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: 2720
Warning potential overdosing of crrrrack.
Synopsis: Sunlight dawns on a marble head.
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 a lyric in a song that was part of the soundtrack I have for this tale. Check the current music for the song.
Chapter 11: I Need a Soldier that ain’t Scared to Stand Up for Me
Riza woke up with a headache.
The past six days had been surreal. She knew she needed to take a break or watch her brain implode from the overload. And, if she spent one more evening in Roy’s rather expert company, she would lose the ability to sit upright. Or even sit at all. That’s exactly what she told him when she left him the morning before; that she needed a day to collect herself and her thoughts. He’d given her a smug little grin when she made the comment about sitting. She rolled her eyes and reminded him of the date.
And promptly wished she’d kept her mouth shut. Roy’s expression shut down and his mood had swung downward from that moment.
This was the last day of the week. The week she’d given him to work things out. And he hadn’t even given her one idea of what he’d done to do just that. All she saw of his attempts were books, tons of them, dusty and old, full of military regulations, law and alchemy of all things.
As she stood there and let the hot water pound away the pain in her skull, she wondered just what he had up his sleeve. Or if he had anything up his sleeve at all.
She knew he’d done some research. She knew he’d called Maes almost daily, on the pretense of poking his nose into the events at Central. She knew for a fact that he’d found nothing out from that source; because she’d talked to Maes that afternoon.
“How are things going, Hawkeye?”
“They are going...,” she muttered.
“That doesn’t sound too good. What’s happened?”
She explained the limit she’d put on the Colonel. Hughes had chuckled and told her not to worry. Roy would roast everyone and everything that got in the way of solving that problem. He’d also told her that Roy had not asked Maes if he’d been the one to start this whole thing in the first place. Yet. Riza thought that odd. By now it should have obvious that the only capable or willing to pull such a stunt was Hughes, and by now Roy should have been trotting about quite full of himself, satisfied that his world was turning in the direction he wanted.
But still he’d said nothing to her. He’d said very little to her or anyone else for the past two days. He was pouting, pure and simple. Riza realized that she’d actually managed to hobble the mustang, had halted the wildcard. She stood there her fingers and toes were wrinkled and her brain was completely drenched, then dressed for work. It was the only thing she could do until the end of the day.
The office felt more like a mausoleum. Annoying comments were at a minimum; the black cloud over the Colonel’s head kept everyone there at bay. He just kept to his paperwork. Or least he looked like he was keeping to his paperwork. Once, when he left to ‘stretch his legs’, Riza found twenty folders in the bottom drawer, all with interesting little doodles and stick figures drawn on the inside. She shook her head and placed them back where they belonged. Upon his return, he grimaced at being found out and she couldn’t resist.
“Sir, these things, among others, have to be taken care of by the end of the day. It is the last of the week, you know.”
He flushed and shot her a look from hooded lids, but flipped open the first folder without comment.
After that, he kept conversation with her to a minimum, saying only what was absolutely necessary. She shrugged to herself and continued working. Today, he was twelve. If that was the way he wanted to be, so be it. She couldn’t expect much more.
When she could, she left for the mess, and spent her lunch for the most part alone under her own black cloud. Though her surroundings were much more dynamic and noisy, her food tasted even more like sludge than normal. Sawdust probably would have tasted better. Since she hadn’t spent her time in mindless chit chat, she dragged herself back in early. When she walked in, she noticed that the office was still empty, but for the Colonel and Havoc. The Colonel (and it was safer to think of him like that today) was on the phone, trying to force information out of Hughes yet again. Havoc was at the other table, sorting folders and looking quite put out to be doing so. Riza wondered how long it would take for the ash hanging off the end of his cigarette to drop and set the whole pile of papers on fire. At least that would bring some life to the office today. Sighing, she went back to work.
The Colonel slammed the phone down and growled impotently, clenching a fist. Riza gave him an arched eyebrow at the dramatics; when he glared at her, daring her to comment, she rolled her eyes and went back to her own work. It really wasn’t her fault he was in a bad mood. He had to know that this day would come. He couldn’t stay locked in the candy store forever. Sugar shock would be a bitch.
It was a strange sensation, to hear nothing but the shuffling of papers, the scratching of pens and pencils, and the mutterings of a foul-tempered commanding officer. So, it was the click of a lighter that startled her completely out of her wits. She tensed and looked up. Havoc was leaned back in his chair, lighting a cigarette with a shiny new lighter. The lowering sunlight from the window caught the metal and it sparkled. He caught her staring and gave her a crooked smile. She gave an explosive sigh and went back to her paperwork. If she’d been a clock watcher, she would have gotten a crick in her neck this day. She couldn’t wait for it to be over.
It came quicker than she’d thought. The next time she came up for air, it was 1800 hours and the light was fading outside. Falman, Fuery and Breda had managed to sneak out early. The only persons left were herself, the surly Colonel and Havoc. Reluctantly, she dragged herself away from her desk and walked to the big desk. The Colonel hadn’t even bothered to look up from the book on his desk. He ran his fingers along a line on a page, and scribbled something on a sheet of paper before he looked up. He seemed to be annoyed to be interrupted. Riza winced, then saluted.
“Permission to leave, sir.”
He gave her a blank look then looked at the clock. Again that flush crossed his features and he glared. “Fine. Good evening, First Lieutenant.”
Riza blinked. She wanted to scream at the top of his head, to rage at him to stop regressing in age – now, he was acting like a three year old who’d lost his brand new toy and talk to her. But, Havoc was still there, so she just pursed her lips, straightened her shoulders and turned to leave.
She made it to the door before a bark of laughter made her stumble. She turned. The Colonel was staring, having just been startled so much that he’d just carved a hole in the sheet of paper on which he’d been writing with his pen. His gaze rested on the other occupant of the room, who was now leaning against the table, laughing. Laughing, of all things.
“Havoc, what is it that you’re smoking today?” The Colonel asked bitingly.
Riza turned back to the door, not in the mood to hear anything those two had to say to each other.
Riza stumbled again, cursing. She looked over her shoulder at her colleague, who was walking toward her with that same crooked grin on her face. He reached in his pocket and pulled out that lighter again. But, instead of lighting up again, he took her hand and placed it in the center of her palm.
“You two are very funny, you know that?”
As Riza stared at the thing in her hand, she heard the Colonel asking, “What the hell are you talking about?”
Damn. It was the double-damned lighter from the first night. Where had he found it? Where had she left it?
How did he know it belonged to her?
Havoc reached behind Riza and closed the double doors. “I had an interesting phone call this afternoon,” he told them. “Seems that I’ve been a little lax in my vigilance.”
“I’m going to concur with the Colonel, Second Lieutenant Havoc,” Riza said. “What are you talking about?”
“And here I was thinking you had it all figured out, Colonel,” Havoc drawled in that straight off the turnip truck voice, crossing his arms and leaning against the doors, effectively barring entrance by any outsider. It was also keeping Riza from leaving, which annoyed her to no end. “You seemed to be clicking along quite competently. What happened?” Havoc gestured at the book on the desk. “Could you not find a good enough loophole in the regulations to keep you safe?”
The Colonel growled and stood up. “Explain yourself, Lieutenant.”
Havoc didn’t seemed intimidated by the look or the stance. He simply flipped the cigarette in his mouth from one side to the other. “You don’t need a loophole, Colonel,” he said.
Riza thought a bullet hole would accentuate the Second Lieutenant’s forehead quite nicely.
“There’s so much going on right now at Central that no one could care less about what we’re doing over here.”
“Again, I’m not following you,” the Colonel said slowly, warning deepening his tone.
Riza glanced over again at the Colonel, at his right hand. While the left hand braced him over his desk, the right one was almost at rest. Almost. Riza commonly called that pose the snapping position.
Havoc shook his head and pulled the butt out of his mouth. “The Fuhrer himself would probably come to your wedding, if only to get away from the fracas in Central.”
Riza suddenly had the urge to sit, but realized she was nowhere near a seat. She moved to the table, away from the man in the door, desperately retreating. “W-wedding?”
“What fracas in Central?”
Riza looked over at the Colonel, willing him with her eyes to just shut up.
“Nothing to concern ourselves with yet,” Havoc waved a hand. “Hughes said he would let you know when things were getting too out of hand.”
“Hughes?” Riza said, still stunned. She could sense this conversation taking a very interesting turn.
“Lieutenant Colonel Hughes? The one with the lovely little girl?” Havoc chuckled. “I talked to him this afternoon. I do believe Elysia is composing symphonies today. You two were so busy ignoring each other, you didn’t even notice when I left.”
Riza looked at the Colonel. He was staring at her now, giving her his undivided attention. His hand had flattened on the desk, completely at ease.
“Dennison told me things were getting tense between you,” Jean shook his head, moving to put a hand on Riza’s shoulder. She jumped at the mention of the Sergeant’s name. “Hughes told me about this ‘time limit’ thing you set on our good old Colonel, too. A week? You sold him short, First Lieutenant.”
“Okay, Havoc, I would think real carefully before you speak,” the Colonel warned.
“You know, I’d ask for permission to speak freely but that would take too much time. If you’d been paying attention, Mustang, you would have realized that you didn’t need to do anything to make this work.”
The Colonel turned away from Riza and looked at the Lieutenant. “What nonsense are you spewing?”
Havoc sighed. “Okay, think about this. Say, just for fairy tale’s sake, that oh...” he grinned. “You two were actually seeing one another, in a less than professional capacity.”
Riza blushed and the Colonel cleared his throat, looking everywhere in the room but each other.
“And someone found out about it. Someone not so nice.”
“It would be our necks in the noose,” the Colonel growled. “Even your grass-fed ass knows that.”
“Hmm. Possibly. Who do you think they would go to? Your superior officer?” Jean shook his head. “You don’t have a superior officer here.”
Riza sat up straight, saying quietly, slowly. “There would have to be an investigation of the accusation.”
“Uh-huh. Very good, First Lieutenant. And who do you think would get the call?”
Riza continued, as Roy had suddenly lost the ability to speak. “Lieutenant Colonel Hughes.”
“Again, you are right. Now. I’m sure he would investigate to the best of his ability. Don’t you think he’d exhaust every avenue available to him to get to the bottom of the controversy?”
“Of course he would,” Riza looked over at Roy, who was looking at his shoes, either deep in thought, or mortified that he hadn’t thought of this himself. “He helped the Colonel get here; it would reflect badly on him if the Colonel were found guilty of something so scandalous.”
“He would interview everyone in the staff. And we would all have to answer truthfully, wouldn’t we?”
Havoc leaned back and crossed his arms. “And who do you think would ask the questions?”
“He’s crazy.” This came from the general direction of Roy’s feet.
“Granted. Although I never said so, of course. He would also write a very thorough report about how he interviewed everyone and found no evidence to support the accusation.”
Havoc looked at Riza and smiled. “Breda might be blind, but I’m not. I used to dream about those brown eyes before I realized you’d just as soon put a bullet in my butt as go out with me.”
Riza chuckled despite herself, remembering those big, blue calf eyes in the early days.
“Now, the important thing is to make sure that Breda – and Fuery, and Falman – stay blind for now.” He stood and straightened his jacket. “And that means you two have to stop fighting.” As they just stood there, staring at him, he clapped his hands loudly. They jumped. “Go ahead! Stop pouting, sir, and apologize properly to the lady. I’ll make sure you’re not disturbed for...oh, say... ten minutes? That enough time?”
“Maybe for you,” Roy said reluctantly.
“Well then.” Havoc snapped a smart salute. “Permission to withdraw?”
The smile on Roy’s looked like a slow sunrise. “Permission granted.”
When the doorway closed, Riza looked over at Roy. She didn’t even need to say a word.
“Again, I wasn’t thinking.”
“Again, blindingly obvious. Sir.”
He cracked a grin. “I seem to have that problem a lot as of late, First Lieutenant.”
“I noticed. You think you can get over it long enough to make this work out?”
“Well, if my mind wasn’t full of all the paperwork you see fit to foist on me...”
Riza held up her hand and turned to the door. “Tomorrow night, I’ll cook you dinner. Maybe some brain food.”
“Riza. She turned, her hand on the knob.
“Wait. Do you forgive me for being stupid?”