I don't own FMA.
Mentions of Hawkeye's ink, does that still count as a spoiler??
Rain slicked the streets, drops making ripple after ripple in the puddles gathered on the hard pavement.
A puppy whimpered as it scuttled under a newsstand.
Lightning lit the dark underbellies of clouds blanketing the sky.
The puppy whimpered again and pushed himself as far away from the invading wet as he could.
Thunder rattled the windows of an apartment complex.
A blonde sat up in bed, her heart racing, the afterimages of blood flowing down the forehead of a stunned, red-eyed man fading from her mind as wakefulness took over.
She sat there for a moment, a hand over her eyes as she calmed her heavy breathing.
Letting her hand slide down to her lap, she glanced at the window above her dresser. Dark curtains blocked her from seeing outside, but she didn't need her eyes to know the newspapers had been correct in their prediction of storms.
As she threw off her covers, thunder rumbled again, and she knew it was what had woken her minutes ago.
Her feet quickly found the slippers beside her bed, and she made her way room, glancing at the battery-operated clock as she did so.
O'three hundred and thirty four hours.
She shook her head and made her way across the hall to the bathroom.
Her footsteps were soft, making less noise than the rain, not only because she was a sniper—trained in stealth—but out of respect for the elderly couple residing below.
Thunder rumbled as she turned on the faucet. She ignored the sound and splashed her face with cold water.
Not even o'four hundred hours, and she was already awake for the day.
Patting her face dry with the hand towel, she contemplated leaving for headquarters to get in some target practice, but decided against an early morning trek in the rain.
She sighed as she dug a small pot out of the kitchen cupboard.
Living in the dorms couldn't be nearly as bad as she'd heard. At least then she could go to the range and head back to bed if she tired without having to worry the walk home would clear away drowsiness.
It was nights like these that she cursed the ink on her back and the precautions she had to take because of it.
She filled the pot with water and set it to boil.
While she waited, she picked up one of the books Rebecca had recommended from atop her bookcase where it had been since she'd checked it out of the library three days ago.
She mulled over the summary on the back cover while trying not to think of how Scar had them running all in circles without leaving a single trace for them to go off aside from the scenes of carnage.
She wasn't sure if her temples were aching at the thought of him or from the thunder that growled outside her window reminding her of all those red eyes gone dull with the just the slightest pressure of her finger.
She refused to rub her temples, to soothe the pain. There was no remedy until the end, no matter which had caused it.
Instead, she put it out of her mind and turned the book over.
She rolled her eyes at the cover—a man of Major Amrstrong's build kissed the hand of a flustered woman in tattered clothes—but took the book with her to the kitchen where she removed a mug from one cupboard and teabag from another.
The aroma of oranges filled the air as she poured the heated water into the mug.
The apartment lit for a moment with the flash of lightning, leaving the light of the lamp she had on seeming dull in its wake.
She stared out the window above the sink, counting just as he father had taught her.
One Amestris...two Amestris...three Amestris...four Amestris ...five Amestris... six Amestris...seven Amestris...eight Amestris...nine Ames-thunder.
Nothing to worry about.
Nothing, unless she couldn't get her mind off of it.
She added the smallest of spoonfuls of sugar to her tea. With the book tucked under her arm, she stirred the tea as she walked couch.
Before she settled in, she turned on the radio. Its music came through fuzzy and a bit distorted, but was a distraction nonetheless. A symphony escorted her away to the years before Amestris was more than a meaningless word.
A woman gathered water from a pump, worried she'd get scolded for being late after being held up by the Prince and his escort.
Upon opening her eyes, it only took her a moment to remember why she was on the couch.
The book lay splayed on the floor, the blushing princess-in-hiding looking at Riza from the corner of her eyes as she picked the paperback up. Deciding against trying to find where she'd left off and mark it, she placed the book on the end table.
After depositing the still half-full cup in the sink, she watched the raindrops sliding down the kitchen window—their pitter-patter quieter than when she'd woken earlier. They sky had lightened, but the sun was nowhere to be seen.
She didn't need the radio announcement to know it was just past o'six hundred hours, her internal clock had never failed to wake her up in time before. She looked around the small living room area in an attempt to remember where she'd last left her umbrella.
The puppy lapped water from the puddle just outside his small bit of shelter.
He was so thirsty that the drizzle didn't have a chance to refill the little pothole before he finished.
Thirst quenched, he crawled out from under the newsstand and sniffed around.
Everything smelled so fresh.
People were coming out—strange patches hovering over their heads as they walked. He cocked his head to the side and watched for a moment, not quite sure what those patches were.
A familiar scent caught his nose, and he darted down an alley, the strange patches already out of his mind.
Beef and carrots dominated his senses, but he could pick out the kindness and joy of the man watching as he joined the group of dogs and devoured the remaining scraps the man had put out.
The food was gone, but his hunger was sated, and his tail wagged.
He ambled over the man, anxious for a pat.
The man laughed and gave him a quick scratch between the ears.
A door opened and someone called out to the man.
The man frowned and then hobbled back inside with a sad glance at the dogs who watched him so eagerly.
A lady appeared at the door with a broom in hand. As soon as the man disappeared inside, she started waving the broom around and barking in her strange language.
The puppy didn't leave because her efforts, but because her mean smell hurt his nose, it reminded him of those berries that looked juicy but gave him a stomach ache.
He wasn't even out of the alley when the drizzle started getting heavier.
He ran, he needed to find somewhere safe, somewhere dry.
Just in time to keep from getting drenched, he took cover under the same newsstand he'd used all night.
Hissing filled his ears, and a paw with sharp claws flew at him.
He backed out onto the sidewalk, whimpering, but his retreat was stopped short.
Hands wrapped around his middle, and he tried to run, but wound up pawing at the air as he was lifted from the ground.
The human cooed at him and held him close. He smelled of the same kindness as the man. The puppy stopped struggling when he recognized the scent.
Somehow, huddled in this man's arms, he wasn't getting wet. He licked the hand that held him.
The man beamed at him.
He wagged his tail.
Just like the rest of the officers arriving, Riza stopped as she made it under the awning and shook out her umbrella to keep it from dripping down the halls.
The office was empty when she entered, but the day's paper was on Falman's desk and the coat rack was nearly full.
If she had to guess, she'd say there were probably all in the mess hall, and a cup of coffee sounded rather appealing after her early morning.
The puppy sniffed at the air, eager to catch all the scents floating around.
Quite suddenly, he was lowered to the soft ground. He didn't hesitate a moment in starting his exploration, his nose flush against the strange floor.
The human was saying something, but there was so much to smell that he paid no heed.
A loud thud caught his attention, and he realized the man had left him alone. Alone, inside.
And he smelled food.
She'd gotten her coffee in time to exit the mess hall just as Havoc, Falman, and Breda did.
Havoc complained that the rain would ruin his date, while Breda joked that a rainy night was best spent inside, waggling his eyebrows at the Second Lieutenant.
Riza caught Falman's eyes as he shrugged his shoulders in apology. She rolled her eyes.
By the time they got to the office, she was leading the group.
Opening the doors, she stopped short of entering.
A small black and white pup sat at Breda's desk, whimpering.
It smelled like wet dog.
"What's this?" she demanded.
A thumping filled the office as the puppy's tail wagged at her voice.
"Dog. Member of the Genus Canis. Scientific name: Canis Familiaris. The species is thought to be descended from wolves. Has a tendency to hunt in packs," Falman stated matter-of-factly.
Riza gave him a blank stare. "That's not what I meant Warrant Officer Falman."
"I'm sorry, you guys," called Fuery as he jostled past them and kneeled by the dog. "It's a dog that I found this morning," he explained as he set down a bowl of water and bundled the pup in a small towel.
Havoc peered down at the animal in the young man's arms. "Are you going to keep this dog Master Sergeant Fuery?" he inquired.
"No…the dorm where I live doesn't allow dogs," he admitted, a bit down-trodden.
"If you can't take care of it, you shouldn't have brought it here," Riza chided.
"It looked so helpless sitting there in the rain. I just couldn't help myself," he defended.
"You'll have to find a home or take him back," she ordered.
Fuery looked down at the puppy with sad eyes, but nodded in agreement. He looked around the room as he got to his feet. "Do you know anyone who would take him?" he asked Falman.
The older man just shook his head. "I live in a dorm, too. So, I can't."
Fuery's shoulders slumped and he turned to Breda.
Breda shook his head before the Sergeant even asked. "I hate dogs…I really hate them," he bleated from behind the office doors he was using as a shield.
"Guess not," Fuery mumbled.
His eyes widened behind his glasses as the dog was plucked from his arms.
"Okay, I'll take him," Havoc piped up holding the puppy by the scruff of the neck. "I love dogs."
Fuery grinned. "Thank you, Lieutenant Havoc!"
Havoc brought the pup up to eye level for close inspection. "I hear they're supposed to be good stir-fried."
Fuery's face fell.
"There's a country in the far east that raises them for food. They say dogs with red coats taste the best," he elaborated, only to have the dog tugged out of his grip by Riza.
"You'd better look for a different owner," she suggested as he handed him back to Fuery.
"It was just a joke," Havoc cried.
Riza ignored him. "Find him an owner by the time I'm finished running drills at the range, or take him back to where you found him," she reminded Fuery.
Fuery nodded as she left the office.
She shook her head as he quietly asked the others if they thought she was mad.
"It's Wednesday," Falman explained as the doors closed. "She has to help with firearms training on Wednesday mornings. "
Roy's nose crinkled as he entered the office.
"Lieutenant Havoc, what have you been smoking?" he demanded.
"Wasn't me," Havoc said, an unlit cigarette hanging from his bottom lip.
Roy frowned and turned his attention to Breda. There had been more than one occasion where food had been left in his desk before. He was about to ask, but the man's face was pale as snow. "If the smell is too much for you, I suggest you help find a remedy," he ordered.
Breda lifted a shaky hand and pointed across the office.
Roy whirled around, and there was the culprit--a puppy strolling across the office and up to him.
"Sorry, Sir. I had to get him some food," Fuery apologized as he entered the office with a bowl in hand. "I found him out in the rain," he explained as he picked up the puppy.
"Hmm, a dog. I like dogs," Roy said as he scratched the puppy's head.
Fuery's excitement at Roy's disposition faded as the Colonel continued on the subject. While Roy's eyes sparkled with mirth, Fuery broke out in a sweat just listening to him talk of a dog's unwavering loyalty. He couldn't let a man who called a dog man's servant take the puppy home.
He was almost relieved when he found out the Colonel couldn't take the puppy in.
"Sir, do you know anyone who could take him in?" he pleaded.
Roy studied his youngest subordinate. The hint of desperation in the man's voice surprised him.
"Why the rush, Master Sergeant?"
"I can't keep him in the dorm, and Breda hates dogs, and Falman also lives in the dorms, and," he shot a glance over at Havoc and lowered his voice, "and Havoc wants to eat him."
It took all of the willpower he could muster not to laugh at the last bit and instead send a horrified glance over at the blond Second Lieutenant.
Havoc felt the eyes upon him and looked up from his work to find Fuery shooting him a disgusted glare.
"It was a joke! The puppy would be put to much better use attracting and wooing woman than as food," Havoc mumbled.
"He's just a puppy! Not food or bait to lure in your next girlfriend," Fuery snapped, holding the puppy closer to his chest.
"Hawkeye told him to find an owner by the time she returned, or take the dog back where he found him," Falman reported, cluing Roy in to Fuery's turmoil.
"I didn't know the Lieutenant could be so cold," Fuery murmured as he looked out the window to the wet streets of East City. "How can I put it back out into the rain…"
Roy grinned. The men didn't quite know Hawkeye yet.
"Don't worry. Lieutenant Hawkeye may seem tough, but underneath all that she's got a gentle heart," he reassured the young man, giving him a pat on the shoulder as he made his way to his desk. He didn't need the first example of Hawkeye's gentle heart to be her ordering him to get his work done, especially not after her rotation on firearms training—she usually needed a bit of unwinding after dealing with the rookies.
Riza sighed as she pulled her uniform jacket back on. She'd been lucky to get a capable bunch this time around. It was a bit amusing to see Rebecca frustrated with her group for once. Most of the time she was lucky if her recruits knew the barrel from the grip. Rebecca parted from her with a nearly inaudible grumble about having to return to give her group another training session.
Riza went in the opposite direction. It was nearly lunch time, but she wanted to make a dent in her paperwork before she took a break.
General Grumman stopped as she saluted him in the hall. "I hear there's a new addition to your office staff," he inquired.
"Yes, Sir. A puppy Master Sergeant Fuery didn't have the heart to leave in the rain," she informed him, quite sure it would have slipped her mind until she spotted it again if he hadn't brought it up.
"Quite admirable of him. I hope he finds someone to take the pup in. I'm hardly ever home, or else I would," he said, giving Riza a sharp look.
"I'm sure he will, Sir," she told him ignoring the look he gave her.
"Well then, you may return to your business, Lieutenant," Grumman dismissed her with a grin.
She shook her head as he walked away, surprised that Fuery had gone as far as asking Grumman to take in the dog.
The puppy yawned from its hiding place under the desk. It was quiet and dark there—he could finally get some sleep. The kind man had been dragging him about all morning, and he'd smelled and played with more people than he thought he'd ever meet.
He was nearly asleep when the door opened again. He poked his head out and sniffed the air.
It was the lady. He wagged his tail and ambled out from under the desk.
Fuery hurried over and picked the puppy up, trying to creep out of the office before Riza saw.
"Did you find an owner for it yet, Master Sergeant?" she asked as she walked up behind him.
He gulped. "Uh…uhm, well…that is," he stammered as he turned around to face her.
"You didn't find one, did you?"
He sighed and his shoulders slumped. "No, Sir. So, like I promised, I'll take him back to where I found him," he told her, unable to meet her eyes.
Riza took a step closer.
"Well," she began, snagging the puppy out of her subordinate's hands. "I guess if no one else wants to be the owner, then I have no choice. I'll take him, but I hope you know that I'm very strict," she told him as she held the puppy close, letting it sniff her.
"Lieutenant," Fuery whispered, too overjoyed to put his thanks into words.
Roy joined Fuery, chuckling at the man's tears of relief. "See, I told you she has a good heart."
"I'm glad you finally found an owner," Falman chimed in, watching as Riza began to teach the puppy how to shake hands.
Havoc pushed away from his desk, walked over, and clapped Fuery on the shoulder. "I'm sure the Lieutenant's going to discipline the dog well, and give it a lot of love, too."
"I'm so relieved," Fuery murmured, glad to have finally found a good home for the stray.
Everyone's attention turned to the dog when Roy gave a shout.
The puppy stood with a leg lifted, relieving itself on the office wall.
"Uh, I guess he's not house broken yet," Fuery remarked, rubbing the back of his head. In all the commotion he'd forgotten to take the poor guy out.
Roy looked from the puppy to his First Lieutenant as the familiar sound of the safety being clicked off reached his ears.
Everyone in the office stared in horror as she emptied a clip into the wall around the puppy.
The puppy cowered away from the sound, tail tucked between its legs.
Riza dug in the supply closet and found a discarded box lid and old newspapers. She lined the lid with the papers as she returned to the puppy.
"Bad dog," she chastised as she kneeled to get down to eye level with the puppy. "You're potty is here, got it?"
Satisfied that the dog understood she gave it a pat on the head. "Okay, good boy."
Riza hadn't expected bathing the dog to be so much trouble. She couldn't have him stinking up her apartment, but now she was drenched and he was running through the apartment shaking water everywhere and rolling around on her carpet. She was tempted to take out her gun, but she wanted him to listen to her, not the guns. The taste of soap still lingered in her mouth from the first time the puppy had shaken it off. She refrained from going for a glass of water and hunted for the puppy.
She tiptoed towards the couch. He was just on the other side, laying on his back and occasionally rolling around.
Sure to stay out of his sight, she rounded the couch.
"Got you, you bad puppy," she shouted in success as she wrapped him in a dry towel.
His tail wagged against her as she picked him up.
"You have to be a good boy," she told him.
He licked her face and shot her a look which must have been the exact definition of puppy-dog-eyes.
Sitting on the floor, she rubbed the puppy down with the towel.
A knock sounded on the door. She was about to set the puppy down, but decided against it.
When she opened the door, the man who'd fixed her toilet the week before stood there.
"Mr. and Mrs. Gleahdon called about the noise. They're afraid somethin' happened to you," he said as he looked her up and down.
Her cheeks didn't color, but she wondered how much of a wreck she looked like. "No, nothing at all. I just got a puppy and he didn't like the prospect of a bath," she explained.
"I'll let 'em know," he said as he made his way to the staircase.
"See, now I have to go apologize for worrying that nice couple," she told the puppy as she closed the door.
She was no more than a few steps away when a knock sounded on the door again.
She huffed, wondering what it could possibly be now.
The puppy wiggled.
Roy grinned as she opened the door.
"I thought you might need a few things," he said, fighting the urge to laugh at her disheveled hair, wet clothes, and the stray dog hairs clinging to her. The white bundle in her arms wiggled and yipped.
"No, bad, Hayate," she told the puppy. She waited a few moments and, when he didn't bark again, dug a soggy treat out of her pocket which the puppy devoured.
"I named him Black Hayate."
Roy gave her a blank stare.
"Come in," she offered, stepping aside so Roy could get past her.
She wiped her slobber covered hand on the towel before she pulled the door closed.
"I was surprised you didn't offer to take the dog, you've never been one for living alone," she commented as Roy dug in his own pockets.
"No animals allowed in my apartments," he explained as he held out a blue leash and collar.
"Colonel, you really shouldn't have."
"Well, it wasn't just me. Havoc and Fuery even got Breda to chip in," Roy explained as he produced a small bag of dog treats from another coat pocket.
She set Hayate down. "Be a good boy," she told him as he found his way out of the towel.
Hayate circled around Roy, taking in the vaguely familiar smell of his shoes.
"Oh, and Fuery wanted me to give you this," he said setting the treats on the end table on top of the blushing princess in disguise. His eyebrow rose at the sight of the book cover, but he dismissed it and found the note in his pocket. "Some training tips if you need them," he informed her.
"Well, uh, I should probably get to cleaning up his mess," she said as she took the paper from him.
Roy nodded. "He seems to be quite the handful, need some help?"
She looked down to find the puppy curled up on the towel. "I'm pretty sure I can handle it. After all, I've got Fuery's expertise," she declined his offer.
He nodded and dug his hands into his pockets.
"Have a good day off, Lieutenant," Roy told her as he made his way to the door.
"You too, Colonel." She followed him, watching from just inside the door as he walked to the stairwell.
Just as he was about to disappear she called to him.
He stopped for a moment and half turned to look at her.
"Thanks," she called.
He waved and continued on his way.
A grin settled on her face as she closed the door.
Water plummeted to the ground.
Puddles gathered in potholes and uneven paving.
Lightning broke across the dark expanse of sky.
Thunder grumbled through East City.
A blonde comforted a trembling puppy.
"It's okay Hayate, it can't hurt you," she reassured him as she lifted him onto her bed. The puppy snuggled under the covers and curled up by his owner's stomach. As she drifted back to sleep, she decided living alone wasn't so bad, but then again, she wasn't living alone anymore.
A.N.: Originally written for the fmagiftexchange at livejournal. My prompt was living alone with the characters Riza, Hayate, and Roy. I forgot that I'd never posted this here, which is why it took a few months for me to bring it over from lj. Some dialogue taken from Dog of the Military sidestory Thanks for reading!
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