This is a manga/anime/movie mix since I prefer some manga elements but it hasn't reached its conclusion yet. For clarity's sake, here are the important details that I can think of that have great influence on this piece. Smaller one's I'll let you pick up as you go. This will have lots of spoilers, consider yourself fairly warned.
Roy and Riza have their past together, with the array on Riza's back and Roy studying under her father.
Havoc is in a wheelchair from the battle with Lust and has been rehired by the military as a non-commissioned officer under Roy training new officers. Similar to Sheska's position.
The movie has occurred, and the conflict ended six months before, with both brothers disappearing to the other side.
This contains major spoilers for lots and lots of stuff that I'm not going to bother to pinpoint it all, so if you happen to want to find all the fun details from the series itself, don't read this.
I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist; if I did I wouldn't end it with the brothers being stuck on the other side of the gate when they had a girl waiting for them back home. Yeah, the OAV thing shows they eventually made it back but that doesn't make me feel any better about it.
Well, that's it, enjoy!
Roy had never been particularly fond of trains. The seats were only comfortable when compared with something like the floor unless one could afford the coveted private suites and the food was cheap, tasting like sawdust, or incredibly overpriced and of mediocre quality. Bringing your own meal was generally advised, or hopping off at one of the stops to grab a bite to go at one of the platform restaurants. Of course, those were hit and miss as well, so it was usually best just to pack a sandwich and bottle some water for the ride. Unless you traveling with a carriage full of military personal who had no qualms about mooching off your hard-earned edibles simply because they were too lazy to be as half as prepared as you were. Also, their government seemed to think 'military' was synonymous with 'cattle' because that's about how he felt when they were sent off on group expeditions, the least amount of money put forth for their travel expenditures as possible meaning they were packed in until one hardly had room to breathe.
Those complaints, of course, didn't even begin to cover the reasons he preferred other modes of travel when not on military business. There were the loud groups of talkative people that were always present when you were trying to sleep on the late night ride through, but when you were wide awake and traveling alone of course there is no one else to talk to. Sleeping on the train in general was ill-advised as it led to cricks in the neck and sore limbs unless you were traveling with someone who didn't mind being used as a pillow or could, once again, afford one of the private suites. Large families with small children were the worst, one would start to cry and then the rest would follow like clockwork. Four or five pairs of lungs working to produce the loudest scream at the same time were a surefire way to get a migraine real quick. And then there were the drunks, the salesmen, and the idiots who tried to rob the train he just happened to be riding (that never ended well for the robbers). All in all, there weren't many other things he could think of that he would take a train ride over.
Yet, there was currently no other place he would rather be.
A glance up from the alchemy book he was pretending to read showed Riza still staring out the window, looking unusually feminine with her hair down and wearing a comfortable blue skirt and white blouse with flats on her feet and a tan sweater draped over her shoulders. She hadn't moved since they'd seated themselves three hours before, and they had at least another day's worth of travel to go. He felt odd sitting there out of uniform as well, his blue pants replaced with nice black slacks and his trench coat folded beside him on the seat. His white, button down shirt remained the same, but it was the only remnant of his military life save the special gloves that waited in his right pocket as always with a lighter in the left.
"Hungry, sir?" Riza asked as the food cart came by, snapping the Brigadier General back into focus.
"No thank you," he replied calmly, watching as she purchased a mug of what was likely gritty coffee. The liquid was hot enough to throw wisps of steam off its top, though, and that seemed to be all she cared about as she wrapped her hands around it and sipped with a grimace. "Too strong?"
"Just a little," she admitted, turning back to the window and settling the mug in her lap carefully.
"Are you sure you want to go straight through?" he asked as he heard the conductor's voice over the speakers, announcing their next stop in fifteen minutes. "We can stop and sleep at one of the town's for the night, it'll be more comfortable then trying to sleep in these seats and we have plenty of time…"
"I'd rather go straight through, sir," she replied simply, on looking at him when he sighed loudly. "Sir?"
"Roy, not 'sir'," he replied, catching her masked gaze and holding it firmly. "We're not in uniform; we're not even traveling on military business. In fact, this is technically supposed to be a vacation for both of us once we figure out why you've been summoned to this town in the middle of nowhere. So no 'sir' or 'Colonel' or even 'Mr. Mustang'. My name is Roy, and you've certainly known me long enough to have the right to use it."
"Yes…Roy." She gave a ghost of a smile, and then turned back to the window once more.
"Are you cold?" he asked as he noticed her hands tightening around the mug, desperate for some continued interaction between them. It had been like this for six months now since his return. She had gladly given command back over to him; he'd been reinstated at Central for his heroic efforts and promoted to his current rank as a reward. Life had almost fallen into its previous pattern, though he was not quite as brash and arrogant as they remembered. Matured was perhaps the best term to use for it. He had politely turned down many women he had once known, wanting to worm their way back into his life, and seemed to apologetically at least try and stay focused on his paperwork in order to make his Lieutenant's life easier. The men welcomed him back with open arms, inviting him out to drink and celebrate often in his glorious return.
But no matter what he did, Hawkeye refused to return back to the way things had been after he'd killed Fuhrer Bradley King. She supported him as she had before that time of his recovery, gave him sound advice and did everything in her power to push him to the top. However, the distance they had maintained on both sides for the many years they had served together was back in place as though they had never crossed that boundary almost two years before. They had grown closer, more intimate with each other, in those few months of his recovery than in the entire decade plus they had worked and even lived together, something he sorely missed.
Roy had known he was wrong the day he left, the same day she directly disobeyed his orders for the first time. Ed was gone, Al returned to his body but unable to remember anything of the last four years, the Military practically neutered as the Parliament took over the country and the rot of the homunculi and the philosopher's stone laid bare to the public eye. He had allowed his foul thoughts to stew and suddenly doubted his plan, doubted that he was still working for the good of the people, told Hawkeye he had stepped from his chosen path and ordered her to shoot. She had refused.
So, thinking himself unable to stay and bear the weight of command with the sins of his past any longer, he had fled north, demoting himself to a lowly private and putting himself on boarder duty alone on the cold wastelands. She had stayed behind, picked up the pieces, and waited patiently for his return. With his mistake, however, there seemed to come with a price. He had her work, her guns, her mind, her trust, her loyalty, her life…but no longer could he have her heart. At least not the way he had before. She still cared for him; Havoc had been quick to inform him of what an idiot he had been to leave such a devoted woman alone for two whole years upon his return. But apparently she had drawn a stiff line as to how that caring could be shown.
"Are you sure?" he heard himself ask after staring at her for several minutes, noting the way she wrapped her arms about herself for warmth.
She nodded, and he stood up with a sigh, picking up the trench coat and dropping it over her shoulders before she could protest and muttering something about a walk before he strode away down the isle. She watched him leave, glancing down at the coat and running a hand along the smooth seams before she left it in place and went back to staring out the window.
Roy woke with a crick in his neck, just as he knew he would, somewhere in the early hours of the next morning. Sitting up, he stretched quietly so as to not disturb the few other passengers before looking at his subordinate and finding her in the same position he had left her when he fell asleep the night before. Thankfully, the coat was still around her shoulders, but he doubted she had moved all night.
"Have you slept at all?" he asked in a low whisper, reaching out to put a hand on her knee to get her attention. She started at the unexpected touch, but sighed when she realized who it was and slowly shook her head.
"Is everything alright?"
She stayed silent, giving an enigmatic shrug as she looked down at her laced fingers.
"The town I've been summoned to," she explained carefully, pulling the letter out of her purse. "The name was familiar, I've been trying to place it since yesterday and I'm almost certain now it's the place my mother's family came from but I don't know for sure…"
"You haven't heard from them in years though, Hawkeye-sensei wouldn't even hear of them being mentioned in the house while I lived there," Roy said slowly, frowning as one hand rubbed the sore spot on his neck. "When was the last time you saw them?"
"Right after mother died, they came to visit us a few times," she murmured distantly, eyes focused out the window once more. "They saw the array on accident…it was when he first started working on it. Mother's oldest brother was so angry; he tried to take me away. I didn't understand, at the time, what was going on, but in the end I stayed with father and we never heard from them again."
"It could be someone in the family died, and you need to come claim something that was left to you," Roy offered in an attempt to be helpful, watching as she frowned with a slow shake of her head.
"We were cut off from the inheritance before mother died; they never approved of my father, apparently, and decided someone married to a 'wealthy alchemist' didn't need the material possessions of her family." She snorted to herself at that thought, and while the Hawkeye family had been far from poor Roy had to admit they hadn't exactly lived lives of luxury either. "He never went with us to visit, that I can remember, and the only thing mom received when grandmother died was a box of photos and an old quilt. There has been no word from them since, and I can think of nothing they would wish to leave me to over a closer relative."
Roy steepled his hands thoughtfully. "So if they want or need you for something, you honestly don't know what it would be for."
"Do you think…" He paused, rubbing a hand over his chin and feeling the stubble starting to form there with a grimace. "They know about the array, correct? You don't think…?"
"No, there was little more than the outer circle done at that point, only the youngest brother actually had any talent for alchemy and I doubt any of them knew enough about the research to understand what he was doing." She shook her head firmly, casting aside his theory not cruelly but with a touch of finality. "The final design wasn't even written out on paper until after the incident, there is no one besides you still alive who has ever seen the full extent of it…no, my father's alchemy has nothing to do with it."
They both unthinkingly braced themselves as the train began to brake, the scenery going from a colorful blur of fields and farms to the outskirts of a small town where a rather crowded platform awaited them.
"I'll get breakfast," he offered, getting up to disembark with the other passengers during their ten minute stop as she nodded and once more turned back to the window. Absorbed in her thoughts, it wasn't until someone tapped her on the shoulder that she looked up to see an elderly couple standing beside their seats.
"Are those taken?" the man asked as he pointed to the two spaces across from her, a quick glance around proving everywhere else was full.
"Ah, no," she replied, quickly moving Roy's things to the empty seat beside her and just settling back in when the alchemist appeared juggling a tall mug full of something hot and two packages wrapped in tinfoil. He quickly realized and understood the situation, and handing her the mug took the seat next to her without comment.
"I hope you don't mind sharing, I could only carry one," he said as he motioned towards the cup, her taking a sip to find it was black coffee that was just right.
"No, this is fine," she said as she handed it back, unwrapping the tinfoil to find a flat bread of some sort wrapped around itself.
"There's cheese and sausage in the middle," he explained, taking a bite out of his own to show her. "It's a local favorite, I think. Pretty good, actually."
She tentatively nibbled off a corner, finding his assessment fairly accurate and proceeded to neatly consume half of it before noticing Roy watching her furtively. "Do you want the rest?" she offered, hiding a small smile as he licked his lips hungrily before shaking his head and looking away.
"I'm fine," he replied, knowing she was probably just as hungry as he was with dinner having been hours ago and rather less substantial that he was used to. He pulled out the book from before, firmly keeping his attention on it as he felt her gaze on him for a few more seconds before she turned back to her meal. The meat wrap was gone a few moments later, and as they passed the coffee back and forth between them Roy stretched out his arms over the back of the seat in an attempt to relieve the strain of sleeping upright in his shoulders and neck. "I'm sore," was all he said when Riza gave him a startled glance, his forearm barely grazing her back. She frowned, brows knitting together as she glanced down.
"My apologies, sir, if that is my fault, you should have told me we needed to stop if you knew sleeping the train would not agree with you," she replied carefully, voice just low enough that it reached only his ears as the elderly couple across from them chatted animatedly.
"My name is Roy, we discussed this last night, Riza," he sighed, laying his head back against the seat. "No uniform, no formalities, got it?"
A comfortable silence fell between them, the roll of the train hypnotically steady as he stared at the ceiling above and tried remember why he had agreed to go all the way out to the middle of nowhere again. Apparently his Lieutenant was as susceptible to the relaxed atmosphere as he, and the caffeine losing the battle against her exhaustion; for he sat up as he felt her slowly lean against him. Shifting as her head lolled on his shoulder and hardly surprised as he remembered she hadn't slept in over 24 hours, he adjusted the coat so it covered her form more securely and settled himself for a long ride.
Riza woke as her middle protested its lack of nourishment loudly, stifling a yawn with her right hand when it occurred to her that her left was trapped between herself and the very warm something that she was leaning against. Very carefully moving when the warm something remained very still, she detached herself from what she quickly identified as her superior asleep with his arms still stretched out and his feet resting on the now-empty bench across from them. A wrapped package that looked like food lay in a basket at his feet with a few bottles of water and a couple of apples, and as she bent over to pick it up he said, "Its tuna sandwiches, the old people didn't need them and offered them before they got off. It was free, so why say no?"
Unwrapping the brown paper package, she confirmed his story and quickly bit into one, finding it still fresh enough to be good as she worked to quiet her demanding stomach. He retracted his arms, sighing loudly as he ran a hand through his hair before picking out a sandwich as well.
"Did you sleep well?" he asked amicably, keeping more focused on his food then on her as if he sensed her sudden discomfort with the previous situation.
"Yes, thank you, you?" she replied, refusing to look at him as she picked up another half of a sandwich and a faint tinge of pink settled across her cheeks.
"Well enough, we've only an hour before we reach the station," he replied as he checked his state alchemist watch discreetly. "We're actually running ahead of schedule, two of the stops no one got on or off so we just kept on going after a few minutes."
"That's pretty common the farther out you get, the smaller the town the less likely people are trying to leave or arrive," she replied softly, wiping her mouth primly as she finished the last of her meal and sat back feeling much better.
"What do you think the men are doing without us there?" he asked with a soft smirk glancing down at her to find her chuckling softly.
"Lazing about, no doubt," she replied, tucking a stray stand of blonde behind her ear. "It will take a week after we get back to break them of all the bad habits they'll form while we're gone."
"While you're gone, you mean." He smiled when she looked at him questioningly. "If I'd stayed, I'm sure their bad habits would be even worse."
She smirked slightly. "Perhaps, you are still rather famous for your procrastination skills and tactics."
Roy put his hand to his chin, almost striking a pose. "I do try…"
Riza rolled her eyes, listening as he began to describe the latest bet Havoc had introduced right before he left. He personally had twenty riding on Fuery being the first to be able to compliment a particularly touchy secretary without getting slapped, but that was only because his youngest subordinate still had enough baby fat to make him look innocent enough to get away with it. Hopefully he'd return to a wad of cash and not a smirking Havoc. Absently she scolded him for supporting their juvenile and occasionally disruptive behaviors, and he laughed it aside saying the men needed to have their fun.
She seemed willing to continue to listen, so he went on to an anecdote about Elysia's first crush at school and how the little boy had kissed her cheek on Valentine 's Day that then fell into a short discussion on the advantages of the young girl and her mother's new home. Riza seemed to appreciate the fact that it was so close to her apartment, making it easier to come over on the evenings Gracia asked her to sit, while Roy declaimed its small yard when compared to the large one they had enjoyed before. The size fit them well since Gracia was not in the mood to try and remarry and their family wouldn't be growing any time soon, but Riza was forced to agree the neighborhood wasn't the best. If it weren't for the fact her, Breda, Fuery and Falman all lived within five minutes walking distance and she knew to call them immediately if there was trouble they probably would have insisted she find a better area to live in.
The resulting topics of whether the military housing on site or off site was better and whether it was worth it when single to house outside of the military offerings was put on hold as their station was called, the last on the line before the train would turn around and return the way it came. Rising, bags and coats were collected, Riza's purse with her gun inside slung over one shoulder as they departed and found the platform completely empty save themselves and the old man running the ticket booth off to one side.
"Do you want to find a place to stay or go see the Governor first?" Roy asked as he eyed the dirt roads and wood shingled buildings, none of them over three stories high. It was a far cry from Central, or any regular city for that matter.
"Lets get rooms first, I'd rather not drag my bags around everywhere we go," she replied curtly, leading the way to an old Inn where they quickly procured two rooms for the night and put their things away. Baggage free they left, only Riza's purse and Roy's coat accompanying them along the way. It was warm now, but it would get chilly when the sun set and there was no telling where they would be going or how long it would take.
Pulling the letter out of her purse, together they entered the sole government building other than the military police station and were ushered into a small office with a single cluttered desk and shelves lining the walls with books while the secretary fetched the Governor. He was an old man, but he walked tall despite the cane he used to navigate the room.
"I understand you wished to see me," he said as he sat down carefully, motioning for them to take the seats across from him. Complying, Riza wordlessly handed him the letter and he glanced over the typed words before nodding abruptly. "Ah…right. You're probably wondering why we need you here."
"Yes," Riza replied calmly, waiting for him to continue.
"There was a plague a short while ago," the old man explained as he rose, scribbling down a note that he handed to the secretary on his way out the door. Motioning for them to follow, he explained that this disease had swept through their community during the winter when the rail lines were often closed due to the snow and ice. They were far enough North that the winter was long and cruel, and impossible to travel through at its worst. The doctor had been one of the first to go, and with him a large portion of the community. Central, of course, sent help as soon as they were aware of the town's plight, but by then it was too late for many. Most of her mother's family was one of those many.
At the graveyard he led them to a particular corner, pointing out the headstones marking her grandmother's second husband, her mother's two siblings and three half siblings along with their husbands, wives, and children. He had lived in that town his whole life, and had been friends with all of them. At each marker Riza paused, running a hand along the name before moving on to the next. Some of them she hadn't seen in nearly twenty years, and most of the people she had never even met, for they had not married into the family until after their break with her aunts and uncles. Cousins born after that time, and even a second cousin or two taken as mere toddlers and babes, it was a very sad and solemn affair.
Eventually, they reached the entrance once more, the old man pausing there as he spotted something in the distance.
"I still don't understand why my presence is required," Riza said, bringing his attention back to her as she stared at the graves. "While I am sad for their passing and understand it must have been hard to lose such good friends, I hardly knew these people. I have had no contact with them since I was a small girl. A letter would have sufficed would you have wished to inform me of the situation."
"Unfortunately, there is a matter of settling their affairs," the Governor explained as he rubbed his chin, bringing out a pipe to chew on the end thoughtfully.
"I very much doubt I was included in their wills, if they had ones written up at all," she replied, turning to look at him with a frown. "And even if they didn't, I have no need of their things and money. If you lost as many people as you say you have, I'm sure their land and money could be put to use helping the town rebuild itself…"
"Unfortunately, in settling their affairs it is not so much an issue of what they left behind," he coughed as the figures he'd been watching in the distance became clear, an older woman flanked on either side by a child. "So much as who."
First chapter, whoo!! Please review, it makes my day, really. This is mostly already written, I will just be revising chapters as I go. I had mono over Christmas, and it gave me a lot of time to write since I wasn't good for much else, that's the only reason this story is here at all. Hope to hear from you, and with luck chapter two won't be long in coming.