Author's Note: A fic spawned from several other fics that I will eventually finish. This ended weakly, so I might go back and edit it again later, if I can come up with something better. ;o;
w w w . shimegami . com / ichijouji
It was W.O. Falman's job to empty the office trashbasket whenever Sergeant-Major Fury was off-duty.
This was not a particularly onorous chore for the warrant officer, who thought his job far better than the corporals who regularly cleaned the bathrooms. He accomplished his simple task cheerfully on a regular basis.
Not to mention that many of the office jokes spawned from what the subordinates found while tidying Colonel Mustang's office. Of course, with Lieutenant Hawkeye on duty to keep the firebrand under control, generally things were not so bad--but once in a while the NCO on cleaning duty would find some interesting Mustang-ism stuffed in the cracks between the desk drawers, hidden from the lieutenant's stern eyes.
Such was the note Falman found while emptying the trash on Thursday morning.
Dearest Elizabeth, (the note read,) I miss you. Sorry I could not be here when you stopped by, but something important came up.
Will you meet me in the office, Thursday at 8? I'll be waiting. -Roy
Will you meet me in the office, Thursday at 8?
I'll be waiting.
Discarded? Or simply a rough draft? Falman could not decide as he read the note, a smile creeping over his face. The colonel, holding secret liasons right in the office? This was something exciting!
And, of course, gave the warrant officer a perfect opportunity for blackmail.
This was how Falman, 2lt. Breda and 2lt. Havoc came to be roaming the halls of Central HQ after hours on a rainy Thursday evening. Breda carried a camera in his hand, Havoc an unlit cigarette in his mouth. The latter was gleefully plotting how to steal the Colonel's new toy away from him (if she proved suitable) as Mustang had done with so many of his girlfriends. Falman was just looking for enough insider info to guarantee him next Saturday off.
They realized, soon enough, that they were very ill-prepared. Though the office was empty now and there was plenty of time to hide, there was little space to conceal three grown men, in particular the portly Breda. Fury would be sorry he missed the adventure, but even if he had come back from leave with time enough to be incorporated into the plan, there was more than enough trouble having to hide the three senior officers.
At 7:30, Havoc and Breda were still arguing about who got to hide in the closet when the lock turned and Lieutenant Hawkeye strode in.
The camera disappeared. All three snapped to attention. "Lieutenant!"
"Didn't you leave hours ago?" Hawkeye questioned, looking a bit taken aback. She carried an armful of papers and an empty teacup.
"Er...y-yeah," sputtered Breda. "We just came back to get...to get..."
"My wallet," Havoc finished smoothly, withdrawing it from between the cushions of the couch. "We were about to go out for a few drinks."
"Aha. I had hoped he would be here...unfortunately there's always work to be done in the Colonel's office." She deposited the papers on Mustang's desk. "I just need to find him, and make him do it."
The men exchanged significant looks. Ah, so the Colonel's plan is going to be foiled by Lieutenant Hawkeye once again!
She smiled kindly. "Don't get too hung over."
"Never!" Breda affirmed.
"Good. I expect you all here at 800h tomorrow--and it's my day off, so keep your colonel out of trouble."
Confident that Lieutenant Hawkeye would spoil the Colonel's little redezvous, the three subordinates ambled off to the bar.
As expected, Colonel Mustang arrived at work the next morning in a foul mood.
"I wonder what Lieutenant Hawkeye thought of Elizabeth," Breda mumbled to Falman as the scowling Colonel stomped around the office. The absences of Hawkeye and little Black Hayate were conspicuous, and Fury wasn't due to return until the next day.
The pile of papers Hawkeye had left on the Colonels desk had been dumped unceremoniously on the floor sometime before the men had entered. Breda shifted uncomfortably.
"What are you staring at?" the Colonel growled, makig his subordinates jump. "Don't you have work to do?"
The three men scattered immediately to begin their assignments for the day, Breda out to bring some work to the Fullmetal Alchemist, Falman to report to Major Armstrong. Havoc, wary of staying in the room alone with his irritable superior, made up an excuse about photocopying documents and quietly escaped.
Breda was the first to return two hours later, a sandwich in his hand. He almost hid the food but the merry sound of Roy Mustang's voice carried out into the hall, freezing him in his tracks. He poked his head fearfully into the room and was greeted by a cheerful wave of the Colonel's pen. "Hello, Second Lieutenant!"--into the phone--"It's Second Lieutenant Breda, coming back from meeting Fullmetal. I hope he wasn't too much trouble!"
"Ah--not at all, sir."
"Thanks, Breda. Now, Elizabeth, about dinner..." Breda's ears perked up. No wonder Mustang was in a good mood--he'd managed to get in touch with his new girlfriend, and Lieutenant Hawkeye wasn't around to supervise the call. Breda plopped down on the couch and began to eat his sandwich, grateful for the change in atmosphere. The Colonel seemed slightly inhibited by his presence, however (did he know somehow that Breda was memorizing his side of the conversation?), and disconnected the call after a short while. "Yes, I'll meet you there at six-thirty, and we can go to the Hall for eight. Don't expect me to dance, though."
So they were going to some sort of dance. That would be a good way to get a look at the Colonel's new playtoy, Breda decided--and perhaps give himself a chance with her. Excellent.
"Don't you guys think you're taking this a bit far?" Sergeant Brosch questioned in the mess hall later that afternoon.
"Too far? It's just a bit of fun," Falman argued. (He little suspected Havoc and Breda's intent to steal Elizabeth for themselves.) "Besides, the Colonel promised Lieutenant Hawkeye he was going to be less of a flirt after that time she caught him entertaining women in the office."
Sergeant Brosch smiled devilishly, recalling the bruise Mustang had sported on his cheek for the following three days. The Lieutenant could be a very scary person, but when she was taking it out on her superior officer, it was downright hilarious. Havoc and Breda wore dreamy expressions, probably enjoying the same memory.
And so Sergeant Brosch came to join Mustang's subordinates in their quest to destroy the Colonel's love life. He was not quite as interesting a companion as Fury (Breda hated doing the office chores, and could not wait for the bespectacled Sergeant-Major to return from his week-long leave) but he was an adequate substitute. Some quick detective work on 2lt. Havoc's part had produced the location of the dance, and the men agreed to meet there in the evening. The colonel, without Lieutenant Hawkeye to supervise him, snuck out of the office three hours before dismissal "to see Fullmetal" and never returned.
The party of Breda, Falman, Havoc and Brosch gathered outside the doors of a local hall at eight-thirty, 2lt. Ross in tow. Though she did not serve directly under Colonel Mustang, she disapproved of what Brosch had told her of the plan ("She made me," the Sergeant defended himself meekly) and had come along, presumably to keep them under control. Unfortunately, only Brosch was subordinate enough for her to command, and W.O. Falman's age made her feel like he was out of her jurisdiction. For his part, he looked mollified as she lectured them all, but chose not to follow her strong "suggestion" to just give up. Havoc and Breda, being of the same rank, chose to ignore her and have a last cigarette before going in.
Inside the club, the lighting was dim enough that it was difficult to see, but Havoc's sharp eyes eventually discerned the figure of Roy Mustang, slow-dancing in the center of the floor. His partner was a tall, slender woman wearing a pale blue dress, her blonde hair falling in curls around her shoulders. She was talking quietly with him as they dances, arms around his neck. Havoc could not see her facial features very well, but if what he could see was any indication, she was stunningly beautiful.
Breda and Falman were both staring at the pair, equally at a loss. (This plan hadn't been formulated much more carefully than their last.) Brosch, if he and Ross had even entered the building yet, was nowhere to be seen.
"That bastard, why do the beautiful women flock to him?" Havoc complained, biting his cigarette in half. Breda shook his head in despair.
"Go cut in," Falman encouraged.
"Yeah, embarass him in front of his date," Breda said sarcastically.
"Why don't one of you ask her first?"
"I don't want to steal his girl," Falman replied, exasperated. "I just want next Saturday off."
"Well, I'm not doing it," an embarassed Breda replied. "I can't dance."
The song changed to a more romantic one and the couples on the dance floor slowed, the lights brightening to soft pastels. The Colonel and his date continued to slow dance, her head resting on his shoulder. He held her close, protectively.
Uncertain, the three men looked on. "He must be serious about this one. They're not making out," Breda said hollowly.
"Never seen the colonel look so content."
"How depressing," Havoc lamented. "I can't even bring myself to go after her."
Breda pointed wordlessly at Sergeant Brosch and 2lt. Ross, dancing and smiling nervously at each other.
"Shall we go to the bar?" Falman asked, not unpleasantly.
The next afternoon as the staff reported for Saturday duty, Roy was in an even better mood than the day before. He was a pleasant contrast to the gloomy faces of Havoc and Breda, at least, and the recently-returned Sergeant-Major Fury chose to hover around Lieutenant Hawkeye at the desk rather than the staff table. Havoc and Breda looked as though their best friends had just died. Falman was deep in thought.
Fury cleared his throat. "So, how was everyone's Friday night?"
Three cold gazes were leveled at him.
"...forget I asked..."
"I had an excellent night," the Colonel said with a smile. "I took a beautiful lady out to dinner and then dancing."
Lieutenant Hawkeye turned red. Havoc vaguely hoped she would reprimand him. "Colonel..."
"What? It's not like they'll tell anyone."
At this, all four sets of eyes were trained on him. Hawkeye turned her back, crossing her arms over her chest. "You should use more discretion."
"What's this?" Fury looked interested. "The Colonel and the Lieutenant have gotten together?"
Havoc's head jerked up. "But what about Elizabeth?"
Silence settled heavily over the room. Mustang glanced at Breda. "Listening to my phone conversation?" To Hawkeye, "I thought that was an excellent display of discretion, don't you, Lieutenant?"
"Code names are hardly effective when everyone knows what they mean, Colonel."
"Wait--no way. You can't be Elizabeth! We saw--" Breda stopped abruptly, suddenly very interested in the carpeted floor. A tall, thin woman--just about Lieutenant Hawkeye's height, with just the same shade of blonde hair? How could they have been so dense?
"You saw...? Continue, Second Lieutenant."
"...the note, you wrote her and threw out..." Breda finished meekly. Hawkeye shot at admonishing look at the Colonel.
Fury was suddenly very, very glad he had missed the past few days of work.
And so, on Monday morning, the three senior underlings of the Flame Alchemist had their first day of bathroom-cleaning duty. "Here," the Colonel had instructed, "you will find no secrets of great importance. Save for perhaps an inner knowledge of how many times a week the toilet paper must be replaced."
Sergeant-Major Fury had been excepted from office chores until further notice, which made Breda very bitter. Rumour was getting around that Sergeant Brosch and 2lt. Ross were dating, but neither of them would admit it, which made Havoc even more bitter. "Should have kept a closer eye on those two," he complained. "She's cute, too." Falman tried to console him by noting that at least it was Brosch who had won her affection and not Colonel Mustang, but Havoc's only reply was an angry scowl.
"Elizabeth" herself supervised the emptying of the trashbasket, a task that had been assigned permanently to Colonel Mustang. "Now when military secrets leak out," Hawkeye had said sarcastically, "he'll have no one to blame but himself." This was seen to be a just punishment by all. The Colonel made a sour face at this, but obeyed her commands. The others resolved themselves to bathroom duty for the rest of their days.
Falman was restocking the hand towels just after the morning coffee break when Fury burst into the office. "You'll never believe what I've got," he gasped, handing Breda a packet of photos. "Edward-kun just handed me these pictures he took when the Colonel and he went to that alchemist' retreat a few weeks back."
Havoc looked over the other 2lt's shoulder and snorted. "My God. What is he wearing?"
"That's hilarious!" Breda clapped Fury on the back. "Nice job! We should threaten to inflate these and post them all over HQ! Then we'll see who's cleaning the bathroom!"
"He'll kill you," Falman warned. Temporarily toilet duty was one thing, permanent toilet duty was another. Maybe if I stay out of it, I can convince the colonel that I'm innocent and deserve that day off...
"And then, once we have him under our control, we'll force him to apologize for all those girlfriends of mine he stole--"
Fury winked at Falman, smiled and walked away, looking forward to being exempted from office chores for the rest of his military career.