Unimportant Things

She doesn't cry, thought Winry as she watched her new patient's fitful sleep. Like Ed. Ed hadn't cried either.

They had put Lan Fan in Winry's room. Partially to keep her away from the eyes of the exclusively male patients (automail recipients were usually soldiers, heavy laborers, and stupid teenage boys), and partially to keep her away from Mr. Garfiel's strong and loud opinions about how young men who leave young women to suffer alone were worthless brutes.

Winry was not about to explain, even if she could, why Ling couldn't be there.

They almost always cried at this point, she thought, when the fever hit and there was no energy left to keep emotion in check after days and nights of pain eroding the will. They almost always called for their mothers too, sometimes awake, sometimes when they slept. Ed had called for his mother, but Winry never told him that. She remembered being thankful that Al had not been there to hear it.

Lan Fan sometimes spoke in her own language, and Winry at first didn't know who or what she called for. But while she never heard "Ling," she could now recognize "Young Master." This was usually when Lan Fan was sleeping or delirious. She hardly spoke of him when she was awake and she never called him by his name, even in her fever dreams. And she didn't cry.

Winry could not imagine going so far for someone whose name you couldn't even say. She couldn't imagine going so far without allowing yourself to say his name.

"Was I talking again?" Lan Fan murmured as Winry applied a fresh cold towel to her forehead.

"Yes. But that's normal. It's okay."

"What was I saying?"

Winry smiled. "I couldn't understand most of it again. I'm sorry."

"Ah." She almost sounded relieved.

"What I did get, though," Winry said, "was something about returning something important to Ling. We can put it someplace safe for now if you want."

Lan Fan thought for a while. "Ah," she said finally, her face a little sad. "I don't have it anymore."

Winry wondered if she should ask.

"Young Master's jacket," Lan Fan said and closed her eyes.

"Oh," said Winry, wondering why she would be thinking of something like that.

Lan Fan sighed. "He used it to stop the blood, "she explained. "He bound my shoulder with it." She reached across her body as if she could still feel the material pressed tightly to her. "He shouldn't have done that. Young Master is the emperor's son. And II am"her voice halted and she began to shift restlessly. "I cannot even return to him what is his. I cannot even do something so simple." She pounded the bed weakly with her fist. "I cannot even remember where I lost it."

Winry was about to tell her she was being unnecessarily hard on herself, again. Compared with losing an arm or her life, a jacket was such a small thing. An unimportant thing. After all, an emperor's son probably had more clothes than he knew what to do with. Winry was about to tell her not to worry about things Ling probably didn't care about, and to worry about herself for once.

But Lan Fan seemed to be looking at something, and Winry followed her gaze to the closet. Just beyond the open door was a red coat, washed, pressed and mended, waiting for its owner.

Winry said nothing.

She suddenly felt like crying.