My Love, My Soldier
Disclaimer: I do not own FMA
Hearts of the Innocent
Author's Note: This is a fic heavily based on life's realities. And often times, reality is not happy—it can be hell on earth for some. So I wanted to take a real-world POV for our beloved characters with an added twist on the end. I've decided that this story takes place in 1945, during the WWII at the Battle of Iwo Jima. So if you're a lover of bittersweet moments, then read and enjoy.
Part One: Reunion With a Broken Soldier
It was childhood friends till the end.
And Winry was sorely tempted to hate him for that. It would be so easy, yet she just couldn't bring herself to travel down that horrid path. That's what loving someone did to you. It made you unsure of not only yourself, but of so many things in life. And it was even harder to hate them. It also made matters complicated. Winry Rockbell was a simple girl—one who hated complication in anything but mechanics.
And that's all that he was. Complicated.
Even in their childhood years, Edward Elric had been a smart little prick and royal pain in the backside. Always running away, getting himself (they even got her upon occasion) and poor Alphonse in trouble. But the threesome had been inseparable. She had often taken pride as a little girl that she had two brother's arguing who would have her hand in marriage when they got older.
As they grew, Ed remained the obnoxious boy she had always known—even after his mother died, but had accumulated a strong sense of responsibility and protectiveness for those he loved most. She began to see another side to Ed.
But America was on edge, and men and boys alike were being drafted into the war. So instead of waiting until the military found him, Edward and Alphonse Elric enlisted into the United States Marine Core their senior year of high school.
Oh, how bitterly she had wept that day.
And it was in the same day Winry realized how much she had truly come to love him.
Thrust away from the ghost of her past, twenty-three year old Winry held her breath while her eyes dreadfully scanned the list of names of the fallen. Hoping and praying that the names of her beloved friends weren't among them.
A few men had been chosen to return to the states, but not many. Winry still grasped for what little hope there was.
A sigh of relief escaped her lips. They were alright after all.
The loud roar of the train's horn sounded and the excited murmurs of the waiting families rose a notch. Winry herself spun on heel excitedly; the knot in her chest tightening and she held her hand to her heart in an action that told those who knew her that she was overwhelmed.
It had been five years since she had seen the Elric brothers. And there had been five years of letters stuffed in her bedside table. Each night Winry would read and reread their letters, soaking up their fears, their worries of what they were facing, and imagining the grim horrors as they described them in full detail. But there was also something that worried her. Ed had tried to say something in his letters…but it came out as a jumbled mess. What had him so nervous?
The train had finally screamed to a stop and its doors began to open. Men garbed in forest green came bustling out, tired and worn—but excited nonetheless of being reunited with their families after so long.
'Please be on,' she silently begged. Men of all sizes passed by her but none stopped before her. Twirling her finger in a strand of blonde hair (a nervous action) Winry stood on toe, hoping to see above the shoulders of those who crowded about her. A small cough and pardon of excuse sounded from behind.
"Are you Ms. Winry Rockbell?"
Winry turned warily to the man. Dread filled her lungs and her breathing grew shallow. The man, judging by the number of metals on his coat and sleeve, looked to be high in rank. Dusty brown hair fell to his shoulders.
"I am," was all she could manage to say.
Without another word, he handed her a small, off-white envelope with a wax seal that had yet to be opened. It had the hospital Coat of Amour on it.
And uncanny feeling of apprehension filled her and Winry, now oblivious to the man's disappearing presence, opened it with trembling fingers.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am sorry to report that Private First Class, Edward Elric of the USMC has been mortally wounded in the events of Iwo Jima. Caught in the blast of a neighboring Zippo Tank, Mr. Elric's arm and leg were seared and had to be amputated in fear of the spread of infection. He has been sent back to the U.S. to St. Mary's Memorial in George Town, Alabama. Please come at once.
Head Nurse, Riza Hawkeye
The world suddenly turned bleaker than she had ever felt it to be. In the midst of the excitement, Winry slowly sunk to her knees, still staring at the letter and its horrid contents.
'His arm and his leg?' Tears began to slip from beneath her lashes in a slow, steady stream quickly turned into body-racking sobs. She couldn't think past the painful beating of her heart. She bit her lip until she was sure it was bleeding.
Even drugged up as he was, he found no solace in sleep. He was aware of everything going on around him, yet he had no control over his body. He could hear the annoying beeps of the machinery beside him yet he couldn't open his eyes to see its source, nor could he move his hands and legs. He might as well be out cold. Edward dearly wished that to be the case. His ears were still partially deaf from gunfire, and the screams of his fallen comrades still echoed painfully inside his mind. Having no control whatsoever, to top it all off, made it hell.
The curtain covering his bedside was pushed aside and the small whispering of two unfamiliar voices reached his ears.
"Is he awake, Doctor?"
"No. He's still out cold."
The doctor shuffled around his cot, checking his iv and the wounds inflicted upon his body. "Everything seems to be fine."
"For now, anyway."
Edward caught the female's small voice. Interest and alarmed sparked, he strained to hear.
The doctor made a noise in the back of his throat for agreement. "Elric should heal just fine. The rest will be up to him and how strong his will to live is. I'll be honest with you, Miss Rose, I have seen it countless times since this horrid war began. When a man looses an arm or a leg, it's like a blow to his pride. He think's he useless, and that his life no longer holds meaning because he's been handicapped. Months after medical leave, I hear word that the man has died by suicide or drug over-dosage. They can't bear to live. Mr. Edward here has lost both and will have to work even harder if he wants a sense of normality. But life he has lived to this point is over. That's why I had Ms. Hawkeye send word to his home. Maybe someone will come for him. He can't do this alone."
'I've lost...my arm? My leg?
What little hearing he had left, dissipated into nothingness. And a disbelieving and overwhelming sense of panic began to over wash him. He was numb and he was going into a state of shock—he knew.
Edward then lost all consciousness and fell prey to the nightmares that had haunted his sleep for the past five years.
Rose stared worriedly at the man—Edward, who continued to stare vacantly outside the hospital window for the second week since becoming conscious. He hadn't said a word since discovering the extent of his injuries, and that alone worried her. Why wasn't he yelling, why wasn't he angry? Why wasn't he showing any emotion? Inhaling in deeply, Rose allowed a smile to follow with her exhale.
"Good morning, Mr. Elric. I'm glad to see you're up."
His amber eyes slowly, very slowly moved from the window to her face, then back to the window.
Rose wasn't deterred. "The sun's bright in the sky and the lake is something to behold this morning, maybe we could go out soon. Fresh air will do you some good. You never know, maybe today will be the day your family comes."
Rose continued to ramble on, oblivious to his now angry eyes on her face.
"I have no family." His voice was a deep, guttural sound; one that sent her heart hammering inside her chest because of its rawness.
Startled at his angry reply, the tin pitcher of water that she had been carrying slipped through her fingers, crashing loudly to the marble floor.
"How clumsy of me," she apologized quietly before grabbing a towel from the drawer and patting the floor dry of water. The man didn't say anything—to which she was grateful. She bid him good day and hurried from his bedside. Rose knew she mustn't let the patients get to her, but she was weak and her heart too sensitive. But she was afraid to harden her heart. After all, where would compassion come from in a cold heart?
She hoped someone would come for him soon. It was only too soon when he would crack.
Edward sat limply and awkwardly in the wheelchair he had been forced into. His left hand tightly clenched the arm of the horrid contraption, trying to keep his balance—having no right arm and no left leg. Rose had tucked a pillow beside him in order to ease the awkwardness.
Beneath the faceless mask he wore, the young soldier cursed that horrid Hawkeye. The wench had forced him into the chair just so he could sit by the lake. He had fought the whole way, spouting every curse imaginable, but still they forced him out of his seclusion.
Despite the sun's heat, it held no warmth as it once had. He couldn't spar with beneath its rays with Al as he once had. He couldn't walk beneath it so what was the point? He had no life. That doctor had been right. He was useless, and he despised that knowledge. He wanted his arm and leg back. He wanted Al back. He wanted Winry with him.
Her crestfallen look that she had given him before they left remained engraved in his heart he dearly wished he could see her smile just once more. But he highly doubted he would ever see her again.
Even if he did. How could she love a broken, handicapped man?
A wave of depression, so strong, filled him and he closed his eyes and fisted his hand until his nails were digging into his palms.
Why couldn't he have just taken a bullet to the heart? Why did he have to be the one survive—as a broken man? Why couldn't he have just died on the shores of Iwo Jima, many of his comrades?
So many whys!
"How is he?"
Rose stood behind the young woman who had come for the Elric soldier. Her blonde hair was messily braded down her back—a clear sign that she had spent many sleepless nights to reach here. Her milky white complexion looked ghostly in the shadows and the dark smudges underneath her eyes broadly spoke of her weariness.
"Not good, I'm afraid. He has not eaten since he arrived here and just day before yesterday we forced him outside. But it did little good. He still refuses, and has no," Riza paused. "He has not the will, Miss Rockbell. I understand this kind of trauma, and if he does not pull out of this depression, he will die."
The woman paled. "Can I see him?"
Riza nodded. "Rose will take you there."
The woman turned her startling blue eyes toward her and she nodded softly. "This way, ma'am."
Obediently, yet anxiously, Miss Rockbell followed close behind; fidgeting nervously with the button on her coat.
"Are you the one who takes care of him?"
Rose slowed her gate to where she was beside the woman. She nodded. "I am."
The woman gave a sad smile. "Thank you so much. You cannot even begin to comprehend my gratitude for what you have done—in keeping him alive, I mean."
The young nurse smile in return, but said nothing.
Rose peeked through the curtain. Edward was staring out the window with the same vacant expression she had come to associate him with. "His situation is delicate," Rose whispered lowly enough so he could not hear. "He may not be the same man—"
The woman grabbed her hand and squeezed tightly. A look of understanding and compassion filled her eyes that Rose was left speechless. Without saying a word, the blonde woman pushed aside the curtain and walked toward the man who had yet to acknowledge her.
Rose closed the curtain, but not all the way. She watched with a longing that she didn't understand as the woman slowly sat on the bed and reached out a trembling hand to caress the side of Edward's face. It took a minute for the young soldier to respond, but when he did, his amber eyes went wide with shock. More emotion passed through them in that instant than Rose had seen the entire time he had been here.
"Winry?" his voice was broken.
Her response was a small nod and a stifled sob. Without any hesitation or repulsion in her movements, unlike Rose had expected, Winry embraced Edward from his good side, and Edward's arm came around her awkwardly, at first, and then settled firmly around her waist.
"Come outside with me?" she whispered into his golden mane.
Slowly, as if unsure, the Marine nodded.
It was the first time the young soldier had willingly agreed to anything. Maybe, just maybe there was still hope for him after all. This Winry must really be some woman to be able to calm what many had labeled a 'Marine's Marine'.
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