*squeals in excitement* I won second place! Yay!!!!
Author's Name: koohii_cafe
Written For: seaweed_fma at fma_exchange
Pairing or Character: Roy/Hughes
Spoilers/Warnings: Episodes 25-51, CoS
The only sound was the grating of chalk against the ground, scratching out a horrible rhythm in the silence. Unearthly steady hands formed a white circle on the dark floor. There was no hesitation as each and every line was skillfully added. There was a macabre beauty to the work, if one knew what it was.
Roy Mustang knew exactly what it was that he had drawn, as he sat back on his heels, brushing fine white dust from his fingers. He left long white streaks upon the deep blue of his military issue trousers, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except making things right.
Equivalent exchange dictated that nothing could be gained unless something of equal value was sacrificed. Somehow Roy doubted that his soul, tarnished and blackened as it was, would be anywhere near as valuable as the soul of the one he sought, but it didn’t matter. He would succeed.
“Maes… Maes…” The whispered voice was harsh and hacking as the officer eyed the nude, trembling mass on the ground with trepidation. For some reason, he had a feeling that this wasn’t just some drunk collapsed in the back alley because they’d had too much alcohol. No, something felt more sinister about the situation. Maybe it was the blood pooling on the ground. Maybe it was the desperation in the man’s voice, the cloying despair and guilt. Or maybe it was hearing his name spoken from that broken form.
Roy’s back arched as he pushed back, his entire body trembling with sensations he’d never before felt. One arm wrapped around him, a large hand splaying against his chest, giving him the support he needed to keep from collapsing.
“I’ll always be here Roy, right behind you.” The words were whispered in his ear, and he shivered at the feel of that hot breath on his neck. “No matter what, I will always support you.”
“Come on, buddy, I’ve got you. Up you go.” Maes carefully pulled the man to his feet, holding the stranger’s arm over his own shoulders. When he looked to the other’s man’s face, Maes had to swallow the urge to gag. The stranger’s face was a mass of blood, and he couldn’t quite bring himself to look closely at the gaping hole that was the man’s right eye.
“M- Maes…” The tone of the stranger’s voice was heart-wrenching, and Maes had to remind himself that even if the man was calling his name, it didn’t mean anything. Then, before he could do anything else, the man slumped. It was with alarm that Maes quickly laid the man down, checking for a pulse as he looked him over for injuries.
After what seemed like years, Maes found a weak pulse, and he sighed in relief. It seemed, thankfully, that the man’s only injury was his eye- the rest of his body seemed unscathed, save for the rivulets of blood running from his face. Maes shrugged out of his jacket and wrapped it around the stranger’s form before gathering up the courage to look into his face again. Blind. The man had no eyes. The disturbing part though, was that while the right eye socket was a fresh wound, still bleeding heavily- the left one was old, healed.
Inhaling deeply, Maes knew that he had to get the man to a hospital quickly. Not only was it his duty, but despite the fact that the man was a stranger, he felt some sort of odd connection. Carefully, he lifted the man in his arms, grunting with the effort, and headed towards the nearest hospital.
“Tomorrow changes nothing, Roy. No matter what, you know that I will always be there to support you.” Maes smiled and threw an arm around the shoulders of his best friend.
“I know Maes, and I’m happy for you.” The Flame Alchemist gave his friend a slight smile as he ducked from underneath his arm and out of reach. Even standing away, he could still feel the lingering warmth on his shoulders, and he struggled to keep his smile in place. It was a losing battle.
“Well good, because that means you get to look at all my pictures of my beautiful Gracia from now on!” True to his word, the wallet was out and pressed against Roy’s nose. Roy actually laughed a little, pushing his friend’s wallet and pictures away from his face.
“I don’t think so. Now let’s go, the guys are waiting at the bar. Can’t let you get married without a good send off.”
Together the groom and his best man walked outside. The groom was all smiles and laughter, throwing his arm over the other’s shoulder, even as his best man tried not to think about how tomorrow changed everything.
“Oh hello Mr. Mustang, it’s good to see you again.” A respectful dip of her head, and she smiled a little. “Officer Hughes.”
“Gracia, it’s great to see you today, how are the flowers doing? It looks like your shop is booming more and more everyday! Are the boys in today by chance?” Maes asked rapid fire, and he grinned to himself as he saw a blush cross her fair features. As he helped Roy find a wall to lean against, he wished his friend could see the beautiful woman currently kneeling among the flowers.
It had been two months since he had found that bloodied, nude man in a back alley. He had taken the man to the hospital where the stranger had stayed for almost a week before he had been released. The entire time Maes had checked in at least once a day, if not more, feeling an unusual compulsion to make sure the man was alright. Roy Mustang was the name the man had given. Maes had never heard the name before, but when Roy was released and left with no home to go to- he had offered him a room. After all, he told himself, as an officer, he couldn’t just let a poor blind man wander the streets alone. The time he had spent since then, helping Roy recover and getting to know the blind man, had only forged an odd friendship between them.
“They just returned this morning, officer. The shop is indeed doing well, thank you.” Maes’ grin grew wider as Gracia’s blush deepened. Kneeling there among her flowers she looked more beautiful than words could describe.
“Well, of course your shop is doing well. I’m sure though, that many of the customers come often to admire the most beautiful flower of all in your shop- you.” That said, Maes winked and turned to Roy. “Come on bud, let’s go find the boys. I know you’ve been anxious to meet them for awhile.”
Roy held the shaking form in his arms awkwardly, feeling the tears soaking through the heavy duty fabric of his military issue jacket. He had not wanted to be the one to deliver the news, but it would have been cruel to let anyone else. After all, Maes was- had been- his best friend. Nodding to Riza, he watched as the blonde gathered Elysia in her arms and headed upstairs to the play room. Little girls should never have to see their mother cry. Then he turned his attention to Gracia.
“I- I’m sorry… Gracia.” He patted her back uncomfortably as she clung to the lapels of his coat.
“Why?” she sobbed, and Roy felt his heart tear in two. Maes was gone, and nothing would ever be the same. Why indeed?
Maes watched with what could almost be construed as jealousy as Roy and Ed argued. From the moment he had mentioned Edward Elric’s name to Roy, he’d known that the two might know each other, but he’d never imagined that they’d be this familiar. Although listening to the two go back and forth had given him some interesting things to look into.
“WHO’RE YOU CALLING SO SHORT HE CAN’T EVEN SEE OVER A GRAIN OF SAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT?”
“I said nothing of the sort, Edward, now calm down.” The amusement in Roy’s voice was palpable as he leaned back in his chair with a smirk. Then again, the aggravation that rolled in waves from Ed was nothing to be sneezed at.
“You stupid bastard colonel, think you can just waltz in here and start giving orders! How the hell did you get here anyway, and how did you end up with Officer Hughes?” Maes laughed as Ed paced a hole in the floor, Alfonse watching with worried eyes.
“That’s for me to know and you to find out now, isn’t it?” If it was possible, Roy’s smirk grew, and Maes almost feared that Ed was going to lunge. Time to step in and intervene, he knew how volatile the blond could be.
“Now, now Ed, calm down. I found Roy injured in an alley two months ago and took him to the hospital. I’ve been taking care of him since he was released.”
The look on Ed’s face was comical as his jaw dropped and his eyes widened. “TWO MONTHS AGO? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“How was I to know you knew him Ed?” A pause as Maes eyed the young blond, wondering if he could worm the information out of him. “How do you know Roy anyway?”
“Don’t answer. That’s an order, Fullmetal.” The steely tone in Roy’s voice made Ed freeze, mouth open to respond. His jaw swung open and shut a few times, then he stopped and settled on glaring at the blind man, arms crossed over his chest in a huff. Maes stared at his friend. In the two months Roy had been staying with him, he’d never heard him use that kind of voice. That was a voice of command, of military training. An officer himself, Maes knew that that kind of voice only came from experience. What exactly had Roy done in his past?
Roy stood in the middle of the large array on the stone floor, staring at the place where just hours ago a naked young boy had been found. Just minutes ago he had been informed that the boy had been identified as Alphonse Elric, and yet, Edward was nowhere to be found. That could mean only one thing in Roy’s mind- Ed had sacrificed himself in order to return Alphonse to his body.
Crouching, Roy reverently let his fingers run over the circle, and began to memorize it. This had to be the array Edward had used, and it had miraculously worked- or maybe not so miraculously, given that Edward was gone. Darkness flicked through Roy’s eyes as he considered the possibilities. A human transmutation array that worked with the sacrifice of life.
Maes watched as the members of the National Socialist Workers Party began to assemble in the beer hall. In one hand he held a small, gleaming round pin that once he might have worn proudly as he himself entered the hall. The past year though, had changed him. Living with Roy Mustang had changed him. With a small smile, Maes dropped the pin from his hand, hearing the thing spin around before finally falling flat, face down on the ground. As he turned and headed back to flower shop where his best friend waited, Maes Hughes stepped on the pin, crushing it without a second thought.
Maes Hughes stood at the grave of his best friend and he could feel silent tears make their way down his cheeks. He had come alone, knowing that not even Gracia would understand the emotion running through him right now. The history he had with Roy was something he had never shared with his wife.
“Roy, you idiot. I promised to support you all the way to the top. How am I supposed to do that if you’re not here?” Maes closed his eyes tightly and dashed the tears from his cheeks. Although no one had told him, he knew what had happened. He wasn’t in the intelligence department for looks. Roy Mustang had sacrificed himself and used human transmutation to bring his best friend back to life.
Maes reached into his pocket, drawing out a silver watch that had once belonged to the legendary Flame Alchemist. Kneeling before the headstone, he reverently laid it on the stone. “I won’t let your sacrifice be in vain. I promise.”
That said, Maes stood and left the cemetery, knowing that his skills were needed elsewhere. There had been talk of an invasion in Liore. If the same happened here in Central, he would be ready.