Before I dive into a long rampage of rambling, I better let you read this chapter first! But don't you dare and not read the last lines at the end!
-()-()- indicates beginning and end of flashback
Roy hated merry-go-rounds.
Why? Because he got sick as soon as the cart even attempted to move an inch and the curves… not to mention the centrifugal force sucking his insides right down into his toes! One of his fan girls had once dragged him into such a vehicle -born directly from hell, created by the devil himself- about two years ago.
The ordeal had ended with him puking all over her dress, which had then resulted in a slap and a stinging cheek. He had been the center of many jokes among his colleagues afterwards and had vowed never to step into any form of fairground attraction for the rest of his life.
Jaws clenching and unclenching as he fought the rising bile in his throat, Mustang squeezed his eyes tight shut, blocking out the bright light that surrounded him. His stomach was lurching, his guts churning from the strange feeling of having been broken down into his molecules and then having been reassembled again.
Carefully, he pried open one orb, revealing a thin line of glassy charcoal. Very slowly, he opened them completely, his mouth dropping open as he found an insanely large set of doors towering right in front of him.
Unable to keep himself from staring, he watched mesmerized as a thin gap opened where the edges of the doors had been pressed together. As the space grew, darkness flowed out from the world inside, building a stark contrast to the light surrounding his being.
Setting his jaw, Roy waited.
His gaze wandered to the top of the doors, a strange feeling engulfing him… as if they were living… breathing. Thinking. He suddenly felt very small in front of the supposed entrance to the truth and for a moment, he actually believed to be caught in a twisted, unreal dream.
When the doors had opened enough to permit two humans through, the one thing appeared, Roy had secretly always wanted to see out of curiosity born from his greed for knowledge and alchemic power.
The single white eye stared down at him darkly.
Mustang's body stiffened involuntarily and he almost took a shaking step backwards as raw fear clawed at his insides. His hands opened and closed a few times, the feeling of his silken gloves giving him the familiar security he needed to finally square his shoulders and face the threat right in front of him.
Why was he here again?
Yeah. Because he had to save his Riza. Because he had to eliminate the Homunculi. Because he wouldn't allow them to use her to execute their dirty plans.
Eyes narrowing, he stood tall, glaring openly at the black tentacles crawling out of the shadow filling the infinite nothingness sealed behind the now open doors. Tiny hands appeared at their ends, their dark tips lightly touching Roy's ragged uniform shirt, wandering across his body silently.
After a few moments, the first ghostly hand grabbed him by his collar, a second one taking hold of his sleeve and a third and fourth closing their fingers around his wrists. Ever so slowly, they dragged him towards the open doors towards blackness.
His heartbeat quickened, a rising feeling of fear mingling with the sheer rage until he had to bite down on his tongue to prevent a scream from being torn from his throat.
A mere meter parted him from the shadows when he thought he had heard someone call his name from far away. Had that been desperation echoing through his mind?
Lifting his arm, his hand appeared in his line of view. Mustang stared darkly up at the eye that almost looked like it was smiling, the slightest aura of menace flowing out of its depths like an open threat.
"Riza! Don't you dare touch her!!"
He would end it right here and then, before that damn thing had the chance to suck out his soul and make Riza give birth to the Philosopher's Stone. Index and middle finger pressed to his thumb, the friction already enough to form a lonely spark, he counted the seconds until he would have reached the threshold.
Suddenly the brightness around him began to flicker with statics and at the same instant, sound returned to his world. The young Colonel couldn't suppress the frown when he heard the noises of struggling and yelling people from somewhere behind him accompanied by the groaning of the massive door as it opened even further to permit more tentacles out from the inside.
There were also the voices.
Like uncountable wailing children. Crying out for help and redemption.
The light around him began to diminish and the first tiny hands holding fiercely onto his body started to retreat, disappearing once again inside the black mass behind the large eye. The black pupil had started to move around in wild disorder, looking everywhere at once.
The brows on Roy's forehead formed a bewildered crease and when the last long tentacle had let go of him, he swiveled around on the spot, eyes going wide when he found a black eddy right behind him.
In the middle, a naked woman stood, her feet already sinking deeper and deeper down into the black funnel. She was staring right back at him and their eyes locked for a very long second.
What the hell was happening here? Wasn't that thing supposed to tear his soul out of his body? What had caused the transmutation to stop?
He felt himself being sucked into the whirlpool and fought to keep himself from struggling against the suction. Soon, the form of the woman with the golden hair and amber eyes had disappeared and he was close to submerging completely.
Mustang's body broke apart again… limbs and consciousness reassembling and dissolving again and again.
Ah, right… damn roller coasters …
When his eyes opened, Roy found himself hanging upside down.
The sharp edge of something really hard was pressing into his back, bending him at the waist backwards. Carefully he moved his hands, flinching when he felt the trademark prickle of burned skin rush along his fingers.
With a supreme effort, Mustang rolled around on the surface of the thing he had been placed –or landed- on and surveyed his surroundings for the first time since waking.
"Wh-?" The question stuck in his throat, eyes going wide in shock.
The large hall, they had been led into only minutes ago had fallen into chaos, dark columns of smoke rising from burning machines and scorched bodies. A waterfall of sand was cascading down from the cracked ceiling, forming pyramids on the dusty ground.
Pushing himself upright hastily, Roy bit back a pained groan as he felt a few cracked rips protest vehemently against the sudden motion. He ignored the screams of his body pointedly and slid down the high side of the rock he had been lying on, landing on the floor with a thud nobody seemed to notice in the bright disorder.
Rushing around the debris, the Colonel nearly slammed into a short figure running past.
"Colonel!" Surprised, Ed had to blink a few times, his chest heaving heavily from an apparently hard flight. As Roy's eyes travelled along the young alchemist's arm, he found a female hand attached to the Elric's wrist.
Winry was looking worse for wear, eyes red from crying and face covered in a thick layer of dust. But there was barely a scratch on her, probably thanks to the love-sick youngster standing mere inches beside her.
"Fullmetal, what the hell's happened?!" Roy pressed out, looking around himself, just to find Al heading towards them. The Xingese girl was hanging under one arm and his free hand was wrapped around the upper arm of the old –strangely familiar- man. Their sensei was leading the way, panting heavily and blood trickling down the corners of her mouth.
"Kimbley happened!" Staring incredulously at the shorter man, Roy waited for the rest of the explanation.
"Envy thought, he had died back in the mountains, but it seems he was out for some revenge! When I came to, he was standing in the middle of the transmutation circle, screaming about payback… he was making things explode."
Mustang's chest tightened painfully, throat constricting as he remembered.
The second he had come to, Roy had seen Kimbley stand right in front of his dazed body. Right between him and Riza's motionless form. They had been closest to the madman, which explained why he had been thrown across the room from the force of one of the ex-State Alchemist's infamous explosions.
"We can't find her!" Alphonse interrupted Roy mid-question, taking a step forward, fear seemingly emitting from his metal body. "She's got to be somewhere around here!"
Roy had heard enough. Not having waited for Al to actually finish his sentence, Roy had swiveled around, feet already dashing along the crumpled ground. Driven solely by instinct, he jumped across rocks and machine debris…
Had to find her. No matter what.
"Riza?!" He yelled into the noises of still exploding devices and falling stones, the volume of his heartbeat almost on par with the chaos engulfing him in a tight grip. He could feel his lungs straining against his broken ribs as he tried desperately to get more oxygen into his burning chest, his head already spinning dizzily.
Still no answer. In the background, he could hear the others yelling the name of the 1st Lieutenant as loud as they could, but the crumpling room swallowed every sound like a vacuum.
Suddenly, his eyes fell upon a streak of dirty blond. He no longer could feel his limbs, but he was moving faster than Roy had thought possible. The white pain searing through his torso held no meaning to him, nor did he feel the steel pole, that was poking out from underneath a rock, tear through his upper arm.
"She's over here!!" He heard himself yell as he fell to his knees.
Biting the inside of his cheek, Mustang suddenly realized that he was shaking to the point, where he had even lost control of his hands. With all the willpower he could muster, Roy forced his fingers to stop trembling.
With a feather-like touch, the partly gloved tips of his fingers flew across the ghostly white skin of her semi-naked body, feeling for injuries and making sure that she was real. That she was breathing. He had the unbelievable need to feel the warmth of skin.
As his index and middle finger pressed against the dusty skin underneath the jaw line at her neck, he almost started to cry with relief. A sluggish but strong heartbeat greeted the tips of his fingers and as if on cue, a small moan escaped her throat.
She was obviously in pain, one of her arms lying by her side at an unnatural angle and several long gashes ran across her naked torso.
But she was alive.
"Is she ok?!"
Not daring to avert his gaze from the still form of his 1st Lieutenant, Mustang merely nodded in answer to Edward's question and as carefully as possible with his own injuries making his body ache, he picked Riza up, pressing her torso securely against his burning chest.
Another crashing sound and the last wall broke down, a wave of dust rolling through the chamber towards the group of survivors. They squeezed their eyes shut against the sand and dirt, throats itching and coughs ensuing.
Al, who didn't have the problem, suddenly pointed his free arm up at a spot, where the ceiling was supposed to be. But instead of hard stone, rays of bright light filtered through the rising dust cloud, illuminating an escape route.
"Indeed, you children are blessed by fate."
Roy looked around to where the old man was standing, his eyes fixed to the opening. It had been the first time, the Colonel had heard him say something and a small smile appeared on his cracked lips as he finally found the name to the familiar face.
"Same goes for you, Doctor."
Alcohol equals headaches.
Especially, when the liquor had caused four men to turn into a bunch of immature apes and the only one currently befallen with a headache was the unbelievably sexy but exhausted ex-Colonel in the seat opposite the party.
Said ex-Colonel was trying quite vehemently –though, unfortunately, in vainly- to screw his eyes shut and keep himself from exploding like a bomb. He could feel his eyelid twitching when one of the drunken idiots on the other side of the train came up with another stupid bet.
"An' I bet, that he won't let go of her 'till Resembl-, Reservebo-, that damn dump we're heading for… even if he has to pee!"
The twitching intensified, but Roy tried to stay calm… for now.
He couldn't hold their current behavior against them. The four men, namely Havoc, Breda, Fuery and Falman, had gone through hell and back and their wounds weren't partly even close to healing any time soon.
Not that he was any better.
His broken ribs were giving him a hard time and some of the lacerations he had obtained while fighting his way through the dirt down in that chamber in the desert, were inflamed and just wouldn't heal.
He allowed his consciousness to travel to the badly burned tips of his fingers and could feel again the flames licking at his skin. But he hadn't been devoured by the fire. The injuries he and the other occupants of the chamber that time had sustained had probably originated partly from the rebound.
When Kimbley had stormed right into the array and had started to cause explosions all over the place, the transmutation process had been interrupted forcefully, equaling a messed up transmutation.
The power unleashed by the alchemy had been directed back at the one using it and father had taken the full force. Born from the body and mind of the man looking like Hohenheim, the Homunculi present had been affected by the rebound as well and had probably merged into one being, having been turned into the chimera they had fought after their escape.
The former human sacrifices had pieced that much together as they had dragged their exhausted bodies across the eastern mountains.
And ironically, they all owed their lives to the crazy man who had killed thousands with his explosions in a bloody war. If Kimbley hadn't appeared when he had, Amestris would have been a wasteland now and Riza would have been used to give life to the Philosopher's Stone.
But they were all alive.
His left eye cracked open and a charcoal pupil wandered down to his shoulder. A warm feeling spread out through his body when he found a blond mop of hair resting against his side, the hypnotic rhythm of her breathing making the collar of his shirt tremble as if caught in a light breeze.
Yes, they had all somehow made it. And not only through that nightmare that had lasted almost a week and had led them through Amestris and the great desert, but also the weeks afterwards.
The exhausted group had used up the very last of their energy reserves in their attempts to cross the border to their home country again and had been forced to stay outside in the mountains and the following plain for two nights.
Roy hadn't been able to sleep one second, the fear of losing a life while allowing his body to rest, clawing at his conscious every second where his mind stumbled along the line between lucidity and the final shut down of his body.
Riza had woken several hours after they had left the burned corpse of the chimera behind, already half way up the first mountain side. And against her protests, Mustang had held onto her and had refused to allow her to walk on her own, even though he himself had been at the very brink of collapsing with his precious burden.
But because of some very selfish reasons (he had actually admitted that after a long argumentation with Maes in one of his fever induced dreams in the hospital), he couldn't have let go of her body even if death himself would have given the order.
Unconsciously, Roy's arm drew Riza's form even closer to his own body, his still partly bandaged hand tightening his grip when he remembered for the umpteenths time the first visit of Major General Armstrong at his hospital bed.
Roy was bored out his skull.
A private room… well, he could live with that. But where was his private nurse, his private magazines and the private toilette for God's sake! All alone, he was left with the only somehow amusing part time activity left.
Or was that even amusing? Because up until now, he had only been able to tackle his mind with self reproach, fear and anger. He felt as awful as somehow possible and the pain in several parts of his body wasn't helping at all, not to mention the pressure of his bladder and the fact that there were so many IVs hooked up on him, that any attempt to get up without professional help would directly lead to a tangled heap of limbs and lines on the floor.
Sighing, the bed-bound Colonel stared at the egg-colored ceiling and tried to activate his mind-link to one of the other rooms currently occupied with one or more of his faithful –though pretty battered- subordinates and friends. Especially the one right beside his private (though missing all the crucial comforts of the room description) residence.
But their links appeared to be severed and the voice of the woman he wanted and needed to hear so desperately kept silent.
Just when he wanted to close his eyes -because frankly, the ceiling wasn't that interesting after all- the doors to his room flew open, the handle crashing into the wall and causing a plaster cloud to fall to the ground.
Brows creased, Mustang watched as a woman stormed inside, her aura screaming bloody murder, giving away her identity even before her mouth had opened to announce her presence.
"Major General!" Roy exclaimed surprised, fighting his way upright and suppressing a pained wince as his broken rips grinded their protest. "What a honor to-"
"Cut the crap, Mustang!" She barked back, grabbing the only chair and placing it right in front of Roy's bed. She sat down heavily, her insignias and medals clattering with the motion. "I'm sure as hell not here on a social call!"
Brows furrowed, a bad feeling already developing in his stomach, Mustang waited silently for the bomb to explode.
"Colonel Roy Mustang, you are accused of the murders of General Reibun, General Walker and General Bergnun. Your hearing will be held the day after tomorrow morning and –oh, here is the subpoena. Read it yourself."
Tensing, Mustang's hands balled into tight fists, the bandages around the burned skin of his fingers tightening painfully. He had secretly waited for such a thing to happen. It had been –after all- his very own plan to bring the Führer and the higher brass to fall and take over the country just to pass his work as the absolute leader to the parliament. And as a result, he would have to accept court martial and take responsibility for the genocide of the Ishvarians, the abuse of military power and so many things more. He was too tired to even attempt to complete the list.
He would have to face death. Probably shot… hopefully not by the hand of the best sniper in Amestris (she still blushed several shades of red whenever he happened to mention the fact).
"One of my subordinates is currently delivering the same message to your 2IC, 1st Lieutenant Elizabeth Hawkeye."
Roy's heart stopped for a very long moment and he forgot to breathe, eyes staring wildly at the higher ranked woman sitting beside his bed. That hadn't been part of his carefully worked out plan, just like the fact that he hadn't even been given the time to recuperate enough to even get close to the position he had been aiming at for so long.
'I will protect your lives and you will only protect whom you can… even if it's only a few, protect those below you.'
It had been so easy to say those words and believe in them throughout the years, but in the end, he hadn't been able to keep his part of the bargain.
"You're such a pathetic idiot, Colonel." Startled out of his self reproaches, Mustang frowned back at the blond Major General. "I've always considered assigning her a post at Briggs. With her skills and knowledge, she'd have been a reliable subordinate. But you just had to bring her down with you!"
Chuckling humorlessly, Roy closed his eyes, trying to calm down somewhat with his nerves hailing images he had always hoped to prevent from happening down onto his mind. There was that scene again… Riza. Falling.
"But now… I'll never get my hands on another military sniper with her abilities again any time soon it seems. Though a certain General Gruman was talking about a civilian with her caliber soon being available again."
Eyes snapping open, Roy stared at the iron-willed Armstrong woman with new hope flickering trough his orbs. Despite the immense pain in his chest, he sat up straight, almost pulling out the IVs in the process.
"Don't tell me-"
"You underestimate the name 'Armstrong', Mister Mustang. Though I generally prefer doing things my way and dislike using my family to reach an aim, I had to rely on some connections this time. Naturally my younger brother had a major role in this one, but…" She trailed off, looking rather grumpy when her thoughts drifted to her brother with the sparkling attitude.
"I am deeply indebted in you." Roy said softly, bowing his head slightly.
Owing his and Riza's life to that damn woman… He could feel a vain throbbing dangerously on his temple when thinking about the concept. That woman was a wolf with the strength of a bear and the memory of an elephant. Not to mention the attitude of a wild boar with rabies.
Someday she would stand on his porch. With that damn scary grin and those gleaming eyes.
Roy suddenly felt like committing suicide…
The train came to an abrupt halt then, a jolt running through the bodies of the occupants and sending Breda flying down the corridor. He lay on the dirty ground, sprawled out on his back and unable to get back up without the help of his equally drunk companions.
"Are we already there?" A soft voice asked from right beside him.
One corner of his mouth pulled up in a lopsided grin, when he found his former subordinate rubbing the sleep out of her slightly rimmed eyes. Riza was suppressing a yawn, when she looked up into Mustang's eyes, who was already mourning the lost feeling of her head pressed against his shoulder.
Nodding, Roy got up from his assigned seat and held out his hand for Riza to take it. Smiling faintly, she watched the bare palm of his hand, white plasters still wrapped around the burned tips of his fingers.
Carefully, she threaded her fingers through the gaps between his own ones and pulled herself upright.
"There should be a carriage waiting outside for us, Ma'am." Roy told her with a bow, allowing her trough the exit first.
As promised, a cart -pulled by one lonely horse- was standing at the station, Major Armstrong already in the process of lifting Havoc out of his wheelchair into the waiting arms of Breda and Falman. The trio swayed dangerously for a rather long second, before they collapsed together on a bench, laughing like the funniest thing ever had just occurred.
Havoc may have still been paralyzed from the waist down, but at least he could use his arm again. The steel pole had missed any vital nerves and blood vessels and the ripped muscle tissue had healed just fine.
After they had been brought to the hospital in Central, Roy had had some conversations with Doctor Marcoh about the possibility of a successful recovery of Havoc's legs via his healing methods. Unfortunately, the scarred man could do nothing without the Philosopher's Stone, smashing their last hopes completely.
Jean would probably never walk again, but he was slowly learning to accept fate and worked day and night on somehow making it on his own.
Against all odds. Because that's what they were doing every day.
Havoc, Breda and Falman were still laughing about some perverted joke, when they heard a woman clearing her throat soundly. They stopped dead, looking like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar and eyed Riza Hawkeye guiltily. She may no longer have held a higher rank than them, but she was still scarier than their worst imaginations of hell.
Fuery, being the only one among the four still sober enough to realize their idiotic behavior was way out of line for such an early hour, followed Alex up onto the open back of the carriage, whistling shortly for Black Hayate to follow him.
Sighing dramatically, Mustang hopped onto the old planks of the loading space and was just about to turn around to offer his help to Riza, when he found her already standing beside him, grinning sheepishly back at him (he loved the way she smiled at him lately… he should definitely work on making her grin more often).
"I hope they have enough room for us, though." Riza began a few minutes after the cart had started to move. The constant noise of clattering hooves was somehow soothing, the hypnotic rhythm combined with the soft swaying of the vehicle leaving the drunken soldiers in a semi-awake state.
They were passing through a vast landscape of fields, some trees here and there marking the end of one parcel, red apples hanging invitingly in the high branches. In the distance, black and brown dots moved lazily across meadows, their companions at the side of the road watching the carriage move by with big glassy eyes.
"I hope they have enough food for those idiots." Roy muttered under his breath, eyeing one of the cows chewing languidly on some grass and weeds.
Snorting, Hawkeye shook her head. Rolling her eyes, she moved closer towards Roy, until their upper arms where touching and with an instinctive motion, he slung his arm around her waist, feeling the material of her skirt underneath the skin of his palm.
He watched her through dark orbs for a long moment until she finally felt his gaze on her and turned around her head to face him. A bewildered, somewhat concerned look appeared in her obsidian eyes and a crease formed between her brows as she frowned back at him.
"You alright?" She asked, touching his thigh softly.
Instead of answering immediately, Roy allowed his eyes to travel down her jaw line towards her neck, where it lingered for only the fraction of a second at the base of her neck, where the collar of her turtleneck blouse barely covered the edge of the tattoo.
"Of course… just thinking too much again." He finally answered truthfully, closing his eyes as he felt a soft breeze ruffle his already messy hair. But how could he actually not think about her and the circumstances that had lead to this moment? The events were still too fresh on his mind and sometimes, he just couldn't make himself believe that she was actually right there. Beside him. His hand lying comfortably on her hip like it was the most natural thing in the world.
After a long while of peaceful silence, Roy felt her shift in his loose embrace and his eyes opened again in curiosity.
When her soft lips touched his cheek tentatively, he went rigid, his heart suddenly clenching painfully. "I'm sorry." She breathed the words against his neck and in the next moment, she had allowed her head to lie down on his shoulder. It fit perfectly into the crook of his neck, making Roy feel somewhat completed. Another part of the puzzle had been put into place.
Why had they needed years of longing, several near-death-experiences and their dishonorable discharges to finally reach that point? Was there ever an easy way?
Roy waited until Riza had settled down against him, before he dared to close his eyes again. He listened to her steady breathing and to the wind moving through the fields for what seemed like hours. He could even ignore the strange noises of their fellow companions as they snored soundly away.
Suddenly, the cart came to a halt and the horse shook its massive head, looking like it was nerved by the order of the old coachman. "We are there."
Just when Roy sat up straight, pulling Riza along, he heard someone snort behind him. "Lazy bastards don't change that easily it seems."
Rolling his eyes in annoyance, Mustang made a show of getting up and looking around with an exaggeratedly deep frown plastered onto his forehead. "Riza, tell me: Did you hear that voice? It almost sounded like Edward's, but I can't find the kid!"
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING A MICROBIC BEAN, TOO SMALL TO BE SEEN AMONG A COLONY OF UNICELLULAR ORGANISMS?!?"
The occupants of the cart hadn't even waited for the older Elric to finish his onslaught and had already vacated the vehicle, bidding their goodbye to the driver just when Ed had finally realized that Roy wasn't even listening.
"Oh, Edward! There you are!" Mustang said cheerfully, eyes crinkling up into a smile when he walked up to the irked Elric, extending his hand in greeting. Grumbling some swear words under his breath, Ed took the proffered hand and gave it a vigorous squeeze.
"Colonel!" Fuery's voice announced his presence and Roy turned around, a sigh already in the process of leaving his lips when he found the young Major Sergeant saluting briskly behind him. "Should we bring your luggage inside, sir?!"
"It's Roy, Fuery. Or Mustang. Or a combination of both." The ex-Colonel told the man slightly unnerved by the still ongoing usage of his former title. Kain had been the only one until now to never call Roy by his first name… though he somehow thought, that the others had taken over his first name into their regular vocabulary way too easily in his liking.
Had there ever been any respect for him at all among his subordinates?
"Roy!" Speaking of the devil. Havoc, sitting in his new wheelchair with a cigarette dangling between slightly parted lips, smiled up at Mustang lopsidedly. "Don't be too hard on the toddler." He was still grinning when Armstrong started to wheel him away from the lingering group towards the entrance to the Rockbell house.
Winry and Al were already standing in front of the door, her grandmother appearing out from behind the metal armored Elric.
"Let's go inside." It was Riza's voice that brought him out of his internal mourning of lost power and with a small smile, he walked up to her and took her hand carefully (under the soft whistling of Breda and grumbling of Edward… damn kids…), leading her up towards where Havoc was just shaking hands with Izumi.
Beside them, Armstrong and Izumi's husband Sig were engrossed in showing off their muscular bodies in a grotesque contest, sparkling profoundly and finally shaking hands in a newly made friendship born from their equality of muscle mass and their mutual respect for one another.
Family reunions were the best…
Riza loved the silence of the eastern region. Especially this part of the country, with its vast fields and low population was the one place where she thought, she could settle down, if that question ever became an issue.
The nocturnal darkness surrounded her, but unlike weeks ago, it held no threatening aura. The heat of the day had disappeared with the setting sun and by now a cool breeze had made the temperature drop to the point where the sniper needed a woolen blanket.
Now that the oppressive heat had dissipated, animal life finally awoke, small mammals crawling through the knee-high grass on their search for a meal and uncountable insects of varying size whizzed through the air, circling around the lantern and crawling along the walls of the Rockbell house.
Their voices were soothing and after a while of listening, Riza averted her gaze from the dark landscape and looked up into the clear night sky.
A map drawn by billions of small lights awaited her orbs and with a deep sigh filled with contempt, she absorbed the wonderful sight, eyes straying over the infinite space above her in awe.
Smiling faintly, she said nothing, merely patting the free place beside her where she was sitting on the grassy ground with her back against the house wall. Riza listened as Roy sat down silently, his clothes rustling. Abruptly, the noises of nightlife ceased completely.
The pair waited until the first cicada began its melody again, soon followed by a companion and some crickets.
"Why did you leave all of a sudden?" Mustang finally asked in a hushed voice, laying his arm around Riza's back, his bandaged hand taking hold of her arm and drawing her closer towards him. It seemed to Riza, that he just couldn't get her close enough ever since they were allowed to touch.
Like a child, he needed to feel her pressed against him, giving him security and spending warmth.
"I don't feel like sleeping, yet." She answered truthfully, swatting away a moth that crawled across the back of her hand carefully.
Suddenly a predator much larger than a mouse rushed through the field surrounding the house and in response, a pheasant emerged out of its hiding place, flying away with terrified clucks. It disappeared in the darkness as the landscape settled down again.
"It all seems so far away." Roy heard her sigh and with his free hand he pulled a strand of hair behind her ear. Now able to see the side of her face completely, he was mesmerized by the beautiful sight of the weak moonlight illuminating her pale features.
"It is far away."
Silence followed Mustang's statement as they both succumbed to their thoughts. After a while, Riza averted her gaze from the night sky and locked eyes with the man sitting beside her. She searched his dark orbs for a long time for something, but he couldn't tell what exactly she had been looking for.
"We will have to shoulder corpses and cross a river of blood…" The young woman began in a low voice, barely above a whisper. She felt Roy tense against her and felt a pang of guilt for having brought this conversation up. It had been so many years… maybe…
"We didn't exactly reach our goals… the plan didn't work out the way we had imagined. But… did we… did we somehow atone for our sins somewhat? Was it enough to lift some of the weight?"
The desperate, sad tone of her voice made his heart ache. The raven haired man inhaled deeply, suppressing the tightening feeling of his throat.
"I am a powerless human. Protecting those below me, was and is all I can do. We can't make up for the lives that were taken by our hands, but as long as we still walk on and do what we can do with our own hands, the burden won't get any heavier."
"Walking on… " Roy heard her mumble and suddenly longed for the stoic, ever level-headed Riza Hawkeye to come back. She had been so melancholic those last few weeks, always contemplating, always remembering bad things.
He wanted her to look forward again. He wanted her to feel alive again.
Before he could say anything though, Riza beat him to it. "You know… There are still children out there who aren't smiling."
Brows crinkled into a frown as Roy gazed into the reddish orbs of his former Lieutenant, the question behind the action not going unnoticed. A small smile appeared on Riza's lips as she glanced at the dark house behind the couple, Mustang doing the same. He suddenly understood.
"There seems to be a long way ahead." He said with a chuckle, feeling a weight being lifted from him as the woman beside him straightened visibly, a spark of life running through her and springing over to Roy.
"Is there any chance, that you won't take the offer from Major General Armstrong. I could do with an aide known as the best sniper in Amestris if we want to protect some kids."
Gnawing at her lower lip, brows folded deep in thoughts, Riza eyed Roy for a long second. He just watched, suppressing his instincts to caress the skin of her cheeks were they had turned a faint shade of red at the compliment.
"Well… " To Roy's amusement, a cocky grin appeared on her lips. "Depends on the payment. The General made me a very generous offer last week… very tempting, if you ask m-"
She was pre-empted when Roy pressed his lips softly against her own, his right hand already tangled in her blond hair, drawing her closer as he intensified the kiss. Not slow to respond, Riza opened her mouth, giving his tongue access, her eyes closing as she succumbed to the feeling.
After what seemed like minutes, the two parted, both breathing more heavily, hands barely able to stay still on the other body. They locked eyes then, glazed orbs looking for answers in each other's depths.
"I guess, I am still at your tolerance level, Ma'am."
And this time I mean it!
I made it through 9 (for me) wonderful, exciting chapters and can just hope, you all felt the same way! I wanna thank one last time, everybody who showed interest in my work and dropped a few words in form of reviews! They were all more than welcome and I am still unbelievably happy (and baffled) about the amount of feedback I have received (and hopefully will still receive) from you n.n
I tried to tie up all the loose threads that had appeared especially in chapter 8. If you still have questions, feel free to ask.
Love you all! Reviews are still welcome!!
P.S.: By the way: The not-so-healthy-for-some-characters-ending would have been Roy and Riza getting executed for committing the crimes I mentioned in this part (you all know about their plans, right?!)… I was always planning on letting it end this way, but you got me to make it like this! n.n