Methinks the glare of yonder chandelier
Shines much too far — or I am much too near;
And true, though strange — Waltz whispers this remark,
"My slippery steps are safest in the dark!"
- Lord Byron, The Waltz
She really was quite fetching, sitting there all alone by the window, shamelessly fanning the décolletage her off-the-shoulder gown was displaying so proudly, and somehow managing not to sweat.
"My god, would you look at her?" Roy remarked to Havoc (who was not doing such a good job of keeping the sweat away).
"I'm trying not to," Havoc grimaced, pulling a glass of champagne off the tray of a passing waiter and knocking it back like a shot. "She catches me staring down her dress again and I'm gonna wake up with a hole in my head."
Roy chuckled at this, but continued to appraise his first lieutenant from across the dance floor of brightly garbed general's daughters and their stately dance partners (most of whom were garbed in the blue of the military). Her dark dress, of a color that was not quite red nor brown (and matched her eyes perfectly), stood out starkly against the white drapes behind her. It lacked the lace, embroidery, beading, and rosettes the other ladies seemed to be drowning in, and thus suited her very well. There was a bit of darker trim around the hem of the very full skirt and across the plunging neckline. She was wearing those fussy little opera gloves, which in turn stood out from the dark of her dress, drawing attention to themselves as she furiously worked the painted silk fan she had no doubt borrowed.
Another young man, who appeared to be trying to start a conversation with Hawkeye, suddenly blocked Roy's view. Mildly irritated, he sidestepped around Havoc just in time to see Riza shaking her head gently, an apologetic smile on her lips.
"Another one bites the dust," Havoc chuckled, laying his glass down on a nearby table. "I don't think she's accepted a single offer to dance."
"Well, she's just waiting for the right man," Roy intimated, before setting off around the dance floor, leaving Havoc to wonder at his fate.
"Could it be any warmer in here?" Roy asked, leaning down so he would not have to shout over the music (and conveniently offering himself a much better... view).
Hawkeye jumped a little and looked up at him, loose golden ringlets swinging around her face. The hand working the fan halted momentarily while she gazed stonily at him, then renewed it's efforts ten-fold.
"It would be a hell of a lot cooler if I could've worn my dress uniform," she quipped. "Whoever decided it was a good idea to wear stays and a petticoat under a heavy satin dress needs to be shot in the kneecaps."
Roy could not help but smile at the contained vehemence in her voice.
"I think you look lovely, if it's any consolation," he said, strategically avoiding her withering look by flagging down two glasses of champagne. He offered one to her when she returned her gaze to the dance floor.
There was some consolation in his approval, but all the consolation in the world could not have made her feel comfortable in such an impractical piece of clothing.
"At least you're not being strangled by silk flowers and lace, like General Anselm's daughter," Roy offered, gesturing to the aforementioned girl with his glass.
Riza could not help the look of distaste that crossed her features: Anabel Anselm was swimming in her ball gown of bright pink silk. The skirt had more tiers and layers than Riza had fingers and toes, each one bedecked with an almost disgusting display of hand-made white lace and silk rosettes. Her more-than-ample bosom floated over a sea of snow colored ruffles, and all her soft brown hair was swamped in pink and white roses.
"I wonder if she can run in that thing," Hawkeye said to no one in particular as Anabel whirled by them on the dance floor.
"Can you run in your dress, Lieutenant?" Roy asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
"I have a firearm, sir," she said, almost smirking back at him. "People with firearms usually aren't the ones who do the running."
"Touché," he chuckled, finishing off his glass. His brow wrinkled in thought, and finally he said "You have a gun on you?"
"At a place like this?"
She nodded again, and said "Fate favors the prepared, sir."
Roy's courage, never at question on the battlefield but always a little shaky around his First Lieutenant - especially when she was armed - had been much bolstered by the few glasses of champagne he had gulped down that evening. As such, he decided he would attempt something considered by the vast majority of his underlings to be complete suicide.
Handing his empty glass off to a waiter, Roy glanced down at the blonde woman beside him and said suddenly, "Hawkeye, would you like to dance?"
She jumped again, and stared up at him for a moment. Much to the pleasure of Roy's ego, she blushed. It was very slight, almost nonexistent, but Roy saw it and all the alcohol he had consumed that night began to dance around in his stomach in anticipation. Then - much to his disappointment - she shook her head and said "Thank you, sir, but no."
For a moment, Roy was genuinely hurt. He said so aloud.
"I'm just not much for dancing," Hawkeye responded, staring at the feet of all the people gliding by mere yards away. "I'm not all that good at it."
When Roy's brows drew together at her rather half-assed excuse she looked directly at him and said flatly, "I don't know how to waltz, sir."
Roy laughed. While Riza was frowning at him he snatched her still-full glass from her hand, deposited it on a nearby table, and pulled her up from her seat. He pulled her fan away from her idle hands and pocketed it.
"What are you doing?" she hissed at him as he led her to the back of the hall. She continued to voice her quiet protests as they made their way out the double doors into the lantern-festooned courtyard.
There were a few couples strolling rather dreamily through the warm night, and the chirping of crickets and the chiming of water fountains now accompanied the music of the orchestra. The air was cooler, but now had an almost opium-like quality; it was thick, and made one feel as if they were not entirely awake.
Hawkeye's protests died when Roy took her right hand in his left and pulled her against him. He moved her left hand up onto his shoulder, then let his right settle into the small of her back, just below her shoulder blades. She was saved explaining her sudden loss of breath by Roy's immediate launch into the finer points of the waltz.
"... was considered quite vulgar not too long ago, because the partners faced each other. The way the man's leg brushed the woman's was considered indelicate, and mothers would forbid their daughters from waltzing with young men."
Riza could not help but smile at this - only Roy would care to mention such things during what was obviously turning into a dance lesson.
"Alright," he said suddenly, standing up straight, his hand on her back urging her to do the same. "You know the counts, 1-2-3, you move in a square, all that jazz."
"I knew this was too good to be true," Riza said cynically, grimacing down at their feet.
"Hey now," Roy protested. "I fully intend to have you floor-worthy within the next half an hour. There are two sets of steps. I'll teach you both, then you do whichever one I'm not doing."
Hawkeye stared at him.
"Trust me," he intoned. "It works. This is how my mom taught me. You just need a good partner. So if I step forward with my right foot," he said, doing so. "You-"
"Step backwards with my left," she finished, following.
"By god, the girl's a natural!" Roy exclaimed, smiling at the top of Hawkeye's head: she was still staring down at their feet.
"Loosen your knees, and stay on your toes," he added. "I need to be able to push you around with the hand on your waist. That's why it's called 'leading' after all."
She nodded, then followed as he lead her though the step out with the left, and close right to left.
"Now it's your turn to step forward with your right," Roy said, pushing gently at her back, "and step out, just like that- now close, but not on my foot please!"
"I can't even do it when I'm watching," Riza muttered, now glaring down at their suddenly offensive shoes.
"That's probably part of the problem," Roy said, smiling. "Look at me. This is dancing, not target practice. If you're watching for where to put your feet, you're going to miss the whole point of the waltz."
"And that would be?" she asked, trying to sort out their words and still count time with the music.
"Shameless intimacy between two complete strange- ow!"
The smile on Roy's face and the tone of his voice had deserved that one, Hawkeye thought smugly.
They had been turning counter-clockwise around the little patio in the garden for about ten minutes before she could manage all six steps without treading on his toes. When they had gone another five minutes without any collisions, Roy let go of her waist, took her hand, and led her back into the hall.
Riza looked nervously out at all the people twirling away across the polished marble.
"Whatever they're doing looks a whole hell of a lot fancier than what I just learned," she murmured, leaning into Roy so her swearing would not burn the ears of any nearby ladies.
"That's because they're doing the Volta," he whispered back. "But the next dance will be the Gallopade- the waltz I just taught you."
It suddenly struck Roy that the two of them must have looked quite silly-or quite infatuated. They were standing closer than was considered proper at such events, and they were clasping hands like a couple long married.
"Do me a favor and tuck your hand into my elbow," Roy said gently, letting go of her hand and suddenly feeling much too warm. "Hakuro's wife is frowning at us."
Hawkeye ruined the motion by turning her face into his shoulder to hide the fact that she was laughing- though at him or at the general's wife, Roy could not have said. Their pose remained as intimate as ever, but at least they did not look as if they had just returned from am impromptu romp through the garden of lust.
The quick, vivacious strains of La Volta trickled out to the applause of all those on the dance floor, and the merrier, friendlier tones of The Band Played On replaced it. A few couples exited the floor, only to be replaced, and amidst the controlled chaos Roy pulled a very reluctant Riza out with him.
"Just follow me," he said softly, taking her gloved hand in his once more. "Don't look at everyone else, don't look at your feet - hell, don't even think about your feet. Just... dance."
"Easy for you to say," Riza could not help voicing as Roy stepped forward on his right foot.
"Look at me, sweetheart, not at my feet," Roy demanded softly, pulling her closer so that she would have no choice but to look up or hit her nose on his shoulder. She frowned at the pet name, and purposely stepped forward too soon at the beginning of the second three-count.
By the end of the night Hawkeye had danced with three generals, four colonels, and more second lieutenants than she could count on one hand. She was flushed, breathless, and feeling more alive than she had in days.
After the first few waltzes, Roy had handed her off to Hakuro, who had taught her the much simpler and statelier Minuet. Hakuro had handed her off to Havoc - who had received a broken toe for his wandering eyes- and after that all the partners blended together. Roy left the floor to the more capable feet, and had contented himself with sitting by the window, happy to watch the smile on his lieutenant's face every time she looked over at him. Roy had only cut back in for the final dance, and had then offered to walk her home. The night had cooled slightly, and it was almost pleasant out under the stars.
Hawkeye pulled her dark shawl up around her shoulders, and walked quietly next to Roy, her right hand in the crook of his elbow, glancing back at the hall every once in awhile. As soon as they were away from the prying eyes of all the older women, she stopped, stepped away from him, and pulled off her gloves. These she pocketed in the folds of her skirt before putting an arm around Roy's shoulder, lifting her left foot, and removing her shoe. She repeated the process with her other foot, and then began to pull the pins out of her coiffed hair, which fell down around her shoulders in a charmingly chaotic manner.
"And suddenly my headache is gone," she announced to the night, massaging her scalp with one hand, shoes held in the other.
"How long have you been waiting to do that?" Roy asked, unable to keep the humor out of his voice.
"Since I put it up at a quarter to four this afternoon," she responded, now running her fingers through her hair in attempt to make it lay flat again.
"Do I look like I've been though a blender?" she said suddenly, turning to face him.
"Do you honestly care?" he countered, still smiling.
She just shook her head, grinning brightly all the while, and continued down the sidewalk.
She led him back to her building, up the stairs, and down the hall to her door. When they were there she leaned into him for a goodnight kiss, which he gave willingly, and disappeared into her apartment.
Havoc was waiting on the street with the car. When Roy climbed in he turned to his colonel and said, "I didn't know you could waltz."
Roy just laughed and said, "Yeah, neither did I."
AN: Because I did a very mean thing and wrote a deathfic. I felt I had to make it better. This is a complete piece of fluff. Enjoy. I sure did.