flyin_bison (flyin_bison) wrote in fullservicefma,
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flyin_bison
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In the Dark- Chapter 6: Alchemic Studies (6/??)

Title:In the Dark-Chapter 6: Alchemic Studies
Category: Maes/Roy and some Roy/Riza
Author: FlyinBison
Rated: M
Genre: Angst/Drama
Spoilers: Yes, in regards to Maes, but not really if you’re watching the series
Status: Continuing
Intro:Roy never could put his finger on why Maes fascinates him. Roy tries to run from his feelings, but finds even war can't make him stop thinking about Maes. MaesXRoy hints and tension. Set after Hughes' final encounter with Envy. Many flashbacks.
Disclaimer: The following is based on characters as developed by Hiromu Arkawa. By no means do I take credit for their creation and/or character development.

Previous chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5



Author’s Notes: Again sorry for taking so long on the release on this chapter. I had reached a point where I wanted to further enrich the plot and make things a bit more exciting. So I tried really hard to do that here and it ended up taking a little while longer than expected. Thank you to those of you who left comments and encouraged me to update. It really helped inspire me. Please enjoy the chapter!

Previously in the last chapter…

1) Present day Roy is still coping with the loss of Maes. In her own subtle way, Riza consoles Roy. However, like always, she withdraws back into her professional role before Roy can fully express his appreciation.

2)Wartime Roy got an unexpected visit from his childhood friend, Riza. She informs Roy that, back at home, it had been reported that he had died and that Maes seems to miss him greatly. She encourages Roy to write Maes.

3)Military academy Roy and Maes get to know each other more. As if to repent for his past sins as a bully, Maes promises to help Roy become a State Alchemist. He plans to do this by first pulling strings to get Roy a job in the alchemy labs.

Chapter 6: Alchemic Studies

“Damn it, Maes!” Roy threw down his metal compass and chalk , “I can’t do this! These alchemy circles aren’t making any sense to me! I think I’ll just settle as a paper pusher like you.” How could he become a State Alchemist if he couldn’t even do the homework for the “Introduction to Alchemy” class?

“Oh come on, Roy,” Maes got up from his desk and crossed the room to Roy’s side, “You’ve done harder things than this before when you were with old man Hawkeye, yeah? I think you’re just over complicating things. This is just a simple reorganization circle. It’s just a shifting around of material. There’s not even any chemical reformation involved. I mean I did it and I definitely know I’m not state alchemist material. So you should be able to do it too. I believe in you.”

---


(At the Cathedral of the Blessed…a year later…)

Roy smiled and chuckled at the memory to himself. With a renewed vigor he picked up his dull pencil from where he had thrown it down moments before.

He paused a moment before erasing the uneven letters he had written down. “Dear Hughes,” it had read. Starting again, Roy began to write more even and definite letters, “Dear Maes.”

---


(One year ago…in the military academy dorm room…)

Kaboom! Windows throughout the dormitory rattled in their frames.

Outside, along with many others on the street, Maes whipped his head up at the large sound that came from above. When he saw Roy quickly open their dorm room window to let out the thick, black smoke inside, Hughes gasped. Quickly he ran past the bystanders on the dormitory steps. Just as he came down the hall, the door to their room opened. The future flame alchemist backed out of the doorway fanning at the smoke with a paperback alchemy manual. He pushed his ash covered alchemy goggles to his forehead.

“Oh…Hughes, you’re back early…” Mustang said in between coughs.

“Ahh!” Maes’ voice went up several octaves when he looked inside their doorway. Dashing into the smoke filled room, Maes hysterically rifled through what appeared to be a singed pile of his belongings.

“Ahhh!” He shrieked, again. The corner of Gracia’s picture was burning when he got to it. Swiftly, Maes patted the small flame out and let out a small sigh of relief when he found that no large part of the picture was damaged. He hugged the photo close against his chest as he came out of the room.

“You alchemy-ed in the room?!” Maes finally exclaimed after he gained some control over his breathing, “I said, ‘I’d be the fuel for your pyre,’ but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.” His voice up a few octaves again as he said the last part.

“Well I…uh…” Roy readjusted the ash caked alchemy goggles on his forehead. They had left a clean outline where they had stopped the soot from depositing in the area around his eyes. The young alchemist gestured with his hands, pointing at the room. His thick, rubber alchemy gloves had lost all shine as they were also covered in black powder. “…I…uh…I tried to…” Roy smiled nervously, sweat forming on his brow, “…it wasn’t supposed to…”

“Ah never mind,” Hughes waved his hand and then grabbed Mustang’s wrist, “Come on, we have a meeting with Lt. General Knightly.” Maes began to pull the sheepish cadet down the hall.

“Wait, Lt. General Knightly?” Roy stopped their walk down the hall, “You mean the Dean of Alchemic Studies!? I’m not dressed appropriately. I should be in uniform.”

“And what makes you think your uniform is in any better condition than the clothes you’re wearing now?” Hughes briskly brushed some dark soot off of Mustang’s shoulders where his apron had not covered him, “Besides, you don’t have time for that. We have to get going now or you’ll be late.” With that, Hughes continued to lead the bewildered, young alchemist along.

---


The Alchemic Studies building was once an old seminary school. If one looked closely enough and in the right places one could still make out the worn etchings and inscriptions of Latin, Biblical proverbs above doorways and passages. Over East Campus the building loomed with its high arches and dark steeples. Time had long ago stained its brick and mortar structure an ashen black as if it had been singed in a fire once.

From a midlevel window, Mustang squinted up at the gnarled gargoyles along the eaves. No matter how horrid gargoyles looked, the young alchemist always thought they looked scared.

“Lt. General Knightly, this is Roy Mustang,” Hughes’ voice reverberated down the marble checked hall as he and an older, serious looking gentleman in a lab coat walked towards him, “the cadet I was telling you about.”

Roy turned and straightened his posture, “Sir.” He saluted the older gentleman. To be honest, time must have been kind to the “older” gentleman. Though his hair was angel white, he did not appear that much older than he or Maes. In fact, the Lt. General had the air and appearance of a finely groomed business man than an alchemist.

“At ease, cadet,” the white haired gentleman saluted with a loose gesture. His voice was smooth, “Please, this is an academic institution, no need for military formalities here.” He extended his hand to Roy.

Roy gave the hand a firm shake. “Please forgive me appearance, Sir,” Roy added as the Lt. General looked at the soot left in his palm after the hand shake, “I had a bit of a mishap on the way here.”

“I see,” Lt. General Knightly glanced at Hughes before producing a red handkerchief from his pocket wiping his hand on it. After doing so, he gestured for the two cadets to follow him back down the hall towards his office.

The advanced classes were in session and Mustang couldn’t help but feel his heart skip a beat every time his ear caught bits of alchemy lectures and alchemy terms escaping from the classrooms and labs. If only he could have ranked with the other alchemy students on the Alchemy Placement Exam. He belonged here…

“So Maes tells me that you were Brethold Hawkeye’s apprentice,” the Lt. General said as they past more classrooms.

Pulling his attention away from the bits of alchemy speak, Mustang nodded and made a confirmatory noise in his throat, “Unh.”

“He’s a talented man and I am a great admirer of his research. It’s too bad about that his respiratory condition, though. I heard that some time ago he sustained a devastating lung injury during a house fire of some sort. Bless the man, I heard he was trying to save family.”

Unseen by the Knightly, the young alchemist’s dark eyes saddened slightly and he lowered his head.

“It’s unfortunate. I’m sure such an extensive health condition hinders his abilities and the progress of his work greatly,” The Lt. General briefly glanced over his shoulder at Roy, “How is the good Professor doing, anyway?”

At that moment they stopped walking. The corridor had opened up into a larger area again. Lt. General Knightly turned to face the two young men.

“Sir,” Maes interjected, having noticed his roommate’s solemn demeanor, “with all due respect, perhaps we should discuss the laboratory position you had in mind for Roy. You do have a lecture to give in the next hour, yes? Roy and I would hate to keep you and to make you late for it.”

“Heh,” Knightly chuckled, “You’re just like your father.” He clapped Maes firmly on the back, “Always down to business and business all the time. It’s sad that you didn’t follow in his footsteps. You would have made a great alchemist.” The Lt. General turned and took a few steps towards a door along the far wall.

Hughes narrowed his eyes and forced a smiled, “If only he had been as good of a father as he was an alchemist.”

“I beg your pardon?” Knightly said over his shoulder as he rummaged in his pockets for his office keys.

“I said, ‘I doubt anyone could be as good as my father was at being an alchemist,’” Hughes winked at Mustang. The young alchemist smirked, breaking the sad look on his face. How easy it was for those golden eyes to make Roy smile.

Knightly chuckled again, “Indeed.” Finally, he unlocked the door and gestured for the two cadets to enter his office.

---


Less than an hour later…

“Excellent,” Lt. General Knightly clasped his hands together, “It is an absolute honor to have the apprentice of Professor Brethold Hawkeye work in my lab. So can you start right away, son? As in today, right now?”

“Uh, yes, of course, Sir,” The young alchemist said hesitantly as he was caught off guard by the Lt. General’s sudden enthusiasm. Roy looked at Maes as the thought of the soot caked dorm room they had left behind entered his mind.

“Wonderful. Follow me, then,” Knightly jumped up from his chair and lead them down the hallway perpendicular to the one they originally came down.

“I’m sorry to say that you will be working mostly in the glassware and washroom, so you won’t be able to sit in on any of the lectures. However, at times I may need use you as my assistant during demonstrations for the advanced classes. The classroom laboratories are all located along this hallway on this floor and the 2 below it. For your own safety, DO NOT venture into the basement alchemy laboratories. Those are a part of the military research department and you would need special military clearance to enter those laboratories. Your main duty is to collect the dirty glassware and equipment from the teaching laboratories at the end of each day and to have it all clean in time for classes the next day. The first laboratory class is at 8AM and the last laboratory class ends at 5PM. .”

“And what of the left over chemicals and elements, Sir?” Roy said just as they arrived at the glassware and equipment washroom.

“Ah yes,” Knightly smiled, “Like a true alchemist, or a mad scientist, I suppose, you’re already thinking about what materials you may have access to. I would expect no less from Brethold’s apprentice.” Lt. General Knightly led the two cadets into the cramped washroom. Ceiling to floor, the walls were lined with stacks upon stacks of all sorts of glass flasks, cylinders, and tubes.

“Unfortunately, due to department budget cuts, I cannot allow you unlimited access to alchemy elements and materials. Such access is only for the advanced alchemy students who ranked on the Alchemy Placement Exam.”

Roy cast his eyes down briefly.

“However, since young, Mr. Hughes speaks so highly of you and since his father was a good colleague of mine, I will grant you unlimited, 24 hour access to the lab space as well as whatever alchemic materials are left over from the day’s classes so that you may do with them what you will. Just be sure to dispose of your chemical waste properly.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Now,” Knightly turned to a large metal sink piled high with more dirty alchemy equipment, “Lucky for you, today, someone has already collected all the soiled materials from the classrooms and has brought them here for you.” Knightly pointed to additional carts that surrounded the sink and lined the narrow walkway they had just stepped through. They were filled with even more used alchemy supplies. Roy’s eyes widened at the sight of it all.

“Here are your keys. Here’s your bottle brush,” the Lt. General handed Roy a ring of keys and a gnarled brush with several patches of missing bristles, “There’s the soap. I would get started if I were you. Try not to break anything.”

Still with wide eyes, Roy turned slowly turned to Maes who only smiled nervously back at him while scratching the back of his neck.

“Now I must be going. I have a lecture to give, you know? Remember,” Knightly said as he quickly left the room, “this all needs to be clean by the first class at 8AM tomorrow!”

Sweat started to bead up on Roy’s brow again. “Hughes, you gotta help me,” Roy turned around just in time to see Maes slip out another door.

“Lazy bastard,” Roy grumbled.

“I heard that!” Maes’ voice came through the door. He was using that high pitched tone again, “Who you calling lazy? Who do you think is going to have to straighten up the room in time for evening inspection tonight after the mess you made!” Hughes’ voice faded as he walked further down the hall, away from the washroom and Roy could only catch a few fragments of Maes’ retorts, “Spoiled…inconsiderate…I’m trying to help...sheesh!”

Roy laughed. He smiled for the rest of the time he was in the washroom. Even several hours later, as he walked out of the Alchemic Studies Building, the soft smile was still there.

By then it was already dark, which made the East Campus especially creepy. The thick fog settling in wasn’t helping either. In the far distance, someone was whistling a haunting tune.

The young alchemist rolled his sleeves back down and let out a heavy sigh. His hands were so raw from the harsh soap and all the scrubbing he had to do. Roy shuttered at the thought of all the dirty glassware that would be awaiting him the next night. Hopefully, next time there wouldn’t be as much so he would have time to experiment with some of the leftover elements in the lab space.

Roy rubbed his temples. How late was it, anyway?

When Roy looked up again, he suddenly froze and lost his breath. He wasn’t far from the bottom of the front steps leading to Alchemic Studies Building when he saw…

“Peter? Here?!” Roy exclaimed to himself as eyes widened. Peter was walking in the opposite direction, coming towards him. It was he who was whistling that ever so haunting, yet familiar tune. Mustang held his breath.

Perhaps it was the fog and perhaps Peter was just far enough away that when he passed Roy, he didn’t even react. It was as if he didn’t even see Roy. However, he was so close to Mustang, that the young alchemist could nearly smell him. He smelled pungently of smoke and ash.

After a moment, Mustang turned and squinted. He watched the figure fade into the fog and head directly towards the Alchemic Studies Building. Was it him?

“It couldn’t be,” Roy thought to himself, “Peter wouldn’t be caught dead here, let alone caught walking calmly into an alchemic institution. It can’t be him…but that bleached blonde hair…and that scent…” It was so strong when Peter had him pinned in the train car.

After another moment, the alchemist shrugged, “No it can’t be him.” Mustang must have been more tired than he thought.

---


Back at the dorm…

“Ah, there you are, Mustang,” Fresh out of the shower, Hughes was clad in nothing but a towel about his thin waist. He glanced away from his mirror and looked over his shoulder at the tired alchemist who collapsed face down onto his bed, “I was starting to get a little worried. You know you probably shouldn’t stay out too late if you can help it. They say there’s a serial killer out there who likes to slash and burn young cadets.” The gory image of the charred and mutilated corpse that Maes saw at the infirmary right before he met Roy flickered across his memory. Maes’ stomach turned over once. “Military Police officials haven’t been able to get even close identifying the killer yet, let alone a motive.”

Hughes turned and leaned against his bureau when Roy didn’t respond, “You also should really wash all that soot off before you soil your sheets like that. You have no idea how hard it is to get out of fabric.” Hughes turned back to his mirror and swished his straight razor in his water basin a few times before continuing, “Heck, I’m surprised I was able to clean the room up to look almost normal again before evening inspection. And I just barely made it before--”

“Quiet, Hughes,” without looking Roy raised his charcoal smudged hand and pointed in the direction where Maes was standing, “I’m trying to sleep…” He let his hand drop to dangle over the edge of the mattress.

Hughes chuckled to himself at the sight of his exhausted roommate sprawled out on top of his soft, down blanket. He looked so relaxed and cozy. Realizing that he was staring, Maes turned back to his water basin and continued to shave.

After hearing Maes swish his razor in the water basin a few more times, Roy spoke up again, “Hey, Hughes.”

“Hmm?” Finished, Maes placed his razor in a glass cup on his dresser.

“I saw Peter, your half-brother today. “ There was a brief silence as Hughes stopped what he was doing.

“Did he hurt you?”

“No,” Roy heard Maes exhale softly as he began to move again, “he didn’t see me. I saw him going into the Alchemic Studies Building.”

“What? Are you sure it was him? He would never set foot in a place like that.”

“Yeah that’s what I was thinking but—“

At that moment, when Roy had turned over to face his roommate, Maes, facing his own bed, dropped his towel and continued to get dressed. Roy’s cheeks suddenly became hot as something swelled inside of him. Partly out of respect and partly in effort to hide his reaction, Mustang quickly rolled over. However, though he faced the blank wall now, he couldn’t get the picture of Maes’ bare, broad shoulders and muscular back out of his mind. It wasn’t but a second before all the inappropriate thoughts he had had on the train when had first seen Maes flooded back to him.

“Y-you going somewhere?” Roy managed to spit out though he felt as if his mouth were full of cotton.

“Yeah, I know,” Hughes said buttoning up his white shirt, “I’m a hypocrite after telling you to be safe and not to stay out too late. But Gracia is in town and I figure she and I should have a nice night out before the academy institutes a curfew on us due to the recent murders. We won’t be out too late. Though, I may get back after you’re asleep.”

Roy tried not to jump and to act natural when Maes touched his shoulder, “Hey, while I was cleaning up I also came across this.” The blushing alchemist turned his head slightly. Maes was holding out a thick, leather bound book. In contrast with the worn white cover, the pages of the closed book appeared to be dark around the edges, suggesting that the book had been thumbed through many a time, “I figured I should give it back to you now before I forget.”

“That’s not my book,” Roy said trying to keep a calm, straight face. He could feel a fine sweat surface to his skin.

“Well it’s definitely not mine,” Hughes raised an eyebrow slightly, perplexed at why the young alchemist had suddenly become so serious, “ Based on the gibberish written inside of it, I’m assuming it has got to be one of your alchemy texts. You guys write these things in code right? Even if, for some reason, it’s not your’s, you’d be the only one in this room able to crack it right? I mean…I thought that at least you may enjoy it…” Maes trailed off

At that moment, something melted inside Roy. Hughes was giving him a gift…He wanted him to enjoy it…

“Just leave it on my desk, Hughes,” Roy finally said flatly, still unable to quell the strange energy that continued to fill him. He turned his head back to face the wall again and shut his eyes.

If only he could have gotten a hold of himself. Then he would have been able to thank Maes properly before he left.

---


Several years later…Present day…

An intense flash of lightning and crack of thunder startled Mustang from his sleep. “Damn rain…” He muttered to the dark air above him. How he hated the rain. It rendered him so…powerless.

Unable to filter out the steady noise of the storm outside, Roy slowly rose from his tangled sheets. At least this time she had undone his bindings before she swiftly left. Mustang let out a mild groan. His body ached.

In the shower, the colonel tilted his head back and let out another noise as the hot water ran down his tired body. Before the storm had awakened him, he had been dreaming of Maes. However, like all waking minds, he was just too weak to hold onto any memory of the dream. All he was left with was the knowledge that, somehow, Maes had just been right there…right in front of him…

God…what was wrong with him? Why was he trying so hard to remember the stupid dream? He couldn’t even remember the subject of his last real conversation with Maes, let alone what Maes’ last words were to him before--

The blood soaked telephone booth…Roy couldn’t get the sight of it out of his mind! It hadn’t been a dream that he had awoken from after all. So it had been a nightmare that he had tried so hard to remember…and now he wished he hadn’t been so foolish.

---


Additional notes: So you may have noticed I was trying to focus more on the academy storyline this time. The major plot will definitely take place in Maes’ and Roy’s academy days. However, if it’s not too confusing for you guys, I’m still going to throw in occasional related bits for wartime Roy and present day Roy as a means of foreshadowing and embellishment of certain deeper themes. Don’t worry though, it’ll all come together in the end.

I hope you enjoyed the chapter! Let me know what you think! Please review. Thank you.

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