Fullmetal Alchemist Fan Fiction ❯ It is What it is ❯ Decleration ( Chapter 2 )
They'd been at this search for so long, yet Edward didn't feel like they had gotten any closer to anything. Every time they thought they had something, fate simply shoved them down another directionless path(if it didn't destroy them a bit first). He felt like he had reached a standstill, like his life was going nowhere and it was wearing on both his patience and his physical well-being, not to mention that his guilt was becoming more pressing with each passing day that Alphonse still didn't have his body back.
And if there was one major difference between Edward and Alphonse, it was that Alphonse had always been far better at dealing with his emotions and disappointment than Edward ever was, and Edward knew it. Sometimes, he wished he could be as strong and resilient as him. But he wasn't and that was just a fact.
"Try to not let it get you so down, Brother..." Alphonse cooed, trying to cheer up his brother as he noticed the melancholic expression on his face. They were headed back to Central, where Edward had plans to get a meal before finally crashing in his dorm. "We might have failed to find anything useful this time, but if we keep searching, I just know that we'll find a way to get our bodies back!"
Edward looked up at him, desperately wondering how he could be so positive. "You really think so...?"
"Of course I do." Alphonse reaffirmed.
Edward's golden eyes shined slightly in the sunlight, before a small smile graced his lips. "Al..., you're always so hopeful, despite the odds... I can't help but wonder how you stay so optimistic sometimes, you know...?"
Alphonse was taken aback by the statement, feeling it to be a little out of character for Edward, but he decidedly spoke his thoughts anyway.
"Well, somebody has to do it, because you're too cynical, Brother."
"I am not." Edward denied, pouting at the accusation.
"Yes, you are. For example, no matter who they are, you're always doubting people's motives." Alphonse pointed out.
"Yeah, that's because most people are full of crap." Edward reasoned, folding his arms.
"See? You're such a pessimist!" Alphonse couldn't help but want to laugh a little at Edward's defiance.
"Whatever... If it's the truth, then I shouldn't be made to feel bad for stating it." Edward muttered stubbornly.
"Ed...!" Alphonse scolded, before playfully pushing Edward on the flesh shoulder, causing him to flinch.
This didn't go unnoticed; Alphonse became concerned. "Oh, sorry...! Did I hurt you?"
"No, it's nothing like that." Edward grinned nervously, rubbing his shoulder, but not wanting his brother to feel guilty or worry. "My arm has just been a little sore is all."
"Did something happen to it?" Alphonse wanted to know.
"No, not really." Edward said. "I think I may have twisted it somehow or something."
It may have not been the best lie, but Alphonse seemed to believe him.
"I see..." Alphonse mumbled, before looking down and feeling a little guilty despite Edward's intentions to avoid making him feel that way. Alphonse was all too aware that he sometimes forgot to consider limits when it came to physical contact with others because of his lack of ability to feel. "Sorry..."
"Hey, it's not your fault, Al." Edward smiled, reached up, and gave Alphonse's armor a light pat on the head. "It's not like you could've known, after all."
"Mn..." Alphonse uttered, though still a little uncertain.
In truth, however, Edward was excluding the true details of why his arm was sore to the touch. The skin beneath his sleeve was covered from wrist to shoulder in cuts and scars that he had, in fact, inflicted upon himself. It was something he did when his emotions became too much to handle. Edward knew that nobody could understand, even he himself didn't entirely understand the reasoning behind it, so he didn't want Alphonse or anybody else to find out about them.
"Finally, now I'll be able to get some sleep...!" Edward walked into the grounds of Central HQ, his shoes dragging against the cobblestone, Alphonse following behind him. He let out a yawn. "I should probably go deliver my report to the Colonel... The bastard's probably gonna start barking at me over it being three days late, but I might as well go ahead and get it over with. What else can I lose...?"
Mustang had asked him to do a report on a town some ways outside of East City, (what was up with all the need for town reports lately, anyway?) but they had got side tracked, due to rumors of a famous alchemist residing in another nearby town, which didn't get them anywhere in the end). And then there was the fact that their train had got delayed. So the report was overdue.
As such, Edward was not particularly looking forward to seeing the man any time soon, especially not after storming out of his office and slamming the door the way he had a week before. Feeling his cuts itching, he briefly considered sneaking his way around to avoid meeting up with the man for a while. (His report was already three days late, what harm was one more?) But he felt himself scowl immediately upon entering the doors, knowing his genius plan would be impossible now.
"Great, speak of the devil..." Edward muttered, spotting said man over by another door, speaking to an MP.
Roy was in civilian clothing, alongside Riza, who was standing beside him. It immediately struck them as a bit odd, as Edward and Alphonse noticed they had bags on their backs like they were planning on going somewhere. Edward's and Alphonse's presence didn't go unnoticed at all, as Roy looked up at them.
"Ah, Fullmetal, what a coincidence! Hello, Alphonse." he gave a grin that obviously spoke ulterior motives. Riza, who was standing beside him, granted a 'good evening' to both boys. However, while Alphonse returned the gesture, Edward ignored it, shooting a glare at Roy.
"Coincidence, my ass." Edward scoffed accusingly. "You were just waiting here for me, weren't you?"
"You know it." Roy didn't bother hiding it. His face grew a bit more serious at that moment. "So do you have the report?"
"Oh, yeah. Hold on." Edward sighed, after muttering something about Roy being a sudo-stalker. He kneeled down to open his briefcase, and began shuffling through numerous papers. He hadn't folded anything and instead had just crammed everything together in a pile. "Sorry, I've not really sorted my papers..."
If there was one thing that rang true about Edward Elric, it was that he was not a very organized person.
"I can see that." Roy smirked in amusement at the sight.
"Dammit... Where the hell is it...?" Edward fumbled through various items in the briefcase in frustration. He was so distracted by the large stack of papers and other things that he didn't even notice Riza holding a finger to her lips as she whispered something to Alphonse and handed him a note.
"Oh! Here it is!" Edward's golden eyes lit up a bit in relief as he located the papers he was looking for. Closing the briefcase he handed them to Roy.
Roy took them, briefly skimming over what the teen had written, before he looked back at him. "You really need to learn to organize your stuff better, kid. Because it shows in not only your daily life, but also in your reports and performance."
"Whatever," Edward glowered to the side. He hadn't come here for hear his disorganization to be jabbed at and rubbed in his face. "just be glad that I did the damn report in the first place..."
"Three days late." Roy reminded him. Edward muttered something incomprehensible beneath his breath, before changing the subject.
"So what's up? You guys goin somewhere or something?"
"I'm glad you asked." Roy smirked, giving Edward an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. "What do you feel about a little vacation, Fullmetal? We've been sent to investigate a town outside of South City called Kreta for a report, and you're going to be coming with us." Roy excluded the fact about the rumors to avoid as much conflict as possible.
Immediately, warning signals went off in Edward's head, as he was reminded of Wisteria. "Nope. I respectfully decline. Al, we're going."
Edward had never really liked Roy all that much or more importantly, his way of doing things. Multiple times, he'd ended up in situations that were more trouble than they were worth because of him. And constantly being used as a guinea pig by him hurt Edward more than he was ever willing to admit, even to himself. Because, in actuality, there were times where he thought that he could like him, which wasn't something he ever wanted anybody to know, least of all Roy himself.
"Wait, brother, I think you should hear him out." Alphonse suggested. Edward looked at him, slightly hurt.
"But Al...! The last time that bastard sent me on one of his so-called 'vacations', I ended up getting caught in a bombing that could have gotten me and many others killed, or have you forgotten about Wisteria...?!"
"That wasn't the Colonel's fault, and you know it...!" Alphonse shouted.
"Major Elric, if I may," Riza interjected, right as Edward was about to say something. "I greatly apologize for the trouble that Colonel Mustang has put you through in the past. But I assure you that it would be well appreciated if you came and we would do everything in our power to protect you."
Riza was the type that had no problem with humbling herself in front of others if it was necessary.
She ignored the look that she received from Mustang.
"You can just call me Edward, you know." Edward said, giving a quirky smile. Being called 'Major Elric' had always caused him to feel a little awkward even if it was done with good intention. Maybe it was a reflection on his own mindset, because he wasn't particularly the most formal person himself at times. "And it's nothing against you, I just don't want to be stuck on a trip with him is all."
"Fullmetal is stubborn as ever, I see, but I'm afraid this isn't a choice. It's an order." Roy hadn't wanted to rope Edward into this any more than he wanted to rope himself into it, but he knew that Riza wouldn't be happy with him if he didn't at least try. But trying sometimes required a little force to push things in the right direction. And he himself, now that he had been put up to the challenge, couldn't help but feel a certain obligation to take Riza's suggestion to heart, as annoying and frustrating as Edward could be.
Riza wasn't impressed.
Instead of going through the trouble and humiliation of asking Edward to go with them, (to tell him that he was even wanted there), Roy just had went the easy route by ordering Edward to come. It was cheap manipulation tactics.
"What?!" the blonde snapped his head around to glare at his superior. "Screw you! You can't just go around using your status to push people around and get them to do what you want them to do!"
Riza briefly wondered if Edward was so reluctant to come along was because he felt unwanted. He may have been mature for his age in someways, but he still was just a child beneath it all. Yet, before she had time to form much of a thought on it, Roy spoke up again.
"Actually, I can and will, if see fit." He said as-a-matter-of-factly, offering a glare of his own. "If you don't like it, then quit the military. I'm sure you'd be able to find a way to access the resources you need and cover the funding for all those trips you're constantly going on. Not to mention your hospital bills."
Edward bit his lip in a foreboding manner, as if debating on whether or not he should argue back.
The atmosphere was tense at this point and everybody could tell that Roy was not in a good mood at all, so Alphonse and Riza got in between them.
"Colonel, try to calm down..." Riza uttered softly, trying to get Roy to back off before he could say or do something he'd really regret. Eventually, he sighed, but did as she wanted.
"Ed, I think it will be good for you to get away from everything for a little while." Alphonse said, still trying his best to get through to his Brother. "This is what you've been needing!"
Even if Alphonse sometimes didn't pick up on things that others did, he knew that Edward had been stressed lately, at least to a degree, so he wanted to help give his brother an opportunity to relax.
"Al..." Edward felt his resolve slipping at this point. He had been extremely exhausted and depressed lately, it was true, but for one, he didn't like the idea of a 'vacation' with Roy, and, more importantly, he just didn't feel comfortable with leaving Alphonse's side for an extended period of time in general. He'd grown used to having him by his side all these years. If wouldn't feel right. What made it worse was that he didn't trust Mustang at all to speak of, even if having Riza there would make things a little less stressful. "But... what about you...?"
"I'll be fine. Mrs. Riza offered me to help a lady here in Central look after some cats for her. I think it'll be a lot of fun." Alphonse explained, sounding a little excited. Alphonse loved cats, and there was something else nagging at the back of his mind. He knew that his suit of armor served as a constant reminder to Edward of the mistake they had made. For Edward, however, seeing the armor was probably unbearable at times, because of his guilt in feeling that he was the only one to blame for what happened. So Alphonse knew that if he could alleviate at least a bit of his brother's pain for a while, he would gladly do whatever it took. Edward needed to get away from everything for a while. And based on what Riza had told him, there probably wasn't a huge threat of any sort, so that brought some relief.
But Edward wasn't happy at hearing what Alphonse said, certain that there was something suspicious about this whole scenario in trying to get him and his brother separated from each other.
"They bribed you?!" Edward pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to process everything that was going on.
"Hang on-" Riza started to say.
"No, it's nothing like that!" Alphonse insisted. "I want to do this!"
Edward sighed, but didn't have the heart to deny Alphonse something he was so excited and insistent about. However, he was still about to express his mind before Roy cut off his thought process by saying something that made him reevaluate the entire situation:
"Oh, Fullmetal, I should mention that your food and living expenses will be covered by us, if you're willing to cooperate, that is."
Edward was silent for a second, his ears perking up at the idea of getting free food.
"Why me specifically...?" He asked, a suspicious look on his face. "Why not just get one of your other dogs to go with you...?"
Roy decidedly didn't berate him for the 'dogs' comment, because something as simple as Edward inquiring anything about the mission was a huge step in the direction he wanted things to go. However, there was a saying; An eye for an eye.
"I have my reasons." He grinned, intentionally vague.
"Gee, thanks for the in-depth explanation, chief..." Edward muttered sarcastically, folding his arms.
Roy ignored his sarcasm. "Now I want you ready within an hour. Think of an alias you want to go by and get the bare minimal of things you need to bring with you. We'll be gone for about a week, so take that into consideration. Also, your red jacket, leave it behind."
"My jacket? Why?" Edward sounded a lot more worried than he had intended to let on. He felt his stomach churn a bit, as he felt everybody's eyes on him. He cursed himself, knowing that his defensiveness over his jacket had probably came off incredibly suspicious.
"People are liable to recognize you as the Fullmetal Alchemist just by your defining features as well as the alchemic cross on your back. It's better to avoid as much recognition as possible all together." Roy said, noticing the look on his face. He raised an eyebrow when Edward didn't respond. "Problem?"
"No..." Edward grumbled, a bit bitterly. As much of a pain as it was, he'd just have to wear a different jacket, even if he didn't particularly like it. Or... "You know, I could just use my alchemy to-"
"Fullmetal." Roy said in a stern voice, cutting him off.
"Fine...!" Edward hissed, trotting off in the direction of the dorms, after picking up his briefcase. He sighed. He had at least wanted to keep his red jacket, as it was what he was used to and a sort of comfort mechanism at that point, but it looks like that wasn't happening.Bastard Colonel.
Edward was so focused on his irritation at Roy that he didn't even notice that Alphonse stayed behind to talk to him and Riza.