"Sir, you should get back in bed."
Roy Mustang paused with his feet barely touching the ground, the rest of him still in bed, and instinctively looked toward the sound, knowing that Riza Hawkeye would be there, and he would see the adorable little frown-line she got between her eyebrows when she yelled at him. Then he didn't see her, instead seeing nothing but an eternity of darkness. Roy sighed.
Exactly how long does it take to remember that you're blind? he wondered. He had been in the hospital a few days, and already he was tired of learning that he was blind. Every morning when he woke up, he reached for the lamp. It was never where he thought, and on the rare occasion that he found it and clicked it on, he didn't remember until he had already clicked it several times.
He was blind.
Roy's shoulders wanted to slump, but he gave them a brisk order in his head and he straightened. "I think I can go to the bathroom myself, Lieutenant."
"Sir. Let me help you."
"I'm fine," he insisted, pulling the blankets aside. If he were alone, he might take the time to look for- look, really? -his slippers, but he didn't want Riza to see him fumbling for them. So he shuffled forward without them, hoping he was heading in the direction of the private bathroom. He remembered where it was in relation to his bed, more or less. If people would just let him be, he would be able to figure it all out. He wasn't the first person in the world to go blind, after all.
Although you may be the first person ever who won't get to be Führer because of it. Roy's mouth tightened into a hard line. Yes, well. Some dreams were meant to die, that's all. He'd already accomplished plenty. No one deserved to retire early more than he did.
Are we calling it retirement? Because some people might call it a disability discharge. In fact-
Roy's thoughts went blank as his feet caught on something, and he was falling, falling. He was blind and he was injured and someone was leaving debris around his hospital room, and now he was going to fall flat on his face, in front of her.
He didn't, of course. She was right by his side, as always. She caught his arm and steadied him, leading him as far as the bathroom door, where she considerately stayed while he made his way into the bathroom by himself and closed the door. This much was already humiliating; he didn't know what he would do if she insisted on following him in there.
Roy barked his shin on the toilet and tried not to grunt in pain. If Riza thought he needed the help, she'd be in there in an instant. This was the first time he had been to the bathroom without a nurse attending him, and he wondered if it would be worse to have to sit down like a woman, or have someone remark about the mess he'd left. Roy sat down to do his business.
At least they keep the damn soap in the proper place, he thought as he washed up. He glanced up in the mirror to see how haggard he looked, and remembered again that he was blind. That was the third time today, counting waking up in the dark. Yesterday, he had gotten to seventeen before giving up and going to bed. He paused for a long time after he had turned the water off. He didn't want to go back out there. He didn't want to see Riza pity him-
Well, then, I suppose it's a good thing you can't see that, at least. He chuckled to himself, and wondered how he was going to live like this.
"Sir, are you all right in there?" Riza asked.
"I'm fine, Lieutenant."
"Sir, it's okay to need help-"
Roy threw open the door. He fixed her with a stare. Or at least, he hoped to. If she was standing in the right place, it might work.
"Thank you, Lieutenant, but I don't need your help. Understood?"
"And stop calling me 'sir.' You know they're going to discharge me."
Roy kept his face pointed where he thought she was. He could almost see her struggling with what to say.
"I think, sir, that since you haven't been discharged yet, I will continue to respect your rank. Unless you're ordering me not to."
There was a hint of a smirk in her voice, but Roy knew there wouldn't be one on her face. Hawkeye never lost her professional demeanor.
"I don't give orders anymore, Lieutenant." He started to make his way back to the bed, not shuffling as much now; he knew she would have cleared a path for him while he was in the restroom. He stopped himself from running into the bed when he heard Hawkeye hold her breath. Was this his life, now? Constant darkness, people he cared about treating him like an old, sick animal, and listening for people's involuntary noises so he could navigate a simple room?
"I think I'm tired now, Lieutenant," he said, climbing back into bed. In terms of bodily injuries, he was much better off now than he had been in countless fights. The loss of sight, however, the thought of being helpless, a burden on his friends… that left him feeling beaten-down. He pulled the sheets up to his shoulder, turning away from Riza.
"I'll… I'll check on you later, then, sir," she said.
Roy listened to her retreating footsteps, the door closing quietly.
"He's resting," she told someone in the hall.
Roy should have wondered who was coming to see him, wondered if it was important business regarding the recent battle, change in government, or what they were to do now. But he couldn't, because he was just too tired.
Roy Mustang's team gathered around him, firing questions at him without pause. It really wasn't going to be that bad, he had decided. He could still be Führer, blind or no. He had to make sure he was ready to end the conflict in the east.
"What two crops are the Ishvalans-"
"Wheat and cotton, give me something harder," Roy said.
"What's going on here?"
Roy turned his head to the new voice; did he recognize it? "Dr. Knox?" he guessed. "Just studying up. The first thing we plan on doing is ending our hostilities against the Ishvalans. I need to be sure I'm knowledgeable on their culture."
"Well, then, Marcoh, it looks like they're one step ahead of you," Knox said.
"Marcoh?" Roy repeated.
"Yes, Colonel Mustang," Marcoh said. "You see, the Ishvalan people- no, that isn't right. I cannot speak for my victims. So I can only ask for myself. Please use this Philosopher's Stone to heal your eyes, and then work towards re-establishing Ishval."
Roy froze. He tried to look to his left, where Hawkeye was standing, always by his side. He stopped himself, realizing once more that he was blind. But now, he no longer had to be.
"You have a Philosopher's Stone?" he asked.
"I do. Please let me heal you with it. It's the only thing I can do to atone in any way for what I've done."
This is unexpected. I'm not even sure this is what I want anymore. Stall him.
"Of course, Marcoh. What a gracious offer. But first, one of my men needs it more. Team, go call Havoc back to Central. All of you. And, uh, watch over Dr. Marcoh and Dr. Knox. Go, now." The confusion in the room was palpable, but he heard people start moving toward the door. He reached out hoping to grab Hawkeye's wrist and found her hand, holding her there until he thought everyone else was gone.
"Lieutenant?" he asked.
"Are we alone?"
"…Yes, sir." Her tone was uncertain; it didn't matter. Roy knew he could count on her to help him.
"Good." Roy threw his sheets off and nearly jumped out of bed. "Where are my clothes? I'm going home."
"What? Sir, you can't be serious. You're still injured, and you need to be here at the hospital for Dr. Marcoh-"
"I'm going home, Lieutenant. You can either help me, or watch me stumble around trying to do everything myself."
Roy waited, knowing that she was staring him down.
Not an effective tactic against a blind man. He started groping by the bed, trying to find clothes he could wear outside the hospital.
"Fine. I'll help you, sir," Hawkeye finally said. "Pants."
A pair of pants was thrust into his hands and he wriggled into them, thankfully getting them on correctly on the first try.
"Shirt," she said, and tossed it to him. "Will you be telling me what this is about, sir?"
"Let's get me home first. Try not to get us caught."
Hawkeye gave him her arm, and started to lead them out of the hospital.
"There. You're home. Now what couldn't wait until you were actually released from the hospital?"
Roy grinned. "I've decided. I'm not getting my sight back; they'll put me back on active duty. Instead, I'm going to retire-"
"Colonel, what are you thinking?"
"No, listen, Lieut- Hawk- Riza. I can't marry you while I'm your direct superior."
There was a long silence. Roy wished he could see the look on her face; was she going to answer any time soon?
He had just opened his mouth to ask if she'd heard him, when pain exploded in his nose. He stumbled backwards- into a bookshelf, he guessed- and a shower of books fell on him as he tried to protect his head.
"Did you just- did you just punch me?" he asked, voice muffled behind his hand and bloody nose.
"You're lucky I don't threaten to shoot you again. What's the matter with you? You'd give up your sight, your career, the possibility of fixing the mess we've contributed to- for that?"
"Riza, I-" Roy leaned heavily against the bookshelf, head lowered. "Of course I won't, Ri- Lieutenant. Forgive me. I wasn't thinking."
You always assumed you were just waiting for the right time. You fool.
"Roy," she said quietly. She was directly in front of him, pulling his hand away from his face so she could press a handkerchief to his spouting nose.
"Roy, I promise I will retire from the military the moment you've become Führer."
"Riza…." He put a hand out to cup her cheek. It was so difficult to not be able to see what she was thinking; her emotions were always so clear to him, despite the cool mask she often wore. "Do you mean it?" he asked.
"Of course, Roy."
"Then let's get me back to Marcoh immediately. I plan on being Führer within the month."