A/N: This chapter is full of fluff. So you should be happy. Naminé and Kimblee don't even argue! Two of the scenes are based on flashbacks in the Lightning That Thunders, with some minor changes of course. Anyway thanks to DarkestInk and Serrure for the reviews. Enjoy!
CHAPTER 36 –A Long Time:
"Do you want to come to Bellaruse with me?"
It was strange being here with Naminé again, walking the familiar pathway to her old home. Last time Kimblee had been here, it had been before they had gone to Ishbal. Naminé had shared her childhood memories with him and in return he had done the same. In a strange way, coming to Bellaruse that day had been a bonding experience. He didn't know what to expect today.
Naminé knocked on the front door.
"Your sister knows that we're coming?" Kimblee asked.
"She does," Naminé said, knocking a second time. "I called her this morning."
The door swung open. Naminé was about to smile when she stopped. Instead of Kaili, there was a woman standing in the doorway. She seemed to be in her mid-fifties. Of course, Kimblee was basing that face on the set lines in the woman's face and her graying blonde hair. The woman's blue eyes opened wide. "Naminé."
Naminé almost looked away from the woman. "Hi Mom."
The older woman glanced over Naminé as if she hadn't seen her in years. Now that Kimblee thought about it, that probably was the case. "Kaili did say you would be coming over," Mrs. Thomson said.
"She told me that you would be home today," Naminé said, her lips in a tight line.
"Well, I'm about to head out," Mrs. Thomson said with deep breath. "I'll see you when I come back. If you're still here."
Mrs. Thomson walked past them, giving Kimblee a brief nod of acknowledgement. When she was out the front gate and walking down the path, Naminé let out an unmistakable sigh of relief. Apparently, it was every bit as awkward as Kimblee had thought.
Kaili finally came to the front door and frowned. "I wish you and Mom would talk things over," she said. "What happened with Dad was years ago. You shouldn't continue blaming yourselves." When Naminé sighed, Kaili let out a sigh and turned toward Kimblee. "Hello Mr. Kimblee. I see that you're not trying to attack my sister today."
"That was a few weeks ago," Kimblee said. Although, he had to admit it felt longer than that. So much had happened in that short time span. He looked at Naminé. "I've been good since then, haven't I?"
"For now, yes," Naminé said raising an eyebrow.
Kaili giggled. "Come on in."
Naminé and Kimblee walked inside. The house had hardly changed since he had last been here. The white tiled floor was as clean as ever. The twin staircases still added the same elegant touch to the entry room with a wooden railing that was hardly worn out. The black grand piano was in the same corner on the same burgundy carpet. The only change to this part of the house was the two new paintings hanging on the walls.
"So how are you Mr. Kimblee?" Kaili asked, holding her hands behind her back.
Before Kimblee could answer, Naminé cut in. "Why are you so formal?"
"Am I?" Kaili looked at Kimblee. "What's your first name?"
"Zolf," he replied. "But I'm fine with Kimblee."
"You don't like your first name?" She asked.
Kimblee shrugged. "Everyone just calls me Kimblee. Even your sister does."
"Weird," Kaili commented, glancing at her older sister. "Aren't you two dating?"
Naminé's face heated up. "W-where did you hear that from?" Kimblee took note that Naminé didn't deny it.
"Mel," Kaili replied, eying both alchemists. "I just think that maybe you should call your boyfriend by his first name. It's a bit more intimate-!"
"Can you play the piano now?" Naminé interrupted, changing the subject completely. She walked over to it. "I mean, you were taking lessons when you were younger."
Kaili smiled and shook her head. "If it's so personal I won't pry, Naminé." She walked over to the piano and sat down. She pushed back the cover, revealing the many keys underneath. "And I can play the piano. A lot better now actually. Should I play something?"
"Sure," Naminé said, resting her elbows on the top of the piano.
Kaili started to play. Kimblee joined the two women by the grand piano, standing next to Naminé. Kimblee watched as Kaili's fingers expertly danced across the keys, creating a beautiful melody. It sounded like a love song, judging by the slow yet happy sound.
"What else can you play?" Kimblee asked.
Kaili's fingers stopped moving. "You have something in mind?"
"Do you know any waltzes?"
Kaili nodded and started to play one. Kimblee turned toward Naminé. "You want to dance?"
Naminé's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "Do you even know how to dance?"
Kaili tried not to giggle as she continued to play.
"Is that a serious question?" Kimblee wasn't an expert but he knew enough about dancing. It was one of those skills that he had found somewhat useful when he and Romberg used to play their game. However, he didn't see what he was doing now as a game. He was taking every moment with her as seriously as he could.
"Just dance with him," Kaili said, looking at her older sister.
Kimblee extended his hand toward Naminé. After a moment of staring at it, the brunette finally took it. Kimblee swiftly led her out into an open area and brought her in close. His eyes held hers captive as one hand went to the small of her back and the other lifted her hand into the air. Naminé awkwardly wrapped her left arm around his shoulders. When he took the first step of the dance, he led her into it. Naminé, despite all her previous apprehension, knew how to follow. Even as the music picked up pace, she didn't get off beat.
"So, um, Zolf?"
Kimblee smirked. Apparently Kaili's words had gotten to Naminé. "You don't have to call m-!"
"I want to," she interrupted, frowning a bit. "As long as you me want to."
"If you want," he said, deciding he was not going to argue with her on this.
"So, Zolf," Naminé started. "I still don't see why you want to dance with me so badly."
Instead of his usual smirk, Kimblee smiled a bit. "When else can I hold you this close, Naminé?"
Naminé suddenly leaned against Kimblee, nearly causing him to stop mid-dance. "You should make this count while it lasts then."
Later that evening...
"Sorry for missing your call," Naminé said over the phone. "I was out all day."
"With Kimblee?" Vi asked.
"I don't see the problem with that."
"I didn't say there was one."
Naminé sighed, snuggling against Kimblee's side. Weeks ago, Vi was supposed to stay with Naminé before Kimblee ended up moving in. Now she was happy that Vi had decided to stay with Mel instead. If Vi had stayed with her, she would probably be sitting across from the two, giving Naminé a dirty look for being so close to Kimblee on the couch. Kimblee placed his hand on Naminé's waist, causing Naminé to look up at him.
"You're still there, Naminé?"
"Yeah. I am," she said, breaking eye contact with Kimblee.
"Anyway, I called to remind you that I'm leaving tomorrow at 10am."
"Right," Naminé said, suddenly remembering. "I'll come to see you off."
Naminé sighed again, running her hand through her auburn hair. "If you don't want him there-!"
"It doesn't matter," she interrupted. "He's next to you, isn't he?"
"Can I talk to him?"
Naminé frowned. "What for?"
"I just want to talk to him. It's nothing serious."
Naminé twisted in Kimblee's arm and held the phone out to him. He raised an eyebrow before taking it from her. "You know, Vi," he said, "I was under the assumption that you, out of all people, would have nothing to say to me."
Naminé thought the same thing. She couldn't understand what Vi had to say to Kimblee when she hated him. She waited for Kimblee's responses to piece the conversation together. However, Kimblee didn't say anything but the occasional yes or no or really? – none of which was helpful to Naminé.
"Maybe we should."
Naminé's eyebrows furrowed together but Kimblee didn't look at her.
"...Yeah? Why not? It sounds like a good idea."
What was a good idea?
Kimblee handed the phone back to Naminé. The brunette covered the receiver. "What did she say?" she asked.
"Nothing important, babe."
Frowning, Naminé uncovered the receiver and started talking to Vi, trying to not let her curiosity get the best of her.
Naminé was in the kitchen cooking when Kimblee stepped out. Like expected, she had asked him where he was going and he had given her the vaguest answer possible, which only caused lifted eyebrows. There was no way he was going to tell Naminé that he was going to meet Vi. Not only would that raise too many questions, he didn't even have all the answers.
Vi was where she said she would be – sitting on the bench nearest to the park's entrance. Her gaze seemed to be on the pond across from her. He could only guess because she had her shades on as always.
"You know it looks ridiculous wearing sunglasses at night, right?"
Vi looked up at the sound of his voice. She stood and took a few steps in his direction. "Most people assume that I'm blind."
"Yeah and you just happen to have a good sense of direction."
Vi shook her head. "You know, I don't have to be here. I could have told you whatever I wanted to tell you over the phone. But you had to insist."
"It was your idea."
"I said it but I didn't mean it."
"Well, what I wanted to ask you, I couldn't with Naminé next to me."
Vi sighed. "What is it?"
"Why don't you go first?"
Vi shook her head and rolled eyes this time. "Fine. I'll make this quick because not even Mel knows I'm meeting you. If I stay out too long, she'll get suspicious."
"Naminé's already suspicious so let's make this quick."
Vi walked to stand near to the pond. Kimblee reluctantly joined her, putting his hands into his pockets. The most exciting things about the pond were the moon's reflection in it and the fireflies lighting up above its surface. The Crimson Alchemist couldn't see why Vi wanted to stare at the pond unless she was avoiding eye contact with him. Now that he thought about it, it wouldn't be surprising if that was the sole reason.
"It's nothing new but I worry about Naminé. After everything with Ishbal, she was in a bad place and no matter how I looked at it, she was in that place because of you. Naminé was getting better. Then you came back and things went downhill."
"Where are you going with this?"
Vi folded her arms. "Naminé's willing to forgive you and Mel's willing to support her one hundred percent but I don't trust you. And I feel that once I leave South City tomorrow, I'm setting Naminé up to just go back to where she started."
"You're worrying too much."
"Am I?" She asked, surprisingly calmly. "After the Ishbal Massacre – and don't even deny it because that was what it was – I thought Naminé was suicidal. She used to get drunk almost every night in Central. If it wasn't for Roy Mustang-!"
"She never told me that."
"...Why would she?" Vi took a deep breath. "I don't know if you really love her or if you're just using her but I guess I'll never know that. So I'll make one plea with you. If all you're going to do is hurt her in the end, stop now."
"...Like I said, you're worrying too much." Out of his peripheral, he caught Vi's head turning suddenly toward him. "She's every bit as important to me as she is to you and I don't just say that about anyone."
Vi looked away and sighed. "If you say so... What is that you wanted to ask me?"
"...What can I give Naminé as a gift?"
"Shouldn't you know?"
"I'm asking you so I don't go over the top and screw things up," Kimblee replied. He honestly didn't know what it would take for Vi to go easy on him. Even if he married Naminé, Vi probably would still hate him.
After some contemplation, Vi suddenly said, "Flowers."
This time, Kimblee looked at her with an incredulous look on his face. He had expected her to say something more expensive. Maybe he hadn't heard right. "Flowers?"
"Flowers," she said, just as firmly as the first time. "Every girl likes flowers. Naminé's no different."
Kimblee thought about the suggestion. All his life, he had never bought flowers for any woman. Buying a woman flowers said something that he never thought about any of the women he had dated. But in that case, Naminé would be different. "I better head home."
He was about to walk away when Vi erupted into giggles. He turned around. "What?"
She shook her head, smiling a bit. "It's nothing. Say hi to Naminé when you get 'home', okay?" Vi walked away, going deeper into the park. She was probably going to use the exit closest to Mel's place. Kimblee turned around and saw a woman standing by a tree, watching him. He saw the blonde hair and the green eyes. She was older now but it was definitely her.
She stepped out from behind the tree. "Kimblee?"
Naminé was just removing the chicken from the oven when there was a knock on the door. Figuring it was Kimblee, she quickly placed the pot on the stove and hurried over to the front door. I should definitely get an extra key made, she told herself. She opened the door and saw Kimblee standing there. "Hey, Zolf," she said with a warm smile. She noticed that his arm was behind his back. "What is that?" She asked.
Kimblee didn't bother answering. Instead, he revealed a bouquet of chrysanthemums. When he held it out to her, Naminé's eyes widened in surprise. She took it from him. The white chrysanthemums looked absolutely gorgeous and they smelled wonderful.
Kimblee finally stepped inside and closed the apartment door behind him. "I decided to stop by the flower shop on the way back."
Naminé smiled. "Thank you."
"I'm glad you like them, Naminé."
Naminé looked down at the flowers. How did they reach this point? A few weeks ago, she wouldn't have believed that they would be here like this. Even having a conversation with Kimblee about anything besides Romberg didn't seem like a possibility.
"Why are you crying?"
Naminé looked up in alarm. She was crying?
"They're just flowers, Naminé."
"I'm happy, that's all." Before he could voice his skepticism, she wrapped her arms tightly around him, burying her tear-stained face into his clothes. She thought that maybe if she squeezed her eyes shut, the tears would stop. However, Kimblee embraced her. She looked up in surprise, meeting his golden eyes.
He brushed a tear rolling down her cheek. "That's a stupid reason for crying."
Naminé averted her gaze, feeling her face heating up.
"You can't expect that we'll just continue where we left when I knew the truth. I need to know things will be different, that you won't be screwing up again."
"Fine. I won't kill any soldiers this time."
"That's not enough, Kimblee."
"Then what do you want, Naminé?"
"I love you."
The three words Kimblee said didn't register at first but when they did, Naminé had to look back up at him. She was undeniably happy but also in disbelief. If she couldn't feel his arms securely around her at that moment, she would have said that all this was a figment of her imagination. "I love you, too."
Kimblee leaned forward, bringing his face closer to hers, but then he stopped. Naminé reached up with her free hand and touched his cheek as encouragement. Kimblee finally closed the distance.
The bouquet slipped out of Naminé's hand.
What started out as a tentative kiss became increasingly more passionate. Normally Kimblee's hands would be on the move but they stayed firmly on her waist. Every rise he got out of her was from his lips. She had no idea how badly he was still restraining himself until she felt his grip tighten on her waist. Somehow the idea of him holding back frustrated her. Daringly, she licked his bottom lip. She felt his body tense against hers and she did again, this time drawing it out. Before she could try a third time, Kimblee finally invaded her mouth. Naminé moaned in content, her fingers intertwining with his dark hair. It had been such a long time.
She had thought the other day was bad but she really needed him now. A part of her wanted to demand him to do what he would normally do. It was then that she realized she her frustration wasn't entirely with him holding back on her.
Naminé slowly pulled away. The two stared at each other for a while. When Kimblee's gaze dropped a little to her lips, Naminé decided to pick up the bouquet off the floor. "I should put these in water, right?"
Kimblee blinked before looking at the chrysanthemums. "Yeah."
"I finished dinner not so long ago. You want some?"
"That would be nice."