Training Edward Elric
"I'm sorry sir, but you just don't have the clearance to see those research journals…"
Ed growled deep in his throat and pointed at his silver watch on the counter. "That thing gives me clearance, now let me have them!"
The library worker was new, not one of the usual two he normally dealt with and the short alchemist was about ready to strangle the man. Didn't he know who he was talking to?
"I'm really sorry…" the librarian repeated.
"Why the hell can't I see the fucking documents?" Ed asked through clenched teeth.
"Because sir, you don't have clearance…"
"You just said that!" Ed seethed. "What kind of clearance do I need?"
"Well sir, this information is highly classified. You need to be a C-5 to read it, either that or a C-3 with C-5 access."
The blond blinked. "What is a C-5?"
"I'm not really sure myself. The only thing I know is that it is a specific ranking for State Alchemists… I don't really know… I'm sorry…"
Ed snatched the watch from the counter and shoved it back in his pocket. He'd never heard of any specific rankings for State Alchemists before, but he knew where to go to find out.
Ed kicked in the heavy wooden door and marched into Roy Mustang's office. The pompous man was sitting at his desk nodding in rhythm to Riza Hawkeye's lecturing. When the door hit the wall, the two looked over at him for a minute before Hawkeye continued what she was saying.
The young alchemist scowled. You knew people had gotten used to you when you did something like that and they barely even noticed. Well, he wasn't about to be ignored. He needed those journals! The journals contained important information that he'd be able to use to get Al's body back.
"I want to talk to you!" Ed yelled and pointed a finger at his superior officer.
Again the two looked at him and this time Mustang said in an amused tone, "I'm flattered, but really I'm quite busy…"
"Colonel…" Ed said, trying to get the older man's attention.
"Perhaps you could come back another…"
"…time. I really need to get…"
"I need to know…"
"…this work done before…"
"Colonel…" Ed growled. He really needed to get that information and the bastard wasn't even letting him say anything! The man was messing with him again!
"…the lieutenant here boxes my ears like a…"
"Colonel! How do I become a C-5?" Ed yelled, desperately trying to get the man to listen to him.
It was then that he noticed the amused grin was gone. The other man's eyes had widened and his mouth was slightly open. The blood had drained from the colonel's face, leaving him looking pale and sickly.
Then the moment passed and the dark haired man pressed his lips together and said to Hawkeye without looking at her, "Lieutenant. Fullmetal and I need to have a discussion."
The blonde woman gazed at the colonel with a curious look and Ed thought that perhaps she was just as clueless as he was. "Sir, the reports…"
"The reports will wait. Now leave us and close the door on your way out."
Hawkeye blinked at the firm command, but did as she was asked. Ed stared nervously at the closed door. It was only in important situations that Mustang took such a firm hand with his staff in the office.
"Fullmetal, have a seat."
Ed looked back at the colonel, who now had one hand extended toward the couch. The man still looked pale and seemed a little shaken as well. Deciding this wasn't the time to make problems for Mustang, Ed took a seat.
The dark haired man sat looking at Ed in silence for a long time, and the blond alchemist could almost see the other man thinking. The quiet was beginning to make Ed nervous, but he thought that it would be best to just wait. He had the colonel's attention now and that's what mattered.
"Tell me, I didn't just hear you say you wanted to be a C-5," Mustang said flatly, but Ed also thought there was a note of pleading in the other man's tone.
"That's right," Ed confirmed.
The older man looked away, blinking his eyes and shaking his head. "Edward…"
The blond swallowed involuntarily. The man had never called him 'Edward' before.(1) Ed, but never Edward… And then there was the way the man had said it…
The colonel rubbed his eyes, then ran a hand through his hair. "Why? What could possibly motivate you to want to be a C-5?"
"There are some research journals that I want to read, and I was told that I wouldn't be able to unless I was a C-5."
Mustang looked at him incredulously for a moment, then his eyes widened slightly. "You don't know, do you…?" The man whispered.
"What do you mean?"
"You don't know what a C-5 is." This was more of a statement than a question.
Ed thought about it for a moment. No, he didn't know, but should he just pretend he did or would it be better to come clean with the man? Finally he decided to be straight about it and shook his head. "No, not really… The guy at the library said that it was some sort of rank for State Alchemists, but I'd never heard about it before."
Mustang let out a long breath and nodded. "Okay… well, that makes more sense. Trust me Ed, no report is worth becoming a C-5."
"Al is worth anything."
The dark haired man shook his head. "Not that."
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence before Ed asked, "So… What is a C-5?"
Sighing, Mustang leaned forward in his chair and said, "Like you heard, a C-5 is a rank for State Alchemists. There are five ranks, one through five. Like most State Alchemists you are a C-1. I'd say that over half of the State Alchemists have no idea there is such a ranking system."
"What does the 'C' stand for?" Ed asked, interrupting the colonel.
The older man nodded, got up and walked to a locked filing cabinet. He opened it and dug through it for a moment before taking out a folder. Mustang flipped though a few papers, then handed one of them to Ed.
"Look here," the colonel said and pointed.
Ed scanned the paper for a moment, then read where the other man had requested.
NAME: EDWARD ELRIC
STATE ALCHEMIST: YES
ALCHEMY TITLE: FULLMETAL
CERTIFICATION LEVEL: ONE
"How come I've never heard of this before?" Ed asked, handing the paper back to the colonel.
"Because…" Mustang turned and put the file away, locking the cabinet back up before returning to his chair.
"Because?" Ed prodded.
Sighing, the colonel just shook his head. "It isn't something that is talked about. The training is… difficult… and…"
"AND?" Ed asked after the man had been silent for a minute. The older man had gone strangely quiet.
"And…" Mustang breathed. "…and it just… it's not for you."
"What?" Ed exclaimed. "No way! I need those journals. Al…"
"Needs you around!" the colonel said sharply.
"Are you saying that if I go to this training I'll never come back?"
"That's always a possibility, but no, that wasn't what I was meaning."
"I'm sorry… I can't tell you," Mustang whispered and looked away.
"What?" Ed yelled. "Why not?"
"Only those who are a C-2 and up are allowed access to that information."
The young alchemist growled. "Well, you know about all this. I can tell you do. Can't you give me some information? Just a little bit?"
"I am giving you information. The fact that I'm actually talking to you about it is information, and I wouldn't even do that if you hadn't just told me you wanted to be a C-5. The best advice I can give you is sign up for C-2 training and make your decision after that. You'll at least know if you really want to sign up for C-5 training or not."
"Wait, wait, are you saying that I could just skip all the other levels and go in for C-5 training?"
The colonel frowned. "I didn't say that, but yes you could, because the levels aren't about…"
"Then that's what I want to do! Who do I talk to about this?" Ed asked eagerly.
"Don't worry about it, if I can become a State Alchemist at twelve, I can pass this. No big deal."
"Fullmetal!" Mustang roared.
Ed closed his mouth and looked at the colonel in surprise. It wasn't like the man to get so upset…
"Being a C-4 or a C-5 is no walk in the park. It's forever. Whoever trains you will be your commanding officer for the rest of your life. What if you aren't trained by someone who is willing to let you go looking for the stone? What about after you find a way to restore Al? It is very difficult to quit. Things are never the same after you finish certification training, even if it is only for a C-2."
Ed thought this over carefully then said, "How will I know who will train me?"
"People of the correct military rank and certification level apply to be on the list. Trainers are generally chosen from that list unless you have someone in mind. You could request that person if they meet the qualifications. That is, if they're willing to do it."
"What makes a person qualified to train someone to be a C-5?" Ed asked.
"The person has to be at least a colonel and they need to be a C-3."
The short alchemist's eyebrows knit together in confusion. "Why a C-3?"
Mustang shook his head. "There's no way a C-4 or a C-5 could train someone and a C-1 or a C-2 aren't trained for it. It is in C-3 training that you learn how to train someone else for levels two through five."
"What kind of stuff do they teach a C-3?"
"I'm sorry. I can't say."
Ed glared. "Can't or won't?"
When the colonel said nothing, Ed asked, "What level are you?"
Mustang was quiet for a moment, then said, "That's a very rude thing to ask. I'd advise you not to go around asking people that question."
The blond blinked. "How is that rude?"
"Someone who has been through certification training doesn't exactly want to talk about it. It isn't as big of a deal when it's with someone who doesn't understand what the training consists of, but… well… just trust me on the fact that anyone who has gone through certification training would think the question was too personal."
"So you're not going to tell me?" Ed couldn't help it. Obviously Mustang had been through certification training, and the teen was dying to know which one.
For a moment the young alchemist thought Mustang was going to ignore him, but then the older man said simply, "C-3."
The two alchemists looked at each other in silence for a few minutes. Ed's mind was going a million miles an hour. As a colonel and a C-3, Mustang was qualified to train him. The blond wasn't sure if he really wanted the man to be his superior officer forever, but the dark haired man really did give him a lot of leeway. Besides, he was already used to working with Mustang. It wouldn't be that big of a deal.
"What if I wanted you to train me?"
If he had thought the man looked shocked and pale before, it was nothing to how the colonel looked now. "You can't be serious…"
"Why not? I mean, I'm already under you and you let me search for the stone… why are you looking at me like that?"
"You don't know what you're asking," the man sounded absolutely terrified.
"Well if you'd tell me then I'd know."
"I can't. I already told you that," Mustang explained. "Ed, you don't want to do this. It isn't worth it. I told you, you're never the same afterward, but that doesn't just apply to the trainee. It also applies to the one who is doing the training."
Ed opened his mouth to speak, but the colonel cut him off.
"The training also takes months. The exact time depends on the person being trained. You won't be able to see or talk to Al in all that time. And even though you'll have unlimited access to everything afterwards, you won't have the freedom you have now."
"Unlimited access?" the blond alchemist asked eagerly.
"Are you not listening to a word I'm saying?"
"Yes I am. I think it's worth it. I already said I'd do anything to get Al's body back and I meant it. Now, will you train me or not?"
For a long time the dark-haired man silently studied Ed's eyes, then asked, "Anything? You would do anything to get Al's body back? Because, Ed… To become a C-5… that's exactly what you're going to have to do."
1) This actually isn't true if you're watching the English version. In chapter 13 Roy does call Ed 'Edward', but since this story is slightly AU anyway, I'm not going to worry about those finer points.