A/N: This is a long chapter but I hope it's enjoyable. There's a little Roy and a bit of Hughes, too. I wish I can use those characters more, especially Hughes. Unfortunately at this point in the story, he's dead so he can only appear in flashbacks. Anyway, thanks to UnderTheHood for the review and to those who added this story their favorites/alert lists.
CHAPTER 32 – The Kimblee Problem:
Naminé was hardly surprised when Vi and Mel were at her door. After getting home, she had called Vi as promised and filled her in on what had happened. Once she had mentioned that she had the duty of housing the mad bomber, Vi had flipped for numerous reasons. So the fact that the half-Ishbalan woman showed up with reinforcements in due time was expected. Vi walked in, looking around the living room and kitchen for the man.
"Where is he?" Vi asked, removing her sunglasses.
"Bathroom," Naminé replied, folding her arms. As proof, the women could hear the shower running.
"I can't believe this," Mel said, taking a comfortable seat on the couch. "You're housing a man?"
"Seriously, Mel?" Vi asked, rolling her eyes. "Is that all that comes to mind?"
Mel shrugged. "I know he's done really bad things but I've said it, you've said it. Naminé might still hate him but I'm pretty sure angry sex can be amazing, too."
Vi shook her head, throwing her arms in the air. "Should I be surprised?"
"Come on," Mel said, trying to make light of the situation. "Naminé can totally be a praying mantis about this. When she's done, she can just bite his head off."
It was amazing how some things didn't change. Mel was still liberated and care-free as always. Vi was still obstinate and highly opinionated. Naminé wondered where she stood.
"Personally, I'd rather skip the sex and go for the decapitation," Naminé said, reminding her two friends she was still in the room. They looked at her at the same time. Vi's face read approval at her statement while Mel's face read 'suit-yourself.' "Unfortunately," the brunette continued, "I can't make him leave by my choice. It would have to be by his."
Mel frowned. "That's unfair. I guess sex would only encourage him to stay, huh?"
Vi shook her head, this time smiling a little. "You're not completely hopeless after all."
"I think of other things besides sex, you know," Mel stated, shaking her head but smiling as well. She looked at Naminé. "Maybe you should try using the silent treatment."
Naminé shook her head. "I doubt that would work."
Vi thought for a moment. "Maybe you should do that but not just that. Don't feed him, don't clean after him, don't do anything for him period. I'm pretty sure somewhere in his insane mind, he relishes in the idea of you taking care of him."
"Maybe?" Vi reiterated, raising her eyebrows. "Naminé, he knows that you hate him. I'm pretty sure he enjoys you being miserable. He allowed this to happen."
Vi had a point. For the past few hours, Kimblee had been taking everything in stride. He had gotten reinstated without a hitch, had the support of a man with possibly influential standing, and had made her out to be the fool. This fitted in too well with his scheme. How long would she have to put up with him being in her life? Probably too long, she thought. If she wanted this to end, she would have to implement a plan quick.
A door was heard being opened. The three women looked at each other. He was coming out.
"Babe?" Vi repeated in disbelief. She looked at her friend. "You don't respond to that, do you?"
Kimblee stepped into the living room, frowning at the unexpected voice. He stopped when he saw the two additional women in the room. One stared at him with clear distrust while the other stared with disgust. Surprisingly, he welcomed these new reactions. All Naminé had shown was utter detest. He needed something different. He walked further into the living room, seeing how the women's eyes dropped quickly to the towel wrapped around his bottom half. "I forgot that you had friends nearby," he said matter-of-factly. "Vi, Mel."
"It's actually him," Mel murmured softly. Only Vi and Naminé caught her words. Hearing about him being alive and actually seeing it were completely different things. Time had changed him a bit but Mel thought only good had been done. Even Vi seemed to have been caught off guard. Maybe she had thought the monster inside of Kimblee would have finally reach the surface. Three days, Mel betted with herself. Three days before Naminé gives in to Kimblee.
Funny enough, Naminé was having similar thoughts. Seeing his bare chest reminded her of how at point it had felt great to have it pressing against her own in the throes of passion and love. It reminded her of how she had enjoyed every bit of him as she cheated on Romberg. Guilt started to settle in almost immediately along with anger. She fought the urge to tell him to go put on clothes. She didn't want to admit that he had any sort of hold over her.
"I hope you know how disrespectful you're being parading around like that," Vi said. "Especially in front of women."
"I was under the assumption that it was just me and Naminé here."
Naminé stopped her jaw from dropping.
"Well, Naminé won't be easily seduced if that what you're thinking," Vi said, standing a bit taller. "Naminé had her share of multiple men."
"I highly doubt that," Kimblee said.
"She has," Vi insisted. "In fact, she's seeing someone right now."
The phone rang and all four people looked at it. Naminé didn't want to answer it; it was so close to where Kimblee was standing. But when it rang a second time, Naminé rushed over and picked it up. "Hello?" She said, ignoring Kimblee's overwhelming presence.
"Roy?" Immediately she chastised herself for saying that out loud. Vi ended up giving Kimblee an I-told-you-so look and judging by the look on his face, he knew exactly which Roy this was. "How did you get my pho..." Her blue eyes moved to Kimblee. "I mean-!"
"I have friends stationed in South City. It's not as unbelievable as you think."
Of course, Naminé thought. Armstrong.
"I heard that you're working for Archer. I know the kind of person he is and I wanted to make sure that you're okay."
"I'm okay," she said, glancing at Kimblee. "Um, could we possibly talk tomorrow? I have company over."
"Okay. I'll call you tomorrow then."
"Sure. It's nice hearing from you."
"Same here. Take care."
Naminé hung up the phone and took a deep breath.
"You and Mustang?" Kimblee asked. He almost managed to hide the disbelief in his voice. Still, he continued to act unfazed by the news. It didn't take long for his smirk to reappear. "I bet you thought that was a big difference from me, didn't you? If only you had seen him in Ishbal, the way he set fire to everything-!"
"He burned people by the dozens, all the while-!"
Naminé couldn't believe she had done that but she had. The smirk was gone from Kimblee's face and she was somewhat glad about that. But she was worried about how he would respond. He may not hurt her thanks because of Archer but Vi and Mel weren't completely out of the question. He slowly turned his head to look at her, his eyes blazing.
Naminé spoke quietly, surprised that her voice wasn't trembling. "Unlike you, Roy is a decent human being. Don't you ever talk that way about him."
"Why did you bring me here?" Naminé asked. The two had already rung the doorbell to the apartment. Now they waited for the person to answer the door. In Naminé's mind, it was not too late to leave but she knew the handsome man standing next to her wouldn't let her do that. After all, he had already forced her to break her nightly tradition of going to the bar.
"I told you already," Roy said. "We both need a break from drinking."
Naminé looked away from his dark eyes. That wasn't entirely accurate. The only reason Roy went to the bar was to make sure she didn't do anything crazy. He sympathized with her; he had told her that he was familiar with the idea of drinking problems away. Although, she had found out, his problems were very different. Sometimes she wondered if she had stayed in Ishbal and had joined the alchemists' extermination campaign, would she be even less held together than she was now. She already had the blood of one man on her hands. She couldn't imagine having the blood of hundreds.
Roy rang the doorbell again and Naminé smiled. "Impatient, aren't we?"
The door opened and there was Maes Hughes, grinning widely. "Hello, Roy." His eyes landed on the brunette who gave him an awkward wave. He looked back at Roy and raised his eyebrows a few times suggestively. "When you said you were bringing a friend, you didn't tell me it was Naminé."
"Your point?" Roy asked.
"I guess you're finally taking my advice."
For whatever reason, Roy's face heated up. "I'm not."
"Don't be shy about it! Naminé's a gorgeous woman! Of course, not as beautiful as my Gracia!"
"Maes," said a woman, sounding a bit embarrassed. Hughes turned around and finally Naminé saw the woman Hughes talked so much about at work. She was slender but had curves. Her light brown hair was cut short just above her shoulders and her green eyes seemed to carry a bigger smile than her face did.
Naminé waved. "Hello."
Hughes quickly launched into introductions. "Naminé, this is Gracia my girlfriend," he said proudly, wrapping an arm around the woman. "Gracia, this Naminé, one of the few female state alchemists and Roy's date for the evening," he added, just to get under Roy's skin a bit.
"Pleasure to meet you," Gracia beamed.
"Same here," Naminé said.
"Well, come in," she said. "I already laid out dinner on the table. I just have to find the bottle of wine."
Out of the corner of her eye, Naminé caught Roy looking at her. But she didn't pay him any mind. She knew better than to get drunk here. She could manage her alcohol.
"Are you seriously walking away from me?!" Roy exclaimed, following after the angry brunette. They had just left Gracia's apartment ten minutes ago. He had hoped that once they left, he and Naminé could have a reasonable conversation. However, he didn't realize that he had effectively pissed her off. "If I hadn't stopped you-!"
Naminé stopped and turned him. "I would have been fine!" She was lucky that there weren't many people outside on the streets. At least now she could yell without much concern about people hearing and seeing her act so irrational. Although, in her mind, she didn't think her reaction was irrational in the slightest. What was more embarrassing than a 'friend' taking her wine glass away in front of people who didn't know her well, claiming that he thought she had had enough? Hughes and Gracia probably thought she had a drinking problem now!
Roy stood in front of her and placed his hands firmly on her shoulders. "What happened?" He asked, looking into her eyes. "You were fine, then..." His voice trailed off, her mind filling in the rest.
Naminé didn't know if she should say what had went through her mind this evening. Gracia and Maes had this wonderful relationship that she felt a bit jealous of. Her jealousy had then transpired into her feeling stupid. She realized she could have had a relationship like theirs but she had screwed any chances of that happening. And once that line of thought happened, it triggered all these other emotions of guilt and sadness and a pitiful longing that she didn't know how to deal with.
"I don't know," she lied.
"Is it... Are you still mourning for Romberg?"
She stared at Roy in surprised before averting her gaze. "I should be, shouldn't I?"
His eyebrows furrowed together. "Then what is it?"
Naminé sank lower into the bath water, the water level nearly reaching her nose. Despite her mind being in protest, she had told Roy everything and surprisingly he had been understanding. Sharing with him had done her some good. At that point, she had been in Central for a couple of months but she still had felt lonely. Vi and Mel, the only people who knew what she was going through, weren't there for her to run to like before. So having someone to depend on had been very welcomed in the sometimes hostilely competitive environment that was Central HQ. The fact that Kimblee could try to bring Roy down from who he really was had been upsetting. What did that nutcase know except fireworks and explosions?
The brunette glanced at the bathroom door. Since her friends had reluctantly left, she had been worried that Kimblee would come after her. However, he had yet to blow the door down. Still, she couldn't help feeling uneasy. Maybe she should have taken up her friends' offer to stay. Three against one was always better than one against one.
Quickly, she got out of the tub. As the water drained from the tub, she quickly dried herself off and dressed in her pajamas. There was no way in hell he would ever catch her in a towel.
The bathroom door creaked open and she peered into the hallway. There was no sign of Kimblee. Eying the extra room's door, she moved silently across the hall to her room. She opened her bedroom door and got inside. She sighed when she shut the door and the lock clicked in place.
"Was that supposed to stop me from getting in?"
Naminé's eyes widen in alarm. Against the wall was Kimblee, his golden eyes on her. She should have checked behind her bedroom door first. At least, she could have run to the other bedroom. She watched Kimblee as he moved from his spot on the wall and closed the distance between them. There was something almost predatory in his movements and it had her on edge. Was he going to attack her? Amazingly courage came back. Naminé unlocked the door and opened it. "You can leave now."
Much to her dismay, he closed the door and leaned against it. "After we talk."
"There's nothing to say, Kimblee."
"I beg to differ."
He frowned at the quick apology. "What?"
"I'm sorry for slapping you earlier." She wasn't sure what was on his mind but she was not in the mood for a physical altercation.
He stared at her, slightly confused. Given the attitude she had shown all day, he had not expected that.
"Is there anything else you want?" Naminé asked, trying to be as collected as possible. "I would really like to go to bed soon."
"You," he said, looking her over. He caught the blush rising to her cheeks but he ignored his instincts. "And Roy. How long?"
"Well, um..." Naminé knew what Vi had been trying to do earlier. However, Naminé felt that she didn't need to introduce lies into the mix. While she still harbored anger for Romberg's death, she was over any emotions or feelings she had for the twisted man. Plus, she didn't want to mix Roy up in her personal affairs. "Roy and I are just friends."
"Just friends?" He questioned. "Not even with benefits?"
"No... Anything else?" She asked, hoping that the interrogation was over.
Kimblee's golden eyes looked her over, completely aware of how flustered it made her. He enjoyed having this affect over her. It made him feel less upset about the affect she had over him. Naminé probably didn't know it but she made him feel almost guilty for everything he had done. She definitely made him feel guilty about how she had felt guilty all these years about Romberg's death. He never once thought his actions would affect her at all.
All his life, he never let anyone get close to him. He lived life to satisfy his own needs and any relationships he had were far and few between. He appreciated his relationship with Romberg and even the one with Isabelle to some extent, but the one he had with Naminé had always been different. He relished it, even depended on it. He wanted to act indifferent and had tried to act indifferent but what she thought still mattered to him. How she felt still mattered to him. It had been silently driving him crazy seeing her act like this toward him.
"What changed?" He asked. She frowned at his question. He quickly elaborated. "After you said goodbye to me in prison, what changed? Was it hearing about Romberg?"
She narrowed her blue eyes. "What's your point?"
"You didn't hate me for killing hundreds of people. Instead, you come to see me before my execution, kissed me goodbye, and cried about me dying. But when they say I kill Romberg, that's when you hate me."
"Killing anyone is a horrible thing to do," she said. "This isn't just about Thad."
"That's not why you hate me though." With one swift motion, he had the brunette trapped between the wall and his body. Naminé's back hit the wall, her wide blue eyes locking onto his golden orbs. "If I can tell you right now that I didn't kill Romberg, can you still hate me?"
She stared at him, not sure if she should feel offended or confused. "Just get out, Kimblee."
He pulled away, feeling satisfied. "Sweet dreams, babe."
Kimblee smirked. "As you wish."
He opened the door and stepped out. But before he could close it, she slammed it behind him. She locked the door and leaned against it, deep in thought. "He's wrong," she told herself. "He's still a monster. He's always been a monster... So what did I ever see in him?"
A/N: Naminé will have to do some soul-searching to answer that question. And will Kimblee tell Naminé the truth about Romberg? We'll find out in the next few chapters. Chapter 33 might be called 'Lists' if it works out the way I'm thinking. Anyway, please review. Till later.