Hayate barks. Riza looks up from the box on her kitchen table. There’s a knock at the door. She instinctively reaches for the handgun at her hip and realizes she’s not wearing it. It’s in the bedroom. Careless.
“Hey, it’s me.”
“Just a moment,” she says, setting the last of her mugs in the box.
They’re moving again, back to East City. She’d been in the hospital for a month. He had been there about the same amount of time even though he could have left. The fact of it doesn’t frighten her as much as the why. Why he would stay by her side for no reason. For so long. Ishval, the Eastern command, her posting to Bradley’s detail, his blindness, all of it. He could have━ even should have left her behind. But he didn’t. And now he’s here again. She straightens out her shirt, a plain army green t-shirt left over from her academy days, and clips her hair up as she walks to the door.
“Colonel, you should be packing,” she says as she opens the door and then━ she doesn’t say anything.
Roy is standing in the hallway. His hair is slicked back like he wears it sometimes at formal occasions. Otherwise, he’s dressed in civilian clothes: a pressed button down and a suit jacket. He’s holding a dozen red roses and wearing an expression she’s only seen on him before battle. Nervous.
“Lieutenant━ Riza,” he says, his voice huskier than usual. “Can I come in?”
“Don’t call me that,” she says. She can hear the way her voice sounds, already quavering, already breaking under the wave he’s brought to her front door, ready to overtake her. But she opens the door the rest of the way and nudges Hayate with her foot to move him out of the hallway as she leads Roy into her apartment. There are boxes everywhere, some of them already labeled with her new address in East City. She turns around to face him again in the kitchen, crossing her arms.
“I━ well.” Roy rubs the back of his neck with his free hand. He looks tired. He’s had his sight back for about ten days and she knows better than anyone that they’d been long days and were only getting longer. “I was in the neighborhood and I thought━ well.”
She’s staring at the roses in his hand. The way he’s holding them to his chest. The way his voice is trembling.
“Please, sir, I━ I have a lot to do here,” she says, feeling like her mouth is moving of its own accord.
It’s not like she hasn’t thought about it. God, she’s thought about it. Every day since that cologne wearing messy haired boy had walked into her father’s house. She can still remember how it felt to take her shirt off in front of him, the only man who’d seen her naked at that point, the way he’d touched her back so lightly again and again, trying to decipher her father’s code. The ways she’d hoped he would touch her instead. She can remember Ishval, every miserable aching second, watching Roy’s face through the scope of her rifle, watching his mouth move, his crooked smile, his tears he thought no one could see. She can remember every time their hands have touched while she handed him a fresh cup of coffee at his desk, the way he looked first thing in the morning, the look in his eye when he saw her alive again after the girl from Xing saved her life. And now she can feel it rushing up to meet her here in this moment, the roses against Roy’s chest giving off a faint green smell over the smell of his cologne, the same cologne he’s worn for fifteen years━
“I’ll be quick then.” He clears his throat, holding the roses out to her, hand steady as always. “Riza Hawkeye, I am━ I know you aren’t one for the sentimental or the romantic but━ I am very hopelessly in love with you and I’d━ now that things are calming down I’d like to give it━ us━ a shot.”
He looks obstinate she thinks, like a child who’s afraid the answer will be no. She’s seen that look on his face before under different circumstances, when he was a child under the tutelage of her father. And then it changes, his resolve melting as quickly as it had come, his brow softening.
“I thought━ when you almost died I thought I was never going to get to kiss you and━ god I know that’s a terrible last thought to have about someone but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head and━”
“Shut up,” she says. “Sir. Please.” She feels the tears welling up in her throat begin to sting in her eyes and spill over. She blinks, trying to will them away. Not now. Why now? Why is this what’s making her cry, after everything that’s happened?
“I told you to stop calling me that,” she says, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand impatiently. “Don’t do this, sir, please don’t do this.”
When she looks at him again, he’s staring at her, eyes wide.
“Shit━ are you? Are you okay?” His free hand finds her elbow and she shakes him off. He pulls his hand back and she can see the hurt in his eyes.
“Don’t━ please don’t,” she says again, her voice choking around this feeling in her throat.
Her legs hit the edge of the chair at her table and she drops down into it, covering her face with her hands. She’s sobbing but it doesn’t feel like she’s doing it, like some other larger force is pumping her lungs like bellows, like the cries leaving her are someone else’s heard from the other room.
Ironically, there had been a time when this was all she’d hoped for; Roy Mustang at her door with flowers, with lover’s words, with open arms. A long time ago, when he was the only boy her age she knew, when he would sit quietly on the other side of her father’s living room frowning into a book and she would imagine what it would be like to kiss him, to taste the cigarettes he used to smoke.
But that was then and Riza is not that person anymore. She isn’t sure if that person had ever existed or if she had just play acted it.
There are some soft sounds, the paper the flowers are wrapped in hitting the table, the rustle of Roy’s starched shirt and she watches him kneel down in front of her through her fingers. He hesitates for a moment and then reaches up, wraps his large, warm, ungloved hand around her wrist.
“I came here half expecting to get my lights punched out and instead…” He sighs and smiles wanly up at her. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
She shakes her head, trying to draw a clean breath. His thumb rubs a circle on the inside of her wrist.
“I don’t deserve it,” she says, her voice a cracked whisper. “After what I’ve done━ I’m not━ I can’t have that.”
She can remember a day in Ishval, a bad day. The sky was dark with smoke, the ground black with blood and shit, the air smelling like decay. She had eyes on Mustang, the battle making her blood sing, making her sweat, making her trigger finger slippery even through her glove. She can remember the look on the Ishvalan teenager’s face as he rounded a corner behind Mustang. He was smiling. And she fired without thinking. Without realizing what she was doing. All she knew was that someone was too close to Mustang. She can remember Roy’s face when he turned around, saw the boy’s body on the ground. The way he looked right at her in the tower, his eyes cold.
“I’m━ I’m a monster.”
Roy’s hand tightens down on her wrist.
“You’re a fucking idiot.”
Riza straightens up in her seat. Frowns. He’s looking up at her, that wry smile still in place.
“I’m sorry,” he says, barely containing a laugh. “I know that’s harsh. Usually my lieutenant helps me with these more delicate matters but she’s too busy wallowing in self pity to give me a hand.”
She deflates. Breathes out hard. Closes her eyes for a long moment. He would say something like that, she thinks. The only thing to get her to stop crying long enough for him to get a word in edgewise.
“I’m not,” she says, looking at him again, trying to keep her expression neutral.
“Yes, you are,” he says, his eyes twinkling just enough to piss her off. “Look, Riz━ Lieutenant. You are one of the bravest, most noble, trustworthy, kind, patient people I know and you are a good person and━ it’s fine if you don’t want me. I can understand that, believe me. But it’s not fair to yourself to say you don’t deserve to be loved because of that war.”
There are the tears again. She looks away, clenching her jaw. Why is she crying like this in front of him? Why does it even matter? Ishval was so long ago.
“I’ll never forgive myself for it,” she says brokenly, staring resolutely at the dish rack next to her sink.
“I forgive you,” he says.
Her heart skips. She clenches her free hand into the fabric of her combat pants. She doesn’t look at him because looking at him might really break her.
“You’re here. You’re alive. Don’t act like you’re dead and gone when you’ve survived hell and back ten times over to get here.”
That’s it. She whips her head back to look at him, the tears replaced by anger. He was there. He should know how it feels. He does know and she knows it.
“If I had died, hundreds of people would still be alive,” she snaps, trying to yank her hand back from him but he grips her wrist and holds her there.
“If we hadn’t done it, they would’ve had other snipers and other alchemists do it. If you’re going to torture yourself like this forever, you might as well shoot me for everything I did too.”
Her breath catches in her throat. She hates this about him, his logic, his way of looking around an entire room before acting, his ability to bait and snare a trap she can’t even see him setting. He’s not smiling now, his eyes flinty and hard. He pulls her wrist to him, presses her knuckles to her cheek, her skin scraping against the stubble there. He closes his eyes, breathes out hard.
“Because if you’re a monster, then I must be the devil himself,” he finishes, pressing her hand more firmly against his face.
It hurts. It hurts because it’s him. All of him, right there on the floor, at her feet, at her mercy. She’s seen this look on him before too, before Pride forced him to perform human transmutation. Waiting for a death blow. Or perhaps hoping for it.
Riza unfolds her fingers, resting them against his cheek. His skin is soft and warm, her thumb skimming lightly across his cheekbone. And then she laughs, just once, just a chuckle, but she means it. He is ridiculous, throwing himself at her like this. The flowers, the kneeling, the flagellating. His brows furrow in the middle but he doesn’t open his eyes. She wonders absently if he’d gotten comfortable with that darkness in the weeks he was blind. Comfortable with not knowing.
“Only you could make this about yourself, sir,” she says, smirking at him.
She feels him lean into her hand, the weight of his head pinning her fingers between his cheek and his palm. He sighs, put upon. “Now you know how it feels to come all the way here and pour my heart out to you and end up with you talking about how you don’t deserve to be alive.”
He opens his eyes, challenging. Daring her to strike back. “I’m sorry I upset you Lieutenant but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t ask.”
“You’re selfish,” she says but her voice is soft.
“Yes,” he says, turning his head just slightly and pressing his lips to her wrist. “Very.”
She does love him. It feels stupid that he’d even go through the trouble of saying it out loud. She loves him and she’s never let things go this far because she’s not there to love him. She’s there to keep him safe. To protect him and their country. And letting him do this… letting him love her, unfettered and with abandon, being happy… was that part of the promise? No.
“Colonel━ Roy,” she corrects herself. His name feels wrong in her mouth. She can’t remember if she’d ever said it before. Even when they were kids, he was always Mustang. His eyes dart to hers, wide, surprised, and that feels good. To knock him off balance.
She takes a breath, closes her eyes. “If we do this, it won’t ever be the same between us.”
She can feel him shaking his head, moving her arm with him. “Don’t you think it could change for the better?”
He really does look tired, she thinks opening her eyes again. Maybe now that the promised day is in the past she can convince him to take some leave. She brushes her thumb along his cheekbone, skirting the hollow of his eye.
“Riza, I promise if━ if this isn’t what you want, if you can’t stand to be with me, we can go right back to how it was,” he says, squeezing her hand.
She focuses on his cheekbone, on the curve of it, the way his skin is tacky against hers, the crows feet at the corner of his eye, the very light freckling right at the top of his cheek.
“If I couldn’t stand you, would I have stayed by your side all this time?” she asks, letting the corner of her mouth lift into a tiny half smile.
Roy laughs in earnest his time and she can feel the way his smile lifts his cheek under her hand. “I have wondered that for a long time myself,” he says, glancing up at her again.
She offers him a smile too. Her heart is beating hard, reveling in its aliveness, in the adrenaline thumping through her at the sound of his laugh, at his smile, at the way his hair is falling down from its brushed back position.
“Sir, if you’re not going to kiss me, please leave. I’m very busy here.”
And that does it. She grins at his stupefied expression, his eyes wide and frozen at her flirting with him. It reminds her of the first time she ever pretended to be Elizabeth in front of him, how surprised he was, how he teased her about actually being able to laugh like he always suspected. And then he’s moving, surging up to kneel between her legs, reaching up with his free hand to cup her jaw and he stops for a moment, eyes searching her face, darting to look at her mouth and then he kisses her.
His teeth hit hers roughly and she grunts, pulling back a little but he follows, kissing her bottom lip into his mouth. Her hand slips off his face and finds the collar of his shirt, pushing his blazer off his shoulders and shoving him back onto the floor. She slides out of the chair, straddling his thighs as he lets his legs sprawl out, kicking the chair out of the way. She runs her hand through his hair, messing it up, the gel he used to slick it back making it stick up everywhere. His hands are hot on her, finding their way up underneath her t-shirt, untucking it from her pants, his fingers digging into the skin at her waist. She sighs, slipping her tongue into his mouth and he shivers bodily, his hands stuttering on her and she does it again, deeper, reaching for the roof of his mouth, and he moans into her mouth, his hips bucking under her.
Riza pulls back and takes her hair down, setting the clip on the table over them. She takes her shirt off and then her bra, her hair falling down around her shoulders, her breasts. Roy looks at her for a long moment. It by far was not the first time he’d seen her naked, although the last time was under much more grim circumstances. She feels his hand go to her back, where he knows her burn scar is and she shoves him down flat to the floor before he can distract himself with his guilt over what he did━ what she asked him to do━ years ago. She kisses him again, this time shoving her tongue into his mouth without preamble and he presses his hips up into hers and she can feel him there too, hot and hard through his slacks.
“God━ Riza━” he says, his voice hoarser than ever when she rolls her hips down onto his. She deftly undoes his shirt buttons, kissing down his jaw, his throat, breathing in that old cologne she can barely believe he still wears. He sits up enough to take it off and she runs her hands down his chest to his belt buckle but he pushes her hands aside. He leans in, kisses the valley between her breasts, drags his teeth against her skin, kisses over to her nipple, finds it with his tongue, and she moans, watching him.
He’s beautiful, his body more filled out than it used to be, the stay in the hospital having made him a little softer. He works on the fastenings of her pants and she gets up for a moment to pull them off along with her underwear. She can feel him watching her and then he’s running his hands up her legs, pulling him back down to him. She’s burning alive but she doesn’t care, kissing him again, one of his hands slipping down between them, running through the hair on her pubic bone, and lower. She gasps when he touches her, her arousal slamming into her all at once, making her shake when he presses his fingers down her clit and back up. When she looks at him, his eyes are hazy, glazed, watching her hungrily.
She pushes his hand aside, reaching between them again for his belt which he lets her undo this time. He moves enough to shove his pants down around his thighs and she takes his cock in her hand. He moans again, drops his head to her shoulder.
“Riza,” he whispers, his hands clutching her thighs hard enough to bruise and she sinks down onto him.
They just sit there for a moment, him inside her, her arms around him, holding his head to her chest and she struggles to catch her breath, to catch up to what’s happening, to what they’re doing on the frankly not so clean floor of her tiny kitchen, surrounded by moving boxes.
“Riza━” he says again, his voice broken. “Please━”
She collects herself, pressing her face into his hair for a moment and then she shoves him back down onto the floor, seizing his hands off her thighs and pinning them down on either side of his head, twining her fingers into his, holding him there. He gasps, looks up at her. He’s hers, all hers. Only hers. She starts to move and watches him fall to pieces, eyes closing, his brow furrowing, mouth dropping open.
It feels so good, so good to see him there beneath her, to see him taking his pleasure and she can feel it too, building inside her. He opens his eyes and she takes one of her hands away from his wrists to touch her clit and he pulls her down to him, pressing her into his chest, his mouth sliding sloppily up her jaw. He disentangles his other hand from hers too, gripping her ass and snapping his hips up into her. It feels so good, burning her up, wasting her, and someone is yelping and moaning and being too loud for how thin the walls of her apartment are, but it’s her, trapped there by his strong hands, Roy fucking the pleasure out of her, wringing her out until--
“Roy━ Roy━” she gasps, wailing between thrusts of his hips and he moves one of his hands up her, grips her hair, holds her to the hollow of his throat and then she’s coming, her body seizing up around him and he doesn’t stop, dragging every last drop of her orgasm out of her, his panting breath loud in her ear and then he pulls out and she feels his come splatter her right thigh, her calf, his moans muffled by her shoulder against his mouth.
His hand relaxes on her scalp and she lets the full weight of her body rest against his. His heart is racing and she can feel it jumping in the artery in his neck.
“Why haven’t we been doing this the whole time,” Roy says, his voice rough but tinged with indignance.
She laughs against his throat. “I can think of a few reasons.”
“None of them were important enough and we both know it,” he says firmly, brushing her hair over her shoulder.
She hums, opening her eyes and picking her head up off his chest. His face is red, blush spreading down to his chest. He looks spent, sweaty, beautiful. He’s smiling but there’s something else there, something serious and tired.
“What?” she asks, running her hand across his collarbone.
“I don’t know,” he says, looking away from her. “I━ I was afraid to come here today because━ I felt like you’d blame me. For wasting your time.
“We had a lot to do first. We still have a lot to do,” she says. But she knows what he means. So much of both their lives had been stolen by war and conflict, by violence and loss. “We’ve always been together, Roy. It wasn’t a waste. None of it.”
He looks back to her, eyes wide. And she kisses him again. Because it’s true. She has a lot of regrets but being by his side has never been one of them. He relaxes into it, kissing her back before pulling away.
“God, Lieutenant, it’s cold down here on the floor,” he says, his eyes sparkling, his voice full of a playful whine. “Why did you suggest it, you know I’m getting too old for things like this.”
“I’m sorry sir, next time I’ll be more mindful of your needs,” she says, smirking and sitting up to find her shirt.
He sighs again, but this time he’s smiling. “Next time huh,” he says, running his hand up her bare thigh.
“Next time.” She gets up and pulls her shirt back on and finds her underwear too. She looks at the roses on the table. That’s all they have now. Time.