To kill was a word that people abused of. Whenever Roy would pass down the halls and hear a friend telling his mischievous partner: "give that back or I'll kill you!", a shudder would pass through his spine and he'd smile bitterly. A person who has killed knows it's not just another verb: is an actual action.
The Flame Alchemist entered his office at East HQ and saw five pairs of eyes look up to him and five pairs of heels click together in a salute. He returned it stiffly, making his way to his desk mechanically. Indeed, not even all the people in his office knew the true terror of the word 'kill'.
He looked over at Fuery, who was fidgeting with one of the phones and smiled again, this time protectively: the child was much more mature than he looked, or he wouldn't have fit in with the team at all. Although kind and a tad bit naïve, Fuery could act on his own and his high intelligence had helped him look over his subordinates before. Colonel Mustang had asked him what exactly had he done in Aerugo while interviewing him to decide whether or not to take him in, but Fuery had chosen to bravely refuse to answer the question.
Maybe he had faint knowledge of what the word meant, after all.
"Colonel, here are the documents." The oldest of his team startled him, handing him a pile of sheets labeled simply as
"Thank you, Warrant Officer." Mustang nodded as he took the papers from Falman's hands. Despite being older than Roy, the man was still stuck at this title.
The colonel went over the documents, nodding in agreement: Falman's data was as accurate as ever. He knew he made a good decision by picking Falman, despite the latter's lack of experience in fights.
Well, maybe that was for the better, Roy thought. After all, Falman was an earnest man whose duty was, first and foremost, to do the right things: to be himself, to be honest, to help those in need. Mustang had to admit it, he envied his subordinate: his conscience was always clear, and he never felt constrained by the orders of those above him. An unstained man, one who didn't carry the burden of a killer.
"Lieutenant Breda, where do we stand?" The Colonel dismissed the previous thoughts, shifting his look to his tactician. Heymans slowly moved his head up from the pile of documents and swallowed his donut lazily before answering:
"We might be onto something." He responded, a light shining in his intelligent eyes. "There are some reports on this Elric guy: apparently, he's one of the best alchemists up East."
Mustang nodded: it was Breda that had spotted the Elric name in the first place, and he had a keen eye for such things. The chubby man was definitely the brain behind the team, a reliable soldier that Mustang took a liking to easily. His lack of exercise also worked in his favour: Breda hadn't been sent to Ishval, being saved in this way from a massacre.
When Heymans had first come to the East HQ, he received the same question as the others:
"What would you do if your superior asked you to shoot a man?"
At that, Breda smirked lightly (an untrained eye wouldn't have even noticed) and shrugged: "I'm good at brains, Sir. I'm zero in combat."
Hearing his answer, Mustang held back a smile: truly a calculative man, he decided.
But getting to know the guy, the colonel realised something: Breda would be ready to die for his comrades. He'd rather avoid it, but he was prepared. To kill was never an option, however: it wasn’t even a possible route in the grand scheme of things.
"Shall we check him out?" Havoc asked. He had just finished smoking and was now preparing to start his real duties.
A flashback of the man carefully cleaning his gun and saying: "I may not be smart, but I can shoot." appeared before Mustang's eyes. And indeed he could, but the man wouldn't have killed a fly. Being second in skills only to Hawkeye, Havoc was a loyal and trusted man among Mustang's team, but he was not one to kill. Roy looked over at his reassuring smirk and smiled: he hadn't killed, but was ready to in order to protect him.
"That wouldn't be necessary, Second Lieutenant." The only female voice in the office was clear and categoric. "I was already assigned to do so."
Lieutenant Hawkeye was certainly young and pretty, but her best known trait was her stoic figure and always prompt answers. She was a force to be reckoned with and her shots were precise, always hitting the opponent. Apparently, nothing could shake her off her feet, but Roy knew better than that.
He glanced at the woman who promised she'd follow him into hell if he ever asked her to and kept in a sigh. His simple existence in her life had made so many changes: she enrolled in the army, she had to attend Ishval, and now she was stuck with him, sharing his burden.
Flashbacks of her tired, inhuman eyes appeared before him. The eyes of a murderer, the exact thing he wanted to shield her from, took the place of her clear hazel ones. He shuddered at the sheer memory and brought his attention back to the present.
"We'll be leaving as soon as we can. When is the next train?" He asked her, gazing in her eyes: they seemed to have recovered their normal color by now.
"There's one in an hour, Sir. We can still make it." She answered, holding his gaze.
"Alright." He got up and left the documents on the table. "I'm going to meet this Elric guy. You..." he looked at his four men and Hughes' voice echoed in his head ("people you trust" were words forever engraved in his mind) "look into some other Alchemists up East in case this backfires."
"Yes Sir!" The men answered, saluting their superior as he left the office.
One hour later, the Colonel and his most trusted Lieutenant were on the train, sitting across from each other. He was still gazing at her, wondering if she also had nightmares like him. Wondering if the burden wasn't too heavy for her to carry alone. Even if it was, her eyes didn't let any of the pain leak.
"Sir?" She asked, tilting her head to meet his look. "Is there something wrong?" She looked worried, but she also had a knowing look, like she was thinking about the same thing.
He was tempted to shrug the question off, but then he decided against it in the last minute. His mouth tended to get the veto right when it was just him and Riza:
"If you ever have nightmares, call me." His look was dead serious when it met Riza's.
She looked puzzled for a moment, but then her face lit up with a soft, sad smile and she responded: "You too, Roy."
There was silence afterwards until they reached Resembool, as they silently shared the guilt of killing. Killing against their wish, but taking lives nevertheless. They both knew it was more than a word.