titled Pacific Ocean, Telephone Line
pair Roy Mustang/Riza Hawkeye
warnings for boys being boys. not so much romance as blatant canon-bending and uh, somehow ZADIG and Elizaveta Héderváry got involved?
summary He had her at hello.
notes 1500 words written for a buddy of mine. Was meant to be her birthday gift 8765674 months ago, but I hope this still counts? Happy 15th, darling. Let's make it another year. =)
And after, she begins to read his books.
Except she doesn't so much read them as she embraces them, keeps them close to her heart and on the ground floor of the building leading up to the steps. She's at once three-hundred thousand kilometers away from the sun as she is sitting on a rooftop and living in a dream and stuck in the stars. Perhaps she'll be speaking fluent Dutch tomorrow. Perhaps she'll make a breakthrough discovery in the next week, complete The Human Genome Project once and for all. Perhaps she won't do anything at all, simply wither away under the throes of Joseph Conrad and Elie Wiesel telling her about human rights, the existentialist exploring higher planes of thought while giving lectures to a crowd of five thousand. So she doesn't so much remember as she tries to forget; it's too hard to fake, she realizes later; but it doesn't stop her because she hasn't been stopped like this, not in a long time.
And of course, there's Zadig. Zadig is a different person. He is a man of perfect temperance, well-bred and well-liked and well-meant and well-oiled (very much so, even if she wouldn't know). She reads about Zadig a lot these days, she reads about him while she's sitting in the laundromat and waiting for the clothes to turn in the dryer, while she's cleaning up after her grandchildren and listening to the news on the radio, while she's fixing dinner with Winry, mashed potatoes and songs on the harp, while she's dreaming of the time when she used to remember a similar man of similar identity and similar haunts, imperfections and twists of fate. And she can't really remember anything because all she has is this dirty old camera, the one with the cracked lens and the wobbly shutter and the split buttons. It's all she has.
Sometimes, she really wonders.
This is you on autotune, Rebecca tells her over an email, do you hear it? Lovely sound it makes, right? The new pop singers from Asia are criticized because they use too much of it, but it's wonderful, I think. And this new thing they've got here, the Internet, what do you think of it? Doesn't make you want to go back and sit around in your bed all day, does it? We're all so young at heart, Riza, and it's kind of spectacular when you feel young again. The Internet really makes you feel young. Makes you want to go back to the old days, doesn't it? Fight another few battles and rescue another comrade in arms. Makes you want to swim another three kilometers in the frozen lakes, doesn't it?
And then she does push-ups and sit-ups and stretches, swims three kilometers in the pool and runs fifteen miles and bikes another thirty-nine, feels accomplished and sits up and slings a towel over her head and around her shoulders, looks up at the sky and that's when she realizes how awful and lonely it's become without him, how much she actually misses his presence and how difficult it is for other people to forget that, for her it was him, it had to be him.
So she remembers the first time she'd met him. The funeral and the tears and the solemn glare in his eyes and the soft light falling on his shoulders and the second time her breath had caught in her throat (the first time had been witness to a civilian daughter's untimely death). So she remembers the wedding dress that she might have worn in her head that night, while she was cleaning the barrel of her pistol, while she lied awake in bed trying to remember what kind of cologne he used underneath his uniform, remembers and remembers, just remembers.
"I...just recorded it."
"Wha-hey! Why did you record it?" She frowns, tugs the camera from his hands. "Ass. You know I hate that."
"Can't help it," he grunts, snaps the lid of the lens shut, "There's just too much I have to keep."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing at all. I have a date at seven today. I'll be leaving early."
(And maybe she wonders why she never asked him what he had wanted to keep, exactly. Moreover, how had he planned to keep something like this from her, seal it away in his head and throw the key into Havoc's Wonderland of a File Cabinet? How was he going to keep anything at all, if he was only going to leave the camera behind on her desk, then to go on a date with a girl and never come back? Had he really thought this through? Did he care at all?)
On more than one occasion, she's wondered what it would be like to have a telephone line stretched across the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Ocean's Telephone Line, she'd call it, and it would be for her personal use to reach Rebecca and Winry and Ed and Al and Havoc and Falman and Hughes, maybe even Hughes. She'd dial a number and it would travel across the bottom of the ocean, send ripples 20,000 leagues under the sea and disturb the traveling fish and the migrant whales. And maybe, in light of the water and the sun and the skies, she'll be able to talk about Roy Mustang, talk about him like she had never talked about him before.
Her name is slightly Hungarian, or so she's been told, and maybe it's because of this fact, that she's often visited by a beautiful girl who wears flowers in her hair and a pretty floral dress with sequins on the back. The girl has a nice voice, a bit of a small neck and a cute habit of pushing her hair back behind her ears and shifting the flowers in her hair every time. It would irk Winry but it was something that gave her personality, or so Riza thought, and they had a few pieces of conversation here and there. It was a thing between two Hungarians, even though one of them was not really Hungarian. Elizaveta didn't mind it very much.
"You're all military folk, here," she asks them one time, "Don't you get scared of the war sometimes?"
"That's a difficult question," Havoc says with a little nod, "I am scared, but simultaneously I remember the people I have to protect from the war and then there's this whole stream of consciousness when you're in action."
"What about you, Riza?"
"I don't think about it," she answers curtly, "I aim the barrel at the enemy."
Havoc frowns. "Why are you here, anyway? Are you a friend of Lieutenant Hawkeye's?"
"I'm going to catch the last train home, I think," Elizaveta says hurriedly, pushes a hand over Riza's, "We'll talk some other time, yes? Without your fanatic colonel leering over my shoulder."
"Aren't you clever," Mustang says coldly. Elizaveta pouts, and then she proceeds to punch him in the face.
They had nicer chats after that.
Moabdar, The King;
"Yes, it's me."
"H-How did you find me?"
"I merely employed The Pacific Ocean's Telephone Line. You can hear it, too, can't you? Sound of the waves crashing in the seas. It's in your heart, Colonel Mustang. Do you remember your heart?"
So she reads. She reads about castles and cats living in the clouds and a wizard with a wand and a slaughterhouse and African-American slavery and Histories of the Irish Dullahan, equilibrium theory written by a schizophreniac and knitting patterns in last year's Vogue and Betty Crocker recipes. She reads them all, watches the decades pass by under her fingertips and the memories fall like wisps of cotton in the summers. He had her at hello, and she never told him goodbye.
But at the end of the day, she'll say a real sweet thing. She'll fold her frail body into the armchair and settle the faded pages of the book on her lap, push the reading glasses up the bridge of her nose. "I saw him that day," she'll say, and there will be a little tingle on her lips and perhaps a star in the sky, "I saw him that day. And I could literally feel his smile through the door."
Thank you for reading. Feedback is welcomed with arms (and perhaps legs) open-wide. X)