(Post-Ishval but pre-series)

"Vee, you've got to get over here as soon as possible," the voice on the other end of the phone demanded, before Veronica had even said hello.

"Is that you, Claire?" Veronica said, smiling as she tucked the telephone receiver between her ear and her shoulder. "What's up?"

"She's coming. HERE," Claire hissed urgently. "Today!"

"Do you mean –omigod," Veronica gasped, straightening up. "Roy said he might be able to visit while he's in town, but I never thought he'd willingly bring her along…are they coming over as soon as they arrive?"

"NO!" Claire crowed triumphantly. "That's the best part! General Grumman did Madame a favor and made sure they had to travel separately; some 'accident' with the ticket bookings. HER train gets here in 30 minutes. Roy doesn't come in until three hours later."

"Do the others know?" Veronica asked sharply. On the other end of the call, Claire was shaking her head, though she knew Veronica couldn't see her.

"I couldn't reach Violet," she explained quickly. "But the others are already here or on their way. And we're sending Lucy to pick her up from the station."

"Oh perfect," Veronica chuckled. "No one can refuse Lucy anything. All right, I'm on my way in five. I'll make sure Violet gets the message to meet us when she's through tutoring."

"Wonderful! See you soon!"

"Miss Hawkeye! Miss Riza Hawkeye! Over here!" a cheerful voice sang out. Clear as a bell, the words cut through the low-level hum of chatter on the train platform, and the young solider thus beckoned glanced up in surprise. A pretty, curvy blonde waved her arms enthusiastically, beaming. Intrigued, Hawkeye moved with some caution toward the stranger, tilting her head slightly to one side as she studied the woman's face.

"I'm sorry, but do I know you?" she asked hesitantly, but the other woman had already taken her bag from her hand, passed it off to a rather imposing gentleman standing beside her, and then grabbed both her hands in her own.

"No, not at all!" she chirped. "We've never actually met, but Roy talks about you all the time in his letters." At this, Hawkeye flushed a delicate shade of pink, which Lucy thought made her look very pretty indeed. "I'm afraid you'll have a rather long wait before Roy's train gets in. And since you're all by yourself in an unfamiliar place, we thought you might like to come and have tea with us while you wait for him, rather than sitting here in the station all by your lonesome. Oh, do please say you'll come!" she said, her blue eyes sparking with good humor and innocent affection.

"Ah, you must be Miss Lucy...I beg your pardon, Roy never told me your last name," Hawkeye said with some embarrassment. She'd never been comfortable taking liberties.

"Oh, please just call me Lucy," the young woman said cheerfully. "And is it all right if I call you Riza? Roy's always so formal in his letters, but I really feel like I've known you for years, already," she added with another charming smile.

Riza was completely captivated. She found herself agreeing to afternoon tea and submitting herself to Lucy's solicitous fussing. Lucy led her to a waiting car, where the imposing gentleman (one of the club's security guards perhaps?) stood waiting patiently with a hand on the open door and a chauffeur's cap perched on his bald head.

Lucy kept up a stream of happy chatter all the way to her apartment, which, if Riza recalled correctly, she shared with two other women. But she was rather shocked when Lucy led her upstairs and into a sitting room with not just two, but six other women waiting.

"Um, hello," she murmured, shifting her weight a little uncomfortably.

"Oh, look how handsome you are in your uniform," one of the blondes said with an envious purr. "I bet you turn plenty of heads, dressed like that."

"Hush Juliet, you'll scare the poor dear," a tall stately blonde with kind blue eyes said, moving forward with a graceful step. "Welcome, Miss Hawkeye...or, perhaps I should call you Second Lieutenant Hawkeye?"

"I—either one is fine, but…I don't mind if you call me Riza," Hawkeye said, surprising herself a little. The other woman just smiled benignly.

"It's lovely to meet you at last, Riza. I'm Elinor," she replied. Riza had already guessed as much. "Please, have a seat," she said, gesturing to a comfortable armchair. "Tea?"

"Yes, thank you," she said. As she settled in the chair, she realized that all of the other furniture was arranged so as to make her seat the focal point of the room.

"I hope you don't mind our boldness," a stunning redhead said, sweeping over to her with a fresh cup of tea in one hand and a platter of small sandwiches in the other. "But we've been just dying to meet you."

"Not at all," Hawkeye demurred, accepting the tea Sophie thrust into her hands. "I've heard Lieutenant Colonel Mustang talk about you ladies with some frequency over the years, so the pleasure is all mine," she said, looking round at them all. "It's nice to finally have a chance to put faces to the names."

"I'm Sophie, by the way, and you've already met Lucy and Elinor, of course...and these are Ada, Juliet, Veronica, and Claire," Sophie waved her arm in a sweeping gesture, and three blue-eyed blondes and a green-eyed brunette waved at her cheerfully in turn.

"Isn't someone missing?" Hawkeye asked, looking around. "Where's Miss Violet?" She was pleased that her memory for names and faces had always been sharp.

"Violet works as a teacher these days," Lucy supplied, beaming up at her. "We're hoping she'll be home soon...her class should already be done for the day."

"In fact, she's here now," a new voice added, from just outside the room.

"Oh, Vi, you made it!" Lucy cried, leaping up and rushing to greet the newcomer. Gorgeous chestnut curls framed a bright, clever face, and her grey eyes sparkled as she smiled at Riza.

"Hello, everyone! I came as soon as I could get away. And you must be Riza—ah, I beg your pardon, Second Lieutenant Hawkeye," she said, extending a slender hand.

"Pleasure to meet you," Riza replied, rising to shake hands. She remembered Roy once saying that Violet's luxuriant hair was the envy of the cabaret, and looking at her now, she could well believe it. Chestnut was an unusual shade in Amestris, almost exotic, and Riza had little doubt that the thick, glossy locks drew in a fair share of Violet's clients. Or had done once, seeing as how she no longer worked at the cabaret.

"And you as well," Violet was saying. She was distracted by Lucy taking her document case and a satchel of books, which must have been heavy to judge from the way the younger woman staggered as she bore them away. "Oh, thank you love. I'm sorry, my bags are rather heavy." She glanced back over at Riza. "One of the downsides of working in a 'regular' job rather than a cabaret, I'm afraid. More material items for me to keep track of."

"Oh, yes, of course," Riza replied, looking around the room. "I must confess I've been thinking of you all as still working with Madame Christmas, but Lucy was telling me most of you have moved on now?"

"Well, you know, one's life span at a cabaret is dependent on one's looks. At least to a certain extent," Veronica replied, smiling.

"Yes, so a girl had best be well placed or trained up in a different career before her expiration date comes up," Sophie added.

"Expiration date?" echoed Riza, dumbstruck. She hadn't thought of it in quite those terms before.

"Well, don't let's be coy about it," Violet said. "I know I'm not getting any younger, and although most of the other girls are a few years younger than I, there still comes a point where we're less of an asset in a 'nightclub' kind of setting. At that point Madame brings in younger talent...and we're outsourced. It's just good business sense, really. Nothing personal." The other girls were nodding in agreement.

"And Madame makes quite sure that we'll be well taken care of before she replaces us," Ada chimed in.

"I see. So, who's still at the cabaret, then?" Riza asked, looking around.

"Just Ada and Lucy, now," Juliet replied. "Oh, and Veronica on occasion, but she's been working on making her unofficial connections in the military more official."

"She wants to be an investigator like her father, since she's already been doing it unofficially for years," Claire explained, smiling. "Oddly enough, she's helped out several of her current instructors over the years."

"Makes things a lot more interesting in class, I can tell you," Veronica piped up with a slightly foxy grin.

"And Violet, Lucy said something about teaching?" Hawkeye asked.

"Yes, private tutoring for the rich and famous," she smiled, tossing her hair back as she reached for the tray of sandwiches. "I had a rather fortuitous meeting with a man who was impressed with my meager qualifications and thought I could do better than life as a barmaid. He introduced me to friends of his with young children, and I took private lessons to improve my own education when I wasn't teaching them everything I knew."

"And Madame was delighted, I'm sure," Hawkeye replied. "Being a private tutor would of course afford you access into places a cocktail waitress couldn't go."

"Yes, exactly," Violet nodded, pleased that Hawkeye had caught on. "People say all sorts of things in front of the hired help in the privacy of their own homes that they would never admit in public, even to the pretty, sympathetic bar maid in their favorite establishment."

"Yes, I would imagine so," Hawkeye said thoughtfully. "And Sophie? I heard you were recently married. Congratulations! Your husband is an alchemist, I believe?" Sophie blushed a little and toyed with the diamond ring on her finger.

"Thank you. Yes, Howell is an alchemist, although not a State Alchemist. He claims he doesn't have the necessary talent to warrant a military position, but the real reason is because he just doesn't like to be pinned down to anything. He's got more talent than the whole lot of the State Alchemists put together," she said with proud conviction.

"Careful, Sophie," Ada said reproachfully. "Our Roy is a State Alchemist, remember?"

"Yes, well," Sophie tossed her hair disdainfully. "Roy can't be bothered to keep in touch anymore, so how am I to know whether he has any talent these days?" The others, including Riza, giggled at this.

"And Ada, how is your son?" Riza asked when the laughter had died down.

"He's doing very well, thank you," the pretty blonde smiled. With her golden curls and wide violet-blue eyes, she still looked like a child herself, but Riza knew her young son was nearly a teenager already. "He's been telling me he wants to be a doctor, so my cousin's husband has agreed to train him up as an apprentice."

"That's wonderful," Riza said sincerely. Ada blushed prettily, and Riza wondered how she'd managed to stay single all these years. But then she recalled Roy telling her how heartbroken Ada had been when her young husband had died unexpectedly. She probably just hadn't wanted another man in her life. That was something Riza could understand.

"Juliet's been climbing the ranks of the Military Investigative Bureau; Claire's a struggling author who works nights as a copy editor to make ends meet; and Elinor married a sweet and virtuous clergyman whom we all simply adore. Now, enough about us, tell us about you, Miss Riza," Veronica said with a cheeky grin. Riza couldn't help but laugh as well, though she was well aware that the others were eagerly waiting to hear what she had to say.

"Well, it's not half as interesting as any of your stories," she said softly. "I joined the military shortly after my father died, at my grandfather's suggestion. They pulled me out of my final year at the academy to serve in Ishval, and once the war ended I was promoted and assigned to Lieutenant Colonel Mustang's command. We were both transferred to East City under General Grumman, and I've been serving as Lieutenant Colonel Mustang's adjutant ever since." Hawkeye shifted uncomfortably under the sudden intense scrutiny of eight pairs of eyes.

"And what brings the two of you to Central City?" Elinor asked, kindly diverting her attention.

"Lieutenant Colonel Mustang and I have recently been assigned to investigate and recruit possible candidates for the State Alchemist program," she replied, turning slightly to face the older woman. "There's a mandatory meeting at Central Command, a sort of joint training session for all of the teams that have been selected for this particular mission."

"Training session? To teach you all how to do the sales pitch?" Ada piped up. Hawkeye smiled.

"Basically, yes," she said.

"So how long will you two actually be in town?" Juliet asked.

"Oh, less than two weeks. The series of workshops and lectures should only take up a few days, but there are some preliminary arrangements we'll need to assist with beforehand, as well as the evaluations to complete once they're through." The military loved its paperwork, after all.

"At least Roy has the townhouse here in the city. That'll save you two the atrocious hotel fares, I suppose," mused Sophie. Riza flushed slightly.

"I—we weren't planning to—that is, the military provides a stipend for our traveling accommodations," she stammered, wondering what sort of relationship these women thought she had with Mustang. The girls exchanged disappointed frowns at her genuine confusion.

"Girls, what have I told you about interrogating guests?" a new voice rang out, sparing Hawkeye from trying to explain to them that she was not actually sleeping with her superior officer. Madame sashayed into the room, moving as gracefully as ever in spite of her substantial bulk. Riza's instinctual relief was short-lived, however, when the woman continued to speak. "You know interrogations are my job," she purred.

Hawkeye, who had risen to her feet as the older woman entered the room, stood frozen in front of her chair. She felt a fleeting empathy for woodland creatures, suddenly understanding where the expression 'deer in the headlights' came from.

Circling her slowly, Madame Christmas inspected Hawkeye like the seasoned connoisseur of the female form that she was. And once her circuit was complete, Madame reached out to place a fingertip under her chin. Gently, she turned Riza's head from side to side, never breaking eye contact.

Thinking over it later, Hawkeye couldn't understand her own docility. If anyone else had tried such a thing, she'd have slapped their hand away indignantly and coldly demanded to know what they thought they were doing. But instead, she found herself holding perfectly still, enthralled by the older woman who was studying her like a specimen under a microscope.

"What a lovely shade," Madame murmured, still looking deep into her eyes. Riza felt the heat suffuse her face, but her blush only made Madame smile wider. "And your skin is absolutely flawless," she added, her own dark eyes flicking quickly over Hawkeye's figure again. "You're a little bit on the thin side, but that'll be from the stress and the god-awful slop they pass off as food in the barracks. Well, it has only been a few months, really. Once you've settled in more permanently in East City, you'll fill out nicely, I've no doubt…the advantages of regular rest and proper nutrition," she murmured, as if to herself. "Such an attractive frame…it really is a pity."

"I beg your pardon, ma'am?" Unused to such frank appraisal of her physical attributes, Hawkeye fidgeted like a restless child under the older woman's gaze. It really didn't help that Madame's black eyes were so similar to her nephew's.

"Oh, call me Chris. Or Madame, if you'd prefer," she said imperiously, waving a ring-encrusted hand dismissively. "I was referring to your career choice, dear. I've seen your file, so I know there's no hope in talking you out of the army now, but I do wish you'd consider resigning your commission and coming to work for me instead. You'd make such a wonderful addition to my establishment..."

"I'd- I'm sorry?" Hawkeye squeaked, much to her own embarrassment. Her eyes were wide and startled. "Are-are you saying that you want me to work for you? As in, work in your cabaret?"

"It's not just a cabaret, darling," Chris grinned at Hawkeye's wide-eyed shock. "Or did my silly brat never tell you? I operate the largest and most lucrative spy ring in all of Amestris. My girls are my foot soldiers, gathering information from the most mundane farm hand to the most politically connected general—" she cut herself off when Riza shook her head impatiently.

"Yes, of course, Lieutenant Colonel Mustang told me about all of that ages ago...I just don't understand why you'd be interested in me, specifically."

Chris smiled her feral, wolfish smile.

"So he told you about me, did he?" she asked. "Now that's interesting...But surely you understand what a valuable asset you'd be for an organization such as mine?" Riza's eyes narrowed, suspicious and uncertain. Chris raised an elegantly shaped eyebrow. "No? My dear girl, with a face like yours, and those soft-spoken, gentle'd have them eating out of the palm of your hand. With the right training, of course. And you've such admirable loyalty. And remarkable courage under pressure, from what I'm told," she purred, beginning to circle Hawkeye slowly again. "I don't suppose you'd be willing to work freelance for me every now and again?"

"I already have a job, Madame. I appreciate the offer, but..."

"But you won't leave my Roy-boy," Chris sighed heavily. "Well, darling, if you ever change your mind, you know where to find me."

"Roy-boy?" Riza repeated in a choked voice. She couldn't decide whether to laugh or cheer.

"Aunt Chris!" a scandalized voice cried out from the door. Eight heads swiveled towards the intruder, so that Claire was the only one to catch the expression on Riza's face when she'd heard the familiar voice.

"Her whole face just lit up, like someone flicked a light switch inside of her," she'd tell the others later, with a wistful sigh. "It was so lovely, you've no idea…she's got it just as bad as he does, without a doubt."

As it was, though, Hawkeye had managed to control her expression by the time the others looked around at her, though relief was still clear on her face.

"You're late, Lieutenant Colonel," Hawkeye said primly. Sophie nudged Veronica, who grinned wickedly.

"I should have known you were behind this somehow," he responded, scowling around at the room in general before turning toward his subordinate. "I'm so sorry, Second Lieutenant, I should have warned you about the possibility of kidnapping as soon as I realized we'd be traveling separately."

"No need to apologize, sir. Your family has been very gracious in their hospitality," she said politely.

Although she didn't so much as flinch when Madame chuckled darkly, her discomfort must have been clear to Roy, because he immediately turned an accusing glare on his aunt. Claire and Violet shared a knowing glance, and Lucy stifled a giggle. Madame merely lowered herself onto the loveseat across from Hawkeye, her eyes alight with mischief.

"Kidnapping is a bit strong, Roy-boy. Surely you can trust your hand-picked adjutant to defend herself against a mere handful of unarmed civilian women," she said. Roy shot a pointed look in Juliet's direction. Juliet in turn threw up her hands and plastered an innocent expression on her face.

"Don't look at me!" she cried. "I'm still only a junior investigator; I don't carry my service weapon around all the time!"

"And Hawkeye could take you in a heartbeat, anyway," Roy muttered under his breath. Madame smirked up at him.

"It's nice to see you, too, wayward nephew of mine. I assume you'll be staying at the townhouse?"

"General Grumman has arranged for rooms for us at the Grand," he replied, frowning. "As I'm sure you already know. Why do you ask?"

"Because, as I'm sure you already know, the Central Grand Hotel is a glorified roach motel unworthy of its own name. I'm shocked you would even consider setting foot over the threshold of that disgusting hovel."

"That 'disgusting hovel' is one of the most highly recommended hotels in the city," Roy said, clearly struggling to maintain control over his temper. "The military has been putting its people up there for years."

"It's only highly recommended because it's inexpensive," Chris retorted. "And so of course the military patronizes it; they're too damn cheap to pay for decent accommodations! No relative of mine will darken the doors of that filthy flophouse. I won't hear of it. Besides, I've already sent two of my new girls to clean up the place and prepare it for your arrival."

"You WHAT?!"

"Oh, relax, what do you think they'll do, go through your underwear drawer?" she drawled, idly studying her nails. The other women in the room watched the exchange with rapt attention, with the exception of Hawkeye, who stood at parade rest with her eyes firmly fixed at a point somewhere over her superior's left shoulder.

"That's not—that has nothing to do with—you can't just make an arbitrary decision like that!" Roy stammered.

"As a matter of fact I can, and I have," she snapped back. "Why would you subject yourself and your poor Lieutenant to such second-rate lodgings? Have you no standards at all anymore?"

"For god's sake!" he hissed at his aunt. "Have you any idea how wildly inappropriate it would be for me to invite my female subordinate to share the single bedroom available in my private residence while we are on a business trip? Do you know how many regulations that would violate? For the last time, we are not—" he cut himself off abruptly, although everyone present knew exactly what he was about to deny. "I will not have you making assumptions," he said instead, in a voice as steely as his eyes. "Do you have any idea what even the hint of a rumor could do to her career?"

Madame narrowed her eyes back at him, and the tension in the room rose exponentially.

Hawkeye had turned faintly pink again, but she was still standing rigidly at attention with a neutral expression and her eyes fixed somewhere in the middle distance. Claire thought she looked very much as though she wished she could cover her ears, or simply sink into the floor. Veronica and Juliet had both noted Roy's very careful choice of words, and each wondered how red he'd turn if they asked him what the protocols were for a non-business related trip. But at a subtle head shake from Lucy, who flicked her eyes towards Riza, they decided to let it lie until they had Roy alone. Teasing him was one thing, but poor Riza was absolutely mortified. If this went on much longer, the poor woman would run for the hills, and they simply couldn't allow that.

"Madame, Roy, if you'll pardon the interruption," Elinor interjected softly. "I think I might have a solution that would be agreeable to all parties involved."

"Yes, Elinor, what is it?" Madame said loftily, glaring at her nephew.

"I'm listening," he spat.

"Roy will stay at the townhouse, seeing as Rosalind and Miranda already went to so much trouble to fix it up for him—no, just a moment, hear me out," she said to Roy as he growled something unflattering under his breath. "I'm not suggesting Miss Hawkeye stay there as well, nor should she have to stay at that awful hotel alone. She's welcome to stay here with us, in the spare bedroom."

"Brilliant," Lucy cried, as Riza gasped and Roy sputtered.

"I-wait, what? Here?"

"It's an all-female household, and you'll be staying somewhere separate, so there can't possibly be any suggestion of impropriety," Elinor continued as though no one had interrupted. "And this way neither of you have to suffer through an uncomfortable hotel stay where the mattresses are twenty years old and the sheets aren't cleaned as often as they ought to be."

"Not to mention the horrible food," Juliet added quietly.

"The Grand's restaurant really has gone downhill," Ada agreed. "I was just speaking with the chef last week, and he said—"

"Ada, please," Roy interrupted in a pained voice. He looked to his subordinate, whose blush had faded and who was finally looking him in the eye. Watching them watching each other silently was a fascinating lesson in non-verbal communication. After a moment, Roy's shoulders relaxed a fraction.

"I defer to your judgment, Second Lieutenant," he said quietly.

"Although I appreciate the offer, I couldn't possibly accept," she protested gently, looking around at them all. "I can't in good conscience allow you to put yourselves to so much trouble for a relative stranger."

"Nonsense," Lucy said at once. "It's no trouble at all. Violet and I have plenty of room to spare, especially now that Elinor's moved out."

"Truly, you're very welcome," Violet agreed, leaning forward. "We certainly do have the space, and any friend of Roy's is a friend of ours."

"I'm sure you'll have a very busy schedule," Elinor said. "We shan't make any demands on your time or attention, I assure you. You'd be free to come and go as you please, exactly as if you were at the hotel."

"Only with nicer food. And clean sheets," Lucy beamed.

"And a bathroom that's cleaned regularly," Violet added, grinning.

"And if any of our teasing made you at all uncomfortable, then we're really sorry, but we'll be on our best behavior now, I promise. Won't we, girls?" The other women nodded earnestly as Hawkeye glanced uncertainly around at them.

"In that case, how could I refuse?" Hawkeye said with a small smile. "I'd be honored to accept your invitation."

"Wonderful!" Lucy cried, leaping to her feet and grabbing Riza's hands in hers as she'd done earlier. "I asked Clarence to leave your bag in the spare room, just in case," she added, referring to the driver who'd picked them up from the train station. "Shall I give you the tour?"

"I don't believe this," Roy said softly, glaring down at his aunt, who merely raised an eyebrow. Hawkeye looked uncertain again until Mustang made a small gesture with his right hand, at which she relaxed instantly. A fact which was not lost on the other women present.

"I'd like that very much Lucy, but I'm afraid that it will have to wait," Hawkeye said politely, and turned toward her commanding officer. "Now that the Lieutenant Colonel has arrived, we'll need to check in with Central Command as soon as possible."

"Yes, of course," he replied immediately. "And we've still got to requisition a vehicle from the motor pool before they close up for the evening." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I'll bring Second Lieutenant Hawkeye back once we're through over at Command. Can the grand tour wait until then, Lu?"

Madame smiled to herself as Lucy cheerfully agreed. Although he'd only been under Lieutenant General Grumman's command for a few short months, Roy had already gotten so much better at thinking on his feet.

"Girls, could you excuse us?" she said. "I need to have a private word with Roy-boy before he leaves," she said. As one, the women rose and slipped out of the room, murmuring farewells to Roy and Riza as they passed.

"Second Lieutenant, if you wouldn't mind, please wait for me in the hall. I'll only be a moment." Hawkeye nodded and complied. She allowed the door to fall closed behind her, but that didn't prevent her from overhearing the entire conversation between Mustang and his aunt.

"You planned this entire thing, didn't you? Don't even try to deny it," Roy snapped as soon as the door closed behind his subordinate.

"I really wasn't kidding about the state of the Grand, brat. You ought to be thanking me, and your sisters, for coming up with a solution for you," his aunt replied, unconcerned.

"And was it really necessary to imply that I'm having an illicit affair with one of my subordinates?"

"It certainly won't be the last time either of you hear such an insinuation. And your reactions to them could easily be misinterpreted, if you aren't careful. I suggest you work on that temper of yours," Chris counseled coolly.

"I don't care what people think of my temper! I do care that you're toying with her career, and mine, by pulling this stunt. People are going to notice that neither one of us is staying at the hotel with everyone else. And they all know I have a place here in town. There will be talk!"

"So? 'Caesar's wife must be above suspicion,' is that it?"

"Mind your own goddamned business, Madame, or so help me…" he growled.

"Or what? Relax, you overgrown child. I understand what you think you're trying to do. But you listen to me –you must learn to control your reactions. You understood what we were suggesting far too quickly. There will always be talk, always. But how you and she react to the rumors will make a world of difference."

"My god," Roy said in a changed tone, after a short moment of silence. "You really like her, don't you?"

"Did you think that I wouldn't? Not a very flattering assumption to make, especially after all your gushing over the girl," she chided.

"Aunt Chris!" he cried. Hawkeye noticed with interest that it was 'Aunt Chris' again, rather than 'Madame.'

"What, you thought you'd be the only one to see her positive qualities?" Madame was saying loftily.

"No, that's not what I—" Roy protested.

"You'd better treat her well, hadn't you? In case someone else tries to lure her away," Chris said in a rather smug voice. Hawkeye imagined she was smirking. "Now out with you. You've kept her waiting long enough." There was a rustle of silk, and the sound of a cheek being kissed.

"Tell Lu and Vi I'll have their house guest back in just a few hours," he murmured.

"You just make sure you come by at least twice this week, young man," she retorted. "The new girls want to meet you, too. I can't have their petty jealousies disrupting my business."

"Yes, ma'am," he replied affectionately.

He opened the door silently and nodded to his adjutant, who fell into step behind him as he led the way out of the apartment. He paused in the foyer to help her with her coat.

"You all right?" he asked, watching her carefully.

"I'm…not entirely sure what just happened," she admitted, shaking her head slowly. "I feel like I've been swept up in a hurricane or something." Mustang clapped a hand on her shoulder.

"You'll get used to the feeling. Welcome to my life, Hawkeye," he said solemnly.

A.N. Finally! I've been planning this bonus chapter ever since chapter nine, when I first really introduced Roy's 'sisters.' I actually wrote a large chunk of this all the way back then, but it sorta spiraled out of control when I opened it up a few weeks ago to edit it...whoops. SpiffyPuffins and Sweetdeath04, I hope you guys like it!

Also, two of my lovely reviewers, Lorena Hyugua and Ba-sing-saying, let me know that someone told tumblr about my story - huzzah! :D (No wonder I'm suddenly getting a lot more traffic, lol). And this girl has some really fantastic FMA artwork, check it out (remove spaces):

burdge. tumblr post / 81923815776 / i-want-you-to-he-blurted-out-and-then-more

Thanks so much everyone!

xoxo Janie