AN: Set post-Brotherhood, AU after the events of the Promised Day. Because even after a whole series with the message 'don't fucking bring people back from the dead' hammered into my skull, I just can't help myself. Oh, well. Shameless wish-fulfillment on my part, please take with a grain of salt. Olivier/Buccaneer, rated T for language and dirty suggestions.
Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist and its characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa; I own nothing.
by Miss Mungoe
As a soldier, Buccaneer had a thorough grasp of the concept of death. It was an occupational hazard, and more so for a soldier of Briggs than the pussies stationed in Central. As a result, the thought that he might not make it through the end of the year was an ever-present thing, and he was always prepared to fight his last battle. He'd gone into Central to aid the Queen with that thought in mind, and as he'd drifted off at the rooftop, had been ready to face whatever awaited him on the other side. And like all soldiers staking their life in battle, he'd had his idea of what Heaven looked like.
Waking in a stifling hospital room with a tube shoved down his throat had not been it.
He was dimply aware of frantic yelling and the loud slam of a door that seemed to rattle in his ears with starling force, and he blinked his eyes heavily against the sudden onslaught of light. And for all his preconceptions of Heaven, and images of the highest summit imaginable, the stark white ceiling that met his gaze was somewhat of a disappointment.
He must have drifted off again, because when he woke next it wasn't to white ceiling-tiles, but blue – blue like the cloudless skies over Briggs and golden fire pale like the North winter sun, and for a moment he thought this was it, the last had just been a fluke, he'd gone for real this time–
"You thrice-cursed imbecile, does it look like he needs more sedatives?! Go get your damn superior before I drag him here myself!"
The voice cut through the haze like a blade, followed by a choked sound somewhere to his right, before a stuttered 'yes, ma'am!' and the slam of a door again. Then there was a firm hand on his chest, and he blinked his eyes heavily at the weight of it, feeling like he was being pushed under again–
"Buccaneer? Can you hear me?"
–and there was the summit again, endless blue and all-encompassing, and–no, that wasn't right, he was in a hospital room, and there was no open sky to be seen from a hospital bed, but eyes he saw as his vision cleared enough to get a view of the space before him. Eyes – familiar eyes, and deceptively blue like the sky over Briggs. And drugged out of his mind or not, he'd know those eyes anywhere.
The severe furrow of her brows lessened somewhat, but her hand was heavy like a stone on his chest, and he coughed, a word at the tip of his tongue–
The door slammed again, and he wanted to tell them to quiet the fuck down, but his voice was lodged somewhere at the base of his parched throat and the tube was making it hard to breathe, much less speak. And there was that odd heaviness tugging at his limbs, and so he tried to settle for doing just one thing, and opening his eyes fully seemed about the most he could manage at present. There was another shape in front of his narrow field of vision now, a nondescript face in a white coat, and he figured it had to be the doctor, but the thought was slow in piercing the fog clouding his mind. Hospital. Doctor. Not...dead?
"That's twice he's woken in two hours," her voice fell then, familiar and heavy like the toll of a great bell, slicing through the fog with ease.
A thoughtful hum followed the remark. "Yes, good. Very good, actually. Was a bit of a touch-and-go when they brought him in. Alkahestry is quite something, though, isn't it?" The words were murmured softly, but sounded like a jumbled string of half-made sentences, and Buccaneer shut his eyes against the headache hammering against his skull. He just needed to clear his head for a moment and gather himself. Just for a moment, so the insistent force pressing against his brow would lessen a little. Just...a moment...
When he opened them again, the room was veiled in darkness, and he realized belatedly he must have gone under again. But the ringing in his ears was gone along with the tube, and the temperature wasn't quite so stifling, and when he opened his eyes fully this time the haze cleared with minimal effort. He tried to feel for his fingers, and they twitched in response. His automail arm wasn't attached, but considering the state it had been it the last he could remember, that wasn't much of a surprise. Then he turned his head, searching for injuries and kinks, first toward the window, then to his left–
–and found to his surprise the Major General asleep in the chair beside his bed.
He blinked once, unsure of whether or not it was a trick of his own imaginings, but she didn't move, or dissipate like a mirage. Even asleep she seemed to stay in role, one ankle thrown over her knee and arms crossed over her chest, the picture of resolute defiance, the only noticeable difference being the chin resting softly against her chest. Her hair spilled over her shoulders, golden colour dull in the dark and obscuring most of his view of her face. He stared dumbly, then blinked again, and tried to raise himself from the bed–
A curse tore from his throat at the spectacularly bad idea that had been, and he fell back against the mattress with a groan. His head spun and his midsection throbbed like all hell, and he wondered idly if he wasn't about to pass out again. But he'd never been known for giving up easily, and so he shifted, and tried again – only to find himself pushed back down roughly, a set of small hands pressed flat against his chest.
"Idiot!" she snapped, voice slightly hoarse from sleep, but her eyes were clear and cutting like ice through the dark. "The hell do you think you're doing!?"
He grimaced. "Sitting up," he coughed hoarsely, and winced as his abdomen seemed to throb in response. Ah, yes. The after-effect of taking a sword through the gut. Fucking splendid. "I'm not some invalid," he muttered gruffly.
There was a snort, but before he could gather his thoughts the hands were tugging him forward with surprising strength for his bulk, and something soft was propped behind his back. He realized with a start that she'd shoved two pillows behind him, enough for him to rest in a partially-sitting position without disturbing the healing wound in his stomach. "You will speak of this to no one," she barked then, no doubt at the look on his face, and it was an order if he'd ever heard one. "I'd throw myself off the Wall before I'd be called nursemaid," she spat out the word.
He snorted at the image that remark created, but didn't point it out, aware of his weakened state and fragile position. "I wouldn't dare," he wheezed with a tired grin. "Although, that idea's not–"
"Don't push your luck, soldier," she retorted smoothly, crossing her arms over her chest. "You've been at death's door once already – don't make me shove you through it." But despite the playful warning in her tone, there was an underlying weight of something foreign that he'd never heard before. It lingered along the lines of her tense shoulders, and in the deep furrow between her brows.
Seeming to realize the strangeness of her own behaviour, she sighed, and when she spoke the explanation fell like a weight in its stark simplicity. "You died."
He raised a brow, then smiled wryly. "Just a little bit, apparently."
By her answering frown his humour was lost on her, and it was such a startlingly dark thing it took him by surprise. "No," she said. "You died. It was all rather final."
He frowned. "Then..."
She pursed her lips. "The little girl. The one from Xing. She said she'd picked up fluctuations in your chi or whatever the hell they call it."
"Alkahestry," he said then, remembering the doctor from earlier – a hazy memory at the back of his mind, near drowned by the memories of sharp commands and the insistent slamming of doors.
He looked at her then, and the bandage peeking out from the collar of her uniform, as well as the visible cuts dotting the curve of her jaw and chin. She glared at the direction his gaze took, and there was a clear warning there to not even consider bringing up her injuries. He smirked, unduly glad for some reason. "I'm assuming we got them in the end?" he asked. He sincerely doubted either of them would have been left alive if the Führer had come back to power.
She hummed, and an odd smile tugged at her severe mouth and clearing some of the lines from her face. "Did you ever doubt we would?"
He snorted. "Hard to doubt when you're dead." And there was the glare again. He grinned shamelessly. "Come now, General. You've always been one for macabre humour in the past."
She uncrossed her arms and settled a hand on the swell of one hip, momentarily drawing his gaze. "I'll remember to laugh when these Central simpletons have declared you fit for duty," she snapped. "Until then I'll damn well do as I please, Buccaneer."
He smirked. "Aye, ma'am." He looked at the clock on the wall then, and frowned, noting the time. "And...you do realise it's the middle of the night?" There was another question there, left for her to answer if she so pleased.
She shrugged, and sat back down in the chair she'd occupied previously, throwing her ankle over her knee as she leaned back. "A General doesn't leave her soldiers," she said simply. "And I have no other pressing matters in Central that commands my extended presence."
"Didn't you usurp your brother's position in the family?" he deadpanned.
She smirked. "And he's charmed it right out of my hands," she said, but didn't seem very torn up about the fact. "Mah, I wasn't going to hold it for long. Like I'd spend the rest of my days in Central," she scoffed, as though she'd been asked to move to Drachma. "Matriarch or not, I'd bore myself stupid."
He laughed, but it ended up coming out in harsh coughs. He waved her off when she sat up straighter in her chair and glared, as though her expression alone would make him realize his stupidity. "I'm fine," he assured her, a clever smile curving along his mouth. He'd later blame the drugs for giving him the courage. "It's nice to see you worried, though."
She raised a brow at that, and somewhere at the back of his mind he noted the sword resting against the edge of her chair. But she didn't pounce on him – on the contrary, she merely smirked. "Drugs make you bold, Buccaneer. I'll let that remark slide for now."
He grinned. "Were you a little worried, though?" he asked. "When I un-died, or whatever you call coming back from the brink of death."
She regarded him closely, eyes bright in the otherwise dark room. The silence stretched on for a moment, and she seemed to teeter between responses. "I'd hate to lose one of my best soldiers," she said then. "If that's what you're asking."
"And is that all I am?"
She didn't respond immediately, and when he met her gaze there was something there – the same he'd seen earlier, that foreign emotion he couldn't place. And he thought then of rare moments of good scotch on cold nights on the Wall, and her hair splayed in a golden arc across the pillow of his bunk.
After an extended silence, she snorted softly. "You're bold," she said simply, an odd smile playing along her mouth. "I'll give you that much."
He grinned lazily. "In the films you'd have curled up against me by now."
She scoffed. "I don't watch trashy films," she declared with the same vitriol she reserved for Drachmans. "And I'll pretend I did not hear that hidden suggestion, for your own sake."
He smirked. "Meeting death makes a man daring in life," he pointed out glibly. "Ma'am," he added. The thought lurked somewhere that he'd neglected to address her properly, but it was difficult to keep track of what he said through the pleasant buzz he figured was the drugs' doing.
"Or harebrained, as seems to be the case with you," she muttered under her breath, but there was a good humour there now that the severity had lifted off her shoulders somewhat. "I'd string you up if it weren't for your pitiful condition."
He grinned. "Promises, General? I'll hold you to that, you know."
A more delicate woman would have blushed at the implication, but she merely burst out laughing – the sound loud enough to wake the patients in the rooms all the way down the hall. But if he knew his Queen, she'd intimidated the staff so much they wouldn't dare tell her off, let alone come inside. He let it wash over him a moment, and felt a pleased smile stretch along his lips.
"Buccaneer," she said then.
He raised a tired brow. "Ma'am?"
She smiled. "Good work on not dying."
And it took someone who knew her as well as he to hear the underlying sentiment behind that remark. It was years of trusting their backs to each other, of comrades-turned-lovers and of long, hard winters spent mapping together a definition of their relation that encompassed all that they were without resorting to petty conventions, only to find that there were no words for a union like theirs. But labels mattered little in the end; theirs was a fiercely private affair, and that would not soon change. It did not make him doubt the sincerity of her loyalty, fierce as it was.
He grinned, and nodded. "Sir."
She sat back in her chair, a secret smile curling along her full mouth, and when the silence settled over the room he could almost pretend they weren't in Central, but enjoying the rare kind of calm that often settled over Briggs, heavy like the blanket of winter and as dear to the ears of its inhabitants as music to others. Leaning his head back against the pillows, he welcomed the softly tugging hands of exhaustion pulling at the lids of his eyes and his aching limbs. It looked like Heaven would have to wait, but he found he didn't really mind, for her eyes were the expanse of the Northern sky, and he'd been right, in the end.
It wasn't Heaven, but damn it all, the eternal summit of the afterlife had nothing on Olivier Armstrong.
AN: Shameless wish-fulfillment is shameless.