series -- manga/brotherhood
Disclaimer -- Arakawa owns all, I just torture them
Rating -- PG-13
Characters/Pairing -- Maes, implied Royai
Timeline/Spoilers -- during the war.
Word Count -- 646
Warning -- none
Summary -- He is falling apart
Author’s Note -- written for fma_fic_contest's 'dust and blood' prompt Thanks to evil_little_dog for the beta.
He couldn’t hold it all together. Maes knew no one had asked him to be the one to cheer everyone up, but it was his nature. He couldn’t sit by and let a friend suffer. Mustang had always been intense, all the way back to the moment Hughes had made himself ‘enemy for life’ by snagging away some dumb food Roy had wanted. Neither of them would probably have the rank they had now without that incident driving them to the top of their class. Even war time promotions didn’t happen without some merit, and Maes knew he had that. Gran trusted him. Maes wished the monster didn’t.
This land of dust and blood had changed him, not that he let it show, and that was what was pulling him apart. Gracia could never know the truth, not until he was home, if even then. He would always sugar his letters home. Here under the crystalline skies, stars winking down, he would be the jester. He needed to see Roy smile, even if it took all that he had. It went beyond mere friendship. This Mustang frightened him just a bit, and Maes knew he could never let that show. Roy would crumble, go up like the phoenix at the end of its life, but there would be no resurrection. He knew his friend feared the thing the war was twisting him into. The alchemists were no longer for the people. They were terrifying things and, in action, Roy was no less horrifying than Kimbley or Gran, only he didn’t seem to enjoy it like they did. That was the only hope Maes had left.
Eyes of killers, they all had them now. Maes wished for moments of solace, beyond the occasional R and R they were offered, sent back to border towns for booze and whores. Maes went reluctantly. The alchemists were not given time off, but soon they would make the need for furloughs unnecessary. Surely the war couldn’t last longer now. It couldn’t. He couldn’t keep holding it all together now.
He tried to get Roy to find his comforts outside of his own sad attempts, but knew left to his own devices, Roy would sulk in the tent he shared with Kimbley – no one wanted to room with alchemists, so it was no longer offered to normal service men – burrowing deeper into his own despair. Maes saw the way his friend looked at the Eye of the Hawk. There was something there, even if Roy denied it. For someone raised by spies, he wasn’t that good at hiding his lies. Maes pushed gently, pushed firmly, but if Roy ever gave in to the matchmaking, he didn’t see it.
For that matter, Mustang wasn’t all that good at reading when Maes was at his end, ready to collapse to the hard baked ground and dig his own grave. Or maybe he was, in his own way. When Maes was at his darkest, Roy would be there with crappy coffee doctored up with the hooch the two alchemists brewed openly in their tent – figures they’d know how to make distillates and no one really punished anything illegal an alchemist did. They were valuable enough to indulge. Roy would offer up some amazingly lame thing that he’d done while training with his master – Maes’s favorite was still the time Roy had been sublimating the water out of the laundry and got caught by both Hawkeyes as he lingered a little too long over panties, getting kicked around the estate by father and daughter – and make him smile for a change.
It really wasn’t that he wasn’t getting support from his friends, or that he was burnt out on cheering them up. It was that the desert had crept into their souls, until there was nothing left inside any of them except for howling dust devils.