"You know, Roy never talked about you."
Riza shoved down the stab of hurt. Why should Roy talk about her? She was just his alchemy teachers' daughter. Clearly no one special.
"But he used to get this look on his face when he was reading one of your letters" Hughes continued "It was like the way the other guys looked when their girlfriends sent cookies."
Riza smiled. Maybe she wasn't so ordinary to him after all.
"I'm sure you must have been reading him wrong."
"Oh really?" Hughes pushed his glasses up his nose. "Then why does he keep your letters inside his pillowcase?"
Riza's eyes bugged out comically as she struggled not to spit her tea into the fire.
"Major Mustang does what with my letters?"
Hughes laughed. He wished he had his camera – the look on the poor girls' face was priceless.
"You heard me Hawkeye. Trust me, I went rummaging in his tent once and I found them."
Six months ago, Riza would have been blushing furiously. Ishbal had cured her of such girlish notions.
"So what was going on between you and your dear Roy back home?"
"Nothing." She replied. It was the truth. There had never been any suggestion of anything other than friendship between them. "We're old friends, that's all."
Hughes shook his head.
"Not to Roy. I think you were what he held onto here."
"What he held onto?" Riza's brow wrinkled. She didn't understand.
"Everyone has something to hold onto in this place. Something they hold onto to remind themselves that life still exists – that there's something back home worth fighting for."
Riza dropped her eyes to her mug. She didn't need reminding that she should have been back home. But she couldn't bring herself to wait and trust to luck and hope that he wasn't dead yet.
"It isn't really true about the letters, is it?"
Hughes didn't tell her about the other letter. The one that was addressed to her, from Roy. The poor guy had written it the day before they'd met Riza here. Hughes was too nosy for his own good – it had been a break in the pattern and he just couldn't resist reading it.
I was going to wait to ask you until I'd gotten out of here, but I don't want to wait anymore. Will you wait for me Riza? . . .
The first two sentences had been enough. He'd quietly slipped all the envelopes back inside the pillowcase and left the tent.
But Roy wasn't the only one who wanted more. Hawkeye was almost pitifully obvious; her eyes snapped towards Roy every time he entered a room. It bugged Hughes, romantic that he was, that she'd made the one choice that put him out of her reach.