FMA fic

Mar. 2nd, 2005 05:16 pm
swordage: Roy Mustang's glove dripping water. (x roy glove)
[personal profile] swordage
Title: The Least Best Thing
Series: FMA
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Roy is normal. Really. Post-Ishbal.


Roy was not the first man on the train, nor the last to leave it. They were put on in file, arranged in some secret anal-retentive pattern that had surely taken a ranking officer a restless night to arrange. It was all shot to hell when the train stuttered to a stop ten miles out, and they all got out and shoveled sand off the tracks. When Roy looked around, he saw smiles of relief and trembling anxiety and quiet emptiness.

He switched trains in some tiny, unpronounceable town. So did five dozen other soldiers. The next three layovers lost two dozen, so it was only thirty or so men that pulled their luggage out of overhead compartments at two in the morning in Central.

Roy’s legs wobbled when he stood, so he held on to the seat until he could put one foot in front of the other without falling. His duffle was slung across his shoulders as if it were a rifle. The man next to him kept putting a hand to his belt, checking for ammunition that wasn’t there. They looked at each other, then began shuffling to door.

When he stepped off the train, he was struck in the face by a cloud of steam and dust. He stumbled, and when someone caught his elbow he managed to shove his feet under himself and shift his duffle so it wasn’t attempting to clobber him about the head. Looking up with a mumbled thanks, the words froze on his lips when he caught sight of the man at his elbow.

“Hey,” Hughes said. “You look like shit.”

Roy grabbed Hughes’ arm and pulled him away from the press of soldiers anxious to stretch their legs and make their way home. When he finally felt like he could think about starting to breathe, they were on the other side of the station and Hughes looked anxious. Roy dropped his deathgrip on Hughes’ sleeve and just stood there, not quite sure if it would be acceptable to hug the man when he’d just spent a day on a train without bathing.

It didn’t matter, because Hughes hugged him anyway, and somehow Roy’s arms remembered how to return the embrace. If he made sure his hands didn’t touch any part of his friend, that was only to be expected.

“You smell like sand,” Hughes said quietly, barely audible over the distant shriek of steam.

“You smell like apple pie,” Roy returned, and it was true. Hughes smelled like home and looked like home and Roy didn’t know where else to go.

Hughes finally stepped away, and Roy put his hands in his pockets. It was an unnatural gesture, restricting how quickly he could snap, but it was how Hughes was used to seeing him.

“Ah, Gracia was making you a pie, but it wasn’t done yet when I left.” Hughes grinned, and Roy shouldn’t have been so surprised that he had found a new girlfriend. “She said it was because I wanted to leave so early, but I can bring it by your place later.”

Roy nodded, but his attention had wandered halfway through; there was a soldier ten meters behind Hughes’ left shoulder whose hands were twitching. His sleeve wasn’t falling right. Roy wondered vaguely if he should go relieve the man of his knives.

“Roy?” Hughes was worried again, so Roy indicated the man with a nod. Hughes looked at the man blankly.

“He’s got knives,” Roy said quietly, wondering when he’d gotten better at seeing such things. “He wants to use them.”

“It’s just a man with his family,” Hughes said, giving Roy an odd look. “He’s holding a little girl.”

“He’s going to kill her,” Roy said. He could hear the lack of conviction in his own voice, but then a nagging thought hissed, “Enough dead children on your hands.”

Roy was the only one already moving when the man pulled out his knives.

“Civilians!” he barked as he pinned the man’s wrist to his back and shoved his face into the floor so he couldn’t see Roy’s insignia. “Civilian casualties are not acceptable, soldier!”

“Yes, sir,” the struggling soldier finally growled, and Roy was glad he couldn’t free one hand to snap.

Then there were a half dozen other soldiers pulling Roy off and dragging the man to his feet to search him for other weapons. Roy backed off, standing with the growing crowd for a moment to watch, then turned to find Hughes.

“You’re still wearing your gloves,” Hughes said right next to him.

“You’re remarkably unobservant today,” Roy replied, a little upset that he had to subdue the crazy man.

“Why are you wearing your gloves?” Hughes pressed, and Roy stared pointedly at the soldier who was swearing loudly over the little girl’s tear-filled screams.

Hughes knew enough of human nature to leave the issue at that, but once he’d offered to drive Roy home and they were in the car and five blocks away from the station, he started eyeing Roy’s hands with a determination that made Roy fear for his life every time they came to an intersection. He finally tugged off the gloves but kept them in his lap, and that was enough for Hughes to return his attention to the road. Roy stared at his hands for the rest of the ride; he hadn’t really seen them for a while. They were pale.

He didn’t even notice they were at his dorm until the engine fell silent. He blinked up at the squat brick building, then looked over at Hughes.

“You coming in?” he asked awkwardly. He didn’t quite remember the protocol for spending time with friends.

“I’ve, ah… I was actually thinking…” Roy had never seen Hughes this flustered, he could remember that much. He frowned a little in worry.

“What is it, Maes?” he asked. He couldn’t hide his surprise when the man blushed.

“Well, my girl, Gracia, I mentioned her… She’s pregnant.”

Roy tried to ignore the jerk in his stomach that told him he should have been here when the news broke, when this new girlfriend went from a fling to… Whatever this was. There was a second shock as he realized there could have been a drawn-out relationship; he had been gone so long, this girl might not be new at all.

“I’m marrying her.” Hughes was looking at him, all seriousness and deathly still, and Roy managed to smile without bursting into hysterical laughter. Hughes looked like a man considering what gun to use, not like a man speaking of marriage.

“Congratulations,” Roy murmured. “Are you happy?”

“Hell yeah. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” Hughes seemed to relax back to normal at Roy’s acceptance, and began to tell a story about candlelight and rings. Roy listened without really hearing, just nodding and smiling when needed. Finally Hughes clapped a hand on his shoulder and ushered him out of the car, apologizing for drawing out his departure. He left with a promise to return with pies.

Roy made his way to his dormitory and slumped against the door when he realized he didn’t have the key. He was clutching his gloves in one untanned hand, and he slowly pulled them back on.

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