The Senses

Feb. 3rd, 2006 11:24 am
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Disclaimer: I own not anything involving Full Metal Alchemist. It belongs to Arakawa Hiromu.


Title: The Senses (6 themes from my Roy/Winry theme challenge)
Rating: PG

Contains Episode 51 spoilers.

These are intended to be taken as one continuous sequence, thusly there is only one lj-cut.





Touch

They took the bandages off for the last time this morning and gave him a patch instead.

As soon as he is alone, he cannot help but fidget with the edge, unused to the thing.

His fingers hit the place where the bone is gone and he finds himself clinging to the sheets of the bed, seeking constancy in anything.

It's no wonder that she left, he thinks to himself. Better she left before this, before she could see the scars and hate herself all the more.

He feels himself losing hope that he will ever not be so alone, for who could stand to look at an injury he himself cannot stand to touch?


Smell

He cannot ignore the changes in his life.

He finally started to understand that this morning, when he buried his face in the load of clean wash and couldn't smell the smoke in his shirts any more.

Sweet pine smoke.

The musty air of wax candles.

The ugly odor of scorched flesh.

The ozone of flame that burned nothing but oxygen itself.

It was all gone.


Sight

He stands in the bathroom, shaving with one hand as he clings to a support bar with the other.

A moment of wondering strikes him.

Certainly the scarring felt horrible when he had reached under the patch, but maybe it does not look quite as bad as it felt...

He flips the flimsy patch up for a moment.

He is kneeling on the floor a second later.

Long red lines where the stitching had been.

A deep sunken place where his cheekbone was simply gone.

He sits there, wanting to pray to something, anything, for this to all go away.

But he stopped believing long ago and nothing divine could ever want to help someone as stained as he anyway.


Sound

He is used to moving quietly or at the most with measured footfalls of military boots. He has always been like that, a wraith flitting from room to room in his uncle's big house when he was ten and a suave young officer moving from girl to girl in Central's better bars with the smoothness of a professional dancer once he was grown.

Click. Step. Click. Step.

He moves through the halls of the hospital slowly, needing to get out of even his large suite and move.

He longs for the days not so long ago when he was in a wheelchair. At least that let him deceive himself into thinking he might one day be almost normal again.

Click. Step. Click. Step.

They tell him that in a few years he might be able to just carry it as an emergency back-up in case his leg acted up.

He sees no reason to believe them.

Click. Step. Click. Step.

He hates the cane.


Taste

His world is a farce. A very badly written farce.

The one thing dealing with heat and fire that he cannot do reliably.

He stares at the pot on the stove as if he can make it back down and leave.

They want him to try cooking, to see if it will help him get his arms usable again.

Pinako sits at the table grinning, officially there to get him out of any trouble he might get into but unofficially there to laugh herself silly if he should get into trouble. He can tell that by her eyes.

He could have said no. Other than a chance to give her the revenge she will not take, he doesn't know why he said he would try.

“Shall we try not to scorch the rice this time, hmm?”

He can still taste the wreck of his last attempt at the back of his throat.

“At least I didn't destroy the pot that time.”

“You have a point, but all your talking isn't keeping that from boiling over.”

“Huh? Damnit.” He reaches to get the lid off, turn the heat down, anything. “YOUCH!”

She stands and moves towards a still-open cabinet. “I'll get the burn ointment.”


Sixth Sense

Two years today.

He can stand mostly on his own. If he had to get somewhere without the cane, he could, but he still needs it for everyday living.

He can see well enough with his right eye and judge distances well enough by visual clues that he can function normally. Well, what would be normal for nearly anyone else.

He still can't cook, but he can use his left arm well enough to use the cane on that side and leave his dominant hand free. As Fuhrer, he doesn't have to worry about the cooking part although Pinako still mocks him about it. He considers it a small price to put the occasional smile on the old woman's face.

He hasn't looked in the mirror at his bare face or touched his scars since the first time he tried. He puts the patch on in the dark before he is even truly awake.

She is there at the door as he straightens the edge of the limp thing over his cheek. It is insubstantial, barely there. He goes in public today for the first time as Fuhrer and his face feels bare under the cursed thing.

"Good morning, Miss Rockbell."

"Call me Winry." She gives him the same slightly exasperated smile she has given him since she realized familiarity would not overcome formality between him and her family. "Ready for this?"

"Nearly. Nearly as ready as I'll ever be.

"I used to dream of this day. And not one of the people I let into the plotting and the planning before the end is going to be there. Riza left, Maes..."

And then he is sitting down on the edge of the bed, world spinning out of control.

Damnit. I promised myself I wouldn't cry in front of her ever again, not after what I put her through and not after what she had to deal with when my shoulder was ablaze after the operation.

A shifting as she sat next to him. "Hawkeye had her reasons. And Mr. Hughes was doing what he had sworn to do. He saw a risk to the country and moved. Whatever happened to him that night, however someone slipped through his defenses, he risked and gave his life so the rest of us could enjoy ours. A better country for all of us, including Elysia. If he thought you were the best path to that, then you'd better prove him right."

"Have I proved him right?"

"Grandmother and I think so. Aken seemed to think so, too."

That brings his head up and out of his hands.

"You and the Ishbalan elder talked?"

"After that meeting you had with him. He saw me when he came out. And when he was in the city last month we met in one of the street cafes. Things aren't completely right yet, but they're getting so much closer than they were."

"There's still so far to go."

"The very fact you can recognize that makes you a good leader. At least I think so. Anyway, this isn’t why I came."

He blinks at her for a moment.

"I know it's late, but I didn't realize until last week and it took a while to arrange." She heads back over towards the door and grabs something from around the corner. "I know this probably isn't what you would have wanted if I'd asked, but happy birthday."

"I don't celebrate those either."

"Here."

A new cane, with a different handle design entirely, and something he dearly hopes is not what it looks like.

He takes the cane from her and stands, testing his weight on it. It seems infinitely more stable than the other and the grip makes him feel less like an old man shambling forward on one more leg than nature gave him. He checks the weight and realizes it is heavy enough to do damage if swung properly but light enough to be useful. "It's nice. Thank you."

"And, well... I noticed how much you fidget with that thing, so, well... hopefully this will be at least a little bit better." With that she holds out the little mass of cloth and string.

He takes it from her with a shaking hand.

The strap design is much more secure than that on the scrap of black cloth he is currently using.

The patch itself is a marvel, with a soft underside and a definite form. It looks like it might almost be comfortable against what is left of the curve of his cheek, something he cannot say for the rough thing he wears now.

He realizes he never thought he could adjust what sort of cane and eye patch he was using. He just acquiesced to whatever the doctors in charge of his general care-as much as the Rockbells had helped him survive, they had done so in a mostly unofficial capacity-had handed him.

He wonders just when he let himself become like that, when he started letting others control his fate even on such a small level.

He can't afford that as Fuhrer. Not and get done the rest of the things he needs to get done.

But this, this fragment of cloth and length of hardwood...

A cane that is practically built for a fighter. An eye patch that seems practically designed for his situation.

"It took a while to arrange."

These are not things she randomly picked up in the local market.

He runs his fingers along the edge of the patch as it lies in his hand and notices the tiny stitches holding the pieces together, stitches not of the style usually used to hold cloth layers together.

Stitches of the style usually used to hold flesh together, and used with the sort of detailed elegance automail engineers tend towards in their own craft.

She made this with her own two hands.

"Need help?" she tentatively asks. "Or privacy? The strap's a bit odd, but it should stay put better."

"Help this first time, but... damnit, this is not a sight for a young girl's eyes!"

He can tell by the glint in said eyes a moment later that he has made a startling error of judgment.

"'Young girl'? Fuhrer Roy Mustang, I have been working on automail since I really was a 'young girl'. Who the hell do you think installed Ed's? Who the hell do you think ended up racing to thresher accidents to see if anyone at all could be saved? I had seen the looks on twenty dying men's faces before I was fifteen years old!"

Oh hell...

"And since I doubt you would remember, I rushed towards Central on a train once we realized the coup was actually happening. Fighting means suffering and the ways of my family and my people are to try to ease that no matter where. I got shuffled onto an ambulance. Which just happened to have been heading to Bradley's favorite home."

Oh hell...

"I saw that went it was fresh, Mustang. Hell, I was the one who kept pressure on it until we all got you to the hospital and could properly stop the bleeding. Incidentally and for your future reference, healers who identify themselves as family-trained do not use age as a sign of adulthood. A life saved and a death witnessed, that's what we use. I already had plenty of deaths witnessed, and that got counted as a life saved. Don't you dare call me a child, and don't you dare act like I can't handle seeing the scars of a wound I touched when it was raw and bleeding."

She stands there, shoulders heaving and eyes alight. Then, something odd and indescribable enters them and she is wailing, "Can't I be just a normal anybody for even just one day?"

He stares blankly for a moment. Normal... as if nothing had happened... as if she was just any healer wandering the world...

She needs a place where the past doesn’t rule her now, and of course a family-oriented structure in her branch of the healers...

Oh hell... no one in the wider world who knew who she is has ever let her really try to heal. That has to be it.

"Fine. You want to help, you help. But I'm not calling the mindhealers up here if you get disturbed."

"Okay," she sniffles, then gets up.

He closes his eye and braces himself as she walks over and he feels soft fingertips lift up the lower edge of the patch.

"Doesn't look as bad as I thought it would," she tells him in a slightly shaky voice. "They did a good job."

"What?" he gasps.

"Really. It isn't all that bad. Have you even bothered to look at yourself in the mirror?"

"Once." He looks away. "Five seconds later I was sobbing on the floor."

"Probably looked before it was really done healing. We humans don't like facial injuries at all. We depend too much on faces for information. The initial shock was bad but you didn't give it a chance to pass."

"Miss Rockbell..."

"Just a comment from someone who usually deals with really disfiguring injuries."

She spends five minutes demonstrating how to get the new patch on and off until he shows he can do so on his own. It is simple but different, arranged so the flap is held down by tension in three directions rather than two.

I could fight in this and it wouldn't move the slightest bit...

She rises, heads towards the door.

"Miss Rockbell?"

"Hmm?"

"Thank you."

"It was your birthday after all. Good luck on the speech."

And with that she is gone.

It takes him almost until he rises on wobbly feet later that night to speak before he notices the touch she used in moving the patch was not the usual touch the healer families use with their patients. Something more gentle, with different air around it... he can't explain it, but he feels the difference nonetheless.

He files it away in his mind as he turns his attention to the speech and does not remember when he sits again.
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