He wakes up for the first time with light shining on his face and a doctor fiddling with his IV. Everything is unfamiliar – the light, the doctor, the bed he's laying in; he can't recognize where he is and he can't recall what happened before he fell asleep last. The only thing that he seems to understand is the pain in his head and the numbness in his extremities. He wants to get up, leave, escape to something commonplace. He's afraid of all the foreignness around him.
He's afraid, until he isn't. He's rattled, until he sees her.
He's not sure if the words left his lips or stayed caught in his throat – heck, he's not even sure if he opened his mouth in the first place. It all feels dry and raspy, but she still seems to understand what he wants to say. Without a word, she comes over to take the seat by his bedside and gently smoothes back his tousled raven bangs from his forehead, whispering soft murmurs until he's lulled back into a dreamless sleep.
She watches his eyes slowly close before she shuts her own. The relaxed moment is short lived though; before she knows it, the doctor's voice is drawing her from her reverie.
Her ears listen aptly to his every world, head nodding to his every sentence. "He'll be fine," the doctors tells her. "He'll make a full recovery. Just make sure he takes his medication after every meal and keeps rested."
"Yes, doctor. Thank you for taking care of him."
She can't seem to find anything else to say as the doctor nods and takes his leave through her front door. Thoughts are still flying endlessly around her head. Even though she's been assured that he'll be fine, even though he's lying right in front of her, she's still afraid of losing him.
In actuality, she really has no more reason to worry. The operation was successful, his body is responding well to the medication, and as the doctor says, he'll be fine; there's not a single doubt in her mind of it. She very well knows that soon enough, he'll be awake, out of bed, and going about his daily routines. And yet she's afraid. Perhaps it is the guilt eating at all of her subconscious thoughts, telling her that her care is inadequate, that she was the reason he was hurt in the first place. Perhaps it is these very thoughts that haunt her at night and keep her awake by his bedside until dawn – or maybe that part of it is her misplaced sense of duty. She can't really tell anymore, but right now, that's the last of her worries.
She sighs and stretches, letting her shoulders pop as she rolls them back, but winces when she suddenly pulls at the still-healing gunshot wound on her arm. It's probably about time to change her own bandages (they've been neglected and left untouched since the day they were put on), but she doesn't care to make it happen; she's got other things on her list that take higher priority than changing some silly little bandages. So, with one last lingering gaze on his peaceful, sleeping face, she gets up from her seat and heads towards her kitchen.
He's going to need to eat something when he gets up, after all.
He awakens two days later, and for the first time, has some semblance of coherency. The room is empty when his eyes open, a vacant seat situated by his bedside and sunlight brightly streaming through curtained windows; it must be midday.
A few clang's make their way from the other room into his and he tries to sit up a bit to see where all the sound is coming from, but the noises go silent as his blonde lieutenant walks into the room, supporting a glass of water and a bowl of something steaming.
"Hawkeye…" he croaks as she takes the seat by his side and leaves the bowl on the nightstand.
"It's good to see you awake, sir. Here, you should drink something." And he quietly complies, steadily sipping through the straw she holds out to him until the glass is empty. "I also have some soup for you. You probably don't have much of an appetite right now, but you should really eat something to keep up your strength. I have some medication for you to take as well when you finish eating. You should probably rest afterwards though; the doctor prescribed at least a week of bed rest before you should be up on your feet and…"
He vaguely wonders if she has realized that she's half babbling and that he's only following half the words leaving her mouth; he supposes that she doesn't, seeing as she's still rambling on something about doctors and medicine – or so he thinks. In its simplest form, the situation actually amuses him (his lieutenant isn't known to have a running mouth after all), but he knows better than to just sit back and watch. She silences the instant he lays a hand on her knee and her gaze upturns to meet a smiling face and charcoal eyes (no, eye, she tells herself).
"Thank you, Hawkeye...Just don't forget to take care of yourself too."
She doesn't look back as she stands and retreats back into the kitchen, but she gives him a nod nonetheless. "Yes, of course, sir."
He's not quite convinced, but he decides to let it go for now. After years of experience, he knows that there's no use in arguing with her.
She doesn't seem to sleep much anymore. Though he spends much of his own time resting, in the hours in between – when he's awake and as alert as his injuries will let him be – he always finds her there, sitting by his bedside with a bowl of hot soup, a glass of water, his pain medication, whatever he may need, ready for him. And what's more, her haggard appearance – the dark, bruise-like circles beneath her tired amber eyes, the dull, weary pallor of her fair skin – is enough of a testament of her exhaustion.
So when he wakes in the dead of night and finds her hunched over the edge of his bed, golden tresses spilling over folded arms, he smiles. It's not his trademark smirk, nor is it an ear-to-ear grin; it's a small, heartfelt smile, but it quickly disappears when he realizes what woke him up in the first place.
She's having a nightmare – he can tell by the way she's shaking and whimpering in her sleep. Her words are mumbled and unintelligible, and he can't quite understand what sort of pictures could be passing through her unconscious mind until he hears his name pass through her lips.
That one word is so full of pain and worry and guilt that he knows exactly where she is (where he is): she's on the front steps of the Führer's mansion (and he's right there with her, on the edge of consciousness, held in her trembling arms as she desperately calls his name, pleading with him to stay with her). It's a place that he wants to forget, and even more, it's a place that he wants her to forget.
Her voice is twisting a knife into his gut and before he realizes it, he's shaking her shoulder, slowly easing her awake. In less than a moment, her amber-colored eyes snap open and her slumped back goes rigid and she stares up at him with what he can only describe as unsettled fear, unblinking and unmoving. But as he tentatively reaches a hand out to her, she launches herself onto him, desperately clinging on as if her life depended on it.
A grunt leaves his throat as he tries to hide a wince and ignore the pain shooting through his body, but it all seems to disappear when he realizes that his wounds (after swallowing an ample amount of pain medication) are not what really hurt.
She's sobbing into his nightshirt but he's there, a strong arm wrapped around her back, a gentle hand running through her hair, softly whispering soothing words into her ear. "Shh, it's okay now. It's all over. You're okay now, you're okay Riza…I'm okay."
It takes a few minutes of tracing circles on her back to calm her down. When her tears finally stop, she tries to pull away but her superior's embrace is tight and unrelenting.
"S-sir…?" she stammers, lifting her head from his chest to meet his gaze.
A sincere smile is plastered on his lips and his hand is gently resting on the side of her face, his calloused thumb slowly wiping away tears that still threaten to fall from red, swollen eyes. Before she can protest, he pulls her into bed beside him, holding her body close to his chest, smoothing back her hair, with his lips to her forehead, while she huddles closer to him, into the space beneath his chin, listening to his heartbeat, breathing in the soothing scent of ash that's distinctly him.
"Thank you…for not dying…."
He lets out a low chuckle into her golden hair and pulls her closer.
"Just sleep now, Riza. You can rest easy tonight."
I would like to just put it out there that I haven't actually watched the first anime, only the last episode and Conquer of Shamballa. But that's okay, right? Well, thanks for reading, and as always, reviews are appreciated and constructive criticism is welcome!