i'm going to go ahead and post this chapter, but please be warned, i may need to go back and edit it so the last chapter works. if I do i'll put a note at the beginning of the next chapter.

Roy slid behind the wheel of the car, closed the door and rested his head on the steering wheel. The whole drive over this evening, he had been almost giddy; just the thought of seeing Riza had brightened his long, lonely, miserable day. He knew the whole reason for his visit was to her to ask her to leave, but he had pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind, attempting to ignore the possible reactions she may have. There was always the potential for getting shot for even asking, but he didn't care as long as she was safe.

Throughout the day, he had been attempting to work on the reports and other paperwork that had really started piling up in his office. And it was an I-can-no-longer-even-find-my-desk sort of pile. It wasn't that he didn't spend the days reading and approving all those papers, they were just coming faster than he could work. When Riza was his aide, she had often voluntarily stayed late helping him with his work but King Bradley had reprimanded her when she had tried to continue assisting him after her transfer. Bradley also denied Roy's request for the transfer of new subordinates pending a 'structural review of the alchemist division of the military'. It merely forced Roy to realize how far away she was.

She was unlike any other woman. None of his smooth excuses ever worked with her, she could see through his every action. She knew him; she knew what he'd done in Ishbal because she had watched over him, providing him with the long range protection of a sniper. A brother in arms, so to speak. She had seen him at the best and worst of times and stood by him through it all, unfazed and confident in their goal. He had been her father's student and later, the brother she'd never had. And to his despair, he was sure that was all she could see him as - a brother. After all, who would follow a man through a war without receiving any emotional encouragement? A person would only do that for family, and he knew he was the closest thing she had to one anymore and the last link to her father. If he could only see what he felt for her shining through in her eyes, he would be happy. But no matter how much he wished for a return of his emotions, his feelings and desires didn't count in this; it was for her safety that she should leave. As much as he would miss her, he needed to know she was safe. It would be difficult not seeing her around the building but if she were to die his life would be unbearable.

Why wouldn't she listen to him? He was still an officer… although not her commanding officer, so technically, she didn't have to take that sort of order from him.

He was just so afraid of losing her. If she were to die because of his aspirations for power, what point would there be in his life? His closest friends all lost as casualties to his success. He couldn't see being Führer if she wouldn't be there by his side, advising and protecting him. Even if he wasn't the one chosen to hold that office, he couldn't imagine life without her. While she was under King Bradley's direct command he would unintentionally hesitate before every move he made, too afraid of the consequences that could be inflicted on her.

What would it take to make her leave?

Asking didn't work. The chance of arguing with her and winning was rather slim. She had already made up her mind so talking her into it couldn't be the best option.

Kidnapping. It could work, but what to do with her once he'd kidnapped her… a smirk crossed his face. Well, actually there were a great number of things he would like to do with her, assuming she was unarmed… and just thinking of her tied up was- No, damn it, that wasn't the point. Kidnapping wasn't an option unless he wanted to get shot.

Faking her death. Pulling the same stunt he did with Ross would be too obvious. Besides, he hated the smell of burnt flesh. Forcing Riza to do anything she didn't want would be next to impossible so it would require her cooperation and he was fairly sure she wasn't in a cooperating mood.

There was one last option but it posed a difficult question that he had pushed aside for quite a while now. Why did she follow him? It could have had something to do with him being her father's student. But if that was the only reason, it wouldn't explain following him through Ishbal and supporting him since then. Could there be another reason? Or was he just reading too much into it? Perhaps he could profess his undying love for her and she would run away of her own accord he thought wryly.

If he pushed her away, would she follow suit? He'd already told her she was holding him back, could he push that farther? Would he be able to push that further? Just remembering the pain in her eyes and how pale her face had became when he said she was a liability was shear agony. If he hurt her more, told her he never wanted to see her again, that she was too weak to protect him would she get angry enough to leave? It was more likely she would shoot him. Too many of these ideas ended in him being shot. For a man with a talent strategic planning, why was he having so much trouble with this?

His hand smacked the steering wheel. Damn it, he wasn't going to loose this without a fight. He was willing do whatever it takes to make her leave, even if she didn't want to.

Slamming the car door behind him, he walked back up the flight of stairs and opened Riza's door.

When she heard the sound of her door handle being turned, her hand automatically reached for her sidearm and she swore aloud when she remembered she had taken the holster off in the kitchen and set her spare weapon on the side table in the living room. She reached for her second spare when Roy, in his dress and heels, strode through the door, closing it quietly behind himself. Her hand dropped uselessly to her side and this time she didn't even crack a smile seeing him in his disguise. Seeing her on the floor, he settled himself next to her. One hand reached out to turn her face to look at him. With a sigh, he brushed a tear from her cheek. His heart sunk just looking at her red-rimmed eyes. He hadn't realized he hurt her enough for her to cry. All his well thought out conclusions created in the car fled from his mind.

"I won't give up that easily. Riza, I can't lose you. I… I lost Hughes and I can't – no, I won't lose you. I want you to be somewhere safe." The expression in his black eyes was so intense she felt her face starting to flush. Was it possible his feelings for her ran deeper than she'd thought? The raw emotions behind his words surprised her but the brush of his lips on hers surprised her even more. Startled, she tried to pull back but her head bumped against the wall. Hayate sat up and whimpered, unable to decide if the man who had been slipping him food all evening had good or bad intentions toward his mistress. When Riza didn't make a move to push the man away Hayate gave a quiet whine and retreated to the living room, lying down where he could still keep an eye on the man.

Occasionally, and with a greater frequency since her transfer, Riza's thoughts of him had strayed to this sort of scenario, wondering how his lips and body would feel against hers, his arms holding her tightly to his body, but she'd long given up the hope of it ever happening. After the battle with Lust, Roy couldn't help but know how much she loved him yet nothing had changed between them. To her, it was painfully obviously that he just didn't return her feelings. Besides, she had seen the women he dated, beautiful and bubbly without a thought in their empty little heads. She wasn't exactly jealous of them – perhaps slightly envious would describe it better, but not enough to actually do something other than watch from the sidelines.

The soft warm skin of his hand caressed her cheek softly, sliding down under her chin to tilt her face up toward his. Slipping an arm behind her, he pulled her body to his and his tongue flicked cautiously over her lips, begging entry to the moist cavern of her mouth. She complied, her lips parting hesitantly to allow his tongue into her mouth to gently stroke her own. A plaintive little moan came from her throat when she felt the pleasurable sensation of liquid heat flowing from her belly through the rest of her body.

The hand under her chin pushed her jaw further up toward the ceiling, displaying an expanse of creamy skin just waiting for his mouth. She drew a sharp breath and moaned his name. Hearing her voice say it sent a pleased smirk to his lips and a rush of heat to his groin. His lips nuzzled the delicate skin, enjoying the faint trace of perfume from behind her ear left from what she applied that morning. The familiar scent he'd been recently deprived of only aroused him more.

"Please Riza, please just leave" he whispered softly in her ear, his hot breath sending a shiver down her spine.

"No!" With a shove, she pushed Roy away, giving her room to stand up. Hayate grumbled and rose to his feet, no longer certain the man was a friend. Riza stalked into the living room and stood before the window. When she spoke, the hurt tone in her voice tormented him. "You're just doing this so I'll agree to leave. You'll do whatever it takes to get me to go away, won't you? Including playing on my weaknesses." She squeezed her eyes closed and hung her head, tears threatening to start again. "How could I let you kiss me? I should have known better." she whispered bitterly. The pain in her chest was agonizing, even worse than when he'd asked her to leave. To turn around and look at him took more courage than she possessed so she stayed by the window. She just didn't want to see the amused expression on his face when he realized she thought the kiss might have meant more to her than he'd intended.

Frowning, Roy rose and followed her. He dropped the wig and kicked off the shoes before grabbing her by the elbow and turning her to face him. Hayate growled softly and Roy took a step back. With a sigh, he motioned for her to sit on the couch again. He was about to sit next to her until Hayate growled again so he wisely chose to sit on the chair beside the couch.

"That's not why, Riza. Yes I want you to leave, but I would never stoop so low as to kiss you so you would. I kissed you because I wanted to." With a soft whisper he continued, the desire clear and strong. "Oh, god, how long I've wanted to…" a hand rose to again caress her cheek. His eyes concentrated on her lips, dark and full from the forceful kiss only minutes before. His thumb gently ran along her lower lip and her breath quickened.

She looked doubtful, the threat of tears still welling in her eyes. "Roy, what am I to you?" Hurt stained her voice and she pulled away, as if his mere touch pained her. "How do you see me?"

His gaze shifted to her troubled eyes, red rimmed from the tears he had caused. Knowing he was the reason she was so miserable tore at his heart more than he'd ever thought possible. Leave it to him to find a way to hurt her as no weapon ever could, he thought morosely. He reached over and took her hand, gently grasping it in his so a thumb could stroke the back of it. "You're everything, Riza. You're my best and most loyal friend, not to mention the most beautiful woman I've ever known. You held the key to my alchemy and since Ishbal, you've been my strength. I can't count how many times you've saved my life, covered my ass or just reeled me in when I went too far." He paused and looked down to study the delicate hand held in his. "It wasn't until you were gone that I realized just how much I need you. I used to see you everyday and now that I don't, you're all I can think about. I miss that little smile you make when you think no one else is looking and the scent of oil when you'd clean your guns at your desk. …and I forgot just how beautiful you look in regular clothes. I miss you Riza."

She couldn't hide the pleased smile his words brought to her lips. But if she really was that important to him, why was he doing this to her? She couldn't help but think he was just saying these things, kissing her, holding her so she would do whatever he asked her to. Was it even possible he could return her feelings? If he did, why did he insist on hurting her like this? "Then why do you want me to leave?" She whispered, struggling to keep the tears from starting again.

"Because if something were to happen to you, I couldn't live with myself. It's hard enough knowing Maes died because I couldn't protect him and Havoc lost the use of his legs because I couldn't kill that homunculus fast enough but losing you would be too much. When you work for him in his office, he controls my actions with your life. I can't act freely when the woman I…" his voice faltered but he continued. "When the woman I love has a knife at her throat. The best way to keep you safe is for you to leave the military and disappear." Damn it, he swore at himself. Yet another thing he screwed up. What possessed him to say that?

Her eyes widened. Although she didn't hear the end of his sentence, she didn't need to; it would have been another request for her to leave. He loved her? She searched his face again, praying it wasn't a ploy just to make her leave. She wasn't sure her heart could survive that. When she looked into his face, searching his features for lies, she only saw sincerity.

She had followed him for years. At first it was only to watch what he did with the array she'd given him, afraid she had made a mistake and her father's fears had been realized. The first time she saw what he could do in Ishbal, she'd actually held him in the sights of her gun but couldn't force herself to pull the trigger. The sheer agony and fear she saw in his face stopped her. Once it became obvious this was more of a civilian massacre orchestrated by the military than it was an uprising, she knew he wasn't fully responsible for his actions. By the end of the war, his guilt was all consuming and he nearly destroyed himself from the inside, prevented only by the efforts of his friends. But then he'd found his goal. His desire to become Führer and prevent anything like that from happening again gave him a reason to live. And as long as he stayed on that path, she wouldn't have to find a way to stop him.

It had only been the past few years that she'd started to think of him as more than a friend. He was the strangest combination of a master tactician, a confidence man an unstable child - all needing her protection. And it wasn't until the night Havoc was injured, the moment she thought he was gone, that she truly realized how much he meant to her.

When news of the transfers first came, she had momentarily considered resigning and attempting to help from outside the military. Then she realized outside the military she was of little use to her colonel, but if she accepted the transfer she could keep watch for anything of use that might come through King Bradley's office. She could also observe his activities. But she knew even as she had first thought it that her real reason would be to prevent anyone else from being placed in her position – that of a hostage. Now she only had to convince Roy.

"I can't leave. Could you picture me anywhere but in the military? I don't think a clerk at the grocery store is allowed to carry a weapon." She smiled softly hoping her small joke would lighten the tension in the room.

He smirked at the thought. Riza could solve any shoplifting problems with just a single look much less wielding her guns. She really was a military person at heart. She fit so well into the bureaucracy; she understood it and organized as her mind was, easily complied with the paperwork and regulations, not to mention her natural skill with guns. Riza had become the perfect soldier. He knew it had to have been to watch him, make sure she knew what he did with the array she had shown him. The smirk disappeared from his face, his expression changing to one of guilt. Except he had failed her, allowing her to be taken away by that… that creature.

"I can't protect you in his office. Not only did I promise your father I'd look out for you, I promised myself I would protect the people under me. And I'll do it no matter what it takes. Even if it means forcing you to leave." He whispered harshly. His eyes shone with a determination only Riza would dare to argue with.

"I don't want to be the reason you don't achieve your goal but he would only replace me with someone else. You said you'd protect your subordinates whenever possible - it's just not possible this time."

"But it is if you would just leave the military. You'd be safe then."

Her voice became more forceful. "There is nowhere safe anymore, especially if I leave the military. I know what King Bradley is. If I run, who's to say a homunculus won't be sent to kill me while I sleep. And if I'm not in the military, who would know if were to just disappear. It would be extremely easy to capture me without public knowledge and still use me as a hostage, just hold me under less favorable conditions. And if I leave, someone else could be transferred to his office. It's best if I stay. I may not be of much use to you but it will prevent you from having someone else who is useful in your plans getting stuck in my place."

"I want you away from that homunculus." He said like a sulky child.

"I won't leave now, but I can always disappear at a later time. For now, make Bradley think you are completely under his thumb. Concoct an easily discovered plan to hide your real work so when he finds the fake he'll spend his time and effort preventing a dummy scheme. At the same time, we can make actual contingency plans so I can disappear if necessary. And we can do the same for Ed and Winry. Think about it, if either of us disappears now, Bradley will only find other hostages. You need to forget emotions and look at the situation more logically."

"Forget emotions, huh? Is that the way you looked at things when Lust told you she'd killed me?" The minute the words were out of his mouth he regretted them.

She took a sharply indrawn breath, her spine stiffened and she pulled her hands back as if burned. She was silent for a moment before speaking softly. "And you gave me quite the dressing-down for showing such emotions instead of acting logically."

"You exposed yourself to shoot at a woman impervious to bullets! If Alphonse hadn't been there, you'd be dead." His mouth was now running without any constraint, saying what he felt before running the idea past his brain.

"It didn't matter to me; I thought I lost you. Why would I want to live when you had died?" She stood up and turned away from him to look out the window again, arms crossed in front of her body. It was dark outside with only the streetlights to brighten portions of the road. The sky had started to drizzle, not quite rain but heavy enough to be annoying.

Roy was silent, unsure of what to say. Could he ask her to say his death wouldn't have mattered that much to her? Was it really what he wanted to hear?

She took a deep breath before continuing softly. "So many people have been taken away from me. The thought of losing you, the man I swore to protect and the man I love, the man who's my whole reason for living, scared me. I thought I'd failed and what would happen to me after you were gone was trivial."

The thoughts running thru his head were overwhelming, sending his heart soaring yet opening a hole in his gut. She said she loved him. A part of him had been hoping he'd misread her reaction that night, hoping she wouldn't be so careless with her own life if she lost him. But what did he expect after telling her he loved her? The same part of him hoped she would tell him she didn't feel the same way so maybe he could stop obsessing over her. He'd tried convincing himself when she had broken down that night that she would have reacted the same way if she had lost any close family members. With all the things he'd done and the people he killed, he didn't deserve happiness with her. He hadn't survived all that to enjoy his life; he stayed alive to redeem himself for his actions in Ishbal.

Or was it possible? If she felt the same for him, would a little bit of happiness with her be too much to hope for? That cruel sliver of hope tormented him, dangling a happy future before him.

"You were reckless, allowing her to bait you like that." His tone was rather gruff, leading her to think he was angry again, like when he was in the hospital. She was staring so hard at the street light she hadn't realized he had come to stand behind her and when she turned to face him, his arms caught her around the waist holding her in a close embrace. Saddened eyes stared back at her. She lowered her head to rest against his chest and inhaled his wonderful scent.

"I know it was stupid sir, but she took away my purpose. I have been your protector for years now. I have and will continue to put my life on the line for you."

"And if I don't want you to?"

"It's not your choice."

"But why? Why do you follow me? Why do any of you follow me? After all I've done and the people I've killed… all the friends and subordinates that have died for my goal, why do you continue to support me?"

Riza looked up at him, shaking her head slightly, rather annoyed at his tendency to torture himself with his past. "Because we trust you. I was there and I killed too; it's the responsibility we accepted by becoming soldiers." She didn't notice his wince when she said she had killed. "As a sniper armed with a telescopic sight, I saw each of my victims die and each and every face is engraved into my memory. I saw what was done to those civilians and what you were forced to do to them. I follow you because you are trying to change things for the better. I've seen first hand what the military will do with a homunculus in charge. Human lives mean nothing to those who want a philosopher's stone. But you're not like that."

"Following me would be considered treason. You know the punishment for treason is death…" He stated looked down at her with the frown still on his face.

"We all know and are willing to take the chance. I know I would rather be killed myself than be a part of a bloodbath like that again."

"And I'm not going to stand by and watch the person I care about most die so you need to leave."

"You are worse than Hayate chewing on a bone." She grumbled pulling a way. "You just won't give up! How many times do I have to say I'm not leaving before you get the point?! If it's a battle of wills, I'll win. I can be more stubborn than you."

He cracked a small smile. "I don't doubt it." He bent down to capture her lips with his, licking the seam of her lips and savoring the taste of the wine from dinner. Not meeting much resistance, his eager tongue forced his way into her mouth but her tongue brushed his aside. Biting his lower lip she pulled back drawing his lip with her. Once released his lip, she spoke. "You're trying to distract me..."

"Is it working?"

"No. I'm staying."

"What if I make it an order?"

"You're not my commanding officer."

"No, but I'm still a superior officer."

With a smile, she looked down at his clothing. "Yes, but you're not in uniform."

"That doesn't matter."

"I've got to tell you, it's really difficult to take orders from a man in a dress."

He silenced her comments with another kiss, pressing her soft lips with his. She first responded rather timidly, quickly becoming harder and more forceful. This time it was her tongue flicking at his lips, begging for entry. For a moment he refused to respond to her invitation, teasing her, but soon his lips parted enough for his tongue to slip through, allowing his to meet hers. A hand rose to stroke her hair and he enjoyed the sensation of the soft silky strands running thru his fingers. Perhaps he could convince her to leave it loose more often.

Riza's head was spinning and she quickly forgot what they'd been arguing about moments before. She also forgot about everything other than the places his body touched hers. The kiss was broken only by a need for air and quickly started again with a searing heat Riza had never before felt. It was then Riza noticed his roaming hands had moved from her low back, to her sides, and finally down to her butt. He squeezed tightly and her body tensed, her tongue diving further into his mouth with a soft moan.

Her hands reached for the buttons on his clothes. She pulled back and smiled, "I've never kissed anyone who's wearing a dress before."

His hands rapidly unfastened the cloth. "If it bothers you, then let's get rid of the dress. You know, for a dress, it's not too bad."

"It's hideous, sir. I've never seen such an ugly dress. Was the person you borrowed it from blind by any chance?"

"Come to think of it, the last person who wore it did wear some rather thick glasses. But no, I meant comfort-wise."

"Have you worn many dresses to compare it with?" Riza asked warily and his eyes glanced away. "Please tell me you tried on another one just for this ruse and decided that this one is more comfortable..."

"No, but if it makes it any better, alcohol was involved… as was Hughes, a monetary bet and an inflatable-"

She cut him off with a hand over his mouth. "No. I don't want to hear a single word about you and Hughes and anything inflatable."

He removed her hand, settling it down on his hip. "Are you sure you don't want to hear about it? The mental picture will follow you around for days." His familiar smirk was back.

"I'll pass. I think you in a dress will linger just as long." It was her turn to smirk as her hands came across his bra. "I never pictured you as a white lace kind of guy." Her fingers reached for the front hook on the bra. "And if you're wearing stockings I'm going to have to find a camera."

"Well, I certainly wasn't going to shave my legs for this charade."

"So you are wearing stockings, aren't you?" Riza grinned in surprised.

"Don't bother with the camera, I'll melt it before you can use it."

"What did you use for the boobs?" She asked poking the breasts.

"Silicone," he said and pulled out one of the breast-shaped forms. "Don't they look real?"

"I can't believe the military trusts you with alchemy..."

He smirked, "Not just the military, you did too."

She sighed and slipped past him. In the hall, she turned to look at him with mischievous eyes. "Aren't you coming?" She asked.

For half a moment he watched her walk away, admiring the view from the back. This beautiful woman wanted him like he wanted her, he marveled. Even knowing everything he'd done. She wasn't one of those women who only wanted a good-looking man on her arm or a war hero known for his amazing alchemic ability. Riza was the one woman who could want him knowing the truth about his past and would still continue to stand by him through everything.

A pleased smirk crossed his face and he followed her down the hall.

well, i sure beat that to death, didn't i? no the argument isn't over, it just got temporarily interrupted and will finish in the next chapter. and sorry about the inflatable novelty reference (just so you know, it would have been a sheep) i just couldn't help putting it in. i actually found and gave one of those a friend - as a joke… of course, what he actually did with it, i never want to find out.

and, if you didn't catch it or i didn't make it obvious enough, the dress was borrowed from general grumman's for his disguise.

and tell me what you think – no flames please!!