Substitution
By – Hime no Ichigo

Genre: Romance/Angst

Rating: pushing R (on the safe side)

Pairings: one-sided Riza/Roy, Roy/Ed

Story Type: One-shot

Summary: She found out, on a rainy night, that she would've been better off being his right-hand woman than something more than she thought she could be.

Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist is copyrighted to Hiromu Arakawa/Square Enix, so nope, not mine. Unfortunately. XD

Warnings: SPOILERS because this takes place after episode 51 of the anime!! Please, I don't want to spoil this for anyone, so please read at your own discretion! Oh, and angst-y-ish stuff? It's sort of Riza-centric, since it involves her experiences. That should be it.

-----

She knew, the instant she got out of bed and did the usual routine with Black Hayate for his breakfast that morning, that it was one of those days. It was just a tad bit uncomfortable, but she shrugged it away; because quite frankly, Riza Hawkeye did not let an uncomfortable feeling to interfere with her military duties.

Closing the door behind her firmly, she made her way to the office, with her faithful dog padding by her side. People saluted and a chorus of "Good morning, Lieutenant Colonel Hawkeye" accompanied the gesture. She smiled briefly, inclined her head slightly in their direction, and continued walking down the hall.

Riza paused for a bit in front of the double oak doors leading into Brigadier General Roy Mustang's office. It had become some sort of "ritual" for her, to hesitate before entering said room. But these moments never lasted long.

Black Hayate nudged her softly to prod her into movement. She offered another smile before pulling on her "work face", and pushed open the door. The dog gave a yelp and bounded into the room happily, jumping on to the person who was closest to him. Kain Fuery, still preferring to be a Master Sergeant under Mustang's command, gave a soft laugh as Black Hayate launched into his arms. They dog's tail waved energetically.

She remained the only female officer in this group – not that she minded – and at that moment, she suppressed a grin at her dog's show of affection and energy and walked to her post. Although she rose in rank, she still wanted to remain under Roy's command. She dropped her bag on her chair, and looked at the pile of papers that sat on her desk and waited for her to bring it into the other room.

She knocked, and the familiar order "Come in" sounded from within. She pushed open the door, nearly tripping since the paper pile was perhaps just a little too much.

"This, General Mustang, is all the paperwork for this morning. It would be advisable for you to finish before lunch break, because if you do not, the consequences would be severe."

As predicted, he gave a little groan of exasperation, as the little speech Riza had just uttered was a constant pain in the neck for him. It reminded him, that no matter how high his rank was, he was still haunted by those damned official documents. Whether they be small matters like two vendors arguing over whose fruits were more delicious and breaking into a fight, or big matters, like the import rate of rice diminished slightly a few days ago because of a drought.

They still made their way to his desk every single day.

However, what Riza hadn't expected was that he heaved a sigh and pulled out a silver pen and actually began to sign the papers, not at all like his usual air.

She blinked. This was something new.

-----

Riza looked up as she heard the creaking of the door, and saw Roy walk out, shrugging on his jacket. She was halfway up her chair when she called out: "General!"

He stopped beside her desk and said coolly, "Lieutenant Hawkeye, those documents are on my desk on the out tray. I think you'll find my work satisfactory today, since I've finished signing all the documents. And now," he paused to look at his watch, "since it's quarter past noon, can I be excused for the rest of the day?"

"But sir—!"

The door closed with a sharp snap, and whatever Riza had intended to say, it stayed in her mind.

She let it go.

-----

Movements around the office finally lifted Riza's attention from the problems laid down in front of her and caused her to glance at the clock.

Five o'clock. Of course, time to go home.

Probably that's why they're all moving so quickly… I wish that'd happen while they are on duty, she sighed, shaking her head. But hey, I can leave too. She looked at the documents on her desk. Later tonight, or tomorrow, it won't hurt, she promised herself.

"Come on, Black Hayate, time to go," she called while retrieving her bag. Predictably, she was the last one to leave the room. When her pet did not appear like he usually did, however, she grew concerned and called again.

Still nothing.

Puzzled, she circled the modest-sized office but found no trace of him.

"Oh, this is not funny," she muttered to herself while locking the door behind her. She walked stiffly, and barely managed to nod to those who bid her good night. Riza cringed inwardly. I need a new chair and a break between 9 in the morning until work is over. And lunch doesn't count.

She stopped by the main office to check out and noticed a message in their room's mailbox. "Excuse me, but you could be so kind as to get that note for me, please?" Riza asked politely, pointing to the box, with one arm leaning on the counter.

"Of course, Lieutenant Hawkeye," the young man smiled, walked over and back to slide the paper under the glass pane that separated him and the blonde. "There you go. Have a great night, ma'am."

"You too," she smiled back, feeling her muscles tighten. Ow.

She was just outside the military building when she finished reading the note, and screamed. "Jean Havoc, Black Hayate is not yours! You do not take him home just so he can watch your apartment when you attempt to date another girl!"

Pita-pita-pita-crunch-crunch-pita-pita.

She crunched up the note in her right hand and felt her face being pelted at by something wet.

Rain.

Great. She pulled out her umbrella. Yep. It's one of those days.

-----

Riza walked in her normal pace with as much grace as she could with her stiff back – not overly fast, nor overly slow – under the quickly darkening sky. The rain was coming in heavier now. She clutched her umbrella tighter, tugged her bag a little closer to her side, and still slightly annoyed at Havoc's antics, passed under the flickering streetlights.

She glanced around the neighbourhood furtively, wary of any lurking danger. The reassuring pressure of her Beretta on her hip calmed her somewhat. Clearly, she still had her misgivings about the route she took home for the past years. Come on, Riza, hold it together; you've only done this about a million times.

She paused outside of a store, taking a moment to glance at the store name: The Rising Horizon before moving on. What made her stop, she did not know exactly. But something had caught her attention. And what caused her to double-back a bit was not the fact that drunkards were staggering around the place, waving their beer mugs around (and presumably shouting loudly about something, like their disapproval of the military and the country's distribution of money), slopping their contents over the rim that formed puddles on the old and peeling wooden floor panels; no, it was the lone figure that sat to the right of what she could see, at the counter, where behind it moved the bartender, busy filling and refilling mugs (at times throwing a disdaining look at the figure, wondering why it was being quiet in a pub and in such attire, as if such actions has somehow disgraced his store), holding a mug with both hands and staring at it with – what Riza could make out just outside the much-needed-cleaning window – a look that suggested he was either drunk, or was merely thinking too much. (She highly doubted the latter, but of course, nothing was impossible in this crazy world where they lived now. Anything can happen.)

Riza pushed the door open, the twinkling of bells falling deaf to the din inside the pub. Momentarily confused by the noise and needed to adjust slightly to the dim lighting from the night in which she just escaped from, she took a few seconds to soak in the tatty furnishings before walking to the counter, taking great care in her steps to prevent a tripping disaster, and tapped the figure lightly on the right shoulder. "General?"

She received no response upon several pushes and finally, the feelings of exasperation, exhaustion, and impatience overtook her. Steadying her bag at her side, she crouched slightly to accommodate the heavy, dead weight of her commanding officer. "C'mon, Roy, time to get out of here."

His feet dragged across the floor, making small, detached black skid marks across the floor with his black boots. They almost made it to the door when a person zipped past Riza's right side with a mug in each of his hands and stopped them in their path.

"Hey beautiful, whera off to tonight?" His voice was slurred and his breath was heavily coloured with alcohol consumption.

As tempting as it was to just whip out her Beretta and threaten the living daylights out of the drunkard, Riza was already struggling with simply supporting Mustang, let alone trying to take out her gun and hold him by one arm.

Feeling that ignorance would probably serve her best in this situation, she simply ignored him and continued their way to the door.

Thank goodness it's "push" and not "pull".

She thought she felt a twitch as she dragged Mustang just over the threshold, and sure enough, when Riza turned back to ensure that the drunkard was not following them, she found herself trying to hide a smile at the sight of him, eyes wide and waving his arms madly, as the legs of his pants caught fire.

She noted the fire extinguisher inside was enclosed in a very rusty glass case lined with oxidized metal rims – probably not used for over ten years – and made a mental note to report the pub to the Fire and Safety Department.

It was still raining.

------

"Goodness, you need to work off this weight," Riza grunted as she heaved Roy up the stairs to the door of his house, careful of the puddles and the slippery surface. Roy muttered something under his breath; she leaned in to catch his words, but he fell silent again. Riza rolled her eyes. "Now where are your keys?" She reached into his left pocket and touched cold metal. "Bingo!"

The door opened silently and they ventured into the dark hall. Riza attempted to dry her hands before feeling for the light switched, but every inch of their clothing were wet, so she groped for the light switch that was somewhere on the wall anyway. She blinked when the light on the ceiling turned on. With the hall lit, they walked further down and with one hand, she opened the bedroom door.

"That's it! Starting tomorrow you're going to have to exercise for at least an hour to lose some of this dead weight," Riza grumbled after twisting over and planted Roy on his bed. His raven hair plastered over part of his forehead and around, on the pillow.

Riza crossed her arms and stared at him. Shaking her head, she left the room to get a warm glass of water and hot towel. She returned to find him lying on his right side, hands limp in front of him.

She shook her head again as she set down the two items, rolled him over, and sat down beside him. "How do you manage to take care of yourself?" She wondered aloud softly as she wiped his forehead and stationed the now warm towel on it. Careful as to not spill the water, she set it further back on the bedside table towards the wall.

"Well, I've done all I can…" she looked around the room to see if there was anything she missed. She was about to stand up when her hand was firmly gripped by the other man's hand.

"Wha-?" Riza started and jumped slightly.

"Nggg…don't leave…" Roy mumbled and rolled over on his right side again.

Riza gawked at him for a minute and tried to pull away. For a drunken man, his grip sure was firm. She finally gave up and simply sat down on his bed again. And sighed. This is going to be a long night.

She was nodding off when she realized at a start that it was already 03:26 AM. Roy was still sleeping. She sighed for what seemed like the forty-second time just that night.

Suddenly and without warning, she felt her balance tilt in favour of the bed and her head hit something soft. Something suspiciously like the pillow. She was thankful for the relief the lying down position brought to her stiffening spine, yet she remained alert. Woman's defence mechanism kicking in, what can you say.

Something rough yet with a trace of softness nuzzled into her neck and she almost yelped and leapt out of the bed had not an arm secured to the lump that was Roy.

Riza felt herself eventually relaxing, felt her barriers crumbling, and giving way to something she wanted – yearned for – for a long time. She softened into his hold, almost melting into his form and into the bed sheets.

"Nnn…Ed…" He shifted and nuzzled again.

She froze and let the barriers back up.

She just tried to listen to the rain that was still falling.

-----

Roy cracked open an eye and found sunlight shining through a small gap between his curtains. He rolled over and squinted at his clock.

07:32 AM.

"DAMN!" He shouted and made a beeline to the bathroom. The birds tweeted outside, offended that their morning song was disturbed by such a rude interruption.

He flew out in less than two minutes back to his bedroom, and threw on his uniform. He was adjusting his tie when he made his way to the kitchen. He prepared toast and brewed coffee, and was just going get the butter when he spotted a piece of paper attached to his fridge.

Don't be late for work today. No exceptions. -Riza

Roy raised an eyebrow. 'Riza was here yesterday night?'

POP.

The sound of toast popping out of the toaster brought him back to reality and he remembered what he was going to do. He opened the fridge and took out the butter, spread a bit over the piece of toast, and tossed it into his mouth. He wolfed it down and gulped down the coffee too, almost scalding his tongue and throat, but he did not care. He was going to be late for work if he did not hurry.

-----

Roy hurried into his office, papers flying out of their piles in his rush's wind.

"Made…it…!" He gasped out the words, hands placed on his knees.

He glanced and saw Riza's tapping foot, impatient. 'Uh oh…' He started to sweat and straightened up, smiling sheepishly into Riza's stern face. "I was on time!"

She raised an eyebrow at him. "I never said you weren't."

"Then stop staring at me like that!"

Riza rolled her eyes. "I always look like that. Now get to your desk and start signing those documents. Before anything happens." Her hand inched slowly to the gun strapped to her belt.

Roy eyed her and ran to his desk. "Oh, Lieutenant Hawkeye, before you leave…" Riza turned. Roy continued, "Nothing happened yesterday, right?"

She stiffened. "No, why would there be?"

"Oh, I was just wondering…and making sure."

"Are you trying to get out of work again, sir?"

"Oh, no, no."

"Good, then get to it." Her lips tightened into an ironic smile and closed the door behind her. She closed her eyes, breathed deeply, and reopened her eyes. Nothing happened indeed. Nothing. Nothing at all. Why would there be?

Riza ignored the inquiring gazes of the fellow lieutenants around the room and settled at her desk.

Because after all, she was Riza Hawkeye; and she did not let these uncomfortable feelings stop her from i being /i her.

- Owari -

Authoress Notes: Err… okay, shoot me. It didn't exactly go where I first expected it to go, but…meh, I can place the blame on Writer's Block for that, can't I? Yes, I thought so as well.

Constructive criticism strongly encouraged! XD