Shuffling the papers in his grasp, Roy huffed in agitation and continued up the stairs of the apartment complex. After his lieutenant left the office for lunch, she never returned. The remaining members of his staff reported she declared a sick day, but she did not file her paperwork. After working with Riza for several years, he knew illness could not overtake her easily or cause her to neglect her work. She did not contact him after her departure, and her absence worried him. He refused to show his worry, so he gathered the papers and his courage and left for Riza's apartment after he finished work in the office.

He fidgeted with the papers as he approached her door. He generally disliked meeting with members of his staff outside the office, because he typically felt uncomfortable without the military environment to influence conversation. Roy shoved the papers under his elbow and knocked thrice on the door. When he heard no response, he knocked twice more.

"Lieutenant Hawkeye," he called.

When she did not respond, Roy sighed and rapped his knuckles against the door more firmly. "If you don't open up, I'm coming in!"

Frustrated with her lack of compliance and his worry, Roy jiggled the door handle and the door opened.

Roy did not frequent Riza's apartment, but his previous presences in her home assured him she enjoyed tidiness. Organization in the military was expected, and she maintained her clothes and personal appearance as such. A soldier's living quarters could be arranged to the individual's tastes, and Riza kept her home as orderly as her work desk at the office.

When he opened the door, Roy felt the overwhelming tumult emanating from within. Riza's boots and military jacket littered the floor. He tiptoed inside and set the papers on a coffee table near the door. The sounds of Black Hayate's soft, distressed whines drifted from Riza's bedroom. Roy glanced around the room; the rest of the living room remained in perfect order. When his gaze reached the far end of the room, nearest to his subordinate's bedroom, he spotted a broken lamp abandoned on the floor. The light fixture appeared to have been knocked off the nearby table violently like in a scuffle. He tucked his right hand into his pocket to slip one of his alchemic gloves over his flesh, and he inched cautiously through the apartment toward her bedroom.

Peering through the doorway, he spotted Riza curled up on the bed with her back to him and her faithful dog nuzzled as close as Riza would allow. Rather than alerting Riza to Roy's presence, Black Hayate ignored the man and released another high-pitched whine of concern. Riza's blonde locks lied sprawled across her bed, no longer confined by her neat bun. The blankets on the bed were mildly ruffled from their typically-neat arrangement due to her unexpected occupation. She neither lied vertically in the bed nor diagonally to show an attempt to lay properly. She lied horizontally, facing her furry companion and her undisturbed pillows. Lacking only her boots and jacket, she wore her full military uniform. Her legs tucked close to her body and her arms folded to her chest protectively like she felt cold in the warm room.

Roy scanned the scene before he concluded no intruders were in the vicinity, and he abandoned his gloves in his pocket. "Lieutenant, are you all right?"

Riza jolted in surprise before she craned to distinguish who addressed her. "Colonel Mustang," she identified, her voice level. She did not move to wipe the tears from her eyes, ignoring the physical evidence of her sorrow to not draw attention. "What are you doing here?"

He remained by the door to not intrude her personal space. Jarred by her unexpected state, Roy groped for words. "I... brought those, erhm, papers you forgot to fill out... before you left the office..."

Black Hayate wriggled closer to his master, nuzzling her thigh compassionately with his muzzle. When Riza lowered her left hand to indifferently pat his head, Roy noticed her right hand clutching a picture frame to her chest. She cleared her throat and replied, "Oh." She slid off the bed, and she strode past her superior-her dog close behind-without meeting his gaze. The papers on the coffee table instantly caught her eye, and she scooped up the documents and proceeded to the kitchen.

She retrieved a pen from one of the drawers and progressed to the dining table. The papers flopped onto the table unceremoniously, and she landed in the closest seat and began to write studiously while Black Hayate settled at her feet.

Roy joined her at the table, and he noted she had not relieved herself of the photo frame. As she filled out the document, Roy inquired with an indicative nod to her chest, "So... what's with the frame?"

A fresh wave of tears streamed down her cheeks, and Riza closed her eyes and quietly cleared her throat to compose herself. "It's nothing, sir," she muttered. As if she did not realize the frame was in her grasp, she slowly pulled the frame from her chest to admire the photograph within. She released her pen and raised the hand to cup over her mouth as her faint smile began to quiver under the strain of her inner turmoil.

When she felt Roy's gaze burrowing into her, she stood and retreated to her kitchen counter and reached for a bottle of amber liquid and filled a nearby glass. Black Hayate remained in his place by her chair, and he released a low whine of concern. Until he saw her gulp the alcohol, Roy attributed her rosy cheeks to her obvious disquiet. When he realized she was intoxicated, although he did not know the extent, his eyebrows furrowed in bewilderment.


"I got a phone call," she sniffled. Riza did not face him, and she stared at the photograph in her hands. "There was a mugging last night." She raised her right hand to press her fingers to her eyes in a feeble attempt to halt her tears. "My friend Samara was going to surprise me and visit me at work this morning," Riza's body quaked as she attempted to maintain composure. Her voice cracked, "...but her train was early and arrived late last night..."

She poured another glass of scotch for herself, and she swallowed the liquid in one gulp. The burning alcohol in her throat urged her to wrinkle her nose in discomfort. She caught her breath for several long beats before she quietly moaned, "She didn't call me for a ride so she could surprise me at home." Riza scoffed coldly in spite of herself, "Surprise, surprise..."

Roy furrowed his brow, perturbed by Riza's unraveling semblance of unshakable inner strength. He was not aware Riza possessed alcohol, no less that she enjoyed the drink. As he watched the recent dose further stupefy her senses, Roy advised, "I think you've had enough to drink, Lieutenant Hawkeye."

"Like Hell, I have!" Riza rounded furiously. She stormed past Roy and out of the kitchen to the adjacent living room. Black Hayate lowered his head to the floor and thumped his tail sadly, uncomfortable with his master's distress.

Roy whipped around when he heard a loud crash originate in the living room. He watched in consternation as Riza unleashed her anger and frustration on her belongings. The picture frame lay face-up on the floor, glass shattered from the impact. Roy gawked at the pandemonium for a moment before he leapt to his feet and reached for her arms to slow her destruction.

She attempted to free herself by elbowing Roy in the side, but her alcohol-dulled reflexes provided him enough time to catch her arm. He gripped her upper arms from behind to still her efforts, and he distanced himself by a couple inches to reduce his chance of injury but maintain control.

"Lieutenant Hawkeye, get a hold of yourself," he barked.

She continued to thrash violently in his grasp, and he strengthened his grip so she could not harm him or herself in her drunken stupor. Her feminine figure betrayed her physical strength, and he found restricting her movements growing increasingly difficult despite her hindrances. He whisked her around to face him, gripping her firmly by her upper arms.

"Riza!" he bellowed. When she stilled, he repeated softly, "Riza..."

Her head raised slowly to meet his gaze, and her mouth opened and closed like a fish gasping for air. Tears streaked from her puffy, red eyes down her face. She suddenly felt foolish for her behavior, and she attempted to amend, "R-Roy... I..."

Roy released her arms, his hands sore from the force of his grip, and raised his hands to either side of her face. He placed his thumbs beside either side of her nose and brushed gently under her eyes, across her flushed cheeks, to evacuate the tears. The flesh burned beneath his cool fingers, and her eyes closed to the touch. As Roy's thumbs neared her ears, she opened her eyes. She met his gaze briefly before tears returned to her eyes, and she lifted her hands to cover her face to conceal her shame.

Riza shuddered as she inhaled, and she shook her head. "I'm sorry," she whispered, ashamed of her emotional outburst. "I-I'm sorry, I just..." she attempted to justify to her superior.

Sliding his hands gently from her jaw, Roy lowered his arms to enclose her into his chest. He tilted his head to the side to rest his cheek against her forehead. "Don't," Roy muttered. "Don't apologize."

While he allowed her tears to fall quietly, Roy glanced over to the broken photo frame on the floor. Shattered glass distorted the view of the photograph, but he could see the joy in the image. A younger form of Riza smiled into the lens, adorning a matching red bikini as her grinning brunette companion beside her. Roy had never seen her as happy as she appeared in the photo. A visual sweep of the room reminded him of the emotional chaos filling the woman in his arms, and he momentarily wondered if she could experience joy after such devastation. Her dog remained in his place in the kitchen, but he wagged his tail hopefully with a raise of his head.

Lowering her hands from her face, Riza mumbled, "F-Forgive me-"

Roy closed his eyes and softly pressed his lips to her forehead. Riza stared in surprise for a moment before she allowed her eyelids to slip shut and accepted the contact. Her hands halted at his chest and gently clasped at the material. After holding the position for longer than either previously thought could feel comfortable, Roy pressed the side of his face to hers. He squeezed her tightly and whispered, "Don't mention it."

Nuzzling her face into the crook of his neck, Riza inhaled the scent of his cologne. A light stream of tears dripped into the shoulder of his uniform. "Thank you, sir," she croaked.