The Hour of Separation
Shades of Grey Series #6 - Shade Mist
D M Evans
Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition.
Pairing - Roy/Riza, Ed/Winry, Maes/Gracia
Time Line - This has elements of the anime up to about #25 and definite spoilers for the manga past #38 and beyond. More manga-based than not. However, the main arc of the series came before all the Roy and Riza history was published and so this can be considered majorly AU as far as that is concerned.
Rating - FRM
Summary - Riza's life takes an unexpected turn and Roy's past catches up with him.
Warning - dark themes, later chapters contain mention of torture and rape.
Author's Note - This series was started long before the lovely Ishbal arc so it's AU for the Mustang and Hawkeye history and there is no real way around that I'm afraid. Also, the Ravensdales are original characters that have small recurring roles in the series.
Series can be found on FFN
#1 Roots of Violence
#2 Ashes and Bone
#3 Why They Call It Falling
#4 - Point of Fracture
#5 With Silence
And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.
Riza wiped her mouth, hoping no one else was in the ladies' lavatory to hear her getting sick. She hated being ill and she was getting tired of this, three days in a row now. She flushed then went to wash her mouth out. She checked her uniform to be sure there were no spots on it.
Satisfied, she went back to the office. Fuery blinked at her from behind his big glasses. "You okay, ma'am?"
"I must have a bug," Riza said, sitting down at her desk. Her eyes strayed to Havoc's still-empty desk. She missed the incorrigible flirt. Riza was surprised that Mustang had been able to convince Jean to not go back East with his parents. She suspected Mustang's promise of trying to find an alchemist skilled in healing so Havoc could rejoin the team was the selling point, even if no one was sure such an alchemist could be found or that they could help someone in the military, given current attitudes. Even if they found one who was willing there was no guarantee the alchemy would work. Havoc was currently living with the Ravensdales who had moved to town the month before.
Having the old, blind alchemist around, the one who had first taught Roy the skills, had really lifted Roy's spirits. With his injuries at the hands of Lust - and how ironic was that - Roy had been down on himself. Jenna, recently widowed, had come into Central with her father and her young daughter. Riza liked having them around even if she didn't interact much with the Ravensdales herself. They not only bolstered Roy, but Jenna and Gracia Hughes seemed to be sharing their widowhood and their daughters. As a result, Roy seemed less worried about Mrs. Hughes now and Riza was all for anything that took some water out of the buckets of guilt Roy carried.
That was just as well because Edward and Alphonse seemed to be up to something that was making Roy snatch his hair out. They had been running all over town performing little acts of alchemy, very publically. What an idiotic thing to do with Scar back in the picture, she mentally grumbled. And Riza had seen the hotel charges Ed submitted. Fuery, Falman and Breda had been drawing straws to see who had to give the bill to Roy as part of the monthly report on Fullmetal's activities. She nearly fainted. Hell, Fullmetal had been with Armstrong and Breda in the desert most of the time covered by the bill. Who had he been putting up at that hotel? She probably didn't want to know. All Riza did know was in the future, she'd do her best to get assigned the Alphonse-watching detail, leaving Edward to one of the boys. She already had one arrogant brat to keep control of. She didn't need the younger version of Mustang. Alphonse was pleasant to be around and didn't appear to run up bizarre bills though she couldn't swear to it since he wasn't on the military's payroll.
Riza put a hand to her stomach, feeling it flip again. She couldn't possible have anything left inside her to throw up, could she? It didn't help she was so damn tired, too, and had been for a week, going on two.
"You look feverish," Fuery fretted.
Riza nodded. "I am." She uncharacteristically didn't want to be at work. She wanted to go home and lie down, put a cold compress on her head and take her bra off. Her nipples hurt a lot just like before her period but it wasn't time for that nuisance. She had been tired and sore for long enough that she had gone to her off-based doctor, Doctor Crosier, an older woman whom she trusted more than she did military doctors. She had called Crosier's office in the morning to let the doctor know that this bug had her throwing up now in addition to the fatigue.
"Maybe you should go home," Fuery said, going to fetch her a cup of coffee even though she hadn't asked for it. He needed to be useful she supposed.
"I wouldn't suggest that." Falman looked up from his paperwork. "Mustang is on the warpath."
Riza's lips thinned. She didn't need that additional headache "Why?"
Breda took a sip of coffee then replied, "Don't know. He got an early phone call then exploded afterwards."
Before Riza could investigate further - and she wanted to because Roy usually tried to keep control of himself in front of his men - the door to Mustang's office slammed opened and Roy stormed out. "I'm going to inspect the city." He paused, facing them. Mustang's eyes flashed black fire. "I think I'll start with Kendall Fountain."
Roy stomped off. Those words were code for them to slowly find their own excuses to filter into town and meet him there. He was paranoid about being bugged, justifiably so. The fountain was public and there were always soldiers about in the day so no one in Central noticed them. Her companions were right. Roy was obviously furious about something.
Riza got up, thinking she might was well be the first to leave. As she stood, the room spun. Riza clutched at the desk and felt a hand on her back. Falman was there, supporting her. "Thanks, Bota."
"Are you all right?" His face was flooded with concern. "You're dead white."
Riza rubbed a hand over her face, grimacing at the sudden metallic taste in her mouth, "Just stood up too fast, I guess, and got light headed."
"I think that bug is really wearing you out, ma'am," Fuery said, his eyes sweeping over her. She could see the concern in his face. He was such a sweet kid.
She nodded. "I guess I should talk to the colonel about going home early." Riza didn't wait for them to say anything. She left, hoping the outside air would revive her a bit. She hoped Dr. Crosier had an answer for her soon or she would just have to bite the bullet and ask Roy for time off but she didn't want to do that if he was in a rage. He didn't get that way lightly and he might need her help.
Riza didn't look for Mustang when she got to the fountain. She felt like she had run from Central to Liore in five minutes. She sat on a bench near the fountain just so she could catch her breath. She wanted to be home, feet tucked up on the couch, listening to the radio with Hayate sneaking his nose under her book just for attention. Well, at least he was less attention-needy than the other male in her life. She never got much reading done if he was over but she wanted him there to tuck her in and bring her tea.
"Problem, Hawkeye?" Mustang's voice sounded in her ear and she startled to her feet.
She struggled against the faint feeling again. "No sir, why?"
Roy cocked his head at her. "You looked lost in thought."
And your other subordinates noticed I'm ill but not you, brat. "No, sir, just..." Riza didn't finish that thought as Breda arrived. Fuery and Falman joined them in short order. They all fell into step with Mustang as they made a circuit around the fountain square.
"I've received notification that the Crimson Alchemist may be on his way back to Central trying to kill several people. He may be working for a traitor within the military itself," Roy said without preamble.
"Kimblee?" Hawkeye's eyes widened. "I know the Elrics discovered he hadn't been put to death like he was supposed to be but he disappeared after things went bad at Lab Five."
"Who's the Crimson Alchemist, sir?" Fuery asked, nervousness creeping into his face even though he didn't know why.
"His speciality is transmuting the raw materials in a human body to make a bomb and he takes great delight in it," Roy said grimly and Fuery looked about as faint as Riza felt.
Riza saw the looks passing between Breda and Falman, the looks that said, 'alchemists are freaks.' Neither men said anything, however.
"Who in the military would work with such a man?" Falman asked.
Roy shook his head. "I don't know but...Crimson is not without favor among some of the generals. He is a powerful alchemist. Some would be willing to overlook his sadism for that reason. I've heard whispers that some of them think he was sentenced too harshly and are looking to pardon him entirely."
"Why would they do that if he killed so many people?" Anger flickered across Breda's broad face at the mere thought.
Mustang's face lost all color, his eyes dimming. "Because they say it was for our cause in Ishbal. Keep in mind Major Armstrong and I could level a city block in a matter of a minute or two and we did, time and again. I probably killed as many as Crimson did maybe more...only I didn't enjoy it."
"And that makes all the difference, not to mention you didn't kill your own men like Kimblee," Riza said softly, seeing a love fest with the whiskey bottle in Roy's future. She knew that look, the tone of voice, the self-hatred. He'd be useless to help make her feel better tonight. She'd be lucky if he wasn't calling her to come get him out of a gutter.
"What do you need us to do?" Falman asked, all business as usual.
"Armstrong is drawing up a sketch of Crimson. We can't circulate it to the troops since officially the military is taking no stance on this, but I want you all to see it. I'll be honest, one of the people he's threatened is a friend of mine and I mean to see he's protected. There is also a chance he might strike at Brigadier General Hughes' wife, though I'm not sure why yet. That's what my source said," Mustang said, his eyes mere slits. Rage danced over his face.
"Understood. We'll keep an eye on her, sir," Breda said, grim determination in his eyes.
Mustang inclined his head. "Thank you. And under no circumstance do you approach the Crimson Alchemist if you see him. He can kill with a touch," he warned. "You see him contact either myself or Major Armstrong and we'll deal with him." Mustang dismissed them.
Fuery looked at Riza then said, "Are you going to ask him?"
She shook her head, silently cursing the young man for bringing it up. She couldn't go home now, not with Kimblee on the loose.
"Ask me what?" Mustang glanced between them curiously.
Riza waved him off. "It's nothing."
"Look at her, sir," Falman said, impatiently gesturing at Riza's pale face. "She's not feeling well. She probably should go home."
Mustang looked at her as if seeing her for the first time and with how preoccupied he was, she didn't doubt that he was just noticing how she looked. He blushed, realizing he wasn't as attentive as he should be. She would have to corner him later to find out just which friend had been threatened, hoping it wasn't her. She didn't like the idea of being a target of a mad alchemist. "Are you sick, Hawkeye?"
"It's nothing, sir," she lied. "I'll go back to the office."
"Well, if you're sure," he said hesitantly.
She nodded. "I'll be fine."
Riza kept in step with him on the way back to the office. The rest of the team filtered off to return on their own to draw less suspicion. The phone was ringing when she and Mustang got back to the office. Riza picked up, her eyebrows coming. "Yes...really? Okay, tell Dr. Crosier I'll be there after work."
"Hawkeye, if your doctor is calling here to make sure you go see her, go now, please." Mustang's face softened. About time he notices and feels sorry for me. "You do look pale and you might be contagious. The last thing we need is for us all to get sick with Crimson running around."
So much for feeling sorry for me. Riza sighed. "All right, sir. And I guess I could stop and get Hayate a new toy afterwards." Hayate's toys were their code for 'please, come over tonight'.
"Good luck with that. Take the rest of the day off, Hawkeye. I'll have Fuery fill out the paperwork. If you feel like this tomorrow, call off then, too. I can't have you here if you're not on the top of your game."
"Understood, sir." Hawkeye got up, giving him a final look. She couldn't read his face beyond the worry he held in his eyes. If it was for her or his friend she didn't know but figured his friend deserved it more.
Riza dragged over to the doctor's office and didn't have to wait long before she was shown in. Dr. Crosier had her errant, dark curls under a scarf today and her slightly lined face seemed more grave than usual. "I'm feeling pretty bad, doc. Will this bug be over soon?"
"Sadly, not too soon." The doctor templed her hands on her desk. "You remember the tests I ran the last time you were here?"
Riza grimaced. "How could I forget?"
"Well, I used the urine sample to run a few simple tests, including the rabbit test." Crosier paused, letting that sink in.
Riza didn't want it to. She couldn't breathe. Her whole chest hurt. "Rabbit? Oh...oh no."
"I'm guessing this isn't the happy occasion it should be." Crosier's look went grimmer.
Riza put a shaking hand to her lips. This couldn't be happening to her. She took a deep breath and steeled herself. "Are you saying I'm pregnant?"
Crosier nodded her head. "Yes, you are."
Riza listened without actually absorbing any of the information the doctor was telling her about what to expect and how to care for her body now that she was pregnant. What to eat and what to avoid rolled off her like water off a duck. Finally Crosier handed her some pamphlets outlining it and Riza took them with nerveless fingers.
"Riza, take some time, let it sink in. Think about it. And if you are having trouble with this, come talk to me," Crosier offered.
Riza heard herself babbling some thank you's but she was disengaged from the whole thing. She didn't even realize at first that Crosier was offering her an option out of this mess that was not exactly condoned by the state. She walked home in a daze. Once there, she turned on the radio and sank onto the couch. Suddenly she burst into tears, hugging her knees to her chest. Hayate, concerned over his master's unusual outburst, got up on the couch and started licking Riza's face. She grabbed him, holding him tight, burying her face in his soft fur.
"Oh, Hayate, what am I going to do?"