Title: P.T. Hell
Author: S J Smith
Summary: The Elric brothers are always good for entertainment. Even in a hospital.
Disclaimer: Arakawa's sandbox, I just play in it.
Central City Military Hospital was, not unexpectedly, filled with soldiers after the Promised Day. It had taken a couple of weeks for Dr. Marcoh schedule an exam room for a man who was no longer actually enlisted in the military. Once the exam was completed, Dr. Marcoh picked up a clipboard, writing a few notes on it. Jean wondered if it was in some sort of alchemist's code, and decided he didn't want to know.
The exam table was cold, or at least, he guessed it was. He really couldn't feel anything from the middle of his back down, which had made for some embarrassing scenes until he got used to a lack of control over his own bodily functions, as well as figuring out how to resolve said issues. A man's diaper wasn't the nicest thing he'd ever dealt with, but at least he could put it on and take it off himself, and clean his own body, without needing assistance. It just took a little more time than before.
Dr. Marcoh turned to him, and Jean straightened his shoulders automatically. When the chief had mentioned something about healing his spine, Jean had been curious, if nothing else. The idea of being able to walk again – well, what guy in his situation wouldn't dream of it? But the chief had been blinded and had his hands wrapped in bandages – and now, he was recuperating, getting his sight and his dexterity back. It seemed like a miracle.
Instead, it turned out to be alchemy – something Jean knew next to nothing about, except the chief and the little boss and his brother were prodigies, and it looked like magic. The chief said Dr. Marcoh was willing to help Jean out, and how could he turn that offer down? The idea of standing on his own feet again, not needing a diaper, being able to look a woman in the eye without having to tilt his head back – the idea made his heart skip and clutch, and Jean had to remind himself that things really didn't work out that easily.
And Dr. Marcoh proved it when he opened his mouth. "Just because I can use the Philosopher's Stone to reconnect the nerves in your spine, it doesn't mean you'll be able to walk again immediately."
"Look, Doc, as long as I can get back on my feet in the future, that's the important thing." Jean smiled around the unlit cigarette dangling from his lower lip. He couldn't help but want one, even if he wasn't going to light it while being examined. "I'm willing to work to get there."
"Good." Dr. Marcoh's face looked like it'd been melted, and Jean wondered if it had happened in a firefight. His cousin had been splashed with burning oil when they were kids, and lost sight in one of his eyes from it. "Your commander doesn't seem to realize that certain things don't happen overnight."
"Yeah, well, the chief always wants things done yesterday, unless it's paperwork." Jean set aside the cigarette in the ashtray, giving it a long look. "I know he can see, again," the chief recognized him, though Jean half-wondered at the time if it hadn't been the smell of cigarette smoke, or squeak of his wheelchair that had alerted Mustang, at least until their eyes met. "Is he going to get it all back?"
Dr. Marcoh pulled out a little vial of some sort of ruby-colored liquid. "He should. The healing properties of the Philosopher's Stone can't be discounted. But Colonel Mustang still needs to complete his rehabilitation. The tendons in his hands were all but severed. It's amazing to me he has as much control in his digits as he does."
"You know the chief. He's a stubborn man."
"Yes, it seems to be a rather common thread amongst you all." Dr. Marcoh offered to help Jean back into his chair, and he waved it off, maneuvering himself into the chair and wheeling it back from the bed. "So, Mr. Havoc, when would you like to start your treatment?"
"Soon as possible, Doc." Jean grinned. "I can't wait to get back on my feet again."
Dr. Marcoh nodded. "You'll need access to the hospital for your physical therapy, Mr. Havoc. I'm afraid I can't help you with that, but I can tell by my exam that the muscles of your lower body have atrophied. You'll need to work to build them up again, and you'll also need to relearn how to walk."
"So, what kind of time frame are we looking at, here?" Jean asked, leaning his elbows on the armrests.
"I'm afraid that depends on you, Mr. Havoc." Dr. Marcoh smiled, making his melted skin twist. "And how hard you're willing to work."
He nodded thoughtfully, picking his cigarette out of the ashtray and putting it in the corner of his mouth. "When can we get started?"
"I'll talk to the hospital about arranging a room for you, and physical therapy. Are you staying in town?"
Jean gave the doctor his contact information and shook Marcoh's hand. "Thanks, Doc, for everything," he said, as they parted in the hallway, Dr. Marcoh heading off in one direction, and he in the other. There was a particular room he wanted to visit, having heard some pretty amazing stories through the grapevine, and Jean made his way up a floor via the lift, and to a recovery ward.
This part of the hospital seemed sunnier, and most of the nurses, female and male, smiled at him as he wheeled by. Jean took a second glance at a couple of the women – there was just something about a nurse's uniform, and how it emphasized the curves that caught his eye. Not just his, he didn't know any man who didn't have a thing for nurses. Except, Jean smiled wryly as he rolled into a room, maybe the little boss, who was rolling his eyes and showing his teeth at the nurse trying to give him his medications.
"Hey, Ed," he said, and his smile broadened as he caught sight of the kid in the other bed. "Hey, Al."
"First Lieutenant Havoc!" Al said, and somehow, his eyes managed to widen, though Jean wasn't sure how he'd been able to do that, seeing as how big his eyes looked in his skinny face now. "Why are you here?"
"Havoc." Ed nodded at him, then turned a baleful glare back at the pills.
"The sooner you take these, Mr. Elric, the sooner I can leave and get on to other patients," the nurse told him, her voice tart. Jean thought from her tone of voice and the way she stood over the bed, she might kinda like Ed, or think he was cute or something. Not that Jean thought Ed would take advantage of something like that – he seemed kind of dense when it came to that sort of thing.
On the other hand, Al didn't seem to have much of a problem with it, if the way he was ogling the nurse was any indication. "Go ahead and take your pills, Brother," Al said, sighing, "so Nurse Gerhardt can finish her rounds." His voice sounded so different now, without that metallic echo. "And so we can visit with First Lieutenant Havoc."
"Just Jean now, Al," he said, "remember, I'm not in the military any more." Not for a little while, at least.
Ed snatched the pill cup and tossed them into his mouth, following it up with a gulp of water. "Done," he said, and his lip twitched at the nurse when she patted his shoulder and told him he was a 'good boy'. "Gah!" he spat out once she was out of the room. "I can't wait to get out of here."
"Brother," Al said in that patient way of his. "The nurses and the doctors are taking good care of us."
"Sure looks like it to me," Jean agreed.
Ed chuffed, waving his arm. "They're always poking and prodding when we're trying to sleep."
"Hey…" Jean gave Ed a long look. "Your arm."
He grunted, turning his attention to his right hand and flexing his fingers – flesh digits. "Yeah," he said. "Got my arm back." He shot a glance at Al, one the younger brother didn't seem to notice, though Jean caught sight of something he couldn't quite decipher in Ed's eyes. Worry, maybe? But Ed turned back to him, the corner of his mouth quirking. "And Al's body." That look was easy to read – sheer joy radiated out of him.
"And Al's body," Jean said, unable to not smile back at the brothers.
Sighing, Ed flopped back on his bed, a stupid, relaxed grin on his face. Jean didn't think he'd ever seen Ed like this. He glanced toward Al, who wore a sweet smile, his attention focused on his brother for a few seconds, then, as if he felt Jean's eyes on him, turning back. "Why are you here, Mr. Havoc?" Al asked.
"Yeah, you didn't want to just come see us, did you?"
Al chided. "Brother."
Ed snorted, waving him off.
"I actually came to see Dr. Marcoh." Jean lipped a cigarette out of his pack, though he didn't light it. "The chief said he might be able to help me, to get my legs back." He slapped his unfeeling knee. "So we're going to set up a time when I can in to see the physical therapists."
"Tch! Torturers, more like." Ed twitched, as if he expected something painful to happen to him.
"They're not torturers," Al protested. "Really, Mr. Havoc."
Kid was too polite for his own good. "I guess I'll find out," he said.
"Al's not really had someone working him over yet," Ed hooked a thumb at his brother. They just coo over him and massage his muscles to 'increase the blood flow'." He pitched his voice higher on the last four words.
Jean grinned. "Some of those nurses, they can increase the blood flow without a massage." Ed blinked at him, like he had no idea what Jean was saying. He inscribed an hourglass figure in the air to help the kid out some. "You know? The massage is just a nice extra."
Snickering, Al said, "Brother doesn't notice things like that, Mr. Havoc."
"I do too!" Ed snapped. "I'm just not interested!"
"Because you've got someone waiting for you at home," Al singsonged.
"Shut up!" Ed flung a pillow at his brother, smacking him in the face with it.
Al pushed the pillow down. "Winry used to give you massages, didn't she Brother?"
"No, and you know it. The old hag was teaching her," Ed sputtered to a stop, a blush crawling up his face.
"Granny used to massage you?" Al burst out laughing.
"Your grandmother?" Jean asked, "that had to be awkward!"
"Not our grandmother." Shaking his head, Ed growled. "Pinako's been our guardian since Mom died."
"She's Winry's grandmother," Al said. His eyelids drooped, and he fought to keep them open, reminding Jean of a much younger kid, trying to stay awake through Longest Night. The yawn told Jean that Al was losing his fight.
"Those massages hurt!" Ed went on grumbling. "Just like these massages at the hospital hurt. You'd think they were training to be masochists." Scowling, he folded his arms. "Physical therapy isn't any fun, either," he said, shooting Jean a glare. "'Come on, Ed'," he forced his voice to take on a jolly note, showing a lot of teeth, "'you know you can do five more reps!' I can't wait to get out of here and get back to Rezembool."
Al rallied enough to wink at Jean. "So Winry can be his physical therapist."
"You think she won't make you work?" Ed snorted.
"But you'll like it more."
Ed blinked a few times, his face flushing scarlet. "Al!"
"Admit it, Brother, you want to go home to show Winry your arm and what you can do with it."
Jean hadn't thought Ed could get any redder, but Al's comment proved him wrong. And how had Al gotten so sly? "Maybe I'd better leave you guys alone before Ed combusts," he said, grinning.
"Oh, please," Al yawned, "stay, Mr. Havoc."
"You need to sleep, Al." Jean gave him a fond smile. "I'll come back, and we can talk more about your brother's girlfriend."
"She's not," Ed started to yell, then deflated, pouting like a five-year-old. "Whatever. If you want to come back, you can. Al needs someone to talk to."
"And Ed needs someone to bellyache with," Al grinned, the effect lost when his face split in a yawn, "about his physical therapy."
"Your time is coming, Al," Ed warned him. "Yours, too, Havoc. Just wait, you'll find out what it's like."
Jean shook his head. "I can wait for it. In the mean time," he started wheeling toward the door, "next time I come to visit, I'm expecting pictures of Ed's girlfriend."
"But she's not my girlfriend!" echoed after Jean as he headed down the hall. Yeah, he was sure the physical therapy was going to be a bitch, but it wasn't like he couldn't enjoy himself, at least while the Elric brothers were around.
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