He didn't really realize he was doing it.

He stuck around with her longer than usual during breaks. On several ocassions he found himself taking her to dinner after long days. One morning, she arrive at work to find a new fountain pen, wrapped and waiting for her, on her desk.

But of course he didn't realize he was doing it. He'd know the lieutenant since he was a teenager. They'd spent years together. They were friends, they relied on each other. Riza had his back. Roy had hers.

So why, on one musty night, did a slightly drunken Colonel stumble out of the bar and across the town to her apartment?

His feet carried him, and as his body followed, everything seemed bolder and louder and the air was hotter and the sky was vaster. It almost hurt, how how bold and loud and hot and vast everything was. Still, he went on.

He staggered up the stairs, cursing the pounding in his head as he went. He arrived at her door and knocked rather loudly, not fully aware of what he was doing. When there was no answer, he banged his fist on the door rather loudly until the lieutenant appeared in the threshold, her hair damp and ratty towel thrown over her shoulder.

"C-colonel?" she said, slightly bewildered.

At her voice and face, the Colonel sobered slightly. He blinked and looked to his sides, registering that he had shown up at Riza's apartment drunk.

"Sir?" Riza asked again. "Roy? Are you okay?"

"I … I think I got drunk," he said, loud enough for the whole level to hear. He blinked. "Why is your hair wet?"

"Huh? Oh. I was giving Black Hayate a bath. Do you want to come in? I can make some tea and you can sober up."

"Ah, no. I … I guess I'll be on my way home. Sorry to have disturbed you."

"Sir, you shouldn't go out if you're drunk."

His head began to hurt again – why was she talking so loudly? - so he ended up sitting at the lieutenant's small kitchen table while she made the tea. When she put the cup in front of him, the Colonel blinked up at her. "Your hair is still wet," he said dumbly, brow wrinkled.

"Yes, I still need to finish giving Black Hayate his bath. I'll do that and you sit here and drink your tea. I'll be right back."

She disappeared into the hallway and Roy put the cup to his kips. After a little while, everything seemed to clear out and his head stopped throbbing. He looked around the kitchen and saw, laying on the counter carefully, the fountain pen he'd bought for the lieutenant. It was unopened, still in the wrappings. The colonel laughed to himself because Riza hardly ever accepted his gifts. Up until several years ago, she would have rejected them completely, but he recalled last year when he'd bought her the bracelet. He didn't know why he'd thought to buy her a bracelet of all things, but he did, and upon presenting it, she nodded slightly, took it, and said "thank you" in a small voice. He never saw her wear it, but one weekend he was helping her pack to move to a new apartment, and he saw the bracelet on her dresser, the gift box lid open.

The Colonel drained the remains of his cup and stood. Riza was still down the hall, but he was sober and had no reason to stick around, so he pushed in his chair, quietly opened the door, and left.

That night as the Colonel sat in his home study, surrounded by forms and volumes, he thought that maybe he did know why he was doing it. Of course he knew why he lingered during breaks and paid the restaurant bills and bought her a fountain pen she would never use. They'd spent years together. They were friends, they relied on each other. Riza had his back. And after all this time, she had his heart too.