He turns his head, hearing a precise step. He’s heard it too often to not recognize that particular cadence. “Good morning, Hawkeye.”
“You don’t have to call me ‘sir’ any more.” The wooden bench gives slightly as she sits.
“You were honorably discharged.”
He imagines her brow furrowing. “Hawkeye, we’ve had this argument before. Whatever has happened in the past, it is in the past. I am no longer the Flame Alchemist.”
“That’s just it, sir.” He catches the faint excitement in her voice. “You are the Flame Alchemist, and your alchemy can be used. All you need is the right guide.”
He ignores her enthusiasm, muted as it is. “I am still blind, and no soldier can be blind. And you are better than being a guide dog.”
“But I have an affinity for telling you what to do,” she says, and this time, he cannot ignore the gloating tone in her words. “And I’m telling you, sir, you are needed.”
“Hawkeye. Riza. I am not that man any more.”
“But you’re still a man, with an affinity for leadership, even if you can’t see. Your sight isn’t all you are, sir. It is only a part of you, and a minor one.”
He hears the birds singing in the trees, the sound of children laughing. He can smell a street vendor’s steamed sausages, which nearly overwhelms the familiar scent of Hawkeye – clean soap, gun oil, wool and leather. He considers his life now, and his life then, and tightens his hands on his cane. Perhaps it is time to do something; anything.
Reaching out, he taps Hawkeye’s hand. “Let’s talk about this some more, shall we? Over dinner tonight?” Maybe he can’t be a brigadier general, but there are other things he can do. Starting now.