Characters: Olivia/Miles (UST)
Rating: PG for a swear
Word Count: 534
Summary: The new recruit is far more interesting than expected.
Notes: Written for crystal_tiara.
She recruits him without having even met the man. Olivia Armstrong makes a point of judging people with her own eyes, but here's why she hires Second Lieutenant Duncan Miles, aged twenty-four, on reputation alone: because anyone who isn't up to it won't last a week at Briggs. In her two years at the wall, Olivia has seen enough recruits fold like envelopes faced with the realities of life and combat on the Drachman frontier. No need for an interview or a discussion; she'll see what he's made of.
When he arrives, he turns out to be far more interesting than expected.
A week into his posting, Olivia finds Lieutenant Miles sitting in the canteen with a mug of tea and a book. His shift on the wall finished ten minutes ago. After an eight hour stint of trying to stay alert in the biting wind and snow, most of Briggs' new boys and girls can barely stand. Miles, on the other hand, shows no sign of what he's been through, beyond removing his gloves and curling his large hands around the steaming mug.
She notices a few things about him, then. She notices that he takes his tea black and with a saucer of jam alongside it, Drachman-style. A Drachman grandparent was noted on his file. Despite the fact that this is enough to earn him a few beatings around here, he's not bothering to conceal his heritage. Yet he's wearing his snow goggles indoors, and she doesn't doubt it's to hide his Ishbalan eyes. The contradiction needles at her somehow, as contradictions always do. But she doesn't ask about it.
Instead, she asks him what he thinks of her fortress. No new recruit answers this question honestly. Its purpose is purely to make them stammer.
He nods at her.
"An impenetrable bastion against the Drachman menace," she says. She's quoting some bullshit speech of Bradley's. It's still a test. She doesn't like flatterers, she likes to weed them out early on.
"So I've heard, sir," he says evenly. His Northern accent makes his 'r's come out rolled.
Olivia catches something behind his words, and it needles at her. "Think you could do better, Lieutenant?" she asks.
He looks her in the eye. "Permission to speak freely?" She nods at him curtly. Is he stupid enough not to have picked up on the danger of his position right now? No, he doesn't seem stupid. "If I were you, I'd step up the arms on Sector West-G of the wall."
"And why's that, Lieutenant?"
He catches the irritation in her voice, and for a moment his chin comes up, and there's something bullish about his expression. Then he's calm again - or at least he looks it. "Because of the rise. It's big enough to hide a couple of Drachman tanks behind. I'm surprised they haven't tried it yet."
Olivia tilts her head at him. "So, you're an expert on the Wall after a week?"
"You asked me, sir." Lieutenant Miles might have just incrementally quirked an eyebrow at her. The cheek of it is incredible.
She slaps her sabre on the table, pulls a chair out, sits opposite him, and orders him to prove his point.