Disclaimer: I don't own it. Yeo.
Spoilers lurk herein...
For Fudfoodle. Check out her great artwork by following the link on my profile. Work by the wonderful hand-made-city to be found there too.
This is set sometime after the end of the manga and for the purpose of the conceit, we're going with the general era FMA is set in when showers weren't that common (in our world at least). Though obviously there's a scene in the manga where Riza emerges from the shower. So... blegh!
Following on from Broody and a scene in The Kids Are Alright, I now think I may have something of a preoccupation with Roy and Riza in the bathroom... what is that?
Due to lateness, I'm sure this is typotastic but ach well - let's live dangerously Mebh!
Anyway, hope you enjoy... Yeeeow!
Hot showers, Riza Hawkeye decided, were one of the greatest feats of human engineering. Forget the steam train, wireless radio and yes, even alchemy – at the end of a long day there was nothing more satisfying than a steaming hot shower.
When she first suggested getting her old bath ripped out to be replaced with a smaller shower cubicle, Roy had fought the idea tooth and nail. The man was obsessed with bathing, or as he called it somewhat childishly, 'bath time.' At first, she thought it was his inherent vanity that had him in the tub seven nights of the week, but she soon realised that his real passion wasn't for the bath so much as the people in it.
Whether it be his house or hers, when they rolled in from a hard graft at the office he would bound up the stairs and seconds later the faucets would squeak into action. Efficient by nature, Riza would fight the idea of lounging in the bath too long, considering bathing in the most perfunctory regard. Sometimes Roy would whinge for a while, others he would resort to trying to seduce her in. If both tactics failed, he would try to take her by surprise and carry her in, laughing evilly as she deadpanned her protests. On one occasion, when she refused to join him on the grounds that she just couldn't be bothered, he abducted Black Hayate and held the poor dog captive in the steamed up room until she relented.
In the tub he pored over her: studying each curve, freckle and scar. Often his fingers would pause on the nasty length of scar tissue at her neck and he would mew softly against her, the noise a knowing lament for what almost came to pass. Or she might catch him wince as he climbed into the tub, the still angry scar on his side gleaming in the warm, misty air. He would trap her sad eyes with his and offer her a rueful smile as he eased himself into the bath more carefully.
For the most part though, 'bath time' was a light hearted experience. When not in the mood, Riza would bring a book with her and try her best to get caught up on her reading while her petulant lover prodded and mocked her for being 'so blah'. When she was in the mood though, Roy's face would light up like a child's at a carnival, and the couple would emerge an hour or so later, smoky voiced and sly eyed.
So yes, you could say that Roy was somewhat upset when Riza committed the deed behind his back and had her bathtub removed. It took him at least a week to come round to the idea of staying in her bathless house for even one night. After two weeks, he was still huffing, although a little less dramatically.
"It's more practical, Roy." Riza said, unbuttoning her shirt.
The alchemist rolled his eyes and fell back onto the bed, his arms flung out far behind him. "Tch - practical."
"It's why you love me. Just keep telling yourself that and you should be fine."
Five minutes after she stepped into the steaming shower, she smirked as she felt cool air float in from the door. Not turning around, she cast her eyes sideways to see a dark silhouette on the other side of the misted glass. Seconds later, she heard an odd squeaking noise cut through the splashing of the water. She turned finally and laughed as she saw the fleshy disc of a fingertip breaking through the condensation on the outside of the glass. He was writing a message back to front for her to read.
"Can I... come... in?" She whispered the words as he wrote them.
She sighed in amusement and pushed open the door, revealing her suddy, wet body to her partner.
That was the beginning of Roy Mustang's love affair with showers. He had one installed in his own home that weekend.
One night after Riza returned early from an excursion to Central, she let herself into Roy's house and groaned when she heard his baritone crooning echo down from upstairs. Slipping into the bathroom, she couldn't help but snicker wickedly at how truly bizarre the man was, singing at the top of his lungs with abandon. She leant towards the glass:
If only General Armstrong could see you now...
Due to his less than shy singing, he hadn't heard the squeaking of her finger across the wet glass and so when Riza knocked lightly on the shower door, he stopped mid-word with the same abruptness as a car hitting a cliff face. A long silence followed and she knew his panicked mind was examining every possible scenario under which someone might enter his bathroom uninvited and knock.
"Hello? Ri-" He broke off as his eyes found the message and he burst out laughing, the sound filling the bathroom and bringing a wide smile to her face. It was a particularly special sound, Roy's laugh, and not many were audience to it.
The door was flung open flamboyantly, the metal frame banging off the white tiles. He stood under the spray with legs apart as if being naked, covered in suds and mottled red from the heat was the most natural state in the world.
"There you are." He said with cheeky, skittish eyes.
Riza wiped her face, already damp with the heat and humidity. "Here I am."
Seeing that she was in more comfortable travelling attire, the man knew it was worth the risk. He lurched out of the shower and grabbed her about the waist, causing both of them to slip precariously on the wet floor. Moments later, she was bundled into the cubicle fully clothed, and the door was pulled neatly shut behind her.
That's how they continued: working through their arduous days with the same decorum they had always employed, and in the evenings celebrating their privacy – their hard won togetherness – with a youthful, fervent energy. It wasn't always fun necessarily. Often they would sit at Roy's desk and work into the early hours on anything from a transport strategy for a new mine in the South East, to personnel issues in one of the outposts. The magic spark was in their doing it together, in knowing that when the door was locked at the end of the evening, it locked the word out and them in. Climbing into bed on exhausted limbs, Riza cherished the darkness that only they inhabited; that secret pocket where they could be Roy and Riza, rather than commander and subordinate. There were many times on their long journey when she could not have dared to imagine such a wonderful, astounding thing: the sullen youth turned man, lying warm and loving against her in the gentle dark.
Sometimes in those moments, Roy would draw her left hand across his stomach and toy with it lazily as he drifted off to sleep, his touch always seeming more concerned with her ring finger than the others. He knew as well as she did though, that they could only allow themselves so much.
A few months, and many condensation messages after Roy's introduction to showers, Riza slipped from the bed and undressed to wash. Feeling watched, she turned to see two blacks eyes staring at her via the mirror.
"Sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to wake you."
Roy smiled back at her before answering. "It's fine. I've been awake for a while."
Riza nodded, though she was sure she could hear the slightest tremor in his usually strong voice.
"Are you okay?" She asked, folding her pyjamas and placing them neatly on a cabinet.
A fleeting look of horror crossed his face, then he issued a light, "Yeap."
"You sound nervous."
"No I don't."
Riza looked at Hayate for some confirmation but the dog only grumbled and padded over the sheets to settle himself against Roy's belly.
"You look furtive." She folded her arms.
"You look furtive." He grinned when he saw her distaste at his immature rebuttal.
"I'll find out what you've done..."
Roy cast her an enigmatic smile and pulled the bed clothes closer about him, unsettling the dog some as he did so. "I'm counting on it."
Standing outside the shower to avoid the initial cold spray, Riza slowly eased herself into the booth and sighed as the ever warming water beat off her waking body. She took the bar of soap and a rough sponge, and began lathering herself up, humming softly as she worked. Rinsing some water out of her eyes, she glanced up and was surprised to see the condensation was forming strangely. It clung to most of the glass, but as the water grew hotter a vague pattern started to make itself known: words, a message. She gasped and rubbed more water out of her eyes. She then turned up the heat until it was almost scalding her, trying to speed up the progress of the emerging words. A second gasp and a hand flew to her mouth. She scanned about her in bewilderment, then looked back at the message, now as clear as day on the near opaque glass:
Will you marry me?
The water continued to rain down, but Riza was already falling out of the shower and tripping her way to the bedroom. Usually so sure on her feet, she now zig-zagged down the landing as her legs turned to jelly beneath her. She was sure she would fall before she made it to him.
She charged into the room and stopped dead at the threshold, hanging onto the door frame for support.
Roy was sitting on the edge of the bed, feet tapping nervously and cheeks flushed. In his trembling hands, he held a small box with the lid opened to reveal a simple ring with a single tanzanite stone. The blue stone winked up at her, as bright and sharp as his eyes.
"I thought, 'she looks so good in blue' so..." He said with a meekness that sounded utterly alien to both of them.
Riza's amber eyes held his and she floundered as words failed to come to her. A large dollop of suds fell off her hair and onto the carpet. Hayate jumped off the bed and trotted over to investigate.
Roy's knees had started jiggling too. The fresh blue gem winked with even more liveliness as his hands shook that little bit more.
He flicked closed the lid as the shadow of devastation started to swallow him up. It was stupid. Of course it was. Conducting the service quietly or not: how could he have expected her to say-
Roy's thumb flicked back open the lid. Cautiously, like a timid priest approaching an ancient altar, he slipped off the bed and started inching towards her. His eyes watched her every movement, on the lookout for any sign that she was about to bolt. He was confident she wouldn't though; he had already stowed her clothes away to prevent such an eventuality.
He reached her and started to kneel when Riza balked.
"Yes." Roy said, anxiety clear in his voice. He needed to get the damn ring on her finger and close the deal. She had said 'yes', hadn't she?
"You're wearing pyjamas."
"Yes." He agreed, still bent in an awkward half kneel in front of her. Though... he couldn't find fault with the view.
"We're not in a restaurant." She said, looking about her dumbly.
"Thank goodness for that."
Roy quirked an eyebrow. "Yes."
Like hearing returning as the ears drained after a swim, Riza's senses came back to her. She saw the ring, saw Roy struggling to maintain his weird contortion and saw how completely and uncharacteristically terrified he was.
"I saw your message." She said, grimacing slightly at how stupid her remark was.
"You saw the mes..." Roy said each word slowly as if he was having difficulty controlling his own mouth.
"My answer is yes, Roy. Stand up."
"Aren't I supposed to do this kneeling?"
'Exactly,' Roy wanted to say but feeling the 'big moment' was unusual enough without Riza thumping him, he obeyed and pulled the ring from its little box.
Riza held out her hand and they both had to take a deep breath before he slid it on. It, like them, was a perfect fit.
They agreed that Riza would wear the ring in their own company only, and both were pleased with how neatly their conspiracy fit in with those clandestine, intimate moments they shared. Until they spoke with Fuhrer Grumman to discuss their best options, they would keep the engagement between themselves. Their relationship had always existed in a sort of mythical, liminal space and so a few more months betwixt and between would do them no harm.
It was strange though, the power that simple elegant ring held. Roy was an alchemist after all and the symbolism of the band was almost overwhelming. The circle: eternity, everything, the sun, the moon, the swollen curve of a pregnant belly, an embrace. Their lives had been swamped with circles: arrays and gun sights, and now this was one they could share and truly rejoice in.
As they drifted off to sleep, each cured of any ills by the simple breathing of the other, Riza took one last glance at the graceful glinting of the stone. She wondered, with a lazy, sleepy smile, how he might have proposed were it not for their messages on steamy doors.
Roy for his part finally agreed, showers really were a great feat of human engineering. At last, he was a convert.
Thanks for reading chaps! x