Author's notes: Sorry for taking so long, guys. Things went to hell in real life shortly after I posted the last chapter and well… it took me this long to sort it out. But, I've got my assignments in on time so far (the drafts weren't, which is part of the reason things went to hell at school. The teachers are really paranoid about getting drafts in). I give you all permission to abuse me for my late update in any way you see fit.
Also, you guys may remember Mittens, the kitten from chapter 1. She is actually my real kitten – she was found abandoned at my sister's elementary school at only two weeks old, so we took her in. You would not believe how much she has grown! She's three or four times the size she was when I started writing this – she won't fit in my hands anymore. On a similar note, Tonya Vance was created as an older version of my roleplay character, Tara, who was VEEEEEEEERY roughly based off of me. Which is why she owns both my dog and my cat. But thankfully, not the 50+ birds and who knows how many possums that my grandparents rehabilitate here.
AAAAAAAAnd here's your Friday the 13th chapter! I had originally intended to be a bit further in the story than this, but… Well, anyway, I managed to get a little bit of bad luck into this. Or I should probably say chaotic luck…
'The truth is rarely pure, and never simple' Eh, just an interesting little quote I found in my legal studies textbook that made me think of FMA . Also, I cut my thumb in art. With a Stanley knife. It makes pressing the space bar painful, but anyway, on with the stuff you care about.
To Otaku-chan: Your poor, poor computer. -mourns more- I must say, I am very lucky. I've had my laptop for… at least five years (probably more like six) and, while it's a little worn down, it runs beautifully. It loves me, and I love it~
Ack! Don't almost die! Don't die, either! And of course she does, she's the Hawk's Eye. And no, it's not that easy. Trust me, that's not ending here. It would be a rather anti-climatic ending for that if it did.
Fifty-seven Mufflers: XD Haha, well, Al wasn't going to feed it to her. The little kid was.
St. Iggy the Pyro: For some reason, the review reply thingy is all "PLTHHH" so I'll reply here.
Haha, no, he's not dead XD I have a horrible habit of killing characters off, but I don't want to do that in this one XD
NINJA SQUIRRELS? WHERE?
Roy groaned as the world came into focus. Or, the white ceiling above him, at least. He forced himself to sit up, wincing at the pain in his midsection the movement caused.
"You shouldn't do that. Might open your wounds again."
Roy glanced over at the boy sitting cross-legged on the edge of the adjacent hospital bed, watching the colonel with a smug smirk.
"Mornin', Sleeping Beauty."
"Fullmeta-" Roy cut off, the sudden motion of shifting to turn to face the teenager causing a fresh stab of pain from his wounds.
"I told you not to do that." Edward sighed, his automail foot clicking against the floor as he stood, moving to stand beside his commanding officer's hospital bed. The two were both stuck in those irritating hospital clothes, but there wasn't much they could do about that.
"You've recovered pretty well." Roy remarked, scanning the Fullmetal Alchemist for injuries. He had bandages wrapped around his head, as well as some visible across his left shoulder, probably over that gash that would've been caused by whatever had sliced his jacket. He was also favoring his right leg.
"Yeah, I've fought with worse injuries before. This is nothing, really. If they hadn't had disconnected my automail, I might have had a chance."
Roy sighed, rolling his eyes as he tapped Edward's right temple twice. "Yeah, problem is, you still got a few issues up here that are still healing."
"Won't be long and I'll be fine."
"Fullmetal, promise me that you're not going to go off on any more walks? At least not until your sight's back and we have this fiasco under control."
"Tell me, Mustang, why the hell didn't you explain what was going on to me?"
"…Excuse me?" Well, that was a subject change.
Roy glanced over. He hadn't noticed Hawkeye, standing against the wall nearby. "I explained the situation with the terrorists to Edward." Oh. Right. Roy forgot that he hadn't explained the terrorist attack to him. That would probably explain why Edward was so ticked off that he had been left in the dark – after all, said terrorists had kidnapped him and threw him in the basement.
"You never tell me anything, even when it does have to do with me." Edward's hands were clenched into fists. "Did you ever think that maybe I might have wanted to know that I had a group of terrorists trying to kill me for some bizarre reason? That might have been a little bit relevant to the whole situation."
"You had more imporant things to worry about, Fullmetal. If you actually did what you were supposed to, none of this would've happened."
"So you're blaming me, now? I didn't ask to be saved." Edward crossed his arms, shooting a glare at Mustang.
"You could've died, Fullmetal."
"No 'could've' about it." He stepped back, slumping back down onto his hospital bed. "I would've. If you had been even a second later." He ran a finger across the front of his throat in explanation.
"Fullmetal…" Roy sighed. Edward could be so frustratingly contradicting at times. Did he have a death wish or something? Did he want to die? Mustang found that hard to believe. After all, Fullmetal wouldn't leave his brother behind, trapped in that suit of armor. Speaking of which, where was Alphonse? Roy was surprised that he wasn't here with his brother. Edward didn't seem too concerned, though, so perhaps the younger Elric was just out for a walk or something.
"So, I'm good to get out of here soon. Which means you need to hurry up so we can leave."
"Shit, Fullmetal, give me a break. I've been awake for five minutes."
"And you'll be awake for five minutes more, I'm sure."
"Fullmetal, please." Roy sighed. He knew that he couldn't keep Edward sitting around the hospital, but it didn't take an idiot to figure out that he would be stuck sitting here for awhile. "I'll arrange for you to stay with someone until I'm out of hospital. Just wait, alright?"
He heard Edward snort, but the kid was otherwise silent.
"Hey, you never answered me, so I'm giving you an order now." Roy added, "don't go wandering off. Make sure someone's with you at all times."
"Yeah, whatever." Edward sighed, crossing his arms. "Does Al count?"
Mustang knew he wasn't going to win this battle straight tout, so he opted for a more tactical approach. "I'd prefer it if you had Hawkeye or someone else we could trust with you, as well, but if you must."
Edward turned to Hawkeye. "Can I go find Al? He said he'd be back by now."
Roy resisted the urge to laugh at the boy. He gave the off-put lieutenant a nod, which earned a salute in response.
The two left Roy alone in the hospital room after a slight debate over whether or not Edward should use a wheelchair. It ended with Riza aiming a gun at him and ordering him to sit in the chair. Of course, that was the only thing that kept him from arguing the whole way back.
"Hey, Lieutenant?" Edward spoke up, glancing back over his shoulder as Hawkeye pushed him down one of the disabled ramps in the hospital. She hummed, allowing him to continue. "What's going to happen if I don't get my sight back?" She sighed, waiting a long while before answering.
"The Colonel and I spoke about it shortly after he discovered your. He said you either would have to be discharged 'honorably' due to injury or reassigned to one of the laboratories, although the likelihood of the later is slim. If you were discharged, you would be escorted back to Risembool and that would be the end of your military career as the Fullmetal Alchemist."
Edward was silent. He needed his State Certification to continue his research to find the Philosopher's Stone, to regain Al's body, and his own arm and leg. If he was discharged – honorably or not – his goals were only that further away. So, I guess you haven't changed, even after all these years, Truth. He mused. Truth just loved to cause hell for those who trespassed on his territory. Don't you worry, though. We'll be coming to take back what ours, soon enough. He could almost hear Truth's response; 'I'll be waiting, foolish Alchemist.'
The Fullmetal Alchemist started down at his mismatched hands with a sigh. Damn it, he wished he could see more than just the blurry shapes around him. It would've prevented all this trouble if his damn eyes would just work properly!
They found Alphonse downstairs, talking to a young, dark haired boy with a black and white kitten. As soon as Edward had called out to the suit of armor, the pair bolted over. As far as Edward could tell, the boy was smiling.
"Brother," Alphonse spoke, "this is Hunter. His sister, Lieutenant Vance, was stationed up at Northern Command, but her commanding officer was just transferred to Central, so she was transferred, too. He was on the train with us. The kitten is Mittens! She's gotta be at least four times bigger than when we met her!"
Gently, Edward reached out to pet the kitten on the head with his left hand. "You and your cats, Al." He chuckled, smiling.
"We got a new puppy, too!" Hunter added excitedly. "Her name's Hope! She's at home right now, though. Once Sis is done with her medical thing, we're heading home."
"Hunter!" This voice was unfamiliar to Edward. It sounded like a woman, a military tone to it. He could tell that she had dark hair and pale skin like the boy, and was wearing that blob of blue military uniform. "Oh, Major Elric, sir! I was worried that you didn't make it back to Central…" she trailed off, because didn't need to finish her sentence. She was worried he wouldn't make it back alive. "It doesn't matter, it's great to see you're alright, sir."
"Ah, you, too, Lieutenant." He didn't want to admit that he couldn't remember her, so he kept his mouth shut. "So, I guess we'll be seeing you around Central, then?"
"Hopefully." She replied. "Ah, I apologize, but I really must be going. We still haven't finished unpacking."
"Let us know if you need any help!" Alphonse piped up. Lieutenant Vance nodded politely, before she took her leave, Hunter close on her heels, walking with a slight spring.
"It's good to see they're alright." Hawkeye observed. "Lieutenant Vance did a good job with getting the train wreck under control before we had even arrived. It's no wonder she was chosen to join her commanding officer. If I remember correctly, the Colonel put in a good word for her as thanks for her help."
"Really? Ha, I didn't think he was capable of such a thing."
"Edward, you should really give him more credit. He does worry about you boys."
Edward didn't answer, except for a half-silent 'psh'.
It was later agreed that Riza would take the Elrics to Central Command with her when she was at work, but every night, they would need to return to the hospital, as there was nowhere else to take them. Hawkeye would've been willing to, but she didn't offer and it wasn't requested, so they were left in the hospital's care.
This went on for a couple weeks while Roy recovered.
He was putting on his coat after being officially discharged from the hospital when Fuery practically ran into the room. It was about mid-day, so it was odd that someone from the office would be here. The Alchemist in Roy started going to work. Fuery looked exhausted – he had run as if his life depended on it. He had dust on his uniform, rubble in his hair and he was a little bruised and beaten – a result of a fight.
"Fuery, what's going on?"
"Central Command's under attack! Lieutenant Hawkeye's with the Elric Brothers in the office, but she can't hold off the attackers forever! Major Armstrong was going to help them, but I heard that he was buried under a collapsed stairwell on his way. I don't know where everyone else is."
That was all Roy needed to hear. He charged past his exhausted subordinate, turning back only for a moment as he pulled his gloves from his pocket. "You did well, Fuery. Do you think you still have the energy to fight?"
"Yes, sir!" Fuery stood straight and saluted, the soldier side of him coming out as his fatigue seemed to disappear.
"Then come with me. We have to find Fullmetal and Hawkeye."
Central Command was in chaos. There was a building that appeared to be blown to pieces, and there were bodies of the guards in the courtyard. The moment the pair stepped onto the premises, masked attackers jumped off the wall, but were soon blown away by the Flame Alchemist.
Inside, there were obvious signs of a struggle. There were dead soldiers on the floor, beside them, their attackers. "They went out fighting for their country." Roy observed. Fuery didn't miss the hint of pain in his voice. "Come on, maybe we'll find Armstrong on the way."
The attackers at the gate weren't the last. More seemed to appear out of nowhere, but Roy either blew them to pieces or left them writhing in pain. Fuery seemed slightly off-put, but a quick reminder that as a soldier, it wasn't his place to argue, the Sergeant Major soldiered on.
The first stairwell they tried had collapsed in on itself. Roy really didn't have the time to figure out a transmutation circle to use, so the two ran to the next closest stairway. Luckily, it appeared to be intact still.
The two eventually made it to Roy's office, and barged their way in, only to be met with a pair of gunshots that went barely over their heads.
"Hold your fire, Lieutenant!" Mustang exclaimed, slowly lowering his hands from his head. Hawkeye had a look of utter relief, lowering her pistol.
"Sir, I'm glad to see you're unharmed."
"Falman!" Fuery cut off Roy's response, spotting his comrade crouched in the corner beside Edward, holding a red-stained cloth to the side of the teenager's head. "You're alright!"
"Yeah," Falman responded, "can't say the same for Edward. He took a nasty blow to the head." Roy quickly moved to Edward's side. The Fullmetal Alchemist was half out of it, his eyes glazed over, and half-closed. He was muttering inaudible words, inattentive to the world around him. "He's been like this ever since. I can't make out what he's saying, sir, but I think it's half of some sort of argument."
Roy sighed, "Falman, Hawkeye, you stay with him. I'm going to go round up the others. Where is Alphonse?"
"He's with Hunter Vance. His sister brought him to work today, but the two were separated in the attack. Alphonse went to find her." Hawkeye explained.
"Today, of all days…" Roy sighed. "Fuery, let's go." He stood and quickly strode out of the room, Kain close behind him.
As they continued on, the found more and more soldiers gathering. The attackers were either dead, or tied up. It wasn't uncommon for a group to cheer in the event that Roy stopped a group of attackers before they even managed to begin their assault. The soldiers they found began to follow the Colonel, ready to defend him if needed.
They found the suit of armor, knelt beside the body of one of the fallen soldiers, Hunter Vance beside him. It took Roy a moment to recognize the bloodied form of 1st Lieutenant Tonya Vance. He could almost feel the morale of the soldiers following him plummet at the sight of the young boy, crying over the body of his sister.
"Al?" Roy spoke up quietly, gaining the Elric's attention. "Are you and the boy unhurt?"
"Yeah." Alphonse's voice was barely a whisper. The pain was apparent in his voice, echoing off the metal suit of armor. "We're alright, I guess. Is Brother okay?"
"He took a hit to the head, and is a bit delirious right now, but I think he'll be fine."
Roy crouched down beside Vance, gently rolling her over. Her eyes were still open, staring lifelessly into space, so he gently forced them closed. Her brother didn't need to remember his sister having such soulless eyes. "We'll have to come back for her after the fighting's over. I want a group to accompany Lieutenant Vance's brother to my office. Alphonse, you can come with us, or go back to your brother."
"I think I'll go back to help Brother."
Half of the soldiers split to take the two boys back to Roy's office, while the Colonel, Fuery and the rest of the soldiers continued on to locate the others.
Havoc and Breda were locked in a shootout with a group of insurgents. A shootout that was soon ended with a contained explosion from Roy.
"Chief, welcome back to the front lines." Havoc mused jokingly.
"Let's get this over with." Mustang muttered. He winced as a sharp pain shot through his shoulder, where he had been shot. Damn it, he'd forgotten that, even though he was out of hospital, he wasn't meant to be overexerting himself.
"You alright, Chief?"
"I'll be fi- EVERYBODY DOWN, NOW!"
The last thing Roy remembered was an explosion that was not his fault. His vision went white, and that was that. Even for months later, he could not remember what, exactly, happened next.