Havoc offered the ear muffs and the colonel raised an eyebrow. Havoc tapped his own ear muffs and grinned and the colonel said something, but Havoc couldn't hear him naturally so he reached up to tug the ear muffs off one ear and said: "Beg pardon?"
"What exactly are these for?" the colonel inquired with a bit of a sniff, arms folded across his chest and wearing an expression of bored resignation.
"Ear protection," Havoc supplied. "I guess you never get out on the firing range, but it's better if you wear these and then your ears don't ring for like an hour or so afterwards. That's a bitch, the only advantage I've seen to it is that I can't hear you bitching, I mean, not that I consider that an advantage, sir," the he snapped a sloppy salute.
One of the colonel's eyebrows twitched a moment and he studied the ear muffs Havoc was still offering and sighed, reaching out to pluck them from the man's fingers.
"They better not mess up my hair," the colonel groused, "I have somewhere to be tonight."
Of course Havoc knew that as code for 'I have someone to do tonight', and he always knew that Havoc knew that as was perhaps rubbing that in Havoc's face. Havoc watched him put the ear muffs on then carefully tuck his hair behind the band and in a blatant show of internal insubordination he sincerely hoped the man developed ear muff cow lick that no amount of hair gel would ever be able to tame. But now the colonel had the ear muffs on and his arms folded once again and he was looking at Havoc in a bored anticipatory way which was sort of an oxymoron if Havoc thought about it to long so he tried not to dwell on it and instead, with a lot of exaggerated gesturing, produced a hand gun from the box he had brought with him.
He made sure to show the colonel how to load it, how to aim it at the paper target at the end of the range and how to hold his arms and steady his hand. He then popped off a few rounds, striking the target handily in the sternum and laid the hand gun down on the small shelf provided for the purpose.
He reached up and grabbed the pulley string the target was attached to and pulled it toward them, unclipping the paper target from it's holder. He then held it up on front of himself with a big grin and pointed out the three holes and how, if he were somehow the paper target he would be dead. He gave the colonel a thumbs up, attached a new and unpunctured target to the clip and ran the pulley back down to the end of the range. He then picked up the hand gun and offered it to the colonel.
The colonel stood, arms still folded, looking down at the hand gun being thrust in his direction then slowly back up at Havoc, lifting an eyebrow. Havoc jiggled his hand a little and the colonel rolled his eyes, seem to sigh and took the gun from Havoc's outstretched hand. Now Havoc could appreciate the fact that the colonel thought this was a waste of his time. After all the colonel had a much more deadly arsenal just a pair of white gloves and a snap away, but it had come down from higher than the colonel's head that all officers must pass a fire arms proficiency test. In her rising panic, First Lieutenant Hawkeye had assigned Havoc the dubious task.
"Just take him to the range and make sure he can at least shoot at a target down field and then there will be less chance of him killing a fellow officer if he has to demonstrate the talent," she said.
The colonel looked at the gun in his hand akin to the way one looked at questionable stains on one's clothing, then he glanced at Havoc, turned, leveled the gun at the target with arm outstretched and he fired. Then the colonel promptly dropped the loaded gun onto the table, where it clattered before falling off and hitting the floor. Havoc's entire stomach had lurched up into his throat by then, but thank whatever gods were watching that despite the mishandling, the gun didn't go off. It just sort of lay there on the ground and the colonel was looking at it like it was a hissing snake and shaking his hand slightly. Then the colonel gave Havoc some sort of accusatory look like this was all somehow Havoc's fault.
Havoc leaned over and picked up the gun and carefully laid it on the shelf. The colonel was looking at the paper target at the end of the range with a none to pleased expression, he said something but Havoc shrugged, then Havoc reached up to pull his ear muffs back and the colonel shouted at him.
"This one is obviously faulty," the colonel said very loudly, "look, I didn't hit the target and I was aiming right at it. Get me a gun that shoots properly."
"There is nothing wrong with this one," Havoc shouted back at him and the colonel squinted his eyes and flattened his mouth, "I said there is nothing wrong with this one," Havoc yelled again. The colonel looked puzzled, then held up his finger for a moment and carefully pulled the ear muff away from one side of his head, his other hand making sure his hair stayed in place.
"This gun is fine, Colonel," Havoc said, "you just need to practice on your aim. Have you ever fired a gun before?"
The colonel had the grace to look somewhat scandalized and he drew himself up and he said: "No, I have not. But that doesn't mean I'm deficient or incompetent. I think, as a State Alchemist, recognized for bravery on the front lines, I should be exempt from the more menial tasks that an ordinary soldier depends on for his life. It is very unlikely that I, the Flame Alchemist, would ever be called on to use a gun and I think Lieutenant that you would agree. I'm not sure who came up with this very unnecessary ordinance but I intend to find out and when I do I will be more than happy to point out that it is just this sort of blatant inefficency that keeps me from doing my job in a timely manner!"
Havoc absorbed this quietly, nodding appropriately. So, it seemed that perhaps First Lieutenant Hawkeye must have made some disparaging remarks about the colonel and his lack of hand gun proficiency, of course using this new requirement as an excuse. Sure, he twigged on that the colonel had a touch of entitlement and the colonel could be sort of lazy and yes, the colonel would occassionaly hide during working hours, but he kind of felt for the guy seeing as how she picked on the colonel almost exclusively.
And the longer the colonel stood there, his little tirade spent, trying in vain to keep the ear muffs from messing up his hair on the sides, the more sorry Havoc felt for him. So here was the infamous Flame Alchemist, brought so low by a hand gun proficiency exam that Havoc could pass in his sleep. It made the pedestal that the colonel thought he was perched on just a little more accessible because it seemed, after all, the man was only human.
"Don't let it get you down," Havoc encouraged and the colonel raised both eyebrows this time, "We all have our weak points. So you suck at firing a gun, big deal," he tried to commiserate. "I suck at some things myself."
"I do not suck at anything," the colonel growled, drawing himself up so his head was level with Havoc's nose. "I just have to get warmed up." Then the colonel slowly lowered the ear muff back into place, squared his shoulders and turned back to the paper target. He picked up the gun again, pointed it straight out again and this time Havoc caught his other arm and raised it, showed him how to cup one hand over the other to steady his arm and the colonel shot off a round and flinched, turning his head to the side. This of course spoiled any chance of aim and the paper target still lived, taunting them from the end of the firing range.
The colonel elbowed Havoc off then and curled his lip, gritted his teeth and took a steadying breath. His next shots pinged off the walls, kicked up dirt on the floor and went anywhere but where they were suppose to go. When the gun stopped firing, obviously out of bullets, the colonel shook it and thumped it on the shelf, Havoc dove in to rescue it.
Havoc watched the colonel's lips moved and hastily tugged his ear muffs down, letting the strap rest around his neck. The colonel noticed this time and reached up to very carefully pull both ear muffs away from his ears, he tried to let the band rest around his neck like Havoc did, but the slid off his back and hit the ground at their feet. The colonel looked down at them for a long moment and then back up, but curiously he didn't meet Havoc's eyes.
"I, uh, I suppose there is more to this than there seems," the colonel said, speaking to the wall at Havoc's right. "Since this is a requirement to be considered with promotion, I don't suppose I could ask you to..," and the man stopped a moment, pressed his lips together and when he spoke again he did turn to back to Havoc, to meet his eyes, "I don't suppose I could ask you to teach me?"
The colonel was a man accustom to wearing the heavy burden of leadership. It was no secret he took pride in this position, and despite his sometimes questionable work habits, he excelled. He had a rare talent of being able to make people be at ease, no matter how stressful the situation. He had an unwavering ability to turn a persons doubt into confidence with a few words and he gave freely of this gift to any and all around him in times of trouble.
Havoc knew the request was probably hard to make; he knew that it wasn't vanity the man was seeking to protect, but rather the careful wall of confidence he'd built around them. He didn't want to appear weak for his pride's sake, but rather for Havoc's own sake. The man didn't want to admit to limits to protect Havoc and the others as much as himself, and that, Havoc realized, was why Roy Mustang was so damned irresistible.
"Sure thing, Colonel," he said with a wink and then the man smiled at him and Havoc felt an embarrassing warmth in embarrassing places. Havoc cleared his throat loudly and turned away pointedly to reload the gun.
"I can't put these things back on," the colonel said behind him, "they've been on the floor. Trade with me."
Havoc poked his inner cheek with his tongue. He turned back to the colonel, handed over his ear muffs without protest and watched the colonel put them on carefully. He then gave Havoc a look that suggested that Havoc should have offered them in the first place and not made him ask.
"I'm glad I don't like overly prissy girls," Havoc said and the colonel raised an eyebrow quizzically, drown in silence by the ear muffs on his ears. "Because with your looks I might just think about it, and that Colonel, is one hell of a nod to your charms." The colonel was moving his lips as if trying to read Havoc's and Havoc merely pressed the gun back into his hands, turned him toward the target and held up his arms.