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Quest's End

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Afterward, all Edward wanted to do was sleep, eat, sleep, marvel over Alphonse and sleep some more. He vaguely remembered someone hauling Al out of that hole, that Scar vanished down into another crack in the walls, that Hawkeye and Mustang both looked ready to collapse. He didn’t know why Ling and Ran Fan left so fast, but at least he didn’t have to listen to the bean girl crying over Al – wasn’t like he was dead, his little brother was alive.

Waking to an unfamiliar green ceiling, Edward blinked a few times, hearing footsteps and hissing sounds and hushed voices. He shivered, fingers clutching at the blanket. The rough fabric caught at the calluses on his left hand but his right – oh, yeah – it was flesh again. Trying to lift it shot lightning pain through his shoulder but it was pain, real flesh pain, and –

The door swung open. “Edward Elric!” Major Armstrong boomed. “It is so good to see you! In one piece!”

“Gah! Hospital!” Edward clawed at the heart that threatened to leap out of his chest. “Recovering!”

“Yes!” A bandage wrapped around Armstrong’s bald head, one of his arms was in a sling. Bruises marred his face, making it bumpy and swollen.

Edward snapped his mouth closed. He’d never seen Armstrong hurt before, not like this. Of course he would’ve been fighting somewhere in the city, like all the others on Mustang’s side – Al’s and his side – knights on a quest to slay the dragon like in the stories Mom used to read when they were little, before she got too sick to read, and alchemy caught their attention instead.

“You have surpassed your goals, Edward Elric,” Armstong said, approaching the bed. “You have your brother’s body back, and yours, as well.”

Edward wiggled metal toes beneath the blanket. “Not…entirely. But it’s enough.” Winry would still have something to tinker with, after all, and that couldn’t be too bad, right? But Armstrong. “And you?”

He straightened, his shoulders back. “I will be fine! But you, is it true you will be tendering your resignation to the military?”

Nodding, Edward glanced toward the window, smiling. “I’ve finished my quest. It’s time to take some time, relax.”

“Spend time with Miss Rockbell?”

Edward fought back a yawn. “And Al. Let Al heal,” he said, not going to rise to the bait, despite the sly – for him – look on Armstrong’s face.

“I understand.” His moustache twitched. “You should rest. I’ll take my leave now.” Armstrong started toward the door, then hesitated. “Just remember, Edward Elric,” a beefy finger pointed his way, “just because one quest ends does not mean that another will not present itself to you.”

“Nope.” Edward shook his head, succumbing to the yawn this time. “R-retired. No more quests for me.”

Armstrong stopped at the doorway, his heels clicking together as he saluted Edward. “Until we meet again,” he said.

Edward’s hand jerked, then raised to return the salute. “Right, Major. Until then.”

Before he disappeared through the door, he said, “My best wishes to the Rockbells, Edward Elric.”

The door swung closed behind Armstrong before Edward could say something else. Sighing, he slipped back down into the bed, closing his eyes. “No more quests for me,” he whispered.