Disclaimer: I don't own FMA.
A/N: This was written for the Royai Stuck Together Challenge on LJ.
This was not good. This was not good at all. Smoke shouldn't be rising from a car like that. Roy sighed and shook his head disapprovingly as he let the hood of the car slam back into place with a resounding clank.
"What's wrong?" Riza asked.
"I'm not sure. I don't really know much about cars" Roy admitted ashamedly. "If I had to guess, I'd say there's something wrong with either the engine or the radiator".
"Can you fix it?"
"I would need to know exactly what's wrong with it in order to fix it".
"You really are useless, aren't you Colonel?" Riza muttered as she crossed her arms.
"Did you say something Lieutenant?" Roy said in a slightly acerbic tone and narrowed his eyes questioningly at her.
"No, not a word sir".
Roy turned around and let his eyes scan their surroundings. There wasn't another car in sight, nor were there any buildings. They were in the middle of nowhere on an unpaved road, the only vegetation being overgrown grass and a few trees here and there. Roy held his chin in his hand while he considered what their next step should be.
"Well," Roy began "I think we ought to follow this road until we reach a town or something where we can use a phone to call for help".
"That doesn't sound very promising" Riza replied grimly as she gazed at the road which stretched out before them seemingly without end.
"It's better than just standing around here".
"In that case it'd make more sense to go back the way we came".
"Yeah, I think you're right" Roy agreed. They started walking down the road, their feet kicking up particles of dirt as they went along.
"On the bright side, at least we'll miss that meeting" Roy said with a smile.
"That meeting is very important sir, and it's your fault that we're going to miss it" replied Riza contemptuously.
"And just how do you figure that?"
"If you hadn't waited until the last minute to buy the train tickets, they wouldn't have been sold out and we wouldn't have had to take a car".
"That wasn't intentional" Roy countered defensively. "I just got so busy that I forgot. Besides, the weather's far too nice to be stuck inside in some boring meeting".
"I suppose it would be a shame to let such a beautiful day go to waste" Riza concurred.
"That's more like it" Roy said with a smile. "Just think of it as a day off. We don't get very many of those, you know".
Riza only nodded in silence. She didn't want to admit it out loud, but she really did need a day off. She hadn't been sleeping very well lately due to the fact that she had to work overtime multiple times this week. She knew that the Colonel was probably feeling just as drained as she was. A little walk and some fresh air would do the both of them some good.
They walked further along, side by side, as the sun began to descend toward the horizon. The sky was beautifully suffused with hues of pink and yellow and was so bright that the two officers had to move into a small grove of trees to protect their eyes from the light.
"I think now would be a good time to take a rest" Roy suggested as he slumped to the ground and leaned back against the trunk of a tree. He sighed in relief now that he was finally off his aching feet. Roy tilted his head back and closed his eyes.
"I don't think it'd be very wise to fall asleep out here sir" Riza advised him as she sat down next to her commanding officer.
"What could I possibly have to worry about with you here to protect me?" Roy asked.
"What makes you so sure that I'll protect you?" Riza questioned with a hint of mischievousness in her voice.
"Because you always do".
"I'd hate to think what would happen to you if I wasn't around".
"Me too" Roy replied softly with a smile. "It wouldn't be a very pretty picture".
Riza gazed tiredly out at the road. She found it quite odd that not a single car had passed them during their entire trek. Perhaps it was better that way, it wasn't always safe to ask strangers for help. However, that left them in quite a predicament. They'd been walking for hours and had yet to come across a town, plus it was getting dark. She let out a frustrated sigh.
"Colonel?" Riza queried.
"Hmm?" Roy mumbled in reply.
"We really shouldn't stay here".
"And why not?"
"It's getting dark. We really should start moving again".
"I was just starting to get comfortable" Roy muttered as he reluctantly dragged himself onto his feet. He stretched out his arms, then brushed the dirt from his uniform. Riza followed suit, bringing herself onto her feet.
They continued to walk as the sun disappeared below the horizon, blanketing the earth in darkness. Stars began to dot the blackened sky and sparkled with a brilliance that rivaled that of a diamond. It was truly a beautiful night, and it reminded Riza of when she was a child and used to sneak out of her house at night after her father had fallen asleep. She would carefully tip-toe down the creaky staircase and slip quietly out the front door. Then she would sit down on the porch steps, wrap a blanket around her body and stare up at the stars as she picked out each constellation she recognized. She once read in a book that people used to use constellations to find their way home when they were lost. Too bad she couldn't remember how they did it because that information would really be useful right now.
"Lieutenant, are you okay?" Roy questioned, snapping her out of her reverie.
"Hmm?" she replied and met his gaze.
"I asked if you were okay".
"Yes, I'm fine sir. I was just lost in thought is all".
"You were looking up at the sky" Roy observed. "Is there something interesting up there?"
"Just the stars, sir" she responded flatly.
"Stars, eh?" Roy tilted his head thoughtfully and directed his gaze toward the shimmering lights that speckled the night sky. "What's so special about them?"
"Nothing, they just reminded me of something".
"Ah, I see".
"What time is it?" Riza asked, effectively changing the subject.
Roy's footsteps came to a halt as he pulled his state-issued alchemist's pocket-watch from his pocket. He flipped it open and held it close to his eyes so that he could read the position of the watch's hands in the darkness.
"0930 hours" he replied with an irritated sigh as he shoved his watch back into his pocket. "We've been walking for almost five hours and haven't come across a single town. I think we're even more lost than we were before".
"We probably should've taken a right at the fork in the road a few miles back".
"There's nothing we can do about that now".
"What do you propose we do, sir?"
"Hmm" Roy murmured pensively as he folded his arms across his chest. There wasn't really much that they could do. It was dark and they were lost in unfamiliar territory. "Well…I really don't want to spend the rest of the night walking in search of a town. I guess we'll just have to find a safe place to rest".
"I was afraid you'd say that".
"You should be used to sleeping in the wilderness".
"Just because I'm used to it doesn't mean I enjoy it" Riza refuted with a huff.
"I don't enjoy it either, but it looks like we don't have any other choice" explained Roy.
"Very well" Riza passively complied.
"Good" Roy said and clapped his hands together triumphantly. "Now that that's settled, I think it'd probably be best if we take shelter near some trees".
Roy began to head toward a small wooded area not too far from the road, with Riza following silently behind him. Roy laid down on the cold, grassy ground; then clasped his hands together and placed them underneath the back of his head with a contented sigh. Riza looked down at him questioningly. He seemed far too comfortable with their current situation. Part of her wondered if he planned for all of this to happen. She sat down beside him and pulled her knees up to her chest, then rested her arms on top of them.
"Aren't you going to lie down?" Roy asked.
"No. I need to stay awake in case anything should happen".
"Oh, come on. What could possibly happen?"
"Plenty could happen".
"Lieutenant, I can tell that you're exhausted. Forget about your duty just for tonight and rest".
"But sir-" Riza protested.
"Don't argue with me" Roy demanded brusquely. "You're going to get some rest. That's an order".
"Yes sir" she conceded and laid out on the ground, the grass creating a tickling sensation as it brushed against her skin. She suddenly realized how tired she was when she attempted to stifle a yawn.
"I can see why you were so intrigued by them" Roy said suddenly.
"Intrigued by what, sir?"
"The stars" he replied simply while gazing up, his view of the sky partially obscured by the nearly bare tree branches under which he was lying. "They really are quite beautiful now that I take the time to look at them. I think I can even see shapes in them".
"Those are constellations" Riza supplied.
"It's a shame that we can't see stars like this in Central" Roy mused.
"You could if you used a telescope".
"Yeah, but it's not the same".
"No, I suppose it's not".
"Regardless, I think I'll buy a telescope. It'd be nice to do some stargazing every once in a while" Roy said.
"Yes" Riza said quietly in agreement.
"Although" Roy started as he rolled over onto his side so that he was facing her as his lips pulled into a devilish smirk. "I'd much rather look at the stars with you like we are right now".
Riza quickly turned her head away, purposely averting her gaze. Even though it was dark, he would probably be able see the slight blush on her cheeks due to their close proximity to one another. Why is it that he of all people had the special ability to make her face turn red with embarrassment?
"Lieutenant, are you blushing?" Roy asked in a teasing tone.
"Of course not" Riza replied with an irritated voice.
"If you say so" Roy said disbelievingly and rolled onto his back, settling his hands beneath his head once again. He was quite pleased with his accomplishment. She was cute when she was flustered; which was quite a difficult task to achieve, even for someone who knew her as well as he did.
Roy returned his gaze back to the sky as he attempted to distinguish all the different shapes which could be found amongst the stars. Unfortunately, he knew absolutely nothing about constellations and didn't really know what he was looking at.
"Hey, Lieutenant?" Roy asked.
"Yes?" Riza responded, the irritation having dissipated from her voice.
"I don't know what any of these constellations are".
"Well, the one that's shaped like a 'w' is called Cassiopeia".
"Where? I can't see it".
"Right there" Riza replied and extended her arm. She traced the shape of the constellation in the air with her index finger.
"Ah, I see it now".
"And that one" she began as she moved her outstretched arm to the right, "is called Cepheus". She traced the shape of this one as well so that the Colonel would know what she was talking about.
"You seem to know quite a bit about this stuff" Roy remarked.
"Astronomy was a hobby of mine when I was a child".
"Oh? I don't remember you being in interested in that when I started studying under your father".
"That's because I gave it up by the time I started high school" Riza explained. She shut her eyes for a few seconds and allowed a tired yawn to escape her lips. "My father wanted me to focus on my schoolwork. He said it was more important for me to concentrate on something that would actually be useful for my future".
Roy was surprised by her sudden willingness to speak about the events of her childhood. He was honored that she trusted him enough to divulge such information to him. He knew that most of her memories of the time she was a child weren't particularly happy, and as such he knew it was painful for her to be reminded of them.
"I know it may not have seemed like it" Roy began tentatively, "but he did care about what would happen to you when he was gone".
"I know" Riza answered softly with a hint of sadness in her voice. "If I hadn't decided to join the military I don't know what I would've done. There's not much I'm suited for".
"I think you would've done just fine".
"Not 'maybe', definitely. Someone as smart as you would've found a job easily, maybe as a teacher".
"Teacher? What makes you think that?" Riza questioned as she furrowed her brow.
"You're good with kids, especially Fullmetal. I have absolutely no patience for that brat. I don't know how you put up with him".
"If I can put up with you I can certainly put up with Edward".
"And just what is that supposed to mean?" Roy exclaimed.
"It means you and Edward are a lot alike".
"We're nothing alike!"
"It's that stubborn attitude of yours that makes you just like him".
"Stubborn?" Roy scoffed. "You're one to talk, Lieutenant".
"I'm sure I don't know what you mean Colonel" Riza replied calmly.
"Fine, whatever" Roy muttered under his breath. He glanced over at the blonde woman lying next to him and saw that she had a smile on her face; the kind of smile she always had when she was around Hayate. It was a rare but welcome occurrence. "What are you smiling for?"
"Huh?" Roy inquired, obviously confused.
"Just being here like this. It's nice"
" Yes, it is. And just think, had we gone to that meeting we'd probably be slammed with paperwork right about now".
"We're going to have to make up for it, though" stated Riza.
"Ugh, don't remind me" Roy groaned in disgust. "I'd hate to think how much they have waiting for us when we get back. If only we could do this every night instead of paperwork".
"You could if you finished your work on time".
"Well, maybe now I have the incentive I need to do so. Of course, it'd be no fun to look at the stars unless I know a little more about them".
"Are you asking me to teach you, sir?".
"If you want to" Roy responded nonchalantly.
"I'd be happy to" Riza said with that same smile still on her face. "What I remember most are the names of the constellations, so we'll start with that. See that one right there?" she asked as she traced the shape in the sky. "That's Perseus".
Roy listened intently to her lesson, soaking up as much information as he could. If his sudden interest in astronomy seemed strange to her, Riza didn't show it. Perhaps the reason he suddenly took a liking to it was because it was something that could bring the two of them closer together. Whatever the reason was, they were both glad to be in each other's company and away from the usually tedious and uneventful nights at the office as they gazed up at the stars.