A mostly failed attempt at a Roy/Dante fic. Enjoy.
Hawkeye jerked the phone away from her ears, exasperated and not a little deafened by the familiar voice booming through the receiver at no one in particular.
"Colonel, it's for you."
"Who is it?" yawned Mustang, awakening from a nice nap he's been taking on his desk. Roy was keenly aware who was calling, of course, but it was only polite to ask. Riza simply handed him the phone.
"...so I told Elysia I would get her three presents this weekend if she could count to three for me, and she counted all the way up to four! So now I'll have to get her five! I know just the place..."
"Hughes! Do you have any information on the new case yet!"
"...since I'm going to the... huh? What new case?"
Hawkeye swore she could see a vein throbbing on Mustang's temple.
"Whoa, Roy, no need to growl at me. You know, if you would just get a wife already, you could relieve all that stress in moments! Gracia--"
"I'm not interested in the minutiae of your family life, Hughes!"
"Tsk! Loneliness I could understand, but petty jealousy? It's probably my fault, though...I never really pushed you to go steady! Well today, my friend, I'm in a good mood."
"Don't tell me..."
"Using my post as the Head of the Investigation Department, I decided to go ahead and do you a favor. Your train leaves ten o'clock tomorrow. Good luck, and dress sharply!"
"Colonel, there's an invitation addressed to you in the mail." Hawkeye hesitated, scanning the stamp on the envelope. "It's from the 'Amestrian Dating Agency.'"
"Give me that," he said, snatching the letter out of her hands.
Dear Roy Mustang,
You are hereby cordially invited to attend a formal gathering of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes looking for a long-term relationship at the ADA building at 42 Gephardt Street, Central City. There you will meet and get to know scores of potential life partners. We're confident that by the end of the dinner you'll have found the perfect girl for you, and look forward to seeing you at the ball!
The Amestrian Dating Agency
42 Gephardt Street? That was in the Gou District, all the way on the other side of town... Oh no...
"The ten o'clock train," affirmed Hawkeye, peering over his shoulder at the letter, "stops at the Gou District."
"I'm going to kill him," said Mustang with all the nonchalance he could muster. "First, I'll twist his wrist off, force him to eat it. Then I think I'll stick a needle into every inch of his neck to stop the hand from traveling any further down the alimentary canal. Get him to die slowly and painfully. Put that in my agenda for Wednesday, Hawkeye."
"Colonel, you may want to be more appreciative of your friend." Riza tapped to a little receipt on the desk next to the shredded envelope. "The Lieutenant Colonel paid through the nose for that invitation."
Roy gasped. "8,050 cens!? That's a whole month's pay! You're right; I should go easy on him. Put the murder off for Thursday."
"Sir, just go to the party and get it over with. Hughes obviously wants you to go, if he paid this much for it."
"He's trying to guilt me into doing his bidding, Lieutenant. Besides, don't you have any objections to this? Aren't you going to tell me that if I go I'd be shirking my responsibilities and disrespecting my office like you always do?"
"You were already slated for three dates tomorrow, and two the next day. This ball ought to discourage you from the dating scene for quite some time." Hawkeye smiled.
"You're enjoying this."
"I just find the whole thing... amusing."
"Well it isn't amusing! Only ugly girls want long-term relationships!"
Hawkeye smiled wider.
"Wipe that stupid grin of your face and help me find a way to get out of this. Hughes is out of his mind if he thinks he can get me to start looking for a wife. More than usually out of his mind, that is."
"There's nothing I can do, Colonel. And even if there was, I wouldn't. Think of this as a lesson worth remembering."
Snap. The letter curled into nothingness. "The only lesson I'm going to remember is 101 Ways to Incinerate Hughes! I'm not boarding that train, and that's final!"
"Last stop, Gephardt Avenue!"
Mustang snapped out of his reverie. The train rolled steadfastly into the station, no matter how much he willed a gear to whirl loose or a cow to jump in front of it or something. How his subordinates had caught wind of the letter, he'd never know, but he recalled in bitter detail how they burst into his room and harassed him about it all day.
The building looked like any other in Central, but still he hesitated, hand trembling for the doorknob. Roy gathered all his courage, and, in one second of sheer concentrated willpower, slammed the open and strode purposefully towards the reception desk.
"Roy Mustang," he recited smoothly, but dread was already starting to pour back into him.
"Your invitation, please," asked the receptionist courteously.
Mustang gaped stupidly. He had burned the invitation in a fit of anger. Oh well, this was the perfect excuse to about-face and get the hell out of there!
Oh no, it couldn't be...
"Excuse me, miss!"
"Yes?" she replied, a little taken aback. Hughes had shoved his way to the front of the line.
"Excuse me, if Mr. Mustang here doesn't have the invitation, I can prove he was invited here!" He handed her a copy of the receipt.
"Alright, in you go, Mr. Mustang. Have a nice day!"
"You didn't think I would miss this, did you? Today's the day we're going to find you a wife!"
"You're going in with me!?"
"No, silly! I'm staying outside to make sure you don't leave. Not that you'd want to!" Maes scooched up to whisper in Roy's ear. "I took the liberty of inspecting the candidates. They're all very mature, responsible girls. You'll love them."
Roy couldn't believe what he was hearing. Did Hughes know him at all?
"Believe me, you'll thank me for it later," he said in an annoying I-know-best tone.
"Uh, sir, you're holding up the line..."
"Whoops, sorry about that! Here, take a few pictures of my little daughter Elysia as consolation." A veritable mountain of pictures appeared from out of nowhere onto the hapless receptionist's desk, and Maes jumped out of the way just as suddenly. Mustang hid his face behind a gloved hand. Hughes had refined the mass distribution of family photos into a subtle art form. "See you later, Roy!"
Roy stepped into the banquet hall reluctantly. It was reasonably well-furnished and the food looked okay, but it was the giant decorative circle adorning the ceiling that interested him most. If he could tweak it just a little, Roy schemed, he could fashion an array that could make a back door spring into existence and avoid Hughes. Perhaps he could singe new lines into the ceiling and complete the transmutation circle?
Mustang quickly concluded that using alchemy would attract far too much attention. It couldn't have been later than two o'clock in the afternoon, and yet there were already eight couples dancing center stage. It was to be used only as a last resort; the last thing Roy wanted was to be sighted by a horde of women that wanted commit... commitmen... that wanted the "C word."
The Colonel looked to his right. A fortysomething brunette with a massive underbite and a half-chewed steak in her mouth was sneaking looks at him from a nearby table whenever the guy talking to her looked away.
He looked to his left. A cigaretty old hag gazed intently in his direction, stumbling in her haste to reach him. Roy bit his lip and centered his vision again, sweat running down his face. Two hideously plain-looking girls were making a beeline straight at him, glasses of wine sloshing in each of their hands.
"Damn Hughes, damn him, I'll kill him," he muttered under his breath, noting apprehensively how fast the women were approaching. Mustang hurried into a seat wasn't his and ate the mashed potatoes on the plate sans utensils. The girls, revolted, dispersed and found new partners to hit on.
Phew. He had repulsed them away. Roy made a show of wiping his mouth on his sleeve and poking his pÃ¢tÃ© with his tongue, just in case. How much longer what he have to make himself look like an utter imbecile?
His pocketwatch flitted open. 3:11. Six hours more!?
There were several options he could take. He could try bolting through the front entrance and run the risk of confronting Hughes. He could try to burn a hole through the wall ...and still probably meet Hughes on the way out. Roy revisited his transmutation circle plan-was it too early to get away with?
In the end, the Colonel decided to abandon his dignity and hide behind a potted plant for four hours. The first place he'd attempted to hide was the men's bathrooms--not a good idea, as swooning couples kept barging in without warning. Then he tried ducking underneath a table. The poor Flame Alchemist discovered he was allergic to dust at precisely that moment. He even tried to switch places with one of the orchestra. So here he was, concealed in plain sight, safe in the shadow of his tree.
Or at least he thought he was.
Roy swore. Someone had found him-someone with a scarily aged voice.
"My name is Dante. What's yours?"
The Colonel, once bestowed with medals of bravery in the heat of battle, quaked with fear, having no choice but to look her way.
Gah! She was even uglier than he'd imagined. Damn Hughes, damn Hughes, damn Hughes...
"I love it when men curse," said the creepy old hag, rubbing a clammy hand over his, "It's so... sexy."
Like a scene out of his worst nightmare, Mustang was forced to watch her lick her lips. A gasp issued from his own.
"I know, can't you just feel those romantic vibes in the air? They're making me positively tingle! Oh, I must take you onto the dance floor!"
"What?!" Roy yelled, perhaps louder than he should have. "Have you been watching me all night?"
"I have. Quite the specimen you are... Roy Mustang," she replied, spotting the receipt in his coat pocket. Her hands were coming dangerously close to his cheeks.
"I've been a vile, disgusting pig all night! Surely that turns you off?"
"Nonsense! I always thought a little eccentricity was good for a man! Your peculiarities... intrigue me." She smirked.
A slightly rotted-looking hand shot up his the side of his head, caressing his sideburns. (It was then that the wonderful Flame Alchemist officially stopped believing in God. After all, there could be no God if He could allow such cruel perversion.) Mustang got up as fast as he could, wanting nothing but to be as far away from the shriveled old psycho as possible.
"Oh yes! Come, let us to take to the dance floor!" That same hand clenched around Mustang's arm with an oddly forceful grip, and he could do nothing to prevent being dragged to the center of the swaying mass of couples.
Now, Roy liked to think he knew a fair number of dances. But he was also just as sure that he wouldn't have been able to carry them out when under the duress of a haggard curmudgeonly sadist. The dances she (he used the pronoun liberally) knew, however, had to be at least three hundred years old, and Mustang had no chance to keep up with them. Dante didn't seem to care, smirking wider and wider as if she'd found a piece of meat that kept getting more and more succulent.
"Ah, it was nice to-help me into this chair, will you?-it was nice of you to share a dance with an old hag like me!"
Ahem. Roy declined comment.
"It's awfully nice to speak with youngsters these days. So fresh, so full of life." Dante gazed into his eyes. "So innocent."
Mustang cleared his throat again, blinking rapidly.
"I always gave youngsters like you more credit than everyone else. After all, I've had more experience in life as a young person than one might expect. As a young girl I used to pick flowers..."
He didn't care to decipher any of the bilge she was spewing, spying only the circle on the ceiling and the watch in his hand. 8:01... 8:03... 8:04...
"...my time as a bridesmaid to a Drachman woman, she had such curly hair..."
"...I believe it was my third husband who once told me the wondrous curative properties of corn on the cob..."
"...and I couldn't help it, I was obsessed with the name Mary! I think it all started during my days as a fisher in Cape..."
"...mournful passing, really, my fifth husband..."
"...I hate those modern telephones, I always get my fingers jammed up in the wheel thingamajigs! I--"
"DO YOU EVER TALK ABOUT ANYONE OTHER THAN YOURSELF?!"
The entire hall became deathly silent, but Mustang didn't register it; in times of extreme stress and trauma, his mind became remarkably one-track and reckless. In no time beautiful streaks of fire spun into the air, blazing a series of lines into the ceiling. The new array on the ceiling cast blue light on the awestruck audience and an alchemized door appeared right where he wanted it.
"Do you think you're getting away that easily, deary?" uttered Dante, clearly unfazed. She clapped her hands but once, and the door melted back into the wall. The crowd dispersed for the door in a chaotic rush, and Mustang unthinkingly ran to the front exit with them, adding to their fear tenfold. Another clap resounded in the newly empty chamber, and Mustang retreated two steps. A fresh wall sprang up to obscure the exit.
"You... you can transmute without a circle! Just like that Elric kid!"
"...You know Hohenheim's son?"
"He...He's my subordinate."
"I should have known. Of course he'd run to military like a scared little dog. He's no idea what's in store for him."
"Who are you? What do you want from me?"
"I simply want a new husband." Clap. Tendrils of marble slithered to life and held Mustang in place. "You'll do nicely."
Dante's lips approached his... Roy tried averting her with all his might, but to no avail... they were almost touching...
Ed's eyes reeled open. He shifted uncomfortably, fumbling vaguely for the light. Unfortunately, in his haste to reach the lamp, his prosthetics got caught in the bedcovers, forcing him to call Heiderich for help.
"Bad dream again?" asked Alphonse knowingly, helping his partner up out of bed. Ed only shivered and nodded.
"I told you not to try that opium! I told you what happened to my father when he took it; it's a powerful hallucinogen. The central--"
Heiderich paused in his scolding, seeing Ed understood now why one shouldn't take opiates.
"Go back to bed. I'll fix you some breakfast in the morning."
"Yeah, whatever." Ed could hear Alphonse's whispered good night as he eased the door to a close.
However badly shaken he was by the dream, Ed couldn't help but laugh inwardly. The Colonel had finally gotten his comeuppance. And though Ed doubted he could sleep another wink tonight, he assured himself that it was all worth it to see the expression on Mustang's face.