The Source of Sorrow
Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition.
Pairing – Eventually Roy/Riza but starts out Roy/OC, Riza/OC
Rating – R (for adult situations)
Time Line – anime based, future fic after that movie, with some manga elements like Xing, where Roy learned his alchemy and Armstrong's other, older sister
Summary – Roy knows he has made a complete and total mess of his life but is he getting a second chance?
Author's Note – This was written for the challenge put forth by tiptoeinthesnow and she wanted some speculation on whether or not Roy would end up as Fuhrer and some romance (okay this is far more angst than romance.) Also, the spark of this story came before the challenge after hearing some songs by Hinder and a few others (I could easily suggest a listening soundtrack for this one). Special thanks to Ishte, mulzrulz, and Mjules for helping me with the movie details (since I was unable to actually make it through the movie) and thanks to evillittledog and mulzrulz for the beta.
Guilt is the source of sorrow, 'tis the fiend, Th' avenging fiend, that follows us behind, With whips and stings – Nicholas Rowe
There were days he wanted to just run off and forget that he was the Flame Alchemist. Looking out over the verdant, rolling hills of Resembool, Roy wondered if he could ever just disappear into a small town like this and live a normal life. He tugged his hat lower, trying to shield his distinctive face. With his exotic dark almond eyes, he knew he had always garnered attention and now with the large patch hiding the ruins of part of his face, the attention seemed to have trebled. He didn't really want anyone to know he came here, which was why he left his uniform behind on these trips.
Roy never knew why he tormented himself like this. Mostly because he owed the girl something. He had messed up with his own lover and didn't know how to fix that. At least, he could handle this task, looking after Miss Rockbell even if it broke his heart every time. Surely, she'd recover one day, adjust to her loss. Sometimes Roy wondered why she tolerated him at all. She knew what he had done to her parents and she forgave him that. Forgiveness felt like a knife to the heart. He wasn't worthy of it. Would she forgive him for what had happened with the brothers? Did she really blame him for them leaving? As it was, whenever she did see him, there was a hard edge of resentment in her eyes but he wasn't sure if that was for him or the Elrics.
This trip, however, he had to make his presence known. Leaning on a cane, Roy limped his way to the yellow house. Winry spotted him before he made it all the way up to the door. She seemed older than she should be. Joy had left her face, maybe for good, leaving behind grim lines. Sometimes Roy wanted to go across the Gate he had helped destroy and kick Ed and Alphonse both for not taking her with them when they left. What they had done had been so very wrong. Any more wrong than what you did to Riza? the little voice inside his head asked and Roy winced.
"What did you do?" Winry's eyes narrowed at him. "I swear, you're as bad as Edward ever was. Come inside."
"This was entirely not my fault," Roy said, clumping his way to a patient room.
"That's what he used to say, too," Winry said and the tremble in her voice told Roy just how much she missed her friend.
Roy ignored the quaver, knowing nothing he could say would help. He flopped on the bed and toed off his shoe. "I'm blind on one side, you know," he replied tartly. "I never saw the insurgent until he nearly shot me. Luckily Armstrong was there. But your automail got shot." He pointed to the ruined ankle.
When he had closed the Gate, things had gone in ways Roy hadn't expected and the explosions had leveled a good deal, him included. Roy knew he was lucky to be alive. The shrapnel had torn into his ankle, setting him on fire. How ironic was that? Through the agony, he had worked his alchemy, saving his life. He had enough raw materials to do the job but no one had anticipated the explosion. Between shrapnel-torn bone – parts of tibia having been blown right through the balloon he had been in – and the flames, he lost his leg from the knee down. At the rate he was losing parts, there would be nothing left of him shortly. But Roy had gained something from the Gate's destruction; he knew how Ed's array-less alchemy worked, having been similarly altered himself.
Winry frowned at the damage. "It'll take me the day to fix the damage. Want a replacement limb in the meanwhile?"
Roy shook his head. "Can you take the automail off at the inn? I'm on the first floor. I can get around with crutches."
She gazed at him sourly. "You could stay here, you know."
"I would hate to impose," Roy said, knowing it was a very bad idea. "My car's outside. I can give you a lift to the inn."
Winry nodded and gathered her tools. Roy drove them in silence to the inn. When he settled himself on the bed she finally asked, "Why didn't you just call me to meet you here?"
"I didn't want to give you time to arm yourself." Roy smirked and she thumped his thigh with her wrench. He watched her take off his leg. He didn't mind the silver docking port. It took the place of the melted scar tissue the burns had left behind. Roy couldn't bear them. Whenever he had seen his burn scars before his surgery, all he could think of was Ishbal. Roy kept waking in the night, screaming and soaked in sweat and there was no one there to comfort him. Maes was dead and he had driven Riza away.
"Have you even talked to her about you getting automail?" Winry asked so softly he barely heard it. There was only ever one 'her' they talked about. Roy knew Winry kept in touch with Riza and how the older woman liked Winry as a sister.
He couldn't look at her. "No…but I'm sure she knows."
Winry glared up at him. "You and Ed, so much alike. Hiding your feelings, cutting us out. Hell, you even recovered from your surgery and got on your feet in a year like him. And for what? So you can wall yourself up with your alchemy?"
Roy's jaw clenched. "If she wanted to see me, she knew where I was." It had hurt more than he could say that Riza never came when he was in the hospital. He had been too proud, too stupid, to call her and say he needed her. Roy had just simply expected Riza to be there for him like always but she never came. The only women that meant anything to him to darken his hospital door was Gracia checking on an old friend and a girl who should have wanted to see his pain but did nothing but tell him she would make him walk again. The last he heard from Riza was her calling him a liar as he sailed up in that damnable balloon. She had been there for his crash. Maybe she had stayed around long enough to learn he would live, but even at that, he couldn't say. "And I'm not walled away with my alchemy. They reinstated my rank."
"No, they promoted you to general and made you an ambassador to Ishbal, probably with hopes someone there will assassinate you for revenge," Winry countered and Roy sighed. This was an old argument.
"You're very right about that." Roy rubbed at his eye patch. "It keeps me very busy."
"I've heard it all before," Winry sounded so bitter. He wished he could do something more for her. "It's a poor excuse."
"I know. I'm not a good man, I know that, too, Winry," Roy said and this time she stood up and slapped his face. Roy's remaining eye popped open wide.
"You're better than most of the ones you're working for. You mean well," she said, almost smiling. "Except for what you did to her. She's stationed back out East, did you even know that?" Winry turned away and picked up his detached limb. "I'll have it ready tomorrow. I'll call."
"Thank you," he mumbled, trying not to think too hard on what she had said. "Winry, they're hosting an Ishbalan Rain Festival in Central in a few weeks, all part of our new 'let's forget about the past and be friends' program." Roy made a face. "You should come, maybe bring your grandmother….unless you think it would bring up bad memories."
"I think I can handle it," she said. "I'm here with you, aren't I?"
Roy winced and she left without another word. Why did everything have to hurt so much? Roy lay back on the bed and picked up his alchemy text. It held no interest for him, however. His eye strayed to the phone. He knew he should call her but too much time had gone past, two years. Did Riza have another lover? He didn't have the nerve to find out. Did she hate him? He deserved it. He wanted her back but had no idea how to even begin to ask for something he had no right to.
That night he dreamt of answering the phone, expecting it to be Riza only it had been Maes yelling at him. Roy couldn't remember the words but he knew the context. If his friend were alive, Hughes would be so disappointed in him.
X X X
"Boss, you have to get this stuff done," Havoc said, a cigarette riding precariously on his lip. The young man still missed having Hawkeye around. None of them had ever managed to motivate Mustang like she could.
Roy looked away from his window, tapping his metal toe in his boot. He couldn't help it. Ever since he got the automail under his control, he caught himself always tapping his toe. "Where's my glove?"
"You can't set the paperwork on fire and you know it. If you just signed them when you get them, it wouldn't stack up like this," Havoc said and both men froze, hearing one of Hawkeye's favorite quotes echoing around in the room.
Roy almost looked around, expecting to see Hayate bound into the room. Instead, he grabbed a pen and started signing.
"General Grumman called to say clear your schedule, Boss, and he'll be here in the afternoon to see you."
"Grumman?" Roy's mouth tightened. As much as he owed the man, he didn't want to see him since the general made him remember Riza. "Did you tell him I was booked solid?"
"I already lie repeatedly for one general, Boss. Don't make me lie to another one." Havoc laughed.
Roy sighed. "Fine." When Havoc left, he started signing the paperwork. How could there be even more of it now than when he was a colonel? Sometimes he was ready to just resign and go do something with his life other than this. He was still signing when he heard a knock at the door. "Come in, General," Roy said, then glanced up.
Feeling the color drain out of his face, Roy was glad he hadn't stood up to greet the general. Instead of the old man, Riza stood in the doorway, her face a blank mask. She held out a large envelop to him. "General Grumman sends his regrets. He got called into a meeting and sent me with these." There was no feeling in her voice, no sign he wasn't just some random general she had never met before.
Roy slowly got to his feet, holding out his hand. "Thank you. Do you know what the meeting was about?" he asked, trying to sound as neutral as she did. Both of them knew there was no meeting. This was just Grumman pushing them together.
"The parliament asked General Grumman to send a representative to assist the ambassador to Ishbal in his duties for the upcoming festival." Finally her mask cracked and irritation shone through. "He chose me."
Roy couldn't move. No, worse, he might be moving, trembling. How could Grumman do this to him? It was an unfair surprise. Judging by Riza's eyes she felt the same way. "I see. I'm not sure yet what I'll be doing for the festival."
"You'll find the itinerary in the envelope," she replied.
Roy looked at it then back at her. Her brown eyes captured his gaze for a moment, then Riza snapped around, and headed back for the door, her duty discharged. "Riza," he said stridently and she stopped, looking back at him. He couldn't find his tongue. Where was the suave player? He couldn't even find enough salvia to keep his mouth from feeling like sand, let alone speak. Why didn't he just say he was sorry? Or I missed you? Or you were right, I was a liar and I didn't take you on the balloon because I thought I was going to die? All he could managed was a dry, 'thank you.'
Her expression said, 'you bothered me for that?' Riza hesitated as if expecting more from him. When nothing more came, she went on her way. Roy went over and threw the lock without a word of explanation for his men. Putting his back to the door, Roy slid down it, puddling into a pool of self-pity and misery, content to spend the rest of the day wading there.
X X X
Roy wanted a cigarette, to feel the warmth of it between his fingers, to taste the smoke. Part of him knew it would relax him but only until the taste of smoke brought back flashbacks of Ishbal. Honestly, sometimes it was brutal being around Havoc. Instead, he settled for his whiskey. The smoky amber liquid passed over his tongue. Sitting here in the bar, Roy could reimagine the day the way it should have been. He would have told Riza all the things he needed to, like how much he missed her, how wrong he had been and done whatever it took to get her back. In his mind's eye, he and Riza were dancing to this waltz, he could never remember the name of it but it was one of his favorite pieces. It felt as if it were made for him and her to dance to, not that they had ever danced. He imagined they never would now.
"I was hoping that you weren't here."
Roy twisted on the bar stool at the familiar tone. Why did she have to come here? "Then why did you look for me here?" Idiot, why is that the first thing out of your mouth?
Riza sat down next to him. "I don't really know."
When nothing more was forthcoming, Roy took another swig of whiskey then set it on the lip of the bar for another fill up. When he could stand the silence no longer, he said, "I have to wear a red robe and flowers for the festival. The parliament is arguing over which florist to use but only the richest Ishbalans ever had real flowers. I want to wear ones made of cloth scraps, like the common folk would." Roy snorted. "Flowers in my hair, what would Maes have made of that?"
"He would have taken a lot of pictures and laughed heartily," Riza replied without hesitation. She hazarded a glance at him. "Red robe? Won't that make you stand out?"
Roy nodded. "I have no personal attaché at the moment. I'm not allowed anyone from the military. It makes the Ishbalans nervous. I'm permitted to have a non-military bodyguard but I wouldn't know who to use." Roy licked his lips. "If one of the Ishbalans chooses to kill me, I could hardly say I blame him."
"I could save them the trouble," she growled.
Roy flinched, snatching up his refilled glass. "Is that what you came here to tell me?" He wouldn't hide his hurt. Let her see it. It was her due. If she came here for blood, then he would bleed.
"I already said I didn't know why I came," she replied, her eyes flicking to his glass. "Do you do this every night?"
Roy shook his head. "Not as much as you'd think." He killed the glass and set it out for more. Tonight was special in a way that he wanted to guarantee he wouldn't remember it. "You have to wear flowers, too, Riza, since you've been assigned as my partner. Do you want me to get you some of the cloth ones."
"I'll handle it myself." Riza stared at the bottles of booze lining the wall behind the bar.
He floundered for something to say and the emotional stuff he needed to say still wouldn't come. "How's Hayate?"
Her eyes turned to flint. "Do you care, Roy?"
His fingers gripped the slick varnished edge of the bar. "That's not fair, Riza. I've always cared."
"That's why you went to the Briggs Mountains then, without anyone?" Her voice was as cold as night patrols there.
Roy looked away. "I did it because…" He shook his head. "I guess no one would understand."
Riza made an unhappy sound. "I don't know why I'm here. I should just go."
"Riza, wait," Roy said. Now, idiot, now's the time to tell her everything. "Where are you staying?"
"At the Sleeptite. I need to get back. David will be wondering where I am," she said.
Roy's solitary eye widened and his tongue stumbled over the word, "David."
"David Calvert," she said casually, as if Roy had never meant anything to her. If she cared that she was killing him, it didn't show. "He's a history teacher out East. He brought his class with him to see the festivities here since it's probably still not safe enough to take a bunch of school kids to Ishbal for the real Rain Festival."
She was seeing someone. Roy couldn't even swallow his whiskey down past the constriction in his throat. What was he expecting? That she would wait forever for him? Fool. "Oh. Yes, I can't argue that. If there's something special those kids would like to see, let me know. I'll see if I can arrange it," he said, dying inside.
She waved him off. "You don't have to go through any trouble."
"It's no trouble. I'm happy to help," he said and she gave him a look of disbelief. Roy tried to put on a brave face. "I mean that. It's good that you have someone, Riza. It's better than hanging on to a man whose dreams as all ash," he added in a whisper.
Her eyes narrowed. "Are you drunk?"
"A little," he replied honestly.
He glanced over his shoulder at the new voice interrupting them. He swallowed a curse as a young woman, her darkly tanned skin complimented by her brilliantly colored dress, glided up to him. Her blonde hair had been piled on top of her head in an intricate knot and her red eyes were highlighted by her make up to insure everyone noticed them. "Mara, I didn't expect you tonight."
She slid her arm around his shoulders and gave Riza a cold, calculating look. "So I see."
Roy shook his head. "This is Captain Riza Hawkeye. She and I will be working together on the festival."
Mara's painted lips pursed. "I see. Not too closely, I'm sure, General." She tapped his cheek. "You're taking me as your escort."
"That's not really wise, Mara. You know your father wouldn't like that. The whole point is to make peace with your people, not irritate them further," Roy said, giving her and Riza uneasy looks. Riza's face did not remain passive as he hoped. She looked furious.
Mara pouted. "I know but your way is no fun."
"He's military, fun usually isn't an option," Riza said dryly and Roy shot her a hurt look.
"I was coming to see if you were going to go home early tonight," Mara said, only bothering putting on her bedroom eyes for Riza's sake, he had no doubt. "But I can see you're not."
He shook his head. Why was fate doing this to him? "No. I'm going to be busy working on the festival all night."
"Is that what we're calling it?" Mara glared but turned on her heel. "And we will be going to the festival, Roy."
Roy watched Mara leave then sighed.
"A little young for you, isn't she?" Riza asked cuttingly.
He curled his lip at her. "She's in her late twenties besides, it's not what you think."
She arched her eyebrows. "Oh really?"
"Given who I am and what I did in Ishbal, I'm the perfect choice to embarrass her father, one of the more powerful priests to rise to the top after the clans have begun to regroup," Roy replied. "She thinks I'm her pawn."
"Then why do you do this to yourself?"
Roy slipped a hand under his eye patch and peeled it off, revealing the scars. He turned to face Riza fully, knowing just how unfair he was being to both women. "How many women do you think want to see this in bed?"
Riza glanced away then swung off the stool. "I should get back to the hotel."
He tugged the patch back on. "Yeah, you should." This time he didn't watch her as she went. He just had the bartender pour him another round.
X X X
"You look exhausted," David observed as Riza entered the hotel room. He went over and put his arms around her. "And you smell like cigarettes."
Riza sighed. She hadn't really wanted David to come on this trip, even before she knew Roy and she had to work together on the festival. It was embarrassing to have to arrange for accommodations in the private sector instead of taking the visiting officers' quarters since everyone knew why she would do such a thing. "One of General Mustang's men, Havoc, smokes like he might never see another cigarette."
"Havoc, I think you've mentioned him. He's the one with no luck in woman, right?"
Squirming out of his arms, Riza flushed. "Yes, but keep that to yourself. You didn't have to wait up for me, David."
He smiled and sat on the bed. "I was up checking with the parents and the kids. There's a lot to do yet."
Riza nodded. "I'm taking a quick shower." She hoped he'd take the hint and be asleep by the time she got out. She really wished she had done a better job of discouraging him from coming but once he got it into his head the kids would love this; there was no stopping the man. She just didn't have the energy for dealing with David after fighting with Roy. Why the hell had she gone to the bar? She thought she had wanted to apologize but maybe deep down she wanted to see him hurt as much as she had when he demoted himself and left her. Well, if that was it, she got what she had went for.
When she got back out of the shower, David was still up looking at a book. "General Mustang offered to help if there was anything special you wanted for the kids." Riza sat on the bed wondering why she said that. She didn't want Roy and David interacting but she didn't want to be petty either. Besides, if Roy wanted to make his life miserable then let him.
"Did he? That's wonderful," David said, turning out the light and coming to bed. Riza got up and got under the covers. He joined her. "Mustang? Isn't he the one who murdered the Fuhrer?"
"He didn't murder him," Riza protested a little more hotly than she meant to. She felt her face flush. "King Bradley had gone insane and was trying to destroy our country. He killed his own son before Mustang could stop him," she added, going with the party line. No one wanted to admit their leader had been a homunculus.
David rolled onto his side, looking at her. "I heard Mustang wanted to be Fuhrer himself."
"Well, he would have liked that but now we have an elected ruler. Maybe he'll try for that one day. Right now, he's one of the ambassadors to Ishbal," she said, keeping her 'if he doesn't get killed doing that first,' to herself.
"Mustang, isn't he the Flame Alchemist? Wasn't he one of the alchemists that brought Ishbal low in the first place?" David asked, a hint of animosity in his tone. He was too gentle, Riza thought. He couldn't understand war and yet he taught history, which was composed of them. "I remember the war news reels at the movies back then."
"You have no idea. They didn't release what the alchemists really did," Riza said, shuddering. She remembered all too well watching Roy back then. With that red stone ring on his finger, he was like a furious god.
"How do you know?" David ran a hand over her hair.
"I was there in Ishbal." Riza shut her eyes. "I was there when he killed the Fuhrer as well. I was supposed to protect him and I ended up blinding him in one eye."
David's lips made an 'O.' "I had no idea."
Riza shrugged, trying to downplay it. "I don't really like talking about it."
"I understand." David shot her a sympathetic look. "Oh, well, if he offered his help, he probably doesn't bear a grudge."
She looked at David. Riza wanted to believe that but she didn't. She had seen Roy's ruined face in the bar. It was probably why he had left her behind, twice. He didn't want to be with the person who had hurt him so badly. Deep down she knew in those days in the hospital, he seemed forgiving but then he was gone. She had never understood it. No, that was a lie, too. She had seen his pain. What she didn't understand was why he cut her out, why he didn't let her help him. "I guess not. David, I'm very tired and I have an early day."
David kissed her forehead. "Of course. Get some sleep." He wrapped an arm around her.
Riza closed her eyes, resting against him. She should count herself lucky to have found him. He was a gentle man, even when it came to making love. Still, mostly when she was with him, all she could remember was how fiery Mustang had been in bed. She missed that but what good came of making comparisons? She just wished she knew how it had all gone so wrong and how she ended up so bitter. Riza had some inklings, offered by Winry. She kept in touch with the poor girl. Winry's theory was Roy, much like Ed, wanted to protect them but that equated to cutting them out completely so the bad stuff couldn't touch them, completely oblivious to the hurt it caused. Why didn't she just tell Roy that? Why didn't she ask, 'why did you hurt me like this?' instead of making sure she hurt him back? Having no answers, she tried to find sleep.