yuuo: (Pandora's Universe)
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Character/Series: Ernst Remington III (OC), Edward Elric; Fullmetal Alchemist (2003; Pandora's Universe)
Rating: PG-13
Notes: Written for the [profile] 30screams theme #14 - Diseased (Yes, Remington is heavily based on Winchester from MASH. U MAD?)
Title: 14 - Diseased
Author: [personal profile] yuuo
Word Count: 2516
Summary: Ernst Remington the Third considered himself a man of great patience and character, all considered.




Ernst Remington the Third considered himself a man of great patience and character, all considered. Patience was more than a virtue in the job he took, sewing people up and occasionally performing so-called 'meatball' surgeries as part of cleaning up the military's messes made it more of a necessity. He did not argue the questionable 'morality' of war, and he accepted the two rules of being a military doctor- that sometimes young men die, and that no doctor in the world could change that. He performed his duty admirably and faithfully.

However, this latest change in the tiny supply station near the Drachman border was testing all of his boundaries.

After all, a 'young man' was not quite the same thing as a 'young boy'. A young man served as a soldier. A young boy should be home, playing cops and robbers or some other such silly childhood game with his friends. Not defending a military base alongside grown men, many of whom were at least ten years his senior. A young boy did not belong in a place where the military allowed- or rather, turned a blind eye to- corporal punishment. A young boy did not belong in his medical unit with lash wounds on his back, and a young boy had no business turning cold so young.

"I had hoped, Edward," Ernst said idly as he once again worked on stitching a gash on the young boy's face, "that I would not need to see you so frequently. Every time I do, I wonder how much longer that luck of yours is going to last."

Edward no longer squeezed his eyes shut in the presence of needles. He wouldn't look at them still, but he'd slowly begun to learn to mask emotions, putting himself on the path of becoming the grotesque image of the 'perfect soldier'. Archer was doing his job, whatever it was he considered his job to be, remarkably well.

The boy answered with a shrug, otherwise remaining still while Ernst stitched a thin but deep gash on the boy's left cheek. Ernst wasn't surprised. The boy avoided talking whenever he could, since that unholy madman running the place insisted on prohibiting Edward's sign language in as many situations as possible. Ernst sighed. "I don't suppose you would tell me what caused this one, hm?"

Edward hesitated a moment, then lifted a hand to sign. "Spring bounced back on me while I was reassembling my sidearm."

"Ah, yes, well, that stings a bit. I recommend you not let that happen in the future," Ernst told him, somewhat dry-toned. Edward gave him a bit of a tired look, but didn't answer. Ernst wasn't surprised by this fact, and let it go, focusing on finishing his work. Gratefully, the wound wasn't terribly large, just deep, and a few stitches finished it off. "There, done. Now I'll clean the area one last time, and before you go, I'd like to have a look at your ports and your throat, if I may. Just a routine check-up, but since I have you here at the moment, we may as well be efficient about things, yes?"

Edward nodded, and once Ernst had cleaned the area around the stitches on his face again, the boy quickly stripped out of his uniform jacket and pants, and the black turtleneck he still wore under the uniform, exposing the flesh around his two automail ports to investigation. Quickly, efficiently, without question or hesitation. Good god. It seemed like everything he did had the proper behavior of a soldier drilled into it.

Ernst held a great, heaping amount of detestation and loathing for the station's commanding officer.

Of course, he didn't comment on it- he didn't care to do anything that would confuse the boy more and potentially get him into more trouble -he simply inspected the ports for inflammation or torn tissue. It checked out healthy, of course. Ernst had little doubt it would, with the automail surgeon the boy said he'd had. Pinako Rockbell was known as the best for a reason.

"All right, put your clothes back on," he instructed. "Then we'll take a look at that throat of yours." Just as quickly as he'd stripped, Edward had his clothes back on and was settled back up on the exam table. Ernst didn't have to tell him to open his mouth, he simply did it, holding his tongue down out of the way.

A cursory inspection showed far more irritation than Ernst was comfortable with. Edward was far more susceptible to infection with that injury, and the cold did little to help his immune system's ability to fight off infection. Ernst frowned, setting aside the flashlight. "All right, you're cleared. You'd best report back to that carnival's shooting gallery."

Edward saluted, then grabbed his coat and slipped it on before leaving to return to the range. Ernst sighed, warring between his training as a soldier, his rational good sense, and his own sense of duty as a doctor. The debate was brief, of course, because Ernst was a doctor first, a soldier second, and he'd made no secret when he signed on for this crazy parade that was how it was going to be.

Of course, arguing with the lieutenant colonel often felt like arguing with a brick wall. Only the brick wall listened better.

The lieutenant colonel made him wait when he knocked on his door, a rather rudely long time, actually, before he finally said "Enter." Remington entered and saluted, although he loathed giving such a gesture of respect to this man. Archer returned the gesture. "What is it you need, Doctor?"

"Besides those medicines I keep requisitioning?" he asked, tone drier than thirty-year-old scotch.

Archer gave him an impatient look. "Yes, Doctor, besides that. I put in the forms, we can only wait for North Headquarters to respond."

Remington sighed. "I'm aware. Actually, I'm here to request three days of medical leave for one of my patients."

"Oh?" Archer shuffled papers idly, apparently only half-paying attention.

"Yes, for Edward Elric." That had Archer's full attention. Remington continued before the bastard could protest. "His throat is showing signs of infection. I'm not surprised by this; I keep warning you about him using his voice."

Archer folded his hands on the desk, giving Remington a cold, level look. "I do not push him past his limits, Doctor."

Remington would disagree, but he let it go. "Perhaps not, but that doesn't change the fact that his throat is irritated enough that if he doesn't give it a rest for a few days, I will likely be seeing him for an infection within the week. Now, an infection could have him out for a week or more. I'm requesting just a small handful of days."

The logic couldn't escape even one as stubborn as a mule as Archer, who reluctantly conceded to allowing Edward the days off the doctor requested. Remington counted it as a victory. "I promise, Lieutenant Colonel, I'll have him back to duty as quickly as possible."

"See that you do," Archer warned, signing off on the requested medical leave.

***


Edward awoke in a fevered haze. Blankets tangled around him and stuck to his skin, cold and clammy from sweat and the cold northern air. The wind outside howled with a snow storm, rising in pitch with the shrieking along his nerves and in the synapses forced to wake from the light stages of REM sleep. He gasped for air, kicked and struggled against the blankets until he finally fell off the bed with a thud.

The shock of the frigid air against his sweat-soaked and flushed skin hit him like a wall, jarring into the lucid dream still fighting for control of his consciousness. The blankets felt smooth and cold and looked black, then once again were clammy and a dull white of military issue. He kicked his legs free, the cloth catching on something on his automail ankle and tearing. He struggled to his feet, stumbled and smacked against the wall soundly.

Every muscle in his body shuddered with the struggle to not get sick, shivered from the cold air the closed window did nothing to stop, with a bone-deep terror and fatigue as he straightened, reaching for the nightstand. Without thinking, his hands fumbled around for the chalk he kept around despite his lack of need for it, his thoughts swirling dizzyingly behind his eyes. The wall became those doors from his nightmares, black hands and vicious eyes staring and reaching and laughing; he choked, forced his eyes back open, and it became a wall again.

With his arms braced against the wall, he pushed himself to his feet, shivering and struggling to breathe without the cold air scraping old scar tissue raw. Sweat made his arm slide against the wall, causing his forehead to connect dully. He blinked blearily, then jerked away at the phantom feel of leather straps biting into his flesh wrist. A choked and hollow wheezing sound forced through his throat as he clawed frantically at his wrist with dull metal fingers. His thoughts froze in panic as the fingers failed to find anything to catch hold of and the sharp response from his nerves in his skin continued.

His back muscles spasmed in anticipation of the lash, while his throat constricted and his gag reflex fought against a weight pressing against the back of his throat.

"One minute."

With a terrified, broken attempt at a scream, he forced his eyes open again, staring blankly at the marked walls in front of him, at the transmutation circles that could've only been drawn by a madman, circles that sprawled and twisted and wobbled from shaking hands. A fevered attempt at writing memories in the only language he could hide from the demons in his dreams

There were no straps on his wrists, no lash striking his back, nothing forced in his mouth, no gunshots or cold snow striking his face, no black hands or laughing eyes, or horrible staticky voices telling him his life was over in one minute. Not even the echo of Al's voice screaming his name. The only thing in the room was his own ragged breathing and racing heart and blurred vision.

Every bit of him shaking, Edward dropped the chalk and pressed his hands together, a quick transmutation removing the traces of the nonsense circles from the wall before someone decided he was in trouble for vandalizing military property.

His stomach heaved, threatened, and he shuddered at the taste of bile, pushed himself to his feet and stumbled to the door. His hands and arms moved on their own, opening the door as his head swam. His weight spilled out onto the hallway floor, his automail making a clanging thunk as it struck the tiles. Somewhere distantly, he heard voices right before unconsciousness pulled him back under.

***


It had been two hours since Edward had been brought into the infirmary, coughing and running a fever upwards of a hundred and two. Two hours during which time Doctor Ernst Remington the Third had fought to bring the fever down, fought to calm the coughing and irritation that tore at the boy's injured throat. He'd pumped the boy so full of antibiotics, he almost worried he'd gone too far with it.

Finally, the boy was resting, sleeping in one of the quarantine rooms, and Ernst could stop a moment to breathe.

Children get sick all the time.
But damned if I did not warn that man.

Now that the adrenaline-fueled fear had settled, the anger came. He'd warned Archer about the danger to Edward's health. And he'd been all but ignored, and quite frankly, he did not appreciate it. Perhaps it was well past time to tell the station's commanding officer exactly what he thought of him, risks to his own rank be damned. He was a major, he wasn't terribly outranked, and he had his own friends in Central that he should have long ago contacted over this. Why he hadn't yet was beyond his ability to contemplate.

To Ernst's surprise, the lieutenant colonel in question had been waiting- not particularly patiently, but waiting, nonetheless- outside of the infirmary for a status report on his 'star pupil.'

"Star pupil" my foot.
The boy is this man's favorite new toy.
One would think the novelty would have worn off by now.
Simpletons rarely hold onto their toys so long.

"I'd like a status report, Doctor," Archer said as soon as Ernst stepped out of the infirmary.

He bit back the urge to say something that would be too out of line. "He has an infection. His fever spiked in response. I've got his fever down, but I want him in the infirmary, resting, for at least a week. And if I may, Lieutenant Colonel-"

"You may not," Archer interrupted. "What you may do is tend to your patient. I do not want to hear from him until he is fully healthy again."

Ernst bit the inside of his lip for a moment. "I'm amazed you don't want him back in the field as sooner than that, with all due respect, sir," he said, with utterly no respect. He was quite fed up with this man and his attitude, and damn be the costs. "I had warned you about the use of his voice. He was not to use anything but his field sign as much as possible. Now-" he held up a hand, cutting off the commanding officer, entirely at his own peril and he was well aware of that, "-I suggest you find a position for him that allows use of that sign language and minimizes his use of his voice, or I shall have to file a report to Central and have him transferred."

Regardless of where Archer's orders came from, medical orders could override them. And Archer knew it. He gave Ernst a vicious look. "I see. Well, then I will make sure he is given a job that will make good use of field sign. Do be certain to inform me when he is well again, Doctor, so I can fill out the forms for his deployment to a firebase." With that, Archer turned and walked away, leaving Ernst standing there in stupefied horror.

A twelve-year-old boy. At a firebase.

Dear god, what had he done?

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