"Briggs headquarters has been ordered to look after you," Miles replaced his glasses, "So don't make any trouble." He fixed the rogue alchemist with one last glare before turning away.
"I apologize," Kimblee said, in a small voice, to the major's broad back.
Perhaps it was only because the comment was so unexpected, but Miles felt a twinge of softness welling up in his heart for his enemy. He glanced back over his shoulder to see Kimblee was holding up his right hand in some sort of sendoff. His fingers shook slightly. He was shivering. Maybe, Miles thought, it wouldn't make any difference whether he took away the injured man's medical lifeline. He might die anyway.
Miles could've just called for a nurse to take a look at Kimblee. He could've walked away, perhaps not long from being able to please the major general with the news that Kimblee would not become another problem for them to deal with. But he was still kind. Maybe too kind. "Are you feeling all right?" he asked, though it was obvious Kimblee was in a bad state.
"It's so cold," he fought to keep his teeth from chattering.
Miles pulled off a glove and touched the back of his hand to Kimblee's forehead. "Major..." the alchemist said. Did he mean to protest the gesture? He was burning up. Maybe some of his sharp attitude was a result of his condition.
"Let me help you." Miles went to the window and jerked it open. He reached out and scooped up a handful of snow in the glove he had removed. He closed the glass up and settled the impromptu icepack on Kimblee's forehead. He kept on shivering and winced at the initial approach of such cold.
"Mother, I'm so cold..." Kimblee mumbled. His cheeks were so pink. He was probably a bit delirious. Miles frowned. Even a mass murderer had once been someone's child. He probably hadn't had the same sort of supportive upbringing as Miles had been favored with. Miles removed his heavy jacket- he didn't need it inside the hospital anyway- and laid it over Kimblee, letting the fur trim brush up against his chin.
"Just wait," Miles stroked Kimblee's cheek, "I'll get a nurse. We'll take care of you."
With his own stopgap measures taken, Miles stepped out into the hall and flagged down the nearest member of the hospital personnel. "Excuse me, nurse. Mr. Kimblee is running a pretty high temperature. I think he needs some attention."
"Certainly," the woman waste no time in taking Kimblee's temperature, checking his chart, and adding the proper medication to his system. She looked over Miles' handiwork with a winsome smile. "I didn't know you were previously acquainted with the patient, Major."
"I'm not," he admitted, finding his honesty slightly awkward in this situation. "It's just...he was suffering," he struggled to find the proper words to express his complex emotions.
"You're so kind," the red-haired nurse said with admiration. It occurred to Miles that Kimblee, when conscious and coherent, was probably a difficult patient. He smiled back, thinking how the major general would have recommended he ease that suffering by discretely ending it. "Are you in a hurry to get back to the fort?" she asked, taking in the major's flashy good looks along with his previously noted charm.
"No, there's no rush."
"Well, if you'd like to, my shift is over at nine. We could grab some coffee."
Miles realized that the hand he had bared with his right. His wedding band was still hidden under the thick fabric of his other glove. "That would be fine," he agreed. When they met up again, he'd be careful to make sure not to give her the wrong idea.
"Oh, wonderful. I'll..." she looked out of the room, searching for a place where Miles might wait for or meet up with her.
"Meet me right here," Miles suggested. He'd made up his mind. "I'll stay and keep an eye on Kimblee."
"Don't hesitate to call if he takes a turn for the worse. We had a rough time handing onto him this morning. He's lucky you boys at Briggs keep us in fresh blood."
"Oh, so he has us to thank for that, does he?" Miles chuckled. Kimblee was going to be up to his eyeballs in debt to the personnel of Briggs by the time he was released from this hospital bed.
"Yes. But still," she paused and looked back at Kimblee, "He has an extraordinary will to live. In any case," she brightened, "I can't chat any longer while on duty, but I'm sure we'll have a great time at nine."
"Indeed." She bustled off and he went back to sit beside Kimblee, who was dozing fitfully. Even while asleep, he kept on shivering slightly. A tiny trail of melted ice ran down the side of his forehead. Major Miles wondered yet again if he would make it and what difference it would make to him if he did. Wasn't this a terrible man who deserved to die for the deeds he had done?
If the major general ordered it, Miles could kill him without hesitation, but of his own will, he could not harm, but only heal. He needed to be alone with Kimblee. He closed the door.
He didn't want to disturb the tubes connected to Kimblee's left arm, so he came around to his right side and sat down on the edge of the bed. There were a lot of handsome jerks out there. Apparently his years in prison hadn't hurt Kimblee in that category.
"Major?" Kimblee interrupted his musing with a dry-throated whisper.
"Yes? Would you like a drink?"
"Yes, but..." He trailed off as Miles turned his back to pour him a glass of water from the pitcher on the nightstand. Miles held the glass out to Kimblee, but didn't release it even as the alchemist gripped its smooth surface, maneuvering cautiously so it wouldn't spill. Kimblee downed the water in a series of small sips and Miles returned the empty glass to the side table.
"You're crazy if you still think you'll be out chasing after Scar anytime soon," Miles commented.
"Then Scar will have to wait," Kimblee stubbornly retained control of his mission to bring the renegade to justice. "Anyway, Major, I don't think you told me your name."
"Didn't I?" That seemed off. "It's Miles."
"You're unexpectedly kind, Major Miles. Which leads me to wonder what it is you want from me. ...You're an attractive man and I'd be happy to oblige, but in my current, fragile condition-"
"You're still delirious," Miles retorted, though he did not rise to distance himself from the irritating man. "In any case, I'm married, and, even if I wasn't, you're most certainly not the type to interest me."
"I'm not?" The look Kimblee fixed him with was anything but befuddled. The corner of Miles' lip twitched downward with discomfort. Kimblee wasn't shivering so much anymore. He adjusted the glove full of dripping ice on his forehead. "I'm still cold," he said. "Ever since Ishval, I was never cold. Not until now."
"You just feel that way because of the fever. It's more like the opposite," Miles corrected him.
"For a while I was on the edge, but I can tell now that I'll make it."
"What makes you so sure of that?" It was a curious sentiment to express.
"Because even the man I thought would be my enemy is taking care of me." Was it any wonder that he looked a little smug at this pronouncement?
Part of Miles (that same part that had threatened Kimblee earlier on) wanted to take the pillow and suffocate him right where he lay- he seemed too weak to successfully fight back. But after his life-preserving efforts, small as they might have been, what was the point? Thinking about an answer to this remark was similarly fruitless. "You should go back to sleep," Miles settled on, avoiding a direct approach to the subject, "You're going to need a lot of rest to heal."
"Yes, I will." From the way his eyelids were drooping, it didn't look like he would have to try hard. "But it's difficult," he fought to keep his teeth from resuming their chattering, "While I'm so cold."
"I suppose now, you heartless killer, I will show you the true spirit of kindness of the Ishvalan people," Miles announced with a sigh.
When Miles took action, Kimblee's heavy eyelids shot up in shock. He tensed; ready to make some futile attempt at defensive action- that he then abandoned. Miles had taken him in his arms, letting Kimblee's head lead back against his shoulder. Through the layers of his uniform, Kimblee could hear the over-energetic beating of his heart. It seemed to telegraph some meaning more potent than compassion. As Miles cradled the injured alchemist, Kimblee wondered if Miles could also feel the clockwork of his fevered body ticking faster than its appointed time.
"Are you still cold now?"
"No," Kimblee relaxed, closing his eyes, certain he was safe. "You're warm. It feels nice."