Keep it in.

No emotion.

No weakness.

Riza curled up into a ball, clenching her teeth, making her bed squeak somewhat with the shift of her weight. It was so painful.

Keep it in… keep it in… don't let go…

It hurt, it always hurt… but she would never tell anyone.

Never.

It was her burden, no one else's… she had to bare it alone.

Unshed tears burned her eyes. She'd never let it out…

Don't let it go. Never let it go… REMEMBER.

This had kept her from work … it happened about every year around the same time… and amazingly no one ever suspected… no one ever noticed… Ishvar… it was all at Ishvar… blood, death, the smell of burning flesh… the child in her sights, pulling the trigger… watching him crumple to the ground, the life absent from his eyes.

We weren't supposed to leave anyone alive…

It would never go away… Few could understand that blood… that ache. A sharp pain stabbed at her heart… like a rusty knife; twisting and digging. Her body was burning with a fever.

She had death on her hands, and this is what she deserved, this was her punishment… Her body shivered involuntarily and she dug her short fingernails into the bed sheet. It ripped at her heart, tearing, shredding… like a beast; a beast of blood, ache, and memories. Her head pounded and her body began to shake uncontrollably. The white nightshirt she wore was completely soaked through with sweat. She convulsed suddenly, her fevered mind forcefully dragging her into the most painful of dreams.

Through the scope liquefied a barren wasteland of what used to be a city. Blood rushed through the streets like a mad river, drowning the souls of the dead. She lay prone on top of one of the highest buildings, the smell of singed tissue filling her nostrils. Sitting up, she looked to the building adjacent and saw Roy, his gun to his chin, a hopeless look in his eye, quivering, and with red liquid contrasting against the white of his gloves. Dropping the rifle in her hand, she reached out and screamed, "NO!"

"It's a shame we have to die…" a voice echoed in her mind piercingly. She clutched her head with a hand and clenched her eyes and teeth shut, taking a few stumbling steps forward. A gunshot sounded out and her hand dropped, her mind blanked. A gasping sob escaped her throat as her colonel fell back, the gun dropping from his hand. He hit the ground with a solid thud, his body growing colder by each passing second; it was as though she could see the heat escaping his body. With another step towards her fallen commander, she plummeted off the building into the warm blood with a splash. She struggled to swim to the top as the thick, hot liquid forced its way in to her lungs, engulfing her. With the last of her energy, she shot a hand out towards the surface…

Warm, strong arms enveloped her. Choking and gasping on her own breath, she came back to reality. "Shh…" cooed a tender voice. Tears slid down her cheeks as she buried her face into the rough uniform material.

"I-I c-can't," she sobbed, "I can't forget… I-"

"I know," he said, "I know…" Her fingers dug into his uniform as her body shivered again and he ran his fingers through her hair comfortingly. "But you've got to let it out…"

She sobbed harder than she ever had, each tear lessening the weight of guilt. "Don't leave," she begged, "Don't leave me." It was the fever's illusion, making dreams seem real; she didn't want to lose him again.

"I won't," her colonel told her, "I'll never leave you."