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Build Another Bridge

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The street lights are coming on.

Roy has one elbow propped against the car window, his cheek balanced against his fist. His other hand is on his knee, his fingertips drumming absently. He's been awake for approximately forty hours now and it's beginning to show, exhaustion getting harder to ignore against the push and pull between frustration and worry. There's a box in the back seat and the city outside drifts by, slow and oblivious.

He has long operated under the assumption that Amestris is not governed as it should be, that there is corruption unchecked, and that the only way to correct those abuses of power is to obtain it.

Now, Roy recognizes his own shortsightedness. He still lacks the necessary cynicism, even after all this time, and consequentially he's been caught off guard, backed into a corner. He's spent years and untold midnight hours planning, but his strategies have fallen short. There are no contingencies for this; it is a move calculated to that very effect.

Fuhrer Bradley is a superb tactician, that much is undeniable. Roy understands the underlying logic, but knowledge does nothing to quell the impact. This is a demonstration of the power he does not possess. Roy feels it, and he has been stripped of his most reliable resources in the aftermath. He has overstepped his limits, gambled away his most precious commodities in one ill-advised move, and now they are all easy targets. The damage will be difficult to mitigate.

"None of us expect you to fix everything tonight, Colonel."

The slant of his thoughts must show on his face, Roy realizes, and he angles a frown towards the driver's seat. Lieutenant Hawkeye's gaze is fixed on the road ahead, steady even under his scrutiny. It's times like these that he questions whether the way she can read him is a curse or relief, but those sorts of things are not always mutually exclusive. There are things, many things, he has never told her, things he wants to but never might, but she's known him long enough to guess. (Hawkeye is good at guessing.)

They pass through a well lit intersection and the shadows recede for a bright moment, then flood back just as quickly. The silence stretches with the minutes and the car turns around a familiar corner, then slows to a stop in front of his building.

"We're here," Hawkeye says, and he can see her looking at him from the corner of his eye.

"Yeah," he replies, but doesn't move.

He can hear the rustle of her clothes as she twists to face him more fully. "What is it?" she asks, plain and straightforward.

Their eyes meet and Roy is overcome by a sudden weariness that he can feel all the way to his bones. This day has dragged on too long, but he fears its end and wishes he could hold the morning at bay by force of will alone.

He looks at her and there is only this:

There is more between them than distance. He can feel it stretching between them, something strange and untouched, that can't be counted in atoms or with decimals, unbroken by the weight of the world or the box in the back seat that holds all of her belongings from the office that will go with her tomorrow. Roy thinks that he could bridge this gap, close the space, all in a single movement — his hand on her cheek and in her hair, his lips on hers, forget this fiasco and remember the important things, the small things that linger in the quiet. The thought alone brings comfort.

He wonders if she feels it too. He can only guess. (Roy is very good at guessing.)


He shakes his head. The moment passes; the yearning does not. He smiles a little.

"I am badly injured, you know," Roy tells her. "Just out of the hospital. I don't know if I can make it up the stairs by myself."

Hawkeye gives him a look that is unmistakably disbelief. She does not comment on the change of subject.

"Who was it, just yesterday, who ordered me to get their uniform after I told them to take it easy?" she counters, a little coolly. Roy can tell he's managed to push a button — which is actually hard to do, even for him sometimes; it is Hawkeye after all — and smirks. It comes out a little weak, the angle stretching strange across his mouth.

"It's very lucky my wounds haven't opened back up yet," Roy concedes, which she knows is the closest to shorthand for an apology as he's likely to get.

She sighs and says, "We can't afford to be reckless now." That's what she says, but her seatbelt is already undone. She has one hand turning the keys out of the ignition and the other on the door handle, and Roy learned a long time ago that with Hawkeye, actions are always more important than words. That's what makes her so easy for him to understand.

He'd like to point out that, no, now is the perfect time to be reckless, because what could be any worse at this point? But Roy knows that this is already bothering her just as much as it is him, and there's no point in pouring salt on the wound now. Besides, Roy's side really does hurt, so, with some irony, he figures that he's kind of maxing out the pain quota for the both of them.

So instead, he just shrugs and pulls a face, and they both climb out of the car. Hawkeye grabs his bundle of belongings from the back seat and comes around to meet him on the sidewalk. She shifts most of his things into the crook of one elbow and presses a bag into his hand — his painkillers.

"You'll want to keep track of those," she says.

Roy shakes the bag once, hears the rattle of the pills inside, then tucks the whole thing into his pants pocket. "See, Lieutenant?" he quips, "I knew you cared."

Hawkeye shakes her head a little, but there's half a grin on her lips that lets him know she's amused despite herself.

"Let's get you upstairs," she responds, sliding her arm around him. He shifts his own over her shoulders, and her hand settles in the middle of his back, warm and solid between his shoulder blades. She supports him (just like always, really, right where the crisp lines between literal and figurative seem to blur) and they navigate the path towards the front door and up to his apartment with the same unremarked understanding they always conduct themselves with.

On the way towards the stairs, Roy pulls her a little closer than necessary, leans his cheek against her hair and breathes deep, because he knows that sooner than later, he's going to have to let her go.