[roy/riza; pg-13] Far From Perfect Place Title: Far From Perfect Place Author:emilie_burns Fandom: Nexus/Fullmetal Alchemist Pairing: Roy Mustang/Bluebird's Illusion!Riza Hawkeye (hand_of_sorrow/left_in_silence) Rating: PG-13 Wordcount: 2321 Warnings: Some fairly mild descriptions of adult situations Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi) is copyrighted by Hiromu Arakawa/Square Enix. This is a work of fanfiction for personal entertainment only, set in an RPG multifandom universe (the_nexus_rpg). The song cited is "Should I Let You In" by Belinda Carlisle. Notes: This pairing has been retconned and redone. Summary:He might have been a different Roy Mustang, in so many ways, but that trait was still something that held true regardless. He brooded, kept whatever guilt he felt buried inside, and let it fester and gnaw at him, almost serving as a means of self-flagellation in a way, a punishment for whatever he perceived as failure.
Far From Perfect Place
Should I let you in, into my house with its concrete walls? Should I let you in, into my room with its curtains drawn? I want to open up, and let you walk right through my door. Can you tell me, is it worth it, the risk anymore? Should I let you in?
Ever since his birthday, life in the Nexus had taken on a quality of slowly waking up from a long night of bad dreams into a beautiful morning. Riza had felt as though she had been lost in one since the day the colonel disappeared, and everyone was sure he was dead. She'd known too, if she were to be brutally honest with herself, that he was no longer there.
But that distant glimpse of Edward, or rather as she'd later found out, the Homunculus named Pride, gave her a thread of hope to cling to, a belief that he was still alive out there somewhere. That belief became an obsession which threatened to consume every inch of her, and very nearly did. It wasn't merely her unrequited romantic love for him, nor her loyalty. But while she did have her grandfather now, he was still the nearest thing she had left to family since her father's passing.
No one had been to the funeral. No one save for them. He had to leave to report in to the military, but he had made calls and managed to gain a few more days for her sake. A few days during which he'd done the majority of the work and arrangements for the funeral, including the sale of the old estate home to help pay for the cost and her father's debts which she had no idea he'd accumulated. He'd purchased the ticket to Central for her, helped her bury her father, and she trusted him more than she ever trusted another soul, giving him the full knowledge and power of what it meant to be the Flame Alchemist.
He'd honored her wish years later to destroy that knowledge, and kept her close to him, the protective and doting older brother she'd never had. She'd fallen in love with him but his own feelings never moved beyond the familial field. Even so, that had been enough for her, and the world had felt so grim and empty without him, like a fire had gone out, leaving her alone in the dark.
When she'd found the Nexus, Riza had also found the truth of what had happened that day, and that had stripped away the meager shield around the weak hope she still held, killing it just as surely as he had been killed. Obsessions were dangerous that way, because once it was gone, whatever inner reservoir of strength she may have once possessed went with it, and she gave up, retreating into her memories and misery behind a sturdy wall of whiskey.
Then he arrived. He was Roy Mustang, but not the one she knew. He was older, though not so much in years. There had been a weariness about him that she knew all too well from personal experience, and perhaps it had been that, coupled with the fact that he was, well, he was Roy Mustang, Flame Alchemist, that made her listen to him. With his offer, she traded in the liquor for his friendship, and the emptiness for a roommate.
Separate rooms, merely friends for the longest time as they both recovered and talked, getting to know one another, discovering what was still the same, and the things which set each other apart. He had had been the original Flame Alchemist, and the knowledge was his own discovery. The tattoo which marred her back was new to him, even if the information therein was not, once she had mustered up the courage to show him, deciding that he had proven worthy of that trust. If she had trusted the one in her own world, then by all rights, he deserved to see it too.
They had formed a comfortably domestic friendship, and she kept the apartment they shared shipshape while waiting up for him to return home from a long evening of work at the Best Deadly Sin, with a hot cup of tea ready after his shower. She rediscovered smiles and laughter sitting beside him in the wee hours, listening to his stories and complaints about work.
When his birthday drew near, she wondered what to do. There was nothing said which let her know one way or another if an acknowledgment of it would be appreciated, and neither of them had ever been one for grand gestures with the other. That much seemed to hold true. But even though the decision whether or not to do anything regarding his birthday was difficult, it was harder still to figure out what to get him.
It took two weeks of trolling the shops while he was gone at work and some heavy debate before she finally settled on a present that would either be absolutely perfect, or a complete disaster. A black Zippo-brand lighter, with a custom engraving of his flame transmutation array inlaid with red enamel. A lighter that would produce flame in nearly all conditions, or at the very least, the ever-important spark.
Metallic red wrapping paper and a black ribbon concealed the hinged jewelry case it was placed in, along with a note. On his birthday, while he was at work, she slipped into his room and hid it under the covers just near his pillow, where he would most certainly discover it, and well after they'd both given their departures for the night. That would absolve him of any obligation of acknowledgment, particularly if the present hit all the wrong notes.
I know you don't like your alchemy anymore. But this will work, I've been told, even in the rain and the wind. You'll be safe now, at least. Happy Birthday - Riza
When the knock came at her door that night, she had been frozen momentarily in fear, for the only reason for his approach that came to mind was that he was well and truly angry.
The embrace he'd pulled her into instead took her off-guard, but it was a pleasant surprise. She admitted then that she'd fallen for him, not as a ghost of his alternate, not as the colonel, not as the Flame Alchemist, but as himself. The kiss was everything she'd imagined and more, and the goodnights which followed came much later, and not as a prelude to any parting.
The twin bed was serviceable enough the first couple of nights, but as soon as he had a day off, she helped him move her own twin bed down the hall after he had worked out the necessary transmutation to turn them both into a double, using the excess materials to strengthen the frame and deepen the mattress. Black Hayate was rather confused by the change of locations, and voiced his objections to his own bed being left behind in Riza's old room until they agreed to decide on a place for it nearby.
That had been almost two weeks ago, and she had only found out the night before that he used to remove the eyepatch to sleep, but no longer since he did not sleep alone. It still bothered him, she could tell that easily. There were still headaches and physical ache, yes, but the damage itself was something he kept close to him, even after he had seen her back.
He might have been a different Roy Mustang, in so many ways, but that trait was still something that held true regardless. He brooded, kept whatever guilt he felt buried inside, and let it fester and gnaw at him, almost serving as a means of self-flagellation in a way, a punishment for whatever he perceived as failure.
With one eye on the clock as it approached the end of his shift at the Best Deadly Sin, Riza dressed for bed, and prepared the kettle to steep some herbal tea. She put the heat of the stove on low, letting it gradually warm up to where it would quickly reach boiling point.
Hayate barked once as the door opened, and she heard him speak to the dog, greeting him in a weary tone.
"Long shift?" she asked as she entered the living room of their apartment.
"We were busy," he said, then gave her a tired smile as she approached, and pulled her into a hug. "It's good to be home."
"Go take your shower," Riza said, "I'll have the tea ready for you when you come back out."
"Perfect antidote to a busy shift," Roy said as he kissed her forehead. "A hot shower and being waited on by a lovely woman."
"You're not too tired for the charm, I see."
"I'm never too tired for that." Briefly, he flashed her an exhausted rendition of his old cocky smirk, and kissed her once more before disappearing into the bathroom.
In the kitchen, she turned the heat up, bringing the water to a boil almost immediately, and poured the steaming water over the tea. By the time he finished, the tea was ready to be served, and she carried his mug out to him as he settled down to relax in his chair to unwind before bed.
Riza waited while he gingerly sipped the hot liquid, and Roy sighed in contentment. "That hits the spot," he said, and opened his eye, looking at her as he set the mug aside and patted his lap. "Come here."
Instead of sitting the way she had begun to, sideways on his lap, tonight Riza straddled his legs, kneeling on the seat of the deep recliner. This made him arch his eyebrow, a look she knew as well as her own face, even if his other eyebrow was no longer visible.
"Well, this isn't quite what I had in mind," Roy said, his lips curving into a faint smirk, "but I'm not complaining."
"You better not be," she retorted as she kissed him gently, and he wrapped his arms loosely around her waist.
"Coming home from work has always been a likeable experience since you moved in, but I must say this is above and beyond merely likeable."
She smiled, her lips parting in a faint grin as she studied him, letting her fingertips trace over the undamaged side of his face. She let her other hand rest along his jaw, the most he would allow her to touch on the side with the eyepatch before he would shy away, withdrawing from her hand.
"If you think this is above and beyond likeable, Roy Mustang, you haven't seen anything yet." Riza kissed him, gentle but firm, coaxing him into a deep, languid kiss that was entirely too easy to get lost in. His hands slid up her back, under her nightshirt, warm against her skin. He smelled like shampoo and soap, and tasted like tea and whiskey.
The kiss was heady, a pleasant sort of drowning in a warmth of sensation that almost made her forget what she had planned. Her attention faltered from the kiss briefly as she worked up her courage as far as it would go, and then with hands she willed with all her might to be swift and steady, she pulled the eyepatch off and broke away from his lips before he could react, and gently kissed the scarred cheek.
He froze, as she expected, and she tensed in fear that he might push her away. His hands were stiff and tense against her back, and he held his breath as she continued to kiss along the scarred areas over the damaged cheekbone, up to the extremely fragile temple, and over the broken, slightly concave area where his eyebrow had once been.
She kept her kisses and her touch feather-light for fear of hurting him; the eyepatch was rigid and larger than most, serving not only to cover the damage but to protect the now-vulnerable and fragile bones of his cheek and eye socket where the bullet had glanced off, shattering them in its wake. He still had not pushed her away, and she heard his breath catch, a soft sort of strangled noise that could only be an attempt to conceal a sob.
Wetness touched her fingertips on her hand that cupped the undamaged side of his face, and she continued to kiss the scars, the misshapen cheek, the sunken eyelid, whispering her love for him against his skin in a quiet breath in between kisses.
His arms tensed, holding her to him in a grip so tight it bordered on painful, and the muscles in his cheek flexed as he gritted his teeth in an effort to hold back the choked sobs in his throat. Finally she ceased to kiss him and wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him carefully to her as she stroked back his dark hair.
"Nothing will ever change how my heart sees you, Roy. This doesn't change the man I know you are, nor my love for you, and it never will," she murmured.
The choked noises continued against her shoulder, and it was a long time before he finally relaxed his grip and ducked his head, turning the damaged side away from her. She gave him back the eyepatch and let him slip it on, then moved to sit sideways across his lap to continue to hold him.
He had nursed and tended to the shame and guilt for a long time, and it would take more work than just one brief moment in a night to undo enough of it for him to be even somewhat comfortable with her seeing the scars. But it was a good start, and the tea was forgotten as she led him into their bedroom, and snuggled close with her arms around him under the covers.
"Good night, Roy," she whispered. "I love you."
His response was to seek out her lips in a harsh, desperate kiss, clinging to that promise to stay afloat, and held her tight as he finally gave in to the exhaustion of a long day.