A/N: This takes place immediately following the dialogue in the manga chapter 24, where Roy and Riza are leaving the Rockbells. The last two sentences in italics are lifted directly from chapter 58. This is a darker take on Riza's pov of Roy, and I hope it's not too out of character. It's just something I've always wondered about, after reading chapter 58: Did Roy manipulate Riza into divulging her father's secrets with his idealistic speech at her father's funeral, or was he speaking from his heart?
Disclaimer: FMA is not mine, it's Arakawa's, and thank goodness for that.
"He's a genius," Mustang told her quietly as they left the Rockbell household. "I'll have to take back everything I said with regard to Augustinian theories on the soul..."
Hawkeye shifted uncomfortably on the wooden carriage, not due to the hard surface, but because of an unbidden memory of her father his words had triggered.
"He's a genius," he had said, not in awe, but in the same uncertain tone Mustang now used, a mix of anger and fear and determination.
Had her father known, then, the events he would set in motion, as he sketched the array on her back with a stencil, as his dedicated pupil completed his assignments in the upstairs library, as his neglected estate's walls rotted around them all...he would have likely finished his masterpiece anyway. He was an alchemist. Consequences rarely factored into the unearthing of hidden truths, no matter how unholy.
"This will hurt," he had followed, predicting her future as neatly as the lines he guided across her back in clean black ink.
Her father had looked so frail in his world of books. He eschewed the comforts of the present for the mysteries of the past, and once the funds for her private school had been exhausted she had moved through the house like a ghost, attending to his forgotten needs.
It had never occurred to her, even as the needle bit into her back, that the man who forgot to fuel the furnace would ever have the power to destroy the world.
Hawkeye's sharp amber eyes narrowed as she studied the man in front of her, not for the first time attempting to divine his motivations. "He's a child," she chided, gently, her mind still in the past.
Mustang did not mask his expressions in front of her. He was still nearly impossible to read. "You don't do what he just did," he replied grimly, "and stay a child."
She absorbed this information uneasily. "You have plans for him, then."
"He's powerful," Mustang mused. "It will be better to recruit him myself, rather than let him fall into the wrong hands."
"If I could become one of this country's foundation stones and protect everyone with these hands, I think I'll be happy."
Hawkeye had seen just what Mustang could do with his hands. She wondered to whom he imagined the wrong ones attached.
"He's protective of his little brother. I can exploit that loyalty to keep him in line," he said. "He'll be able to do things I can't do, and as talented as he appears to be, I doubt the higher-ups will be able to do much to censure him. I'll use him to do my dirty work, and I'll reap the benefits of recognition that come with recruiting someone so talented into the military."
She shouldn't have been surprised, and she wasn't.
"You want power, Roy?" her father had choked. Blood painted his lips as he forced himself to continue. "My research, my daughter knows it all. If you say you will use it in the correct way, she will probably present the secret to you."
She had stood behind the thick wooden door, still nothing more than a ghost, until her father's star pupil's screams for help spurred her into motion.
She had lived there for years, had carried them meals and made their beds. She had made certain the house was warm and the laundry was clean. She had taken care of all of the necessities of being alive that they didn't have the time to complete. He had looked right through her, as if she wasn't even human, lost in the teachings of her father.
Still, she had missed him when he left.
As he held her dying father, Roy looked at her for the first time, and he called her by name. For the first time in years she felt solid.
"Are we all just pawns, then?" Hawkeye asked as the carriage continued it's uneven path back to the train station. She had always wondered, at the time and in retrospect, how much of his sparkling idealistic speeches and his selfless planning of her father's funeral had been careful manipulation in order to learn the secrets she had watched him spend years of his life striving towards, and how much was genuine. She suspected he didn't even know for certain.
She was measuring him, always watchful of the moment he would cross that thin line he had drawn for himself, when his aspirations for power overshadowed his desire to serve the people.
He had asked her to do so, and she admired his insight. She admired many, many things about the man.
That was the problem.
"Yes," he said, after a moment. He met her gaze fully, and she could read regret in his eyes. She wondered if that was intentional. "Not mine...but, yes."
"I see." Behind that handsome, glossy veneer lurked a very dangerous man. She just hoped that he proved dangerous to the right people.
The carriage bumped along for several long, silent moments. Hawkeye could feel him studying her, but she kept her eyes focused on the road, scanning for danger.
He cleared his throat, and she glanced at him. He frowned. "I'll protect him, Hawkeye."
Was she protecting him, or was she protecting others from him?
"People who don't have someone guarding their intentions," he answered, a little rougher than his usual rehearsed tone. "He's determined, Hawkeye, and he is very, very smart. He'll draw attention somehow, if left to his own devices. I don't want to think of what experiments the military would coerce him to perform, if they were aware of his proficiency of re-attaching souls."
The implications caused her to suppress a shiver.
He continued, quietly. "Do you think I'm wrong?"
"No," she answered. "I worry, though, how smoothly you reason these situations to your advantage."
She startled him with those words, if his quick intake of breath was any indication. A sharp, bitter bark of laughed escaped his lips and he nodded to himself. "Me, too."
Hawkeye tore herself back into the present. The carriage bench was bruising her rear and the backs of her knees with every dip, and her uniform did nothing to alleviate the scorching heat of the afternoon sun.
Mustang stared at his feet, unable to look her in the eye.
They remained silent in their misery until the carriage reached the train station, and the Eastern man cleared his throat. "Pleasure meetin' you folks."
Hawkeye thanked the man silently for his discretion, and the lieutenant colonel paid him his fare in addition to a generous tip. He waved enthusiastically as he jerked the reins and his horses carried him into the distance.
She moved to purchase their tickets, but he stopped her with a hand on her elbow. "Hawkeye..."
Hawkeye turned. "Sir?"
He dropped his hand and it hung loosely at his side. "I want to help them. Underneath everything."
She buried the doubts in the back of her mind and studied him tenderly. "I know."
"I...you're not a pawn, to me."
"You're a queen." He looked up at her, and she looked down. "I...is there anything else that I handled horrifically wrong today, or..."
"No," she exhaled softly. "You're not doing anything wrong, Roy. You're just being who you are."
"A reptilian politician?"
"With a hero complex and a touch of megalomania," she added ruefully.
He favored her with a sheepish smile, and her heart tugged against her chest. "We should probably buy some tickets."
On the train ride back to headquarters she scanned the passenger car for threats as he slept securely with his head tucked against his chest.
She prayed to the god her mother had believed in that she would be able to keep him safe.
She prayed that she would not be the one to kill him.