The Upper Hand

Roy muses about his personnel management techniques. Drama, I-2.

Character(s): Lisa Hawkeye, Roy Mustang

“You didn’t mention that you already knew about the new disturbance down in Lior, Taisa,” Havoc observed.

Roy Mustang and his officers strode down the steps of their neighboring country’s embassy in East City.

“No, I didn’t,” Roy agreed, smiling.

Hawkeye sniffed.

“Of course not. You don’t gain the upper hand by giving things away, Havoc.”

Havoc grunted around his cigarette.

As the party sorted themselves into the two official cars that had brought them from headquarters, Roy contemplated Hawkeye’s words.

Normally, they were a truism. But there were times…

Edward Elric was a good example of the rule’s reverse. As he was for a good many rules, Roy reflected, a grin tugging at his mouth.

Their liaison was a source of amusement, as well as pleasure and comfort to him. And Roy had noted early on that one of the easiest ways to get the upper hand with Edward was to tell him the absolute truth.

It entertained Roy to no end that he could stop one of Edward’s tempers simply by thanking him.

To be sure, part of the effect was probably pure surprise, since Roy rarely dealt so straightforwardly with Edward outside of bed.

There was another level to that, of course, Roy mused watching the city sweep past. Edward placed an extremely high value on truth. Roy often thought that it might be a product of Edward’s power. Being so powerful, he had never been tempted to the petty stratagems that those without power resorted to, while also being in a position to see all too much of that pettiness at close range. Edward was the first person Roy had met of whom he might believe that the strength of his spirit was the measure of his power.

The exchange that Roy offered for such intimate knowledge of Edward was to speak the truth to him while they were together.

Which was not to say that the truth was always straightforward, or even that straightforwardness was always straightforward.

Roy smiled.

Edward was not the only example of the rule’s reverse, though, he thought, as the cars pulled back up to the military headquarters. The thought lingered, and as they began to part ways at the door of Roy’s office he spoke.


His senior aide paused and looked back. “Sir?”

“Sometimes one does, in fact, gain an overwhelming advantage precisely by giving oneself away,” he said, slowly.

He waited while surprise, confusion and finally understanding chased each other across her face.

She drew herself up and offered him a salute worthy of the Central parade ground. Her response was low and intense.

“Yes, Taisa.”

Roy returned the salute, gravely.


Roy: Just for my curiosity, why did you promote Hawkeye but not me?

Branch: Because she rocks my world. She’s the kind of muse I can do target practice with.

Roy: *eyes Author thoughtfully* Fair enough.

Branch: *waves, starry-eyed* Hey, Lisa, want to go get a drink?

Lisa: Why not? We’re done for the day, right Taisa?

Branch and Lisa: *wander off, arm in arm*