The Eastern Command Military Library sprawled among the grey utilitarian buildings of the headquarters. During the day, it would be bustling with motion and muted speech as librarians, researchers, state alchemists, and guards milled about on their endless errands. Now, at an hour close to midnight, it stood silent and empty, except for one single table tucked in an out-of-the-way corner. There, seated in a wheelchair and surrounded by stacks of books taller than himself, slouched Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, currently missing the two limbs responsible for his epithet.
The latest wild goose chase that Colonel Mustang had sent him and his brother on had ended rather catastrophically, damaging Ed’s automail and destroying Al’s lower half. Winry was already on her way to repair the malfunctioning limbs, but until she got there Ed was stuck as an invalid. Which wouldn’t bother him so much except for two things. First, without being able to clap he couldn’t easily repair Al. He couldn’t entrust this task to anyone else, as they could damage the soul seal that held his brother anchored. So for the time being, Al was reduced to a fixture in Hughes’ living room, spending most of the time playing with Elicia.
The second, and much more pressing problem, was that the headquarters of the Amestrian military was not at all wheelchair accessible. Ed had initially planned around this fact. He had the library staff bring him all the books and writing utensils he would need. He even persuaded Falman, who had been sent to assist him in getting to the library in the first place, to smuggle in coffee. When the closing time came around, he waved the grey-haired man away stating he would be fine until the next morning. He planned to take full advantage of the fact that he was free of worrying little brothers and immerse himself in studying for an unhealthily long time.
And it was the very passage of time which revealed the error in his judgement. All the coffee he had drunk to keep himself alert was now pooling in his bladder and the only bathroom was on the second floor - a place he couldn’t reach unless he resorted to crawling up the stairs. Edward, being a mature individual, had decided that the best way to solve this problem was to ignore it. He would simply hold it until the morning and ask whoever the useless colonel sent to help him. He held it every night while he was asleep, so surely this wouldn’t be any different.
Groaning obscenities at everything from his own kidneys to the architect behind the base’s interior design, Edward faceplanted into his book. He was getting uncomfortably desperate and it was severely interfering with his ability to focus. Moreover, he found that it was really difficult to keep his legs pressed together when over half of one was missing. He was seriously getting close to leaking in his pants.
Ed pushed himself away from his table and wheeled his way over to the staircase closest to the restrooms. Crawling up like some sort of caterpillar would be humiliating if anyone was around to see it, but then, if anyone had been around he wouldn’t have had to crawl in the first place. Keeping a hand on the banister he eased himself off the wheelchair and immediately encountered the first problem. The edge of a stair dug into his abdomen and forced out a short jet of pee. Ed panicked and tried to lift himself up but overbalanced and hit his hip. Gasping in pain, he jammed his hand into his crotch to stop the next gush. The unyielding leather of his pants made this extra difficult. For a moment, he simply laid there not moving, waiting for the peak of desperation to pass, and plotting his next actions.
The bathroom was a no-go. If he had tried earlier he might have made it, but as things were now his bladder would be empty before he made it halfway up the stairs. There was the bottle of coffee hidden in one of the drawers of his table but that was a) not entirely empty and b) far too small at the opening. And even if it were larger, he wasn’t sure he could manage to use a bottle with one hand without making a mess. Other than that, there were only tables, plain wooden chairs, carpeted floors, and endless shelves of books. At one point he even considered just using the carpet in some corner, but there was no way it would dry before morning and people would find it. The library was so busy that no matter where he went, people would pass through there and since he was the only person present the whole night, they would surely put one and one together. Except maybe…
Climbing back into the wheelchair, Edward rolled forward with a purpose. There was a place abandoned enough that it might take a long time before anyone discovered his shameful accident - the culture and history section. Squeezed between geology and languages, both of which were not much utilized either, the small workspace in the history section would most often be empty and the only ones visiting it were the unfortunate souls tasked with dusting the unused books.
Edward wove through the maze of shelves with speed fuelled by desperation. Now that he had decided on a place to do the necessary his bladder was requesting immediate relief by sending small bursts of pee into his already damp underwear. He rounded the last corner and let the momentum carry him towards a nondescript table while he used his single hand to free his member from the confines of his pants. The sudden stop as the wheelchair hit the workbench jarred his bladder and his pee spurted out in an arch, hitting the underside of the desk and dripping onto the carpet. He was half tempted to let go right there and then, so great was the short burst of relief, but the place was still too open. A puddle under the table would be too obvious.
He whipped his head around, urgently searching for a more discrete niche, fanning his legs open and closed to stave off the flood that even now dripped past his barriers. Another jet gushed out, a little longer this time, and Ed wasn’t able to stop the stream anymore. Pushing himself forward to let the weak flow fall onto the floor rather than puddling in the seat of his wheelchair, he yanked open a drawer and aimed himself into it in a last-ditch effort to minimize the visible wet patch.
His body took it as a signal to finally fully let go and his bladder lurched in an almost nauseating way as if it tried to push all the urine out at once. The loud drumming of liquid against the bottom of the drawer was only overpowered by the thudding rush of blood in his ears as he fervently prayed for the building to be truly empty. His fear of discovery was soon drowned out by the waves of relief as the accumulated liquid rushed out of him. The sound changed to splashing as his pee covered the whole area of the drawer and he relaxed, leaning into the table. After what felt like an eternity, the last dribbles finally joined the rest of the liquid. Edward shook himself off and slammed the drawer shut. Feeling a bit guilty but immensely relieved, he returned to his books.
“...Ed! Hey, Ed! Come on, wake up!”
Maes Hughes was trying to wake him up and shaking his shoulder.
“Good morning! You know, your brother was really worried that you were going to spend the whole night reading and not getting any sleep, but it seems you managed just fine! You look so grumpy to be woken up! Of course, Elicia also looks like that...”
Letting the man gush about his daughter, Ed tried to sort through his muddled thoughts. After… that, he had meant to keep reading until morning, but his ordeal had obviously caught up to him and the five minutes of resting his eyes turned into several consecutive hours of sleep.
“Is there any reason why you came here this early?” Edward yawned, interrupting the other man.
“Oh, right, your friend’s train arrives in half an hour and Al said I you should meet her at the station to stop her from worrying. Breda’s already getting a car ready.”
Edward stretched and yawned again before following the other towards the exit. As they were passing a staircase, he was reminded of the events of the previous night and asked for help getting up the stairs so he could use the bathroom. Hughes grimaced in sympathy as he supported him up and along a corridor. When Ed finally emerged from a stall the older man whistled in admiration.
“If you managed to hold that much the whole night maybe we should change your name to steel bladder alchemist!” Hughes exclaimed and chuckled at the resulting blush.
Edward hoped that the other would never discover how wrong he was about that.