Title: Shake Down

Author: S J Smith

Rating: teenish

Summary: Kimbley needs to get his point across.

Disclaimer: Arakawa owns all. I just play in her sandbox.


Kimbley removed his hat as he entered the shop, the sweet chime of the bells alerting the owners someone had entered the building. It seemed quaint, as did the entire set up as he could see it. Everything sparkled, as if it was constantly cleaned within an inch of its life. Photographs were pinned to the wall behind the counter, and he stepped closer to look at them, reaching over to pluck one free.

"Can I help you?" Her voice matched the sweet bells, curious and friendly.

Kimbley turned, offering her a smile. "Ah, Miss Rockbell, I presume? I'm very pleased to finally have a chance to meet you." He pressed his hat against his chest, giving her a partial bow.

The pretty blonde flushed at his words. "I'm sorry, do you have an appointment?" She pulled out a book from beneath the counter and opened it, checking through the list.

He lay his hand on the book. "No, but you'll make time to see me, Miss Rockbell. My name is Zolf Kimbley." Holding up a finger to silence her, Kimbley went on. "I knew of your parents. Very devoted, opening a clinic in Little Istanbul." Her gull wing brows swept down. "I know they were killed during the riots. I was part of the team directed to that part of the city. I was too late to reach them. I wanted to offer my apologies for that. I had greatly wanted to meet them."

"Really?" She relaxed her stance a bit, something he appreciated in an esthetic way.

"They were amazing people, from what I've heard. And you, you've followed in their footsteps." Kimbley swept his hat around the small shop. "You've devoted yourself to helping people, the same way your parents did." This, this was the part he loved the most. Building them up, letting them think he was a friend, an admirer. "But there's always a price for doing good. You could consider it 'Equivalent Exchange.'"

Her curious expression made her even more charming. "I'm sorry?"

"This is a very dangerous neighborhood, don't you think?" Kimbley walked to the windows, indicating the bars on them. "Bad things could happen here, to you, to your customers." He turned back around, facing Miss Rockbell. "You understand, don't you? You're a very intelligent girl."

"You're," her frown deepened. "You're shaking me down, aren't you? I don't need protection, Mr. Kimbley."

"Is that so? I understand you're close friends with the Elric brothers." He held up the photograph he'd taken from the wall. Her eyes widened and she came out from behind the counter, reaching for the picture. Kimbley held it just out of her reach. "Ah, ah!" He waved a finger at her. "These two boys, I know they've been through a lot. One, well, he's your best customer, isn't he? Edward Elric? The other, his brother, Alphonse, is still recovering from a debilitating illness." This, this was the best part, watching the realization flash through their eyes. "It would be a tragic thing for something to happen to Alphonse."

Miss Rockbell's fists clenched. "You wouldn't dare."

"All I'm offering is my services, Miss Rockbell, to make sure nothing untoward happens to you, or your friends, or your customers. I'll give you until Wednesday, at noon, to think about it." Kimbley handed her the photo, not surprised she snatched it from him and clutched it to her chest. Her blue eyes blazed with a righteous flame.

"Until Wednesday, Miss Rockbell." Kimbley twirled his hat in his hand, settling it on his head. He touched his brim to her and swept out of the clinic, the bells chiming a charming counterpoint. That really was the best part, seeing the indignation, and then the understanding there was nothing to do but accept his offer.