AN- No, your eyes do not deceive you...an update for this story, at long last! Got sick of it sitting around, and there're other things I want to start but didn't because I still had this collection to worry about...
For newcomers (it's been like, three years since I updated this thing...I'm assuming most of its original readers'r gone!), I should point out that, since this is an older collection, most of the writing is NOT a fair example of how well I can write. I've gotten a tad bit better since Colors!
This will be the last chapter for this collection...my writing is far different then what's showcased here, I'm focusing on other collections now, and honestly, after so many years, I think this series has run its course. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who's read, and/or reviewed it! I got some great feedback on it and had a hell of a lot of fun writing the one-shots it's made up of.
(In case anyone is wondering...the chapter previous to this, Of Your Own Desire, Trapped, is no longer in this collection, but it's still on the site. Since it was a themed one-shot, I've moved it to Every Missing Irony. The author's note in that fic explains it more.)
In Which Roy Mustang Falls In Love (And Chaos Ensues)
Colonel Roy Mustang had a reputation to uphold. He was, after all, both the famous Flame Alchemist and a full-time pervert. Roy knew as well as anyone that he was expected to be brave, dashing, determined, suave, ambitious, good with the ladies…
And so, when not doing his best to be a metaphorical thorn in the Führer's side, Colonel Mustang did his best to be the type of womanizer everyone thought he was. It was a good cover, anyway…couldn't hurt to have an act to hide behind, considering his political aspirations. Roy was excellent when it came to politics, and the frenzied give-or-take games that came with it; there were even times when he enjoyed the competitive nature of it all. Sometimes he'd get caught up in the battles without blood.
Of course, he didn't exactly enjoy the backstabbing…or the callous characters he was forced to rub shoulders with, who whispered one thing to him and another thing entirely to everyone else…
But, regardless, Mustang was caught up in the mayhem, and he knew having a good cover—'oh, don't worry about him, he's not snooping around…just trying to impress another lady friend!'—was vital to his position. So he cultivated his careless-with-romance persona very carefully, with the same sort of calculating mindset he'd used in Ishbal. He liked to think that every date he went on allowed him to continue fooling the idiot higher-ups for just a little bit longer.
Also, it allowed Roy Mustang to go on a lot of dates with a lot of very pretty women. Very…easy, pretty women.
This was a definite bonus.
Fridays were his designated 'date evenings': this way, if things didn't go so well, he could spend the rest of the weekend choosing next week's girl. And if things did go well, then he had the entire weekend to…well…
Suffice to say that when the date was successful, Roy was always rather sleepy on Monday mornings.
But these dates were just…dates. Roy had been with a lot of nice young ladies—and one nice young man, but he hadn't been aware of that at the time—many of whom would've made fine long-term girlfriends. He did actually date one of them steadily for a time; her name was Mary, and she was very demure, very polite, very good-natured.
Honestly, Roy had found her to be a bit boring after a while.
So, besides Mary, he'd had nothing but quick flings for quite a while now. It wasn't as if he was utterly opposed to the idea of settling down—hell, if he was, Maes would probably go and arrange his marriage anyway! He just had yet to find someone worth settling down with.
(Who could ever stand him for more then a few months? Who could put up with his temper, his arrogance, his thrashing and screaming in his foul dreams at night?)
Towards the beginning of spring, Roy happened to take a different way home from the office then he usually did. It was so warm, so sunny…he couldn't help but cut through the park, even if it did add several minutes to his commute.
And, with the cheesy sort of luck that tends to appear on warm spring days, he happened to pass by a brown-haired, blue-eyed beauty as he passed the large fountain in the park's center square. He stopped to talk to her, because she was pretty and didn't have a ring on her finger, and she showed off a sun-drenched smile.
Her name was Helen, and she agreed to meet him at a fancy little restaurant at eight o'clock that Friday night. Roy hummed to himself as he left the park.
That Friday morning, another part of Mustang's dating ritual made himself known.
"You big moron. When're you gonna stop kidding yourself?" Maes Hughes leaned over Roy's desk and grabbed for a paperweight, which he proceeded to fiddle with. Roy, well-aware of his best friend's dire need to have his hands busy at all times, kept a wary eye out, wondering how long it would take for the paperweight to fall and break this time.
"You shouldn't be making dates with girls when you're already taken."
"Maes, I'm as single as Havoc." Roy leaned back in his chair, bored. "Why're you always so upset with me dating? You're the one who's nagging me to get married all the time."
"Well, yeah, but with the right woman!"
"And how am I supposed to figure out who that woman is if I don't—"
"Ahem. You already know who that woman is. You're just being stubborn."
"Oh really." Roy's gaze traveled to his desk and stayed there. He knew exactly what was coming. "Funny, I haven't the faintest idea…"
Hughes snorted. "Do the words 'blonde', 'sharpshooter', and 'd-cup' bring anyone to mind?"
"Hmm. I don't know if Hawkeye's a d…not that I'm complaining if she is—"
"Will you please just go and ask her to marry you so I can attend your wedding already? You wait much longer and Elysia's going to be too old to be the flower girl!"
Roy stood up, abruptly. His typical response to this part of Hughes's charade was to simply roll his eyes and change the subject, but today the conversation was getting on his nerves for some reason.
"Maes. The girl I'm taking out tonight—Helen—is a perfectly nice woman. I saw her again yesterday on the way home, and we had a really interesting conversation. She smiled, she didn't get annoyed when I told her she looked nice, she didn't threaten me—"
"Oh, you're just grumpy because Hawkeye said she'd break your hands if you used them for anything other then signing papers today."
"Exactly! Helen, so far as I know, is a normal, sane human being. Forget the fact that fraternization between officers is illegal…why would I even consider First Lieutenant Hawkeye when I could date someone who doesn't regularly send bullets in my direction?"
Hughes smiled cheerfully. "Because you love her."
"Dammit, Maes. Go bother someone else."
"Ok, fine. Have it your way, ignore my wise words of wisdom." Roy winced as paperweight nearly hit the ground, but Hughes managed to catch it at the last second. "But I guarantee that you'll end up making out with Hawkeye one of these days."
"Hnn. I'm looking forward to my date with Helen, thank you very much."
"Subconsciously you're actually longing to get inside Riza's pants—"
Roy growled and grabbed the broken chunks of paperweight from his friend. "Hughes."
"Yes, Mister I-Fantasize-About-My-First-Lieutenant?"
"Alright, alright." Hughes wandered out, but then stopped in the doorway and turned back around. "Hey! Know what I just realized?"
"I don't care!"
'"Helen' and 'Hawkeye' both begin with H. That just proves it! You think you don't love Hawkeye, but in the depths of your mind you're so madly obsessed with her that you instinctively turn towards someone whose name starts with the same letter. Deny it all you want, but you would probably let Hawkeye break your hands if she agreed to take off her clothes afterwards—"
Roy threw the paperweight chunks at him.
Helen wore an elegant red dress that night. Her hair was loose around her shoulders, and she had on just enough make-up to really bring out the color in her eyes. She smiled appreciatively when Roy used his rank to get them the best table in the house, but didn't giggle or simper the way some of his sillier dates tended to do. And she was infallibly polite to the waiter when he came.
She ordered a simple, appetizing chicken dish, and agreed to his suggestion that they order a bottle of wine. Their conversation while waiting for the food was brisk, entertaining…Helen was obviously well educated, intelligent.
"So you're in the military." She took a sip of water and looked at him. "That must be an exciting job."
"Heh…" Roy shook his head. "That's one way to put it. Being a State Alchemist is exciting, but not always in a good way."
"Oh!" she said in surprise. "You're an alchemist? I didn't realize…"
"Yeah…the Flame Alchemist, actually." He paused. "You've probably heard of the title, anyway."
"Sorry." She smiled embarrassedly. "I'm not really into politics and current affairs."
"Can't say I blame you."
"I've always been more of a history person, myself." Helen laughed slightly. "If you'd been the Flame Alchemist a hundred years ago I'd probably know everything about you!"
Roy chuckled. "History, huh? So, what, do you teach it?"
"No, just read. I must have a dozen of those ridiculous, five hundred page monstrosities on someone who's been dead for years and years sitting on my coffee table at home. I suppose if I'd—oh, I'm sorry, I'm boring you to death."
"No, actually." Roy glanced up as the waiter approached with their first-course salads. "History is very interesting, always has been." His voice trailed off slightly. "It's interesting to think about all the horrible things people have had to live through…"
"Ohh." Helen wrinkled her nose. "You're one of those people. Into all the wars and bloodshed." Roy grinned and shrugged his shoulders. "I guess that makes sense, in a way," she nodded. "The villains of the past are always so fascinating to learn about. Their motives, their ideas…what made them tick…"
"The villains of history…" Roy repeated, softly. "…Yeah. I'm interested in them. In not becoming them. If it isn't too late already."
Helen's smile faded a bit, and her brow furrowed slightly in confusion. "Hmm? Do you mean…oh! 'Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it', that sort of thing, right?" She nodded. "Pretty deep. But it does make sense, that a soldier would be interested in that sort of logic."
Roy hesitated. "It's not that I'm interested in it—"
"Food's here," Helen sang out. "It looks gorgeous…what kind of sauce is that, on yours?"
"Some fancy lemon thing."
'"Fancy lemon thing'?" she teased him. "Sounds appetizing, all right." She raised her glass, and announced, "How about a toast? A toast to us—oh, that was so corny, wasn't it!"
Roy merely started to eat.
The rest of the date went by in the same pleasant mood. Helen proved to be every inch an amusing, enjoyable woman to spend time with. Roy walked her home, since she lived only minutes from his place—"We might as well be neighbors!" she chirped cheerfully as they reached her front door.
"Well." Roy, ever the suave gentleman, leaned in and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "Tonight was fun. A lot of fun."
"Yeah, um…" Helen suddenly looked rather shy. "I enjoyed it too." She faltered slightly, and then, in a rush: "Um—would you like to come—"
"Damn," Mustang found himself sighing over her, "Damn, it got so late. I'd better get back."
"O-Oh. Of…of course. Yeah, I guess it did get pretty late." Her face had gone bright red, but an inviting grin from Roy made her flush for an entirely different reason. (He always had been good at dealing with flustered women.) "Same time next Friday sound good?" she asked, her eyes betraying her eagerness.
Roy smiled again and murmured some noncommittal reply. Within five minutes he was striding back to his apartment, leaving a confused, hopeful Helen watching him walk off.
"So, how went your date on Friday with whatshername…Helga?"
"It's Helen. And it went fine."
"Yes, Hughes. It was probably one of the best dates I've had in a while. She's funny, knows how to hold up her end of the conversation…really, she might be the perfect woman for me."
"Nah. She's not, I can tell you that right now."
"Just because you are under the sick delusion that First Lieutenant Hawkeye and I are somehow destined to—"
"Well, you are, but that's not the point. If she was the 'perfect woman' for you, you would've 'spent the weekend', if you get my drift."
"Who says I didn't?"
"You didn't. You're not tired enough, and you're not humming. You always hum after a weekend of getting laid."
"Well, maybe that means I respect her? Maybe, just maybe, she wasn't ready for that step and I care enough about her to wait—"
"Gosh, one date and you've already agreed to wait until marriage? You are such an atrocious liar."
"Hughes! Quit prying into my personal life, would you!"
"Hey, no need to get so defensive."
"Helen is a great person. She's exactly the kind of girl I'm into. I'd be an idiot to turn her down!"
"See, normally, I might agree. Maybe if you were single…"
"I am single!"
"Nope. You're engaged to Hawkeye."
"…Engaged to Hawkeye."
"…I've never even kissed Hawkeye!"
"Details, details. I've seen how you look at her! Always staring at her pretty eyes and then turning red and looking somewhere else when she notices."
"I don't do that! I don't stare at her eyes!"
"Well, you're staring at some part of her…and if it's not her eyes, it's probably her boobs. Not that I can blame you, exactly, they're certainly nice and…large, but…better be careful! She catches you, she might castrate you. That could be bad."
"I don't stare at any part of Riza Hawkeye!"
"Well, then you're staring at the person who sits behind her. …Wait. That's Havoc."
"Wow! I never realized you swung that way. You'd better swing back though, since you're engaged to Hawkeye and all. She might not like a gay husband."
"Did you hear what I said? I like Helen! Not Hawkeye! Not Havoc! H-e-l-e-n!"
"And just so you know, I am going out with her again this Friday!"
"So you can just—just—did you say ok?"
"…Aren't you gonna nag me some more…?"
"Nah. I just want you be as happy in the romance department as I am. If this Helen makes you all woozy inside the way Gracia makes me, then ok. I'll support it. As long as it's what you really want, I'm fine."
"…I'm not in love with Hawkeye."
"Ok. I'll have to accept that, I guess."
"No, really. I'm not."
"…I just said I can accept that—"
"Dammit, Maes! I'm not! There is no way in hell I'm in love with Riza! I don't stare at her eyes or her breasts, I don't fantasize about getting her in bed, I don't dream about her…or…or wonder what her hair smells like…and…and I don't care if her skin's as smooth as it looks…or…how she manages to look so good in that ugly uniform…"
"I said none of that. You hear me? None."
"If you say so."
"…So have you and Hawkeye decided on a date for the wedding yet?"
Date number two with Helen went just as smoothly as its predecessor. She really was 'the perfect catch'…Roy knew that. Pretty and smart—most men would jump at the chance to be with her. Roy knew that as well. When, at her front door afterwards, she let a hand brush his sleeve, and asked if he would be interested in coming in for coffee…he knew he'd be a fool to say no. Girls like Helen were never single for long; if he kept putting her off, he'd end up losing his chance.
And, after all, there was no reason why he should put her off. Her eyes were warm and inviting, and offered him everything any decent person could ask from a girl…
"Sorry," he said. "I had fun, but…" Her eyes clouded over with confusion—she started to speak—
"Sorry," Roy repeated. "I don't think I can."
It was drizzling when he knocked on Riza Hawkeye's door. She opened it up, looking surprised to see him there, but he cut her off before she could get out a word.
"Riza," he said (and then, even as he rushed on, he took note of the startled reaction she had to his use of her first name), "Riza, I was just on a date with a perfect woman." Now his lieutenant looked pissed rather then surprised, but he continued anyway— "She was smart and funny and…I think every man in the world would probably jump at the chance to go out with her. I'd be a real idiot to turn her down and I know it."
"Colonel…" Hawkeye began, and the ice in her eyes was matched only by the barely-suppressed anger in her voice, "Why are you—"
"But, Hawk—Riza—that date…well, those two dates, anyway…I—"
"Sir!" his lieutenant snapped. "I have no interest in—"
"I was so goddamn bored on those dates!"
Hawkeye obviously chose her next words carefully, and spoke them with the same cautious bewilderment she might use when dealing with the incurably insane. "What exactly are you trying to say, Colonel?"
Roy began to pace slightly. This managed to make him look even crazier. "A date that any straight, red-blooded man would have enjoyed, with a nice-looking woman any straight, red-blooded man would've been drooling at, and I was bored out of my mind. I didn't even want to sleep with her!"
"I tried to pretend otherwise! I seriously did! Went on a second date with her and everything. And she's such a good date, goddamn it. Couldn't ask for more in a woman. But she bored the hell out of me, and I know that's not normal."
"…Colonel," Hawkeye said flatly, "If this is your version of a midlife-crises, I want nothing to do with it."
"That's not it!" Roy protested. "There's only one reason I'd be bored on a date with Helen, and that's if I was already in love with someone else. And…fuck! That's exactly what it is! I'm in love with someone else, even though I really don't think that's at all smart, considering who it is…"
"With all due respect," she cut in icily, "shouldn't you be telling the object of your affections all this?"
"I am! Or at least, I'm trying to. Shit! Do you see how fucked up this is? I'm friggen Roy Mustang, I know how to talk to women! And yet I'm standing here babbling like an idiot—yes, I'm well aware of how ridiculous I sound—because for some shitty reason you standing in front of me is making me feel sorta nauseous. But in a good way. Well, no, a really frustrating, annoying-as-all-fuck way. But still a good way."
"Dammit, that's what I mean! I have told plenty of women that I think they're attractive and would like to go out with them, but I can't tell the woman I actually love that because, even if it was legal to date her—and of fucking course it's not—I apparently can't talk to her. Which makes no sense, because I talk to her all the damn time!"
Roy cursed again.
"And I'm still babbling, which is so goddamn perfect, and I'm about five seconds away from kissing whatever part of you I can reach, and you'll probably shoot me in the groin for trying but for some reason I don't care if you do. Goddamn it! Hughes will never let me live this down."
He finished this speech with an indignant huff, and proceeded to make good on his threat. He kissed her, hard, directly on the lips, and wrapped an arm around her waist while doing so.
She didn't even shoot him.
"Hey, lovebird." Hughes sat on the edge of Roy's desk, and grabbed Roy's latest paperweight. "How'd your date with Helen go? "
The colonel looked up, blankly. "…Who?"
"…Uh. Helen. You took her out last Friday…? Said she was the perfect girl? Remember?"
"…Oh." Roy considered this. "Oh. Her. Yeah, didn't work out."
Hughes eyed him. "Well, you slept with someone this weekend. You were humming when I walked in."
"Nope." Roy attempted, unsuccessfully, to catch Lieutenant Hawkeye's eye, but she merely continued to look down at her work. "Actually, didn't manage to get much past first base. Talked a lot…some kissing. Some really, really great kissing. No sex though."
"…And that's enough to make you hum?"
"Screw you, I like humming."
"…Ok, Roy, who'd you find? Because you have the worst case of lovesickness I've ever seen."
"I didn't really find anyone…no one new, anyway. Known her for years."
"Then I probably know her! Who was it!"
Roy smiled. Hughes was like a dog begging for a bone, and revenge tasted oh so sweet. He glanced over at Hawkeye again, and raised an eyebrow.
Hughes followed his gaze, and his jaw dropped. "You didn't!"
"Did not have sex, and so therefore did not really break any rules. Talking between friends is still allowed."
"But I knew it! I always did! And you always insisted I was nuts!"
"You are nuts. It just so happened that you were right this time."
"But—! But—!" Hughes sputtered, and Roy held his hand out with a smirk.
"I'll take the paperweight back now."