jlady_fics: (Time For Healing)
[personal profile] jlady_fics
Title: A Time For Healing

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Episode 51

Characters: Roy, Winry, Pinako, Armstrong. Others to appear later.

Summary: Things start going rather badly for Roy after the series. Can he come to terms with the reality of his new situation? Will he even have a chance to? 

Chapter 1


Disclaimer: I own not anything involving Full Metal Alchemist. It belongs to Arakawa Hiromu.
Winry's POV

She wakes late the next morning, sun already high in the window.

She gets up, gets dressed, and sticks her head out into the hallway.

No movement.

She walks out and looks into the next room.

Roy is still asleep, mouth hanging slightly open. Pinako is slumped back slightly in the chair, head pillowed against Roy's hair.

The impossibility of the entire situation makes her smile.

She walks downstairs and towards the kitchen.

Armstrong is already there and the two of them put together whatever they can for breakfast.

"We'll have to find some way to get more supplies in without people suspecting anything," she remarks over a bowl of oatmeal. "It's still early enough in winter that we could just claim it's extra emergency supplies. That might work."

"Why hide that someone else is here? You are a working clinic."

She stirs the mush with her spoon. "It isn't that easy. The nurse at the hospital knew what happened to my parents, alluded to 'hurt a healer, need a healer.' Dad was a mindhealer who specialized in the aftereffects of trauma."

Armstrong quietly breathed out, "That's why they were there."

She sits in silence for a moment, mug of warm tea between her hands. Then, "Healers did this, and we have no clue how far the facts surrounding everything have spread. There's no telling who in the families would help us or who is involved. There's no telling who would see this as opportunity. It's almost ten years now."

"Ten years."

She nods. "It's an important date in the healer families' concept of atonement and restitution. We usually don't tell outsiders, but there's really no way it can help or hurt now. Someone has ten years to try to make up for something they've done. At that point, the wronged parties or family, depending, get to decide if it was good enough. Clean slate or never being able to make up for things. Six weeks left on the count. Roy'll be lucky if he's walking reliably on his own by then. No way he can add much of anything to the equation. He won't even know that policy exists until we tell him if he's done enough."

"Why would this be an opportunity to harm him? Wouldn't the rest of your family want recompense made?"

"The time limit works both ways. The same deadline serves for anyone who wants to actively take vengeance within Healer Law. Not that the people who did this to him haven't already ripped the Law to shreds."

"Healer Law. I've heard the concept but not the details."

She leans back. "Healer Law is part of the traditions of the healer families. The booklearned follow most of it, too. Treat everyone, do no harm, respect mind body soul, that sort of thing. It also outlines what is proper behavior for healers in life beyond the clinic or hospital. He was bound against the rules of the Law. That bit gag is so contraband that the Law dictates one can only be inside a healer building or on a healer's person if the strap is mangled beyond use or if it is on a patient who is there to have it removed. Under Law, what happened to him is fully classifiable as torture several times over. Healer Law is also what gives us a moral high ground, what made the death of my parents as morally damning as it was. When the high ground is gone and those guilty under it walk loose and uncorrected, all healers of the families can be seen as outside that safety." She closes her eyes, listens to the world around her in an attempt to recenter herself in a world gone wobbly. "We have to hide that the Law has been broken until the guilty are punished. We have to hide him."

"I understand."

They sit in silence for a moment.

Then, quietly, she whispers, "I wish Dad were here. Roy's going to need more help than a few scattered textbooks can provide." She picks at her oatmeal. "There's so much we could mess up."

"You won't." She looks at him and sees him smiling at her grimly. "You inherited their care for others. That cannot be learned. You will not let yourself make major errors."

"Right now, all errors are major." She stands. "Excuse me, but I have to call one of my cousins to see if he and his wife are willing to take part in no-questions-asked dentistry."

Time to see if the Morgans are still as open-minded as they used to be.

...

When she is done, she goes upstairs again. Armstrong is in a corner, sitting in a worn armchair. Her grandmother is awake, but still has a snoring Roy Mustang on her shoulder.

Winry can almost swear that the old mechanic is enjoying the situation. When Roy stirs ever so slightly and Pinako strokes his hair for a moment, she knows Pinako is enjoying the situation and not in the sense of having power over him.

Oh boy. Grandmother's got a new stray to take care of.

"The Morgans are coming in four days. Fredrick says he'll do whatever he can and Theresa is bringing some of her more specialized mindhealing texts."

"Good. Finally, something going right. Poor hurt thing."

Grandmother definitely found herself a new stray.

"What are they going to have to do?" Armstrong asks.

"Something is wrong somewhere in his mouth. If nothing else, he needs to be numb when that gag comes out. They'll probably have to pull a tooth—those gags are notorious for causing permanent damage." Pinako's voice is grim.

"Hopefully things will only be that complicated," Winry adds.

"Hmph. Unable to communicate with him, he's just been medically mistreated to the point of barely moving, and Fredrick is going to have to give him a dose of Novocain at the very least. We'll be lucky if it's only a minor disaster."

He starts stirring, really waking up. Within seconds he is trying to get away. Pinako pats his back a few times before she aids his attempts at lying back down.

Winry grabs a blank calendar sheet they keep there for counting days of therapy or between procedures and walks towards the bed. She thinks for a moment, trying to find a way to explain without words. She uses a pointing pattern to express the present and a time four days from now when something will happen with his mouth.

Roy looks at her oddly and holds out a hand. She gives the sheet to him. A moment later he understands and she knows he can still count. Good. It might just be language and nothing else.

They take turns caring for him the rest of the day. He dozes, spending most of the time half-asleep. She brings a checkerboard from her room one time when he is alert. She worries for him when he does badly and shrugs it off, but she knows a few moments later the pain is distracting him. They give him painkillers with lunch, but there is only so much liquid medicine can do for adult weights and metabolisms. There is no way they would even suggest an IV.

Communication is difficult but there. They keep playing, but there is a feeling in the air that he is only doing it as something to pass the time, to let him ignore some of what he is going through.

...

He is hurting when she enters with breakfast the next morning; she can see it in the corner of his eye somehow.

He glances down at his hands and she understands. It's cold outside and a bit chilly in here even with the fireplace downstairs. They must be hurting. 

She goes through the same warm towel followed by poultice remedy she once saw her mother use for someone with arthritis so bad he couldn't use his hands at all. She smiles when he relaxes but is scrambling to hold him still a moment later when he balks. She tries to calm him but it is only when he starts grunting in pain that he settles again.

Things are going to be insane when he doesn't have that stupid bit stopping him anymore.

A moment later she realizes the problem is not his mouth. She tries to roll him on his back and he screams, a shrill warped sound she quickly decides she would rather not experience again. She has to hold his jaw to stop him from doing further harm to himself.

She starts unbuttoning his shirt so she can look at the shoulder she just grabbed. He just lies there, passive and slightly grunting as he breathes.

I didn't mean to do that, Roy. I saw the bandage there but we assumed everything was mostly healed and damnit we should have already changed those!

I'm sorry.


She eases him out of the shirt, noting the sheer number of bandages and the location of the one on his shoulder. He nearly died with some of these. She peels away the shoulder bandage and is shocked at what she sees.

No injury four months old should still have stitches, much less be oozing from the stitching itself.

"What did they think they were doing, stitching together a doll? Improperly placed, not removed on time..." She quiets when he looks down at the gauze; the last thing he needs is encouragement to worry.

She settles him down with a little of the tea and a blanket to keep the cold away from him; it's worthless to put the shirt back on him, as they'll just have to take it back off to clean his wounds in another few minutes anyway.

She gets Pinako and the two women dash back up the stairs.

Winry watches as her grandmother carefully eases herself close with her medical bag. There's no telling what may be a trigger for Roy and they haven't brought distinctly medical equipment near him yet. She and Roy exchange gestures and he actually waves her closer.

Pinako slips his hands back into the poultice; she's gotten the permission she needs and the more comfort he can have while they remove the stitches the better.

Winry comes close while her grandmother is still reacting to her first view of the stitching job.

Roy tries to back away.

They hold him still, do whatever they can to make him feel welcome and okay.

Winry rubs a contact anesthetic on his shoulder while Pinako rummages for the scissors and tweezers.

He draws a smile on his face with one hand.

When Pinako comes close to start snipping, his head turns slightly and then he is in full pain reaction again, hands raising towards his face.

They act on instinct, holding him still as he fairly writhes under them. It's the first time he has really fought.

Eventually he calms enough that Pinako lets go and starts rummaging again.

A mirror.

He wants to see what is happening to him. Why didn't we think of that at first? Even after consenting to care, he wants to know what we're doing.

It's been months since anyone else allowed him that.

He clutches at the bed suddenly, eye clenched shut.

Oh gods. He saw.

They stay close to him, trying to be as comforting as possible.

"We didn't mean for you to see that."

"You'll be okay, Roy. Just a little longer and we'll have that bit out."

They know he can't understand what they're saying but they know he can tell tones.

He stills a little and they realize he was too stressed to exhibit most of the normal human reaction to intense distress. Now he is crying. Now he is trying to call out. Now his breathing is hitching and he is moaning between breaths.

More soft kind words. More patting and rubbing and holding.

It is nearly an hour before he truly calms down.

Winry renumbs his shoulder; it isn't worth the risk of hoping it might still be numb. She holds the mirror so it is angled towards his shoulder just right.

Armstrong walks in at some point; Winry isn't sure when. He stays back, out of their way but ready to help.

Roy watches Pinako work and Winry watches his face.

"There now. That should be better."

Roy catches Pinako's hand in his before she has a chance to move to the matching place on his back. She pats his hand and then moves on to clean the other suture site.

Winry watches her grandmother work. Roy keeps his eye closed for most of the time Pinako is picking out the thread. When he does open his eye, Winry can almost see gears turning in his head. How could anyone think he was no-mind?

He visibly relaxes when the shoulder is finally rebandaged. Pinako pats him, tells him what a good patient he is.

Winry leans close. "We've got a few more spots to look at, Roy." It doesn't matter that he can't understand; she has to tell him anyway.

His eye widens and he flinches away, looking absolutely terrified.

They stay where they are, talk softly to him as before. When they know he still trusts them, they move closer, hold him. This is insane. What did they do to him to make him so clingy? And to us, of all people?

Pinako starts on the closest limb injury, a gash high on his arm.

Seconds later he is crying. Pinako lets go.

What'd we do? How bad is that arm if it only took that long for pain to start being that bad? Do we need more support coming than just the Morgans?

He touches his cheek and draws a smile on his face.

She doesn't understand.

His facial expression changes several times as if he's trying to communicate something.

He touches his arm then his head. A moment later he repeats the motion.

"He remembers what caused that," Armstrong comments.

He remembers...

"That also means he knows there are things he does not remember."

Oh gods...

She touches his shoulder, then touches his head in the same way he had. She doesn't know whether to be glad or frightened when he nods.

Trembling slightly, she touches his face right under the edge of the bandage. She doesn't even need to finish the motion to know his response.

His face is warped from trying to hold in tears and not doing a good job of it. He shakes so bad that the mattress vibrates under him.

She leans close. I'm sorry you can't remember that. I'm glad you can't remember that. I'm sorry for reminding you. Gods, you're half-blind and don't even know why. Their foreheads touch for the tiniest moment before she backs up again. I'd better not block what visual field he has left. 

When he calms, Pinako continues. Whoever did those had no clue what they were doing and whoever decided not to take them out shouldn't be let near human flesh ever again.

"There now. That's over. Hungry?" The elder healer pats his arm and helps him get back into the shirt. They work together to get him upright and when he seems ready to start panicking Armstrong comes over and puts an arm around him for support. Roy relaxes.

"Winry told me your people consider what happened to him torture. I thought people who went through that usually did not want to be touched. Why is he acting like this?"

"He's been through a lot of neglect. He'll be absolutely terrified of anything he doesn't understand or anybody he doesn't know. He knows all three of us and he's slept in this room before. Once his mind got around us being willing to help, he became clingy. If a stranger were to come through that door, he would likely show the more typical responses of a survivor. If they had done anything actively harmful to him over time, he'd likely be reacting like that to us as well, gods be praised for small blessings."

Feeding him is painfully slow. If it's slow for us, it must be practically a new form of torture for him. How long since he ate last? I know we haven't fed him yet. He's a full-grown man with a full-grown man's stomach; this has to feel like filling a pond with a measuring cup. 

He flashes a wry smile between bites at one point , confined to the right side of his face but unmistakeably there, and Winry would give almost anything to know what he is thinking.

He spends the rest of the day sleeping or playing checkers with her. The next two days pass with more sleeping, more checkers, and a general wish that the Morgans would just go ahead and get to Resembool yesterday. He seems impressed somehow at how she plays, even when he does manage to trounce her soundly the night before the Morgans are due to arrive. Good. He's focusing on the real world more than he was.

And then she finds herself in her room, staring up at the ceiling and wondering what the next morning will bring.

Roy's POV

Babbling around him.

He stirs, blinks his eye open.

They are all still there and his face is still on Pinako's shoulder.

He tries to squirm away but she holds him there, patting his back before helping him lie down again.

More babbling.

Winry pulls out a plain calendar grid and walks forward with it. She points to a square and then to the floor. A moment later she points at another square and then to his mouth. She stands there, watching him.

He understands the concept, but the details are fuzzy. He reaches for the sheet with his right hand and Winry hands it to him.

He uses her method to establish 'now', then points towards his mouth and lets his hand hover over the page.

She takes his hand in hers, puts his finger on the 'now' square and taps on the next few squares before stopping.

One. Two. Three. Four.

She presses his finger down and he wriggles his hand free, shows her four fingers.

She gives him a thumbs-up.

They both smile, his fading quickly from the pain in his mouth.

...

Four days.

Sleep. Drink. Eat food that is not much more than lukewarm mush, for he cannot chew and heat makes the tooth throb.

His shoulder aches and hurts even more whenever he moves it, but he has gotten used to it. At least now he can try to get comfortable.

He is weak, both from injuries and from having lain still for too long.

He wishes he knew how long he was tied down like that.

Winry keeps him company. He does not want her to, knows she has a life to lead, other things to do. But she comes with a checkerboard and sits, so he pulls together the effort to play.

His heart is not in it and he does not want to beat her too badly.

She captures most of his pieces in one move, and her eyes go wide with something like fear.

He gives her what he can manage of his best 'win some, lose some' smile, but the look doesn't go away.

He grimaces a bit at the tooth and her eyes soften, hand reaching out to his.

It takes him a moment to realize that she had been afraid for him, not of him.

Of him he could have handled.

For him is another matter.

They reset the pieces and start again.

...

Three days.

He wakes with aching hands.

Winry must see it in his face, for when she comes in the room with breakfast she puts the tray down on a table and gives him a look of confusion.

He glances down at his hands, seeing the deep scars clearly for the first time.

He looks up at her again and sees the frost dusting the window behind her.

She leaves and then returns with a folded white towel. It is warm and dry on his hands as she wraps it around them.

She leaves and returns again. This time the towel smells of herbs. It is hot and moist and if the other felt good on his skin then this is heaven.

He tries to pull away at that thought.

He is not worthy of heaven.

She holds his wrists still, gives him a quick grin.

It is another moment before he remembers her mother was a poultice master.

That is when he backs up in earnest.

He lies there, eye closed, grunting from his shoulder.

A hand on his face, low on his left cheek. He blinks his eye open and sees the concern on her face.

She starts to roll him on his back, but when she puts a hand on his shoulder he screams around the bit and she has to hold his mouth open to keep him from doing more damage to himself.

She lets go after a moment and he can feel determined healer's hands undoing the buttons of his shirt. She eases him out of it and gasps when she pulls the old bandages away.

She babbles angrily for a moment.

He looks down and can see yellow and red streaks on the gauze.

She helps him drink some tea, tucks a clean blanket around him, and leaves.

When she returns, Pinako is with her, medical bag in hand.

The elderly woman makes a certain gesture with her hands that he cannot identify.

When she doesn't move closer, he guesses, pointing at his shoulder weakly.

She nods, repeating the motion.

He nods, trying to motion her forward with fumbling hands.

She approaches, holds his hands still, places them carefully back in the poultice.

Pinako lifts the blanket from his shoulder and her eyes cloud with more rage than he has ever seen in her, even on that night long ago when he had entered the house without even a knock on the door.

He quails, tries to act invisible, tries to get away.

Winry comes over and the two women hold him down, rub his back, pat his arm. The elder rummages through the bag while Winry rubs something cold and wonderful on his shoulder.

The pain goes away.

He draws a big grin on his face with a finger—he's learned better than to smile right now.

Pinako pulls something out of the bag, moves her hands towards his shoulder.

He tries to turn his head to watch and the pain in his tooth flares.

He wants out of the bit NOW.

His hands fly up.

Five seconds later he is pinned.

As Winry holds him still, Pinako rummages in the bag again.

A mirror. He can tell by the way she holds it that she did not intend him to look in it so soon, but he cannot resist the chance to assess the damage.

It is the first time he has seen himself since the fight. His chin is stubbly—he vaguely remembers someone doing a haphazard job of shaving him but doesn't know when or how often. There is gauze covering his left eye. Scars he does not remember mark his cheeks.

And then there is the thing in his mouth and the cracked and bloody corners of his lips.

The gauze on his eye is sunken.

The world spins. He closes his eye and clings to the bed for dear life.

Hands rubbing, patting, holding him firmly.

Quiet voices softly babbling.

They do not stop until he quiets, stills.

He is crying, gasping, moaning, trying to scream around the bit, through the pain...

By the time he calms, truly calms, his shoulder hurts again.

Cold hands again, and numbness.

He blinks and the mirror is there again, pointed at his shoulder. A few black stitches hold together the place he was sliced through, skin puckered an angry red between them.

Pinako reaches with a small pair of surgical scissors and tweezers, snips the thread stitch by stitch, pulls the remnants out of his skin, his flesh. He watches with an odd feeling of detachment and relief as the fragments are tugged loose.

She pours something brown on a cloth, uses it to clean what is left of the wound, and rebandages the slightly tan-stained skin.

He catches her wrist with his hand, needs to express thanks somehow but he can't...

She puts her other hand on his for a moment, then pulls loose and points at the back of his shoulder. She babbles something at him and he relaxes, closes his eye.

She moves behind him, repeats the motions at his back.

He opens his eye again and sees Armstrong staring at him from the corner, averting his own gaze after a moment.

He wants to say something, let the tall soldier who feels too much know his presence is valued. Even with Winry's help, he could not have walked out of the place.

Without him, he would have still been bound and helpless.

He is no longer bound, but he feels the bit dig into the corners of his mouth and cannot stop feeling helpless. He is weak and he hurts and he could not fight to save the women's lives if he tried—his own life is not worth the effort to him anymore.

He should be surprised at that thought, but he isn't.

He knows he is willing to die for them. He's known that for a while. They have been on the list of people he was fighting for since before the doctors' bodies had time to stop bleeding. If there had been an attack on Resembool, or just at them, the night the Elrics lost everything, he would have placed himself between them and death. Even now, if something were to happen, he would do all he could to defend them.

He feels her bandage the wound and pat his shoulder. She babbles something that sounds comforting.

He needs to apologize. He can feel the issue hanging in the air. The house is full of memory and he does not belong...

Winry is there, babbling softly at him.

He startles, for he had lost track of where she was. He clings to the sheets, for he is afraid.

Time and space no longer make sense as they once did.

Nothing makes sense.

Winry and Pinako certainly aren't making any sense.

Nothing makes sense.

He wants things to make sense again,

They both stay where they are for a moment, babbling softly with hands in full view, until he calms. Then they move closer, offering human contact.

He needs things to make sense again.

His arms and legs are hurting now.

Pinako eases a bandage away from a gash on his arm. He remembers that cut. Remembering and seeing, things matching up...

Wetness on his cheek.

Both women are looking at him, worry in their eyes. Pinako lets go of his arm.

They think they hurt me. He blinks at the oddity of the thought. Why are they worried about that, after everything I've done to them? 

He reaches up to his cheek and then draws a smile with his fingers.

Winry looks at him as if he is crazy.

He tried to let her know he is okay by using nothing but his face. A few seconds later he knows it is not working.

He touches the injury lightly with his fingers, then reaches the same hand to his temple.

Winry looks at him oddly, so he repeats the motion.

Armstrong says something and the young healer visibly brightens. He says something else a few seconds later.

He has seen that look on her face before and had wished to never see it again. It was the same look as when Al fell in the water, the same look as when he had mock-hunted the brothers.

She moves closer. She holds a hand near his shoulder, then touches his forehead with it.

He nods in response. I remember that. Oh do I ever remember that.

She moves her hand slightly, touches his cheek just below where his left eye should be.

He tries to keep from crying, cannot keep from shaking. He has caused her enough pain and distress already.

She leans close enough that their foreheads touch for the barest instant and then backs away.

It takes a while for Pinako to finish removing all the stitches. The remnants of the wounds are all nearly completely healed. The skin around them is an irritated red and whatever damage remains seems to have been done by the stitches themselves.

Pinako says something, pats his arm, helps him back into the shirt.

They help him sit up somewhat. It is uncomfortable, disconcerting. His head swims. It was odd enough to have been on his side after staring at the ceiling for so long, but sitting up is frightening.

Armstrong comes close, helps hold him upright. Somehow leaning against an arm is infinitely better than leaning on the headboard. He can feel himself relax but has no real control over the reaction.

Armstrong says something and Pinako gives him an answer.

Tea. Mushy oatmeal slightly favored, swallowed carefully tiny spoonful by tiny spoonful. He wants to feed himself, but he is too weak and at least Pinako is not treating him as a child.

Not that she doesn't have the right to do so. If she wanted to put me in a bib and put a bow on my head, I would let her.

He spends the rest of the day dozing and playing checkers with Winry. The next two days pass in much the same way.

She is wonderful at strategy, even in the few games he manages to really focus on. She could handle chess. I wish I had my set here; I'd be a fair match for a beginner right now. 

And then it is the night before the bit is to come out.

Date: 2006-02-24 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] infinitesimi.livejournal.com
this is so... disturbing... and creepy... and way off in AU, and totally fascinating! nice work!

Date: 2006-02-25 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agent-honeywell.livejournal.com
Wow, how did I not see chapter one posted?

This is so heartbreaking, yet fascinating to read. It's very different too, which I love, and the care you took in research shows. Good job! I'm about as excited as Roy is about the bit finally coming out!

Date: 2006-02-25 06:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flameraven.livejournal.com
Lovely, lovely stuff. :D I'll be waiting for the next chapter.

Date: 2006-02-27 01:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-quagga.livejournal.com
This fascinates me... Poor Roy, my heart breaks for him (although I'm secretely pleased to see this much Roy angst).

...I'm looking forward to more!

Date: 2006-04-17 07:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] camudekyu.livejournal.com
Oh, this is a delightful little psychological playground, isn't it? I love it. Roy is absolutely grotesque and pitiful and so painful. Mind if I friend you so I can read your updates?

Date: 2006-04-17 07:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jlady-fics.livejournal.com
Feel free to friend!

Also, if you didn't see, I have posted the next chapter in two parts:

Part Roy (http://jlady-fics.livejournal.com/5132.html)
Part Winry (http://jlady-fics.livejournal.com/5449.html)

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