a fantrack story

D M Evans

Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition. I don't make a profit

Rating - Pg-13

Pairing - Havoc centric, implied Roy/Riza

Time Line - Post ch 38 of the manga and contains heavy spoilers for that and ch 39 and beyond

Summary - He never imagined being imprisoned within his own skin.

Author's Note - This was written for the Boys and Girls in Blue Fantrack based off the song One by Metallica. thanks to evillittledog for the beta and thanks to Mjules for the encouragement

It was wrong, he thought, to feel this much pain above the waist and absolutely nothing down below. Even with the fog of pain killers, pain knifed through from his burned, punctured side. Tubes ran into him bringing nutrients, ran out of him removing wastes. His life couldn't go on like this, could it? All these tubes would be pulled out of him surely.

It wasn't supposed to end up like this. It had to be a nightmare. He was still lying on the filthy floor of that forgotten lab, bleeding to death. Death, it couldn't be worse than what he'd been sentenced to, could it?

Jean heard a soft noise in the darkness. He glanced over at Mustang who had been ensconced in the neighboring bed so they could be guarded more easily. The doctors were keeping the colonel under a heavy veil of sedation to help with his pain. Jean could only imagine how bad they expected it to be since he knew how much he hurt and they weren't giving him half as many pain killers. Mustang hadn't woken up yet but he was talking a little in his sleep. The words didn't make any sense but the tone suggested whatever the colonel was dreaming of was very ugly.

For all Jean know, the boss was hurt far worse than he was. No one had told him anything. They had barely discussed his own wounds with him, telling him it was too early to tell. Maybe it was just 'cord shock' and his legs would work soon but from the looks on the doctors' faces, Havoc wasn't buying it. Jean wanted to wake Mustang up and tell him it would be all right because he wanted to hear those words out loud and believe them. He needed to believe it. Maybe he managed the words before he swam away into the sea of pain killers they had filled him with.

When he came back to himself, it was daylight. Mustang was still out and Hawkeye was in the room. Jean was used to seeing her mask her feelings for Mustang. He doubted many even guessed that Hawkeye's overt impatience with the colonel was mostly an act but Jean had known them for years. Her presence in the room was no surprise to him. He probably should say something to her to break her out of her dark thoughts. Anyone walking into the room would guess immediately she wasn't just here to guard them. Her fear and affection shone like beacons in her eyes and since she wasn't looking anywhere near him, it would be clear to anyone who she was concerned about.

Jean couldn't find his voice. His throat was dry and his lips cracked from lack of water but that wasn't the problem. He didn't know what he'd say to Hawkeye. She'd ask how he was and what would he say? Damn lousy? My legs won't work? They have me pissing into a tube and that might be my fate for the rest of my life? Damn, what if that were the truth? He couldn't live like this. For a moment, a frisson of hatred bubbled up inside of him for the colonel. Jean knew it wasn't Mustang's fault he was hurt but without his superior's help, he would have bled to death. That might be preferable to life in a wheelchair with a bag of urine hanging off the side of the chair as he vegetated on the porch of some veterans' home.

He was being ridiculous, Jean knew that much. It was the pain talking. He had always known he could be injured or killed in the line of duty but he wasn't prepared for this. Losing a limb, he'd be okay. Yes, automail was awkward and attaching it hurt and Jean saw how Ed suffered sometimes. However, most of the time, the boy was just fine. Jean could handle automail but automail required nerves to make it go and that's what he no longer had. Solaris...Lust, whatever the hell she was, had torn through something vital. The cost had been far higher than Jean could have imagined. What would he tell his parents? He had come through the civil war just fine, if the mental scars it left on a boy too young to be there could be considered just fine, only to end up paralyzed by his would-be girlfriend.

Paralyzed, such a small word for such a big concept. At least, if that was to be his fate, he had parents who loved him and would take care of him. It could be worse. He could be like Ed and his brother, all alone in this world, drifting, depending on a handful of kind adults to lean on during the times they needed to be boys. If Jean couldn't find the words to tell Hawkeye how bad he was hurt, how in hell would he be able to tell his mom?

He glanced over at the sedated alchemist again. Hawkeye's eyes had never left her man's face. Jean could see the devotion. He understood it. In his own way, he felt it and he knew the others did, too. Hawkeye, always at his side even when the colonel was putting on his show of being a womanizing jackass; Hughes who had always called and talked to the colonel about nothing for hours before he, too, had been cut down; Falman, willing to babysit the evil soul-bound armor of a serial murderer at Mustang's request; Breda and Fuery were loyal in their own ways as well.

Cutting through all the miserable thoughts about what his life would be like, were thoughts of how he had been taken out of the fight. Jean had been willing to risk career and freedom in helping Mustang to rescue Maria Ross. They could have been in a whole hell of a lot of trouble if they had been caught but it had been an ingenious plan. The colonel might look like a shirker half the time but to those on the inside, they knew most of it was a smoke screen. Mustang was smart and the stunt with Ross had proven that. Jean could remember the feel of the heat as he pulled Ross to safety.

He remembered the colonel screaming at him as he lay there drifting in and out, his life pouring out of him. Yes, he was just another of Mustang's pawns but that didn't mean the colonel didn't care about the men who served him. He cared more than most officers would even think to and that just added another level to Jean's gut-wrenching disappointment. He had failed to stay the course. He wouldn't be there helping to clear the path to the top. At least he was luckier than Hughes. He was alive and there was still a chance he could recover.

Jean had to concentrate on that thought because if he allowed too much reality in, if he thought about catheters and wheelchairs, numbness and impotence, he was likely to start saving up his pain pills for one lethal dose later on. He had spent most of his life looking at things with wry humor. He couldn't lose that now or there'd be nothing left of him.

He started to lift his arm but the needle inside his elbow said, 'oh no,' and he let it drop. It was enough to get Hawkeye's attention. "Hey, Hawkeye, think you can sneak me a smoke?" His voice rasped drily.

She scowled, her gaze swiveling over to him. "How are you feeling, Havoc?"

"Rough," he replied, honestly. "No smokes?" When her eyes narrowed, he smirked. "How about an ice chip? The nurse said I'm not allowed to drink yet."

Hawkeye got up and looked in the cup on his bed stand. "It's empty. I'll be right back." As she left, he could see Breda standing outside the door. The carrot-top looked back at him, hazarded a grin then turned back to his guard duty. Hawkeye returned with a heap of ice chips in the glass and set it on his bed tray.

Jean made a show of trying to lift the arm the IV ran into then batted his eyes at her. Hawkeye sighed and fed him an ice chip. "This is the life, beautiful women waiting on me." He smirked again, trying to lift his spirits as well as hers.

She snorted indelicately at him and pretended she was going to empty the glass on him. "Incorrigible."

"You know me, Hawkeye."

Slipping him another ice chip, she nodded. "All too well."

Jean looked over at the colonel. "He'll be okay." He didn't make it a question. That would leave doubts and he knew she didn't need to hear them. Jean saw the shiver run through her.

"We almost lost him...you, too." Her face softened. "Serious, how do you feel, Jean?"

He sighed, looked her right in the eye and lied, "I'll be fine."

She smiled a little. Maybe it wasn't a lie. He had a chance. Even if his life had been irrevocably altered, maybe he'd find a way to be happy. Anything was possible, wasn't it?