A/N: Sorry for the long wait. I've just been busy with college and personal issues. But at least I can say I started Chapter 34 already and it might be easier to write than this chapter. Anyway enjoy!
CHAPTER 33 – Naminé's Realization:
It had been less than twenty-four hours and Kimblee was already under Naminé's skin. For once in her life, she was excited to come in for work. At least there she could dump all babysitting duties with Archer and get time to herself. That time was really needed. She needed to sort the situation out. What was Kimblee up to? What did she need to do about it? What could she do about it?
Unable to answer those questions at the moment, Naminé looked at the reports on her desk. Most of them weren't hers; they were Archer's. According to the man, he was too busy chasing the Elrics and figuring out what really happened at Laboratory Five to handle them. She had wanted to call bullshit almost immediately. If Kimblee couldn't provide answers to the Laboratory Five mystery, then there had been no point in reinstating the man.
There was a knock on her door. "Come in." The door opened. There stood a man wearing a white, featureless mask. Naminé stared for a moment, slightly lost, before she recognized the nonchalant stance and body posture. She smiled then she started laughing. Kimblee closed the door and removed the ridiculous mask.
"It was Archer's idea," he muttered.
Naminé stopped laughing, trying to become serious. "Why are you here, Kimblee?"
"Why do you think?"
She shrugged. "I was hoping not to deal with you until the end of the day."
"Sorry to disappoint, babe," he said, his eyes roaming over her tiny office. He walked over to her bookcase and pulled a random alchemy book off a shelf. He started flipping through it, taking note of what pages she had marked. "Who are you thinking of bringing back?"
"No one," she said, returning to Archer's paperwork.
Naminé paused and looked up. "No," she said sharply. "If I wanted to, I don't think I would have waited so long."
"Maybe seeing me again made you feel guiltier."
"I was just researching some things the lieutenant colonel told me about."
"Laboratory Five, huh?"
She wanted to ask Kimblee what had gone on in Lab Five. However, asking him would suggest that she cared about what had happened to him. She didn't want to make him feel any more comfortable around her than he was now. The plan was to get him to leave, after all. She sighed. "I can't work with you in here, Kimblee."
"You never answered my question last night," Kimblee said as he put the book back in the bookcase. "The one about Romberg."
"There's no point answering when I know the truth."
He smirked. "You mean what you want to believe?"
"Shouldn't you be trying to get back into shape?" She asked.
Kimblee put back on his mask. "I'll see you later, babe."
He left the room and Naminé exhaled deeply. Why did he have to keep bringing up Romberg? Weren't the past several years of guilt enough? She ran her hand through her auburn hair, trying to focus on the task ahead of her. Now was not the time to think about Kimblee. She had a lot of papers to go through and unfortunately they weren't going to do themselves.
The work day had given her enough time to come up with a scheme. She would deprive him of food until he couldn't take it anymore and leave. It would be less confrontational than other methods but he wouldn't miss the point. Because she still needed to do some grocery shopping for the week, Kimblee wouldn't have many food options. Unless he wants to settle for bananas the rest of the week, she thought as she opened the door to her apartment. Not like there's enough bananas for a week.
Kimblee took his seat on the couch as Naminé headed to the kitchen. Naminé looked through the pots in her fridge. Rice, some leftover fish, vegetables, dumplings. She could easily whip something up for herself.
Kimblee heard the clamoring of pots and couldn't help but smirk. He had several reasons for moving in with Naminé, one them being food. She had never cooked for him but he had always assumed that at some point, if things had played out differently, she would have. Yesterday she had bought food on the way home but it seemed today she was willing to make something.
The aromas reached his nose. Apparently Naminé wasn't a bad cook. He looked over at the brunette. Except for her jacket, she hadn't even bothered taking off her uniform; she had headed straight to the stove. Kimblee got off the couch and joined Naminé in the kitchen. She paid him no mind as he leaned against the counter watching her.
He couldn't believe that Naminé wasn't seeing someone. It made him wonder what was wrong with her. Was he not seeing something that other men clearly sensed? Maybe she's difficult with all men, he thought with a smirk. When she turned off the stove, he started to lift up pot covers.
"What's for dinner?" He asked, raising an eyebrow at the contents. There was no way this would be enough for the two of them.
"Nothing," she muttered. She grabbed a plate and proceeded to dump each pot's contents on it.
Kimblee stared at Naminé as she continued about her business. She went over to the small table, placing her food there before retrieving a fork from a drawer and finally sitting down. Kimblee waited a moment, assessing the situation. Then he asked, "Is this some idea to starve me?"
"Of course not," she said, not even bothering to look at him. "That would be inhumane."
Kimblee snorted. The brunette thought she was so clever and he found it amusing that she believed that he would actually sit quietly and let her have her way. Clearly Naminé had forgotten who she was dealing.
The man took a fork from the drawer and sat directly across from Naminé. She didn't look up but he caught the slight pause in her movements. Without hesitation, he stabbed a piece of food on her plate. This time Naminé stopped eating. Smirking, he ate the dumpling. He then took a second one, watching her reaction. When he reached for the third one, his fork shocked him. The fork clamored on the table. Naminé let out a faint giggle.
Two can play that game, babe. Kimblee clapped his hands under the table and grabbed his fork. Then he stabbed it in the piece of fish.
She looked at him, slightly confused that he just left the fork there. Kimblee paid her no mind as he reached for a nearby newspaper. He opened it, hiding his face. Five, four, three, two, one-!
Finally there was that satisfying bang and the splattering of food bits on the newspaper. Nonchalantly, he folded the newspaper back up and placed it where he got it from. Naminé glared at him, her face covered in muck. "What's wrong, babe?"
The brunette bit back her fury as she got up from the table. "Nothing, Kimblee, dear." She went over to the kitchen sink and started to wash her face. Her clothes, on the other hand, she would have to change.
Kimblee felt satisfied. He had won another one of her games. It was only a matter of time before she cooked up some other scheme with the help of friends. And, like tonight, he would poke holes through it. If she thought she could ignore him, he would get her to talk. If she thought she could starve him, then she could starve, too. He wasn't prepared for what happened next though. She came over to him with an almost sincere, tired look. Maybe she had a change of a heart. Maybe not.
She placed a banana in front of him. "There. Eat it."
He stared at it before looking at her. "What is it? Poison?"
She stared at him in disbelief. Next thing Kimblee knew, the banana was mushed into his hair banana skin and all. She threw her hands up in the air. "Happy? We're even."
He was insufferable, annoying, undeserving of an ounce of her time. She shouldn't have to put with this. She wanted to say what was on her mind but then she noticed the look in his eyes. It was so reminiscent of the look he had given her last night after she had slapped him. But this time he actually made a move. He stood up, his height adding to his intimidation. Warily she took her a step back, her blue eyes unable to leave his golden ones. When he took a step forward, she shot off for the living room.
Naminé felt stupid, even a bit childish. She had not been training the last several years to only run away from the bastard. But self-preservation claimed that he wanted to kill her. It demanded that she put as much distance between him and herself. With speed she didn't know she had, she managed to put the couch in between herself and the mad bomber.
"What is your problem?" She demanded, trying to look at least somewhat tough. All she could hear in her voice were fear and desperation. She sounded pathetic. Naminé looked at the front door. She thought about running to her room but that would be stupid. She would not dare trap herself with him. She faked right before running for the door. But Kimblee was smarter than that. He didn't fall for her false movement. He cut her off and tackled her to the floor.
Naminé's back slammed against the wood hard and for a split second she forgot where she was. During that split second her mind was on the pain, Kimblee laced his fingers between hers and slammed her hands down by her head.
"What's my problem? I think the right question is, what's yours?"
"You know what it is!"
Kimblee's grip tightened. "You know, I actually forgot how naïve you can be. Foolish, too. You don't even like the military yet you would trust their word on something when they weren't even there. It's one thing if I was deserving of all this hate from you. But the fact that you hate me for something I didn't even do says a lot about us, doesn't it, babe? I thought if there was one person who'd understand me it would be you but I guess that was the biggest mistake of my life."
"I'm the biggest mistake in your life?" She repeated. "What about all the people you killed?"
"Them?" He scoffed like it was the dumbest thing he had ever heard. "I also thought it was obvious that you're the only person I even remotely cared but I guess I was wrong about that, too."
"Don't you dare try to turn this on me!" She yelled. She wanted to hit him and scream her lungs out. How dare he try to turn this on her like she was supposed to feel sorry for the way she had been treating him? "Get off me right now!"
"Get off me or I swear, I swear Kimblee, you won't be having any children in the future!"
"Naïve, foolish, and stupid. Is there anything else I'm forgetting?"
She kneed him hard in the groin, thankful that he had decided to straddle her legs and not lie between them. Kimblee made a pained face as he let go off her hands. Quickly she pushed him off her and got off the floor
"Bitch," he growled.
"No 'babe' this time?" She muttered as she went for her apartment door. The plan was to leave Kimblee alone for an hour or so, give him some time to cool off. When she opened the front door, she paused in surprise. There was Archer, preparing to knock on the door.
"Thomson," he said. "Heading out?" His blue eyes glanced down at her dirty shirt.
"For some fresh air," she replied. "Not for too long."
"Where's Kimblee?" Archer asked.
"He's here, sir," she curtly said, praying that he wouldn't push his way into her apartment. Of course, Archer did just that as Kimblee forced himself to stand up. The lieutenant colonel raised an eyebrow at Kimblee, taking in the man's pained state and the banana mush still in his hair, before looking at the brunette still poised at the door.
"Thomson," Archer said. "Remember what my orders were?"
She took a deep breathe, preparing herself for the worse. But before she could explain, Kimblee did.
"It's nothing serious. Just a game that got out of hand."
Naminé turned around. "Stop lying, Kimblee. Tell him that if he doesn't get you out of here soon, one of us will be dead by the end of the week."
"Are you threatening a soldier in front of a superior officer?" Archer asked mockingly. When she didn't answer, he picked a bit of food off her shirt. "Was this supposed to be dinner?"
"It was until Kimblee blew it up."
"I came for two reasons," Archer said, "To check on the two of you and to give Kimblee an advance paycheck." He pulled an envelope out of his jacket and passed it to the Crimson Alchemist. "But since I'm here and your dinner got ruin due to the living conditions I imposed on you," he continued, looking back at the brunette, "Why don't I make it up by taking you out to dinner? Nothing fancy. It would be best if we can go now."
"Uh sure." At this point, Naminé would do anything to get away from Kimblee. It didn't take long to change into something food-free and presentable. Without a word to Kimblee, she stepped out of her apartment. She hardly paid attention to what words the two men exchanged. She just wanted to be as far removed as possible from Kimblee and the craziness that he brought. However, she should have known that Archer would have ulterior motives.
While Naminé would have rather walk home after the awkward dinner, Archer drove her back. Unfortunately there was no conversation or radio to keep Kimblee out of her head. Now that the anger had subsided, all she could think about was what he had told her.
She was the only person that had ever mattered to him.
Why did he have to say that? It annoyed her. It made her feel bad when she was sure that she shouldn't. She had spent so many years hating him and now here he was trying to undo it all like he had the right. He didn't deserve her anymore. She was so much better than that inexperienced girl she had been. She knew better. And yet, as Archer's car pulled up in front of the apartment complex, her heart ached at the idea of facing him. She picked up a bag containing leftovers from dinner, said goodbye to her superior, and headed on up.
She walked up four flights of stairs, her mind reeling. She recalled him saying that he had dreamt about her a few days back. Did he still have feelings for her? Is that why he protected her in the Devil's Nest? No, she told herself. Archer gave him orders to. But a little voice pointed out the flaw in that idea. Archer couldn't have known where she was that evening. Kimblee hadn't even expected to see her then. That meant – he protected me of his own free will.
But he was going to kill me in the sewers, she reminded herself. He was probably going to hurt me today. Unfortunately, it didn't change how confused she felt about Kimblee because each of those times, he had dragged it out. For amusement? Because he didn't want to? And then there was some vital piece of information she was forgetting. Something that Kimblee had brought up more than once.
She unlocked the front door and walked in. Kimblee sat up on the couch almost instantly. The two alchemists looked at each other. Before she could say a word, he lay back down on the couch and closed his eyes.
"Kimblee." She came over and looked down at him.
"What?" He grunted.
"You had dinner already? I have leftovers from the restaurant."
When he didn't say anything in return, Naminé sighed and walked into the kitchen. She put her food away and took some ice from the freezer. Putting it in a towel, she put the makeshift ice pack to the back of her head. When she looked over at the living room, she saw Kimblee watching her. She came out of the kitchen. "I'm going to bed," she announced. "Good night."
Kimblee lay back down in silence. Naminé shook her head and went to her room. Why did she even bother?
A/N: Thanks to UnderTheHood and crazyuser for the reviews and to those who added this story to their favorites/alert lists. Hopefully Chapter 34 will be up next week. I'm more than halfway done with it. In the meantime, review please! Till later!