Author's Note: No, I'm not dead. Just trying to get into a medical faculty and slowly dying. DX To cheer my sadistic self up, here's RoyAi struggling in the early days of military service.

You've been running for hours now –legs are burning, sharp pain, but you're not tired, no, because you can't give in, you can't- and it's not getting any easier. The wound in your left leg is dangerously close to reopening, but you shake your head at the Lt. Colonel's worry. He's moved closer to you since then, his arm ready to steady you whenever you falter, trying to make it easier for you.

Any protests are cut off by his glare.

(You're starting to learn that he's just as stern as you when it came to protecting his subordinates.)

There's the muffled sound of a sharp click behind you, and you start pushing him down before you can even think to shout and warn the others.

(They'll hold no grudge, because their leader is everyone's first priority- and Havoc should be well trained enough to notice.)

(..You hope.)

There's a hail of bullets, like harsh and black shooting stars. A grunt, but your four companions have not lessened in number. The Lt. Colonel swears amidst orders as you crawl through the forest's clinging, damp vines.

(He's scared of loss and so are you, but you both conquer your fears into adrenaline amidst the oozing marsh.)

(We must not die.)

(We Must Not Die.)

(We. Must. Not. Die.)

The mantra hums in your veins like the panicked heartbeat of a hummingbird, and there is a glance shared between you and him, wandering eyes, a quick look at one low canopy of trees.

You understand the meaning behind a blink of his eyelid, and that is natural. You're a pack of the military's dogs crawling in the muck and trying to stay alive- the leader must be understood and obeyed without question, the command relayed without hesitation.

"2 o'clock!" The order is harsh and growled out both your throats and, as one, the 6 of you lunge, duck, crawl, more bullets shriek past and you see Breda roughly pull Feury down, hear the youngest of your pack whimper.

"How's he?" Mustang hisses, and your heart's thumping, beats muffled, loud, irregular. You pull out your only loaded gun, sharp eyes raking over the battlefield, try to keep your aim steady, deadly; Havoc does the same but his other arm is twisted, bleeding. (You're numb to the pain in your leg now.)

Falman curses under his breath, voice rough from the blood in his mouth, and you know he's already calculated your chances of victory.

"Bullet in his arm." Breda exhales, his breathing strained. Has he been wounded? "Missed the artery. I think."

You catch a glimpse of deadly black moving among black and your teeth grit. The sharp scent of Feury's blood hangs low in the air.

"Lt. Colonel Mustang."

He curses, low and guttural, and as always, you know what he's thinking.

The last resort is risky, considering the terrain, and a little heartless, if worse comes to worst. But Roy Mustang is unlike other leaders in the military. They are aloof and resilient, they'll take their losses and roll with them. But not him.

Not him, because dogs and killers they may be, but he will not let his men kill and he will not let his men die.

"Hawkeye, can you find them?" He asks you, and the familiar coil of dread comes and goes from your stomach. Still-sharp (always sharp) memories of the desert leave a bitter taste in your throat.

But they are your pack now, too: the injured runt, the cuffed youngster, the weary adult, the tired elder (and beside you, gloves out and at the ready, your alpha male.)

"2nd Lieutenant Hawkeye."

(And they all know –you know- that you're the alpha female. That you trust him. That he won't betray that trust.)

(He will never kill so many again.)

He looks at you after you tell him the enemies' co-ordinates. So many reassurances and promises and things that are barely words at all, are in that gaze. You breathe in, harshly cut away the last lingering doubts (it's only to keep them away, only as a barrier, no one will die, this is not Ishval) and look at him. Nod.

He snaps and the forest ahead bursts into flames. Screams and shouts of animals and men, but no drawn out wails of the dying. Some injuries. No casualties.

Of course, you think, and Mustang takes control.

"Falman, scout the area ahead with Havoc, see if you can manage to get a signal to call Headquarters, call for backup. We'll follow behind, the more space between us and them the better, while the wind is in our favour. Keep low, don't inhale too much smoke." The red, flying embers are reflected in everyone's eyes, grim and steady, "And Havoc, keep your arm away from that mud, you want it infected? Cover it with something. Breda, you're in charge of Feury, carry him if need be. Hawkeye..."

His voice is low, worried, and there's suddenly something between you two that you're not sure you want to name. "How's your leg?"

"Fine, sir." Unsaid, as you frown and his worry lines smooth: just who is the bodyguard here? "Are you alright?"

"Just a graze or two."

His bleeding side calls him out on the white lie. He ignores your glare, moves an arm and brushes sweaty strands of hair out of your face ("-or not? Heh."). He tries to cover the wince when you harshly breathe out, rip what little is left of your uniform jacket to make a compress.

The smoke is making your eyes water.

The forest passes in a blur as you stare out the ambulance's window, your leg stretched out and bandaged and Mustang's side leaning against your own. Feury groans in his unconscious state, and you see Havoc's fingers twitch, probably aching for a smoke. Falman is asleep. Breda barks replies to the paramedics' questions, gesturing irritably at the paperwork. There's always paperwork.

You're a pack of dogs, you know that. (Your collars and leashes are so obvious, everyone's dog tags and Mustang's alchemist watch).

But you're alive. A little battered, but still kicking. You can make up for being dogs soon, sometime, eventually. (Not really.)

He whispers things, hot breath hitting the back of your neck. Flickers of promises and trust. (we didn't kill, we can do it differently, you trusted me and) Thank you.

You hear him slip.

"Thank you, Riza..."

Your hand squeezes his, suddenly, and he pauses, the rest of his words lost. He's turned his face to stare at you and…oh.

His eyes wide and face colouring, it's just Roy. Not Lt. Colonel Mustang. Not Mr Mustang.

He's just Roy, staring, like he used to sometimes, and you- you aren't Hawkeye.

You're just Riza, of course. Tired and upset after a long day. Just 21 years old.

Hawkeye wouldn't dare tighten her grip, wouldn't need his comfort, his presence.

Mustang wouldn't squeeze her hand back, wouldn't even think to rub his thumb across the back of her palm.

No, never.

Those two had the anti-frat rules to worry about, after all.

(You hold his hand all the way back to Eastern HQ.)