Author's Note: Inspired by the picture I drew a few years ago for Christmas, and considering the holiday itself is just around the corner, I had to write this one shot. The picture can be found on my deviant art account. My screen name there is Fantasy-DreamerMC. Look it up! I have a link to my deviant account on my profile, also.
Disclaimer: I do not own Full Metal Alchemist or any of the characters. The series and the characters belong to Hiromu Arakawa-sensei.
Christmas at the Office
I was standing so close to the window I could feel the cold from outside seeping in through the cracks. My warm breath fogged the glass in the pane repeatedly as I steadily breathed in and out, watching lazily as small, white snowflakes fluttered weightlessly down to the ground below. A light blanket already covered everything in sight outside and the gray clouds darkening the sky promised more snow to come.
Two, three, four inches—I wasn't sure exactly how much to expect. I'd heard on the radio what they were calling for earlier when I first came into the office, but I couldn't remember now as I watched the foretold snow descending and it really didn't matter. I couldn't say I hated the snow, but I didn't love it either. It was cold and wet, something my alchemy technique didn't mix well with, so how could I love it? But it had never done anything to offend me, so why hate it? I was indifferent about snow as well as the up coming holiday for that matter. Everyone seemed to be looking forward to it though as they prepared for the day in a joyous rush brought about by what most called 'Christmas cheer'. I had none of that—I hadn't looked forward to Christmas since I was a small child, why start caring now? I had no one to give a gift to, and no one to give me a gift so why bother getting excited about it?
The door opened and I turned to see who it was, glad to be torn from the winter wonderland forming before my eyes outside. I'd grown tired of watching the snow fall but disliked the idea of returning to my stack of paperwork to escape it, so the non-work related interruption was welcomed.
My eyes found Hawkeye as she gracefully closed the door behind her. She had a few folders tucked under her arm and Black Hayate followed close behind her with his tail wagging. She brought the folders over to my desk and I groaned inwardly and almost outwardly.
"Good morning, Colonel Mustang," she greeted pleasantly. I couldn't tell if she was a morning person, but she was nice enough whenever she came into the office, no matter how early it was. And she was always the first to arrive after me. I was always late though, so I wondered if she purposefully waited for me to come in before she arrived in order to make me look good. It seemed like something she might do, and being late was never her habit, so it only fueled my assumption all the more. I never bothered to ask if I was right though.
"Morning," I mumbled through a yawn as I stretched in hopes of ridding the feeling of sleep that was making my eyelids heavy and slowing my thoughts.
Hawkeye placed three of the folders next to my stack of growing paperwork and I eyed them indignantly before asking, "What are those?"
"Field reports," she replied professionally. The door opened and the rest of the lackeys—rather my men, loyal ones at that, but some might call them lackeys—began to file in and sit at their desks. She spared them no glance as she continued to answer my question. "Two are from Edward, the other is—"
I wondered why she'd stopped. No one had said anything to her and it wasn't like her to let herself be interrupted anyway. Then I saw she was gazing past me up toward the top of the window frame. "What is it?" I asked, feeling too lazy to turn around and see for myself.
She blinked once or twice, still fixated on whatever it was that had stopped her mid-sentence. Then she turned her still gaze on me, her amber eyes looking unimpressed if not annoyed. "Is this your version of the Christmas spirit?"
Having no idea what she was talking about I turned half way around and looked up—and I saw it. The green leafed, white berried plant dangled from a thin black string tied around the curtain rod in the space were the curtains were drawn back, dead center over the window. Hawkeye had already moved and gone to her desk to sit down when I looked back.
"Oh, I put that up there last night!" Havoc proclaimed with a dumb grin, his signature cigarette poking out from between his teeth. "Sorry, sir, I thought the office could use something to lighten it up for the holidays. You know, some Christmas cheer! I can take it down if you want."
"And the wreaths on the doors weren't enough?" I wondered, cocking an eyebrow at his idea of Christmas 'decorations'.
"Just who were you hoping to catch under there exactly?" Hawkeye asked discerningly giving him a cold, blasé look.
Havoc laughed uneasily, rubbing the back of his head. "Well, no one really, its all that I could afford though at the time."
Hawkeye had a blank look on her face, but I could tell she didn't wholly believe him. She didn't say anything more though, but merely grunted before sitting down behind her desk. I turned my attention back to the mistletoe. It was green, as I already said, and Christmassy. It didn't bother me, and though it was small it did bring a little bit of color and cheer to the drab office. True, we had wreathes throughout the base, but there weren't any inside the office doors.
"Well, as long as its there, might as well leave it," I said, smiling smugly. "Its not hurting anyone. Besides, I might get to put it to use as the day progresses!"
I would have sworn that Hawkeye rolled her eyes as she turned from staring at me back to her work. I mentally shrugged it off, picking up one of the folders as I sat behind my desk. Inside was a report from Full Metal and I started to skim through it. His reports were written well enough because he was a smart kid, but they were more childish then other officer reports. It was refreshing and I actually enjoyed reading them because of it. So I settled into my comfortable, high-backed swivel chair and read on.
Even though I found the report amusing, since Full Metal used words that expressed his frustration at having to report back to me his every deed, though subtle they were, I soon found my mind wondering, most likely due to the sleepy feeling I'd had since I'd arrived. Putting the report aside, I checked the clock—time for lunch!
Most of my men had left for the mess hall without my even noticing. Havoc and Hawkeye were still there, though Havoc was standing to leave as I looked up.
"Time for lunch, sir!" Havoc eagerly reminded me as he hurried out the door. I heard the faint sound of what sounded like a stomach growling and if it hadn't been for my own hunger I would have thought it Havoc's stomach and not my own. Standing I headed for the door, pausing briefly behind Hawkeye. "Care to join us?" I asked.
She remained sitting, but looked up at me. "Maybe after a while. I have to finish up this bit of paperwork first," she replied courteously. She immediately went back to her work so I left her. She was so dedicated—about as dedicated to her work as I was to becoming fuehrer. And considering part of her self-appointed work was to help me reach my goal no matter what, I felt pretty confident that one day I'd accomplish that task.
Just before I left I glanced back at the mistletoe in the window and saw her staring at it. I had to wonder if she would ever be caught dead underneath mistletoe, much less with someone. I shrugged and went on.
Lunch was bland, as usual. Military cooking was worse then a school's cafeteria food. Only instead of mystery meat every day we got a mystery meal. At least it wasn't slop; I had that to be thankful for. As I ate I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that we were eating better than convicted criminals in the state prisons, but some days, this one included, that fact was doubtful.
Trudging back down the hallway alone, being the last of my men to leave the mess hall because I was procrastinating doing my work more, lunch weighing heavy in my stomach, I idly counted the wreaths on each door as I passed. Even if I didn't think the holiday was necessary and saw no need to spend money on greenery that would die weeks later, the decorations boosted moral. The soldiers were happy, so the CO's were happy. It worked. But when I got back to the office I was beginning to wonder if some Christmas decorations could be controversial.
"Wouldn't it be fraternizing though?" Falman objectively pointed out. He stood behind my desk in front of the window, his head tilted back ever so slightly to gaze up at the tradition infused shrub that dangled innocently enough above the window.
"So are you saying you wouldn't kiss a willing female officer if you caught her standing under it with you?" Breda asked him slyly. All of my men had returned to the office before me and were gathered in front of the window, discussing the mistletoe. All accept Hawkeye who sat dutifully at her desk, working like she always did. If I hadn't of seen her in the mess hall I would have thought she'd never left and had skipped lunch.
"W-well, no, but if we got caught—" Falman stuttered.
"I don't think you could get in trouble for it!" Havoc replied hardily. "Maybe any other time you could, but after all, its Christmas time. Considering its in season I think the higher ranking officers would understand." He bent and ribbed Furry in the side with his elbow. "They might even join in on the fun, eh?"
Furry stumbled away from Havoc, sweat dropping. "Even so, sir, is a military base any place for such a thing?"
They all looked back up at the mistletoe contemplatively. Hawkeye gave them a sideways glance and this time I didn't have to swear she rolled her eyes because I saw her do it as she turned her head away from them. Seeing me in the door she gave a faint smile. She started to speak a greeting but I pressed the side of my finger to my lips and she obeyed.
"You know what the four of you standing there means, don't you?" I asked, casually strolling to my desk.
Startled by my voice, obviously not knowing that I had been there, they whirled around and scrambled back to their desks where they promptly sat down and 'resumed' work.
"No guesses? Well, you should have kissed one another, of course," I jested, grinning mischievously as I took my chair behind my desk.
"That's gross, sir!" Havoc complained, retrieving a cigarette from his jacket pocket, which was draped across the back of his chair.
"You know the traditions, Lt. Havoc. Do you want to break it?" Hawkeye teased. She had an unusual teasing gleam in her eye as she spoke and I couldn't help but smile at that.
"Not you too, sir!" Furry groaned.
"That's what you get for slacking," Hawkeye muttered, flipping through a stack of papers on her desk.
Her stack was significantly smaller than mine stacks were, I noticed, so I decided to actually do some work for once. The afternoon wore on, slowly, I might add, but I accomplished a great deal of work. Standing to stretch my legs, I returned to the window. The snow had piled up to at least six inches and was continuing to fall. I glanced up at the mistletoe and back at my men as a thought occurred to me.
Havoc was rocked back in his chair, just short of having his feet propped on the desk, puffing smoke up towards the ceiling as he lazily stared after it. Falman's brow was knitted together as he pondered something above his comprehending or beyond his reason in his paperwork. Furry was working on a report, but either he was just as bored as I was or had 'writer's block' because he was starring off into space as he tapped his pen on a blank sheet of paper. Breda had fallen asleep, though he hid it by resting his chin in his upturned palm, elbow on the table with a folder strategically propped in front of his face to hide him from view, however, his snoring gave it away. Finally I found who I was looking for.
Hawkeye was by the filing cabinets, filing her finished paper work. I enviously looked at her thin stack of remaining paperwork before I spoke.
"It's still snowing. There's quite the covering out there," I said as casually as possible. "Come look, Hawkeye."
She turned only her head toward me. Craning her neck she peered out no further than the very distant road, for there was no way she could have seen anything else outside besides sky from where she stood. "So it is, sir. Its very beautiful, isn't it?" she replied with a slight smile, then buried her nose in the file cabinet again.
Annoyed by her brush off but not dissuaded from attempt, I agreed. "Yes, it is. Take a break and come have a closer look. Its really quite the sight."
"I hate snow!" Breda barked, apparently having woken from his nap. "Its cold, wet, slick, and it buries everything!"
"What don't you hate?" Falman wondered.
Black Hayate raised his head from where he was lying down next to Hawkeye's desk and barked. Breda jumped, almost out of his chair, and shuddered.
"I saw the snow, sir," Hawkeye replied ignoring everyone else. She didn't look back accept when Black Hayate had barked, and that was merely a warning look to her dog to stay quiet.
I sighed. Was she avoiding the window? She wasn't stupid, I knew that, but was she that aware of the mistletoe and my trickery? No one else had picked up on it—or at least no one that let on they had. She came to stand on the opposite side of my desk.
"Shall I file your finished paperwork, sir?" she asked, holding out her hand.
I looked at my stack of finished paperwork—it was as thin as her unfinished stack—then at my untouched unfinished stack and sighed again. "No, it'd be a waste of time at this point."
Shrugging as if in agreement, she returned to her desk. The day wore on, the hours passing slower and slower it seemed. I kept looking back at the mistletoe and eventually resigned myself to turn my chair around facing the window so I could glance at it less obviously. The leafy green, white-berried plant was taunting me, I determined. At least it was daring me—daring me to catch a girl underneath it and kiss her. Did mistletoe have this affect on everyone or just me? It was like a challenge, but for me it couldn't be just any girl. No, I could kiss any girl just about anytime I wanted. It had to be a girl I couldn't woo, one who was impervious to my manly charm and indifferent to my dashing good looks. The one woman who hadn't shown any interest in me other than to support my causes and help me achieve my goals. Risa Hawkeye would stand under that mistletoe with me if it were the last thing I did!
Perhaps I was obsessed, and I can't say as I understood why either. She was a mystery to me, however. Why wasn't she affected by my charm? Why didn't my looks catch her eye? And if I weren't her type, who was? I'd seen her ignore other men the way she ignored me as well—did she not fancy a military man? I wanted the answer to these questions and I thought maybe if I could get her to kiss me perhaps I might understand her a little more. Apparently though, she wasn't going to allow me that.
The end of the day finally came. I glared at my half finished stack of papers that would be waiting for me the next morning and briefly wondered how much of it was overdue. I considered staying late, almost seriously. I considered it so long that when I'd come out of my ponderings everyone had left save Hawkeye and myself. She stood by her desk packing a few remaining papers into her bag while Black Hayate sat patiently waiting by her feet. I shifted in my chair, having previously been very still while I was thinking, and she looked at me.
"Ready to head home, sir?" she asked.
I stared at her a moment or two. I stared longer than I intended as my mind wondered back to the days thoughts concerning her and her brow furrowed with question. Standing up I walked over to the window and gazed out at the white land before my eyes. Snow continued to drift downward from the gray sky. I could feel the cold draft from outside more since my shed jacket still hung on the back of my chair and my white dress shirt's sleeves were rolled up to my elbows.
"I was thinking about staying late," and I honestly heard her stifle a snicker at my words, "to finish up some work. You go ahead, I haven't decided yet."
"Would you like some company, sir?" she asked.
"No, that's ok," I replied, shaking my head, my back to her. "I'll be fine by myself. Have a good evening, Lieutenant."
"Good night, sir," she said. I heard her bag sliding as she pulled it across the desk before lifting it to carry. Her military issued boots fell heavily as she walked to the door, though not as heavily as most. The room fell silent and I thought she'd left, but I hadn't heard the door shut behind her and realized she had paused. I heard her footsteps as she tromped across the floor again and she came to a stop in front of the window next to me.
"It is very beautiful, sir," she said, gazing out the window with a somewhat childlike expression of wonder.
I looked at her. "Yes, it is," I agreed. She continued to stare out the window and I continued to stare at her until she looked at me. I could feel myself smirking even though I tried not to. I glanced up, quickly meeting her gaze again to watch her reaction. She slowly looked up. I knew she saw it, though her expression didn't change.
Lowering her head from beholding the 'glory' of the mistletoe above us, she met my gaze. I didn't say anything, expecting the same silence from her. She gave it to me. I expected her to shake her head and she did. When she turned her back to the window I wasn't surprised, and I expected her to mutter some verbal berating as she stalked away, but she didn't. That caught me off guard, but it didn't surprise me.
Pausing next to me, out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought to be a thoughtful look on her face. Looking back at me she smiled. Swiftly and suddenly she took hold of the white collar of my shirt and jerked me around to face her even as she turned to face me. Still holding my shirt firmly in her tightly fisted hand she pulled me forward and kissed me—hard and passionately. It wasn't a short peck either. And though it wasn't long, when she pulled away I found myself breathless.
I watched her walk back to the door shocked and speechless. She paused in the doorway again and looked back with a mischievous smile. It was then I knew that she knew I wouldn't say anything to my men. The one girl I couldn't get had kissed me and I couldn't say anything to them partly because they wouldn't believe me and partly because I knew if I did, she'd never do it again. And she knew I knew that. Her grin told me that much. I wasn't sure what to think at that moment, but the one thing I was certain of was that I had been wrong with my earlier assumption—I'd thought I might understand her better if I got her to kiss me, but now she was even more a mystery to me than before. A very beautiful, desirable mystery, and I wanted her more than I ever had before.
Smirking, most likely because she realized I understood she knew I couldn't tell anyone—or perhaps it was because of the dumbfounded look on my face—she stepped into the hallway to leave. Before she walked away though she looked me square in the eye and said, "Merry Christmas, Roy!"