Once More…Dear Friends – Five

Team Mustang dives into politics. Drama, I-3

Pairing(s): Lisa/Roy

Roy was glad it took Parliament a handful of days to clear their schedules enough to call him in. It took that long to hammer out a story about the past year that would match all checkable facts and not land any of them in prison for murder or in front of a firing squad for treason.

“Okay, so you hustled my body out of town because you suspected I had been attacked by Gran’s remaining faction to stop me telling about some of his Alchemists’ work.” Hughes scribbled a few more dates on the sheets of scratch paper scattered over the living room floor. “That should work. And Gran’s dead so he can’t object. Even better.”

“I was right,” Hawkeye put in from the couch, flipping through a binder that had somehow wandered out of Personnel without being checked out. “None of the guards who heard me tell Bradley you were staging an insurrection survived. And Havoc says that the memories of the surviving soldiers from that northern deployment are very fuzzy about just why there was a need to plan an attack on Central. The idea that it was to rescue Bradley, not depose him, seems to make all of them very relieved.”

“That’s direct testimony taken care of, then.” Roy stretched and yawned. “Thank you for handling that.” He paused as a thought struck him. “I don’t suppose you’d like a job with the ministry, too?” He slid a casual mask over a certain amount of hopefulness.

Hawkeye sniffed. “It was bad enough, dealing with bureaucratic idiots as an officer,” she noted. “I’m not going to deal with them as a secretary.”

Roy sighed, but couldn’t help a small smirk as he admitted, “I do have a bit of difficulty picturing you as a typical secretary.”

“Ministerial aide?” Hughes suggested with a grin.

“That’s just a secretary with a better salary,” Lisa objected. “Money doesn’t help with the idiots.”

Roy listened to them, amused. Lisa had always had an edge of exasperation to her when she’d had to deal with Hughes, but it actually seemed to be softening into something like teasing now that she’d left military formality behind.

“So aim higher,” Hughes declaimed. “I don’t see why you shouldn’t expect a good job out of this. I do.”

Roy smirked at him. “It’ll be nice to see someone else get accused of promotion through favoritism for a change.”

Lisa shook her head at both of them and reached for the next binder.

It was not an entirely new experience to hear his merits and flaws debated over his head in his presence. It seemed to be a favorite tactic of generals when they called field officers up on the carpet. But it had a different flavor when politicians were doing it.

“… valiantly risked his life and career to safeguard his country’s leader, I’d say that’s a good sign!”

It was harder to keep a straight face, for one thing.

“One, haven’t we just finished saying that it’s a damn good thing Bradley’s gone?” inquired one of the more skeptical Members, Rosa Luxemburg if Roy recalled correctly. “And two, if it was all about valor and so on, why did he lose his career?” The compression of her lips as she sniffed reminded Roy irresistibly of his Aunt Helena, as did the sharp gaze she bent on the other end of the gallery. “Since we have Hakuro-taisho here, perhaps we should ask him, hm?”

Roy approved. Hakuro had been practically vibrating in his seat for the past ten minutes; it wouldn’t do for him to actually explode. Roy might need him later.

Hakuro surged to his feet at the President’s invitation. “You do well to ask, Madam! Mustang was discharged because he was suspected of causing King Bradley’s death!”

Startled silence rippled over the Chamber. Perfect. Roy sighed into that silence and lifted a brow at Hakuro as the Parliament turned to look at him.

“Taisho, I realize that we have often been opponents due to our efforts to further our individual careers. But surely you can see that it’s no longer necessary. Our careers will run in different paths, now.” He let his mouth tighten a bit, and watched the room full of politicians take in the implication that Hakuro was attempting to slander his late competition.

Hakuro, on the other hand, seemed to completely miss it, just as expected. “That’s beside the point,” he snapped.

Roy sighed again and ran a hand through his hair. “The point, Taisho, is that you didn’t have any proof when you came up with a way to be rid of me, and you don’t have any now. You accomplished what you thought appropriate; I’m a civilian. Be satisfied.”

Anger and triumph mixed in Hakuro’s face in answer to this straight line. “Yes, a civilian,” he growled. “Just what suits your backstabbing cowardice.”

Roy’s eyes narrowed. “Taisho,” he rapped out coldly, cutting across the several sharp inhalations through the Chamber and crossing his fingers in hopes that Hakuro wouldn’t notice them, “you forget who you address.”

Hakuro reared back. “What?!”

“Or do you disdain to take orders a civilian?” Roy asked, softly, laying the last piece of bait down with care.

“Who wouldn’t?” Hakuro shot back.

The rustle of disturbance in the Chamber became something close to a roar, and Roy sat back, watching it jerk Hakuro back to awareness of where they were and who was listening. He suppressed a grimace. It had almost been easy enough to make him feel guilty, watching Hakuro’s sudden confusion.


Finally, Roy raised his voice. “Enough!” He looked only at Hakuro, as if he still addressed the General, but the Parliament quieted, too. “We will discuss this later, Taisho,” he said, firmly. “If it is Parliament’s pleasure.”

Hakuro sank back into his chair, unable to do anything else at that point. Luxemburg spoke into the silence that followed.

“All right, Friedrich.” She turned an imperious look on the Chancellor. “I see your point. I withdraw my objections.”

Roy met her hard green eyes, as murmurs of agreement spread among the other Members. There was no trust there, and his mouth quirked.

“Thank you for your understanding, Madam.” He said nothing about her support, which is was clear to him he didn’t have.

An unwilling answering amusement tugged at her lips. “Quite.”

“… the Chancellery Guards are your guards, too, now. Here’s your office.” Ebert pushed open a thick, dark wood door to show a large, handsome office and a large, handsome desk stacked with a large pile of folders. “Those are the profiles of available, qualified people in other Ministries that you can draw on to build your staff. I think that’s everything.” He clapped Roy on the shoulder. “Go to it. Good luck.”

Another mountain of personnel folders. Lovely. “Ah, Chancellor,” Roy lifted a hand, and Ebert looked over his shoulder on his way out the door. “Can I draw on other sources for staff?”

Ebert grinned. “Have some soldiers in mind? Sure, just pass them with Karr, over in Intelligence.” He waved. “We’ll see you Friday for the weekly Cabinet meeting.”

Roy leaned against his desk and surveyed his new domain for a long moment. A staff would be nice, but first things first. He dug out the phone and called the front desk. Ten minutes later Hakuro was shown in.

Roy rested his shoulders against the cool glass of a window and crossed his arms, considering the man in front of him. Hakuro stood stiffly, jaw set.

“You’re a good soldier, Taisho,” Roy said, at last, and watched Hakuro blink. “You’re a good soldier,” he repeated, “but you’re not suited to politics. The two don’t generally go well together. So what I need to know is whether you can do your job and leave the politics to me.” He turned to face the window. “If you can, I’ll leave you in charge of the army. If you can’t I’ll call Werther-chuujo back from East City to replace you.”

And if Hakuro tried to keep playing the game by lying to him about his intentions, now, Roy would have to remove him completely, and that would be a loss of experience the army couldn’t well afford at the moment.

“What job are you going to do?” Hakuro asked after a moment.

Roy smiled. A question instead of a reply was a good sign; a quick answer would almost certainly have been a lie. “I’m going to do my best to pull us all out of the hole Bradley dumped us in,” he replied, candidly, and tapped a finger against the glass. “It will involve some very difficult maneuvers from the Army, and I need someone in charge who can hold them together anyway.” He turned to look Hakuro in the eye. “Hold them together and obey my orders.”

Hakuro’s face was a study in conflicting emotions. Roy picked out pleasure that someone thought Hakuro was capable of this; fury, probably at the idea of taking orders from Roy; and shock, probably at the coldness of Roy’s tone. Come to think of it, Hakuro had never heard Roy giving direct orders, had he?

Well, he’d better get used to it, now.

Finally Hakuro drew himself up to something that wasn’t quite attention. “Very well,” he said, tightly. “Sir.”

Ambition won again. One problem down, fifteen thousand and forty three to go. “Good. I’ll be in touch, Taisho.” Roy nodded a dismissal. Hakuro was barely out the door before he’d pulled the phone out of the paper mountain again.

“Hughes? It all worked out. Get over to Karr and convince him to clear you. We’ll figure out what your job title is later…”