Ethan just wanted to open the stupid jar of peanut butter.
It was almost time for Rose to eat lunch and Ethan was once again lamenting the fact that he was missing two of his fingers. You don't realize how much you use your pinky and ring fingers until you don't have them anymore. He almost regretted the decision to split up with Mia, if only so that she could open lids for him.
Someone knocked on the front door.
Ethan ignored it in favor of completing his task. There were only so many people it could be. Both Chris and Mia had keys, and Heisenberg could just let himself in. He tried to brace the jar on his stomach and twist with his good hand. It wasn't working very well.
The lock clicked in the other room.
Heisenberg's voice drifted in a second later. "Winters! Where are you at?"
"Kitchen!" Ethan called back, carefully gripping the lid between his first two fingers and trying to twist. It still wouldn't budge.
Ethan had almost shot Heisenberg the first time he'd just let himself into Ethan's house, on edge as he was after everything that had happened. He was pretty much used to it now. Heisenberg was over at least once a week, usually to show off whatever he had been working on lately, and he never went more than a month between visits. It had become almost a part of Ethan's routine over the year and a half since everything went down.
The heavy tromp of Heisenberg's boots preceded his entrance into the kitchen. He could be incredibly quiet when he wanted to be, but sneaking up on Ethan had earned him a fist to the jaw more than once. He tended to tread heavily in the house now.
"What're you doing in- oh." Heisenberg cut himself off when he saw Ethan, jar clamped between his knees, trying to turn the damn lid. "Am I interrupting something?"
Ethan hissed in frustration. "Can't get the stupid jar open and Rose needs her lunch."
Heisenberg blinked and then burst out laughing, doubling over and going so far as to pound a fist on the counter.
"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, asshole," Ethan said, setting the jar down a little harder than necessary, "I should find a way to lock you out of my house."
Heisenberg got himself under control with a sheepish smile and reached over to pop off the lid. Ethan snatched the peanut butter away from him and got to work making Rose's lunch.
"Are they ever going to do something about that?" Heisenberg asked with a nod toward Ethan's mangled hand, propping his hip against the counter and crossing his arms. He smelled heavily of cigarette smoke. He'd probably been smoking on the way over.
Ethan gave him a sideways look, focusing more on supporting the bread he was buttering with half a hand. "It's been almost a year and a half. What do you think?"
"They fixed everything else, but they draw the line at a simple prosthetic?" Heisenberg's brow furrowed in confusion. "I know those BSAA bastards have the technology for it."
"They said that with my regeneration abilities they didn't want to risk me just growing them back after they attach something. Too much risk."
"That's bullshit!" Heisenberg snarled, slamming a fist down, "It's been over a year. If they were gonna grow back on their own they would've already done it!"
Ethan shrugged. This was a tired argument. He'd already fought and fought to get them to do something about it, but he was always met with the same answer. Too much risk, not enough reward... Let's wait a while longer and see what happens... He was just so tired of fighting.
Heisenberg stormed out without another word. Ethan just calmly finished making the sandwich and went to get Rose ready to eat.
He'd come back eventually. This wasn't the first time he'd gotten worked up and decided to leave before he said or did something he'd regret.
It had been almost a month and a half with no sign of Heisenberg. Ethan was starting to get a little worried. He was never gone this long.
When Ethan asked Chris about it he just said "don't worry about it." As if Ethan had ever accepted that as an answer before.
Rose was over at Mia's for the week, so Ethan didn't have to worry about a babysitter. He just grabbed his jacket and his keys and headed on over to Heisenberg's factory.
The Lycans in town all gave Ethan a wide berth. A few of the friendlier ones gave him little chuffs in greeting, but even they kept their distance. Heisenberg had told them to stay away from him and Rose. The Lycans respected power and, with Miranda gone, Heisenberg was the most powerful thing in the village.
Heisenberg didn't technically need a whole factory, as mass producing Soldats wasn't necessary anymore, but he still needed somewhere to house his creative projects and the factory had become something of a home to him over the years. The BSAA had offered to build him a house in the same area as Ethan's and Mia's were, but he had pretty much laughed and slammed his unnecessarily heavy metal doors in their faces.
Ethan tromped up to said doors and cracked them open just enough to slide inside. His fingers tingled as the heat from the machinery chased away the cold. The stupid village was always freezing, even in the middle of summer.
Ethan made his way down the narrow hallways in the direction of Heisenberg's usual workshop, the machines rattling and clanking around him, puffing steam into the air. He couldn't help but wonder what had Heisenberg so preoccupied. Last Ethan had heard, he was working on some kind of radioscopic telescope. Or something.
The lights were on and there was sound coming from the workshop. At least Ethan wouldn't have to search for him. He pushed open the door carefully, just in case Heisenberg was working on something dangerous.
He stopped short at the sight that greeted him.
Heisenberg was bent over the worktable on the far wall, back to Ethan. His hair was pulled up into a loose bun with a narrow screwdriver holding it into place. He was just in his shirt and pants, hat and coat thrown haphazardly over the back of a nearby chair. Various tools floated around his head, just waiting to be used, and he was muttering to himself quietly. He reached up and plucked a tiny screwdriver out of the air.
Ethan cleared his throat.
Heisenberg jumped and whirled around, eyes wide and unobstructed by the sunglasses that were perched on his head, holding the rest of his hair away from his face like a headband. The tools dropped a couple inches before being caught and suspended again.
A wide grin spread across his face when he saw who it was. "Winters! Just the man I needed to see!"
The look on Heisenberg's face would have scared Ethan a year ago. Now Ethan was desensitized to his feral grins. It just meant that he was excited to show off whatever he had been working on.
"Come look at it," Heisenberg said as he waved Ethan over to the worktable.
Sitting on the worktable was a picture perfect replica of the fingers Ethan had lost to the Lycan, fully articulated in some of the most intricate metalwork Ethan had ever seen. It seemed to be nearly complete. A few spindly wires out of place were the only signs that it wasn't finished yet.
Ethan was speechless. If this worked, then it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for him.
Hell, even if it didn't work it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him.
Heisenberg's voice cut through the static in Ethan's ears. "I would've been done faster with real measurements, but I was working with size comparisons from old pictures of you and it took a couple days to work out the right formula. Then I had to figure out how to miniaturize the nerve connections that I use for the Soldats' neural networks…"
He was rambling because Ethan still hadn't said anything yet. The man ate up validation and he wasn't sure what to do with himself when he didn't get it immediately. Ethan needed to get his voice working before he worked himself up too much.
"They're beautiful, Heis," Ethan cut him off in the middle of his explanation of the brain's electrical currents, "Thank you."
Heisenberg froze, mouth open in surprise, before his brain caught up and he grinned again. "Of course they're beautiful. I made them!" He turned back to the table. "Go ahead and take a seat. I'm almost done."
The chair that his coat and hat were on slid across the floor with a screech, coming to rest next to the worktable, just far enough back that Ethan wouldn't be in danger of losing an eye to a floating tool. He set Heisenberg's hat in his lap and settled in to wait.
It took about twenty minutes before Heisenberg straightened up, back cracking audibly in a way that made Ethan wince in sympathy. "Finally done," he announced with a satisfied smile.
Ethan stood to look over his shoulder at the finished product. They really were stunning to look at.
"Perfect," he said, giving Heisenberg's shoulder a quick pat.
Heisenberg chuckled." You won't be thanking me so much after I attach them." He stood up and started putting away his tools. Ethan would never understand why he put them away by hand if he could just use his powers, but that was just the way he did things. "That's gonna hurt like a bitch. Probably will for a while. You'll probably want to come back next time Mia takes Rose so that you have a full week to recover."
"Rose is at Mia's this week," Ethan reminded.
Heisenberg blinked in confusion. "What day is it?"
"Shit," Heisenberg breathed, "I've been out, what, three weeks?"
"Six, or it'll be six on Friday."
Heisenberg huffed a laugh, grinning sheepishly. "Oops?"
"I think that getting those," a nod to the fingers, "attached will be more than enough apology."
Heisenberg picked up the prosthetic and led the way deeper into the factory. Ethan dropped the hat on the table and hurried to follow.
"Now, it would be safest to do full body restraints, just in case, but I think we can get away with just restraining your arm," Heisenberg said as he led the way into what looked like an operating room. If the operating room was run in somebody's garage in the mid eighteen hundreds.
He set the prosthetic down on a tray floating off to the side and got to work strapping Ethan's arm into something that Ethan was trying very hard not to compare to a medieval torture device.
"Gimme a few tugs." Ethan pulled a little and his arm didn't budge. "Perfect!"
He walked off and started digging through a cabinet in the corner. Ethan was starting to get a little nervous, heart rate picking up and sweat collecting on his palms. Heisenberg turned with what Ethan was sure was supposed to be a reassuring smile. He still wasn't very good at being reassuring.
"Stop worrying so much," he said, like he could smell Ethan's anxiety. Maybe he could. "It'll be worth it when it's over."
Ethan glared at him. "Doesn't mean I can't be nervous about impromptu surgeries I had no warning about."
"I've done this thousands of times, Winters." A rough hand landed on Ethan's shoulder and he jumped. "I know what I'm doing. Trust me."
Ethan knew Heisenberg had done things like this countless times, and he knew that the man was good at what he did, but that had all been on dead bodies. Dead bodies that weren't made almost entirely out of mold, anyway. And Ethan had had just about enough of losing his hands.
Even so… "I trust you."
Heisenberg somehow grinned even wider, looking like a kid on Christmas. Then he clapped his hands and went back into business mode.
"So, I *can* put you to sleep," he started, pacing around in front of Ethan and waving his arms dramatically, "but that could potentially mess up the process. Ideally, you should be awake and fully aware throughout the entire procedure, without even local anesthetics. That's gonna hurt like hell, though." Ethan shuddered. "Alternatively I could do local anesthesia, but I don't know how that'll affect things."
He stopped and watched as Ethan thought it over. On the one hand, he wanted to give this the best chance of working as possible. On the other…
"Exactly how much pain?"
That's what Ethan had been afraid of. His shoulders slumped with a sigh.
"Let's just do this without the anesthesia."
Heisenberg nodded and got to work setting up his tools before Ethan had a chance to change his mind.
He gave Ethan a cursory glance as soon as he was done setting up and then it started.
Ethan might have screamed.
The world went white.
And then black.
Ethan woke up on a lumpy mattress that smelled like the machine oil and cigarette smoke that clung to Heisenberg wherever he went. He laid there for a little while, drifting in and out of consciousness. His entire arm throbbed.
He finally managed to force his eyes open and found himself in a room he recognised as Heisenberg's from the few times he'd been in it. The man himself was nowhere to be seen, but noises from the main living area suggested he was out there.
Ethan struggled upright and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He glanced down at his hands and froze in surprise.
They were both completely whole.
There was nothing to suggest that he'd ever been missing fingers in the first place. No surgery scars. No metal plating. Nothing.
He bent them and, despite hurting like a bitch, they obeyed his commands perfectly. If not for the pain, Ethan might be questioning his sanity.
He looked up when the door snapped open.
"I thought I heard you moving around," Heisenberg said, striding across the room and straddling his desk chair backwards, "How's it working?"
Ethan opened and closed his hand a couple times. "They work fine. How did…?"
"Dunno," Heisenberg answered with an incredibly helpful shrug, "I didn't notice that the skin had grown back around it until after I got you up here. I wasn't really expecting it."
It probably had something to do with the mold, but Ethan was too tired to think too much about it. He was just glad to finally have a set of ten fully functioning fingers. It was another step in the direction of normalcy for himself and for Rose.
"Thanks again," Ethan said, though whether he was thanking Heisenberg for the prosthetics or for his help over a year ago or even just for sticking with him all this time he wasn't sure.
Heisenberg just gave one of his rare, soft smiles. The kind he only ever gave to Rose and sometimes, if he was in the right mood, Ethan.