A/N: This part took longer to post. I just had a crazy weekend and the last few days have been full of exams and studying. But the chapter is finally up. Enjoy. :)
CHAPTER 40—Lior, Part 1:
The train had left Central City an hour ago. Naminé had seen Archer this morning before boarding but she had lost him on the train. She had tried to find him in hopes of then seeing Kimblee but she had gotten distracted by a couple of men she had known out west. Catching up and talking about old memories took a lot longer than Naminé expected. She had then excused herself and continued her search for her superior. Eventually, she stumbled into the right train cart. She found a smug-looking Archer, an irritated Mustang, and an unmasked Kimblee.
"I'm glad that you can join us, Thomson," Archer said. "I was just telling Roy how you selflessly accommodated Kimblee in your home."
She took a deep breath and faced Mustang, who was glaring holes through her.
"I guess he was the sole reason you wanted to come, right?" Mustang asked.
"I said I would tell you if it affected you," Naminé reminded him, sitting in the empty seat across from Roy.
Roy's dark eyes looked in Kimblee's direction for a brief moment. Then he moved to sit next to her. "So tell me," he said in a low voice. "Is Kimblee the one you're involved with?" When Naminé only sighed, he pulled away. "I can understand it happening once, Naminé, but twice?"
"Is it any of your concern?" Naminé finally snapped.
Roy sighed and lowered his voice. "It is. If I have to take him out, you'll get in my way, right?"
Naminé narrowed her blue eyes. "It depends on what 'taking him out' means."
"Is there a problem, Roy?" Archer suddenly asked. He had been watching the two for a while now, interpreting their body languages and the phrases he managed to pick up from the conversation. "If it concerns the Crimson Alchemist, I assure you that you shouldn't worry."
Naminé turned around. "Why would you say that?"
Archer lifted an eyebrow. "What else happened twice?"
Naminé opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. Her eyes moved to Kimblee. Not that long ago, he had been comfortable with his hands behind his head, staring at the ceiling with a smug look on his face. Now he looked confused. She focused on Archer. No. He couldn't know about that.
"Kimblee told me about how good you were about satisfying his needs."
Naminé met Kimblee's gaze. There was only one thing running through her mind. Why?
"I couldn't have placed Kimblee with anyone better."
Naminé's face burned with humiliation.
"Is there a point to this conversation, Archer?" Roy interjected, coming to her defense. Not Kimblee, Roy.
While Naminé appreciated the fact that Roy wanted to help her out, all she could think about was why Kimblee was keeping his mouth shut. She clenched her fists. "Don't you have anything to say, Kimblee?"
Kimblee looked out the window. "What's there to say?"
Naminé stood up and went into the next train cart without a word. She was done with the situation and if Kimblee was going to make her look bad, then she didn't want to deal with him either.
The military had a base outside of Lior. It was a large, old building that the military seemingly updated with their equipment. Some parts of the building were for operations but most of them were sleeping quarters, which beat the tents used in Ishbal during the war. The rooms were cooler and felt safer. Naminé still had to share with three other women but that was okay. The 'mess hall' – as small as it was – could be found on the first floor and as expected the food served there could have been better.
After eating dinner, Naminé started heading back to her room. She had nothing to do. Archer hadn't assigned her to babysit for Kimblee, which was understandable considering the situation. But what reason did he have for bringing her out here if he knew about that? Did he expect her to fight in Lior?
Naminé sighed. Speak of the devil himself.
Archer caught up. He saw the expression on her face. Even though it was clear she wasn't thrilled, he smiled. "I see you're still upset about yesterday." Naminé started walking away but Archer purposely matched her strides. "Are you ignoring a superior officer?" When Naminé didn't say a word and continued walking, Archer sped up and blocked her path.
Naminé took a deep breath. "What is it, sir?" She asked curtly.
"Don't take yesterday personally," he told her. "It wasn't so much about you as it was about Kimblee. You just happened to be in the middle of it."
"Right," Naminé muttered. "And you just happened to imply I'm a whore."
"I never implied that," Archer said. "Nor do I think that. Maybe you're more like unfaithful."
"In regards to your previous relationship with Romberg," he explained.
"Where did you hear that?" She asked, trying not to raise her voice.
"I don't have to reveal that to you," he said.
"Well excuse me for asking," she started, hearing the anger in her voice. "But what does my personal life have to do with the military? What right do you have to pry?"
"Every right," he said. "Your relationship with Kimblee, whatever that may be, could have undesirable effects. I just want to dampen them to the best of my abilities."
Archer frowned. "What the hell? There is no way they are attacking us now."
Naminé folded her arms. "It's probably Kimblee," Naminé muttered, heading toward it. Archer followed her.
By the time they arrived at the scene, Mustang and his men were already there. There had clearly been a fight and Kimblee hadn't walked away unscathed. He was on the ground, his clothes tattered and a cut on his forehead bleeding. Archer approached Mustang while Naminé hung back, eying the Crimson Alchemist on the ground. "I can understand it happening once, Naminé, but twice?"
"What happened, Roy?" Archer demanded.
Mustang turned around and looked at the Colonel clearly irritated. "Kimblee got into a fight with Alphonse," he said, narrowing his ebony eyes. "I suggest you find a way to control him."
Archer looked at Kimblee, who was trying to stand up. "What happened to the guard I put at your door?"
Kimblee smirked. "Take a guess, Colonel."
Archer looked back at Naminé. "Thomson, come over here."
Naminé approached the group, trying to ignore Kimblee. "What, sir?"
"I need you on guard duty," he told her. "At least for tonight."
Naminé looked at Kimblee, narrowing her blue eyes. "Come on. Let's go." Kimblee staggered onto his feet. A part of her wanted to offer him support but the rest of her wanted to ignore Kimblee's state and let him wobble to his room by himself. He deserved it. He started all this unnecessary trouble. When he lost his balance, Naminé found herself helping him.
Their eyes met and Kimblee smirked. "I guess I'll be having fun tonight."
Naminé dropped him.
"Have someone else bring him to his room, Colonel," Naminé told Archer as she stormed away. It was very unprofessional of her but she didn't care. Kimblee had killed someone tonight and he acted like things were dandy. She, on the other hand, couldn't pretend anymore. Before Archer could order her, she left quickly.
An hour later, Naminé sat outside of Kimblee's room waiting for the doctor's report. It had been the worse hour of the day. All she could do was think about her life and all the decisions she had made to this point – how many were stupid, how many would probably wreck her life, and how many would be the end of her. Was love supposed to be this stressful? Was she supposed to be questioning every part about it?
The doctor finally emerged from the room. Naminé looked up from her place on the floor. "Is he okay?" She asked.
"He'll be fine," the doctor said. "Luckily he sustained very little injuries. With a good night's rest, he'll be fine tomorrow."
"Thanks," Naminé said, as if the news made her feel better about anything.
"Have a good night, miss."
"You, too." When the doctor was out of sight, Naminé let out a sigh. It was back to her and her troublesome thoughts. She was about to let the heavy feelings consume her again until she heard footsteps coming down the hallway. She looked and saw that it was one of Mustang's men. "Lieutenant Havoc?" She double-checked, frowning as he leaned on the wall opposite against her, cigarette in mouth. "What are you doing here?"
"The Colonel said that I should check on you," he answered. "To make sure Kimblee didn't retaliate for dropping him earlier."
"You should tell the Colonel to have more faith in my abilities," she said, smiling a bit. "I can handle myself. But why send you?"
"Actually he wanted to send one of us," Havoc shrugged. "I just lost rock, paper, scissors."
"Was that necessary?" Naminé asked, trying to make a light conversation.
"Well, considering that Kimblee blew up a soldier today-!"
"Right, of course," Naminé interrupted, looking down the hallway. That reason should have been obvious. Not many people would willingly put their life at risk for someone they didn't know.
"So... How does a nice a girl like yourself end up with a guy like that?" Havoc suddenly asked. "I thought that the whole you liking sadistic and insane men was a joke but I guess not, huh?"
Naminé resisted rolling her eyes. "First of all, Kimblee is not the rule. Second, it's complicated."
Havoc sat down on the floor to be eye-leveled with the woman. "Nothing's that complicated."
Naminé wanted to tell him that he should leave her alone but she couldn't. She knew that once he left her, she would just drown in her depressing thoughts. If this was going to work, she would have to change the topic into something lighter.
"How was the double date with Roy?" Naminé asked. "If you went."
"Well, the girl was cute," he said. "But she was fawning all over Roy at the end."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
Havoc shrugged. "I honestly don't know how the Colonel doesn't it without trying."
Naminé decided to offer her two cents. "I think what women like about Roy is that he's straightforward and confident. He doesn't use stupid pickup lines and he has a knack for saying all the right things. Even I almost went on a date with him once."
Naminé sighed. "Well, I had these two male coworkers who didn't want me dating Roy. A couple of bets were made and I lost. Roy didn't get his date and I had to go on a date with one of my coworkers. To answer your previous question, that's how it happened. Me being involved with him."
Havoc nodded, taking this bit of information in. "I guess he wasn't always like this, huh?"
"Maybe I didn't see it. I bet you think I'm stupid for loving a man like that."
Havoc shrugged. "I wouldn't call it stupid. That's not the right word."
"What would you call it then?"
Havoc thought about it. "Well, judging by what I've seen and heard, maybe blindly masochistic."
She raised an eyebrow. "Blindly masochistic?"
"You're asking if I think you're stupid. That means you have doubts. But, from what I gathered from the Colonel, you are well aware of his crimes. Still, you're in a relationship with the guy so you're hoping he can change."
"So where does masochistic fits in?"
"Well, you've been through this once and it went downhill. Why do it all over again?"
The door to Kimblee's room swung open. Naminé and Havoc got onto their feet for two very different reasons. "Shouldn't you be resting?" Naminé said, standing in front of the Crimson Alchemist.
"It's kinda hard when you're talking so loudly, babe."
"In that case, I should go report to the Colonel," Havoc announced, causing Naminé to look at him. He gave her a mock salute. "Lieutenant Colonel, have a good evening."
"You, too." Naminé watched the lieutenant walk before facing Kimblee. "You need to get back inside your room. Archer's orders."
"Only if you come in with me."
Naminé took a step toward him. "You're not in a position to compromise with me, Kimblee."
The Crimson Alchemist took note that she hadn't used his first name. "I want to talk to you."
"What's there to say?"
He gave an incredulous look. She was actually trying to use his words against him. "You let that guy get into your head, didn't you?"
"Kimblee, get back inside your room."
"Didn't the last few weeks mean anything to you?"
"To me?" She repeated, pointing indignantly to herself. "What about you, Zolf? Telling Archer that I'm just your little sex toy when you need a fix! And you're questioning me?"
"I did what I had to do."
"Really? And killing that soldier tonight was part of your plan? You said you wouldn't do things like that anymore! You even tried to blow up a kid!"
"That isn't a kid – it's hunk of metal."
Naminé narrowed her blue eyes. "Is that so?"
"Yeah, it is. It goes under the list of 'Things Mustang Doesn't Tell You.'"
"Bringing Roy into this doesn't change the fact that I'm fucking mad at you!"
Kimblee sighed. "Come inside and let's talk about it."
"No," Naminé said, shaking her head. "Just go to sleep and make my job easier, Zolf."
Kimblee didn't budge. Instead he took a step closer to her. "Do you know what collateral is? That's how Archer sees you. He thinks he could use you to control me. If I keep my distance, maybe I can keep you out of this."
"...You still haven't told me why you attacked Al or blew up that soldier."
He sighed. "I wasn't attacking Al. Not in the beginning. He's harboring a fugitive here. Does the name 'Martel' ring any bells?"
Naminé frowned. "Martel?"
"She was in the Devil's Nest and now she wants revenge. She attacked first."
"And the soldier?"
"I needed the materials for a bomb."
"You didn't have to use a bomb. You could have used hand-to-hand combat."
"Why are you being so difficult?" He finally asked.
"You know why, Zolf."
He stared at Naminé. She looked so exhausted and he couldn't understand why. He had explained his actions so she should be able to see things more clearly. If she was actually dwelling on what that guy had said... He looked both ways down the hallway and saw no one. He didn't see anyone in the courtyard below either.
Kimblee moved fast. One hand went for the woman's lower back while the other went for her head. He kissed her. She didn't push him away but she didn't reciprocate either. "I still love you, Naminé," he murmured softly against her lips. "I'll be on my best behavior."
"Then go to bed."
Kimblee smirked and pulled away. "Good night, babe." He retreated back into his room and closed the door.
Naminé sat back on the floor, this time leaning against the door. In the off chance that Kimblee tried to sneak out, she would know. She rested her heat against the door and closed her blue eyes. Havoc had been partially right. Kimblee easily switched between the man she wanted and the man who yearned for explosions. While she wished for it desperately, she couldn't get rid of the part she didn't like no matter how much she smothered him with affection. She knew that Kimblee would always be torn between the two identities. She just didn't know which side would win out.