Once More…Dear Friends – Two

What does a career soldier do when he loses his career? And what do his friends do about him? Drama, I-3

Pairing(s): Lisa/Roy

Roy’s past slid through his fingers into a box: a folded “portrait” of him, product of Elysia’s first finger paints; a box with his captain’s insignia—so that’s where it had gone; two letter openers, one of them an old knife of Hughes’.

“I can’t believe they actually cashiered you,” Havoc muttered, leaning against Hawkeye’s desk. She shoved him out of the way to get at the last of her drawers, tucking a handful of letters into her own box.

“Oh, I’m not cashiered,” Roy said, lightly, feeling around the back of his flat drawer. Something had been rattling back there, he was sure of it. “I’m honorably discharged to enjoy a well-deserved retirement in light of both my service and my injuries. The letter said so in black and white.” Havoc’s long mouth twisted around his cigarette, and none of the rest of Roy’s officers looked any happier.

Roy’s erstwhile officers, that was.

His fingers hit something hard and square and Roy fished out a rectangular box. It was a folded chess board. Roy brushed the dust off it gently, and for the first time that day his smile softened. “Stop worrying so much,” he told them without looking up as he stowed the chess set carefully where it wouldn’t get scratched. “It’s the price I expected to pay.”

“So… what will you do, now, Sir?” Fury asked, wavering between looking hangdog and a rather unsuccessful attempt at optimism.

Roy wasn’t about to admit that he didn’t know; that kind of thing was bad for his image. Not to mention their morale. “Back to my alchemical studies, perhaps. There’s plenty of reading in the field that I haven’t been able to keep up with, all these years,” he murmured. He folded his box shut and caught the roll of tape Hawkeye tossed him. The noise of shearing off a long strip made a good excuse not to expand on his alleged plans.

“Hmph.” Havoc folded his arms. “Maybe I should go track down Hakuro myself, while he’s still in the mood, and see if he’ll let me resign my commission, like he did Hawkeye. I could use a less dangerous job.”

Roy looked up at that. It would take a finely tuned ear to hear the genuine offer and question buried in Havoc’s careless tone, but he’d listened to Jean Havoc for years. “No. Shoui.” He straightened. “You’re due for promotion, and the army needs good officers.”

Havoc blinked, probably at being called a good officer, and looked aside, resettling his shoulders. “If you say so.”

“I do say so,” Roy agreed easily. “So there you are.”

Besides, letting Hawkeye go had been an insult to her from Hakuro, and if Roy had to think about that vindictive gleam behind the bluff smile being directed at any more of his subordinates he was going to forget all the fancy daydreams about setting Hakuro’s ribbons on fire and just punch the bastard. He raised an eyebrow at Hawkeye and she nodded, hefting her box. Roy gathered up his own and stepped toward the door.


Roy looked back, with a wry smile for how quickly he responded to a rank that was no longer his, even on his retirement papers.

His staff drew themselves up and gave him salutes so sharp he could have shaved with them. After a long moment Roy set down his burden and returned them, just as sharp and clipped. “Carry on, gentlemen,” he said, quietly.

They remained at attention as he left.

“Stop staring at that box.”

Roy raised his head and managed to smile at Hawkeye with an edge of teasing. “Is there something more interesting I should be staring at?”

“Yes,” she told him briskly, and tossed a newspaper sheet over the offending item. “Look at this.”

Roy looked. And then he chuckled as he read down the list of properties for sale. Ever organized, Hawkeye had underlined a handful of them in red. And then numbered them. “Shall we go shopping, then?” he suggested, still slightly bemused by the whole idea of shopping for a house the way he usually went shopping for a good cut of beef.

He should have known it wouldn’t be quite that simple, of course.

“… and we just replaced the plumbing last year, it won’t give you any trouble.”

Hawkeye applied a firm toe to one of the shiny steel pipes. Rust sifted out of the socket where it curved, followed by a trickle of water. She gave the owner a cold look, and he smiled weakly.


“…hasn’t been a flood for years, and we cleaned out all the rotted plaster, you can hardly smell it any more except in the summer…”

“The neighbor’s dog is a bit loud,” the owner admitted, as they walked through the yard and a burly, black and tan dog in the next yard flung itself against its leash barking with rage that it couldn’t reach to take off anyone’s leg. “But she always keeps him tied up.”

Hawkeye turned a stern eye on the dog and walked toward the fence.

“Miss, you might not…!”

“Sit!” she ordered.

The dog paused, one paw in the air, considering. Then it sat down and regarded Hawkeye with ears forward.

“Good dog.”

The owner’s mouth opened and closed silently, and Roy smirked.

Roy stared. “Chuu… Hawkeye,” he murmured. “Is this room, in fact, lime green?”

“I’m afraid so,” she returned just as softly.

“Ah. Good. At least it isn’t some fresh complication with my vision.”

“I don’t think even trauma could produce purple carpet to go with it.”

“Thank God,” he whispered fervently, as the owner shepherded them, cheerily, into the next room.

Roy was both thoroughly distracted, and also starting to have second thoughts about whether more space was worth this kind of trouble, when they found it.

He stood in the middle of the living room and turned in a circle, laughing under his breath. The white plaster walls were half covered with bookshelves running from the wood floor to the high ceiling. Another room on the ground floor and two upstairs had still more shelves. And there was an apple tree in the back yard that had made Hawkeye smile and reach up a hand to touch the first pale blossoms.

“What do you think?” he asked her.

“There’s certainly room enough,” she observed in an approving tone. “And everything on the list Gracia gave me checks out. The windows are tight and everything stands square.”

“Well, yes, but do you like it?”

Uncertainty flickered over her face, an uneasy fit on her clear eyes and firm mouth. “I think it’s a very nice house,” she said slowly.

Roy found himself momentarily at a loss for how to go on. He’d figured out that Hawkeye didn’t like it when he flirted with her, or even complimented her in passing, so teasing wasn’t going to work. But if he just came out and asked…

No. Not until he found out why she kept brushing him away.

“I just wondered if you might like to choose a room for yourself, instead of resorting to the couch.” He looked out the large front window, hands tucked casually into his pockets. “It only seems fair, since you helped me find this place.” His mouth curled up suddenly. “An even trade.”

Hawkeye seemed to relax, when he put it in those terms, and Roy dared a little further.

“Actually, a really fair trade would be to offer you a half share of the house.” As her eyes widened he added, “Since you shared your house with me all winter.”

“I suppose… the room at the back of the second floor is shaded nicely.” Her smile was a bit crooked. “If you really want to give up the space right after finding it.”

“Company is more interesting than space.”

There was something unusual behind the long look she gave him. Something he would have called wariness, if that weren’t ridiculous. But her chin lifted again and she nodded.

“All right.”

Roy’s attempt to pack up his own library was instantly vetoed by Hawkeye on the grounds that that was heavy lifting and he wasn’t medically cleared for that, yet. After a few overhead reaches started his shoulder twinging again, he gave in and agreed, but that left him without anything to do while movers boxed up his life around him.

Nothing but try to figure out what he was going to do with his life, now. Watching all the layers be stripped away didn’t help. He kept finding things that reminded him of why he had chosen a military career.

Of why he had stayed.

A copy of his letter of application to officer’s training, pressed in the first pages of Ruland, earnestly explaining that he wanted to put his alchemical abilities at the army’s disposal in the field. His commission, carefully framed, now dusty from having been stuffed into the bottom of a bookshelf for years. A squared off chunk of pale eastern sandstone with glassy streaks through it where his own fire had melted the silicon. A folded, fading piece of notepaper, tucked loosely into his sole cookbook, listing all the living generals from eight years ago and marking how much time it had taken each to reach his rank. A yellow newspaper clipping, slipped between two of his old coded notebooks, attributing the stability of the annexed Northern territory to the State Alchemist who served under the military governor.

Some things were older. His copy of Hollandus, and Vaughn’s works, both of which he had inherited from his first teacher in alchemy. His aunt’s round, black teapot that she had given him when he moved to Central City, the one whose reflections had fascinated him as a child. Even among those, though, he kept finding echoes of his choice.

When Hawkeye walked in to find him turning his father’s Iron Cross over and over in his fingers she called up Hughes. Roy made a personal note that Hawkeye had no reservations about fighting dirty.

“Funny how it all takes up more room in boxes, isn’t it?” Hughes commented as he picked his way through the piles of cardboard. He eyed the dust smears all over the couch and took a seat on one of the boxes instead. “Here.” He plunked a bag down beside him and pulled out two bottles of beer, tossing one over.

Roy smiled to see that it was their compromise brand, the one that was light enough to make him happy and full enough to satisfy Hughes.

Hughes held up his bottle. “Here’s to you, ex-Junsho.”

Roy clinked his bottle against it. “And to you, ex-Junsho.”

They drank and Hughes sighed. “I really thought he wasn’t going to be able to get you, too.” Then he snorted and his voice trailed off into a now-familiar mutter. “… dereliction of duty. I return from the dead, and all he can say is ‘dereliction of duty’!”

Roy shrugged. “As far as he knows I murdered our commander for personal ambition. Even if he can’t quite prove it.”

Hughes gave him a sharp look. “He wouldn’t have pushed it the way he did unless it was personal.”

“Of course not.” Roy examined his bottle thoughtfully. “But it’s why he actually got me discharged. If it was just personal he’d have demoted me and kept me around to gloat at.” If nothing else, the forced introspection of sorting through his things had reminded him that Hakuro actually was a good solider, albeit an idiot in a lot of other ways.

“Mmm.” Hughes took a long swallow. “Think you’d have preferred that?”

“It’s something that happens when you play the promotion game,” Roy said, at length.

“Something that happens to a soldier?” Hughes translated, quietly. He leaned an elbow back on the boxes behind him and stared up at the water stains on the ceiling. “And now we’re not.”

Roy’s mouth tightened and he made himself nod. Now he wasn’t.

So what was he?

Hughes narrowed his eyes. “As an alchemist you still have influence,” he pointed out. “You can still protect this country.” Then he frowned. “Are you still a State Alchemist?”

Roy blinked. “Technically, I suppose I am,” he said, slowly. “At least… Hakuro never asked for the watch back, and I didn’t think of it.” He frowned in turn. “That won’t do. There’s no real leverage without a commission, too.”

Hughes threw his head back and laughed. “Drink up, Roy, you’ll be fine.” A gleam lit his eye. “Though, if you’re giving it back… “

Roy recognized that look, and couldn’t help the smirk that spread over his face. “Slingshot?” he suggested.

“Not nearly fancy enough,” Hughes protested. “We have reputations to uphold, here, Mustang.” He pulled out more bottles. “Now, let’s think about this.”

“You melted the watch.” It was a statement, not a question. “On Hakuro’s desk.”

“Er. We were drunk?” Hughes offered, with a winning smile.

Hawkeye gave them a cool, unimpressed look. “And you got in without an appointment how?”

“We told them the truth.” Roy settled back on his box-chair smugly and crossed his legs. “That I was going to return the watch. They let us right through.”

“And now Hakuro has a silver paperweight shaped like a hand? Your hand? Snapping?”

“A very fine piece of work, if I say so myself.” Roy and Hughes grinned at each other.

Hawkeye was silent for a long moment before she nodded sharply. “Excuse me. I have to go pack the rest of my things.”

Roy blinked after her as she strode out and then frowned at Hughes. “She won’t move in because I ask her to, but she will because she’s annoyed at me?”

“Women,” Hughes said wisely. “Have another beer.”


The Iron Cross is a German military medal.