As the pressure subsided so did his dry heaving. The burning faded away to just a duller pain, replaced by all of his bodies various other complaints. He opened his eyes, wondering if it was all over. It didn't look like. Granny was carefully aligning a small cylindrical object at the end of his leg. She didn't look back at him as he continued to stare. He watched as when she had it where she wanted she looked up at Winry, nodded, set her jaw and then slid it in. He felt the wires give a jerk then the old ladies arm twisted severely and two massive jolts traveled all the way to his brain. He felt rung out and convulsed again under those hands. He felt his own drool sliding down his neck as he shivered. He watched his left hand flexing frantically as he fought to slap the bed.
Finally regaining control over his motor skills, Granny met his eyes. She made a motion to Winry and he felt a cool cloth begin mopping the back of his neck. He relaxed under the gentle strokes and accepted Granny's offering of water. After rinsing and spitting a few times he lost control. The smell of Ed bacon was still in the air and he was almost at his limit. He broke, sobs wracking his body so hard they tugged at his restraints. Relief flooded him when the bond holding his arm down was loosened. He brought his arm up, gathering the old woman who had helped raise him and cried on her shoulder for a minute when she allowed herself to be dragged down to his level. She smelled like tobacco and rainy days in a rocking chair. He ignored the light footsteps that tip-toed out of the room as he let everything out on the only adult he had.
After a few minutes and a few mumbled apologies he managed to calm down. He stared at the ground ashamed before working up the courage to ask if they were done. He felt his dread return and almost sobbed again when she shook her head no, but he clamped down on it. "Finish it." She looked a little taken aback at his tone before smiling. "I'm waitin' on Winry. She's double-checking that your room is ready. We're going to be movin' you after we're done here." He nodded in response and lay back. The cloth on the back of his neck was becoming itchy and he was tired of lying at an angle. He wanted to be away from the smell of his own vomit and cooking flesh.
A little more time passed in which he almost drifted off into sleep when Winry came back. He felt his bonds replaced and the hands grabbed him again. He closed his eyes, chanting ten minutes, ten minutes over and over again in his mind. The smell of cooking flesh followed another flash of pain with chills. He ignored it, vomiting and spitting as his stomach tried to escape. Before the pain of the burning could fade away he heard twin drills start up. He jerked when the metal touched him, the hot brand being driven straight into his bones. He could hear himself moaning and made his chant louder in his head. He let his mind scream even as his throat convulsed, first giving up stomach acid, then the mucous lining his trachea, and finally he tasted blood again. It even burned its way out of his nostrils as piece by piece the metal capping his stumps was branded onto his flesh.
When the drills stopped for the fourth time he gasped a little, trying to get his focus back. He saw Granny come into view, a metal wielding mask pulled over his face as she approached him with a small torch. He closed his eyes as his body heat up again. A few last passes, his bladder squeezed so tight there was no liquid left, his face a mess of vomit and blood and snot and it was over. The torches were shut off. He heard running water and the sound of machinery being banged around. The bond on his head loosened and the vomit-chute as he thought of it was pulled gently out from under his mouth. He heard footsteps and a door shutting, before whatever was propping him up slid out from behind him. His eyes became teary again, grateful to be lying flat even as pain shot through his joints.
Winry appeared in his field of vision. Her blue eyes excited and tired; flush with success of her work, worried for him, and generally exhausted met his. In spite of it all she got busy cleaning him. He breathed in relief as his face was cleaned. He squirmed when she continued dragging the rag over the rest of his body. Embarrassment came back as she checked on his catheter, cleaning his parts while doing it. He felt the tube come sliding out of him and fought with himself to remain still. He listened to her voice as she crooned words of comfort at him, not really registering what she was saying. When she'd finished with everything in his nether regions she moved on, wiping the sweat from his leg, stump, and even between his toes. She moved back to where he could see her and slowly pulled the IV out of his arm. He winced, but made no protest. A clean sheet was pulled over him after she finished and he felt the worse of his chills die down.
He heard clanking footsteps enter the room again. He groaned at his brother's cheerful greeting, doing his best to put on an irritated to face to mask how suddenly tired he felt. The armor lifted him up, cradling him. He was a little scared of the new height, but knew Al wouldn't drop him. "Winry?" "I'll be up when I finish cleaning down here." He nodded and hunched further down into the sheet, wishing someone would pull up the bottom so his backside wouldn't be so cold. They left the room, sunshine slanting through the windows and alighting on his pale form for the first time in weeks. He sighed in its light and did his best to put an arm around Al. "Al, we're closer. I'll be sparring with you before you know it." "I know, Brother, but for now you need to rest." He smiled at this typical Al response and let himself drift, his weariness winning over the pain. He didn't stir at all as Al tucked him into bed, or even when Winry climbed in a little after.
18/09/07 -Author's note: Well, that's it for the surgery. Ed has the automail port completely installed with the conclusion of this fic. Of course having the automail attached for the first time and learning how to use it is a whole other monster. I just want to thank everyone who has continued to read all of my automail installation fics: "Catheter", "Regrets about the Procedure", "Three Days of Waking", "That Metallic Tinge", and finally "The Last Branding".
To my regular reviewers: I just want to say thank you again for correcting my mistakes, leaving a kind word, and your overall encouragement to keep writing.
19/09/07 -For anyone in the Orlando, FL area be sure to go to the Regal Waterford Lakes theater for a showing of The Conqueror of Shamballa at 7:30. I'll be making the drive in-land to cry for the full hour and a half.