Author's notes: This is my first, so I'd love reviews on how it turned out. Didn't intend to make it overly romantic.
Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, do not own FMA or the characters. Darn.
Heels rapping, paws padding, Lieutenant Hawkeye and Black Hayate followed a simmering Mustang through the hallways of Central Headquarters, their customary one step behind the colonel. Juggling the daily pile of papers, Hawkeye reached into her pocket to pass the now bewildered Mustang the key to their office. "Sorry Sir, I was late this morning, so things aren't exactly in order." "Not in order?" Mustang laughed as the door opened," Any cleaner, and the office would be empty Hawkeye." Rolling her eyes, Hawkeye handed the pile of papers to her superior, and turned to make his coffee- always 3 sugars with no milk- turning back in time to watch him dump her meticulously eat stack of paperwork onto the remainder of what should have been finished yesterday. Reaching over his desk, she tried to corral the papers back into some sort of organization, simultaneously passing the Colonel his coffee. "Damn" Mustang jumped up from his desk, jolting Hawkeye and knocking the cup from her hand.
"Sir?" replied the Lieutenant calmly, deftly catching both the cup and the papers Mustang's abrupt rise had threatened to topple. It never failed. The Colonel always managed to create the biggest mess on the days she really needed him to impress people. She didn't know why she dealt with it. The Colonel was the most disorganized, frustrating, womanizing, procrastinator she'd ever met, but then at least she knew it was an act. The less competent the higher-ups thought Mustang was, the easier it was for him to plan. Slow and steady was the way to go, but first she needed to get the Colonel to finish his paperwork, which he wouldn't do until he calmed down. "Sir?" she repeated. Mustang was looking pretty frazzled, which didn't bode well for leaving work on time. She sighed.
"Fullmetal's report is due today." groused Mustang. Hawkeye darted a look at the schedule. He was right. Which meant that he would spend a good amount of time baiting the boy. It was an unfortunately effective way to work out his frustrations. Meaning that he would waste her time trying to cheer himself up. Great.
"He's not due till 3 sir. Which means there is plenty of time to make a dent in the paperwork." she clarified, then took another look at his desk. Thanks to Mustang's procrastination efforts, it would probably take him years to put a dent in the mountain of forms. Resigning herself to a long day and a hand cramp, Hawkeye grabbed the largest of the piles and whisked it over to her desk. She sat down behind her absolutely spotless desk and began signing forms, keeping a watch on the Colonel out of the corner of her eye as he reluctantly picked up the top paper. The brief silence was interrupted by the slow turning of the door handle. Mustang looked up eagerly. Hawkeye did not. She already knew who it was. Falman, Breda, Fuery and Havoc were sneaking in, unsuccessfully trying to avoid reprind. It didn't work.
"Sir? Are you finished with that one yet?" she inquired. Mustang glanced guiltily over at her, then quickly signed the paper with a muttered "Uhhh… yeah. It is." Without looking up, Hawkeye raised an eyebrow, and heard the stifled sniggers of the team. Ignoring them she pulled open the second draw of her desk, withdrew it contents, and placed the gun next to the pile of paperwork. There was silence, then Havoc cautiously asked "So… what do we have today?" Lips twitching Hawkeye reached over, rifled through a smaller stack, pulled out a packet, and handed it over her desk to Havoc, who was slouching in front of her desk, his customary cigarette dropping ash on her desk. She absently wiped it off her desk as she listened to the grumbles of the team settling in for another boring day of paperwork. She smiled. It was good to be here.
Hawkeye put down her pen and began rubbing her hand. She hated cramps. They made it that much harder for her to hold her gun. But the team had made good progress so far today, and that was a rare enough occurrence to put her in a good mood. The room was always more relaxed when the lieutenant was happy. Glancing up at the clock, she decided for once that they could avoid working through lunch. Mustang caught her look at the clock and knew she was feeling lenient today. His lieutenant was a strict taskmaster, but there was little point in complaining. Though she did keep the team so organized that it boarded on obsession. He was the leader, but she was the director. And the protector. That small smile that had been playing at the corners of his mouth faded. Thinking of Hawkeye brought back too many scaring memories. He chuckled humorously at his pun. Ishbal had been harsh on everyone there, but it was done and gone. He told himself that there was no point in punishing himself over it, but for the survivors of the massacre, that was easier said than done. He still dwelled upon it in his dreams, and almost five years had already elapsed. Anyway, his lieutenant might actually be releasing them to lunch on time, and that was certainly worth celebrating. Sure enough, moments later, Hawkeye stood up, asking whose turn it was to run down to the deli, and who would be sticking with the mess hall. It was Fuery who volunteered. "I can go grab the orders. Hayate looks like he wants a walk anyways." With a nod of thanks, Hawkeye walked over the file cabinet and began packing away the papers. "Do people want anything different?" inquired Fuery. "Or just the usual?" "Nah, I'm fine." Said Mustang stretching. "Ditto" said Havoc, and Beda agreed. Hawkeye just shook her head. Fuery walked over to the door and an impatient Hayate darted out. Fuery chased after him, the laughter of the team tagging behind him. He knew the team agreed with Hayate though- it was nice to get out of the office after several hours of constant work. It was particularly hard when the weather was as nice as it was in Central during the fall.
Lunch was the only part of the day that wasn't boring as hell. Even the least observational person in the building could see that lunch was the only time the team could be together, but relax. Unfortunately, recent events had smashed pasts of the plan to bits. Having a homunculi as Fuhur made it harder to assassinate the head of state. So full lunch breaks had become a rarity. Today must have been the first time in months she hadn't held the rest of the team back. And it showed in their faces. It wasn't as if she wanted to force them to work, it was just that they had too. The only reason they were putting up with the work pace that she set was because they knew as well as she did what had changed, and that she only ever demanded what the situation required. But still, she missed seeing their laughter and pranks, their ridiculous antics. And ridiculous was the word for it- Havoc had let Black Hayate loose and he had "treed" Breda on top a cabinet. Which she was slightly worried would collapse and shed paper everywhere. Which made her think of filing. Which made her think of the time. Sighing, she rose and threw out the remainder of her lunch. The faces in the room fell. Momma Hawkeye was done with lunch, meaning they'd better start picking/cleaning up quick-like. It was back to work with them. Hawkeye stifled a smile their expressions of disappointment so comical she wanted to laugh.
Mustang looked worriedly over at Hawkeye. Something was bothering her. He followed her gaze and started when he saw the clock. It was already five. He knew he was missing something but…. The Elrics! He had somehow managed to forget that their report was due. Expecting the Elrics to be on time was like expecting Breda to not be hungry- or expecting to win a chess game against General Grumman. It was preposterous. But two hours late was a little rude. Not that Fullmetal cared. In fact, Fullmetal probably planned for it, just to annoy him. Mustang would give the kid until the end of the day to bring the report in, but any later and he was going to hammer the kid. Fullmetal needed to learn some punctuality. Not that he was any better, Mustang grinned, looking up at Hawkeye again, and his grin faded away at her continued worried expression. Whatever bothered her, bothered him. If she was worried about something then it was bound to come back and inconvenience him and some point.
The sudden bang of an opened door made Mustang jump in his seat and sent Hawkeye flying to her feet, hands reaching for her gun. Instead of the suit of armor and the midget he expected to walk through the door, in burst another person. A dark haired, green eyed, uniformed man with a handful of photos.
"Surprise!" he cried. "Look at the photos my wife just got developed. The two most amazing girls in the world, all for me!" he said, excitedly hugging the photos. "Aren't they just adorable?"
"Hughes…" growled Mustang as he tapped his pen on the desk he was leaning over. "We've seen those already, you ambushed us on the way over here this morning."
"But nobody can get enough of such happiness. Its just so overwhelming." blithely replied an oblivious Hughes.
"Yes. It is overwhelming. So go overwhelm someone else!" exploded Mustang. "Sheesh", said an undaunted Hughes. "Maybe if you had a date tonight you wouldn't be so touchy" he added with as a parting shot out the door, before he ducked out. It was a good thing the Colonel wasn't wearing his gloves because he was snapping his fingers like crazy at both Hughes and the team, who had grins wreathing their faces. Everyone, except Hawkeye, who had her customary black expression, was inwardly chuckling at the lieutenant colonel's attempts to set Mustang up again. The Flame Alchemist sighed, and there were several more sniggers. Hughes' ambushes were funny when they happened to someone else, but Hughes was an equal opportunity annoyance, and everyone got their fill, and then some, of Hughes' wife and child. Hopefully, Mustang thought, his pictures would be restricted to the investigations building for the rest of the day. He hated to admit it, but he was really starting to worry about the Elric brothers and didn't want other distractions that would only work to annoy him further. Fullmetal wouldn't voluntarily give up the chance to twit his favorite "Colonel Bastard". And it was almost seven. If Fullmetal was any later, he would start cutting in on the teams' free time. The kid may love inconveniencing everyone, but Mustang wasn't going to give up any of his already highly limited free time. Unfortunately, with Hawkeye managing his schedule, it was highly unlikely that he could get out of the appointment. With a growl, Mustang stood. "Well, if Fullmetal's not going to show up, then there's no reason to staying late. I'm heading out." He glanced over at Hawkeye, who rolled her eyes, but didn't stop him. She signed a final paper, placed down her pen, grabbed her stack of papers, and began collecting what work the others had managed to finished, noting their stacks were all significantly lighter than hers. Black Hayate perked up his head as she reached to file cabinet, deposited her load, and approached the coat rack. She reached for her coat, and tripped over an excited Black Hayate who yipped as she stepped in his tail. Teetering, she tried to find a safe place to put down her foot, when she was yanked back up by a painfully tight grip.
"Wow" remarked a startled Havoc. "I think that the first uncoordinated thing I have every seen you do." Hawkeye glared, detangled herself from Mustang's grip, and knelt down by Hayate.
"I'm sorry Hayate. I didn't mean to. You gonna be okay?" she asked, worriedly stroking her puppy.
"Of course he's going to be fine Hawkeye" calmed Mustang as he pulled her up and passed her the coast she'd been reaching for. "Thank you sir" she replied absently, still looking down, upset, at her companion. She couldn't believe she'd been so careless. But something about the absence of the Elrics today was really bothering her. Ed was more responsible than many people gave him credit for- most people only saw his hotheadedness. And she knew she had good instincts. They'd saved the Colonel and her countless times. If something was bothering her know, it was guaranteed to cause the Colonel trouble later. Trouble with Ed and the colonel always resulted in explosive arguments and she'd have to mediate, whether by words or by gun. So preoccupied with her thoughts, Hawkeye missed, for once, the looks exchanged around the room. Then the door shut behind her, and her rapping footstep were heard fading into the distance as she traveled down the hallway.
"Well that was interesting." noted Havoc, "but if she's letting us out early today, who are we to complain?" conveniently forgetting it'd been the colonel who had given up working for the , Breda, and Fuery nodded, then dashed out the door, following the wake of the already distant Havoc. Mustang was left in the empty room. Then, slowly, he smirked, remember the feel of having his lieutenant in his arms. Looking around anxiously to ensure that no one had seen his slip, he donned his coat, and left the headquarters, shaking his head.
When Hawkeye walked back into the office the next day, she was immediently thrust back into anxiety when no report from Fullmetal was found. The Colonel would not be happy. And he wasn't. The team spent the day making up excuses to disappear from the room and avoid the stormy atmosphere the ranting Colonel had created. Mustang seemed to have a particular interest in whatever the Elrics were chasing after this time, leading Hawkeye to believe that it was something alchemy related. Or perhaps related to Homunculi. But whatever it was, it was deemed important enough to make the Colonel so impatient.
When the Elrics failed to show up on the third day, Mustang became desperate. He didn't want the military to become involved, but the reports were due, and the higher up would start question why the Fullmetal Alchemist hadn't reported in yet. He sighed. It the brothers didn't show up by the end of the week, he was going to have to report this to the investigations department.
Friday morning saw the Flame Alchemist and his lieutenant walking down the hallway of the investigations building in search of Hughes.
"Hey Hughes" Mustang greeted his old friend "I've got some news."
"You're coming to tell me that your finally engaged!" exclaimed Hughes " and soon your going to have a child, and Elysia will have a friend and…"
"HUGHES" shouted Mustang. "Enough with the personal life." Lowering his voice he continued with his request. "I need to talk to you about the Elrics. Do you know what they were researching? Or where they were headed?"
Hughes looked seriously at Mustang and Hawkeye, then ushered them into his empty office. "Well, some of the stuff they were looking at is restricted to alchemist access only. But I do know for a fact that they were heading to the boarder towns of the desert. Something about Xing. Other than that… I'm going to have to do some digging to find out anymore. What is it that you're looking for?" Mustang and Hawkeye exchanged a glance, then turned back to Hughes sitting behind his desk. Mustang answered in a low voice. "Fullmetal was conducting some research for me and he was due back a few days ago. He was supposed to report even if he hadn't made any progress. I'm worried he may have run into something… unfortunate due to the … nature… of the information. And that information is vital.
"So we have a missing alchemist. Hmm...this is serious. However, because its Fullmetal, I assume you don't want me to broadcast this to the higher-ups while I'm investigating. Alright. I'll give you whatever I find Saturday evening."
"Saturday evening? What's happening Saturday evening?" a confused Mustang asked, glancing over at Hawkeye, who blandly returned the look.
"Its my daughter's birthday!" exclaimed Hughes, jumping up from his seat. "And you are coming over for dinner! Elysia's turning three" he said, reaching into his desk. "And look at how much she's grown!" Hawkeye's lips twitched as the Colonel made hasty excuses and an unseemly retreat.
"Whew" muttered Mustang "I never thought that I'd actually prefer paperwork, but Hughes is relentless. He was probably about to ask me what date I'd be bringing."
"And are you going to be bringing a date to a three year old's party?" Hawkeye grumbled. She'd take a bullet before she'd admit it, but she hated the women he dated. Their shallow interest in Mustang as "The Hero of Ishbal" constantly irked her. Having been at his side through much of the war, she knew he considered himself a murder, and she worried about the effects of women citing his actions as "heroic" and mentioning how they'd "love to have seen it". Bringing up Ishbal brought nightmares to any of the survivors of that war. Plus, those women were a waste of time for someone as intelligent as Mustang. She knew that "pretty" didn't necessarily mean "fluff-head" (she had met Roy's Madam Christmas and her girls enough times to know) but somehow the Colonel always managed to land a date with the ones that couldn't talk about anything beyond the simplest of concepts. She looked back up to see Mustang smirking at her. "Nah" he said "Saturday night Uncle Roy will be all Elysia's. Of course Aunt Hawkeye will be lavishing the birthday girl with attention too." He added blithely, as they continued down the hallway. It was just like him, assuming she'd be there for him at every occasion. And she had promised that. She just hadn't realized how much of her "free" time she'd be sacrificing for the whims of the Colonel when she had agreed to watch his back. And though she hadn't really been planning to go, it wasn't as if she had any other pressing plans that night. Plus she and Garcia might get a few minutes to talk while Elysia's mom was working in the kitchen. And there might even be some of Gracia's amazing apple pie there. She may have the chance to pick up the recipe, not that she'd every have the time to make it if the Colonel insisted on continuing to screw up her schedule. So she just said "Yes sir", never noticing the smile that briefly light her Colonel's face.
Hawkeye walked out of the office that evening with Hayate at her side, and a list in her hand. The Colonel had coerced her into getting his gift for Elysia when she went shopping. Hopefully she could find something that a little girl would enjoy in one of the nearby shops. She was stumped as to what to give Elysia, who was the star of her father's existence and as such there was little she was wanting for. Perhaps she could make something. Hawkeye's only skill was cooking though; it wasn't like she was an alchemist. And the alchemist had already passed to responsibility off on her to procure a gift. She should call Gracia, see if they had baked the cake yet. If not, Hawkeye thought, she might arrive early and help bake the birthday cake with Elysia. Not sure how that would count as a gift from the Colonel, but Elysia would enjoy it. Unless… she did know that Roy had been a good cook when he was younger, hopefully he had managed to retain that skill. Hawkeye hadn't eaten anything he had cooked since he had been a student of her father's. And if Mustang had somehow managed to retain that skill, it would be a minor miracle if he had, then the three of them could have an amusing afternoon in the kitchen, to say the least. Hawkeye snickered. This is what the Colonel got for foisting off his gift responsibilities on his aide. She couldn't help it. Hawkeye laughed out loud. She couldn't wait to see his expression. Hayate peered up at her, then gamboled along her front of her, happy to see his mommy in such a good mood. She would have to be careful though, when she picked up her superior. She didn't want her expression tipping him off. With a grin she opened the door to the store and entered.