Spoilers for Chapter 56 of the manga.
For Riza, the last walk down that old hallway was the hardest part of the whole business.
Lights glinted off of the smooth linoleum, shining into her eyes painfully where they had once felt comfortable and safe. As she blinked, it seemed as though the familiar passage stretched on into eternity. Riza shook her head in irritation and strode forward, pushing away the apprehension rising like bile within her.
Somehow, it was simpler to stand before the door and all the things it represented than to relive that walk.
Hawkeye dismissed her musings impatiently. She had no time, no luxury for these thoughts. There were things to do yet, and one of the most important items on her list waited beyond the impassive door in front of her.
Riza slipped into the office without another pause. The familiar room was dark, empty. It was to be expected: Breda, Falman, Havoc, and Fuery were already gone. She wasn't even officially Colonel Mustang's aide anymore, though she wasn't to start under the President until tomorrow. But it worried her that there was no light under the door to the inner office. The Colonel seemed the last person to take a day off at a time like this.
Pushing open the door with something that was not quite trepidation, Riza looked into the darkened office, not knowing what to expect. Unacknowledged images flitted through her mind, making her breath come short without her realizing it.
It took her eyes a moment to adjust. Even though the outer office had been dark, light from the hallway had given the darkness a grey quality. Here, though, there was nothing. The twice-diffused light did little to reduce the dark shadows; the sunny day outside was blocked with tightly closed shutters.
At first, Riza could not see more than the faint shapes of furniture in the darkened room. With this first look, the office was confirmed as empty. But 'The Hawk's Eye' was not an idle nickname, given to a careless woman. Her pupils fully dilated, Riza again scrutinized the room, picking out the faint light where it struck the still objects within.
Flicking on a light as she strode forward, Riza halted in front of Roy Mustang's desk, her hand hovering over the slumped shoulder, the echoes of her alarmed query ringing in her ears. The Colonel's inert figure sprawled from the chair, head cradled in limp arms that almost looked like they were there by mistake.
Riza let out a breath she hadn't known she'd been holding as she realized there was a slow, steady rise and fall to his back. Now that it was allayed, Riza could acknowledge the fear that had been at the back of her mind since she had seen the unlit room. With everything that had happened, the thought of death was not a new one, though it would never be comfortable. Colonel Mustang was aiming for the top, and the tale of Icarus was a familiar one. She chose not to analyze her plummeting stomach every time the story was mentioned.
"Colonel," Riza repeated, relief now in her voice, as she shook Mustang's shoulder firmly. He grunted, mumbled, sighed, and Hawkeye smiled fondly to herself as she continued to shake him into wakefulness.
Roy groaned and tried to bury his head further into his arm, his motions sluggish. A faint, 'wha?' emerged, slurred and ill-tempered, sleep still clinging to the muffled syllable.
Or perhaps it wasn't sleep, Riza thought, watching him critically as he slowly raised his head. Those dark eyes of his were unfocused and bleary, taking a moment to register the face before him, and he had an air of crumpledness about him that was as out of character as the mostly empty whiskey bottle to his left.
"...Hawkeye?" The slur was more evident here, where Roy was usually clipped and clear. Riza felt strange: the name, said in this careless way, seemed like something completely different from her surname, always connected to professionalism in her mind. It was a foreign sound.
"Yes, sir. What - "
With a small gasp, Riza cut off. Roy had surged to his feet, swaying slightly, and put his face mere inches from hers, hands braced against the desk. She had never seen his face like this. It was twisted. Riza had been shocked by his expression even back at the fifth research institute, through her haze of all-consuming grief. That had been a controlled, hard rage that had left his face as hard and sharp as chipped granite. She had glimpsed the fury in his eyes before Alphonse had thrown up a protective wall. That deep-seated anger had burned as wildly as his flame alchemy as he destroyed the homunculus, but his face had been a mask of ice.
Here, however, was something truly frightening. Without the control sobriety granted, Roy's frustration, his anger, his helplessness turned his smooth, attractive face into a something unrecognizable, while those raw emotions roiled in his eyes with even more intensity.
"I am not your superior any longer, Hawkeye," he hissed, the slur gone from his voice. "Do not - do not - act as though you still work under me." His face changed as another layer was added onto it. In the dim light the single lamp cast, his twisted visage looked like a mask.
Riza was shaken, though she refused to let it show. She could hear the despair in his voice, something so alien that it took effort to connect it to the self-assured, driven man she had come to know so well. She could see his arms trembling, could see the effort he was exerting to remain upright and solid. Without retreating from his gaze mere inches away, she said, flatly, "Colonel, you once told me to protect your back. I have no intention of ever violating that order. Sir."
"God damn you, Hawkeye! Have you not been awake! You are not mine any longer." Roy sounded desperate, the shout strangled as it left his mouth. "The second part of that order was to turn that gun of yours on me if I ever stepped from the path. I have stepped from the path. I have failed to protect you. I have failed to protect Havoc, Breda, Falman, Fuery... I was a damned fool and you all now suffer for it." He fell silent, breathing raggedly.
In the faint light, Riza could see tears glistening on his cheeks. This was beyond anything she could have prepared herself for, and her hand rose without her realizing it, touching the wetness on his cheek fleetingly before dropping. In the face of his onslaught, she could do little. Silence beat out the space between them before Riza spoke softly.
"If you call what you've done 'straying from the path', then I should shoot myself right here. We all knew the risks, Colonel, and we have all followed our own judgments as much as your orders."
Roy shook his head sharply once, but at what was unclear. His eyes found hers again for a moment: Riza felt it more than she saw it. He seemed to be searching for something; whatever it was, his gaze dropped after a moment.
"Hawkeye," he began, but stopped. "Riza..." Her eyes widened at the utterance of her first name, but Roy was already continuing. "I can't... I can't know the truth in that statement. But..." He swallowed, dipped his head. "But I can't think of it in any other way than that I've failed you. You all." He faded into silence, his voice having begun to shake again.
"Colonel," Riza began to say, protesting, but Roy cut her off, shaking his head again and raising his eyes back to her face.
"Don't," he said. "Just today, just this one instant..." His voice faded to a whisper. "Pretend... Forget that you're Riza Hawkeye, First Lieutenant, for just a moment." He stopped again, swallowing, a battle seeming to rage within him. Taking a breath, he met her eyes. "I want you to say my name."
Riza felt herself start. The professional, the soldier in her refused immediately. But as much as these things were a part of her, they were not her whole being. And so she didn't back away, didn't scold him, didn't refuse. She simply closed her eyes to his dimly lit face and whispered, to herself as much as to him: "Roy."
Riza opened her eyes quickly enough to see the biggest, saddest smile she had ever seen spread over his lips. It gratified her.
The spell of his despairing anger broke, and she made a move to back away, realizing how close they were. But before she could put any real distance between them, Roy moved.
The kiss was as desperate as their words had been. Riza could taste the alcohol in his mouth as she reacted without thinking, leaning over the desk in an unconscious mirror of him. It seemed to go on for an age, this kiss unasked for, before Roy slumped back, falling into his chair as if he had spent the last of his strength on this necessary act. He smiled in the dim light and in a voice barely above the silence, said, "Thank you."
Riza had driven him home, then, helping him up the stairs and into bed, all stoic professionalism. She had not spoken a word to him the whole time, and it seemed that Roy had fallen back into the stupor of alcohol that he had roused himself from to speak to her.
It was not until Riza was back in her own apartment, safe in her cup of tea and her embrace of Black Hayate, that she allowed herself to consider the possibility that the wetness on her cheeks had not just been Roy's tears.
AN:Thank you, once more, to Yellow Mask, who looked this over and caught a lot of typos and the like, as well as giving some good tips :D. Royai foreverz!