The Morning After

"But still… even if I can't prove it's true, I have to try… for your sake…Al…"

Morning 1: Edward

Something like an old memory of another world was what it finally took for Edward Elric to wake up. It was an odd and silly one; he was quite sure, where he and his younger brother, Alphonse, were leaning on all fours over a large decorated circle. Alchemy, perhaps? Was that the word? He had forgotten, moments of the past slowly regaining. The circle glowed a brilliant yellow color, he saw his brother smile beside him, and then everything was white.

Light flooded over his disoriented vision, fuzzy and distant like a bad radio transmission. A radio? Yes, there was one playing right now in another room, a haunting nocturne. His view adjusted to the interior of the room: white walls and ceilings, and a cream-colored nightstand on the left side of his bed. A translucent turquoise vase rested upon the nightstand with a single long-stemmed anemone, which was drooping slightly, and a sprig of rosemary and fennel. The brightness of the sun in the open window stood out against all the blank listless heavenly white and a pair of bluebirds sang together in voices of love. The glow of the Gate, it all made sense now.

Edward sniffed the air absent-mindedly and wrinkled his nose at the action, half expecting something more sweet smelling like his mother's perfume. It reeked strongly of medicine and disinfectant, a recoiling unpleasing scent. Was he at a hospital? He couldn't tell for certain, yet the sterile official aura around him suggested so. But that couldn't be, it wasn't possible…

Noises of the outside of the room were muted to his clouded hearing. The bed on which he lay was warm both from his body and the crisp bleached sheets wrapped tightly around him, their color a perfect likeness to the curtains. Edward wore sleeveless hospital clothes, wet and sleek with his sweat and hints of blood. His thick golden blonde hair cascaded down the pillow, tied back out of his face in a long ponytail with an elastic. He'd figure he'd braid it later. Earlier, he could have sworn there had also been a figure in the room, dressed completely in white like a nurse. If this was in fact heaven, it was clearly misjudged.

The alchemist groaned wearily, rubbing his eyes with the back of his forearm. He didn't feel at peace at all, the thought occurred to him. Maybe he was a ghost, unconsciously reliving a part of his live. But alchemists, logical-thinking scientists, such as he didn't believe in unexplainable nonsense like spirits and apparitions. This God was certainly giving Edward Elric a run for his money…No, what was he thinking? There was no God, which he knew quite well; he was self-decided agnostic after all.

Edward tried shifting his weight to his left side, reeling over from his back. But there was an unfamiliar numbness in his left leg that prevented the movement. Edward wiggled his toes, wondering why of the absence of feeling. A sudden gasp escaped his swollen throat. No, it can't be, it's not true…

Drowsily, he sat himself up against the headboard in an almost pivoting manner: He grabbed a hold of the rickety board in his preferred left hand and pulled himself up, the heel of his right foot digging into the white-covered mattress as the leg straightened to further help him along, purely out of habit. Forcefully, he threw back the blanket revealing his lower body. It's gotta be here, I just had it back…

The leg on his right was fine: of natural flesh and bone and muscles that helped him to stand on his own, yet his left…The pant leg had been pulled up and folded, making room for the thick array of bandages on what little remained. It had been reduced to a stump, stopping at mid thigh. No, please…

Trembling, he gently reached up to his right shoulder, his last hope to prove his improbable fate wrong. Edward came across only a smoothed surface, a bandaged shoulder blade that used to hold his arm. Both of his once-sacrificed limbs weren't there anymore. They were lost as payment to the Gate…Gone…forever…

Blood hammered his ears from a heart that he was surprised still beat, pounding like a drum in his chest. His breathing quickened, his lungs heavy but still functioning better than he ever imagined. Thoughts too heavy to bear came pouring out, of back home, that bitch Dante, his bastard homunculi half-brother Envy, and more importantly of his poor younger brother he had left behind. He gripped the right side of his stomach, ignoring the searing pain it caused. Why the hell am I still alive? Does this mean the transmutation failed, that I got away again with just limbs as the toll? And what was the result…? His train of thought was interrupted by voices outside the door, almost inaudible to him but he strained enough to hear only bits of the conversation.

"…doctor, he's awake…"

"…gave us quite a shock…found bleeding to death outside in the rain near the Freiburg Münster cathedral (1)…"

Edward lifted an eyebrow, confused as he recovered himself with the blanket. He was found near the what cathedral? He hadn't recalled what the church from which had opened the entrance to Dante's hideout was, he had a strong feeling it wasn't as strange sounding as Freiburg. The voices continued to clear up as he leaned as far as his body would allow.

"…unconscious…limbs amputated clean off…"

"You think…work of those Thule Society (2) freaks…?"

"No chance…boy that young involved with…occultists?"

What were they going on about? Occultists? Thule? Where the fuck was he? Definitely not in Central anymore. Wait…That yellow glow…Edward widened his eyes, staring speechlessly at his newly crippled body. The Gate…could I have actually…Back to that other world…?

"The guy who brought him in did look pretty strange…"

"Yeah, strangely handsome!!" A girlish laugh followed the comment.

The guy who brought him in? Who could have possibly-?

"Um, excuse me, but may I go in and talk to him for a moment?"

That voice…A clear masculine tone roughened over the centuries, but soft spoken, lingering and strong hinting at a deep hidden guilt. Edward had known that distinct tone for as long as he could remember, dating back to when he was but a small child.

"Why, speak of the devil! Yes, of course, but be very cautious. He's only been fully conscious for several minutes, after all. He might still be in shock."

Edward tensed, an unfamiliar nervousness taking over. A soft knock caught him off guard before he could ponder into what to say, making him jump. The door then slowly opened, revealing the man who had saved his life as he poked his head into the recovery room, stepping in almost silently. He was of a tall muscular physique, very tall; wearing a long brown evening coat which Edward could have sworn held the slightest hint of blood around the waist. A small pair of glasses sat upon the bridge of his nose, and several stands of his long golden hair were left hanging in his face the rest tied in a ponytail. It was uncanny how alike the two of them seemed, with the many striking similarities, though the man was much older than the young alchemist. Edward didn't seem fazed by the likeliness, for he knew this man quite well. It was his birth father.

"Edward," the man started, obviously nervous at the teenager's reaction of his father being his savior when already so much had been restricted to him in so little time. His son, in his own spitting image, clearly knew what had already happened without the use of an explanation, the further indulging of any real clarification would have been proven a waste of time on the both of them. The both of them knew of the other's knowledge for quite some time: Edward had once again tried human transmutation, on who exactly his father was kind enough not to question, the end result of which was unknown. In addition to the toll of his two limbs, how he managed to offer them again Hohenhein didn't know, the alchemist was sent back to the world beyond the Gate, where his father currently had made his permanent residence.

He needn't be so hesitant to approach him, as Edward only turned his head to his direction with an almost apathetic expression and went back to looking downcast to his lap. It was more adequate than anything he could have spoken. "You gave me quite a scare. I didn't expect you to visit me, and so soon no less." Hohenheim chuckled softly at his own joke, but abruptly stopped when he saw that his son was unable to find it funny. Edward wasn't in the mood for playful banter.

"You're at the University Medical Center Freiburg (3). It's a good hospital, you should recover very soon," Hohenheim said briskly, looking around the room. Edward nodded in a quiet response.

The man continued his one-sided conversation, knowing that his son wouldn't look him in the eye for the remainder of his visit. "You're of course welcome to come stay with me; I've finally gotten my own place in Munich." He observed Edward's hospital garment. "Well, I guess I soon purchase some new clothing for you. I don't suppose anything of mine would fit."


Hohenheim was almost taken a back by his son's comment. "Oh, you're welcome," he answered, surprised as he stared at Edward's unchanged position, still slumped over and thinking back to regrettable actions. At that moment, an urge came over Hohenheim to reach out to his son, to touch his shoulder, give him comfort. He moved his hand toward Edward, wanting desperately to get to know him better after so many years of neglect, but he suppressed the want and retracted his action. He had no right. Hohenheim turned to leave, grasping the door handle and talking over his shoulder. "I guess I should get going. You should probably rest now; you still need to build up more strength-"

"Father," Edward spoke suddenly, interrupting, "is it true I won't see Al ever again, that I can never go back home? Alchemy doesn't work here, right?" His words were harsh and sorrowful, sharp taste built up inside his mouth from how long he held them inside. He his gaze never left his lap, his hand curling into a tight fist around the blanket. "So no matter how much I sacrifice in exchange we'll always be separated, whether it's by his soul attachment, now another world?"

His father sighed, tightening his grip on the handle. "I'm sorry, Edward, but I can't answer that," Hohenheim said finally. "That's up to you to decide."

Edward waited for the door to shut, a creaking wooden sound to his ears, his eyes bulging and dry. He stared down transfixed at his missing limbs and then back to his shaking open palm, his breathing in short and rugged patterns. For the first time in what felt like a millennia, Edward Elric, the acclaimed Fullmetal Alchemist, buried his face in his last-remaining hand and wept.

(1) The Freiburg Münster is the cathedral of Freiburg, Germany. It is the only Gothic church tower in Germany, and was completed in the Middle Ages (1330). Of the original building, only the foundations still exist. The church became seat of the Bishop of Freiburg, when it officially became recognized as a cathedral, in 1827. The Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt is quoted as having said that the church's 116-metre tower is the most beautiful tower in Christian architecture.

(2) The Thule Society was a German occultist and Völkisch group in Munich, named after a mythical northern country from Greek legend. The Society is notable chiefly as the organization that sponsored the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which was later transformed by Adolf Hitler into the Nazi Party. Due to its occult background, the Thule Society had become the center of many conspiracy theories concerning Nazi Germany. Such theories included the creation of spacecraft and secret weapons. The organization and its leader, Dietlinde Eckart, play key roles in the movie Conqueror of Shamballa.

(3) The University Medical Center Freiburg is one of the largest medical centers in Germany, as well as one of the most reputable. It is the teaching hospital of the Albert Ludwig's University of Freiburg. In 1751, the university's medical faculty began charity medical activities. In 1780, the first general clinic was established. In the 19th century a medical center was built, followed by an entire campus with different specialized departments.

Edward, thinking he was dead, comes to the realization that he might never see his brother again. Sad, huh? Next chapter revolves around Alphonse's reaction. People who've been reading my other fan fiction, Gunslinger Alchemist, don't worry, I'm not putting it on hiatus, I just wanted to post another story of mine. I've been putting it off a bit, so it might take a little longer than usual, sorry!!