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him, he didn't want to look at it, didn't want to touch it.

He laid his hands on the chest. It was warm, fluttering with quick, silent breaths. Beneath, the subtle beating of a heart. His gaze traveled up the burned chest and neck to the face, and the guise of an ancient, peaceful statue had vanished. It was Elric, gouges ripped down his cheeks, Elric's stern face, thin lips, the three lines of grave disappointment-all burned to blackness. He had been forced to curl up on the floor, alone, as his body cooked from the outside in.

Galen turned his mind away, looked down at his hands, visualized the equation. His palms tingled as a wave of organelles passed through his skin and into that fluttering chest below.

The extensive facial burns made it likely that superheated air had been inhaled. If the vast surface area of the lungs was seriously damaged, the organelles could not work quickly enough to repair it. Galen visualized the equation again, again. As the organelles passed out of him, he felt a disorienting shift in his blood, as if he'd stood too suddenly.

Gowen held the crystal over Elric, using it to gain information from the organelles and direct them in their healing. Gowen's eyes were squeezed closed. A tear ran down his face.

Galen pulled off his coat, laid it over Elric. He knelt there uselessly, just as he had knelt beside her, waiting for her to die.

He could not tell if Elric was conscious. He took Elric's left hand in his. The skin was red, swollen, dry. The hand seemed a strange, foreign object. They had hardly ever touched. Galen squeezed gently, released. It remained a limp, dead weight.

He bent down, brought his mouth beside Elric's misshapen black ear. He could barely catch his breath to speak. "I'm here. Can you hear me?"

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