Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Notes: Thank you to Kurayami from the Royai Forums for the idea. Oh, and sorry people, but everyone is OOC, and Roy's kind of perverted . . .
"Fears" by Dailenna
If you asked any of her co-workers, they'd tell you that Riza Hawkeye was the epitome of bravery. There was no situation that she wouldn't run into, teeth gritted, guns blazing, and ready to go. She would fight for the freedom of every person on her side, and wouldn't leave a mission until everyone living team mate was out.
If you asked any of her family, the one member that was left would tell you that she was afraid of nothing. She had worked hard and honestly throughout her life, and he had never seen her come up against something that she wouldn't face.
If you asked her commanding officer, he would tell you that she would tackle Hades himself to the ground if she had to. Then he'd laugh at you for being so stupid that you had to ask if Riza Hawkeye was afraid of anything, and walk away.
There was a general consensus among people that Riza Hawkeye was afraid of nothing.
A general consensus, that was, unless you asked Gracia Hughes.
If you asked Mrs Hughes, she would laugh at you in a similar way to Colonel Mustang, however, this is because she knows that Riza is afraid of something. Very afraid. After laughing, she would tell you that Riza might be able to take the plunge into any combat scenario; she might be able to avenge even the most trivial of wounds; she might be able to stare Death in the face and not so much as flinch, but Riza Hawkeye was not immune to every fear.
Maes Hughes was returning home after a very relaxed day at work. He had made some attempt to do his job, but with all the fuss around him about the event coming up that evening, he couldn't concentrate, and had joined in with the gossip. Now he was returning to his home to prepare for the dance that the military officials had organised.
He couldn't wait: his Gracia would be dressed up so beautifully, and they had a nanny to take care of Elysia for the night. She would have already been dropped off at the other woman's house. A whole night of dancing around, just the two of them. Or close enough to it anyway – it was only going to be the rest of the military there . . . How romantic.
As he opened the front gate, a high-pitched scream echoed around the house. He looked up sharply. That was no squeal, or playful scream. That was a full blown scream of terror. Was Gracia in trouble? He slammed the gate shut, and ran to the front door, tearing it open. There was the thunderous sound of feet on the floor above, and he darted to the bottom of the stairs. Two women appeared at the top, both at speed.
"Stop her, Maes!" Gracia shouted as the other ran down the stairs.
Lieutenant Hawkeye was almost right in front of him when he grasped Gracia's words, and grabbed at Hawkeye, who was still in her military uniform. He managed to get a handful of her jacket. "Woah, Lieutenant, where do you think you're off to?"
"Let me go!" she yelled, ripping away from him. This was odd behaviour coming from anyone, let alone coming from her. What had her so worked up?
"Maes . . ."
Before Hawkeye darted away again, Maes leapt forwards and wrapped his arms around her waist, making sure that he got her arms in there so that she couldn't hit him. If Gracia wanted her for something, it must be fairly important.
"Good," his wife was saying above the racket Hawkeye was now making. "Bring her back up here. I barely had time to get started, let alone finished."
Bring her back upstairs? Oh, that would be easy . . . if only he could ignore the fact that the woman he had a hold of was kicking and screaming, and currently driving her elbow into his kidney. He hadn't thought of that.
"Hold still. I said, hold still."
"Just let me go!"
"I told you to bring her upstairs, Maes!"
"And I told you to let me go!"
Gracia's voice became icy. "Up. Stairs. NOW." Hawkeye was shocked enough that she stopped struggling, just for long enough that Maes had time to reassert his grip on her, and hoist her up the stairs. Unluckily for him, once she realised what he was doing, she started resisting again. One hand gripped the banister as though it were a life support, and the other pressed hard enough against the wall that Maes could see a flake of paint come off here and there. It was a good thing that she had her nails cut short for military purposes.
Once he managed to get up the stairs – and it was a hard climb, too – Gracia stepped out of the way for him, so that he could put the Lieutenant into his wife's dressing room. He was just about to set the woman down and run out of the room – padlocking the door, if need be – when Gracia stopped him.
"I'll need you to stay here, or she'll run away again."
"Of course I bloody well will! You think I'm going to stay here when–"
Maes spoke over the Lieutenant's raging, his arms getting tired of holding her. "What am I staying here to help with, exactly?" He thought he might already have some permanent kidney damage, and did not want anything else added to it.
Gracia turned around ominously, and pointed to one corner of the room. Maes looked over – still ignoring Hawkeye's threats – and his eyes fell on the black creature on the floor.
"You need my help to keep her here while you kill a spider?" he asked sarcastically. Somehow it didn't seem right. Hawkeye couldn't be scared of spiders. There were plenty of those around, and he'd never seen her react like this around a spider before. Besides, wasn't Gracia–? There it was, Gracia's shriek once she saw the arachnid.
She retreated to the far end of the room, and wailed for Maes to kill it. With the protesting Hawkeye still in his arms, Maes stomped over and slammed his boot down on the thing.
"There. It's dead, can I let her go, now?"
"Yes! Yes, you can let me go now!"
"No, Maes." Gracia told him firmly. "Although that was very good of you to do that, it wasn't the spider that I needed help with. It was the corset."
What? Maes' head whipped around to the dressmaker's dummy behind him, and on the stuffed figure was a laced up corset. Oh no. Gracia couldn't expect him to . . . please no! Sadly enough, Hawkeye's wailing alerted him to the firm truth of it.
"I can't help with that! I'm a guy!" This was swiftly becoming a very bad day. And if he helped out, it was more than likely that he would be dead before the night was out. "I know nothing about corsets! Besides, if she's this upset about it, don't you think she should be able to do without one?" Hawkeye was nodding frantically in Gracia's direction.
Gracia walked slowly over to the door and closed it. "Not this time." She walked right up to Hawkeye. "You've got to try one sometime, Riza. It may as well be now."
"No, I don't have to! You can't make me–"
Gracia stopped her talking with a glare. "We can either do it with Maes in the room having to hold you still, or out of the room, just waiting just in case you try to run again. Which is it going to have to be?"
The panic flared up once again on Hawkeye's face. At first Maes didn't understand why, but then he realised. Corsets are clothing, aren't they? How do they put them on without the showing over their clothes . . ? Oh. OH. He almost dropped Hawkeye in the shock.
"I am not staying in here while you dress her!"
Gracia gave him a look. Again. "Fine then. You may stand outside, and if she's not being helpful, I'll call you back in for assistance." Did he want to help with assistance? Maybe he could just pretend not to hear her, and she'd forget that he was there. Then he wouldn't have to come back in when the Lieutenant was likely to murder him. "Okay, Maes?"
He gulped. "I'll wait outside." He dropped Hawkeye on the floor with a thump, and ran out of the room while she was stunned, slamming the door behind himself. He slid down against the door. This was already an eventful enough evening. He almost thought about forgoing the ball, but that was out of his system once he remembered the fuss about it at the office. It would be fun, once he got out of this mess, but it started in an hour. Gracia shouldn't take too long, hopefully.
It seemed an age before the door finally opened and Gracia slipped out. He looked at her questioningly.
"I've got to get dressed now, so I've left her to put her own dress on. I told her that if she takes the corset off, I'll have to put it back on her again, and wasn't that fun the first time around?" She rolled her eyes and wandered down the hallway. Maes sighed and climbed to his feet. He needed to get into his suit.
Roy Mustang wandered into the hall the military had hired for the ball. A man at the entrance of the room announced him, and he descended a wide staircase to join the masses of people who had already arrived. Where was Maes? He was usually at things like this. After a while he gave up when he saw Havoc and Feury chatting on one side of the room. He threaded his way over to them.
"Colonel," Havoc acknowledged with a grin. "I would have thought you'd be hobnobbing with the higher-ups, not joining us."
Mustang waved a hand. "Pfff, no-one interesting among the higher-ups. Not yet, anyway," he added with a grin. When he got there, he'd be the one who everyone looked up to and adored, he knew that.
"Guys." Mustang swivelled around to see a wide-eyed Breda. "Do not go over there," he said, gesturing in the direction he had just come from. "Not if you value your lives."
"Why not," Feury asked.
Breda took a breath. "Mrs Hughes had made Lieutenant Hawkeye her latest project."
A grim silence fell over the group. This would not bode well for anyone. They had met previous projects of Mrs Hughes, and while they had been delightful to look at, none of them had had as foul a temper as Hawkeye could manage on a bad day. And this would have to be a bad day for her. On the other hand, Mustang was incredibly curious as to how this could have turned out.
Finally, he steeled himself. "Well, someone had better go and save her," he muttered. The others looked at him fearfully. He saluted weakly. "I'll see you on the other side, boys."
As he walked away he heard sniggers about the 'save' comment and Havoc laughed something about him being a regular knight in shining armour, but soon he was out of hearing range and still heading in the direction Breda had pointed. If Hughes had any sense, he would be on the other side of the room, but knowing him – and the Lieutenant – he was probably stopping his wife from being strangled.
Looking around, Mustang realised that he had no idea of where he was heading. Soon a flash of light glinting off glass hit his eyes, and he looked over to see Maes amongst a group of guys, looking nervous. When Roy got closer he realised that the shorter person by Maes who had been concealed by the other men was Gracia, and the other woman next to her was the centre of attention. Poor Hawkeye.
He strode closer and pushed through the circle. "Alright guys, break it up. Leave the poor woman alone." It was almost as though his talking had broken their attention, and the guys wandered off, grumbling.
Happy at getting rid of the whole group, he turned around. "There we go, all safe now . . ." Roy trailed off as he set eyes on his subordinate. Or at least, on her chest.
"Mmm?" His eyes didn't move. They couldn't. He thought that they were stuck, somehow.
He tore his eyes away and looked up at Maes, who was frantically trying to tell him not to do that without actually verbalising what he was doing. "Ummm . . . have you noticed how nice Riza's hair is?"
It looked pretty much the same as most of the women's here. All in curls, and drawn up onto her head. But he got the point – aim higher. Besides, looking at her face highlighted the fact that she was expending all of her energy trying to keep her eyes on the floor with her fists clenched so that she didn't hit anything.
"Ah. Yes, very nice." He smiled at the uncomfortable look on her face. She was out of her depth in the ballroom. "Your work, Gracia?"
Mrs Hughes smiled. "Of course it was. We spent the whole afternoon getting Riza ready, and Maes and I had to rush to get dressed ourselves."
Mustang raised one eyebrow. "Maes helped?"
A groan escaped the other man's mouth. "Please don't ask."
With a laugh, Mustang gave a glance around the room, trying not to let his gaze linger for too long on the silent blonde still standing by Mrs Hughes. In his quick sweep, he managed to pick out at least four men also glancing over in their direction, and he frowned. As good as the sight was, his Lieutenant shouldn't have men staring at her like that. She needed something to get her out of the way. Well, he knew how to do that.
"Lieutenant Hawkeye, would you care to dance?"
At last she looked up. "Sir?"
"Would you like to dance?"
She paused, but finally took the hand that he had proffered and they glided out onto the floor, joining other couples.
"A whole afternoon of this, eh? Getting all dressed up and everything. I don't think that many of the men here expected it of you."
She barked a dry laugh. "They didn't expect it of me? That's for certain, sir. Why else would they keep staring?" Now she was just being sarcastic. As they danced, her eyes didn't seem to be focussed on anything in particular, but looked off into the distance as she growled.
"You do look beautiful, though," he finally said.
"My face is up here, sir."
Whoops. "I'm sorry."
There was an annoyed silence, and then she spoke sharply. "That point of my saying that is so that you'll stop staring at my breasts, sir, not just to let you know."
His face went red and he hastily averted his eyes. Well, she had been pressed up fairly close to him a second ago. What did she expect of him? It wasn't like he could just ignore the fact that–
"Still up here, sir."