|What You Do For Your Country
Author: Dobby's Socks PM
When Edward turns in his resignation, Grumman refuses. And thus he is thrown unceremoniously and entirely unprepared into the world of politics. Post-Promised Day AURated: Fiction T - English - Edward E. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 9,285 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 06-09-12 - Published: 05-12-12 - id: 8109166
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Well, I took a bit of a break from writing mostly due to a sudden influx of time-consuming work. I'm about to enter the last stretch before summer, but I thought I'd start this story just to see if anyone's interested. It's another post-Promised Day AU, with everything before Ed and Al returning to Resembool being cannon. That being said, I hope very much that you enjoy this fic!
Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock
As he took a direct, but easy-going route to the office, he felt a sort of giddiness slowly creeping in. Even though he had walked these halls countless times, everything about them seemed amazing and bright and eye-catching, because this was the last time he would see them. Ever.
Yes, Edward Elric was leaving this miserable place for good. No longer would he storm the corridors of Central Headquarters, or haunt the libraries for days to the point where people theorized he had barricaded himself within the walls of books. The flash of his red coat, already a memory from months passed, would never again draw the attention of his coworkers. Soon to be former coworkers.
At the age of eighteen, he was retiring. It seemed too good to be true, coming so abruptly after years of hard, long, unbearable labor and pain and guilt. But it was all over now. He had set out to accomplish something and accomplish it he had. His younger brother Alphonse was alive and whole again, a fact which he could proudly claim as his crowning and final achievement as an alchemist. That too, was something forever gone. It had taken some getting used to, to be sure, but he was far too grateful they were both alive to be upset over it.
So now, he made this last trip, alone, resignation firmly in—flesh—hand. And people still stared, for different reasons than the past. Some in absolute shock, some in tearful goodbye, and others with a sense of longing and envy at his escape. It seemed everyone knew somehow that he was taking his leave. And he didn't care, giving a grin or a cheery wave to any who happened to catch his eye.
His only regret perhaps was that he would finally have to stop by Mustang's office. He still owed the man 520 cenz, and while he would never dream of completely severing ties with the Colonel and his team, he doubted he'd be around anytime in the near future to pay up. So it was better to just take care of business now. At least Armstrong was out of town, mercifully stopping that embarrassing and probably bone-crushing farewell.
He stopped in front of the large oak door, pausing to speak to the soldier stationed outside of it to relate his reason for appointment. As the man stepped inside, Edward couldn't help but feel some small amount of trepidation. He knew, logically, that this was only a formality; he could no longer be a State Alchemist, so there was no need for him to be on the government payroll any longer. But still, behind that door was Führer, the man he needed to grant him his freedom. He would be a fool not to feel a little nervous.
"The Führer will see you now, sir," the soldier announced as he opened the door. Edward nodded in thanks and slipped past him into the large, rather grand room. The whole space had an air of careful taste, designed to make someone feel comfortable and yet inferior at the same time. There was a couch and chairs around a coffee table, no doubt for less formal gatherings. Paintings of famous generals or other historical figures he had never learned the names of were hung on every wall, as well as maps of the country. And of course, at the other end of the room was the large oak desk, behind which sat Grumman himself in a high-backed chair. Edward took a breath and strode forward, his footsteps still distinctly different from each other on the carpet.
"Good morning, sir," he gave his best salute upon reaching the desk. Grumman nodded once and indicated the visitor's chair with a smile. He sat, and instantly felt himself sink into the cushioned material. It made him uncomfortably…small.
"Edward," Grumman began, still smiling in welcome. "To what do I owe this pleasure? How is Alphonse?"
"Oh, he's doing well, sir," he supposed it was nice of the old man to ask after his brother. And it did make a nice transition into what he wanted to discuss. "Actually, he's part of the reason why I'm here. The hospital staff says that he's finally ready to make long distance trips. I'd like to take him back home, to Resembool."
"And you're requesting some vacation time? I'm sure you know by now that such a matter can be taken care of by your Commanding Officer," the Führer chuckled, but Edward's face fell a little. He thought he had gotten his point across.
"Uh, no sir. I'm- well, I'm bringing you my resignation," he brought his right arm up and held the papers out to Grumman. The man took them while reaching to perch his glasses on his nose, though he likely already knew the documents' contents.
"I see," the Führer murmured, and Edward found that all he could do was nod. After a time, the man looked up again, and though there was no hostility in his features, the smile was gone from his face. "Well, Edward, I'm afraid I can't accept."
"Huh?" Was the barely intelligible response the so-called prodigy came up with. He had imagined this conversation over and over again and there had not been one single scenario where Grumman had said no.
"That's right," the older man replied, already setting aside the forms as if they had been dismissed.
"But sir," Edward had finally managed to reconnect his brain to his mouth, "I can't be a State Alchemist anymore, and as much as I appreciate all that the military has done for me, I signed up to help my brother. Now that he's back to normal, I'd like to go back to a normal life, too." The Führer sighed and the smile was back, but this time he felt it was somehow pitying him.
"Edward, Edward, Edward. I see where you are coming from. Most of us have that idealistic fantasy world of the fresh air and green fields with the picket fence house. But we have all recognized it for what it is: a fantasy." Grumman stood, and Edward had to tilt his head back in order to meet the man's eyes. "As nice of an escape it makes in the mind, if someone like you were to try and actually live it, why, they'd go mad! Think for a minute, my young friend; what would you do with yourself? There's a reason retirement is for the elderly."
Grumman paced around the side of his desk, shaking his head as though amused by Edward's silly idea. "You would quickly become restless in such a sedentary environment. Trust me, I have known many a young man such as you. In my experience, the best thing to do is move on to the next adventure."
Edward turned his head to follow the man's movements. He had gone to stand by a bookshelf, his back turned as though preoccupied with studying the titles of the volumes. "Well, whether that is true, sir," he found himself already turning the words over in his mind, thinking about them, "it still doesn't change the fact that I have no alchemy. I'm of no use to the military whatsoever." There was no getting around that point.
"Hm…you raise an interesting question, Edward. What does a man do when a door has been closed to him?" Grumman had no idea how right that analogy was. The man turned, and with wink said, "He finds an open window." He clapped his hands together loudly in the silence, and Edward had to admit he jolted a little in his seat. "Alchemy is hardly your only talent, Edward. You have a brilliant mind; it would be a shame to let it go to waste."
"Thank you, sir," he mumbled, not sure what else to say.
"Truly a brilliant mind. Ideals. Determination. And the ability to make what you put that brilliant mind to happen. You are truly deserving of the title of the People's Hero."
He could feel himself grow red as he tried to stammer a denial. Really, that Central Times headline had caused him nothing but embarrassment. But the Führer raised his hands to stop his protest.
"I'm not saying that you must accept that name, Edward. What I am asking is that you live up to that name once again." Edward could feel his eyebrows meet his hairline in confusion. "I know that you originally joined the State Alchemist program for your brother. But tell me, Edward, what was it that made you journey deep below Central, and take on a mightier force than had ever been seen even when your brother was believed to be dead?"
That gave him pause. He could tell that this single question was what would define the rest of this unexpected conversation. He could not afford to answer it wrong, even if he did not know what the end result would be, much less the one he wanted. "Well, all of the people of Amestris, they were counting on us—they needed us. I had to do what I could, I mean, someone had to. Sir?" Grumman was full out grinning now.
"I see," the man said again, nodding as though something had been confirmed. "So, you have a desire to help people. As much as you claim to be in it only for your brother, you truly care for the people of this fine nation." Somehow, Edward felt he had fallen into a trap. As Grumman advanced toward him, that feeling only grew. The old man perched on the corner of his desk, looming overhead on a higher level. "Edward, there are some problems that alchemy cannot fix, as I'm sure you know. What I don't think you know is how close this country is to being ripped apart."
"Sir?" He asked, bewildered and more than a bit startled.
"I am the new leader of Amestris, Edward. But I am old. What will happen when I retire? There are many generals and lower officers eagerly awaiting that day. When it comes, this country could easily split into factions and erupt in civil war more terrible than the world has ever seen. We have the technology, we have the forces, and we have nothing in place to stop it." Grumman was looking quite solemn now, and Edward couldn't help but feel an increasing dread. Suddenly that conversation he had had with Mustang about borrowing money seemed quite inadequate and wholly naïve.
"What do we do?" The words were out of his mouth before he could stop himself. He was rewarded with another quick smile.
"We must attempt what has never been done before, Edward. This country needs change. This country needs reform. This country needs a constitution, one that preserves our strength in the world, but also ensures peace for all."
He couldn't help it. His jaw dropped.
"It is not as far-fetched as it seems, Edward. I have begun the preparations already. The first order of business is to bring together men and women from all around the country to write up this document. The most brilliant minds." He paused to offer another smile at Edward, though this one filled him with a growing fear.
"But they cannot be in the service of the military. In order for this to truly be a success in the eyes of the people, it cannot be connected with this regime. There would also be attempts to undermine the constitution or stop it altogether. There are many generals who will not like this at all, you understand." He could easily imagine.
"So I'm afraid I gave you a half-truth, my friend. I can accept your resignation as a State Alchemist." The Führer turned, took the papers and a pen, and signed with a flourish. When he handed them back, however, he followed with them, leaning forward so that Edward felt his personal space was being greatly invaded. "What I must request in return is your agreement to be a representative in the Constitutional Convention."
It wasn't until he was halfway out of the building that Edward Elric realized that he had achieved both everything and nothing that he had wanted.
So that's what I have so far. There are ideas in my head, but I want to see what people think first and if you want more before I go ahead and write. This was quite a bit of fun, though.
A lot of Grumman's mannerisms/tactics I borrowed from a former US President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson had this knack for getting people to do things that they really didn't want to do, often by invading their personal space, or putting himself on a higher level than them. In fact, there was a couch in his office that he would have people sit on, a section of which was designed to sink really low when someone sat down. He would then pull up this big rocking chair and just rock back and forth real close while they sat with their knees practically up to their chest.
In case you haven't noticed by now, I'm really excited about this story. Thanks for taking the time to read it, and please review!