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Fic: These Are The Scars
[misc] dreamers
Name: These Are The Scars
Author: genarti
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist (manga or Brotherhood)
Rating: Mild PG-13
Characters: Riza Hawkeye/Roy Mustang, minor mentions of the rest of Mustang’s team.
Wordcount: 2300ish
Notes: I wrote this ages ago, and have finally gotten around to cleaning it up and posting it. Thanks and blame go to bookelfe for enabling, nagging, and betaing! (Especially since this is the most blatantly shippy thing I’ve ever written, which says more about me than the rating of this fic. For the record, I don't actually tend to read Hawkeye and Mustang as having a physically romantic relationship at the time of canon -- generally I read it as absolute partnership and truckloads of mutual UST -- but I couldn't resist writing this scene.) Title is from the song "Gravity" (lyrics) by Vienna Teng, which is pretty much my mental soundtrack for the entire fic. This takes place pre-canon, but I leave it to the reader to decide if that's months or years, and it contains significant backstory spoilers but none for actual series plot. (Edit: now also on AO3.)

It's become something between a habit and a running joke over the past month or so: every few days, Colonel Mustang asks his aide how she feels about working some overtime, and the rest of the team shoots her discreet pitying looks. (Except Breda, who's started to seem decidedly unsympathetic with the way he just snorts and carries on with his work.) The colonel works Hawkeye harder than anyone else, but she never looks bothered. Once in a while she'll plead other plans -- and the colonel lets her off the hook, which is the kind of blatant favoritism nobody can quite resent since it's Hawkeye -- but usually she just agrees, and accepts another handful of files, and presents him with something to sign.

The other habit, which nobody seems to have noticed yet, is that every few days Lieutenant Hawkeye mentions casually that she's got a free evening, and thinks she might do this or that. Mustang folds his hands speculatively over a faint smirk, and their eyes meet briefly. Sergeant Fuery occasionally looks as if he's holding his breath for one of those overtime requests -- which he does any time anybody talks about plans outside work -- but so far the colonel seems to be biding his time on that one. Hawkeye mentions something about her schedule, and Mustang says nothing, and Hawkeye picks up another requisition form, and work carries on as usual.

Tonight is a cool spring evening, on one of those days when Hawkeye mentioned a free evening and Mustang said nothing in response. The moon is bright over East City's rooftops, and he's walking her home after quite a nice dinner in a little Cretan cafe. It's a sight any of their team would be shocked to see. The colonel is in a suit and his lieutenant in a casual skirt and blouse and jacket -- nothing new there, even if both of them go home in uniform three quarters of the time instead of bothering to change into civvies -- but the impeccably professional Hawkeye has her hand tucked into Mustang's arm, and he's smiling faintly in the moonlight. They look more like a couple on a date than anything.

That impression would, in fact, be correct.

Hawkeye slips her hand free of Mustang's elbow as they near her apartment building, with a small sidelong smile cast up at him. Mustang's pretty sure his own smile qualifies as a smirk, but he's also entirely sure that the lieutenant knows how to read every single one of his (many) smirks by now, and more importantly that if ever a man had cause to feel a little smug it's him right now, walking Riza Hawkeye home. He doesn't bother to stifle it.

There's an eager whine from inside the minute her keys jingle against each other, and a louder one when she unlocks the door. Hayate's well-trained, though, and he waits in the kitchen, his tail wagging furiously. "I'm home," she tells him, which from Hayate's sudden bound forward Mustang deduces is the cue for the dog to stop waiting for permission to greet the humans. Hawkeye casts another glance at Mustang over her shoulder -- this one deadpan. "You might as well come in, colonel."

This time, as he complies, Mustang knows he's smirking.

It seems presumptuous, somehow, to remove his coat, and yet ridiculous to hover in Hawkeye's kitchen in layers of outerwear. He compromises by draping his scarf over a chair. He drops to one knee so he can offer a hand to Hayate, who bounces over to have his ears rubbed.

Hawkeye moves further into the room, slipping out of her jacket. It gets deposited tidily on the coatrack. Her purse goes in a free space on the less tidy counter nearby; Hawkeye saves her ruthlessly efficient organization for the office. At home, she lives in clutter.

It's clean clutter, to be fair to her, but all the same some secret part of Mustang's heart has wanted to dust every time he's come in here. (Not very many times yet, but optimism seems warranted.) He ignores that inner voice, which is especially easy with Hawkeye here, distracting him pretty much by existing.

"Would you like some tea?"

"Oh--" Mustang glances up. "Sure, if you're making some. Thanks." He doesn't care either way, really, but he's hardly going to say no to an excuse to stick around a while.

Hawkeye turns, resting one hand lightly against the edge of the stove. "Or," she says in the same tone of mild inquiry, "we could skip that and just move on to kissing."

It takes Mustang a second to parse those words, coming from Lt. Hawkeye, in that tone, and he really hopes he didn't spend that second looking as blankly foolish as he suspects he did. Hawkeye, either way, has that familiar look of well-suppressed laughter in her eyes. "I think," he says, feeling a lopsided smirk curl his mouth, "that might be more efficient."

He hopes he's not still looking foolish, because her look of secret amusement hasn't abated in the least. But she takes three steps forward as he pushes himself up and takes his own two steps, and then her arms are slipping loosely around his waist while his hands rise to cup her face, and Mustang decides as he leans in that if he looks stupid, he's okay with that.

Because he still gets to kiss Riza, and she's kissing him back, looping casual fingers through a beltloop at the small of his back, and he's pretty sure that that's never going to get old.

Hayate knows when he's abandoned; Roy hears the soft thump of him dropping down in a corner to rest his head on his paws, and he breathes a silent laugh into Riza's mouth -- this is never, ever getting old -- and brushes her bangs back with light fingertips. She leans a little more against him, smiling slightly into the kiss, and runs a palm up his spine, under his coat. With a soft sound, Roy lets his fingertips trace down the nape of her neck, along the curve of her shoulder, and down to--

His hand pulls back to her shoulder, the motion almost smooth, and he tries to jerk his mind back immediately to the uncomplicated pleasure of Riza's mouth, Riza's hands and Riza's weight in her warm kitchen, but the problem is that she knows him better than anyone else. And Riza Hawkeye knows exactly why it's a shock like ice water to realize that the fingers of his right hand are resting light and proprietary against her back. She hasn't moved away, no further than any moment's break for air, but she knows, and he knows she does. He breathes out slowly.

If he watches her mouth, damp and too near to focus on properly, then -- it's not that he's afraid of what he'll see if he meets her eyes. They have far too much history, and far too many things understood, for that. Once he might have been, but not now, six and nine years later. But he doesn't know what to say.

Hawkeye's weight shifts, and his eyes meet hers automatically before any insecurities can override it; she's leaning in, and her lips press lightly to his again, close-mouthed and gentle and very brief.

Then she steps back, and Mustang's arms fall slowly to his sides.

She turns around in a tidy pivot, halfway between parade ground and proper lady; he suspects, with the part of his brain that keeps on cataloging trivialities no matter what else is happening, that the low heels are to blame. Most of the time her stance is all military. But most of his attention is focused on the distance between them and the way the air feels newly cool against his chest and the small of his back, and the planes of her shoulders and back through the thin cotton of her blouse.

Especially, right now, her back. He knows the shape of it -- not just the way a man notices a pretty woman (however much he ignores it), and not just the way he knows the silhouette of every one of his men, not the everyday way he knows her outline in the tight black shirt that goes under the uniform coat, in shoulder holsters and with a sniper rifle in her hands. He knows the red alchemical geometry of the tattoos under that blouse, and the way her pale marked skin bubbled and blistered and split at the touch of flame. She never made a sound, that day, except low stifled gasps.

She's doing something he can't see, with her hands near her neck. Fabric shifts, and abruptly he knows exactly what she's doing.

This is the third time that he's stood, uncertain and motionless and guilty, while Riza Hawkeye uncovered her back to him. The first to read those tattoos, long ago when they were both so young and full of fierce bright hope; the second, to burn them. The third, now.

This is the only time she's looked over her shoulder while the fabric slipped down. Her bra cuts a black line across the tattoos, and the very bottom of the design disappears beneath the high waistband of her skirt. There's no gun holstered there for once; it's in her purse, a yard away on the counter. For a moment, he ignores that bared skin entirely to meet her eyes.

He's never met anyone as direct and unflinching as Riza Hawkeye.

Whatever she sees, it makes her smile a little, and even lopsided and rueful as it is the sight startles him. "You did a good job," she says, and turns her head forward again. Loose hair shifts across her shoulders.

The hell of it, and a saving grace if either of them believed in those, is that he did. Mustang knows the look of burns -- charred corpses more than healed burns, but he's seen enough of those too -- and these welts are spatters and splotches of shiny red that obscure several key phrases of her father's research without ever going beyond the dermis. The skin stretches slightly as she breathes. Even if he didn't know her capabilities, he'd know at a glance that there's no restriction of movement, no weakened muscles.

Just pain, aged to scars.

Slowly he steps forward. Her head shifts as she catches the movement, but she makes no protest, so he takes another step. She might be listening to a minor briefing, or waiting in the mess hall line, for all the tension in her posture. But he knows Hawkeye well enough to know that some of that relaxation, at least, is deliberate. He's seen her wait almost motionless for hours on end, with a sniper's rifle and that same patience by choice.

He lifts his bare hands, hesitates, and then curls them gently around her shoulders, up high on the deltoids. His palms rest against the curves of her muscles; his fingertips touch the soft dip below her collarbone, just brushing the edge of one bra strap where ordinarily there would be fabric and the cool solidity of a gun butt and a shoulder holster's thick leather. Her skin is very warm.

"You could call it equivalent exchange again." Riza's soft voice breaks the stillness of this kitchen. Hayate lifts his head with a jingle of tags behind them at the sound. "I gained a certain freedom from these burns. They aren't something I regret."

I'm sorry, Mustang wants to say anyway, but he won't. Not now, and not ever. They were her choice, and he doesn't have any right to pretend otherwise. Riza bears the weight of her own choices without flinching, and it was no less than his responsibility to do as she asked.

But still, he remembers when those irregular red splotches were cracked and oozing, and her breath came in harsh agonized pants instead of this calm rhythm.

Roy releases one shoulder to gather her hair away from her neck, left-handed and careful. He knows the shape of that tattoo in perfect and intimate detail, even if he'd forgotten some of the details of how it looks in maroon ink under pale skin rather than replicated with pen and paper, but it's not the tattoo he's looking at now. It's Riza, the smooth lines of muscle and the soft fuzzing of tiny blonde hairs, the handful of freckles scattered on the back of her neck, the clean curves and tiny imperfections of a human being's skin. He closes his eyes and presses a kiss to the bump of a vertebra. Riza's head bows slightly; he can feel the expansion of the slow breath she takes.

There's nothing to say. They know it all.

He slips his arms around her waist, with a sigh. Riza's arms settle into place around his, crossing over her torso, holding him in place. The skin of her stomach is very soft too. His hands feel rough and weathered in contrast, though they aren't really. They all have more desk work than anything, these days.

Riza settles into him, and he rests his chin on her shoulder, closing his eyes. She tips her head back, just a little, and their heads rest together. Her hair is tickling his ear and the side of his neck.

With every breath, his chest moves against her shoulderblades, and the soft weight of her back pressed against him. The warmth of her seeps even through the layers of shirt and waistcoat.

Riza's fingers shift, and his spread in unthinking response. Their fingers lace together, curling tangled into his palms. Neither of them moves.

[Also posted on DW at Comment either place!]

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There aren't enough <3 in the world. THESE TWO.



(well, and to use this icon for the keywords)





Aw, such a tender moment between those two! Very lovely! :3

I don't know this fandom, so I can't say you nailed it or anything, but I did like it! :) Also, I was so psyched to realize you are in an anthology with me -- it took me two weeks to figure it out after seeing Genarti Realname on the email list. Yay!

:D! I was so psyched too -- I saw your first email, and I went "!!!!! I KNOW THAT NAME." I've been meaning to email or something to wave at you gleefully. Consider this gleeful waving with a bonus of beaming at the computer!

And thank you! I'm glad you liked the fic, and also glad it makes at least some sense to someone who doesn't know canon.

Beautiful, perfect. I had happy butterflies the whole time I read it. Great job!

I may have had happy butterflies through much of writing it; I'm glad it works for you too! Thank you!

Nnnngh. Oh this is gorgeous and beautifully conveys that sense of sadness that always hangs about the two of them- I can absolutely imagine that Roy would be anxious about touching her back again, and you've portrayed it wonderfully.

Also I am always on board with kissing *g*.

It's not that he doesn't know bone-deep that she's okay with him and with this and that their relationship is stable, but -- he still maybe has some issues here. UNDERSTANDABLY.

And hee hee, I figured people would probably be okay with the kissing, yes. Thank you, and glad you liked it!

Wonderful fluffiful and precious piece <3

This is an utterly gorgeous piece of writing. I loved all the little nuances and details and the things that went unspoken between them. It's beautiful and thank you for sharing it.

Thank you so much! One of the many things I love about Hawkeye and Mustang is how much stuff is always, always going unspoken and completely understood between them.

I'm glad you liked it!

Oh, this is excellent. I feel like this is just what I've wanted to read about them since I first read the volume with their backstory -- the two of them acknowledging their history and the scars; it's a great counterpoint to his self-satisfaction earlier in the story which I think (maybe?) is a sign of what he's not letting himself acknowledge or think about. And then they have to acknowledge it, which is done perfectly. And this:

"I gained a certain freedom from these burns. They aren't something I regret."

I'm sorry, Mustang wants to say anyway, but he won't. Not now, and not ever. They were her choice, and he doesn't have any right to pretend otherwise. Riza bears the weight of her own choices without flinching, and it was no less than his responsibility to do as she asked.

Because I think that is how she feels about them, and the fact that he respects her enough to honor that is one of the things that really makes the relationship work for me. Well done.

I think a good bit of his satisfaction is just because, dude, he's dating Riza Hawkeye. SHE'S SO AWESOME SERIOUSLY. But that history and shared guilt is always right below the surface for both of them, and it only takes the slightest thought to bring it out, even if they pretty much communicate about it with glances and body language and the occasional self-deprecating or deadpan comment.

And thank you! You picked out one of my favorite lines of the fic, and one of my favorite aspects of their relationship; getting to write about that is a major reason I wrote this fic. So I'm glad you liked it, and I'm extra pleased you picked that out!

Very true. It wouldn't exactly be in character for Roy to go around angsting about how he doesn't deserve this great woman; there's angst, it just manifests in Roy-like ways.

And yeah, I think it's super important to recognize that Riza has a ton of agency in their interactions, and that Roy realizes this as well.

OH THIS FIC. <333 I loved it so much and I'm so very very glad to see the careful characterization, even in the face of physical-relationship-in-canon. Which is to say you've done this really well and there are no complaints coming from me about the kissing and look I'm rendered kind of incoherent because OTP.

Thank you! And ha, well, just because I don't usually read their canonical relationship that way -- and I admit here that I have a thing for partnership-with-UST and repressed characters anyway -- doesn't mean I do not VERY MUCH ENJOY quite a lot of fic which characterizes their relationship otherwise. As you have probably noticed from my gleeful comments on other stuff! And I find both interpretations (and various grey areas between) totally plausible from what we see in canon.

At any rate, kissing is no barrier to them having absolute trust + GIANT MOUNTAINS OF ISSUES. *laughing* Thank you, and I'm glad you liked it!

I love their unspoken understand and the focus on Riza's choice as her own! OTPPPP

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