"Man, I just can't believe my luck! All right, let's see…'Well hello there, beautiful, did it hurt when you fell from heaven?'…no, no, that's stupid. She'd probably hit me. Ok, ok…'Hi, I'm new around here, and I was hoping you could show me around the place. Maybe we could grab some dinner afterwards?' Ugh, no, that's too blunt. Geez, what is my problem right now? Gah!" The young soldier paused in his relentless pacing to clutch the sides of his own head, as though literally trying to grasp the right words. Then, with a groan, he dropped heavily into his desk chair. "Come on, Steve, get a hold of yourself," he sighed.
There wasn't much room to pace in the tiny dorm room, and Second Lieutenant Steven Moran was starting to feel claustrophobic. He'd only just transferred from a small unit in the South, where, he reflected dryly, female officers had been scarce. But here! It was only his first week in Eastern Command; he'd been promoted to Second Lieutenant only the month before and shipped out immediately to fill a vacant position. When he'd walked into the building on his first day, he'd nearly given himself whiplash when he'd spotted three attractive women at the same time. Over the course of the day, he had noticed several other very promising options, but none had been quite her caliber.
When he'd passed the crowded shooting range on his way back to the barracks that afternoon, she'd caught his eye immediately. The unit's one and only stone cold fox. He felt like the luckiest guy in the whole army to have a shot at a woman like her. The only trouble was, he hadn't found an opportunity to speak to her...and he was beginning to worry that he would blow it if and when the chance ever came up.
After casually asking around, he'd learned his beloved's name fairly quickly-there was evidently only one pretty blonde female officer in all of Eastern that frequented the range-but the magnificent Lieutenant Hawkeye proved to be wholly unapproachable.
She was quite simply never alone. Hawkeye was always either in the middle of a pack of three or four guys (who must be her teammates, Moran realized after a day or two of crippling jealousy) or else striding briskly down the halls with her arms full of files, one step behind her superior officer. On occasion she even had a small black and white puppy trotting along at her heels, though this fact did not lessen her aura of professionalism in the least. When he'd tried to find out more about her, his teammates gave him strange looks; most warned him to steer clear. This only piqued his curiosity, as none of them were able to give him a good reason as to why he ought to leave her alone.
Chicks with guns, especially confident ones in officer's positions, were a major turn on in Moran's opinion. Hawkeye was extremely attractive, serious about her job, possibly witty, and probably not a bitch (and those last two points he was basing off the fact that he had heard skittish young Sergeant Fuery laughing lightheartedly at something she'd said…Fuery! That kid flinched if you so much as looked at him wrong, but he seemed plenty comfortable around Hawkeye, not nervous or frightened in the least, so she couldn't be as stern and aloof as she looked on the surface.) So, pretty, dedicated, funny and kind—what was the problem again?
"She's untouchable, man, trust me," said one first lieutenant, with a strange little smile on his face.
"No, no. I know for a fact that she's not married or dating anyone. She's definitely single; even Rebecca says so, and those two are pretty tight. But I get the impression she's not available!" chortled a female captain. When he'd asked her to elaborate, she'd only smiled more brightly and told him to pay closer attention.
"No way. I'm sure she's not into other chicks! I totally would have heard about THAT. Though her and that Catalina girl would make a pretty hot couple if that were the case...Sorry, what were you saying again?" his gossipy sergeant said with eyes glazed over.
"Moran, she's one of Mustang's men. When would she have time to date anyone, with all the work she has to do? He's so damn lazy, nothing would get done in that division if she didn't do it herself...we're lucky she's so dedicated, cuz he's pretty much useless!" snarled his surly Warrant Officer. "And why are you even asking me? She's obviously out of your league, kid," he'd added with a snort.
So she was out of his league. So what? What was there to lose by trying? Moran couldn't shake the feeling that he was missing something. But he brushed off those concerns, more worried about what he was going to say to her when he did finally get his chance.
On the first day of his fourth week in Eastern, he spotted his elusive quarry in the mess hall-and she was unaccompanied for once! Covert glances in the Lieutenant's direction assured Moran that she was indeed sitting alone at her table, and had just finished her meal. She was still there by the time he'd rushed through the chow line, and he had to remind himself to calm down and approach with extreme caution.
The sublime Lieutenant Hawkeye sipped her tea while scanning over some reports, her face serene.
"Excuse me, but would you mind if I sat here?" Moran was trying for smooth and cool, but somehow it came out as slightly cocky. She raised one delicate eyebrow, but graciously inclined her head towards the chair opposite her place.
"Not at all, please sit down." Her voice was low and musical, and her brown eyes were kind, although her facial expression was difficult to read. Moran sat eagerly, desperately wondering what she was thinking. All of his nervousness returned, and he somewhat desperately cast about for a topic of conversation.
"So...uh, was the meatloaf any good?" he poked at his own a little doubtfully, then cursed himself inwardly. Meatloaf? Really? That was his big opener? But Hawkeye made an amused little noise in the back of her throat, an almost laugh, and Moran's confidence soared.
"No worse than usual, though I would skip the creamed spinach if I were you," she said lightly, and eyed him appraisingly. "I don't believe we've been formally introduced. Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye," she offered her hand, still studying him unashamedly. Moran knew he was a pretty good looking man, and clearly the Lieutenant was not impervious to his manifold masculine charms. He puffed up ever so slightly and flashed an impossibly bright grin in her direction, his ego soaring.
"Second Lieutenant Steven Moran," he replied, shaking her proffered hand. Her palms were calloused and her grip was unexpectedly firm, but her fingers were long and delicate, and Moran took a moment to admire her well-kept and unvarnished oval nails. "I just transferred here from Southern last month, so I'm still trying to get to know everyone. You, uh, you work with Jean Havoc, right? I met him last weekend. He's once helluva poker player." She smiled a little more sincerely at this observation.
"Yes, I've lost to him a few times myself. You should challenge him to a game of pool if you want to take him down a peg. I will never understand how he misses those shots so badly." Encouraged, Moran forgot all of the silly pickup lines he'd been practicing (thankfully), and they chatted amiably about their respective coworkers for a few minutes.
"So Havoc mentioned that your superior is the Colonel Mustang. What's it like working for a legend? I suppose it can be quite the challenge working for the youngest and least experienced colonel in Eastern?"
"Yes, well. There are certainly days the colonel challenges me," she agreed, with a secretive little smile playing about her lips, and Moran was enthralled. He suddenly couldn't take his eyes off her. That smile…he had to say something else, anything that would keep that expression on her face.
"Oh, so he's one of those bosses, huh?" he said eagerly. "A real taskmaster? You know, I've already heard the stories about his womanizing ways. They tell me he foists his paperwork off onto his team while he goes off gallivanting around." He had also heard rumors that Hawkeye held Mustang at gunpoint to make him sign his name to the really important documents, but he thought it best not to mention that bit. "I don't think I could handle working under a man like that. It must be really tough to respect anyone who treats his subordinates like that."
Hawkeye froze for the tiniest fraction of a second, and then the corners of her mouth suddenly quirked upwards in amusement. Encouraged by the smile, Moran did not stop to wonder why her eyes had gone dark and cold. Nor did he wait for a response. Instead he quickly launched into a barrage of abuse directed at the young colonel, hoping to gain some points for being sensitive and empathetic to what he assumed was her unfortunate luck in superior officers.
"And then Sheila in accounting told me how he pulls that all the time…he stood her cousin up one night, and the only excuse he offered was that one of his men was injured after a mission. Sounds like he's a major flirt, from what some of the other girls in the office were saying. But I guess you'd know all about that, right? Gosh, that must be horrible for you to have to deal with on a daily basis, huh? Oh, and then I hear—" Moran only checked himself when Hawkeye raised one hand, as though trying to physically block the onslaught of words.
"I'm afraid you were mistaken, Second Lieutenant Moran, if you took my amusement a moment ago as an indication that I agreed with your statements. It was actually the idea that Colonel Mustang's subordinates do not respect him that I found so ridiculous," her voice was still musical, but it had taken on a sharp note. "And as a matter of fact I consider myself very fortunate to be assigned to work with Colonel Mustang. You ought to be careful about making assumptions like that so casually," she finished, and those gentle honey colored eyes flashed dangerously.
It was at that exact moment that Moran realized several people within earshot were gaping at him as though they could not believe he still had all his limbs intact. A few were even cowering in fear, or edging very slowly away from the pretty blonde across from him. The pretty blonde sharpshooter, he remembered belatedly. One who evidently had a great deal of respect for her boss, to judge from her reaction. Moran eyed her nervously, and stuttered an apology, confused and embarrassed.
"But I don't understand...do you mean all those stories about him are untrue? Or...?" he ventured timidly, kicking himself and still fervently praying that he hadn't completely screwed his chances with her. Hawkeye's eyes softened, marginally, and her lips even twitched into the shadow of a smile again.
"In the future, Second Lieutenant Moran, you'd best get your facts straight before repeating such base gossip, especially to the direct subordinate of the subject of said gossip. Do you really think Colonel Mustang would have been made a colonel at his age if he were merely a lazy playboy?" Before he'd worked out a response to this, someone to the left of their table cleared his throat.
"Is this person bothering you, Lieutenant?" The hairs on the back of Moran's neck stood up. He knew whose deadly cold voice that was; he knew who was standing there without even having to turn his head. HIM. Hawkeye's lazy playboy boss. The infamous Hero of Ishval.
"Ah, so there you are, Colonel. I was just wondering whether I'd need to send Sergeant Fuery to track you down once he came back from his lunch break." Hawkeye rose gracefully, her reports already swept together in a neat stack in one hand. She subtly angled her body to block the hapless Moran from her Colonel's death glare, completely ignoring the original question. Mustang, it appeared, was not about to be fooled by Hawkeye's evasive maneuver. His flashing black eyes burned holes into Moran over her shoulder, promising complete and utter devastation if Moran so much as trembled in a way that Mustang didn't like.
"Welcome to Eastern Command, Second Lieutenant Moran," Hawkeye said sweetly, half turning back to him. "It was nice chatting with you. I do hope you'll settle in here soon." Then she laid that elegant hand on her colonel's arm. "Ready, sir?" The colonel hesitated for another short second, still eyeing the newcomer. Then that little black and white puppy sitting obediently at their feet gave a short yip, which seemed to bring the colonel back to himself.
"Yes. Let's go." And the dark-eyed young colonel stalked across the mess hall with his pretty blonde shadow exactly one step behind him. Moran couldn't shake the feeling that he had dodged a bullet, both literally and figuratively, and found that his knees were shaking a little. Meanwhile, understanding was slowly dawning. So was this what everyone had meant by Hawkeye's unavailability? Her intimidating colonel frightened away any potential love interests? But-but why was she letting him? It honestly hadn't occurred to Moran that the divine Lieutenant Hawkeye might be "untouchable" by choice, but it was starting to look that way. Jean Havoc, who had entered the mess hall with the colonel, chose that moment to clap Moran's shoulder, scaring the living daylights out of him.
"You're lucky she decided you were harmless, mate. She's let the colonel...er, 'persuade' a few overly persistent suitors she's not interested." A slightly portly young officer who'd been standing beside Havoc chortled and dropped into the empty chair across from Moran. Neither made any move to follow their superior officers, choosing instead to let Hawkeye smooth Mustang's ruffled feathers on her own while they hung back safely out of the line of fire. (Again, probably both literally and figuratively, Moran realized uneasily).
"Hey Breda," Havoc was saying, "D'you remember the one he put in the hospital?"
"Ha! Oh yeah! I think some fool said she had a nice rack. I'm surprised she didn't just shoot him herself."
"Actually she did shoot him herself...that was why they had to take him to the hospital," a third voice spoke up. No one had noticed young Fuery sidle up to their small group. At some point he'd scooped the puppy into his arms, and he was calmly scratching the dog's ears when the others looked him in shock, mouths open. "And he didn't just, um, 'compliment' her figure. The jerk caught her off guard and tried to grope her in a dark alley when she was walking home alone one night." Fuery adjusted his glasses, shrugging nonchalantly at the blank stares around him. "What? Oh, don't look at me like that; it was self-defense! She barely even grazed his leg with her shot. And they made sure he got medical treatment right away. Didn't you know that's the reason why the Colonel finally requisitioned a vehicle? The Lieutenant drives him to and from work since she's his aide, but that also means she doesn't have to walk home anymore, cuz she has the car after she drops him off." Havoc was slowly nodding.
"Huh, oh yeah. Now that you mention it...I do remember her saying something about his becoming overprotective...and there's no way she'd simply let him accompany her home."
"Oh hell no, she's as stubborn as he is when it comes to that stuff," Breda snorted. "She'd never allow him to put himself in danger just to ensure that she got home safely. Geez, those two kill me," he said fondly.
"I..I don't get it...why is he so protective of her?" Moran stuttered. He kept picturing her hand on the Colonel's arm, how easily he'd been led away once she'd touched him. "Wait…" No, it couldn't be…could it? "A-are they together or something? But...isn't that against regs? I mean, since he's her direct superior? And, I thought, I mean, everyone keeps saying…isn't he a shameless ladies' man?" Breda and other two men looked at each other and smirked before turning back to the ill-fated Moran.
"You really are new here. You have a lot to learn, my friend." Havoc said lightly. Black Hayate yipped in agreement.
Moran dropped his head onto the table. "Man. I can't believe my luck."
A.N. I must apologize. Usually I dislike "original" characters getting tossed in like that, but I just couldn't get this idea out of my head. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Feedback is deeply appreciated! :D