>Kat< (tanya_lilac) wrote in fm_alchemist,
>Kat<
tanya_lilac
fm_alchemist

Fanfiction: The Alchemist's Daughter [Part Two]

Title: Spark
Author: Tanya Lilac
Rating: T - M, for later chapter.
Pairing: Royai
Words: 2725
Summary: I was the alchemist’s daughter," she whispered. "I was supposed to be like him, everyone thought. But then I was... talentless in their eyes." It seemed as if she was crumbling to ash in his hands.
Warning: Spoiler, post chapter 58

Roy paced impatiently outside the apartment complex, wondering if there was any other way out. There was no denying that he owed her, but to repay her like this...

He clenched his fists and sighed softly into the summer night. How many years had it been, since he had seen her back? That array that had granted him his State Alchemist accreditation and yet, barely a month ago, had taken the lives of so many, and pushed them to the brink of complete and utter insanity. She seemed so close to breaking, once again – would this shatter her?

Frustrated at the thought, he shut his eyes and took a deep breath to try and calm down. It wouldn’t help anyone if he was distracted. He tried to focus his mind, but all he could see was the haunted look in her eyes. Would he see them again tonight? Would he be able to fix them?

He knew the answer anyway – once lost, innocence was gone forever.

With a final sigh, he walked up the three flights of stairs and swiftly made his way to room thirty six. He knocked sharply on the door and after a few minutes (and evidently it was the longest few minutes of his life), Riza opened the door. Her hair was damp.

“Mustang-san? You’re early,” she smiled warmly, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Come inside.”

For some reason, it was then that it finally hit him. He needed to believe in her strength. He would not – could not doubt her own resolution, and her judgement. To do so... would be the greatest insult.

She lived by herself, in a one bedroom apartment. A bay window looked out onto the fourth district in central, and in the distance, he could see the military headquarters. He turned away from the window and placed the box he’d brought upon the kitchen bench.

She sat down. “What did you bring?”

“Supplies,” he replied grimly. He unpacked the box and Riza sighed. He gave her a strange look. “I’ll ask you again,” he said quietly. “Are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital? Even a second degree burn needs a lot of treatment –”

“And is suspicious, especially for a cadet who has just come back from war, with the Flame Alchemist, ‘Hero of Ishval’,” Riza countered. “I don’t want anyone to see this... even a part of it’s –”

“Dangerous,” Roy finished. They’d been having this debate for the past five weeks, ever since she had asked him, the both of them covered in the blood and dust of Ishval.

“Well, I will have to bandage it for you, then.” He smirked. “You can’t reach all the way around there, or even cook without moving your shoulders, can you?”

Riza arched an eyebrow at him. “You’re useless. All you ever think about is getting into more and more trouble. Won’t your girlfriend notice that your clothes smell like another woman?”

He scoffed. “The ‘Hero of Ishval’ is currently single, believe it or not.”

She caught the bitter inflection in his voice and looked away.

“Besides,” he added, “I’m going to be the one who will be doing the harming – I may as well help... I’m a fantastic cook, you know. Speaking of which, have you had dinner?”

Yes, Roy,” Riza said in long suffering tones. He stopped unpacking and looked at her. She hadn’t called him by his first name in years. He stared, and she raised her eyes to meet his, feeling his gaze on her. Eyes that had once held vibrant light and warmth were now dim, shadowed by pain, regret and loss. She tried to smile at him, but found that tears welled suddenly in her eyes. Blinking, she turned away and left him standing in the kitchen to sit down on the bed.

She slid her shirt up over her head and folded it in half before slinging it across the foot of her bed, all the while listening to the sound of running water from the kitchen. Their routine from long ago had not been forgotten. Everything was carried out with an unhurried, methodical precision, everything perfectly timed. Her undergarments followed and she lay down on the bed, hugging a pillow tightly to her chest. Roy, with a quiet sigh and sad look in his eye, approached with his well prepared supplies and put them down on the ground.

Drawing a small case out of his pocket, he procured a small white tablet.

“What’s that?” Riza asked cautiously.

“Painkillers,” he replied, holding out a glass of water with his other hand. “Strong ones.”

“How long will it take?” He knew she wasn’t talking about the medicine.

“... Seconds,” he said, his voice taut. His hands were steady. She could trust him. “But afterwards... the pain will last. Two months, maybe. You won’t be able to work for the next six weeks, depending on how far the damage goes. You’ll have blisters and –”

“I know.” She said solemnly. “It will be worth it.” She sat up to drink the tablet before lying down once more, overtaken by a chilling apprehension.

Clearly agitated, Roy unbuttoned his shirt some more and ran his hand several times through his hair before pulling on a familiar pair of white gloves he kept in his jacket pocket. She knew this so well. He knew her back like she knew the back of his hand.

He sat down beside her like he had once done, and reached out to gently trace his fingers over the array on her back. She flinched, but remained silent. It was amazing how much he owed to her, because of this.

“You’re too tense.” he said softly. She smiled at the feel of him so close to her, his breaths fanning across her shoulders to brush her ear lightly. “I knew I should have gotten you drunk.”

He put his hand on her shoulder and she sat up, still holding the pillow. “I trust you,” she murmured.

Upon hearing those words, he pulled her close and kissed her, watching as her eyes slid shut and the tension melted out of her. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and he tried hard to ignore the delicate scent of her soap. Soon, it would be replaced with the now-familiar smell of burned flesh.

Steeling himself, he envisaged the array on her back, they had so carefully studied years ago. It was designed such that, with something missing, the rest of the array would not make sense... at least, in theory. He would only need to destroy part of the array.

Roy tried not to hesitate as he remembered, with a sudden vividness, their time together, poring over books in the study and his meticulous notes. She had even managed to learn the code in which his notes were encrypted. They had both been breathlessly excited the moment the flames had sprung forth with a click of his fingers – and had consumed his notebook, reducing it entirely to ash in a matter of seconds. He could even remember the joke she’d made about making paperwork ‘disappear’.

He broke away quickly before he was overwhelmed; barely managing to whisper hoarsely in her ear, “Remember to breathe.”

There was no time for her to react. In the clear reflection of her window, Roy watched as, with a snap of his left hand, the skin on her left shoulder blade turned bright red and was marred in an instant by his flames. Her left arm dropped reflexively to the bed to ease the pain and she clung painfully to him with her right, but not a sound passed through her lips.

After finally being able to bandage the wound well past midnight, Riza managed to fall into a fitful doze, with the aid of another tablet, and she finally found restful sleep near dawn. Roy tipped out the large bowl of water and tried to ignore its reddish hue. He stared at the tired face that looked back at him in the mirror and pressed his forehead against the cool glass, his breaths streaking across his reflection.

He was a State Alchemist – the dogs of the military. He wasn’t allowed to use his gift to heal people – it was for harming them. It was the only way he could protect others. With a sigh, he looked down at his blood-tinged hands, which up until now, had been steady. Feeling nothing but a deeply familiar guilt, he turned on the tap and began to scrub them vigorously.

When he had first objected, part of it had been from selfishness. He couldn’t bear to hurt her, was what he had said. He couldn’t bear having to deal with something he had done to her. It could not be simpler.

The water, meanwhile, had become hot. With a sharp gasp, he dropped the bar of soap and wrenched his hands out of the sink. They were pink and raw. Sighing, he turned the cold water on and splashed his face. None of this would wash away the pain that she had suffered – for both her father... and for the sake of the people they had both naively wanted to protect – at his hands.

Leaving the bathroom, he stopped and stared. The sun just reached above the rooftops of the buildings in the district, its golden light casting a similar stain upon the whitewashed walls in her apartment. Riza’s skin seemed to glow, and was not the wan, sickly colour she had been a few hours ago. Her hair, still short, gleamed like gossamer strands of glass. He saw, as she turned to face him in her sleep, that the faint hint of colour had blossomed back into her cheeks, and she wasn’t showing any signs of shock or fever. Roy sighed with relief.

Without another moment of hesitation, he slipped out of her apartment with her spare keys jangling in his pocket.

------------------------------

Riza woke groggily to the smell of coffee. Upon opening her eyes, she saw a blurry figure that looked like Roy in the kitchen, warming up something in the oven as he waited patiently for the coffee to finish steeping. She tried to focus her eyes on what was inside the open grocery bags on the bench, but they refused to cooperate. Her tongue was heavy in her mouth, and she was parched. As if he sensed she was awake, Roy came over to help her.

“Morning...” He smirked. “Or perhaps I should say, ‘good afternoon’.” He helped her to sit, watching carefully as she cringed when her back moved. He handed her a glass of water and she glared at him reproachfully as she drank. “What was I supposed to do? It was either, take the pain killers and pass out for eight hours, or keep waking up every five minutes, swearing. Besides, I think you look cute when you sleep –”

He jumped off the bed as Riza tipped what was left in the glass onto his lap. She stopped and stared at his ironed shirt for a moment, before gingerly stretching out her left arm, wincing at the twinge in her shoulder. She ignored Roy, who was muttering things under his breath as he strode over to the sofa to pick up a change of clothes. Despite his ironed shirt, he didn’t look like he had slept at all. Lifting her left arm slightly, she inched her way across the bed and traced her feet across the wooden floorboards. They were clean.

She glanced at the clock – it was just past two in the afternoon. Running her fingers through her hair, she tried to remember some of what had happened last night. Roy had tried to ease the pain as much as he could, while doing his best to distract her. She’d been in no condition to carry on a conversation, so he had been forced to do all of the talking. When her skin had cooled enough for him to apply a bandage safely, it was well past midnight. Over and over, the fabric had rolled over her chest, shoulder and back. His hands, so steady, had never faltered. When he was finally done, he had helped her put on a shirt that had buttoned up at the front and gave her another tablet to dull her senses.

He had picked up the novel she had left on her bedside table, opened it to the marked page, and began to read, his voice pulling her into dreams. She remembered sleeping lightly at first, waking every time Roy stopped reading. After some time, he reached out to her with a hand that trembled, and she took it in her own, caressing his skin. She had wondered if it would last until daybreak.

She needn’t have worried. At the first sign of dawn – a pale sky that announced the sun – she had smiled sleepily at the Flame Alchemist. He had looked at her, puzzled, and her smile grew. With a soft, relieved sigh, she felt a little guilty about her selfishness, but all thoughts soon fled from her mind as Roy’s hand free itself from hers. His fingertips traced the back of her hand for a few moments before running up her arm, shoulder and nape of her neck to rest, for a second, upon the curve of her cheek. He stroked her flaxen locks away from her eyes and smiled back. There was no need to hide.

Reassured, she let her eyes drift shut as she fell into a deep slumber, the pain on her back just a mere ache.

That had been around eight hours ago, if her guess was correct. Why hadn’t he slept? Roy came out of the bathroom, and had changed out of the pants he had been wearing. Riza cleared her throat several times before trying to talk.

“Why are you still awake?” Her voice sounded far too loud and she grimaced. “And... what did you give me?”

Roy smirked and came over with a tray of hot croissants, fresh fruit, a cup of coffee and a glass of juice.

“Well, if you hadn’t lied and told me that you hadn’t eaten dinner, then you wouldn’t be feeling like this, would you?” He set the tray down on the bedside table and reached for the coffee, but Riza beat him to it. “You can’t take it on an empty stomach, because it’ll make you dehydrated. So drink a lot of fluids as well. The coffee wasn’t for you, by the way.”

He sighed and settled with taking a sip of juice.

“You haven’t slept. You went home... and changed, shaved and brought extra clothes. You bought foodfrom your favourite places in the third district by the looks of it, and had the time to prepare coffee properly. You mopped my floors... and scrubbed away at your hands until they were raw. I don’t think you need coffee. You need to sleep.”

Roy sighed and put the glass back down onto the tray. “You’re far too observant for your own good, Riza.” He took a bite out of a strawberry and arched an eyebrow at her strange expression.

“Roy... have you not been able to sle-” she was interrupted when he leaned over and kissed her. It was sweet, slow and soft, far from the rough desperation he had screamed to her last night. But, they both knew that he was asking for the same thing. Please, please... don’t say anything else.

I might break if you say more.

She broke away and sighed, finally relinquishing her hold on the coffee mug. She handed it to him, and his fingertips brushed against her hand as he claimed his prize.

“Thank you.”



I’d like to apologise – as a result of unforeseen internet problems... this second chapter is a little bit late, I think. Comments, concrit and questions are always welcome. Crossposted.


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