A.N. I was ravaged by a plot bunny while rewatching the later episodes of Brotherhood and busted this out in about three hours. This scene tore me up inside, and I wanted to share my insight about what might have been going through Roy's mind at this moment. Promised Day spoilers!
They made their move on the Promised Day and everything went exactly as Roy had planned. The confusion and strife sown by the double assault of his forces and the Briggs soldiers created the perfect distraction for himself and his lieutenant to make their way to the underground. It was a dangerous, foolhardy decision. Bradley had told him to his face that he was a candidate for sacrifice, a pawn the homunculi would use to further their goals. Logically, keeping himself out of their hands would be the swiftest way to unravel their plan.
But it was too late in the game to play it safe. A king did not sit idly by when all the pieces were in play no matter how rational it seemed. This was the final push. They needed his power, his alchemy. More than that, his men needed him out on the front lines fighting alongside them, defending everything they had worked so hard to protect.
He would not be a pawn or a sacrifice. He would fight to his last breath, give this battle everything he had. And he would do nothing to aid the homunculi. No matter what.
No matter what.
Roy almost didn't recognize the sound at first, the clean, slick sound of a blade gliding through flesh. The splash of red off to the side drew his eye, and the sight that greeted him nearly made him vomit. Blood. All that blood drenching her neck and face, spilling over onto the stones, oh God, it was like a fucking ocean...
She tried to speak, meeting his eyes for the briefest moment when that soulless bastard released her and let her crumple to the ground. One hand shot to her neck to try and staunch the bleeding, but it just kept coming, trickling through her fingers in spurts and transforming her hair from the lightest saffron to the deepest, most nauseating crimson. Glazed eyes shut tight as her body convulsed, choking. She couldn't even find the strength to fight back when she was hauled to the five-pointed array and laid out like a sacrificial lamb.
And nothing in the world could have stopped him from picturing the chess board, the austere white monarch tipping over, tossed aside like the worthless bit of marble it was.
Except that marble didn't bleed.
His subordinate, his soldier...
His companion, his partner...
He strained against the powerful arms holding him back, fought so hard that his shoulders were nearly wrenched from their sockets. His imprisoned fingers ached with the need to snap, to punch, to murder. The gold-tooth freak grinned at his struggles. He had Roy in the perfect check and he knew it well. For this opponent had spent his entire life studying the weaknesses of humans while never allowing himself to fall prey to those vulnerabilities. Everyone and everything was a pawn to him. Useful, but ultimately insignificant.
Sacrifices, all of them. Even Roy. Even the lieutenant that lay broken and bleeding at the doctor's feet.
"What will you do now, Mustang? Your precious woman is dying. However..."
He hardly heard the freak's voice, entranced by the ruby tidal wave engulfing the pristine white lines of the array. There had to be a way out of this trap. Had to be, had to be because losing his queen was not an option. Roy had never lost that piece, not in all the games he had ever played. He would be a poor strategist indeed if he couldn't manage to hang on to his most valued associate, his right hand. He would throw the whole damn game first because he may as well be dead without her!
But everything had fallen apart the moment that sword slit her throat open. His opponent had seen his Achilles' heel and taken full advantage of it. His heart was crushed, his soul annihilated, his mind locked up in an endless loop of rage and terror and grief because it was her blood being spilled, her life on the line.
Now it was his choice whether to save her or cast her aside.
"I would be able to save her life with all certainty. But that's only if you make up your mind before she bleeds out..."
Even a novice chess player could tell him what to do next. There were no more pieces left to retrieve her from the enemy, no elements he could throw together to whip up a miracle. But to give in and allow this checkmate would mean the death of his country. An end to a game with no rematch and no second chances. There was only one possibility, one choice. One move he had hoped, begged, fucking prayed he would never have to make.
One piece for the sake of the game. One soldier for the sake of a country.
In his mind, it could never be equivalent.
"Oh? She's grown quite still now. I wonder if she's dead?"
Her eyes locked onto his, razor-sharp and unrelenting. He could feel the heat of her gaze from across the room...heat that was slowly fading right before his eyes. Her breast heaved as her breaths became more ragged, an awful, laborious wheeze that was painful to listen to.
"Colonel...there's no need to...p-perform human...t-transmutation..."
A broken sob caught in his throat, unvoiced. Every second was agony as he fought to hold back the words that would be this country's undoing. He searched her face frantically for a sign of hesitation, a flicker of uncertainty, anything that would grant him permission to cast his crown aside and fling himself into the enemy's crosshairs instead. But she may as well have been a faceless chess piece for all the emotion she showed. She knew that she was going to die. She understood it, accepted it, embraced it without fear.
And she didn't blame him, not for a moment. Because she had made the choice to accompany him long before he even thought to ask, knowing to the depths of her soul that a day might come when she must surrender her life for the sake of his vision.
She was truly worthy of standing beside him.
My queen, he mouthed. Under the circumstances, it was the only goodbye he could give her.
She shut her eyes, leaving them closed for so long that Roy thought they would never open again. Then soft brown irises fixated on him once more and her lips moved to frame two words he rarely ever heard from her, the ones that he would fight a hundred wars to hear. The ones that made him trust his back to her, that made him want nothing more than to hold her close and never let go.
A.N. If it makes you feel better, remember that he saves her about thirty seconds later! I thought I'd leave the ending open for those who prefer to view this as a Riza-tragically-dies story.