"You're lucky it wasn't your dominant eye!" someone had said to him half-jokingly, voice cracking with uneasy laughter. Roy couldn't remember who said it—that period of his life was filled with the hazy fog of drugs and painkillers, faces and voices floating through his memory like disembodied lights—but he supposed whoever said it had been right if tactless.
It could have been worse.
Or he could have been vindicated.
Why did it have to be one or the other?
Sometimes he still believed he could have them both. Sometimes, when he lay awake and undisturbed for many hours, he almost thought he had even succeeded. But then the doubt and regret and self-condemnation would begin to gnaw at him again and he knew deep inside that nothing was over and that everything was just beginning.
The worst thing about recuperating was that it gave him too much time to think, and he would have to think, he knew, and rethink and reevaluate and re-plan, but not right now. Roy Mustang always wanted more than he could reach; he always wanted just what was beyond his grasp: knowledge, power, forgiveness, redemption, salvation.
It would be so easy to forget, so easy to lose himself in her and leave it all behind. She made it too easy and too tempting. Even now she remained at his side, cutting apples to feed him, reading to him from the newspaper, a book of poetry, a letter (he'd received one from Gracia filled with concern and relief and maybe, he thought, pain too fresh and raw, reopened). Maybe he could be satisfied being with her now, but he knew he could never be happy. He needed to silence his demons. He needed to rethink, reevaluate, and re-plan. He needed to think about them, but not right now.
They were different people now, somehow, he knew. He watched her—watched her through his one good eye—and the way she wore her hair down and how she carried herself without the uniform. Soft—softer. She would never be soft, but he had rarely seen her like this. Smiling, mothering, he could see her settling down. It scared him a bit. It meant things were changing. He'd have to rethink, reevaluate, re-plan. He needed to determine what he thought about this change, how himself was changing, but not right now.
Black Hayate bounded around her chair and she turned away to order the restless dog to sit. It was then he reached out towards her, towards her face, her cheek. He wanted to touch her. But then she turned back to face him and he realized that he was nowhere near touching her, that she was just out of his reach. He had only thought that he was close. He had misjudged the distance between them. Had it always been this way? His hand hovering in the air, afraid to touch, to seize something that might just as easily slip through his fingers?
For an awkward second, they stared at each other and something inside Roy broke. The world he saw was changed; even her, her every plane, curve, and blemish transformed by the eye he lacked, his flawed perception. He could never look at her in the same way.
He had put her out of his reach.
In that moment, he knew what he was going to do.
But then he turned his hand, palm up and quietly said, "Can I have an apple?"
He would have to rethink, reevaluate, and replan. But not right now.