AN-- Pretty short. Really angsty. Written in about, oh...ten minutes at 3 last night. Urgh. Not posting it with my other one-shots because I don't feel like sticking a theme on it. Seriously though, I read that latest manga chapter and just...:dies: I don't think I've ever liked the paring more. Also don't think I've ever felt worse for Roy then in that one scene where he's alone in his office. Blergh.

Oh, and I twerked the first quote taken from the manga so it would fit more. Call it artistic license, I guess? I changed, like, a word.

The Beginning's Sacrifice

"Even my queen has been taken from me."

He is alone. His office is almost completely bare. The stark condemnation-white painted on the walls has never bothered him more then it does now. Suddenly, it seems as if all his avenues have been blocked off, all his tricks explained. Suddenly, it seems as if he has lost.

Roy knows that's not true, of course—he still has a few more cards left in his hand. He still has a chance, which should mean everything…but right now, he can't make it mean a thing.

Riza's gone.

Saluted and left, ever the dutiful soldier. Roy had never wanted to kiss her more then in the instant when she looked him in the eye and told him they'd see each other again.

God damn it, I'm not ready to say goodbye.

He wonders what the president will have her doing. He wonders if she'll ever stop in the middle of some assignment and think of him, of what she'd be up to if he was still her commanding officer. He wonders when it was that he decided she was more important then his mission.

Riza would never accept that, even if he tried explaining it. She was, is, and will always be a true soldier, loyal to the last. This is a good thing, of course, because in Roy's daydreams involving the two of them, the danger aspect is always forgotten, and someone needs to remember who they really are. He's well aware of this, but can't bring himself to inject more realism into the fantasy. Those dreams are all he has.

It's getting dark.

Riza's gone. Roy feels the need to remind himself, just in case that stinging in his chest starts to fade. He wants to keep it there, because as long as his chest is burning, he can be sure that he's still alive. He used to be able to tell simply by looking over at Riza and feeling his heart swell, but he can't do that anymore. A shame. She always was so pretty…

The office is far too quiet.

Back in the Good Days (and Roy doesn't remember particularly liking those days at the time, but in looking back they are the sweetest drops of ambrosia he can imagine), the room was never quiet. Havoc was always goofing off with Breda, Fury was always trying to teach Black Hayate some new trick, Falman was always going off on some long-winded tangent about something or the other. Hughes was always…

Roy stops. He still isn't able to think about Hughes. Not yet.

He shakes his head. The silence is suffocating. It's funny, actually…Riza herself was quiet, reserved, but that never bothered him. Maybe it's because her stillness was peaceful, calming, while the emptiness currently ringing in his ears screams of things gone wrong.

God damn it. He should have savored those moments with her—with all of them—while he still had the chance. Now he has nothing. Nothing at all.

The president (that bastard, Roy thinks) went about things wisely. He knew exactly who Roy needed the most, and arranged for that person to serve him instead. He took Hawkeye and thrust her into a position in Central, so that Roy will still be able to see her. They'll pass in the halls, and the air will stink of things unsaid, but Roy won't be able to do a damn thing about it. So close yet so far…yes, the president knew what he was doing.

He's made you a liar, Hawkeye.

She swore to him, once. Swore that she'd watch his back, and stop him if he ever chose the wrong path. And now she's gone, and she can't protect him, and he needs her so badly he's about to scream.

He looks down at his desk, covered in paperwork, and who's going to make me fill it all out now? There's the chess set Falman returned sitting at the edge, and he picks up one of the smooth pieces and clenches it in his palm.

The queen. It always was his favorite piece on the board.

"We'll meet again, some day."

Will they? And even if they do, will it still mean anything? Or will it only be a cordial thing, an impersonal nod and a glazed-over glance? They'll have nothing between them, probably, but some faint memory of what once was. Either way, it won't be the same.

This isn't an ending, Roy tries to tell himself. It just feels like one.

"I'll have to be careful when I step outside. After all, my bodyguard will be gone."

Riza thought he was being sarcastic when he told her that, and truthfully his lips were curved upwards slightly. His tone was rather flippant. His eyes were….rather guarded. But still. It didn't seem like he was being all that serious.

He was.

Roy still isn't sure what he's supposed to do now that those he depends on have been taken away. He won't be surprised if the next time he goes into a fight, he waits to hear the familiar rush of bullets whizzing past before attacking and ends up dead.

The chess piece slips from his hands. He grumbles and bends down to pick it up, but can't find where it's rolled. Ah, another metaphor, his life is filled with them.

Riza, where are you? Why aren't you here?

He looks around his office. It's filled to the brim with memories, but it's still emptier then it's ever been. This is not an ending, he reminds himself. This is not the end.

Only it is. Not for his ambitions, not for his goal, but for what he might have had with Riza. The optimist in him refuses to admit it, but the chances of him ever holding her have become almost nonexistent. He thinks aimlessly about the confident look in her eyes when she told him they'd one day reunite, and wishes he could emulate it, but he can't. He can only pretend.

Once upon a time the world was a lot simpler, and things made sense. Havoc wasn't stuck in a hospital bed, Gracia wasn't a widow, and Hawkeye wasn't being torn from him to 'keep him in line.' Of course, once upon a time he hadn't fought in Ishbal, and once upon a time he wasn't a military dog with a collar around his neck, but it seems that every new stage in his life is marked and ravaged by loss.

Finally, he locates the piece and puts it back on the board. It's an important piece, made more so because of the secrets hidden inside, but strangely he doesn't care too much about that just yet. Right now, he just wants to look at it and wish its real-life counterpart was still here. 'Stewing in his misery', Hughes would call that, and he'd say it with a laugh. But Hughes is dead, and his upbeat way of living seems hopelessly outdated.

Damn. It hurts.

Hurts to be here, hurts to see her go, hurts to know he never told her how he really felt. I fucking need you, he wants to protest, but there's no point now and he knows that all too well. His queen is gone. The one piece he never liked having to sacrifice, shoved off without a thought. This isn't checkmate, not yet….but it's close. It's so close.

I fucking need you, you can't leave me now.

The end is the beginning is the end….Roy doesn't know what the hell to expect next. He only knows that it'd be easier to handle if his first lieutenant was there to help.

"We will meet again, some day."

Roy hopes she's right, but the room is so thick with silence, he's afraid he might drown before they do.