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: 2,336
Warning: Some adult themes; potential overdosing of crrrrack.
Synopsis: Riza flinched as if she’d been stuck. There was the word. Confirmed.
Author's Notes: AU because I play with the timeline. My own little private timeline; my own private little world. Some OOC, because yeah, circumstances. 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 15: I’ll Bear One Precious Scar
Riza remembered the first time she’d been in a doctor’s office. She had fallen out of a tree at the age of four. The doctor almost took her arm off while setting the bone. It confirmed every misgiving she’d ever had about doctors and their ilk.
From that day to this, she avoided doctors whenever possible. She only took the physical exams the military doled out because they were required; her ducking of this duty would have put the Colonel’s shirking skills to shame.
So, as she sat on the examination table in a silly smock-like thing that was always opened in the back – though she was told to wear it backwards, so that her front was open and available to any poor sot who came through the door – she wondered whether she could reach that scary looking instrument of doom on the counter fast enough to pitch it before the doctor came within arm’s reach.
The doctor entered the room and smiled kindly at her. Riza knew their tricks and she wasn’t buying the kindness. “Is all this really necessary?” she asked, her arms crossed. “I want some tests done, not a full physical.”
“The Lieutenant Colonel apprised me of your situation,” the doctor, who called herself Winters, sat on a little stool. “If the tests that you request come out positive, then you will need a physical exam. I’ll need to determine your state of health in all phases of your–,”
“Fine, I understand.” Riza cut her off before she could say the dreaded word. It hadn’t been confirmed, so she didn’t want hear it.
“I’ve gone over your past medical records and you appear to be in good health. Can you tell me a little bit about how you’ve been feeling these past few weeks?”
“Tired,” Riza tendered. “Hungry. Bitchy.” She shrugged. “That last bit is rather normal, I’m told. The other two are not. I wouldn’t know what else to look for. Other than an unnatural desire for black coffee, I feel fine.”
Doctor Winters smiled. “Hmm. The appropriate medication?”
“And you trust the source of this medication?”
Riza’s mouth twisted. “I did at one time. Now, I’m not so sure.”
“Well, even with proper protection, these things can happen. I’ve seen it enough times; it can be quite an alarming surprise.”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
“I understand. As I said, the Lieutenant Colonel informed me of your situation.”
Riza frowned. “How much did he tell you?”
Doctor Winters stared at her for so long, she began to wonder if she’d grown an extra head or...something. “I’ve worked with this Division for about ten years. In that time, I’ve treated many women in your situation. My priority is your health; discretion is my hallmark.” She flipped open the folder. “This is why I was chosen for you. I understand that you are in a highly volatile position that could be potentially career-threatening. This is all I know. I don’t know any names.”
Riza nodded, briefly relieved. The feeling didn’t last.
“We’ll perform all the necessary tests. I have to tell you, if the tests come out positive, I will need to know more.”
That was when the tremble began, somewhere in the middle of her stomach. She shivered at the chill. Examining rooms were always just shy of dammed freezing. The fact that they always left you half naked without telling you when you could get your clothes back was just shy of humiliating.
The doctor had done her poking and prodding and, no, it wasn’t comfortable. Especially when it came to the blood-drawing. All through it, she screamed like a two year old inside. She was dammed if she’d admit to a needle phobia at this point in the game.
Thirty minutes later, she was still sitting in the silly robe, waiting on the examining table for the doctor to return. She finally came back, with that expressionless smile worn by doctors everywhere. “Well, First Lieutenant, all but your blood work has come back. That will take about a week, but based on the information we have, you are indeed pregnant.”
Riza flinched as if she’d been stuck. There was the word. Confirmed. It was out there in the air, a real thing, tangible and shattering.
“If my calculations are correct, and based on the information you’ve given me, I would put you somewhere between three and four, leaning toward the former. It was a close thing, somehow you slid under the wire.”
Riza looked at the doctor, unimpressed with her supposed feat. Doctor Winters cleared her throat. “Yes, well. Your blood work will give us a better idea of how far along you are.” She sat back on the stool and placed her hands in her lap. “Do you have any questions?”
“My options?” Riza asked through gritted teeth. She had to know, although she’d already made her decision.
“Options? Ah, yes.” The good doctor began to explain her so-called options in careful terms. Riza thought she could listen dispassionately while the woman told her the different ways she could rid herself of her problem, but the mere thought turned her stomach in ways she hadn’t imagined possible. It confirmed her decision for her. “Never mind, doctor. I know what I’m going to do.” She took a deep breath.
Doctor Winters gave her a keen look. “First Lieutenant – may I call you Riza?” At Riza’s nod, she continued. “Allow me to be frank. I understand your situation is very delicate. Lieutenant Colonel Hughes had to be very honest with me, so that I can give you the best care that I can. I understand that you may be very upset by this news.”
Upset would not be the way she would describe it, but as she had no other adjective to give what she was feeling, Riza listened.
“It isn’t common knowledge, but relationships between certain officers is a very common thing. Else, the Lieutenant Colonel would not have need for my skills.”
“There are a few women who are under my care in the same situation as you. They are in relationships with other officers – both subordinates and otherwise.”
Riza snorted. Hughes was sitting on this kind of conspiracy? Rich, very rich.
“There are plenty of women in the military who have chosen both paths in this situation. I assure you, whichever way you choose, it will be handled with the utmost discretion.”
“I’m...” Riza looked down at the floor, almost unable to continue. She couldn’t believe she was about to say it, but the words came out of her mouth nonetheless. “I’m...keeping...this child.”
The doctor nodded gently. “I know. I can always tell those who would rather give up their left arm than give up their child.” She smiled. “Now comes the uncomfortable part.”
Riza braced herself. “You have a care for the child’s father? This wasn’t a ... casual occurrence?”
Riza started, then nodded. “It was not casual.” Then, her throat closed up.
“The.... soldier involved. Was he a subordinate?”
Riza hesitated. How much could she tell this woman?
“I assure you, Riza, what you say will not go beyond these walls.” She placed a hand on Riza’s folder. “This folder will remain under lock and key for the duration. The Lieutenant Colonel does not want to see you come to harm.”
Doctor Winters nodded. “You’re in Eastern, right? I’m going to write a few names down. In the off chance that someone can hear what we are saying. I want you to point out the name for me.”
“Is this necessary?”
“There may be things in the father’s medical history that could impact your child. I will need to know. The only place that name will be written down is here, and this will be destroyed as soon as you tell me.”
Riza bit her lip, but nodded. She had to believe that Hughes wouldn’t send her to this woman if she couldn’t be trusted implicitly.
She looked down the list of names. Had to laugh at a majority of them. The name she sought was smack in the middle of the list, right above someone she didn’t know and right below the name Kain Fuery. That made her giggle hysterically inside of her mind. He was barely out of diapers. She ran her fingers over the writing that spelled out his name. In for a half, in for a whole. That was what he had said, right? She pointed.
The doctor’s only response was a small smile. “Brought to heel at last,” she murmured enigmatically, chuckling. “All right.” She wrote something down.
“I thought you said–,”
“I’ve written down the date for your next appointment.” She took the sheet with the names and shredded it. Then, closing the pad, stood. “You can get dressed. I’ll have a talk with Lieutenant Colonel Hughes, and we can decide how best to go from here.” She patted Riza’s knee. “Don’t worry. Both of you will be protected.”
And then Riza was alone. Only then did she allow the trembling inside of her to come to the surface. With shaky hands, she barely managed to find the right buttons for the right buttonholes, dressed, and left the examination room.
She was pregnant. Now she could say the word, if only to herself. She tried it on again. “Pregnant,” she murmured. Her brain, curiously blank, had shut down from the overload of emotions not normally allowed free reign inside her head and was currently just there inside her, moaning about coffee.
Hughes met her halfway to his office. He looked at her warily, and she waved her hand. “No more attacks,” she muttered. “And I’m sorry.”
He shook his head and guided her back to his office. “No need. I supposed I would have had a meltdown had I been in your shoes.”
In his office, she sat in the chair and willed herself to feel something, something besides the numb feeling that made her limbs feel heavy.
“This does complicate matters some,” Hughes said, stating the obvious. She glared at him for a moment. “But it doesn’t make things impossible.”
“Oh? And how do you think I’m going to hide the fact that in a few months I’ll be as big as a house?”
Hughes shook his head. “That’s not what I’m talking about. Of course you won’t be able to hide that.” He distractedly tapped a folder on his desk. “I hate to have to ask you to trust me, once again, considering–,”
“But, I do have a few ideas about how to handle this. I just need to work them out in my head first.” He picked up his phone and called for a driver. “The driver will take you to my home. You go and get some rest.”
“I have to get back to work.”
“No, you don’t.” He grinned. “You’re under orders, First Lieutenant. I need you here for one more day. That dossier isn’t ready yet, and only you can bring it back to Eastern for me.” He leaned forward. “Go. Let Gracia spoil you for the rest of the day. It will make her day and you need to wrap your mind around this idea before you jump back into that office. You can go back in the morning.”
Riza nodded. Then, tentatively, she asked. “Are you sure? That this won’t cause problems?”
“I wouldn’t have brought the two of you together if I thought that it would impact the original plan. I’m sure.” He leaned back in his chair and patted a small filing cabinet. “You see this? Full of files just like yours. Some in worse shape than you.” He nodded.
Riza shook her head. “I can’t believe that with all of the investigations and covert operations that you are in charge of, that you are sitting on this kind of thing.”
“Keeps me from being weighed down by all of the other, worse conspiracies out there.” She watched him get lost in his thoughts for a second, then watched him make the trip back to her. It was truly an interesting thing to see that formidable mind working behind the green eyes. “There are many in the ranks who find this particular regulation a waste of the paper it was written on. Unfortunately, those in power still stand behind it. A way to keep control of the rank and file.”
“And you think it will change?”
Hughes gave her a knowing smile. “Don’t you?”
She caught the meaning behind that. And was forced to smile despite herself. “It’ll probably be the first regulation changed.”
“If he didn’t, he’d be a hypocrite.”
Riza bit her lip. “Maes...what do you think he’ll say?” She hated the vulnerability in her voice, but she hadn’t managed to batter it back yet. “You seem to know everything. And I think you know him better than almost anyone. What is he going to do when he finds out?”
Hughes told her softly. “Don’t underestimate the man. You should know better than anyone that what’s on the outside is not all that is on the inside.”
Riza nodded. “I do. It’s just...” she shrugged.
“Can’t put it into words, can you?”
She shook her head, then stood. “I’m not myself anymore. If I can’t figure out what I’m feeling, how do you suppose I can even guess at how he’ll feel?” She sighed. “I suppose eventually, I’ll find words. Thank you for the hospitality, Maes. I think I’ll take you up on it.”
“You have no choice, you’re under orders.”
Night found her in a strange bed, in borrowed pajamas, wrapped around someone else’s pillow. Strangely enough, she felt more peaceful here than she had anywhere else in the past few days. A clean slate, as it were. For a while, even a short few hours, she gave up trying to think and let herself relax. Sleep found her early and claimed her quickly.