Spoilers: Identities of Sins. A bit of character backstory. Not much else.
Warnings: Unsurprisingly, politics. There will be a bias. Hopefully, not much of one, but there will be one, because it deals with geopolitical events, many of which are actually relatively topical, and philosophies will inevitably shine through there; and because there is a very distinct narrator - Roy, most of the time - and the narrators will have opinions of their own. Mind, however, that this fanfic is not designed to preach. It's not designed to change your mind about anything. It's not a pulpit. It's designed to tell a story I thought was relatively interesting, and to allow me to mix my FMA obsession with my politics (i.e., West Wing) obsession. So if you come across something that irritates you, try to ignore it, and if you can't ignore it, stop reading. Oh, uh, also, mild violence, sexuality, and language. Heh. Yeah. Hee hee. I said sex.
Notes: Damn you, Funimation, it's Riza, not Liza! My doodling of RxR will not have been for naught! Also, Hakuro, not Haruko! For names and the like, I'm sticking to the early romanizations.
Part I, Chapter I
The phone rang once, then twice, and the President managed to summon enough strength to knock it off the hangar toward himself.
"Good morning, sir," came a chirpy voice, not seeming to lose much in terms of volume for all its distance from his ear.
It took some will, but His Excellency managed a response: "Unnnnahhhghnnn." Ahh. Erudite and succinct. This was why the people had elected him by such an impressive margin.
"Mr. President, it's six o'clock in the morning – " Mr. Chirpy said, chirpily.
"I hate morning," the President said.
There was a bit of a pause. "Right. Well, it's six o'clock – "
"I hate six," the President said.
Another pause. "The number, or the time, sir?"
"Well, I'll – ah – have it stricken from all, uh, proceedings, sir."
"I'll name you secretary," the President whispered. Somehow, Chirpy heard him, even though the receiver was still lying some distance away on the pillow. Square in a puddle of drool. Ha.
"Me, sir?" Chirpy was asking. "Of what, sir?"
"Coffee," the President said, irritated by his cheer and quite ready to end this line of questioning.
Chirpster, however, was less ready: "Secretary of coffee?"
"Coffee," the President growled. Chirpy laughed uncertainly.
"I'll have it sent in, sir."
"Unnnnnh." He swiped at the receiver of the phone, and enjoyed the beeping sounds it made for a disconcertingly long time, or at least until there was a knock on the door. He responded predictably:
His unflappable butler strode in, pushing before him a cart loaded with silver vessels. Without a word, the old man poured out a tall mug, adding just the right amount of sugar and cream – a lot – and placing it in the President's hands, then calmly replacing the phone on the hook.
After a few sips, His Excellency had remembered what it was like to be human enough to thank the man, and bade him leave but, for the love of God, leave the coffee behind, and then leaned against the headboard, letting the steaming mug warm his chilled hands, nursing the cooling drink and studying the painting of the founding of Amestris that hung on the wall. Perhaps he would have them nudge the temperature up a few degrees at night. It wasn't as though he were paying the heating bill, after all, ha ha ha. Kind of pleasant, though, having a warm bed and cold air. Perhaps he wouldn't.
He managed to compel himself to kick his covers aside for the sake of a second cup. He managed to catch a glimpse of his clock as he did so – six-thirty already? Enough time for a shower, but not a bath. Mmmyes. Hot water sounded nice. Right after coffee, which, not coincidentally, was also hot. Mm. Maybe he should go for a third cup? Couldn't hurt.
Of course, the third turned into a fourth, and after President Mustang lingered over his coffee he lingered in the shower, and, predictably, the nation of Amestris got off to a late start and had to rush breakfast once again.
"We've slipped a bit – "
The President chose that very moment, at the announcement of the worst news, to come ambling in, mug clutched in his hand, and immediately his look of vague thoughtfulness turned into a frown. Such was his perpetual timing.
"That's a nice thing to wake up to," he said, and waved at them to keep their seats. He sat down at the head of the table.
"Nice to see you managed to make it, sir," Maes said, leaning over toward his friend and grinning.
"I didn't sleep well," the President responded. "Can we possibly – " He cut himself off with a growl as Maes reached toward his coffee cup. The growl faded as Maes pulled back, then redoubled as his friend reached forward once again.
"This is great," Maes enthused. "You guys should try this." He looked back at the assorted aides, none of whom would ever in their lives dare, and laughed, then leaned forward until his fingertip was a mere quivering centimeter from the mug's handle. The President slapped his hand.
"Don't we have better things to do?" asked Mustang, trying desperately to sound fierce and angry and businesslike.
"Latest polling numbers in, sir," Jan said, leaning back in his chair, a cigarette dangling from his fingers. He followed the President's gaze toward the noxious stick and made a token attempt at hiding it.
"Not so good?" Mustang asked.
"Not too bad. Just a slight slip," Maes said cheerily.
"They've, uh..." Heymans looked uncomfortably up towards the Chief of Staff. "They've decided that we don't have family values."
"So Maes," Jan said, staring at the ceiling languidly, no longer trying to conceal his cigarette, "has decided to go out and personally convince each and every voter how much of a misconception that is."
"Oh sweet Jesus Christ have mercy upon our souls," the President pronounced, deliberately avoiding Maes' gaze. "Anything we can do to change the perception?"
"You can get married and have five children within seven months," Vato suggested.
Mustang eyed the tall man, uncertain, as usual, whether or not he was joking. "Well. Seeing as that's rather impossible, I suppose we'll have to leave that up to the remarkable photo albums of one Maes Hughes, eh?"
Maes leaned over and murmured, "I have a new one, by the way, Roy old boy."
Roy leaned right back and replied, "I'm a very important man and my time is very valuable and I have aides to take care of that sort of thing. Delegating, you know."
"Ohh, no. I'm making time in your schedule so that you'll be able to look at my brilliant daughter."
"I'll have someone sit in on the meeting. I'll have them wear a mask so they look like me. They sell those commercially, now, you know."
"I'll get you one for Christmas."
Heymans cleared his throat, and the two most powerful men in the nation snapped apart guiltily. Mustang coughed. "Right. Any good news?"
"Your support among single women is still quite strong," Jan drawled. "Woooonder why."
"Is that bitterness?" Mustang asked to no one in particular. "I think that might be bitterness."
"Also among gay men," Jan added.
"Did I make the cover of the Sexiest Geopolitical Players issue of TeenBop magazine this year, too?"
"That issue hasn't come out yet," Jan shot back.
"Is there one?"
"Damn! I'd be a shoo-in. My only competition would be, perhaps, Premier Bradley. Girls love a man in an eyepatch. I've been thinking of getting one, incidentally."
"An eyepatch?" Kain asked uncertainly.
"I think it would be dashing. Piratical, even."
"Anyway," Maes interjected. "According to the poll, you're weak among married women and the military."
"Family values, yeah – I can understand the first one – but the military? If there were any group who should be stronger among the military..."
"They think you're weak."
"They think I'm weak."
"Of course. Completely disregarding that relations with our proverbial gorilla are as normal as they've ever been...We're allies now, you know We've committed troops."
"Maybe that's the problem, sir," Maes said, shrugging. "Nothing can get the old boys happy like a bit of cold-war tension. Maybe they miss it."
"They have a war, such as it is. Can't they use that to distract them?"
"It's not a real war. We don't look macho fighting it," Jan snorted. "That's what they want. They want to be the nation of awesome, or something."
"Ahh. Well, okay, then. Someone draft a press release right now: 'In order to appease our military and to intimidate our potential enemies, among whom, evidently, are our allies, the Democratic Republic of Amestris is now officially the Democratic Republic of Kickass.'"
"Wait, wait – we should do..." Kain counted off on his fingers. "The People's Republic of Awesomeness and, uh, Democratic Ambition. Then we can mass-produce cheap bags and sell them at grossly inflated prices."
"Uh?" grunted Heymans.
"PRADA. People will never know the difference."
"And a hand to Kain, for solving our economic problems," laughed Mustang. "Anything else?"
"They don't like you in the southern provinces," Vato said calmly.
"I've never understood that one, really," the President said. "I mean, I sound like I should be from there. Not the accent. The name. Roy Mustang. Really."
"Oh, no. We know," Heymans snickered. "You sound like you're a..." Vato coughed, and Heymans looked over. "A never mind."
"Were you about to make the stripper joke again?" Mustang asked.
"No," Heymans lied.
"I take great offense to that joke," Mustang said. "I'm the leader of Amestris, the most enlightened nation in the entirety of the world, and as such am possessed of an inalienable dignity – " He cut himself off with another growl as Maes reached for his cup once again. His friend, predictably, took advantage of his silence to speak.
"I think we're done here. Anybody have anything else? Anybody? Issues? Congratulations on it being my darling Elysia's quarter-birthday?"
"Congratulations," most of the room chorused dully.
Mustang, however, looked sideways at his friend. "Maes, I don't even know what a quarter-birthday is."
"You're a smart man. Highly educated. You can figure it out."
"Can we maybe...theoretically...just kind of put most days under the blanket of 'Elysia's unbirthday'? It would save time."
"You wouldn't grasp the significance of the day if that were the case."
"I have a country to run, Hughes."
"Then run it, Mr. President," Maes responded.
"Thank you, everyone," the President said, rolling his eyes. His staff muttered thanks and filed out of his office. His chief of staff, last of all, hesitated a moment.
"There was nothing else, Maes?" Mustang asked him quietly. Maes turned back and closed the door to the office behind him.
"There was..." Maes hesitated. Roy watched him as he adjusted his glasses and shrugged. "A bit of an incident."
"In Creta," Roy repeated. "Two words I don't like."
"It shouldn't be anything, unless Bradley is in a bad mood. One of ours killed one of theirs."
"Not a friendly fire incident?"
"Don't know. It could be, and wouldn't that be nice. Doesn't look like it, though. It was an officer of ours, Major Edward Elric, and their General Gran."
The President couldn't suppress a half-gasp. "General Gran? Can we give our man a medal?"
"Roy – " Maes said warningly.
"...Well." Mustang frowned. "This certainly has the potential to turn into something significant. Whose custody is the offender in?"
"Ours. He's being extradited even as we speak."
"How's the Premier feel about that?"
"He hasn't been in contact. The whole thing only happened this morning. Want me to set up a call?"
"Yes. No. No. Wait until he's inside our borders, then set up the call. Have the Secretary of State on standby. Hakuro, too. God only knows what this might turn into."
"I'm sure it'll be fine," Maes said. "You have the state dinner tonight – a reception for delegates from Xing."
"There will be a few people from Drachma there."
"Only significant one is the Secretary of War. I'll have Sheska get you their files."
"Fine. Thank you, Maes," Roy said, pulling a stack of paperwork towards himself and smiling ruefully.
"Thank you, sir," Maes said, and shut the door as he left.