Disclaimer: Fullmetal Alchemist belongs to Hiromu Arakawa, Square Enix, Funimation, and others who are not me.
It was a beautiful day — the sun shining high in the sky, the pale blue littered with puffy white clouds — a perfect, peaceful day, concluded Riza Hawkeye, to be outside. Which was why it came as such a complete and total surprise when the first bullet tore through her side. It wasn't until the second burrowed hotly into her thigh that her body finally reacted, lurching reflexively behind the nearest cover, her pistols appearing almost magically in her hands.
She crouched down low behind the upper portion of the Old Well, her eyes darting furiously about as people around her began to scream and scurry in panic. A large man in a suit dropped abruptly in his tracks a hundred yards or so away, the wound to his head obvious and messy. The screams grew louder as people fled in all directions, unable to pinpoint where the attack was coming from. To her mounting frustration, Riza was having similar difficulty. The bullets appeared to be striking randomly across the courtyard from the street to the train station, and, now that she was listening for it, she could just make out the sound of gunfire in the distance. A long range shooter, then, she deduced, somewhere to the north. No, northwe—
Pain hit her then, as it hadn't before, searing brutally through her flesh, stealing her breath and her lucidity all in one dizzying wave. The pistols nearly fell from her fingers as they went weak with the agony, her forearm plunging to tremulously press against her side. She felt the blood before she saw it, and knew from experience it was seeping out at a dangerous rate. Her eyes flitted about once more, but there was no one that she could see still moving in the immediate vicinity. And the sparks of gunshots still ricocheted off the cement all around her.
This… was not good. Another wave of vertigo washed over her as the pain throbbed savagely against her palm. Riza fought it off with a brisk shake of her head, knowing that if she lost consciousness, there was little chance of regaining it. She had to find a way to stop the bleeding.
The sound of bullets danced wildly across the courtyard behind her, and then a warm hand suddenly gripped her shoulder. A pistol jumped toward the intruder in surprise, but the familiar face and voice put her just as abruptly at ease.
"Major Hawkeye?" Edward Elric called to her anxiously, crouching behind the brick well beside her. "Are you all right?" His eyes were keen and sharp, intermittently sliding over her injures and up toward the indiscernible sniper with proficient faculty.
"I've had better days," she returned in a ragged voice, not as composed as she would have liked. "Whoever it is seems to be firing from the northwest, and without design or reason as far as I can tell. I'm not sure how many there are, either."
Edward nodded absently, absorbing her words and all the factors of their perilous situation in quick order. For a moment, his visage went grim as he stared off into the distance, the gold of his eyes darkening with a fierce anger; and in that moment, Riza saw the Fullmetal Alchemist in a different light, one that his enemies most assuredly had, just before he beat them to a bloody pulp. But then the expression vanished as he turned back to her, his decision made, his fingers reaching to lightly inspect her wounds.
His breath hissed through his teeth. "We've got to get that stopped," he declared soberly, glancing up to meet her eyes. There was concern on Ed's face, along with something else, and it wasn't until the telltale red stained his cheeks that Riza figured out what it was.
She tried not to show her amusement, fairly easy when one was in a great deal of pain, and simply nodded her permission.
Dropping his gaze back to the task at hand, Edward nervously cleared his throat and then gave a purposeful clap of his hands. His touch was gentle, the alchemical power rolling off of his hands and over the wounds painless, as the fabric of the uniform that surrounded them carefully peeled away. He exposed only what he needed to in order to treat her injuries, his power transmuting bandages from his own coat for use in binding them as tightly as necessary to halt the bleeding.
"My train came in early," he said as he worked, "though not early enough, it seems. I didn't expect you to be the one to pick me up."
"Well, it was such a nice day," she returned in as light a manner as possible, "and the General was being his usual cooperative self, so I figured I could use the break."
Ed snorted softly at that. "It figures this would be Mustang's fault. If it wasn't you sitting here, I would go so far as to say he intentionally manipulated this whole thing."
"I don't find that at all amusing, Edward. This is hardly his fault."
"Yeah, yeah," he said with a roll of his eyes, "Mustang is so wonderful, he should be Fuhrer, yada, yada… whatever. The man is so effective he maneuvered the position he was aiming for right out of existence. I find the irony highly amusing."
"I suppose you do," she acknowledged with a wince as he tied off one of the bandages, "but I also know that you would do anything for him, the same as the rest of us."
"Ha! I would not," he retorted hotly. "Not anything."
Riza merely arched a knowing brow in reply. There was only the occasional sprinkle of gunfire to be heard as Ed wordlessly finished the binding.
"That should do it," he said finally, "at least until we get you to a doctor."
Indeed, for a field dressing it was rather flawless in Riza's estimation. Of course, Edward had been a State Alchemist nearing on eight years now. He wasn't quite twenty, yet how many times had he had to do this for someone? For himself? Not for the first time, Riza found herself thinking that Edward had grown up far too quickly. Yet that had been an unfortunate truth since the moment she'd met him, and there had been no plausible way for her to have changed it. Even at twelve, Ed had been mulishly single-minded.
Once again, his eyes were shrewdly surveying the area. "If we can get to that car parked over there by the mailbox, from there, we can reach that flower shop on the corner. I'll make a backdoor out of there if there isn't one already. It should be safe enough then to commandeer a car or something. Do you think you can make it that far?"
Riza nodded in quick reply. Of course she could make it. There was no other option.
Edward's gaze washed over her, once more, as if to verify her claim. His expression, always so easily read, still conveyed a great wealth of concern, but then he nodded in return.
"All right," he said, moving closer to her, "on the count of three then."
His arm curled around her back, the hard steel of the automail surprisingly gentle as his hand came to a rest just under her arm. Fighting a wince, Riza raised her other arm and eased it across his shoulders, finding the best position to brace herself for what was to come.
It was curious; there didn't seem to be any more bullets flying around. Perhaps the gunman had given up or had already been caught by someone.
That would be nice, but Riza wasn't making any bets on it. She took a deep, fortifying breath.
She could not halt the grunt of pain that slipped through her teeth as Edward hauled her forcefully to her feet. Though stay on her feet, she did, in a burst of sheer willpower, tenaciously ignoring the sharp lances of agony stabbing viciously through her body. And then they were moving, her weight supported predominantly by Fullmetal's steel arm as she hopped and stumbled clumsily alongside him.
Their faltering pace seemed dreadfully slow, slow enough to present one delectable target, she was sure; yet the rain of bullets did not descend upon them as their distant goal grew ever nearer. Riza's anxiety, however, did not wane in the least, nor did Ed's, it appeared, as his obvious apprehension attempted to hasten their speed.
It was then that she heard it. Her eyes went wide in instant recognition, but there was no time to shout any warnings.
The car before them exploded, bursting into flame and flying scrap as the familiar whistling shell slammed into it. Ed halted abruptly in his tracks and turned his body to shield her as the heat from the blast swept over them. A curse snapped from his lips, short and crude, and then he was moving again, lifting her up over his metal shoulder with an excruciating wrench, carrying her swiftly back the way they had come.
The round brick face of the Old Well would not provide enough cover from that kind of firepower, Riza realized through a thick haze of pain. Unless, of course, Ed transmuted it into something that could. As they neared the well, however, the sudden sound of an approaching whistle cut off any hope that the alchemist would have time to do so. Fear seized her heart as the realization hit, her body tensing instinctively, anticipating the incoming blow.
Then Edward's arms tightened around her, and he jumped. His body twisted in the air, his hands gripping her firmly, tugging her down lower into the shelter of his chest, his flesh and blood arm mooring her securely in place, just as all hell erupted into a raging inferno around them. And then they were falling.
The flames leapt after them, licking hungrily at their skin and clothing, but they quickly dropped out of reach, down, down, into a cold, black abyss of resplendent darkness.