Lines and Boundries:
She had followed him everywhere since they had both been children. Introduced at a neighborhood gathering, she saw him and refused to leave him alone. She trailed after him everywhere with her large brown eyes, seeking out his mop of dark hair out amongst a crop of blonde children his own age. He tried to evade her, the other boys teasing him about having a younger girl after him. He yelled at her to leave him alone, but she didn’t cry or run away. She stayed.
He got used to having her as his shadow, her quiet presence a comfort when his mother died and his father became a recluse in his own house. Roy would stay up all night, staring out his bedroom window until Liza crawled through it, only knowing that she was needed. He didn’t know how she knew, but it didn’t matter. She would curl up next to him and he would cry. She was the only one who saw his tears.
They grew up and apart. She didn’t sneak over anymore; her own parents would have a fit if their little girl was having such clandestine meetings with an older boy. He started to learn about alchemy, having seen a State Alchemist come through one summer and repair the village water system. It would be a fine thing to be able to help people like that. Liza agreed, and they raided the village for books about anything alchemical.
Time came when he was old enough to enlist, the chance to get out of his backwater town, and he took it. There were a few girls who were crying and upset, his girlfriends, but he didn’t pay much attention to them. There was only one person he wanted to say good bye to.
He found her at her house cleaning up breakfast dishes.
“I’m leaving this afternoon,” he said, leaning on the door frame wanting to look casual. She looked at him and went back to washing, unimpressed and unconvinced.
“I will be there as soon as I can.” Her tone was calmly even, as if she was speaking of coming over to dinner and not joining the military.
“You hate the military!” He flailed his arms and paced the kitchen, full of restless energy.
“But you’re my friend, and you’ll need someone to protect you. You get into too much trouble without me.” Placidly, she dried another dish.
“You’re really going to join up, aren’t you?” He sounded resigned. But having these little discussions with her for as long as he remembered, he had learned to know that she generally won when she had her mind set on something.
“Yes.” She grabbed another dish from the pile and started on it.
“Alright, then. I’ll be waiting. Just don’t expect to get a hold of me easily. I’m gonna be busy being famous.” He smirked, trying to recover some lost ground.
“I should be able to find you just fine. You tend to leave a trail.”
“Hrmph, fine. I’ll see you later then,” he said, turning to leave and waving.
“Yes,” she said, taking her eyes off the dishes and pinning him with her eyes. “I’ll see you.”
He held her gaze for a moment before nodding, and then he left. She did not bother to see him off at the station, she would be seeing him again soon enough.
Though it was sooner than he liked when she showed up in Central, still as stoic as when he left. She had gotten herself into the sniper corps, a good place for advancement and it would get her enough experience quickly so she could put in for a transfer sooner than others. There was only a trace of worry when she told him that she was shipping out to Ishbal. She would come back alive, there was no way she wouldn’t.
When he shipped out, it was another matter. They handed them rings with bright red stones, and he turned into a living weapon. Specially made gloves were commissioned for him rendering him one of the most efficient alchemists in the field. He hated himself for it.
She found him somehow, in the massive sprawl that was the Amerstis camp. Going from group to group of State Alchemists, trying to get some idea of where he could be. She tracked him to the center of the camp. In his tent, he lay curled on his cot still in his uniform. Flecks of rubble dusted his black hair, making him look like he was going grey prematurely. The scent of burning flesh clung to him.
“You aren’t well, sir,” she said and closed the tent flap behind her and setting down a tray of food.
“Sir,” he spat bitterly. The sight of the food turned his stomach. “You don’t have to call me that, here. And anyway, aren’t you worried that someone’s going to talk about you being in here?”
“What would they have to talk about, sir?” She retrieved the tin cup of water from the tray. “Drink.”
He took the cup and drank the water under her steely gaze as she sat back on her heels. He knew she would make him eat every last scrap of food on that tray, even if he threw it up later. She’d bring him food until he learned to keep it down no matter what he had done the day before.
He was saved from being force fed when Hughes entered. If the other man was surprised to see a steely-eyed woman sitting in Roy’s tent, he gave no sign of it. That Roy did not dismiss her meant she was safe to talk in front of.
“You’ve had a hard day, I see.” Hughes kept his tone light, knowing better than letting Roy have anything that would feed his depression.
“No more so than others,” Roy said, his voice returning to its normal cadence.
“Hmm, well, there’s some new information coming in. Gonna be a last offensive kind of thing. You’d do well to be there.”
“I’ll be there,” he said grimly. What he did for his career was starting to sicken him.
“If you want to follow through with your plan...” Hughes trailed off and eyed Hawkeye. Roy nodded. She was trustworthy. “Then you’re going to have to show you’re ready and willing to do your duty.”
Roy made a sound to the affirmative and dismissed Hughes. He didn’t look at Hawkeye when he spoke. “I don’t ask you to follow me through this, but if you would not repeat what you heard here I would appreciate it.”
“I will be transferring to your command as soon as I am able, sir.” He did look at her at that.
“Don’t you want to know what my plan is? It could be something horrible, something—”
“You’ll still need someone to watch your back. Besides, nothing could be more horrible than war.”
And that was that. She transferred just before the war was over, seeing him through the last few offensives where he came back reeking of death, ash coating him like a shroud. Then it was back to Central to act like nothing wrong had happened, like theirs was a glorious victory, just and true. It had been a slaughter, murder on a hitherto unknown scale.
She sat outside as he recruited the young Elric, and met a young girl named Winry. For the first time she voiced her reasoning, why she followed Roy. There was something freeing in that, having one person know if only in a limited context why she pulled the trigger, why she would continue to do so no matter how much she hated having the metal touch her hand. The cool, heavy feel of it sickened her. This was an instrument of death, and it made her one by extension. She had never wanted to be a bringer of death, but he needed her to be one.
Back in Central things were going well. They were making progress and two more were added to the staff. They were not exactly what she was expecting. Both of them were lazy and prone to goofing off. Often she felt like a mother, keeping all these boys at their tasks. Then came the promotion, along with the transfer. East.
Arid air and the tang of the desert held bad memories for them all, but Roy suffered the worst. His working habits became more erratic, almost frenzied. The constant threat of terrorists began to wear on him. The brass wanted to see if he would break, like so many men had. Where Mustang found the strength to get through those first few months, they would never know.
But Hawkeye would. It was in a moment of weakness, of stupidity, when she offered her body as comfort. It had been very good. But so bad. Technically it was good. But there was nothing in him to touch, to connect with. If there was he kept it away from her, like he kept it from everybody else. There were no emotional breakdowns and confessions, just good near emotionless sex. That boy that she had grown up with was dead, or in deep hiding inside the man she knew now. It was too much to take, to be that close to him and not touch him.
The final straw came when she woke up alone in his bed, the first and only time they had been at his place. There was not even the comfort of her new puppy, Black Hyate, to greet her. Just nothing. He had already left to escape any morning awkwardness, run out of his own apartment. Walking around his place she noted how like him it was. Everything was too perfect, too calculated. And there were no pictures of his family. Yes, he had left that boy far behind. Maybe the girl she had been could have loved that boy and that boy could have loved that girl, but the man and woman they had become would have to resign themselves to the truth.
They carried on normally at work, but that night she cornered him, giving him enough paper work to ensure that he could not escape until they were alone in a long ago emptied office.
“This isn’t working, sir,” she said when he was in the middle of signing some form or another. His head shot up and a look of relief and then hurt flickered over his features. He cared about this woman who had known him for as long as he could remember, but he did not love her like they had tried to love each other. It only left him wishing he hadn’t crossed that line.
“I agree, Lieutenant.” He paused. “I... I am sorry. And I would understand if you want a transfer.”
“Don’t be foolish, sir. I will stay where I am.” Her gaze was as unwavering as ever as he met it.
“Very well, then. I will see you tomorrow, Lieutenant.” And he left.
She felt badly for hurting him like this, but to carry on would hurt them both more in the long run, she knew. Later it would give her an odd kind of superiority to know that she was the only woman who had dumped the infamous Roy Mustang, but for now to love him the only way she could was enough. It was better to care for him as a brother, someone who needed her in a way other than a lover.
It was time to reset the boundaries between them.
And get new sheets.
Cracks and Edges:
The first time he saw her, he was entranced. She was wearing a tight black t-shirt that showed off the fact she was very much a woman, and she was completely focused on firing round after round, clip after clip at the range. It was the sexiest thing he’d ever seen in his entire life. His cigarette fell out of his mouth, and it took him a moment to notice.
Of course Breda had to give him the news that the woman worked for Mustang, their new boss and local legend on the dating scene. Havoc sighed. There was nothing for it, if she worked for the boss. There were other women in Central, though none of them could shoot like that.
Working with her wasn’t as bad as he’d thought it’d be, though. She was tough, but she was the toughest on herself and then Mustang. It was kinda funny to see her henpeck him. The routine in Central was pretty good, and then they had to go and get transferred to East. He started smoking more, not happy to be going back to that place. The smells of the air and the feel of the sand on the wind were things he’d never wanted to feel again. Though it was all for a good reason, a grand plan.
The place was hellish to control, and the Colonel started to flag. The henpecking that was so funny to watch stopped suddenly, and the office started to have a weird feeling to it, like things were too closed in. When Furey brought in that dog, things lightened up a little bit, and a while later the strange feeling went away all together. The Colonel stepped up his dating again and Hawkeye looked visibly relaxed. Havoc could have banged his head on his desk for being so dense.
One night driving back to the base after just having dropped of the Colonel, he lit up. The window was rolled down, letting the cool evening air fill the car. Going through the center of town, he spotted a nicely dressed woman leaving a store, her arms full of what looked like yards of fabric. There was something familiar about the way she walked and when she turned to cross the street, he saw why. It was Hawkeye.
Leaning out the window, he shouted, “Hey, Lieutenant! You wanna ride?”
She blinked at him, and then stared at him for a minute or so. Havoc returned her look, eyebrows raised as if to say, ‘You just gonna stand there or what?’
“Yes, thank you, Lieutenant,” she said. Before Hawkeye could try to juggle her purchases and open the door at the same time, Havoc vaulted out of the car and opened the door for her. She set her things in the back seat, and he drove her to her place. When he lit up another cigarette she stared at him until he flicked it out the window.
“So, what’d you get? Anything fun?”
“New sheets. Mine had become worn.” There was an odd note to her voice that made him glance over at her, but her expression was impassive as ever. He chose to not comment.
The rest of the drive was in silence and he saw her to her door, a holdover of manners from growing up in a close-knit country village. She nodded at him before disappearing inside her apartment, a movement so crisp he barely stopped himself from saluting.
“Huh. Looks like I was right.” Back down on the street he watched her window for a few moments before shaking his head and getting the car back to base, Hawkeye and her sheets the furthest thing from his mind. At least things were back to normal now.
The move back to Central was an unhappy one for Havoc, having to dump his girlfriend was agonizing. She had been really, really upset, and packed quite a punch. Hawkeye allowed herself a small smile at his discomfort on the train.
“It wouldn’t be so funny if you’d been punched like that,” he complained, morose and wishing desperately for a cigarette.
“I would not be with a person who hit me.” Her tone was dry, but her dark eyes held amusement.
“Hrmph.” He frowned and rubbed at the tender spot on his stomach.
“You should stop touching it,” she calmly informed him. He stopped and drummed his fingers on the armrest.
“It’s not that she hit me, it’s that I’m pissed about having to leave her. She’s a great girl, you know? Cute, funny, and she liked me.” He leaned back into his seat, crossing him arms over his chest. “Girl like that is hard to find, ’specially when the chief’s on the market.”
“Do you honestly have that much trouble finding dates?” She was curious about that. Havoc wasn’t unattractive, and he was a good man. Honest, if prone to trying to get out of work, though once he started something he would work until he dropped.
“Seems so.” He shrugged. “What about you? Date much?”
Her eyes slid away from his for a moment. “No, I find it simpler not to.”
“Yeah, I can understand that. Though the Colonel seems to find the time.”
“Yes, he does.” A hard note crept into her voice, making Havoc think he’d gone too far.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean... I’m sorry.” Abashed, he stared out the window.
The tone and the words were so similar to what Roy had said to her that it shocked her. “You do not have anything to apologize for, Havoc. You said nothing wrong.”
He smiled. “Then just give me the credit for when I screw up next.”
That actually made her grin.
In Central she was one of the first to congratulate Havoc on finding a girlfriend so quickly, though she felt somewhat envious of his ability to bounce back from ended relationships so easily.
“Well, it’s nothing really,” he told her, mumbling around an unlit cigarette. “I mean, it’s not like that was a forever girl back in East. She was fun, yeah, but for right then, though I didn’t want that to end the way it did.”
“A forever girl.” Hawkeye said turning what would have been a question from anybody else into a statement. “I presume that means the girl you choose to marry.”
“Yup, got it in one. Dad used to say you might dick around but when you meet the forever girl, you know. And treat her right.” He took a satisfying puff and bent down to pick up the glove Black Hyate had just deposited at their feet.
“You’re father has colorful phrasing, and the Colonel is trying to leave early.” She took the glove from Havoc and pondered her window of opportunity to catch the Colonel before he fled.
“Dad was like that. And don’t tell me you aren’t surprised that the boss is leaving. He’s got theater tickets for tonight.”
“Why do you think I brought him today?” Black Hyate barked and happily wagged his tail at Havoc. She then ventured after their erstwhile commander in an attempt to force him to finish his work.
Two weeks later he was in the hospital and the diagnosis was grim. So was the patient. Roy had tried to tiptoe around things, tried to give him hope, but nothing got through to him. Finally it came down to downright strong-arming, pushing Havoc into becoming too damn stubborn to quit.
But he was going away to recuperate. Hawkeye counted Havoc a friend, something she had precious few of, and she felt he deserved a good-bye at least for now.
She knocked before she entered his hospital room, finding him still awake and working with those small hand squeezers Breda had given him.
“Didn’t expect to see you,” he said. He was better than he had been, feeling like there was something to hope for again.
“I wanted to say good-bye,” she said softly, standing by his bed.
“But not forever. You’ll come and visit me, right? Tell me all the good gossip.” He smirked. Yes, he was feeling better.
“Of course, we all will. Provided you will visit us as well.”
“Hmm... all of you? How ’bout just you? I told my nephews the Military is full of beautiful women and you wouldn’t want to make me look like a lair.” She could have sworn he had just hit on her.
“I doubt that will bother me too much, and it is not fair to your nephews, I would say.” She smiled, a small smile that just barely touched the corners of her mouth. He knew that smile very well.
“I never said I was a good uncle,” he snarked.
“No, you didn’t.” Her smile widened ever so slightly, and she took the squeezer away and placed her hand in his. “Come back to us, Havoc.”
Stunned, he lay there as she placed the squeezer back in his hand and left.
“Hawkeye!” he said just before she closed the door. She reentered the room, expression guarded. “Don’t... I won’t make you wait long.”
Hawkeye grinned and nodded, like she had expected no less from him. She left then, closing the door quietly behind her.
Havoc looked back out the window, the moon hanging in a field of stars like they do over the house where he grew up. He smiled thinking about that house and Hawkeye seeing the night sky from it one day.
Until then, he’d do what he needed to.