Dishabille /d ɪ sæ ˈ bi ː l/ noun - the state of being partly dressed; the state of being dressed in a careless, disheveled or disorderly manner.
Mustang’s subordinates trudged wearily along the lamp-lit street, chatting amongst themselves.
“Paranoid old man,” Havoc was complaining. “Why does he even need a round-the-clock protective detail? Does he really think there’ll be people trying to kill him wherever he goes?”
“Oh, I dunno,” Breda said. “I barely know him, and I’d kinda like to take a shot at him. I can only imagine the effect he must have on people who’ve gotta deal with him on a daily basis.”
“It’s not paranoia when they’re really out to get you,” Falman added solemnly. The others laughed.
“I just feel bad for the guys who got stuck with the overnight shift,” Fuery piped up, dragging his feet. “I’m exhausted just thinking about it.”
“No, you’re exhausted because you’ve just come off a twelve hour shift,” Hawkeye corrected gently. “Most of which was spent on your feet. Besides, the men on the overnight shift are from the General’s own team. They ought to be used to it by now.”
“Ah, true,” Fuery said a little sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.
“I haven’t eaten since noon,” Havoc grumbled. “Anyone else starving?”
“Yes,” Breda and Falman said in unison. Fuery nodded fervently.
“Lieutenant?” Havoc added, turning to include Hawkeye. She smiled but shook her head.
“The Colonel and I were luckier in that respect,” she explained. “General Elliot had food brought in while they were finalizing the schedule for the rest of the week.”
The ridiculously complicated and demanding schedule which had taken hours to hash out and driven Mustang into a teeth-grinding, fist-clenching fit of ill-temper. And those sandwiches had been quite some time ago, to be honest.
“Come with us anyway,” Breda suggested. “Have a drink or something.”
“Thanks, but I think I’d rather indulge in a hot bath,” Hawkeye admitted. “You four go on ahead; I’ll see you later.”
They parted amiably at the next intersection, and Hawkeye made her way to the hotel alone.
Once back in her suite, Hawkeye did her customary security sweep, clearing each room systematically and flicking on lights as she went. Shrugging out of her uniform jacket, she took a moment to admire the view from her window before sitting down to unlace her boots. The city was actually quite pretty at night, and for just a second she regretted not going out to eat with the guys.
But it had been a long, hellish day, and she’d been fantasizing about a hot bath for hours, now.
Mostly it was just nice to think about something other than potential assassination plots targeting an aging General who had too high an opinion of his own importance. Unfortunately, the man did have some important connections. So when he had specifically requested Mustang’s team for the protective detail assigned to him while he did some routine inspections in their jurisdiction, Grumman had been unable to refuse.
Falman had been right, though, when he’d implied that the General’s paranoia wasn’t completely unfounded. Apparently there had been a few nasty letters, death threats and the like, that had made the man fearful for his safety. Having spent most of the day in his presence, Hawkeye wouldn’t have been surprised if it turned out that the threatening letters had been written by his own hand-picked team. He certainly had that effect on people.
Hawkeye shook her head with wry amusement as she draped her primary weapon holster over her jacket, which she’d already hung on one of the chairs beside the window. She let her hair loose as she made her way to the bathroom to get the water started. Hair clip, pants, and turtleneck were tossed unceremoniously on the bed as she passed, to be dealt with after her bath. Clad only in her lingerie, Hawkeye absently brushed out her hair while she waited for the tub to fill.
She had just shut off the water tap when the fire alarm began to screech. Clapping her hands over her ears, she swore under her breath. Outside her door, she could already hear panicked voices and thundering feet filling the hallway. Swearing again, more viciously, Hawkeye paused only to snag her bathrobe from the hook on the back of the bathroom door before joining the mass exodus.
The street in front of the hotel rapidly filled with the displaced guests as well as curious passersby. Although no smoke was visible yet, the obnoxiously loud alarms continued to blare, and the collective chatter of the assembled crowd only added to the din. Hawkeye leaned against one of the ornate columns supporting the roof of the building next door to the hotel and rubbed her temples. Unfortunately, it didn’t do a thing to stave off her rapidly building headache.
“Fancy meeting you here, Lieutenant,” an amused voice said from her left. Hawkeye sighed. Beautiful. And now she’d never hear the end of it.
“Good evening, sir,” she said wearily, turning to face her commanding officer. Mustang’s eyes traveled rapidly up and down her figure, widening imperceptibly at the sight of her thin, silky bathrobe and bare legs.
“You’re out of uniform, Hawkeye,” he said gleefully, with a rakish grin.
“I’m also off-duty, sir,” she retorted, fighting back a blush and crossing her arms over her chest defensively. She wasn’t indecent. The robe fell to her knees. In an attempt to deflect her Colonel’s attention, she asked: “I thought you were dining with General Elliot this evening?”
“I was, but he cancelled at the last minute,” Mustang sighed. “Apparently, the chef at the restaurant he’d chosen gave him a strange look when we arrived. He was sure the man intended to poison him, so he caused a scene, and then we left. I had hoped to catch up with the rest of you…but I must admit, I wasn’t expecting this,” he added, letting his eyes travel slowly across Hawkeye’s body once more.
Heat pooled low in her belly. Though she tried to tell herself she was just unnerved by the intensity of his gaze, Hawkeye couldn’t deny the little frisson of excitement that raced through her at the idea that he was enjoying the view. God, why did it have to be him? Had any of the other men in her team seen her dressed like this, she wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Drawing the line between personal and professional was normally a simple matter, but with Mustang...nothing was ever simple with Mustang.
“I was just about to step into the bath when the alarms went off,” she explained, trying to calm her racing heart.
“I see,” he replied, smirking. He finally broke off his stare to survey the other pajama-clad people milling about nearby. “Well, you certainly aren’t the only one en déshabillé.”
“Thank goodness,” Hawkeye answered sarcastically. “I wouldn’t want to feel self-conscious.” Mustang only chuckled.
“You’ve no reason to,” he said. “It’s a fetching ensemble. And that pale lavender color suits you quite nicely.”
As Hawkeye considered whether it was worth informing him that the color was actually called periwinkle, a light breeze picked up. Involuntarily, she shivered. Mustang immediately shucked his suit jacket and made to drape it across her shoulders.
That small chivalrous impulse may very well have saved his life.
The gunshot barely made a sound over the noise of the crowd and the fire alarms, but the blood blooming on Mustang’s arm was unmistakable.
“Gun!” Hawkeye shouted; her own weapon already in hand. “Down, everyone get down!”
Shielding Mustang as best as she could, Hawkeye quickly maneuvered them both behind the pillar they’d just been leaning against, and forced Mustang down on the ground with her free hand. Dimly, she registered his grunt of pain as two more shots pinged harmlessly against the concrete.
All around them, shocked and frightened civilians were running for cover, screaming. As Hawkeye cautiously peered around the pillar, another bullet struck bare inches from her face. But it was enough to tell her which direction to aim and she leaned around the pillar again and fired three rapid shots. The gunfire stopped at once.
“Lieutenant!” someone yelled, from a position somewhere behind her.
“Breda, thank god,” she whispered. “Are the others with you?” she called out.
“Affirmative!” came the reply.
“Take Havoc and Falman and go search the building opposite! Single shooter with what I assume is a high-powered rifle. Likely wounded, but he may have smaller arms on him as well as the rifle, so approach with extreme caution. And Fuery, I need you over here, the Colonel’s been hit!”
“Yes ma’am!” she heard three voices cry, and then there were running footsteps.
“I’m all right,” Mustang grumbled, just as Fuery skidded to a halt beside him. “It barely grazed my arm. I’m fine.”
“He’s right, ma’am, it’s just a flesh wound,” Fuery confirmed breathlessly. Hawkeye spared a glance over her shoulder to reassure herself.
“Glad to hear it,” she said softly, overwhelmed with relief. She remained crouched low in a defensive position, listening with half an ear to Fuery’s fussing over the superficial wound on his commander’s arm. Thankfully, someone had finally shut off the damn alarms in the hotel, but shell-shocked civilians were still huddled in groups just inside the lobby, unsure whether they were safer indoors or out.
“I probably shouldn’t be surprised that you found time to grab a weapon, but not your day clothes,” Mustang observed after a moment.
“I have my priorities; you have yours,” Hawkeye retorted, without looking at him. “And it turned out to be a wise choice, in my opinion.”
“Oh, believe me, I’m not complaining,” Mustang replied, admiring the excellent view of his Lieutenant’s backside from his location on the ground behind her.
Confused, Fuery followed Mustang’s gaze. And, abruptly realizing that he was inadvertently ogling his Lieutenant’s rear end, he wisely decided to devote his attention to trying off the makeshift bandage he’d been applying.
Hawkeye held her position until she spotted Havoc trotting across the road towards them, Breda and Falman in his wake.
“Oi, how’s the Colonel?” Havoc called out, once they were within earshot.
“Lucky,” Hawkeye replied, rising to her feet as they drew nearer. “The bullet just grazed him.”
All three men relaxed, fractionally. And then they suddenly became aware of their Lieutenant’s clothing. Or the lack thereof.
Hawkeye’s bathrobe was still belted at the waist, but only just. The filmy material gaped open from neck to navel, exposing a tantalizing ‘v’ of creamy flesh and lacy pale pink lingerie. Standing there barefoot, with her slightly disheveled blonde hair falling loose over her shoulders, she honestly looked like she’d just stepped off the pages of some sort of gentlemen’s magazine. The gun in her hand (and the empty holster strapped to her bare right thigh) only served to make the picture more interesting.
Fuery’s innocence alone was spared - he hadn’t dared to shift his attention away from Mustang’s wound again, so long as the Lieutenant remained in front of them.
Falman coughed and quickly averted his eyes, blushing faintly and praying that no one would think to mention his eidetic memory.
Breda just shrugged and took it in stride. Their Lieutenant was a damn fine woman, and he’d always suspected she had a rockin’ body under those unflattering uniforms. The only thing that really threw him was the pink – he’d have pegged her as a practical basic-black or classic-white kinda girl. But he respected her, both as his superior officer and as a friend, and he knew better than to voice this observation.
Havoc, however, was incapable of such restraint. And he also wondered why he’d never noticed what a magnificent set of assets Hawkeye had.
“Uh...Lieutenant?” he ventured, trying and failing not to stare.
Hawkeye rolled her eyes and absently re-secured her robe. (She was cringing with embarrassment on the inside, but she’d long since learned that the best way to prevent off-color jokes at her expense was to just brazen it out and act like there was nothing out of the ordinary happening).
“Yes, thank you, I’m well aware that I’m out of uniform,” she said, affecting a bored tone of voice. “Put your eyes back in your head, please, Second Lieutenant. And report!”
“Er, yes, ma’am, sorry,” Havoc stammered, as the others stifled their laughter (and secret groans of disappointment). “The uh, the subject was apprehended with no additional fire exchanged. You winged him in the shoulder, so we sent him off to be patched up. Before he passed out, he did admit that the alarms were a diversion, intended to flush his target out into the open. It seems Colonel Mustang was his primary objective, and not General Elliot,” he added, glancing over at his boss.
“Who’s with the prisoner now?” Mustang asked, frowning.
“We handed him over to some of the General’s men. We ran into them on the way into the building,” Falman explained.
“They’d heard the commotion and come to check it out, just like we did,” Havoc said. “They offered to back us up, so we briefed them on the fly.”
“Their major agreed to take custody of the suspect until we got further orders,” Breda added.
“Good. I’ll notify the General, then, and let him deal with the headache,” Mustang said, leaning his head back against the pillar. “He’ll probably just be jealous that he wasn’t the target after all. Good work, everyone. Go on and get some rest, now.”
“Yes, sir,” they chorused. But no one moved.
“Hawkeye, could you give me a hand up?” Mustang added, ignoring the hand Fuery had already extended to him.
Havoc and Breda exchanged an amused look. Hawkeye pursed her lips, but pulled him to his feet anyway. And then she glared at him when his gaze drifted to her no-longer-visible cleavage.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she huffed, exasperated. “You all act as though you’ve never seen a woman’s body before!”
Havoc, Falman and Breda had the grace to look ashamed of themselves. Fuery trembled, terrified. Mustang alone grinned at her.
“But we’ve never seen yours. Have we, Lieutenant?” he challenged.
His men were utterly horrified. A little ‘eep!’ escaped from Fuery’s lips.
Hawkeye cocked one hip and flipped her loose blonde hair over one shoulder - a coy, feminine gesture that none of them had ever expected from her.
“Then I hope you boys got a really good look,” she purred. “Because it might just be the last thing you’ll ever see.”
Her fingers twitched towards her gun. The men scattered.
“Falman, you lucky bastard,” Mustang panted as they pounded up the stairs. “You’ve got a photographic memory, don’t you?”
“Don’t remind her!” Falman squeaked, whirling to be sure that the Lieutenant wasn’t in pursuit. “She’ll kill me in my sleep!”
“Not a bad way to go, really,” Havoc whispered to Breda, who nodded thoughtfully.
Hawkeye, alone now outside the hotel, leaned back against the pillar again and laughed. That ought to keep her boys quiet and well-behaved for a few weeks, at least.
“Idiots,” she said fondly.