I was listening to Wedding Dress and I couldn't help but write something. This turned out much longer than I anticipated and is a lot cheesier, too.
Riza Hawkeye is getting married.
The news spreads like wildfire across the ranks and even faster when word gets out that Roy Mustang is not the groom. For the first time since he took the desk job, Roy is glad that he has so much paperwork to hide behind, so much paperwork to keep his mind occupied. The moment he leaves his office he is assaulted by prying eyes and curious glances, even a flirtatious wink here or there. Gossip and whispers follow his every step, down every hallway, around every corner, chasing him even into the urinals.
"I can't even take a piss in peace!" Roy exclaims, almost screaming into the telephone receiver. "I'm not even the one getting married! Why the hell am I getting all the attention?"
"Word has it you're pretty popular with the ladies," Hughes, on the other end of the line, replies, "now that a certain first lieutenant is getting married." Roy can almost see the smirk on his friend's face.
"Yeah, well, this 'pretty popular' thing is making my life miserable." Roy continues his rant, "It's a nightmare up here. My subordinates have turned into my personal paparazzi. I think Fuery even tapped my phone."
"Are you sure it's not the 'she's getting married but to not you' thing that's making your life miserable?"
The line falls silent. Knowing that he just stepped on a touchy subject and trying to change the topic, Hughes brings up the first and only thing on his mind. "Isn't my daughter just oh, so cute? She's so adorable! Have I shown you my newest photo of her and Gracia baking together? Gracia's pies are just so delicious!" Before he elaborates further about just exactly how delicious Gracia's pies are, Roy hangs up on him. Hughes gives the silent receiver a helpless grin before placing it back in the cradle.
Roy gives his own receiver an exasperated sigh. Without her, his paperwork is a mess and starting to pile up on his desk, around his desk and even on the floor. Somehow, he finds it difficult to picture Hawkeye planning a wedding, trying on dresses, ordering flowers, sending out invitations, being with another man. He kills that train of thought abruptly and turns his attention to an overdue report, something about a sheepherder demanding compensation for losses incurred during a training exercise. Scratching his signature on the bottom of the document, he tosses it in the corner and moves on to another report. One down, ten million more to go.
"I need to request a leave of absence, sir." She had said.
"I know, I know, lieutenant. I'll get back to work. I'll get back to—Wait? A leave of absence? What for?" He remembers looking up at her for an explanation only to see a hint of sadness and hesitation in her eyes.
"I'm getting married."
He receives a wedding invitation from her in the mail a month later. By then, she is already away on leave, finalizing the details of her wedding and planning her honeymoon, leaving the office in a state of complete chaos, packed from floor to ceiling with papers and reports. He put Breda and Falman on paperwork duty so he can spend his time trying to fashion some sort of a paper fort to protect him from female officers. He has not seen Hawkeye in weeks.
It is not until he opens the invitation and reads the groom's name for the first time, printed in simple yet striking black typeface on the cream colored card, that he realizes just much he has been avoiding the subject of her wedding.
"Stewart Wulf?" He mutters, tipping back a shot of whiskey. "What kind of name is that?"
"What kind of name is Stewart Wulf?" He asks his empty house, pouring himself another shot of liquor.
"What the hell kind of name is Stewart Wulf?" He asks suddenly, slamming his fist down against his office desk. The small tremor sends a minor earthquake across the stacks of and stacks of precariously placed paperwork across in office and sends Breda leaping out of his chair trying to catch a pile of falling folders. His voice reverberates in his silent office followed by a thump as Breda hits the floor.
"The name of Lieutenant Hawkeye's fiancé?" Falman offers, stabilizing his own stack of folders.
Roy's left hand makes contact with his face with a resounding smack. Pulling at the skin of his face, he mutters, "Yes, I know. I know it's the name of Lieutenant Hawkeye's fiancé." He sinks into his seat with a sigh, "Believe me, Falman, I know."
The thought of his relationship with Hawkeye as anything more than purely professional crossed his mind only a few days before her sudden wedding announcement. A diamond ring, glimmering in the dim light of a jewelry store's window display, engenders the idea. It is the kind of ring that he would want to give a woman to make her his, a ring that bears a sense of austerity and elegance, a ring that screams Riza Hawkeye.
The day he learns about Hawkeye's wedding, he spends his entire evening staring at that ring. As if the ring could answer the questions swimming in his mind that he could not bear to ask. He goes back the next night and the next night and the night after that until it becomes routine, habitual, for him to turn down that street and stop by that window.
After hearing from Havoc that the colonel spends his evening staring at wedding rings, Breda, Falman, Havoc and eventually Fuery along with Black Hayate, set out to work, following the colonel to the jewelry store on his nightly excursion, hoping to catch a glimpse of who he might be shopping for.
The night before Hawkeye's wedding, they are sitting in Falman's car parked across the street from the store, eating Chinese take out and watching the colonel, when Fuery suddenly shrieks. Havoc immediately clamps his hand over Fuery's mouth. A dog barks outside.
Raising a finger to his lips, Havoc slowly releases Fuery and whispers, "What happened?"
Fuery, eyes are wide with excitement, whispers back, "The colonel!" He jabs a finger at now empty storefront where Roy used to be standing. The door chime jingles as the tail of a black overcoat disappears inside the store.
"Quick! We have to follow him!" The squad of soldiers turned makeshift paparazzi pile out of the car in seconds, sound and surveillance equipment in tow. They rush across the street, ducking under the windowsill of the jewelry store, ears and eyes alert for information on their superior's actions.
"I was wondering when you'd come in for this ring. You've been looking at it for a long time," the jeweler, an elderly woman, says. Without even asking him, she fishes the ring from the window display and slips it into a black velvet box. "You must really love her."
Roy is caught off guard by the statement. The words are foreign as he turns them over in his mind. He loves Riza Hawkeye. He loves her. He must really love her. He is buying a ring for a woman that is getting married tomorrow and he is, and always has been, in love with her. "Yes." He adds with a helpless grin, "Am I that obvious?"
"I've worked here for a long time. You're as obvious as they come." The jeweler slides the velvet box across the glass counter to Roy. Before taking her hand off the ring box, she looks at Roy and says, "Don't forget, Mr. Mustang, she hasn't said no to you yet."
Before he has a chance to even formulate a question in his mind, the old woman disappears into a back room. He moves to pocket the ring box, his fingers brushing against the velvet. Riza Hawkeye. I am in love with Riza Hawkeye. He chuckles gently at the thought and looks at the box. Too little, too late.
As he turns to leave, he hears an unexpected ruckus outside, the harsh whisper of voices and the rustle of too many bodies and too many limbs trying to move out of a cramped space.
"Fall back! Fall back!"
"I can't move! Get your foot out of my face!"
Casually pushing the door, he steps out onto the street, "Oh, look what we have here."
He raises an eyebrow at his subordinates, frozen in their attempted getaway outside the store. "Mustang's personal paparazzi. Hard at work, are we?" A devilish grin spreads across his face. Slipping on his gloves, he repeats his question, "Are we?"
Riza Hawkeye wakes up with the same person on her mind every morning: Roy Mustang. She does not remember when it started or how it ever got this bad but she looks forward to putting on her uniform every morning because she knows he'll see her in it, because she knows that he is wearing the same uniform. She looks forward to chiding him about his paperwork and those furtive, childish glances he tosses her way, begging for a coffee break or a snack or something other than work. She looks forward to quiet little moments in the afternoon when they're alone in the office and she sees the dust gathering on his desk, his shoulders, his hair, in the fading sunlight. And she knows it won't ever be more than a glance here or there, a moment lingering the recess of her memories. Maybe that's why she said yes to Wulf, to get away, to finally re-draw the disappearing line between her work and personal life.
She meets Stewart Wulf at a party, a prominent banker in the East with budding political and military aspirations who is crazy about her from the first moment he sees her. For weeks, she ignores the chocolates, the flowers, the phone calls, the dinner invites, until he shows up at her doorstep and begs for just one date.
"Just one date," Stewart's lodged himself in her doorway, "Just one and I'll leave you alone."
She pushes on the door a little harder, trying to wedge him out into the hallway, "I'm sorry Mr. Wulf, but you have to leave. Now!" Using her shoulder, she rams into the door again.
"Gah! That hurt!" Stewart yelps, "But, Riza, please, just one date. That's all I'm asking for. Just one!"
She looks at him, his hopeful face crushed between her door, and sighs. "Just one?"
Half a year later, she finds herself giving into to his hopeful face again. He is kneeling at her feet in a restaurant, the candlelight dancing in the diamond of an engagement ring. "Riza, will you marry me?"
Her mind is screaming only one name: Roy. Roy. Roy. The tightness in her chest squeezes the air from her lungs and she is afraid of answering Stewart's question, afraid of finally acknowledging the reality of her love for Roy Mustang, the reality that she has always known, that she can't wait forever to hear words he will never say.
Tears swelling in her eyes, she looks at Stewart, that hopeful grin he wears so often, confident and expectant, almost certain of her answer before she herself is. "Yes," she replies quietly, "Yes, Stewart." Her tears are warm as they roll down her cheeks. After Stewart slides the ring onto her finger, he squeezes her hands tightly and begins gushing about their new life together.
"So, how's the boyfriend?" Rebecca asks the next day, setting her lunch tray down with a clink and sliding into a seat next to Riza.
"You mean how's the fiancé?" She lets the question hang in air and instantly regrets it when her friend lets out a shrill scream.
"You're getting married?"
As she makes her way back to the office, she hopes that the news did not reached the colonel yet. She wants to break the news to him herself, to finally relinquish any chance she might have had to hear her feelings reciprocated.
"I'm getting married." The words are uncomfortable, rolling off her tongue awkwardly.
Roy's face is blank; his lips parted slightly, hand hanging in mid air reaching for his pen. He swallows, unmoving and silent. The silence is suffocating, as if she is standing in stagnant syrup. Congratulate me. Smile and be courteous. Congratulate me and let everything go back to being normal.
"That's great, Lieutenant!" She wonders if his voice sounds too forced. A huge smile on his face, Roy continues, "That's wonderful. Of course, I'll approve your leave immediately. Congratulations, Hawkeye!"
She wishes, leaving the office with her papers signed and ready, that he voiced some form of protest, any form of protest, a look, a word, a signal. She's known him for so long that the slightest sign of discontentment in his countenance would have easily betrayed him. But, there is nothing, only the briefest pause before his answer. He plays it perfectly. After signing her papers, he literally pushes her out of his office.
"Am I really that obvious?" Roy asks, standing on the steps of the church. He adjusts his bowtie.
"Yeup." Havoc replies, hands in his pockets, "you are the living embodiment of agony and loves lost. The absolute embodiment."
"Isn't that a little harsh?"
"Nope." And with that, Havoc crushes his cigarette and turns to enter the church. Roy looks up at the steeple piercing the cloudless sky, a light and innocent blue. She hasn't said no to you yet. He follows Havoc through the main doors.
Voices in the church are hollow, echoing off the arches, circling above his head as he walks down the aisle, taking his seat next to Hughes.
"Are you okay?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" He toys with the ring box in his trouser pockets, feeling the black velvet soft against his fingers. Hawkeye never said much about her family but he assumes they must be here today. Scanning the crowd, he spots General Grumman sitting in the front row. "What's General Grumman doing here?"
"Maybe he's a distant relative," Hughes replies with a shrug. "But, have I ever told you about my wedding day?" His face lights up immediately, already pulling out wedding photos from his tuxedo jacket.
Roy's face sags, "I've heard it a thousand times."
"One more time wouldn't hurt. I can remember it as if it were yesterday. Gracia was an angel. No, better than angel. You were perfect. Just perfect!" Roy sighs with relief as Hughes turns his attention his wife. Gracia shoots him a beleaguered and apologetic smile and he returns it smile of his own. There's nothing you can do about Hughes except just listen.
"The embodiment of agony," he muses, chuckling at Havoc's words. The rest of his subordinates are seated behind him, along with Black Hayate, who sits obediently near the pews. Suddenly, he feels claustrophobic in his tuxedo, his bowtie pulled tight enough to strangle him.
The murmur of the crowd dims as the priest appears by the altar, followed by Steward Wulf. Roy struggles to loosen his bowtie, wiping sweat from his brow as he does so. He subdues the urge to punch Wulf and that smug grin on his face. He wonders what Hawkeye sees in him and grimaces at his own answer to the question: something she doesn't see in you. This is childish, another voice in his head chimes in, you're her commanding office and she is your bodyguard. What did you expect? He shushes his mental argument as Rebecca, Hawkeye's maid of honor, and Wulf's best man assumes their position by the altar.
The music quells momentarily and the church is silent save for the occasional cough or sniffle, the faint rustling of clothes and shoes. All heads turn toward the main doors as Hawkeye, lead by Grumman, begins walking down the aisle. Roy's eyebrow lifts in confusion. "General Grumman…" He looks to Hughes who is wearing a similar expression on his face. They shrug in unison.
The moment his eyes settle on Hawkeye, face shrouded by her white veil, Roy understands Hughes' words. Barely a whisper, he lets one word escape his lips as she passes by, "Perfect." Standing in the light streaming in through the stained glass windows, in the quiet of the church as if they were the only two people there, he could see the specks of dust falling on her shoulders, her wedding dress, her hair.
"I, Riza Hawkeye, take you, Stewart Wulf, to be my husband from this day forward." He has not heard her voice in so long that he does not recognize it at first. This is the first and only time he's heard her voice like this, soft, delicate and feminine. He wonders what his name would sound like if she had said instead of Wulf's.
Completely immersed in the sight of his subordinate before him, he is pained by the thought that he is not the one standing with her, slipping a ring onto her gloved fingers, vowing to love her in sickness or in health, forever, till death do they part. His knuckles are white as he clutches the box in his pocket.
As much as he may love her, he sees no reason for her to pick him over Wulf. They have known each other for years and she has never breathed a word of romantic feelings for him and certainly, interrupting her wedding ceremony isn't going to change her mind or miraculously make her see how badly he wants to be with her.
"If any person can show just cause why they cannot be joined together," the priest drones on, "Speak now or forever hold your peace."
Trying to flood his mind with anything but thoughts of her, Roy squeezes his eyes shut and prays for the ceremony to just end. If he realized his feelings sooner, if he made a move sooner, if he stopped thinking only about himself and his dreams and his goals and—!
"Ow!" Roy shouts, leaping out of his seat, Black Hayate hanging on his trouser leg. "Bad dog! Bad dog!" He whispers furiously at the animal. "Bad dog!"
"Colonel?" The edge in her voice is back.
"Lieutenant." He states flatly, looking up at her. He mentally curses himself and glares at Black Hayate. A low murmur sweeps through the crowd. He groans internally, word of this, how Roy Mustang interrupted Riza Hawkeye's wedding, is going to be everywhere tomorrow. He's going to catch gossip hell all over again and he did it to himself this time. Maybe he's been doing it to himself all along. Maybe he really is that obvious. He sighs deeply, shoulders slumping. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant."
"Did you want to say something?" She asks, almost too eagerly. He wonders if she actually wants him to interrupt.
Hughes jabs with his elbow, jerks his head towards the altar and mouths, "Just say it."
"Look, I don't know who you are but we're in the middle of a wedding. Do you mind?" Wulf demands.
Roy turns to his subordinates. Havoc, a knowing grin on his face and cigarette perpetually in hand, Breda, Falman, Fuery with the widest and most encouraging smile on his face and even Black Hayate, looking at him, all of them telling him to do one thing. He sighs again; he is just that obvious.
"Yes, yes, I do mind. Because Riza," he pauses, realizing that he hasn't used her first name since her father's funeral, "Because I, I…" His mouth is dry and his tongue feels like cotton.
"Oh for Christ's sake, what is this? A soap opera? Who the hell are you even?" Wulf throws his hands up in annoyance, stepping into the aisle and walking towards Roy.
"He is my commanding officer." Riza replies, voice on the edge of breaking.
"What?" Wulf whirls around to face his soon-to-be bride. "Your what?"
"I am her commanding officer." He barks at Wulf before turning to Riza, "I don't know how you feel about me and I know I have no right to take this moment away from you, but this is my last chance, my only chance." He closes his eyes. She hasn't said no to you yet. "I love you, Riza."
A sharp gasp escapes from the crowd followed by a wave of unabated chatter.
"I've always loved you. I realized too late and you were gone. And, I just want to know if you've ever loved me. If you've ever had any feelings for me." His eyes are glued to the ground, "I've already asked so much of you and I have no right to demand an answer from you, now, on your wedding day. I'm sorry. This is all my fault. I don't know why I did this. Forget I ever asked. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Lieutenant." The ring box is heavy in his pocket as he turns down the aisle and heads for the exit. He hears the excited whispers from the crowd, the eyes glued to his back and the muffled sound of Wulf's annoyed voice as he leaves the church.
He stops on the steps outside and turns his head skyward. Pulling out the box from his pocket, he frames the blinding sun with the ring. I love you, Riza. He wants to burn the image of her in her wedding dress, like angel stepping down from heaven, like perfection, pure, absolute perfection, forever into his memory. A soft breeze sweeps through the grass and everything seems fake, like a dream, maybe even a nightmare.
Then, he hears the hollow sound of her heels clicking against the floor and the sound of her voice calling out his name.
"Roy. I love you, too."