andrea weiling

Cigar Smoke

Roy Mustang liked the smell of tobacco. When Hawkeye was out of the office (which wasn't often), he sometimes found himself playing with a cigar a lot, the cigar that Hughes had given him when he first found out Gracia was pregnant. Now he twirled it around his fingers, and faintly the scent of fresh tobacco rose to meet his memories.

When Roy first entered the army, he was young, hypocritically criticizing the so-called glory the army offered, yet wanting that glory. He would have called Hughes a coward during that time—if he hadn't had respect for the man. After Ishbar that all changed; he became truer to himself, and began to truly work towards his motives now that he knew what the army was about. Before he had gone off to war, he had met Hughes—lazy at first glance, but only so people would disregard him while he noticed every minute detail worth noting. He did not escape Roy's notice, and after he was promoted after the war, he pulled Hughes up with him.

Maes Hughes first entered his office on a strange March morning that was sunny yet had clouds. Roy looked up, expecting Hawkeye, but instead was the lazy intelligence officer he had met at a rookie party. He remembered that meeting as well, a conversation with lots of sidestepping and vague and subtle insults, ending with a grudging respect for each other when they parted. Obviously Hughes was not expecting that meeting to mean anything.

Roy was not a good judge of character. Actually, that was what he had Hawkeye for. It was Hawkeye who told him that Hughes would understand what he was trying to do, and would help him on the side. According to her, he loved to talk and watch other people even when he wasn't on the job; he had a fondness for his wife and also for little kids. Though it was a risky move, moving Hughes up when he only had Hawkeye's word for it, Roy did it anyway; he was new at being a Major, new in the army, he might as well know how hard consequences would be for mistakes.

Hughes saluted stiffly, and Roy sat him down on the extra chair, pouring two cups of coffee. "No brandy," he murmured, half to himself, but Hughes laughed. It was not a serious tension between them.

Hughes was not in his squadron, not even his department. "You pulled some serious strings to get me to Captain, Mustang. I think I know why you did it as well—you want someone to talk to, don't you? Feeling lonely as the newbie Major?" Roy lifted one eyebrow, and Hughes settled back chuckling. "You seem a decent man, no scratches on your record...why a out-in-the-blue daydreaming man like me?"

Roy was blunt. "You're practical. You see things were I can't see them; that's why I need an ally in the Intelligence Department. You'll be able to go many places that I can't go, because once I'm a Major I've got other more important responsibilities, like deciding which color our lobby chairs should be." Somehow he kept a straight face—he was getting better at that. "I need someone who will know what I want when I'm not there, and set up a smoother ride to the top for me."

Hughes was equally blunt. "You're not just aiming for the top, though."

Roy leaned back, and looked out the window. The clouds were now covering the sun. "Life will become more difficult. You'll have to think more, because I don't have two intelligence officers on my side. You'll be lonely, like me." A humorless smile at that. "You'll have to find happiness elsewhere."

For a moment, nothing, but then Hughes stood up, smiling forcedly, and held out his hand. "It was nice to speak to you, Major. Thank you for the promotion." A deft twist of the heel, and he was out the door, leaving a still-steaming full mug of coffee, along with Roy, whose only betrayal of anxiety was the line between his eyebrows.

In the end, Hughes found Gracia, and at the same time plunged into Roy's work, quickly becoming the busiest intelligence officer in the department (though he seemed he was as lazy as before). Roy knew that Hughes was slowly piecing things together—his continual questions on the Fuhrer, his observations on the movements of individual State Alchemists, his widespread 'spies' everywhere. The army was in for a fall, with Roy in charge. After the Fuhrer disappeared, Roy would tame the army into a governing force, not a controling one. Roy's fast ascent could not have happened without Hughes, constantly finding opportunities for Roy to prove his excellence. In the first year or so, Roy was too busy with his own job to properly thank Hughes.

And then a note from Hughes, saying his wife (did Roy really attend that wedding, a year and a half ago? He could barely remember it) was pregnant—and along with the note a cigar. He recalled lifting it cautiously up to his nose, and then back away from the stinging, spicy herbs along with the smouldering scent of tobacco. He was supposed to smoke it in honor of the baby, but Roy hated smoking.

That was the period where he visited Hughes quite often, perhaps once a week for half a year, watching him adore his wife and his not-yet-born child, thinking up names and seemingly hardly serious; that was a refreshing change than Hawkeye, who did not tell jokes and rarely smiled. He had other officers to cheer him—Havok, for instance—but Hughes could tell him things that they could not, as they were only minor officers. And when they were together, sitting side-by-side in their old bar, Roy realized that perhaps the army was redeeming in that it brought people together as comrades. Hughes was more than that; he was truly a friend.

Then he moved to East City, meeting the Elric brothers, seeing them eat up one half of his life entirely. They really stirred things up—Roy and Hughes included—added fresh young blood to the mix, and shook up the entire department into chaos. Alphonse, his kind and sweet demeanor belying a determination that rivaled his brother's; Edward, hotheaded and rabidly anti-Roy, but inwardly searching for balance between Alchemy and himself. The latter made him look twice, that spirit of Alchemy burning so brightly and fiercely inside of Edward, fighting for life now that he knew how precious it was. It was funny that Roy didn't really learn that until now.

Hughes was dead; Edward was gone, and Roy was cold without the warmth of the two. Hughes, his stalwart shadow—Roy looked behind now and saw dust, and bottles of brandy. Outside, it was another strange March day. When the door opened, he didn't look up—it was Hawkeye, as usual, unknowing the significance. Suddenly Roy stood, and signed the report in front of him without really looking at it, and then pocketed the cigar. Hawkeye wordlessly pointed to the new stack of paperwork, but Roy brushed her hands away.

"I need a smoke," he murmured.