Pairing: implied Roy/Riza
Warnings: Character death.
Spoilers: Just a particular scene in episode 51. Events aren’t related to the movie.
Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist belongs to Arakawa Hiromu.
Author's Notes: Written for the June fiction competition in fullservicefma.
It was in the way the waves licked at the sandy shores, the way the blazing Amestris sun cast its golden light over the vast sea landscape, and the way the towering palm trees gently bowed down to the breeze that endeared the beach to her. It was there that she felt the subtly mysterious calming effect about the way each element of nature conspired to be one. The beach was an anti-depressant of sorts; with its clear, turquoise waters and fresh air, it painted a perfect picture of tranquility in contrast to the hustle and bustle of city life. Going there was definitely a welcome reprieve from all the chaos that surrounded her back in Central.
Today she had come, aboard a train that left the city at four in the morning, for the sole purpose of staring out into the horizon and letting the scene fill her with the usual sense of ease. It was a ridiculous reason to be going out that early just for a whiff of sea air, but heaven knows she needs it—anything to liberate her from her present sorry state. The sky was overcast when she had stepped out on her way to the station, and along the way thick clouds were hovering above them. By the time she arrived at Risembool, it was raining buckets. The sunny beach image she anticipated was out of the window in a flash, and instead she was gazing out at a disturbed-looking sea.
The sea had lost its usual stillness. Blue waters turned into a mess of black and white, rising up to build walls of startling heights before crashing down violently on the firm white sand. The trees, for all its sturdiness, looked so fragile at every blow of the raging wind. All in all, it was a terrible picture of nature’s fury. There was neither evidence nor fragment that resembled the once peaceful state it had always portrayed.
She looked disappointed at the sight before her. Why wouldn’t she? She had traveled all this way, hoping for a bit of comfort at the sight of the quiet sea, and here it was, vividly depicting the single emotion swelling up inside her. She didn’t need reminding; it was as clear to her as if it was only yesterday. There was no way the beach she used to love could bring her a sense of comfort now. Not with the bleak sky and the sea turned wild.
She was about to go back when she caught sight of wisps of smoke trailing away into the distance. Her shoulders sagged, and she let out a whispered moan. It was her train, speeding up on its way to the city. It was the last train for Central, and the attendant at the station told her it would take thirty minutes for another to arrive due to the foul weather.
There was no turning back now, at least not until the train arrives. There was nothing to be done except to wait. She walked back down towards the shore, ignoring the stares of fellow passengers and the offer of an umbrella by a kind old man. Along the sea a storm was raging, and the rain was bearing down on her, soaking her clothes; her hair was dripping with sweat and rain, but it didn’t matter. Nothing ever did matter anymore since the day the most important person in her life left her world completely. The usual gleam of determination in her eyes, the rare warm smile she used to have, the subtle way she showed she cared—all these were lost in a whirlwind turn of events. No one knew how, or why, his passing affected her so much. For her comrades, he was her superior, and she his subordinate. That was all there was between the two of them. But for her he was more than her superior, more than a colonel; he was Roy, Roy Mustang, and that was what mattered.
She found herself standing at the water’s edge, eyes staring blankly at the raging sea, willing it to drown her grief and loneliness. It was going to hurt for a while. It was sudden, unexpected; the new war that had started only a few months after they thought it was all over nearly drove them to the brink of helplessness. The military force was scattered far and wide, their energies concentrated in rebuilding the state. With the state alchemists five days away from Central, there was no choice but to hold the fort until more help arrives. Roy Mustang was not happy to participate in a war again, but his position dictated his role. They were too few, with only a handful at their disposal; the enemy was many, and known for their swiftness in battle. It had to be every man for himself. It was the only way. Distracted by the thought of it, her usually keen eyes never spotted the pair of eyes darting from her to the colonel, its owner moving in swiftly for the kill.
The next thing she knew she was looking at a bloodied heap of military blue.
He had almost died once. She had failed to protect him then, and because of that he lost an eye. Now she had failed to protect him again, but this time there was no second chance. Life had been taken away from him. He was gone, long gone, and all her tears and regrets would account to nothing. She knew he would consider it an honor to die in the line of duty, but dying without her—the thought of being away at his last moments was unbearable. She knew the colonel full well; knew him enough to know he will keep on fighting if fighting was the best—and last—chance to survive. She believed in him. She trusted him beyond her judgment that she underestimated the severity of the bullet wounds embedded in his chest. She misunderstood the slashed gloves on his hands. In the few minutes she took to get medical help, it was all over. He had finally breathed his last, his life completely away from her grasp. He never had the time to say goodbye.
She was torn. Guilty. Confused. Bitter. She had it by the hand, and she had thrown it all away. Deep inside she knew there was nothing she could have done, but her heart said otherwise. Many times she had thought about what could have happened if she was just a little smarter. Many times she broke down at the guilt nabbing at her like fiery knives.
Sometimes she felt angry about it. Not at herself, but at the colonel. He had died without saying goodbye! It was selfish of him to decide to die. She would have wanted to die at his side. They were partners, and partners don’t leave the other to die alone. They were partners, and partners stand side by side with each other, no matter what the odds are. Partners don’t abandon each other. And he had broken that unwritten rule between the two of them.
It didn’t help that she was standing at the same place they had met many times before. Memories raced through her mind. Nothing stood out. Nothing was clear. It was all blood and fire and explosions and Roy and tears and sweat and…she…didn’t remember anything else. Only vaguely remembered why she was there. She could only see the rain, and tears, and Roy, bloodied Roy, lying on the sand, dying on the sand, hallucinations of her own scarred mind.
Her eyes threatened to well up with tears again. She suppressed it. It was unlike her to cry. She was firm and strong…or at least, that was what she led herself to believe. All this time she felt she was living a lie.
She fingered a strand of her long blonde hair absentmindedly, and suddenly she felt the tears escape and flow down the side of her cheek. Roy had said he liked her hair down. She had scoffed at that. It was Roy’s usual randomness talking. But he persisted, fingering her hair the way she was doing now, and remarked how much more beautiful she was with it down. She remembered having followed that up with a clean punch to the face.
Why was he so important to her? They regarded each other as a superior and his subordinate would: civil, professional, and avoiding all overfriendliness. There was no more to that. But why, during times of danger, why was he the only one she thought of protecting? It was evident in the way she stood by his side and the constant flash of annoyance whenever he gets in dangerous positions. And it was clear, too, by the way he rushed to her side without thinking of the possible dangers ahead. It was one man looking out for another, but it was more than that, hidden beneath all the covers of sincerity. He cared a lot for her, and she for him. It was unmistakably clear in the battlefield where every word could be their last.
For her he was Roy, and more; his importance cannot be measured by accomplishments alone. He had done so many things, and possessed great determination; yet he was human, and that was what she loved—the human side of Roy Mustang, not the dog of the military hell bent on being the Fuhrer. The human side that knows compassion and love, but hardly able to show it.
She felt her knees buckle under her and she sank down into the sand, the water splashing on her face, shaking her out of her reverie. She buried her head in her arms. She had never told him. Somehow she hoped he would make the first move, but work kept him busy and she never had the chance. It was all over now. There was no point in wasting time grieving. It was time to move on.
The wind had considerably quieted down after all its display of might against the trees. The weather was clearing up; drops of rain were trickling slowly on the wet sand. The sea was settling back in its bed, slowly receding from the shores. Somewhere in her heart, she knew she had found her place.
Slowly, she stood up. Rings of smoke were faint, but visible, as the next train for Central was rounding the corner and fast pulling up to the village station. Riza Hawkeye took a long glance at the beach she always loved, at the beach they had met so many times before. Flashbacks of footsteps along the shores, hastily-made lunches, quiet evenings by the sea under the moonlight—happy memories that eventually resurfaced to take the place of regrets. Somehow, without knowing why, she understood: Roy Mustang cared for her as much as she cared for him. It didn’t need to be spoken, their commitment; as she walked back to the station, she knew it had not been in vain. She had told him her feelings without a word being spoken, and for some reason she felt it being reciprocated, resonating over and over again, like a being that had found its voice, never ceasing, never tiring. Everything was suddenly clear to her now. She took one last glance at the beach, watching the tides recede, witnessing the painting of another new wonder of creation, and inwardly she smiled: Tomorrow will be a better day.
She was standing in front of a grave. Above her white clouds raced past each other on the blue canvas of a sky. The wind at Central had a feel of urbanism in it, flitting from tree to tree, whipping fallen leaves up from the earth. It was autumn. The white marble finish of the tomb gleamed from among a row of dull gray ones. Lying on top of it was a card, slightly obscured by the mass of red flowers neatly arranged on top of it. For a while she stared, gazing silently at the letters carved into stone. Winter will come and go, and with it her regrets and her fear and her loneliness. It was far from now, but it was coming. The long-awaited spring will finally arrive.
This is the first FMA fanfic I’ve ever written and the first one I entered in a competition, so sorry for anything you didn’t like about it. Comments to improve my writing is much love. Thanks!
Crossposted to my personal and writing LJs, as well as FF.Net and fullservicefma. Sorry for the spam.