Series Title: Games without Frontiers
Series Rating: PG - NC-17
Main Character:Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye
Other Characters: Various other members of the Peanut Gallery called Fullmetal Alchemist
Word Count: 1,875
Warning potential overdosing of crrrrack.
Synopsis: Things aren't going quite as planned. Not at all.
Author's Notes: AU/Non Canon. My own little private timeline; my own private little world. Yeah, and, just to add, my own little crackpot theories. Nothing else related to any episode of any kind, except the usage of the character(s) in question, though some events in some episodes will be used out of context as artistic license. I try not to make the events I use too spoilerish, but if I can’t help it, you’ll get a warning. Commentary is certainly welcome and tends to make me go “you like me! you really like me!” Each chapter is titled after the lyric of a song. Song is referenced in Current Music.
Chapter 4: And I Need to Be Redeemed
Rating: PG for Language
She made damn sure she locked the door behind her. And as soon as she did so, she realized that something was very wrong. Something that was about to send the mission spiraling in a different direction.
This did three things to her. The tension smacked her in the face, causing her to lose her breath for a hot second. The virtual darkness disoriented her; her head swiveled toward the only light in the room. And her mind raced to re-write the script in her head.
She caught the scent of fresh cigar tobacco. Normally, it gave her a warm feeling. But tonight, it just served to set her nerves even more on edge. And in the chair at the other end of the room (a library, she discovered as her eyes adjusted), sat her prey.
That was wrong. There was supposed to be someone else here, someone she was supposed to... she moved closer, walking softly across the plush carpet, watching, gauging his movements. He was very being precise. He was laying out cards o the small table in front of him. Solitaire.
And there, underneath the smell of the cigar clenched between his teeth, she caught another scent. One she was well familiar with, one she dreaded every time she leaned over his desk in the office and picked it up.
Alcohol. A sweet, cloying cognac, one that she was unhappily familiar with. Her heart dropped into her stomach, and this confirmation of her need to be there.
He would lay down a card, then pick up the tumbler at his right hand. Take a healthy swig, lay it down. Place another card. He was playing Solitaire and drinking in this room.
Riza shook her head to clear it.
But, he was supposed to be... entertaining... on this evening, and she was supposed to be putting on the performance of a life time, just to scare the little tart off, and to shock him into paying attention to her. He wasn’t supposed to be alone, sitting in a dark room, playing Solitaire, stark, raving drunk.
“Are you my birthday present?”
Riza jumped at his voice, hoarse, muffled by the cigar. Her mind skittered about, retracing the calendar in the Lieutenant Hawkeye portion of her mind. His birthday present. Today was indeed his birthday. Now she understood the urgency, the reason that the plans could not be changed.
The words she needed now still hadn’t come to her, so she stood there and waited for him to look up.
When he did, she held herself from a flinch, because she could almost see flames licking at the back of his eyes, burning a path somewhere she didn’t want to go. He squinted, trying to see her in the half-light.
She could see the moment of recognition like the last second of a timed detonation.
She should have known better than to think he wouldn’t know her.
“What are you doing here?” He went back to his playing. “I thought you didn’t attend these silly little functions.”
The bitterness under the comment was the thing she needed to find the words. “Intervening on your behalf.”
That got his attention. He paused in the deal, and looked up at her. “Are you? On my behalf?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
“Who sent you here?”
“Does that matter?”
“Yes. I want to know so that I can kick their ass into next week.”
“I’ll take care of that myself.” She would kick Maes’ ass with his own dammed foot when she saw him next. And take the court-martial when it came with a smile. She placed a hand on her hip. “And that’s going to make me tell you who it is?”
“Say what you came to say,” he sighed.
“It wouldn’t be fitting under these circumstance.”
Again he paused, and looked at her. He seemed to enjoy the trail his eyes took, from the top of her heavily-styled hair to the tips of her narrow-toed boots. “Oh? Then, why are you still here?”
“As I said, I am intervening on your behalf.” She looked around, her eyes lighting on a chair, kicked over, rather close to the table. She picked it up and set it up right, then straddled it. The look she gave him was placid, hiding everything churning within her.
He looked at her as if she were a snake. “I don’t...” he shook his head. His eyes crossed in a remarkable fashion before he got his equilibrium back. He reached for the half-empty glass on the table.
Her hand beat him to it. She put her palm over it. A simple gesture that he had to know well.
“Damn it,” he growled. “Move your damned hand.”
“You’ve had enough.”
“What do you know about it?” he suddenly shouted in her face. She held fast, glad that the rows of book cases were perfect sound proofing. “It’s never enough,” he whispered.
“I was there too,” Riza said quietly. “Remember?”
“Yes, I remember. You were one of those little grunts out there, following orders like a good little soldier. You didn’t have a choice. I did.”
She ignored that insult. “Did you?”
“I was a trained attack dog. When I took this watch, I knew exactly what would be asked of me.”
“So?” She crossed her arms across the back of the chair, thanking all higher beings that she was able to respond to him the way he needed. This was not the plan at all, but he didn’t need to know that.
“Dammit, what are you doing here?” he asked her again, as if he were searching for an answer she wasn’t giving him.
“You’re on a destructive path of no return. You have to turn back before the one destroyed is you. And you know this."
He snorted derisively. “Better to destroy myself than those around me.”
Riza closed her eyes and counted to ten. “Look. I came here on a mission that was supposed to have some sort of amusement value for you. I find that this pity-party is in no way amusing.”
“Then leave,” he gritted. “And tell whoever sent you thanks, but no thanks. I don’t need... diversion.” He bent back to his card game, dealt a few cards, and then suddenly swept them off of the table. “I need release,” he said hoarsely, scrubbing a hand through his disheveled hair.
The glass bounced on the floor, spilling the fine golden liquid. Riza watched a splash land on the toe of her boot.
She’d held herself in check all day long. Knowing what she had to do, why she had to do it, and why she didn’t want to do it. All of it coiled tight inside of her. She’d kept her expression clear and normal in front of him all day long. She’d managed to make it home, change into this outrageous get-up, and come here, all to provide this self-pitying fool with... something... that would... she didn’t know what it would have done for him.
She did know what it would have done for her. And there was the reason for her reluctance, her tension, her utter distaste for the old charade and the new one.
She stood up. “You want release?” She said. “Fine. I want release too.”
He blinked up at her, eyes bleary, but just clear enough for him to see the ropes of tension within her finally breaking.
“You want to destroy yourself? All right, Colonel. Let's do it up right." She kicked the chair over, and moved around the table to lean into his face. He reared back slightly, shock warring with the beginning of fear. “I’ve made it my duty to help you in any way I could. I worked my way up the ranks of this army to do just that. I made that promise a long time ago, and I’m not going to back out on it now, even though you are making me so sick I want to vomit.”
He straightened in the chair, his mouth hanging open slightly. She most certainly had his attention now.
Well, good. Because she was tired, her feet hurt, the taste of cigarette was nasty on her tongue, and this wasn’t something she wanted to do in the first place. Not in this way anyway.
“I’m going to give you a choice. What you do with it is up to you.” She snapped the holster loose and drew the gun. He started and looked at her with no small amount of alarm. She held it up in the half-light and looked at him. For a second, she enjoyed the uneasy look he was giving her. Then she relented.
She simply snapped the safety off and placed the gun on the table.
Next to it, she placed a key. It felt heavier in her hand than the sidearm.
“I believe that, if you apply yourself, you will know what to do with both of these things. Both of them will give you release. Both of them will destroy who you are tonight. You choose which one you want to use. You have one hour.”
“One. Hour. I’ll let you know now that if you choose the first, I will be forced to make the most painful phone call I’ve ever had to make. If you choose the second...” She couldn’t go on. He wasn’t stupid. He knew exactly what she was offering. Even drunk, the man’s mind had a clarity that was unparalleled. She inwardly snorted to herself. Even in the privacy of this room, he had been playing a charade for an audience of negative one.
She spun on her heel and walked away from him, before he had a chance to respond to her. And before she had a chance to take it all back and retreat, like she wanted to, behind the security of their ranks and positions and everything else that stood between them.
Since that day, in Ishbal, when she put a sniper’s bullet right between the eyes of someone she didn’t know, she’d never retreated from a battle. She wasn’t about to now.
She knew this enemy. It had chased her ever since she set eyes on this man.
So she left, to hopefully lure it to another field of battle.