I took a moment away from my FMA fics to submit this offering. Somebody needs to do a Pumpkin Scissors/FMA crossover. I'm really surprised that nobody has yet. It would totally work, and it would have to be epic. I'm just not sure I would want to take that one on myself. It might be life changing.

This takes place just after the ball/duel

It was all so familiar. He contemplated the ceiling and the IV bag and the antiseptic smell and the fact that he was here. Again. He wondered how long he had been here. Probably just a couple of days. That seemed to be the average. Next time one of the doctors came in he'd have to ask. Or maybe one of the nurses. Except that one.

He heard an anxious, breathy gasp. "He's awake! Oh, thank goodness!"

"Hey there, big guy!" a familiar voice drawled cheerfully.

"How are you feeling, Oland?" a third voice joined the other two.

Randel turned his head to see three of his comrades clustered at his bedside and he managed a smile. It was a warming sight, but when he realized that they were only three, the sight lost a little of its warmth. Then he remembered. And he blushed.

He had scolded her! He told her that she was little and that she wasn't indestructible and that she tended to charge into things. Thinking back on it, he could hardly believe he'd had the courage to say those things to her. Well, she turned around and gave him an earful. Then, after one sip of wine, she passed out in his arms. Of course he would catch her. He was honored that she trusted him that much. He decided not to give anybody any time to object, and he lifted her into his arms.

One of her sisters, the dark-haired one, stepped up to him, and with humble defiance, he tightened his hold on the lieutenant's small form.

Her sister smiled kindly at him. "We're having the carriage brought to the door. If you would be so kind, Corporal, as to carry my sister outside, we would be very much obliged."

"Oh…y-yes…of course!" Randel stammered. He glanced around the ballroom. It occurred to him that her fiancé, Lord Lionel, might want to take that honor for himself, but he was nowhere to be seen. Well, then, it was up to him. Corporal Randel Oland of the Nine-O—no, of State Section Three, the Pumpkin Scissors, to protect his platoon leader while she was down. He straightened up. "Yes, ma'am!"

He waited just inside the doors with her where it was warm. Then, with the sound of hooves and wagon wheels in the snow heralding the approach of her carriage, he stepped outside, making sure that his jacket was securely wrapped around her to keep the snow off. He maneuvered her gently into the carriage, and with her sisters propping her up, they drove away. He stood in the snow, watching, barely noticing the aching of his fractured bones, until the carriage disappeared.

He slowly sat up and anxiously searched the faces of his comrades. "Um…how is the lieutenant? Is she okay?"

Oreldo and Martis exchanged a look and a slight grin. "Well, to start with, she's in better shape than you," Oreldo remarked.

"The captain called her house and spoke to one of the sisters. Solis, I think," Martis said. "She told him that the lieutenant has been confined to bed rest for a week by their family physician." He grinned. "Her sister didn't say, but I'll bet the lieutenant isn't very happy about that."

"No, I guess she wouldn't be," Randel mused with a smile. He could just picture her fuming.

Lily had been hanging in anxious silence just behind Oreldo, and she took the opportunity to finally step forward and thrust a small bouquet of chrysanthemums at him. "I got you flowers!" she squeaked. "I hope you like them!"

Well, that was a first. No one had ever done that for him before. Slightly cross-eyed, Randel contemplated the flowers under his nose for a moment before taking them from the sergeant major. "Thanks! That was really nice."

"There's a little flower shop across the street," Lily said, as though she somehow needed to explain her actions. "I got them before we came inside."

"Yeah, I kind of thought about flowers," Oreldo declared, ignoring the dubious eyebrow Martis raised at him. "But then I thought I'd try to talk one of the nurses into popping out of a cake for you." He shrugged. "I couldn't get any takers, though."

"That's okay, Mr. Oreldo," Randel replied. With his luck, the nurse who popped out would probably be carrying a specimen bottle. "I appreciate the thought." He set the flowers down on the table at his bedside. Then he picked them up again with sudden renewed interest. He turned quickly to Lily.

"Sergeant Major, that flower shop. You said it's just across the street?"

Lily nodded. "Mm-hmm. They get a lot of business being so close to a hospital."

"Could you…would you mind…" Randel lost his surge of inspired courage and became meekly self-conscious. "Um…could I ask you to do me a favor?"

Alice gave a deep sigh and sat back against her pillows. This was utter torture. She felt fine. She was bored. She wanted to get back to work. The only thing that was keeping her from making an escape through her window was the subtle change in her sisters' attitude. Eli especially. Gone were the snide comments about her calling. No more remarks about being a tomboy or whether she should start referring to her as her brother. They had been able to see firsthand not only what their youngest sister was doing and what she was fighting for, but they had seen the unique bond she shared with her unit. It was worth it to indulge them in their concern for her.

But what really made it all worth it was the brave little bouquet of buttercups that held pride of place on her nightstand. Off in one corner of her room stood a neglected pile of roses. Two or three dozen had been delivered each day, mostly from Lord Schultz, but also from Lionel. Her fiancé had apparently been by every day, asking to see her, but her sisters were surprisingly adamant about not allowing her any visitors.

She picked up the little card that had come with the buttercups. Roses would have been beyond the means of a non-com. Randel's writing was surprisingly neat, even though all it said was I hope you get better soon. She smiled affectionately as she propped the card up against the crystal vase on her nightstand. He'd been slammed with a mace and chain and he hoped she got better soon. Some nerve!

Randel lay back staring at the darkened ceiling, unable to sleep.

I hope you get better soon.

Well, it was true. He did honestly hope that. But there was so much more that he had wanted to say.

Maybe you don't think so, but you really are incredible. You're like a little candle that just keeps on burning even though everything around you is cold and dark. And your light is so bright and so strong. It's even brighter and stronger than my lantern. When I turn on my lantern, it only makes things darker. It makes me forget about things I should be afraid of, but not in a good way. The way you shine makes things right again. It's given me something to look to. It's given me a reason to actually be proud of what I'm doing. When I feel scared or ashamed, all I have to do is look at your blue eyes and your smile. I think about them when I go to sleep, and I think about them when I wake up, and when I see them up close I feel like I can do anything.

You probably don't remember me holding you that night, but that made me happier than I can ever remember. You'll probably slap me for saying this, but for that little space of time, I felt like you were all mine.

Randel sighed. That little card just wasn't big enough.