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Intricacies

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Ants are small creatures that, upon first glance, don't seem like much. They are small, considered to be bothersome by most, and appear to be very weak. It's a mystery of nature why there are so many of them; they don't appear to do anything that warrants the need of their population numbers. Most don't think about ants in their everyday lives and most don't notice their existence.

It was most likely for that reason that, at fourteen years old, Riza Hawkeye considered herself to be one.

Riza, in both height and weight, was small, more so than most girls her age. She didn't have enough fingers on her hand or toes on her feet to count the number of times she would be called a bother or some variation of the word by her father. While Riza wasn't an ant when it came to population, it was true that most didn't think about her or acknowledge her much (if the word "most" is used to refer to her father, that is). Yes, almost every part about an ant (and, by comparison, Riza) that people assumed was the truth from just its appearance was just that: the truth. If there is, however, anything that is deceitful about an ant's appearance, that would have to be its strength. While ants appear to be very weak, they are actually capable of carrying things that weigh twice as much as they do or even more. That amount of strength could also be said of Riza internally. While she wasn't the strongest physically (she attributed that to her small size), she liked to think that she was perhaps a bit more resilient or thick-skinned than most people her age. That was, she thought, the only good thing about her home life; you grow a tough skin when you practically have to fend for yourself.

There was one last thing that Riza and ants have in common. This last similarity, while far fetched upon first hearing it, is the most important one in Riza's view. Even if Riza wasn't so small, useless and forgettable, this last shared trait would still be there.

It's the fact that both ants and Riza carry heavy burdens on their backs.

For ants, that's how they carry the small crumbs of food they find. They get them on their backs (how they manage that is a mystery Riza will probably never know) and crawl along their path back to their ant hill. For ants, it's in their nature, an action that is put into their brains and instincts to do from the time they're born. Riza, however, wasn't born to carry her burden. Unlike the ant, Riza went through the first decade of her life without knowing how to carry something so much heavier than her. Then, one day, the same man who had called her bothersome, the same man who hadn't had a use for her, suddenly found her to be of some worth.

At eleven years old, Riza had, to her father, the same amount of worth as paper.

Her father had basically branded her, marring her back with a tattoo made of red ink, bits of Riza's dried blood that had sprouted during the excruciating process, and secrets. It seemed the latter was the part that made the completely weightless tattoo feel like it weighed a thousand pounds. The secrets were her burden and, for a time, she considered ants lucky. At least ants had someone to help them when their load became too heavy for just themselves to carry (which, now that the young girl thought about it, could be the reason why there were so many of them). Riza had nobody.

That is, until Roy Mustang came into the picture.

When he came along only six months after she was given the tattoo, she found that, as she got to know him, she wouldn't mind giving him the secrets to flame alchemy one day. She trusted him and knew that he wouldn't do anything terrible with them. He often told her of the things he wanted to do, how he wanted to go into the military one day and use alchemy in that pursuit. With each explanation of his dreams, Riza found that her burden was slowly becoming lighter. Unbeknownst to him, Roy was helping Riza carry the secrets on her back. It seemed, finally, that Riza had another ant to help her, which relieved her. It relieved her because she was afraid that, had someone else not have come along to help her, she would be crushed by the weight of her particular burden.

Mostly, though, she was relieved that it was Roy helping her with the heft of secrets the array brought with it. She knew that he would never let the details of it, which had caused her pain, be used to cause anyone else pain.

Of that much, Riza was certain.