The Right Temptation
Perspectives series, story #3
Disclaimer - not mine, all characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa et al, Square Enix and funimition. I don't make a profit
Rating - PG-13
Pairing - None, Roy & Kimbley
Summary – Roy contemplates his actions after a successful strike against the Ishbalans.
Time Line - Manga verse, set in Ishbal so spoilers for things happening from 58 and beyond.
Author's Note – This was written for the 7stages challenge. Prompt -SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1 a thousand martyrs I have made. Thanks to Evillittledog for the beta. While this is a series, all the stories are stand alones. Story number one in the series is Fog and story #2 is No Good Reason (both on FFN)
All men are tempted. There is no man that lives that can't be broken down, provided it is the right temptation, put in the right spot. Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, 1887
Roy sat on a boulder watching the non-coms digging burnt bodies out of the rubble and topple them into the mass grave being dug in the hollow. He, Kimbley and Gran had outdone themselves. He saw at least four distinctive robes that marked the dead Ishbalans as warrior priests among all the bodies strewn everywhere.
"Should you be out here by yourself?"
Roy nearly fell off the rocks as he whipped around, startled. "Damn it, Hughes!"
"You know better, Roy." Maes' thin lips disappeared into an unhappy line. His eyes scanned their rugged surroundings. "It's dangerous out in the open like this, especially for the alchemists."
Roy turned back, gesturing at the dead. There were so damn many of them. A scent like roasted pig, sickly sweet, hung in the air and he was the cause of that miasma. There would be no getting the reek of burnt flesh off his skin. "Look at them, Maes, look at all the martyrs I've made. I did this." His hand shook as he cupped it over his eyes, trying to blot out the horrible image. "I've given the Ishbalans all the reason they need to keep fighting."
"You're a soldier, Roy."
Roy glanced over at him and couldn't help but notice that Maes wasn't looking at the grave detail. Maes' voice sounded unconvinced by what he was saying. "This isn't the work of a solider. This is an offense against nature." Roy shuddered. "Do you think this will ever be forgiven or forgotten? Even by our own men?" Roy looked up into Maes' face.
Maes didn't meet his eyes. "By some, yes, a win by any means possible. By others, no this never will be forgotten," Maes replied with painful honesty.
"All our idealism." Roy dragged his gloved hands through his hair, the rough texture abrading his scalp, thinking on their academy days. "We were fools."
"Not fools," Maes corrected. "Maybe just a little misguided. I believe in my country. It's the leaders we shouldn't trust."
"Maes!" Roy glanced around frantically. "Keep those thoughts to yourself. I mean it. If someone heard you…You don't know everything."
"I'm not an alchemist so I'm not part of the inner circle, right?" Maes' eyes slotted. "You know things I don't."
"You're too damn perceptive for your own good." Roy tore at his hair again. "Armstrong got sent back. Someone suggested I would do the same if I truly didn't want to be here. Maybe I should." Roy's voice barely rose above a whisper. Maes nearly lost those words to the grunts, groans and curses of the burial detail.
"Armstrong's career is done and you know it. How can you get to the top if you let them end you here?" Maes asked honestly.
Roy looked at the bloody fingertips of his gloves then tucked his hands under his armpits before he tore out any more hair. "My choices stink." He shook his head. "I want to be alone, Hughes."
Maes clamped a hand on Roy's shoulder. "Okay, but I have my eye on you, buddy. Don't do anything stupid."
Roy snorted at him. "I don't know what you mean," he lied and he knew Maes saw his words for what they were. Be that as it may, his friend left him to his misery.
X X X
"You don't have to say it." As he entered his tent, Kimbley held up his hands before Envy could even open his mouth. "I know. I'm not getting anywhere with Mustang."
Envy kicked back on Kimbley's cot. "I'm beginning to think you're the wrong man for the job."
Kimbley scowled at the homunculus. "And I'm thinking that you're not going to get what you want from Mustang. Not everyone is corruptible, at least not to the extent you want."
The usual glee left Envy's eyes. "I am aware of that but I'm not ready to give up all hope just yet."
"Neither am I. I only came back for this." Kimbley set his military-issued hat on his head. "Mustang is out by the mass grave, sitting and staring from what I've heard. Some are wondering if he has shell shock. I'm sure he's made of sterner stuff but it might be time to move him off his martyr mind set."
"Best of luck," Envy called with a lazy wave of his hand.
Kimbley grimaced into the bright sun, thinking he'd need luck as he stepped out into a wall of heat.
X X X
Roy heard the soft crunch of boots against the sand but he didn't turn to see who it was. He almost wanted it to be an Ishbalan. Let me die. Roy hunched in on himself, waiting for a blow that never fell. He glanced over when someone sat next to him, thinking he'd be yelling at Maes for bothering him again or maybe at Riza for the same reason. Giving how bad his luck was running, Roy shouldn't have been surprised to see who it was.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" Kimbley said, gazing out over the grave. "The extent of our power."
Roy shuddered. Why did Kimbley always have to sound so damn proud of himself? "I'd rather not think about it too much."
"Seeing this," Kimbley waved a tattooed hand at the grave as he sat down next to Roy. "I can understand why."
Roy looked at the other alchemist in surprise. He had expected to have nothing at all in common with the Crimson Alchemist. "I'm not sure why I'm surprised at what we had to do," Roy said, his voice rough and ugly. "You and I, we didn't come to our alchemy with blinders on. My mentor didn't want to give me the final secrets until…" Roy hesitated. He couldn't tell this man about Riza. That would be utter folly. "the very end of his life. He saw this coming, knew what I might be able to do for the military." Roy shut his eyes against that memory. Hawkeye had tried to warn him but he had been too idealistic, too young and stupid while thinking himself smart to really understand. Roy wished he had been more open to what Hawkeye had tried to tell him. Maybe he and Riza wouldn't be here now. Then again, he wouldn't have met Maes. Was a best friend equal trade for the carnage he had created?
Kimbley rolled his shoulders. "Consider it the price of freedom."
"Ever think the price is too high?" Roy sighed, and wiped at the sweat on his forehead. His hand came away soot-stained.
"It's a matter of control," He replied enigmatically.
Roy studied Kimbley for a moment, trying to determine if he was having him on or if he actually meant something of consequence. "How so?"
"The people who decide to send us to war are the ones with control." Kimbley flung a stone toward the grave and Roy braced for an explosion. It didn't come. "The way I see it, you can be part of those in power or you can let people pull your strings like a puppet and make you do things you don't want to do."
Roy sucked in a deep breath, surprised to heard the words he and Maes had bandied about coming from the mouth of someone he didn't respect or like and most definitely didn't trust. "You have a plan, don't you?"
"Yes, and there's room for you." A lazy smile wormed across Kimbley's handsome face. It sent a shiver up Roy's spine. "Want to know more about it?"
Roy didn't want to say yes. He knew nothing Kimbley could say would appeal to him. Roy looked at the grave. At least the dead were covered now but in his mind's eye he could see them. If he were in control, people wouldn't have to die like this again. The nineteen year old looked over at his fellow alchemist. He and Kimbley had power not many could conceive of. They could do so much if they could work together. The yes started to form on Roy's lips but before the word could be whispered a new voice cut through the air.
Whipping around, Roy nearly unbalanced himself. He caught himself, relief washing over him as Maes and Riza crested the hill. Maes glared at Kimbley who returned the harsh look.
"Roy, a few of us are getting together to play cards and have a few beers over in Roamann's tent," Maes said. "Want to come along?"
"Yes." Roy all but exploded up off the sand. "Sounds great." He hoped no one could see how nervous he was but figured everyone did.
Maes' eyes cut to Kimbley. "You can come, too, Major Kimbley. Everyone's invited."
"Thank you but I think I'll pass." Kimbley got to his feet with the grace of a cat. He spared a licentious look for Riza. "But I might change my mind."
"Let's go. I could use a beer," Roy said, in a hurry to get away from the temptation Kimbley offered.
"Just don't forget what I said, Mustang," Kimbley said then sauntered off.
"What was that about, sir?" Riza studied Mustang as if he were a curious new life form.
Roy strode off, leaving his friends behind, then called over his shoulder, "Absolutely nothing."