:: before reading

This fanfic has both shounen-ai and het. Be forewarned.

I adore the pairing of Hughes x Roy, but I also love Royai. Addition, most of the HughesRoy/RoyHughes fanfics I've read just don't make sense in the setup, or fail to address the issue of how these very close yet (in canon) straight men could have a romantic relationship. I wanted to write something with Hughes x Roy that merged into canon, and ended with the familiar HughesGracia and Royai, and this is the attempt.

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Coveted Children :: by Aphelion

Two men can never have children. But for Hughes, Roy is willing to give up any number of things. (Roy and Maes, implied Royai, MaesGracia. Pre-series.)

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1

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Roy Mustang knew very well what kind of a man Maes Hughes was.

The first word that came to mind was always- annoying. Because Maes was very good at being annoying, knew it, and liked to use the skill. Never on superiors, for he wasn't a fool. Maes was only just foolish enough to consistently annoy the only person who put up with him long enough to both yell and have true, serious conversations. Roy was used to it.

I think we ate the last of the frozen fish.. We should buy some shellfish this time. You know, oysters are good for your sex drive… so we'd better get a few extra kilos for you. Maes was only occasionally brutally honest.

He was very practical, though. Roy could count on him to pay the bills and respond to the military form letters, and repay their credit at the grocer's when Roy had long forgotten that they did, in fact, eat.

Another constant in their relationship was never spoken. It was the small wish that came into Maes's eyes when officer Hakuro brought his family along to work one day. Sweet, funny Maes was good around children- so good that when kids were around the base, Major Hughes was excused from desk work to commandeer a jaunt around the pond or an expedition to feed the doves.

Roy liked seeing Maes in the kind of happy he was when he was around those kids, or any kids. When they were at the beach on leave, instead of passionate romps in the sand, Roy had found himself sunning by the dunes, watching Commissioner Hughes of the Architectural Brigade giving suggestions for a sand castle that wouldn't fall down when the waves broke. And he had liked it.

What made him uncomfortable was when night fell, and the respective families began to pack up for home. Roy had watched Maes watch the parents herd the children into their autos. In the fading light of the sunset, he had seen Maes's lips whisper those unfamiliar words.

Come on kids. Dad is waiting for us at home- or something to that effect.

A few times before, Roy had started to bring the subject up with Maes, only to stop. Such an uncomfortable conversation. If there was any way he could have helped Maes, he would have forged ahead regardless, but that wasn't the case.

There would be no children as long as Maes Hughes had a boyfriend.

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The worry stayed in Roy's mind. It was never an urgent subject- if it could wait unspoken, first six months and then a year, a year and a half and two years and four… well, it could wait a little longer still. He knew that Hughes was a patient man.

At the same time, Roy knew that however patient, it was unlikely that Hughes would be willing to wait for his entire life for a dream that would never come to fruition.

Without a motive, without a plan… and with total disregard to whatever consequences might come about, because he couldn't bear to think of that sort of a future… Roy started to plan the dreadful conversation.

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"Maes?" he asked carefully one morning.

His housemate carefully switched to hold, the coffee machine and turned to frown at him. "What's wrong, Roy?"

"Wrong?" Roy answered. Hughes' uncanny ability to read his every tone of voice would throw him off for years. "Nothing more than usual," he said truthfully. "Can you get off work a little earlier tonight? I'll try to meet you at your department."

"Mm." Maes returned to making breakfast. Roy rarely showed public affection… there was an ease to the way Maes held his shoulders. Roy sighed to himself.

That day at work, he blotted ink on a paper and Brigadier General Hakuro, waiting outside the door, was not pleased. No one besides his assistant of one year seemed to realize that anything was amiss. Roy was glad, once again, that private Hawkeye was a soldier who held breaths for people.

"Lieutenant Mustaaaang! Do you know what happened to the ashtrays? Eh, eh? Lieutenannt?"

Unlike that idiotic private who had just signed on to his command.

During lunch hour, Roy skipped the mess hall even though it would make his subordinates look for him. He wandered into the National Library and paced down the rows of life science materials. He stared for a few minutes at a picture of a pregnant male seahorse.

Then Roy growled and berated himself for being an idiot. God's sake- men couldn't have children! The idea was perfectly ludicrous. Most men didn't even ever want children on their own- of course, no one was quite like Maes. He really needed children, Roy reflected- preferably many, many children for his vast stores of affection.

Too soon, lunch was over, and then so was the day. Roy excused himself early to be sure that he was on time to meet Maes. His soldiers didn't seem to mind the extra work… too much. Private Hawkeye gave him an irascible smile and wished him an auspicious evening.

It wasn't going to be a very good evening. Roy slowed in his walk as he approached the Intelligence buildings, but smiled to himself when he saw a familiar lanky form already waiting outside.

"Mustang, what's with the face?"

"Are you done for the day?" asked Roy.

"Yep," said Maes. "I've got a shitload of take-home, though. Don't know why, but some higher-up guy Archer wants everything we don't have about some place in Ishbal. It kind of sounds like he's investigating something that military shouldn't care about, and me and the guys are going to see if we can find out why."

Roy nodded impatiently. "Whatever… you can do that tomorrow morning."

Maes raised an eyebrow. "Someone's libido is acting up. I get the hint, I'm free."

"Sure." Roy rolled his eyes. "Let's just go home, Maes."

They strolled, half a length apart, to the five-story lower officer's building. On the way, Maes chattered easily about the random bits of office gossip that he had just so managed to overhear that day, and Roy mostly tuned him out as he wondered what would happen if he initiated contact and… took Maes's hand, or something?

He often felt sorry that they could never show affection in public, partly because of the repercussions of fraternization… but mostly because of the promotion-hurting stigma that would come with any talk. Maes could have cared less- it was Roy's plans that kept that from them.

"Hey, Roy, look."

Roy blinked at the whisper, and instinctively scanned the area around them. There was nothing unusual on the dark walk or park beside. Nothing unless… "Hughes. Is that…?"

"Exactly," muttered Maes. He nodded his head, and the two of them jumped the wrought-iron fence lining the sidewalk, landed heavily on the grass. Roy was still rubbing the bruise on his head when Maes returned with a bundle in his arms.

"Hughes, what the fuck did you get?"

"It's a kid," Maes said quietly. "I don't know what she's doing here, but let's get her where she's supposed to be." He shifted the little redhead in his arms, and started walking away. "Oh- Roy!" he called over his shoulders. "Can you get that book?"

Roy picked up the thick book of fairy tales lying on the ground and trotted after Maes. He knew better than to ask. They were back on the street, when he finally ventured a question. "Maes, where are we going?"

His friend halted in surprise. He thought for a moment, and then sighed. "I have no idea."

"You should wake her up."

"Roy…"

"What? Just wake her up and ask her where she lives. She has to be at least nine… she should know how to get to her house."

"Yea, I know," said Maes. "Kid looks really peaceful asleep, that's all." He shifted one hand out from under the girl's body and used it to gently knock on her head. "Hey… hey, are you awake?"

The child shifted and whined. Maes rapped her again and she opened her eyes. "Where am I?" she asked.

"You fell asleep," Maes said gently. "What's your name? We're going to take you home, ok?"

"Nnn… Scheizka…" the girl muttered. "I live… wait!" She startled. "Where's- where's my book? I had a book with me! We have to go back to the park!"

Roy approached. "Your book's right here," he said, holding it up.

Scheizka visibly relaxed. "Oh…" she said. "Oh, good. As long as I have everything with me, we can-" she stopped, and stared at Roy, who stepped back in unease. "Please don't hold it like that, sir! You'll put a fold in some of the end pages."

Maes laughed. "Home?" he reminded her.

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"Thank you again, Hughes-san."

"No problem, Madam," said Maes, tilting his hat. "He- heck, when I was young I used to run off on my own all the time! Read a fair bit, too… maybe not as much as that one." He bent down to Scheizka. "The book didn't get damaged, did it? That ground was pretty wet."

"Just a little," Scheizka admitted. "But… I know how to fix it up!"

"Good girl," said Hughes. He stood up and exchanged pleasantries with the mother again, before waving the door closed and heading down the steps to where Roy was waiting, outside.

"Should have come up there, Mustang," said Maes, as they walked in the cool night air. "You must be cold."

"Just a little," said Roy. "I don't mind freezing a few fingers, but I wouldn't have felt right coming up there with you like I was some big hero, too… hell, Maes, if you hadn't been there, I would have just passed her by without a notice."

"That's why I'm in intelligence, and you're just an alchemist," joked Maes.

"That's right," Roy said sarcastically.

After a time of silence, Maes glanced over at him. "Hey… all right there? You've been awfully quiet."

"Just thinking," said Roy.

"I see," said Maes. He sighed. "Well…. you were just fine when we were walking along before we picked up Scheizka-chan. You're too dull to still be feeling sorry about not being a good citizen… so, I should conclude that you're blue because of something else?"

Roy grunted and kept walking.

"Something… maybe seeing me play with Scheizka-chan made you all depressed again, eh?"

"How did you figure that out?" Roy said carefully, with a sideways glance.

Maes shrugged. "Oh, we don't see kids that much, but you're always the same when we're around them. Still too transparent, Mustang, I tell you."

They reached the door of their building, and Roy chuckled ruefully as he turned the key to his private apartment. "I think I've been working on lying enough," he said. "There's only one Maes Hughes I can't fool, because you're too close to me."

"Well, then you've found your problem!" laughed Maes. "You have to practice being intimate yet obtuse. Get a girlfriend or something!"

Roy snorted. "You're the one who needs one."

He winced in the silent, still-dark room as Maes quietly passed him to hang up their coats. Roy snapped his fingers to light the tea lamps around the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of Maes's face in the light. For that brief instant when the lights first came on, Roy saw something, very clearly.

Saw regret… and want… in his lover's eyes.

Then the split second passed and Maes automatically put on his sweet mask of affection. He turned to Roy and gestured at the clock. "It's late," said Maes. "Super-exciting day tomorrow, of course. Let's get to bed, because if we wait any longer, all we'll be able to do is sleep!."

Roy put a grin on his face. "Oh… I think I can afford to take off an hour of sleep," he said. "You?"

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When the candles in their bedroom had mostly burned themselves out, Roy and Maes finally settled themselves down for sleep. In the bed shadowed with dusky golden candlelight, Roy lay peacefully and had the only long, interrupted thinking time of the day.

Maes knew him well- very well, in fact, and almost certainly better than he knew his friend. To that extent, there was no point in adopting a new personality that Maes would quickly guess through. He had to be less transparent, though…

He sighed, and rolled over, nestling in the hollow of Maes's chest. Roy knew that he could lie and cheat his way through life, and Maes Hughes would care less, because he knew the original goodness in Roy's heart. He could shield his face or hide his emotions, and Maes wouldn't even ask.

Roy could snap his fingers and take care of Maes's electricity bills for the rest of his life, but there was a limit to nature that he was forced to obey.

There were some wishes that Roy Mustang could not grant.

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:: endnotes

Four more chapters, that's right. I'm determined to finish this without being discouraged by (lack of) reviews! (It should be expected... the summary isn't great and the pairing is probably too unusual). However, any review would be really appreciated... Next chap will be the prelude to Isbhal... and the start of the end. Remember, Hughes has a girlfriend bythe time Roy gets back from the war...