Mustang knelt in the cold room. He couldn't see anything. That was ironic, considering he had just seen too much from the Truth. He could feel Hawkeye's blood on his hands, still, and hear her ragged breathing. She wasn't dead yet, at least. That was a small miracle.
"Here, Colonel," she managed to gasp out. "That was incredibly stupid of you."
"Yeah, can you rant at me later for it?"
"World's ending. Might not be a later."
"Good point…" He looked around absently, frowning. "Damn, this is a mess. Can't snap without my sight."
"Not a thing." He grimaced. This was going to be hard… He was pretty sure he was already dying. He felt like it. He'd already sustained several wounds, and the burn on his side was giving him maneuverability issues. With a hint of regret, he remembered hearing Hughes's words drifting out as he was dying, talking to no one. He'd been speaking to the fairy tale his daughter had created. Maybe he had really been there, though. After all this, Mustang wasn't really one to judge.
"Hawkeye, stay down until the fighting's over."
"That's going to be awfully soon if the world ends," she responded, gritting the words out.
"You can't help in this state. Just stay here." He could hear people moving closer. They were probably going to take him somewhere else to be sacrificed. There wasn't much he could do, though. He doubted he'd even be able to walk in a straight line without his vision right now, let alone from the blood loss that was causing him to feel light headed.
…can see you clearly on a starlit night…
Oh, God kill him if he had to die while his head played bad music over and over in his head.
"Come on, let's get ya somewhere warm," Mustang heard someone murmur. There was a shuffling sound in front of him, next to Hawkeye, as if someone were crouching down. "It's gonna get a bit nippy with Frostbite around."
Knowing for certain that everyone in the room was going to think he was insane, Mustang said, "Can you keep her safe?"
There was a surprised sound from the newcomer. "W-What?"
"Mustang, who are you…?" Hawkeye trailed off, undoubtedly noticing that he wasn't looking at her or anyone else in the room for that matter. "…talking to…" she finished quietly, confused.
"Yeah," the voice responded. "Kinda plannin' on that already. Sorry, I'd take ya two, but the others need ya here to be up some homunculus."
"I can't fight without my vision. I'll hurt someone."
"Well, hopefully ya'll hurt the bad guys. Don' worry about it. Frostbite'll make sure yer flames go where they're s'pposed ta, so long as ya listen to his directions."
"What are you doing here?"
There was a smirk in the voice. "Ya really think that yer the only one who'd stand up ta these guys? Buddy, yer in good hands. Just leave it at that."
The voice was silent for a minute. "Think of us as Maes Hughes's last gift ta ya. Listen ta Jack, an' he'll get ya through this. Don' waste time askin' so many questions. Ya'll never see us again, I don' think, but it doesn' really matter all that much. Go kick some butt, alright?"
"Hold on, Lt.," the voice said, literally saying 'L T'. Mustang felt his knees dip down slightly as the ground opened up and heard Hawkeye's surprised shout. A second later, his knees rose back up. He reached a tentative hand to see if she was still there, but instead of brushing skin and blood, his hand knocked into a flower.
A wooden object knocked against his shoulder. "Come on. Like the kangaroo said, we don't have a whole bunch of time."
"Kangaroo…?" Mustang frowned.
"Well, he says he's a bunny, but he's got identity issues. He'll figure it out one day. Alright, on my word, snap your fingers in this general direction." He heard a rapping sound of something tapping the floor ahead of him, a bit to the left. "Give a sec to shield the others." A few seconds passed, and all he could hear were the hesitant footsteps of the approaching men. They had stopped when Mustang had started talking to himself, and had been especially hesitant after a hole opened up in the ground and Hawkeye had vanished.
He snapped his fingers.
They moved down the hallway; chimeras, alchemists, alkahestrists, and invisible teenager moving as a single pack of wolves. The lion's den was up ahead, but the canines far outnumbered the felines in this fight. Mustang could clearly hear the sniffing of the chimeras as they continuously checked that no one was coming at them immediately.
Mustang had his right hand on a staff. He and Jack had gotten into a rhythm as they moved. Jack lifted and set the staff down to a specific beat, and Mustang made sure to match it. He followed the slight tugs and pushes Jack gave with the staff to make sure he didn't run into a wall. Now was not the time to be uncoordinated. The others hadn't even bothered asking what was there that they couldn't see. They had wisely decided to just ignore it for the time being.
"We can't fight this for you," Jack said softly beside him. "This is the most we can do."
"As long as we make it, this'll be enough," Mustang replied shortly.
"And if it's not?"
"It's not like anyone will be around to complain."
Jack grunted. "Good point."
None of the people behind them said anything. They just let the crazy, blind, human flamethrower alchemist continue on his merry way. He suspected that when the fighting was done, not a single one of them would ever mention it again, and if pressured, would deny such a scene had ever happened.
"I thought it was just you. How many are there?"
"You mean like Bunny, me, and anyone else?"
"Five, but not all of them are here. Two have jobs that require twenty-four hour supervision. If they didn't attend to that, the five of us would be in serious trouble. The third can't do much, sadly, but neither can Bunny. They're trying to evacuate the wounded and get them patched up."
"Where are they going to?"
"Somewhere out of reach. If this blows up in our faces ,anyone there will be safe."
"I don't think you understand. If that's activated, it'll kill everyone in the country."
"That's why I say they'll be safe. They're not even on this continent."
"Wait, how did- Never mind. I'm talking to an invisible person. I won't even bother questioning it."
Jack sounded humored. "How do you know I'm invisible when you can't even see anything?"
"Because everyone behind us is pregnant with awkward silence and hasn't said a word to you. It can't get much more obvious. Also, the kids could see you when we couldn't. Speaking of which…"
"Why can you hear me now?"
"I suspect that if you had your vision, you'd be able to see me. After Hughes…you know…I asked what was up with him being able to see me. Turns out, when you're dying, you go to your natural instincts. In a lot of cases, it's the same ones you had as a child. You believe that anything can happen as long as it'll make everything right, because it'll always be alright at the end of the day. I don't know. It's awfully complicated, but there's not much more time because the homunculi are in that room right up in front of us."
"However this turns out, thanks for taking his promise seriously."
"It's my duty. I will always be here."
"Really. Even when you wake up tomorrow with your eyesight and hearing and can no longer see or hear me. I'll still be around."
Mustang snorted. "You and the other guy both say that."
Jack became quiet. Then he said, "Get ready. Tell the others to stay behind you so it doesn't give me as much work when I'm trying to protect people."
Mustang transferred the message, and stepped forward into the open room.
Someone groaned next to him. Mustang opened his eyes, turning his head slightly. He could see the tail of Edward's braid next to him. It shifted slightly as the other alchemist moved a bit. He heard a rather foul word come out of his math.
"I hope you brush your teeth every day to clean out that mouth, Fullmetal," Mustang muttered.
"I'll admit," Hohenheim said, somewhere far across the room, "it's nice to know I'm not the only one he acts that way to."
"Same." Mustang sat all the way out, blinking and taking in the surroundings. The large cavern he was sitting in had clearly seen better days and would take years to repair. Scattered bits of this and that lay around the room, the only sign that there had been a fight here. The homunculi were gone. Mustang didn't remember which ones had been taken out by whom, but he honestly didn't care so long as they were gone.
He swept his head around the room, taking in all the faces he could see. Most of them were in a similar position as he and Edward were in, sprawled on the floor. He frowned slightly. "We're missing a few people."
Hohenheim grimaced. "Yeah. You guys have been out for about half an hour. People have already started coming the area to see who made it and who didn't. So far, we're finding a lot more alive people than we expected, but also a lot more missing people. Lieutenant Hawkeye has not been seen since she disappeared in the hole, and Alphonse has simply vanished."
Edward shot up at that remark. "What?!"
"His armor is empty but undamaged. Wherever he is, he's most likely alive."
Mustang dropped his head into his hands, rubbing his temples. "Hold on, just… Hold on. I can't remember…"
"How could you have forgotten that fight?!" Edward yelled, almost directly into his ear.
"Ow, shut up! My ears are still ringing from…the explosion?" He looked up at Hohenheim. "What happened with that?"
"A bit of your flames hit a small oil tank. Luckily, it wasn't large enough to do too much damage, but the flying debris and shockwave knocked just about everyone out. The few who were still conscious or who woke up pretty quickly have been moving around, looking for survivors outside of the area. I don't know how much you could hear with all the fighting, but most of the homunculi were killed. When all that was left was the Stone, Edward and I did some alchemy. He tried to return Alphonse back to his normal state and I returned your vision. We still don't know where Alphonse is, but I suspect he is somewhere around here. I wouldn't be surprised if all our missing friends are together somewhere."
Mustang felt like he had the answer to that, but couldn't remember it for some reason. For whatever reason, he kept thinking of Elicia.
"Let's start looking," Edward said, getting up shakily to his feet. Hohenheim nodded in agreement.
"Go ahead," Mustang said wearily. "I'll catch up with you later. I'm going to try to get medical help down here for these guys." He gestured at the rest of the unconscious people around them. "After all that fight, the least we can do is give them a warm bed to wake up in."
Edward shifted guiltily, looking around the room. "This room is right below the surface. We can open a hole in it and just raise the ground up. There should be enough dirt to supply that," he said. Mustang nodded.
"Yeah, let's do that. Let's only raise the places where there is someone, because there's no way we'd ever be able to restore the ground's balance around here if we raised the entire thing."
A few minutes later, when they had made sure their friends were attended to, they set off down one of the hallways. Hohenheim told them that some of the chimeras were already on the move, using their enhanced senses to try and find their friends. The three of them worked on a much vaguer plan, instead just wandering around from room to room, looking for anyone they recognized. They passed a few soldiers doing similar things. It didn't seem like anyone was having any luck.
They reached the room where Mustang had sacrificed his vision for Hawkeye's life. He paused, frowning at the transmutation circle. A flower marked the spot where Hawkeye would've been. "That's…weird."
"You seriously can't remember what happened?" Edward asked.
"It's fuzzy. I can remember everything right up until the transmutation, and then something went wrong with my head." He shook his head, trying to clear out his thoughts. "I can figure it out later."
"Shouldn't we be looking below?" Hohenheim asked. "If Hawkeye dropped down…"
"It's not like there're many other places to look," Edward sighed, clapping and crouching down at the same time. A hole opened up in the ground near the transmutation circle, taking out a chunk of it. The open pit he created showed off a room below. The room was empty, but it raised their hopes. They clambered down the sides into the room and opened the door. A dark hallway opened up before them when they did. Without hesitation, they continued on.
The hall was made of the rock around them. No one had bothered decorating it with anything, and the entire thing was a huge, round tunnel. It appeared to have been made recently and was very unused. There were no lights of any kind, meaning that Mustang had to go back to grab a piece of wood, set it on fire, and then use it as a torch so they could see where they were going. He wrapped a strip of fabric from his uniform around it so he could hold onto the wood even when it got hot.
It took them a few minutes to reach another door. When they opened it up, they found it to be empty as well. Edward clapped again, opening a hole in the ceiling. They could see the large cavern above them where they had defeated the homunculi.
"Anyone else thinking that this random series of rooms down here is looking awfully convenient?" Hohenheim mused aloud.
The answer, although silent, was a definite yes.
They turned back, walking into the hallway again. "How many more rooms should there be, if every one of them is below a spot where someone disappeared?"
"About three more," Hohenheim responded. "Mei, Scar, and Lan Fan have not been found yet, either."
As suspected, they passed three more rooms. All were empty. They didn't bother to check where they were below this time before continuing on their way. The last room was at the end of the hallway. Mustang guessed that they were probably a half mile from where they had started. They could hear voices on the other end of the door, causing them all to stop.
"Shouldn't we go up to the surface?" they heard Mei ask.
"We'll wait for the fighting to go down," Alphonse advised. "None of us are in any shape to fight."
"No one is," Hawkeye said quietly. "Do any of you remember how you got here?"
"I was unconscious on the surface before I woke up here," Lan Fan said. "That's my last memory."
The others were silent, probably shaking their heads or something. Edward gave up and reached forward, pushing the door open. Their missing friends were sitting and standing around the room, but all of them turned to look as the door knocked against the wall. "Fighting's over. We kicked butt," Edward stated, almost as if it had been as simple as teaching an expert bicyclist how to use a bike with training wheels.
"Ed!" Alphonse exclaimed, sitting up straighter.
Edward jerked in surprise as he got a good look at his brother. Then he laughed happily. "It worked!"
Alphonse stood up shakily, his body not quite supporting his movements. Mustang could see nearly all of the kid's bones that were exposed. From his shoulders to his ankles, though, he was covered in an elaborate blanket. It was made of bright yellows, blues, and reds, forming swirling patterns and beautiful designs. It looked completely out of place with the rest of the room and all the injuries, but he wasn't one to ask about it now. He just watched as Edward embraced his brother and Hohenheim smiled.
"Come on, let's get back up to the surface." He clapped, tapping the wall beside him. A staircase crackled into existence out of the wall, using the ground above them and opening up a hole to get out as he did so. Lan Fan smiled wearily and took Mei's hand. The two were the first out, shortly followed by Scar, Hohenheim, Hawkeye, the Elrics, and finally, Mustang. He stopped at the top of the stairs, looking back down into the room. Something about that underground passage bothered him. It couldn't have been made more than an hour ago, really. The soil had still been too fresh. He wanted to go back down and investigate, see if there was something he missed…but he had his obligations as a friend and colleague to the others. It pained him to walk away from the entrance into the ground, though, because he somehow knew that when he had time to come back, the tunnel would no longer exist.
The end of the world couldn't even delay work for more than a week. Mustang dimly wondered what that said about Amestris's work force.
He had finally been released from the hospital just a few days ago, but he had been working on paperwork and anything else he could while in there. Usually, he would've complained whole heartedly about it, but it was so boring in the hospital he hadn't really cared. The distraction had been nice, actually. Hawkeye was in a room down the hall. He'd heard that she was running the security of the hospital from her room, ordering people around with bandages wrapped around her neck and sustenance being pumped in through an IV.
She had been released a day before him and was the only one in the office when he walked in. It was ridiculously earlier, but the two both shared the feeling that they had wasted a lot of time and needed to make up for it. Surprisingly, he had a legitimate excuse to get out of the office today. He and the other alchemists were working to repair some of the structural supports on buildings that had been damaged by the fighting. It wouldn't be good if they just fell over in the middle of the day.
This left Hawkeye and the others with even more work, as they were going to have to get as much of Mustang's done as they could. The flood of papers had somehow been even worse than ever before, and Mustang could see it beginning to take over the desks of his coworkers. It was coming in faster than they could do anything about it. He almost wished he could stay and help… Not.
They could handle it fine without him.
"Colonel. Good to see you up and moving again."
"I would say the same of you," Mustang responded wryly, "but it sounds to me like you've already been up longer than you were supposed to be."
"There were things to be done," she promptly stated.
"Aren't there always?" He sighed, leaning back against his chair. "I suppose this is the last time today I'll be able to sit down."
"I'm sure if you requested that you stay in the office for the day, no one would mind."
"Oh, don't worry so much about me." Mustang brushed it off quickly. "I'm sure a little fresh air will do me good."
"You know the paperwork's still going to be here when I get back, right?"
"Yeah, but I can forget about it longer this way," he said, grinning. She rolled her eyes in response. His grin faded, becoming serious. "Hey, Hawkeye… Do you remember what happened after the transmutation?"
She paused. "Not much. Why?"
"Because my memory hasn't returned much from the time when I was blind. And the other who went missing mentioned that they didn't remember anything after they disappeared until the time they woke up in that room. You were the only one who was awake when you vanished."
She shrugged. "I just remember waking up in the room. I must've knocked my head against something."
Mustang's lips quirked into a smile again. "Aw, Hawkeye, I never knew you were such a horrible liar when it came to me."
She gave him a look, but he just grinned more.
"It's touching, really."
"It's for your own-"
"My own good?"
"Your own sanity."
"Ah, one of those situations, then?"
She smiled. "Yes. One of those situations." Then her gaze shifted, looking over Mustang's shoulder and up. She stared at something for a few seconds, still smiling slightly, before turning and walking over to her desk. Mustang leaned back, looking right where Hawkeye had been staring. She'd been looking at a spot in the wall, it seemed. It was about six feet up, and had been caused by an accidental overdose of…fire…to his desk. The ash had stuck to the wall and they hadn't been able to get it out. His expression turned confused as he tried to figure out what she had been smiling about. When he looked at her again, she was looking back, having been watching him try to puzzle it out.
He opened his mouth as if to say something, but no words came out. He just shook his head, not even sure what to say. She smiled, and he could've sworn it became mischievous. Then it was gone, and she was buried in her work again.
"Come on, Frosty. Looks like things turned out fine."
"Yeah. For once." Pause. "North's?"
"Yeah. I'm hungry."
a/n: Sorry, I know this last chapter was a bit rushed, but I just didn't know what to do with it. The only reason I included it was because of the end scene with Hawkeye, where she subtly is saying she saw Bunny take the five of them into the Warren and then create the tunnel later so Mustang and the others can have some semblance of closure. I liked the idea of, in the end, her being the only one who could see them because it was so unexpected.
By the way, I figured their music would be different, otherwise I would've added in a different song when Mustang was kind of absent of mind for a few seconds there. I just made up random lyrics, basically.
I posted all of these at once because I had them all written. I didn't really do a grammar or spelling check, though…
Disclaimer for the entire thing: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist or Rise of the Guardians.