It wasn't that he didn't want to tell his son what the four little letters that made up his first name meant. He desperately did.
It wasn't even that it would be too hard. In actual fact, it would be easy. Roy Mustang could talk about his best friend for hours on end. He just couldn't do it without taking down the emotional shield he put up whenever Maes Hughes was mentioned. It would be simply too painful, having to open up wounds that he'd kept sealed for over a decade.
The death of Maes Hughes was one of the most painful things that Roy had ever experienced. It was surpassed, only, by the bloodshed and the horrors of Ishbal. But, even Hughes had survived Ishbal. Hughes had survived Ishbal, come home, gotten married and had a little girl, and then he went and got himself killed.
Riza Hawkeye was one of the few people that could help Roy put the painful memories of his best friend's demise at the back of his mind. When Roy became Fuhrer, Hawkeye stood behind him, giving him both the support of her whole being, but giving the support that Hughes had promised but could not give. Her unfaltering loyalty, her sheer courage and determination all made Riza invaluable to Roy.
They also contributed to the decision he had made to make Riza his wife.
Maes Mustang was their first child; a son. He didn't know who his namesake was; he would, tragically, never meet him. He knew his Aunt Gracia and his cousin Elysia, but he never saw any reason to presume there was ever another member of their family. Roy, Riza and everyone else who knew Hughes talked about him often, but the timing had never seemed right to tell the children. It had been years, but it still hurt like hell.
Roy was on a rare break from his duties at Central; being Fuhrer was a hectic business. He was spending some rare time with his daughter, Rachael, who happened to be a spitting image of her mother. Her amber eyes lit up as her father lifted her above his head. For a four-year-old, Rachael was rather little, yet dextrous.
"Daddy! Put me down!" she whined, fair hair falling over her eyes. Just then, Riza walked in the door with hers and Roy's nine-year-old son, Maes.
"Maes!" Rachael squealed, her father placing her on the ground, allowing her to run over and embrace her beloved brother in a hug. He scruffed her hair and smiled.
"Hi, Rach." Maes smiled, hugging the little girl back. Riza dropped her bag next to the kitchen counter and went to walk up the stairs.
"I'll be down in a minute." she called, kicking her shoes off at the base of the stairs and walking quickly up them.
"I'll be waiting." Roy replied, a slight audacity to his tone. Riza would have turned to shoot him a glare, but she was too far gone to hear. Maes sat down next to his father, a book in his hand.
"What are you reading, son?" Roy asked. Maes sighed and shoved the book in his father's face.
"A History of Amestris. It's so boring." he sighed, taking the small book back. It was an abridged children's version, with the gory bits cut out and the boring bits kept in.
"Your forefathers fought to keep Amestris the place it is today." Roy said back, insistently.
"I know, I know. But they've taken out all the cool stuff, like the fighting, and the war, and the-"
"War is not cool, nor is fighting. It's a terrible thing that I hope, by God, you never have to go through." Roy snapped, the visage of Ishbal flooding back. Maes' eyes widened.
"I-I'm sorry, Dad, I didn't mean to…" Maes said, sinking back into himself.
"No, no, no. It's my fault. I'm sorry. Just… war isn't cool. I really wish more of our history was the boring stuff." Roy said. Maes sighed.
"I know. It's just, all of this history is 'This man said we should build a wall, so we did,' or 'These people had a discussion'…" Maes said. Roy smirked at his son.
"Amestris is built upon wall building," Roy joked, "Alright, Maes. Go and get changed." Maes set his book down on the coffee table and bound up the stairs, Rachael walking behind him. She had a little more trouble with the stairs than her brother; he was quite tall whilst she was short, even for her age.
Riza emerged at the top of the stairs, changed out of her formal daywear for a more casual outfit. She disembarked the stairs and walked over to Roy, kissing him on the cheek. She sat herself down next to him, swinging her legs over his. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and smiled.
"Good afternoon." she smiled.
"It is now, Riza." he smirked. Riza rested his forehead against the side of Roy's head, trailing her hand down his chest to the side of his waistband.
"Is that a gun in your pocket," Riza whispered, "or are you just happy to see me?"
"I hate to disappoint you, Riza, but it's my gun. You know that." Roy smirked. Riza smiled widely and sucked in a deep breath.
"Funny," she murmured, "Because I could have sworn I saw your gun in the holster on the bed."
"Well…" Roy smirked, raising his eyebrows.
"Although, if you're as inept with that as you are with your gun, then I'm in for an underwhelming night." Riza grinned.
"Well, I know you've got firsthand experience that I'm a little better in that department than in the firearms department." Roy asked. Riza smiled widely as Roy pulled his lips to connect with hers.
"Eew! Mum, Dad, I told you, not on the couch!" Maes whined, walking down the stiars with his hands over his eyes. Rachael just smiled as she followed him, holding onto the side of his t-shirt.
"Mummy loves Daddy." she gushed, smiling widely. Riza coughed slightly, sliding her legs off of her husband and blushing slightly. Riza was quite inhibited about being caught en flagrante by her children. Roy noticed Riza's embarrassment and took her hand, replying to his daughter.
"Yes, Mummy does love Daddy. But not as much as Daddy loves Mummy." Roy said. Riza turned to him, trying and failing suppress a blush.
"Stop it." she said, through gritted teeth disguised as a smile. Roy simply kissed her on the nose and smirked. Riza sighed and stood up, walking over to her daughter and picking her up, resting her on her hip.
"You want to help Mummy make dinner?" Riza asked. Rachael smiled and clapped her hands.
"Yeah! I want to help with all the dinner today, Mummy." she smiled, trying to make her way into her mother's good graces. But, then again, being as cute as she was, that wasn't really hard.
"All the dinner? Goodness me." Riza smiled. Roy looked over at his wife and the way se adapted to motherhood. Before becoming a mother, Riza was always a very rigid, goal-oriented woman. But the way she acted around her children was different. She was still Riza Hawkeye; protector; the fiercely protective, loyal woman, who incidentally refused to change her last name after getting married. But she was also Riza Hawkeye; mother; the loving, caring, understanding woman who'd die for her children and family in an instant.
"All the dinner, Mummy." Rachael smiled.
"So, what did you do at school today, Maes?" Roy asked, eating the dinner his wife and daughter had so lovingly made.
"Not much. We were talking about names today, though." He said. Roy nearly choked on his food. He wiped his mouth and set his fork down.
"Really?" he asked. Maes nodded.
"And I was thinking, what on Earth is with my name? It's so weird." Maes said. Roy sighed. He knew he'd left talking to his son about his Uncle Maes way overdue. The time had just never come up. Maybe that time was now.
"Well-" Roy began.
"I mean, what were you thinking when you named me?" Maes asked. Riza's eyes widened as she noticed Roy's hand tightening around his napkin.
"Maes, I'd not do that if I were you…" Riza warned.
"But it's a stupid name." Maes whined.
That was it.
Roy pushed his chair out and stood up, his fists clenched. Riza sat back and prepared to stand up and follow Roy wherever he was about to storm. Because the face that Roy had on was only ever followed by a storm.
"Don't you ever say that again, young man!" he said, gritting his teeth.
"What?" he asked.
"Your name is the most honourable name that your mother and I could have given you. If you're going to treat it with such ignorance, then you don't deserve it." Roy snarled.
"Roy, please…" Riza said.
"No. This is…This is disgusting, Riza. He can't… He can't do that. The last man that had that name was a great man!" Roy yelled, throwing his napkin down on the table and walking out of the room. Riza threw her hands up to her mouth and stood from her seat.
"Maes, honey, don't worry about Dad. I'll go and calm him down. Just… look after your sister." Riza said, standing from her seat and following Roy up the stairs to their bedroom. Maes stood from his seat and sighed, sitting down next to his sister.
"I like your name." Rachael muttered, quietly. Maes glared at her.
"Not now, Rach." Maes said, shoving a spoonful of mashed potato in his sister's mouth before dropping his head to the table.
"Roy… Roy?" Riza asked, tentatively peeking her head around hers and Roy's bedroom door. She heard a sniff and looked in to see Roy, sitting on the edge of the bed, his head dropped to his knees.
"Roy?" she asked, walking over to her husband.
"Riza." he whispered. Riza sat down and rested her hand on his back, laying her head on his side.
"Are you… crying?" Riza asked, quietly. Roy lifted his head and chuckled slightly.
"Don't be preposterous." Roy said. Riza smiled slightly.
"I wish you would cry. Just once. Just to prove to me you're human." Riza smiled. Roy smiled slightly.
"God. I've got to tell him about Hughes, don't I?" Roy asked, looking at his wife with expectant eyes. Riza sighed and nodded.
"I'm afraid so, sir." she said. Roy's eyes widened.
"Did you just call me 'sir'?" Roy asked. Riza looked away and blushed slightly.
"Sorry. Force of habit." Riza smiled. Roy shook his head.
"We've only been married, what, ten years?" Roy asked. Riza smiled.
"Don't say that. You make us sound old." Riza smiled. Roy nodded, before his face dropped.
"What is it, Roy?" Riza asked. Roy sighed.
"Elysia's turning sixteen next week." Roy said. Riza sighed and rubbed circles into his back. That meanT that it would be thirteen years since his best friend died soon, as well.
"You've got to tell him. Tell him about the man that you wish he'd met." Riza whispered. Roy looked up at Riza and trembled slightly.
"W-What?" Roy asked.
"You're going to tell him about his namesake. You're going to tell him about brave yet incessantly annoying Maes Hughes, the man who made you into the person you are today." Riza said. Roy's eyes widened.
"Riza…" he choked. Riza could sense it. Roy had bottled up the emotions of his best friend's death for thirteen years. She had only seen him shed one tear over it. And she'd very rarely left his side since he died.
"Tell your son about the man that you, deep down, aspire to be." Riza said. Roy could hold back the emotions no longer. He fell into Riza's embrace and let tears spill from his eyes.
"Why did he have to die? Why… with a wife and daughter at home? Why couldn't they just let him live?" Roy asked through choked sobs, cursing the universe for Hughes' demise. Both Roy and Riza knew the answer; Maes Hughes knew far too much about the philosopher's stones. The homunculi had to do something about that.
"I don't know, Roy." Riza replied, tears falling from her own eyes now. The two of them laid on the bed, Roy burying himself into the curve of Riza's body.
"How did… why couldn't they have killed me instead?" Roy asked, in a whisper. Riza gasped slightly, holding Roy tighter.
"Don't say that." she whispered.
"I just… Why?" Roy asked, the most common question asked during grief.
"I don't know. If I knew, I'd tell you. Because I love you. But I don't. I just… I just don't." Riza whispered, burying her face into Roy's hair.
They laid there, wordlessly, for a good fifteen minutes. Roy still missed his best friend dearly, but had never let anyone see the raw emotion he felt. Riza knew he rarely showed emotion; she knew she had to tread carefully. Eventually, Roy composed himself, having run out his reservoir of tears. He sniffed and rubbed his eyes, sitting up and turning to his wife.
"Nobody need know about this, Riza." Roy said. Riza nodded.
"I don't tell anyone about anything else that happens in or bedroom. Why would this be any different?" Riza asked, trying to lighten the mood. She succeeded, it seemed, when Roy cracked a small smirk.
"You make a fair point." Roy said. Riza smiled.
"Hughes would be so proud of you, you know that? A wife, two kids, the coveted Fuhrer position." Riza said. Roy looked up at the ceiling, pointing to it.
"Hughes, if you're up there and you saw that display, do not tell any of your friends up there. Because, if you do, I will kill you as soon as I get up there." Roy said. Riza chuckled slightly and took Roy's hand.
"I think you should go and talk to your son." Riza recommended. Roy nodded and walked over to where his uniform hung. He pulled out a small, folded piece of what appeared to be cardboard.
"Alright." Roy nodded, taking a deep breath.
"You'll be fine, Roy." Riza said, walking behind him and wrapping her arms firmly around his waist, resting her head on his back.
"I'd better be." Roy sighed.
"Maes, can I talk to you?" Roy asked, walking back into the dining room. Maes sheepishly nodded and followed his father into the living room. Rachael went to follow them, but Riza grabbed her hand.
"Baby, Maes and Daddy have to have a little talk. Plus, you've got to have a bath and go to bed." Riza said. Rachael crossed her arms and huffed.
"Will Daddy be back in time to read Princess Sparkles to me?" Rachael asked. Riza smiled and nodded.
"Even though he loathes it, yes, he will." Riza smiled. Rachael gave a squeal of delight and Riza picked her up, taking her to the bathroom.
Meanwhile, Maes was sitting, cross-armed, next to his father.
"Maes, I'm sorry for my outburst." Roy said. Maes gave a little groan of discontent.
"I've never told you who you're named after, have I?" Roy asked. Maes shook his head.
"No." he huffed, still angry about her father's flare-up.
"Here," Roy said, unfolding the small piece of paper which revealed to be a photo, "This… This is your Uncle Maes."
Maes looked up at Roy, in disbelief. He took the picture out of his father's hands and studied it. There was his father; well, a much younger version of his father, anyway, and another man. This man was taller, with jet-black hair, green eyes and glasses. He had a wide smile on his face, and his arm around a rather disgruntled looking Roy.
"This is… who I'm named after?" Maes asked. Roy nodded his head.
"He was the greatest man I ever knew." Roy said, quietly, taking the picture back in his grasps.
"Yeah?" Maes asked. Roy took a deep breath in.
"He was my best friend. And he was killed... by a homunculus." Roy choked.
"A homunculus?" Maes exclaimed. He'd only ever heard about homunculi in textbooks and in legends.
"Yes." Roy sighed.
"I… I'm sorry I said all that stuff about his name…" Maes said, looking down. Roy chuckled slightly.
"You'd better wear it with pride. I risked death by suggesting a name for you whilst your mother was pregnant." Roy said. Maes smiled.
"Did he have a family?" Maes asked. Roy sighed.
"Aunt Gracia and Elysia." Roy said. Maes' eyes widened and his jaw dropped. How could he not have realised? Nine years and he hadn't worked it out. His Uncle Maes was Aunt Gracia's husband; Elysia's father.
"Oh, goodness… poor Aunt Gracia." Maes exclaimed. Roy nodded.
"Yeah. She took it pretty hard." Roy said. Maes sighed.
"So, what was Uncle Maes like?" Maes asked. Roy smirked.
"He was both the greatest and most annoying man I ever knew. He'd come around and shove pictures of Elysia in your face…" Roy chuckled.
"But… wait. Don't you do that with pictures of Rachael?" Maes asked. Roy nodded.
"It's a habit I picked up." Roy said. Maes smirked slightly.
"Did Uncle Maes go to the battle that we're not allowed to talk about until my voice breaks?" Maes asked. Roy simply nodded.
"Yes. He did." Roy said, pushing the Ishbalan memories away.
"Okay." Maes said. Roy pulled out the picture of him and Hughes once again.
"I want you to have this." Roy said. Maes looked up at him.
"Why?" Maes asked.
"Because, I want you to look at it, any time you need help. Because that's what I do. And, no matter how stupid it seems, your Uncle Maes has helped me a lot more now that when he was alive." Roy smirked slightly. Maes smiled and took the picture.
"Thanks, Dad." Maes said. Roy quickly hugged his son before sitting back, taking a deep breath.
"That was hard." he said to himself. Maes looked up at his father and said just one thing.
"I like the name better now, Dad." he said. Roy simply nodded and dropped his head as Maes made his way up to his room. At that moment, Riza began walking down the stairs.
"Roy, Rachael's got the Princess Sparkles book that she wants you to-" Riza began, before her husband came into view.
"Roy…" she whispered, walking quickly down the stairs and sitting down next to him. Roy simply turned to Riza.
"I really wish he wasn't dead." Roy whispered. Riza nodded and hugged Roy close to her chest.
"I know, Roy." she replied. Roy shook his head and put the emotions back on the mental shelf, a place that he knew they could stay for a while now.
"Rachael is going to get really mad if I don't read her Princess Sparkles." Roy said, with a hint of disdain.
"Well, Elysia said that she loved it as a little girl. Blame Elysia." Riza smiled. Roy shook his head and stood up, wrapping his arm around Riza's waist.
"Princess Sparkles it is." Roy said, walking up the stairs with his wife. It may have been painful, but Roy finally talked about his best friend.
And Maes finally learnt about his uncle; his namesake, the greatest man his father had ever met.
A/N: So, what did you think? It was my first Royai, first non-canon (but may as well be canon, thanks to this glorious fandom) fic, so I hope you liked it.