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Ficlet: Mail Call

Title: Mail Call
Word Count: 250 exactly
Series: Mangaverse, as ever
Rating: PG for vague allusions to naughty photos
Characters: Major Mustang and Captain Hughes
Summary: "You don't want to see spicy photos of my gorgeous girlfriend?"
Notes: this was my maiden entry to fma_fic_contest , for the dialogue-only prompt, and I got joint second place! Woot! See my post below for boasting and - more importantly - pimpage of the other excellent entries for this week, which you should read. Set in Ishbal and therefore potentially contains spoilers for the Ishbal flashback jamboree in chapters 57-61 of the manga, but in practice no more specific than "Hughes and Mustang fought in Ishbal."

"News from home?"

"The usual. Letter from my beautiful girlfriend. Want to see a photo?"

"I'm good, thanks."


"Ah. She's all right."

"All right? You’d take that back if you saw these others. Pretty spectacular, dunno how they got past the army censors -"

"Let's have a look, then-"

"I didn't say you could see them!"

"On second thoughts ... fine."

"Fine? You don't want to see spicy photos of my gorgeous girlfriend?"

"You don't want me to!"

"Well, no - but what's wrong with you? You're a man at war! This is a bee-autiful, scantily-clad girl-“

"Look. If we make it home, and if the poor woman hasn't seen sense, I suppose I'll have to meet her. It'd be nice if I could look her in the eye - "

"Hey! Give-"

"Too slow, my friend. Now ... huh."


"It's just ... these pictures aren't actually very spicy."


"Well, for a start, she's wearing a swimsuit, Maes. It's even one of those modest ones with little shorts! Now, perhaps, if there'd been a thong involved …"

"You're jealous, my friend!"

"Yes, you've got me. Poor me, I have no marginally arousing photos of my demure, presumably insane girlfriend - ouch! Not the hair!”

"Hahaha, you girl - hey! Get off my beard!"

"-attempted beard-"

"Ah! Okay, I'll let go if you will-"

"Company B, move your lazy asses! The extermination of District 158 is due done today!"

"Ah. Time for work. I'd forgotten."


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
i absolutely loved this one at the contest and still do
Aug. 31st, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you kindly!
Aug. 31st, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Ahahahahahahaha and then the last line shut me right up.

Sep. 1st, 2009 11:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's the one.

Your creepy Kimbley icon still rocks. One of these days I'm going to write me some creepy Kimbley.
Jul. 26th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
My reaction exactly. Well done.
Jul. 26th, 2010 09:19 am (UTC)
Aug. 31st, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)

Cracks me up. Ahh... Ishbal humor. A rare-to-find species.
Sep. 1st, 2009 11:17 am (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, someone just perceptively commented on fma_fic_contest on how the way Armstrong stops being funny and starts breaking your heart when he's in Ishbal is sort of an index of how appalling the situation has got: comic relief failure. I quite agree, but was sort of amused at myself given I just wrote Ishbal comedy. Especially given that in previous fics I'd wrenched comedy out of Havoc's paraplegia, the whole Solaris debacle and (marginally) Mustang's near-fatal stabbing. Perhaps next I should attempt to find the funny with cute little Nina Tucker and her pet dog.

*donations to stop me doing this to the usual address, please*
Sep. 1st, 2009 03:06 pm (UTC)
Your ability to write banter completely kills me. *g*
Sep. 1st, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you kindly!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
The more I've thought about this story, the more I love the way it fits into the rhythm of Hughes' and Mustang's interactions in canon - most of them have this kind of escalating banter ended by the intrusion of something serious and disturbing. I really like that.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! Yeah, your comment about the rhythm of their canon interactions and the rapid flips from comedy to scary-ness is very true - the ultimate example being the manga and Brotherhood versions of Hughes' death. "If you're going to brag about your daughter, I'll hang up." "gurgle" *audience is inconsolable forever*

You know, I get the impression in the manga especially that they're both aware of what the silly joking around does for them when they spend so much time involved in scary and disturbing things. There's a cool Ishbal-set gaiden where Hughes basically says that his whole silly, Gracia-smitten side is totally conscious on his part and even something he has to work hard at. Such an interesting character - but then his death wouldn't resonate so well if he wasn't.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 01:32 am (UTC)
Yes! I think they very much are. All the adults in the manga, or at least all the adults who are in it for long at all and remotely sympathetic, seem to be very aware that they have coping mechanisms and know when they're using them. That particular gaiden fascinates me. Hughes obviously does not want to discuss this, but he can't avoid it because Roy is just pushing and pushing - and very obviously suicidal. I think it's interesting that Hughes works very hard at keeping his behavior and emotional responses as close as possible to what they were before the war, while Roy, who is this giant workaholic introvert with a tendency to - not brood, exactly, but take a dissecting kit and a microscope to his inner life - responds to him doing that by majorly re-working the way he habitually presents himself (except in relation to Hughes). It's a tactical decision, of course, but it also has all these odd emotional ramifactions for the both of them.

(And how much do I love it that the coup was Hughes' idea? And that Hughes may or may not have scragged officers personally but certainly helped cover up when other people did? Oh, Hughes, you terrifying man.)
Sep. 3rd, 2009 08:26 am (UTC)
Yes - quite agree with all of that! I really love how different Arakawa makes Roy pre-Ishbal, much more open and sweet and (ouch) naive. I like that his re-invention of the face he shows to the world isn't commented on by other characters - it's nice and subtle. Sort of reminds me of the pre- and post- Great War versions of Peter Wimsey in Dorothy L. Sayers' novels, if you've read them? Although Wimsey more ends up doing what Hughes does.

And isn't it interesting how Roy is a workaholic with a theatrical front of laziness, and an introvert who's nevertheless very good indeed at both charming people and genuinely inspiring liking. (I'm sure having approx. 250 flirty foster-sisters helped with this).

And I love how that gaiden ends with a comic sting - much more difficult to pull off than pinging from comic to disturbing.

Yes, yes, loved that part where Hughes doesn't bat an eyelid when Gran frags their bastard of a commanding officer, and casually offers the cover-up while the guy's still twitching on the ground. Oh, Hughes.
*adores the complicated psyches of the manga cast*
Sep. 6th, 2009 02:17 am (UTC)
I got two chapters into a Peter Wimsey and hit a nasty jag of Too Much Academic Reading To Do - I should really go back! But, yes. No one talks about it, except obliquely. Well, actually, I think a lot of Knox's general attitude towards Roy boils down to 'and who exactly do you think you're fooling, kid?' but Knox doesn't come out and say it.

Oh, yes! Charming, socially adept introverts are fairly common in real life, but it's pretty unusual in fiction - I sometimes think a lot of authors think that 'introverted' and 'anti-social' are the same thing - and I think it's important for how Roy works as a character that both his introversion and his drive are not the product of trauma. He just is that way. I imagine Hughes spent a lot of time at the academy trying to get him to lighten up and go out and have fun! Meet new people! Take personal time! Acknowledge that turning himself into a recluse with bad eyesight will not save the world any faster.
Jan. 8th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
LOLOLOL Too cute. I think this is something these two would actually do in their free time during the war.
Jan. 8th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks! They are silly. For some reason I decided there needed to be more Ishbal comedy?
Jan. 9th, 2011 03:14 am (UTC)
Oooh, I look forward to that. I believe the Ishbal comedy would at least balance out the horrors those soldiers had to face when they were sent out.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )