022218 Warm Embrace
@b-griveros: It was nice to do a first collaboration with Mar; she sent me the reference and I couldn’t get the image out of my head. I needed to draw. And then, with this new perspective Marilyn captures perfectly the atmosphere between them two. I f*cking love this woman and I’m thankful she’s been inspiring and motivating me to improve over the past months. Thank you so much for existing, Marilyn, and I hope everyone gets a little warm ache in the chest.
Rated: T for cursing. || Words: ~1400
“Lieutenant, give me your hand.”
She didn’t lack the temptation, but - “At any moment, someone can walk in.”
“So Breda will let us know.”
“It’s really… it’s all right, I’m all right. Your coat… it’ll be enough.”
“No…” From his seat, he reached blindly for her hand. “Come here. ….just rest now.”
A mixture of determination, ire, concern, and adrenaline surged through her veins. Rebecca Catalina was hellbent on finding Riza, but even hell hath no fury like a woman on a mission to find her comrade-at-arms, her closest friend…
The only sister she’s ever known.
After victory was assured, amidst the mayhem, literal hours went on trying figure out which hospital Riza and the Colonel had been sent to and her heart plunged, desperation brimming at the cusp, because only Mustang’s wellbeing had been reported. What about his adjutant, the Lieutenant? She had asked. The blonde who was always next to him, where was she? She’s important too. If not more. The hours of radio silence felt like decades, and her exhaustion served to irritate her more than she already was. How difficult was it, really, to find someone who had been in the heart of it all? How do you misplace the decorated matchstick?
Eventually, coms were re-established and she pestered a military police officer who wasn’t shit. She successfully coerced the “sensitive information” she needed from the MP, commandeered the nearest vehicle she could find, and Rebecca floored it soon after.
Surprisingly, the roads maintained orderly traffic, but her destination… this hospital could only be properly described as jungle. The outside was busy with temporary medic tents erected outside of the building. The sheer amount of people, the amount of blood, the amount of disorganization. She faltered, momentum lost as the reality of their actions began to set in. She weaved through rushing doctors in bloodied coats, patients hobbling in crutches, and the injured yet to be processed.
Inside, the chaos crackled through the atmosphere like lightning with thunderous volume. Orders were shouted. People were crying, searching for relatives, hoping they were alive. The noise overwhelmed her internal ramblings. For that one second stolen breath, she thought to herself any one of these could have been Riza: wounded, missing an arm, or worse, killed in action.
Mustang’s battle had been won, to be sure, but it was the footsoldiers, the normies, and the people that didn’t use alchemy that took the brunt of someone else’s ideals. They were the ones that got burned. Each day that Riza was in Central, Rebecca worried that one day she might not call back. She threw away the notion that soldiers died valiantly for their cause, because no death was valiant enough to ever vanquish Riza Hawkeye. The feeling that she would possibly not come back felt like a knife to her ribs.
In between skirting through throngs of people, Rebecca wondered the extent of Riza’s injuries. She was thankful when she wasn’t immediately redirected towards the morgue, but her blood pressure began to rise at the thought she had sustained injuries for him. Her friend’s indomitable loyalty to the Flame Colonel was a mystery, despite her full disclosure as to why. No matter the amount of pleading Rebecca would do, Riza would not be moved; even when they went so far as to place her in a fucking hostage position as the Fuhrer’s - well, former Fuhrer’s assistant, she thought savagely as she turned down another corridor.
At the end of it, an innocuous pair leaned casually against the wall, but Rebecca knew a post when she saw it. Fuery noticed her quickly enough and Breda stood at attention soon after.
She didn’t care how she must look to the two of them, storming down the hallway at full tilt, hair a mess and blood staining her pants.Hands on her hip, she asked, “Are they in there?”
The older one raised his eyebrows. “They could be.” He turned to look down the hall. “Or they could be elsewhere.”
It was not the answer she was looking for. Her vexed glare shifted to the smaller one, “Is she in there?” Honestly, it was all she cared about. But if he was in there, she would be too.
She saw the Adam’s apple bobbing in Fuery’s throat. Rebecca had heard from Jean he’d been sent to the front lines in the south, but no matter how many times that crossed her mind, he still looked like a kid just out of the academy.
Breda sighed loudly as Fuery’s saving grace. “They’re both in there,” Breda interrupted as he stepped forward. He dipped his head with his unfortunate haircut, urging her to do the same. “But it’s on a need to know basis. Better if they’re not disturbed,” he said lowly.
Rebecca scoffed. “For the love of-” She was interrupted by stretchers being carried past them, like a procession. Some were covered. She whispered with exasperation, “What, are they fucking in there?”
Fuery choked inelegantly and Breda’s brow flattened. “If you have to, then go in quietly. They’re refusing treatment until everyone else is taken care of. Pretty reckless if you ask me, considering the Lieutenant’s condition.”
Rebecca began to vault forward and she nearly tore off the arm that was set in front of her.
“We’ve already tried to convince her.” Breda’s voice betrayed the exhaustion she knew they were all feeling, in the comedown from hours of adrenalin and gunfire. “She refuses to get seen until he does and vice versa. If you really know her, then you know how stubborn she is - both of them are.”
“But there aren’t enough doctors to go around,” said Fuery, as if he caught on to her displeasure in Breda’s answer. “There are too many wounded, even more dead,” he continued solemnly, like he knew it first hand. She supposed he did. The field of battle today wouldn’t have been a far cry from his stint in the south.
“Go in, if you can promise to be quiet.”
She rose an eyebrow that said, “Me? Quiet?”
The two of them glared at her, clearly not buying it.
She threw up her hands in surrender, and after a moment he opened the door for her.
She walked into a small room, the kind of waiting rooms designed for family members to privately wait for a relative’s operation or the like. When the door closed behind her, it was as if the maelstrom outside simply faded away into obscurity. Here, the room was washed in a softer spring light. It was a significant contrast to the hard, sterile fluorescents outside, free from the turmoil outside, like a separate, tranquil haven from the rest of the world. In here it was like the Promised Day was a figment of her imagination; a hazy machination conjured up in the midst of a fevered dream. It made no sense for such an undisturbed space to exist alongside the events of today.
Until, she spotted them and her heart pulsed out of her chest.
In the corner, crowded on one of the more comfortable armchairs, they rested, curled up against each other. They were unmoving and silent, but their sounds of sleep filled the room once she toned out the noise outside. She stepped closer. Her muddied boots suddenly seemed far too loud - but they didn’t stir.
There was so much blood; it horrified her. It splattered on her friend’s cheeks, stained her clothes and hair, and smeared his hands; which, she realised had deep cuts in the middle of them. The blood had obviously congealed in an effort to stem the flow of bleeding, but Rebecca could still see it glistening on the back of his hands, sluggish and dark with oxidisation. Despite his injuries, his hands clasped over her sleeping figure in a protective hold like she was his lifeline or better, to hold her steady while she was wearing so thin.
It couldn’t have been very comfy, she surmised, huddled together like with the cuts and blood and sweat, limbs bunched up over his. She studied Riza’s face, pale and anemic, even under the softer afternoon light; how her ashen complexion only served to highlight the dark and sagging skin under her eyes - like she hadn’t slept well for weeks. Her expression told another story. The lines Rebecca had become familiar with were gone. The tension in her body had vanished. It looked like it was the best damn sleep she’s had in a long time. And he wasn’t wearing that stupid coat because she was.
Crossing arms over her chest, Rebecca favored and shifted to one leg, sighing, and without wanting to, Rebecca smiled.
The sneak, she went and found herself a nice man in Central before her.
a/n: MEGA BIG SHOUTOUT TO @tsaritsa who basically shaped and shined this better than i had it. ilysm. AND BARBARA. KSDFJHDJKSFHSJ YOUR WORK IS CONTINUOUSLY INSPIRING ME ;_; ilysm too kfdjhdjkfhs (wheres my moon emoji)
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