Yay, I finally made improvements to this chapter. Hope it makes more sense now. Enjoyand please review. Just remember, you flame me I call Roy down on you...equivalent exchange, that is. I KNOW my stuff isn't THAT bad. :-D


A Close Shave...


It was another bright, sunny day in early spring. Such warm, clear weather was unusual for this time of year in Central, First Lieutenant Breda had been told. It being his first such season out of Eastern, he was in no position to contest it. He ambled along the perimeter of Central base, enjoying the morning's faint breeze against his newly-showered skin and wondering if the company would have an outdoors assignment for the day.

He sauntered casually through the main doors of the administration building, winking at the secretary who admonished him. There were more important things to worry about than being a few minutes behind schedule.

There was a note on the company message board in the staff room. It read:

To my lovely company: please refrain from shaving at the break table... Do it when you get up in the morning.

-Hugs and kisses, your favorite Colonel

Breda (who had shaved, as a matter of fact) had only come to see if Hawkeye had ripped down his swimsuit-girl picture yet, but now he paused at the little yellow note pinned jauntily between the model's breasts.

P.S. If security finds you in three months in a warehouse riddled with bullet holes, I'm telling headquarters it's not my fault...and I wouldn't really blame Hawkeye either.

"She wouldn't really do that to me," he muttered, and unpinned the note. A flap unfolded from the bottom.

P.P.S. Is that April? I hadn't bothered to look ahead, but now I think I might.

"Wrong for the third time today," Breda said aloud, and went to sign in. He glanced at his watch, up to the wall clock that was running ten minutes faster, and sighed. "And it's only eight twenty-three—thirty-three—whatever. Shame on your pompousness, Mustang."

There was still an open slot on the sign-in sheet. Lieutenant Hawkeye hadn't arrived yet. That was unusual—she came closer than anyone in the company to never being late. Breda grinned to himself and adjusted May, who had been separated from the rest of his "Women in the Service" calendar. Resuming his casual amble, he exited the tiny, unkempt break room and made for the office.

He wasn't going to let the Colonel show off in front of his little sexy Lieutenant today. Since she hadn't yet arrived, they were going to have a nice, quiet, man-to-man chat about body maintenance and individual needs.

"I was tipped off that there's going to be an inspection today," the Colonel said from his desk before Breda had even gotten all the way through the door. "I don't want you looking as black and blue as that uniform you've not quite managed to button up all the way…so I suggest you take down that picture."

"I'll bet you I can run faster than your little bodyguard," Breda replied gruffly.

"You've never seen her run, have you?"

"She's never actually beaten me up, and even you can't say that much." Hawkeye really wasn't that violent a person…but she had her moments. Breda had always been careful to steer clear.

"I think you may get a pounding when she discovers that everyone is now aware of her brief—but successful, in my opinion—modeling career." Mustang slouched in his chair and raised his eyes to the ceiling, looking a little morose.

"She probably only took the job because she knew you'd be buying one, Colonel," Second Lieutenant Havoc interjected, sucking on the end of his unlit cigarette. Mustang had forbidden him recently from lighting up in doors, claiming the smell made him queasy…but Havoc seemed to always have one in his mouth anyway.

"If only," Mustang sighed. He and the Lieutenant had been fighting again—she'd slapped him full across the face yesterday, and now that Breda was looking he could see just the smallest hint of a bruise.

"Anyway," he said, brandishing the note he'd found, "Can I ask you to notice, my darling commander, if I appear to have shaved before coming to work today?"

Mustang squinted at him for a moment, climbed over his desk and seized Breda's jaw in his hand. "By God…I think you have. Congratulations. Should we throw you a bar mitzvah?"

Falman, whose head had been buried in a newspaper at his own station, issued a rare laugh before going back to his reading.

"I'll ask you again at lunch," Breda continued, prying the other man's hand away, a tic working faintly in his forehead. "Would you care to place money on whether or not I'll need to tidy up a bit?"

Mustang shrugged, scrambled back off his desk and began to tidy his mussed paperwork. "My request merely extended so far as that you stop doing it at the break table. I set down a sandwich yesterday only to find it had acquired very odd mayonnaise on the bottom. I doubt used shaving cream sits well on the stomach."

"Wait, what sandwich?" Fury asked. "You never bring in lunch."

He shrugged again. "I didn't say it was my sandwich."

Fury digested this, and his face went slowly green. He moaned. "I thought Havoc had taken those bites out of it. Colonel…"

"Well, where else am I supposed to do it?" Breda pressed, not wanting to get off-subject. "Falman always manages to claim the bathroom—"

"There's two."

"—And I am not even going to try using the women's. You're just waiting for me to get my ass kicked, aren't you?"

"Damn, foiled again," Mustang answered mock-woefully. "You could go downstairs to the locker rooms."

"They're always packed at lunch, too."

Mustang scowled a little, obviously bored with the conversation. "I can have Lieutenant Hawkeye police your shaving habits, if you'd rather."

"Would that be so terrible?" Falman asked, snickering from behind the protection of the daily news.

So maybe it wouldn't…but I know better than to push that issue, Breda thought. Mustang had long ago established his claim over the female in question. Hawkeye actually seemed less aware of this than anyone…which really was cute.

"Hell, I'd give her permission to handle the razor, too," Mustang added.

Some days, that dry wit of his was downright annoying. Breda knew when to turn in his hand. "Fine, fine, I'll just go find an alleyway or something."

"You'd probably do a better job without a mirror, anyway."

Breda glared at his commander; Mustang returned it.

"I still think that it's funny," Havoc said, snickering along with Falman. "I mean, you criticize Breda and Falman when you probably couldn't even grow a convincing goatee."

Falman laughed again, and lowered his paper. "That's true. You don't have any notion of how much a pain a heavy beard is, do you Colonel?"

"Excuse me?"

"Have you had your bar mitzvah yet?" Fury asked, joining in with the others' mounting chuckles.

"Same to you, shorty!"

"My, my, such a temper that one has," Havoc said chidingly. "Seriously, Roy old boy, how often do you put a blade to that baby-soft face of yours?"

"Classified, that is."

"Every what, two or three days? Even I have to shave more often than that," Fury said.

"We really need to stop talking about this," Mustang said, his voice low and dangerous. "And you still haven't buttoned your jacket, Breda!"

"What is going on in here?" The voice of Lieutenant Hawkeye arrived just miniscule microseconds before her carefully aloof face did. "I apologize for being so late…I was going to go sign in but I thought I heard yelling."

Breda smirked. "I bet even the lady beats you."

"I what?"

"Tell us, Riza, how often do you shave?" Havoc, who was leaned so far back in his chair that it would hardly matter if he got knocked out of it, chewed his cigarette a little more. He paused as Riza opened her mouth to reply, and corrected himself. "Your legs, I mean. Gotta keep gender differences in mind."

She made a rare face, and made to go off down the hallway. "I don't."

"See, I've got someone beat at l—" Roy cut himself off, now looking a little green, too, and began to dig through his desk for his calendar. The same thought had just occurred to Breda. Maybe you couldn't tell from the calendar photo, but…

Fury very quietly slipped under his desk.

"She's gonna kill me," Breda whimpered softly.

Nobody moved until the door swung open again except Falman, who lifted his paper back up in front of his face.

Lieutenant Hawkeye stalked up to the Colonel's desk and very swiftly stuffed a piece of balled up, glossy paper into Breda's large mouth. "Don't look so disgusted, the lot of you. I wax."

All the men except Havoc—for some reason—cringed.

"Oh," Mustang said, sounding a bit relieved nonetheless.


The next morning, a new calendar page had appeared on the company's message board—this one from the men's version. Another note had been pinned in a conveniently dignity-saving spot. Breda stared in a quiet kind of horror at it.

Lt. Hawkeye wins times ten thousand. The Colonel offers to buy her lunch…but promises not to inspect the status of her hair.

…At least as long as she doesn't want him to.