A/N: It has been too long. I was hoping that I would have gotten this chapter up last week but I was tweaking the hell out of it. Some parts didn't seem up to par. But yeah. After this, there are probably only two more chapters, three at max. The core of Chapter 42 is written so hopefully that will be up next week. In the meantime, enjoy the update.
CHAPTER 41—Lior, Part 2:
The light from the rising sun flooded the hallway. Naminé opened her eyes. Without realizing it, she had dozed off. She got off the floor and stretched her limbs, working the knots and aches from her stiff muscles. She opened Kimblee's room and was pleased to see he was indeed sleeping. Looking at him, she wouldn't have guessed all the atrocities he had done if she didn't know better. This was the reason she liked waking up before him. She quietly closed the door and sat back down. Once again her thoughts consumed her.
The brunette soon spotted Archer approaching her with a soldier. Immediately she stood up. "Good morning, sir," she said.
Archer smiled. "I assume you manage to keep Kimblee out of trouble."
"I did," she confirmed. "He's still sleeping."
"Good," Archer said. He gestured toward the man next to him. "This soldier will take over for now."
Naminé happily left her station, walking with Archer and heading for the mess hall. The hallways seemed empty but that could be because it was still early. Naminé stifled a yawn but she still managed to catch Archer's attention.
"I'll need you to return to your sentry duties this evening," he suddenly said, breaking the silence.
Naminé furrowed her eyebrows together. "Is there something else you want me to do today?" She didn't understand why he would give her such a huge break.
The colonel shook his head. "You're free to do whatever you want today," he told her. "Maybe even make up sleep. You look exhausted."
"Thank you," she said, thinking that was surprisingly kind of him. She thought about whether she should ask what was on her mind. Then she decided she didn't have anything to lose. "Colonel, what are you planning for Lior?"
"Only the necessary precautions, Thomson."
He was being no vaguer than usual. What she really wanted to know was where Kimblee fit into his scheme and what he wanted the Crimson Alchemist to do. Last night had shown that the mad bomber was still there but Kimblee came back from that. He had lost the murderous gleam in his eyes toward the end of the night. However, if Kimblee had to do far worse in Lior, than he would just revert back completely.
Naminé stopped walking. Archer turned around and gave her a quizzical expression. "I think I'll skip breakfast," she explained. "I'm really exhausted and there is no way I can stay up again if I don't get enough sleep."
Archer nodded in understanding. "I'll see you later tonight, Thomson."
Naminé headed toward her room. When she walked in, she didn't see any of her roommates inside. Without missing a beat, she dropped onto her bed. She fell asleep quickly.
It had been a surprise when the Fuhrer arrived. It had been even more surprising for Kimblee when the top dog wanted a word with him. While Kimblee knew that the Fuhrer had never done the most 'noble' of things, he had never suspected that the Fuhrer would approve of inciting a riot. It raised several questions – such as what actually started the Ishbal War – but he didn't dwell on it for long. Kimblee was just excited that he had something to do. It beat staying in that room all day. The Fuhrer said his goodbyes and left to tend other matters. Now it was only he, Archer, Tucker, and the caged chimeras that remained. There was an awkward silence, Tucker making it worse with only how uncomfortable he looked. Kimblee assumed that he wasn't thrilled about sending his chimeras into Lior. When Archer asked Tucker his chimeras, Kimblee decided it was time to go.
"I'm leaving," Kimblee announced, heading for the door. He wondered what his favorite brunette was up to. Last night she had brushed him off easily. But since he felt better this morning, she wouldn't be able to this time.
"Hold on," Archer said. "I would like to make clear a few things about tomorrow."
Kimblee looked back. "Go into Lior and stir things up. Seems pretty straightforward."
"It's important you don't spend all day doing that," Archer said. "The sooner you report back, the sooner I can make a move. It's also important you do what you have to."
"And why wouldn't I?"
"Maybe because a certain brunette got into your head."
Kimblee laughed. "If you really think that, wouldn't bringing her here make the situation worse?"
"We both know why she's here," Archer said. "Just think of it this way – if you can't do your job, I'll send Thomson into a potentially dangerous area. She could even run into Scar."
Kimblee ignored that Archer was trying to use Naminé against him. Surprisingly, up this point, his face hadn't betrayed his thoughts. "And you think Naminé can do a better job?"
Archer shrugged. "Doesn't matter. I'll still get a martyr and a reason to fight, won't I?" Archer caught the expression on Kimblee's face. It was almost funny. Kimblee was supposed to have no regard for human life but he was showing otherwise. "What's the problem? You were fine with Full Metal being the martyr for our cause. Why would Thomson be an exception? "
"She's not." Kimblee caught Tucker staring at him. One look had the former human averting his gaze. It didn't take long for the half-chimera-half-human to find some sort of solace with his talking chimeras.
"Isabelle said differently."
Kimblee looked back at Archer. "Who gives a shit about what Isabelle says?" He couldn't say he was surprised. This wouldn't be the first time Isabelle had opened her mouth. Maybe he shouldn't have humored her in the park that night.
"Don't worry. Just do your job and no harm will come to Thomson."
"It's really pissing me off that you can't seem to get it through your skull. Naminé means nothing to me and using her against me won't. Besides, I was going to do the job anyway. I've been eager to make fireworks again."
Some time while Naminé had slept, she had missed the Fuhrer's arrival. She had heard about it a few hours later when her roommates finally returned from their posts, talking loudly about it and other things. Naminé hoped that the Fuhrer hadn't noticed her absence. It would look terrible on her part, especially since she had recently been promoted. She headed downstairs. By then the sun had already started to set.
When Naminé couldn't find her superior, she went to Roy. Roy was by himself in his office, leaning back comfortably on a couch and staring at the ceiling. He didn't look at her until she sat opposite him. Even then, it was like he didn't really see her. Clearly his mind was preoccupied.
"I heard the Fuhrer's here," she said.
"You missed his arrival?"
Naminé nodded. "I was a bit tired from Kimblee duty."
Roy's dark eyes clouded a bit before he sat up and faced her. "Why didn't you tell me he was back?"
"I don't know, Roy. Maybe the same reason you won't tell me anything either."
"What are you talking about?"
"Hughes' death. What really went on behind it. What you're involved in." Roy gave her a funny look and she sighed. "Kimblee may not be perfect but at least he doesn't leave me in the dark... What exactly is Al? An animated suit of armor?"
Roy sighed. "Can't say."
"Should I ask the Fuhrer then?"
Roy stared. "I bet this makes up for every crime he committed, right? Killing Romberg-!"
"He didn't kill him," Naminé said, cutting him off.
"I find that hard to believe. It was his MO."
"Kimblee told me what happened."
"And you believe him."
"Yes. I do."
Roy stared hard at her but Naminé didn't waver. He went back to his original question. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I doubt Archer would approve," Naminé said slowly. "And I didn't find it necessary. Would you have believed me?"
"Yes," he said.
She couldn't tell if Roy actually meant that. Everyone – the military, Mel, and Vi – had shut down that idea, had even questioned her sanity. Yet Roy was claiming he would have believed her if she had told him from the get-go. She looked down at her clasped hands.
"I wish Hughes played a better job at matchmaker," Roy said after a while. "You wouldn't be in your current predicament."
"Do you honestly think this time will be different?"
She gave a weak smile. "I can hope, right?"
Naminé was walking down the hallway, ready to take up Kimblee Duty again. She was surprised to see Archer standing outside Kimblee's room. The Colonel was talking to Kimblee about something until he noticed that she was coming toward them. She couldn't help but feel like she was interrupting something.
"You're on time," Archer said. "Your hours will be short. Kimblee has to head out before dawn to do a mission."
Naminé looked at Kimblee, raising her eyebrows. "In Lior?"
Archer nodded. "It's a very important mission."
Archer started to walk away. "Make sure Kimblee gets adequate rest, Thomson."
When Archer was far away, Kimblee looked at Naminé, barely moving from the doorway. "Anything you want to know about tomorrow, babe?"
"Quite a bit," she admitted.
Kimblee smiled and stepped back. "Want to come in?"
Naminé looked at him, clearly confused, but Kimblee waved an arm toward his room. Shaking her head, Naminé stepped inside. Seeing that the bed was the only thing to sit on besides the floor, she went over to it and plopped herself down at the foot of the bed. Kimblee sat down not too far from her before lying down.
"So, what's your very important mission?" She asked,
"I'm going to go make some fireworks in Lior. Stir things up; give the military a reason to go in. You can come and watch if you're interested."
Naminé looked at him. At first she was shocked. Then she was angry. He had called it fireworks and he thought she wanted to watch? "You haven't changed at all and Archer's just encouraging your behavior."
"You don't care about the innocent people you might kill?!"
Kimblee stared at her, seeing the clear distress on her face. To appease her he should have said yes but he wasn't going to lie to her. He shook his head and caught the sudden increase in her glare's intensity. He snorted. "You haven't changed since Ishbal, babe." If she wanted to be upset about yesterday, that was fine. But if he was simply carrying out the orders given to him by Archer, she shouldn't be giving him death glares.
Naminé looked away. "Unlike you, I have my morals, Zolf. I wouldn't care who gave me orders. I would never do this. Start a war? Why would anyone do that?"
Kimblee sighed and thought it over for a bit. "Naminé?" She met his gaze and he caught the defeated look in her eyes. It was like she knew where this was going. "I'm sorry." He wasn't sorry for the argument or for what he had done and was going to do. He was sorry that he couldn't do what she wanted.
She lied down next to him, him holding her gaze captive. She reached out and stroked his face, gently tracing his jawline. "I'm sorry, too, but I really don't want you to go tomorrow."
He took hold of her hand and got on top of her. "What are you afraid of?" Kimblee kissed her lips softly. He then moved to her chin and then to her neck. Naminé stared at the ceiling, waiting for something to drown out all the concerns and fears. She felt her military jacket open and the buttons to her blouse being undone. After a while, she sat up.
Kimblee sat up, wondering if he had done something wrong. Then she kissed him. She worked off his military jacket and only pulled away to remove his shirt. Both articles of clothing fell by the side of the bed.
Kimblee quickly worked Naminé out of her jacket and blouse, revealing the black bra underneath. It didn't take long for him to remove the bra as well. He left her swollen lips and trailed kisses downward.
She closed her eyes. Maybe I am stupid, maybe even blindly masochistic but I still love him.
She did love him and she hoped with all her heart that he loved her in return. She should be able to tell if he didn't. Love making wouldn't feel this good, her heart wouldn't be fluttering like it was all new again, and she wouldn't be clutching so desperately to him as if she was afraid to let him go. He wouldn't bother making eye contact, he wouldn't be clutching her hand, fingers intertwined, and he wouldn't say her name like it was precious. And falling over the edge together wouldn't be so euphoric and freeing.
Kimblee moved to get off her but she pulled him into a slow kiss. "Just stay."
"You sure? I don't want to crush you."
Kimblee snuggled against her neck and closed his golden eyes. "You're way too good to me, Naminé."
Naminé closed her eyes, holding him a little tighter. Even though it was in vain, she wished that this moment would never end.
Kimblee woke up a few hours later. They had fallen asleep with the bedroom light on. Carefully freeing himself from Naminé's embrace, he got out of bed and turned off the lights. He quickly found his clothes on the floor and put them on. He heard Naminé moved on the bed but he hoped that was just her tossing in her sleep. He didn't want her to be awake when he left. It would be so much easier that way.
"Zolf?" He turned around and saw her sitting up in the dark. Like expected, she was clutching the sheets to her chest for modesty's sake. "Where are you going?"
"I'm... still worried about you going. You might be-!"
He pressed his finger against her lips, effectively shushing her. After a night like that, she was still worrying her head over nothing. Clearly he had some sort of incentive to come back. He removed his finger when he was sure she wouldn't continue. "Don't worry about it. I'll see you later this morning. I promise."
"...Maybe I should go with you."
Kimblee shook his head. "Don't bother." She didn't need to see what he was going to do in Lior. She had been nearly broken over about that one soldier from yesterday. She would probably mentally break if she saw dozens of people screaming for their lives. Plus, he knew that if she was there, he would hold back. "Go back to sleep, babe." He kissed her on her cheek, trying to make this easier on the both of them. However, she laced her arms around his neck and pulled him into a lip lock.
The sheets she had clutched against her chest fell away and soon his hands were on her, trying to memorize the feel of her soft skin. He considered staying longer for round two. He wanted round two. But he knew if he didn't leave now, he probably never would. He removed her arms from his neck and put some distance between them.
He reached for his pocket watch and stared at it. "Here," he said, passing it to her. "Hold this for me until I get back."
She took it and clutched it in her hand. "Sure," she said quietly.
He stroked her cheek, catching her attention. "I love you."
"I love you, too, Zolf." It was barely there but he heard the faint cracking in her voice. He didn't want to see her tear up. He stood up and headed for the door. He took hold of the doorknob, hesitated, and looked back.
With that, he left the room and Naminé behind.