Roy Mustang couldn't help but notice the difference in sound as he listened to Edwards's footsteps coming down the hallway. To most people it would seem no different, but Roy had heard it so much he had come accustom to its sound.
He looked up as the door opened and the Fullmetal alchemist walked in and Roy was instantly concerned.
Edwards face was pale, his eyes slightly unfocused and his breathing slightly laboured, also for once he was on his own.
"Edward, are you alright?" Ed looked around the room to Falman who had spoken.
"Yeh I'm fine" he said waving him off he then approached Mustang, who saw that he was limping but trying desperately to hide it "I can't believe you made me walk all the way to your office just so I could find you weren't there and have to walk all the way back here to find you".
"What's the matter Fullmetal, you tiny legs can't carry such a long distance" everyone waited for the explosion caused by the use of the work "tiny" but it never came, instead Ed merely muttered
"Oh shut up bastard" shoved a report in his superior's hands and then turned to walk away.
"Is this all of your report?" asked Mustang as Ed reached the door, he turned round and glared at him.
"It's all you're getting!" As Ed went to turn back, the door opened suddenly and Armstrong burst in, slamming the door into Ed's face and causing him to fall awkwardly on his leg.
The door opening caused me to hit the ground, falling heavily on my already painful leg making stars dance in front of my eyes. The pain was now so bad I swear I was going to pass out.
Damn it! Of all the problems with automail, Phantom Limb pain was by far the worst thing.
"Fullmetal are you alright?" there were people crowding around me now, I finally realised I'd been on the ground without moving for a few minutes now. Damn, why was I so weak!
"Yeh, yeh I'm fine" I tried to get to my feet but it was just so sodding painful and I unwillingly hissed between my gritted teeth.
"No you're not. Havoc help me get him up" havoc went to move but I couldn't bear the thought of being walked out of here by the arms.
"No no, I'm fine" I gritted my teeth and used every bit of strength I could find, and I got to my feet. But I was now exhausted.
Roy saw the last ounce of Ed's colour drain as he got back to his feet, whatever was going on; it was taking its toll on the young alchemist.
"I'm gonna go home now" said Ed he turned to the door and carefully opened it.
"At least let me drive you" Riza offered knowing that unless she knew he got home safely she would be worrying about it all day.
"I'm fine honestly Hawkeye, thanks".
He left the room shutting the door behind him, took a deep breath and started walking. Every step was agony. Even though he knew his real leg wasn't there, he could feel the heat, feel the pressure feel the pain, it felt like it was bent back in an angle that it really shouldn't have been.
Finally Ed reached his apartment and for the first time in years, he regretted moving out of the barracks. When he walked in Al was waiting.
"Brother, your back! I thought you were working till late"
"Yeh I didn't really feel like it" Ed walked past him and went into his room shut the door and led on his bed, bringing his automail leg to his chest and wrapping his arms around it trying to suppress the pain.
"Brother are you alright?" asked Al through the door, his voice full of concern, but the truth was Ed didn't know. He had had phantom limb syndrome before but it had never been as bad as this. This pain was literally making him breathless and felt fatal. But he couldn't let Al know that.
"Yeh I'm fine Al, just tired, I'll talk to you tomorrow"
Al could tell something was up but he also knew that his brother wasn't going to talk about it so he let it be…for now.
Ed didn't sleep at all that night, he lay on his bed, silent tears falling down his cheeks, the pain just didn't seem to want to die down.
"Ed, Mustang called, he wants to see you in his office at 10" called Al from outside and Ed groaned, he had been hoping that he wouldn't be missed this morning and so wouldn't have had to move and antagonise the pain anymore, but hey equivalent exchange hates him apparently.
"Alright Al, I'm coming" uncurling himself from his balled position, as he swung his legs over his bed he almost yelped but managed to just catch himself in time.
"Are you alright, you look dreadful" said Al as he came out of the room and grabbed his coat, Ed nodded not trusting himself to talk just yet. He waved his brother good bye and headed for headquarters one painful step at a time.
By the time Ed got to where he was heading it was nearly 10 and the pain was getting worse, as long as no one stopped him he could get to Mustang and go home.
"Hey Ed how you doing?" Ed could have killed Havoc as he walked over to him.
"I'm fine, just need to get to Mustangs office"
"Oh yeh I heard he wanted a word with you, say you didn't look so well yesterday, don't look to much better today. You sure you're all good?" Ed pushed past him but he followed.
And he just wouldn't stop talking. Ed could feel his stress level rising. Until finally his body couldn't take it anymore. His leg caved in causing the worst pain yet, his mind slowed down making his arms unable to react. He would have hit the ground hard is Havoc hadn't caught him.
"Chief what's wrong?" Ed cradled his leg unable to keep from moaning in pain any longer.
"My damn leg ahhhh!" the noise brought Riza running round the corner.
"What the hell happened?" she exclaimed "Havoc, I'll stay with him you go get Roy! And get him to call an ambulance!" Havoc went running down the corridor while Riza hugged Ed to her.
"Ed tell me what's wrong?" after a few breaths, the world stopped spinning slightly for Ed.
"It's…ph... Phantom limb…syndrome. But…ne…never...been this b..baaaad!"
Riza pushed his bangs away from his eyes and felt his forehead. He was burning up. They had to get him some help soon.
"Don't worry Ed, there's an ambulance on its way" but Ed shook his head.
"Please…don't…don't tell Al…I …I don't want him to worry".
Damn it, why is that kid always late. I had been sat looking at the clock for 15 minutes; Fullmetal was now 10 minutes late. I don't know whether it was because of what happened the day before or because of an instinct, but Havoc bursting in through my door for some reason didn't surprise me.
"Sir come quickly! It's Ed, he needs an ambulance!" I wasted no time; I had to get to Ed.
"Havoc, use the phone. Where's Ed!"
"Just down to corridor!" I started running. What could have happened to him? Finally I rounded a corner to see Riza holding an almost unconscious Edward. It took her a few minutes to explain what was happening and I kicked myself for not guessing sooner!
"It's alright, we'll get you sorted. Riza has anyone told Alphones?" at that Ed grabbed shirt with his automail hand.
"No don't you dare tell Al you bastard!" he then let go and screamed as a spasm took over his leg.
It took 30 pain racked minutes to get him to the hospital, where they finally gave him some pain killers which took the edge off the pain and stopped him screaming.
The Doctors concluded that it was severe PLS and that there was only one sure way of easing the pain.
"The surgery will mean inserting a spinal cord simulator." The doc told Roy, since he was Ed's legal guardian. Not that he was sure Ed was aware of this.
"Will it stop the pain?"
"Not completely but it will be easier to manage, at the moment it's at a critical stage, left alone the nerves could be damaged for good and his automail would be useless".
Roy sighed, normally when Ed ended up in hospital it was his own damn fault and so he could badger him about it, this time he didn't know what to say. Ed was in a lot of pain, and it wasn't even the kids fault.
"Do you want me to inform Mr Elric of the procedure?"
"No, no, I think he might be a bit calmer if he heard it from me, if he has any questions I'll come and get you, thank you Dr".
Walking back into Ed's room Roy sat next to his bed. He was awake but looked exhausted from pain.
"Why didn't you tell me you were in pain?" Ed shrugged "And I'm guessing you haven't told your brother?" shrugged again "Do you seriously have that much of a death wish" this time Ed did nothing.
"Ed please talk to me" he said a bit calmer now, but Ed shook his head "Why not?"
Ed opened his mouth "because" and shut it again as a tear fell from his eye he took a few seconds and continued "if I talk, I'll lose control" then there were more tears and Roy knew the kid was still in pain and just how scared he was about it.
"Ed, I think you need to tell your brother"
"No I don't want him to worry" Roy sighed as he prepared himself to drop the bombshell.
"This is a problem Ed, if it was something minor like a concussion I could understand you not wanting to get your brother worried for nothing. But this is serious Ed, you're going to need surgery. And you may act all tough and brave but I know how deep down that scares you; you need your brother Edward". Edward said nothing for a while thinking about this and wondering if he really needed Al so much that he would get him really worried and feeling guilty about the fact Ed had automail and blaming himself.
"What surgery?" he finally said
"They're going to insert a pulse simulator to your spine, it should send signals to your brain to block the pain signals from your left leg" Roy saw Ed gulp, he knew how much the young alchemist hated needles even if he didn't want to admit it. Finally Ed nodded
"Can you call Al?"
The call from Mustang was expected, I knew something was up with Brother, but the sight of Ed in the hospital was not expected.
He was pale, sweating, clearly in a hell of a lot of pain, I could tell from the fact he had let a nurse hook him up to an IV.
"Ed" I sat down next to him and put a hand on his forehead, the coldness seemed to sooth his pain, if only slightly.
"I'm sorry Al, I didn't want you to worry" Mustang had explained what was happening on the phone, so I was expecting the nurse with a sedative to creep up behind Ed.
"I know brother it's alright" I said trying to keep his eyes on me for as long as possible "The point is you're going to be alright. If you had pretended nothing had happened then I would have been mad, but you called me when you needed help so that makes me happy". I saw Ed suddenly pale as the drug went down the IV pipe and finally reach his veins.
I managed to grab a bowl just in time before Ed was sick.
"This really sucks" he said as I helped him lay back down "you should properly….call….call..win..wi..winery…" Ed suddenly had a funny look on his face like confusion which unfortunately turned to realisation.
"No Al, don't let them do it please" Ed sat forward taking my hand and I could see the fear in his eyes. Ever since mom died Ed had had a fear of going under anaesthetic. The fear he would never wake up I guess.
"Ed, don't worry, you're going to be alright it's just a slight sedative and a local antithetic you won't be asleep" his eyes were starting to blur now, it was only a matter of time. I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him while he cried until finally his body went limp.
I had to watch to make sure he was alright. Al was under 18 so he wasn't allowed but I knew I had to be there.
The doctor had already told me that they would normally have carried this out with local antithetic but with Ed's current panicked state they gave him a stronger dose. He was awake but in a comatose kind of way.
He was laid on his stomach with his head facing me; despite myself I took hold of Ed's hand. They made a small incision on the middle of his back. Ed whimpered slightly at the strange new kind of pressure, but I squeezed his hand and tried to comfort him.
They removed some of the bone and placed leads on the spinal cord, securing them. They placed a few of these along the spine.
"How's the pain in your leg Edward, is it any better now?" Ed nodded slowly, his eyes closed.
The Dr asked him a few more questions, testing things and asking if it was any better and where was the tingly feeling.
"Ok Ed, were gonna move on now, and were gonna give you some more medicine to stop the pain ok" Ed nodded again, since talking was taking too much effort.
The Dr gave him another sedative and then began working on the extension wire which went from the newly inserted Leads to Ed's abdomen. They then made an incision just below Ed's waist line and I couldn't help thinking as if the kid didn't have enough scars already.
They attached the wires to the generator and then poisoned this under the skin and muscles. Once this was done, they stitched him up.
"You're all done Ed" I said but Ed was pretty much completely out of it.
A few people came to see Ed after the surgery, Havoc, Riza, and of course Al and Roy the latter of them all had been given a leaflet on what Ed could and couldn't do for a while.
"Well it says here, you can't do anything too exerting. This means your office bound for the next 9 weeks".
"Great" said Ed "means I have to see your ugly mug day in day out"
"Says you can't raise your arms above your head. I said Cant Ed!" Ed laughed at Roy's reaction when he moved his arms.
"Also says you much refrain from sexual activity…but I don't think that was a problem in the first place anyway was it Ed. I bet you're still a virgin" he and Havoc had a laugh but then stopped when Ed said nothing.
"Ed?" Roy smirked as Ed started to go red.
"Is there something you would like to share with the class?" Ed avoided their eyes "Who was she Ed?"
When Ed was silent Havoc started guessing.
"A girl from central? No, um someone you met on a mission. No that's not it...someone from where you used to live" that hit a nerve and Ed tensed which was enough for Roy.
"I can't believe this. Edward Elric the Fullmetal alchemist lost his virginity to his mechanic!"
"What?" everyone turned round to see Al walked through the door, followed by Winry who suddenly went very red, which was enough for everyone to know that it was true.
"Mustang…when I can move my arms above my head…I'm going to kill you".