Havoc and Fuery exchanged looks as the doorbell chimed. The colonel made no signal that he had heard anything; he remained cocooned in his immediate grief. He cradled his wife such that her hair rested underneath his chin, and he murmured quietly, as if he were comforting her and not the other way around.
Havoc nodded for Fuery to answer the door.
Mustang walked into the kitchen without a hint of recoil at the brutal murder scene, and Havoc thanked the gods his mother believed in that he hadn't been sent to quell the Eastern Rebellion. "Colonel," he addressed Breaker uncharacteristically politely, "I'm sorry to intrude..."
Breaker smoothed his wife's hair. Mustang waited a beat before lowering his voice. "Fuery, are you certain his son went upstairs?" The younger man nodded. "Very well," Mustang continued, "you two watch Breaker, and I'll retrieve his son."
"You're not taking my son anywhere," Breaker interrupted. "He's not going back to jail."
Roy frowned. "Back?"
"Yes," Breaker answered, his voice brittle but clear, "back. He snuck out to see some...gentleman's establishment while he was in the military academy, and they threw him in some prison. I don't have to tell an alchemist such as yourself, what a vital resource prisons can be for your research."
Roy rubbed his lips. "What experiments?"
Breaker fixed his rival with a dead glare. "What experiments did you perform, or what experiments were performed on my son? I don't know. I don't have the clearance for that. All I know is that my son was a..." Breaker's face contorted. "...a good boy, and you bastards ruined him. I don't know what was done, but I know it's changed him, and I know that he can't go back there."
"I...didn't do anything to your son, Colonel."
"No, of course not. You're too busy climbing on top of a mountain of dead bodies to claim your next rank to research anything." Breaker swallowed harshly against a fresh crop of tears and pressed on. "It's always bastards like you who keep racking up the promotions, who keep the government corrupt, while people who want to change things, truly want to make life better for this country's citizens get crushed under your political machinations."
Roy didn't argue. "Your son," he replied instead, "how long have you known?"
"I found...women's clothes, in his room. I realized that he'd been leaving at odd hours of the night. I sent my aide, Major Islip, to follow him." Breaker shook his head. "I wasn't...it's not something a father is ever pleased to hear about his son, but I...he's my son. It didn't matter to me that he was dressing up as a woman and going to bars. I loved him. I just wanted him to be safe."
Fuery leaned into Colonel Mustang. "That night you had me bug that bar Townsend's people frequented...his son was there, in disguise. He recognized me tonight."
"I thought that was all, until Major Islip and that woman were found murdered. He must have...he must have caught Islip following him, and he'd never cared for...for women of the night, as it were, after he'd been thrown in jail for visiting such a place. Even then, I wasn't certain...he....he's my son, Mustang."
Roy closed his eyes and thought of Hughes exuberantly gushing over his little girl. "Of course."
"I never thought him capable of murder until I saw him with my own eyes. Private Orlan and that pretty blond girl. I thought I could catch you consorting with the enemy, but I saw...I couldn't believe my eyes, at first. My first thought was to protect him."
Mustang nodded. "Ah. That's when you decided to pin everything on Townsend."
"I...thought I could help him."
"Do you still believe that?" Roy asked quietly.
Breaker looked at Roy with red-rimmed eyes. "Before you take him...I need to speak with him. Please."
Roy nodded, slowly. "Fine."
When the colonel stood, his uniform was soaked in blood, and if Roy noticed that the man still carried his firearm, he didn't say a word.
Riza made it two blocks before she slid into a phone booth and began dialing the number to the Eastern National Library. She tapped her foot impatiently, despite the pain, as the phone slowly rang five times.
"That's not proper phone etiquette, Breda."
The other lieutenant chuckled. "Not many people are calling the library at this hour. What can I do for you?"
"I'm..." she hesitated. Roy had given her a direct order, and it wasn't like her to ignore orders.
Well. It wasn't like her to ignore orders unless they pertained to Roy's safety, at least. She could be quite pigheaded when it came down to ensuring his life, whether he liked it or not.
It was just new to do so in order to maintain the welfare of another man, especially given the recent circumstances. But she couldn't very well assist in the detention and transfer of protesters when her heart was residing quite uncomfortably in her throat, and every drop of adrenaline was pushing her to fly to the Breaker estate, break down the door, and make certain he was...okay.
It shocked her to realize just how much she needed Havoc to be okay. They had started out as just a comfortable fling, but he had slowly grown into something so much more, into her touchstone, her constant, her...heart.
She and Roy would always be drawn to each other. They had been inexorably linked since her father sank a needle into her back when she was thirteen years old.
Havoc had nothing to do with fate, and everything to do with her as Riza Hawkeye, an individual. She'd chosen him.
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she struggled to put the hot anxiety in her chest into words. "I need...I'll never be more than my father's daughter if I stay with you. I need to be more than that."
"Riza." Roy looked so much younger then. His uniform hung off his frame...he was far too low of a rank to warrant custom fitting. His new rank would afford him a better costume, but for another week yet he was still a lowly major.
She could have killed herself for hurting him. His eyes were screwed shut, and his hands fisted uselessly at his sides. "I can never atone for what I've done." For what I made you, she thought, but she wasn't cruel, so she kept it to herself. She continued. "You say that you will change this country."
He nodded, still lost, still such a boy, and she wondered why she believed him, but she did. She clung to her faith in him, because despite herself she craved salvation. He opened his eyes, and she felt so much hope and so much pain she thought her chest would rip apart.
"I need to help you, Roy." She wiped tears from both of their cheeks and smiled her trademarked small, sad smile. "I need to do something good."
"Hughes told you I was assembling my subordinates," he guessed quietly, "and you want to join my command."
She nodded. "It's too risky to continue this, if you assign me as your aide."
Roy kissed her, softly, deeply, and she let him. Their tears mingled as they caressed each other, and Roy broke it off with a kiss to her forehead. "I'm not in the position to deny you anything."
Riza sprang back to the present after Breda politely cleared his throat on the other line. As politely as he could manage, at least. She finally spoke. "I'll be there a bit later than planned, something's come up. Have you got everything under control?"
Breda paused. "Sure. We'll see you when you get here, lieutenant."
The three soldiers waited outside Jeffrey's door as his father made his last visit with his son. The boy sobbed, guilt-ridden, and if it was an act, Mustang mused, it was certainly a professional one.
Breaker's voice came back calm, soothing. A father's voice. He'd forgiven his son.
Roy had never known his father, but he had a fleeting thought that he wished if he still existed that his father would be as forgiving as Breaker.
Finally, the conversation drew to a close. A shot rang out, once, clear and sharp, and then a second time, muffled and wet.
"Sounds like the gun jammed," Havoc muttered. "Who shot who?"
"Wait downstairs," Roy instructed his men. "I'll...apprehend whoever is inside to apprehend."
"You need back-up," Havoc insisted.
"I don't think that will be necessary," Roy answered stonily. "If I need you, I'll call."
Fuery opened his mouth to protest as well, but Roy stepped inside the door and shut it with a soft click.
The room had obviously been Jeffrey's since he'd been a small boy. The bed was still a small twin size, and trophies dating to the fourth grade decorated the walls. Roy focused his attention to the boy, who lie in a bloody, crumpled mess on the floor, and tried to recall the fury he'd felt when he'd found Ana, Shirin and Emma murdered, but all he felt was sorrow.
"Go on, then," Breaker choked. "Finish me off."
(It had been the same in Ishval, years ago. He'd burned down entire city blocks, but he never felt any satisfaction in the vengeance of his family. He'd concluded that death could never be an equal trade.)
Roy reached for his sidearm. "I don't want to kill anymore."
"Now is a hell of a time to reach that conclusion," the colonel snorted. "But really, Mustang, what else do I have to live for? Other than making your life hell, that is. Rest assured if you don't finish the job I will release all the evidence I have of your inappropriate conduct with your aide, in addition to Havoc's false testimony yesterday evening."
"I apologize for being blunt, colonel, but your credibility is a little shaky, given the circumstances."
Breaker raised an eyebrow over his glistening eyes. "Are you willing to risk your men's freedom and your career on that?"
"So you want me to abandon everything I stand for and go hide in the desert for...how long, exactly? And why in the world would I make my followers pledge to do the same?"
"It's better than the alternative." Roy narrowed his eyes. "And I promise you, Marc, if you give me some time, here, it'll be a better country to come home to."
"Oh, of course, I forgot your impressive strategy. You get to the top and everything magically transforms into a utopia."
"With me under the ground, actually." Roy met Townsend's shocked stare with a brittle smile. "It might take someone like me to do the distasteful tasks that need to be done, but once that's over this country will need principled people like you to keep it out of the hands of monsters like me."
Roy released the safety on his .38. "I suppose I could categorize this as a mercy killing, but I don't indulge in self-deceit."
"You've always been a practical sort of man, Colonel."
Breaker thanked him as he pulled the trigger.
Riza jumped out of the taxi and sprinted up the estate's driveway. The door was unlocked, so she let herself in. She half expected a butler to shoo her out and call the police, but no one greeted her as she stepped into the threshold.
A chill trickled down her spine and she readied her gun. She left her shoes in the entryway – neatly, as though she were a guest – and quietly moved down the hallway. There was blood trail leading towards the stairs, and her heart stopped until she saw him, standing at the base of the stairwell with some woman.
"You're okay." She ran to him, and stopped just short of hugging him. She looked up into his blue eyes and sighed in relief. "Your wrist..."
"Yeah, I, uh, got a little creative with my cigarette."
"I was worried." Riza traced her fingers lightly next to the burn. "But you're okay." She turned to Fuery and tilted her head. "And you're...in a dress."
Fuery slumped. "I don't know what it says about me that I'm not even embarrassed anymore."
Havoc patted the younger man on the head. "It happens to all of us at some point under the colonel's command."
"Where's Breaker?" Riza asked.
"Upstairs, with-" Havoc stopped as a gunshot reverberated across the walls.
Roy reholstered his weapon slowly. He hadn't practiced his marksmanship in quite some time, but it had been a quick, clean kill. He supposed he should take some pride in that.
Townsend would have sent the man to jail, because it was the right thing to do, even if the jails were corrupt and doing so had the potential to ruin his career and everything he hoped to accomplish. On that note, Townsend would never have let the man, obviously in grief, visit with his son while armed, either. Roy had not been shocked when he'd heard the first shot ring out.
He'd been relieved. Two birds, one stone.
What are you hoping to gain when you're slowly losing everything that makes you humane?
Roy opened the door. His legs moved slowly, as if they'd been stuffed with lead, and he took a deep, steadying breath before he walked downstairs to face his men.
He had no doubt that he had done the best thing. He had protected his men, and he had eliminated a threat to his rise to power. But he was under no illusions that he had done the right thing, especially when he stepped out of the door and she was looking at him with those mahogany eyes that sliced right through him.
He should have been surprised to see her there, at the bottom of the staircase next to Havoc, but they had known one another for a long time, after all. He had half guessed that she would disobey his orders and check on Havoc, and he had known what it would mean.
Roy tugged on his gloves, and he felt something akin to grateful.
He started the fire in the kitchen, and wondered idly just how many laws he'd managed to break in the past twelve hours.
He ran into her that Saturday, early in the morning and out of breath. She smiled at him without rancor and suggested that perhaps one of his many girlfriends had baked too many cookies for him.
They bantered their way to their respective homes – she did not suggest they report to the office, and he supposed they were learning something from their past mistakes – and it almost didn't bother him that she was returning from Havoc's part of town.
A/N: Aaaand this is where the hordes of Royai fans hunt me down. XD I have some Royai fluff...uh, one Royai fluff piece...that's actually kinda angsty, too, actually. Huh. Maybe it's me. I actually have a fluffy piece I'm working on at the moment, so maybe that'll make up for this angstmuffin.
Anyway, thank you so much to everyone who has read and enjoyed this story, especially my faithful reviewers! I couldn't have finished this without you guys. I'll be cleaning up the story a little bit, fixing some errors that we missed, clunky dialogue, ect...but other than that, in case you haven't guessed by now, it's done. ;-) Thanks again for all your support.