Maes discovered along his years in the military that knowing things about people gave him an invaluable advantage.
FANDOM: Fullmetal Alchemist
GENRE: Angst, drama
WARNING: yaoi, spoilers, angst, deathfic
DISCLAIMER: Nor Fullmetal nor its characters are mine, no money is being made here so don't sue or whatever.
SUMMARY: Maes discovered along his years in the military that knowing things about people gave him an invaluable advantage.
From some time, Maes had been smelling something fishy. That was his job sniffing around, that's what he did and he did it well. He may not be able to snap or transmute things like say, his arm in a blade, but he could smell secrets. It may seem like a lesser talent at first glance, but Maes had discovered along his years in the Military that knowing things about people gave him an invaluable advantage. He never regretted choosing Intelligence over Alchemy. Moreover, his career choice was so much better for his health than that of some of his friends. He was never on the front lines and probabilities were that he would live a very long life which was good to be able to watch his adorable Elysia growing up.
What was disconcerting with the smell this time was that he was sniffing it not "for" Roy Mustang but "from" him. He had noticed various little discrepancies in his friend's attitude, the most frightening being the dramatic decrease in his dates frequency. He had some suspicions that there was a new someone, maybe even a serious someone in Roy's life. What tipped him off on a more darker secret however, was the lack of comment from the man. For one, Roy wasn't known to be discrete on date-materials and Maes doubted that he was the superstitious type, wary to curse this relationship. Secondly, with years spent trying to convince him to settle down, Maes was pretty sure that, should this day finally come, he would be the first Roy would tell.
That's why he was so curious and had been gathering informations for the last month. He could have simply ask Roy but he feared the man would evade or worse lie to him, which would create a bad precedent in their friendship. Maes was used to keep some informations from Roy, but it was always for his own good and he was never entitled to the same treatment by his longstanding friend. What's more: where would have been the fun in that? His method was way more exciting! Still, he had been on the verge of giving up on this particular investigation and would have, if he hadn't had an unexpected and thundering breakthrough...
If Roy was unbelievably discrete on the matter, it was not the case of his love interest. And what strange love interest it was. The Fullmetal, no less! Edward didn't tell it exactly but for people who knew him it was there plain to see, displayed on his reddening face and stuttering words when in presence of the Colonel. Now that he knew, Maes was asking himself how he could have missed it. And worse, he began to see some sense in it. Sure there was the age difference, the fraternization problem and the fact that they were both males, but once the jittery feelings settled down, he could see it. Honestly. This said, he still wanted an explanation heart to heart with Roy because even if Ed was quite the mature one, he was still fifteen and Maes wasn't sure that Roy had it all under control.
He entered Roy's office without knocking, idly wondering why the need for a door as it seemed that everyone let themselves in without ever waiting for permission. He amused himself observing the seemingly serious pose of his friend, pen in hand and head bent on paperwork, features frowning in exaggeratingly obvious concentration. That was for show, he knew, for the purpose of convincing Hawkeye that he was working should she be the person intruding. As if to confirm his suspicions, Roy pushed the paperwork away as soon as he had identified his visitor by an inconspicuous glance. The frown disappeared instantly and gave place to the usual pleased smirk.
"Maes! To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Well I have these new photos of Elysia which I could simply not keep for myself..."
Maes heard quite clearly the desperate groan escaping Roy and his grin widened. He was honestly very proud of his daughter but the main reason he took such pleasure in displaying her photos album was to satisfy his sadistic tendencies. Nothing delighted him more than the "deer in headlights" looks of his victims when he shoved them the dreaded books out of thin air. He savored the wary but resigned horror of his friend for some time while describing in wondrous details each photographs. The torture would end when he would think Roy had had enough, or when he would have decided on the best way to broach the subject he came to discuss, whichever came first. His most unusual brand of amusement had the added benefit to be an excellent ice-breaker. He had noticed early on the game that after a decently long "photo session" people tended to be desperate enough to do anything to change the subject, including spilling their guts on matters they had absolutely not planned to discuss.
"So Roy, how long ago did you begin sleeping with Edward Elric?"
With the likes of Roy, the frontal assault was usually the better one, especially when he already had this hunted expression. Maes, however hadn't foreseen the reaction he would get. All colors seemed to drain from his friend's face. Roy stayed frozen and eerily silent for so long that Maes was tempted to slap him to confirm that the man was still breathing. Finally, much to his relief, Roy seemed to shake himself from his stupor and narrowed his eyes before speaking.
"That is not of your concern Hughes."
"I expected something better from you Roy. Won't you even try to deny it?"
"I fail to see what the point would be in that. If you came all the way here to ask me, it's because you are sure of your facts. So I don't see what more I could tell you. Where I'm concerned, you already know too much."
"Now, now, Roy I am not here to scold you or to annoy you, no need to be defensive. I was just concerned and I would be a poor friend if I didn't worry about you. However you see it, it seems a pretty big thing to me, I can't help but be concerned."
"I am perfectly fine and I assure you that it is really no big deal."
"No big deal? Hmmm... Must I remind you of the numerous reasons why your enemies and mostly everyone who would learn about this would consider it a big deal?"
Roy appeared meditative for some time but his gaze finally cleared and set on Maes. He seemed to evaluate the trustworthiness of his friend and to ponder how much to tell him. He finally seemed to reach a decision and Maes let out a breath of relief when it was the one he had hoped for. For a moment there he had feared that Roy would not trust him enough which would have been quite damaging for their friendship.
"There is no way that my enemies, as you put it would learn of this as we have been much discrete. You discovered it only because you are really good and because you know us both well. Ed hasn't -and will not- tell anyone, not even his brother, I am myself quite aware of the need for secrecy and I trust your ability to keep a secret where it matters. So, that's a moot point."
That was presented logically and it was clear that Roy had looked into this matter ahead of time. There was still a chance that, through studious observations or even dumb luck, someone would uncover the truth, but this wasn't more dangerous than their usual plot for turning Roy into the new Fuhrer. Well, at least Maes was glad to see that his friend hadn't walked blindly in this relationship. Yet, the Lieutenant Colonel couldn't shake the uneasiness creeping on him since Roy's affirmation of it being "no big deal". With a pointed look, he waited for a more detailed explanation. Roy sighed quite audibly but seeing that Maes wasn't to be deterred, he got on.
"Listen Maes, some things just happen... We were lonely, we needed comfort, so we took it from the closest available source. Just two men enjoying each other's company without complication. It could have been a one time thing but somehow we pursued it. I know Edward is young, but he is not a child anymore. No human with a past as his can be considered a child... I am probably not the best person to tell the good from the bad but this... I think it is good for the both of us, for the time being we need that. I know what I am doing and I can assure you that I didn't coerce Fullmetal into anything. He came in this quite willingly. That's all I can tell you for now."
Hughes tried to take in all that Roy was saying but some things didn't seem to add. For example, after four years observing Edward and his somewhat unique way of attacking each and every situation head-on and with a determination bordering on stubbornness and an earth-shattering passion, Maes had a difficult time imagining him in a relationship "without complication". He would need to talk to the boy to confirm his suspicions -and he would need to stop referring to him as a "boy", because that way of thinking would made a pedophile of his friend and he wouldn't have that.
"As a matter of fact, I can see how this could be good for you. Both of you, I mean. Ed had been far too tense, for far too long and he need to let go sometimes. Moreover you need him. He is a really valuable ally for you..."
"I don't see..."
"Oh yes you do. That is why you recruited him when he was just a brat. We needed someone like him on the team. Someone to do the dirty job and be the center of attention. But I for one think that he has more potential than that. So, I guess that furthering your relationship could become a great asset. If you haven't done it yet, you should let him in on the big picture, he could surprise you."
"He's too young, this is too big..."
"A minute ago he was old enough, you seem confused my friend."
"You know what I mean Maes. That is exactly like you said, he is the center of attention, he is too... wild for this kind of things. He is not suited for Politics. He would bow to no-one and would disgrace all of us by one too many insult."
"You don't give him enough credit for someone pretending to know of his maturity. What's more Roy, you shouldn't forget that if you want to be the kind of Fuhrer we will all respect, that is not the approval of the military ranks you should pursue but that of the people."
"I know that!"
"Do you? You, your devoted subordinates and I know of your intentions but for the people, you are the symbol of all they loath. Even if no-one did more for them, in the eyes of the commoners you are just one more ambitious officer. Edward, however, is their hero and rightfully so. You shouldn't forget it Roy."
"I won't Maes, I won't."
Maes would have pursued the matter but Roy appeared tired, wary even so he let it drop, for now. He had the answers he had come to seek, most of them anyway. He didn't want to risk entering a conflict with Roy. After all the man was his friend and even if he really was a jerk sometimes, Maes was willing to make some concessions. He still promised himself to monitor the following events with the utmost care and to have a lengthy conversation with Ed as soon as he came back from Dublith. Little did he know that he wouldn't ever see the Fullmetal again and that his talent to uncover secrets would be his downfall....