Best Kept Secret
Chapter 143: Family Inheritance?
Disclaimer: I don't own Fullmetal Alchemist and gain no profit from this fanfiction other than much needed writing practice and enjoyment.
Riza had learned from experiencing several instances of unfortunate luck (she still debated with herself whether luck was an actual thing) that she shouldn't expect things to go conveniently for them. Some would call that attitude pessimistic, but she much preferred realistic. There'd been too many times when she'd allowed herself to hope or expect something positive and helpful only to have those expectations snatched away.
So, when they'd begun to question the boy, she hadn't anticipated anything helpful. This wasn't only due to her experiences, but also because if the boy had anything of value those two men wouldn't have left him alive. They wouldn't have depended on someone so young to keep their secrets or to kill himself if given the tools. They'd had a gun. It wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds to click the safety, if it'd been on in the first place, and pull the trigger.
To her surprise, the boy had far more information than she thought he would, and he told it willingly. Elena even pushed him as to whether it was false or not. If he perhaps was fed fake information without being aware of it. It wasn't unusual that he could've been bait. Of course, they would never just walk into a place without scoping the area first.
Elena had impressed the group. She never took it easy on him, even asking questions that they hadn't thought of. The military police could learn a few things from the young woman if they actually gave a shit about fairness and justice. Maria Ross's incident proved there were fuehrer pawns in that area of service. More research and spying from some of their men proved it was the most enemy-congested of the service areas.
She'd later confessed to Riza that she'd used some techniques and threw him some "red herrings" that'd she'd read about in the books Edmund had provided. Roy had joked about hiring her when he was fuehrer.
People like Ed, Al, Winry, and Elena gave her faith in the younger generations. She chuckled to herself. Considering many people her age almost killed off an entire race of people, her generation wasn't that hard to beat.
Edmund gave him a room in the house after the boy told them everything he knew. Roy had gone out and secured the windows with alchemy just in case the boy wanted to try to escape, but from the way he was with Elena, he wouldn't leave without her. She was confident that Elena wasn't going to go anywhere without having her brother with her either.
She hated using her brother against her, to keep her here, but it was a necessary evil. She would be in danger running around anyway.
The boy was asleep now. She'd stayed at the door for a while, listening for any noise in the room that indicated he might have a way to communicate with someone else. Though he showed no signs of wanting to go back to the terrorists or truly being on their side, it was best to always be suspicious. One slip up could get you, or worse, others, dead.
When satisfied he'd gone to sleep, the snores coming from the room evidence of that, she popped her neck and shoulders to relieve their tenseness and made her way down the hall. Elena smiled and waved at her as she passed the open bedroom door. She had another book in her hand.
Riza wanted happiness for this girl's future. She wanted to get Elena's brother back to her. That young woman deserved a good family in her life. She knew what it was like not to have that. At least when it came to blood family.
She had Roy, and there was no one on this earth that could make her happier than he did, but even now, she wished she could go home for the holidays and have two loving parents happy to see her. She'd never told anyone that she'd envied all the holiday advertisements where there was a family reuniting and sitting down for a dinner.
But even if she did have parents and siblings, the cliché Amestrian family, she wouldn't have had the courage to go face them after the things she'd done. No matter how loving they might've been.
Maybe there was some benefit to having no parents. At least in her case. The more she found out about them the happier she was that they were dead. After the things she'd done herself, she could say for sure the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
But she vowed that she would never ever treat her husband the way her mother had her father, and if by some miracle she were to have children, she would make sure every day they were treasured and loved.
She sighed and walked to the top of the stairs. Roy was coming up them with a mug in his hand. He looked up at her and smiled.
Her heart swelled at the genuine kindness and love in his expression. Before he could step up the last few steps, she cupped his face in her hands and kissed him with all her might. She heard a bit of liquid slosh from the cup and hit the floor as he tensed. But then he fell into the kiss, returning it with just as much passion as she gave.
When she pulled away, his eyes were wide and his lips red from both the pressure in which she kissed him and from the bit of cherry colored lipstick left on her lips.
"I…I…um… I brought you some—Wow," he said and showed her the mug. "Coffee. It's coffee."
She took it from him. "Thank you. I was on my way down stairs. You didn't have to bother bringing this to me."
"It wasn't a bother," he said and rubbed the back of his neck. "Not that you ever need an excuse to kiss me, but what was that about? I mean…wow."
She laughed. Roy was acting as if she'd never kissed him before. She heard a door close and she figured Elena wanted to sleep.
Riza sat down on the step and sighed. Roy sat beside her, put an arm around her shoulder, and pulled her so she leaned on him. She wanted to bury herself against his chest and take in his smell, but knew she'd only smell sweat, smoke, and dust due to the day's events. Neither of them smelled very pleasant.
"Some day off we've had. You tired?'
She shook her head. "Not physically at least. My thoughts have been raging today though. About both relevant and irrelevant things."
"You rarely think about the irrelevant," he said. "What kind of thoughts?"
She looked at him. "Do you think poor decisions can be inherited?"
When he raised an eyebrow, she decided to elaborate for him. "I was thinking about Elena and how much she cares for her brother. That got me thinking about my family. How I envy the happy families on the postcards and in the ads."
"Those are unrealistic media portrayals," he said.
"And I know that. But even if my parents were alive, they wouldn't accept me even after everything they've done. I know they'd be hypocrites until the day they died. So I wondered if you could inherit bad qualities or are they nurtured. "
"I would say it's more nurtured, but bad parents don't always have bad kids just like good parents don't always have good kids. Riza, you aren't anything like your parents. "
"Aren't I? Granted it's true I wouldn't ever treat my family the way they did me, but I have done evil things. Sometimes, I wonder if I was just predisposed to it in the womb."
She knew that predisposed probably wasn't the best word to use, but it was the best she could think of.
When he chuckled, she looked up at him. He shook his head and smiled at her. He leaned over and kissed her forehead. "I don't think the way you were raised has anything to do with the things you've done. Nor do I think you had genetic evil seep into you as a fetus." He chuckled again.
"You've done evil things, but so have I. I was raised in a relatively loving home. "
"Until you came to my house," she said.
He shrugged. "Hey, I got laid there, I'm not complaining."
She elbowed him. He laughed and kissed her again. "Anyway, there were many soldiers in Ishbal that were raised in homes filled with kindness and love. We as people make mistakes, and some of them are tragic, life-altering ones. That's what it means to be human. In the case of Ishbal, we made decisions based in our circumstances. Wrong decisions, but at the time we didn't have that many options and did as we were told."
"Yes, I suppose you're right. And we're working to redeem ourselves as much as we can. "
"Your father didn't even try to redeem himself. Nor did your mother. Even if they were given the chance, I doubt they would. They'd both probably reason it away somehow."
She nodded. "Like I said, my thoughts were irrelevant to the situation. Just musings. I think one of the many reasons I want to reunite Elena with her brother is because I don't want the rest of her teenage years to be like mine."
"Understandable," he said.
She took a sip of the coffee he'd brought her and looked down at her feet. "Thank you for listening, Roy. Not just this time but every time I tend to let my thoughts run away with me."
"Always," he said. "And I can thank you for the same thing. You've listened to a lot of my complaints through the years."
She kissed him on the cheek. "I saw Edmund leave. Did he figure out anything?"
"I don't know yet. That boy said they were either staying in a warehouse area or a train yard."
"Well, we know that tends to be one in the same depending on the location in the city."
"Right," he replied. "Edmund said he has a few in places, and that he knows someone who rents those out and who leases a few houses around the area. He called the guy and he told him to come over and look through some things. "
"He didn't go alone did he?"
"No, Breda went with him."
"I just hope there aren't too many."
"You're uneasy about what the boy said?" Roy asked and began to run his hand up and down her upper arm.
"Why didn't they kill him, Roy? I think it over, and I reason it out various ways, but it still nags at me. Terrorists aren't that stupid; otherwise, they'd never get away with the shit that they do."
"I doubt they planted him," he said. "But I have some men here in the city that came in for the celebration. We'll have them look over the places and hold surveillance of some kind until we know for sure. If the boy has correct information about the prince being there with them, then they probably expect a rescue or discovery anyway."
"Which still makes no sense as to why they didn't kill him?"
"I read about the particular area they're from. Heavily patriotic and religious. They're all maniacs willing to martyr themselves for a cause. Maybe the boy convinced him that he was the same. They'd blow themselves up and the prince with them if it meant taking out people, military personnel especially."
"Which means they definitely have some sort of contingency plan," she said.
"Close surveillance and stealth attacks afterward should work. They also don't use alchemy which is to our advantage."
"Claudio did, so I wouldn't count on that," she said.
"Well, I won't let my guard down I promise you that. I don't want a repeat of the Claudio instance.
Riza almost let herself cringe. She hadn't known for sure what she was going to do to get Roy out and it'd been fortunate that Bradley had done what he did. "The real prince might already be dead."
"Well, we know he was alive the last time the boy was with them," he said. "And they need money, using the prince as a ransom could possibly be in the cards as well."
She shook her head. "So many possibilities. At least we know more than we did before. We know they want to stop the treaty because they hate Amestris and want to bring it down."
"That disgust the boy showed when he said that was enough to convince me he's on our side," Roy said.
"Neither side wants peace," she said, "but that brings me to another issue I have."
"And that is?"
"Just why the hell did Bradley agree to this? Why'd he put so much effort into a peace treaty? He couldn't care less."
"The homunculi favor chaos and we both know there's no way the terrorist will be able to kill Bradley. So he either doesn't care or whoever the hell is pulling his strings doesn't care and told him to do it." He lowered his voice. "Either way, Riza, it's not likely…"
"Go on, Roy."
"I know you promised Elena to get her brother back, but it's not likely that Claudio is going to survive."
"I only promised I'd do my best to get him back to her," she said. "I've fully come to terms with the fact that I probably won't."
"Do you think Bradley knows the Claudio he's negotiating with is a fake?"
"No," she said. "From things he's said here and there, I think he's fooled for now. Otherwise, he would've just killed him instead of making a spectacle the way he is. It would get back to the country's royal family of Aerugo they'd see he wasn't the real Claudio and not give a shit. That wouldn't create as much chaos. "
"But he could create it with the people visiting. The people don't know what the real Prince Claudio looks like."
"All the royal family would have to do is say that it's not their prince. It would create more trouble that I don't think Bradley and the homunculi are prepared to deal with. I am surprised Pride hasn't spied on the fake Claudio and discovered his identity yet."
"Speaking of, have you felt him any lately?"
"I feel an occasional tingle of a homunculus around the areas, but it's nothing like the pain I have when encountering Pride."
"Is there a possibility that you're blocking them really well?"
"No, I'm not that good, and I'm not striving to be. I just need to make sure it's eased so I can still work. I've accepted that despite what may be giving me the ability that I ca—" She took a deep breath, trying not to get upset or think deeply about what was in her. "Whatever it is that's giving me this ability is assisting me in protecting you."
"And yourself. It helps you protect yourself."
"I'm an afterthought," she said.
"Not to me."
They heard a car pull into the driveway and Roy stood. He reached out his hand. "Let's go see what they've found out."
She took his hand and stood. He kept her hand held tightly in his as they descended the steps.
AN: I didn't think it would take this long for me to update. I've been so busy that I lost track. Between family, illness, work, and other commitments I have little time to write these days or I'm too tired to write. I kept scraping this chapter until I got something I'm happy with. I wanted a Roy and Riza conversation chapter. Since I started this fic I've wanted a chance to talk a bit about whether evil deeds are a result of nurturing, happen depending on circumstance, or is it actually something that is in the nature. Hope you enjoyed the chapter Please leave a comment if you have the time. I am working on the next chapter right after I post this. Readers of VHOB will get a chapter next week. It's already been betaed and is ready to go.