Series Title: Games without Frontiers
Series Rating: PG - NC-17
Main Character:Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye
Other Characters: Various other members of the Peanut Gallery called Fullmetal Alchemist
Word Count: 1,855
Warning potential overdosing of crrrrack.
Synopsis: What people do on their own time is their own business, right? Especially when it involves a big bowl of steaming crack.
Author's Notes: AU/Non Canon. My own little private timeline; my own private little world. Yeah, and, just to add, my own little crackpot theories. Nothing else related to any episode of any kind, except the usage of the character(s) in question, though some events in some episodes will be used out of context as artistic license. I try not to make the events I use too spoilerish, but if I can’t help it, you’ll get a warning. ECommentary is certainly welcome and tends to make me go “you like me! you really like me!”
Each chapter title is the lyric in a song (see current music). Listen to them while you read; it's cracktificious of course.
3: If Looks Could Kill, They Probably Will
Her driver had been chosen carefully. Sergeant Carey Dennison was a lower-ranking officer that few people knew and fewer people in Eastern would believe if he’d decided to run off at the mouth. Riza barely knew his name herself, but she knew that look when she stepped out of her house. The poor young man, dressed in civilian clothing, looked like his mouth had been locked like the Great Treasury of Amestris. Knowing the Lieutenant Colonel, he probably had a shiny, skinny little knife waiting with the soldier’s name on it, should he be indiscreet.
The car had also been chosen carefully for the mission. Not the regulation black sedan car. It was a sleek thing, colored a gunmetal gray, the perfect color to slice through the night like a shadow. It allowed her to move through the streets in relative anonymity, a rare pleasure that almost made the whole mission worth the price she had to pay.
As she entered the car, she saw a white envelope on the seat. A man's cologne lingered in the air, like the scent of a trail. It was a heady scent she remembered from almost a decade in the past. Dread tightened her chest as she picked it up and broke the seal. What now?
Inside was a key and another folded note. She sighed to herself, remembering, and flicked open the paper:
I took the liberty of performing this task, as it would have been impossible for you to do it yourself without drawing questions.
Stay firm. You will be rewarded for your actions.
She shook her head and pocketed the key, the note, and the envelope. It would not do to leave any viable evidence behind. The note she tore in to tiny pieces, placed in the ashtray on the right door of the car and set it alight with the shiny lighter she’d found next to the note. Smart man, he was. Probably why he earned the big cenz.
As the car wound its way toward the destination, she hitched her shoulder and pushed herself into the corner of the plush leather seat, and went through the original conversation again, the one that had placed her on this dubious path:
“I do not believe you.”
“It needs to be done.”
“No, I don’t believe it does.”
“It’s been too long this time. There’s no other choice.”
“Yes, there is,” she’d said. “We could choose to do nothing. Leave a sleeping dog lie. As we’ve always done.”
“The longer there is inactivity, the worse the situation will become.”
“And you think I could even contemplate doing this kind of thing?”
“You are the only one who can.”
She cursed under her breath. The only one who could? Like hell, she was. In fact, she was positive that there were any number of people who would be more than willing to do this. Do it happily, and pull it off with much more expertise.
Definitely much more expertise.
But she was the one who was wanted. Every adjective possible was used to emphasize the fact that she was uniquely suited to this task.
She’d still resisted. Until the request was fashioned into an order. Then she had only one thing to say.
“I’ve got a lot to lose and you’re betting high.”
“Forgive the insubordination, sir, but I hate you.”
A slow curve at the corner of his mouth told her how much he believed her. “All right.”
“Just tell me where to begin.”
The aforementioned place came into view in short order. When the car pulled up, she paused. This was the final chance she had to back out, to change her mind. To disobey a direct order.
Discipline was drilled deep into her bones, was infused in her blood. Marked in her skin with calluses on her fingers, and the muscles in her arms, honed well from hefting the powerful firepower she found herself fascinated with. Discipline was in scars, minor in comparison to some, that had faded to pink patches and thin white lines on her body like an alchemical array, fusing the inability to disobey a direct order into her very soul.
She gave the driver her hand, so he could help her from the car. Another luxury that heightened her excitement level. He bowed slightly and slipped another envelope into her hand; this one a heavy one, filled with the appropriate invitation.
She heard the music before she crossed the threshold and handed her card over. The trill of pretty piano keys touched by an expert hand. This year, the Officer’s Ball was a rather genteel party, not at all like the first one she’d attended as a fresh First Lieutenant.
The Grand Hall, where the Ball was held, was still a cavernous place, and it was filled to the brim with military regalia of many designs. To the right of the hall officers milled about with their escorts and among one another. She smirked when she saw the two members of her own office who’d made sure they were in attendance and, from all appearances, were actually making a attempt to behave. The left of the hall was where she wanted to be, with the civilians who’d been invited. The Ball was a mixer, for all intents and purposes, a place where young officers could meet pretty young women to be traditional with, and where older officers could show off their status.
As soon as she began to move toward her destination, the tone of the party on the left suddenly changed when she made her foot move from the outside to the inside. Riza could feel the air shake, or maybe it was just her own nerves rattling the fine hairs on her body. She saw all eyes on her as she moved, slowly, deliberately into the crowd. There was over one hundred people here, military officers and guests. She made a careful sweep of the room with her gaze, picked out a few people she knew, glimpsed a door that was opened a crack somewhere near the back of the ball room, behind the bar.
Few couples made their way to the dance floor, curiosity causing them to follow her with their eyes. Riza found a section of wall to lean against, somewhere between that door in the back and the entrance. She decided that she would take her time, and observe the goings on around her. After all, it was a rare thing that she attend one of the functions.
Never had she been the type to socialize. She did the minimum of what was required at functions that required dress uniforms only. Only once had she accepted one invitation to one of these officer’s balls, and since had never once contemplate attending another. Staying in good graces was the Colonel’s job; she was merely a piece on his board. From her vantage point, she spotted a knot of fellows, and she tensed for a minute. Breda, Havoc, Fuery... the fellows from the office were here! Of course, they would be. They never missed a formal gathering; they all thought it only fair that they have the good with the bad.
She had drawn their attention when she entered; she could see Breda still staring in her direction, gesturing wildly with a hand. Quickly, she moved her eyes away from them and prayed silently that they had not recognized. If so, all would be lost.
Some young waiter came by her with a tray of drinks. She took one of the proffered glasses with a smile. The poor thing tripped on his way past her and almost lost the rest of the tray. Really. She hadn’t expected this kind of response to her new look. Was this how the secretarial pool got so much attention? Perhaps she would use it more often.
All right, back on track, girl. This isn’t a game you can play lightly.
She snorted and pounded down the shot. The whiskey burned its way down her throat as if the Colonel had stood right inside her mouth and snapped. Fortunately her hair covered her face, and the lights were low, so no one saw the swift color that suffused her features as she tried to regain her life’s breath.
Placing the glass on the windowsill beside her, Riza patted the inside pocket of her suit jacket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Disgusting things, but they completed the look she was trying to achieve. Another bit of subterfuge. Riza Hawkeye with a cigarette in her mouth? Never in a million years, nor for a billion cenz. Not the Riza Hawkeye of office legend, not with the outfit and the hair, and certainly not with the cigarette hanging casually from her fingertips.
“Care for a light, pretty lady?”
Riza froze in the process of bringing the poison stick to her lips. That voice was painfully familiar. Even with the smarmy cadence he’d thrown in for good measure. Perhaps he thought that voice would impress a woman such as the one she presented.
She turned her head slightly, just so he could catch a glancing blow of one brown eye. Not enough to give her away, but enough for her to confirm that the voice did belong to Havoc. And that he was treading on dangerous ground.
He had a smile on his face that was positively oblivious, and was leaning forward with a lighter, ready to swoop in and rescue the dashing damsel in distress. Not this night, buck-o. With a roll of her eyes and an upheld hand, she presented Havoc a sudden wish for a long winter coat and a warmer climate. A lighter appeared in her other hand and she pulled the cigarette back in.
“Well,” Havoc muttered. “I never.”
Now that was a lie if she ever heard one. Of course he had. It was legend how many women turned down Jean Havoc. It gave her a tiny twinge of satisfaction that she could count herself among the legion. He would never know, though.
Or perhaps he would. She eyed the door in the back and wondered if that had been part of the plan. An attempted distraction, made to keep her on her toes.
She pretended to take a drag from the cigarette, and kept to her spot for a few moments more. Finally, her curiosity satisfied as to what went on at these functions, she mentally gritted her teeth, cursed floridly insider her own skull and got to work.
Stubbing out the cigarette, she made her way across the room, avoiding the larger groupings, for fear that one of them would try to pull her into conversation. As she passed the group containing her workmates, she heard Havoc tell Breda; “You’re cracked, man. I saw that cold beauty up close. That was not the First Lieutenant. Perhaps you should lay off the sauce.”
Riza kept her smile between her teeth. Poor Breda. He could have put money on her identity and won a fortune, and made Havoc look like a fool in the process.