Author's Notes: I do not own FMA. But I do own Karen Douglas, and probably the entire Parliament, which is made up of my original characters, the rest of whom you can catch in "Becoming the Fuhrer".
Speaking of which, this story takes place in the huge gap I left in BTF, the break between the induction rites and…erm, I'm not going to spoil you as to what that other event is, in case you haven't read that other story yet. XD
"From now on, this will be your office, Fuhrer, sir. Right now, we're trying to find you a secretary, but can you manage on your own for a few days? Now that the work has been divided between the military and the Parliament, there probably won't be much to do for a while."
"Of course, Miss Douglas, and thank you very much. I'll just follow – you can start the meeting without me."
Karen Douglas, cousin of the deceased soldier Juliet Douglas and respected spokeswoman of the Amestris Parliament, walked away after surrendering the key and the spare to the new Fuhrer, or President, her three-inch stilettos making slightly tottering noises on the floor. As she turned through the corridors of Central Headquarters to the Parliament's main meeting room, she ran into a major adjusting her shoulder bag and a black-and-white dog sitting patiently beside the major.
"Good morning, Major," greeted Karen, twirling a strand of her dark, curly hair.
"The same to you," said Riza Hawkeye.
Karen blinked. Either her sight was deceiving her, or Riza didn't look like herself today…her face looked pale and downcast, and she had a glazed expression in her eyes. And Karen could have sworn she saw a couple of strands or so straying away from Riza's usually-flawless bun. Plus, when Riza had spoken, her voice sounded softer than usual, possibly a little hoarse.
"Are you…all right, Major?" The Parliament member scratched Black Hayate behind the ears as the dog leapt onto her skirt, panting excitedly.
"I'm fine, Karen, no need to worry," was the faint reply. "Come on, Black Hayate, we have work to do. Have you seen the Fuhrer?"
"I've already shown Fuhrer Mustang to his new office," said Karen. "I think you'll find him there. Are you sure you're fine?"
Riza nodded, but it took a while for the words to come out of her throat. "Yes, just…do whatever you have to do, and I'll do whatever I have to do." She left the other woman standing there in the corridor to ponder on whether the major really was okay or not before leaving for her Parliament meeting, and headed the opposite direction.
The place was twice, possibly even thrice, as big as Roy's previous one, which went all the way back to the time when he was a lieutenant colonel in Central Headquarters. His new office was well-furnished – full of chairs, file cabinets, shelves, tables, flags of Amestris – and his desk was even perched on a dais against the north wall. The desk was adorned with the insignias of Amestris, its military, its Parliament, and the Fuhrer's personal sigil, the flame array.
But the Fuhrer himself was not in his desk.
"Good morning, Fuhrer, sir," said Riza, saluting Roy as she saw him still standing in the doorway, the keys in one hand. "I think it would be best if you went in already and started on the day's work." She gasped after saying this – for some strange reason, all of a sudden her throat felt as though it were on fire, and the Flame Alchemist didn't even have his ignition gloves on.
He shrugged underneath the long gray traveling cloak he wore over his uniform. "I could spend all day admiring my new office, Major."
"I know, but shouldn't you be following Karen? Do you have a meeting today?"
"We're supposed to discuss the constitution and whether there are laws we have to amend, renew, or even strike out," said Roy, finally walking inside, locking the double doors behind Riza and looking down at the green carpet underneath his boots. Riza and Black Hayate accompanied him, the latter finding a spot on the carpet to curl up in while his mistress and the Fuhrer talked.
Riza found herself falling into the nearest velvet armchair, but quickly stood up again as Roy saw her.
"No, no, take a seat…Riza."
She obliged, hesitating for a moment. She had to admit, she was grateful for the seat, although her vision spun once as she flopped into it.
"You have something to say to me…sir?"
"Don't call me 'sir'," he replied, taking off his cloak and draping it carelessly over a chair, much to Riza's disapproval. "It feels…awkward. Perhaps we should save the honorifics for when we're working with others. After all…we are…"
"Yes," she answered. Even before Roy leaned over and kissed her on her left cheek, the major felt her entire face burn. She discreetly placed the back of one hand over her neck and realized that she was hot – literally. As in, she probably had a slight fever of some sort. Either that or she was just under the sun a bit too long awhile ago. When she brought her hand away from her neck, she felt something else in her other hand…something cold, metallic, and jagged.
Riza glanced down and saw that she was holding a key – the same one Roy was idly turning over and over as though searching for a secret within it. "It's amazing, really…after years of clawing my way to the top…I'm already here…
"I entrust you with the spare key to my office," said Roy, halting his little reverie of nostalgia. "Feel free to go in and out whenever you need to…or whenever you want to. It's the least I can do for you…equivalent exchange, as every alchemist knows. And with that, I must leave for my meeting. I'll see you later, Riza."
Even though it had already been months since they had confessed their love for each other, on that fateful day when Roy announced his plans to destroy the Gate of alchemy so it would no longer spawn such things like flying machines and armored fighters, when he stood on his doorstep like a criminal sentenced to death and saying his last words before actually trying to demolish the Gate, it still felt strange for Riza to hear Roy call her by her first name, even stranger for him to allow her to address him more intimately.
She knew he no longer remembered those plans, and the Gate remained strong as ever, but their first kiss was definitely still fresh in both their memories.
"See you later…Roy." Riza stood up and saluted him.
"I should be the one saluting you," he said in reply, taking her chin into his hand after pocketing his key, his one dark eye looking into her two bright ones. "If it weren't for you…I would not be able to claim this office as my own." Roy gestured towards the huge desk and the flag of Amestris behind it.
"If you will salute me, salute everyone else as well," said his subordinate simply. "After all, it was not only me." She gently took his hand off her chin. "And I believe you have a meeting to attend. Those senior members in particular might organize a search party if you're not yet there."
The Fuhrer chuckled. "Ah, Major Riza Hawkeye, you haven't changed a bit, have you? Not even with our…"
"Yes, of course," said Riza. She gave Roy a shove. "Now get going. After I take you to your meeting, Edward Elric and I will take charge of the paperwork following your attempted assassination and the ceremony, so no need to worry about that."
"I am capable of finding my way through Central Headquarters myself," said Roy, putting an arm around her. "Although I would like the companionship before we get down to real business."
He kissed her again before she could object – not that she wanted to object. But when Roy let go of her, she felt a bit woozy again and felt as though the ground underneath her was moving.
"Are you…all right, Riza?"
"I'm fine," she said, clutching her head. "Just a little…"
"Are you sure?" asked Roy. He hadn't even taken a single step towards the doors and stayed rooted to the spot beside her.
Riza nodded. "I'm fine. I'll just…get started on that paperwork now so I can finish it faster, if it's okay with you." And so I can take a break as soon as possible…I'm feeling tired, for some strange reason…I hope I'm not coming down with something…
She felt something squeeze one of her hands, and looked down to see Roy holding it tightly while giving her an anxious, hesitant grin.
"Well…if you say so. Like I said, you have the key, so in case you need anything from my office or you want to leave something…"
"Yes, I understand. You're getting really late. Just go already."
"You seem so eager to push me away, Riza."
"You do want to make a good impression on your first Parliament meeting, do you, Fuhrer, sir?"
"So…we've got the files on the assassins, the one Ishbalan and the two Amestrians…the tabloid paper that hired them in the first place and whose staff members claim that they didn't know that those three guys were planning to kill Mustang…the ceremony, no casualties…can I go now, Major? All this paperwork is giving me a headache."
Speak for yourself, thought Riza, massaging her forehead as a lance of stabbing pain blazed through it. Her other arm was busy cradling folders cradling important papers.
"M – Major?"
Lieutenant Colonel Edward Elric stopped and backtracked to where Riza was leaning against the wall, her eyes shut tight, one hand on her head and the other brimming with files.
"Whoops, sorry…what's wrong? Do you need me to take the load off?"
"And to think, you were complaining about the load awhile ago, Lieutenant Colonel," she said. Ed reached out to try and take her paperwork, but she staggered backward, evading his outstretched hand. "No, no…just thought I saw something…give me yours, I'll take them to the Fuhrer's office myself, I have the key…"
"Major…no, I'll do it for you." And before she could object, the Fullmetal Alchemist bore every single document in his automail right arm, while supporting Riza's back with his other normal arm. "If you want, I'll even take the key and just give it back…"
She shook her head, freeing herself from Ed. "No, give me back my work," Riza quickly extracted half the paperwork from him and started walking ahead of him. "I can do it on my own, but thank you for the help, sir."
Edward shook his head and scowled, but said nothing else as he kept up with her till they got to Roy's office, Riza unlocked the door, and the two of them stepped inside, the lieutenant colonel staring in amazement at the huge office and nearly colliding with an armchair.
"You should really watch where you're going," Riza scolded him.
"I know…but I still can't get over the fact that Mustang finally got what he wanted, and all of Amestris is in his hands. Well, better him than Bradley." Ed dumped all the documents on the desk after Riza, who was leaning on it and looking rather drowsy. "Major, maybe we could take you to – "
She waved an impatient hand. "No, Ed, I'm all right. Just…get back to work. I'll lock the office behind me."
"You're not up to no good, are you?" he asked slyly. "I have to go on ahead…I promised Fuery I'd help him with that new radio system we've got. But if you want, I'll wait for you."
"Go on," said Riza, forcing a smile and struggling to stand straighter.
Ed frowned thoughtfully. "If you say so, I'll be off. Hope you're all right, Major."
"I am," she stressed as she heard the click of the door closing behind the State Alchemist. She swayed slightly on her feet. The world seemed to spin before her eyes, slowing down and then speeding up, then decelerating and…
It was too much. There was a high-backed armchair in front of the desk, and Riza decided to sit down and take a rest. Maybe after her head cleared, she could go back to work…she fell into the chair and sank into it. Even so, the feeling that another Ishbal massacre was raging in her skull was alleviated only slightly; it was still there.
Riza tried not to think about it or anything else, as everything before her dimmed and went black.
Something was on her head…moving, ruffling her hair. But it was nice and comforting, and she turned over, her arm reaching out to cuddle something warm.
Wait a minute…the last thing I remember was sitting in a chair. Is it just me, or am I lying down now? Did I sleepwalk or something?
Riza turned again, now lying on her back, and blinked open her eyes.
"Wake up, sleepyhead."
She blinked again. Was it just her, or was she staring at the face of the youngest Fuhrer in all of Amestris history? The black hair, the single midnight eye, the patch obscuring the left one, the smile that was probably more smirk than smile…all unmistakable.
It didn't take too long for Riza to realize she was lying in a sofa in a far side of the office, using Fuhrer Roy Mustang's lap as a pillow, her right arm wrapped around his waist, and his right arm around her shoulders. She still felt a bit sick, her head felt as though it weighed a ton and she could barely lift it from his lap, but somehow, the nap must have done her some good. Of course, there was one more question she was itching to have answered.
Withdrawing her arm, she asked, "How did I get here? I'm so sorry; I fell asleep in one of the armchairs…then…"
"I came back from the meeting, saw you sleeping in the chair, and decided to carry you over here, where it's more comfortable. Unfortunately, the cushions weren't exactly up to my standards. And my suspicions were right – you're sick, aren't you?"
"Do you underestimate my strength, Major Hawkeye? Or do you just overestimate your weight?"
Riza laughed shortly and raised her head, but grimaced in pain. "But…you could have woken me up instead of going through all the trouble…"
"And interrupt your beauty sleep? No can do," said Roy, as she lay back on his lap, turning over so she was looking into his blue military uniform. "I knew it; you're sick. And I'm taking you home so you can rest. I can't have you overworking yourself. Not only would it make things worse, it would make me look bad in front of the Parliament and the military."
"Take me…home? What about…" Her voice trailed off as she clutched her head, and touched Roy's fingers brushing the bangs from her forehead.
He grinned mischievously. "I'll get Ed to do your extra work."
"Now, can you get up, or should I still carry you all the way to the car?"
"Of course I can," said Riza, sitting up straight and trying not to twitch at the stabbing sensation that rose in her head again. Whether it showed up on her face or not, the Fuhrer probably knew, as he stood up first and got his cloak. Then he helped her stand as well, offering a hand for her to hold. He let her lean on him.
"What about your work?"
Roy smiled again. "If I'm lucky, I'll pass by some Parliament members on our way out and they'll see I've got a good excuse. Or, I can just exercise my authority over them. Heck, I don't have much work today anyway. We covered almost everything in our meeting. I'll drive you home."
"Are you underestimating my driving skills this time, Major?"
"And don't call me sir." Roy draped one arm over Riza's shoulders, encouraging the major to lay her head on his shoulder. She reached up with one hand and felt the four stars on his shoulder badges, the stars that proclaimed to the world that he was the leader of Amestris. "It's a lot less trouble."
"Don't call me Major, either," was the soft reply, followed shortly by a stifled cough.
"If you want, I can stay with you at home as well. A dog can't take care of you." The Fuhrer started escorting his subordinate and love towards the door. After locking it behind them, they walked through the corridors of Central Headquarters, a little slowly, as he supported Riza.
She rolled her eyes, but Roy didn't notice. "You'd miss a lot of work. Besides, I think I can handle this better at home, on my own. If I can't, I can always call someone to help me."
"I'll stay with you, so you wouldn't have to go through all the trouble calling me up in my office," he answered, holding her closer to him. "Not only would I worry like hell about you, I could have an excuse to get off work, even for a while. Sure, the load today's rather light, but they told me to expect more..."
"If you get off work, I'll make you as sick as I am," she retorted.
"Then that would make a much better alibi," said Roy, gesturing dramatically with his free hand.
"Sometimes I think you need to get your hands slapped once in a while – more than once, actually."
"But you haven't slapped me yet, I noticed." The two of them were now standing outside Central HQ, on the steps. Much to Riza's relief, the sun wasn't too bright, but it wasn't too cold, either. She smiled and slapped Roy's hand, the one not on her shoulder.
"Now we're even," said the major.