Title- Round Midnight
Author- D M Evans
Disclaimer- Arakawa owns all
Characters/Pairing- Chris, Roy
Timeline/Spoilers- spoilers for Roy's childhood so spoilers for anything past chapter 80
Summary- It might be time to alter how she conducts business
Author's Note- This could have been so much longer. It was written for fma_fic_contest's 'midnight' prompt. Thanks to SJ Smith for the beta.
Just after midnight. She'd never find a decent doctor at this hour, Chris thought, limping up the sidewalk. She'd just ice down her injuries and evaluate them in the morning. She held her broken high heels in her hand. Chris ignored the pain in her face, the balloon nature of her left ankle, as she walked.
She hadn't expected Lorien's men to throw her down the stairs. She barely got away but she had the information General Armstrong had sent her after and she had given her pursuers the slip. Now, all she had to do was make it home.
Chris dragged into the lobby of her old hotel, avoiding the bar that dominated the first floor. In spite of what people thought, it wasn't a brothel. It was a safe haven for her girls. Let people think of them what they would. Her girls could escort anyone anywhere, like proper ladies, and come back with whatever information they needed to find. Sometimes they had to sleep for it. More often than not, that wasn't necessary.
Chris turned to see Sabine racing down the old building's narrow hallway, her footsteps eaten up by the worn, floral carpet. "I'm fine." She waved the girl off.
"No, you're not." The young blond caught Chris's wrist. "You're a mess."
The older woman sighed. "I could use a few bags of ice."
"I'll run down to the bar. You wait in your suite."
Chris didn't have to strength to argue. She went into her bathroom and gingerly stripped off her torn dress and the ruins of her silk stockings. Her left leg looked like someone had taken a cheese grater to it. Chris caught a glimpse of her reflection, starting. The whole side of her face was taut with purplish swelling. This would never do. She was getting too old for this, her life changed too radically in recent months to keep up the truly dangerous work.
The woman in the mirror wasn't twenty any more. She had put on more weight than she cared to think about it. A few grey hairs had appeared. Bruises aside, she was still pretty enough. She had never been beautiful, but she had charisma to make up for that. Was that enough or was it time to send her girls out into the more deadly waters she swam in? Chris didn't really like that idea.
"Here," Sabine said, coming in with two bags of ice. She held out one. "Hold this on your face."
Chris complied as the younger girl wrapped the other around Chris's ankle. She started swabbing mercurochrome on Chris's scrapes, making Chris wince.
"Did you get it?" Sabine asked.
"Yes. I'll deal with it in the morning," Chris replied. She took another glance up in the mirror and wondered what Armstrong would make of her face.
Wrapped up, her ankle was able to hold up to walking once morning came. Chris went down to the private living room only to find the major upheaval in her life being more disruptive than usual. Her little nephew was a bright boy, too bright. Not only did he know his alphabet, he could read on his own and he was just five. And what did he have in his hot little hands? One of the girls' tawdry romance novels. Not that she suspected he understood a word of it but she couldn't have him reading that sort of thing.
He glanced up, seeing her bruised face. His mouth flopped open. "Auntie!"
It was easy to get the too-adult book away. Roy dropped it as he jumped up to hug her legs, all the higher he could reach. Her ankle nearly gave way. Chris scooped up the book and sat on the couch, patting the seat. He sat next to her.
"I'm all right, Roy boy. It looks worse than it is. And these books aren't for you."
"I can read it." He pouted.
"I'll find you something more entertaining to read."
And she would. She'd stop at the bookseller on her way back from Armstrong's. Chris looked into those dark, worried eyes. She was all this little guy had left. It made her eyes well up when she thought about her older brother and his death last year. He was far too young to die. She could see some of him in his son, but Roy favored his Xingese mother. Dai-Yu had been a lovely woman. Chris liked her.
Her brother had Chris's interest in discovering information, but he used it in the military in their Investigations department. It's what Chris had thought might shorten his life. Instead, simple prejudice killed her brother and his wife. Someone took it into their heads that an Amestrian shouldn't be married to a Xingese and stole her family from her and Roy.
Chris hadn't been ready to be a mother but Roy made it fairly easy some days, being smart and able to entertain himself. Other days he was the most melodramatic boy on the planet. She couldn't have kids of her own. Once, she almost did, but the 'important' general who had fathered the baby didn't want it and made it clear her continued survival depended on her losing it. Chris knew that was the number one way pregnant women died: at the hands of the baby's father. Things went wrong and kids were permanently out of the picture.
Until Roy. Until her world changed. Chris put her arms around his thin little shoulders, tugging her nephew close. "Tell me what you most want to read about?"
"Something with dragons!"
"Dragons it is." Chris smiled. Yes, she needed to be more careful for him. She would make that happen somehow. The younger girls could take the more active assignments while she coordinated. She would not leave this boy with no one. Now she had something precious of her own to protect and by hell, she would.