Maes Hughes wadded up his shirt and stuffed it into his duffel bag. He tossed in his toothbrush and toothpaste, his hairbrush, his various toiletries, and the rest of his clothing, pausing only to ...
Maes Hughes wadded up his shirt and stuffed it into his duffel bag. He tossed in his toothbrush and toothpaste, his hairbrush, his various toiletries, and the rest of his clothing, pausing only to brush tears out of his eyes with irritation.
He was in Roy’s apartment, preparing to leave. He had not come here directly from the office, though. After he had run out of Central HQ with his best friend’s blood dripping from his stinging knuckles, Maes had wandered around the city in a daze, his mind reeling and lurching with all the terrible information that he had just gleaned and from the terrible act that he had just committed. He’d walked down the street, weeping openly, completely oblivious to the stares that he earned himself with his desperate anger and anguish.
He was lost. He had nothing within him other than horror and guilt and a sick, betrayed sort of rage that gnawed on his insides like a cancer. How could anyone have done such goulish, atrocious things to another human being... much less to an unarmed housewife and to a child...? Maes had not been able to read the whole report. He had not been able to make himself look at the pictures of his ravaged child before he thought his heart was going to cave in with pain if he didn’t turn away and focus his destructive emotion on something else... on Roy.
Before he’d read that report, Maes had thought that he couldn’t possibly feel any more pain. He thought that he’d reached the full capacity of human suffering, but he was wrong. This new anguish was like a physical sickness, an ulcer eating away at every part of him from the inside. And then to think that Roy had known all those terrible things... had kept the files away from Maes and then lied about it... Maes had just snapped. Much of what happened in the colonel’s office was a red blur of rage that had not dissipated until Roy was on the floor, gagging on his own blood. Only then did the icy daggers of Regret and Self-Loathing plunge themselves into Maes’ chest, joining the other frigid blades of Grief and Betrayal that were already imbedded there.
Maes had run. Overwhelmed by a cacophony of emotions, he had just run. He’d stumbled through the city like a madman, desperately clutching the accursed file to his chest as he tried to figure out what to do or where to go. He didn’t remember going back to Roy’s apartment but somehow he had ended up there, lying on the man’s couch and sobbing hard into the cushions. He had been in hysterics, his still-bloody hands clinging to the fabric of the sofa as he trembled and wept, helpless in this omnipotent inundation of emotional pain. Once he’d finally managed to calm himself down enough to think rationally, he started packing. He couldn’t stay here anymore.
Not after what Roy had done to him...
Not after what he had done to Roy.
Hughes stood up from the couch, about to zip up his bag and leave when he heard the distinct sound of a key being eased into the lock on the front door. He froze, the duffel bag slipping from his hands and spilling half its contents onto the dark wooden floor. Maes didn’t think that he could handle seeing Roy at the moment. Not now. He braced himself as the door opened.
“Oh... Hi, sir.” Lieutenant Havoc said, looking both startled and a little uncomfortable as he opened the door and caught sight of Maes. Maes exhaled and nodded to Havoc, relief rending him unable to form the words for a proper greeting.
“I’m just here to pick up a few things for the colonel.” Havoc explained awkwardly, “He’s... in the hospital.”
Havoc might as well have kicked Maes in the chest rather than speak those last four words, for it gleaned the same breathless effect. The lieutenant colonel stared at the blond man, nauseatedly registering the dark, half-dried splotches of blood on the cuffs of Havoc’s uniform.
“Is he okay?” Maes managed to ask brokenly after a beat of dejected silence.
“Oh yeah, he’ll be fine.” Havoc hastened to assure him, taking a hesitant step forward. “He has a concussion, though, so they want to keep him overnight for observation.”
Maes took a deep breath and slowly lowered himself back onto the couch, his face in his hands.
“I didn’t mean to... I would never...” he rasped pleadingly through tearful gasps, unable to look at Havoc. He crossed his arms over his chest tightly and bent his head low, trying to stop the deep tremors of sorrow that were overtaking him again as he rocked himself gently back and forth. It was all too much to handle all at once. He couldn’t take it.
He scarcely noticed when Havoc sat next to him hesitantly, but when the younger man reached over and gripped Maes’ arm, he looked up, blinking tears from his moss-colored eyes.
“He knows, Maes.” Havoc said quietly. “He doesn’t blame you.”
Maes gave a strangled, bitter laugh at that, “Of course he doesn’t blame me. He blames himself. He always blames himself.” His voice broke a little and he pulled off his glasses to wipe his eyes before continuing: “He’s such a fucking martyr...”
Havoc had no reply to that. Maes looked down at his hands again and flexed them, staring at his torn and bloodied knuckles. There was a small chunk of ravaged flesh caught in the band of his wedding ring, making bile rise in the back of Maes’ throat as he shuddered and pulled pulled the ring off removed the ragged piece of Roy’s skin from the crafted gold.
“He didn’t even try to defend himself...” he rasped brokenly as he wiped the ring on his shirt and put it back on, “...But I just couldn’t stop hitting him. I was so angry...” He raised his gaze to Havoc again, “But he’s okay, right?”
Havoc squeezed his arm, “He will be.”
Maes nodded slowly, wiping his eyes again before putting his glasses back on. He reached for his upturned duffel bag and started tossing things back in.
“You leaving?” Havoc asked, watching him.
“I... I can’t stay here. I can’t be in the same house with him. Not now.”
“It’s probably a good idea...” He agreed bracingly. “Where will you go?”
Maes shrugged. He hadn’t really thought about it. His house was still technically a crime scene, so he couldn’t go home... but he needed to leave. “I’ll just stay at a hotel for a few days, I guess.”
Havoc nodded. “Just let us know where you’re staying, okay?”
Maes looked up at Havoc again, a little surprised. Maes liked Havoc, but they didn’t really know each other very well. They’d never really seen one another outside of work and generally stuck to friendly greetings or idle chat when they ran into each other in the office. But now Havoc was looking at Maes as if they were close friends sharing reassurance in the face of tragedy. Havoc was offering himself to Maes as a source of comfort, even though Maes didn’t know the man well enough to even remember his first name half the time.
“Okay.” He agreed softly, touched by how much the other man obviously cared.
Havoc smiled at him and squeezed his arm again before getting to his feet with a sigh. “I should get the colonel’s stuff and head back to the clinic. He’s already pissed off that the doctor is making him stay, so the last thing I want to do is make him wait.”
Maes managed a small laugh and nodded his agreement. Havoc collected Roy’s things quickly and left the apartment, giving Maes a warm goodbye as he departed. Maes was alone again, but his chaotic mind had been eased a little by Havoc’s kind words. He shook himself and took a deep breath, reaching down to retrieve the rest of his things from the floor. His fingers brushed against something smooth and he picked it up.
It was Roy’s bottle of sleeping pills. Roy must have slipped it into his bag while Maes wasn’t paying attention. Maes’ throat constricted painfully as he recognized this unspoken gesture of concerned affection. He and Roy were best friends. They loved each other in a fierce, brotherly way, even if Roy tended to be incapable of showing it for the most part. Maes knew that Roy cared for him deeply and would never have betrayed his trust unless he thought that he had to.
“I’ll call him tomorrow.” Maes whispered to himself quietly, running his thumb over the bottle’s bright label before tossing it into the bag and zipping it shut. He slung the bag over his shoulder and headed for the door, flicking the lights off as he departed and leaving darkness in his wake.
Roy stared groggily up at the ceiling of his hospital room, the grey light pouring in from window casting everything in a cold, dull hue that reminded him distinctly of gravestones.
The nurse had insisted on pumping him full of pain meds before they stitched him up and he was still feeling the affects. He couldn’t really complain since he certainly felt much better, but the drugs had knocked him out for a while and even now he was still a little dazed. Roy had never done well with heavy painkillers. Once, after getting his wisdom teeth removed, he’d had to go to work under the influence of an anesthetic. Suffice it to say, he had spent the entire morning staring vacantly at the wall with his mind wandering far and wide in a drug-induced haze until Hawkeye made him go home. He wasn’t nearly as bad off at the moment, but he was still pretty doped up.
He heard a noise at the door and turned his head to see Havoc entering the room. Havoc looked at him for a moment then arched his eyebrow with a smirk.
“You still high?”
Havoc snorted, half-amused. He tossed the small bag of the colonel’s things onto the hard wooden chair beside the hospital bed and then crossed his arms over his chest as if composing his thoughts.
“The lieutenant colonel was at your place when I got there.” Havoc said finally, trying to sound offhand.
It took a moment for Roy to register what the man had said, and then it took another few beats for him to invent a response.
“Oh.” He said intelligently. “Did... did he say anything?”
“Not a whole lot. He was packing when I came in. Says he’s going to stay at a hotel. He was... pretty shaken.”
“Do you know which hotel?”
“No. But he said that he’d let us know.”
Roy let his head fall back onto the pillow, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly as he closed his eyes. Roy wasn’t surprised, but he wasn’t happy about it either. He wanted to talk to Maes, to explain things and to discuss where to go from here... but maybe he should wait a few days. Clearly, Maes didn’t want to talk to Roy if he didn’t even want to stay in his apartment anymore.
Still, a lot had happened in the past few hours; it was hardly astonishing that Maes didn’t want to see Roy. In Maes’ position, Roy probably would have done the same. Roy couldn’t believe that he’d fucked this up. The one time that Maes had needed him—the one time amongst all the instances when Maes had been there to support Roy unquestioningly—the colonel had failed. He had failed Maes as a friend, as a collegue, and as a fellow human being.
“He also said that you need to stop being such a ‘fucking martyr’.” Havoc supplied lightly, probably reading the guilt on Mustang’s bandaged face.
Roy opened his eyes and looked at his subordinate in surprise.
“I think he knows you too well, Colonel.”
The colonel stared at Havoc for a long pause, then an incredulous smile curled his lips and a harsh bark of laughter erupted painfully from his chest. It hurt to laugh. His ribs ached and it felt like his split lip was tearing open again, but he couldn’t help it. It wasn’t even funny. It was true; Maes did know Roy too well, but sometimes it seemed like Roy knew jack shit about Maes. Roy didn’t know what to do for him, or how to handle this situation. He was overwhelmed with guilty pity, and drugged out of his mind, and just could not... stop... laughing.
“...Are you okay?” Havoc asked awkwardly, looking startled.
The colonel wiped his only uninjured eye on the back his hand, trying to stifle his manic chuckling, “People need to stop asking me that. It’s a stupid question and it seems like I’m hearing it all the time lately.” He sat up in the hospital bed and looked at Havoc again, smirking at his utter bewilderment.
“This is bullshit,” Roy declaired suddenly, still smiling in a dark, bitter way that held little humor. “Absolute bullshit.” The colonel sat up, then swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood. He staggered slightly as a wave of dizziness overtook him, but steadied himself before Havoc could step forward to help. “I’m going home.”
“What? Wait, no...” Havoc protested as Roy headed out the door without so much as a backward glance. Havoc grabbed the bag that he’d just brought in and followed him out into the hallway, practically shrieking, “You can’t just leave,Colonel!”
Roy rounded on him, nearly losing his balance in the process, but managed to recover himself without flailing too much. “Look, Havoc. I appreciate your concern, but I’m in pain, I’m not thinking very clearly, and I am having a really bad day. I am going home, and anyone who tries to stop me is going to be nursing second-degree burns tonight. Got it?”
Havoc gaped at him for a minute, then slowly moved to stand at attention. “Yes, sir.” He said uncertainly, saluting his superior.
“Good, then get the car and drive it around to the front. I don’t think that I can make it to the parking lot.”
Havoc made a small, uncomfortable sound in the back of his throat like an unhappy dog, but moved to obey the order without comment.