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vikki

Shiver


Maes was the first person Riza had met whom she believed when he said he could taste blood in his mouth when he killed. He always put his tongue in his cheek when he fired his weapon, and bit down when he grimaced at the aftermath.

He did not taste of blood now.

Nights were always cold here, so cold. Curled under military-issued blankets the entire army would shiver in their sleep, and it was a hard thing when their relief was found in the enemy's fiery death at the hands of alchemists like the Lieutenant Colonel Mustang. Sometimes, it was unbearable.

It cut into Riza to see that deadened look in the Lieutenant Colonel's eyes.

Maes never looked dead, not the way Mustang did, not for long. He would sit and smoke cigarettes he'd bummed off the other soldiers and stare at the horizon, unblinking. Someone could call his name and he wouldn't reply. He saved himself by going Somewhere Else.

Riza couldn't do that. She could detach; she was very good at detaching, and she could spend hours at a time standing at a post (firing, firing, killing) without batting an eyelash. But then she found that it was hard to let herself reattach, or she would feel the pain she wasn't ready to feel.

She'd cried from the pain once, and Maes had been there, letting her sit there with the tears running silently down her cheeks, offering a handkerchief and an apologetic smile and a soft, 'We all cry sooner or later, or we die in all the important ways.'

The salt from her tears has long since been scrubbed away; he cannot taste them.

Nights were always cold here, and they could not stand to be warmed by fire alone always. Passion is a curious thing, Maes would say. But he accepted, and it's enough for now.

They'll wake up naked, but neither will be shivering, and both will be alive.