Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
Pairings: Light Royai theme, but the story doesn't focus on them and is more of a 'Gen' fic than a 'Het' fic.
Type: Gen, light het, humor, new years fic
Summary: The fuhrer decides it would be good for Ed to attend the military ball, but will it be good for everyone else?
Chapter Listing Here
A/N: I’ve been asked by a few people to clarify what I mean by ‘Gen with Royai hints’, so here we go. This story is basically gen fic. It has a very light Royai dotting. However, this fic is not a Royai fic. That doesn’t mean that Royai fans won’t enjoy this story, but the focus isn’t on them. There just happens to be some interest there for each other on both their parts.
Breda filled his plate with as much food as he could muster. The night was still young and this was only his third time at the refreshment table. As he moved down the line he put one appetizer on his plate, then popped one in his mouth, then put one on his plate and popped one in his mouth.
“Ever think about leaving some for the rest of the party?” Havoc said as he stepped up to the table.
“First come, first serve,” Breda said with a grin. They both knew that the chances of this party running out of refreshments was zero to zero.
Havoc gave an amused snort, then sighed and looked back at the sea of people. “Why can’t I get any dances?” he complained.
“Probably because they see the needy look in your eyes. Women see that and they run the other way as fast as they can,” Breda said, then popped a cracker with some sort of meat on it in his mouth. “Hell, we’re lucky there hasn’t been a stampede of women rushing to leave the party now that you’re here.”
“If you’re so knowledgeable, then why aren’t you out there dancing,” Havoc asked grumpily.
“I’m here for the food, not the women,” Breda said, swallowing the cracker morsel, then setting his plate down near the punch bowls and helping himself to some of the liquid from one of the jaded crystal bowls.
“You stop drinking or something?” Havoc asked. Breda glanced at him with a frown.
Havoc frowned. “Isn’t it the smooth bowls for alcohol and jaded for the punch without?”
Breda rolled his eyes. “No, it’s jaded for alcohol and smooth for the plain stuff. We go over this every year. You can remember because the smooth bowl is plain, like the punch inside.” He paused, then said, “Next year I’m not going to bother reminding you.”
Havoc’s frown deepened. “Are you sure?”
Breda took a deep drink from his glass, then nodded. “Absolutely positive.”
A look that clearly said, ‘oh shit’ passed over Havoc’s face before he started looking around the room. “Eh... maybe I should find Ed.
Breda laughed and said, “He’s out dancing.”
“Are you kidding?” Havoc said in disbelief.
“Nope. He’s out with Gracia Hughes.” Breda had seen the whole exchange between Ed, Maes Hughes, and his wife, and he thought it was really good of Mrs. Hughes to take Ed out on the dance floor for a dance.
“Oh, well, that doesn’t count,” Havoc said. “She’s already married.”
Breda glanced at his co-worker and grinned widely. “You gonna let Ed show you up?”
Havoc folded his arms and gave a disgruntled look. “Like I said, it doesn’t count.”
Downing the rest of what was in his glass, and filling it up again, Breda said, “A dance with a married lady is better than no dances.” And then an idea came to him and he said, “You could always ask Lieutenant Hawkeye.”
“Hawkeye?” Havoc said in disbelief.
“Yeah, why not. She’s wearing a blue cord this year, and I’m sure she’d grace you with a pity dance.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Havoc said in a slight pout.
Breda chuckled as he picked up his plate and said, “If you can’t even get a pity dance, then there’s probably no hope for you.” He glanced around for somewhere to sit, then said, “I’m goin’ over there. You wanna come?”
“No thanks,” Havoc said, still in that same pout.
Jean watched Breda go, feeling annoyed, but also some hope. Maybe he would ask Riza Hawkeye for a dance. Not with any romantic interest, but more of a dance between friends. He didn’t want to leave here tonight not having danced with anyone at all. Jean looked around until he saw her, then started in her direction feeling determined.
Roy thanked his dance partner with a small bow and a smile that made the young woman blush before turning and heading off the dance floor. He glanced around, taking note of any newcomers that were important. None of them happened to be anyone he needed or wanted to talk to right away, so he decided to see if Riza might be available to talk to so that he could get a spot on her dance card.
He saw several of his subordinates in the crowd, saw Gracia Hughes being led off the dance floor by Edward Elric, saw Hughes grinning in amusement at them. Roy didn’t miss the generals he tried to avoid, or the civilian workers like the young lady who watched over the phones or that bookworm Hughes had hired.
Finally, Roy saw Riza and started toward her. She was alone right now and this would be the perfect time. As he stepped up to her, she said, “Enjoy your dance?”
“Of course,” he replied back. “I always enjoy my dances.”
Riza raised an eyebrow. “Always?”
To that, Roy chuckled and said, “Always... when they’re for pleasure. Most of the time when they’re for business.” She nodded, accepting that, then was about to say more when they were interrupted.
“Hey, boss,” Havoc said, stepping up to them. He turned to Riza and smiled, “Good evening, Lieutenant Hawkeye. You look very lovely tonight.”
Roy watched as she looked a little surprised by the complement, then pleased. “Thank you. I think you look rather charming yourself.”
“Charming enough to have a dance with me?” Havoc asked lightly. Again there was that surprised look, before she smiled and nodded toward the dance floor. The band was just getting ready to start the next song.
“Would you like to dance now?”
Now it was Havoc’s turn to look surprised before he grinned broadly and held out his arm for her to take. “I would be delighted!” he said brightly.
Riza glanced at Roy and politely excused herself before letting Havoc lead her out to the dance floor. He stared at them, feeling side blinded. How had that happened? And so fast too? He felt a little frustrated and disappointed at the same time, but he reminded himself that the night was still young and she would be around for another couple of hours.
“Roy Mustang, m’boy,” came a greeting to his right. Roy turned his attention away from the dance floor and saw General Grumman walking toward him, hand extended for Roy to take.
“General Grumman,” Roy said, shaking the general’s hand. “I’m glad you could make it.”
“Of course I made it!” the general said good-naturedly. “Central’s year end ball is the best in all of Amestris, and well worth the trip.”
Roy nodded at that. Every major city had a year end ball for the personnel stationed there, but Central’s was by far the biggest and most extravagant. The year end ball was the only ball where rank had no bearing on whether or not an invitation was issued, so it was always the largest ball of the year.
“I hope you’ll be staying in Central long enough to let me take you to dinner, or at least for a game of chess,” Roy said courteously. He liked General Grumman a lot, but he was more interested in keeping in the good graces of a high ranking officer than in spending time with the old man for the pleasure of his company.
“Absolutely,” Grumman said, glancing idly around. Suddenly his eyebrows lifted and he said cheerfully, “And there’re the Armstrong siblings.”
Roy looked over to see Major Alex Armstrong accompanying his older—and much shorter—sister, General Olivia Armstrong. General Armstrong’s dress was long enough to almost touch the floor, and her sleeves were also long too. The neck was high, hiding what Roy was sure to be a very fine bosom. The dress was black with slashes of deep red. Both the cut and the colors added to her already dominating presence, giving her a powerful look that very few women could copy. Yet, despite all of that, she still looked incredibly sexy and several unsuspecting men were already checking her out. Those who knew of her personality were giving her furtive glances, but not brave enough to be caught staring outright.
“I hadn’t heard General Armstrong was visiting from Briggs,” Roy said, tearing his eyes from her and looking back at Grumman. Actually he’d known for a couple of weeks that Olivia Armstrong was planning to come to Central, but there was no need to let Grumman know that.
“I hadn’t heard either,” Grumman said, then added, “Oh, there’s General Farson. Excuse me; I have some business I need to discuss with him.” And with that, the old man was gone; though Roy didn’t mind. He was already looking back at Olivia Armstrong. Roy had some business of his own to take care of.
He was about to start wandering over in her direction, but a young woman in her early twenties with black hair and a pale green dress walked by. She glanced at him shyly with wide dark-green eyes, then gave him a smile that was flirtatious, but still demure enough as to not be inappropriate. He tried to keep his gaze on her eyes instead of on the ample breasts the girl’s very low neckline was displaying.
Roy watched her eye him with interest, and couldn’t help feeling pleased by the attention. While he would never have a serious relationship with someone so young, but he wasn’t at all opposed to being admired by someone of that age and some light flirtation could be enjoyable as well.
Roy glanced in Olivia Armstrong’s direction again, saw that she was currently preoccupied, and decided to go make some conversation with the black-haired beauty who so obviously fancied him.
Sheska watched the people with vague interest. It had only been through a sheer force of will that she’d not brought a book with her. She had never been to something like this before and had worried that it would have been inappropriate to bring a book. Now that she was here, Sheska wished she’d brought something to stave off the boredom.
Finishing the last piece of food on her plate, Sheska pulled lightly on the red cord around her wrist. So far, no one had asked her to dance at all, which she didn’t find very surprising. For some reason she just wasn’t noticed by men, and usually she was okay with that, but tonight, with all the dancing and festivities, she felt a little left out.
Sheska glanced up from the cord on her wrist and looked around, contemplating going home, but deciding to at least greet the people she knew first. She caught glimpses of a few people she knew on the dance floor. She saw Colonel Mustang flirting with a girl who looked at least ten years younger than him, if not a little more, and the girl was flirting shamelessly back with him. There were a few people she knew by face, but not enough to approach them, and then...
Her lips pulled up in an involuntary smile when she saw Maes Hughes, his wife, and Ed Elric talking not far from the dance floor. Deciding she’d go and talk to them before leaving, Sheska stood up and started toward them.
“You were a wonderful dance partner,” Gracia said with a smile.
Ed smiled back, feeling extremely pleased by her praise, even though he hadn’t felt he’d done very well. He had improved during the dance though, and she had shown him what he should and shouldn’t do when dancing with a lady.
“A suave man will take the lady’s hand, tell her how wonderful it was to dance with her, and then kiss her hand lightly,” Hughes said with a grin.
Feeling warmth flood into his face, Ed took Gracia’s hand. “That was really fun,” Ed said, then shook his head. That sounded really horrible. “I mean,” he corrected, then looked at Hughes who smiled broader, and took his wife’s hand from Ed’s to show him how it was done.
“This moment will last forever in my mind and heart and I will remember it until my dying breath,” Hughes said breathily, then gently kissed Gracia’s hand.
She laughed and shook her head before looking at Ed. “Simply telling the lady that it was a pleasure to dance with her will be enough.”
Ed nodded, glared a little at Hughes, then took Gracia’s hand. “It was a pleasure to dance with you,” he said, then lightly touched his lips to her hand.
“For me as well,” she returned.
“If you really want to learn how to speak with the ladies, you should talk with Roy,” Hughes said.
“That bastard?” Ed said in disgust. “No thanks. I’d rather—” He stopped, realizing what he’d just said, then decided it was too late to take back the cussword. Instead he decided to change the subject and said, “I’m going to go get a drink.”
Without another word, Ed hurrying over to the refreshment table, grabbed a glass, and looked at the punch bowls. Havoc had said the punch in the smooth bowl had alcohol in it, so Ed filled his glass with the punch from the jaded bowl, downed it quickly, then filled it up again before drinking all of that as well. He licked his lips, thinking that the punch was pretty good before deciding to have a third serving of it.
Putting his glass down, Ed picked out a few things to snack on, then stared out over the crowd of people. He was starting to feel pretty good, and decided this dancing thing wasn’t that big of a deal. It was as if he’d drunk liquid confidence instead of punch and he was ready for another try. His eyes returned to the Hugheses and saw that Sheska was talking with them now. She was a few years older than him, and not someone he ever would have thought of as a dance partner before, but Ed suddenly decided she would do fine for his second dance of the night.
Maes listened as Gracia and Sheska talked, idly considering another pass by the refreshment table, when Ed returned with a small smile on his face. There was something a little... off... about him, but Maes couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
Looking at Sheska, Ed waited for a break in the conversation, then said, “Hey, Sheska!”
“Hi, Ed,” she said cheerfully. “How are you?”
“Great!” Ed said pleasantly. “Really good. You wanna dance?”
Sheska blinked, looking as surprised as Maes felt. Was this the same Ed who had been so nervous and embarrassed about dancing just a little while ago? Then he felt a rush of smugness. His wife must have boosted Ed’s confidence in himself. Maes grinned at Gracia, thinking he had the most amazing wife in the world.
“Dance? Me?” Sheska asked in surprise.
“Yeah! They’re starting a new dance right now. How ‘bout it?”
“Sure,” she said, sounding excited now. Maes watched as Ed boldly took her arm and led her to the dance floor as the new dance started.
“Well, that was unexpected,” Gracia said, sounding pleased. Maes was about to say something when he was interrupted by Jean Havoc.
“I thought I saw Ed over here just a moment ago. Do you know where he went?” Maes grinned and nodded toward where the next dance was already starting. Havoc sighed and shook his head. “If you talk to him before I do, will you tell him...” Havoc began, then trailed off. “On second thought, would you just tell him to come find me after he’s done?”
Jean thanked Hughes and wandered off. He could have just told them to tell Ed about the punch, but that would mean that one more person would know that he’d mixed up the bowls again and that idea did not appeal to him at all. Seeing Breda and Falman sitting at one of the tables, Jean decided to join them and sat down.
“Did you do it?” Breda asked.
“I did,” Jean said proudly. He’d been surprised that Lieutenant Hawkeye had accepted so easily, but it had been a good dance, and maybe if he was lucky he’d get the chance to dance with her again sometime. Not that he was thinking anything would develop between them, but if it did... Jean smiled to himself. Riza Hawkeye was an attractive woman. He wouldn’t complain if he ended up with her.
“It’s not fair,” Denny Brosh said gloomily, breaking Jean out of his thoughts. Denny grabbed one of the chairs and plopped heavily down onto it. “Some guys have all the luck with the ladies.”
Jean glanced over at him and said, “I know what you mean. What happened this time?”
Brosh scowled slightly and pointed toward the dance floor. “Look at that hot babe Colonel Mustang is dancing with. She’s closer to my age than his. Why can’t I get some good looking girl like that?”
“I thought you liked Lieutenant Ross,” Falman commented.
“I do, but that’s not the point.”
“Exactly!” Jean said with a nod. “He needs to stop hogging all the women.”
“Who’s hogging all the women?” another voice said, and Jean glanced over to see Kain Fuery sitting down at their table.
“The colonel,” both Jean and Brosh said together.
“Huh... really?” Fuery looked over to the dance floor and said, “Looks like he’s just with one girl right now.”
“You know what I mean,” Jean muttered. “The girls totally love him. I don’t see why,” he complained.
Breda swallowed what had been in his mouth, then grabbed a carrot stick and pointed it at Jean. “Fuery has a point. It’s not like you can’t just ask that girl to dance after he’s done, if you really want.” Breda took a bite off the carrot stick as if to punctuate what he’d just said.
“Yeah... maybe,” Jean muttered, watching them. Leave it to Breda to make some sense. Still, it made Jean feel a little better to complain a little bit. Turning, Jean watched the two dance until the song ended.
Mustang and the girl stepped off the dance floor. She smiled up at him and lightly touched his arm, then said something else. In response, Mustang looked a little surprised, but when she said something again, he grinned, nodded, then after glancing around followed her out of the dancehall and out into the gardens.
“On second thought,” Breda said. “You might get a dance quicker if you find someone else.”
“He’s one lucky dog,” Brosh muttered, then sat up straight, seeming a little more alert. “There’s Lieutenant Ross... And she’s wearing a red cord.” He fussed with his suit for a moment, then stood up, looking nervous and stiff.
“We’ll be here when she rejects you,” Breda said with a laugh, then laughed more when Brosh glared at him.
“Ignore him. You’ll be fine,” Falman said reassuringly.
Jean watched Brosh took a deep breath then approach Ross—who did look rather lovely tonght. It looked as though he was stuttering through what he was saying, but Ross just smiled—though it kind of looked like she was taking pity on him to Jean—nodded, then looked at her dance card and asked him a question, to which he looked relieved and nodded vigorously before holding his arm out for her to take as they headed out toward the dance floor.
“Good for him,” Fuery said with a smile, then took a sip of his punch.
“Yeah...” Jean mumbled, then sighed and scanned the crowd. He picked out a few women who looked promising, then stood up and decided to try his luck again.
Kain Fuery watched Havoc go, silently wishing him luck. He personally didn’t have that kind of drive. Sure, he’d like to dance with someone, but after the first few years of being turned down all night at functions such as these, Kain had decided to just come and enjoy himself with his buddies instead of thinking about women. He supposed he was just too much of a geek for most women. That didn’t bother him most of the time, but every once in a while he did feel a little bit of wistfulness over what he didn’t have.
“I’ll bet you five hundred cens that he can’t find five women to dance with him tonight,” Breda said jovially.
“Not a chance,” Falman said.
Kain laughed and shook his head. “No way. That’s like throwing my money away.”
Sheska was breathless by the time they left the dance floor. She’d expected they would leave the dance floor after the first song, but Ed had surprised her by boldly asking for a second dance, and then a third. She didn’t have any one else lined up—in fact, she’d planned on leaving before this—so she’d accepted.
“That was so fun!” she said, feeling delighted.
“Yeah!” Ed agreed with a wide grin. His eyes looked bright and his cheeks were flushed. “That was awesome. We need to dance again sometime.” Sheska blushed, feeling pleased by his enthusiasm. Ed looked around, then grabbed her hand and started back toward the tables. “I see Breda, Falman, and Fuery. Let’s go say hi.”
Sheska knew the three by name and face, but didn’t really know them all that well. She would have protested, saying that she didn’t want to intrude, but Ed was gripping her hand tightly and they were maneuvering around people too quickly for her to object.
“Hey!” Ed said exuberantly as they reached the table.
There were greetings all around, then Ed pulled Sheska forward. “This is Sheska. You all know her, right?”
“In passing, but let’s introduce ourselves again,” Falman said, standing and holding his hand out for Sheska to take. “I’m Vato Falman,” he said politely.
“Heymans Breda,” Breda said with a nod, not bothering to stand.
“I’m Kain Fuery,” Kain said, taking her hand and smiling at her. He held on a little longer than she expected and felt her face heat a little at the extra attention.
“We saw you cutting a rug out there,” Breda said around a bite of food.
“Oh yeah, it was a blast,” Ed exclaimed. “Aren’t you guys gonna dance?” When they all shook their heads, Ed asked, “Why not?” Then, not waiting for an answer, he turned to Sheska and asked, “Who are you going to dance with next?”
“Oh... well, I...” she stuttered, caught a little off guard by the sudden question. “I hadn’t really planned on...”
Glancing back at the men at the table, Ed said, “You aren’t going to just let her be danceless are you?”
They all looked at him in amusement, then Breda laughed and asked, “Have you been hittin’ the sauce?”
“Huh?” Ed asked in confusion, then looked at Fuery. “You’re not dancing. Take her out to dance.” It came out more as a command than a suggestion, and Sheska was about to protest—she didn’t want anyone to be forced into dancing with her—when Fuery stood up, his cheeks a little red, and held his hand out to her.
“I would like to dance with you, if you’re interested...”
“Well, I...” Her face heated even more, but she smiled and took his hand. “I’d love to.” She glanced at Ed, who gave her two thumbs up, then let herself be led out to the dance floor.”
Ed flopped down in a chair and grinned widely. That had been so much fun. He couldn’t believe he’d been so worried about dancing before. Right now he felt really good. His whole body just felt good, and he wanted to ask someone else to dance.
“Oh man, there he is,” Ed heard Breda say in amusement.
Ed glanced at him and saw that he and Falman were looking off somewhere, so he followed their gaze, not quite sure who they were looking at. Then he saw Mustang walking into the ballroom from one of the doors that led out into the gardens. He straightened his tie, then smoothed back his hair as he looked around.
“Do you think he got lucky out there?” Falman asked.
“I doubt it. They probably just had a little fun in the shadows, but nothing too scandalous,” Breda answered.
Ed shrugged mentally to himself, not really sure what they were going on about, and not caring either. He wasn’t really interested in Mustang. He was more concerned about finding another dance partner. He saw a few other people he knew, then his eyes rested on Hawkeye and he smiled to himself. She had a blue cord, and she wasn’t dancing with anyone right now. Standing up, Ed straightened his jacket and started toward her. He was ready for another dance and felt all the confidence in the world that Hawkeye would say yes.