1 – With Only Angst for Company

It was strange being back in his apartment again.

It was quiet.

Dark.

Lonely.

There were no paws padding softly on shiny wood floors.

No faint scent of shampoo or clean laundry.

The memory of Riza's complete lack of girly things made him smile. Her soaps and shampoo simply smelled...clean. He'd spied some perfume in the medicine cabinet, but she didn't use it while he was there. He'd been amused that her place didn't smell like gun cleaner, like he'd initially expected. Instead, it just smelled...clean. Fresh. Like the way he used to be.

Even when she hadn't been home, he'd had Black Hayate for company as well as the easy comfort of being in Riza's Fortress of Solitude. Being surrounded by her things, the few that there was, gave him the sense of being in unfamiliar familiar territory, and he'd needed that: the stimuli of not being completely at home, but still able to trust that here he could be safe. It had kept his mind from the things that threatened to make him reach for one of her guns and do what he'd tried to do in Ishbal years before.

When she'd come home at night, they would eat dinner and sometimes talked or sometimes didn't. They had just needed the nearness of each other, but inevitably, when the night deepened, they would retreat to their corners.

She didn't talk about what had happened and neither did he.

His broken dreams, and the broken lives that had lined that path to nowhere. The broken neck of that boy. The broken family his friend had left behind.

Her failure to be there when he needed her the most, and the failure to bring to fruition a dream for which she'd sacrificed her years and her morals. The failure to protect the young boy who'd tried to make things right again. The failure to fix what her Colonel had broken.

They'd lived in a strange limbo that was comfortable for them both, a place where he was free of his guilt and regrets, and she was free of hers.

When two weeks turned into one month, Roy decided it was time to stop depending on her. She hadn't argued, but he could see that she wasn't happy about his leaving. They packed his things, and he'd noticed that he'd managed to spread his things around as if he'd lived there. But she'd noticed. She'd known where everything was.

So he was back in his dark and lonely apartment, drowning in his quiet, and fighting back his waking nightmares.

One month of thinking he could go back to the way he was.

One month of wishing they were other people somewhere else.

It had been cruel to lie to himself like that. The second he'd shut the door to his apartment, it was as if that month hadn't happened. He saw the flames, felt the slice of the sword, and heard the snapping of the child's neck.

His bags were where he'd left them. His coat was still on, and he was at his desk, slumped in the chair. The place where he'd concocted his brilliant plans.

The empty glass of bourbon teased him. The empty bottle mocked him. He could almost hear Hughes telling him to just suck it up and go to her, but even if he were to do that, he doubted his legs could carry him to the door.

The door.

There was knocking at the door.

Roy stumbled and swore when he smashed his shin into the coffee table. It hadn't moved since he was here last, but he also saw less than he did last.

The door opened before he could get there and she hesitated where she stood, his key in her hand, when she saw the state he was in.

"You forgot some things," she said, holding up a paper bag. "I just thought you'd need them."

He took the bag from her hand and saw a dull razor he thought he'd thrown away, and half a bottle of antacids.

"Good thinking, Lieutenant," he said, his words slurring a little. "Thank you."

Riza's eyebrows came together and she looked at him in the way that made him want to bury his face in the curve of her neck, breathe her in, and forget.

"Colonel..."

The bag fell. He reached for her. She held on to him.

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