Sep. 7th, 2015

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Roy looked up at the tentative knock on his door, pulling on a smile for the nervous looking young nurse wilting under Riza's hard stare. "Good evening, is there something I can help you with miss..."
 
"Greta. Uh, Colonel Mustang Sir. I was... that is it was shift change and Dr. Spitfire asked me to tell you she can't make it to dinner tonight..."
 
Roy sighed then turned his most charming smile on her. "See how she is? I don't suppose you'd be free this evening..."
 
Greta's cheeks went bright pink and she looked ready to bolt. Almost painfully shy, nothing like Roy's type at all. 
 
Letting her stammer her regrets and flee, he turned over the message. He'd been planning to eat dinner alone after an evening trip to Madam Christmas, as usual. As far as he knew, Zhu ate at the evening mess when she didn't occasionally splurge at the one half decent Xing themed restaurant in the city. 
 
So Zhu needed to speak, at the hospital, after hours. "Lieutenant, it seems my date has abandoned me. Could I convince you to share a drink this evening?"
 
Riza's dark eyes held a glimmer he couldn't decipher. When it came to Hawkeye, he tried not to reach too deeply, he'd already asked more from her than anyone ever should. "I suppose Sir, that I do not have prior plans." 
 
-----------------------------------
 
Since Zhu only kept a bottle of that terrifying plum 'wine' in her desk for 'special occasions' where she wished to horrify and shorten any visit with an unwanted superior, Roy picked up a bottle of Joose Honey Whiskey on his way over. They'd drank a lot in the war, most of it too quickly to appreciate for flavor. 
 
The night clerk blinked at him, and smartly saluted. "Colonel Sir!"
 
"Now now, none of that, we're all off duty by *now* aren't we? Well, some of us at least. Is Doctor Spitfire in her office?" He chided gently, playing up the tiredness in his voice. 
 
The man flushed a bit but shook his head. "Sorry Sir, I don't think so. Last I saw she was still in the emergency ward... do you want me to go find her?"
 
"Over working herself as usual. No no, I'll just wait in her office if that's alright. Nothing's more important than saving lives after all." Roy waved the man off and made his way upstairs to the 'offices', rooms that made his seem practically luxurious. With rank came space, apparently. 
 
Doctor Major Long Zhu Spitfire read the small brass plate on the door. It was a point with her, which title came first. The door was unlocked, practically an invitation. Riza made herself at home, secreting out the small formal porcelain-ware set Zhu used and pouring a few fingers into two small, black butterfly patterned cups. The Lieutenant wasn't off duty then he noted. 
 
The desk was buried in files, the walls in bookshelves stuffed with both Xing and Amestrian texts. She didn't even have a window, the spare space on the walls holding her certifications, and a single silkscreen painting she'd done herself. It hung in prominent display as soon as you walked through the door, a black inked flame with a circle of Xing writing so stylized he could barely read the upside down and backwards bits. 
 
"Shuǐ dī shí chuān, shéng jù mù duàn". He read aloud, snorting and shaking his head. 
 
"Sir?" 
 
He gestured to the painting. "Dripping water pierces stone, saws of rope cut through wood. It's an old proverb Lieutenant, about patience." With fondness he recalled the last 'conversation' he'd shared with the Major on the subject. 

//Those serpent kissing monkey balled spineless seahorse fucking *Generals*!// She ranted wildly, coat and vest so spattered with blood he started searching for wounds. //And you fucking obey them! Dog!// 

He'd blame the alcohol later for letting her grab his pistol from the table and the bottle from his hand. Purely drunken reflexes, not the sharp stab of guilt and shame. He let her get three long swallows before stealing the bottle back. "Shooting them won't fix anything. They're just generals. The Fuhrer can get as many of those as he wants." 

//Then I'll kill him!// She snarled and even though he was the only one for a thousand miles who spoke Xing, as far as he knew, he still looked around for eavesdroppers and the execution squad. //No one who orders this... this genocide deserves to live anyway!// She glared down at the pistol like it personally offended her, pointed it blindly at the wall and pulled the trigger spastically. Roy thanked all Hawkeye's persistent lessons for remembering to put on the safety.

Reaching out to take the gun back he murmured, "Don't pull the trigger unless you intend to kill what you're aiming at." He let her steal the bottle again as he secured the pistol at his hip. "Killing him won't do any good either, we're a military government, the next in line will just step forward to take up the reins."

//Then I'll kill however many it
takes!// The tears in her eyes made his guts churn. //We'll still have less graves! You know I'm right!//

An idea, a drunken, desperate idea was swimming through his mind. "There's a difference between being right, and making things right. One gets you buried the other... would take a very long time I think."

//I'm not patient.//

He smiled, a dark flame of hope and resolution settling in his heart. "No... you just treat them."

She glared at him, the rotgut finally sinking in, and promptly transmuted his uniform to shreds. He cursed her for a humorless harpy, the desert was *damned* cold and there was no way he'd get his drunk hands to make a decent array for hours. 


"Some people need reminders." Her voice cut through his reminiscing. She looked, in his honest opinion, like rough hell. Except for lacking the bloodstains and her hair being long enough to pull back in a sloppy bun, she was the same bruised and sallow too-skinny woman with more energy than mass. "Greta found you."

"Your nurses seems overly nervous of my presence, Doctor, whatever are you telling them about me?" he moved away from the desk and watched her shut the door. She moved with the exhaustion of someone who'd not only been on their feet all day, but on their feet in a place as depressing as a hospital. 

"Only truth, you a pervert horse likes being ridden to bed by anyone." She murmured, taking one of the cups with a small smile and sipping appreciatively. "Riza, you lovely tonight." Roy let the sarcasm slide over him and refrained from defending himself too strenuously. 

"I do have *standards* you know." 

"Thank you, Ma'am." 

"If you're done trying to woo away my Lieutenant?"

Zhu's eyes fell to the stacks of files, and she moved to sit down, pulling a set from the rest. "I need help."

"I can refer a few psychiatrists..." 

//Moron equine, I'm serious.// She pushed the files at them, so together Riza and Roy started looking though the clinical, detached facts. "Eight cases come to me in year. All same. I ask other hospitals, clinics, find five more. I call to police, they no call back."

"Most immigrants are hesitant to trust the police enough to report abuses from men in uniforms." Riza pointed out, tone grim. 

"And many Xing are still so backwards that a 'used' woman will be shunned for a decent marriage." Roy grimaced, staring at a picture of a girl who couldn't be more than twenty. 

"Tonight was worst. Tonight..." Zhu took a long, fortifying sip of sweet amber fire while Roy watched. "Tonight twins. One, coma, one, morgue. I do all I can. I repair.. damage. //That monster used them both!// Soul pain... I can't fix. Make want live... Make want wake up... //He has to be stopped Mustang, he *has* to be//."

"He will be Doctor. I promise."

----------------------

"Racial tensions in Amestras have improved since the war, haven't they Lieutenant?" Roy asked as he pulled on his gloves. 

"You could say that Sir." She agreed tonelessly, checking her sidearms. 

"All soldiers go through basic non-hostility training now, don't they? A requirement to pass uniformity and community care classes?"

"Current enlisted are required Sir, no one commissioned or drafted during the war however." She corrected. "Or State Alchemists."

He shook his head and stared at his glove for a long moment. "I think, Lieutenant, we'd have found less evidence if we were dealing with an alchemist of any skill." 

They shared a knowing and bleak look. The only evidence at all were traumatized women who would likely refuse to give statements, and a single body.

"Early meeting in the morning, call everyone into my office."

"Yes Sir."

--------------------------

"What we have, gentlemen, is a serial rapist and now murderer loose in Central City. His victims so far have been primarily Xing immigrants and their descendants, girls with very specific facial features ranging in age from thirteen to twenty-four. Normally this would be a matter for civilian police, however, we are given to believe that the perpetrator is a member of the Amestras Army, which means he's breaking the fundamental laws of governance and sowing racial and civilian unrest in the populace! For the sake of continued peace I am assigning you to the duty of investigation. Anything you see, or hear on the matter is to be reported straight to Captain Hughes or myself."

Roy looked them over, eyes hard, and saw nothing but grim resolution and righteous anger. They were good men, the best. "Are there any questions?"

Fury raised a hand. 

"Yes Sergeant?"

"Are we authorized to make an arrest if we find sufficient evidence Sir?"

Roy shook his head. "The victims were all civilians, while technically you could make a case for an arrest, it would hold more weight with the court if the arrest came from an officer, rather than an off duty enlisted." 

"Understood Sir."

"I will, however, make sure the judge and jury know *everyone* was involved in the criminal's apprehension." 

-------------------------------

Roy and Hughes split the personnel files between them. Even looking only at those commissions signed during the war and previous, the sheer number of enlisted in Central City was staggering. 

They were finding more and more were assholes every day as well. After the first week, they'd managed only to eliminate the ones who'd been re-assigned during the attacks, or in the infirmary themselves. Many commanding officers were reluctant to file harassment reports, having an old boy's club sort of accord. Roy blessed Riza and her bore-sight stare that kept so many otherwise sexist pigs from making comments that would require him to turn them into briquettes. 

"You know, I think we can rule out anyone that Spitfire treated in the war." Hughes murmured over coffee. The cafe they met up in was cozy, well-lit, and tended to a younger crowd. 

"Why? *You've* been treated by her, you think that sort of thing can't turn you to hating all Xing witches?" Roy arched a brow, sipping at the wonderful dark brew. 

"When she's got a vaccination in hand? What I'm saying is... she treated a lot of guys. Kept them whole, saved their limbs and commissions. Their lives. That tends to garner a feeling of loyalty, Colonel."

It was true, other than Marcoh she'd been the only medical alchemist on the front lines. At the time her Amestrian consisted of pointing and shouting simple words like 'That. give, now!' and 'Live!'. Her skill with medical alchemy was unsurpassed, except by Doctor Marcoh who had his own reasons for letting some patients close to the edge *wait*. Who had his reasons for not trusting Mustang as far as the Flame Alchemist could spread his *ashes*. 

"Someone who never saw the med-tents from the inside then?" There were many who came out completely unscathed, physically, because they stayed *behind* the State Alchemists. 

"And probably joined up near the tail end. Never saw the real action, never saw their buddies being patched back together from pieces." Hughes voice was his 'I'm hunting a snake but I've got bigger fangs' one. "Someone who wouldn't recognize the Green Alchemist."

Roy gave his friend a hard look. "You can't want to use her as *bait*." 

"Well, they haven't exactly targeted guys yet..."

Roy dismissed the jab, as he did Madam Christmas's derogatory 'Roy-boy' and the whispered remarks of 'far too pretty' from people who thought his alchemy was more flash than substance. Zhu would go with the idea, she had enough of a martyr complex she'd *volunteer*, and not understand his reluctance to use her when he'd pointed her more than once at men of rank he needed 'sensitive' intel on. "We're not talking about some blackmail material or a chance to get ahead of an idiot, this man is a rapist and a murderer who drugs his victims and leaves their bodies in filthy alley ways." Roy argued, keeping his voice quiet. 

"And he targets pretty young Xing women. Now, Spitfire's a little outside his range, but... can you think of a better hook?"

"She's only *half* Xing."

"And with glasses or something to hide her eyes you'd never know that." She's closer to Xing than *you* hung unsaid in the air. 

Roy never missed his parents and grandmother more keenly, than when he was faced with how little he knew of their homeland. How little he'd bothered to learn in all the years since, because he was Amestrian, in Amestria, fighting it's wars. 

"After we've identified who we're actually suspecting... then we'll ask her."

-----------------------------

He wasn't used to seeing her in make up. Watching her seduce Lieutenant Chavez, the fourth on their list so far, he contemplated the phenomenon. Of course in the war there'd been little point. Afterwards they saw each other infrequently, for all that she was officially still his subordinate. It was subtle, enough to highlight the slant of her eyes and the sallow complexion of her skin. Fresh lacquer graced her nails, dark red like her dress. she still had her coat and semi-sensible shoes, as though this was something casual she'd like to turn less so, and Chavez was utterly caught.

She laughed brightly at something the man said and hid her mouth shyly behind those scarred fingers. After a few moments she excused herself to the restroom. Roy ate his chicken. After three other dates that ended in nothing more dangerous than extreme boredom, he was starting to consider a new approach.

Chavez reached into his pocket and pulled out *something* that he summarily dumped in the Major's coffee. Since she took it as black as the Fuher's heart, Roy highly doubted it was *sugar*.  He entertained a brief fantasy of lighting the man like a human torch. 

Even knowing Hawkeye and Fury were laying in wait, that Hughes *would* find enough for a hanging or firing squad, his blood still went cold as she came back and took a deep sip. There'd been two more rape's since Zhu'd come to him. The twin had never woken up, passing in her sleep. 

The ice was a comfort in a way. Riza wouldn't have to shoot him yet. 

He couldn't hear what they were saying, tried to keep from being noticed as picking at his plate. 

Chavez actually reached out to touch a long lock of dark hair. Artfully she turned into the caress, the small smile on her face one Mustang recognized. She was fantasizing about harming someone very badly indeed. Leaning into the table she took a longer, deeper drink. Chavez leaned in as well, caught like a moth to flame. 

They made it all the way through desert before she started looking off. Roy called over for his check and made his way outside, pulling on his gloves. When they came out she was hanging off his arm and stumbling, eyes barely open. 

"You know, you're not usually my type Doctor... I'm so glad I came out with you though." Chavez said, Roy's hackles rising from where he stood in the shadows. 

"Saa? Good date yes? Ah, sorry, feel strange..."

"Yes, it was very good. I was surprised, you know. Your eyes are pale. That means you're what, a half breed?"

"Eh? //Fenghuan help me from racist assholes// I don't know, I don't remember parents. Oh my head..."

"They probably left you like the trash you were." Chavez's tone never changed from sickeningly besotted as he maneuvered her drunkenly to the mouth of a nearby alley. "Half-breed garbage."

"Makes me wonder why you find her so attractive then Lieutenant." Roy murmured, hand up and fingers set to snap.

From deeper in the alley Riza stalked forward, pistol centered between the man's eyes. "Because she's Doctor Major Long Zhu Spitfire, Sir."

"Well said." 

--------------------------

"I understand commendations are in order." Basque sneered. Roy felt sure the man's face was actually built that way. "Perhaps a promotion or two."

"I wouldn't go that far." Roy replied, keeping his expression politely neutral. "Most of the credit should go to Captain Hughes. After all, he discovered what was going on."

"And *you* put your own subordinate in the line of fire. Here we all thought you had something going on with the little butterfly."

Roy arched a brow of his own and shrugged. "She volunteered."

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