All characters © Arakawa Hiromu

The Wallet Makes the Man

"Well," Hughes mused, lifting a frothy glass of beer in his hand, "I knew something was up when you called me this late in the evening. I thought people'd forgotten." The grin he gave Colonel Roy Mustang through the glint of his rectangular spectacles suggested that he was on his way to becoming sloshed.

"Please." Roy gave a faint smile of his own. "It's the least I can do for a birthday. Besides," he added, "no one seems to remember mine, so I thought I'd do something for yours."

"Or they just don't care," Hughes suggested. Roy shrugged good-naturedly, conceding.

After draining the remainder of his glass, Hughes blew out his breath in a satisfied exhale and took out his wallet. Looking at it, Roy was surprised the thing hadn't burst with all the pictures of Elicia that were crassly stuffed into its pockets. Hughes fiddled with the wallet, trying to squeeze out some Amestrian currency before he was stopped by Roy.

"Wait," Roy said, holding up a hand. "This one's on me."

Hughes blinked. Some coins tumbled from between his fingers and twirled on the table noisily. "For real?"

Roy took out his own wallet (which was a bit more put-together than Hughes's was, but not by much). "Happy Birthday. Would I be doing this otherwise?" he asked, moving his own glass aside to make some elbow room to get out enough pay for the both of them. In the meantime, Maes Hughes had noticed something strange about Roy's wallet.

"When I'm Fuhrer I'll grant all my subordinates their own military credit cards," Roy muttered on to himself, fumbling with the tiny flaps in the wallet. "Senza can be so troublesome to—"

"Oi, Oi. Roy. Is that what I think it is?"

Roy paused, his dark eyebrows drawing together in a frown. "What, Hughes?"

A half-baked grin was snaking its way across the bottom half of Hughes's face. "Give me your wallet, Sir," he said, palm outstretched. Before Roy could protest Hughes had snatched it out of his grasp.

"I thought so," he crowed, after getting a better look. "And you scold me for such things. Tisk, tisk, Roy!"

Roy, having finally realized what it was Hughes was looking at, buried his face in his hand. "I had forgotten about that," he mumbled lowly.

"I know I certainly won't," Hughes remarked happily, holding out the pictures that had been neatly folded into Roy's wallet. "See? No man's wallet is complete without pictures of his beloved!"

"Hughes," Roy warned.

"When did you take this one?" Hughes held up a picture, ignoring the colonel. In this one, Riza was wearing causal attire, her dandelion-colored hair down and softly framing her shoulders.

Roy cleared his throat. "At Christmas, last year."

"And this? Damn…"

Roy snatched it back with a quick mutter of, "at that beach villa we went to this summer. Are you quite finished, Hughes?"

Hughes straightened his glasses and chuckled. "Fine, fine," he sighed, returning Roy his wallet. With a slightly pink complexion, possibly or possibly not from the alcohol, Roy stuffed it back into the depths of his coat pocket.

"It's not a terrible thing, you know. The Lieutenant isn't a half-bad woman to have in your wallet."

"I'm aware of that, Hughes," Roy replied, his eyes shut matter-of-factly. After a minute his complexion began to pale out to its normal hue. He smiled as another thought came to him, and said, "And I can guarantee you Lieutenant Hawkeye probably has the same of me."


At the grocery store:

Riza smiled fondly as she paid the cashier his change. Smiling was always a good thing. It melted unease and calmed dispositions. It also gave the paid a sense of satisfaction. They probably believed that she gave her money up in good spirits, hence the little upward twinge of the lips, the misty eyes.

Ah, but it was a smile of love, and not the goodhearted donation of charity that tinged Riza's pretty features.

"Good boy," she crooned softly, under her breath, as her eyes came to rest on the photos of Black Hayate framed snugly into the flap of her wallet.