Hey lovelies! I have a new story idea, and if I get positive feedback, I'm thinking I'd like to continue it! This is eventually going to be very Royai and might get up into the M rating, but we'll keep it safe for now. This is also supposed to be pretty AU, but I'm going to try my best to keep the characters in character! :)

Disclaimer: I don't own FMA but I do own the plot!

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Prologue

It was involuntary. He didn't mean to let the air rush from his lungs in a mournful sigh whenever a new stack of paperwork was placed on his desk. Of course not; that would be unprofessional and Colonel Roy Mustang was nothing if not professional.

Nah, who was he kidding? He could barely keep his eyes open at work fifty percent of the time and the other fifty was spent trying to restrain himself from doodling alchemic notes on the edges of the files he reviewed and signed on. It wasn't his fault that the work here was so monotonous; he thought things would change when he got his promotion to colonel a couple months ago.

Yeah, a promotion to boredom. Whoopee.

"Damn it, Hawkeye, where in the hell did that stack come from? I thought this was the last one." Roy flourished at the couple unfinished files he'd been working on with a little too much heat and irritation. He tightened his hand around the pen and slammed the fist against the desk, looking up at her from his chair.

Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye propped her hands on her hips. While her voice was full of disapproval, her face betrayed nothing. "You should have listened when I told you we had one more to go, sir. It might be helpful to keep your eyes and ears open on the job, just for future references."

"You didn't say a word," he insisted with childish bitterness as he reached for a new stack of papers and placed some finished ones on a growing pile in the opposite corner of his desk. If only it wasn't the end of a week; he was just looking forward to his date tonight and sleeping in tomorrow morning. Realizing that he might not get his paperwork done before office hours were over terrified him because if there's anything he hated it was staying late on a Friday.

"She did, Colonel," Jean Havoc piped up from his own workspace outside of Roy's office. "Right after I mentioned it to you. Twice."

Roy didn't even spare his subordinate a glance as he flicked his pen back into place and went to work on the remaining files. "Shut up, Havoc, no one asked you."

"Yikes, who shoved the stick up his butt this morning?" Breda stage-whispered, clearly intending for Mustang to hear his remark. The man smirked at Havoc, who returned the expression. The boss made it too easy for them to frustrate him.

"Probably some fifty-two year old man with a weight problem," Havoc replied in much the same voice.

"That would explain why he's being so anal."

Even Fuery and Falman had a hard time keeping a straight face after that last comment, and chimed in laughing much harder than Riza thought necessary. She didn't usually mind being the only woman in the office; in fact she took pride in it until the men forgot that she actually was a woman. Men, she thought with an eye roll as she headed back to her desk. As much as she liked her job, the weekend would be a welcome reprieve from this.

Roy's hand was moving diligently across papers now, making Riza doubt that he was even taking the time to read them over. She wouldn't scold him now; he'd probably get a phone call on Monday asking about the papers and he wouldn't be able to answer them correctly. It would serve him right.

"Very funny, you two," he said. "You know what else would be funny? If I decommissioned both your asses and sent you back down to military police."

"Oh no," Breda cried. "I'm sorry Colonel; just don't make me go back there!"

"The secretaries aren't nearly as pretty!" Havoc chimed in desperately.

Riza sighed and pushed away from her desk, looking up at the clock. They only had about ten minutes left in the day, but she was finished with her side of things and decided to start cleaning up. Breda and Havoc carried on with their pleading as Mustang ignored them, his pen moving rapidly across the papers. She looked toward Falman and Fuery who seemed to be the only ones not getting on her nerves today and gave them a short nod.

"You two can start heading out," she said. "Thank you for your hard work today." She emphasized the last sentence to see if it worked at all, but she was ignored by the three men it was directed at. Of course, the small twitch at Roy's mouth went unnoticed by all. Her face might be all steel, but underneath that mask she was even more fiery than he was.

"Gee, thanks, Lieutenant!" Fuery grinned as he went for his coat.

She nodded at both men and turned back to the countertop where she began wiping up coffee stains and rinsing the half-drunk mugs of the brown bitter liquid down the sink.

"See you Monday, boys," Falman called good-naturedly as he made a beeline for the door, Fuery on his heels. "Colonel."

Roy waved both of them off; normally he'd disagree with Hawkeye for dismissing his subordinates, but she had a bit of a point and he knew most of it was to take a dig at Havoc and Breda, not himself. At least, that's what he told himself. It was hard to tell for sure because she merely continued on with washing the coffee counter and pretended like she was the only one around.

"What about us?" Breda asked, finally content that Roy wasn't going to remove them from his team. Not that he ever would have done that in the first place.

Mustang made another flourish with his pen and leaned back in his chair with a sigh. "Yes, you are both dismissed. Try not to do anything stupid this weekend."

Once both of them were gone, their profuse choruses of good behavior ringing behind them, Riza rung out the wash rag and draped it over the sink facet. Her shoulders relaxed with the silence, the only sound in the room the scratching of a pen. It was always easier to be around the Colonel when it was just them-she'd never been more comfortable around anyone else.

"You're free to go as well, Lieutenant," he said, his voice piercing the quiet.

She glanced over her shoulder to see him working maybe a little too quickly. The corner of her lips trembled as she fought a smile. "Thank you, sir, but I can't do my job if I leave before you."

He stopped for a moment and looked up at her as she walked toward his desk. "You've done your job. Go relax, Hawkeye." His voice betrayed his slight confusion-if anything, she was the one to get her job done best in the office. He didn't even want to think about the state of his workplace if she wasn't there to keep them all on track.

Riza opened her mouth to say that her job as his bodyguard didn't apply to regular office hours when Maes Hughes barged into the room without so much as a knock. She spun around on her heel to face him as his loud voice preceded his presence, his military jacket unbuttoned; glasses slipping down his angular nose.

"Roy boy! Oh man do I have some fantastic news for you!"

Out of the corner of her eye, Riza saw Roy slide down in his chair as irritation dropped onto his expression immediately. "Oh for the love of God," he muttered. She raised her hand and pretended to cough in order to hide the snicker that tickled at her throat. "What is it, Hughes?" He looked up at Maes as the man came to a stop in front of the desk and slammed his palms on it face down.

"Guess!"

"Hughes, I'm not guessing."

"Aw, c'mon, Roy! Guess!"

Riza saw the vein begin to bulge and pulse in Roy's forehead as his eyebrows got even more severe in their downward slope. It amazed her that Maes could remain subjective to his sour moods and seeing their interactions was one of the few things that always humored her. Roy may have put up a good front of irritation, but it was so easy to tell that he enjoyed Maes' company.

"No."

"Gue-."

"DAMN IT, HUGHES, JUST TELL ME."

Maes' neck shortened and he looked at Roy with wide eyes before he pouted slightly and leaned back on his heels. The Colonel sat there with flared nostrils his eyes darting briefly to his gloves where they sat at the edge of his desk. Riza coughed again and bit back a grin as Maes looked to her.

"What's got his boxers in a twist?" he asked as if Roy wasn't sitting right in front of them.

"He's just being lazy about paperwork, and he's been like this all day," she replied unabashedly. It was after office hours, after all.

"I am not and I have not," Roy said bitterly, his eyebrows twitching slightly. Riza felt a little twinge of regret; since coming back from Ishval and moving up the ranks, Roy had been under a lot more pressure than she thought he could handle sometimes. He was the youngest highest ranking officer in the Amestris military and his superiors expected great things from him. She didn't know how to help him or even if she could.

Maes leaned in close to Riza and whispered sideways at her. "Could've fooled me."

She smiled as Roy heaved a sigh and stood. "Maes, I still have work to do and a date to make. What fantastic news do you have?"

His friend smiled widely and automatically before doing a twirl and clasping his hands in front of him dramatically. "Oh, Roy, I thought you'd never ask! Last night I took Gracia out to dinner and we've finally agreed to tie the knot!"

All the agitation drained from Roy's face and even Riza looked on in surprise. "You're getting married?" Roy asked, the beginnings of a smile curling at his mouth. "You finally asked her?"

Hughes nodded enthusiastically and jumped from excitement. "YES! You know how nervous I was, but I knew that my Gracia loved me and that she would never turn me down so I was worried for no reason at all really! You should have seen the way her eyes sparkled in the candlelight, I've never seen anything more beautiful in my life! And she's mine! Can you believe that?!"

Roy held out his hand and grinned as Maes took it and shook vigorously. "Congratulations, Maes!"

Riza also exchanged a timid handshake with him, feeling slightly awkward for intruding on this moment between the two best friends. While she knew Roy inside and out, she knew next to nothing of Maes except that he was very loyal and extremely enthusiastic. She was happy that Roy had someone like him and vice versa. "I'm happy for you," she told Maes genuinely.

"Goodness, don't have to tell me twice! I'm happy for me too!" he crowed, slapping her on the shoulder.

"When's the big day?" Roy asked. Riza was pleased to note that his shoulders were lax as he smiled at his friend.

"In about a month!"

"A month!?"

Hughes laughed at the expressions on their faces. "We didn't want to wait!" He walked around and put an arm around Riza and Roy both, squeezing them tightly and a little uncomfortably. "You two will be in the wedding party, of course! Roy, you'll be my best man."

Riza reeled as Maes released her. He wanted her to be in his wedding party? But she didn't even know him that well! A blush crept up on her even as she tried to keep it down but she had to admit that she was flattered and honored that this man and his fiance wanted her to be there on their special day.

Roy, on the other hand, grinned widely. "Of course. I'd turn you to ashes if you asked anyone else." No one could be sure if he was joking or not, but Riza thought he might be. She had most of his gloves under lock and key anyway, because she couldn't trust him not to lose them. They were just a little bit vital to his career and title as the Flame Alchemist, whether he remembered that or not.

"Super!" Maes exclaimed. "We'd love to have you both for supper tomorrow night if you didn't have any plans." She couldn't wrap her mind around his happiness and didn't think she'd ever felt such an overflowing joy like the one this man was displaying. Of course, Maes was a bit of an extremist, but watching him split his face apart with a smile that wide made her feel like she was missing out.

"I'll be there," Roy said generously. It'd been a while since he'd seen Gracia anyway, and he wanted to offer his congratulations personally. She was a lovely woman, and while he didn't understand her attraction to a clown like Maes, the man deserved her one-hundred and ten percent.

Riza hesitated. "Are you sure?" she asked Hughes feeling far too vulnerable. This was all new territory for her, how was she supposed to handle a dinner and a wedding invite all on the same weekend? She wanted to laugh at herself-Riza Hawkeye: could shoot a man through the head without a second thought, but invite her to dinner and she's guaranteed to freeze up.

She felt rather than saw Roy's eyes dart at her as Maes' mouth dropped into an "o" shape. "Of course I'm sure!" he said jovially. "If I can invite this asshole, then I sure as hell will invite you." He jabbed a thumb at Roy and smiled even wider at her. She tried pushing her inhibitions away and allowed herself to return the expression.

"Thank you. I'd be honored," she said with feeling, hoping he could hear that she was grateful for more than just the dinner invite. Roy now looked happy and relaxed, something she wouldn't have been able to do so quickly even if she tried.

"Great! Gracia will be so happy!" Maes said and then after a hot minute, his face turned abruptly sober and he slid his finger along the ridge of his nose to right his glasses again. Riza could feel the atmosphere slipping back into military mode and her face hardened as Roy's eyebrows drew down. "Now that that's over, I've got something else to share with you."

"What is it?" Roy asked somberly. At least he wasn't being unreasonably and childishly angry like he'd been over the paperwork. Honestly, it was like she was the babysitter abused by the ill-behaved kid in the office sometimes.

"I hope you didn't have any plans tonight, Colonel, because we're gonna need you to come out and look at something. About an hour ago, a man claiming to have been an alchemist called into headquarters for help. When the men arrived not ten minutes later, there was a body cut grotesquely to the point of being mangled. We're still working on identifying him."

Riza watched as the anger descended down upon the Colonel with renewed fury and she straightened, grabbing his coat and his gloves off the desk as he stormed out of the room. "Damn, you should have started the conversation with that, Hughes!" he yelled.

She followed behind him with Hughes calmly, checking to be sure her guns were in their holsters before turning off the office lights and locking the door. Roy's coat was folded over her arms and she struggled into her own without losing his gloves. "Why do you need the Colonel to come out?" she asked Maes. She knew Roy had been looking forward to a date all day long, and while she was slightly bitter about it, she also knew it helped him to relax. Anything to get his mind off of work.

Hughes looked at her gravely and he hesitated. She tried not to come off irritated by this. Her sniper training had debilitated any hesitation in her life; there was only planning and execution. "Because they found a note in the man's jacket pocket that said 'flame alchemy'."

Her back stiffened and her lips grew very numb. The pink rise of scar tissue on her back seemed to tingle like it had while it had still been healing. A feeling of unease settled into her stomach and she knew instinctively that something very, very bad was going to happen.

"Oh, I see," was all she said.