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Coffee Break


Contrary to popular belief, Lieutenant Hawkeye did not run the offices of Colonel Roy Mustang with an unsubtle iron fist, or even a subtle one; the Colonel was perfectly capable of keeping command of his own Headquarters, and the entirety of East City besides. That said, however, Mustang had something of an insane streak that occasionally made itself known by maniacal laughter wafting through the thick door of his office, and Hawkeye, who had no such streak, was in fact responsible for making sure that all the paperwork got done.

The fundamental consequences of these facts were that Hawkeye had a much more terrifying reputation than she probably deserved (although she could put a bullet through a man's head at 200 yards without a sight), and people would get out of her way when she walked down the halls of headquarters. Hawkeye, however, was also not in the habit of dabbling in intra-military politics, and pretended not to hear when people asked her if she'd heard the rumors. So the rumors continued, and Hawkeye continued to do her job, and all went well.

There was only one other officer in Mustang's office that had been under the Colonel's command as long as Hawkeye, and that was Lieutenant Havoc. If Hawkeye was in charge of seeing that paperwork got done, Havoc was most often the one actually doing the paperwork. He knew he had a reputation of being little more than the usual military brass that took up space pushing paper, but Mustang liked him enough to keep him around—perhaps because Havoc was massively loyal, and his lips were sealed shut. As such, his effective security clearance was much higher than his official one, since Mustang liked to bounce ideas off him on occasion; but even that breach in protocol would never reach the ears of an internal investigator from Havoc's lips.

Of course, Havoc and Hawkeye worked closely together; most of the people in Mustang's office did, and everyone got along (no one wanted to know how the Colonel would settle an office argument), but one did not work alongside someone else as long as Havoc and Hawkeye worked with each other without learning a few things about one another.

For instance, Havoc knew that Hawkeye was not fond of gunmanship.

Havoc was taking his morning coffee break when he found out, and then only by accident; he'd joked that she was so good with guns that she was probably born with one in her hand, and she had eyed him with an eyebrow raised. "My father taught me how to shoot," she said after glaring at Havoc just long enough to make him feel stupid, looking back down at the report she was sorting through. "He was a fantastic marksman."

"I'm sure," Havoc nodded once he recovered, "if he taught you, and you're that good..."

"He died when a drunk man came to the range and accidentally shot him while he checked his target," Hawkeye continued; she closed the report's folder, placed it in its appropriate pile, and turned her chair towards where Havoc was leaning on the table, crossing her knees and folding her hands in her lap. "I quickly learned how important it is to put on the safety of a gun."

Havoc privately marveled at her self-control, his eyebrows rising; that she could say it so clinically when he felt that all-too-familiar jolt of horror in the pit of his own stomach did not precisely surprise him, but it still amazed him. "I'm sorry," he said when he couldn't think of anything else to say; he took the toothpick out of his mouth before it either fell out or he swallowed it.

Hawkeye sighed, and her gaze grew distant; it was not a look much different from her usual stern look, but Havoc had known her long enough to recognize the difference. "It has been 13 years since then," she said almost absently.

There was a fairly long pause in the conversation, and Havoc shifted uncomfortably in it. "Is that why you're so good—for your father's memory or something?"

Hawkeye's smile was thin, but it was not quite the irritated smile she sometimes gave Lieutenant Colonel Hughes when he went on about wife and daughter too long; it was more bitter. "Nothing so sentimental as that, Havoc—in fact, that is why I did not pick up a gun for three of those thirteen years." She leaned forward, reached into her holster and freed her handgun, turning it over in her hands. "I went back to shooting because I intended to join the military and follow Colonel Mustang."

"Ha, me too," Havoc laughed, then explained, "that's why I requested the Colonel's command, I mean—not that I learned how to use guns for that reason." The first time Havoc had ever touched a gun it had been his father's rifle, which he shot into the air to scare away the crows in the cornfields; he had only ever learned marksmanship in boot camp. "I wanted to join the military to follow him. He's a great commander, isn't he?"

"He can be," Hawkeye allowed, a small twitch of her lips betraying amusement as she turned back to her papers, holstering her gun. "Certainly, he has excellent taste in paper-pushers." Her gaze flicked up to meet the other officer's. "Havoc, surely your coffee break is over now?"

"Oh, uh, yeah," Havoc fumbled, taking the coffee to his own desk and sighing at the pile of undone work that awaited him. "This will take all day and all night!"

"Then you'd best get started," Hawkeye answered crisply.

Havoc obeyed.