Series: Manga/2nd Anime
Characters: Roy, Riza, Havoc, Breda, OCs, Rating: PG13 (drunkeness, alcoholicsm, violence, swearing)
Summary: Trying to help a damaged old war-comrade, Roy gets himself inro deep trouble. But as always a hawk's eye is on him. X-posted to fm_alchemist. First posted for Fma_Fic_Contest prompt, for no 89; song lyrics (song used is 'a pair of brown eyes' by the Pogues).
The Waltzing Matilda was the most dismal pub Roy Mustang had seen; rickety, odorous and patronized solely by a huddle of blind drunks in a corner. Roy stared at the one who was moaning in his sleep.
In Ishbal, the sky had screamed. The dead piled up in burning streets; madmen prayed, soldiers cursed and Ishbalans bled. Some memories stayed vague like a nightmare, as if the flames had blackened Roy’s own life, with too many others. All he had done was snap his fingers. Maybe all he had felt was the guns aimed at him in hatred. All he had seen, when he couldn’t look on death any longer, were a pair of brown eyes. Looking at him. His beloved killer’s eyes; the most beautiful and terrible sight.
He didn’t want to lose her eyes; he wouldn’t forget a single horror that demanded he reach the top, and clean up his country. Maybe that was why he hadn’t ended like Dermot McGowan; the truth was Roy wasn’t sure why he hadn’t.
The former State Alchemist’s open eyes were shifting and watery, thick veins the only brightness in them. His hand shook, spilling beer over his rat-like stubble and overfull grey jersey, as he immediately finished his pint, before looked Roy over unsteadily.
“You’ve done well. ‘S good, really good. Stand this round?” Roy got McGowan another beer, “Ah. Thanks. You well?”
“No right to complain. Yourself?”
“Not good. Gotta start looking out for myself. How we got through the war, eh? They tied us to the stake, and we fought to save our own lives, ‘cos no bugger else was gonna. ‘Nother pint?”
“I heard you’d stopped seeing the Veteran Affairs psychiatrist.”
“Silly bint said I had post-traumatic-stress–you won’t believe this–from witnessing a traumatic event. Bloody obvious, really. No care in it; no respect.”
“They could still give you money, medical care...don’t say you don’t need it. They give somewhere to be with the other Ishbal vets. They’d be better than some of your friends.”
“The vets meetings...half of ‘em think we did alright, killing all those women and kids. The other half got bloody religion. You ain’t got religion, have you, Roy? But you still got something to say about my friends....”
“McGowan...pamphlets and protests are one thing, but the group you’ve been seen with are seriously working against this country. There’s even a warrant to bring you in. I came here alone to tell you, as a fellow officer–”
“Officer? Me?” McGowan gave a cracked, miserable smile. Roy heard a click at his back. He went for his gloves–touched a patch of condensation. “Don’t forget, tie his fingers. He’s Colonel Mustang, the very best.”
“McGowan, you do realize–?”
“All those dead kids, and you never realized, Roy? We were the bad guys. The whole military deserves to burn.”
“I owe you an apology, McGowan. I really had lost all respect for you, since you aren’t some square-jawed propaganda icon. But even if terrorism is useless, you’re still fighting. And alone, too.”
One of the supposed drunks circled the table, and pushed McGowan out of the door with a gun; evidently his ‘friends’ regarded him with a healthy distrust. Roy was ready to chokehold anyone who came within range; McGowan had evidently praised his brawling skills, since someone hit him with an iron bar from behind before trussing his fingers up. Then the gunman threw an overcoat over his weapon, and pushed Roy out into the fog.
Huddled figures stumbled past the little party, vanishing into the fog. As the blow to his head rocked and warped his vision, Roy peered at them, but their eyes were hidden. It was alright; he had walked down worse streets than this, so that they wouldn’t have see disgraceful outrages like this. But maybe they would have to read about it on the front pages next morning, and for Roy Mustang, that would be it. Anger weighed down on him that he would have solved nothing. Would he even have saved a single person?
A couple were making out on a corner ahead. As they passed, the lead kidnapper growled at them. The couple broke apart–Mustang caught a wiff of a heavy cigarette smell. A flash of brown eyes. As he staggered over stones in the twisted fog, into his captor’s van, Mustang smiled grimly, as blood dripped from his hair.
An hour later, the van pulled up at a dockyard warehouse; Roy was pushed out the back, and inside. Though the further armed men present had set out several lamps, only one small, high window released the light. The gunmen probably had military training–Roy didn’t like to think of them as ex-soldiers–but the leader was skinny and bearded. He looked the intellectual sort who awoke one morning dissatisfied with the world he lived in and prepare to kill as people as necessary to make it maginally more tolerable. This man dismissively handed McGowan a roll of bills.
“Right,” McGowan stared at the men, “So, you gonna shoot me right now, or hold us a bit?”
“Didn’t need to be told I couldn’t trust you. This way, you get two State Alchemists for the price of one, eh?”
“Mr McGowan,” The bearded man voice had a nasal sort of contempt, “The military would probably thank us if we shot you for ridding them of a public disgrace.”
McGowan nodded in sage agreement. Then suddenly as if the means to achieve his last wish had just occurred to him, he punched the man. None of the militants even fired; McGowan stood alone as three of them beat him to the ground, and threw him beside Roy.
“Even if you don’t mean to be of help,” Roy quipped, “You’re as ready to die for your country as you always were.”
“I should’ve died back then,” Through locked teeth, McGowan moaned in terror as the gun rose towards his eyes. “We all should’ve died....”
“But most of us lived. In spite of what we did, we live on. There’s one thing between us, Dermot–”
“Your death will change this country, Mustang.” The militant steadied his breathing to shoot.
“–I can still trust. I’m not alone.”
The tiny window shattered, and the militant leader’s head blew out. A second shot went through another man who aimed his gun; the rest dashed out the front, where Breda and Havoc were waiting. McGowan ran for the rear exit.
Roy knew that a hawk’s brown eyes and black rifle mouth would be on McGowan, as he fled through the dockyards, lost in the nightmare of flashback behind his own eyes. Calm and inescapable, Riza’s killing eyes might be his terror–or his salvation.
“Colonel Mustang,” General Gardener stared aloofly at the younger man over his glasses, “Evidence linked McGowan directly to the militant cell. Did you not recklessly endanger your life, by meeting with him alone?”
“General?” Riza blinked mildly, a picture of earnestness, “The Colonel had previously ordered us to uncover the cell by ‘any means necessary’. His intentions were clearly to draw out the enemy himself, while we guarded him without his knowledge in order to throw them into confusion.”
“Ah...to deceive the enemy, you must sometimes deceive your allies, Sir.”
“Sun Tze?” Gardener smiled for a fraction of a second, “There was another more serious matter. Your explicit orders were that we could only deter this kind of nonsense by making an example of the entire cell, and their associates.”
“General? The Colonel relayed your order to kill every terrorist we saw. We obeyed to the letter–but I let McGowan go, when I recognized him as a soldier.”
“Well then, Mustang. I will make certain High Command appreciates your heroism and initiative.”
“My duty to the Fuehrer, Sir.” Roy stared ahead. Outside the office, he glanced at Riza, “Thank heavens I can rely on you to interpret my orders.”
“I told General Gardener the truth, Sir.” Her mock innocence look was enchanting, “Nothing makes me gladder than to have your trust, however.”
“Could anyone mistrust you? Incidently, when they were taking me to that van, that was you pretending to make out with Lt Havoc, wasn’t it?”
“…ah, we were merely trying to keep visual contact without arousing suspicion,” Riza blushed faintly, as she hurried after Roy, “I promise it was for your sake, Colonel….”
Mustang smiled wanly. Her eyes had seen him do things with flame that would hurt her forever, but she still watched him, and they both went on. To the end. For his country; for a pair of brown eyes.