author: windsor blue
theme: five loves
rating: PG-13, this part
fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
character: Riza Hawkeye
word count: 487
Inside her, always, there was a tiny spark of rage - small as a grain of sand when she was young, and as she grew older she covered that rage-grain in layers of swallowed emotion. Her girlhood frustrations - with herself, for every time she'd failed to be perfect at something on the very first try; with the teachers who'd treated her too much like a girl and the classmates who'd treated her too much like a tomboy; with everyone who'd never been able to understand she was a little bit of both and then some - those made up the first layer, the dirty insides.
Acceptance of herself - of her strengths and how to appreciate them; of her weaknesses and how to work around them; of her wishes that might never come true and her fears that might be waiting around the very next corner - those made up the second layer, the sanding-out, the smoothing-down.
Her loves - the confident steel of a pistol in her hand; the wagging tail and the doggy-smile; the friends, the brothers, the compatriots she'd found; the problematic comfort-passion found in embraces she'd had no right to (but had taken anyway), from her commander, his truest friend and that friend's beautiful wife; the little girl who called her 'auntie' and never asked why she came for dinner on Friday night and stayed until Sunday afternoon - those made the third layer, the color, the glow.
And so the rage-grain had become a pearl, carried in the shell of Riza's soul. There was a crack in it now - a flaw in the surface - left by Maes' death, by Gracia's grief and by Roy's burdens, by Alicia's weeping nights with no Daddy to fix it, make it better.
She was running, fast as she could, had to get there, couldn't even feel the hole in her shoulder anymore and she almost had to stumble to make herself stop running. There was Roy, vulnerable, and there was - that thing, that abomination they'd once called Archer - weapon drawn at Roy, a viper poised to strike.
He may not have been responsible for Maes' death, this monster that used to be Archer, but for right now he was close enough to pay back some of the blood owed for it. For right now, his blood would do.
Riza raised her gun and in her mind's eye her rage-pearl glowed from within, mended smooth over the crack. A new rage now, fixing the old, perfecting and honing it. In her mind's eye the pearl became a bullet, and her imagination heard it click - ready - into the chamber. And wasn't this what it had been there for all along? For this one perfect shot, her rage had been waiting, and now it was done with waiting.
Riza raised her gun, aimed, and fired.