Full Metal Alchemist, its characters and attendant settings were created by Hiromu Arakawa, and are distributed by Square Enix, Funimation and Viz. Dr. Goldblum is an original character based on a vet friend of mine.
"Goodbye, and Godspeed"
A Fullmetal Alchemist Oneshot
by Anne Packrat
It was the last thing Riza Hawkeye expected to hear when she brought her dog into the vet. Her attentiveness, honed by years of babysitting a certain colonel, had picked up on the fact that Black Hayate had been more lethargic for the past day and a half. Dutifully she'd packed him up and brought him into the vet first thing in the morning. But she never expected this.
"He's got cancer?"
Dr. Goldblum nodded. When she spoke, her tone was one of sympathy. "That's the most likely diagnosis, yes."
Riza didn't know what to say. Cancer? She didn't even know dogs got cancer. "But he was fine just a few days before..."
"Well, it's likely it's been building very slowly, so any symptoms he showed were probably very subtle... if they were even noticeable at all," she looked over the chart and continued, "Frankly, I'm surprised that you even caught this as early as you did. By doing so you've likely bought him more time."
Her mind reeling, Riza digested what the doctor said. She bought him more time? Surely, that didn't mean...
"Then this is fatal?" she asked, frightened to hear the answer, but already knowing it in her heart.
"Yes," the vet replied sadly, "It's not something we can cure."
Riza bit her lip. "How much time are we talking about?"
"It depends on how he responds to treatment. I've seen some dogs live up to a year, while others live only a few weeks." She flipped through the chart in her hands. Normally the vet wouldn't be so blunt with an owner, but she knew that honesty (even if it was brutal) was the best way to deal with the military woman in front of her. "Given the rate at which the condition is progressing, I'd have to say he has a month left, maybe six weeks at most."
Hawkeye gripped the edge of the table to steady herself. This was all too much in all too quick a time.
The vet seemed to notice this and put a comforting hand on Riza's arm. "We have to run some more tests on Hayate, it may be awhile. Do you have someone you can call to come sit with you?"
Briefly she thought of calling the colonel, but quickly pushed that thought aside. There was no need to bother him with this. It wouldn't do for him to see her so upset over a dog. Even if it was her dog. Even if it was Hayate.
"No I don't," she said quickly, "I'll just wait here until you're done."
Dr. Goldblum stepped back and headed toward the door where she paused. "Do you want anything? Some tea maybe?"
Riza shook her head. "No, I'm fine."
The vet had her handle on the doorknob when Riza asked quietly, "Actually do you think I could possibly borrow a box of tissues?"
Wordlessly, Dr. Goldblum reached into a cabinet and handed over the requested item. "I'll be back as quickly as I can," she said before leaving.
Only then, when she was alone, did Riza allow her tears to flow.
The next few weeks were difficult ones for Riza. She had asked Dr. Goldblum what she could do for Hayate, and the answer was simply "spoil him rotten." So the pup got all of his favorite foods and as many treats as he would eat. Not that he could keep many down, he had started vomiting regularly a week after the initial diagnosis.
She'd taken to leaving at lunch and going home to spend time with him. At first they went for hour long walks to the park, but soon the walks got shorter, and then they stopped all together when he got too weak to go farther than the backyard. When that happened, she instead spent the time sitting and petting him on the couch.
The others in the office were also noting changes in Riza. She looked pale and always had bags under her eyes. She was more easily distracted, and her threats of gun violence were hollow.
"Dammit, Hawkeye, what's wrong with you?" Mustang asked as he noticed her drifting off to sleep.
Riza shook herself and looked up at her superior. "What do you mean, sir?"
He put down his pen and went over to her desk. "Don't play dumb with me, lieutenant. You've been losing weight, your attention span is shot, and now you're falling asleep in the office. Something is obviously upsetting you. Tell me what it is."
She frowned at stared at her hands. "I'm sorry about my drop in performance, sir. I will strive to do better."
Mustang slammed a fist on her desk, upsetting her piles of finished paperwork and causing her to jump. "Stop avoiding the question!" His face softened and he put a hand on her shoulder. "Hawkeye, please. It's obvious something has been eating you up inside these past few weeks, and I'm tired of pretending that I don't see it. I want to know and to help if I can." His intense onyx eyes caught and held hers. "I'm not asking as your superior officer, but as your friend. Please, tell me what's bothering you."
Riza bit her lip and slowly nodded. Roy stepped back and released her shoulder.
She took a deep breath and said, "It's Black Hayate... He's... Well, he's dying."
Roy's eyes widened and she heard his sharp hiss of indrawn breath. "How long?"
She looked down at her hands. She didn't like talking about how long he had left. "It's been three weeks since the vet told me. She feels he has another three or four weeks left."
He paused and then seemed to come to a decision. "Go home and bring your dog back here, lieutenant."
She frowned. "But, sir, my work-"
He interrupted her before she could finish. "Your work will still be here. You need to spend as much time as you can with Hayate before his time is up."
Riza was still hesitant. "Sir, do you really think it's appropriate?"
Roy nodded, his eyes soft. "Yes, it is. Don't forget that we all care about Black Hayate too. Bring him back here so we can help take care of him. That in turn will help take some of the burden off you."
She faltered, still unsure, then finally got up and headed to the door. She paused before exiting. "Roy... Thank you," she said softly, then left.
He watched her go, his expression a mixture of sadness and worry. "Anytime, Riza."
The next few weeks were not quite as hard as the first three, mainly because everyone else in the office (even Breda, who fetched water or did things that didn't actually bring him near the puppy) pitched in to make sure Hayate got his medication, was well petted and stuffed full of treats. The puppy's health, however, continued to decline, but he always managed to thump his tail on the ground whenever he saw Riza, no matter how weak he felt.
Then the day came when she woke up to find Hayate lying on the ground, his breathing shallow. He barely managed a small tail wag when he saw her. She picked him up and hugged him to her chest, her heart breaking at seeing him in this condition.
She held him out so she could look at him face to face. His eyes were cloudy, but they met hers, and she could read the message he was trying to convey with them.
It was time.
Roy was frantic with worry. Hawkeye was over an hour late and had not called, and this was so unusual in and of itself that he was beginning to think something seriously wrong had happened to her.
He started as the phone rang. He picked it up, hoping fervently that on the other end was his missing lieutenant and not some hospital official.
"Sir, I'm sorry I didn't call sooner..." It was Hawkeye. Roy sagged in relief.
"Where are you?" he said with a touch of anger, "Do you know how worried we've been?"
Her voice sounded strained, and he wondered if she had been crying. Finally, she said quietly, "I'm at the vet. I've decided to put Black Hayate to sleep."
He dropped his pen and took his jacket off the chair. "I'll get there as soon as I can." He hung up the phone and quickly left through the outer office, where he paused and addressed his remaining subordinates. "Where's Fuery?"
"He's off doing some filing in the office down the hall," Falman answered, "Is something wrong?"
Roy frowned, his mouth set in a grim line. "It's Hayate's time. I'm going to be with Hawkeye."
No one questioned him. They all knew how much the dog had meant to Riza. It's amazing just how important something as simple as a pet's unconditional love can be to a soldier with blood on their hands.
"Should we come with you, chief?" Havoc asked.
Roy shook his head. "You all stay here and console Fuery. He's going to need it."
They understood that too. Fuery had found the pup in the first place, and his love for Hayate had been almost as strong as Hawkeye's.
Roy moved to leave, but Havoc stopped him. "Boss- Tell Hawkeye that we're here if she needs us."
Roy nodded and left without another word.
He found her in the waiting room of the vet, her hands in her lap.
"Riza..." he said sitting down next to her, and taking her hand in his. "Is he-?"
She shook her head. "Not yet. I wanted to be with him when they did it. They're preparing now."
Roy hesitated, then asked, "Do you want me to come with you?"
Her gaze met his, and she gave a sad smile. "I think I would like that, yes."
A small cough interrupted their conversation. They looked up to find Dr. Goldblum standing in front of them. "We're ready, Ms. Hawkeye. Are you sure you want to be present for the euthanasia?"
Riza nodded. "I'm positive. I think I owe it to Hayate."
"All right," Dr. Goldblum returned. Her gaze flickered over to Roy. "Are you going to be coming in as well, Mr...?
Roy started to introduce himself but stopped when Riza did it for him.
"This is Roy, " she said quickly, "He's- He's a friend."
He was surprised and pleased that she talked about him like that. She had said friend, not "commanding officer" or "boss." But he didn't have time to dwell on that fact, as Riza stood and followed the veterinarian into a small room.
At least it had been a painless passing, Roy had to admit. Riza held Hayate in her arms as they gave him an injection, and Hayate went into a peaceful sleep. After a few moments the vet pulled out her stethoscope and then quietly announced that the puppy's heart had stopped.
Dr. Goldblum hugged Riza, and sadly offered her condolences. Riza barely heard them, her attention was fixed on the now still body of her puppy.
The vet then put her hand on Roy's shoulder, and said softly, "Take as much time as you both need. Let me know if I can be of any further help."
Roy nodded. "Thank you. If we need anything we'll call you."
Dr. Goldblum put a comforting hand on Riza's shoulder, then left the two alone.
Roy pulled Riza around, and wasn't surprised to find tears on her cheeks. He wrapped his arms around her and stroked her hair. "Don't hold back, Riza. Just let it all out."
And so she did. He held her, murmuring quiet soothing words, and stroking her hair while she sobbed into his chest. He didn't know how long they remained that way, nor did he really care. She had always been there for him, and now it was his turn to be there for her.
They buried Hayate on top of the hill behind Riza's house. It had been a favorite spot of the pup's, one he would often stop at on their walks, and run around snapping at bugs, or rolling in the sun-warmed grass.
Havoc and the others from the office did the physical work of digging and burying the body. Then they set a small cairn of stones on top, to mark the grave.
Riza chose to bury Hayate with a favorite pullrope, blanket and some treats. It was a silly sentimental thing to do, but at the time it seemed fitting. They held a small ceremony and said some words. Not surprisingly, Fuery cried the whole time. After the ceremony, the others expressed their condolences to Riza, then left for the bar, hoping alcohol and company would help console Fuery.
Roy remained behind with her, holding her hand gently, as she silently stood and stared at the small pile of stones. They stood that way as the shadows lengthened, and the sun began to set.
Finally Roy said, "He was a good dog."
Riza sighed. "Yes, he was."
They fell silent for awhile. Eventually he noticed just how low on the horizon the sun was. "Riza... We should probably think about going back."
"I guess," she said, looking up at him. "But can I have a moment alone first?"
"Sure," he answered. He squeezed her hand one last time, before dropping it and retreating a few yards away.
She turned and knelt down near the grave. With a finger she idly stroked the smooth pebbles on top. "I just wanted you to know that I love you, Hayate. I always have and I always will. You were the best dog I could have ever asked for. I know I was rough with you sometimes, but you always forgave me, and loved me no matter what."
She sighed and continued, "That means a lot, that something, anything could love a person like me. A person who's done horrible things, taken innocent lives, all in the name of our glorious nation." The last part was said with biting sarcasm.
"I suppose I just wanted to say thank you, puppy. Thank you for your playfulness, your kindness, and your companionship. Thank you for reminding me what it is to be loved, for showing me again what it is to be human. For that I will forever be in your debt."
She stood then, and made no move to clear the tears from her eyes.
"So thank you, Hayate. I will miss you."
Then as an afterthought, she added, "Godspeed little puppy, and good bye."
She turned then and hurried to meet Roy who had started down the hill.
Behind her, the last rays of sunlight faded over Hayate's grave.
I had to put my pet rat, Yuki, down yesterday. That makes three pets I've put down in the past 12 months. Besides Yuki, there was her sister, Nemu, and my cat of 17 years, Tandy. The description of Hayate's passing comes from my own experience of what happened when Tandy was put to sleep. And yes I held her as she died.
Dr. Goldblum is based on one of my best friends, Robin, who is actually a veterinarian. A damn good veterinarian. She practices at a small clinic in Pennsylvania.
Thanks to Robin, the creators of FMA, my husband, Ryan, and to you for reading.
This story is dedicated to the memories of Tandy, Nemu and Yuki. I loved you all, and I miss you greatly. Godspeed little ones, and good bye.
-Anne Packrat (May 4, 2006)