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Fic: Vox Pop

Title: Vox Pop
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.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 6th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
I really liked this. You gave Miles a lot of personality in a few brief sentences and I loved Olivia's inner dialogue.

Question, is there some group somewhere stirring jam into tea?
May. 6th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)

Not sure what you meant by group? But I'm very sleepy. Having a saucer of jam with black tea is a traditional Russian thing. You don't stir the jam in, you drink the tea and eat the jam with a spoon on the side.
May. 7th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
that's what i meant by group as in ethnic/regional but i just finished putting in all my grades and my brain is running out my ears.

that sounds sugary and well just plain sugary
May. 7th, 2011 07:04 am (UTC)
I know the feeling.

Well, the tea is unsweetened and strong, so the jam is a tasty, diabetes-unfriendly contrast.
May. 7th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
yes I'm sure it is. My real probably with jam/jelly it causes severe burning. I'm not sure what is so acidic about it.
May. 7th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
Citric acid? You put it in the jam to make it set. Jam's full of it, anyhoo.
May. 7th, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
yeah that's what I figure too (been eons since I've made jam) I don't deal well with citric or ascorbic acids
May. 6th, 2011 10:39 pm (UTC)
That's pretty much verbal foreplay for Olivier. This is one of those pairings that I've never felt needed evidence to be canon. It's just... pretty much 'right'.

It also helps that you wrote both of them so well!
May. 6th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
Yes, no one could really be surprised to discover they were an item. I also feel this way about Darius and Heinkel.

I sometimes like to imagine Olivia and Miles never getting together but just spending years on end eyefucking. I ♥ UST?
May. 6th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
You mean Darius/Heinkel isn't canon?!

UST is always amazing. *__*
May. 6th, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
It's so canon. Including that they move to the countryside together after. I expect Arakawa will include a picture of them and the ducks in the new artbook.
May. 6th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
Ed can go stay in their cozy little love shack during holidays and have secret, steamy rendezvous with Ling.
May. 6th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
I imagine them ejecting Ed and Ling from their cozy little love shack with a broomstick! There's a hotel down the road, kids, go get a room.
May. 7th, 2011 04:50 am (UTC)
I love that those ducks still come up in conversation. XD
May. 7th, 2011 07:00 am (UTC)
Ducks are canon, man.
May. 6th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
I sometimes like to imagine Olivia and Miles never getting together but just spending years on end eyefucking. I ♥ UST?

Yes, this is my feeling on the issue. XD This was a really fun scene, and I have taken the liberty of expanding this scene to the next week where he evades her den and gets promoted for it.
May. 6th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
I have taken the liberty of expanding this scene to the next week where he evades her den and gets promoted for it.

That was totally where I was going with this, but I wanted to stick to a drabble as I wrote this while packing for my travels at the end of March. UST telepathy?
May. 7th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)
You always make me love these two even more than I already did.
May. 8th, 2011 12:24 pm (UTC)
May. 7th, 2011 04:52 am (UTC)
This is one of my secret favorite pairings ever. I always liked to imagine that Olivier is the wife Miles mentions. She could get away with that because she wouldn't let it affect anything, and neither would he. I imagine most people on base wouldn't even know. I also imagine that if they had any kids, Miles would carry them, but that is a different story for a different time. 9_9
May. 7th, 2011 07:06 am (UTC)
You should write some Olivia/Miles, man! If only so you can be the first person to advertise Olivia/Miles mpreg on fm_alchemist.
May. 7th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
Olivia/Miles mpreg

This...sounds quite plausible.

Meanwhile: Miiiiiles! I like him and his first name and his jam.

Btw -- the manga volumes I've got out from the library this week include the big Ishbal flashback and Miles' intro. It's so interesting. Tiny changes in timing and wording make a huge difference to me. I like Ed and Miles and Arakawa better on paper. And the Ishbal stuff was okay in the anime, but on the page it hit me like a bayonet. Still processing....
May. 8th, 2011 12:26 pm (UTC)

Glad you're enjoying. I think that stuff in particular got a little too condensed in Brotherhood, which rushed through the whole volume in one flashback ep.
Jun. 3rd, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
I'm not usually crazy about Olivia, but you really gave her a fantastic voice here--and Miles was perfectly subtle.

I also really liked the details about how Miles takes tea--those kinds of cultural tidbits are great, and it gave a great story more depth. Thanks for sharing!
Jun. 3rd, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed, and thanks for the kind works.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )