Disclaimer: FMA isn't mine.

SPOILERS FOR CHAPTER 102

Song: Rocks and Daggers - Noah and the Whale


He has seen so many things.

Things he wishes he could forget...

The sky seems red, but that could just be him, imagining things. Red like blood, red like rust. All around him the world is shaken to the core; there are children dying in the streets, children dying by the hands of those who once swore to protect them. There is nothing to be seen but death, death in every direction, stretching out for endless miles over the dusty wasteland that is all he can remember anymore. He has forgotten what it is like to see something other than despair on the face in the mirror, terror on the face of children, women, the elderly, hatred on the face of every man who looks at him. He has forgotten what the color green means, has forgotten springtime rain showers, fresh picked flowers, the shy smiles of children.

Things he wishes he hadn't...

Until now, he hadn't known what her father was capable of. Until now, he hadn't known exactly how brave she was, bearing this secret in silence. Until now, he hadn't realized how ignorant he was. Until now, he hadn't had a face to put with the reason he is willing to fight and die for his country. Now, when he wants to complain about the rigorous military training, he will see her face, frowning with disapproval. Now, when he is tempted to do something he knows he will regret later, he will see the black lines drawn out on her back, over that smooth, white skin. Now, when Hughes begins to talk and talk and talk of his girlfriend, Gracia, it is her face he will see and he will wonder why he ever left that secluded house in the mountains. Now, when the other recruits ask him what he's doing here, what he's got to fight for, he will have an answer ready.

Things he wouldn't give up for the world...

He remembers the first time he met each of them, as though it were the first time all over again. Breda, with red hair and a vague attempt at growing a beard. Havoc, smoking a cigarette and flicking the ashes onto the floor and scuffing them out with his boots. Fuery, small and black haired with glasses, the closest thing he has ever come to a little brother. Falman, seriously answering a joke because he didn't realize that it wasn't a serious question, his eyebrows disappearing into that fringe of white hair.

Now he has to learn to see things in different ways.

Things he wishes he could forget...

The sound of a woman, crying. The sound pierces his soul but he can't shut it out; it seems as though with the loss of his sight, his hearing has tripled and the smallest things stand out. The woman is sobbing, her breathing ragged and for a moment, it sounds as though she isn't breathing at all.

The sound of a gunshot, the smell of gunpowder and smoke, a scream that splits the silence.

The hushed voices of the nurses, talking to someone just at the edge of his hearing range.

"He's sight is gone for good," says one of the nurses (he only knows it is a nurse, it must be, because it is a voice he doesn't recognize, because he can hear the steady blip of the monitor, can feel the IV attached to his wrist, can smell the antiseptic that permeates every corner of hospitals).

What comes after is worse. Worse, because he knows it is her and he can't see her, can't see the expression on her face, can't tell what color shirt she is wearing. She sits on the edge of his bed and he can smell just a hint of that perfume she always wears, can feel the mattress sinking beneath her, can hear the hitch in her breathing that lets him know that she isn't quite as calm as she is trying to seem. She reaches out and takes his hand and he can feel the callouses on her palm, can feel the soft edges of her fingernails, can feel the soft fabric of her clothes.

What is worst is that when she leans and kisses his cheek, whispering goodbye in his ear with a voice that he knows better than his own, her cheeks are damp.

Things he wishes he hadn't...

Somehow he is alive. Somehow they have come out on top, victors, though that isn't the way he would put it. There are too many losses for this to be considered a victory.

Somehow she is there, kneeling by his side, running her hands over him - his shoulders, his hands, his cheeks, his hair, his face - to make sure he is okay. He wishes he could see her, wishes he could make sure she is safe, wishes he could see if she is as worried about him as he is for her. There is a brief pause at his eyes and he knows that she can tell, knows that she knows and he turns away.

A moment later, her arms are around his neck and she is holding him tight. He can feel her breath on his skin, can smell the blood staining her coat from the wound on her neck, can feel her fingers digging into his skin.

"I'm so sorry," she whispers. Her voice is trembling with rage and it is a minute before he realizes that it is anger at herself; she thinks she has failed him.

Things he wouldn't give up for the world...

She is humming. A bubbly, cheery tune that he doesn't think he has ever heard before and thinks that she probably never has either. It has been almost three days since she has come to see him, but it doesn't matter to him, really, because she is here now, and she is happy. They eat dinner alone, just the two of them and Hayate. She falls asleep on the sofa with her head on his shoulder, her hair tickling his chin.

It's taken him almost three years to realize, but moments like this are definitely worth what he's given up.