31. Home Cooking
did not cook. He hadn’t cooked when he lived with his Aunt Chris; he
hadn’t cooked when he was studying under Berthold Hawkeye; he hadn’t
cooked while at the Academy or in Ishval; and he most definitely did not
cook now. The very few times that he had tried had ended in complete
disaster. One time, when he was sixteen, he tried cooking dinner since
Riza, the usual cook, was sick in bed. It had ended up resembling flame
alchemy more than anything else, nearly burning the kitchen down. To
this day, he was still unsure how that happened.
say, he took full advantage of the mess hall, leftovers, and his
generous salary in order to eat. His fridge at home left a lot to be
desired, but at least it meant that he didn’t have to do much grocery
shopping. What he did have to eat at home were snacks, drinks, and
thinks that did not involve cooking. He’d learned while in Ishval that
he could use his flame alchemy to heat up some food or drinks, not that
he abused his gift for such things often, but it did come in handy once
in a while.
But every now and then though, he really did miss a
home cooked meal. Madam Christmas had not been the cooking type either,
which was probably why Roy never picked up on the skill, leaving it to
the one of the girls that worked under her. Riza had done all the
cooking when he was her father’s apprentice. She did it without
complaint and it was nothing ever too complicated, unless she baked
something, but he’d always enjoyed her meals. After all, he’d been a
teenager back then, equivalent to a dumpster truck when it came to food
The nostalgia for a home cooked meal hit him
randomly. This time it was a Tuesday night. He walked into his
“minimalistic decorated” apartment and threw himself onto the couch. It
had been a ragged day spent out in the field chasing after a suspect in a
rash of break ins, made worse by the fact that it had been dreary and
raining all day. Not that he could’ve used his flame alchemy on the man,
but it would’ve made it easier to coral him and convince him to stop
running. Roy could almost wish that he’d had a day filled with boring
Just as he was laying there, contemplating
on whether he had the energy to take his soggy boots off, his stomach
took the opportunity to growl loudly and remind him that he hadn’t eaten
at all today. He dragged himself to his feet and shuffled into the
kitchen, only to find two beers, a jar of pickles, a slice of swiss
cheese, and ranch dressing in the fridge. His eyes glared into the
glowing light of the fridge and he slammed the door shut. His stomach
protested in anger. It was late, so the places he normally went to eat
were closed and he didn’t want to drive around town in hopes of finding
A scent memory from his teenage years drifted into
his mind – Riza cooking chicken pot pie, his favorite, for his birthday –
and he was hit by such a crushing desire for warm, home cooked food
that his stomach growled again, this time sounding so angry and
demanding that he looked down at it. But he couldn’t tell his stomach to
shut it like he could Fullmetal (although both ended with the same
results), so he knew that he had to eat something. Those pickles would
not do. What would he do? Dip them in ranch? He wasn’t a craving
An idea popped into his head, a sneaky one at
that. Sure, he might get shot for it, but he was desperate and hungry
and really wanted a decent meal. Briefly considering phoning first, he
shrugged off the idea and left his apartment without even changing out
of his slightly damp uniform. The drive to his destination wasn’t far,
just short of ten minutes, in a much smaller neighborhood than his own.
He didn’t care much for fancy places (not until he was Fuhrer, at
least), but being a State Alchemist, he had to keep up appearances. This
apartment complex was simple and quiet.
Once he reached the apartment in question, he knocked on the door.
dog barked from behind only once, going silent after a quiet command.
There was shuffling until he knew someone was at the door, looking
through the peephole. He heard a sigh and then the sound of the door
being unlocked. Behind the door stood his Lieutenant, hair dripping wet
and wearing a cozy-looking bathrobe and something close to a confused
look on her face. Of course there was a gun in her hand.
are you doing here, sir?” Riza asked in a tired voice. Her eyes did
look a little curious though – and concerned. It didn’t look very
professional for a superior officer to show up late at night at his
subordinate’s house, but ah, well, he’d been careful about getting in
here. Probably should’ve changed in retrospect, but that was in the
“I…” Roy stopped and blinked. Now that he was here, the
absurdity of it crept into his mind. Had he really been so tired and
hungry out of his mind that he’d thought it would be a fun idea to show
up at his adjutant’s place to see if she was cooking dinner? He almost
scowled at himself, but Riza was still looking at him expectantly. Maybe
he could make something up – make his visit about work or the case or
And then his stomach practically roared.
of them looked down at it, Roy twitching irritably and Riza with raised
eyebrows. When he finally pulled his eyes to hers, there was a ghost of
a smile on her face, a very indulgent one, just like when she’d pulled
that chicken pot pie out for his birthday and he’d damn near moaned at
the sight of it.
“Well, I can’t have my superior officer going
hungry,” Riza sighed dramatically. He goggled her for a moment. Was she
really using that tone right now? She stepped to the side and held out a
hand. “How will he have the energy to complete all the paperwork
tomorrow that we need to file after apprehending Clark? You can come in,
sir. I was just about to make dinner.”
In a way, she was
giving him something of an out – an almost half-assed explanation for
his showing up with the inane wish for her to cook him something to eat –
and he took it in silence, mostly because his pride was wounded. But he
was starving and the mere mention of food was enough to make his
stomach gurgle. Well, this turned out more embarrassing than he
anticipated. Maybe he should learn how to cook.
sir,” Riza said before disappearing into her bedroom. Roy shut the door
behind himself and locked it for good measure. He’d been in her
apartment before, usually to pick her up for work (so that she could
drive them both), a few times to drop off paperwork or pick some up,
once to get a spare pair of ignition gloves that she kept with her in
case of emergencies. Then there was that one time when he’d showed up
Roy winced at the thought of that night. It hadn’t
been…pleasant for either of them in the end and especially not the
morning at work after.
She came back quickly, wearing jeans
and a loose button up shirt. Not exactly the clothes you put on at ten
at night, but she wouldn’t put on pajamas either, not with him around,
even if they were the most innocent things in the world. He pictured
pajama pants and a long-sleeve shirt, but then the idea of her in some
lacy lingerie popped into his mind and that was enough to distract him
for a while before he realized that he was still standing dumbly in the
hallway and Riza was in front of him, holding a towel.
the towel without a word, he followed her into the kitchen, Black Hayate
hot on both their tails. “I hope you don’t mind pasta,” she said as she
began to pull a few things out of the cabinet.
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Roy pointed out.
nodded her head at that and got to work, turning on the stove and
filling a pot with water. He leaned against the threshold and watched
her in silence. She had such efficiency about her, one that seemed to
resonate with her at work and at home. It was a bit mesmerizing to be
honest, like he was watching a cooking show. At the pasta cooked, she
chopped up green and red peppers, then put a red sauce in a smaller pot
to warm up, adding a few spices to it. She sautéed the peppers before
adding to them to the sauce to break down a little more. Neither of them
spoke as she did this, though he did bend down to scratch Hayate behind
“You should really learn how to cook, sir,” Riza told him as she began to get the plates ready.
Roy grinned up at her, still crouched at Hayate’s level. “Why do that when I can have my own personal chef?”
forget that said chef owns a lot of guns.” She pointed to the fridge.
“Grab yourself something to drink, but I haven’t gone grocery shopping
in a while, so your pickings are slim.”
When Roy peered
inside, he was not surprised to find not a drop of alcohol in it. Riza
did allow herself the occasional drink whenever she went out with the
guys, but she wasn’t like to drink at home. It brought up bad memories.
For him, it dulled them to a vague throb; for her, alcohol brought them
roaring to life. They’d found that out the hard way in Ishval and once a
few years ago here. He doubted that she’d ever been drunk since. He
settled for a glass of milk, thinking of how much of a fit Fullmetal
would throw at the idea of pasta and milk, and turned just in time to
take a plate of what looked like pasta primavera out of her hands.
they sat down, Riza giving him a look to remind him not to feed Hayate
any scraps under the table, Roy settled back comfortably in his chair.
In the right light, he could imagine them having gone out to eat
together at a nice restaurant, a candle of flowers at the center of the
table, two glasses of wine next to their plates. The dream faded away
slowly, but once it flickered, he shoved it deep down.
taking one bite, Roy groaned quite unattractively and then swallowed.
“Let me get this straight – you bake, you cook, tidy, hard-working, and
the greatest shot in the world?” He shook his head, stabbing at the
penne pasta with his fork. “Maybe you should open a restaurant after all
is said and done.”
“I don’t know,” Riza replied, that hint of
a smile back on her face. “Who would make sure that you kept your head
on straight then?”
“At least you’d be able to make sure that
I’m well-fed,” Roy told her. She almost laughed – not quite, but just
enough to where he caught it and that was enough for him. Shaking her
head at him, she went back to eating quietly. To some people, the
silence might’ve been off-putting, but to him, it felt normal, right.
They had their days where they talked a lot and others where they didn’t
have to talk at all. Besides, things were slightly different since they
were alone together. That was enough to heighten both of their senses
slightly. “Seriously though, thank you, Lieutenant. It’s been a long
time since I’ve had a meal like this.”
“You know, women like
it when a man can cook,” Riza pointed out, her voice dangerously close
to teasing. They did not talk about his dating habits or her lack
thereof. Most of the time, when they did, there was a sense of tension
in the air, like they were standing on the edge of dangerous waters. But
now, she sounded amused and that made him feel alight.
“Good point,” Roy said, rubbing his chin. “Maybe you should teach me.”
Riza shook her head. “You’re a difficult student.”
I suppose my stomach will be at your mercy one day yet again.” Roy
smiled at her, actually smiled, and though the lighting wasn’t great, he
could still see the tinge of pink on her cheeks. She looked down at her
plate, pushing the pasta around for a few seconds, before picking
It wasn’t much – just a hint of a hint – but for
some reason, it felt like more had been said between them over dinner
now than in years. He knew that this couldn’t happen again, at least not
for a very long time. The idea of getting comfortable with them
chatting over a home cooked dinner was far too tempting. The mere
thought of it throbbed in his mind like a wistful mirage. Tomorrow it’d
be like nothing happened and they would forget about this night. She
could do it easier than he could. But for now, he could enjoy this.