Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Edward and Mustang.
Setting: Somewhat early in the timeline, before Mustang's transfer to East City.
Summary: Awards mean nothing to Edward.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the prompt word "Honor" at Fan Flashworks.
"Alright, Colonel, I'm here!" Edward Elric announced needlessly, looking a bit disgruntled as he burst into Roy Mustang's office. "Now what was so important that you had to call me all the way back to Central?"
Mustang casually glanced up from his paperwork, taking in the diminutive red-coated figure who halted in front of his desk. Alphonse's huge armor hull had not followed behind Ed today; but then, it wasn't unusual for Ed to leave his little brother outside in the hall. Possibly because he didn't like Al chiding him later about the sort of language his conversations with Mustang tended to devolve into.
"…Ah, good. I have a surprise for you, Ed." The Colonel slipped an envelope with an official seal from between the piles on his desk, holding it out to his subordinate.
Fullmetal's eyes lit eagerly as he stretched out his automail hand, seizing the letter. "What is it? A lead on the Philosopher's Stone? Or maybe some other research on human transmutation that could help me fix Al?"
"I'm sorry, but it isn't about that." Mustang proceeded to sum up the letter's message, even as Ed was reading it. "The Füehrer was extremely impressed by the way you foiled that recent plot to kidnap General Vollin. He'd like to personally present you with a medal."
The corners of Ed's mouth twisted downward. His darkening eyes rose from the letter, which crumpled slightly as his metal hand dropped to his side.
"What? Is that all?"
"Is that all?" Mustang gaped. "Ed, do you even have any idea what an honor it is to receive an award from Füehrer Bradley himself?"
"Yeah, I'm flattered, sure. But couldn't you just accept it on my behalf or something, instead of making me waste my time to come and get it?"
"Are you telling me you'd prefer to insult the most powerful man in the country by refusing to see him in person?"
"It's not about that! I'm just… busy with a lot more important things." Ed folded his arms with a faint huff. "What am I supposed to do with a medal, anyway? Lug it around the country in my suitcase, or leave it under my bunk in the barracks?"
At the reminder of Ed's absolute lack of care for worldly possessions, Mustang's scowl softened a fraction. He stood up, stepping around his desk to face the young prodigy he had fostered as a military recruit.
"Surely you realize that what matters isn't the medal itself. Receiving a distinction like this can open doors to—"
"To what? A promotion? I don't care about that, Colonel… and you know why." Ed's voice tightened. "All I want is to keep doing the kind of field work I do now, because that lets me look for a way to get Al's body back. I don't like having that search interrupted for even one day—so the last thing I'd ever want is to be kicked up to some higher rank where they'd chain me to a desk, the way you are."
In spite of himself, the Colonel winced.
"That isn't all there is to it, Ed. Being recognized for good work can also help you to make valuable connections. Who knows? Someday, it may lead you to meet another alchemist who can point your search in a new direction." His tone became quieter. "But if you remain determined to atone for your guilt by shouldering the burden alone… you might miss the chance to help Al that someone else could offer."
A shadow fell in Ed's eyes. He was silent for a long moment, considering those words.
"…Well, anyway," he muttered at length, "as long as I'm already here, I guess I might as well go through with it."
Mustang cracked the barest trace of a smile.
"Glad to hear it. The awards ceremony is at six o'clock. Now, it's a very formal affair, so you should just have time to get yourself fitted for a proper uniform before—"
"Now wait just a minute! A uniform? If you think you're gonna stuff me into one of those, you've got another thing coming!"
And with that, Colonel Mustang was back to square one.
2016 Jordanna Morgan