Riza’s nightmares woke her, though all she remembered of them was the fear. Her shirt was damp with sweat and her bandages tightened uncomfortably around her throat as she gulped down air open-mouthed, but could hear the colonel breathing in the bed next to her, so that was alright. That was fine.
There was a shallow hitch of breath to her right, and when she turned her head to look, Roy shifted in his sleep, bandaged fist knotted tightly in his sheets. He faced her as he slept, back to the window and the misty lamplight of the street outside the hospital. In the faint orange glow she could just barely see his face. He looked scared, too.
“Colonel,” she said, and even through the stiff rasp of her abused throat, it sounded too loud. The room and the hall beyond were quiet, the nurses making their rounds somewhere far away, and the only thing she could hear was his breathing, growing more and more panicked the longer she listened.
“Colonel,” she tried again, sitting upright. He didn’t stir; just opened his mouth like he’d meant to speak and sleep had swallowed his words. She could see him shiver, so she got out of bed. She chanced a glance back towards the door, because old habits were hard to kill, but there was no shadow through the glass. She wondered where Breda had gotten off to.
“Hey,” she whispered, kneeling by his bedside, her face level with his against the mattress. “Colonel, it’s alright. You’re just having a dream, sir.”
Roy slept curled on his side, one hand under the pillow, the other resting between their faces, and what she could see of his skin under the bandages was bloodless and white as he gripped tighter at the bed sheets, panting faintly. She rested one hand over his, and, after a long moment, gently rubbed her thumb across his knuckles. He twitched lightly. She rested her forearm on the mattress, her chin on top of it, and she could almost feel his breath against her nose at this distance. There was still fear in his face, she couldn’t help but note, pinched in the space between his brows and at the corners of his mouth. She whispered, “Colonel,” again, now her breath ghosting over his nose, and that did it.
“Lieutenant…?” Roy mumbled, blinking awake, and his fist uncurled in her grasp. She was ready for that, though, and as he unwound from the tense nightmare-curl, moving to pull his hand back, she only shifted her grip and covered his palm in hers. His eyes widened a moment, some of that orange street light reflecting at the edges of his dimmed irises, then exhaled. His breath smelled like shit, and she told him so.
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” he laughed, voice soft as hers, and when he gripped loosely at her wrist she returned the favor. The pads of his fingers were warm against her skin, rough from a day’s fighting, or a decade’s, or whichever, and she let herself smile. They didn’t touch much, when neither was actively bleeding to death, but she was tired and her throat hurt, and Roy’s skin was always warm. His fingers tracing lines down her skin, like he could feel the future in the sun-rough skin of her arm—she could take that as an excuse to smile.
“Are you alright?” he asked, eyebrows quirking up in concern, and she huffed a laugh.
“You’re not very good at worrying about yourself, sir. You were having a nightmare,” she replied. Their faces really were very close. She could see the pink creases left in his skin by the pillowcase when he shifted his head, and the faint lines that grew at the corners of his eyes when she spoke and he smiled. Riza’s bangs stirred when he exhaled.
“I know,” he said. “Weren’t you?"
He said it simply, with nothing more than honest concern for her wellbeing, and Riza felt a flush begin to creep up her neck. She hadn’t seen him like this since before Ishval, really, the last traces of nightmare fears in his face giving way to the open sincerity of a much younger man. She wished there weren’t holes in his hands, and, god, she wished that he could see, but she liked very much seeing Roy unreservedly happy. It had been a while.
“Yes,” she admitted, after an exceptionally long moment of studying how Roy smiled when he couldn’t catch himself smiling. “I was scared. I was more scared than I’ve ever been awake, even when they cut my throat in the catacombs. But in the dream you weren’t there, and I couldn’t get to you.”
She knew as she spoke that this wasn’t how they talked to teach other. They never said things like, “you could stand me against a wall and put a cigarette to my lips and I still know you’d never shoot until I gave the order,” or, “I forgive you every hurt you’ve done me, and every hurt you will ever do me,” or “there’s nothing I can give of myself you don’t already have.” They had rules, instead, rules that they’d had for a long time, and they kept them because the rules were smart. The rules said, “enemies are everywhere” and “you can’t know who’s listening” and “it will be used against you” and other such clever things. So they didn’t talk to each other like this, like Riza was speaking to Roy, and they didn’t hold hands in hospital beds in rooms with unlocked doors, and they didn’t whisper “I dreamed you were gone, and I couldn’t get you back,” with their six inches of air between their noses.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, features creasing again in tired distress, like this was something he could apologize for. His eyes searched across her face, and she wished he could meet her gaze, but she also realized that was a silly thing to wish for when so many had died, so she pressed her mouth to her sleeve and tightened her grip on his hand instead.
“Even you can’t control dreams, sir,” she mumbled, and he pulled his other hand free from beneath the pillow. It lingered a moment, in the space between them, and when he settled his hand in her hair and brushed blonde strands from her eyes, everything about him too warm to be quite real, she wondered if he’d hesitated because he couldn’t see or if because this was, eternally, not what they did.
“And I’m sorry for that, too,” he replied, and drew his fingers through her hair. She didn’t stop herself from leaning into it.
“Mmmm,” she sighed, letting her eyes drift shut. She’d never been so tired, kneeling by Roy’s bed at the end of a very long few years, his fingers around her wrist and caressing her head
She wondered if maybe she was finally too tired to give a shit.
She stood, knees smarting after so long on the hardwood, and before Roy’s face could finish falling or the rules could start repeating again in her head, she said, “Scoot over, sir.”
“Lieutenant?” he asked, twisting to face the source of her voice, concern and confusion returned to his features.
“This thing we do, sir,” she said, too tired for their typical misdirection. “Let’s not do it tonight. We can do it tomorrow, and the day after that, but I think it’d be…nice, if we didn’t do it tonight. Sir.
Roy stared for a moment, mouth agape, and Riza stifled an exhausted laugh. He looked like a dead fish.
“You look like a dead fish,” she whispered, and prodded at his side. “Close your mouth and scoot over.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, now wearing something akin to his usual grin, and made space for her under the sheets.
She climbed in carefully. It wasn’t a large bed, and Roy wasn’t a short man, but she could make it work. The possibility of dawn was just appearing in the window, the sky tinting blue inch by inch, but the orange glow of the street lamps was still strong enough to outline Roy’s form when she settled facing him, catching the edges of his hair and bleeding over his ribs. The way they lay on their sides, like two parentheses with no words left between, he was all she could see.
She shifted forwards, curling towards him, and he met her in the middle. Their legs tangled together under the thin sheets, Roy swallowing a chuckle as they figured out the knees, and she took one of his hands in both of hers, feeling carefully over each scrape on his knuckles like if she’d cataloged them they’d have never been. In return he pressed a hand to her jaw, thumb brushing at the skin under her eye, pinkie playing at the bandages wrapped around her throat.
“Did you dream you’d hurt me?” she asked, almost too quiet to be heard. She didn’t bother to look up from their hands. She knew the answer by now.
“Of course,” he replied, and it was almost a very insincere kind of laugh. His head shifted on the pillow and their noses just barely brushed. “I always tell myself, the worst thing I could possibly do is hurt the lieutenant, and yet—“ two fingers brushed over her bandages, tracing down her throat, “—it’s the only thing I ever seem capable of.”
“You’re being melodramatic,” she shrugged, patting idly at his cheek with one hand. “You’ve never done a thing to me I didn’t bring upon myself.”
Roy opened his mouth like he meant to protest, but Riza just sighed and pressed her lips to his battered hand. His jaw clicked shut.
“I told you I’d follow you into hell,” she explained, with as much patience as she could muster for Roy’s histrionics. “And I knew what I meant, when I said that. Stop trying to take responsibility for my own bad decisions.”
Roy blinked. “Bad decisions?”
“Colonel,” she said, letting exhaustion, amusement, and rapidly diminishing patience bleed into her voice. “You are the absolute worst decision I have ever made in my life. Don’t make me finally regret it.”
“Does this mean I should shut up?” he asked, and even with her eyes drifting shut she could hear him grin. It was mildly infuriating.
“It absolutely does, sir.”
“You know, lieutenant,” he said not even a minute later, because Roy never learned to shut his mouth when told. “The Fuhrer is dead.”
“That's very true, sir,” she muttered, humoring him as best she could.
“And the senior staff are all awaiting trial or dead themselves.”
Very reluctantly, Riza opened her eyes. “Also true, sir.”
“And you're in my bed.” Roy was very near beaming at her. It made something hot curl in her stomach.
“I know, sir. You have very bony knees.”
He snorted, and shifted his bare leg against hers under the sheets. “My point is—“
“Oh, is there a point to all this?“
“Shut up, lieutenant, I wasn't finished. The point to all this,” he grinned, running his fingers through the fine hair at the base of her neck, “Is that it's a whole new world.”
“Yes it is,” she agreed, and leaned her forehead against his. Every part of her was warm as summer.
“So what if,” he started, hesitating, and she looked into his dim eyes. “You didn't call me sir. Just for now, maybe. Until the sun rises.”
Acting entirely without her permission, Riza’s heart skipped a beat.
“I think I could manage that for a few hours,” she smiled, after a few moments spent very suddenly reliving every sex dream she’d ever had involving her commanding officer. He grinned like she'd handed him Bradley's head on a platter, and what could she do but match him. “It's a pleasure to meet you Roy,” she whispered. “You can call me Riza.”
“Riza,” he echoed, and kissed her.
His lips were warm and slightly chapped, much like most of the rest of him. It was exactly what she'd imagined kissing Roy Mustang would feel like, with the added benefit of his palm covering her cheek, and his bony knees knocking between hers. “Good morning, Riza.”
“Good morning, Roy,” she replied, and kissed him back, lingering against his mouth. She didn't wonder how long she'd been waiting to do this. It wouldn't serve much of a point. “You look very handsome today.”
He snorted and butted his nose into hers, making her laugh. "Liar," he muttered, then more seriously. "Tell me how you look today, Riza"
"Well, Roy," she replied, with due solemnity, coming to the realization that they'd probably used up their lifetime dispensation of first name basis in the past two minutes but still astoundingly unable to care. "Today I look beat to shit."
"Ah," he said, still smiling like he held the secrets of all mankind in his arms. "You sound very beautiful indeed."
"Cad," she accused, laughing, and rolled on top of him.
"Only for you," he smirked, and she leaned in to kiss him again, delighting in this marvelous new way to make him stop grinning like an asshole.
His eyes were closed when she pulled away, the grin faded to something fonder, and she laid a kiss over each closed lid, as gently as she could possibly manage. When he opened them again, she knew this was the saddest he'd ever let himself be about what he gave to Truth. For a second there he looked absolutely desolate, but then she skimmed the hair back from his eyes and he just looked put out.
"Dr. Marcoh will be back in the afternoon with the philosopher’s stone," she told him, folding her hands over his chest and letting her chin rest on top. "And if the stone doesn't work, we could always get you a leash."
"Don't you mean a dog?" he laughed, visibly grateful for the excuse. Neither of them had ever been very good at mourning their own misfortunes. They probably lacked the temperament.
"I could never be so cruel," she huffed.
"You mean cruel to the dog, don’t you?”
"Of course I do."
Roy pinched her arm. She smacked him at him, but with love. He kept on smiling, despite the reddish blotch in the shape of her palm now blooming on his collarbone.
“I can tell you’re smiling,” he said, before she could open her mouth to reprimand him properly. He was unfortunately correct. “Tell me why you’re smiling.
“I have no intention of ever doing that. I’ll tell you about the sunrise instead.”
“Ha, alright then. Sunrise are nice. Tell me about the sunrise, lieutenant.”
And so she did.