Author's Notes: Greetings! It's been a long time since I have posted anything. I didn't double check but I would guess the last thing I posted was for Royai day. I've had this one since early November of last year. I just never took the time to go over it and finalize everything. I am still working on Memories of the Past as well. I have a lot of work done on it that needs some tweaking. Later this week is sure to be an exciting week for Roy fans. I hope to have more stories based on current events in the near future. Please read and review, I appreciate the feedback!
Disclaimer: I often forget to include the disclaimer but I am sure it is unnecessary to state that I don't own FMA.
Late Night Chat
The small band of rebels sat quietly in the dimly lit room of the abandoned warehouse they had chose to seek shelter in. Riza Hawkeye watched as particles of dust drifted along the moonbeams that streamed through the broken window above. The air was thick with the silence of night in a dead end of town.
Next to her the Fuhrer's wife leaned huddled against the wall, a shawl wrapped around her shoulders for warmth. The small resistance group of five and their hostage were scattered about the room. All but Riza seemed to be asleep, something they desperately needed to get when the opportunity arose. She doubted she would sleep even if she wasn't on watch. Sleep was elusive these days, even more so than it had been since the days of Ishbal.
It was nearing the time for her to wake Breda up so he could take over watch duty. She was more than willing to stay up all night so the others could rest but Colonel Mustang wouldn't allow it. He insisted the duty be split up. There was no way she was going to win that battle, he was a stubborn man.
Riza's eyes shifted over to that same stubborn man who was propped up against some old crates and surprisingly asleep. He never slept very well; his inner demons always came to play havoc on his mind whenever he closed his eyes. Images of fire and blood from the Ishbal war were always waiting for him no matter what. His face was so peaceful,
Riza silently hoped that this would not be the last time she could watch him as he slept. There was a very good chance that many of them, or maybe even all of them would not make it through this battle. But no matter what she would protect him to her very last breath. He had a very important mission to accomplish. He was going to bring salvation to this war torn land, he had to. For the sake of the innocent and those sacrificed along the way. It was time for the blood shed to cease.
Her eyes raked over his features and drank in his form as if she were trying to burn his very image into her memory. His dark hair and exotic features, his not too skinny and certainly not fat masculine build. Her eyes settled on his hands, those hands that had the potential to create so many things and had tragically taken so many lives. Her insides shuddered at the thought of his touch on her skin. Her body gently heaved as a small sigh escaped her lips.
"Do you love him?" A dignified and refined woman's voice broke the eerie silence.
Riza turned her eyes to the place next to her to see the Fuhrer's wife awake, her attention focused on the Lieutenant. Riza's mouth suddenly went dry as she tried to rationally think of the best way to answer her. If she said no it would be a blatant lie, and the look on the other woman's face was that of someone who already knew the answer.
"Yes." Riza's voice was small and was almost swallowed up by the darkness of the night.
"Not that I needed to ask. I could tell." The older woman confirmed before she continued. "But I was a little surprised. You are a very capable and intelligent woman. The colonel has a reputation that I don't see a woman like you being…" She paused for a moment to choose her words. "Attracted to. I will admit he is handsome and does have a certain charisma. But still, I don't see you taking up with a man like that."
Riza's eyes burned with clarity as she spoke. "Your right, I am sure the Colonel Mustang you know is not someone I would carelessly devote myself to. But the true Colonel Mustang has my undying devotion."
The older woman looked at her thoughtfully. "Would you please share with me who the true man really is? I, like the rest of the world see a man too young to hold his rank, someone with the reputation of a playboy and an upstart." Since I am unwillingly involved now, I would appreciate knowing what is going on."
Riza let out an exasperated little sigh. "I understand. Telling you all the details would be difficult at this point. But telling you nothing does seem to be a bit unfair. I will tell you what I can."
Riza straightened up her posture to give her airways more room and then continued. "Our government has become corrupt and oppressive. The Ishbal war was a tragedy that could have and should have been avoided. Instead, many innocent people died and many brave men in our military were exploited and their lives were ruined."
The woman whom was a hostage seemed to commit that to memory before confirming the facts. "She I presume you mean men like Colonel Mustang?"
"Yes." Riza confirmed before continuing on. "I've known the Colonel since before the war. He is a good man. He learned alchemy from my father and aspired to help build a great country for the people. He wanted to help those in need. He dreamed of using alchemy to achieve these goals and thought the state alchemist program was a way to further these ideals for the good of the people. He was young and naive. The military took advantage of his trust and innocence and used him as a human weapon. He was dubbed the Hero of Ishbal. But to himself and the people he fought against he was nothing more than a murderer."
Ms. Bradley could have sworn she saw a tear in the corner of Riza's eye as she spoke. But with the dim lighting she really couldn't be sure. What she was sure of was that this young woman had a lot of conviction and faith in the man who seemed to be responsible for turning the current state of military affairs on its head.
She broke from her thoughts as she heard Riza continue to speak. "He is a brilliant alchemist and I am the one responsible for him becoming the Flame Alchemist. The secrets of my father's flame alchemy were given to him by none other than myself. I wanted to believe in his dreams as well but in helping him I was also responsible for the military's abuse of his power."
Ms. Bradley now understood that there was much more to what was going on than she had ever really thought about. "My own husband commanded the military at the time of the Ishbal war. He as much as any soldier with blood on his hands is responsible for so many deaths. Yet, I have never considered him to be a murderer. He was just doing what he had to do to protect his country. Wasn't he?"
Riza took another deep breath as she struggled to stay focused. "It's a lot different when you are out there on the battlefield with the killing going on all around you. I shot men from a distance. My sniper abilities were second to none and my job was to protect men like Colonel Mustang from lookout points above the city. I had it easy while he was down there in the city confronting men, women, and children face to face. Burning down city blocks and destroying the very lives he had wanted to protect."
Riza's face became hardened and her eye's flashed like glistening ice. "Imagine burning someone to death who stood only a hand's reach in front of you. Our mission wasn't just one of protecting our country, it became an annihilation campaign. Nothing was sacred. Everything was burned, shot, or blown up. The entire civilization became nothing more than rubble. I can still hear the screams of the people dying and smell the burned flesh in the air."
The older woman took a shuddering breath as she realized for the first time what kind of true horror these young people had gone through. The war was almost 10 years ago and this young woman couldn't have been much more than a teenager. "I don't suppose I could ever imagine it. It must have been so hard, I am sorry you had to experience such a thing."
Riza answered the woman's concern with the reason why she became involved. "Please don't feel sorry for me, I made my own choice. I joined the military of my own free will. I knew what I was doing was wrong but there was someone I had to protect. Colonel Mustang was there for me when my father passed away. He helped me with the funeral and talked about his dream of building a better country, and in turn I entrusted my father's secrets to him. I guess I must have somehow fallen in love with him even then. But even if I hadn't, I was responsible for his role as the flame alchemist. I alone helped turn him into a murderer."
The Fuhrer's wife shook her head, not understanding how it all came to this in the end. "Although I am not comfortable with the position he has put me in I came to realize he is a good man. Through all the fighting today not a single person was killed. He is obviously going out of his way to make sure of that. Although I was in shock from the revelations that my own people may have cast me aside his sincere pledge to protect me really touched me. There was something there, I sensed a goodness. A kind heart full of compassion. He is not a murderer"
Riza showed the first sign of what Ms. Bradley would call a smile, as faint as it was. "Yes, that is true. He really is a very kind person, he has a very big heart. He always puts his own life at risk without a thought when others are in danger. Often times without really thinking, that is one reason why I have to be there to protect him, to watch his back."
The older woman was feeling a lot more satisfied that she at least knew a little more about her "captor", such as he was. "He is obviously also very intelligent. But I am still puzzled. Why does an intelligent man who has such a devoted woman following him feel the need to womanize? He doesn't seem the type to be in it for the conquest. For some reason his reputation doesn't match up, as you had said."
Riza's cheeks displayed a slight blush at that observation. "Well, let's just say that his reputation served as a great cover when it came to achieving his own goals. Everyone outside of his loyal team has misjudged him. The high command, although threatened by his eagerness to climb the ranks failed to take him seriously. The playboy image is really just a façade."
"I see." Ms. Bradley was mostly satisfied by her response but she noticed that Riza was still dodging some information. "But feeling the way you do it must be hard not to get jealous."
"Well…" Riza's cheeks continued to turn slightly redder to be talking about such matters. Especially with the man who was the current subject sleeping right in front of her. "The only women he is ever around other than myself are informants. The colonel is really good at putting on a show though. Its no wonder that everyone thought he was actually a playboy."
Ms. Bradley saw that ghost of a smile creep onto Riza's lips as she declared the innocence of the man she was so devoted to. In just this one conversation she could feel the love and admiration the young woman felt for the equally young Colonel. Her heart ached for them as she realized this love had most likely already fallen into the category of "A tragic love affair".
"What will you do next, when all this is over?" She couldn't help but feel worried for what fate had in store for this young woman. She really felt an admiration for the Lieutenant.
"I have not bothered to make any kind of plans. When the people learn of the true horrors of the Ishbal war I don't expect anyone to be lenient on soldiers like myself." Riza did a good job of erasing all signs of emotion from her face. "That is assuming I live long enough to face up to those charges."
"Did you want to marry him?" She was hoping somewhere in there was a glimmer of hope. A will to carry on and seek out that "happy ending".
Riza turned her eyes to the ground and focused her gaze between her feet. She seemed completely taken by surprise and was definitely flustered. "I… don't allow myself to think that way. I don't believe I have a future so…"
"Let's assume you do." The older woman broke in. "You and your comrades have won. Colonel Mustang is declared a true hero this time, not one soaked in blood shed, but a real savior. What will you do?"
Riza looked back at Ms. Bradley, already recovered from being flustered and back to her serious demeanor. "My Role is to watch his back. I don't think I am fit to be anyone's wife." Riza scrunched up her face in a disapproving manner.
"I disagree." The unmistakable and commanding sounding voice broke through the night air. "I think you would make a wonderful wife."
Riza couldn't stifle the gasp that came from the very center of her being. A crimson tinge spread across her face and made its way further down her body as she could feel the fiery heat almost everywhere around her. "Sir!" There was no hiding the absolute shock and surprise in her voice. Out of reflex she immediately stood to her feet and had to stop herself from saluting.
Roy's face displayed one of his trademark smirks; this one was backed by a genuine smile that he just couldn't hide. "It is a really good feeling to be able to catch you off guard. Such a thing really never happens lieutenant."
Riza was swallowed whole by embarrassment and left utterly speechless.
"But." Roy's face suddenly became sullen and serious. "I am not happy at all about the thought of you not having a future. I thought I made it a very clear order that none of you are to die. And, we've had this discussion before, haven't we lieutenant?"
"Yes sir." Riza relaxed her stance and bowed her head to her former superior officer in shame for having given up before the battle began.
"Isn't it time to wake Breda up for his shift?" Roy inquired as he looked over to where Breda was leaned against the wall. He continued on with the conversation, not bothering to go back to ask about her conversation with Ms. Bradley.
"I will wake him sir." She thought anything would be better than continuing to stand there wondering what he was thinking. How much had he heard?
"No, no. Let me." Roy stood and gestured for Riza to stay where she was.
Roy made his way to the other side of the room where he stood towering over Breda's position on the floor. He nudged him in the leg with his foot, not wanting to have to bend down and shake him. "Hey, time for your shift."
Breda cracked open one eye to confirm it was Mustang's voice he was hearing. "Ummm." Was the first response he received. "Why are you awake?"
"I woke up. You're in charge. I am stepping out for a bit. I want to go over some plans with Lieutenant Hawkeye." He made it all sound like official business.
At that Breda opened both eyes and gave Mustang a smirk. "Sure, I bet you do." He said just loud enough for the other man to hear.
With that Roy shot him a look of 'say anything more and you're a burnt toast'. No words were needed. Breda stood up and took over the watch obediently. He couldn't help but smile as the backs of the Colonel and the Lieutenant faded into the darkness as they left the room.
"This may sound odd given my circumstances." Breda now noticed the Fuhrer's wife was awake as she spoke out against the silence. "But I sincerely hope things will work out for those two."
"You and me both." Breda couldn't help but agree to that one.