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Causmicfire
This is written for the 60DamnPrompts community on livejournal.com The challenge: to write 60 consecutive themed days of a character's life. Here's the omake of the Armstrong siblings.
Hints of Oliveer (Olivier X Buccaneer) in later chapters.

Summary: Will Olivier survive having to spend quality time with her family when she has to go home to help with preparation's for Arm-e's wedding.

Day 1- Mail
Procrastinator?


Olivier Milla Armstrong was not a procrastinator. She got her work done in a timely manner, and all would have agreed with that if not for the two envelopes sitting in the corner of her desk. The two envelopes, one cream and one soft pink, had been in that exact location for over a week now.

Said officer looked up from her desk as a knock sounded on her door. “Enter” she called, her eyes focusing back on words scrawled on the sheet of paper in front of her after she recognized the shape looming in the foggy glass window of the door as one of her best subordinates.

“Afternoon, Sir,” he grunted, footsteps echoing in the cement room.

She looked back up in time to catch his salute. “Buccaneer?” she responded, returning his salute.

“They’re sending me letters now,” he informed her.

“Hn?” she mumbled, feigning ignorance.

“It can’t be that bad,” he said, dropping an envelope on top of the document she was working on.

She narrowed her eyes hidden behind blond hair. “It can. Look it’s covered in hearts and roses,” she countered, drawing her sword and using the tip of it to shove the envelope in the direction of the others. “Get rid of them, use them for fuel in one of the furnaces,” she ordered.

“Yes, Sir,” he replied, scooping up the neglected envelops and turning to leave.

“And tell everyone else that I’ll start the vasectomies if any more of those letters wind up on my desk,” she told him before he closed the door.

“Yes, Sir,” he answered.

Olivier smirked at the, now free of clutter, corner of her desk.

The last of her paper work was finished after a lunch of smoked elk, the last of it they had in the store room, and potatoes. She was getting ready to make her daily rounds of the fort when one of her newer recruits came up to her, making a shaky salute. “General Armstrong, Sir,” he squeaked.

“Yes, Major?” she questioned.

“An urgent telegram, and mail from a Colonel Mustang of Central,” he answered, extending the papers to her with a quivering arm.

“Thank you, Major. You may return to your duties now,” she said, taking the papers from him and sticking them in her coat pocket.

When she got back to her office she held them in front of her smirking at the name on them. “Mustang, I wonder what kind of trouble you’re in now. Maybe it will provide some entertainment,” she mumbled, sliding the letter opener across the envelope.

Before pulling the letter from the envelope she read the telegram.

Major General Armstrong,

I have enclosed some details about a situation in Central that needs your specific attention.

Colonel Roy Mustang.


She set the paper aside and pulled the documents from the envelope. To her dismay the papers did not contain a messy scrawl, but the flowery handwriting of her mother. She groaned and slammed her fist on her desk. “I’ll get you for this Mustang.” She grumbled, hand going to the hilt of her sword.

Her eyes widened with each new line of the letter she read. Her forehead met the desk in a sickening thud after she finished reading the letter.

A knock sounded on the door.

“Enter,” she called, straightening up.

“I heard a loud noise,” Buccaneer ventured.

“I’ll be returning to Central for a few weeks. You and Miles will be in charge,” she informed him.

“Sir?” he raised an eyebrow.

“A wedding,” she growled. “Arm-e is getting married to some fool named Allen,” she explained. “Apparently I’ve already been given leave. My father still has his influence with the Fuhrer.”

“We’ll continue working as if you’ve never left,” he reassured her.

“I know,” she said, rising from her seat. “If anything happens send me word,” she ordered, a glint of mischief in her eyes. She saluted him, and then left him alone in her office.

“Yes, Sir,” he replied, watching her walk down the hallway to her inevitable doom.
Causmicfire
Day 2 - Trance

Don't Kill Anyone


Unlike her usual self, Olivier had waited until the last minute to leave her precious, cold fort and get to the train station. Buccaneer had insisted on driving her to make sure she arrived on time. Knowing his superior, and the murderous intent now focused on the back of his head, any of the other soldiers, aside from himself and Miles, would have turned the car back around before they’d even got halfway to the station.

“I never thought I’d see the day,” he commented, eyes sparkling with the laughter he held back.

“If you weren’t one of my best men, you wouldn’t live to see the end of the day,” she hissed after a few moments, the trance she had been in for most of the day broken by his words.

“The look on your face reminds me of the time I had to escort Miles’ daughters home when they tried to sneak into the fort to surprise him on his birthday. They gave me the same exact look—cheeks puffed out, nostrils flared, a bit of a pout, arms crossed, and that same glare. Though, I’d have to say your gaze feels much fiercer than the both of theirs combined,” he said, watching as she changed her expression with each trait he mentioned.

“I am not pouting,” she said, bringing her arms to her sides and folding her hands in her lap.

“Not anymore,” he laughed.

“Just watch the road,” she snapped, nostrils flaring again.

“Yes, Sir,” he said, hoping she couldn’t see the smirk on his face in any of the mirrors.

They didn’t talk for the short remainder of the car ride, but he was entertained by her effort to keep a stoic expression on her face until they arrived at the station.

He opened her door for her, against her wishes, and even managed to carry her luggage to the train without having to argue with her about it.

She took her time getting the ticket being held for her at the window, staring up at the cloudy sky while she waited in the longest line. Even after the woman in the booth told her the train was due to leave any minute she kept her pace to the train slow, dragging her feet along like lead weights.

“Acting like a child being punished again, eh?” Buccaneer asked from his spot beside her.

She uncrossed her arms and buried her fists in her pockets as she picked up her pace a bit. “No, I’m just tired,” she argued.

“I’m sure you can get some rest on the train ride,” he replied, watching her carefully for any signs of danger.

They were quiet again, until she started to board the train. Halfway up the steps realized she didn’t have her luggage and turned to him.

Buccaneer found it a bit odd, not having to look down to meet her eyes, it was the first time they’d ever been completely eye level with each other.

The whistle of the train broke them both out of the strange trance they had fallen into.

“My luggage,” she prompted, breaking eye contact to look down at the case he held.

“Right,” he muttered, holding out the luggage to her expectant hand.

She grabbed the handle, but he didn’t remove his metal hand. “Lieutenant,” she said, giving the luggage a tug, and finally looked back up at him when he didn’t release it. She narrowed her eyes at the cheeky grin on his face.

“Don’t kill anyone, we’re running out of stain free gloves,” he told her, releasing his hold on the luggage as the train started to move.

When she didn’t immediately turn and continue up the steps he waved to her. Unable to move the rest of her body she raised her free hand and waved back. After a moment her legs finally got the message to move, and she made her way into the hall of the car of the train she’d be in for the remainder of her trip.

Once in her own little cabin, alone due to her family’s wealth and her own military rank, she relaxed as much as her body would allow on a train full of strangers and closed her eyes. Maybe he was right, and she would be able to get some rest on the train, but it certainly wouldn’t be sleep. She would be in that state between the lands of the sleeping and waking world, the one she had made sure all of her subordinates knew how to access. As her own rule for soldiers, she never went fully to sleep in a place where she was surrounded by strangers. Her body would rest while she remained alert, and prepared herself for the inevitable family gathering.


Day 3 - Baby

An Unwanted Guest


When the first thing to disturb her senses was the sunlight filtering through the east-facing window she had so intelligently forgotten to close the curtain of the night before, she knew it was the calm before the storm. Less than an hour later, sitting with her back flush against the cushioned wall, eyes closed, hands folded in her lap, and one leg crossed over the other the noise of the compartment door being slid open caused her hand to fly to the sword on the seat beside her as she opened her eyes.

She was about to get up and close the door, but a small gurgle sounded from the empty doorway. She looked down, and her eyes widened. Another strange gurgle/babble escaped the baby’s—or was it toddler, she didn’t care enough to know—lips. She was still for a moment, unsure of what to do. That was until the baby started to cross the threshold into her cabin in strange walk, stumbling with the movement of the train.

“No, this is my room, out!” Olivier commanded, unconsciously pointing the baby in the other direction with her sheathed sword.

The baby smiled and continued in her direction.

“No, you aren’t cute or funny. Where are the people in charge of you?” she demanded, getting to her feet.

The baby didn’t respond, but took a few more steps in her direction, and clung, much to Olivier’s dismay, to her pants clad leg.

Olivier, thoroughly disgusted, held back the impulse to shake her leg free of the child, as she would do if it were a horny dog.

Not wanting to have drool, or even worse, mucus dry and crust on her uniform she set her sword down, doubled over, and hooked her hands under the babies armpits. She was glad to find the baby let go of her pants without a fight, but grimaced at the sight of the string of drool running from her pants to the baby’s mouth. She watched it with a strange fascination, much like one watching a horror film, as it thinned and broke apart as she straightened, holding the baby as far away from herself as she could with two arms.

The baby let out another gurgle, which sounded strangely like the word “ma ma” and kicked her legs playfully.

“Well, if you won’t tell me where the people in charge of you are, I’ll have to go find someone to give you to,” she grumbled.

She marched into the corridor and looked in both directions for any other form of life, nothing, not even a fly.

She was getting ready to cross into the other car of the train when she heard a strangled cry and the slamming of a cabin door. “My baby, my baby is missing,” a woman shrieked. Olivier slowly turned to face the idiot of a woman as more doors flew open and heads peeked out of the separate cabins.

“There she is, she took my baby,” the woman accused, pointing in Olivier’s direction. Two men ran towards her, but stopped at the sound of her voice. “Why would I want such an abomination?” she asked, marching to the woman and dumping the baby in her arms.

“She’s not an abomination!” the woman shouted, causing the baby to cry.

“No, she’s not, you are—letting her wander off in the early morning hours, on a moving train. Mothers should be just as, if not more, alert than soldiers,” Olivier replied, in a whisper meant only for the woman’s ears. “And you made it cry. How am I supposed to relax now?” she complained as she walked back to her cabin and gently slid the door closed. This time she took care to hook the latch and close the curtains. She gave the darkened spot of drool on her pants an annoyed glare as she sat down.

As she let herself drift back into her state of half-consciousness, she considered the start of her first day of vacation a bad omen for the rest of it. In the North, one learned how to read signs—aching joints meant a drop in the temperature, a ring around the moon meant snow, the increase in the number of insects meant a rise in temperature. That baby was just the start of it.


Day 4 - Funeral

Don't Dress For a Fuenral


Olivier tried to sneak past her family (plus one) waiting at the train station in Central, but her idiot of a brother spotted her as she begun to walk in the other direction.

“Livi, we’re over here!” he called, waving his arms flamboyantly, eyes sparkling.

“I told you she’d be wearing her uniform, Father,” her youngest sister, Catherine quipped.

“She’s even got her sword with her,” Arm-e pointed out.

“She’s not going to hurt him is she?” the unfamiliar man asked, looking up at Arm-e.

“No, they’re just playing,” her father answered, laughing at the spectacle Olivier and Alex were making.

“Back, no hugs,” Olivier demanded, her sword flashing in the light.

“But Livi, I haven’t seen you in ages,” he said, standing just out of her sword’s reach.

“And my sword hasn’t cut anything in ages,” she replied, getting ready to take another step forward.

“Now, Olivier, put that sword away. Alex, leave her alone. We have things to do today. And would you take off that coat? You look like you’re going to a funeral with that expression on your face and black coat in the middle of spring,” her mother said, taking a step towards her. “We’ll have to stop by the house first, I don’t want you carrying that thing around all day,” she said, waving her hand at the sword sheathed at her daughter’s hip.

“But, Dear, we can’t ask her to do that. That’s like asking Alex to leave his gauntlets at home. They’re both part of the military, and if a situation occurs they’re expected to step in, whether they are on or off duty,” her father cut in.

“May I take that?” the unfamiliar man asked, holding his hand out for Olivier’s suitcase.

“Who are you?” she asked, looking him up and down in judgment. He was only a few inches taller than her, seemed to have an athletic build, and was staring at her with sparkling green eyes. He must have been one of the newer valets, but he wasn’t in any kind of uniform.

“Allen Walker, Arm-e’s fiancé. Pleased to meet you. May I take your luggage and coat for you Miss Armstrong?” he asked again.

If her hand hadn’t tightened around the handle on her luggage moments before to brace herself for him grabbing it, as all the valets would have done, she would have dropped it during his introduction. Arm-e’s fiancé. There was something wrong with the picture. “No, I’ll take it,” she said, walking past him.

“Well, if she won’t leave it at the house, then she’ll just have to put that funeral coat back on to hide it,” her mother ended the argument Olivier hadn’t been paying attention to, but the word funeral had caught her attention.

She was staring at the distracting scene in front of her—the engaged couple holding hands. Arm-e’s hand completely enveloped her fiancé’s. She would have laughed, but she could feel her mother’s intent, and irritated, gaze focused on her. She turned to face the tall stringy woman just as her name left those thin lips, “Olivier!”

“Hmm?” she asked, her mother’s stern tone completely ineffective against her.

“So, which will it be? Wear the coat, or leave the sword at the house?” her father asked, rolling one of the curls on his beard between two fingers.

In answer she dropped her luggage and slowly pulled the coat back on. Her eyes glinted with amusement at her mother’s frown of disapproval. If this is anything like other weddings I’ve been forced to take part in it will just sour as a funeral, at least I’ll be dressed appropriately. She laughed at her own thoughts while she smoothed the fur collar of the coat.

She went to grab her suitcase again and follow her already retreating siblings and mother, but her hand only grasped air. Her other hand went back to the hilt of her sword while her narrowed eyes looked for the black case. She huffed and crossed her arms when she noticed Allen carrying it with the hand Arm-e wasn’t currently occupying with hers.

“He does have some admirable qualities,” her father laughed, patting her on the back.

She looked back at Arm-e’s hand hiding Allen’s and chuckled.

“She’s always been a bit like mother,” Olivier reflected, her steps matching her father’s.

“Eh?” he asked tilting his head to the side.

“She’s always been attracted to shorter men,” she chuckled, returning the pat on the back he’d given her.

“I’m not short, I’m just not as tall as your mother. Not that you can say anything about height, Catherine is almost as tall as you,” he teased.

“She’s finished growing by now,” Olivier answered. “Have you gotten shorter?” she joked back, measuring from the top of her head to the top of her father’s, where curled tendril sprung forward from his otherwise slicked back hair.

“You just wait and see, one day you’ll start shrinking, too,” he laughed, batting her hand away.

She swallowed her retort, and the smile that had been tugging at the corners of her mouth, when they got to the two cars, and everyone stood watching them.

“You’ll come with us Olivier, we’re going to be getting measurements taken for the dresses,” her mother announced, gesturing to the car her three sisters stood in front of.

She inwardly groaned at the word dresses. “I’ll be wearing my dress uniform to the ceremony, Mother,” Olivier argued, mimicking the movements of the tall woman by placing her hands on her hips.

“Absolutely not, and that’s fina—”

“Oh, it doesn’t look like there’s room for me in the car, I’ll just go with them,” Olivier cut off her mother and pulled open the door of the car her father had just started.

“Are you wearing a tuxedo, then?” her father inquired, staring at his defeated wife glaring at the funeral-goer who had just slammed the car door.

“No, but they can take my measurements for a new dress uniform,” she replied, relaxing back into the leather seat. Now she could take off the coat she was beginning to regret wearing in the heat of Central’s early spring.

Once they got inside the tuxedo shop she shed her coat and the standard jacket she wore beneath it, placing them on the coat rack. She stood still, and followed the instruction of the tailor as he measured her, making small talk when necessary. Eventually she emerged from the small room to find Allen sitting in the vestibule alone.

She grinned at him, the grin most of her subordinates knew to be afraid of, and took a seat on the bench next to him.

Allen grinned back at her, his eyes still sparkling. She bit back a laugh as she remembered her sister was also attracted to shiny things and scooted a bit closer to him.

His gaze grew confused and he moved down the bench away from her. She followed him. The process repeated until she had her prey trapped between herself and the coat rack which stood at the end of the bench.

Why’d you decide on spring for the wedding?” she questioned, locking his wrist in a vice-like grip.

“Arm-e wanted to have it while the cherry trees are in bloom,” he answered, meeting her fierce gaze without backing down.

She smirked. “So, you’re a wimp giving in to whatever a woman asks,” she concluded.

“No,” he spoke up, “Making the woman I love happy does not make me a wimp.”

“Good answer, but be warned, if you ever hurt my little sister I will be needing my coat to wear to your funeral,” she threatened.

“I’d kill myself if I ever harmed her,” he countered, removing himself from her grasp and making a smooth exit from his seat on the bench.

Her father and Alex finished up soon after that. She waited with her father while he made the first payment to the tailor, only half the money up front to guarantee everything was made properly.

“You’re right, he does have a few admirable traits,” Olivier said as they walked to the car where her brother and future brother-in-law waited. “I think I’ll drop my sword off at the house—I don’t feel like wearing my coat all day,” she announced as she got into the car.


Day 5 - Birth

A Mother's Wishes


There were certain things her mother just would not forget about, such as her wearing a dress to her sister’s wedding.

No matter where she went after they got back from the tailor her mother had followed her like a shadow, better than any of her aides at Briggs—her mother would have to give them a lesson or two if she ever met them. It was times liked those she remembered why she had been so eager to get out of the high-society house and into the military.

Entering the academy had changed her life. There, she could cut men down with her sword and words instead of having to curtsy and bat her eyes at them. She didn’t have to listen to idle gossip about the most promising bachelors in town or mindless relationships. No, in the academy they talked about guns, skill, intelligence, swordsmanship, and the future of the country. Only a few men recognized her, but it didn’t take long for them to acknowledge her skills as a soldier.

Now, waking up for the first time in year in her old room she felt like she was back to where she had been weeks before signing her life away to the military—practicing her fencing in the backyard, cooking her own meals and eating them in the kitchen, because her mother wouldn’t search there, waking up early for her workouts, and going to bed early.

Olivier was up before the sun, and standing outside her bedroom door was her mother, with an itinerary for the day.

While she ate her breakfast, her mother entered the kitchen with swatches of fabric. She ignored the fabrics being held up to the bare skin of her fore-arms and savored the food made by professional cooks, even the coffee was amazing. “Thank you,” she told the kitchen staff, all of whom had been waiting for the blue eyed woman to snap at their mistress.

“I wanted to have them use a different color, but the one that goes best with your pale skin is the same as your uniform,” her mother sighed.

“I’m not wearing a dress,” Olivier announced.

“I didn’t go through false labor five times in the last month of pregnancy with you, and then spend sixteen hours in labor when you’d changed your mind and didn’t want to come out, only to have them have to perform cesarean and take you out for you to refuse to wear a dress to your sister’s wedding,” her mother huffed.

“You should have noticed then that I’m stubborn,” Olivier replied, continuing down the hallway while her mother remained rooted in the same spot.

“I’ll just get your measurements from the tailor,” her mother called.

“That doesn’t mean I’ll wear it,” Olivier shot back, rounding the corner.

Once safely in her room she retrieved her sword and decided to go practice in the back yard. She opened her closet to grab a light jacket and frowned. It was still full of those ridiculous dresses she had been forced to wear.

She quickly closed the door on the frilly pink clothes, but opened it back up just as quickly.

A smirk spread on Olivier’s face when she saw her mother walking as quickly as she could towards her spot in the small thicket of trees she was practicing in.

“Oh, is it time to go pick out the flowers yet?” Olivier asked, slicing at her target hanging from an oak tree.

“No, but what do you think you’re doing to those dresses?” her mother snapped, using a pair of scissors to cut the strings the filled dress nearest to her hung from.

“I thought I’d put them to good use. I won’t be wearing them anymore,” Olivier explained, using her sword to lop off the faceless, dirt head of one of the filled dresses in example. “Having Alex around to help every now and then isn’t so bad,” she said, explaining how she’d been able close the bottom of each dress and fill it with dirt in a matter of hours.

“Why I…I didn’t—”

Olivier cut off her stuttering mother, “I know you didn’t give birth to me for however many hours just for me to cut up dresses, but you should have realized I’d be stubborn from the very start.”


Day 6 - Wedding

Don't Leave Your Sword


Olivier navigated her way through the crowd and found herself a seat in one of the emptier rooms of the first floor. She would go to her room for the night, but she refused to leave the engagement party early after the little challenge her mother had issued earlier in the day when she'd come to remind her the party started in less than an hour.

“Why I’m bothering to tell you to dress properly, I don’t know. I doubt you’ll even stay downstairs long enough for anyone to notice.”

Olivier took a long sip of her vodka, relishing in the slight burning sensation it caused at the back of her throat. She set her glass down noiselessly on the maroon-clothed table. To say this room was emptier than others was true, but emptier did not mean empty by any means, it was still crowded full of people holding a high status in society. Men wearing their most expensive suits, silk ties, and cuff links made of rare gems. Women with their delicate hair styles, layers of perfectly, painted, make-up, sparkling fingers, necks, and wrists, polished nails, expensive shoes, and designer dresses. Olivier chuckled to herself as she watched people mingle with their hollow laughs, exaggerated smiles, and dramatic hand gestures.

She frowned as her laugh caught the attention of a couple close to her.

“Oh, Honey, it’s the oldest,” the woman informed him, pointing in Olivier’s direction.

Suddenly, people were migrating towards her. She stood in attempt to leave the room, but was surrounded before she took her first step. She silently cursed herself for agreeing to leave her trusted companion sheathed in her room.

“Mr. and Mrs. Novick,” a man her father’s age introduced, extending his hand to her.

“Major General Olivier Armstrong,” she supplied, shaking his hand. The name was slightly familiar, maybe one of her father’s friends.

She repeated the process, re-acquainting herself with people she had gone to school with, friends of her parents, and their families. They were all smiling at her like they’d met a long lost friend, her own frown stayed in place.

“To think you’ve kept your family name. So terribly sorry I missed your wedding,” a woman she knew from school gushed.

“I didn’t have a wedding,” Olivier replied.

“Oh, you eloped?” the woman’s husband inquired.

“No, I’m not married,” Olivier explained, enunciating each word clearly for the couple to understand.

A gasp shot through the people gathered around her.

“I thought it was Armstrong tradition for the eldest to be married first,” another woman, older, commented.

“Traditions are easily broken,” Olivier scoffed.

“You and that Mustang boy were such a cute pair when you were children,” Mrs. Novick said.

“Yes, I thought it would be the case of opposites attracting,” Mr. Novick commented.

Olivier laughed.

“It would have been a great wedding. Two high-ranking officers from high class families,” a brunette at the edge of the circle rambled.

“Did someone call me?” a voice called.

Olivier turned, her light blue eyes meeting his dark ones. She smirked, and he frowned.

“They’re just talking about our wedding.” Olivier explained, waiting for the group to draw him into their circle.

“W-we-wedding?” he asked, face a bit paler than usual.

“Oh, yes, it would have been amazing,” the brunette went on, her green eyes sparkling at her day dream.

“See, you two make a stunning pair,” Mrs. Novick asserted, curling her slender fingers around Roy’s arm, and dragging him into the circle.

While the others were discussing the details of the make-believe wedding Roy sidled up next to Olivier. “What did you tell them?” he hissed.

“Oh, just something I like to call revenge. Your letter is the only reason I’m here,” she sneered. “I need to go freshen up,” she announced to the crowd, which instantly parted for her.

She shot Roy a smug look while she grabbed her glass and left the circle, which enclosed around him.

She could hear Roy’s muffled voice stammering about the fraternization laws when someone asked him why he didn’t pursue a relationship with her and laughed. Her eyes focused on a blonde hanging back in the shadows of the room. “So, I’m not the only one who dressed practically. You’d be wearing pants, but you’ve got a gun under that don’t you?” she asked, motioning to the long, slit skirt.

“Yes, Sir,” the sharpshooter answered, her eyes never leaving the crowd Roy had been engulfed by.

“He’ll come out of there alive, Lieutenant, stunned and a bit confused, but alive,” Olivier laughed, moving from her spot next to the worried woman, and leaving the room.

She made her way to the main room and traded her empty glass for water. After careful inspection she found room full of people she didn’t recognize, probably people Allen and his family knew, and sat down in a comfortable black chair in a dark corner.

The remainder of the party was uneventful, that was until after it was over. Once the last of the guests had gone home she found herself cornered by the rest of her family.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Alex blurted out.

“What exactly didn’t I tell you?” Olivier replied.

“That you and Colonel Mustang have been secretly in love since before he left to go study alchemy,” Catherine cried, her eyes sparkling.

“Exchanging coded love letters through mail,” Arm-e added.

“Making wedding plans,” Strong-ko spoke up.

Olivier could feel the vein in the side of her face pulsating. “I don’t know who your source is, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” she growled.

“You don’t have to lie to us, we won’t tell anyone,” her mother said, grinning from ear to ear.

“The only thing Roy Mustang is good for is sharpening my blade on. I’m going to my room, and if I hear anymore of this ridiculous lie will cut of the tongue of the one who mentioned it,” she threatened, shoved past them, and stormed up the stairs.

“I told you it wasn’t true,” she heard her father say through his laughter.

In her room, she stared at her sword leaning against a bedpost. "I'll take you everywhere from now on," she vowed.


Day 7 - Understanding

Swordplay


There were certain things one should not attempt, especially without knowing all the facts, and Olivier usually knew better.

-0200 HOURS

“Oh, that dress looks perfect on you, Arm-e,” Catherine squealed, as her older sister executed a turn for all to view the dress from every angle.

“My darling, Arm-e, Allen won’t be able to talk when he sees you,” her mother exclaimed.

Olivier watched from the corner, one leg crossed over the other, using the end of her blade to bounce her foot. She yawned, not bothering to cover her mouth as Strong-ko placed the veil atop Arm-e’s head, a single curled lock refusing to stay put under the crown of fabric.

Olivier hid her chuckle of amusement as the four female members of her family attempted to smooth the golden lock back.

“I can cut it off for you,” she offered, removing her foot from the tip of the covered blade, and brandishing her trusted companion.

“After what you did to Alex, never,” her mother shouted. “Now put that thing away and go try on your dress uniform at the tailor. You father should be here any minute with the car,” she ordered.

“It doesn’t look bad,” called Olivier over her shoulder as she marched out of the boutique, hand raised to cover her eyes from the harsh rays of sunlight. “Unbelievable,” she muttered under her breath, the sunlight shouldn’t have been much of a problem for her, considering she was used to it reflecting off the snow covered ground, maybe direct sunlight was different.

Minutes later she raised her eyebrow at Alex as he scrambled out of the front passenger seat and held the door open for her. When he showed no sign of moving she gave the slightest hint of a bow of thanks and took the seat he had previously been occupying. “Why did you take so long?” she asked her father while watching Alex clamber into the backseat—really such a big man in such a tiny vehicle.

“Oh, just out doing manly things,” came her father’s vague reply as he pulled out into traffic, no bothering to check the street before hand.

Despite her fear of the way he maneuvered the vehicle she chuckled at his comment. “Manly things, such as showing off your muscles?” she inquired.

“No, some alchemy practice for Alex, you know he’s going to make ice sculptures for the wedding, and Allen showed us his swordplay,” her father replied.

A scoff sounded from Olivier as she looked back at Allen, clutching the arm rest of the seat.

“He isn’t half-bad,” her father murmured, pulling to the side of the road with a screech of the brakes.

Olivier wasn’t the only one to throw open the car door as soon as it was stopped and make her way into the shop.

With the orders of the two tailors in the shop, Olivier and Allen walked back to the fitting rooms with the prepared articles of clothing. After a few minutes of standing without moving a millimeter, for desire of not being poked by a needle while being prodded, she was able to get back into her pantsuit, and take the same seat she had occupied on the bench in the vestibule just day’s before. Soon enough, Alex left and Allen joined her.

-0130 HOURS

Recognizing the stunt he was pulling on her as the tactic she had used against him, she didn’t move when he sat down right next to her, invading all personal space on her right side.

“Arm-e would appreciate it if you wore a dress to the ceremony,” he informed her, watching her right hand as it moved across to her left side.

“And I would appreciate it if no one said anything further about me wearing a dress,” she muttered.

“Understood. I’ll have a word with Arm-e if you beat me at a fencing match,” Allen suggested, holding out his hand to hers for a shake to seal the deal.

“If I don’t?” she asked, wearily—there was always a catch.

“You wear a dress,” he stated.

“When?” she asked, shaking his hand confidently.

“Four, in the backyard,” he suggested.

“I’ll be there,” she agreed, letting go of his hand, and standing.

“Where are you going?” he called.

“Practice.”

And she did practice, using what was left of the dress wearing, dirt golems Alex had made, but not for long, because she kept picturing Allen trying to hold a sword properly, which only resulted in a fit of laughter.

0000 HOURS

Olivier stared incredulously at the green-eyed man holding his own sword at her chest.

“Bravo, Allen,” her father cheered from the sidelines.

She narrowed her eyes at the man staring at the scene in amusement.

“You’ll wear a dress then?” Allen asked, not moving from his stance.

“I never go back on my word,” she hissed, still reaching for her sword, stuck just inches out of her grasp in the tree.

After withdrawing his sword, he stretched, the few inches he had over her giving him the ability to reach her sword, and pulled hers out of the trunk of the tree. “That’s a fine blade,” he commented as he handed it back to her.

He didn’t catch what she mumbled under her breath as she walked away, but behind her back his soon to be father-in-law was giving him a cheeky grin.

Olivier waited inside for her father, and when he finally walked in with Allen at his side she pulled him away from his conversation, down a hallway, and into one of the smaller rooms on the floor.

“I thought you sent me to the best school,” she exclaimed, throwing herself down in one of the puffy armchairs.

“In Armestris. Allen lived in Xing half his life, didn’t you notice his family wasn’t exactly pure Armestrian?” he inquired, sitting down in a chair across from her, with more grace than she’d exhibited since arriving in Central.

She opened her mouth and then closed it. She knew his family was different, and no wonder they hadn’t spoken to her much when she hid during the party, they didn’t speak the language well.

“I thought you knew not to jump into a battle without knowing more about your adversary,” he joked.

“I do, I just didn’t,” she huffed, cutting her sentence short.

“So, you’ll be wearing a dress now,” he teased.

“I never go back on my word,” she persisted, crossing her arms.

“An Armstrong never does,” he commented. “Oh, and I’ll make sure your mother doesn’t bother you about it. She didn’t even know about the bet, or deal as you two called it,” he told her.

“Fine, I’ll go have the ridiculous thing fitted tomorrow while everyone else is picking out which color to use for table clothes, or, I don’t know some other trivial thing mother mentioned on that list of hers,” Olivier told him, getting up from her chair.

On her way up to her room, all she could think of was learning those Xingese swordplay techniques.


Day 8 - Kiss

It's Not Unusual


Both her father and Allen had been sending expectant glances at her all day—through the two hours of choosing the “perfect” fabric and color for the table cloths during the reception, which still ended in indecision, an hour and a half of flipping through illustrations of hair styles, for all of them sans Alex, and now as they toured the grand hall of Rowling’s Inn too see if it was up to par for the reception.

Olivier groaned as her mother pulled out the three sample pieces of fabric they’d gotten earlier and compared them to the golden butter-cream paint on the walls. By the clucking sound her that came from her mother’s mouth and the way she shoved the fabrics back in her handbag this certainly wasn’t going to be the place they’d decide on.

She was starting to remember what it felt like to shop with her mother—the pressure that built up in the back of her head, sounds mashing together, the film of fog dulling her surroundings, and the weight of her eyelids, fighting to stay closed each time she blinked.

She barely kept her footing when her father nudged her. “When are you going to go?” he whispered.

She slowly turned her head in his direction, her vision slightly obscured by hair and the film of fog. “What was that?” she asked, her senses clearing as they walked back out to the streets.

“When are you going to go to the boutique?” he asked, his whisper a bit louder than the first one.

“I need-did they just? Again?” Olivier asked, her voice a bit louder than her father’s whisper.

“Pardon,” her father replied, utterly confused.

“They kissed. Out in public!” Olivier exclaimed, scrunching her face up in disgust. There was one thing that disgusted her more than her first sip of coffee at Briggs, and that was public displays of affection that surpassed a quick hug or holding hands. Not only had Arm-e leaned over once to kiss him, but twice.

“Really, your private life should stay private! What are you two going to be doing next, groping each other in public,” Olivier fumed.

“Why, I never!” her mother cried, holding a hand over chest, as if she’d just had a heart attack.

“But, Livi, they’re in love!” Alex exclaimed, the emotion in his eyes causing them to sparkle.

“I’m going to leave, before I get sick,” Oliver announced, making her exit by walking between the blushing couple.

“Just don’t stay out too late, darling,” her father called, waving enthusiastically to her back.

The crowd on the sidewalk quickly parted for Olivier as she walked by grumbling to herself about couples using love to excuse their inappropriate acts in such public places.

By the time she had gotten to the dress shop she had doled out enough glares to passers-by to alleviate a fraction of her frustration. She held her head high as she entered the boutique of certain doom.

The seamstress quickly recognized her name, and took her to the back, where sure enough a dress nearly the color of her uniform was waiting to be fitted. She silently cursed her mother for her unfailing hope that she would wear a dress.

Exactly what she wanted to do during her vacation—sport a dress, and while doing so leave herself in the hands of a stranger with a mouthful of needles.

After a few minutes of pinning fabric here and there, the woman looked up at her. “Is something wrong, hun’? Just let me know, I can fix anything you don’t like,” she volunteered, her voice a bit of a mumble through her gritted teeth.

“It’s not the dress. Honestly, it’s partly the dress, but I dislike all dresses,” Oliver brushed her off.

“Well then, what’s bothering you?” she asked, pulling another pin from between her teeth.

Olivier gave her a rather put off look and crossed her arms.

“Now, don’t go moving on me like that, I don’t want to stick you. I can’t promise you I can fix your problem if it doesn’t concern the dress, but I can listen, and trust a woman twice your age, just telling someone about it can help,” she insisted, pins moving up and down ever so slightly with each syllable that passed between her clenched teeth.

Olivier considered the offer, and decided to tell the woman, at least they could relate on one level—working with sharp pointy objects day in and day out.

The woman listened to her quick synopsis of the event and her outlook about the public display of affection while diligently going about her work of noting the miniscule adjustments that would make the difference between a stunning and ordinary gown. She looked up at the blonde before her and smiled, showing the wrinkles around her mouth and eyes. “It’s not so unusual to see that nowadays as it was when I was growing up,” she began, taking the remaining pins out of their place inbetween her teeth. Her voice came across more clearly as she continued, “One day it’ll change for you, just you wait. Now, go on, I know you’re itching to get out of that dress.”

Olivier would have snorted at the woman’s comment about her point of view changing, but she forgot about it when she was told she could change out of the dress mocking her for the deal she’d made.

Back in her pantsuit, with her dearest friend at her side, she left the shop and made her way home hoping her eyes wouldn’t be victim to anymore displays of saliva exchanges that the seamstress had told her were becoming more common to see in the open these days.

Causmicfire
Day 9 - Police

Drop Your Weapon


Olivier had woken up at precisely 0530 hours, just like every other morning since she had first started in the academy. To say she was surprised not to find an itinerary for the day in the pink envelope that had been slid underneath her door, but a note informing her that the expectation of heavy rains had canceled their tours of various gardens would be a massive understatement. If she had been more awake a laugh of joy would have escaped her lips.

Upon trashing the letter she, for the first time since she was a child, crawled back into bed. These past few days had been more trying and tiring than a week long battle with Drachman warriors had ever been.

Upon waking up more than three hours later, she went about her usual morning routine—breakfast, training, and shower, though her shower came a bit early with the rain that interrupted her training in the backyard.

After pulling on her “funeral” coat, she left the vacant house and traveled the streets she once knew so well. Her walk was uneventful until she happened across a man running from a couple shouting for the aid of the military police.

It only took a fraction of a second for Olivier to connect the purse the fleeing man was clutching to the distraught couple.

Her hand rested on the hilt of her sword as she dashed through the crowd after him. She caught up to him quickly, all the while thinking about ways to vent her frustration on him, and cornered him when he turned down a alley that lead to a dead end.

She watched him halt at the old brick wall, his head moving from side to side as he searched for an exit.

A smirk lit her face as he turned and stared her in horror at her sword glinting in the soft light of the street lamps.

She counted each drop of water that slid off the end of her blade while he mumbled incoherently, clutching the purse in his scarred hands.

“Give me the purse,” she ordered, holding out her left hand to him.

After he shook his head in noncompliance she took a step closer, extending her blade a bit further. “What I hate more than a weak woman is a man who’ll steal for a living,” she explained, stopping the end of her blade millimeters from his scraggly beard.

“You there, drop your weapon, this is the military police!” a shout bounced off the walls.

“And let the suspect get away?” she questioned.

“We’ll handle it, drop you weapon,” came the reply.

Full compliance was not part of her agenda, she did lower her sword, but instead of dropping it she placed the tip on the ground, holding it like a cane. “What are you waiting for? At this rate, he’ll get away,” she called, watching the man trying to scramble up the brick wall.

“Release your weapon, ma’am,” the voice called again, she could hear the officer coming closer, and another officer not far behind him, they're feet shifting the loose gravel beneath them.

It only took a few moments for the first officer to walk into her line of vision, gun pointed at the man attempting to flee. The second officer stopped just out of her sword's reach and trained his own aim on her.

After the criminal was put into cuffs, they both turned on her. “Ma’am, you’ll have to come with us to the station for disobeying the direct orders of an officer,” the man who hadn’t spoken yet said, his deep voice not matching his short, stringy body.

“You sword,” the other demanded, holding his hand out for the weapon.

“Your firearm,” she mimicked him in an equally demanding tone.

“Don’t make us call backup ma’am,” the other threatened.

“You can call your unit leader here, but you won’t get my sword,” she vowed, sheathing the sharpened steel.

With her response a shot was fired into the air, and minutes later more men showed up in the alleyway.

“Really, if I was an enemy you’d be dead by now,” she reasoned.

“Hand over the sword, or we’ll shoot,” the one who’d fired the gun told her.

“I doubt shooting a Major General would look good on your record,” she scowled.

“Ma-Major General?” he asked doubtfully.

“If you hadn’t been so hasty and disagreeable I would have been able to say so earlier,” she explained.

“Prove it,” the officer challenged.

“Do you not recognize a military coat?” she asked, exasperated. “Go get your unit lead,” she demanded when he gave her a blank stare.

She waited patiently, leaning ever so slightly on her companion, and pulling her fur lined hood up when the rain started back up.

A smirk lit her face as she watched the men surrounding her shift uncomfortably, looking from her to the officer she’d been arguing with.

The small crowd parted for a tall man to pass through.

“What’s the situation?” he barked.

“We found her holding this thief at sword point. She won’t hand over her weapon, Sir. Claims she is a Major General,” the officer answered, giving a salute to his superior.

“Did you ask for identification?” he asked.

“I asked for proof,” he answered.

“And?” his superior inquired.

“She said her coat should be proof enough.”

The man looked over to her, and his eyes widened a bit. “A soldier from Briggs?”

She nodded, her hood sinking further down her face

“Name?” he asked, pulling a small blue book with the military’s insignia on the cover from his pocket.

“Armstrong,” she hissed, watching him flip to the back of the book and thumb forward.

Closing the book, he looked up at her for a moment, his eyes traveling from her concealed face to her weapon of choice. “Sorry for the inconvenience, Sir,” he apologized, snapping to attention and saluting.

After she’d given him permission to be at ease he turned to his subordinates and stared them down, waiting for the instigating pair to step forward.

“Sorry for the misunderstanding, Major General Armstrong,” the replied in unison, giving half-hearted saluted in the downpour.

“And thank you for holding the suspect until my team got here,” the unit lead said.

Olivier walked away without another word. Her lips turned upward in delight when she heard the awe running through the crowd of officers as they came to the conclusion that she was the famed, impenetrable cliff of Briggs.

Causmicfire
Day 10 - Insanity

Making A List


Despite the rainstorm the day had been going much more smoothly than the rest of her week.

The colors of the wedding had finally been decided, a rich purple and deep maroon, the purple being one of the colors Allen’s clan in Xing claimed as their own and maroon one of Arm-e’s favorite colors. They decided to hold the ceremony and reception at one of the houses on the outskirts of town that had been in the Armstrong family for decades.

Why they couldn’t have thought of that solution before dragging her from building to building she didn’t know, but she definitely wanted to hurt them for it, especially since she kept thinking about having to wear that stupid dress. Skirts were only good for one thing, and not for her, because her weapon of choice was not a gun.

A shudder ran down her spine at the thought of it, and she closed her eyes envisioning herself slicing it up the day after the wedding.

“Are you cold?” Catherine asked from her seat beside her.

“No,” she answered, refusing to look at the fluffy pink bundle that was her sister. The car grew silent again, and Olivier wiped the fog off the window with the sleeve of her coat, watching the dampened country-side whiz by.

“You’re going to meet us for dinner, right,” Catherine asked.

“For the seventh time, yes,” Olivier barked.

She should have known, or at least gotten the idea that some insane plot was being set in motion with all the concern over her appearance at dinner, one she had been making without tardiness or complaint every night she’d been there.

Everything had been going well, until the storm ended, and the driver pulled to a stop in front of the ritzy restaurant she couldn’t be bothered to remember the name of. Once inside the restaurant, a woman greeted her, “Good evening, Miss, may I take your coat?”

Olivier gently slid the black wool off her arms and handed it to the woman. “A-and your, uh, sword, too, please,” the woman stuttered, holding out her hand.

Olivier only gave a short incoherent grumble of irritation as she unbuckled the belt and handed it to the stunned brunette.

As soon as she got the ticket in return she walked up to the hostess who was flipping through a book at her podium. “Reservations for Armstrong,” she announced.

The redhead looked up at her and smiled. “Oh, he’s waiting for you. Got here early. Quite the looker if you ask me,” she rambled, twirling a red curl around her finger as she grabbed a menu from a shelf inside the podium. “Right this way,” she announced, gesturing for Olivier to follow her into the dimly lit restaurant.

“You’ve gotten me confused with someone else. I said Armstrong, a-r-m-s-t-r-o-n-g," she spelled out for the hostess, remaining at her place in the vestibule.

“No, Armstrong for two, that’s all I have. He’s nervous, too, so don’t worry about being shy. Now, c’mon, he’s waiting,” she prompted, waving her on with the menu.

With her dark mood building she decided to follow the hostess, if only to get a laugh out of grilling poor man who sat at her table.

“That’s him, there,” she pointed out a man sitting at a small booth across the room.

All she saw from the back was a head of blond hair and bouquet of pink carnations on the table top. The man was picking at the paper wrapped around the stems while he waited for her to join him.

“Someone is going to die after I chase him off,” she mumbled, narrowing her eyes as they got closer to the table and the mystery man, who had now moved on to inspecting the wine menu.

He twirled the plastic-covered paper between his index and middle finger, raising his other hand to call for the waiter. In doing so, he turned to look for said waiter and spotted Olivier.

Olivier smirked as he stood and snapped into salute at the sight of her, his blue eyes full of question.

“So, they’ve pulled the wool over your eyes, too? She inquired, sitting in the seat across from his, but he kept his stance, turning around to follow her movements.

“Major General Armstrong, Sir,” he greeted in half question.

“Yes, yes, now quit with the formalities and sit. I'm out of uniform, as are you,” she ordered.

“Has something happened to Catherine?” he asked as he followed her orders.

“That's who you were expecting. It would seem my brother has a skill of leaving out bits of the truth I never knew of before now,” she explained.

“So, you're my date?” he asked, slowly piecing together her words.

“It would seem so,” she hissed, raising her hand for the waiter’s attention. Apparently, the redhead had left sometime during their greeting.

“Th-then these are for you,” he stammered, bouquet of pink shaking with his hand as he held it out to her. “If I had known it wasn’t Catherine I would have gotten a different color,” he muttered, studying the beads of perspiration rolling down his water glass.

Olivier looked at the offending pink buds in disgust and then to the unfortunate Lieutenant’s face. Her icy blue eyes softened ever so slightly when she realized he was sweating just as much as the glass his eyes were glued to. “Let us plan our revenge on my family over the dinner they are paying for,” she suggested, placing the carnations on the cushioned bench beside her. She raised her hand again, snapping when no waiter looked in their direction.

Havoc looked up at her, shocked that she had taken the bouquet, let alone stayed in her seat across from him.

They left the restaurant with less formality than they had greeted each other and fewer inhibitions weighting their tongues.

“Well, if you ever get tired of chasing after Hawkeye, we could use someone like you at Briggs,” Olivier commented, pink petals littering the sidewalk as she sent him stumbling forward a few steps with a pat on the back.

Havoc looked at her with his face contorted into an expression of confusion. “Hawkeye?” he asked.

“Don’t look at me like that, you fool, it’s obvious. I do know about those kind of things, even if most people don’t believe it,” she admitted, brandishing the bouquet as if it were proof.

“It’d never work with Mustang here,” Havoc slurred, a bit more inebriated then the woman with the sword.

“Eh, I can always fix that,” she suggested, her eyes sparkling, with not only the usual excitement common to those of the Armstrong name, but also with glints of mischief.

Havoc looked over at her hand resting on the hilt of her sword. “I don’t know about that. He’s persistent.”

She threw her head back and laughed at his response. “So am I,” she shot back, sending him stumbling again with one of her pats to his back. She stared at the shower of pink petals for a second before focusing back on their conversation. “My family is first, do you remember the plan?”

“You slice, I shoot?” he inquired.

“Right, good man. I’ve got to book my train first,” she said, turning around to walk in the other direction.

“Train’s this way,” Havoc said, grabbing her arm, turning her to the right, and pulling her across the empty street.

“My family is insane,” she commented, pulling away from his grasp, but still following him.

“I’ve never heard truer words,” he agreed.



Day 11 - Impossible

The Day After


She woke up in her room, cuddling close to her sheathed sword with a ticket crumpled inside her fisted hand.

The raising of her head from her silk-covered pillow caused her memory of the previous night to flood back. Apparently, their plans for revenge had come to a halt after the purchasing of her train ticket when she’d given him a hearty pat on the back which caused him to kiss the pavement and add some blood to the still damp cement.

He was a hell of a lot calmer than she’d ever be in that case. If the situation was reversed she probably would have given him a bloody nose in return.

She shot out of bed as she remembered the rest of the night. He’d forgotten how to get to his apartment, and after stumbling around Central for a while she told him to stay at their house, in the room next to hers. There was absolutely no way she could let anyone find out, or else they’d be hounding her about it until she died.

Opening the door a few inches she looked down the hallway, when no one was there she darted out of the room, and into the one next to her.

“Havoc,” she hissed, walking over to the bed in the dark. No answer. She stood over the bed, but no one was in it, it didn’t even look like anyone had slept there. She walked over to the entrance of the room and flipped the light switch. Not a wrinkle marred the bedding. One the small table beside the bed was a paper with her name on it and a box of cigarettes. She chuckled at the note he left saying they should go out drinking again sometime and reminding her about the train ticket she’d left in her room. “I should get these back to him,” she told herself, dropping the half empty box of cigarettes into the pocket of the coat she was still wearing from the night before.

When she got back to her room an itinerary was waiting for her, but all she did was tear it up. She didn’t bother with her daily training, but packed her suitcase, showered, and crept to the kitchen. While she was eating she made a note to her parents, letting them know she left, and then got a driver to get a car started.

She was glad for her thick coat when she stepped outside into the cold weather, her body already accustomed to the warmer weather she’d gotten the first few days there.

Her first stop was H.Q. where she easily found Mustang’s office, which was thankfully empty. She left the pack of cigarettes on the mahogany desk she guessed was his from the ash tray in the corner, and then left the building before anyone knew she was there.

When she got to the train station her face fell. It was closed. She went inside to investigate only to find her family waiting there. Apparently, they woke up much earlier than she thought they did.

“What’s the meaning of this, Olivier?” her mother asked.

“I’m done. I’ll come back before the wedding,” Olivier answered.

“You can’t leave,” her mother said.

“And why not,” Oliver snapped.

“The tracks froze over, and there was a small accident,” Alex told her. “I’ll be going to help repair them.”

“Fine,” Olivier huffed and turned to walk away. “But don’t think you can send me out on dates and drag me along with you everywhere,” she called as she left the train station.

“That’s right, you must have had fun last night. You didn’t get home until everyone was asleep,” Catherine chimed.

“Did you have fun with Lieutenant Havoc?” Alex asked, waltzing up beside her.

“I got blood on my favorite blouse,” she answered with a smirk.

“Blood, why?” Alex panicked.

"Don't worry, it's not mine," she told him as she put her suitcase back in the car waiting for her, and then rested her hand on the hilt of her sword while looking her brother in the eye.

Her smirk grew when his eyes widened, and she climbed into the car.

“Take me back to the house,” she commanded.


Day 12 - Love

One True Love


They’d stopped pestering her for a day, but she wasn’t lucky enough to get away from them for a second one. No, her sisters had actually thought ahead, and waited until she’d handed over her sword at the coat check and sat at a table before lecturing her.

Olivier sipped her ice water while waiting for her food to be served. At first, she didn’t pay any attention to her sisters, but their actions quickly became strange enough to warrant her observation. It was almost as if they were talking in some kind of code made up entirely of eye brow movements, widening of the eyes, subtle lip movements, and shaking of the head.

She quickly lost interest in their game and stared out the window across the room, it was another gloomy day, but no rain, yet.

“Livvy,” Strong-ko piped up.

“Hm?” Olivier asked, turning her attention back to the blondes.

“Have you ever thought about love?” Strong-ko continued.

Olivier was baffled for a minute. Surely, they had been thinking this over for a while. “That’s why you wanted me in the corner?” she asked, realizing she had once again fallen for a surprise attack set by her family. They knew she’d been itching to get away from her nagging mother, and that she wouldn’t argue about sitting on the inside corner of the booth, because she hated having to get out of the seat every time the person next to her wanted to get up.

“Yes, and don’t change the subject,” Arm-e ordered.

“And the subject was?” Olivier asked, examining her nails.

“Love,” Catherine exclaimed, clasping her hands together in front of her.

“Oh, love,” Olivier commented.

“Yes, love,” Strong-ko reiterated, taking Olivier’s tone of indifference as wistfulness.

“Well,” Olivier drew out the word, resting her chin on a curled fist.

“Oh, I knew you had someone you’re devoted to,” Strong-ko asserted.

“Care for despite their faults,” Arm-e added.

“And can’t stand to be away from,” Catherine finished.

Olivier mulled over their list and smirked. “I do love,” she took a deep breath, amused at the way all three of her sisters were leaning towards her with bated breath, and continued, “my sword.”

Their defeated, exasperated sighs were music to her ears.

“I devote hours to training with it. I have grown attached to it, despite the floral design along the blade and hilt. Oh, and I hate to be without it,” she elaborated. “As a matter of fact,” she started, nudging Catherine to move, so she could get out of the corner. “I’ve been away from my love so long that I seem to have lost my appetite,” she excused herself.

“That’s not what we meant,” Arm-e called as Olivier started to walk away.
Causmicfire
Day 13 - Roses

The Flower Lady


It was hard for her to get used to the fickle weather at Central, but she was glad the wind that had annoyed her had been good for at least one thing. The sky was now cloud free, and with some appeal to emotion (But, I never get to sit outside on a warm day) she was able to convince them to sit on the patio during lunch.

Of course, her real motivation for the location was that she didn’t have to leave her sword with the coat check.

“How bad was that accident, dear?” Her mother asked, turning to her only son.

“A tunnel had caved in, but the train was able to make it out before it collapsed. The injuries were easily tended. It was the baggage car that took most of the damage,” Alex explained.

“How are they taking care of the tunnel?” her father asked.

“Well, who better than the StrongArm Alchemist to fix it?” Alex beamed.

“Well done, m’boy,” her father praised.

“I’ll be going back and forth to help with the investigations. I wish I could be here to help with the wedding, but I must help my country any way I can,” he said, attempting to stand and take one of his usual muscle-flexing poses, but a hand on his shoulder kept him secure in his seat.

“Not when we’re having lunch,” Olivier hissed.

Alex nodded and brought the lettuce-covered fork that had been in his hand the entire time in his mouth.

“Roses for the beautiful ladies?” a woman called from behind Olivier.

Everyone on her side of the table whirled around to be greeted by a woman draped in a shawl with a scarf tying back her hair, holding out a bouquet of yellow roses.

“You’re back!” Olivier's father exclaimed, jumping from his seat to embrace the woman.

“Don’t squish my flowers!” she shouted, putting the cart of flowers between herself and him.

“Yes, it was quite upsetting to find you weren’t at the shop when we went in to order the flowers for the wedding,” her mother added.

“Wedding?” the woman asked.

“Yes, Arm-e is engaged. You even missed the party,” her mother explained.

“Well, best wishes, dear,” the woman answered, handing her the bouquet.

“Thank you, Aunt Laurel,” Arm-e said, accepting the roses.

“Don’t mention it, dear. Now who is this I see here? Is it my little Milla?” Laurel asked, inspecting Olivier.

“I’ve been forced to come home for the wedding preparations,” Olivier complained, resisting the urge to smile at her aunt.

“Well, there are only three more weddings to go after this. Plus your own,” Laurel told her, grabbing another bouquet from her cart. “For the mother of the bride, you must be happy,” she said, passing a colorful bouquet across the table.

“Now, I’ll have to go, but you must visit tonight, Milla. One of my suppliers has moved, and I need help locating a new one,” she said and left the group to their lunch.

“Wait, I’ll come with you now,” Olivier called, practically toppling over her chair in her haste to get up. Anything that would remove her from where the current conversation was bound to head, more weddings, wouldn’t be refused.

She walked beside the wrinkled woman, easily keeping pace, which might have been harder if not for the wheelbarrow the woman pulled along behind her. Olivier would have offered to take the wheelbarrow, but she knew this woman would only take it as an insult, much like she herself would.

Their walk was silent, the few exceptions to the silence being the exchanging of flowers and money every now and then.

They soon veered off the bustling streets and made their way to a quiet street full of modest houses.

Olivier watched as Laurel left the half empty wheelbarrow on the walk way and waved her into the house. “Come, I’ve got something to show you,” her aunt called from the opened door.

Olivier cautiously entered the room lit only by the trickle of sunlight filtering through the dark curtains while her aunt felt along the wall for the light switch.

Olivier wasn’t surprised to see that the room was covered in far more roses than it had been the last time she saw it, rose print pillows piled on a couch covered in a similar pattern, wall paper depicting more flowers than Olivier knew existed, and someone had taken on the job of carving out flowers in the wooden beams that ran across the ceiling.

“Here, this way,” her aunt directed.

Olivier didn't move, but stared at the multitude of flowers. Surely, her aunt had lost a few more screws over the years. After a few minutes of standing in the doorway she isn't surprised to find herself being pulled up the stairs. After all, Laurel is an Armstrong. When Olivier started moving forward of her own accord the hand wrapped around her wrist disappeared.

“They didn’t tell me, but I had a feeling my Milla was going to be in town,” she explained, pushing open a door to the right.

Olivier’s eyes widened at the room before her. There were no flowers of any sort in this room. It held only the essentials, just like it had when she was younger.

“Well, now we just need to go get your things from that stuffy mansion,” Laurel commented, joining Olivier in her inspection of the room.

Olivier thanked her with a hug, a true Armstrong hug, and her aunt returned it full force.

They were quick to pull apart, and Olivier watched Laurel tighten the scarf tied around her head. “Now then, if you’re staying here I expect you to help out at the shop. No slashing my flowers during your morning training, and after training we spend an hour in the garden or greenhouse. Let me see that blade of yours,” she demanded holding out her hand.

Olivier handed it over without the hesitation or worry she usually did. “You’re taking care of it well. Your uncle would approve. I’m surprised you haven’t tried to remove the design,” she commented after her inspection.

“Why ruin a perfectly good sword?” Olivier asked, returning the weapon to it’s resting place.

“Well, you can leave it here while you help out in the shop for the rest of the day,” Laurel told her.

“No.”

“I don’t need some little girl buying flowers for her mother to get her eye poked out,” Laurel explained.

“I have more than a little self-control,” Olivier argued.

“If any bit of that blade shows itself you’re going right back to them.”

They argued until they were out of the house, Laurel pulling along her wheelbarrow full of roses and Olivier matching her step for step, with her hand resting on the hilt of her sword.


Day 14 - Rescue

Appropriate Timing


Her sword was far stronger, sharper, and shinier than any knight with or without armor she would ever meet. Why she sat in her aunt’s garden waiting for her rescue was beyond her.

She blew her hair out of her face as she pulled at the weeds with her gloved hands. She didn’t mind getting dirty, but she wasn’t used to the sweat. It was odd, working until the sweat ran down her face used to be something she enjoyed, but years of being in the frosty North had taken that away. Sweat was now a sign of anxiety and nerves, something she only encountered in the most strenuous of situations.

Maybe the thought of having to stay in the same with room the entirety of both the Armstrong and Walker clans during the night's party was getting to her. This night would be one she wouldn’t be able to look back on without cringing. It’d be right up there with the bloodiest battles she’d ever fought, actually worse, because she wouldn’t be able to kill those attacking her tonight.

She attempted to blow the stubborn strands of hair out of her face again, but they were plastered there by sweat. She let out a low growl. “I’ll take that scarf now,” she said, preparing for Laurel’s witty comeback, but the only sounds she heard was the roots of the weed she was pulling at tearing out of the damp soil.

“Aunt Laurel?” she called, shoving the weeds into the bag she’d been given as she turned around on her knees.

After a quick inspection she found no one in the greenhouse or the rest of the backyard. She was about to walk around to the front of the house when she heard the back door open. “Milla,” Laurel called, the steps creaking under her feet.

“Hmm?”

“Message from your boys, marked urgent,” she explained, waving an envelope of military issue in her hands.

Olivier discarded her soiled gardening gloves and practically ran to meet her aunt. After receiving the envelope she had gotten herself under some degree of control and slowly broke the seal. The smile trying to make its way onto her face was suppressed with more force than usually needed as she read the message.

“I’ve got to return to Briggs for a week or two. One of my direct subordinates has been injured. I want to make sure his replacement knows what he’s doing,” she explained.

“Well, isn’t that convenient,” Laurel commented.

“It’s really too bad, I was looking forward to the rest of the wedding preparations,” Olivier pouted.

“You’ll have to consider theater if you ever go into early retirement,” Laurel remarked, walking past her, and getting back to her gardening.

“I’m going to pack, and then I’ll be off,” Olivier told her as she climbed the stairs.

“You should shower too, or are you going to use odor to keep the civilians away during the train ride?” Laurel called, a cackle leaving her lips before Olivier answered.

“I never thought of that, my attitude is usually enough,” she answered, joining in the laughter.

After following her aunt’s advice of a shower (despite popular belief she did take pride in her appearance0, and packing she reported to Central Head Quarters where her brother waited for her at the main entrance.

Part of her had already forgotten about the train incident, but she was reminded of it as soon as she saw him standing there with that goofy smile on his face.

“Are you ready to go, Livvy?” he asked.

“It’s General Armstrong when we’re in uniform,” she corrected.

He nodded and gave the usual salute, which she returned. “This way, General,” he directed her towards a car waiting outside the entrance.

They slowed as they passed the once collapsed tunnel on the country road, and Olivier couldn’t help but wonder why they chose her brother for the repairs if they knew his style. She rolled her eyes at the mural of her brother carved on the outside of the tunnel. Apparently, they didn’t know his trademark, yet.

“Well, this is where I get off,” Alex said as the driver pulled to a stop a few meters past the tunnel where a couple tents were set up and a few people in blue were milling about.

Olivier looked over at him when the car door didn’t close. “Goodbye?” she offered hesitantly.

“Have a safe trip. Don’t keep us waiting long, Livvy,” he said, closing the door before she could scold him for his lack of decorum. She watched him give a salute along with a lopsided smile and then a wave as the car pulled away.

She lifted her hand in acknowledgment, thankful to get away from him without fighting off a hug.

The remainder of the car ride was quiet and passed by quickly. The cadet attempted to carry her bags to the train, but she beat him in grabbing them. He only stammered for a moment as she walked away into the crowd.

This time she took the cabin reserved for military personnel. Once her luggage was stored up in the overhead compartment, she sat down and pulled the envelope out of her jacket pocket.

She scanned the message a few times over, but nothing stood out. She refolded the message and envelope as the train took it first jerky movements. After it was settled back in her pocket, she folded her arms, tilted her head back, and closed her eyes.

The trains movements lulled her off to that place between sleep and consciousness she knew so well, while she told herself she was lucky to have a crew who knew when she needed to be rescued.


Day 15 - March

The Month's Arrival


Olivier was glad she wasn’t disturbed by any children roaming the cars during her little nap. Looking over the telegram one more time her eyes flashed to the date, February 28th. It was the same date as the one on her transfer papers. It had been over six years since she set foot in Briggs on that blustery March day. Some of her current crew had already, been there then. After a few unfortunate losses during her first year, she was at the top in her second March. By then she had fully adjusted to the climate and forgot the season of spring even existed. All the trees in the mountains were evergreens, no flowers grew in that climate, and snow perpetually covered the mountaintops.

Time passed faster than most places without any change in the scenery to depict time’s movement. Before she had known it her third March in the fortress passed and she had her nickname.

The Cliff of Briggs was more than happy to be returning to the place she called home. There she was always ready for a secret ambush, she didn’t have to worry about anyone thinking about her wearing a dress, no one attempted to give her bone crushing hugs, and everything was done the way she wanted it.

She would need to let some steam out when she arrived. There were a few new recruits she hadn’t gotten the chance to work with, they would do. If they were lucky Buccaneer and Miles would have already started them on the training regime. Olivier frowned at the thought.

Surely, her two best subordinates would have made sure to follow through with her training procedures for the new men, and by now all the fun would be gone out of it. She could see the evil glint in Buccaneer’s eyes as he scrimmaged with them while Miles lectured them about hesitating in the field.

She put the telegram back in its place and folded her arms across her chest. Really, they could have called her back sooner. Everyone knew her favorite way to relieve stress was to show the new kids that the stories about her were true, and then treat them to some sake. They’d never drink like that again after working with a hangover the next day. She might not be able to take their first scrimmage from them, but no one else would steal the sake initiation from her. She really wanted to kick March off with a good fight, but some sake would have to do.


Day 16 - Hospital

Disregarding The Doctor's Orders


Olivier grinned at the snow she could make out through the frosted window. She was finally back at the place where she belonged. She easily made her way off the empty train and to the deserted platform.

It took her a minute to spot the soldier hiding under the awning through the flurries of snow, and when she did the corners of her mouth turned down ever so slightly.

He was neither the bulking or dark skinned figures she had expected, but an aged, spectacle-wearing man.

“General Armstrong, Sir,” he greeted with a salute.

She returned the greeting and followed him to the car.

Once he pulled away from the station she put an end to the silence. “Where are Major Miles and Lieutenant Buccaneer?”

“Buccaneer is at the hospital and Miles is at the base, Sir,” he answered, making a quick stop at the red octagon.

“Are you going to brief me, or will I have to wait until we get there?” she asked, her voice clipped.

“Lieutenant Buccaneer was injured on base the other day, I’m not aware of the circumstances, and he was admitted to the hospital on they day your received the telegram. The doctor won’t release him until he signs the discharge papers, but he refuses to,” the man explained.

“Discharge papers?” she asked, eyebrows raising with the volume of her voice.

Her escort let out a deep breath, and then began to explain, “He had to have surgery on his right arm.”

Olivier clenched her jaw at the new information and straightened up. “He won’t have to be discharged,” she stated as they reached their destination.

The man didn’t respond, but pulled the key from the ignition and got out of the car. He scrambled around to the other side of the automobile to open the door, but Olivier was already walking into the hospital.

“Lieutenant Buccaneer’s room.”

“You must be General Armstrong, Doctor Taylor would like to speak with you—”

“The doctor can speak with me in his room,” she cut off the receptionist, and turned to face her escort as he cleared his throat.

“His room is this way, General Armstrong, Sir,” the Sergeant said, leading the way.

She followed him without hesitation, leaving the shocked receptionist behind her desk.

A smirk spread across Olivier’s face as she heard a deep voice calling her while she turned the corner.

She didn’t slow or quicken her pace as a set of footsteps quickly approached from behind.

“Ms. Armstrong?” he asked, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“General,” she corrected, shaking him off.

“I’m Doctor Taylor, I’d like to speak with you concerning the patient.”

“Anything you have to say to me can be said in front of him.”

“I’ve already spoken to him.”

“Then what seems to be the problem, Doctor?” she probed.

He winced at the sharpness of her voice, and explained, “He refuses to be discharged, when the corrective surgery failed we had to amputate, but he insists that he can still be part of the military.”

“Have you ever thought about the options?” she hissed as her escort pulled open a door for her.

“Auto-mail surgery,” she said when all the white-coated man did was stare.

“Hah, I knew she’d know what it was called,” called Buccaneer’s gruff voice.

Olivier noted that he looked a bit pale, and that his eyes were dilated, but when her eyes traveled down to his right shoulder, only a stump of cloth peeked out from the short sleeve of the hospital gown.

“There’s nerve damage,” Taylor argued, his frown growing.

“Well, cut it off above the nerve damage. We won’t need the useless parts,” she snapped.

“There aren’t any auto-mail surgeons here,” said Taylor, his voice weaker than when he’d first spoken to her.

“The military will send one. You’re going to release him to me today. The infirmary at Briggs is where he belongs.

“But—”

“Doctor Taylor, my subordinate is stable, correct?” she asked, eyes narrowed.

“Yes,” he answered.

“In any immediate danger?”

“No.”

“Good, then he’ll leave today,” she informed him.

“The medical facilities—”

“At Briggs are up to par, and always will be with the threat of blizzards,” she interrupted.

“I’ll go get the paperwork,” the doctor said, finally defeated.

“You go get the car ready, Sergeant,” Olivier ordered.

“Yes, Sir!” he said, saluting as he left the room.

“Stop smiling like that,” Olivier snapped at Buccaneer.

“Yes, Sir,” Buccaneer laughed as he gave an awkward salute with his left.

“Do you always have to cause trouble?” she asked, tucking her hair behind her ears as she took a seat.

“Makes things more exciting,” he replied, giving a half shrug.

“Explain,” she demanded, crossing one leg over the other as she forced herself to look away from the bandages to his face.

“I don’t know what it was, but someone set up something in your office. They tell me one of the peons was Drachman. He resisted arrest, and started going for his gun,” Buccaneer briefed her.

“Dead?” she inquired.

He nodded.

“There’s nothing I can do about him then,” she shrugged, the murderous light fading from her eyes. “Do you have a uniform here?” she asked, tucking her hair back again.

“Closet, somewhere,” he pointed.

She lowered the rails on the bed, and made her way to the small doors at the end of the room.

“I hate hospital gowns,” Buccaneer grumbled as he swung his feet over the edge of the bed, and stood.

She put the clothes on the little table and retreated, pulling the curtain to divide the room as she went.

Once she heard the curtains rustling, she turned to face him. The white shirt he usually wore beneath his uniform shirt was hanging over his left shoulder, providing more contrast against the black coat than the white fur gave off, the black coat hung loosely off his right shoulder and framed the unbuttoned blue and gray shirt which revealed the toned smooth stomach that reminded her of a certain blond fond of removing his shirt.

“Had some trouble with the shirt and buttons,” he laughed, rubbing the back of his head. “And this thing needs fixed,” he commented, pulling the long ponytail of black hair over his shoulder.

“Can’t even button your own shirt,” she muttered, closing the distance between them. “No commanding officer in their right mind would let one of their men walk around in a place like this with his shirt unbuttoned,” she reasoned as she first shoved the silver buttons through slits in the blue material, and then black ones through the black wool.

Olivier’s escort opened the door just as she took a step away from Buccaneer. He saluted and passed off a large envelope to her. “All finished with the paper work, and these are his files, Sir.”

“Good, do you know how to plait hair, Sergeant?” she inquired.

“Yes, Sir,” he answered after a moment of hesitation.

“Wonderful skill, Sergeant. The Lieutenant here can’t do it for himself right now, give him a hand,” she ordered, smirking at Buccaneer.

“Yes, Sir.” The man promptly made his way to Buccaneer's back and started to untie the string holding it all together.

“It’s fine like this,” Buccaneer grumbled, reaching behind him to pull his hair back over his shoulder, but it was already loose.

“Go ahead, Sergeant,” Olivier encouraged, her amusement a direct result of the dissatisfied frown on the lieutenant’s face.

Once his braided hair was tied off the three left the room, and exited the hospital without any interruption.


Day 17 - Red

Cover The Stains


After getting everything settled, all she wanted to do was finally have that glass of sake she’d thought about on the train, but no matter how many times she’d brought the red-tinted glass bottle to her lips she couldn’t seem to part them and take in the wonderful liquid.

Now it was nearing three-hundred hours, and she was still in uniform, standing in front of her damaged office.

A shadow darkened the blood-spattered wall she was staring at, and her instincts kicked in.

“General?” Miles asked, standing a few inches out of harm’s way.

Olivier sheathed her sword and returned to staring at the red-brown speckles.

“Why aren’t you at home?” she asked.

Miles relaxed his shoulders when she didn’t call him by rank. This was going to be a conversation between comrades, not superior and subordinate. “I’ve been staying in the barracks all week, one more night won’t hurt.”

“Your daughters might try to sneak into the fortress again if you stay here too long,” she said, casting a glance in his direction as he moved to stand next to her.

Miles chuckled. “Not after the last time. They might’ve pouted all the way home, but you did a good job of frightening them. They still won’t tell me what you said,” he explained.

She smirked for a second at the memory, but as soon as her eyes found more stains on the wall her lips turned back down. “Is this his?” she asked.

“Yes,” he answered, studying her profile as he spoke, but her facial expression didn’t change.

“Get someone to clean and paint over it tomorrow,” she ordered, and took her leave.

“He’s still awake,” she heard Miles call after her as she walked away, and she scowled at her aide’s perceptiveness.

The infirmary was almost completely dark, save for one lamp burning in the farthest corner. She gravitated towards it like an insect.

Buccaneer was attempting to shuffle a deck of cards with one hand, but she could see a few on the floor from a previous attempt.

She picked up the cards and took the rest from his hands.

“Shouldn’t you be asleep?” he asked, trying to hide his embarrassment with the question.

“It’s not my blood decorating the walls,” she replied, pulling a chair closer to his bed with her free hand.

He was silent while he watched her shuffle the deck of cards.

“What’re you playing?” she asked as she set the cards down on the table that hung over the bed.

“Nothing,” he grumbled, staring at the back side of the cards.

“Play, or go to sleep,” she ordered, tugging some of the long hairs that made up his mustache.

He awkwardly placed seven cards in a row, the red backs facing upwards.

“I’ll help,” she offered, making to grab the deck of cards again, but Buccaneer trapped her considerably smaller hand with his before she was able to pick the cards off the table.

She didn’t attempt to pull free, or use her other hand to retract his from atop hers, but looked over to him with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s called solitaire for a reason,” he explained.

“It’s rude to play a game your guests can’t join in on. If you’re going to do that I’ll take the cards away when you fall asleep,” she retorted, challenging him with her glare.

“I think I need more morphine,” he complained, removing his hand from hers.

Olivier chuckled as she finished stacking the piles of cards. “I’ll stay until the doctor comes back,” she said.

“You’re supposed to flip the top ones over,” he pointed out, gesturing to the red cards.

“You’ve got to do some of the work on your own,” she explained, a smirk finding its way on her face.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“General.”

Olivier’s neck cracked as her head shot up from it’s resting place, her eyes were wide, and her mind in a panic, because her sword wasn’t at her side.

Miles bit back a laugh at the expression, and red mark, on his commanding officer’s face, and waited for her to regain her senses.

“What time is it, Major?” she asked, looking from the cards scattered across the table she’d used as a pillow to her aide.

“Six-hundred-forty-five hours, Sir,” he answered.

“Why aren’t you asleep?” she asked, as her she found her sword lying flat across her lap.

“Early shift, Sir,” he explained.

“Is someone working on that wall?” she asked, standing from the chair as she slipped the leather strap that kept her sword in place over her head.

“As we speak, Sir” he answered.

“Good, you’re dismissed, Major,” she said, plucking her coat off the back of the chair.

“Yes, Sir,” he replied, and gave a salute as he left.

It was times like these he was glad for the dark lenses covering his eyes, because he wouldn’t have been able to contain the amusement in them as well as he could with the rest of his face.

Olivier quickly stacked the mess of cards, and left the infirmary before someone else found her there.

She passed the wall where a group of men were scrubbing with all their might to free the wall of the stains and made it to her room without incident.

The sake was still waiting for her, and as she put the rim of the bottle to her lips she was able to let the liquor slide down her throat.


Day 18 - Temperature

A New Arrival


Olivier stared at the clock, daring it to keep on ticking, but like most things mechanical it didn’t heed her glare and stop, but the hands kept turning, mocking her defeat with the regular tick, tick, tick, counting off each second of lost sleep.

Giving an exasperated sigh, she and rolled over in attempt to block out the annoying sound, but the ticking echoed in here ears getting progressively until she finally rolled back over to look at the time.

Olivier grumbled to herself about the lost hour of sleep as she pulled back the heavy blankets and stepped into the slippers beside her bed.

Her change from wool pajamas to the blue uniform pants and black turtleneck was quick enough that the chill of the air couldn't seep into her bones.

Not bothering with the standard shirt of blue she tugged on the coat that was hung on the back of her door and left the clock to track the time on its own.

She walked past her repaired office and freshly painted walls without stopping to stare at it like the morning before, but a part of her didn’t want to go back into that office that was tainted with her comrade’s blood, but making it into a supply closet would show a weak spot. A woman, a General, of such a fortress could not let weaknesses be exposed, or for that matter, exist.

Olivier wasn’t surprised to find all but the dimmest of lights in the infirmary out, after all she’d ordered him to get enough rest. She considered turning back, but remembered the infernal ticking that haunted her room, and continued to his bed.

A glean of sweat sparkled off Buccaneer’s crinkled forehead. The blonde was taken aback for a moment, this man had only ever perspired once that she could remember, and rightly so, since they had been sparring. Before she knew what she was doing, the back of her hand was pressed against his sticky, warm forehead. His reaction turned out to be quicker than hers.

She didn’t fight the crushing hold he had on her hand, but let her hand go limp, so he knew she wasn’t a foe. After his eyes adjusted to the lack of light, his eyes softened along with the grip he had on her hand.

“Sorry,” he mumbled sheepishly, slowly pulling his hand away from hers.

“It better not happen again, even if you’re on your deathbed,” she growled.

Buccaneer let out a rough laugh. “I wouldn’t expect any different,” he replied.

“You have a fever,” she mentioned, changing the subject.

“Doctor gave me something for that,” he explained.

“Rest,” she ordered, and left him to comply.

On her way out of the infirmary the doctor emerged from the office at the entrance. “General Armstrong?” she called.

Olivier turned to face her. “Yes, Wendle?”

“The auto-mail mechanic, doctor, arrives today, correct?” she asked, hands shoved into the pockets of her white coat.

“Correct, ten hundred hours,” she answered.

“Thank you. I’ll make sure everything is prepared, Sir,” the woman assured her.

“Take care to watch that temperature, Wendle,” Olivier ordered, and took her leave.

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Back in her room the clock had finally stopped its fussing, and Olivier was able to get some sleep.
Six hours later, Olivier was awake, and back in her regular routine.

At ten hundred twenty-seven hours, she was interrupted from her review of the investigation in her fully repaired, repainted office by a knock on the door.

The firm, single rap belonged to Miles, and she gave him permission to enter. She wasn’t fazed by the red-headed man in civilian clothing whom followed behind Miles.

“Welcome to Briggs, Dr. Swirbul. Major Miles will show you around and to your living quarters. Your reports and supply lists are to be turned in to me for review. You’re dismissed,” she explained and got back to reading the report on the top of her pile of documents. She missed the frown on the redhead’s face as he turned to leave the room, but through the office door, she was able to hear Miles chuckling at the newest resident of the cold fortress.

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By twenty-one hundred hours, she found herself passing by the infirmary on her way, the long route, back from getting a cup of coffee. She was nearly to the end of the hallway when Swirbul called to her, “General Armstrong.”

She turned to find his head poking out of the lit doorway. “Doctor?” she asked, approaching him.

“Just a minute,” he said, holding up his index finger to emphasize, and ran back into the infirmary.

Olivier stopped in her tracks and took a long sip of her black coffee. Once the mug was away from her mouth, she turned back around to walk away.

“General!” Swirbul called from behind her.

She smirked at the quick pace his footsteps indicated. “I’m too busy to wait, you have to be on your feet here,” she said, still marching in her usual brisk pace.

“The reports,” he said, matching his pace with hers. “I thought I’d give them to you since you were passing by,” he explained as he offered her a manila envelope.

She accepted the envelope, but gave no response.

“Dr. Wendle told me you were concerned about Captain Buccaneer’s fever. It’s reduced from what she recorded early this morning, but still high enough to stop me from performing surgery,” he commented.

“You’re dismissed,” Olivier told him, waving him off with the envelope in her hand.

She could feel the man’s eyes on her as she walked away. The remainder of the way to her room she only ran into a few men on duty patrolling the halls and left them with salutes.

Upon closing her bedroom door behind her she set down her coffee and reports on her desk, so she could take off her boots. Once her boots were in the corner, she sat down at her desk and pulled the few sheets of parchment out of the envelope.

The supply list was at the top of the pile, and she wanted to put it aside, but controlled herself and read through the metals and medical equipment the doctor would need. The second page was the one she chastised herself about being anxious to read. Surely, she shouldn’t be fretting so over her comrade’s health. After finding out that Buccaneer had a clean bill of health, aside from the three degree rise in temperature and missing arm, she drained her mug of coffee and got ready for bed. Despite the coffee, sleep found her muchmore easily than it had since she’d arrived back at Briggs.
Causmicfire
19 - Touch

Melting


Tired of reviewing the documents left in her absence, Olivier pushed away from her desk and left the small stack to remain unattended while she went for a walk about the fortress.

She was looking for the team on icicle duty when she saw Buccaneer pass the hall she was walking.

“Lieutenant,” she called, not quite sure if it was him or another officer with the same build.

When he peeked back down the hallway she was sure it was him, and she continued in his direction.

He gave her a left-handed salute, one not quite as awkward as before, and met her halfway.

“Why aren’t you in the infirmary?” she inquired as they stopped a few paces from each other.

“I got tired of lying around all day,” he answered, giving a half shrug.

“Do you still have a fever?” she asked, stretching to check his temperature.

“No, they tell me I’m about average. Do you have a fever?” he asked, covering her forehead with his large hand.

“Why would I have a fever?” she inquired as she swatted his hand away.

“Permission to speak freely?” he requested.

“You already are, continue,” she replied, wondering why he was using formalities.

He hesitated for a moment, choosing his words carefully. “It would seem,” he began, “that some ice has melted.”

“I’ll show you melted,” Olivier growled, eyes narrowed as she drew her sword.

“I’m an unarmed man,” he reminded her, raising his left hand in defeat.

“It looks like you’ve still got one,” she snapped, lowering her sword.

Buccaneer looked to his left arm and chuckled. “I better go back before those two kill each other.”

“They’re not getting along?” she asked.

“Both of them are used to being in command,” he explained.

“He’s in for a surprise if he thinks she’ll back down,” Olivier commented. “I want to ask him a few questions,” she thought aloud, unconsciously making an excuse to walk to with him to the infirmary, as she strode past him.

Buccaneer shook his head in amusement and followed her lead, his longer pace quickly catching up with hers.

Aside from when she found one of the warrant officers on the icicle team, the two were silent on their way to the infirmary, and when they got there she went to the office at the left, and he to his bed on the right.

“When will you perform the surgery, Swirbul?” Olivier inquired as she entered the office.

The red-head jumped and let loose a string of curses. Olivier took a seat while he composed himself, and she had to cough to cover up her laughter when he finally turned around to face her.

He was attempting to pat dry the stains covering his coat from shoulders to knees.

“You surprised me,” he confessed.

“I could tell,” she drawled, eyes following a drop of dark liquid as it fell from his goatee and splattered onto the stained coat.

He ignored her comment and picked out a stack of papers from his desk. “Here’s the report. We decided to go ahead with the surgery tomorrow,” he answered her question.

“Let me know before the operation starts,” she ordered, and left the room with his report in hand.

Buccaneer was already in his bed with Wendle was fussing over him. She wasn’t sure if he’d see, but she gave a wave over her shoulder as she left.
Causmicfire
Day 20 - First Time

Nausea


If she’d have slaughtered everyone who’d ever told her ‘There’s a first for everything’ she would have been able to fill all the storerooms of her icy fortress.

Of course there was a first time for everything—that was only logical.

She hadn’t ever expected to face this particular feeling, not after being through battles bloodier than freshly chopped meat, but as she watched the doctor work on removing the useless bits of her sedated Lieutenant’s stump of an arm, she felt her stomach churning, and had to look away to keep the bile burning her throat at bay as it mounted it’s surprise attack.

She clutched at the hilt of her sword as she marched away from the observation window. There was work to be done, and she trusted both Wendle and Swirbul to do their jobs properly.

Olivier didn’t notice her footsteps were heavier than usual, nor that the soldiers who heard her coming jumped out of her way far earlier than usual, and she definitely didn’t notice the smirk Miles let show for a spilt second as she walked towards her office.

He wanted to ask about his comrade’s surgery, but from the way she grasped the handle of her sword he knew to keep silent. He saluted as she approached him, and he held out a stack of paperwork, which she collected before she closed herself in her office.

A little over an hour later, like clockwork, she dropped the finished work on his desk and left without a word on her usual afternoon inspection of the fort.

Her inspection went smoother than normal, rooms were spotless, paperwork in progress, pipes free of ice, and training in full swing. She avoided the infirmary, where she knew Swirbul and Wendle would be cleaning up from the surgery and making sure Buccaneer got his rest.

Miles glanced up as Olivier walked past him, she hadn’t given away her approach as she had earlier, and he quickly saluted as she glanced at him. “Dr. Swirbul has been waiting for you, Sir,” he announced.

She didn’t show her surprise, but he knew well enough that she hadn’t been expecting the surgeon to approach her anytime soon.

Olivier didn’t get the chance to catch the doctor off guard, with the office door being closed he had turned around at the sound of it opening.

“General,” he greeted.

“Have a seat, Doctor,” she replied as she walked around to take a seat behind her desk.

“Well?” she asked when he didn’t explain his presence right away.

He straightened in his chair and spoke, “The surgery was a success.”

As soon as he finished his sentence she let out the breath she’d been holding in a silent sigh.

“The Lieutenant will probably be asleep for the next few hours, but he’ll be awake before the night falls, would you like me to call you when he wakes?” he asked.

“Just keep me updated,” Olivier answered as she leaned back in her chair.

Swirbul stared at her, a bit dumbfounded at her tone of indifference. “Well, I’ll just be going then,” he excused himself, and left her alone in the office.
Causmicfire
Day 21 - Fake

X-Ray Vision


Olivier froze mid-strike as Miles caught her attention with the clearing of his throat.

“It’s time for the next group, Sir,” he informed her.

As she sheathed the paring sword, she eyed the three men swordsmen hunched over their own swords, the one she had just been practicing against panted heavier than the other two.

“Work on your footing. Once you’ve got that mastered, it all comes together,” she addressed all three of them.

Their backs went ramrod straight as they answered 'Sir, yes, Sir' in unison and saluted.

Olivier returned the salute and left in the direction Miles had come from. He stood inches from the wall next to the door of the female locker room. Olivier grumbled as she closed the door behind her. The room was really a waste of valuable space with the sparse female population in the fort. A look up at the clock on the wall tore a growl from her throat, she’d gone fifteen minutes past the allotted training time without noticing the difference.

When she swung open the door she saw Wendle walking away, and she looked over at Miles with a raised brow.

“Buccaneer is awake, and his rehabilitation starts tomorrow,” Miles passed on the doctor’s words.

“Is that so?” Olivier asked feigning disinterest as she marched past the dark skinned soldier.

Miles followed behind her, only bothering to straighten out his knowing smirk when they walked down occupied corridors.

Just before she closed the door to her office he called her, “Sir?”

“Major?” she inquired.

“I’m going to go to the cafeteria for some coffee, anything for you, Sir?”

“The usual,” she answered, and let the door close.

When she was through with her sixth review she shoved the paperwork aside and ventured out of her office. Upon seeing Miles hadn’t returned, she told Henschel she was going on her usual rounds, and marched off.

She turned left the first hall, a direction that would take her to the infirmary sooner than her walk around the fort usually did. When she walked into that glaringly white room her unusually tense shoulders relaxed.

From the end of the ward she could see Buccaneer playing a game of cards, metal glistening from his collarbone to shoulder and wrapping around to his back, attached to his skin like a parasite.

Buccaneer looked over as soon as her boots clicked on the floor and saluted. “Miles left something for you, Sir,” he reported, motioning to a paper cup on the bedside table.

A grin slipped onto her face and she took her seat as he shuffled the cards with one hand.

“You’ve been practicing,” she observed.

“Not bad, huh?” he asked, using his thumb to deal a card in her direction, one to himself, set the deck down, and then repeated the process, this time with the cards face up.

Olivier took a sip from her coffee while she peeked at the facedown card.

Writing on the cup caught her eye just as she was about to call blackjack . You don’t have to fake it was scrawled in Miles’ small slanted script. She wasn’t quite sure if the sound that escaped her throat was a gasp or laugh, but she should have known well enough that Miles would be able to see through any walls she put it.

Buccaneer looked at her with wide eyes.

“Just a hiccup,” she reassured him.

“Hit?” he asked, holding out another card.

“Blackjack,” she announced as she flipped over the hidden card.

He pulled her cards towards him and shoved them in a pile to the side along with his, and set to deal out the next round.

“How’s your shoulder?” she asked while looking at her next hand.

“Sore, and stiff,” he answered, giving an expression that fell somewhere between a grin and grimace.
Causmicfire
Continued here @fanfiction.net
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