Title: Liquid Smoke
Beta: Unbeta'd
Summary: Giftfic; animeverse. Maes reflects on his relationship with alcohol. Hughes/Roy fluff.
Warning: Slash, mild language, and use of alcohol. Proceed with caution.

Over the years, Maes has developed a strong and lasting relationship with alcohol. He's learned how to recognize the nuances of the partnership, all the twists and turns and the tiny quirks of each drink – the individual tastes, the associations and the personalities, all distinct and separate as light and dark, day and night.

Beer was his first. First kiss, first love, and he even lost the virginity of his liver to it when he'd woken up with the mother of all hangovers the morning after an office party thrown for the promotion of a superior officer he barely remembers. Bitter and fizzy, aromatic around the edges and crisp and smooth all the way down like an experienced lover, confident, sturdy, and sure.

Then there was vodka – the good kind of vodka. Imported all the way from Drachma, warm and clear, burning down his throat like a purifying fire. Passion personified, enthusiastic and ardent and eager, but at the same time, irritatingly fickle, because bad vodka was bad, like rubbing alcohol mixed with cleaning fluid and bitter, bitter medicine.

And now – now there's whiskey.

Heavy cigarette smoke hanging in the air like sweet molasses, and the bartender shoots them a suspicious glance before answering Maes's order, spinning two more glasses of whiskey across the bar in their direction. Roy's choice. Maes quirks a cheerful smile, nods, and wonders how long it'll take the bartender to learn that the two of them aren't interested in bringing down the establishment, but when people don't like the military, there's really nothing you can do about it.

The war isn't helping one bit, come to think of it.

Roy grumbles a thanks as Maes drops the tumbler next to his hand, still scribbling out his report as fast as possible, the scratching of the pen against the paper audible above the calm murmur in the background. It's late, and nobody's around. Just the two of them, the bartender, and three others scattered around the room, and Maes takes a sip from the glass, thinking, well, Roy'd be damn lucky if the State Alchemists aren't dragged to the front lines. There's been talk lately up in the ranks of the Fuhrer calling in the dogs . . .

The whiskey's cold, chilled from the ice clinking in the glass. Sweet smoke captured in a bottle. Oaky and earthy with just a touch of bitterness from the alcohol lingering in the drink. Subtle – very subtle, Maes thinks as he rolls it around on his tongue before swallowing, feeling the warmth spread through his body. A respectful kind, then, layered and complex and assured, intimate and loving.

Roy has long since stopped writing, leaning forward on his elbows with his forehead cradled in one hand before he starts rambling on about nothing and everything, voice slurred by all the alcohol he's downed since he got back from his last mission. Apparently a very boring mission, just a routine inspection of a warehouse that anybody could've done, the higher-ups clearly sent him to keep him away from the political scene because they know just how dangerous he is to their careers (never mind the fact that he only recently became a major), and why can't this damn report just write itself?

And all the while, Maes is caught by how the dim light's shining off the glass, through the amber liquid gathered in the tumbler, and by the way the condensation's lingering on Roy's fingers as he waves it through the air in a clumsy, uncoordinated manner that nearly knocks Maes's glasses off. Roy doesn't notice, drunk as he is, and keeps right on talking through Maes's protest ("Hey!), and now his hand's tracing out a sullen, wet ring on the bar, and Maes (drunkenly) wonders what those fingers taste like and then he's thinking of what Roy tastes like, and he leans forward, grabs Roy's shoulder, turns him, and . . .

Bad angle, Maes knows, but Roy goes completely slack with shock, letting his mouth fall open, and he tastes like smoke (like whiskey), just as he suspected, with just a hint of some addictive spice. Maes lets himself have a damn good taste before he pulls away because he's sure as hell that he won't get another chance.

And then Roy blinks at him slowly like he can't quite comprehend what's going on, all dumbfounded and bewildered and maybe way too drunk to deal with any of this (maybe a little bit how Maes is too drunk to deal with any of this). Then, with an exaggerated roll of the eyes and an unvoiced I think I'll forget this ever happened, Roy buries himself back into his report and takes another toss from his tumbler, lips lingering on the glass like a lover's kiss.

Maes ignores the tinge of jealousy and hides his grin behind his own tumbler. Oh – well, he can share.