A/N:Maes gets to angst.
Maes felt hopeless and helpless. He was a terrified knot of emotions that boiled and bumped against each other, trying to define themselves more clearly than an angry sense of despair that made Hughes want to scream and cry at the same time. He knew others felt worse than he did, so he stayed quiet and wrote his letters to his girl, which made him feel better.
Maes now sat on the end of his cot, looking at the pitiful excuse for a human weapon who lay sprawled on the cot. Maes didn't speak and only listened intently for each breath the Flame Alchemist took. Everyone knew about the Flame Alchemist and his amazing alchemy that blew away the enemy with no effort at all--or so they thought. Maes couldn't work alchemy himself, but he knew more theory than some alchemists did. He knew how much energy it took for Roy to run from dawn till dusk, blasting away at anything he was told to.
'It's fine as long as I don't see the bodies, it's better that way,' Roy had whispered one night as he and Maes had been waiting for orders. 'When I don't see the bodies it's just an explosion; if I see the bodies it's a massacre.'
Maes reached out a slow hand, and touched Roy's ankle. The younger man didn't even twitch. He kept breathing in and out, pausing to cough sometimes. Maes didn't think about the human ashes that were being smudged all over his sheets, or the fact Roy smelled like ash, burnt flesh, and gunpowder. It used to be Roy smelled like hay and horses, or soap, depending on the day.
Maes expected Roy had been run completely ragged since Kimblee had been taken off the lines. Maes winced despite himself, and cradled his head in his hands. He remembered vividly Kimblee's insanity. He knew of the men Kimblee had killed in what was supposedly a fit of blood lust, and he knew last time he had seen Kimblee--the very morning of the incident--the man had seemed sane, but dead tired and sick of death. He'd looked ready to cry when the General came looking for him to take him to the front lines, but only Maes had seen that look on the alchemist's face. Everyone else saw the wicked smile and mockingly clapped hands.
Maes could only guess how much longer Roy had until he snapped as well. Lately Roy had been jumping at shadows, and whenever he could he came back to Hughes's tent and crashed on the man's cot. Roy didn't seem to know the reason himself, but Maes thought he knew. Despite everything Roy did or went through he knew Maes would always be there for him.
Maes and Roy had been friends for years now--almost twenty by now. Maes had also been a friend of Kimblee. Perhaps not for as long as Roy, but long enough to know it would take something awful to turn him into what he had become. People were already calling Kimblee 'The Comrade Killer'. No one seemed to remember it was Kimblee who had gotten them out of more troubles than they could count. No, the only thing everyone remembered was Kimblee had cracked and turned on his own men. Kimblee was a Comrade Killer.
"How long before you end up like that, hm?" Maes asked the apparently sleeping man.
"Maes, I hear them screaming," Roy whispered in a hoarse voice. "I hear them screaming and burning." Roy coughed, and opened one ash-grey eye to look at Maes. "Does that scare you?"
Maes almost smiled. "Roy, you're never going to be able to scare me. If you at fifteen didn't do it then nothing will," Maes joked.
Roy smiled a little, and slumped into a more upright position. He twisted the red ring on his middle finger in an absent gesture, and closed his eyes again. "How's Gracia?"
"I'm going to ask her to marry me when I get back to Central," Maes said very seriously.
Roy looked up in surprise and smiled a little more. "I hope you have a kid just like you. Then you'll know what I went through trying to grow up with you."
"I want you to be my best man," Maes said with a wide smile.
"I'll have to buy a good suit then," Roy mumbled with a yawn. It was good to know Roy didn't have plans to jump off a building any time soon.
"You will," Maes agreed. "I'll hold you to that Roy Mustang, I really will." Roy looked at Maes, and smiled a smile more real than any Maes had ever hoped to see again from his friend. Maes smiled back, and pushed his glasses up his nose. No, Roy wouldn't turn out like Kimblee if Maes could help it. He couldn't. Maes couldn't stand seeing another friend torn apart like that.