"I left without my sunglasses. I'm sorry, okay? How many times are you going to make me apologize to you?" Roxanne groaned, sinking down into the hospital bed and turning to face away from the looming figure scolding her.
The little Ishvalan didn't find it much of an issue. It was only a few stab wounds! She'd suffered much worse. That clunky prosthetic plugged into the stump left of her arm was evidence enough of that. Colonel Mustang's scolding went in one ear and out the other as Roxanne slipped her new pair of sunglasses on, hiding her bright crimson eyes away from the world.
As long as it had been since the war, you'd think people would be over their hatred of Ishvalans. They're all dead, save for a few isolated settlements and, of course, her. The hatred seemed a little excessive at this point. She'd only gone to get some groceries. She planned on stealing said groceries, sure. But she hadn't touched a thing!
Some maniac had come at her, shrieking a story about his son being killed in the conflict and spitting expletives at her before drawing a knife on her. How would it look for a member of the military to attack a civilian in the street? She tried her best to de-escalate the situation. Of course, that hadn't worked out as she planned, and now she was here with a few new scars for her collection.
"And one other thing, I can't handle you being this reckless when I'm supposed to be responsible for you!"
Roxanne vaguely tuned in to hear the tail end of Roy's argument. "You're right, Roy. I'll try to be more careful next time, alright?" She peered over her shoulder, flashing a weak smile to him. In no official terms, he was her guardian.
She had run away from her aunt and uncle's house. Izumi Curtis, being the stern woman that she was, didn't go searching for her. She had figured that if she was so mature as to run away, she'd be able to take care of herself or come back crying. The factor she didn't take into account was Roxanne's stubbornness, which is exactly why the two hadn't seen each other in at least three years.
Sickness and mental turmoil were the only memories she could dredge up from these past few years. At least one of those was her fault. She hadn't been careful enough in her planning, she hadn't thought anything through. And now she was lying directly to the one person that had been caring for her for those years.
She wouldn't dare tell Roy that she'd lost her place in the military barracks. The spots for females were so incredibly limited. To this day, she was still kicking herself for that. Roy had been the only reason she'd gotten a position at the military in the first place. He took her under his wing and did anything he could to help her squirm up the ranks to sergeant. Her work mainly consisted of wandering around Amestris and inspecting places for this and that. It was a boring job, but it put food on the table.
Or it would, if Roxanne wasn't constantly shelling out money to keep a crummy hotel room to stay in. She almost preferred when she lived on the streets. At least then her money could be mostly going to food instead of her sticky fingers helping food find its way to her mouth.
Roy was talking again. She'd completely blanked out, more absorbed in her thoughts than anything he'd be saying to her.
"I found out that you're not living in the barracks anymore."
Those words quickly drew her attention. She rolled over and pulled herself up into a seated position, staring over to Roy in silence as she waited for further scolding.
"Wh… What about it? I'm fine," Roxanne quickly became defensive. What right did he have to tell her how to live, anyways? He wasn't her dad.
The older man pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. "Curtis, you can't just live on the streets—"
Roy let out a heavy sigh, deciding to believe her. His words were going to be the same either way. "I've talked with another military member of the same age as you. Him and his brother, they're good kids. They've got a little permanent residence in the city. You can't keep stealing like you are. And I know you are because storeowners reported it when we were investigating the attack," He lowered himself to eye level with Roxanne as he continued chewing her out, "Once you're out of here, I expect you to report to my office so I can have you escorted. I'm not accepting any complaints on this."
The Ishvalan groaned in frustration, rolling her eyes as she returned to facing away from her superior. He was so irritating when he was like this. Acting like her dad, acting like he could boss her around. It pissed her off. "Whatever, Colonel Mustang." She knowingly put heavy emphasis on the formal title. It always irritated him, even if just slightly.
"Do as the doctors tell you. I'm leaving two officers stationed at your door to make sure you don't leave."
With that cold remark, Roy was gone, his shadow, Hawkeye, following him.
Roxanne sank into the uncomfortable hospital bed, almost happy to have the spacious thing to herself. The bed in her hotel room was a lumpy, tiny nightmare. It was impossible to get comfortable in and if you got too comfortable, you fell out.
Her wounds stung with every slight movement. She resigned to silent stillness, waiting in the bed for sleep to eventually overtake her and bring some relief. She was fine sleeping in the hospital like this as long as she had to. The beeping of the machines and the chattering between doctors and nurses was nothing compared to the filthy sounds she'd have to hear at that cheap hotel.
The hums of machinery lulled her to sleep, her doing the best of her abilities to ignore the pain that she was in. And yet, this seemed like it was destined to be the most pleasant sleep of her life. Save for death, of course.
It's all burning.
Roxanne held her little sister close to her as they watched everything they'd ever known go up in flames. Soldiers shot at corpses, their life waters already staining the sand crimson beneath them.
They had to know they were already dead, right? Did they hate Ishvalans that much? Nonsense. It was just some misunderstanding. It had to be.
A woman's cries and shrieks pierced through the roar of crackling flames. The two children watched as the woman had her baby viciously torn from her arms.
Both of them.
The sobs of mother and child both silenced in an instant.
Wallowed deep inside the small crevice between two buildings, the terrified children tried to stay silent. They could only wiggle further into their small hiding space in hopes of concealing themselves in shadow.
"Sissy, I wanna go home…"
Roxanne slapped a hand over her sister's mouth, harshly silencing her. It was all she could do to try and keep them safe.
She swallowed hard, her throat dry from the hot desert air and the stress of the situation. Julia writhed and sniffled, trying to pry her sister's hand from her mouth. Bless her heart; Julia just didn't understand. She didn't understand the immediate danger they were in.
Roxanne carefully scouted the area around them as they slowly worked through the gap to the other side. After enough careful consideration, she jerked her sister out of the gap with her and took off in a sprint.
They just had to get home. Home with Mom and Dad. Things would be okay if they could just get home. They'd be protected.
Barefoot and struggling through the sinking sand, all they could do was sob and carry on. Slipping and sliding on dunes, it was a struggle to even stay upright. But they had to get home. They just had to get home.
The destruction and death were dangerously close to their untouched shack. Huffing and puffing, the girls carried themselves to the door on shaky legs.
"You're not touching her! She wasn't part of the rebellion!"
Their sun-kissed skin paled at the voice. Their father. He'd never sounded that angry in his life. And their mother was crying.
Roxanne carefully pulled the door open and the two children peeked into the shack.
That elegant, long-haired Ishvalan they'd always looked up to as a beacon of strength lay in a sniffling heap behind their father. The familiar blue of an Amestrian soldier stood before them. With the gleam of a gun barrel pressed into their father's forehead.
Time slowed to a painstaking crawl. Click. Boom. And their father was sprawled in the floor, a bloody mess. Their mother was sobbing and holding her husband's head in her lap, stroking his bloody locks as her cries continued.
"Just wake up!"
Roxanne was startled out of her sleep, unfamiliar hands on her body.
Relief crossed the round face of the nurse in front of her and she was released, flopping against the bed in a confused stupor. "I was sleeping…" she complained, her stumpy flesh arm giving a bit of movement to an unresponsive prosthetic. That's troubling.
"You were having night terrors, Ms. Curtis. We thought someone was in here attacking you!" The nurse let out a hearty, relieved laugh as she spoke, her shoulders slouching as she eased up.
With her prosthetic not responding, Roxanne lifted her other arm to smear away tears. She refused to appear so weak. "I'm fine, you're dismissed." She didn't intend to sound so bitchy. Although, people should expect it. From the outside perspective, at least, she was a stern soldier that didn't let sentimentality get in the way of things.
Was it just a surprise to see a girl her age already acting like that? She hadn't been in the military an awful long time, she supposed. But with a rank of sergeant one would assume she's seen enough. Nonetheless, the nurse couldn't help but raise her brows before she retreated from the room.
Alone, her thoughts returned to the motionless prosthetic. It was probably busted again. When was the last time it was in a decent state of repair, anyway? She couldn't do much but prod at the metal surface in hopes it would somehow begin normal function again. No luck.
Mechanic visit? Food was barely in the budget, machinery didn't have a cent to spare.
She scowled as the thought of living with some asshole that Roy decided on. Really? He was forcing her to live with someone? Who did he think he was, anyways?
'My superior,' her mind graciously answered the question for her as she stifled a small laugh. Jeez, he needed to piss off sometimes.
After a few uncomfortable half-stretches, Roxanne was up and out of bed against the advice she'd been given by medical staff. She wasn't going to just laze around like that. Ishvalans are resilient, damnit. She lost her entire family and an arm in one night, what's a few stab wounds?
The dead weight of her useless prosthetic definitely slowed her down a bit. She tottered from her hospital room, her hand gently cupping the wrist of her prosthetic to hold it up. She was immediately stopped at the entrance by—what else—two of Roy's little guard dogs.
"You're not allowed to leave your room."
"I need to make a call. I'm your superior, aren't I?" Roxanne boldly spat in return, having a little too much confidence for someone of her age and stature.
"Then we'll accompany you."
They weren't going to budge. With a begrudging eye roll, she silently accepted this offer as she made her way off to the pay phones. Her hand burrowed down in her pocket for a few spare coins, sliding them in.
After a bit of gentle argument with the operator, she was connected directly to Roy's office.
"What do you wa—"
"Hey, don't get snappy. That's how you start a fire," Roxanne teased with a slight smile, "So, Roy. I think I'm gonna be in here a little longer than I thought. I'd love to just walk out right now but I might have to get a mechanic in here to see about my arm. It's not budging. Do you think you could find some time in your precious schedule to go get my belongings from that shitty hotel I'm in and take this month's payments from them? You're making me live somewhere else, anyways, so they don't get to have my money for another month."
"Give me the address and I'll have officers go retrieve your things."
"Hey, no. I want you to do it yourself. I don't trust anyone else in the military not to steal from me."
There was a long silence on the other end before the colonel sighed.
"Thanks, Roy," she smiled, leaning her head into the wall beside the phone, "You're the best." And with that, their exchange ended.
Now the hard part began—finding a mechanic that would be willing to take the trip from Rush Valley to Central City to work on some likely not-paying Ishvalan sergeant. It's not like she could finesse the military into paying for it. That kind of thing was reserved for higher-ups and people that actually mattered.
"Pen and paper," she snapped her fingers at one of the subordinates, holding her hand out and patiently waiting for her request to be filled. Pap. The paper pad was laid on the small desk in front of her and a pen was set into her hand. Now to get to work.
She wrote down as many names and phone numbers as she could remember from her days of searching out an automail mechanic. She'd become somewhat proficient at writing with her left hand since the accident. She was young enough that re-learning was possible, although difficult.
"Right. Right. I understand… Oh, you do? Could I have a name and number?... Uh huh. Uh huh. Ah, I already called him. He said he wouldn't be willing to come out for repairs, either. Anyone else you have in mind? Oh. I understand. Have a good day."
Roxanne took a deep breath as she calmly set the phone on its hook and stared at the paper full of names and numbers crossed out. Everyone knew someone willing to do the free repair but didn't want to do it themselves.
"Damnit damnit damnit!" Her fist tensed around the phone, lifting and slamming it into the receiver again and again until she regained her composure. "One of you get a nurse to get me a sling for this busted arm, will ya?"
She couldn't help but bark orders at those shadows. Their presence was unnecessary so they might as well make themselves useful. With a salute, one of them was off as Roxanne staggered up to her feet.
"Forgive me for speaking out of line, Sergeant, but I don't think you should be walking around much with your current injuries," the remaining soldier spoke softly, his voice faintly laced with concern.
"I lost my arm in the war. I'll live with a few papercuts like this," she waved him off, steadying herself against the wall to her side as she waited on the sling to take the burden of her prosthetic's weight away.
After trying and failing to ignore small, sharp pains in her stomach, she relented to give her stomach her attention. She peeled up her shirt a bit, faintly surprised by frayed stitches and blood seeping out. She really shouldn't have been. She was told to stay on strict bedrest and not move around, but here she was.
The edges of her vision blurred. She was completely exhausted, and the loss of blood only served to remind her of it. She scooped up the wrist of her prosthetic, thudding off to her room to have a comfortable place to collapse.
Her watchdog could only follow, afraid of acting out of line due to the spitfire temper Roxanne was known for. His shoulders eased as his fellow officer returned with a nurse and a sling just as the sergeant was stepping into her room.
Quickly, she was planted on the edge of the bed and receiving a child-like scolding. Finger-wagging included. She was given a small dose of pain medication and the nurse went to cleaning up her wounds. She was restitched, bandaged, and her prosthetic was tossed into its sling.
She sank into her bed, relieved to get another dose of pain medicine that permitted her to relax. Roy was probably going to hear about that one. She couldn't be bothered, getting sucked up by a warm, inviting, medicated slumber.
"Stay quiet, Julia,"
Roxanne was having trouble calming her own erratic breath. They had been struggling to keep themselves hidden in the hollow remains of their village. The strong, metallic scent lingering in the air was nauseating.
An Amestrian surveyor was ensuring the death of every Ishvalan in the area. He and his crew of soldiers systematically burst into each house, taking count of corpses and setting an explosive charge to be detonated once the area was deemed clear.
If someone survived by some slim margin, they wouldn't have anywhere to return to.
Growing up in that barren desert allowed Roxanne and Julia to know their ways of silently maneuvering. It was only due to that that they managed to avoid the survey crew every step of the way.
As cruel as she felt, Roxanne had to repeatedly silence her sister's crying. Julia couldn't know any better. She was too young to even be enrolled in school. How was she expected to understand war and genocide?
They were huddled in a closet, Roxanne's hands clasped tightly over Julia's little mouth to keep her silent as she tried her best to listen in on the Amestrians.
"Sector one is clear. 35 confirmed dead."
Their voices were muffled but hardly difficult to understand.
"Sector two is clear."
"Sector three is clear."
It was painful listening to them rack up the kill count.
"Clear the area. Explosive charges are set."
Her breath caught in her throat.