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These are letters written from Ishval, after Father was destroyed and Amestris was saved. Second Lieutenant Jean Havoc, alchemically healed of the paralyzing injury he had suffered, joined the small combined military and civilian companies led by Colonel Roy Mustang, in their project to help restore Ishval to viability as a state. The selection of letters below were written to Havoc's sister Catherine. They provide some insight into how things progressed in the relatively early days of restoration project, and they shed more light on the character of many of those in Colonel Mustang's inner circle – primarily, of course, Mustang himself.

Letter #1

Hey Cath,

You know, I'd forgotten just how hot it gets here. I know, I know, my own fault for signing on again, when I could've stayed home. I was already discharged, and they wouldn't have dragged me back. But you know I could never have stayed behind. It was never my idea to leave the group, especially right when our most important work was just getting started. So when Marcoh did whatever he did with the Stone, I wasn't going to lose my chance. I suppose dad's still peeved that I'm off again, isn't he? He'll get over it. He did last time, and I think he understands the reasons better now.

And anyway, Mustang and Hawkeye aren't the only ones who feel like they've got some atoning to do here. I might not have gotten as famous as “the Hawk's Eye” when I was a sniper here, but I did my share of awful things. No way am I going to get left out, if there's any chance of making things right.

It's funny, though. When you think about all their plans to “make atonement” all these years – oh, and by the way, they even kind of felt like they would be judged as war criminals eventually, along with the rest of us. That's how seriously they took what they had done in the wars. But anyway, when you think of all that, it's kind of hard to match with how Mustang and Hawkeye behave these days.

I sometimes think I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. Those two are downright lighthearted about everything lately. It's like the worst of the guilt they felt vanished after the homunculi and their “Father” were defeated. Or maybe I put that wrong. It's not like the boss and Hawkeye suddenly don't care what they did in Ishval. But it's kind of like they get to start over. Like they get to do things right this time.

And for some reason, it's almost like they've regressed to the way they used to be. Not that I knew them back then, before Ishval. But that's the only explanation I can think of. I don't remember when I've ever seen Mustang blush. Not before this. But now sometimes he gets going on how he wants to help this group of people and rebuild that institution, and help some farmers get going with their crops again, and then he looks at Hawkeye like he feels like he's gushing – and he kind of is – and the guy blushes. And she looks at him like he's her hero.

And Hawkeye laughs. I mean, of course she used to laugh. We talk about her like she's this humourless stone, but she's nothing like that. She's always been able to enjoy a good joke. So it's not that. It's just...well, the way she laughs now. Like everything is new. And you can't tell me that a good haircut makes a gal feel that good. Even if all this started around the same time she cut her hair.

Looking at them now, you can almost see what they must have been like, ten or twelve years ago, when Mustang studied with Hawkeye's father. That's how they met, you know. He learned his flame alchemy from Hawkeye's dad. Or old Hawkeye gave his research to his daughter, and somehow she passed it on to Mustang. I've heard rumours about that, but I don't really know which it was.

Anyway, it's a little weird. It's like we're having to get to know them all over again. They're the same people, and they're not. And somehow, the rest of us feel better about things too, just being around them.

Oh, I suppose you'll want to know how my health is. I'm fine, don't worry. I still get a bit of a backache sometimes, when it cools down at night. That's the thing about these deserts (when we get back to home base, we're just on the western edge of a pretty major desert area) – they may be hot as hell in the daytime, but you can get some pretty cool temperatures at night when the wind's coming from the right direction. So I ache a bit sometimes, but nothing major.

Hot weather is good for people with injuries like mine, they say. Which is fine, but I'd settle for a climate that wasn't quite so hot during the day, and didn't get too cool at night.

I'm sure not going to tell Mustang about it, after everything. He gave up part of that Stone to get me healed up. And I think it's because the Stone was partly used up already when he got to the Gate that he needs to use glasses for reading when he gets tired. So neither of us got healed absolutely perfectly, and I'm never going to complain if my back feels creaky on a cool night. It could have been a lot worse, for both of us.

I guess that's it for now. I should get this off to you. Say hi to mom and dad and the family, okay? I'll tell you more about what we're actually doing here, next time. Take care.


(Letter 2)

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May 2012

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