title "The Loner's Lofty Lovesong"
series limbo
wordcount 1266
rated pg-13
warnings for being only slightly less gory than the trunk scene of The Scarlet Letter
feat. MUSTANG, HUGHES, FULLMETAL (implied royai?)
summary Eighty meters of oxygen go by fast.
notes for prompt #110 at fma_fic_contest; "switch". please don't think badly of me after this, hahaa...


"The Loner's Lofty Lovesong"

-/-

-\-

HOUR ZERO

All it takes is the flip of a switch.

Roy feels it before Fullmetal does, and Fullmetal feels it before Hughes does and when Hughes finally does feel the desperation they're already trapped eighty meters under the soft soil of the Mediterranean and three meters away from a cave of grenades and gunfire and forty seconds from brushing with death, the sun beats but they can't feel it and the rifles fire but they can't hear it, everything is breathless breathless waiting breathless, and all the while a handful of palm fronds swings above their heads, making the three-by-three-centimeter square of sunlight on Roy's forehead shimmer and slip like a fish.

"That's it," Hughes breathes. He covers his face with his soiled gloves. "We're screwed, man. Gonna die of asphyxiation."

"Oh shut up," says Roy, "We've got at least another twenty hours. There's still eighty meters of oxygen."

"Not if you're pissed off," says Ed.

"And how would that affect things?"

"When you get angry, you light things on fire," says Ed.

"In a cramped area, that might prove to be problematic," Hughes adds.

"For God's sake, we still have eighty meters."

"Don't count your chickens before they hatch, Colonel."

-/-

-\-

HOUR FIVE

It's not a fun thing being stuck in a subterranean death-trap with a cave of grapefruit-sized grenades resting near your left hip bone, and Roy is just beginning to realize the gravity of this situation when Fullmetal suggests that they play a game to pass the time. We're going to die pretty soon anyway, the boy says, so we might as well die while having fun, right? Point taken, Hughes says and of course he's going to keep being a shit-eating sidekick (although Roy isn't sure he can tell if it's a grin on Hughes' face or a look of the completely unhinged, since it's so dark and the palm fronds keep moving). Let's play charades, Ed suggests. But it's pitch-black in here, Hughes argues, we should ask Mustang for his flashlight. For heaven's sake, Roy growls, you know I don't carry flashlights so both of you keep quiet and don't even think about

BOOM

...that was grenade number one, and it was because there was a spark on Roy's right glove. Lucky it was just an empty shell, because the other ones don't have to be.

-/-

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HOUR SEVEN

(silence)

-/-

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HOUR NINE

"...I told you so, Colonel."

-/-

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HOUR FIFTEEN

A pack of beef jerky is discovered in Hughes' breast pocket. Hughes is nice enough to share, but only after he's dissolved a quarter of it. Fullmetal descends upon the jerky like a pack of famished wolves, but Roy manages to subdue him and confiscate it before the remaining half is gone. After a quick rifle of his own pockets, he is dismayed to discover only a pint of whiskey remaining. Not even a drop of water. Fullmetal is clever, however, producing a full bottle of orange juice that he stole from the cafeteria in the morning. He demands for a trade-off of the remaining beef jerky. Roy says hell no.

Fine then, Fullmetal tells him, die of dehydration and see if I care

BOOM

That was grenade number two.

Stop being an ass, says Roy. See, that was your fault.

Your face is an ass, says Fullmetal.

...And so the rest of the hour is spent deliberating, two more grenades shells go off and one of them is empty but other one is a quarter-full so it takes a large piece of skin from Roy's cheek. Fullmetal stops insulting Roy's face and moves on to Roy's penis. Of course Roy would have kept arguing if he could but his tongue was now thick and dry from arguments and licking the clay for moisture. He went for a nap, instead, making sure to place himself far away from the stash of grenades.

-/-

-\-

HOUR TWENTY-ONE

Hughes has a very off-putting snore.

-/-

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HOUR TWENTY-TWO

"Hey Colonel." Fullmetal's voice is husky.

"What is it now."

"How you doin'?"

"'M fine. Why you ask?"

"You want a drink?"

"You think I want a drink?"

"There's still a bit left in the bottle. Just leave some for Hughes."

"...mmph. Thanks."

"D-Don't mention it. Can't have you dying before me."

"What was that?"

"...Nothing."

(He heard it anyway.)

-/-

-\-

HOUR TWENTY-FIVE

The hallucinations begin arriving one by one. The first is a nightmare that involves Armstrong being promoted to Roy's position as a replacement in his absence, and suddenly the entire army base is filled to its fire capacity by dumbbells and Old Spice and some sort of flammable hair mousse for Well-Coiffed Blondes. The second dream comes off as a drug-induced thing where people begin turning into animals but on second thought that was the basic premise of human transmutation into chimeras so maybe alchemy was just some scientist's drug-induced foray into lucid dreaming and the thought makes Roy sick to his stomach and just what was alchemy anyway? (But a pile of malice and misery.) The next dream is about Hughes and dying and Roy forgets it as quick as it arrives but he's quiet for a long time.

The last hallucination involves Riza arriving to work in a bikini, and Roy wishes he could stay in this dream forever.

-/-

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HOUR TWENTY-EIGHT

"Are we dead yet?"

"...Guess not."

"I want to die."

"I would grant your wish, but then I'd have to kill Hughes too."

"I don't mind dying for you, Colonel."

"Shut up, Hughes, you don't get to deliver your thoughts on this matter."

(He doesn't tell Hughes about his dream.)

-/-

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HOUR THIRTY

There's a sort of melancholic brightness to this all. The square of light on Roy's forehead reappears and it's so sad, seeing it here and not being able to reach back for it, crawl into it, throw a rope with a grappling hook and latch onto it. He wonders what people outside are thinking. He finds himself missing Hawkeye the most. If he ever got out of this with his sanity attached, he wonders what Riza would think of him. There's a sort of melancholic brightness to it, and it's all that's keeping him alive.

Something is festering on his cheek. An infection, perhaps? Or maybe it's more exciting, like a worm.

-/-

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HOUR THIRTY-TWO

they are waiting
waiting
waiting
waiting
at some point, there's a switch that goes off in Roy's mind
they are waiting
waiting
waiting
fucking war
stupid, fucking war

-/-

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HOUR FORTY-FIVE

"Hey Colonel, how you doin'?"

"'m not doin'."

"...Yeah. Me neither."

-/-

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HOUR FORTY-SEVEN

Fullmetal passes out, and Roy hears it from the corner of his mind.

-/-

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HOUR FORTY-EIGHT

Somewhere above them, he can feel a puff of hot air. A puff becomes a blast becomes a boom become a blast becomes a puff becomes a blast

-/-

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HOUR FORTY-NINE

Hughes passes out, and Roy hears it from the corner of his mind.

-/-

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HOUR FIFTY

Another blast of hot air and suddenly Roy is confronted with five pounds of automail digging into the boniest part of his thigh. He bites his lips to keep from cursing in pain, and then there's a shiny laugh ringing through the air, and it's Fullmetal's.

"We found you guys through a metal detector," Riza says curtly from above, "So you should really thank Ed for this one."

"What happened?" he hears Havoc shriek. "Colonel Mustang, your cheek is completely green."

And as he is lowered up into the sky, the square of light on Roy's forehead grows brighter and brighter.

-/-

-\-

(the end)


o/ still can't believe i was lucky enough to win third place with this. sketchy metal detectors aside, thank you for reading. feedback is nice! :)