1Quiet Warrior

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 – None, Maria-centric

Time Line – Contains spoilers for manga past # 36.

Summary – Maria wonders how she came to this juncture in her life.

Author's Note - Written for the Boys in Blue Fantrack project and was inspired by Jewel's Quiet Warrior thanks to evillittledog for the beta and thanks to Mjules for the encouragement

How did her life end up like this? When she had joined the military, she wasn't imagining heroism. Maria needed a place she could earn a living. She had schooling, of course, but in her small town there had not been much in the way of a job. The military offered a better choice than a hasty marriage to the first interested boy with a paycheck.

Maria had never imagined it would end up like this. She had done her best to put on a cheery face for Edward but she was terrified. For all she knew, the old man she trusted to escort her to Xing would decide she wasn't worth the trouble and leave her for dead in the middle of the desert. Even if Mr. Fu was trustworthy, and she felt he was, what was she going to do once they arrive in Xing? While Mr. Fu spoke her language that didn't mean everyone there would. Maria knew there was another written language in Xing. Still, she had Mr. Fu's word that his family would look out for her indefinitely and as appreciative of that as she was, it niggled at her. She didn't want to be taken care of. She wanted to make it on her own steam.

Maybe those days were passed for now. She wiped a hand over her eyes, hearing Mr. Fu's caution not to waste water as they headed into the desert. Easy for him to say. He was returning home and she never could. Unless things changed radically, she was an outcast, an exile, wanted for a murder she didn't commit. It was a scenario fit for the movies.

If she were forced to admit it, Maria would have to say her huge smile had been as much for herself as it was to soothe Edward. The poor boy looked ready to burst into tears. She almost wanted him to. It would have been the most normal thing she'd ever seen Ed do and he needed more normal things in his life if she were to be asked.

Her own fears were reflected in his young face. She couldn't show her emotions in front of Armstrong and Breda. They had to believe she was all right. Hell, she needed her wits about her to be sure she could handle what was coming at her like a runaway train.

Breda had been appointed her executioner if she failed to convince him of her innocence. Maria had no doubts Mustang's man would do just that. She had always been slightly afraid of Colonel Mustang and it was entirely because he was an alchemist, though that wasn't her reaction to all alchemists. Ed didn't unnerve her. He was like a bratty kid brother who had wormed under her skin in short order. Armstrong was so genteel that he only frightened her when he got overly demonstrative, which was, well, always but that fear was subtle; almost silly, more worrying about being broken in half if he managed to hug her than anything else.

However, Mustang was quietly terrifying. She knew his reputation. He didn't look like much. Armstrong was huge and physically frightening. Mustang was slender, attractive, the kind of man she hoped would look at her while out on the town. Still, she had heard what he was capable of and that shook her deeply.

When she saw Mustang coming after her in the alleyway, Maria thought she was dead. No, worse, dying quick of a gun shot was one thing. Cooked alive was another. Mustang's alchemy was cruel. However, the man was not. It was no secret that he and Lieutenant Colonel Hughes were close friends. She was the one who stood accused of the man's murder. If Mustang had killed her out of hand in revenge not many would argue his actions. He might even get a commendation for meting out justice to a traitor.

Even though he didn't know for sure she was innocent, he hadn't gone the easy route. Mustang risked his own career to fake her death and smuggle her out of Central. He arranged for Mr. Fu to care for her but Mustang wasn't a fool. He sent a man to make sure she wasn't a killer and Mustang had no qualms about killing her if it proved she had taken Hughes' life. After all, who would know she hadn't died in that alley in Central? Breda would have just left her body here for the sun to bleach her bones.

Mustang's act of kindness, above and beyond his duty, had impressed her. She could see the admiration for the man in Breda and Armstrong's eyes. Even Ed seemed to be favorably impressed. It was no secret that he didn't particularly like the colonel, though she never knew why. This seemed to change his mind just a hair.

It made all the difference in the world to her. She was Mustang's soldier whenever he needed her. She ventured a look back over her shoulder at the way she came then wished she hadn't. Thoughts of her parents flooded her. They would have to go on thinking she was a murderess, a dead killer, a traitor, the lowest of the low. How could she do this to them? She knew they couldn't keep her secret and then they all could be in danger. It hurt so much she wanted to get sick. Maria gagged, garnering a look from Mr. Fu.

She regained her control and forced her parents out of her mind. She had to. Maria had to concentrate on the journey ahead and her new life. Going to Xing would be an adventure. She needed to look at it that way. Her old life was dead. She had to look to the future. Still, Maria couldn't help stealing one last look back. She hoped it wouldn't take Mustang too long to need her, to call her back to be the soldier she was meant to be, to make this nightmare end.