Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. They belong to that cow, Arakawa Hiromu. And by "cow" I mean "awesome, awesome person who likes pretending she's a bespectacled cow".
I Will Follow
I'm going to be busy again. Follow me!
After Major Armstrong delivered her that message from Colonel Mustang, Riza became restless. The night after the long battle against Father and his Homunculi, she found herself laying awake in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV and lost in thought, unable to wind down and succumb to her worn-out body's pleas.
Follow me... But how? The Colonel... Roy... lost his eyesight. It was near impossible for a blind man to remain a soldier. Roy might find a way, though... he had always been a stubborn man, and she imagined he wouldn't let his blindness stop him from following his dream. After all, he didn't let his blindness prevent him from fighting Father. He had Riza's help - she had his back, and for that battle, she was his eyes.
But she couldn't be his eyes forever. Could she?
Eventually, exhaustion overcame her, and Riza fell into a dreamless sleep. She didn't sleep long, though, and as she woke up with the sunrise, she didn't feel the least bit invigorated. In fact, she felt even more exhausted than she was the night before, if that was possible. Her whole body ached, and the slowly healing wound in her neck itched and throbbed under the bandages. Riza groaned and covered her eyes with one aching forearm, hoping to get something resembling rest before the arrival of a steady flow of of doctors, nurses and well-meaning visitors.
She managed not to think a single coherent thought until the sun fully rose over the horizon, when she heard voices from the hallway. She removed her forearm quickly, eyes widening. There were two, both of them male, muffled through the wooden door. She wasn't entirely familiar with the owner of the first voice, but the second voice... even muffled, she would always be able to recognize that voice. That deep baritone, that self-assured tone...
"Colonel?" she called, and almost immediately regretted it. Her call sounded more like the croak of a partially deceased frog. She felt herself blushing, despite herself.
The voices behind the door quieted down. Soon, the door opened, and two men entered. One of them was Doctor Knox. The other, as she thought, was Colonel Roy Mustang. He smiled at her, or maybe at her general direction. "Well, good morning! Didn't think you'd be awake so soon, Lieutenant. Or should I say, Captain."
Riza closed her eyes. Captain. Her grandfather did say something about promoting everyone when everything cleared up. She would be Captain. And Roy Mustang...
"Good morning, Colonel... or should I say, Brigadier General...?" she hazarded.
Roy laughed. To Riza's surprise, it was not a bitter laugh, but a good-natured, high-spirited one. "Not yet, not yet. But soon." With that, he moved towards her bed. "May I sit here?"
"Yes, sir," Riza mumbled, and watched as Roy sat on the edge of her bed. It seemed that he was adjusting to his loss quickly, having never stumbled once on his way over.
Knox, who stood at the doorway, coughed as if to make his presence known. "Colonel Mustang, I'll be outside," said the doctor. "I'll come back to check on her wounds later, if you want."
Roy nodded at Knox's direction. "That would be great, Doctor, thank you," he said, the smile never leaving his face.
Knox nodded and left the room, closing the door behind him. Roy turned back to Riza. "Now where were we?" he asked. "Ah, right, I wanted to ask if Major Armstrong delivered my message."
"He did, sir, but..."
"You will follow me," said Roy. It wasn't a question; it was as if he was stating a simple, well-known truth.
"I..." Riza bit her lip. She had promised him long ago that she would always follow, that she would always have his back. And she had followed thus far. She made sure he never strayed from her path, just as he had requested. In the end, she had become his eyes. And now...
How could I be so foolish...? she scolded herself. How could she think twice about this? Of course she would follow him. Sighted, blind, limbless, heaven forbid. She would follow him to hell if necessary. Roy was her important person, the one she vowed to protect. She could never stray from Roy and her duty to protect him at all costs and help him achieve his dream.
"I will follow," she repeated, and allowed herself a weak smile.
Roy nodded, satisfied with her answer. Then, he chuckled warmly as he leaned over and ran a bandaged palm through Riza's bangs. "I'm sorry, but you look horrible. Did you sleep at all last night, Riza?"
Riza stiffened and gaped at Roy. She didn't know what shocked her more. That warm, intimate gesture of running his hands through her hair? The fact that he called her Riza for the first time since she joined the military? Or him telling her that she looks horrible?
She looks...? Could he really...?
"Sir..." she whispered, moving a hand to touch the side of his face. "Do you... see me?"
Roy didn't speak. Instead, he responded by chuckling again and grinning wide. Riza noticed his dark eyes looking at her, seeing her, and glinting mischievously, as if he was saying, without words, took you long enough to notice.
She didn't ask why, or how. At that moment, the usually practical Riza simply didn't care. Instead, she sat up, reached for him and hugged him as tightly as her injured body would let her. As tears of joy ran down her cheeks, she barely noticed that she called out his name, called him "Roy", for the first time in her life. Always "Mr. Mustang" or "Lieutenant Colonel" or "Colonel", but now, for the first time, he was just Roy. She heard Roy laugh, telling her to be careful and chiding her that she might reopen her wounds if she hugged him too tightly, but for his part, he hugged her back just as tightly as he did when she was wounded the previous day.
They held on. They held on for Amestris, for the world, for everyone... Now, it was time to hold on for each other.