Hughes/Roy: Hughes sees the effects of war on Roy, and attempts to bring him back into sanity.
Hughes finds Roy in a bar. This is no surprise because everyone, their brother, their dog, their brother's dog and their dog's brother is at some sort of bar some of the time. War does that to people, Hughes often rationalizes, but he knows that truth. Ninety-nine bottles of alcohol is, quite naturally, the largest draw. Friendship is always at a close second, especially between himself and Roy. They frequent bars like one frequents a favorite diner.
Only things have changed. War does that too, which is also no surprise, but one change bothers Hughes a great deal: Roy himself. He doesn't smile as much as he used to, and when he does, his eyes tell a different story from his mouth. When he drinks, it's usually just enough to relax him. Now, in the dimly lit bar, no one would be able to sing ninety-nine bottles of anything because Roy drank it all.
Hughes can't help but widen his eyes at the sight of his best friend slumped like he hadn't slept in years. Roy is hardly strait-laced, but he is never sloppy either. The bar is full of women yet he never even notices them, which practically floors Hughes. Anyone who knows Roy knows how it's one of his favorite hobbies to skirt chase. No one knows it better than a best friend.
"Roy?" Hughes taps him on the shoulder, but the only response he gets is a groan followed by a sightless glace. "Roy, come on, you've had enough."
"Enough..." Roy slurs. He rests his head against Hughes's shoulder. "I...I...know what that means."
Hughes doesn't have a clue what Roy is actually talking about, but he doesn't bother to ask. Instead, he pays for the tab. People are staring without a hint of shock, and the bartender looks little different. Drunks go in and out of bars like they live in one.
"I'm sorry," he finally says to no one in particular. Roy should be ashamed of himself, but doesn't seem to be as he snakes his arm around Hughes's waist. "I'm sorry you have to see this. He-"
"Usually isn't like this?" The bartender finishes. "Nah, you don't have to apologize. It's not your fault. I see this everyday."
Hughes just nods. "I'm sure you do." He almost has to carry Roy out of the bar. Hughes himself has seen this sort of thing, but he never thought he'd be doing this for his best friend.
The sun sits on the horizon as people hustle and bustle to do everything from going out to going home. Noise is just background because it's something one had better get used to if they wanted to stay anywhere in a city. Hughes knows that others are looking at him oddly. Worse yet, some of those others are also in the military, and he could have sworn he saw a couple of people who know both him and Roy. He didn't worry, though. How could he when he's using all his strength to keep his best friend from falling over.
The room they stay in is small, but it works. There's no light except for what is left of the sun, but that's more than enough for Hughes as he almost throws Roy on the bed . This isn't like Roy. Hughes knows this all too well. Casual never meant losing control of anything. Being drunk meant losing control. War is a loss of control. Everyone likes to think that everything goes according to strategy or plan, but it doesn't seem to work that way. Decisions are made in split seconds while those very same seconds can mean life in one second and death in another. Hughes sighs, finding himself beside Roy, just holding him, wanting to stroke his hair, but considering it unseemly.
Seconds don't mean much now because hours will be what it takes for Roy to become sober again, but it doesn't stop him from talking. "War is never glorious..."
Hughes frowns. "What? Who told you it was?"
Roy closes his eyes, his black hair contrasting the white pillows. "I would just hear of other soldiers coming here, and they imagine glory and valor. The longer they stick around, the more hollow their desire for glory becomes. They do things they never thought they'd do. They have to live with it..."
"We all do." Hughes answers. "Why are you talking about this? Why are you behaving this way? It's the war, right?"
"It's not just that." Roy squirms in Hughes's arms. "I did things-"
"Don't. Just don't." Hughes knows exactly what his best friend is talking about, and even if he doesn't, he has a damned good idea. "You can't take it back." His hold on Roy tightens. "There's nothing you can do to change it."
"I wish that could help, but it doesn't."
"I'm not going to leave you alone if that's what you're implying!" Hughes snaps. "You're drunk, and I think you're trying to drink yourself to death. I won't let you!"
"If I wanted to...kill myself, I would have," Roy slurs, rolling over to look out the window. "I had the chance. I had the gun to my head, but I didn't...shoot."
Hughes sighs, not sure if it's out of relief or empathy. "There's no good in war. You know that as well as I do."
"Innocent people...dying...I'm...part of the problem..."
"We all are, Roy, but the higher-ups consider this war necessary and we have no choice but to obey!"
Roy rolled on his back, his dark eyes are surrounded by red. "O-what? That's...excuse."
Hughes nodded. "Yes, you're right." He put his head on Roy's shoulder. He could smell the drink. Vodka. Strong vodka. He could use a glass right about now, but decides against it. "We could object, but we'll end up punished and nothing will change. Working outside the system would only make things worse, so we have to work within it." Hughes shakes his head. "It's easy to say, but hard to do. I wish I could do something."
The room is darker now that the sun finally sets, but Hughes can see Roy's crooked smile just fine. He can also feel the other man's warm body close to him, smell his hair, hear him breathing. In fact, if he tried, he could easily listen to Roy's heart. Drunkenness decreased inhibition, everyone knew that. Taking off clothes, tasting skin, rubbing against each other until they come wouldn't be a great achievement. Still, Hughes decides against it. He just can't take advantage of his best friend like that. So, he contents himself with just keeping his arms around the Flame Alchemist, taking in the warmth, listening to Roy's reply.
"I could do something." He doesn't sound drunk now, but slow speech is still there. "Given time, I could change everything. Wash away...my sins...when drinking can't. Will you help me?"
The question is a no-brainer. "Of course I will. What are friends for?"
Roy removes Hughes's glasses before crawling on top of him. "This."
Hughes can taste the vodka on Roy's tongue as his mouth is captured in a sudden kiss. He doesn't resist; he doesn't want to. He wraps his arms around his best friend and simply lets him take control, remove some clothes, touch his skin, do whatever he wants. No one has to know, and those who aren't close to either one of them ever will. They neither need nor deserve to.