Roy swallowed thickly, as Riza Hawkeye once again pulled her shirt off, sitting with her back facing him. That wide expanse of pale skin and warmth and life and… He swallowed his next thought before it could get away with him, and he focused on the tattoos. In the warm light of the lantern, flickering now and then and making the words seem even more alive than they already did, it was hard to focus. He'd been stuck on one section that followed the curve of her shoulder blade for a few nights now, and it was more than a task to keep his eyes from drifting up along her spine, to the base of her neck, where her hair cropped short ended, and he could see the delicate lines of her neck and jaw and the way her shoulders curved down where she covered herself in front.

He reached out, finger tracing a line of text and making her sit up straighter in surprise. He'd touched her before, but always like he was reading a page, following the text as he read. Not like this, not soft and almost… Loving? Her father was dead, and it felt a little wrong to be using her this way, but it was no worse than he had, tattooing his research onto her back. "I don't think I'll make much progress tonight," he admitted, closing his notebook and removing his hand from her back. She twisted around, her brown eyes wide and youthful and curious. Roy felt his face redden as he forced his gaze not to stray any further downward than her lips.

"Then should I make us some tea? I mean… You don't have to go right away, if you don't want to. It gets lonely here at night after you leave," she said with a warm smile before she turned again to pull her shirt on. "And… I've grown fond of your company."

"O-oh yes, that sounds nice. I don't mind staying for a little longer." His face burned, and he excused himself hurriedly to disappear into the washroom, to splash some water on his face, and stare into the mirror above the sink. He heard her light footsteps descend through the hallway towards the kitchen. Roy knew this house well, almost as well as he was growing to know the contours of Riza's back, the arc of her hairline along the back of her neck, and the way she hunched her shoulders a little when it got cold in the room they used for his studies of flame alchemy.

Once his face no longer burned scarlet, he slipped out of the washroom and stepped into the kitchen, finding a chair at the table, and taking a seat, his hands folding neatly in front of him after fidgeting around, unable to find a comfortable place to put them. Despite his best efforts, he found himself watching her as she went through cabinets, pulling out mugs and tea and then suddenly she was sliding into the seat across from him, setting the teapot on the table with steam rising out of the spout.

"That was fast," he said quietly, glancing at her face, and then quickly away. He was good at numbers and sums and science. Girls were a phenomenon he was still trying to figure out. She smiled anyway, and laced her fingers together, perching her chin on them.

"Do you think you'll be able to figure it out soon?" There was a glint of curiosity in her eyes, genuine interest. He supposed that was fair enough, she was tattooed with the stuff. But then the words actually hit him and Roy's flush returned. Did that mean she was only being polite about the tea and his company?

"I… I hope so. I'm sure it'll be a relief, getting me out of your hair…" His laugh was feeble sounding.

"Oh! That's not what I meant at all." It seemed to be her turn to blush, the color creeping over her cheeks, her attention hurriedly directed elsewhere as she moved to pour the tea. "I just meant that it seems like you're close. I… When you're concentrating you mumble," she said, sliding the teacup his way without looking at his face. "I can't help but overhear it."

"I see…" Roy returned, tension fading from his shoulders. It shouldn't matter if she liked him or not, he'd told himself so many times. But… It did. It mattered to him, at least.

Roy finished his first cup of tea in silence, neither of them able to find a topic of conversation that lasted more than a few words and eventually giving up altogether. He set his cup down, and stood, fingers pressing into the edge of the table.

"Well… I should get going," he said, glancing at her face briefly. "I will see you tomorrow morning."

She sat up, looking up at him with a bright smile. "If you come early, I'll cook breakfast for both of us."

"That isn't necessary," Roy retorted hurriedly, flushing again.

"But the best way to get your mind working is a good breakfast," Riza argued, seemingly set in this notion. All Roy could do in response was nod, and bid her a hasty good night before fleeing.

No amount of alchemical equations could make a woman any less of a mystery…

Sleep didn't come, no matter how he tried to cast off all thoughts, the image of Riza's back always crept back into his mind's eye, the arch of her spine beneath her skin and the fall of her hair, the way it was getting a little longer than usual, how she'd probably cut it soon.

Come morning, though, he dragged himself out of bed, and did his best to make himself respectable. He could only mourn the dark circles under his eyes when he set off for her house.

Breakfast she'd promised, and so it was when he'd arrived. She hurried him into the chair he'd occupied the night before, and served up a hearty breakfast with potatoes and eggs and sausage and juice. Nothing like the usual piece of toast with jelly if he felt like it and a cup of strong tea that was his usual fare. Despite lack of sleep, he managed to keep up a cheerful conversation, but went to research more distracted than ever, the thoughts coming slowly and few between until he tossed himself into the numbers, ignoring Riza's quiet presence as much as he could.

When night fell, and once again he sat behind Riza, it was harder to concentrate than ever, and with his heart beating so hard in his chest he wondered that she couldn't hear it, his hand reached out, spreading over the tattoos across her back. Beneath his hand, he felt her heartbeat speed up. Her chin dipped, neck twisting so she caught his gaze over her shoulder, full of innocence and something that wasn't quite fear.

He didn't blush this time, leaning forward to press a hesitant kiss to the base of her neck, that span of flesh he'd admired for so long, only recently become so painfully aware of, that expanse of pale skin, soft beneath his touch. She twisted around, her slender fingers tilting his chin upwards into a kiss she initiated. It was only a moment, but it seemed to last so much longer, as Roy's heart pounded in his chest, and he wasn't sure where to put his hands, and suddenly she wasn't in her own chair anymore, but in his lap, and her fingers were unbuttoning the shirt he wore.

"Riza," he murmured against her lips, and she sat up, eyes staring back into his.

"Don't ask me if I'm sure…" She sighed, and laughed, one nervous chuckle. "I'm not. But I think this is what I want." Roy could only nod, letting out a sigh against her lips as they kissed again, and his hands finally found a place to be as they settled hesitantly on her hips.

After the last light had faded from the sky, they lay together on the bed, and sleep still eluded him, even as the trickle of her breath passed over his skin, warm and sweet and reminding him that this was not a dream. His fingers traced the familiar patterns across her back, and he murmured to himself as he fell asleep at last.