Title: Fanning the Flame

Author: S J Smith

Rating: K+

Summary: Maes is Evil.

Warnings: Takes place during manga chapter #15, "Steel Hearts", corresponding with Brotherhood episode 9 "Created Feelings".

A.N.: Written for the Live Journal Community, FMA_Fic_Contest, where it took first place for the prompt of "Flame".

A.N.2: Thanks to D. M. Evans for her edits.

Disclaimer: At night, I dress in a cow suit and sekritly fight crime. Uh. Not.

Maes watched Ed inhale everything on the plate in front of him. The injuries he'd sustained during the fight at Lab Five hadn't affected his appetite any, especially now that Al and he had gotten their issues out of the way. Which, Maes had to admit, had helped both boys. Winry had been right about certain things needing to be said.

Which reminded Maes. "So, Ed."

"Mmph?" He glanced up from his plate in mid-chew.

"I've been meaning to talk to you." Maes made himself comfortable at the foot of Ed's bed.

Ed swallowed. "About what?"

"Your mechanic."

The boy frowned, shoveling another piece of meat into his mouth. "What about her?"

"She's awfully cute, don't you think?"

Ed sputtered and choked and Maes got up to pat his back solicitously. When he'd caught his breath, Maes settled on the end of the bed again. Scowling, Ed watched him, his lower lip shoved out. He seemed unwilling to take another bite. Wariness, it was a good trait in a soldier, particularly in one as young as Ed. "No."

"You don't think she's cute?" Maes adjusted his glasses. "Not even a little bit?"

The blush flamed over Ed's skin, starting at his chest and sweeping up his face. "No! She's just a greasy little machine junky! Why would I think she's cute?" He stabbed his fork toward Maes. "And you're too old and married to be looking at her, anyway! You shouldn't be noticing anyone other than your wife!"

He'd touched off a powder keg. Maes pretended to ignore Ed's outburst and went on. "A girl who'd defend a guy like that against his own brother, she's got to be one in a million." He hadn't thought Ed could burn any brighter but his face positively glowed. "Al didn't tell you? She whaled on him pretty hard with that wrench of hers – I'm surprised she didn't leave a bunch of new dents in his armor."

Was it admiration in the boy's eyes or sheer terror? Maes thought he'd seen Roy wearing that particular expression around Hawkeye before. Still. Time to fan the flames a little higher. "There's a street fair coming up in a few days and Gracia's little brother needs a date."

"Not with Winry!" Ed snarled, showing an awful lot of pointy teeth. "We'll be gone to Rush Valley by then!" Leaning forward, he poked his fork in Maes' direction. "You can keep looking for a date for your brother-in-law!"

"Okay, okay, you win." Maes shrugged in mock defeat. "I'll find him another cute girl."

Ed snorted, steam practically coming out of his nostrils. "And leave Winry out of your plans!"

Getting to his feet, Maes waved at Ed over his shoulder. "I guess I should. It seems like she's already spoken for, anyway." Ed's screech of protest was music to Maes' ears as he left the hospital room.

Winry was right. Sometimes, things did need to be said out loud – if only because the reactions were worth it.

A.N. 3 - Maes Hughes is absolute love.