1) Falman blinked over his coffee cup as the atmosphere of the building suddenly shifted. "Incoming Spitfire!"
Moments later the office door opened briskly to the jingle of silver bracelets and a smell of fresh lemons. Dr. Spitfire looked them all over suspiciously, pointed at Fury and snapped "You late for check up. This week, no excuses!"
Fury nearly smacked himself saluting, and Falman heard the click of his swallow from two desks away. "Yes Ma'am!"
Nodding in grim satisfaction the diminutive woman stalked down the hall and rapped sharply on the door frame. "Colonel."
"Come in Major, it's always open for a lady." Roy's voice was smugly cajoling for only having had, Falman looked at the clock, one cup of coffee.
"You can stop saluting Fury."
"No I can't, my knees locked up and if I move I'll fall over." The poor man grit out, sweat visibly wilting his collar.
"So, Major, is there a reason you're terrorizing my staff at this unhappy hour?" Roy asked lazily, watching as his door was closed and summarily glared at by gunmetal gray eyes.
"Staff late for appointment." she growled, prowling around his office like something caged. Her hair was up in it's typical braided bun, two chopsticks sticking out absently as if she'd finished dinner and decided to skip the dishes. Though he appreciated the view of her long legs, the white lab coat and walking shoes took away from the overall image. Especially when he knew the mini-skirt was simply her defiance in the face of a uniform to a man and nation she considered terrible war criminals.
"I'll be sure to have the lieutenant remind them of their duties to physical fitness. Anything else Dr.?"
When she met his eyes, he had to fight the reflex to check his gloves. //I need your help.//
Carefully he unplugged the phone and stood to check the view outside his window. "Lieutenant? Would you mind bringing us some more coffee, the Major needs her caffeine before attending all those patients." When he heard Hawkeye leave her desk and secure the office, he sat back down and gave Zhu his full attention. //What's wrong?//
//Someone is poisoning my patients. I don't know why, or how, but they come in with simple illnesses, easily treatable, and within hours they'll be too sick to leave! I tested all our water, our food, the air, it's not environmental. It's always the very old, or the very young, they come in by appointment and I see them, I make sure everything is all right... then before they can leave they'll start complaining about stomach pains, nausea, start vomiting blood... Three of them nearly *died* before I could stabilize them!// Her words came fast and staccato, fingers laced so tightly together her scarred knuckles were bloodless.
He kept his voice low, watching her as his mind raced. //And you're sure it's not disease, something they can catch.//
A regular doctor might miss elemental poisoning, especially in low doses, but Zhu was a State Alchemist. If she said there were moon rocks in her patient's colons, Roy would still demand evidence, but he'd take her word. //Let me make some calls. Go to work. Act normal. We'll find who is doing this.//
He would need a lot of time and whisky to bury the memory of her desperate eyes. She'd probably insist on him *sharing* the drinks after all.
"Everyone doing well 'Elizabeth'?"
"The family's just fine sir, it's just Papa Francis's arthritis."
Roy held back a sigh and wondered how many bullets he'd have to dodge if he told Riza her undercover voice was the same as her sniper one. Falman at least seemed to be doing his part, you'd hardly know that bent and wobbly man was the same one this morning jogging five miles for his 'wake up run'.
Zhu was in her element, a small dark storm scattering Xing curses and broken Amestrain orders about as she dodged around nurses, tended gently to her patients and bullied the unfortunates who thought they knew better than the Dr. about their health. Roy rarely willingly came to the medical ward, so it was something of a novelty to witness the skilled practice of making order from chaos without an array in sight.
"Dr. Spitfire, it's lunch time."
"Yes yes, you go, call Rossi cover desk."
"Aren't you going? Dr. Neya is already back..."
For a moment he saw her hesitate, gaze flitting to the doors that led to the emergency wards. "I.... yes, I go, just need office things." Things like her carry all, and the bag of cat food she kept especially for the feral feline population in the park down the street. Zhu was nothing if not one of his most predictable subordinates. Lunch in the park, for one hour, eating cold take out leftovers from the mess hall.
"Mister Francis? The doctor will see you now."
Falman set a small disposable cup on the table. "Pretty standard check up, I shouldn't strain myself too much, here's a prescription for some cold medicine to help with the cough and until I fill it, drink lots of fluids. Like the water that was waiting in this cup when I got in the room. Took the doctor long enough to get there I got thirsty."
They all frowned at the cup.
"Arsenic in the water?"
"And no idea who planted it."
Breda glowered. "It had to be someone on duty today right, a nurse or doctor."
"But it could have been any of them, they all have free run of the hospital, and access to the sitting rooms." Fury countered.
Roy stared at the the bland, generic little paper cup so common, so invisible... "Dr. Neya didn't seem surprised you were fine enough to leave?"Falman shook his head. "He didn't seem much of anything. Bedside manner of a bland lampshade."
"Well now what do we do? Fury isn't *that* young..."
"And Falman's prints are on that thing, no way we can lift something useful..."
Roy shook his head and picked up the cup. "You'll watch the exits and prepare to apprehend our poisoner. The lieutenant and I will handle the rest."
"Someone wants to hurt her, and they're hurting her patients to do it. I won't stand for this lieutenant, endangering innocent lives for a personal grudge? It's disgraceful."
"I'm assuming you have a *plan* Sir."
Roy's grin could probably be described as 'hungry' by those who didn't know him that well. "They failed to get their victim today, they won't leave until they've hurt someone, and Dr. Spitfire always works the pediatrics in the evenings."
Roy let Riza take the lead after he charmed his way past the front desk, keeping his mind on the puzzle of their poisoner. Hospitals were always depressing places, military ones even more so, and the pediatrics... To go home at night after facing this day in and day out would drive any person to unhealthy habits. Obsessions.
The turn over rate of doctors went down in peacetime, but hospitals still lost their best and brightest every year to depressive burnout.
"Maa, Michael. How you feel, hm?"
Riza caught his eye and they found places to hide, her in the doorway of another patient's room, him around the corner pretending to read the supportive motto under an abstract painting.
"I still don't feel good." whined a voice so similar to Alphonse Elric's that Roy caught himself straining for the tinny echo. "Do I have to stay?"
"Saaa, I can't make you feel better if you go. I'm sorry Michael, I know is scary, but I work hard, make medicine to make you better alright?"
"Hah. You know I'm Xing witch, yes? I hear you whispering with Saul. My magic very strong, make great medicine. You rest. Soon, you feel better."
She said it with pride, as though the whispers and racist mocking from her fellow alchemists were a joke. The way she shrugged off the jeers for studying medical alchemy, and her refusal during the war to leave her post in the med-tents.
He watched through the reflection on the painting's glass as she left the boy's room, dark shadows bruising the skin beneath her eyes. Checking the papers on the door, she sighed, straightened her shoulders, and dragged a smile on for whoever was unfortunately laid up down the hall. Resolutely cheerful and optimistic in the face of fear and pain.
Slipping into her office to steal a coat, he determined once again to force her to take an actual vacation one day.
Riza didn't even have time to get decently bored before someone who belonged less than they did came through the ward. Granted, he had the credentials, the authority, and his own clipboard. He was also carrying a paper cup of water.
"Hey there Michael! You ready to take your meds tonight?"
"Dr. Spitfire already gave me some..."
"Oh did she? Well, I'll be, must have read the chart wrong. I'll just leave this here in case you get thirsty then, you sleep well now alright?"
"Goodnight Dr. Weston."
Roy nodded for Riza to follow the doctor, while he retrieved the cup before poor Michael got a hold of it.
"Sorry, slight problems with the water here, you can get a juice from the nurses." Roy gave the boy, small, young, terribly thin he realized, a charming smile. Too-bright blue eyes stared at him until he ducked back out, expression going grim. "Doctor Weston, let's take a walk."
"Doctor Weston? But *why*? He's good doctor!"
Roy sighed over his glass. For all her faults, at least Zhu had good taste in alcohol. "No, he was a *brilliant* doctor, one of the best to graduate from Central University, and no matter what he did, *you* did it better, in half the time, with *alchemy*. In his mind, you were *cheating*."
The look she gave him before slugging back her own finger's worth of burning amber was utterly horrified. It matched how he'd felt listening to the man confess.
"We *save* people! We help people! That is what makes doctor! Not... not a *competition*!"
"Perhaps not if you're moderately moralistic. He swears he never meant to kill anyone, just to get you discredited and 'removed back to a lab somewhere' but the court isn't going to be lenient when it hears how his last victim was your little Michael. What's wrong with him anyway?"
She stared into her glass, lips tight. "Cancer. You know cancer? Body kills itself. He has this, in bones. Spreading."
She shook her head, bowing it to hide behind the loose fall of her hair. "No. I don't know cause. I can't find cure. Only treatment. Time. Month's maybe. Not enough."
Roy bit back his apologies and condolences. She didn't need them, she needed doctors. Fellow dedicated, brilliant doctors, and the best she had he'd just arrested. Silently he poured them both more whiskey.