I did not leave this "Untitled" for some cutesy, artistic, clever, or significant reason. I've had thestory done for two days I've reread it probably a dozen times and I STILL can't think of an appropriate title. I think, after this story was finished, I broke my muse. Does anybody have an extra one laying around that they don't want:D Any suggestions for a more appropriate title are welcome and appreciated.
Summary: Riza's sick and Roy wants her to go home, but since when she SHE listen to ROY?!? She's got better things to do like keeping everyone on track for that night's military ball. See how the evening progresses and how the team manages to finally get Riza home, and how innocent fluffiness breaks down the door... RoyRiza
By KatsyKat aka Suzi
"You know – despite popular belief – I can function without you for a day." Roy said, leaning casually against Hawkeye's desk. He crossed his arms with a haughty air ignoring the fact that she was pointedly ignoring him.
His dark eyes bored into the blondes head as if by sheer willpower alone, he could force her to admit to her illness and head home. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate her dedication, but it was obvious she was unwell. And she was too stubborn to admit how sick she was.
Hawkeye continued signing paperwork on her desk. After fair amount of time had passed without the Colonel leaving her alone, she sighed. The expression was breathless and hollow because of her stuffy nose.
"You probably could, sir, but what about them?" she asked in a deep congested voice, sweeping her pen without raising her head to indicate the Havoc, Fuery, & Breda tied up in the string of lights they were supposed to be putting up in the ballroom.
Mustang scowled, he knew that his team desperately needed her, but were they so incompetent that they couldn't offer the hard-working blonde a single day to get well? His eyes continued to examine the woman before him.
Her normally pale skin was even more pallid, yet every so often her cheeks flared up in a blush that covered her whole face and neck. During those times he had watched her suppress a shiver, indicating that she had a fever. Even her were lips pale, and her eyes held an unhealthy sparkle.
Roy sighed. He knew that Riza had come in earlier than usual to set the team to rights decorating for the yearly military ball. Mustangs team, among several other unfortunate individuals had been... volunteered to help set up.
Hawkeye, ever the over-achiever, had immediately corralled the 14 man team into something resembling order. She had assigned tasks earlier in the week, and was in the process of overseeing each smaller group and their accomplishments. She previously reviewed and approved their budgets, and was now collecting receipts and reports from the people in charge of each task. She would be inspecting the ballroom again soon, Roy knew.
Just that morning, he had watched her cross the ballroom at least a dozen times, instructing decorators, table and chair placement, catering table needs, and countless other trivial details that made Roy's head spin, and HE wasn't the one who was sick.
Now, here it was late-afternoon, and Riza was sitting perfectly straight-backed in their office, calmly signing orders and reports as if he hadn't just heard her gasping for breath after a wrecking coughing fit a mere hour before. Not that he was following her on her lunch or anything, just that he happened to by walking by... ok so he'd followed her, but she worried him.
He felt like he had every right to be worried about his assistant. She showed up that morning looking like death warmed over, worked more than anyone's fair share, and he'd only seen her drink tea all day.
"You should take a few minutes for a nap." Mustang suggested finally, when he could no longer take the sound of her pen skating over countless sheets of paper. Riza paused a second in her signature before finishing it and looking up at him.
"Are you trying to imply something?" She asked coldly, her eyes blazing.
Mustang resisted the desire to back up stuttering. "I'm just concerned. You look a little... peeked." He said, hoping it wasn't the wrong thing to say.
To his surprise she hardly reacted. She shrugged and returned to her paperwork, and Roy thought that was the end of the matter until she spoke. "I don't need additional sleep. I condition myself on a set amount every day."
"Wait... you mean to tell me that you've never slept in late a day in your life?" Roy challenged.
"...not of my adult life." Riza answered carefully after taking a moment to think.
"Not one day?" Roy asked, now incredulous.
"No, sir." She said in all seriousness as she returned to her paperwork. "I believe that a person needs a regimented schedule to keep their body operating at top efficiency."
Roy shook his head. "You really have no idea what you're missing." He said.
Riza looked up confused, a single eyebrow arched in disbelief, "Sir?"
"Sleeping in on the weekend... I treasure those days. Staying wrapped in your blankets for longer than you should... it almost makes you feel like a little kid again, if only for a minute." Roy only smiled at the continued look of confusion on his Lieutenants face. "You should really try it sometime." He added.
"I don't think so." Hawkeye dismissed, returning to her paperwork. "Sleeping more than your body needs to is a waste. You can't process the extra sleep... store it or do anything useful with it. Therefore you're simply losing the time that you are sleeping when you could be doing something more productive."
"Life's not all about productivity." Roy commented with a wry smile. "You should kick back and take it easy more..."
"And THAT view is exactly why people believe you can not function on your own." Riza slammed down her pen, "With an attitude like that, it's a wonder you get anything done." she uncharacteristically snapped at her commanding officer who was currently inhibiting her work, and making it harder to think past her pounding headache.
Roy frowned, but his anger was quickly abated as he watched the woman flush in embarrassment at what she'd said. "I apologize for my outburst, sir. If you'll excuse me." She whispered as she stood quickly and exited the room without waiting for a response.
Roy stood blinking and debated whether or not to follow her. Her accuracy in the slam of his work ethic hurt less than the fact that it signified Riza was so stressed out she let something like that slip. She was ever the example of military professionalism.
Deciding she probably needed some time alone, Roy turned his attention to the three helpless idiots still tangled in lights. He decided they were a good enough target for his frustrations.
"Here's a good one!" He bellowed, enjoying their automatic cringes at the tone of his voice, "Just how many officers of the Amestris Military does it take to hang a single strand of lights?" Roy asked them with a sarcastic smile.
Little over an hour later, Roy decided to go look for Hawkeye. She had not returned and he was concerned.
He began his search in the ballroom. He hadn't been there since earlier than morning and he was surprised to see everything coming together nicely. Not that he doubted Hawkeye's ability, but she seemed to handle everything with such ease. It was amazing she could pull something like this together in less than a week. Not to mention during a time she was sick, as she had been getting progressively worse all week.
The royal blue and dark silver colors went wonderfully with their dress uniforms. Balloons, streamers, and sparkly foil bits coated the large formal hall. A small band had already set up shop to the left of stage leaving it open for the awards ceremony Roy knew would be taking place after dinner. Tables and chairs were set around a modest, yet appropriate sized dance floor. Food smells were wafting from the kitchen.
Roy looked down at his watch and was not surprised to find it was almost time for him to get ready. He had to change into his dress uniform, because the guests would start arriving within the half hour.
Scanning the ballroom a second time, he finally caught sight of Hawkeye, expertly weaving around the dozen or so people milling about lighting the candles on each table, setting up a microphone and speakers, and all the other hundred last minute touches. Catching his eye Riza made a bee-line for him.
"Sir, you should be getting ready." She scolded. Roy looked her up and down looking for signs of a worsening sickness. He could hear the deep tone her congested voice had taken, but he was pretty sure that anyone who didn't know her wouldn't pick up on it.
Still, he didn't feel that she should be forced to sit all night through this boring long event. Especially considering her long day. She had done her work, and now she could take pride in a job well done; go home and get some rest. He opened his mouth to tell her so.
"Lieutenant, you really should..."
"Get ready, myself?" she laughed, "I was just about to." She motioned to a table at the front right. "There's the seating for our platoon. Make sure the others get there, if you will sir." She said, and without a backwards glance, she was already walking away from him.
Shrugging, and reminding himself that Riza was a big girl who could take care of herself. Especially considering how much she took care of him, it was almost insulting to assume she wasn't aware of her own limits. And so he went to begin his struggle with the dreaded dress uniform.
Finally, several curses, two pricked fingers on pins and ribbons that needed adjusting and Roy was fully dressed for the event. He slicked his hair back with an impatient air. He, and all his male subordinates were in their office and need to leave together to make their 'official entrance' as dictated by the agenda. Hawkeye, however, had not shown yet.
Roy's only satisfaction was to watch the unease in the others. He felt the same way, but was better at hiding it. With a reprimand of their gloomy features he bid them all to follow him to the ballroom.
The ballroom was more than half filled. There were countless uniforms, and a few women had worn evening gowns. Up until last year, Roy would have invited one of his fleeting dates to the event. He enjoyed having a beautiful woman on his arm. The jealousy of the higher-ups for the upstart colonel's ability to come up with a different beautiful woman at each event was such a nice ego booster.
However, because of a few incidents (none including Roy directly) the ball was now 'military only' and guests were not permitted. Since many military women, like Hawkeye, preferred to come in their uniforms there were far less eye catching distractions.
And so Roy found himself listless. He and his team had made it through the few necessary introductions and were now seated at their previously vacant table. With the beginning of the event moments away, Roy wondered where Hawkeye could be.
Had she finally decided enough was enough and taken his advice to go home? As much as Roy hoped it were true, he didn't have any faith that it was. She would have found a way to notify him at least.
Finally, as the lights dimmed and a spotlight was affixed on the stage. It was time for the introductory speech. Roy tapped his fingers against his glass of water. It was very uncharacteristic for Hawkeye to be late.
Determined not to pay attention to the speech, Roy's eye wasn't drawn to the stage until a tiny beam of light stabbed his eye. Swinging his gaze to the source he realized that it came from the spotlight reflecting on a particularly becoming evening gown of the woman just stepping center stage.
The dark silver color matched the decorations perfectly, Roy noted. His eyes automatically took in the sleek cut dress. Modest slits revealed silver and clear strapped heels on dainty feet. The skirt then hugged the curves of the woman's legs and hips... The square-cut top was modest, but left creamy shoulders exposed – and the loose blonde hair framed a very familiar face...
Roy's jaw dropped.
Havoc let out a low whistle that Roy was glad Riza couldn't hear. She didn't appear to have a gun on her... but he'd seen her pull weapons out of the strangest places...
"Thank you for joining us this evening." Riza's voice came through the speakers clearly. "I would like to take a moment to thank the individuals directly responsible for us being here this evening." She motioned to the left, "Brigadier-General Justin Faunce and his team."
The spotlight swung to a robust man with a lavishly decorated uniform and a blonde crew-cut who had stood proudly, accepting the applause. He nodded slightly with arrogance as the applause died and the spotlight returned to Hawkeye.
"And, Colonel Roy Mustang and his team." She said as the spotlight swung in Roy's direction.
Roy stood quickly, nearly faltering at Riza's next words. "Without these men this evening would not have been possible."
Roy tried to smile at the applause he felt Riza cheated herself out of. He wondered, not for the first time, what had he done to deserve her loyalty and endless dedication?
He bowed lowly in appreciation of the applause before sitting as the spotlight returned, once again, to the stunning vision onstage.
"Please wait for the maitre'd to invite your table. If you will all be patient, we will soon enjoy sampling some of those luscious smells coming from the kitchen." She said with a radiant smile.
There was a round of soft laughter and polite applause as conversations broke out all over the room. Placing the microphone back on its stand, Riza made her way offstage.
Roy opened his mouth to say something as she approached their table. However, when her eyes fell on him, she frowned. Roy wanted ask her what had displeased her when she silenced him by reaching her hands up to his neck. Roy flinched as the back of her cold hand pressed flush against his collar and her other hand unpinned a ribbon – moved it a half an inch and repined it.
Then, she calmly took the vacant seat next to him.
"What?" she asked after a moment of Roy staring wordlessly at her.
The Colonel shook his head. Words of admiration, gratitude, and flattery all collided and caught in his throat. He took a sip of water, hoping to help clear it.
"You look... nice." Roy told her dumbly. Chastising himself... nice? What was she, his sister? Surely there was something more appropriate in his womanizing word bank than 'nice'. She looked radiant, gorgeous even. Still, he wasn't used to seeing her like that – or treating her like the woman she was. He was far more comfortable treating her as an equal.
Riza's left eyebrow raised a quarter of an inch and she frowned slightly as if trying to determine if Roy was joking. He resisted the urge to blab a dozen compliments so that she'd take him seriously and instead steadily held her gaze with his own with a calm he did not feel.
Finally, blissfully unaware of his rampant thoughts Riza realized that he was honest in his compliment. A light blush covered her cheeks. She was not used to comments about her looks. Cat-calls, yes. Whistles, yes. Dirty comments, sadly yes. She was a female member of the military after all. But genuine compliments always threw her off. She looked down at her hands to avoid eye contact.
"Thank you." She said in a soft voice.
The evening passed quickly. Hawkeye did get a small plate of food, Roy noted, but she did little more than push it around her plate and offer parts to the other members of the table.
As soon as dinner was done, the awards ceremony began. Roy was called to the stage twice to receive new ribbons for whatever accomplishments it had been deemed he had deserved.
He wasn't paying much attention. He was constantly distracted by Riza's attempts to hide her sniffles and coughing amidst the frequent applause. It was a valiant effort, but Roy could tell the day was catching up to her.
Hawkeye's voice startled him out of his worries in the middle of the awards ceremony.
"You're very considerate to make sure Edward is on assignment every year so he doesn't have to put up with all this." Hawkeye commented, waving her hand on a loose wrist to indicate the whole ballroom.
It was unusual for her to break protocol during a formal event so carelessly, so Roy mused that she must mean something by the comment.
"I just don't need that kind of embarrassment." Roy explained honestly.
"What, afraid he'll cause a scene in front of all these distinguished gentlemen?" Hawkeye asked. It was not lost on Roy that she was pointed looking at a table whose occupants had obviously done some serious drinking beforehand and were being quite loud despite the ongoing speeches from the stage.
Roy suppressed a laugh, although he didn't think it would be noticed over the ruckus even if he let it out. He settled for an evil grin to portray his amusment.
"No, I'm referring to the attempt of actually fitting him for a dress uniform. There's only so many tailors in the city we can go through." Roy grumbled, only half joking.
Hawkeye let out a little laugh as the audience applauded something witty the speaker had said. Roy was pleased to see her forget her sickness for a moment and have a bit of fun. So he turned back to the speeches with a lighter mood.
The evening progressed and a short time after the awards, Hawkeye suddenly stood. Practically ordering Roy to accompany her she looped her arm through his and proceeded to drag to table after table after table.
How she managed to memorize every person's name, rank, and hobbies was beyond Roy's comprehension, but she must have introduced him to well over a hundred different people of considerable rank.
The process repeated itself over and over again.
Riza would show up, grab Roy's arm, make graceful excuses to everyone at the table for 'stealing the colonel'. The she would drag him to an entirely new table and introduce Roy to everyone, mention a few hobbies or points of interest and leave Roy to conversation.
Roy had to hand it to his second in command, she had masterfully put together this little event and used it to get him jump started on the elbow rubbing of many important people who's support he would need on his ambitious upward climb.
Roy decided that he really needed to thank her properly... once they were out of this stuffy atmosphere.
Thinking about the temperature of the room Roy realized the heat had risen considerably all night. He tugged a little on his collar; not surprised to find it stuck to the back of his neck with sweat.
The evening had wound down without his realizing. Roy was shocked to find that several hours had passed while he was talking with important members of the military. Voicing out loud his opinion of the heat allowed him to detach from his discussion with the Major-General of Defense under the guise of getting some water.
However, as he returned to his table, Roy found his glass was gone. The servers had already begun their first stages of clean-up. Roy glanced around the now thinning crowd. It was fairly late in the evening. The night had passed quickly for him.
He scanned the crowd to find Riza. He hadn't seen her in a while, but even with fewer people in the ballroom he couldn't pinpoint her location.
Roy began crossing the ballroom to find Hawkeye. His wide steps made it hard for people to approach him.
It didn't stop them from trying, however, and Roy was forced to make what he was sure were several tactless excuses to avoid conversation.
As he reached the stage, to find the band still playing, Roy felt a hand on his arm.
Turning to the person, Roy assumed was Riza, his smile froze as he looked down into the dark eyes of Fuery with a scowl.
Fuery immediately removed his hand, having effectively stopped the Colonel from his fast paced trek. Roy began to dismiss his subordinate when the look of obvious concern on the Sergent's face stopped him.
"Sir... I think Lt. Hawkeye..."
"Where?" Roy demanded, not even letting the shorter man finish. Fuery pointed and Roy finally spotted the only female member of their team.
She had pulled her hair back off her shoulders with one hand, displaying beautiful diamond earrings that dangled tastefully. Roy shook himself, no good staring at her jewelry. She was leaning against the wall by the bathrooms lightly fanning herself with her free hand.
When Roy approached her, he realized what Fuery was about to tell him. Hawkeye looked ready to drop. Roy had seen her tired before, but never this drained. Exhausted seemed an understatement. Her complexion, pale all day had lost anything resembling color and it stood out in sharper contrast against her dark dress, accenting the dark circles under her eyes. Her posture, usually military-perfect, was slumped.
Guilt dropped on Mustang's shoulders. How long had she been worsening, and he'd been so busy socializing to notice. Never mind that she was the one pushing him TO mingle. He was going to make sure she got home and that was that.
"Hawkeye." Roy addressed her, his tone harsher than he meant. To his surprise, she didn't snap to.
"Mmm?" she asked, turning slowly towards him with a perplexed look on her face, as if wondering why he would be over here talking to her. She did drop her arms to her sides and her hair fell to her shoulders with a light bounce. Roy looked into her eyes. While they had been unusually bright all evening, they were practically glazed over now.
Roy reached a hand up to her forehead and almost winced as his cool hand came in touch with her burning skin.
"I'm taking you home." Roy said in a matter-of-fact tone.
Riza opened her mouth as if to argue, but then closed it and swallowed thickly. She nodded meekly and lowered her head as if ashamed.
"It's been a long day." She admitted in a small voice, so unlike her own.
Roy turned and was surprised to find Fuery still at his elbow. Roy was glad, it made it easier that his subordinate was here.
"Fuery, go find Havoc. Tell him to get the car ready and out front in..." His smile stopped Roy's order.
"Already done, sir." Fuery chirped, knowingly. "Jean should have the car waiting for you."
Roy nodded, his minor annoyance at his subordinates pre-guessing his orders quickly replaced by relief that they were as aware of Hawkeye's condition as he was and ready to help.
"Very good." Roy said, offering Riza his arm. He was not entirely surprised when she took it – but was slightly thrown when she latched onto it, as if it were her very lifeline.
Helping Riza into the backseat, Roy closed her door and reached out for the handle of the passenger seat... Thinking on it, he walked around the car and got in the backseat beside her.
If she found it odd, she didn't say anything. And thankfully, neither did Jean. By the time Roy entered the car, Hawkeye had already leaned against the cool glass of the window and closed her eyes.
If it weren't for the pained expression on her face, she would appear peaceful – her head tilted, shoulders relaxed, hands folded neatly in her lap. Roy found the nerve to gaze softly at her profile.
After a few moments when Roy thought she had fallen asleep, Riza spoke.
"I'm sorry you had to leave early." She said, leaving her eyes closed.
"We stayed later than I planned." Roy commented.
She made a noncommittal murmur and Roy wondered if she had more energy if she would have scolded him for taking lightly the opportunity to meet many of the people they did tonight. Which reminded Roy...
"Thank you." He said suddenly.
Riza opened her eyes, peeled her head from the window and looked at him in genuine confusion.
"For what? Giving you an excuse to leave early?" She asked seriously.
Roy couldn't help it – he laughed, ignoring her frown as she missed the reason for his amusement.
"No, but that too – I suppose." He said, finally tearing himself from her gaze, suddenly embarrassed. "I meant for tonight... for all your hard work... for putting in so much extra effort... and... for all..." he struggled with the words as he kneaded his hands together violently. This sounded so much better in his head.
A small hand covered both of his and he jerked his gaze to the flushed face of the woman next to him.
"You're very welcome." She said simply, her eyes connecting with his before she withdrew and leaned against the window once again...
Roy liked this never-before-seen softer side of the woman he had known for so long. He was only sad that her unguarded posture and tone were a direct result of sickness and not of her own volition.
He was surprised when the car slowed to a stop. He looked out to find they had arrived at the barracks in which Riza lived.
"Give me a few minutes." Roy called up to Havoc. The red-haired man caught Roy's eyes in the rear-view mirror and tossed his superior a casual salute without turning around.
Roy pointedly ignored the man's movement for the pocket he kept his smokes, as he exited the car. Roy was less sensitive than Riza to the lingering smell of tobacco that would remain in the car when he returned. He also found it considerate that the man had restrained from his habit during their ride.
By the time he made it around the car, Riza had already exited and closed her door.
He following behind her as she made her way to the front door of the multi-unit building. She used her key to enter and then turned an eye to Roy.
"You don't have to follow me, you know. I can make it from here just fine."
Roy heard the familiar steel in her voice despite her obvious fatigue. He smiled, and put on what he hoped was a charming expression.
"Of course, you can. It's just a habit of mine, if you'll indulge me. I happen to hold to old-fashioned ideals, like escorting women to their doors."
Riza opened her mouth as if to argue that he had dropped her at the front of her building countless times before, and then closed her mouth. She was either too tired to argue, or she liked the idea of Roy being chivalrous. She wasn't entirely sure.
They walked in silence down the hall. The soft thud of Riza's heels on the low cut carpet were muffled by the steady tempo Roy's military dress shoes.
As she unlocked the door to her apartment Roy was surprised to find Black Hayate sitting in perfect form a few feet away from the door. The only sign of the animal's excitement at the long awaited return of his master was his rapidly wagging tail.
"Good boy." Riza praised the animal, stepping into the apartment. The words must have been his permission to approach the woman, because Roy watched the animal jump up and rub Riza's legs, not unlike a cat.
Rize leaned over to pet him, and after she had finished scratching his eyes for a second the dog trotted out the door to attend his night duties.
"He's grown." Roy commented, after watching the tender exchange, grasping for something to fill the silence.
"You say that like you don't see him every day at the office."
Roy frowned slightly. "It's different to see him here." He admitted, struggling to hide his embarrassment at saying something so obvious.
Unaware of his discomfort, Riza reached down and stripped her feet of her heels. She sighed contentedly, the congestion in her lungs rattling slightly, as she dug her bare toes into the carpet.
"I know Havoc is waiting for you, but why don't you grab a drink before you go?" She said returning her attention to Roy.
Roy's eye widened as Riza corrected, opening the door wider for him.
"Of water. You've been sweating like a pig all night and drinking mostly champagne(1); you must be thirsty."
Roy realized with a start that he was actually parched. He remembered vaguely looking for a glass of water before being intercepted by Fuery, and smiled. He just couldn't win with Hawkeye. She would probably always be the more astute of the two of them.
"Thank you." Roy said, genuinely grateful for both the water and the opportunity to see her to bed before stepping into her apartment.
"I'm sure you can find the sink." Riza threw over her shoulder, halfway to the bedroom – presumably to change.
Roy knew where the sink was, despite never setting foot in her apartment. This place was much like his own on the other side of the base. The designers for these government buildings were very unoriginal.
He headed to the kitchen, admiring Hawkeye's simple yet tasteful decorations. The home showed as she presented herself, practical, yet not unpleasant to look at.
Roy paused to examine a collection of framed photographs hanging in the hall. There were several of Riza's father and herself. Some pictures were from her childhood and one, Roy realized, must have been just before her fathers death.
Only one photo hung of what Roy knew to be Riza's mother, holding what he assumed was Riza as an infant. Roy squinted to see if he could identify any of Riza's current features, but the baby looked like all babies did to Roy. Roy knew that Riza's mother had died when Riza was very young, but he wasn't sure how young. He wondered if Hawkeye had any other pictures of herself and the woman or if that was her only reminder of her mother.
Roy was surprised by the last two photos on his way to the kitchen. The first proudly displayed their current platoon, minus the Elric brothers. It was a recent photo taken just a few months before on a gloriously sunny day. It showed them all in good spirits outside of their office building. While they all stood at attention, you could see each of their personalities.
Havoc leaned on one hip, a habit he had picked up to prevent smoke from drifting in his eyes as he enjoyed his cigarettes. It gave him a casual approachable air. Fuery rounded his shoulders in on himself as if begging not to be noticed. Breda's smile was, like his carefree attitude, larger than life. Hawkeye stood at perfect attention, unruffled or flawed in any way. And he wore his trademark smirk, taunting the world with all it did not know about him and what he was going to achieve. The 8x10 color photo was in a beautifully elaborate frame, obviously as professionally done as the photograph itself.
The very last picture on the wall was much smaller and older than it predecessor. Although it was not as old the ones from Riza's childhood, she was little more than a child in it. The photo showed a clear day and a tall tree, beyond which Roy knew, was the Hawkeye estate. The photo showed more wear and tear than any of the others as if it hadn't always been in a frame and was handled often. Roy paused to take in the younger features of he and Riza, facing each other in conversation.
Roy remembered that life-altering conversation perfectly. Neither he nor Riza were in uniform. It would, at that point in time, be a fair stretch of time before he donned one for the first time. This photo was taken at Riza's father's funeral. Roy didn't even know anyone had a camera there.
Roy shook himself when he realized he'd been staring at the photos for a long time. He checked his watch, but he wasn't even sure what time they'd gotten to Riza's place, so it didn't tell him anything - other than it was very late. Roy headed to the kitchen double-time.
Grabbing a glass and refilling it twice, his thirst was finally sated. Strangely, Riza was still nowhere to be seen.
"Hawkeye?" he called to the closed bedroom door.
Silence echoed back. Even Black Hayate was still outside.
An uneasy feeling settled into his stomach as he called her name again with no response.
Waging an internal war about the appropriateness of barging into her room. Roy hesitated at her bedroom door for several seconds.
He knocked softly and after hearing nothing, threw open the door.
What he saw inexplicably warmed his heart.
Riza's dress was draped across her bed, Roy assumed it was to prevent wrinkles before she hung it properly.
Riza herself was seated in the chair beside her bed in a white tee-shirt and blue shorts.
One sock was on, the foot inside it was flat on the ground. Her bare foot was pulled up to her knee, as if in the process of putting on her second sock. However, the sock had fallen to the floor as Riza slumped over in sleep. Her head had dropped uncomfortably on her shoulder. Her golden hair covered her face and shook slightly with each breath as it passed with a shallow wheeze from her open lips.
A sudden understanding of Hughes' incessant need to snap pictures at every single thing his daughter did burst in Roy's head. With a soft smile, he hung Riza's dress in her closet, and turned down her bed.
That done, he scooped up the loose sock from the floor. He gently took her leg and uncurled it from the chair, enjoying for just a second the feel of her smooth skin in his hands as he slid the sock over her toes and heel. Roy half-expected her to jump up and scream at him, but she remained sleeping.
He was loath to do it, but he knew he should wake her up and get her to bed and not let her sleep on her chair – or scare her by trying to carry her.
"Riza." Roy called softly, shaking her shoulder and tucking her hair behind her ear so he could see her entire face.
She murmured something, her eyebrows furrowed, and her head rolled forward. Roy pulled her forward slightly and reached underneath her arm and around her back calling her name and shaking her lightly again. Her entire body was hot to the touch. Roy deduced her fever must be very high.
As he started lifting Riza to a half-standing position, her eyes shot open and he felt her tense up.
"Shh..." Roy tried to pitch his voice low so as not to alarm her. "It's ok... It's just me. We're getting you to bed." He explained tenderly.
Riza looked around a moment her alert face slowly drooping as she sunk back into Roy's embrace, allowing him to guide her to bed.
"Sorry." She murmured softly after she was settled in bed as Roy pulled the blankets up to her chin.
"Don't worry about it." Roy replied reassuringly, resisting the urge to add that it was nice to take care of her for once, instead of the other way around.
She was confused as he disappeared without saying anything. She heard the water run in her bathroom and in moments Roy returned with a wet washcloth.
Riza shivered as he placed it on her forehead. "That's way too cold." She complained.
"It's room-temperature. You have a high fever." He explained.
"Oh." She chimed nonchalantly, already being pulled back into the sweet arms of sleep. Suddenly she felt Roy's hand on her cheek, and her eyes shot open.
"Riza, do us all a favor and please stay home tomorrow? I'll make sure I file the proper paperwork for your sick day." His onyx eyes were soft but unrelenting as he waited for an answer.
Riza sighed as she closed her eyes again. "I suppose you're right. I'll check in with you in the afternoon." She promised. The words sounding more to Roy like a threat.
"Via telephone only, please." Roy added, knowing better than to outright refuse her request.
Roy heard a noise and jumped, until he realized it was only the sound of Black Hayate's dog door swinging shut. Roy watched the small black dog, having completed his business, hop onto Riza's bed and curl up, contented, next to her legs.
Roy shoved the tiny tendril of jealousy form his mind, as he watched Riza lose the battle to stay conscious. He would NOT envy a dog. No matter who he got to sleep next to.
"Goodnight." Roy said softly, assured that Riza was sleeping when there was no reply.
Roy turned to leave, but noticed Riza's alarm clock by her bed. Curious, he leaned over to check it.
Sure enough it was set for 5:00am the next day. With a malicious grin, Roy flicked it off.
She just might be mad at him tomorrow. If she had the energy, it would make for an interesting conversation to be scolded by her over the phone for interfering with her routine.
Then again, she just might learn how nice it was to sleep in every once and a while. And even if she didn't, some extra sleep could only help improve her health.
The possible benefit was well worth the risk, he decided as he looked one last time on Riza's peaceful expression and exited her room.
(1) I don't know how common the knowledge is that alcoholic beverages (despite being in liquid form) actually dehydrate the body.
So – YEA – I KNOW it's NOT one of the final chapters of "Maintenance", but I swear this story glomped my mind and wouldn't set it free until I got it all out. I keep telling it that it could have AT LEAST given me a title for the bloody thing, but NoooOOOooo:D
I hope you enjoyed. Please feel free to leave any and all comments!
BTW – Random question – I know I probably sound silly, but as a 'newbie' to FMA fanfiction (and this being my very first Roy/Riza fic) – could someone please explain how "Royai" represents Roy and Riza? I've been racking my brain, and I'm falling quite short on the behind the scenes logic. – THANKS!