A/N: I own nothing but a stray cat who shows up at my place whenever he wants food and a place to crash, and technically, he thinks he owns me. While I've found a few good pieces in the miscellaneous section and the LiveJournal community offers some fun stuff, I can't wait to see the Section III section of FFnet expand, so I wrote a little four-shot, featuring at least shoutouts for just about everyone from Schultz to Webner. (And yes, Fullmetal Alchemist fans will recognize who Lily's shipping, besides Alice/Randel. My fellow airplane-reference-savvy FMA geeks will also recognize where the assistant's name came from, since I couldn't find her name from canon.) Dubbed anime spellings and ranks, just because I haven't found a good translation of the manga yet.
"You know, Lieutenant Malvin and Corporal Oland have been in there for a while," Lily Stecchin said, turning her chair in worried half-circles between the closed storage room door and the desks of the rest of the unit. "Do you think they're okay?" Captain Hunks grunted noncommittally, never lowering his newspaper.
"I know the big guy is worried about this plan, but you'd think that if he had a really pressing concern, he'd share it with the rest of the unit, too." Martis fiddled with his pen, no longer pretending to concentrate on his paperwork.
Oreldo just leaned back in his chair, stretching before offering the other two noncoms a knowing smirk. "Trust me, you don't want to have the big man sharing this concern. Let 'em be, squirt; they'll both feel better after they've gotten some alone time."
Martis hunched back over his papers, shooting his desk-mate a half-embarrassed glare. "I thought you said they weren't like that," he spoke in a lower tone.
"Weren't like what?" Both men grimaced at Stecchin's glaringly loud and obvious curiosity. It may have been her normal volume when speaking out of concern for her friends, but this was one concern that the sub-lieutenants didn't think ought to be aired around the captain.
"Pipe down, kid." Oreldo waved her closer. Hunks cleared his throat and turned the page. "No, I didn't think that there was anything going on between them," the blond sub-lieutenant explained more quietly, slouching and resting his forearms on the desk. "But I think that it's finally hit the big guy that the LT is really getting married. You add in the reasons why she's marrying Lord Lionel, and that can make a man rethink his priorities."
"Well, I'm not, and you're not, are you?" Martis pointed out, looking away from his old friend when he realized how awkwardly the question had come out. The storage room door offered no answers.
"Course not, four-eyes," Oreldo responded, offering the other two a lazy lopsided smile. "I know we need to get to the center of this mess, and if Lieutenant Blitz is willing to take the risk to get herself closer to it, I won't stand in her way."
Lily's eyes had slowly been filling with sparkles, and the men had been silently preparing themselves for an explosion. "You mean, you think Randel's in love with her?" Martis motioned to their worryingly silent superior officer and the sergeant dropped her voice to an electrified whisper, clasping her hands over her heart. "That's so sweet! It reminds me of this story I read where the sergeant falls for his lieutenant, but she doesn't notice so of course he tries to convince himself that it's just the brotherly love of comrades, but then she's arrested for treason, but it's all a case of mistaken identity and he's the only one who'll listen to her and…"
Martis pushed up his glasses and sighed, sharing a gently exasperated look with Oreldo. At least if Stecchin rattled on about a romance novel it kept her from saying anything about their local odd couple that the old captain didn't need to hear, legally speaking. Slowly and deliberately, Hunks turned another page.
It wasn't as if the rest of them weren't worried about the lieutenant, too. When Dr. Rebecca Northrop, Dr. Kauplan's assistant, had come forward with anesthetic research, detailed notes about her superior's more questionable methods, and observations of shadowy meetings between the old crone and a pair of secretive, silver-masked men, one of those men had resembled Alice Malvin's fiancé very closely. Hunks had been intrigued by the tales of the Silver Wheel, and had told Dr. Northrop quite plainly that she was getting into a conspiracy so deep that he wasn't sure that even Section III could protect her. She had offered to stay on, but hadn't shown up for her last "date" with Oreldo and the Pumpkin Scissors were beginning to suspect the worst.
While Randel Oland was an all-too-frequent fixture in Dr. Kauplan's hospital, the unit's last, best option was to get more detail from Lord Lionel Taylor. The nobleman was smooth and guileful enough that it would be hard to pump him directly for information, but if his love for Alice was a ruse, it was one that ran very deep. Even if Kauplan was on her guard, now, there was little reason for Lord Lionel to be suspicious of his usually forthright and rather naive fiancée.
This would prove a challenge for Alice. The lieutenant did tend to draw her sword on potential wrongdoers first and worry about how a little blade like that was supposed to stop a tank or automatic rifle later. She could have probably have joined Randel's old unit, Martis thought wryly. All she's missing is an "off" switch for her inner blue lantern. When investigating this Silver Wheel, she'd have to get a lot smarter about tactics or she'd end up getting killed. While Captain Hunks could be tight-lipped about the Invisible Nine, he wasn't just being mysterious as to this secret society. He didn't know much more than they did, and everything he did know made him encourage Alice to discretely break the engagement for the sakes of herself, her unit, and her siblings, not to involve herself deeper.
Lieutenant Malvin hadn't been kidding when she boasted that she would stand up to the Emperor himself, if she had to, though, and the disappearances associated with those who got too close to Silver Wheel business only raised her commitment to flushing the masked society out. She'd suggested that if she went through with the wedding, there was a high chance that Lionel would invite her to join the group as well, or at least leave evidence of their doings where a sharp-eyed wife would be able find them.
None of them had been particularly keen on the idea, but Hunks, Oreldo, and Martis weren't going to argue much with her during an investigation when they couldn't yet come up with a better plan, and Lily was too busy worrying about the more immediate concern of when Alice would come back to allow the sergeant major to fear that her superior officer wouldn't come back at all.
Randel had been quiet. He usually was, so Martis had figured that it was just the gentle giant's way of supporting their friend while silently running through the thousand things that could go wrong with her plan. He hadn't even stopped to think that the newest member of Section III might have concerns a little closer to his big heart to deal with. But there was the supply room, door closed and utterly quiet. Across the room, the captain flicked to the last page of his newspaper.