The blonde woman stopped lightly outside the bar.
Outside it was cold and snowing on the windy shores of Lake Winnipeg and through the windows the woman could see golden light spilling through and resting on the newly fallen and still coming snow. She could hear muffled laughter and the clink of empty beer glasses and the murmur of idol conversation mixed with the one television that hosted news for the whole bar. It was also a very diverse population of people inside, since the war was affecting the small village town near the frozen lake. Military personnel that had just returned from the front lines could be seen telling stories to family and those that were about to be sent off to the same place that the story tellers had come home from. The woman outside the window could tell because the blue piped uniforms were less crinkled in the latter case.
With all this friendly atmosphere inside and the blustery wind and cold temperatures outside, you'd think the most logical thing for the woman standing and watching to do would be to walk in and join them. Yet, she stayed were she was and as if paralyzed by the friendly site stared motionless until a great burst of wind rocked her back on her heels.
As soon as the wind hit her, she turned around to face the desolate bank of the frozen lake and catching a glimpse of the golden light pouring out of the building as the door opened, trudged her way outwards away from the inviting warmth.
Her blue eyes dropped crystals of warm tears that rolled down her cheeks and fell, freezing and hitting the ground. She continued to push her way towards nowhere, just making her legs work like consistent pistons. She reached the edge of a clearly marked forest at the end of the frozen bank but continued moving through the bushes and past tree trunks.
A rustle in the bush behind her stopped her in her tracks and she spun hand touching the empty holster under her left arm, underneath her not yet cleaned blue military uniform. That's right; she hadn't carried a gun since then. How long had it been since?
One flesh and one automail hand were held up in surrender position and two gloved hands next to the earlier were held up the same. Two worried eyes, one a depthless black and the other shinning golden orbs that matched the color of the light shining from that bar.
The golden hair, loose from its usually pristine clip lay down, matted on her neck and some fell into her face, snow falling from its tresses to mingle with the flowing crystal tears.
Her body had lost its usually straight and proud carried self earlier but now, as the memories flooded every crevice of her mind, the recall drained her of the rest of her strength and she fell to her knees in grief. The tears that came so silently before now racked through her body as loss ridden sobs broke free from their stronghold.
How long had it really been since she had been so free with her emotions?
The golden and black hues watched, dampened by their friend's sadness and her uncharacteristic behavior went to comfort her.
The first spoke next to her as she felt gentle hands pat her back, "Its alright," his voice had a chipper hint that was always there matching his short stature. His usually loud and raging voice cooling to a soft whisper, matching their surroundings.
The second spoke on the opposite side of the crying woman and the weight of a work worn hand patted her back; a little more roughly, "You couldn't protect her from the disaster. It just happened," his voice was soft and deep.
At his words, meant to be comforting, she ground her right hand, earlier stopped in time by her gun holster, into the snow with as much force as she could muster. The woman turned furious on the man, "Roy," and the word carried little threat for the mouth and vocal cords were in use for the first time. Since when?
The woman continued the sentence, looping the other boy into the conversation, "Edward," at the addition, they expected a horrible rant which would have been easier to deal with than her seemingly innocent next statement, "How long has it been?"
Roy's eyes grew shadowed and he looked sadly into the confused face of the woman on the ground, "Riza," he was hesitant with his answer but followed through, "it's been two weeks."
It's about time.
Riza turned to Edward and his eyes too were shadowed with sorrow. She just giddily smiled and struggled from the ground giving Roy a gesture with her hands, telling him she didn't need help.
A bit out of breath she smiled at the men now standing in front of her. They both cast worried glances at the once Lieutenant Colonel. Tear tracks marred her face as she smiled and she spoke to them in giddy excitement, like she hadn't been crying at all, "I'm going to meet her! She's out there." Her finger pointed to the expanse of trees to the right of her.
Edward asked the question that worried him and Roy the most, "Who? Who are you meeting out there Riza?"
The answer came too soon and shattered the two men's hopes. "Why, Winry, of course, Edward. I told her that I'd meet her out here one day."
Roy pulled her by the pointing hand a step back in the way of the bar, "Riza, Winry died in the war."
Riza pulled a step back but couldn't get the former Colonel to release his hold on her wrist, "No she didn't I told her-"
Edward interrupted this time grabbing her other hand and trying to bring her a step closer to the bar a ways behind them, "Winry died on the front line, repairing soldier's injuries. They bombed her camp, Riza."
Riza tried to pull back again, slowly losing her giddy attitude as the memories she had earlier been flooded with, could now clearly be seen through the blinding fog of grief. Riza, firing her gun on the enemy troops, being called back to base, sharing a base with Winry and seeing her everyday, being called to help at the front lines, telegraph brought news of the bombing of the medical headquarters where Winry had been working, and the week of hospitalization for dehydration, lack of sleep, malnutrition, disobedience, and finally a suicide attempt, she was sent home after that week on four f leave for insanity, being unarmed because of the suicide attempt before receiving the leave. The week of nothingness after the return home and finally her car ride here with Edward and Roy saying she needed to get out, and her walk out past the lake to the point of time right now.
She fell to her knees again, the emotional rollercoaster she had been waiting to board finally docking and leaving her in a state of shock. Ed and Roy picked her body up off the snow covered ground and made their way back past the lake's bank and through the door of the bar.
The bar's inhabitants were silent as they watched the two, clearly former military personel with uniforms, carry in a woman that looked wretched and her body spoke of once powerful limbs. The empty holsters told of a time when her quick-draw wasn't untold of and the clear tear trails told of grief and loss.
The ones with hats still on removed them at the clear sign of a lost loved one. Roy and Edward placed Riza on the couch near the fireplace in the bar and put a blanket over her. The hats remained off, but the conversations picked up again. The bar, a little dampened in spirits, still picked up its kind and inviting atmosphere around Riza as she lay sleeping now on the couch.
That bar, a friendly and inviting place, was one more thing that all those former and soon-to-be military personel needed on that day, it was healing.
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