The Formality

XXX

"I hope you can re-heat that coffee with alchemy," Havoc taunted as he shuffled papers, filing all of his work—completed on time—away in preparation to clock out. "Looks like you'll be here all night."

Mustang's hand twitched partly from the impulse to set his second-best sniper aflame and partly from the strain of writing so many damned reports and signing so many documents. It was all a formality; a part of his job almost as tormenting as going to war for the state.

Thankfully, one of those cons was now exempt from his list of duties. He could still do without the paperwork, though. He saw no reason why someone with less leadership duties than the President couldn't write the reports. Of course he was going to sign these bills into law. He had introduced or promoted them in the first place!

By the time Roy looked up again, Havoc was gone and his most trusted General stood in front of him. He had no idea how Hawkeye managed to perform her rank's duties and ensure that he did his.

Oh, hell no. Speaking of responsibilities, General Hawkeye was carrying a stack of the most temptingly flammable material he worked with.

"I just finished a stack. These can wait until tomorrow." He made it a point of raising his sore writing hand toward the papers to let her know that the work would get done in the morning or not at all.

To his pleasant surprise, Hawkeye did not argue. She merely set the stack on his desk and motioned him to follow her. The General informed him that he could clock out; she would drive him home after he went with her to sign one more document.

Roy unloaded his irritation onto Riza about the petty duties of his office. "Why do they need my signature? It's ridiculous. They know what I support. It is blindingly obvious what my policies are and which Acts I will approve of and which I will veto. I didn't make every effort to be a transparent leader only to go through the hell of formalities on top of it."

Riza observed him casually. "You think that the formalities are unnecessary?" Amusement laced the honest question.

"A piece of paper does nothing. Action does the real enforcing and promotion of policy. I have proven by action that I will restore Ishval. How many times do I have to write my name before they believe it?" He frowned petulantly.

She smiled softly. "You can relax, Roy. People like it when you give them ceremony. Why do you think the major documents have been signed in public, in front of journalists and cameras?"

"Because they enjoy watching my torture?"

She laughed, a sound he had missed hearing. Buried under his sheets of work, Roy hadn't spoken like this to Riza in weeks. It felt like years with the appearance he had to keep up; an appearance that had steadily slipped away whenever he spent time alone with her. Now, both of them said and did things in front of the other that did not suit their stern military personalities. Most people would be surprised to see the two behave the way they did in private.

Roy continued. "Why do they like to see a hardened military man do such trivial things—"

The griping ceased when he saw that the destination Riza had parked in front of was neither his house nor the building of the newly elected Congress.

Riza said, "Some formalities are necessary for propriety, sir." Her face remained impassive but her eyes sparkled with warmth and mischief. He'd missed that too.

A few minutes later, Roy stood looking down in awe at the most beautiful piece of paper he'd ever seen. His signature was side-by-side with Riza's. He had never needed a document to prove this policy, either. That notion hadn't stopped Roy from grinning as he took the most care with his signature he had in ages. There was nothing else to say. They had worked toward their dream of the future together; a future that would always include each other. The way Roy looked at Riza and the way Riza returned his gaze ensured their years together would never end.

He'd gladly pressed his lips to hers after signing the one document that would never be in danger of burning.

His new wife had told him she'd done this to prevent the fuss that came with ceremonies. Roy had replied that one would take place later anyway and that he'd sign dotted lines until every person in Amestris had their own copy of that certificate.

But first, he would take Riza home. He had formalities to observe.