The world is dark now.
And it spins.
Roy's feet threaten to slip out from under him with every step he takes, his equilibrium hopelessly altered by the blackness swallowing him. The ground is uneven, and every shift of his weight is a hazard.
Voices dart around like hornets, barbed and grim, urgent and warning. Plans are being made, and Roy is surprised at how hard it is to listen without his sight.
Is that Olivier's voice? Why did it sound so foreign when he couldn't watch her lips move, forming words and threats and orders?
And is that Greed? Or is that one of the other men?
A weight settles on his shoulder, heavy and familiar, and Roy can smell the sickly-sweet tang of her blood, but he is leaning on her almost as much as she's leaning on him.
The world doesn't stop spinning.
"Riza?" he asks quietly, his voice a little more desperate than he wants. He doesn't know who is close, who is listening, who is ready to capitalize on his weakness, but he doesn't want to draw unnecessary attention to himself right now, not the way the two of them are staggering and swaying like new foals.
"You look pale," she says, exhaustion coloring her tone.
"Says the one that got her throat slashed," he responds, wrapping his arm around her, to support and be supported.
The worst part is he cannot see his Lieutenant. Is he really pale, or does something else have her attention? Is she looking in his eyes right now, hoping for some glimmer of emotion or recognition that he cannot give her?
Without warning, she slumps.
He barely catches her.
He sinks to the ground with her weight, for a second more surprised than scared. He can feel her body tense, then go terrifyingly limp, and he hisses her name again, terror making her name sharp and jagged in his mouth, like spitting glass. "Riza!"
She shudders. He reaches his other hand—the one not keeping her upright—searching for her face. Blood slips between his fingers, but he finds her jaw, cups it, and strokes his thumb back and forth, no doubt smearing a red stain across her cheek. "Hey, hey, wake up, stay with me." The words rattle in his chest. Are her eyes opened or closed? Is she grimacing in pain or are her lips slack in unconsciousness?
"Mei!" he calls, but his voice thickens in his throat, strangling it. He breathes in to try again, but Riza's shoulder shifts, and he can't help the flinch that snaps his neck to the side when a cold hand presses to his face.
But he recognizes those calloused fingers and the fear bleeds away.
"Sir," Riza says, her voice rough and thready, like fraying rope, but there is an undertone of bitter amusement there.
If there is one voice Roy can recognize in the maelstrom, it's hers.
"Riza," he breathes, because he doesn't know what else to say, to do.
Did she reopen her wound? Is she bleeding out here in his arms? He wouldn't know, couldn't know until she slumps forward, leaving him desperately calling her name until her pulse fizzles out under his fingertips and her chest stills one final time.
With renewed frenzy Roy explores the space under her jaw, feeling rough skin slicked by blood, but is it too much blood? Is it still flowing?
A hand catches his and he pulls away for the briefest of seconds until he knows who it belongs to.
"I'm fine," she whispers.
Says the one that just had her throat slashed.
"I don't know if I believe you, Lieutenant," he says, and the playful tone he was trying to employ crumbles under the weight of his fear.
Her hand squeezes his once. It's not a strong grip. "I just need a minute."
"What's wrong?" Did they hurt her somewhere else? Was she hurt after his sight was stolen?
Before he can wrench his hand away to search, her weight leaves him.
"I'm here, Sir," she says, and she's below him. Her hand brushes his knee, and he knows it's her this time. He lets himself fall to the ground, searching with his hands until he finds her side, her shoulders, her face.
She catches his hands in hers, holds them to her chest, and he relishes the grip of her frigid fingers, the beat of her heart under their fists.
"What's wrong?" he asks.
"I'm fine," she says again. "I just . . . lost a lot of blood."
Something catches his throat.
"I'm fine," she says again, more firmly. "Just tired. I need a minute."
The room is spinning again, and he's not sure if it's worry or fear or just the shapeless black between him and the world, but he sways on his knees, and he has to take one of his hands back to support himself on the ground.
"Sir?" she asks, but she has no business sounding that worried about him. Not when she's almost bled out and lying weak from blood loss.
He slowly falls to the ground, shoulder first, and the world still spins.
He shifts his hips and lies down, finds her, wrapping one arm around her waist, curling her against him, trying to force warmth into her icy limbs and a sense of gravity into his inner ears.
She resists only for a second, a rigidity in her spine that slowly melts under his grip.
"We're not alone, sir," she says, but he knows she cares as much as he does.
Besides, they're all still shouting and arguing. It would be impressive if they'd even noticed two of their own taking a little break in the corner.
Just until the world stops spinning.
Just until he can stop shaking.
He almost lost her.
He almost lost her.
She trembles against his chest.
"You're okay," Roy says, but he's not completely sure who he's talking to.
"I know." The world doesn't stop spinning, but her voice is an anchor in the night, her presence a comfort, her grip a promise. "We are okay."
"I know," he whispers in her ear.
They are about to be in the fight of their lives. Even now, the voices have calmed, almost certainly agreeing on a plan of attack up above. This is something Roy can't run from, and he isn't sure he can protect Riza from it any more than he could protect her from the gold-toothed monster.
The raw fear is almost paralyzing.
He's blind and scared and he can't keep safe the one thing in this world that makes it all bearable.
But to not fight would kill her faster than to fight, for their enemy doesn't just want to win, he wants to obliterate.
If they are to have a chance, they must fight.
"I'm…afraid," he admits hoarsely, whispers it in her ear. "I'm afraid for you."
"I will be right there," she promises. "I'm not going anywhere."
He knows she means it, because Riza doesn't say anything she doesn't mean.
"I don't want you here."
"I'm glad you're here."
"I need you to be my eyes."
"I need you to steady me."
"I don't know if I can protect you," Roy admits, and it feels like chewing fire to say it.
"That's my job, Sir," she admonishes, and her cold fingers brush his hair. Her smiles are so rare that when he hears one his heart aches to see it, but that can't be, not anymore. "By doing yours, you protect me."
"Yes, Lieutenant," he says with mock solemnity, but there's not enough heart in it and it lands flat.
"Can you stand?"
Roy grunts, because he should be asking her that, and because he doesn't want to leave this yet.
But the world won't save itself. That's not how it works.
So, he gets to his knees and almost topples over. Her hands catch him, and he secures himself to her grip, getting to his feet much slower. The world spins and threatens to send him to the ground, so he takes a staggering step.
Then she's there, catching him, leaning against him just as he leans into her.
And they are ready.
The world spins, and with Riza at his side, he steps forward.
Idk guys, I was just feeling creative during my lunch break. You see, I was working on something for October 3rd, but then this thing distracted me xD Maybe I'll save it for next year, so have this little royai drabble instead :D
Maybe I'll actually, ya know, get back to my multichaps xD I've had the next chapter of NSN ready to go for, like, ever, I just haven't posted it yet, and I cannot articulate why. Maybe it's exhaustion. Maybe I'm having an existential crisis *shrugs* who knows! :D
Please drop a review if you have the time, and I'll catch you over in NSN soon ;D