Title: Formal Wear
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Characters: Edward and Alphonse.
Setting: Early in Ed's career as a State Alchemist.
Summary: The Elric brothers prepare for a military reception.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I'm just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the prompt word "Party" at Fan Flashworks.
"Ah, this sucks!" Edward Elric snarled in agreement to the incomprehensibly uniform-clad parody of himself in the mirror, as he—and it—both yanked viciously on a loop of golden cord he had somehow managed to get his automail arm tangled in. Unfamiliar fabric chafed at his skin with every move, and it was driving him crazy that the stiff collar brushed against his chin every time he turned his head. "It's bad enough Mustang wants to drag me to some stuffy bureaucrats' excuse for a party, just so he can show me off like some stray he adopted. Now he has to make me wear one of these monkey suits too? Where does this stupid gold braid thingy go? …I oughta just tear it off!"
Metal scraped behind him, and then Alphonse was at his side. Huge leather fingers grasped the cord far more gently than Ed had. At the same time, Al's other hand closed around Ed's own steel wrist, to carefully guide his clenched fist back out of the tangle. Once done, the decoration hung in its proper place, looped beneath the young State Alchemist's arm.
"That 'gold braid thingy' is called a lanyard," Al supplied, with the warmth of a patiently amused smile in his voice. "And I'm sure the Colonel wouldn't be happy if you showed up at a formal reception with this uniform all torn up. Or with your buttons crooked," he added wryly, moving to unbutton and then properly rebutton the crisp blue jacket.
Ed ground his teeth and rolled his eyes to one side, his cheeks flushing somewhat. Nevertheless, he miraculously held still, as Al continued to tug his lapels straight and smooth out his sleeves.
"There," the younger boy pronounced at last, stepping back to look him up and down appraisingly. "You look very distinguished, Brother."
The chin of Al's helmet tipped down a little then. It was a tiny, subtle movement, but it was not lost upon Ed.
"Oh, nothing." Al lifted his helmet, half-shrugging. "It's just… I know you hate it when the Colonel makes you wear a uniform, but sometimes I wish I could dress up for special occasions. There isn't really anything I could put on over my armor. …Nothing that wouldn't just look silly, anyway."
For a moment, Ed was silent and dark-eyed. Then he turned and hurried to his suitcase, which lay open on the bunk bed of the small dorm room. He quickly dug into its contents, and came back clutching the jar of metal polish the two brothers shared between them.
"Come here," he said softly; and swiping a dab of the polish onto a cloth, he proceeded to rub it firmly over Al's armor, until the dull-gray steel glistened like silver.
"You don't have to dress up to look your best," he said, glancing up with a somber grin.
Al released a faint sound like a quivering breath, and slowly knelt down, to let Edward polish every bit of him.
2017 Jordanna Morgan