First and foremost, to my most awesome beta reader and story adviser Zonkiethegreat:

Thanks so much for being my fresh eyes on this story, I really do appreciate the bluntness and honesty you've given me throughout this process. This story wouldn't be half of what it is today without your opinions and insights...

Spoiler alert:This story takes place three years after the first anime and the movie Conqueror of Shamballa, if you haven't seen them yet, what are you waiting for? Go watch them, they're on netflix.

The usual disclaimers apply, I am not Hiromu Arakawa, nor do I own any rights to FMA.

.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.

Chapter 1
Best Laid Plans

She'd come to, laying in an awkwardly twisted position, sprawled onto her back and side. How long had she been unconscious? Seconds? Minutes? Hours? It was difficult to tell. What was not difficult to tell, was the pain she was in...

The surface below her was terribly uneven with a multitude of sharp, small, points that dug painfully into her flesh. It was freezing, and while the wind wasn't brisk, it certainly didn't help matters any. So, pulling up her knees, she rolled fully onto her back for a moment, finding more sharp points to torment her.

As she did so, she spared a glance up into a starry night sky that was broken by long strips of thick fast moving clouds. Their undersides occasionally lit by brief yellow orange flashes, that preceded not thunder, but the horrific thunderous booms of distant explosions.

God, where am I?

Forcing herself up into a crouch, she vaguely registered a complaint from her knee, and retained an even vaguer recollection of having scraped it somehow. All that was temporarily forgotten, however, as she was overwhelmed by the relief of escaping those dagger like points.

Wrapping her arms around herself as she stood, she began to rub her hands up and down them in an attempt to return some warmth and circulation to the upper portions. It was truly frigid but she couldn't understand why, it was August not November and the city had been in the grip of a record heat wave with no relief in sight.

She turned a circle, trying to figure out where she was, and could just make out the jagged lines of broken walls. A few tree tops peeked over, silhouetted against the stars beyond. She seemed to be in a ruin, and fairly high up, as she could not make out the horizon in any direction.

She made to take a step towards one of the lower breaches, to see if she could spot anything else that might be of use, when her knee registered another complaint. At almost that exact moment, a nearly full moon broke free of the clouds and for the briefest instant, revealed a dark crumpled figure not five feet from of her.

It was all to confusing. She froze as some coldly logical part of her mind pointed out that the moon had been new just two days ago, so it shouldn't be nearly full again already... But the rest of her mind had refocused on the significance of the pain in her knee and who it meant the person before her was... because though it was still a bit fuzzy in places, she was beginning to remember how exactly she had come to be here, wherever here was.

Cautiously she advanced toward him. The moon had already retreated back beneath the clouds plunging them, once again, into near total darkness. Crouching down beside him, she tentatively reached out and took hold of his shoulder, giving it a shake... Nothing. Again, she shook him. This time with a bit more vigor, and quietly called his name... Still nothing, not even a deep breath, in fact he didn't seem to be moving at all.

Constantly changing light levels caused by the varying thickness of the cloud cover, played merry hell with her night vision, and made it exceedingly difficult for her to tell if he was even breathing or not. Biting her lip nervously, she touched his cheek, only to jerk her hand away. Falling backward, she gasped and skittered back like a crab.

He was cold...Ice cold.

"Oh, god" she gasped again, coming to a stop against a steep pile of rubble near the corner and pulling her knees up to her chest.

She knew she should go back to him, check for a pulse, but she couldn't bring herself to confirm her suspicions. Instead she dropped her head into her hands, whose shaking had nothing to do with the cold, and tried rend control back from the fear and hopelessness she felt. The one thing she knew for sure, was that if she let herself go into shock now, by the morning they'd both be dead...

.o0o.

When he'd first regained consciousness, the frigid, near perfect darkness had almost convinced him that he'd been right about not being strong enough, that he had been trapped in the void. All to soon, though, his senses began to return. He came to the realization that the darkness was not complete, and he'd become vividly aware of sharp aches in his shoulder and hip (resulting, he guessed, from how he had landed when he arrived), as well as a number of sharp points digging into his ribs (which turned out to be gravely bits of broken masonry)... He assumed those who had been stripped of their physical form probably didn't feel pain, they probably didn't feel much of anything at all.

So he must be somewhere... The real question was where? Distant sounds reminiscent of a much darker time in his past, further assured him of his return to reality, but said little of his location,... other than in trouble.

Groaning he lurched upright, both for a better look around, and in an attempt to relieve some of the pain his previous position had been causing him. The action elicited a gasp from somewhere off to his left.

Spinning in that direction, he instinctively snapped his fingers, intending to light the place up, but nothing happened. Looking down at his gloved hands he snapped again, but his fingers emitted nothing more than the natural sparks usually produced by the fabric.

No time to think about that now. Whoever it was clearly had him at a disadvantage... He turned his attention back to the shadowy outline, trying to make out any identifying characteristics. It was too dark, so achingly, he forced himself to his feet hoping he would not have to fight them, but preparing for it none the less.

"Who's there?" he demanded, his voice rough from cold and disuse.

Another gasp emanated from that dark corner, then came a voice that chilled his bones more than the wind that whipped through this derelict ruin.

"I thought you were dead..."

As he drew closer, clouds cleared the moon and his eyes told him what his mind already knew. A truth that nearly brought him to his knees. It hadn't been just some void conjured nightmare, she was here.

.o0o.

She'd still been in that huddled position when he'd suddenly lurched upright. Her gasp garnering the sound of one glove muffled snap followed quickly by a second...

For one terror filled moment she'd believed she would die erupting into a mass of flames, and that coldly logical part of her brain had even noted the irony of that fate considering how cold she was... but nothing had happened.

Monumentally relieved to be wrong, she'd been unable to keep from blurting out her fears. All though upon hearing the sound of her voice it had been his turn to gasp, as the moon once again broke through and revealed them to one another.

He looked as though he had been struck, and it was some time before he spoke again. She hadn't minded the long pause, though, as it had taken her a moment to get over the shock mostly of having him abruptly sit up when she had truly believed him passed on.

"Are you alright?" he asked when he'd finally regained his bearings.

His voice still retained that regimented military tone, despite all that had gone on, and she found that it still grated on her nerves the way it always had...

"I'm freezing, can you make a fire?" she pleaded, allowing that edge of annoyance to creep in as her voice wavered from the now body wide tremors.

"No" he answered flatly, but failed to elaborate further.

Suddenly it occurred to her that something must have gone wrong... Perhaps his gloves had gotten wet or the arrays had been damaged... Whatever the case, he brought her musing to an end when he drew closer and performed the quasi-chivalrous act of handing her his jacket.

It was gesture that normally would have pissed her off, especially coming from him. But at the moment the short sleeves of her thin cotton blouse, and the seemingly increasing winds, conspired to leave her feeling less than stoic.

So she had accepted it without comment, then tried to curl as much of her already well chilled body under it as she could. It was little help, she was shivering in earnest now, and he sat huddled against the wall in a similar position a short distance away, doing his best to hide his own tremors from her. She pulled her head under the jacket, in an effort to raise her body temperature, but still she felt no change.

Though she knew it was brought on primarily by fear and discomfort, she felt herself growing terribly annoyed at him... Alchemy was all well and fine, but for the love of all that was good, why couldn't the man just carry matches?

.o0o.

He sat against the wall hugging his knees, she was huddled on the hard ground a short distance away, shivering under his jacket. Without a fire, he was thankful to at least have the moon light, it was not warm but at least they were not in complete darkness. As more of his senses slowly returned, he listened to the chatter of her teeth, and realized that though his were not, it was only by force of will.

This will not do...

"Get up and come here" he said softly. A shadow among shadows, she poked her head out from beneath the jacket and glared over at him.

"What do you want?"she demanded

"Just do as I ask-"

Realizing how harshly he'd spoken, he forced his voice to a more neutral level

"...please."

He tried to remind himself that, as experienced as she was, she was still just a civilian, not some recruit to be broken down and built back up again. Shivering uncontrollably and muttering angrily to her self, she stood allowing the jacket to fall to the ground as she started toward him

"Bring the jacket with you."

She stopped dead, eying him suspiciously. Though she said nothing, it wasn't difficult to decipher her thoughts.

"Look, I know the situation isn't ideal, but at the present rate we'll both freeze to death long before dawn." he said as though speaking to a child.

Then, as if to illustrate his point, a frigid gust whipped through the tiny alcove of fallen rock and mortar they now occupied. Her movements made jerky by the cold, she hesitantly collected the jacket and moved to him. Satisfied she was finally listening to reason, he changed position slightly on the charred, broken boards he'd laid down in order to insulate himself from the cold stone. Once settled, he motioned to the space in front of him.

"Have a seat"

She complied, but shot him another suspicious glare when he indicated that she should move back against him.

"I assure you my intentions go no further than trying to insure we survive the night" He bit out through clenched jaw, the growing aggravation apparent in his voice.

Stiffly she moved back until his legs were on either side of her and her back was pressed against his chest

"Remind me again why we couldn't just build a fire..." she muttered as he took the jacket from her and drew it around them both.

He tried to hold back, really he did, but exasperation finally won out.

"Just what do you think it is you are hearing?" He said, his voice a dangerous hiss. "Those pops aren't party favors, and that rumble in the distance? It isn't thunder... Though perhaps it might not be to you, it is clear to me that there is some sort of battle being waged near by... So maybe, just maybe, it might not be such a good idea to draw attention to ourselves... Do You Agree!"

But that was only part of the reason, really more of an excuse... Truth was, the moon light had revealed there was nothing wrong with the transmutation circles on his gloves. A few more cursory scribbles of charcoal on the ground as she huddled beneath the jacket, and his suspicions had been confirmed... Wherever here was, he was at a truly terrifying disadvantage, and any optimism he might have about surviving this was quickly fading.

Taking a deep breath, he tried to quell the knot of real fear that had begun to build within him, as he returned his attention to her. She'd hunched forward during his short but effective tirade, and now sat with her forehead upon her knees. Suddenly her whole body gave a shudder clearly not caused by the cold, and he realized she was crying.

He felt a stab of guilt at the selfishness of his outburst. He was an idiot. It wasn't her fault that he'd never learned to make a normal fire without a match, or that he'd grown so reliant on alchemy that he'd never conceived of a place or time when he wouldn't have it if he needed it ... She was the one who should be angry, it wasn't like she'd asked to be here... Though he still wasn't entirely sure why or how she'd come to be here...

"You truly won't be content until you've wiped every one of us out..." she whispered, sobbing quietly.

It wasn't really a question, more like a sad, defeated, declaration of fact. Another stab of guilt. He sighed again and resisted the urge to slam the back of his head into the masonry he was leaning against.

Drawing a deep breath, he laid a hand gently on her shoulder. She tensed, turning to look up at him with fear and trepidation.

"I'm-"

But he stopped himself, letting the breath out in a rush. He couldn't say he was sorry, she'd never believe him. Carefully, he schooled his features to keep them neutral, then started again with a different tack.

"I think we'll be safe here till morning." he said gently "Once it's daylight, we'll be able to see whats around us, and figure out what to do. We can't do anything until then, so try to get some sleep."

With that, he let his hand fall away from her shoulder. After a moment, she nodded once mutely, then looked away to wipe her face. Satisfied that all evidence of her tears had been discarded, she once more leaned stiffly back against his chest. Slowly her shivering began to subside. Then, after what seemed like an eternity, her head lolled to the side, and her body relaxed into his as her breathing became deep and even.

.o0o.

It had been a terrible thing to say... She knew it wasn't true, and she hadn't meant it, not really. But she was sore, scared, and cold... And on top of all that, she was still suffering from a mild case of shock.

The weight of it all was just too much. Having him yell at her about how dire their situation was, as though she hadn't figured it out already, had simply been the last straw. So she'd struck back at him the best way she knew how...

But she also knew that by doing so, she had, in a way, lived up to his implication that she was just some naive civilian... That she hadn't been there, just outside Lior when scar wiped it, and the soldiers occupying it, from the map... Or in central when the outworlders had attacked...

Like some child throwing a fit, she'd let fly the words she knew instinctively would hurt him the most. They had flowed from her with near hysterical fervor, and felled their target as effectively as a knife.

He'd backpedaled... of course he had, who wouldn't? She wielded the one weapon against which he had no defense... His own guilt for sins past. Even an average man, with garden variety sins would run from that, and he was no ordinary man, nor were his transgressions run of the mill...

But as he placed his hand gently on her shoulder, and tried to allay the fear he thought he'd created in her. His reaction reminded her of something she'd realized years ago, and it made her regret her cutting words. Despite his mistakes, despite his inadequacies... He truly was a good man.

So she relented, and a moment later found herself in a position she never would have dreamed of being in. Sitting huddled, in a most intimate embrace with Roy Mustang, was unnerving to say the least.

Each time he exhaled, it rustled through her hair, raising goosebumps on her neck and arms. But as her body began to regain it's warmth, exhaustion began to outstrip her nervousness and she gradually relaxed back against his chest.

She noted in that misty half state between wakefulness and sleep, how utterly surreal this day had been. Then as she drifted off, her last conscious thought was to wonder if she had not, in fact, gone insane, and drifted unknowingly into some manic delusion...

.o0o.

Leaning his head against the wall, he looked off into the starry distance. Watching the hypnotic flash of explosions reflected in the clouds on the horizon, he wondered again how things could have gone so horribly wrong. It wasn't a scenario that had even crossed his mind when he'd decided to do this a few months ago.

The image of her in a field of standing stones, flashed behind his eyes. He'd started out in this with the best of intentions... But no one knew better than he, that the road to hell was paved with those...

He'd been spiraling... Out of control... Into oblivion... pick your cliche... it had begun slowly with the news of Maes' death, and continued on at that pace until the loss of Ed. Picking up a bit of speed, He'd resigned his post, reenlisting as a ordinary soldier.

He would have been happy to serve out the rest of his career, the rest of his life, circling the drain in that tiny isolated northern shack of a border post... Nothing but him, the wood stove, and the gun he had no desire to use on anyone but himself...

But it was not to be. The 'Outworlders' had come, and somehow he'd managed to appear the hero, despite failing not only to get Ed back, but also losing Al in the process. He'd felt the increasing momentum, the almost palpable force of a tightening turn as he'd related their final words to Winry... Witnessing her grief, anger and disbelief, at this new loss. It had been like breaking the news to Gracia all over again.

Despite his strongest assurances to the contrary, the new government was convinced another outworld attack was immanent. They had honorarily restored some semblance his former title to him, and given him back his staff. His duties, however, amounted to little more than that of an adviser. He felt no drive or ambition for it, and it gave him little satisfaction... The work was redundant, as was he.

He tried to hold out for Maes' sake, but found himself having to fight harder and harder to curb his own self destructive cravings for liquor, not to mention darker things.

One by one, the better angels of his nature deserted him, slipping away into the darkness, and leaving only his demons for company... He was spinning deeper into the maelstrom, and longed to return to the north, to disappear forever... But it was in vain, it was all in vain...

So he plodded along directionless. Just going through the motions as he waited for oblivion to come, and release him from his torments. It was not until his annual, self flagellating visit to Risembul, that he'd felt the beginnings of a change in the current...

He'd gone, as he had done every year since he returned from Ishbal, to visit their graves... It was shortly after dawn, and the sun had not yet begun to burn away the mist, when he passed by the automail shop. He'd been surprised to find the sign gone, and the building empty.

Unsure what else to do, he'd continued on to the graveyard, and found the reason. There, beside their carefully tended graves, was a fresh stone that bore the words 'Beloved Grandmother. She had died late that spring.

She should have called... I could have helped... somehow...

Later that day, he had made a few subtle inquiries in town, but no one seemed to know where she'd gone... Only that she had closed up the shop, and left town shortly after the funeral. Empty handed, he had boarded the train back to central.

Staring blankly out into the intervening miles, he'd come to the realization that if she'd wanted his help, she would have called. Instead it seemed, all she really wanted was to be left alone... And with the exception of a single, subtle, inquiry to Sheska, he'd honored that perception, and left her be... Though, in quiet moments, despite his best intentions, he often found his mind wandering to thoughts of her, and if she was doing alright where ever it was she'd gone...

The answer would come a little over a year later, in the form of a chance meeting. For reasons he could no longer recall, he'd gone to see Maes... Almost as much so in death, as it had in life, talking to his friend relaxed him, and helped him to refocus. He'd been so lost in thought as he walked toward the grave, that he hadn't noticed someone else was already there, until he was nearly on top of them.

Abruptly halting on the narrow stone path that wound through the cemetery, he waited, not wanting to disturb her. As it was he felt like an intruder just being this close. Instead, he stood quietly, looking away into the distance.

So intent was he not to disturb her, that until she spoke, he didn't notice she was approaching him.

"Colonel?"

He was startled, and though he'd tried to hide the reaction on his face, he must only have succeeded in looking confused, because she continued.

"It's me, Winry..." She gave a little sad smile.

As though he could ever forget who she was...

"Miss Rockbell" His voice flat, as he met her eyes for a moment, then dropped them to the ground.

He'd known it was her the moment he'd seen her.

"My condolences on the death of your grandmother..."

"H-how did you know?"

Her voice was low and dry, and carried on the wind like the last leaf of fall.

"Someone mentioned it" He lied, not wanting her to know that he visited the graves of her family "If there is anything you need, anything I can do, please don't hesitate to ask"

The question was on her lips, but it seemed to take the entire force of her will just to give it voice.

"H-has there-"

She licked her lips and tried again

"Has there been any word from-"

biting her lip she looked down now, unable to finish, unable to speak their names... But she didn't have to, he'd known what she was asking before the first word left her lips.

"No,... I'm sorry, there hasn't" He said softly.

A single tear escaped, and made it's way down her cheek, but she hastily brushed it away.

Truly looking at her for the first time, he was taken aback by what he saw... It almost seemed she herself was a ghost, freshly called up from one of the graves that surrounded them. Her eyes were dark ringed and hollow, and she had grown so thin he found himself mildly astonished that the rays of the midday sun did not pass right through her...

She's dying.

"I have to go," she said suddenly, breaking the silence that had stretched out between them during his observation of her.

Suppressed tears lent a huskiness to her voice, as she tried to swallow them back.

"I'll be late getting back to work."

Quickly turning away from him, she hurried back down the path toward the gate. For a moment, it almost seemed she was fighting not to break into a run, as he watched her go...

It had been then, standing in the midsummer sun, staring at that distant gate long after she'd disappeared through it, that this idiotic notion had set upon him... He knew his life wasn't worth much in the grand scheme of things, but at the time he'd wondered, if it just might not be worth enough to buy two tickets home. They were the only family she had left... Besides, he'd mused, it wasn't like he was trying to bring back the dead...

Now, as the chill wind whipped his hair, he wondered if this might yet turn out to be another one of his mistakes that was marked by a tombstone...

.o0o.

He ran across a floor marked in glowing blue-white lines as it disintegrated beneath him. He had to get to her, knock her out of the circle before it was too late. What the hell is she doing here? He wasn't going to make it in time, he realized as the blocks beneath his feet fell away. Reaching out to grab something anything to catch himself, he plummeted into the darkness... Then he caught sight of her... she was falling too.

.o0o.

He started awake, silently cursing himself.

Some soldier you are.

He must have dozed off, and from the looks of it, he'd been asleep for quite some time. The sun had risen, and was just beginning to peak over the remaining walls of the burned out ruin.

At least it's warmer now.

Then he heard it... The quiet scrape of slow deliberate footsteps on the debris strewn floor.

Shit!

Someone was slowly and methodically searching the ruin. Quietly and carefully, he extricated himself from behind her. She barely stirred. Perhaps it was better that way, he thought, as he leaned her back against the wall. She slouched slightly to the side and pulled the jacket up over her head, then she was still again.

Satisfied that she was still asleep, he turned, and as quietly as possible made his way along the the pile of rubble that had served as something of a windbreak during the night, then crouched at the entrance of their makeshift shelter.

Whoever it was, was getting closer. Mostly out of habit, he brought his thumb and forefinger together, before remembering that things just didn't work that way here.

He flattened him self against the debris, as the blue steal barrel of a gun came into view. He allowed the intruder one more step before he pounced, sweeping the gun's barrel to the side with the back of one hand as he buried the other in the man's stomach. Upon hearing the telltale whoosh of air that indicated he'd not be calling out to his friends, if he had any... Mustang put all the strength he could muster into a final shot to the side of man's head. He prayed it would leave the man unconscious, and thankfully, he was not disappointed.

Catching the man as he slumped, he'd hauled him into the relative seclusion of their alcove. He was trying to untangle the man from his gun when he heard the unmistakable click of a weapon being armed. It was accompanied by a gruff, but deadly calm, male voice.

"I wouldn't if I were you."

Dammit.

He slowly raised his hands.

"Stand and face me."

Complying, he found himself face to face with a stocky man who bore a vague resemblance to Breda, and was dressed similarly to the man at his feet. His brown hair was fairly short, and the gun trained at his chest was twin to the unconscious man's.

Double damn!

The patch on his chest said Carter, and if the ones on his shoulder meant the same thing they did back home, then this man was a Sargent. Pounding footsteps accompanied by several shouts of 'Sarge' confirmed his theory, and heralded the arrival of the rest of his squad. Seconds later, five more men came around the berm of fallen bricks, all with guns at the ready.

"Bailey!" one shouted in distress, as the man sprawled at his feet came into view.

I've REALLY stuck my foot in it now, he thought cursing his luck.

"He ain't dead," The man called Carter said to the one who had shouted, but his eyes never wavered from their target "Just unconscious."

It was clear by the way the other men looked to him, that the calm faced man called Carter was their leader.

"What happened?" Said another concerned face in the crowd

"He wasn't watching where he was going... Enough dillydallying, You,..." Carter jerked the gun in his direction "Back away from him. Slowly."

Mustang complied, taking three slow steps backward.

"That's far enough. Del, Hicks, go get Bailey" The men he had indicated surged forward to retrieve there fallen comrade.

Unfortunately, Winry, whom he had completely forgotten about until now, chose that very moment to wake up. Panic flashed through him, as Del and Hicks wheeled around, bringing their guns to bare on the source of the noise.

"STOP!" He shouted, holding out his hands."She isn't armed"

He darted in front of her, it was the only thing he could think of... For a moment they froze, unsure whether to fire or not. Then Carter was screaming at them to hold their fire.

"Winry," he yelled desperately, not taking his eyes off the numerous weapons now pointed at them both. "Winry! Show them your hands! Show them you're not armed!"

The others were shouting as well. Briefly it crossed his mind, that this was one wake-up call she was unlikely ever to forget. If she lived through it, that was... Then Carters voice was cutting through the pandemonium.

"EVERYBODY, SHUT UP!"

After they had quieted, he continued

"YOU,"

Carter jerked the gun in Roy's direction

"Over there, face the wall, keep your hands up,"

As he turned to move over to the wall, he shot her what he hoped was a reassuring look, and mouthed 'It'll be OK', though he wasn't entirely sure it would... For now, they had no choice but to do as they were told.

"And You," He said after a moment, clearly indicating Winry "Kick that jacket over here... Good, now turn and face the wall, keep your hands up. Del, hand off your weapons and search him. Hicks, hand off your weapons and check her"

"Thanks sarge!" the tone of Hicks' voice made him tense, as Winry whimpered, but before he could protest, Carter piped up.

"HEY, don't get any ideas! You get fresh with her, and I'll cut'em off my self, ya hear. We Ain't no fuckin' krauts!"

The indignation in his voice so apparent, that Hicks could do little more than yelp out a defeated 'Yes sir' then someone, presumably Del, was patting him down and checking his pockets.

"She's all clear, Sarge" Hicks said quickly.

"Nothing but a watch on Him." Said Del, having found nothing

"Good"

Roy heard the crunch of rapidly approaching foot steps, then a firm hand on his shoulder spun him. Briefly he was nose to nose with a red faced Carter, before Carter's fist smashed into his jaw, dropping him to the ground. Though the blow had made his head spin, Mustang would later come to the startling realization that Carter had actually pulled his punch.

"Stupid sonuvabitch!" He huffed through gritted teeth "Were you trying to get yourself killed?"

The Sargent, who had remained calm, cool, and collected through everything that had come before, was now glaring down at him with blazing fury in his eyes. In the future, experts would determine that his reaction stemmed from a primal instinct linked to an excess of adrenalin in the blood, lacking proper outlet... But in the here and now, the Sargent simply thought of it as 'blowing off steam'... and in light of the events leading up to this one, Mustang supposed that he'd actually gotten off quite lightly.

"If you ever pull a damn fool stunt like that again, I'll kill you... Here," Carter said tossing his now searched jacket at him. "Go sit by your lady friend."

He jabbed a finger in Winry's direction, as the serenity slowly returned to his face.

Rubbing his sore jaw, Mustang picked himself up off the ground and dusted off, before doing as he had been instructed. Winry's eyes were big as saucers as he took a seat beside her and held out the jacket.

"Here, you must be cold"

Not hesitating, she shrugged into it. Gratefully she pulled her knees up underneath and hugged them, but she still looked pretty shaken up when she looked back at him.

"It wasn't as bad as it looked"

He flashed her a weak smile, then winced bringing his hand to his jaw.

"It was better than I deserved" He said thoughtfully.

Carter was crouched over the still unconscious Bailey, speaking in hushed tones to the man tending him. Then with a nod he stood up.

"Better than you deserved?" Winry hissed indignantly, drawing his attention back to her. "That man sucker punched you!"

He sighed.

"Winry," he said, his voice quiet and serious. "After what I did to his squad mate, I count my self lucky to still be breathing,"

He glanced back to the Sargent.

"He would have been well within his rights to shoot me, but he didn't... I know you're frightened, but please trust me when I tell you this... We're in good hands, this could have been much worse..."

It was at about that moment a spray of gunfire rang out, and with a howl, Carter went down in a heap...

.o0o.

A/N: Well that's it for this first installment... Please r&r. The next chapter is mostly completed but still needs a final proof and polish. I will try to have that out to you about this time next month. If you have any questions about the story, please feel free to place them in your review or pm me. I will address them as best I can, as soon as I can...

Thanks for reading, hope to see you again next month!