Not beta'd. But I did my best with my funky eyes to keep the mis-spellings to a minimum. ugh.
Word count 1597
Rating pg-13 --swearing
Summary Just because Ed's a genius, it doesn't mean he's immune to being a boy.
If they weren't marching, they were running. And even when they were running, they were still marching. From barracks to deck, to chow, to practice range and back again. He didn't mind that so much except for the fact he wasn't just marching or walking very much. A good foot shorter or more than the other recruits, Ed was forced to run everywhere.
They managed to get skivvies and alphas and bravas in his size. The standard blue military uniforms were a loss. Not that Ed was planning to wear them. Just like they tried to shave his head. After the fifth time in the barber's seat and the fifth transmutation, they just let Ed keep his overlong bangs and braid.
He was panting a little after the 2 mile hike to the building next to the obstacle course. The platoon filed in by twos with Edward trailing behind. The Sargeant was barking at him again with that barely coherent and booming voice. He couldn't help that he was only twelve! Already the mantra "For Al...For Al...For Al..." was coursing through his head to keep the pre-adolescent from clocking the Sargeant into next week.
"Recruits! Today you will learn water survival! Not only will you leap off a 12 foot platform into the water, but you will be required to..."
Ed's heart leaped into his throat. Water! They had to jump in water? Deep water? He wouldn't be so apprehensive if he didn't have automail limbs. The steel was heavier than his normal arm and leg, and they were more dense. Never mind the fact he'd be immersing his automail in water for who knows how long, but would he be able to get out of the water at all?
The sargeant's voice echoed in the concrete room. The pool out before them was regulation sized with 6 foot and 12 foot tall platforms on one end. The water itself seemed to vibrate with the sound of the sargent's voice screaming at them. Small ripples that reminded Ed of his training on Yock Island. There was nothing but water there, and he was nothing but a boy trying to survive with his brother.
The sunburn was itching and flaking and he wanted so much to wallow in the mud all day and be soothed by the cool murkiness. But he can't remember the last time when he and Al had eaten, so they continued to fish under the blistering sun. The mud only lasted so long before it flaked off, leaving his damaged skin to the elements once again. Al didn't fair that much better, and he was head to toe in mud. They both were shirtless in knee deep water, trying to stab the stupid fish with their shoddy spears.
The water was bouyant on their legs, almost sweeping them away with gentle proddings from the waves. It was a seductive pull for two little boys, and once a fish had been thrust on each spear, they were both screaching in the water, naked and crisping in the sun as their fish did the same.
Ed found himself staring at that rectangle of chlorinated water 12 feet below him. He shrugged the sleeve up his automail shoulder to unhook his arm. Hopefully that will give him enough bouyancy to rise back up to the surface. He jumped at the sound of the bark.
"Sir! I cannot hit the water in my automail, sir!" Ed snapped to attention, but his soul wasn't in it. For Al. For Al. For Al....
"YOUTHINKTHEENEMY'SGONNALETYOU take off your pretty shiny automail SOYOUDON'RUST?!"
"N-no, sir." Edward started to slide his sleeve down.
Ed snapped to ramrod straightness, ingnoring the twinge in his leg. "NO SIR!"
"GETINTHATWATER, YOUPIPSQUEAK!" Before Ed processed 'Pip' he was backpeddling through the air and gaining velocity to meet the water. Out of instinct, he kept trying to run through the air, maybe that would slow his descent, or maybe he could avoid drowning all together. Either way, gravity won out and he made the most ungraceful splash in the history of the Military.
The shock of hitting the water forced half his lung capacity out as he went under. The force of him hitting the water sent him a good 5 feet into the deep end of the pool. Ed's arms and legs scissored through the mass of hydrogen and oxygen that was smattered with chloride, but instead of moving to the lighter gas of air, he was still sinking. Still sinking and his heart pounding in the back of his eyes with panic. No! He couldn't die now! Not now in this stupid training camp with his brother on the outside patiently waiting for him.
Ed's lungs started to burn and he clawed at the water with a new frantic-ness. His brain was screaming at him to calm down, to conserve what air he had left in his lungs, but instinct was winning. If he could think, he could transmute the water into air and salt. If he could get his hands together, he wouldn't need a circle. If he could get a breath, he could clear his head from the gripping fear that he was going to die and Al would be all alone stuck in that armor forever.
No! He couldn't let that happen!
The boy's lungs were burning, and before he could stop himself, he inhaled and then choked on the water. He couldn't try to swim as he fought for air now, too far gone in panic to realize that all he needed to do was think and clap his hands.
He was still a twelve year old boy, genius or no.
Ed's vision was going blurry just as he managed to press his fingers together, his body settling on the bottom of the pool. He couldn't move, and now, he didn't feel the need to fight for air. Everything was blood red and soothing warm. Yes, a nap was good now. But those things at the Gate were here now, those dark shadowy forms with the tentacles were in his vision, reaching out for him. He couldn't struggle as he lost consciousness.
"Too bad we couldn't float forever, here, Brother."
"Why's that, Al?"
"Because it feels like we're free."
How Edward longed to be free.
The boy woke up in the infirmiry with a harsh rattle in his lungs and the sounds of Colonel Bastard screaming at someone. For once, that someone wasn't him. Ed turned his head to the door as if to improve listening.
"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING, SHOVING HIM INTO THAT POOL, STAFF SARGEANT?!" Roy was pissed as hell. "YOU ALMOST KILLED MY PRODIGY!"
"TRY FINDING YOUR ALCHEMISTS WHEN THEY'RE OF AGE!"
"ARE YOU YELLING AT A SUPERIOR OFFICER, STAFF SARGEANT?!"
There was an immediate change in the other's voice. "NO. SIR."
Mustang's voice still held an edge when he toned down the volume, but he did not lessen the venom hidden there. "The Furher's heard of this. Fullmetal's been exempt of the swim qualls. But you've still managed to fuck up his training. The Furher doesn't want any more delays. Is that understood?"
"YES. SIR." There was a faint clicking and Ed knew that his instructor was saluting.
"If something like this happens again, we will be looking for another Sargeant."
Ed feigned sleep when the Colonel stepped into his room. He could feel those dark eyes on him, boring through him. He tried to keep as still as possible. Hopefully Mustang will go away and he could sleep in peace.
"I know you're awake, Fullmetal."
Edward cracked an eye open, glaring at the Colonel. "I must have died and gone to hell."
"Hardly. You did almost drown. How are you feeling?"
"I'd feel a lot better if Al could see."
Roy's eyes hardened a little at that. "That's not possible. You're in training. No family allowed."
"Does he even know that idiot almost killed me?"
"Not unless you write to him about it."
Edward was silent then, glaring out the window opposite of where the Colonel was standing. It was bright and sunny outside. Peaceful just before the snows. "How far have I been set back?"
"A week. No more than that."
"Why'd the Furher decide to exempt me from the qualls?"
"Despite all your accomplishments, you're still a child."
Ed swerved to glare at Mustang then. "Like hell! I haven't been a child since my mother died!"
Roy was silent, unreadable. He nodded to Ed, tipping his cover a little to adjust it. "Get some sleep, Fullmetal. The infirmary's keeping you overnight for observation." He turned, ignoring the boy's yelling.
"And I'm NOT your PRODIGY! I make my own destiny, you BASTARD!!!"