Once More…Dear Friends – Six

Lisa and Roy reach an understanding. Romance, I-4

Pairing(s): Lisa/Roy

Roy looked out the back door at Lisa and Black Hayate romping back and forth under gold leaves. Her hair was tangled from the breeze and there were grass stains on her knees. She was laughing as she held up a stout stick for Black Hayate to leap after, and bits of bark had smeared her palms with black and brown.

She was beautiful.

He was reminded of that less frequently, lately, since he spent nearly twelve hours a day in his office. As if to make up for it, when he did have occasion to notice it afresh it hit him all the harder.

In their old jobs, her flawless professionalism had shielded him. Now it was just one more hook, one more aspect of her magnificence. Now he could also see her humor and happiness, her love for each moment of life as it came. Now her competence and relentless focus highlighted the other parts of her.

Steps scuffed up behind his shoulder and he looked around to see Maas shaking his head with an expression of tolerant affection. “You should say something, you know.”

Roy didn’t bother with denials. “If I could figure out what to say, I would,” he sighed.

Hughes clutched his chest in fake shock. “Mustang, at a loss for what to say to a woman? Is the world ending?” He glanced around with exaggerated worry.

Roy scowled at him, wondering which coat he’d left his gloves in. “Oh, shut up.”

Maas’ mouth twisted. “Seriously, Roy,” he said, voice lowering. “You have an advantage, here, but I’m not sure how long it’s going to last.”

Roy was still searching for a good answer to that when Lisa spotted them lurking inside the door and waved.

“Roy! Your turn! Come on; you won’t ever get rid of that cane if you don’t exercise.”

He abandoned Hughes at once and was halfway across the yard before he wondered why Hughes was suddenly laughing.

Roy decided, later, that it must have been Hughes’ fault. Those remarks must have stuck in the back of his head. Because it was a mere two nights later that he was putting away his dishes while Lisa washed hers, and glanced over to see the light sliding over her hair where it was slipping out of its clip and the shimmer of water on her cheekbone as she brushed a strand back with a damp wrist. And his mouth stepped in without consulting his brain.

“I’ve never met another woman who’s so beautiful when she isn’t trying,” he murmured.

And then he winced as she stiffened, abruptly reminded of why he’d gone so long without speaking up. Well, no way out but through, now that he had.

“Is there any particular reason you don’t like to be complimented?” It came out a little more plaintively than Roy intended, but he was really at a loss.

There was genuine anger in Lisa’s face as she rounded on him, and he took a startled step back. “Yes, there is. It’s because that’s exactly how you talk to every other woman in the world, right before you assume that she’ll be swooning at your feet and ignore her! You’ll pardon me if I prefer that you don’t treat me like that!” She swung back around to the the sink and grabbed another of her dishes, spine rigid.

Roy stood with his mouth ajar, while his mind tried to run in three directions at once. If it sounded the same he really should probably stop trying to compliment her. But he didn’t want to! And it wasn’t the same at all; Lisa was nothing like other women. Honestly, did she think he was stupid enough to expect her to flutter and swoon like the others? Well, obviously, if she was this angry.

…if she was this angry…

Roy put his jaw back where it belonged and took a deep breath. All right, maybe Hughes had a point after all. If he was wrong he was probably about to get a lot worse than a slap. If he was right, it would be worth it. He came into her arm’s reach. “Lisa.” She looked back at him and he winced at the darkness in her eyes. Another breath. “I don’t think of you the way I think of them. Truly.”

She turned all the way around, expression challenging. “Then how do you think of me?”

“You… impress me,” Roy said, slowly. His mouth quirked. “It would honestly never occur to me that you would be that silly, getting all starry eyed over a couple smooth words.”

Lisa’s eyes narrowed. “Then why do you say them to me?”

Roy paused, surprised at the force with which the answer came to him. And then he let out his breath and lifted his hand to touch a strand of her hair with hesitant fingers. “Because this time they’re true.”

She searched his face for a long moment; in fact, that one moment felt longer than the entire past year of puzzling and wondering. What she found seemed to satisfy her at last, though, because her expression softened and she nodded. “All right.”

When she set a hand on his chest Roy wondered distantly whether she could feel his heart speed up under her palm. He closed his eyes and lifted her other hand to press to his lips.

“Thank you.”

When he opened his eyes she was smiling.