This is supposed to be rather sweet, and then I got swept up by the idea of Riza being soft an Alphonse because he’s a precious cinnamon roll. PSA: Roy is still a dork.
It would be an understatement to say that Valentine’s Day was not one of Riza’s favorite holidays. She woke up that morning, fully intending on not allowing this day to be any different from the rest, and acted as such. Unlike many of the other women in the military, she didn’t change her make-up routine for the day, opting for her typical regime that was natural and helped make her look more alert. No cute pink lipstick or rogue, no adding volume to her eyelashes. If she could stay away from the colors pink and red for the entire day, she’d be happier.
Upon walking into Eastern Headquarters, she did not glance at a single person in the building. Normally, she wasn’t so closed or distant, but every time her eyes roved near someone, they opened their mouth and she could just hear them wishing her well for a day that meant nothing to her. Upon snapping her eyes forward, they’d shut their mouths and continue on. All she had to do was get through an entire day without anyone, male or female, acting silly with her.
It wasn’t that she was bitter about being lonely or whatever. The whole affair trifled her. It caused half the people to become distracted and glum (especially Havoc, he was the worst offender possible); and the other half became wildly mushy and lovey-dovey (she refused to be around Hughes on this day, even more so than the Colonel). There was nothing special about this day – never had been and never would. She’d never celebrated it before and she wasn’t about to begin.
(She most certainly did not think about that time when she was a teenager and Roy transmuted her all sorts of bouquets and gifts throughout the day. It was the one time he’d managed to cook something decent for dinner – or so she’d thought until he’d confessed to getting take out. And then when they’d gone to the top of the hill near her house to look at the stars… )
No, she’d never cared for this day, not once in her life.
When she stepped into the office, she wasn’t surprised to find that she was the first one to arrive. Falman came right after her, clutching a suspicious bit of chocolate along with a research book. Fuery came in next, blushing to his roots and tight-lipped. Breda strode in looking a little smugger than normal, which made more sense when Havoc came in right after, practically dragging himself across the floor and looking distraught already. It wasn’t even eight yet.
All of them were hard at work, silent, if only because all the men seemed painfully conscious of how much Riza did not enjoy this day, when Roy sauntered out of his office. She connected eyes with him for only a second, but the smirk widening on his face nearly made her scowl and she jerked her eyes back to her paperwork. He knew how much she hated this day. It was like Christmas to him though. He got more presents than any woman she’d ever known, and he was known for sharing them with his subordinates, taking sadistic pleasure in seeing how long it took before her façade broke.
“Since it’s a Friday and such a special day,” Roy began, hands clasped behind his back, “I’ve decided that if nothing comes up and we’re able to work diligently throughout the day, we can all leave early.”
A wave of conflicting emotions rolled over Riza as the men in the office began to cheer. On one hand, she didn’t like the idea of slacking off one bit, but if they did press through and work together, they would, in theory, might be able to get enough work done so that they could leave early. On the other hand, if they got to leave early, then she could rush home and stay away from people and their ridiculousness for the rest of the day, so she honestly wasn’t sure if she cared this time if they didn’t complete every last bit of work of the day. It was complicated thought process indeed.
Waving her pen between her fingers, she waited for Roy to disappear back into his office before raising her eyes. All at once, the men dropped what they were doing and began to talk. So much for working hard in order to get out of here early. She’d make them work through lunch if it meant going home and not talking to a single person outside of the unit.
“So, got any plans with the girl from the sandwich shop?” Breda asked, turning on Fuery with a wide, knowing smirk.
Fuery turned red again and mumbled something under his breath that Riza couldn’t here, but it was apparently loud enough for Breda, who guffawed loudly. They teased Fuery something awful when it came to the girl that always seemed to be working whenever they sent him to get sandwiches so that they could work from the office during lunch time. It occurred to Riza then that if she did have them work through lunch, she would be somewhat responsible for Fuery encountering the girl on this not-so-special day. She could already hear Roy sighing about what a matchmaker she was.
“What about you, Breda?” Falman asked, though it was more curious than mocking.
Breda leaned back in his chair, smug as can be, reminding her distantly of Roy whenever he felt particularly pleased with himself. “I’ve got a date.”
“Oh?” Falman raised his eyebrows. “With who?”
Before Breda could answer, Havoc burst in, throwing his hands in the air. “Why did you have to ask her out, Breda? You knew that I had a crush on her! I expect this of the Colonel, but not you! And on this day, too! Why, you’re nothing but a— but a traitor!”
Breda’s guffawing started again as Havoc continued to throw every insult in the book at him that was usually reserved for Roy whenever he up and swept a girl out of another officer’s arm. The man was absolutely horrid about doing that, like he thought it was game, even though the relationship never lasted long. It had happened a few times to Havoc, though he never held a grudge against either the Colonel or the woman, but he looked rather wounded that Breda had done it to him this time.
“What can I say?” Breda laughed. “I guess she needed more man to love.”
Riza shook her head as the arguing continued and focused on her work. Soon enough, the rest would follow suit, Falman quicker than the rest. She bent over to pull an old case file out of the bottom drawer of her desk and then stopped when she saw what was in the drawer. On top of the file was a box of chocolates (her favorite kind, too, dark chocolate filled with coconut, not that she’d ever tell anyone) with a note that read: Dark chocolate because you’re too sweet as it is.
She pulled the box out of the drawer and plopped it on top of her desk, standing up as she did so. “Does anyone have any idea how this came to be in my desk?” she demanded in a dangerously calm voice.
Havoc immediately stopped arguing with Breda and glanced at the chocolates. Upon realizing what it was, he tensed up and looked like he was considering running out of the office. “No, Lieutenant,” he replied shakily. When she turned her gaze on him, he blurted out, “And no one in here would dare pull a prank on you like that! Some of us might be idiots” – he shot a glare at Breda – “but we know better than that.”
Giving them all considering looks, Riza sat back down and shoved the chocolates back in the drawer. “If I find out that any of you were involved in this…mischief, I’ll give you a taste of just how sweet I can be.” With the threat laid out bare on the table, all of the men nodded their heads quickly and set to work. Although she had not intended to put some wind in their sails, it had that along with the desired effect. She was not going to eat those chocolates, no matter how delicious and expensive they might be.
Around noon, all of men, including Roy, stepped out of the office for lunch. They were making surprisingly great progress, which meant that they didn’t have to push through. Riza hesitated on going to the cafeteria though. She didn’t know if she could avoid anyone saying anything to her and she would overhear people talking and gushing about this or that. She was not bitter. It was just irritating. Without saying anything to the rest of the team, she held back and then went over to the sandwich shop instead. Of course, Fuery was there, though instead of talking to the girl at the counter, he was hiding behind an upside down newspaper.
Shaking her head, Riza ordered a sandwich and then headed back to the office. She’d work through lunch, maybe help them get ahead. However, upon opening the door, she was stunned to find that there was a vase full of roses on her desk. They were a deep red with bright yellow tips. She hissed at the sight as she jerked the door shut behind her and then made her way to her desk. At first, she didn’t know what to do. Throw them out? Maybe she could give them to Havoc and tell him to give them away to the first woman that caught his attention for more than five seconds. She certainly wasn’t going to leave them on her desk.
A card tucked in the bouquet caught her eyes. She set her sandwich down and plucked the card out from between the roses and flicked it open. Roses for a woman too beautiful to describe. The breath was taken right out of her; she was so infuriated and flabbergasted. Who the hell was doing this? Anyone that knew her well enough to give her a gift knew better than to send her such things on Valentine’s Day. Riza liked to think that she was a sensible and unflappable person, but she felt the strong urge to use her guns right about now.
“Oh, those are very pretty flowers, Lieutenant!”
Riza rounded on the voice, the note crumpled in her hand, but froze when she spotted an armored head peering through the doorway. It was only Alphonse Elric, probably the one person in the entire state of Amestris that she wouldn’t snap at for bothering her about this day. He didn’t know any better and he was such an earnestly sweet boy despite his circumstances.
She relaxed immediately and clasped her hands behind her back, hiding the note from view. “Yes…” She glanced back at the roses, noticing just how colorful they were, a bit like a campfire. “Yes they are, Alphonse.”
Alphonse stepped further into the office and walked towards her so that he could get a better look at them himself. When he fingered a rose, the flower was dwarfed by his hand, but he was gentle, much more so than she could’ve ever been. “Who are they from?”
The note seemed to burn in her hand. “I’m not for certain.”
“Really?” If armor could blush, she was almost positive that Alphonse would’ve been bright red. “You’ve got a secret admirer then?”
“I–” Riza bit down on her tongue.
He didn’t know, she reminded herself, and besides, he was a child. In that suit of armor, he couldn’t enjoy many of the simple things that the rest of them could. Distantly, she wondered if he had ever experienced a child-like crush before and she felt a stab of hurt. Here she was, acting like a bitter old woman over chocolates, flowers, and public displays of affection when Alphonse couldn’t even enjoy any of those things without a human body. It was strange how quick she could go from angry to guilty when it came to the Elric brothers.
Riza smiled gently. “Maybe I do, but I think it’s someone just playing a prank.”
Alphonse gasped and pulled his hand away to form a loose fist. “Why would anyone give you Valentine’s Day gifts as a prank? That sounds cruel. And you’re very pretty and nice, Lieutenant!” Unlike Edward, the younger Elric brother didn’t panic with embarrassment at his admission and start to shout incoherently. Alphonse honestly believed those things about her character.
For the first time in what felt like her entire life, Riza could not bring it in herself to hate this day.
“It’s nothing,” Riza explained away, “just a bit of office fun because I’m one of the few female officers here. To be honest, Alphonse, I’m not particularly…fond of this holiday.”
“Oh.” Alphonse dropped his hands to his side and looked down at his feet. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to–”
Riza laid a hand on his arm. “You don’t need to apologize, Alphonse. You didn’t know. And you’ve actually made me feel a little better, so thank you.” This time, when the boy shuffled, she could tell that he was feeling a hint of shy, childish embarrassment. He did so much and he looked nothing like a young boy, but moments like these really made her remember. “If you could do me one more favor?”
“Of course, Lieutenant.”
She picked up the vase and held it out to him. “If you could take these, please.” He took the flowers from her without questioning. Since it was a prank and she didn’t like this holiday, there was good reason that she would not want the roses on her desk as a reminder. “Give them to some of the other female officers. I’m sure it will brighten their day.”
Alphonse nodded his head and bid her a good afternoon, leaving the office. No doubt the shy boy would make a few of the other officers smile in delight. Riza sighed and collapsed into her seat once the door was shut. If she kept working, she’d be able to get out of here early without any more incidences. She unfolded her hand and looked at the note again. It was typed, so that she couldn’t discern the handwriting. Maybe it was nothing, but she couldn’t help but get the feeling that it was because this so-called “secret admirer” didn’t want her to know who he or she was, and she would’ve recognized their handwriting.
Lost in thought, Riza didn’t notice when the door opened again. It was only when another voice spoke up did she realize that she wasn’t alone in the room anymore. “You know, I could’ve sworn that I saw Alphonse Elric leave the office holding a bunch of roses.” The Colonel was standing before her, wearing a curious expression.
“Someone thought it would be amusing to give me flowers,” Riza told him. “Since I have no a place for them on my desk, I thought it best to give them away for other people to enjoy.”
Roy didn’t blink, but the way he focused on her made her feel strangely hot. “You didn’t like them?”
“They were…pretty,” Riza admitted, almost begrudgingly, “but I’ve no need for flowers, especially not from someone that doesn’t seem to have the courage to outright tell me who they are.”
“Secret admirers are supposed to be romantic and mysterious, are they not?” Roy asked, his tone bordering somewhere between teasing and flustered. It was a strange combination. Still, he kept his facial expression fairly neutral.
Riza scoffed. “Perhaps, if this one didn’t use cheesy one-liners out of Havoc’s book.”
For some reason, Roy gave a barely discernible frown. Some people might’ve thought that he was still passive, but she’d known him for too long to make that mistake. “You don’t think it’s Havoc, do you?”
“Of course not.” Riza looked over at the empty chair. The poor man was distraught over the fact that Breda had somehow managed to snag his latest crush away, but he wasn’t suicidal to the point where he’d start flowering his attentions on her on this day. “He may act like a girl crazy sap, but he’s not an idiot.”
“Those flowers were far too classy and expensive for something Havoc would give anyways,” Roy pointed out, turning on his heels and walking into his office. Riza blinked. She hadn’t even thought of how much the roses might have cost, though she knew how costly the chocolates sitting in her desk were. Before he shut the door, Roy stopped to look back at her. “No worries, Lieutenant. I won’t let any of them slack, so we’ll be able to get out of here soon enough.”
“Yes, sir,” Riza replied, her words of thanks not spoken aloud. He understood her though, nodding his head, and then shut the door.
Leaning back in her chair, Riza opened the drawer and pulled out the chocolates once more. She fiddled with the box, looking at the cheesy note on top, and then opened it, so that she could pick a chocolate out and pop it in her mouth. It wouldn’t hurt to have dessert before her lunch. After all, they were from that really nice sweets shop right by Roy’s house. It’d be a shame to let them go to waste.
Headcanon that Roy got mad at Hughes for telling him to get a wife because the wife he wanted he couldn’t have as a result of the fraternization laws. If he couldn’t have Riza he didn’t want anyone else.