This story was written for all the FMA readers on my friends list over at livejournal :D I'm really glad we have more than Bleach in common.

Spoilers: Chapter 57 of the manga or Episode 30 of FMA Brotherhood.

Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist belongs to Hiromu Arakawa.

Fire and Ink

by Laurie Bunter

Woman --

how hot the skin

she covers.

- Lady Sute-Jo (1633-98)

When he first saw her back, it was with a mixture of disgust, embarrassment, and yes, a familiar tightening in his groin.

She calmly unhooked her bra and unbuttoned her shirt, pulling it free from the confines of her skirt. Yet her eyes were averted as she did this, as if fearing that he would touch her or take advantage of this moment.

It was almost nightfall. They were alone in this big, rambling house, and Riza Hawkeye was vulnerable.

Roy Mustang promised her that he would do no such thing. But of course, how could she take his word for it? He had made a vow to her father, and with his Master dead, how would she know that he would keep it?

To see such creamy, lithe skin disfigured with such grotesque, heavy markings... Roy wanted to curse the man who did this to his own flesh and blood. Master Hawkeye's secret research may not have left Riza emotionally scarred, but the physical marks upon her epidermis were certain to divide her from the rest of the civilian population for life. No straight-laced, nine-to-five Joe would accept such a woman as his wife, if he knew about the tattoo on her back.

Roy traced the alchemy patterns with his eyes, fearing to caress her. It would be painful for him if any girl recoiled from his touch. So instead, his fingers drew on the air in front of him. Here were the arcane symbols for the elements, yes. Located much lower was the salamander, an object of whimsy and metaphor. Here did the tender skin pucker from a clot of ink. Here was a forlorn mole on her thin vertebrae, made to fit in with the pattern of dots within the sun.

How did Master Hawkeye make this? Not without alchemy, I hope. Roy winced at the thought of it. Needles, a multitude of them piercing her... did Master Hawkeye subject such softness to this torture? No. Roy instinctively knew her father would have found another way to ink this on Riza, a way that caused minimum physical pain. But no matter what the technique, this was still such a huge burden for one woman.

Fire. Her skin held the secret to the most deadly of elements.

He could not look away even if he wanted to do so.

He needed to comprehend this. Perhaps by doing so, he could also understand her. He didn't care if both tasks took all day... or another decade.

The curtains were partly drawn, letting the shadows of dusk filter the room with moody light. Nothing but the constant scratching of Roy's pen made any sound.

Riza's back was erect, proud: she had not said a word since she disrobed for him. She didn't ask what time it was, she didn't beg for a bathroom break. She appeared fragile at this moment, but she was not entirely unwilling.

Her silence meant consent.

This is what infuriated him the most, as she lay exposed before him with such trust.

Roy was not above seducing innocents to get what he wanted. His foster mother and her "associates" schooled him over the years on how to subvert the designs of others. Desire was a weapon like any other, the girls teased him. "A woman uses a man's sense of honor against him, and you must know how to sense that trap."

Without meaning to betray his thoughts, Roy let out a sigh. I've been set up, he thought. Damn you, Master. You know me too well. To dangle this prize in front of me, and yet compel me not to take it. Damn you, Hawkeye. Damn you.

The minutes lengthened into hours, and Riza's spine never sagged once from exhaustion as he made his copious notes.

His glance grazed every inch of her. His fingertips traced over every pore, at a safe distance.

While doing so, he could not help but speculate how strong her slim wrists could be. What would the rest of her feel like? A lewd thought kept popping into his head, unbidden. How hot and moist would her--

"Such a poor flame alchemist," Riza finally spoke up. "I'm getting goose bumps from the cold. Can't you stop for a moment, and tend to the fire?"

Her words were like bullets, scattering his train of thought like scared birds shot mid-flight.

Roy moved toward the dying embers of the fireplace. Once again, he was vexed. At least he knew enough alchemy to rekindle the coals with a simple transmutation circle. She would certainly laugh at him if he needed a match.

As the warm fire slowly brightened the room, Roy turned around and realized what a fool he was. Riza may have had her back turned to him the whole time, but right in front of her was a large, ornate mirror that hid nothing in sight. All along, after all those hours of silent contemplation, Riza probably spent that time studying his pensive reflection, as he stared at her.

Perhaps she even read the desire that now burned in his heart?

Strike three, Roy thought in disgust. That makes three times I've felt stupid tonight.

Only then did he notice the slightest of curls on the brim of her lips.

He decided to change the topic, even if nothing was actually said.

"You should grow your hair," he said, trying to sound casual. "Longer locks might help conceal your tattoo, if you ever wear plan on wearing something revealing."

"Is that an order, sir?" Riza's tone was mocking.

It was the first inkling of their future together.

"Only if you want it to be," Roy replied, as he knelt on the floor to stroke the fire once more.

- finis -

Did you like this? It's my first fic for this pairing and this fandom, so feedback would be great. Thanks. XD