Ed found himself wandering in endless white, but he turned slightly, hearing his name being called. But there was nothing… It was quiet there; warm and peaceful… but it felt so wrong. He wasn't supposed to be there. Looking down at his two fleshy hands, he knew it wasn't just a dream… it was proof… He let his arms fall to his sides as his head drop to his chest. This was wrong… so wrong… He then heard voices speaking around him. He was surprised at first until he remembered there wasn't anything to be afraid of. Nothing could hurt him there.
"Why are you here?" A male voice asked him.
"That should be obvious…. I'm dead."
"Why did you die?" A female voice asked next.
"I was… murdered by a psycho freak."
"We're sorry…" the male voice spoke again. "But your pain is over… your limbs have been given back to you. You don't have to suffer anymore. Or do you…?"
"You do not look at peace… Why don't you look happy?" the female voice.
"Because I'm not. I can't rest in peace with a lousy ending like this…"
"My brother… I left him alone, even though I promised not to. He's crying… I can hear him even now, but he can't hear me."
"You can't control who lives or dies… no matter how much you want to. You're not God."
"I know that… I knew that a long time ago… I learned that the hard way, we both did."
"This isn't your fault. You didn't plan on dying… it's not your fault…" A soft hand reached out to pat his head. It was warm… it spread comfort and love through Ed's soul… But Ed brushed the hand away.
"I can't accept this…. I can't move on knowing my brother is all alone!"
"..You love him very much, don't you…?"
"Of course I do! Al means everything to me… He's my brother! I wanted to give him everything! I wanted to be there for him, to protect and comfort him! To keep my promises and get his body back! I promised!" Ed broke down, then, tears cascading down his cheeks. His hands shook as he hugged his arms and his bottom lip quivered.
"I don't want this…! I can't leave him alone because I'm a stubborn, arrogant idiot! I kept telling myself I'd sacrifice everything, but this wasn't how it was supposed to be!" Ed continued to cry until he felt warm arms wrap around him. They felt somehow… familiar.
"You're very kind, Edward… I know you'll take good care of each other. The woman kissed him on the head before pulling away. More and more the voices were sounding familiar to him.
"Wh-what…? Ah!" Ed gripped his chest, feeling a sickening wave break through him. It blurred his vision and made him feel as though he would vomit. His body was feeling heavier and heavier.
"Wh-what's happening… to me…?" Another wave hit him, then another. They just wouldn't stop. The sickening waves almost sent Ed to his knees. He heard a tearing sound behind him and looked back to see a hole in the white floor. He could hear his brother calling him even louder.
"Go back, Edward. You don't belong here yet." The faces… he could see their faces….
"No way… H…Hughes….?" The man smiled.
"Take care of yourself, Edward! I'll see you again, but it better not be too soon!"
"But wait… th-then you are…" he looked to the woman, the tears only flowing harder. She smiled at him softly, lovingly.
"He's waiting for you… Go back to him. I love you both so much…. My precious boys…."
The man reached out and gave Ed a soft shove, sending Edward back towards the hole. Ed reached out towards the woman, his mother.
"Goodbye…" Ed fell through the hole, falling out of the white world and through what seemed like dark storm clouds. He yelled out loud and then it felt as though he was slammed into something hard, solid… cold… He gasped loudly as if air was something he hadn't breathed for years and his whole body was wracked with pain. He felt broken. Faintly, he heard someone calling out his name. Voices picked up all around him… Ed forced his burning eyes open only slightly and through his swimming vision he saw only one thing…. a suit of armor staring down at him. With the heavy rain, it looked as though the armor was crying.
"A…Al…." He made his brother cry after all… That was his last thought before darkness claimed him.
It was nearly three weeks later when Mustang made another brief trip up to the military hospital. He sought out the doctor responsible for Ed and they stood just outside the room. Mustang occasionally glanced inside to see Al sitting at his brother's bedside. Ed was still hooked up to several IVs and an oxygen mask, body covered in white.
"How is he?"
"It's hard to say." The doctor replied. "He was half dead when you brought him in here… body broken and frozen… we transfused blood and continue to feed him intravenously, but there's only so much we can do. The cold did a number on his organs. He has pneumonia… no telling if his lungs can hold up on their own. We may have to put him back on a respirator."
"Can you tell me anything positive about his condition?"
"Well, he's technically still alive. That's something. His fingers were also frostbitten, but thankfully they're recovering. He wont lose any more limbs than he has already. But…"
"…He still hasn't regained consciousness?" The doctor shook his head. Mustang was afraid of this… Ed was comatose. His body was still working, just barely, but he was hardly responsive and he had no consciousness to speak of. His brain had been deprived of oxygen for so long that it was unclear if he'd ever wake up. And if he did, would he be the same person? It was looking so hopeless… but every day, Al stayed by his side, tending to him and talking to him. He believed Ed was still in there somewhere. Would he stay there forever…. Believing in a faint hope? It was just too painful to watch… so Mustang turned and left. Al looked up to see him leave, dampening a cloth in a bowl.
"The Colonel came again, brother." Al said aloud. "He only talks to the doctor… he doesn't ever come in here. I wonder why. What do you think, brother?" Al looked down as Ed laid there in silence, just like the day before. The only other sound was that of the equipment helping to keep him alive. Ed still looked so sick and fragile…. But Al refused to give up hope. He brought his brother back, after all! He looked into his eyes… said his name… All the doctors said Ed probably wouldn't wake up, but Al knew better… Ed liked to sleep. He'd wake up when he was ready.
"Well, I doubt you'd want him to see you like this. I can imagine how you'd react… you'll probably complain about it when you get up! You'll really give him a hard time…" Al chuckled softly. "Oh! Remember that girl? I heard that she's doing okay now! You did that, brother… you saved her! She even drew you a picture to thank you!" Al looked up at the wall and saw a scribbled, color mess on a piece of paper. Al thought it was cute. He then looked down at his brother. "I'm going to clean you up again, okay?"
Gently, Al dabbed the damp cloth over Ed's feverish body. It was difficult to find a spot that wasn't covered in bandages… they were across his chest, his leg, his arm, neck… and a few on his face. So many wounds…. and so little hope surrounding the Elrics. Al's hand stopped at his brother's chest, remembering the circle he drew there.
"…You're really stupid, Ed. You're reckless and stubborn… you always get us into such big messes…" Al's free hand lightly stroked his brother's cheek, voice softening. "…So stupid…"
"….Shouldn't… call me… stupid…." Al gasped, seeing Ed's eyes open tiredly. His voice was still weak, muffled by the mask and strained due to his sick lungs. "Even… if it's… true…" Al started to pull his hand away from Ed's cheek until a weak hand moved to hold it there. It was comforting to feel his brother at his side instead of simply hearing his voice over some stupid device. Ed let his eyes fall closed again, nuzzling his brother's hand.
"Brother… I knew… you would be okay…."
"It's all thanks… to you, Al… You saved me big time… th-thank you…"
"You don't have to thank me, Ed... After all… you did the same thing… I had to try at least as hard as you did…." That made Ed chuckle slightly, though it made him cough. His lips looked so dry and his throat was probably, too, so Al carefully moved the mask off of him and grabbed a cup of ice chips. He helped his brother get some and watched as he weakly swallowed. Ed had a long recovery ahead of him, but Al would be there every step of the way.
"…Brother…. Um…" Ed opened his eyes again, looking up at him.
"What's wrong, Al…?"
"Well…. You… kept calling for mom…and then you didn't say anything. It… scared me. I thought you were going to leave again."
"…It… wasn't like that…"
"Then what…?" Ed was silent for a minute.
"….Mom…. says hi…"
[[ I want to personally thank everyone who has been reading my stories so far! It's your encouragement and commentary that make me love writing! Please check out my other stories as I will be posting more of them soon and continuing older fanfics as well! I have at least 2 more FMA fics in progress so I hope to hear your feedback on those as well! Thanks again!
-Kanan (writer for the people) ]]