Birthday gift!fic for disastergirl. Sorry, girl. This is all I could manage in the time _
No beta, so let me know if you spot any typos. Publishing on a Tuesday! Yeo.
It was cold. Really fucking cold.
"It's cold," said Mustang, struggling to mount the small rise his lieutenant had climbed with ease. "Really fucking cold."
Hawkeye turned to him and regarded him over the top of her cowl, brown eyes shining with haughty amusement. She'd told him a hundred times that he'd need snow boots for the training exercise. He'd responded with typical indignation. He was a 'virile leopard' apparently. Virile leopards had no requirement for military issue cowls, long johns or blizzard shades either.
It put them in quite a fix. They still had five or six hours steady walking until they were back at base camp. If they didn't make it back within one hour of general Armstrong's own party, they would have to repeat the same gruelling exercise the following day. Those were the colonel's terms, of course. In fact, he'd suggested the exercise be repeated if his team didn't beat the general back. Thankfully, the general had laughed so loudly and for so long, any illusions of possibility were chased from the colonel's head. He'd conceded after explaining at great length that, of course, this was the best arrangement since his second lieutenant was partially lame. Luckily, he didn't see the obscene gesture his fully mobile second lieutenant made behind his back. It didn't matter in the end. The general only had one stipulation: two against two, her and her best man, he and his fine lieutenant.
There was a long scraping sound of boots on snow followed by a soft thud and a pitiful whine. "Lieutenant," said the colonel, picking himself. He huffed and gestured at the insurmountable, four-foot high hill. His red nose shone like a festive bauble.
"Sir?" she asked, not trying in the least to keep humour from her voice. "Should be fine with snow boots."
"Yes," grouched Mustang. "Very good. Very clever. Your foresight is second to none." His teeth chattered as he spoke.
She looked down at him from her place at the top of the hill and quirked an expectant eyebrow. He looked away, huffing through his nose. After a thoughtful beat, he kicked a clump of snow. The lieutenant smiled. "I'll be over here when you've managed to get up, sir."
"Wait!" He approached the foot of the snow bank and mumbled incoherently.
The lieutenant half-turned. She was sure she heard something: a very rare and peculiar sound. "Was that an apology, sir?"
He sighed and rolled his eyes.
"I'll just wait over by –"
"I'm an idiot," he admitted, stopping her in her tracks. It was an old dance of theirs, well rehearsed. "I should have listened. I should always listen, because you know best and I'm a huge fool." He looked at her, eyes beseeching. He held out one thinly-gloved hand. "Now a little help?"
Deftly, she slid halfway down the hill and offered her hand. But not before withdrawing it jokingly five or six times.
By five o'clock that evening, things were looking grim. Unexpected snowfall and the colonel's pitiful provisions meant the pair were still far from base camp and now racing against sundown. After another thirty minutes of miserable, silent walking it was almost too dark to see. They would have to call it a night.
"I'm sorry," said the colonel, standing behind the lieutenant as she pulled the tent from her heavy rucksack.
She didn't turn; just continued to open up the canvas and lay out the pins. "Don't worry, sir. You weren't to know."
He was though, wasn't he? It was bloody Inner Briggs after all. He kicked up another clump of snow. It was strangely comforting.
Habit satisfied, he knelt beside her and laid one hand over hers to still it. "I really am sorry, lieutenant," he said, meeting her eye. "I don't know what gets into me when I'm around that woman."
Hawkeye shook her head and once again told him not to worry. There was no sense in him getting worked up. They'd have to get the tent erected before any more snow came. The last thing she wanted was a wet floor to sleep on.
He stood again and was soon pacing behind her. "She's just so cocky," he said.
Hawkeye bit off one glove for better dexterity. Her fingers were pink in seconds.
"Mmph!" replied the lieutenant. She pulled one of the pins from her mouth and fixed it into the recess on the rod.
"The way she treats her staff… it's despicable is what it is. She didn't even thank that one chap for the coffee. Imagine!"
Raising herself to a crouch, the lieutenant scooted around the flat sheet, inserting each pin and rod with ease. The basic structure was almost finished. Now, where was that top-sheet?
"It's terrible for her to take it out on her men just because of her feelings of inadequacy around me, don't you think?" There was no answer. "Lieutenant?"
The colonel turned to see his lieutenant, red-cheeked and sweating, standing in front of a fully constructed four-man tent (he felt too cramped in a two-man).
He laughed. "Blimey!" he exclaimed. "Well done, Hawkeye. It must be one of those easy-build ones." He strode forwards to inspect it, and after a moment, turned to her with wide, disappointed eyes. "The door's facing the wrong way."
The colonel pointed towards the woods. "The trees are there. What if I have to pee? I'll have to walk over all the guide ropes and –"
"Get in," said Hawkeye slowly. Her tone was unmistakable.
"Very good, ma'am," said Mustang, and slipped into the tent without another word.
"Have you always had such cold feet, Hawkeye?" whispered the colonel. They're really cold."
There was no response. Perhaps a slight tightening of her shoulders.
"You should eat more onions," he added. "For circulation."
The night was perfectly still around them. Not even the sound of animals could be heard, only the colonel's almost consistent chatter. Reluctantly, Hawkeye had agreed to share a sleeping bag with him. It was bound to get well below zero before morning came around, and the last thing she needed was a sick colonel on her hands. Besides, she'd radioed in their coordinates and let base camp know they'd be back first thing in the morning. There was no danger of any curious scouts coming across them in such a compromising position. Still, it was going to be a long night.
They'd both just sort of wriggled into the sleeping bag, and Hawkeye had given little thought to how she should position herself. Her right arm was beginning to fall asleep and her hip was right above a hard protrusion in the tent floor: a stone or root. She shifted minutely then froze as her bottom came flush against the colonel's crotch. He froze too, a little chirp of surprise escaping him.
"Sorry, sir," said Hawkeye.
He cleared his throat directly into her ear, making her wince. "It's fine," he said at last. "Just like old times. Ha. Ha."
"Yes, sir. Old times."
If the tent had been quiet before, it was even quieter now. She could feel his heartbeat through her back and could distinctly hear each time he swallowed. Cold air leaked in as he raised himself on one arm and lowered himself closer behind her. His soft lips pressed against the shell of her ear. She sighed, despite herself.
"Lieutenant," he whispered. "I want to ask you something." He sounded nervous.
Hawkeye closed her eyes. "Yes, sir?" She really sounded nervous.
"Do you think…" He slipped closer, one hand resting on her hip for better purchase. His breath was hot, his hands soft and warm. "Do you think the general likes me more for my looks or my personality?"
When asked by a breathy and most-distraught colonel what had happened, the lieutenant couldn't quite explain how the strange tic in her thigh had resulted in her heel planting itself in his privates.
The rest of the night was spent quite peacefully in utter silence.
Breda nearly jumped out of his seat when Havoc exclaimed with great enthusiasm that he could see the pair approaching base camp. One person was limping heavily.
"How long do you think it was before she got him in the nads?" asked Breda, smirking.
"You mean, 'how long until he said something so stupid even she couldn't stand it?'" Havoc shrugged and lit up. He took a deep drag and started laughing on the exhale. "Fuck man. Those two. Who knows, he might have tried his hand? He might have asked for a piggy-back."
Breda chuckled. "He definitely tried his hand. I don't think I've seen them walking that far apart since Grumman's Christmas bash three years ago. Colonel's neck looked like he was mauled by a wild dog."
"What'd he say it was again?"
"Aerugonian ringworm," laughed Breda. "God. He wore that great big scarf, remember? Said it was a present from his special lady."
"I bet," said Havoc.
Both men sat back in amused silence, eyeing their commanders as they trod slowly towards them. Suddenly, a shadow washed across them. The air grew chilly and both officers knew without a doubt to whom the formidable shadow belonged: General Armstrong.
They stood and saluted, Havoc inadvertently crushing his cigarette against his own temple. He swore, tossed the smoke, bit his lip and quivered.
"They made it back without scouts after all," said the general. "Beat me back, indeed." Her cold blue eyes were narrowed in scrutiny. "Who's that limping?"
"That would be the colonel, sir," said Breda.
A devilish light filled the frosty general's eyes. "She get him?"
Havoc nodded. "Looks like it, sir."
The general pursed her lips. After a beat, they unfurled into a wide, predatory smile. "Atta girl," she said.