This is silly, he thinks.
They should have done something about it, at this point.
Now they are drifting into the arena of the absurd.
`This is ridiculous,´ Roy thinks and sighs and adjusts the collar of his jacket as he beholds the all too familiar image of Hawkeye going through his papers. She always divides them into three piles: Urgent, Very Urgent and Please Sir Do This Immediately.
The problem with Hawkeye. It's getting alarming now. It's been at least two months since the battle of Central and the death of Bradley. Roy looks at Hawkeye. What is she waiting for? Roy thinks: What am I waiting for? He knows how she feels about him and she knows how he feels about her. They've never quite put it into so many words, true, but there are many other things they know without having to actually say them.
It's been at least two months and the scars are beginning to heal and fade, although when the light touches in certain angle he can still see the bit where her skin is paler, in her neck. Maybe it will always be there, that shadow, or maybe it will fade completely. Like water dissolving something painful and important written in ink.
And it's not just him, he watches Hawkeye become more and more impatient, with him and with herself. They know each other too well and though they never made any explicit promise there was the sense that by now one of them should have spoken up. She's become fidgety and awkward around him, overly cautious, overly formal. He's been just as hopeless. The same tension in their shoulders.
He's had enough of it.
It's the middle of a boring meeting in a big office with a big table – well, actually it's not that boring but Roy has a reputation to uphold so he pretends to be more bored than he is. But pretend boredom becomes real boredom. He yawns and tilts his head as if he were about to fall, face on, asleep on the table. Hawkeye, sitting next to him, elbows him not-so-gently to make him pay attention. When Roy looks up at her –hey, that almost hurt, you know– he sees slight amusement on her face. It's a glimpse of the way things used to be and Roy finds shaken by it. Somebody – an officer from Central whose name he didn't quite catch – is reading a report on local government along the frontier with Xing and even though Roy wrote that report himself he finds he has no desire to pay attention to the discussion. The Hawkeye Situation has become too illogical and for the sake of both of them he should try to force a resolution.
The rest of the officers attending don't seem to notice his actions but Roy can feel Hawkeye's gaze on him as he shuffles his papers in search of a pen. If he is going to regress to adolescence he might as well go the whole route. He scribbles something on a corner of a file. Then he passes the file to Hawkeye, tugging gently at her elbow to that she shifts her attention. Hawkeye reads the note:
Do you want to go on a date?
To her credit she does not flinch when she reads it; Breda is still going on about the results of a project of council elections in some towns, as an experiment, and Roy is not really listening, not even marginally so. Hawkeye gives him a look –an unnervingly subtle one– that conveys the sentiment of “are you okay?” if “okay” falls in the line of “are you sick? do you have a life-threatening illness?”. Roy has no other choice but play it straight: he returns the look – he is being serious here.
She reaches for a pen.
She seems to be writing something under his question. Well, now this is exciting, Roy thinks, happy to indulge in something very much like teenage panic. Maybe Hawkeye would think him an idiot for doing this in such a roundabout way.
When she hands him the paper he resists the urge to look for a couple of seconds, in case he's made a mistake. He half expects her to reply that passing love notes between superior and subordinate during an important meeting is highly inappropriate, which, it occurs to Roy just now, it is. Hawkeye doesn't give such a reply.
A date? I think we might be overqualified for that.
That makes him smile. And it's definitely not a negative. Roy knows what she means: we'll talk later.
He shrugs and tries to pretend he pays attention to the rest of what feels to him like an endless meeting.
But eventually the meeting does end and everybody leaves the big room – everybody but him and Hawkeye, and she is looking at him, waiting, waiting for him to explain himself. He puts his documents in order like it's vital that he does that right now.
Hawkeye has her eyes crossed now, waiting.
`Well, now I have no idea what that meeting was about,´ he jokes half-heartedly.
`Luckily Breda's notes were quite detailed.´
`Good thing the Army doesn't have to depend on my amorous efforts, uh?´
She lets that one go. There's no taking the whole thing back, and Roy considers this a very good thing, because by this time maybe he would have. He relaxes, reminding himself this is Hawkeye, this is Riza, reminding himself she loves him, if nothing else he knows that, so this can't turn out too badly.
`We have been tiptoeing about it long enough,´ he tells her. `It's not like we didn't know these cards would be on the table soon.´
She uncrosses her arms, nodding.
`Where do you want to go?´
Roy scratches his neck.
`Where? That's a bit more planning that I had done, I'm afraid. I don't know. A walk? Dinner? Coffee at my house?´
He might have been a bit too forward with that last one, he really couldn't stop himself.
`Fine,´ she replies casually.
`Fine which one?´
Hawkeye smirks: `Fine all of those things.´
They promised, at the very start, they wouldn't be like this.
They are old enough –perhaps too old?– and they are serious people, and busy people. Yes, they are very busy. Which makes it more urgent, this surprising grip, this fierce draw towards one another.
Every place would do, every corner, every surface. As soon as they are alone, or if not alone at least outside people's eyesight. They would be walking down a hallways and suddenly one of them would push the other behind a column, by a window, a passing moment of privacy, enough for his mouth over her mouth, enough for her hands through his hair, fingers circling her wrist, hands entwined under desks.
They had hoped that it would become less of a distraction, now they were actually involved. Perhaps they should have predicted the opposite could happen. At some point Hawkeye suggests that maybe they are trying to make up for all those years before.
There are days when how they manage to get some work done is beyond Roy's comprehension.
`Reading files over someone's shoulder is a bad habit,´ she warns him. `Specially if you are not going to actually read them.´
`Yes, you were.´
`I was just contemplating the practical advantages of you cutting your hair so short again.´
`Practical advantages? Such as...´
He moves his body forward so that the tip of his nose brushes against the base of her skull. He exhales against the skin on the back of her neck. She freezes – she didn't expect to. These actions to make the familiar unfamiliar again. The touch of a beloved stranger. She lets her body become electric signals feeding back to him.
`You liked that?´ Roy says and it's only half a question and every sound leaves a tiny trace of warm air over her neck.
Hawkeye leans back in her chair until Roy's mouth covers the skin on her nape, his forehead affectionately pressed to the back of her head. Her breathing slows down, her whole body tense. She stops the sounds scratching at her throat from going further. If he breathes into her neck again she swears she is going to scream.
But Roy retreats. She turns around in her chair and sees he has taken a couple of steps back, a curious expression on his feels. He looks as overwhelmed by his own reaction as Hawkeye feels about her. Perhaps he senses they were entering dangerous territory just right now.
`Well, that was...´ His voice sounds scratched; Hawkeye recognizes overpowering surprise of desire there, she has heard it often enough when they are in the bedroom. It sounds out of context here. He shakes his head, smiling pitifully at himself. `I'm sorry.´
He adjusts his uniform and walks back to his desk, with some difficulty.
Her gaze following him.
`What?´ he asks from behind the closest file he could grab.
Hawkeye touches her fingertips to the back of her neck, experimentally.
`Can I come over tonight?´ she asks, even though it's Tuesday and they normally try to hold off until the weekend because otherwise the schedules just go to hell. Roy is pleased that she shows no embarrassment at sounding so eager. They dropped those pretences time ago.
`Only if you ask nicely.´
`You are becoming insufferable.´
`That's not asking nicely, Colonel Hawkeye.´
She rolls her eyes: `Very well. Sir, can I please, please come over your house and sleep with you tonight?´
Roy scratches the back of his head, feigning bafflement.
`Oh, wow, Riza, I don't know what to say. If you really must...´
They have been behaving lately.
They really have.
Things have been slightly easier since they moved in together. Apart from the fact that now Roy is an expert on choosing morning routes to walk Black Hayate with the least chances of unwelcome delays (neighbours who want to stop and chat, other dogs that get Hayate distracted from the business at hand, a small queue to buy bread at the baker's) so that he can sleep an extra five minutes; apart from that new skill living with Hawkeye brought on the promise of going home with her at the end of each day, going home with and to her. So the urges they feel throughout the day can be fooled more easily. They can be postponed for a few hours.
Except when they can't, they are beginning to learn with some horror.
`We said we wouldn't do this here,´ she says – like a comment, not really a protest.
Roy's hand slips beneath layers of uniform.
`It's an strategy to improve productivity in the workplace,´ Roy tells her, mouth close to Hawkeye's ear.
`Is that so?´
His tongue against the side of her neck.
`So you can concentrate for the rest of the day?´
`So I can concentrate?´
Roy grabs her hips and leads her to the desk. She sits on the edge and Roy's hands are there again, under layers of uniform.
`You've been looking at me all day,´ he keeps on teasing. `Distracted.´
`I've been looking?´
She wants to argue but can't. She's been looking at him all day like that.
Roy tilts his head.
`I don't have any excuse,´ she admits. `I have been looking.´
She presses fingertips against his throat, drawing downwards, where his uniform is open and slacked.
`Can't it wait until we get home?´ she tries to be the voice of reason.
He gives her a look; a look that says well I'm not the one who's been looking and it's unfair and also true and she wants to just kiss him.
`Can it?´ he asks.
Hawkeye grabs the collar of his jacket and drags him closer. His grip on her hip tightens. She closes her legs around his waist.
`No, no, it can't.´
She just kisses him.
`Is this wise?´
`As long as we leave before everybody comes in the morning, nobody needs to know.´
This is the plan, at least.
It's too late to go home. It's literally too late to go home. By the hour they'd got home it'd be time to head back to the office again.
A sea of official documents and permits in front of them; an historical meeting between all the nations bordering with Amestris set to take place in a few weeks and they had to have the paperwork ready for approval before tomorrow. It's not the first time they'd pull an all-night – these past two years have been busier than the previous decade, something that neither of them could have imagined possible. Roy, predicting a long one, had already stocked provisions of milk and coffee and unhealthy foods with lots of sugar to keep them alert.
`Mine is done,´ he says putting an official seal on a last page and gathering an insane stack of papers in his hands. He is sitting on the floor and he places the files carefully on the coffee table besides the couch, as if dragging himself across the floor to his desk is just too much trouble.
When Hawkeye finishes, minutes later, her share looks much neater.
Roy is inspecting the cupboard next door: `I could have sworn there were more pillows here.´
`Are you sure we should be doing this? If people were to enter...´
`It's not like a big secret. They've known for years. I think people sort of expect walking in on us. And in any case they wouldn't be. Walking in on us. We are just going to sleep. I'm sorry, I'm too tired, you are just going to have to do without your fix tonight.´
She tries to raise an eyebrow but that requires too much effort. She realizes how exhausted she is as well; he is right, all she wants to do is cuddle up in that couch and close her eyes, there's no way she can will herself to go home now.
`Fine, but I warned you,´ she gives up, taking the cushion he is offering. `People turning a blind eye to the fact that we shouldn't be living together is fortunate enough, I think we'd be in trouble if we are discovered sleeping in the office.´
`We've already have sex in this office.´
He looks so smug when he says this – Hawkeye finds it both endearing and annoying.
`We agreed we'd never speak of that again, sir.´
The wins her a genuine chuckle, despite the weariness. She waits until Roy has chosen a comfortable position on the couch to see how she can move into the room he's made for her on it.
`You think we'll manage to wake up before anyone comes to work?´ she asks, grabbing his hand and placing it over her hip as she presses her whole body against his chest.
`Sure, sure,´ he mumbles, half-asleep already and her hair in his face.
They sleep even though the couch is too small for the both of them. They sleep finding room folded into one another in the same way water finds room inside the cracks of a rock. They have done this countless times: how to better fit this arm around this torso, this head in the crook of this elbow, this ankle and this shin.
A couple of hours later (though it seems more like five minutes to them) they are awakened by a horrified, high-pitched shriek.
`What? What?´ Roy wakes with a start, almost pushing a sleep-heavy Hawkeye off the couch in the process but luckily he has one arm around her waist and he instinctively keeps her close as he sits up.
Knowing beforehand this would happen Roy finds it hard to be surprised when – sunlight filling the office with a harsh glint – he finds Havoc, Breda and Fuery staring at him and Hawkeye, barely awake and still entangled with each other. On a closer look Havoc and Breda look predictably horrified but Fuery seems unimpressed. Roy doesn't know which reaction finds more offensive.
`You promised this wouldn't happen!´ Havoc is shouting – or it feels like shouting, anyway, they still could do with a couple of hours more of rest, and proper food. `I am traumatized.´
Roy and Hawkeye exchange a look, and have a silent conversation about the necessity of Havoc finding a nice girl to take out so that he could get over other people's love lives once and for all.
`Don't be such kids,´ Roy groans at his subordinates.
`I did warn you,´ Hawkeye says as she removes his arm from around her shoulder and his leg from under her knee. She is not helping. Roy can detect that familiar twinkle of dark humour in Hawkeye's eyes.
`We will have to report you,´ Breda teases them.
Roy runs his hand through his hair, feeling the awkward shape it's taken on during the night with his head against the arm of the couch. He feels strangely bereft now that Hawkeye has stood up and left him all alone, as if this argument had nothing to do with her.
`Go ahead, report me. See if you find anyone else who'd be willing to hire such a bunch of idiots.´
Roy decides he should fire them all anyway.
`Should I make some coffee?´ Fuery offers.
Okay, maybe he won't fire Fuery after all.
`Hey, boy, you are too grown-up and heavy for this,´ Roy protests as Black Hayate settles into his lap. He protests but he lets the dog stay there.
For once he is actually paying attention to the task at hand. This is much more important than any flimsy matter of state.
Hawkeye tries to clear the agenda. She is sitting on the edge of the couch, a landscape of cups of coffee before them. They got here before seven so they could have time to discuss this.
`So where do you want to go?´
`I don't know. I hadn't thought about it any further than... getting you to say yes.´
She receives his small smile with a nod; but finding time proves to be a pain. They are in the last legs of demilitarizing most of the country, and soon Roy will have to leave the Army to present himself as candidate for president. They barely have time to buy groceries every week as it is. They started working on Sundays some time ago.
`Do you want to push back the date? Postpone it?´
Black Hayate seems to get bored and hops from Roy's lap onto the floor and then back on the couch again, stretching across the empty half of it. Just as well, Roy thinks, he needs the emphasis of gesturing with his whole body to convey how not acceptable pushing back the date is.
`No, no, no. Absolutely not. I want to do this before – It's important, for me. I'd rather do this sooner than later. It's natural that I do. If you know what I mean.´
`I think I do.´
Hayate barks at some bird outside their window, breaking the slight tension. Roy and Hawkeye laugh it off awkwardly. The dog then decides it likes Roy's lap best after all.
`I know where you would want to go,´ Hawkeye says suddenly.
`We should take that time and visit the smallest and least visited towns of this country introducing people to the man who wants to be their president and explaining why they should vote for you.´
Roy is speechless for a moment. But, because he is Roy, that doesn't last long.
`Ah. See?´ He says in a bright voice. `I knew there was a reason why I asked you in the first place.´
Hawkeye leans into him and they kiss briefly.
Not briefly enough, it seems. As if on cue – Roy decides he is going to install locks in every room of his new headquarters when he becomes president, that's the first thing he is going to do – the door opens. Havoc, Breda and Fuery walk in, covering their eyes with their hands in mocked horror at the scene (the scene no longer a scene but Hawkeye withdrawing – one hand still resting on Roy's hip – is proof enough) in a gesture so in synch that Roy suspects it's rehearsed, a conspiracy.
`Ugh,´ Havoc complains, hand over his eyes. `Not again.´
`No, it's not,´ Roy begins, but quickly realizes he doesn't have a strong argument against Havoc. `... Idiot.´
`Very witty, sir.´
The three of them take seats around their superior. Fuery takes Hayate from Roy's lap without asking and begins to play with it.
`Coffee breaks are meant to be breaks from you, people,´ Roy protests.
But nobody listens. Havoc raids the coffee mugs in front of him like an annoying brother, and Roy protects his own coffee, quickly moving his mug near himself, in case Havoc gets the idea. In a perfect double act Breda, too, inspects the coffee table, looking for something more consistent than Havoc, wondering where the cookies have gone. Roy looks at Hawkeye imploringly, as if saying Can't you do something about this?
In the middle of this tiny uproar Breda notices the schedule book open in Hawkeye's hands.
`Discussing wedding plans in the office?´ He teases. `That is highly unprofessional.´
`Honeymoon plans, actually.´
`That's even worse,´ argues Havoc.
`How is it worse?´
`Think about it, sir. Here you are planning a relaxing vacation in exotic places while the rest of us are going to be stuck here doing your work. And on top of that you are getting married to an attractive woman and I don't even have a girlfriend right now. It's just depressing.´
Exotic places, uh? Roy thinks, and steals a sideways look at Hawkeye and sees she is thinking the same. And Roy think again about installing locks everywhere in their new office in Central when they win the election, and about all the inappropriate things they are going to do there, and he thinks about getting Fuery a dog so that he can stop monopolizing theirs, and he thinks about writing names on the coffee mugs, not that that's ever going to stop Havoc and Breda, no, and he thinks about getting Havoc a girlfriend, a Promethean task no doubt but something has to do it, and yes, he thinks about wedding plans and the honeymoon, but mostly he is thinking about all the inappropriate things he and Hawkeye are going to do to each other for the rest of their lives.