Just a disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of its characters – all rights go to Hiromu Arakawa, Viz, and Funimation. That being said, I'm not sure how often I'll be able to update, but I really hope to have this whole storyline completed within a year~ It's going to be all about how Roy and Riza's non-verbal cues came to be, and how they became closer as a result~ Please review! Every little bit helps~ Enjoy~
Chilled air, dim and uninviting. Dark walls glowed faintly in the flickering light of a single oil lamp. A tattered wooden desk sat against the wall beside the doorway. Alchemic texts littered the desktop, the floor, and the single bed, which had never been slept in. The only window in the room had been boarded up, leaving the room in a state of unproductive tension. A young man of 12 or 13 years, with jet-black hair and eyes the color of coal, bent over the desk, furiously scrawling notes on worn old sheets of paper. Those eyes wearily, yet forcefully scanned the pages, and the creases in his forehead revealed that no matter how hard he thought, he could no wrap his head around the material.
It was his first night at Master Hawkeye's rural home. He had been so excited and so confident in his ability to obtain the alchemic knowledge needed to make an impression upon the military, become a State Alchemist, and begin to do great things for the people in the country of Amestris. After meeting Master Hawkeye, however, his demeanor had changed dramatically. The man was terrifying. He was looking for a protégé, a genius, a pupil with incredible potential. One that could not only handle, but do justice to, the complexities and intricacies of his groundbreaking alchemic discoveries. The boy had heard that he had only had one pupil before, and that, despite the intelligence of the pupil, he had given up on him within one month because he had deemed them incompetent. He couldn't risk losing this opportunity.
So here he was, Roy Mustang, only 13 years old, exhausting himself over advanced alchemic texts on his very first night living at Master Hawkeye's residence.
"Father," came a young, timid voice. A petite girl of 9 or 10 years approached the menacing man who towered over her. Her bright, blond hair was cut short, to the length of a boy's, the only feminine touch in the form of bangs that fell, in the style of a hawk's wing, along the right side of her face. She was wearing a small black skirt that rested at her knees, a soft, white shirt, and a faded pink apron that was a little too big, and looked as though it had been cut to the right length with a pair of dull scissors. "When can I meet your new apprentice?"
His eyes narrowed with disdain and he grabbed her by the arm, pulling her outside into the weed-infested yard. She closed her eyes and mentally prepared herself for what was to come. She was grateful that the boy was in the house – that meant her father had to take her outside, where he couldn't be so harsh.
"You are NOT, under ANY circumstance, to interact with that boy. This research is incredibly important and he cannot be disturbed," his voice dripped with malice, his demeanor making it incredibly apparent that he was appalled that she would interfere with his work.
"But Father-…" she began again quietly, though her eyes were aglow with an intensely burning fire. She looked ready to fight, but she held herself back.
"Don't you dare disobey me! Know your place. Now finish preparing my dinner and bring it to the study once you're through," he spat, turning his back on her and walking into the house.
Roy looked up from his texts as the earthy scent of bread wafted into the room. Soon the scents of leeks, potatoes, and a variety of spices, and the flowery smell of lavender, with a hint of vanilla washed over him. Roy suppressed his hunger, waiting for Master Hawkeye to tell him that he was allowed to eat. A half an hour passed with no word. Not that it mattered; Roy was lost, once again, in the alchemic texts, struggling to process what he was reading. Suddenly, from the corner of his eye, a flash of blond hair passed his doorway. It came at around his eye level, too small to have been Master Hawkeye. He rose from his seat and peered around the doorways, but there was no one to be found. He heard the door to Master Hawkeye's room open and he rushed back to his seat, burying himself in his studies.
The young girl served herself a small cup of the potato leek soup she had made, and a small portion of the bread she had baked. Taking a bite, she was pleased with her work. They were living off of the inheritance that was left for her when her mother passed, and she was not sure how long that money needed to last. Taking what she knew about the filling attributes of starches, she came to incorporate potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta into her cooking to make her father and herself feel more satisfied than they probably were.
If her father would go out and work, they would be able to eat the things her mother used to prepare. She suspected that was one of the reasons her father refused to do so. Now that the job fell to her, her father locked himself away and researched his alchemy. She sighed as she rose from her seat and began to wash her dishes. She had high hopes that he father's new apprentice would help bring him out of his harsh, reclusive nature.
She peered around the corner of the small kitchen and glanced into the bedroom that had become the apprentice's new study and living quarters. Her heart rushed a little bit as she saw him. He looked to be only a few years older than she was, and he was rather nice looking. He could be her first friend. She smiled gently as she watched him study, admiring his dedication to the reading.
Noticing the room was beginning to dim, she went into a kitchen cabinet and retrieved a can of oil for the lamp, and made her way down the hall and into the bedroom. Roy was so engrossed in his reading that he didn't even notice her presence. She quietly refilled the lamp and left the room, not wishing to disturb him. She smiled as the light brightened and his eyes strained less to read the pages in front of him.
A minute too late, Roy noticed that the small, blond-haired person had come into the room, filled his lamp, and left. He marked the page he had been reading and rose from his seat and went to find this person. He reached the doorway of his bedroom when Master Hawkeye approached him. Roy stepped back.
"You will not leave this room until you understand the texts I have given you. I do not want to see you making yourself this way unless you are coming to explain to me that you understand them. Are we clear?"
Roy shrank back into himself, his eyes downcast and frightened. He could not read this man. He was supposed to be this brilliant alchemist, and yet he could not see how this man knew anything about alchemy. All he had done was thrust the texts upon him and demand that he understand the complexities of it. Yet, the authoritative air he presented himself with struck fear into his core.
"Are we clear?"
"Y-…y-yes, Master Hawkeye!" he stuttered, returning to his desk and applying himself to his notes once again. Soon, he was left alone. When he dared to look up again, he could see Master Hawkeye drag the small, blond-haired child into the front room, out of sight of Roy's bedroom.
"I believe I told you not to go near that boy! You're too much of a distraction!" Master Hawkeye shouted with contempt.
Roy could faintly hear the shouting from the other room. A small, feminine voice cut the air so softly that Roy could only hear the sound, but could not decipher the words.
"Father, his lamp was running out of oil, and he soon would have been unable to study," she began, "I was only trying to assist him."
"I asked you not to disobey me!" he spoke harshly, advancing toward her in anger. She stepped back, nearly against the wall behind her. "I will not tolerate disobedience in my household!"
"Father, I would like to meet him! He looks sad and alone, and I've never had a friend! Not since Mom-"
The already small voice was silenced by a hard slap and the sound of a body hitting the wall. Roy slumped into his seat, shaking. Master Hawkeye, the brilliant alchemist, was physically abusing whoever was in that room. Part of him wanted to rise up and defend that person, and yet he knew that if he wanted to change the world, he would need the help of that brilliant alchemist in the other room, and could not risk upsetting him. With a pen clenched in his hand, he tried to bury himself in his studies and hold back the rage he felt against the abuser.
On her knees, holding her face in her hands, the girl held back tears, bowing reverently, as though her posture was begging for him not to strike her again. Yet, her eyes burned with an intense passion that was unwilling to back down and unwilling to hold back. Within that gaze was the soul of a girl that would not take "no" for an answer. But, she hid those eyes and protected herself, unwilling to risk her own health at this moment in time.
"Not. Another. Word," he spoke coldly, his eyes blank and unfeeling, "Finish cleaning and go to your room. I am going to sleep."
"Goodnight, Father," she whispered, looking up at him as he turned his back on her and walked away. She rose to her feet and clenched her fists at her sides, swallowing her emotions and walking into the kitchen.
As Master Hawkeye passed through the hallway, Roy's nerves filled the air with an overwhelming sensation of tension and fear. He focused even more intensely on the texts, studying compounds, chemical properties, symbols, and circles. Hours passed, and as desperately as Roy wanted to understand the texts, the more he realized they were incredibly advanced, and too complicated for him to comprehend. His eyes sunk and his posture slackened the longer he scanned the pages. The work was fatiguing, and he frequently found himself frustrated with his lack of comprehension.
"Excuse me…?" came a gentle, yet nervous voice. The small, blond-haired girl was standing in the doorway to the small room. Papers were strewn everywhere, and the bed was untouched. Roy's black hair was disheveled, from running his fingers through it and burying his head in his hands in moments of doubt. His coal-colored eyes were glossed over and weary. It was nearly 2 in the morning and he hadn't slept at all. His eyes continued to scan the page of various complicated symbols. His deadened look led her to believe that none of the information was being retained. He was ignorant of the girl trying to get his attention.
"Excuse me, Mister Mustang?" she spoke again, a little louder. He was still lost in the pages. The only person she had seen more dedicated to their studies was her father, and something inside her was telling her not to let this boy turn into that man. And he wouldn't. Not if she had something to do with it.
Narrowing her eyes, she left and entered the kitchen, returning with a tray of tea, sugar, lemon, honey, potato leek soup, bread, and an apple. Approaching his desk, she pushed away the books and papers, and placed the tray in front of him. He finally looked up at her, surprised.
"There is no sense in starving yourself, or depriving yourself of sleep, Mr. Mustang," she spoke bluntly and confidently, "You won't retain any information that way. Please, eat."
He gazed at her, left at a loss for words. He had been around the women at his mother's bar, but none of them struck him as beautiful as this young girl who stood before him. Her face was round and childish, her skin like porcelain, her lips were gentle and light pink. Almost every inch of her body, from her small stature to her soft, little hands gave the impression that she was still a child. All but those eyes. Within those strikingly rich, deep mahogany eyes was the soul of a woman. They held him in a state of memorization, causing him to feel as though he could study them for hours without tiring. That soul called to him, intrigued him, and pulled him in. He wanted to know this girl.
Realizing she was being observed, a light blush crossed her face. She moved to the door. "I will return for your dishes later. Please rest once you have had something to eat. Goodnight, Mr. Mustang," she spoke as though it had been rehearsed.
Roy felt an unknown terror strike him. She was leaving him too soon. Yet if Master Hawkeye were to find out, this girl could be hurt, and he could lose everything. As she turned, he rose from his seat, rushing to her and grabbing her by the wrist, firmly, but gently. Her heart stopped. His raced. She turned to him, and he raised his other hand to the redness of her face. He ran his thumb over a small scratch and she cringed. His face fell. He could have helped her.
"Did he hurt you…?" he asked, his voice timid, yet comforting.
Her gaze wavered, them bored into his, the flash of the room's light in them seeming to make her eyes nod in affirmation. She pulled away and stepped into the hall. Confused, he moved to follow her, but she drew a line in the doorway with her foot. He stepped back, recalling Master Hawkeye's words. He gazed at her in puzzlement, seeming to be more frustrated with his inability to read her eyes than when he was trying to comprehend alchemy. Suddenly, he realized one important thing he had forgotten to ask her.
"What is your name?" he finally managed to choke out, once he regained his composure. Her eyes softened and she smiled gently.