They met when Riza was fourteen. Suddenly, the empty room at the end of the hall was occupied. Roy Mustang was a typical teenage boy, except for how he wasn't. He was sixteen but respectful, good-looking (and maybe a little vain) but kind, and outgoing but well-mannered. He kept only essentials in his room at the Hawkeye estate: a bed, his clothes, some books and the only photograph he had of his parents.
Riza was never jealous of Roy for receiving the attention of her father. She was only awed that he was seemingly unconcerned by the madness that shadowed his master's eyes when he studied his research.
Berthold Hawkeye was forty-one and a widower of seven years. In between trying to survive grief and support his only child, his household had fallen into disrepair. Unnoticed by her father, Riza ended up mostly raising herself. He truly loved her – she was aware of this – but the older he got and the longer he was alone, the more his mind wandered and lacked. She loved him, too, of course; he was her father. However, if she had ever been asked, she could not have denied the fear and apathy she also felt for him.
Roy was a blessing in disguise in the long run. Riza cooked dinner each night when she got home from school, kept the large house as clean as she could on her own, and studied well into the night. She got high marks in school for her efforts, but not even a word of praise in her own home. That is, until the teenage boy began to occupy the space with her.
He thanked her after every meal and helped with chores when he could. (That wasn't very often as his master kept him quite busy, but the little bit of help that he did manage to give was appreciated immensely.) On the days when she felt like crying, he slipped away from his studies and became her shoulder.
How they became friends, she wasn't sure. She was scrawny and small for her age, shy beyond reason, lacked femininity due to absent female role models, and always had her nose in a school book. He was nice to her, though, and she was grateful for that.
On her fifteenth birthday, the weather was dark and drizzly. While cooking her own birthday dinner, Roy sidled into the kitchen with his hands behind his back. "Happy birthday!" he announced. It was the first they'd seen of each other all day thanks to busy schedules and alchemy training.
"Thank you," she said, truthfully thankful for his wish.
"I've got something for you." He sat a small box on the kitchen counter. "It's not much, but I hope you'll like it."
She set down the knife she was using to chop vegetables and wiped her hands on a towel. The box was wrapped in paper and had a perfect bow on top. She regretted tearing apart the wrappings, but he seemed so eager that her worries didn't last long.
Inside, cushioned on a layer of tissue paper, was an alchemy-made figurine of a hawk. It was a plain tawny color and rough around the edges, but she loved it. She told him as much. Later, she placed it beside the photo of her mother on her homework desk. For days after, she often found herself staring at it, fascinated.
Eventually, he got curious.
"Tell me about yourself," he requested one day in early Spring. Riza had the day off from school (she appreciated Sundays more and more as she got older) and the windows were all open around the house. A grassy breeze blew through the rooms, cooling and refreshing the inhabitants of the Hawkeye estate. Berthold had gone out to assist some neighbors in hopes of making a bit of money and his daughter was enjoying the silence of the afternoon with a book in hand.
She gazed at him from behind shaggy bangs. He was devouring a sandwich in proper teenage fashion. The inquiry, while simple, startled her. No one had ever asked her to share such a thing, besides a few of her teachers in grammar school. (Admittedly, even then, she had been unsure of what to say.) He was watching her so earnestly, though; she felt obligated to give some solid answer. She set down her book.
"What exactly do you want to know?" Maybe a bit of clarification or a prompt would help.
However, he just shrugged. "I don't know. You're always so quiet and we never really talk. I've been here almost a year and I still feel like we're strangers." She suddenly felt irrationally guilty. "What's your favorite color? That's a simple one. Or tell me about what you're reading and why you like it. I don't know." He slumped back in his chair. "Something."
"Well," she started hesitantly. "The last time anyone asked my favorite color, I said green."
"What about now?"
Had her favorite color changed? She'd been in her fifth year of school when that question had last reached her ears. In four years, had the answer changed? She found herself thinking it through. Her mother's favorite color had been purple – she'd learned that from an old diary. Green was still nice, but it reminded her now of lettuce and pulling weeds. She didn't like to wear the color red as it made her feel too obvious. Now that she thought about it, her favorite blouse was a light cornflower.
"I like blue," she said, then clarified, "Light blue."
His grin was contagious. She felt empowered enough to continue. She gently touched the book now lying abandoned before her on the table.
"I found this in a box of my mother's old things a couple of years ago. I've read it ten or twelve times now."
"Is it good?" Roy asked.
She nodded. "I really like it."
He tapped the cover of the book. "That author has more books, you know. I've seen them in the windows at the book stores." When her eyes lit up, it was like Christmas. Then, suddenly, the light was gone. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"Books are so expensive," she muttered. He'd excited and depressed her all in less than a minute.
To distract her, he changed the subject.
"Will you tell me about your mother? You don't have to if it's – if you don't want to."
"Her name was Elizabeth. She and my father met when they were in school – they loved each other for years and years. I don't remember her much. I was only seven when she died and a lot of the memories have faded." She paused to look at him. He was watching her with thoseeyes. She hated pity. "I have a lot of her old things: a diary, some clothes, some of her possessions. Pictures, of course."
Riza gathered the blonde hair flowing over her shoulders into one hand. She ran her fingers through it somberly.
"He calls me by her name sometimes," she said in an almost-whisper. "When he's really tired or has been working on his research for hours and hours, he gets confused. I think it's because I look so much like her. She always had really long hair." she tugged on the hair she was holding once more and then dropped it. The golden tendrils drifted down her back. "Sometimes I want to cut all of my hair off so I don't look like her anymore."
"There's nothing wrong with looking like your mother," Roy said softly.
"I can't stand the way he looks at me." She stared down at her hands, clenched into fists.
He offered, "You would look cute with short hair." The lightest shade of pink graced her cheeks. Her quiet thank you did not go unnoticed. "I could cut it for you." The words were out of his mouth before he'd realized he was even thinking them.
They spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get it right. He cut an inch at a time, worried that it would end up too short and she would hate it. She eventually grabbed the scissors from him and cut the remaining hair until she could no longer feel it on her neck. "Just clean it up now?" she asked. He trimmed until it was even. Somehow, it ended up looking a little professional.
Riza got home from school on Tuesday and went straight to her bedroom to put away her school bag. She tossed her light sweater onto the bed, not watching to see if it hit its mark, and toed off her shoes in the corner. When she turned towards her desk to set out the night's homework, she stopped.
There was a package on the desk. Rectangular, thick, wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. She'd checked to see if the house was empty when she got home, but she checked again. The house really was empty. She thought about waiting until Roy and her father got home, maybe asking about it, but her fingers itched to know what was inside.
She gave into temptation.
Carefully, she unwrapped the bundle. True to the way she was, she didn't rip or tear; she unfolded each corner until the inner gift was revealed. She sat down heavily and stared at the books. Two crisp, new, pretty books. They were perfect.
She sat there until the door downstairs opened, startling her into action. She raced down the stairs to find Roy, finally home, standing there looking tired and smug. They stared at each other; she frozen in disbelief, he smirking, pleased with himself.
"I hope you like them," he said. She hugged him. They stood together in the entrance hall for a long while. He held her while she sobbed into his shoulder. He shushed her gently. "Don't cry," he whispered. "You aren't the crying kind of girl."
"I'm sorry," she said thickly, later, when her tears were gone. He wiped the moisture from beneath her red eyes. "I'm sorry you had to see me like that. I haven't cried in so long."
He held her for a minute longer. Finally, he said into her hair, "Let me help you make dinner tonight."
Berthold returned to find dinner on the table, his daughter smiling, and his apprentice looking as though he'd just run a marathon.
"I'm not feeling up to it tonight," Berthold told his apprentice. The lantern in his study was nearly out of oil, though he didn't seem to notice. Papers were scattered around him, on the desk, the floor, pinned to the walls, stacked on shelves, falling out of books.
Roy had just finished reading a book that he was told to, "understand completely." Berthold had promised to allow him some practice time. Roy was fully capable of performing alchemy on his own now, of course, but the more complex things were still forbidden without supervision. It was a precaution Berthold was strict in following.
"Okay." Roy turned to leave, but paused at the last minute in the doorway, "Master?"
Berthold paid him little attention. "What is it, Roy?"
"I'm going to go out for a while. Would it be alright if I took your daughter with me?"
Roy was eighteen now. His apprenticeship was going to be over in less than a year's time. Soon, he would no longer be Berthold's student; he would be only a teenage boy. His master appeared to barely acknowledge the meaning of the words. He gave his permission and waved Roy away.
Riza was found in her bedroom, finishing her homework at her own desk. She always kept the door open, except when sleeping. Roy had asked her about it once and she'd told him, "It just doesn't feel right to shut him out." Roy had pointed out that her father kept the door to his study closed at all times. She'd stared at the floor until he changed the subject.
She was engrossed in a book, mindlessly picking at the eraser of her pencil. Her hair, growing out, curled around her ears and chin. She didn't even notice her visitor until he said her name. Startled, she jumped and jostled the desk. Her book tumbled to the floor and the picture frame beside her fell over.
"Will you come to dinner with me?" He picked up the book and handed it back to her.
"Why?" she asked without hesitation.
She righted the picture frame. Inside was a photograph of Riza and her mother. Riza was three or four and they were smiling. She really did look so much like her mother.
"It's better than both of us being alone tonight," he gave as answer. She thought it over. Roy grabbed a jacket from her closet and held it out to her. "Please?"
Slowly, she nodded and gave in.
He didn't have a car, so they walked. "Where do you want to go?" he asked. With so little extra money, the members of the Hawkeye household rarely ate outside their home. Riza had little knowledge of the city's restaurants and foreign cuisine. She told him as much.
"Surprise me," she said. The words felt daring and sly. She was such a yes-or-no kind of girl. It felt good not to give a direct answer, to give the decision to someone else.
Roy treated her to dinner at Briar's, home of the city's best white wine pasta sauce. He pulled her chair out for her, forbade her from looking at the prices on the menu, and made her laugh. It was a new experience for Riza and he found himself thankful for being given the chance to share it with her.
"I'm thinking about joining the military," he told her in confidence. They both knew how Berthold felt about all things military and political. Roy trusted her with his secret. She would never tell and they both knew it.
She paused, fork halfway to her mouth. She let the noodles fall back to the plate. "Why?"
"I want to do something good with my life," he said with a shrug. "Joining the military just seems like the best way to do it."
Riza refused to lecture him. She only said, "You know what Dad says about the military."
"I would go to live in the barracks during training."
"I'd miss you," she said without thinking. Her face burned red and she dropped her eyes. He smiled, reached across the table to touch her hand.
"It won't be for a while. Not until next year, probably."
After dinner, they got gelato from a cart vendor and walked slowly back to the estate. The summer night was warm but breezy and with the frozen dessert keeping her cool, Riza tugged her jacket tighter around her frame. They stopped at the foot of the walkway leading up to the house.
"I'm not ready to go back yet," she admitted. They walked a little further, the road lit only by the moon and the stars. They stopped to rest in the damp grass of an empty lot. Roy laid down his jacket for Riza to sit on so she wouldn't ruin her skirt. She found herself wondering if her father would have done something so selfless for her mother.
They sat in silence for a long while. Riza's mind wandered to what the next year would be like. Would Roy really leave? Where would he go? If he left, she would once again be alone in the big house while her father was engrossed in his research. She felt guilty and selfish, hoping Roy would stay.
"I've never had any friends," she said eventually.
Roy reached out and held her hand. He told her, "You do now."
The illness began to set it. The months passed by quicker than ever before. Roy spent an increasing number of hours locked in the study with his master. It wasn't too long before Berthold told him, "I've taught you all I can. You're a skilled man. Everything else you learn will have to come from somewhere else."
"What about the fire alchemy you're researching?" Roy asked.
"It's not ready yet," Berthold told his graduating student. "If you are worthy, I will give it to you when I have finished it."
Two months after Roy left the Hawkeye estate (Riza knew where he had gone; her father did not) Berthold called his daughter into his office. He explained what he wanted to do to her. The tone of her voice assured her that this was an order, not a request. She had little choice.
A few nights later, he was ready. She took off her shirt, covered her front, and waited. He drew a small transmutation circle in ink on her shoulder. When he touched it, red light erupted and filled the room. Blisters burst to the surface of her skin. It caused her the most pain she'd ever felt, yet she did not scream.
Once a week for four months, he called her to his study and added to the markings. When the blisters burst, Riza was left with sore, raw skin that required daily doses of ointment. She never once cried. She was a different girl now. She started to hate her own father. She looked at herself in the mirror and felt disgusted. She wasn't even strong enough to tell him no.
Berthold became bedridden at the end of the year. Riza spent Christmas sitting alone in her bedroom. She picked up the figurine sitting on the desk. It was all she had left of the only friend she'd ever had. He'd been gone for seven months. Or was it eight? Nine? He hadn't called her even once, not even on her birthday. He was busy. She was alone.
Out of nowhere, he showed up at the front door of the Hawkeye home. He asked to see her father and she allowed him inside. He complimented her hair, congratulated her on graduating from school, and disappeared into her father's bedroom before she had a chance to ask how he was.
Half an hour later, Roy ran to her, frantic.
"Riza! Your father!"
Berthold died before the doctor arrived. It wasn't fully unexpected. He'd been sick for a long time. Roy felt guilty for being with him in his last moments. He helped Riza plan the funeral (it was paid for by an anonymous donation, which was a huge weight off her shoulders).
On the day of the funeral, Roy gave her a card with his contact number on it.
"You can call me," he told her. Taking the information, she wondered if she would ever use it. As they walked away from the grave, he said quietly, "Your father told me he completed his research." Riza nodded in confirmation. "He also said you were in possession of his notes."
He held the door of the car open for her while she got in. He got in beside her.
"I do have them," she said. "Do you really want to know?"
Roy did not hesitate. "I do."
She nodded sedately. "Okay. Drive me home."
They stood in the house that now belonged solely to her. He was confused when she brought him into the dimly lit sitting room and not the only room in the house that her father had ever used. When she began to unbutton her blouse with shaking hands, her back to him, he was alarmed into silence. He tried to open his mouth, tried to say, What are you doing? But no words would come.
The shirt floated towards and floor and she bared herself to him. His breath caught in his throat. It took a few seconds to realize what he was seeing. His vision locked onto some of the symbols, the markings, the lines, and he realized. He was nauseated and intrigued. Had she consented to this? He didn't want to acknowledge the possibility of Berthold forcing this upon his own daughter. Deep down, Roy knew that he most likely had.
She shivered when his fingers touched her skin. It took him almost two hours to copy the notes precisely. He took his time, making sure not to accidentally draw the markings the wrong way. The whole time, Riza stood silently, arms folded over her breasts. "I'm sorry," he told her twice as he watched her shake. Both times she replied with a quiet, "I'm fine." He knew she was lying.
When Roy was finished, he picked her blouse up off the floor and draped it over her shoulders. While she dressed, he turned his back to her and looked through some of the notes. He recognized some of the code, but most of it was new and strange. She sank onto the couch. "I'm dressed," she said quietly.
He made her tea in her own kitchen. When it was brewed, he brought it to her, but she didn't drink it. The cup sat abandoned on the table while she continued to shake. When she was calm enough to sip her cooling tea, he asked:
"Who else has seen those?"
Riza looked him in the eyes. "No one," she said truthfully.
"Just you and my father."
"What about people you've slept with?" he asked, half-joking. Honestly, he wasn't expecting her response.
Roy watched her with steady eyes. He was almost shocked. Really, though, who would she have slept with? She was eighteen now and pretty. Surely someone had tried courting her while he'd been away?
With no hesitation or regrets, he looked her into her eyes and said, "I could be your first. I could show you how it is, help you learn what you like." She turned away from him and didn't need to give an answer.
A few days later, he picked up the ringing phone without a second thought.
"It's me," she said. His lips smiled without his permission. He set down the notes he'd been reading and leaned back in his chair, throwing his feet up onto his desk. "I hope it's alright if I call you here."
"Of course it's alright. I gave you the number, didn't I?" It was the number to his dorm.
"Yes, but." She paused. "Have you decoded the notes yet?"
"Yes," he said. "It's amazing and terrifying. It's nothing like I expected."
"Are you disappointed?"
"No, just maybe a little overwhelmed."
"I hope you figure it out," she said. "I hope you can handle it."
"I'll be fine," he promised. "How are you?"
She wavered a moment. Carefully, she said, "Do you remember what you told me? I think I want to take you up on your offer."
For a long moment, he was quiet. Finally, he said, "Are you sure?"
"Yes." The hesitation in her voice was gone. She was certain.
Suddenly, he wanted to be near her. "When?"
"As soon as possible."
He smiled into the receiver. "I'll be there in an hour."
She answered the door looking nervous. Deep down, he felt the same way, but he tried not to show it. Here was this girl that he had watched grow up over the last four years. She was beautiful. No longer was she scrawny and fourteen. Now, she was a woman. He wanted her.
Roy walked towards her. She held her ground. He touched her face, her hair, her shoulder. He licked his lips and caught her watching. His other hand landed on her hip. He slipped his thumb under her shirt and rubbed the inch of skin there. Her breath caught.
"Can I kiss you?"
Her lips parted. Slowly, she nodded. He cupped her face, tilted her head back, and pressed his lips gently to hers. Her body trembled. She had never been kissed before. She wasn't his first, but he was hers. The kiss lasted only a few seconds, but when he pulled away, she followed.
"Do you want to go upstairs?" he asked.
Breathlessly, she said, "Yes."
He took off his military jacket and draped it over the banister. Halfway up the stairs, he stopped her. "Are you sure?" He watched her eyes for any sign that she wasn't fully okay with what they were about to do. In place of an answer, she kissed him. Bracing against the wall, he moved his lips down the line of her jaw, her neck, her shoulder. She swayed.
Roy caught her around the waist and laughed huskily into her skin. They made it to her bedroom and he dropped one hand back down to her hip, touched her skin, and met her eyes. She nodded, just a barely-there tilt of chin; permission. He used both hands, fingers grazing her skin, lifting the garment. Beneath it, she was bare.
He lowered her softly to the bed and took a moment to simply look at her. She flushed beneath his eyes, chest heaving, legs spreading without her knowledge. He wanted to take her, sweep her away, but no. He would go slow with her. He would make sure this was the best she ever had. He would be worth it to her. He leaned over her, captured her in another kiss, and explored her with his hands. Carefully, he helped her out of her skirt; she moaned at the contact of his skin on her thighs. With shaky fingers, she began to unbutton his shirt. He let out a soft moan when her knee rubbed against him through his pants.
The shirt slipped off of his shoulders and fell to the floor. Her hands lowered to the clasp of his trousers. He groaned, eyes closed, lips parted, and she was glad to get the reaction from him that he was able to get from her. He helped her, sliding his pants and briefs off, standing naked before her. She watched his face, blinked up at him, and took his hand in hers; she placed it at the waistband of her underwear.
Roy stopped himself.
"Riza." She gasped at the sound of her name on his lips. How had he done it? He'd reduced her to a pile of need with just two syllables. Her hips arched into his hand. "Look at me," he pleaded.
She did as she was asked.
"Do you want this?" he asked.
"Yes," she breathed. "More than anything."
Roy's fingers curled and pulled. Her last piece of clothing dropped away and, somehow, she became less shy. He pressed his lips to the curve of her belly, the jut of her hip, the bend of her knee. He climbed above her, pressed his knee between her thighs and made her gasp. Riza rocked against him, whimpering into his mouth.
"Roy," she sighed. "Please."
He slid a hand down to meet her. She was warm and wet, waiting, and he had to hold himself back as he touched her. He moved methodically against her until she cried out, bucked against him, and came. Her breathing was labored as he replaced his hand with his mouth. She clutched his hair and said his name.
When she was losing herself again, close to the edge once more, he pulled away. She whimpered at the loss, but he didn't keep her waiting. He kissed her and kept her distracted while he slipped on a condom. He braced himself above her, hesitant. He hated the part of himself that was about to harm her.
"It's going to hurt at first," he warned.
She pulled him closer. "It's alright. I'm ready."
He entered her as slowly as he could, but the stretch still made her wince. She bit her lip and he waited, as still as he could keep himself. Her hands held tightly to him, grounding her. She experimentally moved her hips and let out a slow breath. He felt the muscles around him loosen and she whispered, "Go slow, okay?"
Roy did go slow. He inched in and out, setting a careful and easy pace. Bracing himself with one hand, he used the other to reach between them and help her along. She relaxed easier and he was able to speed up, little by little, until she was arching up to meet him and gasping with each thrust.
She clenched around him, whimpered his name, and came. His thrusts became erratic and he began to shake, so he braced on both hands and finished quickly. He was careful to collapse beside her so as not to crush or suffocate her, and they kissed leisurely for a few minutes.
"I'm going to – " A whine escaped her lips when he pulled out. He was thankful that there was no blood as he knew he wouldn't have been able to handle that. "I'll be right back, okay?" He went to the bathroom to dispose of the condom. When he got back, she was crying.
"Did I hurt you?" He wiped away her tears, suddenly fearful.
"No, it was…" she curled against him. "It was perfect."
"Then why are you crying?" he asked softly.
"We shouldn't see each other like this anymore."
A tiny part of him broke. "What? Why?"
She hid her face in his neck. "I'm going to go into the Military Academy next year. If we ever plan on working together, this can't happen."
He had never expected her to join the military. She hated the military. Or did she? Maybe it was only her father. Roy smoothed her hair and held her until she stopped crying. When she finally pulled back to look at him, he kissed her forehead, nose, cheeks, and mouth. He kissed away her tears, her worries, and her fears.
"Can I stay with you tonight?" he asked quietly. "Will you allow me that much?"
She said, "Yes."
He didn't sleep. He held her through the night.
She awoke with the sun and, as her memory came back to her, her eyes began to shield themselves. She offered him a shower, bathed alone, and dressed modestly. He had to get to work, so he left. On his way out, he kissed her on the cheek.
"Good bye," he said softly.
When he was gone, she fell to her knees and cried again. She cried until she could cry no more. She promised herself that she would not cry again. Not over him, at least for a while.
Riza met Rebecca within days of joining the Academy. After a set of aptitude tests, they were both sorted into the class to be trained as sharp-shooters and snipers. Rebecca was a refreshing difference. She was everything Riza wasn't. Rebecca wasn't shy, she was always loud, and she had the most carefree laugh. They became quick friends.
When she had the chance, Riza asked an officer in the recruiting department if anyone knew how Roy Mustang was doing. It was then that she discovered that Roy had passed the State Alchemist test with flying colors.
The first three months she was in Ishval, most of the talk that went on around her ended up going in one ear and out the other. She only retained things her commanding officer told her; everything else was unimportant. All that mattered were the innocent people she killed, the little sleep she got, and staying alive. But eventually she settled in, got used to the routines, and words started to make sense again.
It was then that she started to hear of the Flame Alchemist. And, really, who else could it have been? She followed the voices and located him in a camp not far from the one she'd been living in. When she found him, he was with a man she didn't know. Had finding him not been such a big deal, she maybe would have felt bad interrupting.
"Hello, Major Mustang. Do you remember me?"
When he'd begun hearing about The Hawk's Eye, he'd hoped it was a coincidence. He didn't want her to be part of this war. He had never checked to see if she kept her word and joined the Academy. He didn't want to know. He missed her – God, he missed her – but there was always the pinch at the base of his skull that reminded him of those words she'd said to him.
It hurt him beyond any pain he could have ever imagined to see the death in her eyes. He wanted to protect her. He maybe would have been at least a little happy to see her had his body been capable of acknowledging any emotion beyond despair.
"Of course I remember you," he said softly. Hughes was looking between the two of them, obviously confused. Roy remembered himself and introduced them.
"It's nice to meet you!" Hughes said and shook her hand. "I wish it was under different circumstances, of course."
She went to visit Roy from time to time. It was comforting to have him there, even if they were both so different. The last time they'd seen each other, the last time they'd been together, she couldn't bear to think about. She called him Sir because it was her duty. She protected him from hidden heights while he used her father's flame alchemy to destroy lives.
Guilt wracked her during the nights. She slept when she could, but most of the time she was kept awake by the images of burning fire. The circles beneath her eyes darkened, the amount of time between shots shortened, and her will to carry on faltered.
Then the war ended.
Some people celebrated. Others just waited for their chance to board the train home. Roy found her burying an Ishvalan child. He was angry – not at her, of course, but at the world. He hated seeing her so defeated. He hated that she was no longer that scrawny fourteen year old that lived just down the hall. He wished for the days when he was just her friend and things were easy.
"Rid me of this," she begged. "I believed in you. I trusted you. Burn it off of me. Deface my back."
It was the last thing he wanted to do. He didn't want to harm her. But, really, how could he tell her no? She asked so little of him. She trusted him with the most important and dangerous thing in her life, and he betrayed her. She was a saint; he was a savage.
Reluctantly, "Okay," he said.
She was shipping out later that day; he the next. He refused to do it in the middle of the desert, away from good medical care. "You'll have to wait until we get home," he told her. "I'll do it there."
"As soon as you can," she requested.
He hated himself for agreeing.
Roy was promoted and given his own office. He sent a request for Riza Hawkeye and she showed up the next day. "I would like you to be my personal assistant," he said. She quickly agreed. He was glad to see that the haunted look in her eyes had begun to fade away.
"I'm off on Wednesday," he whispered to her before she left to sign her orders. "You'll have that day, too. Do you have an apartment?"
She didn't, so he gave her his address.
"Thank you," she said. "Thank you."
She was nervous with anticipation. She would never again have to fear the escape of her secrets. Roy's apartment was half a mile from Headquarters and three blocks from the dorm Riza was sharing with Rebecca. (Rebecca was being transferred to the East in a few days, at which point Riza would have to find somewhere else to go.)
She walked to his apartment with her head held high. She saluted the superior officers she passed on her way there and ducked into Roy's building without anyone seeing. He answered the door with hair wet from a shower, towel still around his neck. He was shirtless but wearing pants.
For half a second, her determination wavered.
Then she realized that she was a Second Lieutenant in the military and this was her commanding officer. She didn't salute because they weren't in uniform, but she considered it. He stepped aside and let her into the apartment. It was sparsely furnished and still a little musty from the months of being unused. The furnishings screamed bachelor and it was charming in a way.
"I've got everything set up in the bedroom so you can lie on the bed," he said in way of greeting. He looked grim and a little green. She knew how much he didn't want to do this.
There was no coat rack or closet, so she laid her jacket over the arm of the couch. The clothing she'd worn was baggy, thinking ahead on her part for when she would have to cover the burn. He led her through the apartment to the bedroom, where he grabbed a t-shirt from the wardrobe and slipped it over his head.
"I could get you some tea or coffee," he offered.
"No, thank you." She sat on the bed with her back straight.
On the table beside the bed was a collection of supplies. Soft cloths, a bowl of water, burn cream, bandages, and a large towel. When he asked her to undress, she was not modest. She turned her back to him and pulled her shirt off in one swift motion. Months in cramped quarters with other soldiers had changed her. More people than she could count had seen her body; it was no longer a big deal to flash or be flashed. The only thing she had ever tried to hide was her back.
Roy spread the towel over the bed and she laid upon it. Behind her, Roy moved around, getting himself ready.
"I don't have to warn you that it's going to hurt," he said to fill the silence.
She folded her arms and rested her head. "I know. I'm sorry I'm putting you through this."
He sat down beside her and touched her skin. He traced the lines, the circle, and the lizard. She was reminded of the last time he'd touched her bare skin. But then he pulled away and she let out a shaky breath.
Riza heard him pull on his glove.
"I'm going to burn as little as possible," he said. "I'll destroy all of the important parts, but I'm not going to ruin your entire back. That would be cruel on more than one level."
"Okay," she said.
His hands shook. Staring down at his hand hovering over Riza's back, Roy could see every Ishvalan he'd killed flash before his eyes. The explosions, the screaming, the stench of burning flesh. He wasn't looking forward to smelling that again. But I can help her heal this time, he told himself.
"Get ready," he warned her, and then he snapped.
It lasted less than three seconds. The flame concentrated on her left shoulder and the center of the tattoo. The scream that emitted from her hidden lips was like a rope around his heart. "I'm so sorry," he whispered over and over while she whimpered into his sheets. For more than an hour, he placed cool, wet rags onto her back, flipping or switching them when the heat from the burn seeped into them. When she fell quiet and the trembling stopped, Roy removed the cloths.
"I'm going to put some of the ointment on the burns." His own voice sounded foreign and tight.
Riza's voice sounded similar – shaky and strained. "Okay."
He took care of her, cleaned her up, and tried to keep her as comfortable as possible. After two hours, she was able to sit up on the bed. For a moment, she covered her chest, but then she remembered that he'd already seen her naked and she dropped her arm.
"You need to let it air out for a while." He left the room and came back a few minutes later with some toast and tea for her. She nibbled at the toast and drank the tea slowly, but felt better afterwards nonetheless. "Take cool showers for at least a week. Anything warmer than that will be agony."
When the sun started to sink below the horizon, Riza slowly stood and reached for her shirt.
"You can stay, you know," Roy said. "It would be better if you did so I can clean the wounds tomorrow."
She seriously thought about staying. She considered waking up in his bed, feeling his fingers on her back as he rubbed ointment onto her burns. Then she shook her head and woke herself up. She was a Lieutenant. He was her superior.
"Thank you," she said. "But I'll be fine."
"Take this, then." He gave her the tube of ointment.
Riza dressed slowly, carefully. When she hissed at the contact of cotton on raw skin, Roy helped her out and gently pulled the shirt down. She took twice as long to tie her shoes (the shirt pulled tightly over her back when she bent) but she managed.
At the door, he helped her into her coat. She turned and saluted him.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Sir."
"Yes." He mimicked her tone. "Goodnight, Lieutenant."
Riza moved out of the dorms and into her own apartment. It was a small, one-roomed place with cheap furniture and more than enough room to store her meager possessions. Her home was a disposable one. Being in the military, she could be transferred at any time. But it was still home.
She was a month into her new life when there was a knock on the door. She'd been in the office all morning, making sure the day's paperwork was sorted, signed, and filed. She had been sent home for the afternoon when, somehow, the paperwork got finished early. When she opened the door, she was surprised to see him.
"Hello, Sir." She stepped aside to allow him into the apartment.
She headed for the small kitchen. "Can I get you anything, Sir?" When he didn't reply, she went to find him. He was standing in front of her small bookshelf and holding a figurine she'd had since her fifteenth birthday. He turned to look at her.
"I can't believe you still have this."
"Of course I still have it, Sir." He watched her for a long moment. She almost faltered under his gaze. She asked again, "Can I get you a drink?"
He slowly put the figurine back onto the shelf and shook his head. Then, seeming to make his mind up about something, he turned and strode purposefully towards her. She didn't expect what came. He took her into his arms and kissed her with everything he had. For a moment, she kissed back. Then she came to her senses and braced her hands on his chest; she gently pushed him away.
"Sir, this isn't a good idea." The heat pooling between her thighs didn't agree with her decision.
His mind thought it through at lightning speed. "We're going to be working together for a long time. Just let me have you once more. Please, Riza. Just one more time."
Hearing him say her name made her knees week. She couldn't have argued if she'd wanted to.
"One time," she said weakly. His smile made it all worth it.
Roy had expectations, of course. They'd been together once before and he knew how she was – or how she had been. Had she slept with other men since that first time? Was he still her one and only? He quickly found that she was different than before, but not in a bad way.
She took control, as she did with most things now that she was in charge of him. (Yes, he outranked her in the military, but they both knew that she had him whipped.) Being only a one-room apartment, they didn't have far to go to get to the bed. He was gentle with her, just as he was the first time, but they were both much more hurried and frantic.
He stripped her of her clothes in only minutes and she returned the favor. She was louder now, more firm in her movements, and she knew what she wanted. He felt irrationally jealous, thinking of another man being between her legs.
"Say my name," he growled. He touched her roughly, not enough to hurt her, but enough to set the tone of their movements. She threaded fingers through his hair and tugged, her own head thrown back amongst the pillows. He nipped at her neck in return.
"Roy." She tightened her legs around him and responded to his strokes. She tried to get to him, tried to touch him, but the angle in conjunction with his mood would not allow her. She moaned, groaned in frustration, and pulled him into a fierce kiss. He worked his fingers into her; she ground wildly against him.
"I want you," he said into the space between her breasts.
Riza clenched around him. "Please.
He didn't have a condom and she didn't care. Removing the obstructing hand, he positioned himself and entered her quickly. For all her outer actions, she was unbelievably tight and tense inside. Maybe she hadn't been with anyone else. He had to wait a moment while the crease between her eyes smoothed out, but she recovered quickly and dug her nails into his skin to get him to move.
She allowed him only a few moments of control. When he was least expecting it, she pushed him away. He grunted in confusion as he slipped out of her, but quickly realized her motives. She pushed him down on the bed and climbed above him. She bent down to whisper in his ear.
"You're going to remember this."
She blew him away with everything she had. She settled onto him and kept a fast pace, full of surprises. She braced her hands against his chest and they moved together until her legs began to shake. Close to her end, she suddenly buried herself in his shoulder and cried out with each of his thrusts. She clung to him, covered him and begged him.
His hand slid down her side, over the crest of her hipbone, and down to where she was most sensitive. She sobbed into his shoulder, said his name with abandon, and tightened around him with her completion. She sagged against him as he finished.
They stayed there, together like a puzzle, until her muscles would allow it no more. As she moved off of him (a gasp escaped her lips as he slipped out), his fingers grazed the healing burns on her back and she froze.
"Do they hurt?" he asked.
Eyes closed, she shook her head. "They're sensitive."
He touched the marks again, gently. "Is it bad?"
She opened her eyes to look at him and the heat at the base of his spine rekindled. There was a fire in her eyes unlike anything he had ever witnessed. She had never before been so beautiful. They moved together twice more through the night, but when the morning came, she bathed and dressed alone.
He watched her with soft eyes for a week, but soon realized that she had meant what she said and was planning to keep her word. He averted his eyes, schooled himself, and kept his too.
East City was a relief. With less of the big city noise, they were able to relax and settle for a while. The people were friendlier, the bars were plenty, and there was a bagel shop one block away from Riza's apartment. When Roy awoke early on a winter morning and couldn't get back to sleep, he slipped out of bed, put on his uniform, and went for a pre-work walk.
He stopped in the bagel shop, picked up some breakfast and coffee, and knocked on her door. The sun had been in the sky for less than an hour, so when she didn't answer immediately, he knocked again. He heard movement behind the door and smiled despite himself.
She answered the door wearing nothing but her robe. Her legs and feet were bare and thanks to not pulling the garment tight enough around her collar, he was able to see a sliver of naked shoulder. He was going to make a crude joke and maybe slip some flirting in, but then he realized that she hadn't stepped aside to let him in like she always did.
When he only stared at her, she said, "Did you need something, Sir?"
The apartment was only so big. He peeked around her and saw the bed – still occupied. She wasn't alone. He was dumbfounded. Surprised. Hurt.
"Oh," he said in a small voice. He turned to leave but she caught his sleeve.
"I can't always be alone, Roy," she said softly. "Please understand."
There was a hint of hatred in his eyes. Her throat tightened. He pulled out of her grasp and backed away. Everything about him was suddenly icy.
"Nor can I, Lieutenant."
When she arrived in the office later in the day, he called her to his desk and apologized in a hushed voice. "I'm sorry," he said. "I've hurt you. I shouldn't be so judgmental."
"I know you haven't been alone all this time, either," she whispered back, pretending to arrange a stack of papers on his desk.
"No," he agreed. "But I never had the one I wanted."
"Stop it," she pleaded. "You know we can't." His eyes flashed, just once more, and then he deflated. He didn't say anything else about it.
"I was just about to send the Lieutenant to join her superior."
Her world stopped. He was dead. Lust had killed him. He was dead. He was dead and she was in love with him. She had known it for years; hell, they both had. The words had never been said, but it was implied. It was there. They had learned from their years together that things would never work out if they both wanted to keep their jobs. She would always be a rank to him; she would never again be Riza. She was okay with that. She was okay with just being a rank, a Lieutenant, as long as she was his Lieutenant. But, still. She loved him.
The weight of the admission brought her to her knees.
Alphonse was protecting her. She screamed at him to leave her. She wanted to die, too. She was ready to die. But he wouldn't get out of the way. He was as stubborn as his brother and she was blocked from each blow by his armor. She sobbed herself into numbness.
"I won't stand by while anyone else gets killed!"
Yelled at by a child that was braver than she. Her head hang and tears ran. And then,
"I couldn't have said it better myself."
Suddenly, the world restarted.
Riza hated him for telling her to wait. She was not an animal, but she was his subordinate, and it was an order. Still, it was also her duty to protect him; she had promised him that. At first, she could hear the rush of flames speeding towards their target and the screams of the homunculus. But then they moved farther into the labyrinth and her heart picked up speed. She was alone with her thoughts and he was alone with a monster.
She promised herself that she would apologize to him later and began into the maze of hallways and passages. She found him quickly, or so she thought. Something wasn't right. She'd felt uneasy from the moment they ran into one another.
The proof came with one breath. "You might as well help me kill him while you're here. Stay right by my side."
She took a chance and raised her gun.
It was luck that he was near enough to hear her gunfire. The bullets didn't hold Envy off for long and she suffered a deep gash for her trouble. She was thrown to the ground and then saved by the man fighting his own doppelganger.
That was the moment in which she was afraid of him. He had the eyes of a madman. He cared of nothing else but revenge; he didn't even seem to notice that she was there beside him. Suddenly, he was everything she feared. He had become what he had promised he would not. Her father's secrets had turned this man into a monster.
He apologized, after.
"I've done it again. I've hurt you."
She forgave him, but she did not forget.
Lying in a pool of her own blood on a transmutation circle, she accepted her fate. How many times should she have died by that point? In the last year alone, at least three times. Or was it four? Five? Ten? How many chances did she have?
Roy loved her. He didn't have to say the words; she just knew. His love couldn't save her, but maybe she could save him, just one last time. She gave the signal and he understood. Help is on the way. She could see the moving shadows above her and, although she was unable to distinguish uniforms or loyalties, she had a gut feeling that they were safe.
He would be saved. It would all be okay. She let go. She closed her eyes.
She awoke a few minutes later, cradled in his arms. He smiled at her and, once more, all was right in the world.
When she opened her eyes to the darkness of the hospital room, she could sense that he was awake. She whispered his name and he shifted towards her. So much had happened. His eyes. She did not pity him; she only worried about the future state of his mental health.
"Are you awake?" he whispered across to her.
"Yes," she breathed. Her eyes adjusted to the room's darkness; his could not.
"What time is it?"
She couldn't see the clock, so she guessed. "Very early. The sun's not up yet and probably won't be for another few hours."
Needlessly, he told her, "I can't tell."
With a tight throat, she whispered back, "I know."
He was quiet for such a long moment that she was sure he'd fallen asleep. Not wanting to disturb him, she settled back down into her bed, but then he spoke again. "How is your neck?" She felt no pain but had been a little dizzy; she told him as much. He whispered, "I'm glad you're okay."
Riza couldn't bring herself to say I'm sorry that you're not, so she didn't say anything at all.
And, really, Dr. Marcoh was a savior.
Roy decided that a General should have a house, so he bought one. She stayed in his guest room while roof repairs were being made to her apartment building. She frequently left the office before he did, so he gave her a key, and she made herself at home. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't hard, either. They fit together, kept out of each other's way, and played the game of tides when they ran into each other in the hallway.
He got home on a Thursday night and found her asleep on the couch. She was already in her pajamas, hair damp, feet bare. She looked so peaceful and he would have left her there, but he'd fallen asleep on that couch before and it wasn't that comfortable. He sat beside her and played a game.
"Riza," he whispered, touching her face. "Riza," he whispered, touching her hair. "Riza," he whispered, touching her lips.
Her eyes fluttered open. He brushed back her hair (it was growing out again, curling cutely around her chin) and grazed her cheek. For a fraction of a second, she leaned into his touch. But then her senses came to her and she pulled away.
"No," she said, sitting up and moving away. He hid his disappointment well.
"You should go to bed," he told her. In the haze of sleepiness, she swayed. For a second, time stood still. Then he kissed her. When she pulled away, he pleaded with her. "There are more important things than work."
"No," she said again. "Not for you, there aren't."
"Please," he said. She gave in.
He walked her slowly to the bedroom, dropping clothes along the way. In the doorway, she wrapped her hand around him and his knees shook. Searching for purchase, he ran gentle fingertips over the scars on her back. She released him and gasped into his neck. He smiled.
"Are they still sensitive?" He repeated the action, eliciting another delicious moan.
"No," she said breathlessly. "Only when you are touching them. They are yours."
He laid her on her front on the bed and ran his tongue over the old burns. She writhed and cried out beneath him and came without him ever touching her. She rolled over and covered her face in embarrassment. He laughed and kissed away her blush.
She turned to him and he laid beside her, taking her slowly. She hitched her leg over him and sighed with each of his movements. Their outside world dripped away; they were only Roy and Riza. Nothing else mattered in that moment.
He finished first and then leisurely rubbed her until she did, too. They stayed there until their breathing was normal. When she opened her mouth to speak, he stopped her.
"I know what you're going to say," he said quietly. "Please don't do this to me. Not again."
She hid her face in his shoulder. "I'm sorry."
"I want you," he said. "All of you, always. I don't want to wait another two years for this to happen again. I don't want you to think of me as a mistake." He covered her with his body. "I want to wake up here."
"Damn you," she whispered hoarsely.
"Tell me you don't want this and I'll leave you alone." He ran a hand down her back and she trembled but said nothing. "There are two things I have always wanted in this life: to become Fuhrer and to have you."
"Liar," she said wetly, and laughed.
"You don't have to believe me," he said. "But I hope you will."
"I want this," she admitted, eyes closed.
"I always make you cry," he pointed out.
She laughed quietly. "No, I always make myself cry. I denied myself you."
He kissed her nose, her cheeks, her eyelids and her fingers. They made up for lost time.