Title: The half-burnt stick.
Fandom: Full Metal Alchemist
Pairing: Jean Havoc/Riza Hawkeye
Theme: #2 - Jealousy
Warnings: A certain someone's death, which doesn't matter if you get past a certain episode/chapter in the anime/manga.
Disclaimer: If FMA belongs to me, I'll be frickin' rich and won't be writing ficlets.
Author's Note: Kisses goes out to my bestie who beta-ed this despite her heavy workload. Sankyuu parsnip_chan!!!
It was such a dreary day.
The skies were tinged pale bluish-gray, the clouds were stretched far and thin and the sun was hiding behind a particular block of drab gray building.
Jean leaned into the corner, crossed his right boot over his left and let out a long weary sigh.
It was time for a smoke.
Sometimes he wondered why he smoked so much too. It was not that he didn't know how 'harmful' smoking was, as Fuery had so kindly told him many, many times, and neither was it a cheap past-time. But everyone seemed to be okay with it and none really said anything adverse to it (other than Fuery).
He tapped the last cigarette out from the box, fished the lighter from his breast pocket, lit the stick and slipped the lighter back into the pocket. For two seconds, he watched the tip of the cigarette burn and turn bright orange-red before he transferred it to his lips.
"There, I'm also a Flame Alchemist," he murmured without a smile and closed his eyes.
For a while, he allowed himself to enjoy the sensation of smoking; the way the cigarette dangled in between his lips, the taste of bittersweet nicotine, the comfortable smell of the smoke and that split moment in which he inhaled and exhaled.
An airy-gray smoke ring glided up into the air while a crow let out a long caw somewhere in the distance.
He mulled things over in his head, with the occasional flick of dying ash from the cigarette as the only measure of time. The situation with the Homonculus had been much worser than he had originally expected and now that Hughes was dead, the tension and worry were multiplied a hundred-fold in their hearts.
Jean wondered what went through Riza's heart when she stood by the Colonel in front of Hughes' grave. Was she upset because he was? Was she in pain because she felt his? Or did she felt that she had to be stronger since the next victim could possibly be the Colonel?
He wished he could unload her burden, or at least take part in sharing it. But he knew that role was never meant for him. Riza's heart belonged to him, and he knew it very well. It was never mentioned nor hinted, and in fact, no one would have noticed anything going on between his Colonel and the First Lieutenant other than pure military business. But because he loved Riza, his eyes told him another thing; that in their minds, there was a smaller, darker world in which only the both of them dwelt.
He himself, was just an outsider who did not even dare to prowl on the borders of their dimension. He could only wait from afar, like a deserted sniper who had nothing and no one else for anchor other than his own rifle.
Sometimes, he wondered where he stood in her heart. A friend? A subordinate? Did she even care for him? And sometimes, he wondered how far she would go for the Colonel, and how far he himself would go for her. The answer was pretty obvious, but he kept evading it. There were only so many things to day-dream about, and he needed some hard questions in his head to keep the facade going on. The Colonel was a very observant and perceptive person, and his feelings were something that he wanted to keep to himself.
After all, they were 'military dogs' and one never knew what could happen if such a thing got leaked out. Their heads were at stake and he did not want to endanger any of their lives, and even more so their purpose in helping the Colonel in achieving his goal. Such personal stuff were not more important than the state of their homeland, at all.
Even though sometimes, he would dream of meeting her under a different set of circumstances. In his dreams, they would not be wearing the ugly blue military uniforms. He would be a commoner and she would not be the general's grand-daughter; she would smile more often, he would not smoke and they would hold hands and laugh at marching soldiers.
The quarter-gone cigarette almost dropped from his lips when he heard her voice. He spun around in the next moment, cursing himself for not being on guard and greeted her instantly, "First Lieutenant!"
Riza raised an eyebrow, "So this is your toilet break."
Jean put on his usual drab, sheepish smile and nodded. Riza let out a silent sigh and gave her shoulders a light shrug, "I need a break too."
He tried to conceal his surprise, and then his shock when she, his beloved, leaned against the same wall and frowned quietly. The rigid and alert posture that she had always maintained was gone. From his side view, her shoulders were heavily hunched and a blond tendril of hair had made its way out from her neat bun. There were dark shadows under her eyes, her skin looked positively duller and she was looking down.
At nowhere and everywhere, seemingly. Riza Hawkeye was a first-class sniper after all.
The cigarette dangled on his lips as he frowned a little at this Riza; it was obvious to him that she was mentally and emotionally drained and stretched. His heart ached at the sleepless nights that she had gone through and at his own lack of courage to give her the support that she needed.
Riza was Colonel's, he would not touch. It was simply a code of honor between true men, and Jean did not want to violate it. He adored Roy, the way a boy would adore his older and smarter cousin, but he adored Riza more.
"It's been... a hard week," the words came out falteringly and sounded a tad uncharitable to his ears. Jean mentally winced.
Riza nodded and took in a deep breath, "Anyone could be the next target."
He could not help but to feel a stab of jealousy at her words; he knew that she was more worried about Roy than anyone of them. The calmer Roy was, the more his mind worked and schemed, and he would never tell them his plans if they were too dangerous for them to undertake. But no one would question his orders (except for her) nor ask more than what Roy would reveal.
So he kept quiet, for there was nothing he could say. For a while, both snipers stood under the meagre shelter that the concrete roof provided and tried not to sink into the gutters of their minds. The autumn sun came out for a while and disappeared behind another military building.
"Do you have anymore cigarettes?"
It took Jean more than three seconds to register that question and he answered at the three and a half second, "No sir."
Without looking up, Riza stretched out her left hand and continued, "Pass me yours then."
He stared at her waiting fingers, those fingers that had pulled the trigger at so many people, and obediently passed her the half-burnt stick. It had never occurred to him that she might smoke, since she always opened the windows when he smoked inside the office. And when Riza lifted the cigarette to her lips, those lips that vowed to protect Roy, he knew that she wasn't new to smoking at all.
"Don't ask me why. I seldom smoke anyway," Riza closed her eyes and let out a wreath of smoke into the air. It was bigger than his.
He nodded his head and said nothing while his eyes constantly shifted back to her face; she looked utterly at peace and relaxed while she smoked. Jean wanted to laugh, for what seemed like the longest time in his life; genuinely, loudly, throatily. She smoked! It was like a revelation, a never-seen before image of her, and that fact warmed his heart so much that he could forgive the unfeeling, cowardly sun.
Wasn't this like a bond? Like, smoking buddies? A smile formed its curves at the basin of his heart.
"I'm going back first," Riza handed the unfinished cigarette back to him and gave him a small appreciative smile, "Thanks."
Jean let out another drab smile and shrugged his shoulders; his blank expression was not cultured and honed without a good reason. Then when he could no longer hear her footsteps, he stared at the part where her lips had held on to the cigarette for a long while. Like an anchor, my anchor, he smiled to himself and lifted it up to his mouth. It was like a kiss, a tender kiss that they shared through a cigarette and his smile grew wider and truer.
The day suddenly seemed brighter and more cheerful all of a sudden. Jean did not ask why.
The crow let out another long caw.
All sorts of comments are welcomed. :D