Chapter 1: Dirge

I sat in the very back of the church, as far away from that dreadful organ as possible. The cries rising out of the dozens of pipes gave me a headache worse than nails to a chalkboard. Aside from the headache I was numb. At 26 years old, I hadn't thought that I'd be sitting in the back of a church witnessing my father's funeral so soon.

He looked so pale, lying in the casket at the front of the church. His graying chestnut hair combed back neatly. I hadn't seen it that neat except in pictures. His eyelids covered his green eyes that were so like mine. They were comfortable, caring, and loving. They held so much that I never wanted to forget, ever. But the memories had already begun to fade.

I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye and bit down on my lip harder. I was supposed to be the well composed baby girl of Brigadier General Larry Marshall. I was the one who had taken over the family business when mother died in a car accident without a single unnecessary tear. Of course I'd cried, but not in front of anyone. My father disapproved of showing weakness in public. Weaknesses were for your family and partner to know and nobody else.

The priest took his place next to my father, and the grinding in my head was put to rest as the organ ceased playing. I didn't want to hear the speech, didn't want to acknowledge that my father was gone. He wasn't really gone, only asleep. He always fell asleep in the weirdest places. I grinned to myself as I thought of the time I'd woken up to find him asleep on the kitchen counter with a knife in one hand, a carrot in the other, and his head resting on a thawing turkey. It was just another time like that. He'd just picked the wrong place. It was somebody else's funeral, not my father's. It could never be his.

My father was invincible. He'd survived gun shots, knives, assassins, and even alchemy. He always told me war stories, and he'd come back to mom and I after he'd served his time in the Ishbalan Revolt. I could just see the end of one of the scars peaking out of the cuff of his uniform sleeve. That scar had been from catching me before I fell in broken glass.

My father was a good man. A good soldier. A good person. Why was he gone? I couldn't help but wonder how the world had continued after he was gone. It wasn't fair. He'd never be around to see me get married, he wouldn't be there to give me away, and he wouldn't get to see his grandchildren. He'd been robbed of so much, and I couldn't help but wish that the world had stopped.

The priest finished his talk, and others began filtering up to the podium to say their own goodbyes. Several people went, all sending their condolences to his other friends, but not to me. They either didn't know I was sitting in the back of the church, or they didn't want to mention me. The last man went and there was a long pause. I debated going up, but had no idea what I would say. If I talked about my father's death, not only would I have to accept it as true, but I would break down in tears. Sitting in the back of the church with the occasional tear, and outright crying in front of the entire crowd were two different stories. Before I could get up to leave, another figure walked down the aisle.

My father's best friend stood behind the podium. He looked sickly, and paler than my father. He'd been like a second father. I'd known him my entire life. "Larry was a good man. He was my best friend. Everyone has addressed how good a soldier he was, and how kind he was. But they all neglected the two things about him that made him who he really was.

"His unwavering sense of loyalty. Even when Larry didn't like what his orders were, he stuck to them because he believed, truly believed that in the end, everything would turn out well. None of you probably know this, but he was against the intervention in Ishbal. He hated what they were doing there more than anything he'd ever hated before. But you'd never know that because he followed orders, he did what he was told, and he didn't question why. He trusted that our military would do the right thing every time.

"The second was his daughter, Amunet. He loved her more than his own life. Several times that he was about to give up, he thought of her and that pulled him through another battle. His baby girl needed him. She still needs him, even if it isn't as much. And all of you were cruel to her when she came into the office. Cruel to her when she smiled and said hello. Cruel to her when her mother died. And those acts of cruelty pulled Larry apart. He loved his job, and all of his coworkers – all of you – but you and his daughter were conflicting.

"And now, when she needs your support more than ever – now, at her father's funeral – you don't even acknowledge that she's in the room. Amunet is a sweet girl. She's tried to understand what Larry could see in all of you. Don't let yourself lose sight of the fact that Larry was close to your hearts. And don't tarnish his memory by shunning the only family he has left.

"Come up here Amunet. Come up here and look upon the other half of your father. He still lives, Amu. He lives in you, and he lives in them."

He beckoned for me to come up to the podium. I wiped at my eyes furiously. His speech had sent them rolling down my cheeks. I couldn't hold in the grief. I stood shakily and took a deep breath, ignoring the tears that still rolled down my cheeks. Father didn't want me to show weakness, and sorrow was a weakness. So I would pretend that my tears didn't matter.

I took a shaky step forward, and then another, and another, until I was standing next to my father's best friend. He turned me to face the crowd slowly and whispered in my ear, "He's not really gone, Amu. He's just watching you from another place now."

"You called her indifferent after she didn't cry at her mother's funeral. When your father believes in not showing weakness, sorrow is something you don't show. But when you love someone enough, those rules are forgotten. Look at Larry's daughter now and tell me that she isn't hurting more than the lot of you."


Okay people, Z is back!!! *gasp* I almost wrote Blood Sucking Fox. *sighs* Old habits take time to break... anyway, I just felt like posting this here and seeing if I get any hits. I know I'm on some people's alerts list, and I really don't want to be forgotten! So I'm updating with a new story that I'm writing, and have already have a 9 chapter head start on. Actually, on Luna it's two separate stories, so this version is a teeny bit different.

I've changed around and split a couple chapters, so we'll see how it goes. Total there should be close to 25 chapters. Some number around there... we'll see...

Enjoy! And I think I may just have to change my penname back to Blood Sucking Fox because I was hit ith a wave of affection for the penname when I couldn't type it in this chapter. Then, I can say for real that Blood Sucking Fox has returned!