DISCLAIMER: It's very obvious I don't own FullMetal Alchemist. If I did…well, there are a lot of ifs. Let's just say FMA wouldn't be just PG anymore, if you get what I mean…
Author's Notes: Oi! You lot! Slave drivers! Okay, I've been in the Initial D groove for days and days (once again), and it seems I have a few "Hawkeyes" of my own…they got me to quit slacking off writing crappy Initial D fanfiction (which I don't post) and to get to serious business…a.k.a. Royai Weekend. It is after the date of Royai weekend that this story is named, the date that began it all. The year of the date is from the FMA Timeline in ZOMGFTA, the year of the Ishbal Massacre. Just note that.
Things I did while "Mustanging" during the production of this fic: 1. Defended Mustang's status as a bishounen, 2. Defended Hawkeye's status as a bishoujo, 3. Sighed a lot, 4. Played with Blogger, 5. Beat Itsuki in IDAS.
Summary: The beginning of the story before all stories…June 11, 1908. In which a special date in history is commemorated, and the story of its beginning-of the saga of one Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye and her Colonel, Roy Mustang-is told. Sub-Arc to Calculated Risk-Taker. Royai Day Fanfic.
…June Eleven, Nineteen-Oh-Eight…
A Royai Day Fanfic by N.C. Stormeye
Major Roy Mustang, the Flame Alchemist, stares at the ground before him, towel draped over his head to protect it from the searing heat and endless waves of dust. The smell of blood, bittersweet and metallic, fills the air like perfume. It is a sickening place, a sickening time to be alive. He's only been two weeks in this godforsaken hell-hole and already he's had enough. Enough of the stench of rotting corpses. Enough with the frequent rainstorms of bullets.
Enough with feeling, for the first time in his life, human blood on his hands.
This place must be hell…he thinks to himself, narrowing midnight eyes and staring at the blood-red insignias on the backs of his hands, the immaculate sea of white on which they are printed on marred slightly by the crimson sand. It would take a simple snap, and the world around him would cease to be, reduced to ash. One powerful snap, amplified by the glittering red stone on his ring finger. It resembles a wedding ring…and, in a way, the analogy is fitting. He has entered into a similarly binding commitment. Only where marriage is said to "love, honor, and cherish", the military is said to crush, consume, and destroy.
He continues to stare at the shifting red, clay-ey sand, attempting to ignore the blistering heat. He is, after all, the Flame Alchemist, the youngest State Alchemist ever, at least at this point. With the rigorous, utterly torturing exam he's taken, it seems impossible for anyone younger than him to make it. Fire, his chosen medium, is something he has perfected over years and years of training and rigorous study.
Study…all twenty-three years of his life come flitting back to him, particularly the last seven years. Those were some of the strangest yet most informative years of his life, boarding with his teacher, Mr. Hawkeye, and his daughter, Riza. Riza of the glowing red eyes and the quiet, reserved nature. Riza, who had cried on his shoulder as they watched her father be buried under the trees near the edge of a cold, gray cemetery. Riza, who had sent him a letter-a response to one of his-on the day of his acceptance into the military, a letter announcing she herself was planning to enter the mindless blue ranks.
Please let her not have succeeded. Don't let her be here…It has been so long since he has last seen her. In his mind, Riza Hawkeye is forever the vulnerable teenage girl crying on her father's student's shoulder. That Riza Hawkeye could never survive this war, this madness. That Riza Hawkeye would have already been driven to insanity by the heartless reality that is war.
Major Roy Mustang stares at his hands, towel over his head to protect it from the searing heat and the endless dust-filled winds.
He pulls out the pocket-watch that they gave him the day he became a State Alchemist. It's heavy, almost like a ball-and-chain that keeps him tied down to this endless, merciless fate. He checks the clock:
It is 0800 hours on June Eleven, Nineteen-Oh-Eight.
Cadet Riza Hawkeye looks ahead at the vastness of the desert before her. She has been brave enough to peel back a bit of the canvas flap that forms the opening of the tent, to stare at the place she has found herself in. The sand is red, a deep red like her eyes and the eyes of the Ishbalans she's forced to kill.
She feels the cold, gray steel that is her gun. It's a pistol, the one she carries with her from day to day. It's like a security blanket, a little piece of sanity she can hang onto. Like the stack of envelopes the keeps under her pillow, under her pitiful excuse for a pillow on her pitiful excuse for a bed in a pitiful excuse for a military barracks. Everything in this harsh wasteland was a pitiful excuse…including their reason for being here.
Stop, you can't think that. She shakes the subversive thoughts from her mind. Her reasons for being here are not a pitiful excuse. They are a well-thought-out plan. She could be a strategist, not just a sniper. Then again, what difference would it make? The end goal would still be death, death to all these people. Some of them innocents…women and children. What had they done to deserve this cruelty? This inhumanity?
She sighs, takes a deep calming breath. Remember what you are here for…why you are here…Yes, that's it. It pulls her out of the shifting sands and the death and destruction, back through the seven years before she knew how it felt to have blood on her hands. And though the last memories of those seven years are detached, they are tangible. They are the stack of envelopes under her pillow, all written in spiky, deep hand, confident and sure. All from a boy she'd grown up with.
I hope he didn't come here…I hope he isn't here yet. Let him get transferred somewhere else, or let him be undergoing further training. Anything but this! she thinks to herself as she lets the canvass flap swish closed, drowning her in the intense half-darkness. She stares at her gun, cast into shadow. It is no longer a security blanket, it is an instrument of torture. She moves to put it down, but changes her mind. It is not safe, not safe at all. To put her gun down could mean death in a place like this.
She wonders, staring at the sand, turned almost black by the shadows. In the shadows she sees his eyes, onyx and sharp, ideas forever brimming behind them. She knows no other man could have earned her loyalty so easily, with a snap of his fingers and the devil-may-care gleam in those black irises. Roy Mustang, boy from her childhood, the dreamer who was too idealistic to be real. How could he survive here, among all the chaos and death? Beneath that front of strength he was easily broken. The horrors she had witnessed could have already driven him mad…
Roy Mustang, the boy who had buried her father. The one she'd allowed herself to cry on, dropping the front of cool strength when she had lost the only family she'd had for a long time. The boy whose letters had led her here, to another family she'd discovered. It was Roy who had tracked her grandfather to the military. It is his letters under her pillow, not out of love (or so she tries to tell herself) but out of remembrance. Remembrance of a life: a calm, bloodless life before all of this. Before the path she chose.
Cadet Riza Hawkeye peels back once again the canvass flap and stares at the wasteland in front of her. She checks the small calendar that hangs tacked to the tent frame:
It is Saturday, June Eleven, Nineteen-Oh-Eight.
The sound of gunfire echoes through the desert. Snipers kneel behind barricades, their faces shielded with cloths and towels, protecting them from the dust and powder. They are the first line of defense…no…offense against the throngs of hapless, haphazard "soldiers" on the enemy lines. Cadet Riza Hawkeye is one of those snipers, taken fresh out of military training and promised a hefty promotion if she makes it out…alive.
Her red eyes survey the landscape, making out any threats. Those eyes are reflected in the people she is forced to kill. The only way she can take this is by detaching herself, reducing herself to a machine with a steely eye and a quick finger. That is what a sniper is, essentially. A mercenary in service to the state, supposedly doing the right thing but questioning it all the way…waiting for the end of it all.
She spots what appears to be a woman carrying a baby, and lets it pass. However, another sniper spots and shoots the woman. The bundle is food, not a baby, but the woman has still died needlessly. She stares in horror, but retreats into that detachment. She knows that one day, very soon, it will be her turn. You cannot condemn anyone in this war, guilty or innocent. All are under orders, orders they have sworn to follow no matter what the cost. There is no way of telling if they take pleasure in the killing or not. And in the end, it does not matter anyway. She wishes for change, but in this desert…change seems far away.
Behind the line of snipers are the foot-soldiers, and behind them the ranks get higher and higher until finally…the elite. The State Alchemists with their glittering silver watch-chains and their red stones, shinier still. They are the weapons of mass destruction in a world without biological terrorism and hijacking. They are bombs, flamethrowers, torpedoes, and machine guns. They are built to kill, whether or not it suits them.
It does not suit Major Roy Mustang, the youngest of the lot at only twenty-three.
He stands there, staring at his white gloves and wondering if all he has aspired for is worth it. The carnage around him does not cease. A command goes out to advance, and he mechanically follows, lost in his own thoughts. The world around him is a blur of helpless emotion, pure sin. He wonders if, years from now, he will be able to sleep at night.
He runs into a house to escape a hail of gunfire, and finds a boy, alone. He cannot be more than nine or ten. He hesitates, knowing what the military would tell him to do, yet knowing what his conscience wants him to do as well. The boy is scared, and he knows it. Roy makes a sudden movement, and the boy raises his gun to fire. On reflex, he snaps his fingers and boy and house are engulfed in flames. He runs out to escape the inferno…wondering what has he done.
Roy edges his way out, determined to at least get hurt. The Flame Alchemist is half-in-half-out when an arm, covered in blood, yanks him out and pulls him into a darkened alley. He looks up to see his 'rescuer', and finds himself staring into eyes he hasn't seen in seven years.
"Thank you," he manages to say. It will be one of the few times he ever says that to her.
Riza stares at a face that has aged over the years of absence. She recalls the rainy afternoon they buried her father, of the tears that stained his shoulder. "Mr., I mean, Major Mustang," she says, barely a whisper.
"You're bleeding." Roy's tone is deadpan as he stares at the rivulet of blood edging its way down Riza's shoulder. Her hair, once long, is cut in a boyish style and also stained. He wonders where the child he once knew has gone.
"So are you." Riza overcomes the initial feelings of euphoria at seeing an old friend again, "We are not in a position to state the obvious. What happened in there?"
"Look, Riza, I mean, Hawkeye,"The name tastes unfamiliar, distant on his tongue, "I'm not going to watch you bleed to death trying to help me."
Riza is taken aback by the coldness of his tone, but his eyes aren't cold. In fact, they look…scared? Remorseful? What happened in there Roy? What? She rips a piece of fabric from the edge of his shirt and wraps it around his arm. She then uses a piece from her own shirt to bandage her own wound. Through the whole incident, Roy's expression remains the same.
"…A boy…" he manages to choke out after the bleeding is stemmed. Riza looks into his eyes and understands, as she had when they were children.
"I will not blame you. You were on orders," she says calmly, coolly, but her voice is laced with tones of comfort.
"Thanks…" Roy rubs the injured part of his arm. They kneel, out of sight, poised to strike yet managing the quick civilities between old confidantes meeting again after a long time.
"Don't mention it," Riza sighs. She makes up her mind to treat him like just another comrade. Friendship could be easily mistaken for that other closeness. How would he react if he knew he was her childhood crush? It was inevitable…he was the only male she knew well that wasn't related to her. Time had faded the feelings, but the loyalty to this boy…now this patchwork of a man…that loyalty remained.
"You haven't changed a bit," Riza says after a bit of a silence, watching the road for enemies.
"You have," Roy says quietly.
"I know. I'm not the little girl anymore. How can I be, with this happening?"
Roy nods. "This is madness…" he mumbles. Riza nods back. They flit off into the early afternoon, guns in hand. Riza's gun is always at the ready, and Roy thinks he will not need his.
He is wrong.
The cold steel feels like a catharsis, a purging of all the dirt and grime he feels has seared itself into his soul. His hand is shaky as he touches the barrel of a gun he has almost never used…that he has only used today, too panicky to snap his fingers and release his flames.
He muses on how cold the steel can be, even in this harsh climate, and he remembers when he first felt its touch.
He remembers the recoil when he had ended a life…two lives.
The two doctors…they were brave souls, being unbiased in their treating of both sides. But to a heartless government, paranoid and racked with exhaustion, they were double agents. He killed them both, refusing to use flames. A bullet, no, two. They rang in the silence. She was there then, and for a moment horror flashed in her large eyes.
He has shed innocent blood twice in one day.
They couldn't trust each other with words any longer. No words could be exchanged as they ran out, shooting and burning and killing…murderers in a game where there could be no 'right thing'. How do you comfort someone who has killed without reason? How do you say "it's okay" to someone who has spilled innocent blood? It wasn't okay…and now she is terrified of him. He has lost one of the last links to childhood he has left.
Silently he presses the cold barrel against his head. The chambers are loaded, there is no margin of error this time. The coldness spikes into his brain, shudders along his spine. He can end it all with this one moment, with one last pull of a trigger…
"Major Mustang! What the hell are you doing!"
Her voice is a shout. The gun topples violently to the ground and breaks…it was never handled with care. Silently he raises his shaking head, and is met with a violent slap that catches him off guard, sending him toppling to the floor. He looks up. She is shaking, and there are…tears? They well up in her eyes, which seem to tremble. She is aiming her gun at him.
"What. Are. You doing?" she says coldly. He stands up, his cheek red. Her gun is forever trained on him. It is insubordination, but he does not care. He would be so happy if she pulled the trigger, ended it all. Just one moment…that would be all it took…
"I…I need to…"
"Need to what? End it all? Where is the boy I once knew? You can't give it all up like this!" She slaps him again, and he does not flinch. He does not speak.
"We are shooting and killing all the time. I do not blame you for what you did, do not hate you. There is no freedom in the military, no peace." She says this quietly. He cannot bring himself to look into those red eyes, see the flash of her blonde hair. Remember the child he used to be.
"But I will not allow you to kill yourself. It would be foolish if one more needlessly died today." Her voice is cold again, like the slaps she has given him. He stares at his scuffed combat boots as she turns to leave him.
He breaks the silence, his voice resigned, trembling but defiant. She stops in her tracks.
"Someday…someday, Riza. Someday I'll make it to the top, so high than no one…no one can make me do something I don't want to do again. I'll change this hell. I swear I will." His words are insubordinate, but he does not care. He can trust her, trust her with anything after what she has seen.
She is quiet for a moment, and he raises his head. She nods at him. He continues:
"But promise me…promise me if I stray from the path…you will shoot me."
"I will, sir." Those words fly out as if on impulse, but they make sense. He nods at her, and she walks out. But before she leaves, she turns for a last word.
"Sir, I'll trust my life to that dream."
On June Eleven, Nineteen-Oh-Eight, two soldiers, two childhood friends, met once again on the bloody battlefield of Ishbal, their innocence lost. So much had changed since they first met. They had grown, their faces had thinned, their eyes had gone blank and grim with the sights and sounds of battle.
Together, the two were still children…young and confused. They exchanged looks…plaintive, strong. Those glances spoke a myriad of words: "Sorry." "Nice to see you again." "This is hell."
Phrases they would never speak aloud for the fear of getting close. Of getting caught. Of getting caught being close. They could never be those two children again. It would never again be the same. And nothing could be changed.
Or at least…not now.
But for Major Roy Mustang and Cadet Riza Hawkeye, time is not bound to here and now. His ambition added to her unwavering loyalty can take the future by the reins, no matter what the cost. Beneath uniforms of blue, bloodstained and dusted by scarlet sand, lie silent wishes, deadly desires. Beyond the dreams of glory, change, and promise, lie even more elemental, even deeper dreams that go as far back as time itself. Communicated with glances, flames and bullets, tears that are never shed…
"Could you still love me after all I've done?"
"I could. Not only that, I do."
And she leaps forward, charging like his white knight into battle, guns blazing and fire in her eyes, even hotter than what he can produce. There is no power like a woman's heart, particularly if you give a woman hope. And he has given hope enough for the both of them.
"When all of this is over, it will be you and me."
On June Eleven, Nineteen-Oh-Eight, two soldiers, two childhood friends, met once again on the bloody battlefield of Ishbal, their innocence lost, the people they once were taken from them.
On June Eleven, Nineteen-Oh-Eight, two soldiers, two childhood friends, met once again on the bloody battlefield of Ishbal…and dared to hope. Dared to believe they could change the hell they'd found themselves in, together.
He would do whatever it took to fuel that dream. And she would follow him to the very end…
A/N: Crappy. Very crappy. I shame Royai day…eurgh I don't feel this is as good as I'd have liked it, but I'm too sick and shot to write any better at the moment. It's so hard to write non-fluff, even though I've been doing it for several fics now…sigh
This one goes to my beta first.