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Chapter Text

She watched as he sat staring at his hands.

His gaze lead somewhere beyond his hands. She doubted if he knew that he was tracing a circle across the back of one hand with the opposite thumb.

‘I used to be able to tell what you were thinking,” she said.

His dark eyes were distant and unfocused as he looked toward her. She wondered if he had heard her.

“When we were younger,” she continued, “you’d be staring at a text book or something. I could always tell what was on your mind.”

He hummed a soft musing sound and said, “I was just thinking.“ He paused and clenched his fists, looking at his hands again as his knuckles turned white.

“I thought about breaking my hands. Just smash them somehow. You know, just to try and, and, stop for awhile.”

He took a shuddering breath and gradually unclenched his hands.

She knelt before him. He didn’t look up.

Slowly she took his hands and held them between her own. For the first time she felt them tremble. She knelt there in silence until he finally looked up at her.

“These hands have a future. These hands will create.”

“I have trouble believing that,” he whispered.

“Then for now,” she said, “I’ll believe for both of us.”

Chapter Text

Fuery looked tentatively around the rest of the Team.

“Ah, I have an idea. But I don’t know…”

“What is it Fuery?” said Mustang. “We’ve got to consider anything at this stage.”

“Well, if the mission requires the skills of an alchemist to complete, and if only a woman can get in close to the target,” he paused. “Well, perhaps the Colonel could, you know, frock up and go undercover in drag,” he nervously blurted out the last of his idea.

Falman stared at Fuery in disbelief.

Breda snorted into his coffee.

Havoc shook his head. “That’s never gonna work Fuery. No one’s going to believe the Colonel has boobs. He just doesn’t have the pecs.”

“Top marks for thinking outside the box Master Sergeant,” said Hawkeye, “but I really don’t think..”

“I like it!” stated Mustang, a calculating glint in his eye. “That could work.”

Chapter Text

Stale, laden with smoke and alcohol, the rank warm air closed around her like a heavy coat as she shut the thick door on the cool night. She stretched and moved across the saloon, past tables and chairs scattered by the rowdy patrons to the bar. It had been a long and noisey night, full of drinking and gambling and carousing. Like every night. And she had perhaps drunk a little too much, or perhaps she hadn’t drunk enough.

She pulled the strong box out from under the bar and stuffed in the wad of cash from her trouser pocket. The door latch clanked open and a gust of cool night air flooded past her, ruffling her blonde hair

“I’m closed,’ she called back, not bothering to look. “Come back tomorrow.”

The door closed and footsteps moved towards the bar.

A male voice rolled hesitantly across the room.

’Hello Riza.’

Riza Hawkeye froze momentarily as the voice hit her, knocking her down and then swirling her around almost out of control, like a wave in a rising current. She looked up and saw his shadow, cut larger than life against the back wall of her Saloon. The scruffy hair, blown in the wind, the coat settling about his shoulders as the wind shuddered away with the closed door.

He hadn’t changed.

Everything else had changed.

She turned to face him.

“Roy Mustang. I always knew someday you’d come walking back through my door. I never doubted that. Something made it inevitable. So what are you doing here in the southern sticks?”

“I need Berthold’s notes.” Mustang replied cautiously as he turned to survey the saloon.

Hawkeye drew back a fist and landed a right hook on his jaw. He rolled with the well delivered punch and rubbed his jaw in surprise.

“I learned to hate you in the last few years,” Hawkeye spat at him.

“I never meant to hurt you.” He was taken back by how badly their reunion was going.

“I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it!”

“You knew what you were doing,” Mustang deflected, unwilling to admit any shame.

“Now I do! This is my place!” declared Hawkeye.

As if to make her point Hawkeye snatched up a tray and started clearing the glasses off tables.

Mustang had come with a purpose, and it wasn’t to get bogged down in the mistakes of their past.

“I did what I did. You don’t have to be happy about it, but maybe we can help each other out now.”

Hawkeye just glared, her distrust of his motives evident, and continued to clear the glasses off the tables.

“I need your father’s notes. Probably a notebook or journal. Small diary or the like. Hand written. Do you know anything like that?

“Yeah, I know it,” she answered, pushing the tray onto the bar.

Mustang moved across to the bar.

“Where’s Bethold?”

Hawkeye continued to shuffle the glasses.

“Where’s Berthold?” he insisted.

The question hung in the air with the stale smoke.

“Berthold’s dead.’ She spoke quietly, factually. She sounded more tired than sad.

Mustang looked down. He hadn’t been expecting that. He hadn’t known. How could he have known? And would he have done anything differently if he had? No matter the past, there were bigger things at stake now. He moved closer and looked at her.

“Riza, I’m sorry.”

Hawkeye leant away from the bar, as the memories rushed back.

“Do you know what you did to me? To my life?” she almost stammered, her defences growing thin against the sudden flood of emotions.

“I can only say I’m sorry so many times.”

“Well say it again anyway!” she snapped, clutching back her self control and flinging the glasses off the tray and onto the bar.

“Sorry.” he mumbled, at a loss what else to say.

“Hey, everybody’s sorry,’ Hawkeye retorted as she returned to stacking the glasses. A desperate attempt to force some order into her life. “Berthold was sorry for ignoring me while he scribbled out those notes. I’m sorry to still be stuck in this dive. Everybody’s sorry for something.”

“I just need the notes, Riza. are you gonna give them to me?”

“Maybe. I’m not sure where they are.”

“Well, maybe, you can find them.” Mustang reached into his coat pocket and drew out a wad of notes. “30000 cenz.”

Hawkeye eyed off the money, pragmatically evaluating the offer.

“Well that’ll get me back, but not in style,” she cooed.

“I can get you another 20000 cenz when we get back to Central.” Mustang caught her arm and spun her to face him. “It’s important, Riza.”

A charm crossed his face, a sly charm that might fool a younger Riza.

“Trust me,” he urged.

Anger born of hurt and betrayal flared in Hawkeye’s eyes and she drew back her hand to strike.

Mustang caught the blow and, holding her wrist, pressed the cash into her hand. All charm was gone, replaced with urgent force.

“You know the notes I mean. You know where they are?”

Hawkeye laughed at his desperation and pulled her hand free. She reached into her shirt and pulled out a thin leather bound journal. Mustang resisted the urge to snatch it. If he wanted her trust he knew he’d have to allow her some control.

Hawkeye looked at the journal, such a small thing, as she passed it to Mustang. He turned it over in his hands, feeling the warm texture of the leather as he unslipped the thong holding it shut. He opened the notebook and read the handwritten title.

“Introduction to the Reproduction of Southern Salamanders,” he muttered. He stared directly at Hawkeye. “These are his notes? All of them?”

Hawkeye tugged the journal back out of Mustang’s hands, and slapped it on the bar, keeping her hand on it.

“Well, since that’s an ‘Introduction’ I guess there might be some other notes around. Somewhere.”

There was an edge to her voice Mustang couldn’t place, cold and distant. Her eyes suddenly refocused on him and a forced smile came to her lips.

“I’ll look around. Come back tomorrow.”

“Why?” he asked, trying unsuccessfully to hide the faint trace of suspicion he felt.

“Because I said so, that’s why,” Hawkeye stated. She had given enough ground and was in no mood to play anymore games.

Mustang took a final look and turned to leave.

“See you tomorrow, Roy Mustang.”

Hawkeye watched him leave as she leant against the bar. Her world swirled around her, memories and feelings long pushed away, threatened to swell up and pull her back down with them.

She picked up the small journal. An apparently insignificant thing. But she knew that size was irrelevant to significance. She eyed the journal in one hand and the wad of cenz in the other. If she ever wanted to move on with her life, it should be an easy choice.

Leaving the leather bound notebook on the bar counter, Hawkeye returned to the strong box and added the extra cash.

Without warning, the door swung open, driven with unnecessary force. Startled, Hawkeye looked up to see two bizarre figures in the doorway.

The taller was an elegant women, dressed in an evening gown and opera gloves. The only thing darker than her dress was the long black hair that fell around her neck and shoulders. She was stunningly beautiful, and an absolute threat at the same time.

Her companion was just, ridiculous and unsettling. Shorter and dressed in short pants and a crop top. Hair that sprouted from its head. The figure seemed to radiate a shifting energy that defied description and left a gnawing uncertainty in Hawkeye’ stomach.

“Good evening Madam,” the woman softly intoned.

“Bar’s closed,” declared Hawkeye with more bravado than she felt. There was something threatening and totally unnerving about the pair.

“We aren’t thirsty,” said the woman

“What do you want?” enquired Hawkeye.

“The same thing your friend Roy Mustang wanted. Surely he told you there would be other interested parties,” replied the other, freakish one as the two of them made their way across to the bar.

Hawkeye watched them cautiously, “Must have slipped his mind.”

“The man is nefarious,” said the woman. “I hope for your sake he has not yet acquired it.”

“Why, are you willing to offer more?”

“Oh, almost certainly,” she answered.

“Do you still have it,” added the freakish one.

“No. But I know where it is.”

They were close now and the danger they permeated made Hawkeye’s guts tighten. It was like standing close to a snake, or a rabid dog. Hawkeye wanted to keep a bit more space from them. She moved around the bar.

“Hey, how about a drink?” suggested Hawkeye drawing out a bottle from behind the bar. It was an obvious diversion, but she had to try.

The woman leaned in closer, her voice still calm and deceptively gentle, but violence simmered just below the surface. “Why don’t you tell us where it is right now.”

Hawkeye fired up. “Listen Lady, I’m not sure what kinda people you’re used to dealing with, but nobody tells me what to do in my place!’

“Miss Hawkeye,” the women smiled, “let me show you what I am used to dealing with.”

Without further signal, the freakish one grabbed Hawkeye. Its grip was inhumanly strong and it pinned her arms.

“Hey! Get your hands off me!” Hawkeye shouted as she thrashed in its grip.

The woman lifted her darkly gloved hand, and as she did so her fingers extended into sharply pointed talons. At the same time the freak restraining Hawkeye sprouted a third arm and the extra hand clamped onto Hawkeye’s chin and cheek bone. It was like her head and been crushed into a vice.

The impossibility of it shook Hawkeye to the core. What was left of her nerve was growing thin. “…wait, wait I can be reasonable.” she began to plead.

“That time has passed.”

Held firm in an inhuman grip Hawkeye’s eyes widened in terror as she watched the unnatural razor sharp talons slowly extend toward her face.

“I’ll tell you everything,” she implored.

“Yes, I know you will,” said the woman.

The metallic crack of a single shot rang out and the woman pulled back her hand with a cry of rage.

“Let her go!” demanded Mustang as he levelled his gun on the woman’s head.

The women held her injured hand as red sparks flew off it, and hissed at her companion.

“Kill him, Envy!”

The freak, Envy, released Hawkeye and ran at Mustang, who emptied his revolver into it.

Envy staggered with each shot, but didn’t stop. Instead the same strange red sparks flew about the wounds, until no wound was left.It slammed into Mustang grabbing his throat and ramming him into the wall. Turning back to the women it asked, “Should we kill him yet Lust? He might know where it is.”

Hawkeye recovered quickly, looked to check the notebook at the end of the bar, then back to Lust who had recovered and was advancing on her again. Lust followed her gaze to the leather bound notebook and smiled triumphantly.

“No,” she replied. We kill them. We kill them both.”

Gasping for air, Mustang reached down and pulled knife from his boot. Before Envy could tighten its grip, Mustang sliced a deep gash into its forearm and pulled away from from the wall. He managed to take two steps before Envy recovered and grabbed him by the shoulders and lifted him off the ground.Hawkeye reached under the bar. She came up with an automatic and a revolver. As Lust turned toward the notebook Hawkeye fired again and again. When her shots had no effect Hawkeye dove for the notebook, but had no hope of reaching it before the deadly black talons skewered it and drew it back to Lust’s hand.

Hawkeye drew a pistol from a holster at the small of her back and levelled her gun once more on Lust. But before she could fire Envy, seeing that its companion had the notebook, simply threw Mustang into the line of fire. Hawkeye raised her gun as Mustang thudded onto the bar in front of her.

The monstrous assailants, having achieved what they came, had no more concern for Hawkeye and Mustang. They took the journal, headed for the door and disappeared into the night

Mustang groaned as he rolled off the bar, and started for the door trying to drag Hawkeye along.

“C’mon Riza! We’ve got to get that notebook back!

Hawkeye planted her feet and pulled him back to face her.

“Don’t bother,” she gasped between deep breaths.

“Berthold’s notes,’ he urged as he continued trying to drag her to the door.

Hawkeye began to laugh as she again pulled him back to face her. Laughing with fatigue and with stress; and laughing at him.

“Well Mustang, at least you haven’t forgotten how to show a lady a good time.”

Mustang looked at her with frustration, desperate to chase the notebook.

“The notebook’s useless on its own,” she continued. “It’s just an overview of my father’s work.”

Without explanation, Hawkeye began to unbutton her shirt and drop it back off her shoulders. Mustang stared at her in confusion as she striped back her shirt and turned.

“Boy, you’re something…”

And then he saw her naked back.

And he saw the tattoo.

And he saw. And he understood.

The detailed array of symbols and serpents. The notes scribed around the intertwining beasts. An aura of power and knowledge radiated from the intricate line work. The text, at once cryptic and meaningful.

It was terrifying and intoxicating at the same time.

Berthold Hawkeye’s notes.

Flame Alchemy.

“Yeah,” she said, “Well until I get my 50000 cents you’re gonna get more than you bargained for.”

He didn’t realise that Hawkeye had turned to face him again. Her amber eyes ablaze with anger and adrenaline.

“I’m your goddam partner!”

Chapter Text

The parlour looked gloomy: a neglected handful of fire burnt low in the grate; and, leaning over it, with his head supported against the high, old-fashioned mantelpiece, appeared the blind tenant of the room. His sight dog, Pilot, lay on one side, as if afraid of being inadvertently trodden upon. Pilot pricked up his ears when I came in: then he jumped up with a yelp, and bounded towards me: he almost knocked the tray from my hands. I set it on the table; then patted him, and said softly, "Lie down!" Colonel Mustang turned mechanically to see what the commotion was: but as he saw nothing, he returned and sighed.

"Give me the water, Mary," he said.

I approached him with the now only half-filled glass; Pilot followed me, still excited.

"What is the matter?" he inquired.

"Down, Pilot!" I again said. He checked the water on its way to his lips, and seemed to listen: he drank, and put the glass down. "This is you, Mary, is it not?"

"Mary is in the kitchen," I answered.

He put out his hand with a quick gesture, but not seeing where I stood, he did not touch me. "Who is this? Who is this?" he demanded, trying, as it seemed, to see with those sightless eyes. “Answer me — speak again!" he ordered, imperiously and aloud.

"Will you have a little more water, sir? I spilt half of what was in the glass," I said.

" Who is it? What is it? Who speaks?"

"Pilot knows me, and Mary knows I am here. I came only this evening," I answered.

"Great God! — what delusion has come over me? What sweet madness has seized me?"

"No delusion — no madness: your mind, sir, is too strong for delusion, your health too sound for frenzy."

"And where is the speaker? Is it only a voice? Oh! I cannot see, but I must feel, or my heart will stop and my brain burst. Whatever — whoever you are — be perceptible to the touch or I cannot live!"

He groped; I arrested his wandering hand, and prisoned it in both mine.

"Her very fingers!" he cried; "her small, slight fingers! If so there must be more of her."

The muscular hand broke from my custody; my arm was seized, my shoulder — neck — waist — I was entwined and gathered to him.

"Is it Hawkeye? What is it? This is her shape — this is her size — "

"And this her voice," I added. "She is all here: her heart, too. God bless you, Colonel! I am glad to be so near you again."

"Hawkeye! — Riza Hawkeye," was all he said.

"My dear Colonel," I answered, "I am Riza Hawkeye: I have found you out — I am come back to you."

"In truth? — in the flesh? My living Lieutenant?"

"You touch me, sir, — you hold me, and fast enough: I am not cold like a corpse, nor vacant like air, am I?"

"These are certainly her limbs, and these her features; but I cannot be so blest, after all my misery. It is a dream; such dreams as I have had at night when I have clasped her once more to my heart, as I do now; and kissed her, as thus — and felt that she loved me, and trusted that she would not leave me."

"Which I never will, sir, from this day."

"Never will, says the vision? But I always woke and found it an empty mockery; and I was desolate and abandoned. It is you — is it, Hawkeye? You are come back to me then?"

"I am."

"And you do not lie dead in some ditch under some stream? And you are not a pining outcast amongst strangers?"

"No, Colonel! I am an independent woman now."

"But as you are rich, Hawkeye, you have now, no doubt, friends who will look after you, and not suffer you to devote yourself to a blind lameter like me?"

"I told you I am independent, sir, as well as rich: I am my own mistress."

"And you will stay with me?"

"Certainly — unless you object. I will be your neighbour, your nurse, your companion — to read to you, to walk with you, to sit with you, to be eyes and hands to you. Cease to look so melancholy, my dear Colonel; you shall not be left desolate, so long as I live."

He replied not: he seemed serious — abstracted; he sighed; he half-opened his lips as if to speak: he closed them again. I felt a little embarrassed. I might have been all wrong, and was perhaps playing the fool unwittingly; and I began gently to withdraw myself from his arms — but he eagerly snatched me closer.

"No — no — Hawkeye; you must not go. No — I have touched you, heard you, felt the comfort of your presence. I cannot give up these joys. I have little left in myself — I must have you. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame."

"Well, sir, I will stay with you: I have said so."

"Yes — but you understand one thing by staying with me; and I understand another. You, perhaps, could make up your mind to be about my hand and chair — to wait on me as a kind little nurse (for you have an affectionate heart and a generous spirit), and that ought to suffice for me no doubt: do you think so? Come — tell me."

"I will think what you like, sir: I am content to be only your nurse, if you think it better."

"But you cannot always be my nurse, Lieutenant: you are young — you must marry one day."

"I don't care about being married."

"You should care, Hawkeye: if I were what I once was, I would try to make you care — but — a sightless block!"

He relapsed again into gloom. I, on the contrary, became more cheerful, and took fresh courage: these last words gave me an insight as to where the difficulty lay; and as it was no difficulty with me, I felt quite relieved from my previous embarrassment. I resumed a livelier vein of conversation.

"It is time some one undertook to re-humanise you," said I, parting his thick and long uncut locks; "for I see you are being metamorphosed into a lion, or something of that sort. Your hair reminds me of eagles' feathers; whether your nails are grown like birds' claws or not, I have not yet noticed."

"On these hands I have not just nails, but scars,” he said, holding up the mutilated limbs and showing them to me. “A ghastly sight! Don't you think so, Lieutenant?"

"It is a pity to see; and a pity to see your eyes: and the worst of it is, one is in danger of loving you too well for all this; and making too much of you."

"I thought you would be revolted, Hawkeye, when you saw my hands, and my cicatrised visage."

"Have you a pocket-comb about you, Colonel?"

"What for, Lieutenant?"

"Just to comb out this shaggy black mane. I find you rather alarming, when I examine you close at hand.”

Am I hideous, Hawkeye?"

"Very, sir: you always were, you know.”

"My seared vision! My crippled strength!" he murmured regretfully.

I caressed, in order to soothe him. I knew of what he was thinking, and wanted to speak for him, but dared not. As he turned aside his face a minute, I saw a tear slide from under the sealed eyelid, and trickle down the manly cheek. My heart swelled.

"Colonel! I wanted to tease you a little to make you less sad: I thought anger would be better than grief. But if you wish me to love you, could you but see how much I do love you, you would be proud and content.

"Ah! Lieutenant. But I want a wife."

"Do you, sir?"

"Yes: is it news to you?"

"Of course: you said nothing about it before."

"Is it unwelcome news?"

"That depends on circumstances, sir — on your choice."

"Which you shall make for me, Hawkeye. I will abide by your decision."

"Choose then, sir — her who loves you best ."

"I will at least choose — her I love best . Hawkeye, will you marry me?"

"Yes, sir."

"A poor blind man, whom you will have to lead about by the hand?"

"Yes, sir."

"A crippled man, whom you will have to wait on?"

"Yes, sir."

"Truly, Hawkeye?"

"Most truly, sir."