Before he could come up with something witty to say and still hide his yawn, Spitire was seating herself on his couch and plopping a take out carrier of coffee cups on his desk. Good coffee from the smell. The paper cups had a stylized chimera on them from the cafe he chose to frequent when he resolutely wanted a day *away* from military intrigues.
Then she put a tin of biscotti on the desk.
"Alright, look, I know when I'm being bribed. I'll listen to whatever hair-brained archaic none-sense you want." He sighed, pulling one of the cups closer to inhale the wonderful steam.
Riza shook her head from the doorway, which was when he realized there were in fact three cups. "You're hopeless Sir." She muttered, taking her own cup and three of the cookies before leaving and purposefully shutting the door.
Zhu took her time, letting him drink and savor one delightful cookie before saying anything. "You know what is next week?"
He scratched at his memory, then checked the calendar on his desk. "The Lieutenant's leave?"
He nodded, not sure what she was getting at. "Yes, she has a week's leave and a chitty for five hundred spare rounds at the range of the caliber of her choice. Same thing I give her every year. Why?" He also had an unspoken understanding with her that he wouldn't do anything too dangerous or idiotic while she was supposed to be relaxing and enjoying some time away from Colonel sitting.
Zhu glared at him then flopped back in disgust. "I need help. I need idea for birthday gift!"
"I thought you gave her spa tickets."
"Spa closed this year, renovations. I no find other good one." She started ticking off her fingers. "She no want jewelry, no perfume, no clothes, already have dog." Here she paused and gave him a look he ignored in favor of carefully dunking another biscotti. "Already vacation no go anywhere, I no have authority for chitty, last time I give bath things she give homeless!"
"The Lieutenant is particular in her bathing accessories I suppose, and the homeless are in need." He shrugged.
"I need idea!"
With a sigh he set his coffee to the side for a moment. "Major, there are few things in this world that Lieutenant Hawkeye *needs* and fewer still she *wants*, that I am aware of. Nothing that she is not in a position to acquire for herself at least. What she *appreciates* are quality firearms, time to herself, well mannered subordinates, and clear targets. Outside of those things it is neither my place, nor in my interest, to *poke*."From the stubborn set of her chin, Spitfire believed him about as much as she believed the Fuher when he claimed something was 'in the interest of the nation'.
"If you want an idea on what to give the Lieutenant that she will enjoy, use and be grateful to receive, I'd look in the latest issue of 'High Powered Survival'." He said finally. "Now... don't you have a hospital to terrorize?"The slump in her shoulders as she left wasn't defeated, but he still felt like he'd kicked Black Hayate off a bridge.
Riza gave him a look later, as she brought yet more paperwork to the mountain trying valiantly to collapse his desk. She said nothing, merely glanced at the tin he'd been unwilling to finish. It was on the tip of his tongue to apologize, instead he waved distractedly at it. "Go ahead Lieutenant, I'm a bit busy to appreciate them at the moment."
It was the closest he'd allow himself. It wasn't his fault she'd been raised by a man who never appreciated her, idealizing a military that ended up failing to match those ideals. She was who she was, who he needed her to be. Sometimes he wondered what they'd be like, to each other, for each other, if circumstances were different. Then he'd remember the scars on her back and set aside such pointless meanderings.
"Thank you Sir. The Major has excellent taste."
He smiled ruefully, staring at the military letterhead of whatever report he'd grabbed. "Yes. She certainly does."
"So... what does Tianshi mean?"
Roy fought not to blush or stammer, coughing instead and searching for something that wasn't quite a lie. He doubted she'd appreciate the truth, just as she didn't truly appreciate the calf eyes or worshipful attention of their newest Xing ally. "It's a title of respect, for someone you feel has saved your life. Very old fashioned. Once she can properly pronounce her 'r's' I'll stress the importance of using your name and rank."
Riza's brown eyes glared at him knowingly but he refused to give in. It was hard enough on her being a women in the army, and with a General as her grandfather. The rumors of her relationships would just be...
And damn that little witch for not knowing how to be discrete! Just because he was the only one who could understand her sighing about her 'angel' didn't mean everyone else in uniform was *blind*!
"I see." she said finally, and Roy really really hoped that for once she didn't.
Locking the doors to the office, Roy settled his hat firmly down over his brow and started the long walk home. He'd sent them all off hours earlier, determinedly finishing the impossible workload that came with anticipating an entire week without his right hand.
Ignoring the glowing ember from Havok's lit cigarette, he bypassed the unspoken invitation of a ride and let his feet take him down the paved and swept sidewalks towards the officer's housing district. State Alchemists had their own little sublet, each building set just far enough apart that random explosions could be ignored and fires hopefully contained rather than spreading to the adjacent building.
By right Major Spitire could have had one, but when she'd applied for her housing allowance, she'd listed an address in the poorer, and much closer, district of Laboratory four. Minutes walking from Central Hospital. One day, Roy feared, he might have to call the Elrics 'neighbors'.
By then he hoped his living arrangements would include the Fuher's mansion, just so he wouldn't have to deal with Edward pounding on his door in the middle of the night to declare something *else* Mustang's personal fault.
His own home was a standard affair, two stories and most of the upper level given to an office and library with a second library hidden behind doors that existed only in potential. He lived here, brought back some of his dates and did the bulk of his research in the basement but there was little about it he'd call 'home'.
Home was somewhere you went to be with the people you loved after all.
Letting himself in and locking the door behind him, he wondered what a home with Riza and Zhu in it would look like. Impossibly neat and steril probably, with two used bedrooms. A kitchen with a lot of alcohol. A yard for the dog, and a room for Riza's armory, with little potted plants all about the place.
Snorting away the image he went for the refrigerator and reminded himself that they'd both starve without a mess hall.
"Maes, hold on, we're almost there." Roy grit out, half carrying his friend up the hill. The white and red cross of the med-tent flag snapped in the wind, a beacon of grim hope.
"I'm fine Roy... it's a clean shot... they won't have to take the leg... they won't have to take my leg right Roy?" Hughe's voice was nearly hysteric from pain and blood-loss. Roy refused to look away from the tent, gripping the taller man tight as he stumbled and dragged.
"You'll be fine Maes." Riza replied instead, covering their backs and firing short, precise shots down into the front line fray.
Steps from the tightly lashed canvas Roy called out //Forsaken witch! We need help!//
Blood soaked uniform nearly purple in places and black in others the small Xing girl rushed out, hands scrubbed raw and sleeves cut off entirely. //Stop yelling! Everyone needs help, you canine bastard. Here, in here I have a free cot in the back...// She guided them through the sudden darkness of the large tent to a mattress hastily flipped to hide the gore from it's previous occupant. All around nurses scrambled with moaning and crying soldier's, scurrying water, bandages and other supplies to wherever they might make a difference. //Lay him down here.// "Nurse!"
Roy didn't realize until he'd been shoved roughly aside that Riza was still outside. Feeling lost, he backed to the wall, watching as his best friend groaned and cursed, small hands determinedly straightening and assessing the damage to his leg. "Strap!" //You, hold his hand, this will hurt, I have to set the fracture!//
"He was shot..." Roy fumbled, composure lost.
"Roy! What the devil is she doing?!"
"Strap!" //Hold his goddamned hand soldier!// She snapped and Roy obeyed, grabbing Maes hand like a lifeline as a nurse shoved a thick strap of canvas and leather between the man's teeth. Staring past cracked lenses to terrified eyes, Roy found himself praying. There was a sickening wet crack and Hughes *howled*, the grip he had on Roy grinding the alchemist's bones together.
Snapping his gaze down to the wound he had just enough time to flinch himself before the sadistic woman poured steaming hot water over the ragged bullet wound. "Are you crazy! You're supposed to help him!"
If she heard him at all she didn't give a sign, hands forming a circle with finger tips to wrists. A flicker of green lightening, the sign of an alchemic reaction, erupted briefly over the wound as she planted her hands on the furry skin. Blood and liquid metal welled up and away as she watched. "Potion!"
The same nurse holding the strap delved into her apron and came back with a tiny vial of glowing blue fluid. "In or out doctor?!"
In confusion he caught the nurses steady eyes right before she yanked away the strap and poured half the vial of liquid into Maes's mouth, clamping down with her other hand to force the man to swallow and passing the remainder to the girl who dumped it right in the bullet hole. Coughing and sputtering Maes shook, then convulsed, flesh knitting itself rapidly back together at impossible speed.
//What did you do? What... *how*...//
//Xing magic. My potions are very strong, it will save his leg. I don't have many, you stupid horse, so if someone else dies because I didn't have one...// She glared at him briefly, then at the cursing, shuddering form of Maes. //Get him out of my tent. I have people to treat in here.// "Water! Scrub!" She turned away, already gone back to the world of the dying and broken as he pulled Maes close.
"She didn't take my leg. Oh god that hurts so bad Roy, I never want to be shot again. Fuck that sucked so bad."
Roy closed his eyes and gave himself a moment to bask in the tearful babble.
Roy contemplated the glass of whiskey. If he drank, he'd remember more than he wanted to. If he didn't, he'd brood on things current that brooding couldn't fix.
He'd never appreciated Doctor Spitfire much before that day, when hostilities at the front erupted in more than a threatening standoff. He'd seen her as someone in the back, mostly unnoticeable except when she made his life in particular difficult.
He thought it might have been the same for Hawkeye. Certainly after those events, the two women had seemed to reach a more friendly accord. At least, a warmer one on Riza's part.
He'd been the one tasked as her translator and teacher of Amestrian, even though he already had a duty to guard Doctor Marcoh whenever he wasn't sent out to burn Ishvarites. He should have known, should have realized sooner, that Doctor Marcoh spent little time comparatively, actually saving people's lives. Roy should have recognized the older man's passion wasn't for healing. At the time he'd been over-awed by Marcoh's brilliance as an alchemist, and at the speed from which he took Spitfire's unique talents and bent them to creating the amplifier stones.
Roy had gotten over his immature, adolescent resentment of the woman. Against all odds he'd managed to salvage something of a friendship with her. A mutual respect. She in turn had learned the art of discretion, or at least the basic skill of not bringing too much attention. It was small and petty of him to be relieved that Riza returned as much affection to the doctor as she did him, seeing, if he had to guess, something of an enthusiastic little sister at most in the woman. He should want them both to be happy, and perhaps to be happy together, if that's where things went. If he was a better person, he would have told Zhu that Riza like sunflowers, and the strawberry cheesecakes at the diner near the canal and fresh apples.
With a sigh he set aside his drink and headed to bed. He wasn't in the mood for more memories.
"What is it?"
"Dunno, it's big though."
"Think she'll open it here?"
Roy arched a brow at the whispering in his staff room and walked in with a stifled yawn. Saturday, a mere six hours of desk work if he didn't drag his feet, and already there were mysteries to tackle?
"What's up boys?" He asked, watching the men guilty edge away from the Lieutenants desk.
"It was here when we unlocked the door Sir!" Fuery said with a salute. 'It' was apparently a large brown wrapped package taking up the bulk of Hawkeye's desk.
"The Elrics aren't due in are they?" Thinking of who might have the audacity to break into the office.
Momentarily stymied, he contemplated the package. The likelihood it was a bomb was low, because no one with any self preservation at all would try and blow up *Hawkeye's* desk. Then there was the fact that her birthday was Wednesday, the office would be closed Sunday and her Leave began Sunday night... "One of her suitor's has taken the adage, go big or go home' to heart it seems. Back to your posts, if she feels like gracing us with her present, I'm sure she will."
He didn't even make it to his own desk before the bets were being placed.
He made a point of getting his own coffee when she came in, watching from near the pot as Black Hayate sauntered past Breda to sniff at his bed.
If Riza was surprised at the state of her furniture, she didn't show it. There was no card on the outside of the package, merely an address label postmarked the day before. They all watched and waited as she took a boot knife to the twine, then to the paper itself, expertly slicing away the layers like a bomb diffuser. After carefully pulling off the lid however, her expression changed to one Roy hadn't seen in years.
"The Mos-Nag Carb 1920!" Reaching into the box she pulled out what to Roy's eyes appeared the mechanical chimera of an automatic pistol and a scope-less sniper rifle. "Five round magazine, auto eject, rear line sights..." She stroked a hand down along the stock and they all s one shivered. "...and a bayonet."
Roy coughed into his fist. "Let's hope you don't have cause to use it any time soon, Lieutenant. Any idea who would know you so well?"
She blinked and looked around, then cleared her throat, setting the gun back in it's box with obvious reluctance and pulling out a small white card. "It says here that I should thank you, Sir, for giving Doctor Spitfire the advice."
Smiling softly he saluted her with his coffee mug. "Well, that's what friends are for. Happy birthday Lieutenant."