Five Times Riza Hawkeye Said No to Roy Mustang (and one time she said yes)
The first time she learned to say no to the man, she was young (not much older than 18, still naïve, but she had been born for this job). She got transferred into his division first thing, fresh out of training and still a little bit shiny-eyed, and he thought that she was just a pretty face. He had a tendency to do that.
When the new platoon had lined up in the courtyard of Central headquarters, rod-straight and saluting, for the higher-ups to inspect, Roy Mustang had been there, hands by his sides and his gloves conspicuously on display (he was only a major then, no real right to pass any kind of judgment on them, but he was the Flame Alchemist so they would probably let him get away with just about anything). She had heard the stories, of course, and she was later glad that he had never been a hero of hers. He would have been a real disappointment.
But at first, he was awe-inspiring. He swept past them all, wearing his favorite self-satisfied smirk, inspecting them – not critically, not really, but just enough to make sure they knew that he was watching – and had made sure his overcoat was blowing in the breeze. She suspected that he might have been manipulating the oxygen density in the air to make the wind blow just right.
On his second pass, once the other commanding officers had given them their mark of approval – or at least reluctant acceptance, this was the military after all – he stopped in front of her. His smile very nearly sparked with charm.
"Well, now, here's something. What's your name, private?" he asked her, and if truth be told her heart pattered for just a moment. Roy Mustang was becoming a legend, for several reasons.
"Elizabeth Hawkeye, sir," she very nearly shouted, staring straight ahead.
"Whoa, easy there," he said with an easy laugh, and Riza began to see why he had begun to garner such a reputation in other areas. "I wasn't asking in order to test your training, or your lung strength. You're out of boot camp now, you can relax, I promise. I was asking because you are very pretty, and I was wondering if you'd be interested in having dinner with me tonight."
She blinked, and her salute faltered a little bit. She glanced down the line at her fellow soldiers to see if she could get any hints – because what did you do in this situation?
Everybody else stared dead ahead, their salutes rock-steady. No help from that quarter.
She straightened her own salute again, and stared straight forward, past him, doing her best not to meet his eyes. When in doubt, follow the letter of the law.
"That's fraternization, sir," she said, and he gave another low chuckle.
"Come on now, Private Hawkeye – may I call you Elizabeth?"
"I don't suppose I can stop you, sir."
"Elizabeth. Fraternization isn't a crime. Well, it is, but not one that they would prosecute the famous Flame Alchemist for," he told her. She wondered if his head could get any bigger. "I guess I could order you to come to dinner with me, couldn't I?"
She heard a snigger from down the line, and glanced murder to her left, hoping to catch the perpetrator. No such luck.
"Yes sir. You could, sir." A pause. "That would be harassment, sir."
He pulled back, looking absolutely bewildered for half a second. This time the laugh he gave was full and loud.
He clapped her on the shoulder, like he would a man.
"A fine point, Private Hawkeye," he said. She breathed a sigh of relief. "I like you. I'm sure you're going to make a brilliant soldier."
She didn't let herself smile back at him, but kept her face stone-straight.
"Thank you, sir."
"I suspect I'll be seeing you, then," he told her, then swept off back down the line. She allowed herself a tiny smile: the famous Flame Alchemist, defeated at his own game.
If he ever really tried anything, Riza Hawkeye had a gun and knew just where to aim.
The second time was the night before the plunge.
The bar closest to the dormitories buzzed with noise and energy all around her as she stirred her gin and tonic, alone, at the bar, watching the ripples lethargically. She probably looked much more drunk than she actually was, like she had hit the melancholy point of inebriation. But tonight, of all nights, she needed a goddamn gin and tonic.
"Elizabeth Hawkeye, fancy seeing you here," she heard from behind her, and turned to see Roy Mustang, hands shoved in his uniform pockets and smirking like he was god's gift to this earth. She smiled back at him, just a little bit, feeling more tired than she had realized. A glance over to the tables told her that Alex Armstrong and Maes Hughes weren't far behind him, as ever – Hughes, chatting up some pretty lady, and Alex causing quite the commotion as he throbbed his muscles at anyone who had the misfortune to be looking.
"Sir," she acknowledge, giving a cursory salute. She paused for a second, then, without thinking, said: "Riza, actually," because tonight of all nights she felt like she didn't want to keep him at arm's length anymore. "My friends call me Riza."
She watched him closely, preparing herself for one of his practiced lady-killer smiles. She was immune when properly warned.
Instead, to her surprise, Roy Mustang gave her a thoughtful look, and sat down on the bar-stool to her right. Many times, he had sat there next to her, drinking, and she listened as he talked. Sometimes she thought that that was really all he needed. Their meetings were spontaneous, never planned, and she never gave him her number.
"Glass of brandy, please," he told the bartender, then turned back to her, and this time there was a small smile – a smile, but she saw something behind it that she had never seen before. A bit of sadness, maybe: but really, a look that on someone else might have been described as vulnerable.
"Riza, then," he agreed. "Riza. I like it."
She made a noise of agreement and took a sip.
"Does that mean we're friends now?"
"If you like," she said, listening to the clink of glass on the wooden countertop as the bartender put down his drink.
"Doesn't that just fill a man with confidence," he said, giving her a laugh. He took a sip of the amber liquid. "Why the sudden change of heart?"
She paused, and looked at him, confused. Surely...?
After a pregnant silence, when the din of the bar patrons faded to a hum around them, she finally said:
"Because I don't know how much longer I'll be alive to give you my name, or how much longer you'll be alive to hear it."
His face sobered, and he took a long swig.
"So, to the moment, right?" he said, raising his glass in a bit of a salute.
"I suppose so."
They both stayed silent for a moment, and finished their drinks. Roy ordered another with a wave of his hand.
"But... you're not going to be in the main action, right?" he asked her, elbows on the bar and fingers laced together. "You're a class-A sniper, or so I've heard. Best in our division, at least."
"You're too kind, sir."
"Please, Riza. Don't call me 'sir'. Not tonight."
"Yes, sir," she agreed with a hint of a smile, and he sighed at her. "But, just because I'm special ops doesn't mean I'm not going to be in the line of fire. Snipers are a high-priority target for enemy troops."
"Not as much as State Alchemists," Roy said. His voice sounded so blank that she couldn't help but look to him in surprise. His face was schooled carefully. He was already almost finished with his second glass.
"I suppose that's true," she agreed, quietly. "You're on the front lines."
"Of course. We'll go in quickly, kill quickly, win the war quickly. That's the idea. Basque Gran has it all planned out."
Riza stirred her drink more, and listened to Armstrong's declarations of his impeccable virility.
"Aren't you scared?" she finally asked.
"Scared?" He laughed then, and she couldn't help but think that it didn't sound healthy at all. "I'm not scared. I'm the Flame Alchemist. This is what I'm for. I'm a dog of the military, here to go where they send me." He finished his drink in one gulp. "I'm terrified." He gestured lazily to the rest of the room. "So's everybody here. They know the casualty rate in Ishbal. They also know they're going in with every last state alchemist who can do a bit of damn good, and maybe that'll help the war effort in general, you know, but they're all also pretty sure it won't help them. Basque Gran doesn't seem too terribly concerned with the common soldier."
Riza stayed silent.
"So that's why I'm here to ask you for a favor," he began. She saw the customary glint return to his eyes. "Riza Hawkeye, you get even prettier by the day. It would be my deepest honor to buy you your next drink, and to escort you to my humble abode for further... conversation."
Of course. It was ridiculous that she had ever been expecting anything else from the man.
"It's the night before we ship out to Ishbal, Riza. Nobody would blame us. Hell, at least half of the men here are going home with some pretty lady or gentleman. They don't know when their next chance is going to be."
She pulled out her wallet to pay for the drinks, and made to stand up.
"It's Hawkeye," she corrected him, trying not to sound angry, or disappointed. "I'm not one of your ladies, Major. I am a Chief Warrant Officer in the State Military, and I wish you would respect me as such."
He swiveled to face her, brow wrinkled.
"Respect you?" A pause. "Warrant Officer Hawkeye, of course I respect you. You might be the cleverest, most talented, prettiest woman I know." Another pause, and Riza flushed pink. "I'm very sorry that I haven't made that clear."
She felt a swell of pride, but shoved it down again, wondering how many times he had used a similar line on other women.
"Well then, sir," she said, leaving a sizable tip for the bartender and shoving her wallet back into her pocket, "please respect me enough not to try to get me into your bed every few days."
She turned to walk away, and just caught Hughes making a face and shaking his head at Mustang.
"...It's been at least a couple of weeks since the last time," he called out weakly to her retreating back, pathetically. "Alright, well, I'll see you later, then." Another pause. "I'll still buy you that drink, if you're taking!"
She might have been shipping out to war the next day, but she found herself smiling all the way home.
The third time was the worst.
Lieutenant Colonel Roy Mustang's tent smelled like dust, and unwashed bodies, and whiskey – but then, everywhere in Ishbal seemed to smell that way, when it didn't smell like blood, and sulfur, and rotting bodies under the scorching desert sun. There was no mercy to be had in these lands, either for the living or for the fallen.
Riza Hawkeye fought against an urge to hold her breath as she entered, the combination of sudden darkness and stink hitting her like a wall. Her gut, always tense from the ever-present threat of death, had knotted itself into circles.
There was no response: her eyes adjusted to the dark only slowly. She began to make out the silhouette of a form, sitting upright on the bed, and in the pale light she could see glass gleaming all around – glass bottles.
"Let's get some light in here," she said, and pulled a matchbox from her pocket, then struck it to light the much-abused gas lamp that hung from the ceiling. "Sir?" she asked, when there was no response: the lamp cast is orange light on him.
And then she saw: Roy Mustang, stripped of everything that had made him who he was – stripped of his uniform, his gloves, his stoic mask, his dignity –
Roy Mustang, with red eyes, face sallow and haggard – Roy Mustang, with transmutation circles drawn on his chest, on his arms, his shoulders, his bed – Roy Mustang, with a gun to his chin, pointed up through his artery, through his cavities, through his skull and his brain and –
Riza Hawkeye froze there, for a moment.
"I don't think I could do it, you know."
A beat. "Sir, please put the gun down."
"Hawkeye. You're clever. You're rational. So tell me," he asked, giving a choked laugh, "should I go ahead and try to bring them back, and give myself in payment? Or should I just kill myself right now?"
She moved forward, excruciatingly slow, as if she were stalking a wild animal.
"Sir, please put the gun down."
"It's one of the two, Hawkeye. You get to pick."
"If you think I'm rational, please, listen to me. Dying isn't going to make anything better for anyone." A pause. "Just think about it, sir. Think of what it would do to Hughes. Think of Armstrong. Think of your friends back in Central."
When he laughed, this time, it sounded like a sob.
"They never knew me, I guess. I didn't even know myself. I never thought I would be capable of -" His words were interrupted by a sudden cough: a wracking cough, tearing at his lungs. Everyone coughed, here. The sand got in your lungs – in your eyes, in your nose, in everything, and nothing you could do would get it out. The gun rattled with each shudder, still shoved into the weakest part of him. He hadn't moved.
"Sir... what happened today?"
"I had my orders, and I followed them. Like a good little dog."
"Then whatever, happened, sir, you're not to blame."
"No, Hawkeye. Don't you get it? I am responsible for everything that I do. I could have refused the order. I could have turned around and shot that bastard Gran myself."
"They would have killed you."
"And I'd be better off dead."
"Don't say that, sir. It's not true."
He finally let the gun fall away from his neck, and placed it carefully next to him. Riza almost gave a sigh of relief, but then she saw the look on his face: no longer scared and grieved and horrified, his eyes were dead, black and impenetrable. The slight curl of his lip gave away his emotion.
"You don't know what I did."
"Then tell me," she said, finally chancing the last few steps over to his bed and sitting down next to him.
"You're going to hate me." She didn't respond, but carefully took the gun and placed it in her own coat pocket. "I deserve it, too."
He slumped forward, propping his elbows up on his knees, and she didn't know what to do, what to say.
"You know those civilian doctors? The Rockbells?"
She nodded, and felt the pit grow harder in her stomach. "Yes. They're good people."
"Were good people. Now they're dead."
Her throat closed up, and she put her hand on the man's back.
"The goddamned Brigadier General ordered me to kill them. They had been treating everyone, soldier and Ishballan alike, and he said that they were – that the people they were treating were coming back to kill us all. I shot them dead, Hawkeye. Shot them right there. I stood there and watched as they died together, bleeding out all over the floor." Another pause. His voice broke as he began again. "I shot them with a picture of their daughter in their hands. A little girl. Probably five. I shot both of her parents, now she's alone. She's going to get one of those damned impersonal letters from the military saying that they were killed by insurgents, and that they're very sorry, their deepest condolences, and who the fuck do I think I am? Power over life and death... that's what it feels like alchemy is. Anything but."
She couldn't do anything but put her arm around his shoulders.
"It's war. Things happen. You thought you were in the right."
"That's the thing, though. I didn't. I just was ordered to and I did it, trusting in some grand plan, that my superiors knew what they were talking about – but I knew. I knew what I was doing, and it was wrong. As they died, I realized that there is no hell deep enough for me, that no grand plan could justify the deaths of those people."
And then he sat up, and turned, and looked her in the eyes: she saw then how the bags beneath his eyes puffed red, drawn downwards by the weight of it all. He looked at her – really looked at her, stared. The stink of alcohol hung heavy over him. And then he kissed her.
It was sloppy and drunk and tasted like whiskey – the sad man's drink, she thought – and his tongue couldn't even make it out of his mouth properly, to taste her.
She pulled away, before he could try again.
"Please," he said, breathy. "Please. If I can't die, at least help me forget. Just for a little while."
"I can't, sir," she told him, but put a hand on his knee. "We can't."
"What, because the rules? Fuck the military rules, Hawkeye, and fuck the military, they're fucking us, after all -"
"No, sir. We can't. Taking advantage of someone is wrong."
He pulled back from her with a look of shock and horror on his face, and she immediately regretted her choice of words.
"I'm not taking advantage of anybody, I can take no for an answer, I'm not forcing you -"
"No, sir. That's not how I meant it. I meant that I would be taking advantage of you."
He started to laugh then, and even if it was a little bit hysterical – very hysterical, maybe, and certainly not healthy – it was better than his dead look.
"You? Hawkeye, I'm asking for it. I'm begging you. Do I have to get down on my knees? Because I will."
She squeezed his knee, and felt her face tighten.
"You're drunk, sir. Roy. You are drunk and you are grieving and suffering from I don't even know what, and it would be against every moral code I have to have... relations with you, while you're in this state."
He just kept laughing, and buried his face in his hands.
"Riza Hawkeye, you are the strangest, most extraordinary woman I've ever met."
"If you keep saying things like that, sir, it's going to go to my head," she said, giving him a soft smile. He finally pulled his face out of his hands, and propped his elbows on his knees again, hunched over and staring at the floor.
"Stay with me," he said, after a moment, and she stiffened. "No, not like that. You've made yourself clear on that point more than once. Stay, here. I just... don't want to be alone." He sounded so sad, and lost, and broken, that she couldn't help but nod.
That night, she lay in bed, awake, her arms around Roy Mustang, and listened to the sound of the desert wind around them.
The Ishbal Genocide had scarred everyone, but no one more than the Flame Alchemist. He had finished the job, survived the fight with all of his limbs intact, and yet – something was missing. He was left a slower man than he had been, quieter, more thoughtful.
Roy Mustang was not a man that Riza was accustomed to pitying.
He had gotten a desk job in Central Headquarters, and he begun to pull strings, make connections, plans, but all of it was halfhearted. She had never known Roy Mustang to do anything important than less than a hundred percent of himself.
She thought of the tent in Ishbal, and the bed they had shared. She wondered how many more dark nights he had pulled through without her.
One day, in a rare fit of his former ebullience, he had marched straight up to her at their usual place at the bar and told her that he was going to be Fuhrer someday, and fix the world. She had told him that she might just have to follow him, then. So, for the past several weeks, she had found herself in a position she had never expected – babysitter to the laziest, most tireless, ambitious, manipulative, visionary man she had ever known. A far cry from the chaos of Ishbal, and mostly she was grateful for it.
They may have been far from Ishbal, but Ishbal was never far from them. They hadn't even been back a month, yet.
One day, as she busied herself filing papers in his office cabinet, he said something quite unusual.
"I'm sorry, I don't think I quite heard you, sir," she said, glancing over with curiosity as he tapped his pen on the table, slouched to the side with one cheek propped up against his fist.
"I said, I'm thinking of quitting the military. Going back to civilian life. Being a freelance alchemist, or maybe going and joining a university somewhere, or..."
She quirked an eyebrow at him. Even with all of his alchemical knowledge, she couldn't ever see Roy Mustang as a university professor. Not enough excitement. Not enough glory.
"What brought this on, sir?"
"I'm sick of it. I'm sick of this military, I'm sick of the lies and the simpering and the manipulation. I'm sick of being party to... some of the most horrible things," he said. His voice had gone quiet, and he stared determinedly at the table.
"This is about Ishbal, isn't it."
"Isn't it always?"
"But – that's why you're going to become Fuhrer, isn't it? To stop things like that from ever happening again."
"I'm never going to become Fuhrer, and if I did, I'd probably end up just like everybody else – corrupt, power-hungry, amoral..."
"That's why you have me, sir. And Major Hughes, and Major Armstrong, and everyone. To keep you from becoming like them."
He didn't respond for a moment, and kept tapping his pen on the desk.
"I'm turning in my resignation papers tomorrow."
She snapped around at him.
"You are doing no such thing."
"Excuse me? I believe that's insubordination."
"It's not insubordination if you've as good as left. I know all of this is hard on you but you have all of us supporting you. We need you, here. We need your expertise, we need your vision for how this new country is going to be. We can't do it without you."
"Maybe the country doesn't need a leader like me," he said, voice low and quiet.
"Sir, I will chain you to your desk f that's what it takes to keep you from leaving this office."
That had an effect. Her heart lightened as he regained a bit of his poise, a long satisfied smirk.
"Oh? I should have known that that's what you're into, Second Lieutenant. If that was what you wanted, then all you had to do was ask."
She twitched, and very nearly went for her pistol.
"Spare me, sir. Don't make me carry out my threat – it will be much less fun than you're imagining it will be, I'm sure. You will not enjoy what I will do to you." She paused to let that sink in. "Do we understand each other?"
He gave her a laugh, then, and it was freer than anything she'd seen from him in months.
"Perfectly, my dear Hawkeye. Crystal clear."
"That's good, then," she said, and turned properly to his desk. "Now, on the topic of ruling the world..."
"It's only going to get more dangerous from here on out," Roy Mustang said, and Riza listened, eyes narrowing, Breda and Fuery and Falman lined up to either side. She didn't like where this was going. "You are under no obligation to assist with the assault, and absolutely no obligation to follow me where I am planning to go. If you do, someone is probably going to die. By this time tomorrow, we aren't just going to be deserters. We're going to be proper rebels. I will not hold it against you if you decide to get out of the city and hide, make a new life for yourselves somewhere."
Riza refused to clench her fists. Such an outward display of emotion in front of subordinate officers would be unseemly.
"In fact. I'm highly suggesting it. Recommending it, even."
"Permission to speak freely, sir?" Riza asked, keeping her voice still and professional.
Roy quirked an eyebrow at her.
"You always do, Lieutenant. I don't know why you're asking now."
"Roy Mustang, with all due respect, sir, sometimes I think you're the stupidest man I've ever met. There is no way in hell we're leaving you now."
She turned on her heel and began to march out.
"But lieutenant -"
"That is all, Colonel."
They walked together that night in silence, looking up at the pale washed-out sky and its few stars. City lights obscured so much of the darkened sky, but on a cold, crisp evening like this one, it was still beautiful.
Beside her, Roy exuded heat, and she walked close to enjoy some of it – of course, the Flame Alchemist would be warm. Why wouldn't he be?
Somehow she couldn't believe that she had worked with him for so many years and only just realized that.
"Are you scared?" he asked, and she remembered another conversation that they had had together, years ago.
"Terrified," she said, with a half-smile. "But so is everyone else. It will either work, or it won't."
"That is true of most things," Roy agreed, and smiled back. "And I don't do half-measures."
If she knew anything was true, it was that. He was going to rule the world.
"For instance, this... will either work, or it won't," he said, and then turned to her – and he kissed her, there, on the cobblestone road. She froze, stiffened – it had been so many years since, since he had tried anything at all... His lips pressed, chaste, to hers, and he put a hand up to cup her cheek. They stayed that way for a lifetime: until, finally, she relaxed, and curled her hand around the front of Roy's shirt.
Roy pulled away after a moment, and gave her a smile to melt her – not his lady-killer smile, not the one he practiced for everyone else, but one just for her, soft, and quiet, and a little bit sad.
"Riza, please, let me take you to dinner, properly. Like a lady. Or a gentleman, I guess – hell, come in a fancy dress or sweatpants or a suit and tie, I don't care. I'll take you out anywhere you want to go – dinner, dancing, to the theatre or to the shooting range or anything you want." He reached out for her hand, and, stunned, she let him take it. "Just let me spend this evening with you. No strings attached, I promise."
His smile was small, and maybe just a bit self-deprecating, and suddenly she felt a little bit bad for how she'd treated him in the past.
"After all these years, you wouldn't say no to me now, would you?" he asked, sounding, not melancholy, not bitter, but softly regretful.
She felt something change then. She took a deep breath, squeezed his hand, and gave him a real smile.
"No," Riza said, softly. He almost pulled away at those words, but she didn't let go. "No, I wouldn't."
Roy smiled back at her, and tomorrow became just another day.
So sorry, to all the people who left because this lost its scene breaks. I totally forgot that FFN removes asterisks, which is what I usually use to make paragraph breaks. I don't know why it does that, it's stupid.
In any case, I would love it if you would comment. It would make me a very happy writer.