A/N: Ok, so, techinically this shouldn't even be posted, but my dear beta mebh suggested I turn this piece into a triptych - that's my new word for the day! For those of you who are like me and don't know what that is, a triptych is: something of three parts that creates a whole. So, obviously, this is going to be what I would call a 'threeshot', so except two more 'chapters' to this piece.

I got this ficlet idea after watching the last episode of Brotherhood/reading the last manga chapter, and I noticed a lot of Royai fans weren't happy with their ending which led me on to thinking... how would someone like Ed feel? And that thought let to this... This is set about five years directly after the Promised Day.

I hope you enjoy!

In Pursuit of Reason



"Ed!" Winry scolded. She thumped the mixing bowl down onto the counter and reached for the broom in the corner. Ed crouched and began to pick up the glass shards. He held them in his palm.

"Sorry Winry…" he muttered sheepishly.

She knocked the broomstick against his head and frowned disapprovingly.

"And that was my favourite measuring jug, too." She sighed dejectedly. Ed stood up, glass chunks glittering in his hand, and hung his head. Despite being a good head taller than his wife, he was truly under her thumb.

He dropped the glass into the bin as Winry sighed again, although a different emotion was laced in her breath.

"Really Ed… you've been like this all day." She handed over the broom. He stared at it for a long moment before taking it reluctantly.

"Sorry…" Ed murmured. He studied the bristles of the broom. "Not sure what's gotten into me…" He swished the broom across the floor and listened to the tinkling of the glass.

The hardwood flooring still looked new, despite having been in the house over a year. The house itself was a rather new addition to their lives. Ed and Winry had moved into it two years ago, after they had been building it for over a year. It was finished in the early spring, a week after Winry found out she was pregnant. She then knew finally why Ed had insisted so vigorously that their house be on that hill next to that tree.

In the early morning Spring light the house looked eerily like his childhood home.

"I know why…" Winry couldn't help the smirk blossoming over her pretty features. She cast a sideways glance at Ed. "You're excited that Miss Riza and Mister Mustang are coming over." She checked the clock on the wall. "Any minute now…"

Ed dropped the broom against the side of the table with a clunk that rattled the cutlery; his face flushed from hairline to jaw in a sunburnt pink.

"I am not excited." He hissed the word like it was poison. Winry couldn't contain the sly smile from smothering her lips. She nonchalantly began to mix the syrupy mixture in a large bowl.

"Sure you're not…" she responded, carefully avoiding eye contact. Her smirk seemed permanently stuck to her face. Ed felt more heat rise to his cheeks. She was mocking him!

"Winry!" He cried. Winry laughed softly and rested the bowl against her protruding belly.

She and Ed were expecting their second child together. They were told by May when they had last seen her, which had been two months ago when Al had come to visit, that their baby was going to be a girl. May was certain that she could sense the presence of a female life inside of Winry's body. Winry was secretly overjoyed with the news. She loved her son with all her heart, but she couldn't wait to hold her daughter in her arms.

"Oh, Ed…" she chastised. She set the bowl down on the counter and made her way to her husband. She placed her hands softly on his shoulders and looked up slightly to gaze into his golden eyes. "I'm only teasing," she insisted. She laid the softest of kisses against his lips. Ed responded by trapping her in his arms and holding her close. "You haven't seen him in two years. You're allowed to be excited."

Ed placed his chin on the crown of her head and mulled over her words.

"Two years…" he breathed to himself. Winry smiled tenderly and settled her face against his shoulder and stilled completely; simply enjoying the presence of her husband and their daughter now kicking sporadically in her belly.

She heard a gurgling coo from behind her husband and she drowsily peered around his shoulder. She saw her son sitting on the floor looking interestedly at the glass chunks.

He giggled and got up clumsily before plodding towards the glittering shards.

Winry thrust Ed away from her so harshly that he fell against the corner of the table and the vase on top of it wobbled dangerously. She rushed towards her son and pulled him into her arms. She placed him onto her hip, carefully avoiding her swollen stomach, in one smooth motion, before picking up the broom with one of her hands.

"Ed!" The shout burst from her throat. She began to try and hit her husband with the broomstick. "You left the glass on the floor! Are you a moron!" She made another swipe at his head that instead connected with his forearm that he used to protect himself. "Thomas just learnt how to walk." She made another swipe. "And you left the glass on the floor?" She cried incredulously.

"Winry!" Ed protected himself from another hit. "Don't hit me with the broom! You're sending the wrong message to our son!" He tried to reason.

Thomas giggled in delight.

"Jeez!" Winry seethed, but she had stopped her assault with the broom. "Hold Thomas." She commanded as she thrust their son into Ed's hands. She started sweeping up the hazardous glass before Ed could even apologize.

Instead Ed carefully set his son on the ground and sat in front of him. He could at least entertain the child and keep him from being distracted by the shiny dangerous shards. He began to play with his son's tiny toes and grinned appreciatively at his happy laughter.

After a while of focusing on Thomas his thoughts wandered back to where they were originally focused. Winry was sweeping up the last pieces of glass when he asked his question.

"Why do you suppose we never got the invitation to that bastard's wedding?" He asked crossly, still entertaining himself with his son's miniature fingers.

"Language, Ed. Thomas is starting to pick up words now." Thomas made a failed attempt that sounded more like 'bathtub', after which Winry looked at Ed pointedly. She turned her attention back to his question and the glass.

"Maybe it was a quiet ceremony," she offered.

He humphed disapprovingly. "I think they could have afforded for us to be on the guest list." Ed tickled Thomas's nose and he cooed.

"Maybe they didn't get married?" She tried again. She leant against the counter having discarded the last of the glass in the bin.

"As if," he scoffed. "Those two are totally the type to get married. Besides Winry…" He looked over at his wife seriously. "You never saw them…" He left that statement weighing heavily in the air.

His mood brightened when Thomas repeatedly slapped his small hand on his arm. He responded by tickling his son's belly who laughed joyously at the sensation.

A smile crept onto Winry's face. "Really Ed…" She shook her head. "You coddle him too much. Just watch, he's going to get an attention complex."

Edward waved her off with a hand, eyes still glued to his son. His thoughts wondered again as he watched in awe at the miracle that was his son. He looked up at Winry.

"Do you think they have had kids?" He questioned. Winry thought about it for a moment before responding.

"I think that they are probably planning to have kids round about now. Or maybe now they are actively trying."

Ed laughed drily. "Something gives me a feeling that that bastard would always be actively trying."

"Ed," she muttered distastefully. She didn't exactly want to talk about Mustang and Miss Riza's sex life; especially when she didn't know them all that well and hadn't seen them in two years.

She watched her husband and son for a few more peaceful moments before she eased her weight off the table and made her way to the counter. "Ed, can you please take these glasses through to the lounge?" She asked, gesturing over to the tray carrying five newly cleaned glasses. She finally came back to her mixing bowl and added the cut apples that she had prepared earlier.

Ed placed his son next to one of his stuffed animals that was sitting near the table and got up to pick up the tray. He stayed by Winry's side. She turned to him and looked at him questioningly.

"I'm excited," he confessed before placing a kiss on her forehead and walking off towards the lounge. She smiled gently before turning back to her syrupy apples and listening to the murmurs of her son.

There were only a few moments of peace before she heard Den barking.

The sound was followed by a cacophony of shattering glasses, a metallic clang and a colourful cluster of swearwords from her husband.

"Ed!" She roared, slamming down the bowl making the apples jump.

"Sorry, Winry!" Came the response from behind the wall. A few seconds later she picked up her son in order to avoid the broken glass and marched over to the lounge where she found her husband cringing over the blanket of glass on the floor.

She prepared to unleash her verbal lashing but was stopped short by the sound of Den's continued barking. Both Winry and Ed looked towards the front door.

"They're here," Ed uttered, almost in horror. Winry knew if he were carrying another tray now he would have dropped it again.

"Must be, Den doesn't bark for no reason." She sighed irritably as she shifted Thomas onto her other hip, which was quite an accomplishment considering how pregnant she was, as he had begun to squirm. "Right. You go outside and greet them. , I'll clean up." She made a beeline for the broom and then placed Thomas on the coffee table. Ed hadn't moved an inch when she came back to the glass.

"Now, Ed!"

Ed stumbled into action. He opened the front door and stepped out into the sunlight on the porch.

Immediately he was greeted with the sight of two approaching figures dressed entirely in blue. They stood out crisply against the landscape of Resembool with their blue uniforms and black and blonde hair. The one, who was undoubtedly Mustang, had their blue jacket open and blowing in the wind, displaying a white collared shirt underneath. The other, Hawkeye, was still formally dressed.

Ed found himself waving manically as he stepped off the porch before he could do anything to stop himself. The grin wouldn't unfasten from his face. How embarrassing.

When Mustang and Hawkeye approached Ed close enough so that he could see them in detail, Ed realized how much they hadn't changed. It had been two years since he had seen both of them, and yet they still looked exactly how he remembered. And even two years ago they looked the same as they had on the Promised Day.

Mustang's hair was still disheveled and his eyes were still sly and sharp. His shoulders were still fairly broad. Hawkeye seemed to have gotten prettier since Ed had last seen her. Her skin was unblemished and her eyes were the usual heady ochre colour he remembered.

Finally both Mustang and Hawkeye approached the porch, Mustang carrying both of their bags for their weekend stay. He was the first to speak.

"Glad to see you didn't lose those inches you gained, Fullmetal," Mustang quipped, a smirk already settling on his features in that familiar way Ed remembered. It seemed that the nicknames were hard to lose.

"Glad to see you are still a bastard, Colonel," Ed retorted fierily. Yup, the nicknames stuck. Roy couldn't suppress the grin at the familiarity. Riza sighed at both of them before she stepped towards Ed.

"Really sir, you should have seen that coming," she chastised over her shoulder before she turned back to Ed and encompassed him in a warm hug. "It's so good to see you, Edward." The sincerity in her voice suddenly made Ed want to cry. He returned her embrace, appreciating her, and Roy's, presence.

Ed realized that Mustang was about to say something, but before he could they were interrupted.

"Miss Riza! Mister Mustang!" Winry greeted excitedly from the deck of the porch where she stood in all her pregnant glory. She was truly a vision; the sunlight highlighting her light blonde hair; the breeze playing with her hair; and her bumped belly displayed in her strapless blue cotton dress.

Roy whistled. "Looks like you finally did something right, Fullmetal." Roy couldn't resist. Ed's temper flared and Winry went bright pink. Ed began to shout obscenities at Roy.

Riza found herself smiling despite the fact that she rolled her eyes as she walked up the steps to Winry.

"You look beautiful, Winry," Riza complimented sincerely. Winry flushed again with embarrassment.

Riza offered her hand to Winry who found herself looking at it before she pushed it away and embraced Riza as hard as she could, considering the swollen stomach between them. Winry couldn't help but feel the sudden burst of joy in her chest. Riza was a woman she had met as a young girl, and had admired fiercely, and now she was an equal to her. She was a woman. The same as Riza was.

"As do you." Winry ventured further in her confidence. "Riza."

Hawkeye smiled kindly in response.

Both the women turned their attention back to the two men who were still arguing. Rather, Roy was teasing and Ed was taking it far too seriously.

"Jeez, Ed, can't you keep calm for more than a minute?" Winry's rhetorical question stopped the verbal spar.

"He really still is the Bastard Colonel," Ed mused to Roy in particular. Mustang feigned hurt.

"Ed," Winry warned.

"Yeah, sorry." Defeated, Ed picked up both of Mustang and Hawkeye's bags and began to walk up the steps of the porch. Mustang shared a bemused glance with Hawkeye over the fact that the once spitfire of a youth was completely tamed by his wife.

"And by the way, Ed." Hawkeye took her place beside Mustang as they walked into the house. "I'm not a Colonel anymore. Haven't been for a long time. It's Major General now."

"Major General?" Ed sounded more impressed than he wanted to convey. He placed the bags down by the stairs. "The Lieutenant must be happy; following a man who is one step away from becoming Fuhrer."

"Actually, she's not a Lieutenant anymore either. She was promoted to Captain when I was promoted to Major General." His glance at Hawkeye was on the verge of adoration. "Whether she is happy or not, you'll have to ask her yourself." Riza remained quiet, partially out of embarrassment.

"I still don't see how anyone can be happy working under you," Ed joked. Winry elbowed him in the side.

"You'd be surprised, Edward," Hawkeye responded. Ed rubbed his ribs as he thought it through. He supposed she was right; Mustang's men didn't seem like they were unhappy working under their commander. In fact they seemed willing to sacrifice a lot just to stay with him.

"Lounge's this way." Ed indicated to the open archway with his hand for his guests to follow him.

"So, what happened to the old team?" Ed asked after they had barely sat down. He was eager to ask all of the questions that had been eating away at him for the past few years.

Mustang and Hawkeye had been settling themselves on the loveseat, beginning to remove their military jackets. Riza was distracted by Ed's question.

"Havoc got married," she revealed. "And if I'm not mistaken." She looked at Mustang for confirmation. "He just found out that he and his wife are expecting a son." Mustang nodded lazily.

"Found out last week," he verified. Winry smiled at the news. It was such a clear reminder of the morning she had found out that she was going to have Thomas. She found that her hand had absently moved on top of her swollen belly. It was also a lovely reminder of the day she found out that she was pregnant again.

"Well… how about that…" Ed said brightly. "And he always said he had bad luck with women…" Ed could just picture Havoc now; the dusty blond hair; the cigarette hanging from his lips. His….

Ed straightened up. "And what about—?"

"He can walk, Edward," Riza assured him gently. Although, earlier in the day, she and Roy had decided that it was in Ed's best interest not to mention the fact that Havoc now walked with the aid of a cane – when walking became painful.

But he could walk.

Winry stood up with a little difficulty. Her mood had brightened considerably because of all great news. She made a move towards the kitchen.

"Do you two want anything to drink? Tea?" She offered.

Roy looked at Riza, and as if he read her mind asked Winry, "Do you have something colder?"

"Something colder, gotcha." She disappeared around the around the corner and into the kitchen. Ed turned his attention back to his former commander and his aide.

"What about the other three?" Ed asked with genuine curiosity.

"Breda got promoted to First Lieutenant and is currently stationed in the South near Aerugo for my diplomatic relation needs. Falman is still stationed up North. And Fuery—" He paused. "I believe he just got engaged…" Mustang looked at Hawkeye skeptically who in turn nodded.

"Due to be married in Autumn," she confirmed to Mustang. Ed's smile brightened.

"And what about Major Armstrong?" He could barely contain his excitement with finding out all this new information.

"He transferred up North to work with his sister," Mustang replied. "Major General Armstrong must have seen a side of her brother during the Promised Day that made her actually accept working in the same environment as the Major," Mustang half joked. Hawkeye, now free from questioning, continued to unbutton her jacket.

"Wow," Ed sighed as he sat back in his sofa. "So much has changed in the last five years."

Hawkeye removed her jacket and laid it out on the armrest. She was still wearing the tight black short-sleeved turtleneck under her military jacket. Except it was stuck to her because of the heat, displaying her substantial bust, and riding down the one side of her neck, showing off her alabaster skin—

Ed saw the scar that sliced along the side of her neck and the corner of her throat. Ed wasn't sure why he thought that the fatal cut would heal and barely leave a mark. It had healed well, but that didn't make it look any less ugly. It didn't sit well on the kind Lieutenant he knew, nor did the image sit well in his stomach.

Ed realized he wasn't the only one staring.

Mustang's eyes were trapped on the marbled scar tissue as well.

There was an excruciating weighing silence that followed. Mustang was absolutely, rigidly still; eyes unmoving. Riza quickly became aware where everyone's eyes were. Self-consciously her fingers flinched up to cover the scar.

Her burdened eyes met Mustang's for the briefest moment.

Simultaneously they looked away and down at the seat cushions.

Ed sat immobile, winded by what he had just witnessed. He didn't know how to comprehend it. The look in Mustang's eyes was so tormented and Hawkeye's was so remorseful... An entire conversation, an entire understanding had just flared between them. And for the life of him, Ed couldn't grasp it.

Ed sombrely apprehended how truly awful that scar must have been for the both of them. It was something that couldn't be removed or forgotten. It was an endless reminder of the moment Riza Hawkeye was expected to die, with all the blood and the horror, and with no way to save her.

It must be hard on the relationship, Ed knew. It would be something that Mustang would have to see every single day and be reminded of how life could be without her. And Riza would have to know that she brought that emotional burden on him.

But Ed appreciated that he did not fully understand.

Ed was beyond thankful to Winry as she waddled back into the lounge, beautifully content and blissfully unaware with the drinks that had been long forgotten. Ed found himself craving the enchanting smile of his wife and their simplicity.

"Here's your 'something cold'." Winry slid the tray of drinks across the coffee table. "Presented in fresh new glasses, because Ed broke the last set." She shot a glare at her husband who pouted gloomily. Both Hawkeye and Mustang tried to smile.

Winry yelped suddenly, and crouched over slightly, placing a hand at her stomach. Mustang and Hawkeye looked at her in alarm and Ed was already getting up to fuss over her. She waved him off with a hand.

"I'm fine Ed." She let out a steady deep breath. "She's a kicker," Winry explained and smiled reassuringly.

Ed and Mustang relaxed significantly and Riza took the distraction as an opportunity to change the topic.

"How many months?" She inquired.

"Three more to go," she revealed dreamily, a hand placed on her belly to try and subdue the kicking baby.

"That's wonderful, Winry," Riza responded genuinely. "You must be pleased, too, Edward."

Ed looked like a deer caught in the headlights. His cheeks filled with a pink tint and he avoided all contact. "Well... yeah..." he stuttered.

Roy snickered. "He acts like he didn't even know how he did it." Ed's face went aflame.

"Sir," Hawkeye reprimanded.

Mustang stifled a few more laughs before he asked the couple, "Don't you have a son?"

"Oh, yes." Winry finally sat down next to her husband. "But he's probably sleeping right now. I put him in his crib before you came. He looked a little drowsy." Ed put an arm around her. "You'll get to see him before dinner," she assured.

Conversation continued pleasantly for a good half hour. They talked about the many things that had changed in the country over the last five years and speculated over the family life of Havoc and Fuery, the relationship between Lan Fan and Ling and even began to pick out baby names for Ed and Winry's daughter.

"Delancey!" Ed piped up suddenly.

"No, Ed," Winry replied sternly. Her voice could have chipped stone.

Ed looked considerably deflated. Winry turned to Mustang and Hawkeye. "Ed found the baby name book yesterday," she explained, deadpan.

Riza was too distracted by how hot she felt to respond. She pinched her shirt and batted it against her chest in an attempt to cool herself down.

"Oh yeah," Ed piped up, eager to change the topic. "We should probably show you your room; you can change your clothes in there," Ed said, noticing Riza's actions.

Riza nodded. "Thanks." She and Mustang stood up from the couch together and waited for Ed to help his wife up.

Ed led them into the hallway, Winry trailing behind.

"Your room is up the stairs, first door on the right. There's a bathroom opposite your room; Winry and I have a master bathroom."

"Thank you, Edward." Hawkeye reached for her suitcase, but Mustang had already picked both of the bags up. He began to climb the stairs—

"Oh yeah, and please keep any loud noises you make at night to yourselves." He looked pointedly at Mustang. "Winry is six months pregnant. She doesn't need to be kept up all night."

"Ed!" Winry cried, aghast.

The silence that followed was absolutely suffocating. Ed's gut clenched and the grin that was meant to be light hearted and jovial was stuck on his face like it had frozen there. Ed found himself looking at Mustang, halfway up the stairs, waiting for the devilish smirk and witty remarks to fall from his lips. He waited for the embarrassed aversion of eye contact and the frown of annoyance from the former Lieutenant.

Above all else he was waiting for the unsettled, and possibly flirtatious, glance between them.

Then, like clockwork, the unsettled look he had been waiting for was shared between the two, and it was everything but what he wanted.

Ed's plastered grin fractured and sunk like pebbles in a well, and Winry had stiffened up beside him.

"No way…" The words had slipped out of his mind and from his lips.

Roy looked at Ed steadily. He would face this like everything else he had faced over the years. Although this… was something he had hoped never to explore; especially not with someone like Fullmetal.

"Edward." Hawkeye's tone was weighed down, rational. Like the Lieutenant he knew.

"No way!" Ed cried defiantly.

"Fullmetal," Mustang tried tersely. The title seemed so appropriate at this moment. Ed was like the fifteen year old boy Mustang remembered; eyes alight with defiance; words loud and determined. Taking everything to heart….

"—Stop screwing around!"

The silence that followed only amplified his words. Winry placed a gentle hand against Ed's arm.

It amazed her that both of these two, this unmistakable pair, could stare at them both in the eye; facing this situation, with a morbid look on their features that made Winry's heart ache for reasons she couldn't quite grasp.

Ed realized that his chest was heaving when Mustang spoke again.

"Ed…" His words were soft yet firm. "We—" His lips stayed still, and his bravado began to crumble. The absence of words made it so much more painful.

Riza looked up to Roy, with the same look in her eyes that he had. Winry saw the secret exchange of glances that happened in the briefest of seconds. And she couldn't wash out the feeling that she was witnessing things she shouldn't be privy to.

"We— We—" He couldn't grasp the words. "The Captain and I... aren't like that," Roy said slowly, carefully. Even he didn't believe his own words. He looked away shamefully. "We aren't…"

His excuses were dying.

"Stop bullshitting me!" Ed yelled. Winry's hand pressed against his bicep.

"Stop, Ed," she whispered.

He shook her hand off violently, more vigorously than he ever would, and faced the former colonel ferociously. Hawkeye took a step forward; her instincts kicking into gear. She had vowed many years ago that she would do whatever she could to keep that expression off of his face; she never wanted to see him suffering from any pain ever again.


It was all futile.

"—you do love her, don't you?" He threw out indignantly.

She froze solid, completely. Mustang's hand had tightened around the banister.

"Ed, you seriously have to stop," Winry pleaded softly, gently, to her husband. She weakly tugged at his shirt, trying to reel him back in. He was too tangled up in a life that was far from his.

Ed looked on with bated breath as Roy watched him intently. He couldn't read the onyx black eyes. Hawkeye had taken a few steps back, distancing herself now that they were in far too personal territory. She closed her eyes.

Then Ed heard him laugh.

The laugh was not joyous, light or amused. The laugh was so rueful and filled with such regret that Ed felt Winry's hand tighten a fraction more into his shirt.

"Trust you to make it sound so simple, Fullmetal." The smile was so fake, and it rested on Ed like a weight.

And then Mustang left him, calling to his captain and, together, they walked wordlessly, and without a single glance, up the remainder of the stairs. Ed couldn't push down the overwhelming feeling that he was just that fifteen year old boy again; crossing into territory he didn't belong; so painfully, and frustratingly naïve in the grander scheme of the world.

And what hurt the most was the ghost of a hand at the small of Riza's back, as they disappeared out of view.


Winry had never been good at damage control, especially when it came to Ed.

Ed was so temperamental. He was like a raging storm; a storm churning under his skin. His eyes held a fierce electricity that defied and challenged everything and anything to come across his path. And Winry was the same. She knew that she, too, was just as temperamental. Al had even affectionately called her a firecracker with a wrench and May had told her that she envied her fighting spirit.

Maybe that was why she never knew what to do when Ed was upset.

Ed was sprawled across their bed, arm flung over his eyes. His lips were a harsh thin line.

Winry closed their bedroom door gently and shuffled towards him. She leaned carefully on the edge of the bed and watched her husband carefully.

He said nothing, but she knew that he knew she was there.

"Ed…" she tried to coax him to talk.

"I don't want to talk about it, Winry," he ground out. His voice was sharper than usual. Winry huffed; pregnancy had thinned out her patience and she would have none of his secrecy.

"Ed," she goaded testily. He was still refusing to look at her, or even move. Was he going to blatantly ignore her? She would have none of that. "Stop—" She tugged his arm away from his face forcefully. "—being so—"

His eyes were sharper than she expected; the gold hue in them heavier than she was anticipating. His eyes locked with hers instantly and his lips thinned out even further. Winry felt her stomach drop.

She placed his arm down neatly on the bed. "You're really upset…" she murmured in quiet disbelief.

Ed frowned deeply and turned on his side, away from his wife. Hiding his eyes.

She reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder which he shrugged off immediately. She flinched at his harsh actions and rested her hand in her lap as if it had been burned by his hurt. She nibbled her bottom lip in anxious thought.

As awkward and as unsure as she felt, she would be damned if she let him sulk up in their bedroom, alone.

"Please, Ed." She spoke quietly as not to upset or aggravate him. "Talk to me?" She rested her hand on his shoulder again, tentatively, feather-light.

He remained still for a heavy moment before he rolled over onto his back and sacrificed himself to her imploring blue eyes. His hand caught hers and he ran his thumb across her knuckle; an apology.

He looked at his wife, taking in everything about her; appreciating her soft features, long hair, beautiful skin. He took a breath, preparing to render himself vulnerable, something he struggled to do.

"They should be married."

The words slipped through his lips and froze the air as if they were ice. Ed's thumb caressed Winry's ring finger; consciously or absent mindedly, she didn't know.

He tried again, "They should be married; having children. Hawkeye is the one—" His eyes drifted to her abdomen. "— who should be pregnant. She should be having his damn children. He should be smug." the words were rattling now. "He should be rubbing it in my face that he had children first and when am I going to settle down with that cute mechanic girl in that silly village. He should be flaunting her like the arrogant prick that he is. He should—" Ed's voice caught.

Ed closed his eyes, ashamed of his forming tears.

"They should be married." He pushed his fingers into his eyes, shying away from his wife's upset gaze, pushing back his overflowing emotions as best he could. He failed.

He choked, "That damn bastard."


Riza doesn't know who she is.

She hasn't known who, exactly, she is since she was a young girl, with those big brown earthy eyes and short wispy straw-coloured hair. Then, she was a young girl eager to distance herself from her father's alchemy and leap into the unknown world to learn and experience.

Riza doesn't know who she is after she meets Mister Roy Mustang.

Her world, she realizes, became inverted. She had longed for a world away from her father and full of an exciting new world. Roy Mustang appears in open cracks of the door in her father's study and the light under the door in the spare bedroom, and then, suddenly, her father is dead, she is alone, and she cares nothing for a world she had wanted to explore.

She simply wants to live in Roy Mustang's world.

So when he leaves, she feels devastatingly alone. Like she is absent from something huge. She feels like her existance has changed ever since meeting that charming, charismatic alchemist.

So, she follows him, to be a part of his world that he wants to create and live in, the world he hasintimately shared with her. And somewhere through the months, she forgets who she is because now it's only Ishval, Amestris and Major Roy Mustang.

She still likes the same things, she still has the same sense of wit and taste. But she doesn't know who Riza Hawkeye is anymore.

She is First Lieutenant Hawkeye.

That is why, as she leaned against the rough mahogany wood of the closed door, hands splayed behind her, she is engulfed with churning emotions she cannot make sense of. Edward's sparking eyes are smoldering in her mind's eye. He had been so upset.

She suddenly felt detachment leaking into her mind; her thoughts a malicious unending stream.

The General sat, legs crossed, on the only bed in the room; his hand smothering his mouth, holding his chin. His eyes were closed. Hawkeye didn't need to see them to know that they would be the opposite's of Edward's; instead of sparking defiance and anger; consumed, lost and conflicted.

Hawkeye closed her eyes as well, because maybe it would help, and she rested her head against the wood. The deep breaths she took didn't seem to be quelling the indescribable feelings in her chest. She couldn't place it. She was deeply aware of her and Roy. Her thoughts simmered behind the surface constantly, not a crush or infatuation or love worthy of a teenager, but simply – yet far too intensely – his importance.

"I'm sorry." Hawkeye opened her eyes and kept her body postured as she turned to look at her General. Something in the pit of her stomach unsettled her far more than it should have.

He shouldn't be apologizing (she stopped asking herself what for, because she already knew). He shouldn't have that overshadowing look in his eyes, as if his sight really had been taken on that day. He shouldn't be apologizing…

They didn't talk about this.

Hawkeye swallowed the aching lump in her throat. "There's nothing to apologize for, sir," she promised calmly. She tightened up her back and stood up straight, picking up both suitcase handles in one hand.

He looked at her as if he didn't know what to say.

She walked to him, at the edge of the bed, like the steady soldier she was, and she rested the suitcases, one behind the other in front of his feet. The tags lay next to each other neatly and her eyes were drawn to them and trapped in their certainty.

The names, one on each label, in neat, bold, permanent print:

Roy Mustang. Riza Hawkeye.

She realized she was staring when his hand shifted and lay on top of hers. He had been engrossed in the names, too. His hand rested on hers for only a mere moment, but long enough for her to feel aware of the implications and underlying meanings, before he took the handle of his suitcase and pulled his carrier, and his name, away from hers.

Her impulse had her suitcase up on the bed, open, and words emerging from her lips before she noticed.

"I need to change, sir." It mystified her that he still needed to leave the room when she wanted to change clothes. They had been through too much together. What was something as trivial as nudity to them?

"Of course, Hawkeye." He had taken to calling her by her last name ever since she was promoted. Her rank, Captain, felt foreign in his mouth. And it had hit him, painfully, how her old rank had become the substitute for her name. How it had become intimate.

It had become intimate when it was the only thing he could scream as he watched her bleed to death.

He left the room and Riza watched as he closed the door between them.

"I'm sorry."

And the apology sounded too much like the first.

Hold me now.

Nothing else matters.

Lyrics will make sense at the end, taken from: "Not Giving Up on Love" by Armin Van Buuren, Sophie Ellis Bextor