This is my first attempt at Fullmetal Alchemist fiction, apologies in advance for OOC-ness, I'm still getting to know these characters!
As for this story, it's set after The Promised Day battle, an elaboration on those very few hospital scenes. There is a continuity between the segments but they can be seen as individual snippets as well.
Inspiration: The story portrait. I would suggest listening to Open Your Eyes by Snow Patrol while reading this story.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the idea. Story portrait belongs to viria13 on DeviantArt.
And as always, reviews are appreciated!
Open You Eyes
32 tiles in the ceiling. 106 dots on each tile. 3392 dots in the room.
Closed door, wooden chair, white curtains, table, flowers, another chair, magazines, bed, another bed, window.
First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye sighed, returned her stare to the ceiling and immediately hissed in pain. She had moved her head too much and jostled the wound on her neck. Her hands were clasped together, resting on her stomach on top of the white hospital sheets. Coupled with her inscrutable expression, she looked rather peaceful, but the tenseness around her eyes and the stiffness in her arms showed she was trying very hard not to move.
Her fingers began to fiddle with the plastic bracelet around her wrist.
Hawkeye, Riza (1st Lt.). Neck injury & blood loss, rec. presc. restricted movement till therapy commencement (2 weeks). Hosp. discharge after 3 days.
Bed rest. She, First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye, on bed rest. Biting down a scoff, she looked towards the door for the tenth time since waking. There were not many things Riza could remember of the past few days. Father had been destroyed, Al was back, everyone was happy, she had begun to feel faint, some bright lights, and then this room and this bed and no Colonel.
How long have I been here? Where is everyone? Where is he?
The ticking of the clock was becoming unbearable. She took a deep breath, her nostrils flaring and moved her hands to grip the railings along the sides of the bed.
Looks like I'll have to find him. Getting up in one, two, thr-
The door opened and Riza released the breath she had been holding.
Her neck was beginning to ache so she moved only her eyes to the door, catching the glint of light bouncing off glass.
"Yes ma'am. I was asked to see if you were awake and give you a report of what's been going on. Would you like some water, Lieutenant?"
"Who sent you? And, no to the water, yes to the report."
"The Colonel, ma'am."
So he's up and about? Does that mean his ey-
"He's still with the doctors, they're doing some tests to see if... if his..." Fuery cleared his throat and continued. "Edward and Alphonse Elric were admitted along with you, the Colonel, Sig and Izumi Curtis, Major Armstrong, Major General Armstrong, Scar, Mr Hoenheim and quite a few others who were injured. Most have been discharged. The Elrics are staying a while longer till Alphonse is stable enough to travel back to Resembool. The Briggs troops left for the North yesterday and the decision on their punishment for attacking Central troops despite aiding in the defeat of Father has yet to be decided. Central Command and any surrounding areas that were affected during the initial skirmishes and the battle with Father are undergoing preparations for reconstruction. Breda is helping them. Falman, who will be returning to the North soon but may be looking for a reassignment under the Colonel again, is with Breda. Ross, Brosh, Catalina and the others who were in the Colonel's first coup team have been drafted into various groups tasked with bringing order back to Central Command and I am on the technical team who are restoring the destroyed lines. Also, I'm the communications liaison for those admitted here and those out in Central." Fuery released a long breath and nodded, smiling slightly.
"A detailed report, thank you Master Sergeant. Do you know when the Colonel's check ups will be over?"
Riza's head whipped towards the door. Surprise, then relief and finally pain coursed through her, the sudden action pulling on her injury. Her loud gasp caused the man at the door to frown, his hand stiffening around the door handle.
"Lieutenant? Are you alright?"
Riza gingerly touched the bandages on her neck then nodded slowly, hastily adding, "Yes, sir. I'm fine. I was just... surprised."
Colonel Roy Mustang's eyebrows rose above the thin bandage wrapped around his eyes, lips quirking into an amused smile.
"Surprised? Riza Hawkeye? My, my, what I wouldn't give to see that."
His low chuckles bounced around awkwardly in the silent room and as they slowly died, the Colonel's frown returned. He couldn't see Riza, now looking down at the covers with her face impassive but her hands fisted tightly around the sheets, or Fuery, who's face wore a distressed expression.
Clearing his throat, the Colonel took a step into the room.
"Sir," began Riza, looking up at the sound hospital slipper slapping against the linoleum, "do you need help? How did you even make your way-"
At that very moment, a pretty and young nurse pushed through the other door next to the Colonel, pulling a cart behind her.
"Colonel! I'm sorry, I didn't see you there, I-", the nurse tittered at her use of words, stopping the cart in front of Riza's bed before making her way back to the blind man, her smile flirtatious. "You got away from me. Come on, now, I need to take you to bed." Her arm wound around the Colonel's waist and she pressed close to the man as she led him. The Colonel for his part looked both disgruntled and pleased.
Riza watched the nurse and her superior from her bed, her face as unreadable as ever. The nurse pressed closer to the Colonel, Riza's lips pressed tighter together. From the corner of her eye, she saw Fuery sidle quickly out the door.
"There you go, now if you need anything don't hesitate to call me," the nurse hovered by the bed, batting her eyelashes and smoothing the covers over the Colonel's chest. "It'll be my honour to service you."
Riza snorted. How ironic that a womanizer who enjoyed female attention couldn't even see this woman who was as good as throwing herself at him. She wasn't quiet enough in her derision however and the nurse looked her way, her smile immediately becoming less syrupy.
"Ah, Sergeant, I forgot about you."
"Clearly, and it's First Lieutenant," replied Riza, voice tight.
The Colonel coughed.
"Right, anyway," the nurse stepped away from the bed and began to push the cart towards the door. "Remember, bed rest for both of you. No moving. I can still get you separate rooms? No?" She stopped at the door and looked back at the pair resting in the room one last time before walking away.
Riza simply rolled her eyes and settled back in the bed, her gaze automatically moving to the Colonel in the bed next to hers. His head was tilted towards hers and his smirk was back in place.
"Good to have you back, Colonel."
"Good to be back."
The moon shone brightly that night, casting wide beams of light through the open curtains and along the floor. Two people lay wide awake in their beds.
"Are you still with me?"
"Till the end?"
"Into hell if need be, sir."
"Oh, I think twice is enough, Lieutenant."
"More than enough, sir."
"We can't give up, not now."
"No sir, we've come too far to do that. And your goal - you're not yet at the top."
"My goal. Lieutenant?"
"Isn't it funny that a man with a new vision for Amestris had his eyesight taken away?"
"Not particularly, sir."
"If my goal is to be achieved, I need to entrust more than my back to you. I need you to be my eyes. Can you do that?"
"Of course, sir."
"Lieutenant... Hawkeye, I didn't want you to get hurt."
A cloud passed over the moon, cutting off the light, and the darkness swallowed the quiet conversation between Colonel and First Lieutenant. Two people slowly fell asleep.
Machines beeping, a breeze rustling, a clock ticking, a telephone ringing, footsteps sounding, a knock on the door.
Colonel Roy Mustang couldn't see who had entered, but that would change very soon. He was lying on a hospital bed in a darkened room with a blindfold on, an image not all too different to that of him directly after the Promised Day. But this time, instead of succumbing to the darkness, he was recovering.
"Ready to try and open your eyes, Colonel?" asked a croaky voice.
Ah, Dr. Marcoh.
Roy turned his head towards the voice and nodded slowly, rising to a sitting position.
"Ready as ever, doctor."
"Very well, let's begin."
With the loss of his sight, Roy's hearing had become more developed. Sitting there on the bed, he could hear Marcoh rolling a something on wheels, parking it nearby, taking a few steps here and there, moving glass bottles..
The sounds all melded together and Roy's thoughts drifted.
He wondered how Lieutenant Hawkeye was faring. Despite her assurances over her health, he still couldn't help but feel responsible for the cut to her neck, and though his eyes didn't work, her limp form bleeding out on the stone floor was all he could see for a time. He hoped she wasn't scarred too badly.
He spared a few minutes on Alphonse Elric, it was a wonder the boy was doing as well as he had heard; and a few seconds on his older brother, had he somehow regained some height along with his arm.
Unable to hold back his amusement, Roy let loose a few chuckles, and he was so lost in his thoughts the he didn't hear the approaching footsteps. The hand suddenly clasping his shoulder made him jump in surprise.
Roy nodded and leant back against the headboard.
"I'll be removing the blindfold now. I've darkened the room more, but don't open your eyes straight away. Allow yourself time to get used to the new eyes," said Marcoh as he moved around the bed. "Your eyes are similar to a newborn's now. Sudden light will hurt, so we will have to gradually increase the intensity."
Roy heard Marcoh clear his throat, then fingers were pulling at the cloth on his head.
"Remember, take it slowly."
The blindfold was off and Roy fought hard to keep from opening his eyes wide straight away. He turned his head towards the sound of the fluttering curtains, and as the breeze moved them, rays of sunlight fell across his face.
"Move your face into the dark and try open your eyes a little."
Roy obeyed, this was far too important to bristle at the blunt instructions. Releasing a long, steadying breath, he opened his eyes a fraction. A flash of panic coursed through him when all he could see was darkness, and he blinked a few times. The darkness became blurry, and then objects started to appear.
He opened his eyes a little more, a smile forming. The blurred objects became clearer: there was a table at the far end of the room, the door was closed but light seeped in from the gap at the bottom, the sheets of his bed were rumpled and white, a small trolley stood off to one side with all sorts of items on it, the scars on his hand were red and puckered, Dr. Tim Marcoh's face was disfigured but his smile was wide.
"It worked? You can see?"
Roy knew his own smile was just as wide.
"I can see. My eyesight is back.." he said, unable to keep the wonderment from his voice.
"Back to normal, eh Colonel?"
Roy could just make out Marcoh's hand, which was being offered to him. He reached out and grasped it firmly.
"Back to normal."
Colonel Roy Mustang was fidgeting. He had spent three days in the same room, slowly building his eyes' tolerance to higher intensities of light. Lying back on his bed in a spread-eagled manner, he stared at the ceiling, ignoring the slight twinge behind his eyes.
I wonder if the Lieutenant knows there are 3392 dots on the ceiling...
A knock sounded at the door and Roy instantly sat up to see Dr. Marcoh step in.
"Ready?" the man said, his voice croaky as ever, "They're all waiting."
They were all waiting for him. They, his team, the ones who fought for him and with him.
Releasing a long breath through his nose, he rose to his feet and straightened his clothes, pulling on his coat. It felt good to wear the blue uniform again, another step in the direction of normal. Absently patting his hair down, he followed Marcoh out of the room that was his cage and strode down the halls.
The walk seemed to take a long time, but perhaps this was because he would stop and turn and look at things again before catching up with the doctor and repeating this again down a different corridor. His eyes had to see everything again properly, he reasoned.
The walk seemed to take a long time also because he had no idea where they were going. Not seeing anything for weeks and then being confined to a room had disorientated him.
How long have we been walking? Where is everyone? Where is she?
He turned the corner, and then he saw them.
They were standing in a group in a common area, wearing their uniforms and talking quietly. Havoc was standing, an unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth and a disgruntled expression on his face; Breda was nudging Havoc in the side, no doubt taunting the blonde man about something; Falman was rifling through some papers; Fuery was kneeling, patting Black Hayate on the head who was sitting patiently next to the Lieutenant, and though her back was to him, she was the first to spot him.
She cleared her throat and as if on cue, all five of them stood to attention, hands raised in salute.
Roy stepped forward, nodding in response.
He watched them, taking in every detail. None of them seemed that different. His eyes finally found the Lieutenant and he tried to see the scar on her neck through the collar of her uniform jacket. Before he knew it, he was standing right in front of her with his hand pushing the collar away and there it was. Pink and long and thin.
Finally, he lifted his gaze to meet hers once more.
"It's good to see you again, Lieutenant."
He could see her eyes widen imperceptibly and the slight but nervous bob of her adam's apple before she spoke, hand lifting to salute him once more.
"Welcome back, sir."
He nodded at her reply and his hand dropped to his side. He could see the eyes of the others on them so he coughed and clasped his hands behind his back, standing tall and straight.
"So, we have a lot of work to do. Are you all with me?"
He could see Havoc and Breda and Falman and Fuery all nod and grin and slap each others backs and exclaim their agreement, but it was on his Lieutenant, and her small, little smile, that his gaze stopped on. Her words were almost drowned out by the commotion his men were making.
"Till the end, sir."
To answer a review, women do have adam's apples. While it's commonly linked with men/boys, women have it too - in fact, everyone does. It's just less obvious in a female because puberty makes it bigger in a male. It's essentially a feature of the human neck, so it'd be odd not to have it, right?
Ok, biology lesson over!
Thanks for the reviews!