Title: Letter never Sent (The Seed of the Fire- Chapter 14)
Pairing: Roy Mustang x Maes Hughes
Rating: PG-13 for some serious potty mouth.
Disclaimer: AU, Set before the anime started, while Maes and Roy were roommates at the military academy.
Author Note: The story is going to start following a bit more of the manga, although it may have elements of both later.
Summary: When one is backed up into a corner, there is nothing left to lose.
Read all of the chapters so far HERE!
Roy wandered the streets of Amestris for a while, winding down back alleyways and well traveled short cuts to try to avoid the main roads and meeting anyone that he knew while on the way back to the house. He hadn't thought to take his wallet with him, and the night before he had relied on his charms and looks to get some free drinks out of the pretty girls that frequented the establishment. That had lasted him a while, and by the time the girls figured out that he had no interest in bedding them and left, he was already well on his way to feeling nothing.
Somewhere deep in his mind, he knew what he was doing was wrong. Just because his lover talked to other people doesn't mean that he should, but every time he thought about that the bile rose in the back of his throat and the anger threatened to well up again, and he pushed it down with more drinks and more girls.
The small house that they were staying in came into view, and a mix of emotions swept through the man. Was Maes going to be there already? What if he was? What if he wasn't? could he even go in there, knowing what had transpired over the last couple of days? Did he really have a choice?
He sighed, and shrugged, guessing that he didn't have much of a choice. He was glad that at least he had grabbed his keys from the small side table by the front door as he was leaving. He unlocked the door and pushed it open, holding his breath for a few tense moments. It was quiet, and dark. He had beaten Maes home.
As he stepped in, he noticed that the mail had been pushed through the slot on the bottom of the door. he hesitated, not sure who the mail was going to be for, but in the end decided to take a look. He wandered back to the table where he had been sitting the first day, the day he was reading an alchemy text when Maes had come through the door, and Roy had almost fried him because he wasn't sure who it was. knowing what he did now, he wondered, would he have steadied his hand?
Most of the mail was either junk, or for General Grumman. Those he laid on the even increasing pile of his mail on the desk. But there was one letter, a letter that was addressed to Maes. He turned it over in his hand. The envelope was the nice stuff, made of reused paper. It had a rough feel under his calloused fingers. The writing was in a pretty cursive script. It wasn't anything official, or military. It was unlikely that it was from Maes' family. The little family he had left he never heard from. That left only one person, which was confirmed when he moved his thumb from over the return address and saw the name 'Gracia' on it.
Every instinct in his body told him to put on the glove that he knew was in his left front pocket and snap his fingers. Maes would never know, and if he was lucky, he wouldn't be able to write her once they were in the deserts of Ishbal. His right hand kept turning the envelope over, front to back to front again. His left hand wandered down his side, against the smooth silkiness of his black dress shirt, and down to his pocket. He felt the rough material of his glove with the pads of his fingers.
Just a snap, he told himself. Less than a second, and it would be over. He pulled his glove out of his pocket, staring at it, into it, through it, like he was trying to gauge it's secrets. He sighed and put the glove down on the top of the desk and rubbed his hand through his hair and over his face.
He laid the letter down next to the glove and stood up and walked over to the liquor cabinet, where he found the empty bottle of vodka and the bottle of spiced rum on its side and spilled on the floor. "Maes, damnit." he groaned, picking up the two bottles to throw them away when the front door opened.
"Maes." Roy said flatly, knowing even before his head appeared around the corner. He
placed the empty bottles on the kitchen counter and went back to the main room, where the taller man was standing in the middle of the room, his arms at his sides, seemingly unsure as to what to do next. His left eye was starting to swell a bit from where Roy had punched him, which added nicely to the injuries that he had given himself the night before. He had tried to gingerly wipe off some of the dried blood that caked the area between his nose a mouth again, but there were still dark brown crusty spots hanging off his pale skin.
Roy walked past him, keeping his distance, and picked up the letter and the glove from the table. He pocked the glove and handed Maes the letter. "Here." he said. "For you." He didn't wait for a response, but went back to the liquor cabinet and poured himself a scotch, a drink that he had recently started to favor.
Maes looked at it dumbly for a moment, almost like he wasn't sure what it was. He read the return address and knew immediately, his heart sinking just a little. He had seen Roy pocket his glove when he picked up the letter. Considering he was going into investigations, it took him less than a second to figure that out.
"Thanks for not torching it, Roy." he said in the hoarse whisper that had become his voice. Roy nodded, and continued to watch the man. It unnerved Maes more than a little bit. He wasn't sure what the man wanted. An apology? He had already tried that, and it got him slugged in the face. He looked down at the letter. Roy wants me to open this, he thought. He sighed, and guessed that he owed at least that much to the man that he guessed was his former lover.
Using his index finger, he ripped at the seam at the top of the letter and pulled it out. The lavender colored paper smelt slightly of the flower that it resembled. Maes had always loved that smell, it reminded him of her. But this time it was like acid for his nostrils.
He unfolded the letter and started to read, his mouth silently speaking the words, his eyes roaming across and down the hand written lines.
"Out loud." Roy said from his sitting place at the desk.
"Umm.. all of it? I don't think you-"
"ALL of it!"
Maes sighed, closing his eyes for a second and nodding. "Alright. All of it." He cleared his throat and started.
"My Dearest Maes. I hope this letter finds you well. I know that you are going off to war soon and that scares me. I have seen what the soldiers look like when they come back. They are changed men, inside and out. I don't want to lose you, your body or your soul. But I know it is what you want to do, and I respect that. No matter what happens.." Maes paused and looked over at Roy, who flashed him a dangerous look and nodded.
He cleared his throat. "No matter what happens.. I.. will always love you no matter what." He sighed, and continued. " I loved the last letter you wrote me, right before you left training. Please remember to thank General Grumman for giving me this forwarding address. It sounds like you are very excited to see Roy again. I am glad that you two became such good friends at the military academy. It sounds like he really does care for you. I know you were telling me that you were really mad at him for that morning at the breakfast counter, but it sounds like he didn't mean it, and I bet he will be very happy to see you. Don't dwell on the past, just enjoy the present, and hope for the future."
Maes paused for a moment to look over at Roy. He seemed just as surprised as Maes was about what Gracia had written. "You.. told her.. about us?" he demanded more than asked. "And.. you still went after each other."
He wasn't really sure how to answer that. There was no real good to answer, so he was honest. "Well, we both thought we would keep it friendly, because she knew about you pretty early on, but.. I dunno.. it just, kinda blossomed."
"And you waited until after a nice make up fuck to tell me huh?"
"Roy, it isn't like-"
"Just keep reading."
Maes groaned, and picked up where he left off. "Not much else to say here. The bakery is doing well, and I am on the base almost every day now. There are a lot of your friends here asking about you. That young, goofy one you met right before you shipped off- Havoc I think was his name? He keeps trying to ask me out, but I just don't like him that way. He is nice enough, but I hate that smoking habit of his."
"Anyways, I am really glad you found someone special to you. I worry almost every night that I am going to tear you away from him, and I don't want that. It isn't fair. He was in your life first. I will always care for you, but if you must be with him then I understand. I will always be your friend no matter what, Maes. I care for you too much not to be. I am not sure if you are going to be able to write to me when you get to Ishbal. I will worry and think about you, and your friend. I hope that you both come back home safe and sound, and quickly. I love you and miss you, Gracia."
Maes sighed and flopped into a nearby arm chair, his arm draping over the outside of the arm rest, the letter fluttering and quietly landing on the hardwood below. He used his other arm to prop up his throbbing head, which suddenly seem incapable of holding itself upright. Maes closed his eyes. "So... that is it."
Roy was quiet for a few moments. A few long, agonizing moments that drug by. Finally he softly asked "So, that is it then. She knows you were.. are.. with me. And yet she still professes her love. Forgive me if I don't believe that she really has your best interests at heart." he spat.
"Roy, I don't know how else I can say this. I love you. I have loved you for a long time now. And I still love you, although I get the feeling that it isn't mutual any more. I didn't think that I would develop feelings for her. God knows I didn't try, and I didn't ask for it, but damnit, it happened."
He rubbed his eyes over his face and looked up at his lover. "Roy, if you want me to write a letter to her and tell her that I can't see her, or talk to her any more, I will. I won't tell her anything about who asked me to do it or what prompted it or anything, just that it is for the best. I will do it right now and walk myself to the post office and mail it this very day if you tell me to. I don't know how else to prove to you that I love you. I have loved you and I will love you. I fucked up. I know that. I can't change what happened, but I will do it with no regrets right this second. Just say it."
"I know better than that. You say you will have no regrets, but that is a damn lie." Roy's low voice rumbled. "You know that as well as I. Ten years from now, you will see a man and a woman with their kids playing in the park and wonder 'could that have been me?' You will wonder what you missed by staying with a broken man like me, in a relationship where we can't even hold hands in public- if someone found out we could be beaten up, or worse. You are asking me to let you give up a normal life for that. I can't do it. I won't."
Maes sighed, his shoulders slumping a little. "But... then.. where does that leave us?" Maes barely whispered.
"I don't know." Roy drained the last of his scotch and stood up. "I am going to need a while to think about it. I am going to take a shower." he flashed a stern look at Maes's direction. He knew well the unspoken sentence afterwards. 'And don't follow me.'
He watched as Roy walked down the hall and turned for the bathroom. Even from here he heard the lock click. It didn't surprised him, though a part of him was disappointed that Roy still didn't trust him not to follow. Of course, after what he had done, did he even really deserve to be trusted? Right now, the answer was no. But still, he was hoping that this was a step in the right direction. At least Roy knew know. He knew about her, and he knew that she was aware of them together, for as much good as that was.
Still, he had to hope that things would have to get at least a little better from here. He wasn't sure how it could get much worse.