A/N. This was one of my English assignments for extra credit, so…if it's weird, blame my English teacher.

Title: Salt Cleans All Wounds

Author: Thoughts of a Shadow

Rating: K+

Warnings: None, I don't think. 'Scept for angst.

"Fullmetal!" You open your eyes and you jump, because you don't remember falling asleep at the office. A snarl of "What?" is your automatic reaction, because you're tired and you want to go to sleep. But Mustang isn't about to have any of this and you can tell by the long, angry strides that you must have done something wrong.

"What? What? A soldier, not even one of mine comes by and tells me that the Fullmetal Alchemist has passed out in the break room and all you can say is what?"

So that's what you've done wrong.

Wait.

The break room?

You glance around confusedly, noting that yes, you are on the floor and yes, your head does hurt and yes, this is the military break room. You could have sworn that not a moment ago you had been in the office talking with Breada.

Oh wait.

That had been at least an hour ago.

You'd said something that made you both laugh, and so you'd bent over, but when you stood back up your head started hurting and you'd stopped laughing. The stout man had quit chuckling too and was staring at you with concern before you waved it off and told him that you were just hungry, and would he like a bite to eat? He'd declined and so you'd managed to stumble out of the offices without Hawkeye noticing, which was a shock in and of itself.

You'd stumbled wearily down the hall, bumped into a few people, managed to knock one over before you made it to the break room and sat down with a bottle of whatever had been in the fridge at the time.

Everything after that was a blank.

"Sorry Mustang. I didn't think it'd worry you that much." He glares down at you and for a moment you're confused. Why is he mad at you at all? But then your head hurts again and you hope that he'll leave soon.

"Just take care of yourself, Fullmetal." You nod once again and he gives you a look before leaving.

Your head throbs.

"Fullmetal!" You open your eyes and jump, because no one's called you by that name since before you were captured. A soft moan is your response because you hurt so badly that you really don't want to reply. Your name is repeated, and your wish whoever it is would just stop asking for you and let you sleep in peace. But the mystery person is persistent and you blink open hazy gold eyes to give a mumbled "What?"

"What? What? I get a call saying that my subordinate has been kidnapped by a known serial killer and all you can say is what?" This conversation is reminiscent of something in your recent past, but you can't remember who you've had it with.

"Hughes…?" You guess.

"No, Mustang." Oh. So that's who it was. You try and focus on the black haired figure in front of you, but your shoulder hurts horribly because they took off the automail and then jammed it back in the wrong way.

"Took you long enough." You mumble, because it has. You've been in this dump for two weeks and they're only just now finding you? You can feel Mustang staring at you, so you try and apologize because somehow, you feel you've been rude but he stops you.

"Sorry we're late, Fullmetal." That shocks you into silence, because when was the last time the Colonel apologized to you? But then the paramedics arrive and he's blocked from your sight.

Your shoulder hurts.

"Fullmetal!" You open your eyes and jump because no one usually shouts your military name in Risembol. A half hearted "What?" comes from your lips as you stare around at the over grown remains of your house. You can still see scorch marks on the few pieces of wood left and the piles of dirt from where you came digging a few years ago but your main focus is on the footsteps of the person coming up behind you.

"What? That's all you can say? You vanish without leaving a letter of where you going, and all you can say for yourself if what?" You shrug, because you usually leave without a note, but this time Al wasn't there to inform everyone else and you guess it's a bit unusual for that not to happen. Mustang halts behind you and looks at what you're looking at. "What is this?"

You glance astonished at him and hope that old age isn't getting to him.

"You don't remember?" He shakes his head and you laugh hollowly before picking up the suitcase propped against your leg and you adjusting the blood red coat on your shoulders.

"This is where I used to live."

Your heart gives a twinge.

"Fullmetal!" You open your eyes and jump because no one's usually sitting by the river bank at this hour. A sort of patter has developed ever since that first shout and you keep staring at the reflection in the water while you answer with the customary "What?"

"Why are you out here?" Mustang has forgone the rant for now, and for that you're grateful. Tonight hasn't been the best and right now you're as beat up on the inside as you are on the outside. You shrug and run metal fingers over the smooth pebbles along the river back before you pick one up and fiddle with it between your fingers.

"Came here to get away from the office." How weird is that? You're only fifteen and you're already having to sneak away from work in order to keep some pressure-free moments in your life.

"Any particular reason you chose here?" You shake your head and stare at the smooth, blemish free pebble in your metal hand and you go through all of the mistakes you've made in your mind.

Trying to bring back your mother (the permanent reminder of that was your right arm and left leg.)

Losing Nina. (You were reminded of that whenever you had to say No, Al, that Nina was gone.)

Joining the military (because the proof that you were on a leash was hanging from your belt.)

And a boatload of other little things that had joined up to royally screw you over.

You stare down at that perfect little pebble and suddenly, you can't stand it anymore. You lift up the stone and hurl it as far as you can into the river. It drops with a small plunk only to be swept away in the raging tide of the water. Mustang watches as you stand and turn to your right to leave.

"Fullmetal."

And this time you don't open your eyes, or jump, or even reply with a 'what' because now isn't the time to keep in form and pretend everything is alright when it really isn't.

"Turn around." You spin on your left side and make sure to keep the right of your face from his sight. He frowns at you, but you're hoping that he'll care enough for a messed up person like you to ask.

"What really happened down there?" You look down, frustrated tears in your eyes because crying is being weak but you haven't had the chance to for years.

"Too much." You whisper, and you brush furiously at your eyes, not bothering to hide the wince instigated by the pain. Mustang walks over and gently tilts your chin until he can see the brilliant purple bruise right along your cheek bone. He hisses in anger and sympathy as little cuts and nicks appear in the dull moonlight.

"I didn't know you were hurt that bad." You shrug again and turn away, slinging the red coat over your shoulder.

"It's not the worst I've had."

Your face stings as tears trickle into the cuts, but you don't wipe them away, because salt cleans all wounds.