Series Title: Games without Frontiers
Series Rating: PG - NC-17
Main Characters: Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye
Other Characters: Various other members of the Peanut Gallery called Fullmetal Alchemist
Word Count: 2,467
Warning: Some adult themes; potential overdosing of crrrrack.
Synopsis: It was a morning she would remember for the rest of her life.
Author's Notes: AU because I play with the timeline. My own little private timeline; my own private little world. Yeah, and, just to add, my own little crackpot theories and plots. 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. Based roughly on both the ’03 and FMA:B. 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 14: Lost in Motion, Locked Together
It was a morning she would remember for the rest of her life.
She woke up that morning with a head full of sand and a piercing headache. And alone. She frowned. That was a first. There was a note: In early. Making sure all is ready for auditors. Hurry. Don’t want to face them alone.
As she showered and dressed and went through her itinerary for the day, her mind took an interesting journey in thought.
Riza was not one who had many friends. She had many colleagues who had held her in the highest regard. She had a few people who knew her when she was younger, before the military, who lived in her home town.
There was Roy, whose relationship with her had changed, and flowed and moved from one phase to another, much like the flame he held at his command. Was he a friend? Riza touched the back of her shoulder, the only spot she could reach on her back where the scar was thickest.
Yes, she had friends. And friends and friends.
But, there was one friend in particular, she expected a visit from every month without fail. She didn’t really cherish those visits, but it gave her an excuse to drink her tea with a little extra honey, add an extra blanket to her bed. And under most circumstances, those visits reinforced her belief that everything was good and right and straight in her world.
She would certainly have to check her calendar, but she was almost sure that her friend hadn’t visited her in quite some time. In fact, in the weeks since her life had... changed, that special visitor had missed not one, but, in the past few days, two occasions to knock on her door.
She sat down on the foot of her rumpled bed to process that information more clearly. There was a saying that absence made the heart grow fonder. In this case, this absence did nothing more than make the fine hairs on the back of her neck raise on end.
A strange sensation tickled Riza at the base of her spine, chased her pulse through her body at breakneck speed, landed in the base of her throat and threatened to cut off the air she needed to breathe.
The last time she’d had this feeling was the time she was sighting down the barrel of a sniper’s rifle, intent on killing her first human. It left a nasty little taste in the back of her throat that she identified immediately as panic.
Riza Hawkeye was going to be late to work for the first time in her entire life. No, she corrected sternly, she could not be late for work. People would know something was terribly wrong. And there were those nosy enough not to rest until they found out what that something was. And if they found out–,
Get yourself together, you idiot! She chastised. She forced the breath back into her lungs and straightened the jacket of her uniform. Don’t jump to conclusions before you have facts in black and white in front of your nose. Have a cup of coffee and calm down.
Pushing those crazed emotions into a safe little corner of her mind, she plotted her plan of attack. Her instincts had never failed, and her instincts were telling her what was wrong. But, she still wanted tangible proof, perfect irrefutable facts. In order to get those facts, she would have to visit a doctor. A good doctor. One who knew how to keep their mouth shut and their records secure.
She halted in the living room and picked up the phone. If she saw any of the doctors in Eastern, the news would be flying around the headquarters in the time it took her to get back to her desk.
“First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye for Lieutenant Colonel Hughes,” she told the operator.
He helped her get into this mess; he sure as hell was going to help her work her way through it to the other side.
Before he even had a chance to speak, Riza neutrally told him what she wanted. She hoped he wouldn’t ask any questions. But, given his place in the world, it was his job to jump to conclusions.
“Hawkeye, is everything...all right?”
“Probably,” she temporized. “But I need you to get on this as soon as possible, all right? And... do not talk to the Colonel. I will go through the proper channels and requisition the time.”
“No. Thank you, sir.”
She hung up before he could say anything further, and before she could slip further into panic. She rubbed her right temple, willing the sharp pain there away.
Her ride to work didn’t help her any; she wasn’t in a mood for polite talk and the silence only gave her more time to think, to count and to reach the very same conclusion over and over again.
Thirty-seven. It had been thirty-seven days since the night Roy had walked into her home. And while it was all overwhelming and all of that, and she might have been a virgin, she definitely wasn’t stupid. Two days after that first night, she’d sent Sergeant Dennison on a little errand for her. It was a dicey thing, and it took him a good week to get what she needed without anyone finding out it was for her. And when she’d gotten it, she’d taken it like clockwork. So, if she did her calculations right, there was eight or nine days when she was at risk.
Apparently, it had been the wrong eight or nine days.
Her instincts kicked in once again and told her that she wanted to cry. That was unacceptable. Understandable, possibly, but wholly unacceptable. Tear tracks would be detectable. Questions would be asked. Answers would not be forthcoming. Speculation would start. Rumors would fly.
She was doing it again, spiraling down a path she didn’t want to go. She cursed, shook herself, and took herself into the office.
Riza greeted the auditors – a sour looking bunch if she ever saw one – sat down and looked at the calendar on her desk. She stared at the date until her eyes crossed, then calmly reached down, unclipped her holster, and placed her sidearm on the top of the desk. The ominous sound of gunmetal meeting desk was a time-honored hint to everyone in her vicinity that she did not want to be bothered. Fortunate for those in the room familiar with her moods, she could sense the tacit agreement in the room from everyone to leave the First Lieutenant alone.
She gave the auditors a polite smile and led them to the records room. On the way back, she picked up the daily courier pack. Just a normal day, she told herself. It was just another normal day. As she sat there and reconciled the number of new transfers against the other requisitions required for such people, she re-counted the days in her head. Eight stupid little days. Such a small window of opportunity, but apparently someone had left it gaping open.
And, would you know? The great Flame Alchemist crawled right in and made himself right at home. Damn his prodigy ass.
Visceral reactions flipped from the need to bawl like an infant into an ugly anger she rarely allowed herself to yield to. She sat back and picked up her gun. She could practically hear every cursed male in the room turn on their peripheral vision, watching her every move. Ignoring them, she indulged herself for a moment. She snapped open the chamber and looked inside; empty. Opening her drawer, she pulled out a box of rounds (and it was a shame it wasn’t the new rounds) and slammed them on the desktop. Fuery and Breda jumped. Havoc shakily lit a cigarette. And the Colonel... He just gave her an arched eyebrow and an enigmatic stare.
You bastard! I let you in for one night and you take control of my life and now look where I am and I should kill you where you stand.
She took three bullets and slid them in the chamber. One for Hughes, who convinced her that taking this risk was actually a good thing. One for the Colonel, because he was apparently a little too much of a prodigy in some things for his own good. And, one for herself. Because when her grandfather found out she’d indulged in behavior completely unbecoming an officer, he probably would want to kill her. She was going to save him the trouble.
Couldn’t wait, could you, to put your dammed mark on me? Well, Colonel, how about I put a mark on you? A bullet right in your backside might teach you to show a little restraint! She really wouldn’t use the gun, but it gave no small amount of enjoyment to have someone else sweating in their boots right alongside her.
And she really shouldn’t be angry at the Colonel alone. She was an educated woman, after all. Science and biology told her that it took two people to do what they had done. And it wasn’t his fault that the timing had been utterly horrible. More likely, it was her fault for not waiting the stupid eight days for Dennison to bring her the medication.
And it would figure that he would want to have conversation with her now. “Sir?”
He was looking at the gun, and she could see that he wanted to ask, but instead he said. “The auditors would like to see the miscellaneous requisitions for the past three months.”
“Right away, sir.” You randy bastard, she wanted to yell at him, but she kept it locked behind her teeth. She had tried to be careful. She just wasn’t lucky. And there was always the off chance that she was mistaken in her calculations.
Not bloody likely.
She turned to Fuery, who flinched when he caught the residuals of cold fire in her eyes. “There’s a phone call for you...from Hughes, ma’am.”
She moved over and snatched up the phone, barking her name down the line. She hoped she’d blasted his ear off.
“You’ll have to come to Central,” he told her as a greeting.
“Everything is ready for you, and – the records that are required are already here.” His tone of voice changed suddenly, indicative of someone entering his office. “You will need to pick them up and bring them back to the Colonel,” he added.
“Of course I do,” she barely kept the bitterness out of her voice.
Hughes cleared his throat and resumed his softer, quieter tone. “Lieutenant, if there is anything I can do–,”
He sighed. “All right.” He gave her the date and time. “Sir, that’s early tomorrow morning. Impossible unless I leave now.”
“I know. Put Mustang on the phone.”
“Trust me, Hawkeye. Put him on the phone.”
She was mightily tired of men telling her to “trust” them. She called the Colonel over and handed him the phone.
“Mustang.” The Colonel held her eyes as he spoke with Hughes. “Classified? Right now? Lieutenant Colonel, you realize I’m in the middle of a very intense audit and...” he sighed. “One of these days, Hughes...” he muttered into the phone. “Fine. I’ll release her now.” He shoved the phone back into Riza’s hands. “He wants you to pick up a classified dossier and personally deliver it here.”
“Don’t know why no one else can do it.”
“No idea, sir.”
He gave her a quick look. She forced herself back down to a reasonable tone of voice.
“Apparently, it’s too important to wait,” he grumbled.
“I would suspect so, if he needs me to deliver it.”
She could tell that he wanted to say more, but she didn’t even give him the opportunity. Speaking with him was very low on her list of priorities right now. High on that list was that she leave this room. Immediately. She turned back to the phone. “I’ll be leaving on the next train, Lieutenant Colonel, sir.”
“I’ll meet you at the station.” Hughes hesitated, then said in a much kinder note, “Hawkeye...”
“Good afternoon, sir.” She placed the phone in the cradle.
After finding the train schedule, she filled out the proper forms in triplicate, as called for, glad for the tedium of the bureaucracy. The Colonel, still finessing his way through the questions from the auditors, signed them without looking, and gave her reluctant permission to withdraw.
She made it out of the door and halfway down the hall when she heard his voice. She closed her eyes and turned back, her expression bland, her heart racing.
He looked around to make sure they were alone. “Lieutenant? Is something wrong? You don’t seem like yourself.”
And that concern in his voice changed everything coursing through her again, this time into a twisting, churning feeling in the pit of her stomach. If she told him what was wrong, what would he do? “Just tired, Sir,” she equivocated quickly. She even managed to give him a half-smile. “I do believe I made a rather late night of it. All my fault to be sure.”
The Colonel smiled slowly. “Ah. I can understand that. Very well, then. Have a safe trip.” He took a step closer to her. “Hurry back,” his whispered in her ear.
Riza shivered despite herself. Damn him, she thought. “I will, sir.” And she walked away as calmly as she could make herself move.
Retreat, her mind insisted, and she knew it for the lie it was.
The train ride took far longer than she thought necessary. Especially since that little voice in the back of her head started screaming for coffee again.
Which left her in a fine state of irritation as they pulled up to the Central Station. She could see Hughes lounging against a pole, cleaning his glasses. Her eyes narrowed and she moved out of the train.
She thought it much to her credit that she made it into the back of the car with Maes. However, one look at that kind face was too much.
“This-is-your-fault!” she yelled, punctuating each word with a poke to his shoulder. “You know that? Your. Fault!”
Then, in quite an undignified manner, and not in keeping with her normal behavior, she burst into tears.
She felt Maes gather her into his arms, his body rigid with shock. Well, he would just have to get over it, she thought ungratefully. He probably had plenty of experience dealing with this kind of thing, with his safe little wife and safe little child. So he could just suck it up and let her thoroughly drench his shoulder and say absolutely not one word about it.