chapter 4.

Riza Hawkeye knelt over the wounded solider, examining the bullet wound in his thigh, and hissed disapproval between her teeth. "Tourniquet," she said. "Give me your belt."

Havoc handed his own over as the soldier stirred weakly, eyes widening a little in recognition of the procedure. Riza didn't respond to the movement, looping the belt around the upper thigh and yanking harshly as she forced it to go as tight as she could. The rudimentary tourniquet would hold until they got the man back to field hospital, but there would be no saving his limb.

"How's the radio?"

"Still out," Farman replied, examining the wires at the base. "I think I've almost got it, though."

"Good." Riza straightened, dusting the tails of her military uniform down as though she were the high-ranking wife of some top brass at a garden party, rather than a soldier who had just lead her squadron through a vicious ambush and been forced to take shelter in an abandoned house on the fringes of enemy territory. "What's the status, Havoc?"

"Four down, three injured, including Private Fencer over there," Havoc said, running a hand through his hair and nodding towards the man they'd just tended to. "There's still more of the enemy lurking behind that wall over there, but they won't come out in the open and I can't get a clear shot."

She raised one of her favourite pistols and emptied the clip into the aforementioned wall. Two of their unseen followers leaped from cover, screaming, but Riza held her fire as they fled unarmed down the street. "Grenades," she said, reloading the weapon before slipping it back in the holster. "Anyone got any left?" A series of shaken heads revealed that no, they didn't. A brief examination of the wounded or dead soldiers located no grenades there, either. "All right. Farman, keep working at the radio. Major Havoc, Lieutenant Breda, Private Cruise, cover. I want Privates—"

The screech of a car tearing up the road cut her off. She grabbed her rifle, crouching by one of the south-facing windows, and peered through the scope as she traced its erratic path. "Lexington, Savage and Mitchell, cover Havoc. Sergeant Robin, Privates Greife and Falke, get over here, now! Don't make me have to repeat myself, you lazy—"

Quite what the soldiers in question were would never be discovered, as a wave of fire blossomed from the oncoming car and crashed over and around the enemy encampment. Riza waved them back impatiently, hissing curses at stubborn, stupid and suicidal commanding officers who didn't even have the sense to know to trust their subordinates, and left the small building, dumping the rifle for her handgun.

She waved Havoc and a couple of other soldiers after her, understanding the point of not creeping up on the enemy alone. Riza circled the formerly concealing and now charcoal-stained wall, inching in front of the jeep, which had pulled to a stop, and found four alive and very scared young men. They promptly dropped their weapons and raised their hands above their heads; their faces and clothes covered in soot and eyebrows clean burnt off. The car doors slammed and Armstrong came to stand beside her, and she didn't look away from her captives as Mustang came to stand on the other side, glove raised and thumb pressed against his fingers, ready to snap. Riza kept her weapon targeted on the enemy youths as she asked, "General Armstrong, could you please disarm the POWs and secure them for the trip back to HQ?"

"Of course," he said, striding forwards. A moment later and with a crackle of alchemical charge, heavy stone manacles—formed from the walls of the buildings along the side of the road—weighed down the hands of the young terrorists.

"Get the injured to the jeep, men." A couple of Privates from her own squadron—Falke and Cruise—carried Fencer into the back seat of the car, and Mitchell, who'd sprained his ankle diving for safety when the fire fight began, climbed in after them. Savage loaded the last injured soldier in, and only when that was done did Riza turn to Roy. "Fuhrer, escort my men back to the field hospital, please. Savage, Falke, Cruise, if anything happens to the Fuhrer a court-martial will become the least of your worries. Am I understood?"

"Yes, MA'AM!"

Roy frowned, holding his hands up. "You can't expect me to leave you—"

"With your leave, sir, I think I am more than capable of remaining in this area in the company of the Strongarm Alchemist and the rest of my squadron," Riza said icily, drawing herself up and crossing her arms over her chest as she spoke. She was careful not to let him see how angry she was at him for his.... his stupidity, his asinine foolishness, his pointless bravado. Roy blinked at her, and then scowled right back, drawing himself up so that he towered even further above her.

"With a handful of soldiers and one state alchemist in enemy territory, where anything might happen, Colonel Hawkeye? It's not about how much back-up you have, it's where you are—"

"We are soldiers, sir," she interrupted coolly. "Our job in this area is to free the native peoples from a hostile enemy threat. I will remain in this area in order to make sure it is fully secured. "

"How the hell can you think I'm just going to tolerate this display of insubordination and just leave? If I'm going back to base then you are coming with me, and don't try to argue with me or else it'll be Private Hawkeye—"

"Fuhrer Mustang, sir!" she said, her unimpressed tone ringing through the buildings. This time she made an effort to modulate her voice back down to a calm rebuttal of his facts before she drew the attention of her squadron. "Listen to me, sir, I can handle this situation. I've been in worse. But if the enemy sees you out in the open, things will get bad for the both of us. You're the Fuhrer and the Flame Alchemist and the backbone of this operation, and if they eliminate you they eliminate the military, and we can't afford that, sir. Don't you understand?"

"Yes," he said eventually, an almost petulant expression on his face. "I do. I'll get in the damn car."

"Thank you," Riza said, forcing herself to smile. She raised her voice enough to announce, "When you've dropped the wounded off at the field hospital and escorted the Fuhrer to safety, return here to bring back the POWs. Clear?"

"Yes, ma'am," Savage replied, ripping off a sharp salute and looking more than a little awestruck as Roy got into the passenger seat, arms folded over his chest.

Riza saluted at him and didn't drop her hand until the jeep was out of sight, instead turning back to the four captives. "So," she said, tapping her pistol against her thigh and grinning in an unsettling manner, "Who's leading you guys?"

She was aware the neighbourhood block was on fire, and that she probably looked diabolic in the reflected red light, and that she had just manhandled the most powerful man in Amestris, and therefore she couldn't help but be impressed that the men merely squared their jaws and glared defiance at her.

"You're not allowed to torture us," one man said with a very heavy accent. Riza could tell with a glance he would be the ringleader. No older than twenty-three, she thought, and as ideologically bold as they all are at that age. "Amestris code of treatment for POWs states—"

She tilted her head at Armstrong, who struck a terrifying pose, tearing off his blue military coat to reveal the rippling muscles underneath. "There are ways other than torture," he boomed. "Allow me to show you the conversational technique passed down through generation upon generation of the Armstrong family!"


He put down his pen to offer a small smile to the young man, who saluted sharply. "Can I help you... Nicholas?"

"Sir, the Amestris dogs have taken three quarters of the city. It's time to evacuate you."

"Of course. Thank you, Nicholas. Give me enough time to fetch my coat, if you please."

The young man saluted again and left his study, and he rose to collect his suitcase and outdoor clothing. He paused at the door to his little office, bathed red by the fires of the city, the floor shaking occasionally as another bomb went off, and smiled. Phase one was complete; the trap had been set. It remained to see if the bait would be taken.

He paused in the street outside, taking in a deep breath, and Nicholas immediately appeared to hover at his side. "How goes the Rulingrad division?"

"They've rigged several major buildings in the city, including the hospital, the bases, and the University."

"Good thinking with the hospital, I suppose; but is that all?"

"No, sir. They've also planted explosives in the houses of some of those suspected of having ties with the military."

"Splendid. We do need to drive the message home that we will not tolerate treachery, of course." His boots crunched through fresh snow as he and Nicholas made their way to the south outskirts of the city, and he fumbled in his coat pocket for the little silver case. "Do you smoke, my boy?"

"Only cigarettes, sir."

"Ah? Such a shame, the taste of youth today," he said through the cigar he'd clamped between his teeth. "May I trouble you for a match?"

Nicholas handed him the small cardboard box as they passed the slums at the outskirts of the city, but the rising wind and flurry of snow whipped out the flare each time he struck one. "It's going to be a hard eight miles to walk, sir, in this weather."

"Ah, but who said anything about walking, now that the snow will serve as a cover? Come, lad, it's time for a little bit of petty theft."

"Sir? You mean, to steal a car from the military?"

"Steal is such a troublesome word, don't you think? But yes, in layman's terms, I am planning to borrow, with no intention of returning, a military vehicle. I trust you have your revolver close to hand?"

"Sir," Nicholas said with a nod. His face was somewhat pale, but he seemed willing enough, which was something to be thankful for; the kid had guts, and was ideologically sound, which was why he kept him close. He disliked cowards intently, much the same way he disliked the military, alchemists, and traitors.

They'd just left the last shop when Al doubled up and began coughing, hacking hoarsely and pounding at his own chest. Winry blinked at him, but Ed merely thumped him on the back and said, "I thought we were trying to be inconspicuous?"

"Not my fault," Al managed through a throat virtually squeezed shut and starting to tickle. "Water." Winry ducked back into the little shop while Ed hit him just below the shoulder blades again, a bemused and slightly worried expression on his face. He was right, though; people were sparing them both suspicious expressions, like maybe they thought Ed was killing him or something. Al closed his eyes and forced the coughing fit back, then spared a moment to glare with eyes gone teary at a large man wrapped tightly in a bulky and concealing coat and hat, and more specifically the cigar spewing nasty fumes into the air just visible between the hat and a woollen scarf.

Ed mirrored the thoroughly pissed off expression as the man strolled on by, though he didn't turn to look back at them. "You selfish bastard, some people're allergic to that junk," Al heard, amidst several unpleasant remarks about the offending smoker's parentage. Ed had just started on the primate family when Winry emerged with a bottle of water in her hand. She blinked, caught some of the language he was using, and smacked him on the flesh shoulder.

"It's baboons who have the colourful bottoms anyway, not gibbons," she added, unscrewing the cap and holding the bottle out for Al, who took it with a grateful expression.

"Doesn't matter," Ed grumbled, thrusting his hands deep into his pockets, "he's still a monkey all the same."

"Do I even want to know?"

"Not really," Al admitted, wiping his mouth with his sleeve as he lowered the bottle. "Much better. Thank you."

"No problem," Winry said with a charming smile, drawing her own coat around her. The wind had picked up, whipping her hair around her face like a cheery yellow scarf, and a few snowflakes were starting to drift down from the heavens. She hissed at the sight and thrust one of her bags into Ed's arms and began walking, calling for them to catch up.

"Looks like that storm's hitting," Al said with a sigh, taking another sip of the water as he broke into a light jog to catch up.

"Which storm?" Ed managed through gritted teeth, attempting to wrap his arms around the bag and cursing at the weight. "What's in this thing, weights?"

"A new set of screwdrivers, actually," Winry corrected, falling in between them. "And, the storm they announced on the radio, if either of you two had one. It's coming from the Northeast, so it hit Yikatrinburg about half an hour ago. Wonder if it's going to affect the military plans."

"More importantly, is it going to affect your plans for getting home?" Al asked with a small frown. "You're going the day after tomorrow, if it holds up the roads will be utterly blocked—"

"-And you guys will have to look after me for longer!"

"Oh, joy."

"Shush, Ed," Winry growled, as she smacked him soundly on the shoulder. "By the way, I'm taking you guys for dinner tomorrow. It can't be healthy, being cooped up like that together."

"I don't mind," Ed protested, but the look she gave him said everything.

"It'll be good for you. Don't argue with me. You agree, don't you, Al?"

"About the restaurant, the arguing, or you staying longer?" Alphonse asked, a little lost, and Winry ran a hand through her hair with an exasperated sigh.

"I meant the eating out, but all three will do," she said, changing the sigh into a cheeky grin.

"Ah." Al slid his hands into his pockets and looked heavenwards for a few minutes instead of answering. The light snowfall was gradually becoming thicker, and he frowned at the sight. "I think it'd be a good idea to go home now, before we freeze," he said finally. Winry opened her mouth to protest, but stopped, cutting herself off abruptly. "Fine. But you don't get out of it that easily."

"If you say so," Al said mildly, in no mood to protest.

It was dark by the time they got back, night falling early in northern winters. Winry busied herself in the kitchen, brewing tea and squabbling with Al over dinner, and it wasn't until the meal was ready and arranged on the table that Al realized Ed had vanished. His brother was to be found in the studio, looking out over the city. Al flicked the light on, and frowned when Ed didn't even turn to acknowledge him. "Brother? The food's ready," he said, somewhat reproachfully.

"I'll be there in a minute," Ed said, not looking away from the window. Al left the doorway to come stand beside him, curious as to what had caught his brother's attention, and Ed raised a hand to point at the horizon. "Yikatrinburg. Ten miles away. Look at the sky."

"Fire," Alphonse breathed, recognizing the way the clouds above the distant city had been dyed red. "It's on fire, isn't it? And a big one."

"Mustang," Ed snarled through gritted teeth, eyes narrowed. Al spared him a glance, and then reached out, securing his brother's hand in his own. Ed blinked at the contact, letting his other arm drop from the window, and smiled hesitantly; Alphonse released him as soon as he saw the smile—there was no point in letting Winry catch him being so physically intimate with Ed, after all.

"It may not be Roy, brother," he said quietly, when he was sure he had Ed's full attention. "It might be the 'scorched earth' policy the Drachnians love so much."

"Either way," Ed replied, a scowl lighting on his features, "What about the people? The ones who lose their homes? Bet neither side thought of them."

"They never do," Al said, derision plain in his tone.

"I wish... I just wish I could help, you know?" Ed mumbled, his hands clenching weakly by his sides. Al touched his shoulder, and when Ed looked up at him, there was only understanding in his brother's eyes.

"I do too," Al replied, gaze going back out the window to the red sky over the other city. "Sometimes, though... No, never mind. The best we can hope for is that the new Fuhrer has a better policy for a conquered city's refugees than Bradley did."

Ed sniffed. "That shouldn't be hard," he said, and when Al looked back down at him some of the wistfulness had faded from his face. "We should go back, before the food gets cold," he added with a grin, and Al smiled.

As they left the studio, Ed shot one last, lengthy, thoughtful glance over at the red-tinted clouds, but his expression was utterly blank, and Al couldn't have guessed what he might be feeling.

"Sir," Riza said, saluting sharply. "We believe the liberation of the city of Yikatrinburg from hostile forces to be complete. Here is the report of our injured and dead, and the same for the enemy."

Roy blinked in the morning light and took the sheaf of paper, wincing at the stark numbers on the first page. "I see. Do you feel the liberation was a success, Lieutenant Colonel?"

"Permission to speak freely, sir?" Riza said, still gazing intently at a spot two inches to the left of and three inches above his right ear.

"Granted," he replied, tapping the thick wad of the report against his free palm.

"I believe the enemy to simply be biding their time, considering the comparatively low resistance we suffered in the fighting yesterday and last night. I think it would be wise to leave the majority of our troops here to keep order, under the command of General Armstrong, sir."

"I see," Roy said, and looked again at the first page. "We'll do that, then. I'll take two hundred-odd with me when I go back, and the rest will stay here. It says we have approximately fifty-nine captives, here. I trust they have all been interrogated?"

"To the best of our abilities given the limited circumstances, sir," she answered readily enough. "None provided any useful or relevant information. We discovered one man known only as—-Sir', who always hides his face in public, leads the pro-Drachnian group. We were told he appeared out of nowhere two years ago, claiming that becoming part of the Drachnian empire would bring the north wealth, freedom from their petty civil wars and their food shortages, and numerous other benefits needed in this region, sir."

"That's all we know about him?" Roy replied with a frown.

"Yes, sir."

"Damn it. Where are the POWs now?"

"Transferred back to temporary base at Rulingrad, sir."

"I want the two-hundred odd troops ready for departure by this afternoon," Roy demanded, shrugging his coat on as he did so. "I will talk with the prisoners."

"Sir," she replied, and saluted again. As she ducked out of the tent, calling Armstrong over to explain the Fuhrer's plans, she couldn't help but feel relieved about the return of the formal commanding officer-subordinate relationship, in that he didn't seem to hold a grudge for last night.

"This is the place?" Winry asked, drawing her coat tighter around herself. Behind them, the last of the military trucks rolled in, fresh from Yikatrinburg; beside her, Ed huddled further into the shadows and tugged the collar of his coat up as far as it would go.

"Yes," Alphonse said with a sweet little smile, and Ed snorted and nuzzled his face further into his scarf. Winry looked up again at the sign above the little restaurant's door, a slightly dubious expression on her face; if Al hadn't told her that he and Ed had eaten here several times, and that it was much better than it seemed, she wouldn't have given it a second glance.

"Well, here we go," she muttered, more to herself than to the Elric brothers, and pushed the little door open. They were greeted almost immediately by a little man with a shining bald spot in the middle of his head, dressed in an old, but neat, suit. He bowed to them both and called Al by his assumed name, and guided them to a table by the window. He put menus in front of them, bowed once more, and vanished while they browsed. By the time he returned, five minutes later, they had their orders ready; he jotted them down on a notepad he kept in a breast pocket, gave another extravagant bow, and went back into the kitchen.

The food took only half an hour to cook, and was, as Alphonse had assured her, wonderful. Winry particularly enjoyed the steak, and was just taking the last, succulent bite, when a building a couple of blocks away blew up.

"What was that?" Winry asked, eyes wide, and Ed swore.

"Do you think it's them, brother?" Al asked, body terse.

"Yeah. The military don't need to blow this city up as well," Ed growled. "Al, I'm going to find out what's happening. Take Winry to safety, and avoid the military bases—"

Another explosion rocked the city, and Winry winced. "Brother," Al complained, "I should go help—remember who you are—"

"Stop it, both of you," Winry snapped. "People are dying while you two just stand and bicker! Ed, find out what's going on. Al, there's going to be a lot of people trapped in that rubble, go get them out. As for me, I'm going to the hospital to see if I can help at all."

"But, Winry—"

"You can't do that—"

"I can!" She interrupted, voice pitched to cut across theirs. "I'm not some sort of pampered princess who needs strong men around her all the time. I'm an automail mechanic who knows something about medicine, and there are people who will need my help! There are people who need yours, so go! Don't just stand around and argue about it!" She was sliding out of the seat as she spoke, her hands planted firmly on her hips. A bomb went off even closer, in the next block; the cloud of dust blasted several meters in the air. Fires were just starting to spread, and just outside the window they could see people fleeing, mothers with babies in arms, small children on their father's shoulders. Ed and Al stared, and she relaxed, allowing herself to smile. "I'm going to use what I know to help. You two should do the same."

"All right," Ed said, and when Al glanced over at him he had a somewhat devious grin on his face. "We'll meet at the plaza near the train station at dawn tomorrow, okay?"

"Brother," Al complained, and Ed smiled at him.

"Don't worry, I won't get caught. And you two, don't die on me. Understand?"

Winry grinned, and nodded.

"This is going to be a long night," Al grumbled as he walked past Winry, headed over to the site of the most recent explosion. They waved to each other, and separated.

Al was right, Ed thought, as he set about the difficult job of hunting down terrorists; this was probably going to be one of the longest nights of his life.

There had been motion, then a sudden jarring lack of it. Dimly, he heard a horrible screech and a crunch as foundations tore and a building crumbled, and then everything went dark.

She had been accepted in a little field hospital set up in what had once been a pensioner's nursing home, after she filled the head surgeon in on her profession and basic medical background. The wounded were coming in—one of the first explosions had been the hospital, and much of the equipment that had been scavenged from the rubble was battered or broken. 'Military or civilian only?' she was asked, and like her parents before her, Winry said 'both'.

Everything was a blur—a tourniquet loosened and a limb amputated properly here, shrapnel removed there, stitches applied here and broken bones splinted there. She almost didn't notice when she moved beyond the civilian ward into the military, save that gunshot wounds began appearing, and beyond the green of the blankets and the pinkness of skin there lay the precise blue of the military uniform, but the faces were the same. Young men writhing in pain from injuries were identical, no matter what their status or nationality.

She had just finished splinting another military man's broken arm when a hand descended on her shoulder and a voice inquired, "Miss Rockbell?" She flailed, half in surprise and half in fear, but the man caught her hand. "What are you doing here?" He asked, and there was no hostility in his voice, only confusion. She blinked at him, and searched her mind for his name, one of Mustang's subordinates, but the life of her she couldn't remember which one...

"Um... Mr. Farman?"

"Yes, that's me. Miss Rockbell, what are you doing so far from home?"

"I—I thought that with the war on and everything, they'd need medical help," she said weakly, and inwardly cursed herself. "Where's the rest of-?"

Farman frowned, not looking convinced, but said, "Himance is with Cain, Jean and General Armstrong are back in Yikatrinburg. Hawkeye took the Fuhrer out of base to go see the POWs we caught, and we've received no word from them since the explosions began."

"Oh," Winry said, quietly. She wasn't sure what to think about Mustang, but his Lieutenant had seemed like a nice lady, and Ed and Al had both spoke very highly of her. "Is that why you're here? In case they're bought in?"

Farman started, but nodded slowly. Winry frowned, looking down at her feet, and then looked up. "Go get something to eat or some coffee," she said. "You look exhausted. I'll tell you if anything happens, all right?"

"I can't," he answered, but took a seat to watch her work instead. "Miss Rockbell?"

"Yes?" she replied absently, moving onto another patient.

"What do you think... their chances are?"

She paused before answering; Farman sounded almost like a child, who feared the worst and sought reassurance. "I think they'll be fine," she said, popping a dislocated shoulder back into position.

The young man probably hadn't deserved to be grabbed by the collar and hauled into an alleyway, to be physically threatened until Ed could smell his courage running down the leg of his pants, but he had no choice. He'd recognized him as one of the men handing out pamphlets on the street yesterday, and had cornered him when he was unsuspecting. "Tell me who is leading you bastards," he growled, automail hand clenched in the fabric of the boy's shirt. When the boy shook his head, he slammed him back against the wall again. "Tell me!"

"I don't know! I don't know! Please don't kill me! I didn't know it would be like this! I thought it was all going to be leaflets and voting, not—not explosions! Let me go, and I'll never do it again! Please, I have a loving family!"

Ed dropped him, and he slid weakly to the floor, where the blond alchemist crouched over him. He couldn't be much older than nineteen, he thought, and wondered if this family included a younger brother even now waiting for his elder sibling to return. "Tell me what you know," he said, almost gently. "Just tell me, and I'll let you go."

"He—He's called 'Sir'," the boy stammered, eyes wide. "Nobody's ever seen his face. At least, they're not supposed to..."

"Go on," Ed said, because the boy had stopped.

"He's got a southerner's colouring," the boy said. "He's not a small man. And he smokes cigars."

"He's not a small man in what sense?" Ed demanded impatiently. "Height? Weight?"

"Size! I mean, he has broad shoulders and stuff. Like maybe he used to be a boxer or something."

"Fine," Ed said with a sigh. Utterly useless information, but the boy clearly didn't know any more. "Go home, your family's probably waiting. And kid?"

The boy gulped, but raised his chin to inquire, "Sir?"

"Next time you join a mysterious group making lots of vague promises, make sure you know what you're getting yourself into," Ed said, with a slightly self-mocking grin. The boy nodded slowly, and fled.

"God, what a mess," Al said softly, surveying the wreck of the street. It was the fifth scene of destruction he'd seen since he'd started, but also one of the nastiest. A building had collapsed when a bomb planted between it and one backing onto it had exploded, and had fallen across the street. Bits of masonry were everywhere, bricks and shards of glass flung far beyond the limits of the street, dust and smoke clogging the air. Alphonse coughed, covering his mouth with a hand. His eyes watered, and he was about to leave—he'd been assured by the family who lived there that he house was empty—when he noticed something. Tyre marks. Four trails of black, like rubber burning as someone tried to do tricks with their car.

Or to avoid a collapsing building.

He began to walk forwards, following the marks, and discovered they ended under a heap of rubble. No plaster, he noticed, only wood and glass. Whoever had been in that car may have survived. He bought his hands together, filling himself with the alchemical charge—all the neighbours had fled the street, there would be no witnesses—and pressed them against the heap.

Wood flew backwards, twisting into obscure shapes as it went. The heap parted before him, like some kind of prophet with a river, revealing the smooth black painted surface of a military car, not too badly damaged. When it was completely freed, Alphonse tugged at the passenger door; he had to do a bit more alchemy to open it, it had been bent too far inwards for the lock to function properly. He closed his arms around a body and drew it out, setting it a few feet away, and ducked back in. He pulled two more bodies out and set them beside the first, and only then did he take a good look at them.

"Oh, bother," he said miserably, recognizing two. Nevertheless, he went on his knees and pressed his fingertips against Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye's throats to find their pulses, and found them strong and steady. They were wounded, but not fatally, and recovering even now from slight asphyxiation. Not so with the third, a young man he didn't recognize. He'd been the driver, and something had come through the windscreen and practically decapitated him. Al winced at the sight, and stripped Roy of his coat to provide a makeshift shroud.

By the time he'd done that, Riza was up and blinking at him, pressing her right hand against her temple. She had a nasty gash on her forehead, and Al could tell with a sigh that her left arm was broken. A brief rummage in the wreckage of the building found part of a windowsill, which he turned into a rudimentary splint, binding it to her arm tightly with a strip of fabric torn from the bottom of his own coat. She watched him, evidently still a little dazed—though a quick glance at her pupils revealed no concussion—but obviously having decided he was on her side. "You were lucky," he said, nodding back at the car. "Not many people would've survived that, let alone got off so lightly."

"Fuhrer Mustang," she said, choosing to ignore this statement. "The Flame—"

"Relax," he said, resting his hands on her shoulders. "He's alive. I checked. He got off even lighter than you did, I think."

"I have to see for myself," she answered stubbornly, twisting to look around. "Sir?"

"Behind you," Al replied with a long-suffering sigh, and she scuttled over to his side, doing her own pulse check. "He's sprained his ankle, I think. Hold on while I do something about that."

He had to look around for something to draw an array with; he wasn't going to show a now fully-conscious Lieutenant Hawkeye the rather unique alchemy only he, his teacher and his brother possessed, and an ankle support wasn't the most pressing of needs. He found his answer in a cane of wood that might once have been somebody's walking stick, and one of the fires which had sprung up around the collapsed building; fairly soon he was drawing a basic array in charcoal around Roy's ankle, and then setting his hands to it. He backed off to consider the stone wrapped tightly around his ankle, over the boots and military uniform, and shrugged. Could be better, could be worse. Roy was waking up too, he realized, and decided to make a break for it. Before he could get very far, he heard the 'click' of a gun and turned to see Riza pointing one of her pistols at him. He sighed, acknowledging that he wouldn't be leaving just yet, and took a seat on the floor as Roy came fully into wakefulness. He wasn't worried about them discovering his identity—well, he was, but that wasn't his main concern right now.

No, what he was worried about was just how he was supposed to protect Roy from the armed Drachnian group who had just arrived at the end of the street, without revealing his trademark alchemy.