A/N: This has certainly been a long time coming. I hope everyone enjoys it because, I admit (begrudgingly) that it was pretty fun to write this. I dedicate this story to anyone who loves Roy and Riza and angst :D

I cannot have this story published without thanking that incredible and wonderful, mebh. She has been a fantastic beta for me, as well as being a real friend and taking my constant moaning and stressing about this oneshot (and then offering me advice!). Make sure you read her unbelievable story Quiet Crown - that is assuming you have lived under a rock for a couple of months, because I'm sure almost everyone has read it. Well deserved publicity, I say.

Enjoy.


Shatter


.to violently break something into pieces

..to smash, or break into tiny pieces

...to destroy or disable something


Everything changes. She is the only constant.

That's the way it has always been. Ever since he can remember she has been there; in the dark guilt-eaten recesses of mind, in the amiable light of memories, in the hazy constricting fog of worries . . . and now, in the forefront of blind, nauseating terror.

He cannot remember the moment they met in that stale house; time and strain had made sure to slowly disintegrate those calm memories. All he knows is that there is a period in his life that is dark with years of forgotten time where she didn't exist, and then . . . she existed. There is no way to verbalize how suddenly, how completely overpowering it was to realize she simply became a constant.

It terrified him beyond words to realize that there was a period in his life when she didn't exist.

And then she did. And now she does.

Wide amber eyes; pale skin; blood.

And now she is everything.

x

She was young and vulnerable.

Her blonde hair curled at the nape of her neck; the column of her throat was unblemished and smooth and her eyes were large and earthy. That is the first memory he can recall of her. There are no ties connected to it.

She had looked at him with interest; sizing him up. Her father's new apprentice. She was a few years younger than him; enough to make a difference in the way they should treat each other, but for some reason… he could not treat her any differently.

She held out her small hand – yet to be calloused and soiled with blood – her smooth palm and fragile fingers held out towards him; she held his gaze.

And then he realized it was her eyes. They didn't hold the naivety that should be there (why? Why didn't they?) They held knowledge of the world far beyond her years –

"You must be the man my father told me about."

Man. That was it. She saw him as a man. Everybody else did not – He was barely out of his teens – but she saw a man.

She saw what could be.

"Roy Mustang," he offered as he extended his own hand. She took hold of it.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Roy-san. I'm Riza Hawkeye."

And their fates were sealed with a shake of their hands; a small, fragile hand enclosed in his.

If she had known – if they had known – how absolutely vital he would be to her – how vital she would be to him – she would have been almost as terrified then as she was now.

Almost as terrified as she now made him.

x

The days are lethargic and the normalcy is overbearing.

The office is murmuring with the droning voices of his loyal subordinates. They joke and laugh and eventually wade out into the afternoon for a delayed meal.

She stays behind because he has not left. She finishes paperwork and organizes it against her desk, waiting patiently for him to pack up and head out himself. She spares him a glance over the papers.

He has been quiet all day; and her concerns are simmering quietly. He stands up and runs a hand through his hair – looking far older than he is in that moment – stepping around his desk to hers to review the paperwork – an odd occurrence.

Fingers flutter above her lower back and she looks as him curiously. Her heart flutters with concern as his eyes are misted with past burdens. It's the only thing she can see.

"Did he hurt you?" – He never had the courage to ask before – and she knows his index finger lies exactly where the ink began.

She sits on his question for a moment; looking between each of his clouded eyes that are now looking back at her. His eyes are heavy, the light behind them burdened and she feels the suffocating shame engulf her heart in pained waves – she has aged those eyes – his fingers settle against the first arch of ink that they both know is there under the blue military wool. A fresh wave of remorse flickers across his face and she wants to cry.

"Like hell," she answers softly. There was no point lying to him. He would know if she had. They read each other too easily. If she lied it would only hurt him further – and that thought alone, scares her. He looks down to the mundane paperwork and a rueful smile pulls onto his face; admiring her inner strength. The fact that he smiles is what hurts her more – he is only trying to mask his feelings, to stop from hurting her.

"I admired that man," he admitted quietly – afraid of the territory they were crossing into – and his fingers subconsciously traced the image of the sun on her spine. "I respected him," he muttered bitterly.

"Colonel…" She tried to coax him back into rationality – back into safe territory.

"He used you like his notebook," he hissed. His fingers had clenched into her jacket and her hands tightened their grip around her papers. She tried to steady her breathing – his heavy breaths were causing her to panic – and she thought frantically of what to say. "He hurt you –" His words stopped violently. It was like a punch to the gut – the absence of her name in the air – she sucked in a breath.

"I suppose I'm not much better -" She reared around and her entire arm flinched; suddenly recoiling from the strike she was about to deliver to his face. His eyes snapped between her movement and her eyes. He knew instantly what she almost did.

"Don't ever say that," she hissed hysterically – desperately wanting to shout – "You seem to forget that it was I who asked that of you." Her voice faltered as she found it painful to swallow. Shame consumed his face and she wanted to die – she never wanted to see that look on his face ever again. "At any rate-" She struggled to swallow again. She took a breath. "This shouldn't be discussed here. I apologize for the outburst, sir."

She straightened her posture and turned away from him sharply; she couldn't face him. Her heartbeat hammered in her head and she was afraid he could hear it.

This wasn't the place. This wasn't the time. This shouldn't happen. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't his fault. It was her fault. Her fault. She made him do it. She wasn't the one scarred, she had scarred him. Beyond repair. She felt sick.

She bent over the paperwork and grappled clumsily with the documents in a desperate frenzy to be done and escape. A paper slipped across the desk and she stretched to retrieve it – acutely aware of his presence – and she saw water droplets drip onto the table through cloudy eyes.

Arms encircled her around the waist and she shuddered to a halt. She bit her lip to catch any noises she knew she would make. This shouldn't be happening.

"I'm sorry," he breathed. She sobbed drily only once. The trembling pain in his voice was only magnified in her heart. His grip tightened to the point where she was crushed against him; his forehead fell against her shoulder blade.

The scar he knew was there.

"I'm so sorry."

x

The sand of the bloodstained desert was scorching.

But the heat could not compare to the intensity of his panic.

"Hawkeye." He grappled with her arms; trying to get a hold of her somehow. He secured his hand around her arm. "Hawkeye, don't make me do this," he pleaded. His decision had changed violently. His stomach clenched in fear as her fingers worked on the buttons.

She spared him a soft defeated glance before she shook off his hold on her and continued to remove her military jacket; her fingers shaking. The truth was not lost on him. His fingers snagged on her arm again, weakly trying to hold her back.

"Why?" She pulled away again and made sure she was out of his immediate reach; the arm he had held began to shake. "Why are you doing this to yourself!" She hopelessly wished he didn't sound so desperate. His face deteriorated into one of mortification. "How could you do this to me?" he added as a gutting verbal afterthought.

She sucked in a sudden breath as the numbing question slammed into her. She closed her eyes and placed her trembling calloused fingers against them. She could feel the moisture welling up behind her blistered fingertips. Her throat physically hurt from pushing down her emotions and it felt as if she was swallowing her own heart; she could feel it beating in her head.

"I'm sorry," she whispered dejectedly. "I shouldn't ask this of you. You don't deserve this distress-" He wanted to laugh at the severity of that understatement. "- but I have to have it gone. I can't live with it -"

"But –" He attempted desperately.

"I can't live with being a tool that brings destruction!" That was the first time she ever shouted at him, and with nobody but him to hear it. His breath caught at the intensity in her words and ochre eyes. "I can't live with being the same as scrap paper. I need to just be me…" she steadied her frantic words with a shaky breath and closed her small hand around his forearm – hardened because of him – and made him look at her in the eyes. "Riza Hawkeye. I have told you my reasons, and I stand by them." Her fingers tightened by a fraction. He looked away from her and his face contorted with his emotional agony.

"Fine," he breathed. "I'll do it," he agreed for the second time that day. He wondered with a sinking heart about his sanity.

Her lips smiled ruefully but her eyes remained tormented.

She turned her back to him – a sickening tremor assaulted his body – and removed her jacket and dropped it to the floor. She couldn't hide her quivering fingers as they hooked into her thin tank top and pulled it over her head.

What she saw as an abomination was displayed clearly and hauntingly on her pale skin.

The array moved with her skin as her muscles flexed as she loosely tossed her garment to the side. This was the second time she had bared herself so completely to him, and the first time he had felt almost as disgusted as he did now. Her arms lingered across her chest to hide her breasts, but they slackened slightly as she realized it to be almost meaningless in this situation. He could see her hands, her arms, her back and her knees trembling – and in turn his hands began to shake.

His hands clenched tightly until his bones popped. What hurt him more was the fact that he knew she was trying to hide her fear – how could he possibly do as she wanted? – and she remained composed; waiting on him to harm her. His hand began to tremble visibly.

Her head angled towards him, not far enough to look at him but enough for him to know that she was aware of his absence of action. His teeth clenched painfully. He brought his hand up, his fingers poised; but they wouldn't stop shaking. His entire heart ached. She looked over her shoulder – smooth, beautiful and miraculously unblemished – and met his eyes; the heady amber hue of them swimming. His fingers lowered a fraction. He couldn't hurt her.

He couldn't hurt Riza-

"Roy, please."

Her words broke him.

A strangled sound escaped his throat as he grit his teeth and he was trapped in her gaze. She was all but begging him. Begging him to understand; begging him to do it.

Begging him to free her.

"I'll burn as little as I can, but it's…" He struggled with the words that were almost choking him. He had burned people before…

She smiled solemnly and turned back. He watched as she picked up a leather strap that she carried her weapon in and clenched it between her teeth – it was so sick to see something so harsh against her fragile skin. She closed her eyes and he saw the fear flicker across her face. It made him nauseous. She took in a shaky breath – and he did the same – and bit down harder on the leather strap.

She nodded her head.

He snapped his fingers and the flames burst up violently. They dove at her and scorched into her burdened skin. The flames licked the corner of the crescent and ripped away the alchemic text in the bottom of her right shoulder blade. Her skin sizzled and his flames instantly died.

She wailed through the leather; in far more agony than he was prepared for.

He doubled over, fighting the need to be sick, and he heard the slap of leather on the ground. What followed next made him feel even more violently ill. She was restraining sobs of pain and his eyes torturously lifted to her. She was hunched over and he saw tears welling in her eyes, but none of them were falling. But what he saw made his heart ache. The burn he had inflicted was so small. Barely the size of a coin and yet it caused her so much pain.

The burn was angry, red and swollen. A white sheen glinting at him. He knew how bad it was. He knew how bad it had to be.

She was leaning forwards, trying her best to contain herself. She closed her eyes tightly and her entire face was twitching with the pain she felt. Her body shook but she was breathing through her teeth. This was so wrong. He steadied himself and withdrew his hand – there was no fucking way he could continue, not when she felt like this, not with her expression, not when it was herhis breaths were labored as he tried to stop from vomiting.

"Don't you dare stop." His world felt like it ended. He looked at her in panic and the anger on her face fractured him. "That's barely anything. You have to continue -"

"I ca-"

"Don't let this pain be worthless!" Her words hit him so hard that he stumbled backwards towards the entrance of the tent. No matter which way he desperately looked at this; she was right; so completely right. So he clenched his hand and raised his fingers again. He had to do it – for her sake, for her peace of mind, for her happiness – he had to do it. He had to just get it over with and all of this could be over and they could continue to live their lives –

He snapped his fingers.

He couldn't possibly have prepared himself.

She shrieked as the flames maliciously seared into her vulnerable flesh. It burned across her entire fragile shoulder blade and ripped across her spine to the top of her left shoulder blade. Her skin hissed as it scorched until it was bright red. She cried out in such agony that as the flame dissipated he felt his entire gut flip and bile rise and burned into his throat. She dropped to her knees like a stone and the screams of absolute unforgiving suffering ripped through her body.

The smell of her burned flesh reached him.

He staggered out of the tent and retched. He emptied out the entirety of his disgusted stomach, but it couldn't drown out her wails of unrelenting pain. He retched again but there was nothing to give. The smell of her burnt flesh clung to him with loathing. The dry heaves started and he tried to lean on the taught fabric of the tent unsuccessfully. Finally his stomach had mercy, his stomach and throat now burning, and he stumbled back into the tent.

She was huddled up on the floor, her destroyed back facing him maliciously. Her skin was mottled and ruined. Her flesh flaring red and many white patches littering her once beautiful skin. The burns glistened with liquid that began seeping down her back and her entire body was trembling so violently that he thought he was going to be sick again. But then he realized-

Her cries had stopped.

He stumbled over to her and dropped. Her skin was wet and oozing and so terribly damaged. The red skin was so dry and angry. Her back was swollen and the unnatural white skin brought panic to every fibre of his being. Skin was peeling off in multiples of dark red layers and he had to fight back the urge to be sick again so that he could help her. Somehow he managed to get her up onto the rickety bed and he scrabbled around in search of fabric. His legs were completely gone and he tripped over to the water supply as he dampened the cloth.

He was running on basic instincts that he had learned a long time ago from Master Hawkeye. It was such an agonizing coincidence that his lesson was saving his daughter. He tripped over his feet again and stumbled to her side.

Her breathing was increasing which made his heart thunder in his ears. He laid the cloth across her tattered skin and she wailed; her fingers tearing into the blankets. He carefully pressed down the cloth to try and cool the wound; desperate for her to be okay. But he was naïve.

His worst nightmares encroached when her breathing rate increased, and he could feel her heartbeat in her wounds; it was too fast. The fluid was seeping out of her wounds too fast and he hadn't even considered if his dampened cloth was hygienic. Her eyes glazed over and it was like she could no longer see him, her pupils awfully dilated. He tried to shake her to make her come to but her skin was so cold and clammy under his murderous hands.

She was going into shock.

There was no way he could handle this by himself. He needed medical help. He couldn't let her slip away from him – he couldn't, he couldn't; she had trusted him; he had trusted her; it was Riza. He managed to gather her into his arms, carefully avoiding all the searing burns and he draped her jacket over her breasts to save her dignity. And he ran out and towards the nearest medical tent in a full out sprint. It was almost inhuman. The only thing that was going through his head…

(don't die, don't die, don't die, don't die, don't die, Riza. Not you. Not because of me. Not you)

He thought his heart could never become more fractured than this.

Then she whimpered, then she croaked, then she whispered:

"I'm so sorry."

And he shattered.

x

The glass was littered with his fingerprints.

His fingers danced along the crystalline rim as his coal eyes stared at the amber liquid remaining in the glass; the drink stirring more of his emotions than he wanted. It reminded him of her eyes.

He had come to the bar he seldom went to. He had come to feel sorry for himself; he had come to sulk; he had come to brood; he had come to be selfish; he had come to destroy himself – (the list, they told him, could go on and on…) – and he didn't need the concerned or invasive bartender of a foster mother. He didn't need anyone at all - …alright, he is lying… - he didn't deserve anyone either way. All the ones who cared were gone – or too far away - he didn't have anyone left to care.

"What are you doing here, brat?"

And yet more friends – more people (who could he call 'friend' now anyway?) – continued to appear from out of the cracks.

"Drinking," Mustang replied dejectedly. He heard a seat creak and spared only a sideways glance to his invading companion. Without recognition he looked back into the ochre depths of his glass.

"You can't call this drinking." He pointed absentmindedly at him. "Not when you're downing this shit-" he flicked Mustang's glass. "with that pathetic look on your face."

"Whatever you say, Knox." He raised the glass to his lips and swallowed the remaining liquid without another thought. The burn was satisfying but not nearly strong enough. He thumped the glass down and pushed it forwards to indicate he wanted another.

Knox took in his appearance for a minute; stiff jaw, pale skin, heavy eyes; and groaned irritably. From the beginning Mustang had always been like this; his dark, secret self-hatred hiding in the midst of his arrogance and charisma. It was far too destructive for a brat like him.

"You haven't been sleeping." He stated bluntly. Mustang's brow furrowed heavily. "Don't argue with me," Knox snapped. "I may be cutting up corpses now, but I can still see the side-effects of sleep deprivation."

Infuriatingly Mustang did nothing but release a single bemused laugh over the rim of his new drink.

"What is it this time?"

Mustang's rueful smile on his lips dropped slowly as he pulled the glass away from his dry lips. His eyes slid to Knox's and his lips pressed together tightly.

"Ishval." Mustang mumbled it as if that one word explained everything.

He pressed the rim of the glass to his lips and downed the remainder of the whiskey. Again he thumped it down on the countertop and pushed it forwards; another drink already on his mind. Knox's face darkened at the thought. He thought as much. He took a swig of his own drink before setting the glass on the counter. He couldn't blame the kid.

They had seen horrors.

They had performed horrors.

Knox sighed and sagged slightly. He reached out and clapped his hand on Mustang's shoulder and shook it once as if he were still a teenager in need of reassurance. Knox avoided the expression on Mustang's face – as much as he hated to admit it, he cared for the brat – and began to get out of his seat, using his hand on Mustang's shoulder as leverage.

"Don't get plastered. You don't want that pretty Lieutenant of yours to have to come and deal with your sorry ass."

Knox felt the muscles under his hand seize.

He turned around curiously and saw that Mustang's entire body had frozen still. Then, in one shaky movement he knocked back the rest of his drink. Knox's scowl deepened.

There was so much more to this.

His hand sunk into Mustang's shoulder and he bent over to talk to him levelly. Mustang didn't register this and continued to stare down at his empty glass – or was it his hands? – with a pained look smothering his features.

"How's the Lieutenant doing now, anyway?" He pushed quietly. "I haven't seen her since Ishval when you brought her to me-"

"Knox, this isn't the time," Mustang warned with heavy words.

"-in Hypovolemic shock I seem to recall. Induced by severe second degree burns to the back; which was interestingly covered in your alchemical babble-"

"Knox, don't speak of that here-" he hissed.

"You burnt her up pretty good didn't you-"

The glass in Roy's hand shattered; the remnants of the ochre liquid seeping into his palm. Burning in a way that shouldn't make him feel so satisfied.

"Knox!" He roared as his entire body reared back. His eyes were aflame with anger, but what was worse was that the anger was being consumed by unrelenting self-hatred – by pure, burning panic. Such devastation did not belong in the eyes of a man that hadn't even turned thirty.

Knox sighed and straightened his posture. He had seen what he suspected, but he already felt ashamed of himself for taking such measures. He cast a grieving look at Roy who was all but shaking in his seat – he was still so pathetically scrawny in his eyes and how could he ever have such burdens – and Knox lowered his head in apology.

"I'm sorry." Apologies were rare from his lips. "I went too far. I shouldn't have done that." He fished in his pocket for his wallet and pulled out a few bills and chucked them onto the counter. "The next drink's on me," he informed solemnly.

He sat next to Roy again and downed his forgotten drink. Roy, seemingly recovered from his shell-shocked state, turned back to the counter; a trembling hand running through his hair.

"But I meant what I said," Knox said softly and Roy looked at him apprehensively. "Don't overdo it. She wouldn't want to see you like this."

Roy downed his next drink.

x

It was over.

Bradley had struck; the blow harder than he was prepared for; more sudden than what he could handle.

A blow that he could never recover from.

Her safety – which was always precarious at best, no matter how desperately he wished – was bound to him with chains heavier than he could bear. He was foolish and oblivious – and damnit he should have been prepared – and she should have been at the forefront of his mind, instead of being repressed because it hurt too much, and then this might not have happened. Her safety might not be on the line like this.

The only thing that kept him from insanity was worrying about her 'safety' and not her life.

He wasn't prepared. She wasn't ready. This could be the end of everything. The future was now in tatters – a future where just maybe they could… - and his heart felt like it had been clawed out – Yet it still continued to beat too fast in his chest. He couldn't think of what to do, and for the first time she had no guidance.

They happened against the door of his apartment.

The wood slams shut as their knees and teeth knock together. His breath rushes out across her cheek and down her neck and the back of her head thumps against the wood.

His hands hold no gentility as they tear into her restrictive military jacket, far too desperate to think of anything as trivial as romance. His palms sink into her thighs, hips, ribs, jaw, cheeks, until he pulls away with breaths that are ragged as if he is in physical pain. His forehead bumps into hers and his head hangs with despair. Her overheated breaths wash over all of his sensitive skin.

"What are we doing?" The words rip out of his chest and hold the scars of his fear. His eyes find hers, frantically – selfishly – searching for knowledge on what to do, for logic. Because Hawkeye always guides him; because Hawkeye always knows what to do; because Hawkeye is always the strong one; because Hawkeye– "What can we do?"

Her eyes are sunken and painfully apologetic. Her hands settle behind his neck – and he finally fits against her so that there is no space in between – and she brings his forehead against hers and she breathes across his lips and tries not to sound so terrified.

"There's nothing we can do."

His breath catches violently and his hands fumble for leverage at the back of her neck as he seals their mouths together. She whimpers at the assault of too many sensations; too many emotions – it was too tragic that they couldn't even smile at the beautiful irony of this situation. They refuse to pause for any breaths and his hands are already pushing up the black fabric over her ribcage and revealing her breasts. He withholds from removing the black garment because then they would have to separatesomething he can't manage anymore – and so pushes it up onto her collarbone.

His lips fall from hers and sear down her neck leaving her gasping in their wake. The feeling of her pulse beneath his lips clenches his gut so tightly that his breath catches – her very life was so close to him – and his fresh hot breath leaves her whimpering. His lips meet cloth and he desperately drops below the obstruction to drag them across her flushing naked skin. All his other senses are destroyed; consumed by the feel, the smell, the sight, the taste of frayed black lace and naked skin. Her back arches with a cry from her lips; her breasts lifted towards his lips and her back open for his hands.

His fingers dig into the dip of her spine and his hand claws up her back for any leverage – because he is basically drowning now - and his fingers scrape over the marbled uneven flesh and his heart jolts. He stops and his breaths are uneven and the panic sets in –

She grabs at him like a frightened animal – every ounce of her restraint, every ounce of her pride, every ounce of her will, gone – desperate to reach him. Her hands lock on to either side of his jaw and she forcefully drags him up to her lips, her leg rising up his until it's locked around his thigh.

It shouldn't be like this.

She is losing him. He's leaving her now. He is getting consumed by his demons again and she can't stand it. She has done this to him - the trembling fingers; the whimpers; the desperation; the whispered apologies – she has done this to him. She wants nothing more than to repeat until she cannot breathe any longer that she's sorry. That she asked him to. She's the monster. She's the demon. But all she can manage is the intense pressing of their lips.

She frantically tries to coax him back to her with her lips but he is already trying to retreat and her heartbeat spikes. Her fingers press against the back of his head with desperate yearning. He pulls away again; frightened beyond comprehension – he'll hurt her again! – but her distraught ochre eyes stop any attempt in its tracks.

Her swollen open lips quiver and a shredded breath passes through them. Her eyes are raging with emotions he never wants to see again. Her leg around his thigh tightens its hold and her hand slip down his neck towards his collarbone; her fingers curling into his lapels. Her eyes mist over. She never wanted to resort to this. It was a taboo. They had made it that way in order to protect themselves, and each other, and yet now she had to break the only rule they had ever kept between each other because she was losing him to his demons now.

"Please Roy…"

The severity of her words is not lost on him. Her voice rattles in his head; his chest tightening and breathing becomes painful. It was beyond comprehension. Two single words and he understands everything; every single emotion that was eating her alive. And the realization burns him mercilessly. The true uncovered and snarling loss is too clear to him now. There is nothing to do. Only a single moment between a future they believed they would have and a frightening uncertain one. Only a single moment where nothing matters.

His movements don't register to either of them until her flesh slides across the opposite wall, burning because of the cold, and his hands are shaking against her waist. His mouth seals against hers again, but this time she finds the reassurance she needs underneath his hunger and fear.

He is hers. Completely.

He always had been.

Newly formed urgency captures them and her fingers tear into his jacket, uncaring if she ruins the garment or not. She yanks it apart and off of his body maybe breaking off buttons in the process. Their hands bump together and fumble to reach each other through the frenzy. His fingers press against her flesh and unhook the obstruction between their skins.

Her cries are soft but more than enough to send an already desperate man frenzied.

His lips scorch across her breast; the curved flesh that covers her heart. His hands pull down the rest of her garments; shame stopping him from simply yanking it off. Her whimpers are strained and her body is beginning to sway, preparing itself for what they are ready to do.

She has removed everything that is important and they have slid to the floor; limbs already tangling in ways that leave no space in between. Their lips are caught as their fingers lock across her hips and they remove the last barrier between them; a flimsy piece of frayed lace.

She shifts across the floor, the wood grating into her back, and her arm latches around his shoulders and her knees bump against his ribs. She rolls her hips up and into his shaking hands, causing her body to slide across his skin; until her breasts are against his chest and her back holds, arched against the wood.

They still for moment and revel in the frightening and exhilarating feeling of their flesh welded together without any hollow space between them. They are completely overwhelmed by each other. His fingers tighten around her hips and she secures her grip around his shoulders, abolishing any escape – in case he was stupid enough to think she still didn't want this – and she breathes across his skin and ghosts a fragile kiss across his lips. His hands bring her hips the last bit of the way – because she is still too weak to make this decision for them – and he returns her breakable kiss and condemns them. Leaving a promise in her skin.

And then he sinks into her.

Her sharp cry remains unforgiving in his mind.

Her pace is too fast and his is too slow. Their thoughts are too frazzled. This moment was fantasized about too many times and now everything feels so detached. He can't grasp hold of her anymore. He is losing her in the chaos of shaking hands enclose around the back of her head and her eyes flick open and he is assaulted.

If he had any breath left in him it would have stolen it from him.

It hits him just how precious the weight against his hands are. He is holding her life in his hands. Everything was in his hands. The soft hair, the bottomless eyes, the curved body, the soft skin, the steeled voice, the breath across his face, the protector, the guardian, the past, the future. The very being that his life needs in order to move forward, the life his is hinged on so timorously was resting in his hands and it could so easily be ended. With a bullet, a shard of glass, fire; with a shattering hit against a floor like this. It could end everything.

He realizes how truly terrified he is about her fragility.

She is engulfed by his body and his arms grip her like a man possessed, and they rock again together; finally together now, finding their pace; her soft and scarred body rocking against his lean and wiry one. Finding each other. And shame consumes him until his heart aches. She is against a floor, with her knees against his ribs and the wood chafing her back and her underwear in a heap and tears in her eyes. She deserves so much more.

Her forehead falls against his shoulder and she moans into his skin. Her chest heaves for air as her body grows white hot, but all she cares about is him: his body that is overwhelming hers. It has always only ever been him. His dreams. His goals. His happiness. His life. In her mind she is only a casualty to whatever he truly desires. When the moment comes where his life ends she will follow him without hesitation. That was her life: following him until her last breath. She wouldn't live without him. The thought of a world where he isn't present isn't one she could survive in.

He is everything.

Her voice spikes and her toes curl and somehow in the haze of the beautiful chaos his hand finds hers and she is so close and it's going to be perfect –

A wail breaks from her lips and her body tenses; his body has shuddered to a halt with hers and he is overwhelmed by oblivion. The euphoria in his body brings a groan from his throat, but the euphoria in his heart brings the tears to his eyes. For this earth shattering moment it's just her. Them. Together. Finally, completely together. And it is perfect -

She breathes with ripped breath against his skin, "Please don't die."

He breaks apart in their embrace; tears misting his eyes; his dampened forehead against her collarbone; sobs wracking his body as everything comes undone. Those three begging words are his undoing.

He has broken her.

x

His muscles ache fiercely and his eyes are tired. He has had more sleepless nights than he can count now. And things weren't getting any better.

He realizes his idiocy too late as he stumbles in an attempt to get up to greet her. He is already tripping over his own feet and knocking lightly into his chair when he realizes he is her superior officer and his actions are unnecessary and improper.

He falls back into his chair somewhat clumsily and tries to hide his sleep deprived eyes from hers; they hold too much light by her sudden appearance than anyone could ever discover. But he knows, even though he hides his eyes from her, she can still see his worn out appearance. Nevertheless, she says nothing. It is a small mercy for him.

"I brought these documents and letters for you, sir," she informs crisply. She walks over to his desk and deposits the papers. "Fuhrer Bradley asked me to deliver them."

There is a horrible stillness in the air.

They both know Bradley sent her here to dangle her in front of him. To taunt him with the fact that she was out of his reach and in constant danger.

Roy was growing hopeless.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," he murmurs quietly and reaches for a letter. He does not question her lack of taking absence, for he too just wants to be in her presence for a little while.

He fingers the envelope in his hands and reaches for the letter opener at the edge of his desk. Her sudden presence has unnerved him and he begins to speak of pointless things to bridge the silent gap between them.

"The paperwork has really got out of hand since you left, Lieutenant." He smiles thinly over the envelope. He really is hopeless.

"Is that so, sir?" And she smiles genuinely for the first time in days. This nonsensical exchange of words brings comfort to her. It is a shred of normalcy.

"Yes," he sighs. He brings the letter opener to the envelope, "You were always so -" and swipes.

He yelps as the small knife cuts into his index finger. He drops the small blade onto his desk with a clatter and the envelope flutters off the table.

Riza perks up with alarm at the sight of crimson blood pearling up on the pad of his finger.

He recoils his hand and watches the blood roll down his finger with a haunting stillness. The stream is the colour of –

The skin was peeling off in burgundy layers. Knox's fingers dig into his shoulder with a fierce anger and the man rattles his body until his head aches.

It doesn't matter; he was barely thinking or processing anything else.

"Did you do that to her!" Knox roars. Roy stumbles back from the hard shove Knox delivers to his chest. He looks back at him dazedly.

"Yes," he mutters softly, as if he is in a trance.

Roy would never forget the look on his face. The fear he held that Roy Mustang had cracked. That he had been consumed.

Knox's hands grabs his lapels.

"All of that?" He demands as he thrusts a finger at her on the medical table; to the array that was now unreadable.

His eyes follow Knox's flung hand.

The image: of her corpse – he struggled to remind himself that it was her body lying lamely on the cold steel in an undignified state of undress. Her back is aflame with burns and blisters. Her eyes are dark and unfocused.

Something bursts in his mind and now he is the one grabbing at Knox's collar.

"Help her, Knox!" He shouts frantically. "For God's sake, help her!"

Knox pushes him off. The look in Roy's eyes stops Knox from hitting him.

Roy Mustang was being consumed. But with something else other than madness.

"Fucking hell!" Knox roars as he rears around in pursuit of the supply room. "Stay with her; she's still awake!" He snarls; disgust still swimming in his eyes.

Roy drops beside her and surveys her face; her back still fresh in his mind and the smell of her burned flesh fresh in his clothes.

Her breathing is labored and her lips are chapped and dry, like the desert and the new abused patches on her back that aren't oozing.

The tips of his fingers pad across her abused flesh. He regrets his morbid fascination. She yelps and her whole body locks and her hand clasps at his hand that lies on the steel table.

Her pulse is weak and her fingers shiver feebly inside his hand. This is every type of wrong he can think of. He has burned her - like the monster he knows he is - and yet she is seeking comfort from his presence.

Her hand underneath his fingers jolt and a whimper of pain pushes out from her throat. He makes sure his hands are as far away from her back as possible. She whines again, but she grows disturbingly quiet.

He wonders how long Knox is going to be, he really can't afford to be wasting precious time –

Her body sags bonelessly against the table; her breasts are mashing against the brushed steel where he can see the reflection of her shoulder and the mottled red skin. He can see the reflection mist up slowly as her breath washes over it.

So slowly.

It terrifies him suddenly, unfairly; she knows that she is dying. She is feeling her body grow numb and cold. She can sense the loss of all feeling. See the grey start to take over her vision; feel her body grow tired. A small part of him wishes that she will just let everything go and be at peace.

But the rest of his being desperately needs her to pull through –

Her hand squeezes his with sudden new life. She is forcing breath into her body. Her eyes crack open – and they are embers of blazing amber – and she parts her lips to speak –

- "Sir!"

The office comes back into view and the first thing he sees are her flame-like eyes. They are distraught with concern. Her hands are caught in midair, like a rickety mobile, between his now scarlet streaked hand and her body. Her eyes are wide and unmoving.

He watches his finger as a new stream of blood soaks into his palm. One drips onto a document, and then he watches her. He looks between them dumbly.

Everything seems to have stopped altogether.

It's a finger cut.

"Sir, you –"

"Lieutenant, I -"

Both of their sentences don't make it out of their mouths. The words seem to be escaping them. Or maybe, there are too many words to be said that they can't find exactly what to say.

Roy finds himself suddenly feeling like a useless idiot. He was just sitting there, holding his finger out to her like she was supposed to fix it. Because that's what she does. She fixes everything. She makes everything better. She makes him feel safe and she looks after him. It horrifies him. Has he forgotten how to take care of himself, now? Is his world so solely revolved around –

A shiver wracks her body and her lips are loosened.

"Excuse me." She retreats as far as her weak legs will let her.

Seeing his blood… she has seen it before… but this was a letter opener! How could such a small appliance harm him? He was Roy Mustang. Her Colonel…. Her Colonel can be harmed by a letter opener. A self inflicted wound by a thin piece of metal…

And he was trying to take down the military!

(he was so constant, and good, and stubborn, and tortured, and lost, and breakable, and fragile, and and and….)

(Irreplaceable)

She slips in her boots and stumbles. She doesn't know when, but he has moved out from around his desk and now all she knows is that his blood is going to stain her jacket – and she'll have to scrub it out until her hands ache – because his bloody hand has grabbed around her wrist tightly.

He yanks her body towards his and she wants nothing more than to just be held by him. By his scarred hands and his body that is now bonier than it used to be - because he is having those dreams again and he just can't sleep and can't eat and can't laugh – but she just can't. She's too afraid.

Because if she indulges… what if it goes away…?

Her hands push away from his chest and she keeps him at an arm's distance. His eyes are wounded and fear clouds his mind so that, abruptly, he has forgotten where his is.

"I've ruined you." It sounds like a horrified question.

She shakes her head fiercely and feels tears sting behind her lids. He has misunderstood her, which she thought was almost impossible, and she has to prove to him otherwise.

"No," she assures him heavily. "You haven't." Her arms become limp and drop from his chest.

"If you had never met me –" He tries again, his voice growing weaker.

She stops him again, a softer hand on his chest now.

"Then I wouldn't have you," she reasons; her eyes speaking the volumes of her feelings.

"I'm destroying your future –" It's out. The snarling, unforgiving demon of his mind; so afraid that one day he will lose her – one way or another.

And against everything she is feeling, she smiles; watery and weak but it holds the light of her eyes.

"You really are a useless idiot…" A tear is clumped on her lashes. "You are my future." She kisses him because words will no longer work.

And he is afraid, because the kiss isn't a kiss for the sake of a kiss.

But a promise to follow him to his grave.

x

The glass wall between them has shattered.

And one day,

- sometime soon –

They'll cut themselves on the pieces.

x


I'm a stitch away from making it,

and a scar away from falling apart.


A/N: Lyrics taken from "The (After) Life of the Party" by Fall Out Boy.