Morning had come far too quickly, as it always seemed to, and Riza was just walking into headquarters, flippantly throwing her hair up in the clip. She nodded to the staff who met her eyes and those who still couldn't but managed a vocal acknowledgement, instead. Momentarily delayed as the secretary stopped her to pass on the morning's mail (really from last night) and freshly delivered paperwork, she hauled the mail carrier box towards the locally christened Flame's Harem. Not being one for such open innuendo in professional settings, she still referred to it as the office of Colonel Mustang, keeping the comment of 'one sexually frustrated' colonel to herself.
She sets the box atop her desk upon reaching it, greeting the other staffers present as she begins to flip through the contents and waving the mail in her hand at Havoc's commentary on getting coffee. She makes two piles, paperwork and mail. She then further divides the two into four, papers for the Colonel or not, and mail for him or others. Placing any mail that had come for any of the others on their desks, she sets the box in front of her own and straightens her stack, placing it in the 'inbox' and turning to the other stack.
She glanced to his door, noticing it not quite closed. "Is the Colonel in his office?" she questioned the remaining staff as her eyebrows furrowed.
Breda and Farman exchanged looks, Fuery only pushing up his glasses and choosing to let the others answer for him.
"We're not sure," Breda spoke up. "Haven't seen him yet this morning. Would think he is since he's almost always the first one here." Setting all four legs back on the floor and getting up from his reclined position in the chair, he stood to place both hands on the desk's top, leaning forward and staring at the secluded office's door. "It's not quite completely shut, so I think so," he finished, meeting her gaze.
Her brows drew a bit closer, the information only slightly unusual. The door was indeed open, but not in either of the two positions he always had it; closed or open and she meant fully in both directions. He wanted you either in or out, and out meant no chances for eavesdropping.
"Alright, thank you, gentlemen." Her answer is curt and she focuses on what needs to be done, namely taking these to said colonel and forcing them down his throat so they would actually be attended to in a moderately timely manner.
Tucking the bundle under her left arm, she moves to his door and knocks softly. "Colonel, I have mail and papers for you," she said lightly, her tone crisp and formal. After a small stretch of silence, she ventures again. "Sir?"
When no answer came that time, she threw a look to where the boys clustered around Breda's desk and pushed the door open, not particularly alarmed and thinking he was probably asleep. After all, it wouldn't be the first time she'd caught him. Her hand lingered on the knob as she took in his desk, neatly arranged as always before her deposits of paper. The empty chair behind it, however, held her eyes. The tall-backed black seat was slightly away from the desk and askew, an armrest pointing towards the door.
"Colonel…?" she ventured slightly louder, fingers twisting on the knob as she moved to peer around the door. The papers fell in a haphazard static waterfall, merging into a patchwork of white and carpet at her feet as the fingers slammed against her lips. Her ragged breath beat against the shaking tips before they fought back and clutched at her quivering mouth, her lungs soon releasing a ferocious attack of their own.
Breda and Farman glanced away from their brief eye contact back to Hawkeye, continuing to watch the unusual unfolding of events. Fuery had eventually appeared to Farman's left to join in mutual interest, and they looked on in a strange sense of horror. The colonel was in a lot of trouble, they knew, when Hawkeye finally got a hold of him. But any amusements had quickly been slain at the crash of papers and envelopes fluttering to the floor, the pained emission only quickening their sudden dash to her side.
Jean was in the middle of talking to one of the secretaries, smiling charmingly after a sip of coffee and leaning on the counter. They'd just arranged a time to meet this weekend before everything stopped and all focus shifted down the hall and a direction quite familiar to him. There was something much more than apprehension in his throat and he attempted to clear it, the swallowing doing nothing to dislodge the mass that had somehow instantaneously manifested at the excruciating shriek heralding a familiar name.
"Roy?" the delicate voice next to him said. "Is that what you heard, too?"
But Jean wasn't paying attention any longer. His arm slid along the countertop, fingers slowly slipping from the handle of his mug. A foot took one weighted step, followed by the other. His mind caught up to what his ears had processed and his feet broke into a desperate run. The emotionally laden cry from an otherwise unemotional Hawkeye spurred him into an unthinking mad dash down the hall, his whispered thought echoing worry in response to her distress, the name not lost on him, "Roy…"
The door was in sight and he reach out his hands to grab the door frame. Skidding to a halt, he gave a short pant before turning wide eyes to sweep the office and land on the cluster in the interior doorway. The face of Breda was particularly disturbing and for a moment he was glad he couldn't see Hawkeye. The mess of papers beneath everyone's feet only reinforced that, but he was shaken from the initial shock at an additional loud and wounded sob of 'Roy' painted in the First Lieutenant's timbre.
And he hurried to the inner office, stumbling over the papers and through his comrades, again swinging to a stop by way of the door knob. He was first greeted with a horribly shaking superior's back, the legs looking as if they were about to give way and arms' state visible from here. The aura coming from them all, even solid Breda, set him on edge and he turned cautious eyes forward, to where they all stared at the wall. If he would've had a cigarette, it'd be well on its way to the ground by now. There he was, the center of all available attention as he loved to be, ever in his pristine blues, gold braid of honor and significant rank hanging from his shoulder, head bowed in humility and defeat the man had never possessed. But death has a way of changing what a man once was.
He couldn't remember anything else in the room, his eyes and mind completely absorbed in the horror that was Roy Mustang, crucified on his own office wall. What held him there couldn't be any more obvious, sticking out brightly from the red backwash, the four expertly placed swords to send conspiracy upon conspiracy racing through his mind after the initial processings.
There was one in each of his shoulders, it was hard to tell how deeply embedded into his commander and the wall they were, but physics told him it was to keep him pinned up as to take the stress off the other two in either arm.
A whoosh of air and blue and gold breaking in front of it splintered his thoughts as Hawkeye rushed forward. Her voice torn and raw and utterly despairing as she pleaded with them, hands desperately grasping at the closest sword buried in the Colonel's right shoulder. "Help me! Help me get him down, please!"
The tears from Hawkeye only tore at his already battered emotions as hers did at the impaling device. He moved as quickly as possible to her side, gripping her firmly, too tightly he knew, at her shoulders and yanking her from their commander. She fought, desperate fingers sliding from the handle that was just too far above, his force meeting no resistance at her tip-toed stance. Experience, especially that in the Colonel's service, had made it clear to leave crime scenes untouched for as long as possible.
He'd had to stop her even as he wanted to rescue the Colonel from his disgrace. If he hadn't have stopped her, he would have drowned in her desolation and given in to helping. He'd whispered something along those lines, that it was best to leave it until the authorities had a chance to look it over, absently, arms wrapping about her as she violently pivoted to cry into him, giving it up. So she had realized.
"Fuery," he said distantly, unaware of the man or others jumping, "get the MP." And at the clutching against his jacket, he added for her benefit, his voice croaking, "And the cor--- medic."
This close up, he could see things and he shifted, Hawkeye stumbling with him as their boots made the most horrible sound. He knew what it was, that before his eyes told him. And being this close, he could see things, things he didn't know if he'd wanted to see. Like the blue of Roy's parted lips, the hair sweeping over too-pale - grey really - cheeks, just missing the sweeping of blood that had once been at his neck. His proximity also allowed him to see why it had happened. The jugular was slit, length-wise, the amount of blood on the uniform telling him it was so on the other side. But he shifted anyways, again the sound, and angled his head, confirming the deduction, arms tightening around Hawkeye and retreating back.
He followed the path from the slit vessels down the mostly reddish-brown coat, lingering on the sword just above his eyesight. Strange how two major veins could let out more blood than any protruding object… The pinned arm caught his peripheral vision in staring at the wound in the shoulder and he let his eyes follow to end at the sword there. He'd had to move his left foot, to balance them both as he turned to inspect the new area, and grimaced at the crunch yet again.
The sword here was placed just before, just under the wrist, between the radius and ulna; a structurally sound point. It helped to hold up the body but wouldn't tear free even as its insertion tore other things, like tendons and muscle. His analytical mind couldn't help but point that out. Blood had poured from here, too, at one point, just as from the neck. And leaning a bit closer he could see where his 'wrist' had been slit, again length-wise, again to encourage flow. He knew the sibling arm to be identical and didn't even bother with the effort to confirm it this time. The position of the other arm, the sword in both, and the matching curtains of once-waterfalls of blood on the wall told him as clearly as any incised flesh before him.
Unfortunately, it wasn't just sights that proximity granted him, there was also smell, and the most prevalent drowned out anything else that might have been. Blood…so strong and…putrid and…everywhere. His eyes recapped all the outlets; the neck, trailing down the body to drip off standard issue boots; the wrists, the wall. The wall…was another sick sight. Not only did it contain the natural cascade from the body, but whoever had done this had used it as their medium, used it by painting on the wall in the crude strokes of his beloved commander's life of just who was responsible.
'FOR THE HOMUNCULUS'.
In bold, as if it were some noble cause, some holy crusade and the Colonel a martyr to its cause, the heretic burned at his stake, his cross of the array written in his own blood at his back.
There was a shuffle in the doorway and he turned them both to see what was happening, but Hawkeye remained buried within his uniform and how he wished he could blind himself from it all, as well. The footsteps of the medics coming through and the voices of the MPs shouting orders first in the room then the hall not enough to drown out his footsteps over the carpet.
And facing to the medics, he only gazed at them from his saddened mask as they took in the scene in open horror; Roy pinned to wall with four swords total, one in each shoulder and forearm between the ulna and radii. And being medics, Havoc would bet that they could tell from the doorway how the jugulars and wrists were all slit, likely length-wise from the amount of blood. He knew they saw the writing and array, knew they recognized it as blood. If not from the writings or the staining of his uniform, the walls in what had obviously been one-time surges of it, or the dried, crusty, once-pools of blood-drenched carpet, then surely from the smell they emitted. There was no escaping that.
He dully moved aside as first one and then another medic broke free of the spell, the responsible party being the MP Investigations unit as they came forward. He continued to hold Hawkeye, still quiet but noticeably calmer and more aware. He could feel her turn to watch the MP do the required deeds, the occasional sniffle escaping; taking pictures, jotting down notes, sketching the crime scene, marking off and bagging anything thought to be potentially conclusive. The medical team had surprised him when they hadn't pressed to be let in first. They had realized the state of their patient, realized it was all formality.
But the MP finished, left the room but enforced the hall- and entryway to the office, and Hawkeye broke forcefully out of his hold as the medics moved forward. Breda and the others also came forward and they met underneath Roy, looking up forlornly and preparing themselves. Havoc and Farman stepped forward to the wrists, pulling the swords there out first and then moving to the torso. Hawkeye waited, ready to grab the feet as Breda and Fuery moved up behind Havoc and Farman, everyone wanting to support the Colonel as he was freed, Havoc and Farman having struggled to remove the 'pins' in place there.
Hawkeye gasped as her grip fumbled and nearly slipped from his ankles, seeing that the boots had been cut but not knowing why. But helping the boys getting the commander down was more important and she slid her hold to his calves. They carried him over closer to the door, off of the encrusted carpet, and carefully laid him down, Hawkeye needing a little extra coaxing from Havoc to step out of the way.
They listened to the observances of the medics, the medical babblings offering no comfort in the knowledge they provided. Hawkeye and Havoc watching as his boots were pulled from his feet, the reason for their being slit obvious in the remark of a medic dictating that the major veins along each ankle 'had also been cut'. So…those that did this had wanted him dead. He watched on as a medic brushed the hair away from the Colonel's eyes as he peeled back the eyelids, checking whatever he needed to there, but his eyes stopped at the forehead…rather the mark there, his skin sloppily dyed with blood.
For the homunculus.
He looked to the array on the wall. He was not an alchemist, nor anything close to one, but he knew, something told him – probably the proclamation and the tattoo – that the array was also somehow connected. He didn't like it. Something was entirely wrong about this, besides the obvious missing life. There was something big going on, something beyond him, he thought as he gazed at the bloodied swords, the purely metal weapons being collected and inventoried by a returned MP.
He would have to have Armstrong look at this…maybe Full Metal, too, though he wanted to spare the kid the gore, and hope that one of them knew what to make of it. He'd heard rumors about the homunculus. He hoped this wasn't what he thought it was. But based on what he knew from their recent skirmish with the one named Lust, her defeat and departed information… He could only hope that his instincts were wrong, could only hope that the Colonel, that Roy wouldn't be among their enemies in the days to come; a face neither he nor the others could easily confront, or able to combat at all.
As hard as Lust had been to take down, the prospect of having to fight a Roy Mustang made him gravely nauseous. And he became trapped in a trance of possible likelihoods, staring at the ouroborous, the eating of its own tail making his eyes and mind run and run and run in circles, perpetuating the nausea and building. He ran from there, into the next room and collapsed at the first suitable container he came across, retching until everything was long emptied and his sight turned black, bile and deliberation stinging his eyes, tearing at his thoughts and future with acidic efficiency.