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 This is a series of vignettes, also being posted at FF.net, about what might have been required of Roy to bring about the ending we see for the manga and the Brotherhood anime. For any further discussion, in case there are spoilers for people who haven't finished the story yet, everything is going under the cut.

Scot Free?

Tap tap tap tap tap.

Riza glanced at one of the desks across the room, where Falman’s fingertips had been tapping on its surface for the past fifteen minutes. He seemed immersed in the contents of an official file, but she hadn’t seen him turn a page, the whole time the file had been open.

Nearby, Breda reclined with his feet on his own desk, having given up even the pretense of working, a mere ten minutes after the Colonel had clapped his hands in the center of the room and vanished in a flare of blue light. That had been – Riza glanced at her watch – almost thirty minutes ago. Meanwhile, Fuery paced back and forth, back and forth in front of the office door, while Havoc, at the desk beside her, turned himself round and round in his wheelchair.

“I wonder how much longer he’ll be,” Breda muttered, flipping a pencil absently between his fingers.

Tap tap tap tap tap.

“What if something’s gone wrong?” Fuery burst out, as though Breda’s comment had given him leave to do so. “It’s been half an hour. Shouldn’t he be back by now?”

“I imagine this is something that requires careful negotiation,” Riza responded. Though really, she had no idea what Roy would need to do at that Gate of his, to get his vision back.

“Isn’t a philosopher’s stone supposed to streamline the process?” Breda wondered. One of his feet, crossed at the ankles, had begun to jiggle.

“It didn’t with Ed,” Fuery reminded him, taking off his glasses and absently polishing them on his uniform sleeve. “Ed still had to give something up in the end, to get his brother back. That really worries me. What if the Colonel has to give up something else, to get his eyes back?”

Tap tap tap tap tap.

“That bothers me too,” Breda agreed. “He might be able to see again, but what else is he going to lose? If he even frees himself from the Gate. It’s been half an hour – I wish he’d get back–“

“There’s still time,” Riza reminded him.

“But not much,” he countered. “We’ve got that meeting with Grumman and General Armstrong in just a few minutes. If Mustang can’t walk in there and show them he’s still fit to be in the military–“

Tap tap tap tap tap.

“Dammit, Falman!” Havoc burst out, whirling his chair, leaning forward, and slapping his hands on his desktop. “If you don’t stop that infernal tapping I might just have to break your fingers!”

Falman looked up with a jerk, clenching both hands on top of the file. “Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t realize – sorry.”

Havoc leaned back and sighed, his shoulders slumping. “No. Forget it. I’m sorry. I’m as worried about him as everyone else, and I shouldn’t take it out on–“

Something’s happening!” Fuery exclaimed, jamming his glasses back on.

Just as he yelled, the flash of blue light that had burst into being in the center of the room swelled in size and intensity until it was so strong that they had to cover their eyes. But Riza sprang to her feet, even so, one hand over her face and the other groping before her as she moved around her desk, jabbing a corner of it against her hip as she staggered. The light was already beginning to fade as she drew close, but even then she almost tripped over Roy, barely able to see him as she tried to blink away the light spots in her eyes.

He was crouching on one knee on the floor, the other foot planted so he could rest an elbow on the other knee. As Riza’s vision slowly cleared, she, too, went to one knee at his side, and found his arm and gripped it. “Colonel,” she managed, still blinking furiously, trying to see him clearly. “Are you all right? What happened at the Gate?”

“Sir, I’m so glad you made it back!” Fuery blurted, as the other four men encircled them, Havoc wheeling his chair quickly around from behind his desk. “We were beginning to worry.”

“How – how long did it take?” Roy asked, gasping a little. “On this side, I mean?” Riza could now see his fingers rubbing across his eyes, brows drawn together under his unruly fringe of hair.

“Half an hour, sir,” she said, forcing herself not to try to peer at his eyes.

“So the time is similar. Or it was this time, anyway.” He took a deep breath, now pressing the back of his hand across his forehead. “Still…that was tiring. I’m all out of breath.”

“Shall I help you up, sir?” Riza asked. She couldn’t see his eyes. And she didn’t dare ask.

“Yes, thanks.”

Riza pulled the Colonel’s arm around her shoulders and took his weight as he got to his feet with a grunt. He pulled his arm free, hunching and lowering his shoulders, turning his head from side to side as though to loosen his neck. And still she couldn’t–

“Colonel Mustang, are you going to leave us in suspense or are you going to tell us?” Breda demanded. “What happened? Did it work? Can you see?”

Roy stopped working at his neck, and lowered his hand. He cast a droll glance at Breda. “Why yes, lieutenant, as it happens, I can see you. And your unbuttoned shirt.” When he looked back at Riza, his eyes – his dark, beautiful, seeing eyes – held only humour and reassurance.

Breda didn’t even flinch or make a move to button his shirt. Instead he broke into a grin as a sigh of relief seemed to whoosh through the room.

“Well, that’s great, then,” Havoc laughed. “Everything’s going to be fine, after all.”

“Yes it is,” Roy agreed.

“But wait,” Fuery said. “What did you have to do to get your eyes working again?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well – even when Ed went to the Gate with a philosopher’s stone – or I guess he was a philosopher’s stone at the end – he still had to give something up. Did you?” Fuery seemed to feel he needed to rush his questions, as though he might not get another chance. Or have the nerve a second time. “Did you have to make that kind of bargain? Or settle for your eyes not working like they did before? Or–“

“Kain, calm down,” Roy chuckled. He turned and put his hands on the younger man’s shoulders, seeming to make a point of looking directly into Fuery’s eyes. “There’s nothing to worry about,” the Colonel said. “I mean it. Everything’s fine. I can unequivocally guarantee that my eyes are going to work perfectly for the rest of my life. So really – everything is fine, and is going to stay that way. All right?”

Fuery smiled, eyes wide and happy behind his glasses. “I’m so glad, sir. I’m really glad.”

“Now then.” Roy turned and looked at each of them, one after the other, as he straightened his collar, pulled at his cuffs, and wiped a couple of stray pieces of lint from his uniform. “I believe we have a meeting to go to, don’t we?”

“And just in time,” Breda snorted.

“Indeed. So let’s get going, shall we?” Roy headed for the office door as Falman and Fuery parted to let him pass them. He placed a hand on the knob, and–

“Colonel Mustang!”

Roy stopped. “What is it, Lieutenant Hawkeye?” he asked without turning around.

“Just how long is ‘the rest of your life’?”

The others looked at her, Breda’s eyebrows jumping up almost into his hairline.

“I beg your pardon, lieutenant?” Roy said.

“You said, sir,” she replied as coolly as she could around her suddenly pounding heart, “that your eyes would work perfectly for the rest of your life. I just want to know how long that will be.”

Falman looked from one to the other in consternation. Fuery stared white-faced at Riza as though she had suddenly changed into something terrible before his eyes. At her side, Havoc was whispering, “Damn damn damn,” under his breath.

At last Roy half-turned toward her, his hand still on the doorknob. He gave her a wry smile. “Why Hawkeye,” he said quietly, “you know nobody can say how long their life will be. We just need to live each moment we have to the fullest, don’t you agree? And speaking of that – we really do have a meeting to get to, and we can’t waste a minute. Let’s go into the Fuhrer’s office and give General Armstrong the shock of her life, shall we?”

He turned the knob, opened the door, and stepped through it into the hallway outside. Riza could hear his footsteps echoing as he started to walk, without anyone to hold his arm and guide him, for the first time in two months.

“Well, let’s get going. And lieutenant Breda, you will need to button that shirt before we arrive at the Fuhrer’s office,” Riza commanded, stepping toward the door. She paused only for a brief moment at Fuery’s side, meeting his troubled eyes. “Now we know,” she said, and went through the door.

Continue to second vignette: What Doth it Profit a Man?
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May 2012

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