
And then, to his shock, she passed Amelia to him.
"Like this," she said patiently, adjusting his arms so he held Amelia correctly. "Roy, meet Amelia, your daughter."
"Our daughter," he corrected absently.
Amelia had stopped crying, intrigued by the new face above her. She reached up, her grasping fingers snagging on the strap of Roy's eyepatch and tugging.
Roy yelped, and tried to dislodge her grip. But with both his arms holding her up, he didn't dare let go of her to try and prise her fingers away.
Riza laughed, and gently untangled the soft strap from Amelia's grip. "Easy, Amelia, don't pull it off your father's head."
The young girl settled back into his arms obediently, smiling in contentment.
'My daughter,' Roy thought, a slightly dopey grin sliding across his face. 'I'm a father! I'm holding my daughter! My daughter!'
Her dark, liquid eyes blinked up at him. The blonde hair was all Riza, but she got those eyes from him.
This was daughter. He was holding his daughter in his arms!
He dragged his eye from the tiny face nestling into his chest, looking at Riza. Her eyes were soft as she stared at them, a small smile tilting her lips.
This was Riza's daughter. Their daughter. And the real magic of it lay in that simple sentence. Their daughter. His and Riza's. They'd created life – this little being in his arms had come from both of them. Their love had created a child.
Even now, he could barely believe it. It seemed so astonishing, so fantastic...
"Roy?" Riza's hand on his arm startled him from his thoughts.
"She's fallen asleep."
He looked down. Sure enough, Amelia's eyes were closed, her face lax, the fingers of one hand curled into a fist.
He eased her down gently, and Riza pulled the blankets over her sleeping form.
They stole from the room like thieves, Roy still with a broad grin plastered across his face. It was only when they were in the kitchen that he finally turned to her.
"I'm a father!" he laughed. "I'm a father!"
"That you are," Riza agreed.
She couldn't help being mildly amused by the idiotic smile he was wearing, but she found it more touching than hilarious. There had been no mention of Amelia in their discussion earlier, and some part of her had been worried. What if didn't want a child?
But that scene in Amelia's bedroom had erased all her doubts. Roy had fallen in love with his daughter almost instantly, from the moment she had put Amelia in his arms.
"By the way, Riza," Roy began, sounding very serious. "I've been meaning to ask you something."
"Would you consider marrying me?"
"Only if you move in with me, I refuse to move into that tiny box you call an apartment."
"Fine with me."
"Then, yes, I'd love to. Any particular date in mind?"
AN: There we go, nice happy ending filled with Royai goodness, sorry about the delay in writing/posting this – I wanted to make sure I got it right. I hope everyone enjoyed this, despite the angst, it was a lot of fun to write.