Since the end of the Ishval Civil War, Colonel Roy Mustang had slept with fifty-seven women. He kept count of things like that. It seemed important somehow, though the knowledge brought him no real pride. It didn't fill him with any particular sort of regret, either. He had grown up in a house full of women who made sex their livelihood. He hadn't seen any shame in sex then, and he certainly didn't now.

So there had been women, a lot of them. Quite a few had just thrown themselves in his general direction, hoping to get a taste of the Hero of Ishval. Others required a certain amount of plying to bring into his bed, but he was a master strategist, after all. Typically he could snag one with furtive glances then charming smiles and a couple of well-placed compliments. Particularly stubborn women required more creative approaches, but he actually appreciated the challenge they presented more than bedding the women in the end.

The colonel had been with more women in five years then most men had been in a lifetime. Beautiful, smart, powerful and wealthy, he had had them all. Sometimes more than once.

But it didn't matter. Because there was always that one. The one he just couldn't get over.

The one he'd only touched once…

xxx

"Lieutenant…" he croaked. "You don't have to do this."

Her father's home, still technically in her possession, was dusty. Empty except for the hint of secrets that led nowhere. He knew, because he had searched. The doors were barred, though it hardly mattered. The night was quiet, the sound of crickets coming through the open windows. Their bedrolls were on the floor, side by side. A sad little dinner that she had refused to eat lay several feet away. The way his stomach felt now he wished he hadn't eaten either.

The Lieutenant sat cross-legged in the center of the floor, head tilted towards the ground, eyes closed. She had been like this for some time and he assumed she was sick with fear.

He was wrong.

"Yes," she said firmly in answer to his question as she lifted herself into a crouch. "I do."

There was no nonsense about her, her soldier's hands methodically unclasping the buttons on her jacket and then shrugging it off where it fell to the floor like a lifeless animal.

He would be lying if he said he hadn't ever imagined seeing her naked. They had both been teenagers in the same house together. She had been, and still was, tremendously lovely. He'd wondered what a lot of girls looked like without their clothes on, and Riza Hawkeye had certainly been one of them.

But not like this.

Never like this.

His brain felt dead. He couldn't do this, he couldn't. He couldn't scorch one more innocent person, especially not her. His guilt and dread and fear exploded out of his lungs in a chocked gasp, and despite herself, the lieutenant stopped her mockery of a striptease.

"Sir?" the question in her voice was compassionate. She would set him free if he asked.

"I don't want to hurt you," his words were garbled, as though they came from the mouth of a drunken man. "I don't want to cause you pain."

"It will only be once, sir," she said firmly. She had no words but the plain truth to comfort him. He knew as well as she did that this would only happen once and never again, and that was all there was to say.

She waited for him to argue, her hands holding the hem of her shirt while his trembled in fists at his side. Could he even aim like this? He wasn't sure. He needed all the precision he could possibly muster, the delicate touch of a surgeon, not the clumsy strikes of a butcher.

He inhaled deeply, but said nothing.

Taking his silence as his consent, she pulled off her shirt then unclasped her bra with a systematic efficiency typically reserved for assembling her rifle. With nothing on above the waist, she held his gaze.

The first time he had seen her naked back, on that late afternoon in this same house when he had studied her tattoos for hours, she had stood, stock still, facing away from him. The desire for the knowledge of flame alchemy had made him completely intoxicated. It had entirely distracted him from the indulgent curve of her hips, the way her lower back dimpled before it disappeared into her black skirt, fresh from her estranged father's funeral. Nothing had mattered but learning what he had so desperately longed to understand. His idealism had fluttered like a flame in too much air, and then burst into an all-consuming lust.

He had touched her, traced the patterns on her back like a lover might, but she hadn't been a woman then.

Just a vessel.

Now, in the moment when it would destroy him the most, he really looked.

And she was beautiful. Of course she would be, but everything was too wrong. He would not allow himself soak in her loveliness, to imagine what it would be like to have her, soft skin and hard muscle writhing blissfully under his hands, like they were both normal people in a world that hadn't gone completely insane.

"Do you want my to lie on my stomach, sir?" she asked, gesturing to her bedroll. Her full breasts bounced lightly with each syllable, drawing his gaze to her pale pink nipples, hard from cold or terror or both or neither. He tried to force his eyes away, lowering them to the line bisecting her ribs and ending on the tiniest rise of her stomach, the subtle curve of her belly invitingly female.

She was perfect, and he was going to destroy her. He had already done it, really, destroyed them both with his naive ideals.

Now they were just making it official.

"No," for the first time in what felt like hours his voice sounded like his own. He fumbled with the buttons on his own jacket and let it fall to the floor, followed by his white button-up and undershirt.

There was a glint of something in her eyes, a 'don't you dare' which he understood as clearly as though she had bellowed it in his face. But the look hadn't been necessary. Everything felt so wrong already; he was not stupid enough to make a clumsy attempt at seduction now. This was not the time.

He was uncertain if there would ever be a time after this.

"My clothes might catch on fire," he explained. "I… I need to be very close to see what I'm doing. The more precise I am, the less I have to burn."

"Take it all off if you need, sir."

She had meant her tattoo, but he chuckled anyway.

"You might want to buy me dinner first, Lieutenant."

The corners of her mouth turned up a fraction of an inch, in what might have been the most hard-won smile in the history of facial expressions.

The tension rushed back into the room as quickly as it had left, like the air rushing into the void left by one of his explosions. He sat down heavily on his bedroll, feeling the world crash down around him as he went. There had been nothing but candles in the house when they had arrived, so they were scattered around and behind him, their flickering light soft and beautiful and inviting.

Romantic.

"It would be best if you lie across my legs," he rasped.

"Yes, sir," her voice cracked, breaking off another piece of his humanity with it.

She knelt next to him unsteadily, only keeping herself upright by grasping his bare shoulder. Her fingers were rough against his skin.

"Sorry, sir," she muttered, her breath so close to his ear. Her damp hair smelled of something floral.

"Just make certain it doesn't happen again, Lieutenant," he smiled then steeled his voice. "Now lie down and let's get this over with."

Her eyes met his and there was a flicker of relief mingled with something softer.

"Yes sir."

She tried to lower herself without touching him, but the positioning was awkward and her arms, unsteady despite her outwards demeanor, faltered. He caught her shoulder and lowered her gently, his glove keeping him from feeling her skin against his. One of her nipples brushed the inside of his elbow and they both gasped at the same time, saying nothing. In a moment she was lying prone across his lap, her breasts pushing against his left thigh, one arm wrapped around his back.

Next to him sat a basin of warm soapy water, and a soft rag. With his ungloved right hand, he washed her back. He could feel the curves of her muscles through the rag. As he followed the arch of her shoulder blade, the tips of his fingers grazed against her skin. She shuddered at the touch. The warm water dripped down her sides and rain in trails off the liquid-resistant fabric of his trousers. Dropping the rag back into the basin, he picked up a soft white towel and dried her as slowly as he could, delaying the inevitable.

The day he had first mastered flame alchemy, the world had seemed bright and full of possibility and potential. With such knowledge he could revolutionize the way battles were fought, the way wars were won. Death and destruction would be curbed under his influence. There had been so much glorious hope.

And now he was holding a trembling woman against his legs, ready to use flame alchemy to destroy the secrets that he had used to learn the skill in the first place.

By hurting her. Hurting her so, so badly.

"Please…" she whispered.

He snapped his fingers.

The flame licked across her skin, and she arched into him, nothing but the faintest whimper escaping her lips. The scent of her scorched flesh thrust itself into his nostrils sudden and hard. The bile hit the back of his throat but he swallowed it down, then took a heaving gasp of air before surveying his handiwork.

The lines in her skin were blurred, but were not gone, or even unreadable. He was going to have to do this over and over until she was horrifically scarred.

"Don't stop," she begged, her words little more than gasps for air.

He snapped his fingers again.

Her hand scrambled across his lower back, nails clawing his skin. It struck him that every time he paused, he might be pulling himself together, but he was simply extending her pain. The longer he took, the harder it would be for her to hold herself together.

That was the resolve he needed.

He snapped again and again, working up to a relentless a staccato rhythm as he sent flames skittering over the words and symbols Berthold Hawkeye had carved into his daughter's back. Tears ran down his face and unto her skin like rain, bursting into steam with little sizzles as they landed.

Her whimpers turned to ragged groans, her body twitching with each sharp crack.

"Come on, Riza," he growled. "Just a little more."

Some of the longer strands of his hair were igniting, their smoke burning his eyes, but he could see it, one final spot on the delicate skin directly covering her spine. A single word, but a word that had resonated through his own life so much that he knew it had to be eradicated. A very clever alchemist could use it.

A very clever alchemist could use her, like her father had. Like HE had.

No one would ever do that again.

He snapped, sending a coil of flame that was hotter than any before it rushing toward her. As it sunk into her flesh, her entire body snapped tight, she threw back her head and screamed.

And just like the war, it was over. Never to happen again.

She collapsed, boneless and trembling, against him.

He ripped off his glove and tore it in half, throwing it as far away from him as possible. Another basin, full of cold water and ice, was on his other side. He pulled a rag from the water and wrung it out over her back.

When the water touched her, she let out a ragged sob of relief. He draped the cold rag over the burns, holding it there with one hand while gathering her up to him with his other arm. Her body was soaked in places the water hadn't even touched.

"It's over, Riza. It's over, and I'm so so sorry," he muttered again and again into her hair.

Her lips moved against his collarbone, impossibly soft, her voice as fragile as tissue paper, as sincere as springtime.

"Thank you, sir."

xxx

And after that, with every woman he kissed, bedded, and walked away from the next morning without a second thought, he had dreamed of her, wanted her, burned for her. To replace the pain he had caused her with pleasure, to sear away her scars with the fever from his own lips, to stride through the world with her hand tightly clasped in his own, not just protecting each other, but loving each other.

There was no one else. There was only her.

But he was too broken. He couldn't bring himself to touch her again. Their hands were both stained with the blood of innocents, but only he had hurt her. There had to be an equivalent exchange. He had to lose something.

So, in her way, she had been right, as she always was.

It had only happened once.


So... I wanted this scene, so I wrote it. I'm assuming it's been written before, but oh well. This was a writing warmup I did today and it turned out SUPER angsty.