It was the pain that brought Edward back.

But it was the same pain that sent him away.

He drifted through coagulating seas of shadow...things were there...and he would reach for them...

Only to have them slip through his metal fingers. All ten of them.

Auto mail. It was eating him.

It was then that he would wake, bolting ramrod straight into the air, sweating, panting. Coughing. He would check his hands and make sure that only five digits were the steel hardness he had grown accustomed to. And see that he only had one arm.

It felt as though he had died one hundred deaths and returned only to die one hundred more. The weight of those from across the gate...the lives he employed to perform that which was alchemistic...they sank his heart to impossible levels...what he had endured while he had been there.

It was these thoughts that kept him awake.

They ran through his head until he thought he would scream.

Then he would collapse.

He remembered, vaguely, hitting his head once.

This time was different, however. After attempting to jerk forward Edward found that he was secured firmly in place. Leather straps crossed his chest, under his arms, and kept him from moving. He moaned, almost experimentally, and found a cool hand placed on his forehead. A gloved hand.

"You're in the Central Hospital. Al went to get a doctor." Roy Mustang. Answering the unasked question. The older man's left eye was covered with a thick black patch. "He didn't want to leave you. I made him go." Golden strands of hair, shorter hair then when he had disappeared, were brushed out of Edward's eyes with a gentleness that the young alchemist had not thought possible from Mustang. Straw colored strands spilled over his pillow, too short to pull back into a ponytail.

"...At...r..." His superior, his enemy, placed a chip of ice between Edward's lips and stepped away.

"Better?" The boy nodded once and let his head fall away to the side sucking water from the flake and begging his body to let him drift away again. "Al tells me that you have dreams, Full Metal, nightmares." Instead of being daunted by the back of the blonde head Roy merely walked to the other side and stared into dull amber eyes. The flame alchemist noticed how his right one was slightly clouded.

He was blind in that eye.

Ed blinked once and tried to force his head the other way but his bandaged neck didn't have the strength.

"What kind of nightmares?"

"...The bad kind..." Despite the obstinate words, he whispered them with none of the bite or conviction that his voice usually contained.

"What do you mean, 'the bad kind', midget?" Hazy eyes trembled and rolled backwards into his head and the colonel felt a pang of fear deep in his chest. Full Metal had never acted this way ever before. No matter what, he would be sarcastic, acid towards Roy. He hadn't thought that four years would make that much of a difference.

And the entire time Roy had known him, Edward had never not reacted to comments directed at his height.

It worried the him to see the young man in such a state. Edward had always been strong, always kept his brother from worrying too much. He had always at least put up the front that everything was okay...

He was losing consciousness again and Mustang could tell. The teen's two remaining limbs were relaxing and he seemed to be shrinking before his very eyes.

"...I see...things..." Roy resisted the urge to grab the kid before him by the shoulders and shake him.

"What kind of things, Edward? Things from the gate?" Empty, hollow eyes, one blind, drifted to look past Roy's right shoulder. His left arm lifted from the bed and pointed weakly in the same direction, falling with a harsh thump to his side only seconds after. Ed's eyes closed and his lips moved. The elder soldier leaned closer, until he could feel the febrile heat radiating from the pale body and the boy's breath on his face, slow, even, and warm.

The words were barely audible, little more then an exhale.

"...Bad things..."

...End Chapter One

Forgive me, this is my first attempt at a Hagaren fanfiction. Please, give it a chance and come back soon for the next installment.

Thanks for reading and please leave a review as you exit the page...that is, if you want me to update faster.