Roy Mustang was not a person given to introspection. He found much more profitable uses of his time than sitting and brooding, and he tried to avoid or organize situations that might cause unnecessary nostalgia, so as to avoid disrupting his routines.
Still, he knew his own weakness, both physically and mentally. He knew, for example, that he was a lazy person; that's why he constantly challenged himself with short goals that, easily achieved or not, kept him from becoming complacent. He also knew that he was easily bored; so he spent as little time alone as possible. In the end, most of his dates were as boring as his house would be, but it was the companionship that counted.
Above all, Mustang hated silence. Silence was the sound made when something went horribly wrong; when the battlefield had been filled with casualties, when a tragedy prevented its victims from mourning, when... something went horribly wrong.
So, he did his best to banish silence as well as he could. There was the radio, of course, but it mostly carried the same news about different battlefields: "More men killed. Parliament swears revenge." So it had been for the past five years.
It had surprised Roy, when he first found out, that he had musical talent. Not much, mind, but better than the nonsense that kept pouring out of the radio. Originally it had just been informal attempts: humming while he read, snatches of songs while padding through his mansion, and the like. Then, after awhile, he had decided to play the piano. It was something to distract his mind, and while he played... that distraction would help to clear his thoughts, and sometimes that was all he needed.
Such as now, while he was considering what to do with Alphonse. The boy had locked himself in the library, emerging only occasionally for food or rest, then returning as quickly as possible. Roy felt a small twinge of guilt at this: yes, Al was starved for stimulation, and he certainly hadn't complained about the incident that had happened two days earlier, but... all the same, Roy got the feeling that he had done something wrong.
And that was why he found himself playing the piano in the late evening, his bare fingers skipping across ivory keys to tease out a melody. It was, in the end, much better than his usual performances, which was surprising. As he tickled out the final chord, he let out a sigh as silence wrapped around him again.
At least, until the sound of clapping filled the air. Roy spun around to his left (I should have oriented all of the doors to the right, he thought,) to see Alphonse standing there, a dreamy smile on his face. The boy whispered, "Beautiful. I didn't know you played the piano."
The Flame Alchemist offered a smile. "It's something that I've learned to do. You would have known that, if you had bothered to keep in touch." It was only a mild reprimand; more to underline Mustang's regret than to attempt to point blame.
"I know. I'm sorry... I should have come to you earlier."
Another difference between the brothers, Roy thought with a frown, Edward would never apologize to me. "It's all right. I'm sure that you had your own reasons." Noncommital, classic Roy Mustang. That line also had its standard effect on Elrics.
Silence. Al seemed to be considering what to say, but it was taking him too long to make up his mind. Finally, Roy changed the subject: anything to fill in the silence. Anything to keep him from feeling that he had just done something wrong. "Alphonse... did you ever learn to play the piano?" A bit weak, but Roy actually knew surprisingly little about Al's personal life: something he'd have to remedy if his plan was to work.
The boy smiled softly. "No... Mom tried to teach me while I was young, but I wasn't very good at it. Then..." The smile wavered. "Well, a suit of armor isn't exactly going to be able to play it. The hands are too large, and a gauntlet just isn't gentle enough for it." He frowned. "There were a lot of things that I couldn't do... or at least, that's what Winry said. She... felt sorry for me."
"Would you like to learn?"
Gray eyes widened at this, and Al argued, "I was on an important part in the research, and I should probably be getting back to it..." At the look on Mustang's face, he added, "M-maybe at another..."
"Alphonse?" The act wasn't fooling Roy Mustang for a minute. So, he assumed a tone of command. "Come here." To his delight, Al nodded and walked over. "Sit down." He motioned to the right side of the piano bench, and the younger man obediently took his seat. "Hold out your hands."
It was a testament to Roy's charisma that Al obeyed before his conscious brain had an opportunity to act. The Flame Alchemist had that effect, when he wished. With one smooth motion, Roy grabbed the younger alchemist's hands, and looked at them with a critical eye. "Hm... gentle yet precise." And soft, too, he mentally added. "Much better than mine." So saying, he carefully positioned the pale fingers over the keys, then looked into Alphonse's eyes. The boy was blushing again, and his hands were trembling. Roy offered a smile. "Try to relax. Let me lead. Just get a feel for the music."
With a brief nod, Al closed his eyes, and his body relaxed. With that gesture of trust, Roy began playing, positioning his own fingers over each of Alphonse's. Glorious music filled the air, and as Mustang watched Alphonse's reaction, he noted the look of pleasure that slowly crossed the younger man's face.
Alphonse was feeling overwhelmed by the experience. No one in Rizenpool had any musical talent whatsoever, and he had spent far too much time alone, so his hearing was quite sensitive. Hearing something like that... it was wonderful. The fact that the hands over his own were so soft, completely unlike what he had anticipated, only added to the effect. He had expected them to feel like the pyrotex Roy's gloves were made of: rough and harsh. But, of course, they weren't: they moved him with a gentleness that few people, even his brother, had bothered with. And when his eyes opened, he saw that Roy was smiling at him; a kind expression that few individuals got to see. It made Alphonse Elric feel... unique.
It took him a moment for his conscious mind to catch up with his position: namely, the fact that, in a round-about way, he was holding hands with Roy Mustang. Major General Roy Mustang. The Flame 'Too-hot-to-be-left-alive-or-alone' Alchemist. To his brother, the Source of All Evil. Possibly the largest pervert in the Amestris military: the sort of person that his mother had warned him about (in a teasing way, but still.)
But, the Elric decided, I think he's different than that. And he smiled.
It took another moment for Al to realize that the music had stopped. And that Roy Mustang was staring at him with a smile that was positively hungry. For just a moment, the younger man debated the merits of bolting as fast as he could; but he knew that those hands, as kind as they were, wouldn't be letting him go anytime soon. As they slowly raised him to his feet, he wondered if he would want them to.
"Do you know how to dance, Alphonse?"
"W-well..." Al fought a losing battle with his own nerves; Roy had already pulled him close, in a position ostentatiously for dancing. He had to crane his neck upward in order to look into Mustang's eye; while not as short as his brother had been, Al was far from a giant. "A little," he confessed, "Not very well."
"We can't have that, can we?" Roy's smile transmuted into the Smirk that Alphonse had learned to both fear and anticipate, and the other man added, "Like before: relax, and let me lead."
The Flame Alchemist waited for Al's breathless nod, and he started. It was a slow dance, the pace being set only by Roy's whim and the tune by his humming, but somehow, Al found himself enjoying it. It was easy to just give in to the moment, to cradle his head against the broad chest and let those gentle hands hold him. A few times, he swore that he was going to trip over his own feet, or was just feeling awkward, but Roy's hands would catch him and pull him close. Slowly, he found himself just following the older man's lead. He muttered, head firmly tilted downward, "I'm not... doing too well, am I?"
"If you were a normal twenty-year-old, no. Considering that this is your first time..." Roy looked down, and affectionately ruffled the dark blond hair. "You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Your brother wouldn't approve of what you're doing." I don't approve of what you're doing, he silently added. You've missed too much of your life already.
There was a pause, then Al leaned into the touch, smiling softly as he looked up. "I know... But I owe him that much. I can't stop until I've gotten him back. I can't... enjoy what I have if he can't."
All at once, and before Al knew what was happening, Roy dipped him. Al, having only one leg on the ground, clutched desperately at Roy's arms, and pulled. In response, Roy leaned in, his face hovering a few inches from Al's. Despite the move, however, Roy seemed concerned. "He promised that he would help you get used to your body... didn't he?"
A mute nod. The Flame Alchemist sighed, and leaned in closer, tilting his head so that he was whispering directly into Al's ear. "That's why you began growing your hair out. You made the same promise to him that he made for you."
Alphonse nodded again, and tried to adjust his position so that he could rest both legs on the floor. When he tried, though, Roy stuck one of his legs under Alphonse's, keeping him pinned and off-balance. "He... promised that, if I couldn't enjoy my life, then he'd live his enough for the both of us, until I got my body back. Now that I've got mine back, I need to..."
He couldn't finish his statement, as Mustang's hands suddenly let go. For a horrible moment, Alphonse knew that he was falling, and he also knew that he couldn't catch himself. A split-second later, two gentle hands caught him, one under the shoulder and the other at the hip. Carefully, almost tenderly, Roy pulled the blond closer to his body, and whispered, "Denying yourself isn't what Edward wanted. He wanted you to enjoy yourself. To be honest... I want you to enjoy yourself, as well."
Al was trembling, blushing, and off-balance. He was caught between the feeling of security he had from being held, and the fact that Mustang's knee was only a few inches from a rather sensitive part of his body. He was breathing heavily from the sudden fall, but sighing in relief from the fact that his faith in the older man hadn't been misplaced. Despite all of that, he still managed to squeak, "Maybe... that wouldn't be such a bad thing."
There had been a question, gnawing in the back of Mustang's mind for so long that he had almost gotten used to it. He hadn't asked before, because it wouldn't have been fair. But, at that moment... he had to know, before he could proceed. "Do you trust me, Alphonse?"
"Yes." Simple, pure faith, and the gray eyes gazed at him with confidence. "You won't hurt me."
"Are you sure?" Roy knew that he was pushing his luck, but he needed to know. "I've let many people down in my life. I've killed and I've lied, and I've left more lovers behind me than you will ever know. Are you sure that you can trust me?"
"You didn't let me fall." Alphonse smiled. He saw through Roy's game immediately, and he knew that the older man wouldn't betray him. Tease, possibly; play around with, without a doubt. But he wouldn't betray someone he liked. "I trust you."
Those simple words, spoken without guile or calculation, struck Roy Mustang right in the heart. Very few people actively trusted him: they wagered on him, or relied on him, but all of them were transactions of one sort or another. Something like this, with no obvious trade or exchange being made... It was remarkably close to affection. Very close to affection. If he were the sentimental sort, it could be considered affection. But it wasn't. Of course.
To prove his point, Roy Mustang decided to see how far Alphonse would go. In his own defense, Mustang would point out the fact that, given the position and Al's obvious vulnerability, the end result was nearly inevitable. It was almost the boy's fault; he was so trusting, that Roy couldn't stop himself from taking advantage of that situation.
He nibbled on Alphonse's earlobe. For just a moment, Al's breath hissed, as his back arched involuntarily and he nearly whimpered. Then his brain caught up, and what happened next was a blur of motion. Al grabbed Mustang's arm and wrenched his body over, flipping him onto the ground. The motion took all of three seconds, and when Roy cleared the stars from his eyes and looked up, he knew that he had gone too far. Again.
Alphonse Elric was glaring at him, blushing furiously but with tears coming from his eyes. "I-I need to get back to my research," he whispered, "I'm s-sorry for intruding." And then he was gone again, moving far faster than Roy would have given him credit for.
Slowly, the Major General got up, and frowned. He had messed up, and the gentle hands that he had begun leading had just caused him more pain than Edward's auto-mail ever had. The worst part about it, and what really caused Roy Mustang pain, was the fact that he had brought it on himself. I didn't BETRAY him, he reasoned, But I can see why he would overreact. I was just too forceful, I moved before he was ready. I won't make that mistake next time; I'll only move when he wants me to. I'll have him yet.
And yet, the silence was overwhelming. Roy Mustang decided to leave the mansion and give the younger Elric some peace; both to think about what had happened, and so that he might follow his obsession. As he reached the door, though, the State Alchemist stopped, and slumped against the wall. The silence was overwhelming, and he simply couldn't rouse himself from the guilt. He knew that he would feel guilty about the situation for some time; he also knew himself well enough to know that he would be worthless for the rest of the day, and possibly the next.
The silence was deafening, and it was because something horrible had happened. Roy Mustang had betrayed his angel, and he had let go. Again.