Author's Note: okay…. First of all, I'm sorry! I hadn't realized that it had been this long since I've updated the story. School has been hell and today I've been sick all day long (let's just say that now my toilet and I share a very special bond … if you catch my drift). I also hope that everyone had a great holiday season like I did. So yeah, moving on… here's the long awaited chapter eight.
Sixth Avenue Heartache
Chapter eight: Higher than Hope
Central had never seen such a quiet morning. The usual loud chatter and gun firing from Roy Mustang's office was absent. To many people, this worried them since Hughes was in the room as well and the normal laughing wasn't. Not wanting to be nosy or get shot, the officers that passed by kept walking and didn't question the unusual atmosphere. Inside the office was an entirely different mood. Earlier that morning, Hughes had come in to inform Mustang and everyone else about Ed. He told them exactly what he had heard from Winry the night before.
"That's messed up," Breda muttered to himself as Falman nodded in agreement beside him.
"Poor Ed," Furey added sadly, "that must have been really hard on him. Do you think we should do something to cheer him up?" The group's faces lit up to the idea.
"I think that it would be best, for now, if we give him the space he needs to recover, and later do something special for him," Hawkeye suggested. The others nodded in understanding. "Maybe we should hold off on Edward's official return as well," she added a second thought.
"I agree," Mustang said seriously, "right now he needs to recover and he can't do that with the state up his ass asking questions."
"How's he doing now?" Hawkeye asked Hughes.
"Better than before," Hughes started, "He's slowly getting better, but with the new eating habits he's not getting enough nutrition. I mean, hell, you all saw him at dinner during the party, he barely touched his food and he still looks like a skeleton if you ask me."
"What about his mental state?" Hawkeye asked more specifically.
Mustang gave her an odd look and told her, "He's sick, not crazy Lieutenant."
"That's not what I meant sir, I mean how Edward is handling all of this emotionally," Hawkeye clarified for everyone.
"Ed hasn't been his usually self, to be honest," Hughes stated. "He doesn't want to go outside and move around or even be around too many people. Thankfully, Winry and Al stay close to him, so he doesn't have much of a choice. But he's still having nightmares." A worried look crossed Hughes' face as soon as he mentioned the last part.
"He hasn't had any other break downs, right?" Furey asked worriedly.
Hughes let out a laugh, "No, Edward hasn't had any other episodes like that, thank god. He just has some really bad nightmares and ends up losing the sleep that he needs." Not wanting to farther into the current conversation, Hughes quickly changed the subject.
"Ed needs to see a doctor," Hughes informed them. "All in all, he's a complete mess and we can't get any of the proper medicine for him without a doctor's prescription."
"And if we do send him to a doctor, he'll have to give the necessary documents of identification, once that's out someone's bound to tell reporters and before we know it, the military will come barging in and take Ed in for questioning," Havoc spoke a valid point.
"I think I can find a doctor," Mustang said. Everyone looked towards him in disbelief. "Don't worry, he won't ask any unwanted questions or tell anyone."
"And who exactly is this doctor?" Hughes asked skeptically. It wasn't too often that a doctor was willing to help a patient without paper work.
"Just leave it to me," Mustang said with full confidence.
"Keep digging!" a guard to Edward's left yelled. Following orders, Ed kept digging with his hands. He didn't know why, but for some reason he couldn't stop. His arms were so tired that they felt as if they were on fire by the constant movement. Blood dripped from his fingertips as they continued to scrap against the cold ground.
"DIG!" another voice shouted at him.
"Keep going," Lena's voice encouraged him to carry on. Looking around, Edward couldn't see her anywhere; all he knew was he needed to continue, it was important that he did.
"Help me!" her voice cried out, "Please don't leave me here!" Edward began to panic, he became desperate to find something important right away. Finally, he hit something smooth and solid. Relief washed over him as he removed the remaining dirt.
"Just hold on a little longer," he said as he pulled out a coffin. Confusion washed over him as he looked at the box. In his mind he had no clue what he was doing, but his body did. Edward started to pry the lid of the coffin open. His heart filled with dread as he opened it and saw who was inside.
"Lena," Ed whispered. Her face was no longer the warm color it once was, but an icy blue. Tears welled up in his eyes as he reached out to stroke her hair, like he had done so many times in the past.
"It's all your fault," Matthias appeared next to him. Before Ed could say anything to him, he disappeared. He looked down at Lena once more, and gazing at her innocent face made Edward realize how unfair everything was; she shouldn't have been the one to die. As he started to remove his hand, Lena's eyes shot open. Surprised by this, Edward jumped back as Lena turned her head towards him and stared at him.
"It's all your fault," she told him simply as blood began to pour down her cheeks.
Edward woke up in a cold sweat. Before he could register his surroundings a warm hand pressed against his forehead. Ed gave a frightened jump by the sudden contact.
"Relax, it's just me," Winry's soothing voice chimed. Edward immediately relaxed as he turned his head towards her. "Bad dream?" she questioned as her hand ran down the side of his face.
"Yeah," Ed breathed out. He couldn't remember the last time when he felt so comfortable. As Winry continued to gently trace an outline of his face, Edward became more aware of his current situation. There he was, laying in bed with no shirt on and Winry, who was unusually close to his face. Despite the fact that his body wasn't in the most attractive, or fit condition, it didn't stop the faint blush that appeared on his cheeks.
"Want to talk about it?" she asked in an innocent tone that only spoke of her pure intentions to help him and make him comfortable by any means.
"Not right now," he responded quietly, his blush, that thankfully went unnoticed, was beginning to disappear.
"I'm worried about you, you know? I mean, despite how much you're sleeping you still look exhausted," Winry confessed.
"You don't have to worry about me. I'm perfectly fine," Edward lied.
Winry raised an eyebrow at this tone, "Your face seems to be betraying your voice," she said as her finger trailed along one of his dark circles that loomed beneath his clear amber eyes. Edward let out a small laugh, but made no attempt the shove her hand away from his face. Instead, his eyes grew heavy once more and it became obvious that he would fall asleep again at any moment.
"Hey now, don't go back to sleep," she stopped started to poke his arm. "Come on, wake up. It's time to eat," he groaned in response, but started to get up.
"You know, you're unbelievable," Winry told him with a light laugh.
Edward gave her an odd look and asked, "And why is that?"
"You never needed anyone to come up and tell you to eat, or force you to for that matter," Winry explained to him. Edward looked thoughtful for a moment and nodded in agreement as he started to walk out the door. Before he got too far, Winry came from behind him and wrapped her arms around his thin waist.
His blush from earlier had immediately returned, but before he could make her let go and quickly run away, so that Winry wouldn't see his rosy cheeks, she asked quietly, "If something was bothering you, you know that you can talk to me, right?" The question surprised Ed, but he tried not to worry her anymore than he already had.
Not wanting to break the embrace, Edward turned around and wrapped his arms tightly around her neck. Giving her a sweet smile he told her, "I know," and quickly placed a kiss on the top of her head. As soon as that was done, Ed practically flung himself off of Winry and walked away as fast as his unhealthy body would allow. Winry watched his retreating figure as a smile spread across her face as well as an intense blush.
As she started to walk out as well, something caught her eye in the corner of the room. Turning towards it, she realized that it was Edward's suitcase; the same old, beaten up, brown one that he had gotten Al to go find the day they arrived at the Hughes' home and were reunited with Ed. Smiling even more, she walked over to pick it up and open it up so that she could unpack it for Edward.
Downstairs, Gracia, Elysia, and Alphonse were sitting down eating their lunch. Gracia had sent Winry upstairs to call Ed down for lunch and since then; they had been waiting on the two to come down. After awhile the three gave up and just started to eat. By the time the sound of Edward hobbling down the steps reached them, lunch was practically over. Alphonse, who was cleaning off his plate in the sink, turned to face his older brother.
"What took you so long?" Al asked curiously. He didn't know why, but Ed's face looked extremely red. "Oh no, you're not having a fever again are you?" he presumed. Edward's face looked like a deer caught in a headlight. He didn't know if Al was serious or just trying to make Ed come out and tell him that he did something that was not only possibly stupid, which Ed himself was still debating about himself, but embarrassing. But, judging by his little brother's expression, Al was dead serious about his question.
"It's nothing, I'm fine Al," Ed brushed him off; the last thing he wanted to do was point out that he was blushing, let alone tell why he was blushing. Unfortunately, Alphonse was more persistent than Edward thought and didn't let the matter drop.
Reaching out, Alphonse touched Edward's forehead to make sure that he wasn't coming down with anything. Trying to get out of his reach, Edward tried to maneuver his way around Al, but as soon as Al grabbed his arm to hold him still, he knew that he was stuck. Cursing his lack of energy and muscle to pry Al off, Ed stood there helpless as he secretly hoped that he did have a fever so that he wouldn't have to answer any more questions. Eventually, Alphonse let go of his arm and then looked at his brother in confusion. "Your forehead isn't even warm; you're not sick at all," he said in an accusing manner as Edward rolled his eyes and pushed Al's arm away from him.
"I told you I wasn't," he muttered as he staggered to the kitchen table. Gracia, who had been watching the scene the whole time, tried to stifle her laughter as Edward, whose blush was starting to go away, sat across the table from her. He stared down at the food that was already in front of him and for the first time noticed how hungry he really was.
"I hope you like it, I made this special just for you," Gracia said warmly.
Edward returned the smile, "I'm sure I will, your cooking always tastes good." Gracia's smile grew wider at the compliment.
"Make sure you try to eat it all big brother, or else you won't get better fast," Elysia cautioned him with a big grin as she finished off her own meal and hopped out of her seat to walk over to Alphonse, who was still washing dished, so that he could wash hers too. Nodding his head in understanding, Ed started to consume as much food as his poor, unhealthy stomach would allow. Unfortunately, he didn't get very far into his meal. True, it was probably one of the best meals he had eaten in months, but it was physically impossible for him to finish it. Cursing every inch of his stomach, that was still use to the pathetically small amount of food he used to get, Edward apologized to Gracia.
"It's alright, if you can't eat it then you can't. There's no need to shove it down your throat on my behalf. Besides, compared to last week, I'd say that your eating has improved a lot," she comforted him. Alphonse laughed from the sink and agreed. Edward then excused himself from the table, whacking Al on the head lightly as he passed him, and hobbled back upstairs. He vaguely wondered where Winry disappeared to, but soon pushed the thought aside as he reach the doorknob to his room.
Time seemed to slow down just then as the door opened only to reveal some papers scattered across his bed. Looking around, Edward quickly spotted Winry staring at him from the foot of his bed while she held something in her hand; it was some type of document or photograph, he couldn't tell which.
"What is all of…," he trailed off as he noticed where all of the papers had come from. Right next to Winry was an old, worn out, brown suitcase. The same one that Edward had brought with him from the other side of the gate. The same suitcase that he had left in the corner of the room, hoping that it would one day just disappear as if it never existed. He froze in place.
Noticing his reaction, Winry tried to explain herself quickly, "I didn't mean to go through your things, and I was just trying to help you unpack. Honest," she spluttered out. Edward's face remained unchanging. It wasn't necessarily the fact that Winry was going through his things, hell she does all the time, so he was used to it, but seeing the photos laid out along some other papers lead to unwanted memories to come flooding back. Without saying anything, Edward quietly walked over to Winry and gently took the picture out of her hand.
A bitter smile appeared on his face as he looked down at the picture that was taken on his birthday with Lena and Matthias. Looking at the other things taken out of his suitcase, more photos and some papers lay there as well. But as many cherished memories each picture held, they were sad and somewhat unwanted just the same because with each memory that was attached to the pictures, a certain sadness and pain went right along with it.