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The Crack Alchemist

Now, Where Was I?

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When Good Crack Goes Bad
where's my crack
crack_alchemist
This is a cracksymphony done in parts.

Series Title: Games Without Frontiers
Rating: PG for language (this chapter), NC-17 overall
Main character: Riza Hawkeye
Synopsis: What people do on their own time is their own business, right? Especially when it involves a big bowl of steaming crack.

Author's Notes: AU. No spoilers in this chapter, not even related to any episode of any kind, except the usage of the character(s) in question. Commentary is certainly welcome, but please note -- this is my take on private!Riza, from all the eye-bleeding reading I've done in the past few days. (and yes, I'm that kind of girlie who's spoiler proof -- I can read ahead and not be affected -- so I've even gone there.)

xposted at fm_alchemist



Other Duties as Assigned

She made sure to wait until the office was empty before she left. She even allowed the Colonel to leave before her, a rare treat for him. He looked at her as if she’d been sniffing rounds of gunpowder, then lollygagged around, to make sure she wasn’t going to change her mind and pile drive him with a metric ton of paperwork. She sighed and ignored him. She wasn’t going to change her mind. She just wasn’t in the mood for too much chatter on her way out of the door.

After he’d scurried off, she cherished the silence around for as long as she dared. She could hear the faint shuffle of people cleaning somewhere in the hallways, but where she sat was silent aside from the whirring of the cool air and the swish of papers that were disturbed by the ventilation.

She checked her timepiece and frowned. She was cutting things close. Too close. She had too much to do this evening, and not enough time to do it in. There would be hell to pay if she didn’t manage to pull off this assignment, more hell than she could even imagine. And that left no time for dithering.

But, on her way out, she did straighten the Colonel’s desk, returning those memoranda he needed to sign first to the top of the desk from the bottom drawer where he’d stuffed them. It was the least she could do. He could thank her in the morning.

***

The first thing she did when she closed the door behind her was release a deep exhalation that went from her head to her toes. Then she pulled the clip from her hair and worked her fingers through it to massage away the tightness in her scalp. She’d made it through one more day.

Puppy claws clicking on the hardwood floor heralded the arrival of her little one; tongue hanging and eyes sparkling, he gave her a yap of welcome. She scooped the ball of fur into her arms and deposited a quick kiss to the top of his head. Dropping him to the floor, she watched him head straight for the kitchen. Her mouth twisted; she could picture the stump of tail wiggling, waiting for his dinner.

Ah, yes. Dinner.

Riza gave an explosive sigh, another release of tension coiled tight in her midsection, and headed for the kitchen, delaying the inevitable for another few minutes.

Her current responsibly discharged for the moment, and her four-footed roommate satisfied, she turned toward her bedroom, her steps as precise as they were during her work day. She wouldn’t escape for work mode until she reached her sanctuary and could do one little thing.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, she placed the heel of her boot in the contraption and pulled. She did the same with the other boot. Then, and only then, was she finally free of the fetters of work. She lay back on the bed and contemplated the ceiling as she wiggled her toes. The uniform never bothered her, the buttons and hooks and stays never irritated her as much as those dammed boots. No matter what anyone said, military boots never, ever fit right.

She rolled her head to the right and considered the clock on the wall above her bed. She had exactly two hours to get ready. One hour, fifty-nine minutes and fifty-six seconds. Fifty-three. Fifty.

She tried to rub the tiredness out of her eyes as she sat up, to no avail. She wished she could cancel, but cancelling was not even in the realm of possibility.

She got up to strip her uniform. As she unbuttoned the jacket, she reached in the pocket to pull out the scrap of paper. It had been slipped onto her desk by a person in a blue uniform. The only reason she missed seeing him was that she was shaking her head over the condition of a memorandum the Colonel had left on her desk. Ink blots were inexcusable. And, later, when she’d had the time to interrogate properly, no one would confess doing the deed. Then she done something very unwise – she read it.

Now, she flung the traitorous thing on the bed and finished peeling away the layers of security she called her uniform.

She didn’t retrieve the paper until she’d deposited her clothes in the hamper. Standing there in her practical underwear and slightly scrunched black dress socks, she worked the paper between her fingers. Folded twice, it was a little neat square that had the potential to upend her neat little world. She unfolded it.

First Lieutenant,

You will arrive at the aforementioned place at the aforementioned time. Your prey will be in a discreet place within the location. Punctuality is essential. No time must be wasted.


As if she had been late for anything in her life. Not mentioned there, she recalled the name of the place and the time, that had been scrawled on the bottom of one of the sheets of official documentation submitted for approval. Again, interrogation got no results. Then, she made the connection between the scribbles and the note. After that, she spent the rest of her day at her desk, nose pressed to wrinkled folders and ink-blotted paperwork.

She looked at the clock again. Exactly one hour, fifty-six minutes and – forty-seven seconds from that moment. Forty-six. Forty-four.

All of the equipment you need for this assignment should have been delivered via courier this morning. I have full confidence that you will complete this assignment with all of the diligence and attention to detail that you utilize in the performance of every assignment.

She flung the offending piece of paper. It fluttered in the air a moment, did and interesting little spin and landed in the center of her bed. She summoned up every foul word she’d never dared use during the day and stomped into the shower. That tension, right in the center of her shoulder blades, was back again.

Somewhere, in some rule book, she would find out later that what she was about to do was wrong. So, why, she asked herself, why did she even agree to do it? Because that is what she’d done by even keeping the dammed slip of paper in her pocket for the entirety of the day.

Because she promised. And if there was one thing Riza Hawkeye did, she kept her promises. No matter how unconventional the promise was, or how potentially mind-bending or world-rending, she would keep it.

And of all the promises she’d made, this was the most unconventional, mind-bending and world-rending.

Insubordination? This was bordering on sheer mutiny.

But, she did promise.