Two to be Steady – Part Four

How Roy and Hughes might have met and become friends. The starting thought was How did Roy get to be like that? Hughes seemed a reasonable answer. Drama With Occasional Porn, I-3, spoilers eps 3 and 15.

Character(s): Maas Hughes, Roy Mustang


When Maas Hughes was promoted from First Lieutenant to Captain he bragged about it rather a lot to his best friend, Captain Roy Mustang.

Roy bore with him fairly patiently, only an occasional twitch of his fingers giving him away.

Exactly one week later, Roy was promoted to Major.

Maas found out from the bulletin board.

He stalked down the halls to Roy’s office and slammed back the door.


Roy leaned his chin on his fist and gave Maas a glittering smile. “Yes? Hughes-taii?”

Maas opened his mouth, shut it with a snap, and glared.

Roy smiled wider.

“You’re an evil bastard,” Maas told him, almost calmly. “I thought you should know.”

“Thank you for your input,” Roy murmured.

Maas slammed the door again on his way out.

He hauled Roy out to the bar that night to celebrate.

“You do remember we have a dress review tomorrow morning, don’t you?” Roy asked, not as though he thought it would alter Maas’ plans.

Maas waved this off. “I’m not the one who gets hung over, now spill! How long have you known it was coming?”

“For sure? Only a few days.”

Maas was faintly appeased. “I suppose that’s all right then.”

Roy laughed at him, and they toasted both their new ranks.

Maas felt somewhat revenged the next morning, when he noticed that Roy was squinting a bit in the sunlight as the staff of Central City headquarters all turned out for review.

He didn’t have a great deal of time to appreciate it, though.

Intelligence had been scrambling for almost two months over death threats to Dai-Soutou Bradley, so it was not actually a shock to Maas when gunfire came from the roofs around the parade ground. He didn’t even waste time cursing today’s security for their failure.

He had time to fire twice, time to be sure that at least two of the bodies hurtling toward Bradley would get through, and then the air exploded. Fire whipped out, coiled around the attackers, snapped and burst. It left collapsed bodies smoking in its wake.

The crowd, frozen in the midst of panic, drew back slowly, leaving Roy Mustang standing alone, hand raised.

Of course, Maas had mentioned his office’s upset to Roy.

Bradley picked himself up and nodded to Roy. “Thank you, Major.”

Roy saluted him, crisply. “Excellency.”

Bradley returned it, and waved to his security detail to take care of the bodies.

“Excellency,” one of them exclaimed, “they’re not dead!”

Bradley turned back to favor Roy with a long look. Roy’s expression was cold and still, and Maas thought he might be the only person there who understood how much pain was compressed behind it, how many hours of practice to refine his skills until he could injure without killing.

He’d pried the story of Ishvar out of Roy a while back. Was this what it all came down to, after all? The determination to be something more than a gun in someone else’s hands?

“Excellent forethought,” Bradley remarked at last.

Maas watched Roy’s eyes, focused on Bradley as he turned away, and decided that there was still more he hadn’t found. He made his way to Roy and laid an unobtrusive hand on his shoulder.

“Can you walk?” he asked, having seen Roy occasionally collapse in a heap after a particularly impressive effort.

“Yes,” Roy returned quietly. “I’ll be fine.”

Looking up, Maas found Gran staring at them. Measuring his erstwhile subordinate’s power? Or perhaps his ambition? The latter, it seemed, since he paused on his way past them.

“Going straight to the top, Flame Alchemist?” he grated.

Roy didn’t look at him. “I merely acted as my duty demands. Sir.”

Whether Gran liked it or not, it seemed that Roy had indeed caught Bradley’s eye, because he was reassigned to the command of one of the Headquarters General Staff. It was because of this that Maas finally realized just how great a secret he’d been chasing for over a year.

He’d been called in to give a report in person. A waste of time, in his estimation, since he couldn’t exactly add more facts than he’d put in his written version. Still, it afforded him some mild entertainment to watch Roy not paying any attention at all because he’d heard it already.

But, no, Maas realized slowly, Roy was paying attention to something else. His eyes stayed on his notes or on Maas, but his attention was focused on Bradley like sunlight concentrated in a magnifying glass, brilliant and burning. After a while Maas started to be amazed that everyone in the room didn’t notice it.He’s focused on Bradley like he looks at those hay bales of his…

Maas stiffened.

It was all he could do to keep answering questions coherently while that thought reverberated in his head.

He can’t… really…

Politics. Ambition. Reports of unrest. Power.


He gratefully accepted his dismissal at last, and collapsed against the wall outside to try and catch his breath.



When Maas showed up at Roy’s door looking grim and just a bit wild around the eyes, Roy was sure that something momentous had happened in his office that day some time after his rather bored report-in-person. “Maas, what happened?”

Maas scrubbed his hands over his face and gave Roy a long look. “Roy. Are you really planning to kill Bradley?”

Roy thought his heart might have stopped, but no, it was just his breath. The question he had been hoping, fearing, anticipating took him completely unawares. After a frozen second he nodded.

“And what? Replace him?”

“Not… exactly,” Roy whispered. He collapsed to the edge of his bed.

Maas, not looking in much better shape, just slid down the wall to the floor. He rested his head on his knees and laughed helplessly. “And I spent all this time wondering what the big deal could be.”

Roy really didn’t want to ask, but he had to know, and he had to know now. “What will you do about it?”

“I’m not going to turn you in,” Maas said without lifting his head.

Now it was Roy’s turn to have to put his head down on his knees, as the room went dark for a moment. He could feel his heart again.

“And I’m not going to ask something stupid like why, because I really do remember all the conversations we’ve had this year,” Maas continued conversationally. “Or at least I did while I was wandering around after that damn meeting.”

Roy was recovering enough to be curious. “How did you know?”

Maas finally looked up, frowning a little. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and squinted at Roy. “You know, I think it might just be that I know you. I could see the way you were focused on him, and the thing it said to me was target. After that… it was just adding the bits up. But no one else seems to see it.”

Roy could feel his attempt at a smile wavering a bit. “No one else knows me like that.”

“I guess not.” Maas let his head fall back against the wall. “You’re crazy, you realize that.”

“No, Maas, I’m not.” Roy’s voice was suddenly clear and cold.

Maas blinked up at him.

“The ones who are crazy are the ones who throw thousands of lives away like a handful of sand in the desert. The ones who exalt destruction and the means of it. The ones who can think that the destruction of a city full of people only trying to keep their lives and homes can be justified in the name of defense. To stop them? That’s sanity.”

Maas looked at him silently for a dozen heartbeats, and then closed his eyes and bowed his head. “You’re right.”

It was Roy’s turn to blink.

Maas fetched up a sigh that sounded like it started at his toes and looked up again. “What do you need?”


Maas came to Roy and took his shoulders. “What do you need to make this work, Roy?”

Thoughts flickered through Roy’s head. People I can trust… To know what’s going on… To stir things up… But in the end it was none of those he voiced to Maas’ steady gaze.

“I need to not become one of them.”

Maas nodded firmly. “Then you won’t.”

A shudder ripped through Roy, and he reached out to Maas to keep his balance. They ended up on the floor by the bed, leaning into each other’s arms.

“Thank you,” Roy whispered, trying to still himself.

Maas held him tighter.

Eventually Roy calmed enough to start thinking again. Maas had just decided to help him with something that could end in a very unpleasant death. However much comfort his help would give Roy, Roy felt impelled to double check. “Are you sure?”

Maas chuckled. “Do you remember what I said the last time you asked me that?”

It took Roy a minute, but when he recalled he laughed too. “If I’m not mistaken you said that you enjoy wild rides.”

“A long time ago you agreed that I might appreciate what you want to do,” Maas said, more seriously. “You were right.”

“Not,” he added, “that you should get a swelled head about being right so often, mind you.”

Roy suppressed the urge to ask why not? He would save it up for later.

“Thank you,” he repeated instead.