Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist or any of the characters and likenesses thereof. This is a fan-made work created purely for entertainment, and I am not in any way affiliated with the author or publishers. In other words: It's not mine! I'm just having fun with it!
A/N: Okay, kids. I wasn't going to start another story at this time... but you know how opportunity knocks? I got a PM from Chibi Hayaku Hashiru concerning an FMA story of hers that I had been reading, saying that she was no longer going to update it and that she was seeking someone to adopt it. Well, I wasn't sure at first, but suddenly a big cool idea came to me, followed by yet another one, and I just had to take it! However, I promise that I will still update my other stories; besides, this one is largely planned out already, even to the ending, and it won't be as long as the other ones I have running are or probably will be. Now that I have made this fabulous introduction...
Thank you, Chibi, and may all who see this enjoy the story!
Tiresome. That was the word, indeed. It was a word that described many things. It was a word that described long, drawn-out policy meetings. It was a word that described military demonstrations in public, complete with marching. Most of all, however, it was a word that described paperwork. Lit up by the cold glare of the overhead lights, the pen scratched over white paper, leaving dark marks that signified authority. It was funny that they had been given such weight. They were only scribbles, after all. Thunder rolled in the distance…
"There's a storm coming…"
"Bring! Bring!" The shrill noise from the telephone startled Roy into some semblance of alertness. Without setting his pen down, he reached the receiver and lifted it up to his ear.
"Hello?" He asked, his monotone making his boredom obvious. "What do you want?"
"Sir?" the girl at the desk asked. She was a pretty girl; a little tall, but pretty, if he was remembering correctly. Roy made a mental note to obtain her number at the next opportunity. "You have an emergency call from Central Hospital." Roy raised an eyebrow. What could they possibly want with him? It had better not involve more paperwork.
"Patch it through," he ordered, and the phone line went dead for a moment. He fiddled about with the pen in his hand, idly wondering if someone had beaten Falman up for committing some kind of social faux pas.
"Colonel Mustang," the voice on the other end of the line stated rather than asked.
"Yes?" he asked, purely out of courtesy. He could not deny that for all his idle wonderings this call was beginning to worry him.
"We have one of your subordinates here, and his condition is quite serious," the voice told him, callous because of its everyday experiences. "In fact, he is proving to be a threat to the staff. We need you over here as soon as possible."
A sick wave of shock rolled over Roy. Who among his subordinates could be in that condition? This had a strange taint of surreality.
"I'll be over very soon," he heard himself telling the voice. "Er… who is it?" He found himself glancing around the office, taking account of everyone's presence, everyone, that is, except… "Please be a mistake."
The voice took its time responding, the only sound coming over the line a faint rustling of papers. An impatience fed by his anxiety began to crawl through his gut like a centipede, hundreds of legs brushing his insides.
"Come on… I'll never get over there at this rate."
"Edward Elric." The words sent cold shivers down Roy's spine. Of course; Ed was often at the hospital for some reason or another, was he not? No need to worry… no need to worry… worry. "…unstable." The word barely registered. He stood much faster than his purported lack of worry should allow, hanging up without even bothering to say goodbye.
"Hawkeye," he almost snapped, his agitation clear to the blonde lieutenant. "Come along. We have to go to the hospital." He kept reminding himself not to worry, but he could not help it. It was part of his nature, unfortunately, just as it is part of every man's nature.
"Yes, sir." Riza acknowledged him quickly, almost sympathetically, as she stood up and followed him. The door slammed uncharacteristically behind her. The rest of the office's inhabitants stared at the door, confused.
"What was that about?" Fuery asked, voicing what they all were wondering. The profound silence that followed his question was in and of itself a statement.
"I don't know--" Breda began slowly.
"But the Colonel mentioned the hospital, so you know it can't be good," Falman finished, putting the answer out in the open with his usual bluntness. Silence reigned once more, and the next sound was the scratching of pens as they returned quietly to work.
"Sir? If I may ask… what's going on…who's at the hospital?" Riza asked, keeping her eyes on the road as she turned the wheel at an intersection. Rain spattered across the windshield, the dark sky low and threatening. A flash of lightning cut across the canvas of darkness, giving everything, just for a moment, a sharp, unholy shine.
Roy did not answer, lost deep in dark landscapes of fear and doubt that even he could not describe. He was not a man to give in to impressions heralding imminent doom and gloom, but… something was wrong, terribly wrong.
Of course, he expected to be called if one of his subordinates was injured, but…
Unstable? Edward? Impossible. He had quite the temper, and he often said and did things quite impulsively, but unstable? Not likely.
"We're here," Riza's voice cut into his brown study, and he jerked back into the present reality from the hazy hallways of the prospective future he had been wandering.
The hospital loomed like a sleeping giant over the street it faced, almost as if it were a thundercloud itself. Roy shuddered slightly, staring up at its grim face, trying to read the fates of those who walked its halls...
He quickly walked to catch up with her and pulled open the large front door for his subordinate.
He strode up to the front desk, his eyes taking in the sterile whiteness of the place. He'd never liked hospitals. They were so ironic. For all the cheer they tried to spread, the terminal patients still died… and so many these days were terminal.
"I'm here to see Edward Elric, Ma'am," he said, deciding it would be better to get straight to the point instead of dragging this out with mincing words. His anxiety and impatience must have come across, because the receptionist, who had an ill-natured, lazy face, glanced quickly down at her sheet and began to move her finger down the her list, muttering to herself as she checked each one. She froze when she saw the number.
"Oh… you're here to see him." Roy felt his stomach tighten from the way she emphasized the pronoun. She shook her head and looked him straight in the eye, an almost frightening look on her face. His unease must be showing in a stronger way than he thought. "Watch out," she added, almost with a smirk, her ill nature allowing her to play with his fear. "They say he's crazy. I've heard him, as I walk down to the lounge: talking to himself, telling all sorts of wild tales… No one can get within 5 feet of him… not even the doctors can. Room 125. Good luck." Roy turned and walked away from the desk, heading to the wing she'd specified. "You'll need it," a low murmur echoed down after him, but when he turned around, she was absorbed in her work once more. Riza followed him quietly, her demeanor very subdued.
"Do you think what she said is true, sir?" she ventured after a time. "Do you really believe it's true?"
Roy gave no answer, his eyes covered by his black bangs, and Riza sighed behind him. After all, how could he answer that question? Certainly, the receptionist had not been the kindest of women—that place was reserved, in Roy's opinion, for someone else—but she had no reason to outright lie. He certainly hoped that the nurse had been exaggerating, even just a little bit, but…
He shuddered again. That possibility… no, it was not a possibility. That would never happen. Ed would not allow it to happen, not after so much effort and time... never.
The fluorescent lights shone harsh and unnatural over the linoleum floors. Hospitals kept floors like that in order to clean up fluids easily, if he remembered correctly. The hallway seemed to stretch forever, fluorescent lights winking in and out in various states.
The lights up ahead were out, creating the impression of a cavernous mouth, complete with a wide red stripe down the middle of the linoleum for a bloody tongue sticking out into the light.
He entered the darkened area, squinting to see the number plates by each door. In the end, he counted the rest of his way to their destination.
Soon, he would see for himself if… he firmly put the thought from his mind.
Soon, he would know if what had been said was… he violently put the thought from his mind, jerking his head slightly backward in recoil from its unpleasant stench.
A scream tore through the silent hall, a shriek that curdled the blood and made the small hairs of Roy's neck stand on end, an undulating sound that rose and fell with terror and anger and sadness and desperation—he was running now. The door he sought was slightly ajar, dull light spilling into the dim hallway. He pushed the door open and gasped audibly, eyes wide, stricken with shock and horror at the tableau before him.
A/N: Review! My primary goal with this chapter was atmosphere... tell me how I did! Review!