It wasn’t so much that Roy had misled people. He hadn’t meant to, really; but plans changed, priorities shifted, people had their throats cut in front of you, inhuman creatures forced you to sell your eyesight –
He’d gotten it back in the end. He still wasn’t sure if he deserved his eyesight, but practicality was practicality and he wasn’t about to martyr himself again for the sake of what was essentially a moral stance. But all in all, his view – so to say – of the world had changed.
Which was what led to him quietly and contently packing up his desk while his team looked on his horror.
“Colonel, you just got back!”
“We just lost the kid, we can’t lose you too!”
Roy glanced up at Breda and raised an eyebrow at him. “If you’re trying to confess your love to me, Breda, there are much better ways to do it. I’m intending on publishing a book on it next year –“ Breda flicked a paperclip at his head, and Roy deadpanned, “Ow.”
“You don’t have to quit.” Falman looked genuinely concerned. It was kind of sweet. “I mean, who’s going to run for Prime Minister once they get the first elections set up?”
Roy snapped his briefcase shut with a finalistic clink. “Not me,” he pronounced. “I’m entirely exhausted with politics.”
“You needn’t sound so surprised, Fuery. Politicians are boresome. As is violence.” He shrugged on his jacket, admiring it for a moment. Him and his jacket had been through plenty. “I think I’ve made a very good run of it.” Then, as if it was an afterthought, he picked up a handful of envelopes that were, somewhat conspicuously, the last thing on his desk. He handed them to Falman, who stared at them for a moment before handing one to each team member.
“Save the date,” Roy said airily, before putting on his hat, and walking away. He counted the seconds – three, two, one –
-and then came the combined yell of surprise and elation behind him, as he ducked into the stairwell and away before they could catch up and ask him when he and Hawkeye had gotten engaged.
“What if I change my mind?” came the dubiously uncertain question from behind the curtain. Roy clicked his tongue and shook his head.
“About the marriage or the election?”
A blonde head stuck its head out of the curtain. “The election, you bonehead,” she sighed. “I’m definitely marrying you. After ten years of pretending I wasn’t engaged to you it’d be more than my time’s worth to back out now. All that time I could have spent finding another husband.”
“And you love me.”
“Yes, and I love you. Get in here and undo my bra. I hate these clothes.”
Roy chuckled and glanced around before discreetly sliding into the changeroom. Riza was half-clad in a pencil skirt and pantyhose, with a blouse hanging on the hook waiting for her. “Oh, please tell me these are election clothes.”
“Can’t they be both?”
“Don’t call me Elizabeth,” she grumbled.
He unhooked her bra, grinning at her in the mirror. “It’s our wedding. Dress up at least a little bit.”
“I would but –“ She met his eyes in the mirror with a sigh. “I’ve never done any of this before, Roy. I’ve been wearing the same black tank top, military uniform and white button-up shirt for fancy days for… fifteen years.” Riza turned to look at him with a certain type of helplessness. “Did you know there are words for different skirt shapes? I thought a pencil skirt was a skirt with pencils on it. She laughed at me-“ She glared at him. “I see your mouth twitching.”
Roy held back the snickering out of love and respect. “You can ask for help, you know. Stubborn woman.”
“You wouldn’t love me any other way,” she retorted. “But I swear to high heaven, Roy Mustang, you had better give me some damn good honeymoon oral sex for making me stand for election right after a wedding.”
“It’s not right after. There’s a six month gap.”
“No, but…” Riza grumbled quietly to herself again. “I’m just nervous. Not nervous enough to back out. Just nervous enough to –“ She pressed her forehead to his chest. “I don’t want to let you down,” she said quietly.
Roy took her chin in his fingers. “You can back out. I’m supporting you because I know you’ll do a hell of a job. You’ve been by my side all this time, and I know I’m not the man for the job. But I’m not going to push you into anything – anything – you don’t want.”
Riza smiled softly at him. Then there it was – that little spark of resilience, that determination. “If I give this country back to the brass on a plate, it won’t be you I have to worry about,” she laughed. “I think Edward would come out of retirement just to tell me how disappointed he was.”
“Oh lord. How much is he enjoying being a father?”
“Entirely too much.” She turned around, eyeing the pencil skirt again. “Besides. What good has leaving men in charge done?”
Roy would have argued that, but honestly, she was right.
He’d been getting phone calls all day, so he was too jaded to be concerned when he picked up the phone and put it to his ear. “Roy Mustang, how can I-“
“WHAT THE FUCK!”
Roy pulled the phone away from his ear. “Riza, honey,” he called out, “Edward’s on the phone.”
“That sounds like your problem,” she retorted from the other room.
“What the fuck?” came the laugh through the phone again. “Honey? You call Hawkeye honey now?”
“Sometimes we have lives even when you can’t see, Fullmetal.”
“Oh, don’t call me that. Fullmetal’s dead and buried. Shot him myself with a diaper slingshot.”
Roy rolled his eyes. “Did you receive your invite? Is that why you’re yelling at me?”
“Yeah. I can’t believe I got one.”
“It’s actually addressed to Mrs. Elric. You’re not invited.”
“Prick,” Edward laughed. “And what’s this about you retiring? What am I supposed to do with my money now?”
“Give it to Riza.”
“Give it to R-“ Edward spluttered. “Wait, hold on, what?”
“You didn’t think I was retiring without a plan, did you?”
“But-“ Edward paused. “Riza in charge. That’s terrifying. I mean, I dig it. But. That’s terrifying.”
“I notice you don’t seem to have any doubt she’ll win.”
“What do you think I am, crazy?”
Roy glanced over into the dining room, where Riza was poring over a list of potential supporters with a look of irritation. Then he smiled. “Glad to have your support, Edward.”
The whispers started quickly, and Roy wished – not for the first time – that he’d never gone into politics at all, that he’d chosen a nice quiet life, that he’d just been a farmer or a metalworker or something nice instead of having to navigate the troubled waters of politics. It was even more frustrating as an onlooker trying to give support; he could see the pitfalls, the sharks waiting in the wings, and yet he was now officially a civilian.
The radio interviewer began, “Tell me, Miss Hawkeye –“ and for more than one reason, Roy started counting down the days til the wedding again – “how long have you and Brigadier-Colonel Mustang known each other?”
“It’s Colonel Hawkeye. We met at the academy about ten years ago.”
“And you’ve been by his side ever since.”
There was the click-click of a pen. “And you’ve never been married or – so it seems – shown any interest in other men at all. Are we to take it a vote for you is a vote for Roy Mustang, then?”
There was a sharp intake of breath from behind Roy, and he was tempted to turn the damned thing off. Instead, he sipped at his beer, trying to still his heart. He trusted her. He wasn’t even involved in her campaign and – he realized with a slight tinge of horror – he had no idea what she was saying next.
Riza took a deep breath. “I doubt people who believe that will have their minds changed, but I want to be perfectly clear. I am not my fiancé, and when I become his wife, I will not become my husband. I have been his strongest support through the years, but that does not mean I have agreed with every one of his decisions, or him with mine.”
“So you’re marrying somebody you don’t respect-“
Riza bulldozed over the announcer with a casual grace that left Roy speechless. “If you define a healthy willingness to question each other’s reasoning as disrespect, then I suppose. But I define respect as a mutual understanding that we are different people from different places, and as an agreement to play to each other’s strengths, not to tear into our weaknesses.” She took another breath, then continued in a clipped voice. “And right now, I am asking you to respect me.”
There was a stunned silence, both from the radio, and from the bar behind Roy. Then the announcer continued, voice small. “Your campaign…?”
Riza answered brightly, “I believe while the military has always been Amestris’s strength, several key points of infrastructure have been neglected in our years of expansionism. I would like to focus our budget instead on Amestrian towns, Amestrian schools, Amestrian mines – improving our inner cohesiveness as a country.”
“It’s interesting to hear a Colonel talk about reducing military power.”
“It’s easy to think money and power are the solution to everything. But it only takes being on the other side of a gun or a knife once to understand how ephemeral those things are.”
Roy closed his eyes. He didn’t want to think about how close he’d come to losing her.
Later, once the interview had finished, he heard a familiar mismatched step on the wooden floor behind him. “You know, there’s nothing more disorienting than realizing you’re old enough to drink,” he murmured.
“Even if I wasn’t I can’t imagine they’d turn me away.” Ed hopped onto the barstool next to him. “Figured I’d come in for the wedding after all.”
“By which you mean Winry insisted.”
Ed laughed. “Well, yeah. That and I have to watch you settling down with my own eyes.” There was a question on his lips, and Roy sighed with a smile.
“Spit it out, Fullmetal.”
“I told you to stop calling me that! And-“ Ed blew a raspberry. “I was just wondering about the 520 cenz. You don’t seem like the quitting type.”
“I’m not quitting. I’m just changing paths.”
“So you’re still-?”
Roy shook his head with a laugh. “I’m not cut out to be a leader of a country. It’s better to admit that now than to try and fail. I’d rather try my hand at other things.”
“Like what?” asked Ed, half challenging, half curious. Roy wondered how Ed was adjusting to a life without drive, a life without a goal.
“Plans change. Priorities shift. I got a taste of what being a father might be like and I decided I preferred it.”
“What?” scoffed Ed. “When did –“ He blanched. “…I’m not calling you daddy.”
“If you ever do, I’m firing you again.” Roy replied coolly, taking another sip of beer. “But it’s hard to deny that if trying to keep an emotionally unstable, self-destructive teenager under control was more fulfilling than the majority of my career, it’s time to reconsider my options.”
Ed stared at him in silence. Roy could see him trying to gather his thoughts, and added, “No more compromises from me. Father and leader don’t mix.” If he never had to watch somebody he loved get hurt on behalf of the greater good, it would be too soon.
“I’m not your kid!”
“Of course not. But you are my friend.”
The smile spread across Edward’s face slowly, followed with a faint blush. “I don’t remember you ever actually saying that before,” he grumbled quietly. “A beer for me, please.”
“Of course. Since you’re an adult now and all.” Roy watched with a sly pleasure as Ed licked nervously at the foam at the head of the drink, took a sip – and then with a horrified expression, pushed it back over to him.
“I will take overgrown adolescence any day.”
She looked good in the suit, Roy thought, and he was glad she’d stuck with the trousers. But even in the Prime Minister’s dressings, even with her face firmly on, he could see the faint tremble of her fingers.
“I’m not good with children,” she said quietly. “I mean. I suppose I could be. But-“
He took her hand, squeezed her fingers until they stilled. “Hey. We’re in this together. Right?”
“I never pictured you as a stay-at-home father.”
“While my wife saves the world? I have no qualms with this.”
Roy looked up at the orphanage. It was the same one that Madame Christmas had pulled him from, so many years ago – he’d been so startled to find that it was still open. And it was only fitting.
He hadn’t meant to. But plans changed.