Disclaimer - not mine. All rights belong to Ms Arakawa
Characters/Pairing Roy/Riza, Ed/Win, Al/OC
Timeline/Spoilers future fic and contains spoilers right up to the very end
Word Count 45,984
Warningviolence but no more than the manga,
Summary Father and Bradley were defeated but not everyone has gone quietly into that good night. Someone thinks Ed and Al were responsible for the death of General Raven and is out for revenge.
Author’s Note - Originally this was started for evil_little_dog and mjules for the holidays. I thought they’d enjoy where this story will go eventually. It was adapted and completed for fmabigbang Thanks to evil_little_dog and lyrangalia for the beta on the first few chapters and to evil_little_dog for the beta on the rest. THANK YOU to the lovely art I received from my artists, seeshelle & Yoporock. I’m so happy with it all.
Author’s Note #2 This is alternative reality. I started it two years ago long before we knew Roy’s exact relation to the Madam so that is different. Also, when this was started, I had no idea what would really happen with everyone at the end of the manga so there are some obvious deviations.
chapter three & four
chapter five & six
chapter Seven & Eight
chapter nine & Ten
chapter eleven & twelve
“Thanks, Al, for coming with me,” Winry said, stepping into the newest Resembool clothing shop. She tried to get the door shut before the autumn wind whipped in leaves. “I can’t believe your brother wouldn’t come. He’s such a…”
“Jerk? You can’t believe Brother didn’t want to shop?” Al’s gold eyes twinkled. “Are we talking about the same Ed?”
Winry snorted, shrugging out of her jacket and handing it to Al. “I knowhe’s an idiot. This wasn’t just about shopping.”
Al shook his head. He’d known the invitation had been a romantic overture but Ed was dense. He’d always thought that Ed had ignored the sensual, emotional aspects of life in order to concentrate fully on restoring their bodies, but now that they had succeeded – at least on Al’s part – Ed still didn’t seem to notice. Al found himself siding with Mustang; Ed was dumb as a stump about romance. “I know.”
“So I’ll treat you to lunch, Al,” Winry said, smiling softly.
“You don’t need to do that. I wanted to go for a good walk.” Al glanced at the stout cane he still needed to use as his muscles slowly strengthened. The handle was currently shaped like a dragon in flight. “I just wish Ed would quit transmuting my cane.”
“I did notice you gave up on setting it back the way it should be.” Winry grinned.
“He just keeps changing it to the scary things he sees in his head.” Al sighed. There were times, upon seeing Ed’s ‘art,’ that he really had to wonder about his older brother’s sanity or lack thereof. Add that to Ed’s reluctance, or whatever it was, to notice Winry practically under his nose, and Al decided then and there his brother was nuts.
“You can wait over there.” Winry pointed to the one chair near the dressing room. He always assumed that one lonely yet ubiquitous chair was reserved for the poor sot getting dragged along shopping to appease his girlfriend.
Al dutifully claimed it. He didn’t really even mind clothes shopping. Ed should have known better, really, instead of acting like Winry wanted to boil him in oil. It was fun seeing Winry in new outfits, and even more fun imagining her changing into them. He glanced back at the room, his imagination catching fire.
art by seeshelle, DA link - Link to PaintingFlowers
“You girlfriend looks like she’s enjoying my selection.”
Al startled at the sound of a feminine voice in his ear. He looked up into a set of very dark, almond-shaped eyes. The young woman smiled at him, her long, straight black hair flowing down to her very shapely hips. She was one of the most exotic and delicate women he had ever seen. She reminded him of Ran Fan or Mei, only shapelier. “Oh, Winry isn’t my girlfriend, more like a sister.” Al knew that Winry loved Ed and vice versa, even if they were both dense about it. Al cared for Winry, but he didn’t love her like that. He could have, maybe, if not for his brother. This was one battle he’d gladly lose to Ed.
“Oh.” The shop keep’s eyes lit up and she gazed at him with such interest, Al blushed. “I’m Snowdrop Winthrop. I know, I know, my parents hated me.” She laughed. “You can call me Snow. I just moved here.”
“Alphonse Elric. You have a very nice shop.”
“Thank you.” Snowdrop gestured to her stock. “I hope to get some of the locally woven wool sweaters to sell in Central, too. My sister has a shop there.”
“That’s a very good idea.” Al hoped he didn’t sound like an eager puppy. Pretty women didn’t usually talk to him, but to be fair, he had been nothing but empty armor for so long and armor was oppressive. And having spent months in Resembool, Al was reminded that pretty women often didn’t remain unattached in his home town for long.
Snowdrop smiled at him. She had a very nice smile, Al decided. “I hope so. I’d better go help your friend.”
“Of course.” Al snuck a book out of the lightweight autumn jacket he wore. He had planned ahead for just this event. Winry could take her time and he wouldn’t be bored. He glanced up every so often when she called his name and Al would give his opinion on the outfit she was modeling while giving some thought on how said clothing had been drawn up over her skin. Ed didn’t have a clue what he was missing.
“So, she’s really not your girlfriend?” Snowdrop remarked, coming back over to him as Winry went to change back into her own clothes. She didn’t look like she believed him entirely. Had he watched Winry a little too closely?
“No.” Al shut his book, smiling up at her.
Snowdrop rested her hands on her hips. “I can’t believe that of a cute guy like you.”
Al flushed. “Thanks. I don’t have a girlfriend, period.”
“That’s even harder to believe,” Snowdrop said and Al’s face turned a deeper shade of ruby. “Would you like to go to lunch with me?”
Al’s eyes widened. He hadn’t expected that. His brain and mouth froze for a moment before he pried it open enough to say, “That would be nice, though my brother doesn’t let me out of his sight much.” He frowned, realizing how weird that sounded. “I’ve been very ill so Ed’s a bit overprotective.”
To his surprise, Snowdrop didn’t seem particularly put out by that confession. “I’m sorry to hear you were so sick.” Her dark eyes flicked to his cane as if wondering what role that might play. “I’ve a friend who works in town. Maybe he’d like her company.”
Al tried not to laugh at the idea of Ed out on a double date, but it was such a ludicrous suggestion that he couldn’t help himself. He held up his hands, apologetically. “Somehow, I don’t see my brother doing that. Then again, I was lucky enough to escape with Winry. He could surprise me.” Al decided not to enlighten Snowdrop on how the lunch might go; them trying to eat and talk, Ed glaring and swearing. “I’d love to go regardless of what he does.”
“Can I call you after you talk to your brother?” Her enthusiasm made Al’s pulse jump.
Al couldn’t help beaming. “Sure. I’m staying with the Rockbells. The operator can put you through. We’re living there right now with Winry and her grandmother.”
“Oh, aren’t you from Resembool?” Surprise splashed across her face.
Al shrugged. “Originally, but our house burned down a few years ago. Not really sure where we’ll end up in the long run.”
“That’s very sad.” Snowdrop looked up, hearing the dressing room door open, her long hair swinging. Al liked how glossy it was. He wanted to touch it and see if it was as silky as it looked. “I think your friend is ready to buy.”
Al went up to the register with Winry so he could say goodbye to Snowdrop and promise to call her at the shop with when he’d be ready for lunch. After a brief argument with Winry about carrying her packages for her – he lost – they headed out. The wind blew briskly, kicking up multicolored leaves and tugged at their hair with angry fingers.
“You liked her,” Winry said lightly before they had gotten to the end of the block.
Al blushed. “Yeah, I did. She’s pretty. She wants me to go to lunch.”
Winry looked at him levelly. “You said ‘yes,’ I trust.”
“Sort of. You know Ed will fuss. That’s why I’ll be calling her.”
“Al, don’t tell your brother I said this, but you can do what you want.” The seriousness of Winry’s expression surprised Al. She nudged him with a shopping bag. “You don’t always have to listen to him.”
Al laughed. “I know, but it’ll be less traumatic all around if I pretend he has some input in this.”
Winry shook her head but didn’t protest. She knew the truth. Al glanced back toward the store. His first real date, he couldn’t wait. Hopefully, Ed wouldn’t be a real pain about this. At least their father was back in Central working with President Armstrong and Mr. Mustang. Al wasn’t sure he was ready to hear what his father might think of him dating.
X X X
Snowdrop headed into the small apartment above her store, a sharp contrast to the spacious place she grew up in. It reminded her more of the squalid places she lived in with her real mother and her horrible stepfather. She squeezed her eyes shut against the memories.
She didn’t want to take this apartment, let alone have to share the small space with someone, but Resembool offered little in the way of housing. Apparently people didn’t move to this bucolic place. You were born here and lived in your family house until you married or even after. Everyone knew everyone else. It was a shame the client couldn’t wait until the Elrics returned to Central. She and her companion, Belle, would have been less noticeable there. So far, she was the only one with Xingese blood that she had seen.
Snowdrop didn’t know who or what had been in this apartment before her but they must have been a fan of color, too much of it, or maybe color-blind. The living room had once been an eye-searing yellow, now cracked and peeling in places. The cramped bathroom was the same pink as tincture of bismuth for sour stomachs. Her bedroom was orange and purple and Belle’s was more of the virulent yellow and hounds tooth wallpaper. Someone owed them both for putting up with this. She wouldn’t have expected such a place in a buttoned down little town. Snowdrop considered it was possible that this apartment had last been occupied by an artist who went mad.
Flopping on the couch, she picked up a book but didn’t try to read it yet. She wanted to relax a little first. Snowdrop wondered, not for the first time, if coming here was a mistake. Her brother always said she wasn’t made for this, that her strengths lay elsewhere. She had volunteered in part to prove her brother wrong and Snowdrop was proud to get the assignment. It could be a very important one, a little scary even.
Snowdrop just wondered why she had unexpected misgivings about this. Someone could get hurt, that had been drilled into her since she was young, however, it was taking on more meaning now. She opened her book, trying to lose herself in the volume of Xingese alchemy her brother had given her. Snowdrop didn’t have his skill with it, but she enjoyed what she could do nonetheless.
The front door opened, Belle hurried in, shivering. Her wavy blond hair rippled. “The temperature is dropping.” She sat down opposite Snowdrop. “How did it go at the shop?”
“Better than expected.” Snow sat upright. “Of all people to walk in, Alphonse Elric came with a friend, that Rockbell girl from the files. I didn’t even have to start investigating to find a way to get closer to him.”
Belle leaned forward, eager for more news. “Amazing. What’s he like? Do you think it will be hard to work your way closer to him?”
“Not hard at all. I have a date with Alphonse.” Snowdrop wrinkled her nose. “I think.”
Belle rolled her eyes. “How could you not know?” She flopped onto the old overstuffed chair, yanking the afghan down over herself.
“He’s been ill and his brother has him on a tight leash,” Snow set her book aside. “I’m trying to get them to go out with the both of us but Alphonse didn’t seem to think his brother would go for that.”
“Well, so far the older one hasn’t set foot in the bar I’m working at. Our client said Elric was smart but very odd, maybe from drinking. I’m thinking the client is wrong about the drinking.” Belle pried off her shoes, fanning her toes. Snowdrop figured her feet probably hurt from standing on them all day. “It does sound like he’s odd,” she said dubiously. “I hear he screams a lot and has this insane smile.”
“I haven’t got a good sense of him yet since Al hasn’t told me much about his brother yet other than he’s overprotective.” Snowdrop shrugged. “I guess we’ll see.”
“That is our job.” Belle offered up a flat smile.
Snowdrop nodded, trying not to smile. This was her first job like this. How could she not be excited? Her earlier apprehension dissipated in the storm of exhilaration doing something like this generated.
“I don’t like it,” Ed grumbled, unpacking his suitcase. More correctly, Winry decided, tossing clothes willy nilly and would probably leave them where they lay until Al or she put them away, or poor Mrs. Hughes, when she saw what happened to her guest room.
Winry sat on the twin bed designated to be Al’s, running her finger over the large star pattern on the quilt. “Why not? I think it’s sweet that Al has a girlfriend. I like Snowdrop.”
“Yeah, well…Al’s too young for all this. You know what they do.” Ed slapped his metal hand into the growing pile of clothes.
“No, please enlighten me.” Winry rolled her eyes at Ed’s horrified expression. “Al obviously thinks he’s old enough for a lover.”
Ed set his empty suitcase down a little too hard. “And you don’t have a problem with that?”
“No.” Winry looked out the frosted window, wondering if it would snow for the Icicle Festival. Heavy clouds covered the sky, promising a good snow. “And you wouldn’t either if you tried it,” she muttered under her breath.
“What was that?” Ed snapped, whipping around, his ponytail nearly slapping him in the eye.
“Nothing,” Winry sighed, the phrase, I’m in love with a weirdo, rolling through her brain.
Ed’s gold eyes narrowed. “I heard what you said.”
She flung up her hands. “I can’t believe how prudish you are about all this.”
Ed loomed over her. “Winry, what you said about me…did you mean that? Mean us?”
She laughed, trying to smother it, especially seeing Ed’s hurt and irritated look. “Yes, Ed, I did.”
To her surprise, Ed grinned, leaning down to kiss her.
“Winry!” Elicia squealed before bounding in, shattering the moment into unreconstructable pieces. Ed leapt back. The little girl bounced on the bed, hugging Winry.
“Hey, Elicia, how are you?” Winry squeezed the little girl tight, trying not to look too disappointed about her missed kiss.
“It’s been forever since you visited.” The little girl pouted, snuggling against Winry.
“I’m sorry, sweetie.” Winry tapped Elicia’s nose. “I’ll be here for at least a week.”
“Not long enough.” Elicia let her go and bounced over to Ed, squealing his name. She grabbed him, yanking him down to plant a clumsy kiss on his cheek.
“Hey, squirt.” Ed ruffled her hair, which was loose and getting long.
“Didn’t know you let girls kiss you, Ed,” Al said sourly as he walked into the room, carrying his cane more than using it. Ignoring his brother’s hostile look, he added, “Hey Elicia.” Al bent down for his own kiss.
“You came, too, Al! You look so little without your armor,” she lisped through missing front teeth.
Al laughed, patting her head. “It’s good to see you.”
“Al, you’re not going to be a jerk the whole time we’re here, are you?” Ed eyed his brother over Elicia’s head.
Al flashed Ed an innocent look. “Me?”
“Don’t you two start.” The steel in Winry’s voice brought the brothers up short. She nodded to Elicia, who stared at the brothers curiously.
“Mommy is going to make pie for dinner. Wanna help, Winry?” Elicia let go of Al so she could grab Winry’s hand.
“Sure.” Winry shot the boys another hot look. They quailed, Al sinking into the bed as his brother put up his hands.
“Uncle Roy is coming, too,” Elicia announced, dragging Winry out of the room.
Ed’s shoulders sagged. “Great, the bastard, that’ll top the day off.”
“It’ll give you something to concentrate on instead of Snow,” Al said, the bitter edge still in his voice.
Ed winced. This was his fault. He had made Al so angry with his intolerance and he hated it. He wanted his brother back, but he simply didn’t feel comfortable with Snowdrop for some reason; maybe because she monopolized so much of Al’s time. He wished Hohenheim paid enough attention to intervene but his dad thought it was romantic. Of course, as it turned out, Hohenheim had a huge romantic streak. It could make Ed gag. “Yeah. You said Snowdrop is staying with her sister here in town for the festival.” He could at least pretend he was interested in what the girl was doing.
Al nodded. “And with Belle, her friend, you know, the one that’s asked you out a couple of times.”
“She’s so aggressive.” Ed undid his braid, sitting on the bed among the piles of his clothing. He massaged his scalp, his glove keeping his hair out of his metal finger joints.
Snorting, Al flopped on his bed. “I guess she is.” Al’s golden eyes studied Ed. “Why don’t you like Snow, Brother? She is a very nice person. Winry likes her.”
“I know,” Ed said quietly, not wanting to have this conversation. “I don’t dislike her.” At his brother’s disparaging utterance, he added, “I don’t. I just think it’s all happening too fast.”
Al’s gaze slipped over to Ed, understanding in his honey-hued eyes. “Is this all about me doing something before you do?”
“No,” Ed grated out, utterly betraying himself.
“Then why did you let me?” Frustration laced through Al’s voice. “You know Winry loves you, right? What are you waiting on?”
Ed flopped back onto the bed, settling his head on a pile of clothing. “I’m still in the military; President Armstrong said I still owe them. Hell, they even got you agreeing to be a civilian consultant in regards to Ling and Xing. What if they want us to go to Xing? We could be gone for months.”
“Ed, there will always be ‘what if’s.’ You can’t let that rule you. You want a steady job where you’ll never have to leave home, go get some sheep and a farm back home or open a store or teach or something. Do you think that’s your life?” Al’s voice held no heat, just honest concern.
Ed propped himself up on an elbow, trying to work up a proper glare. “Maybe teaching…later. I’m not sure I have the patience for it now.”
“You’re not our father, Ed.” Al put his finger right on Ed’s sorest spot, making him squirm. “And now that I’ve gotten to know Dad better, I understand a little about why he left.”
“Yeah,” Ed muttered, not looking at his brother.
“I know you want to be there for Winry. It’s a good thing, but she doesn’t need as much taking care of as you seem to think.” Al loosened his ponytail and started smoothing his hair back, looking in the mirror. Al was so damn fussy, Ed thought. “What she needs is for you to be more open with her, preferably before she moves on without you.”
Ed’s chin sank to his chest. “I know that, too, Al. I’m trying but I have to change habits that took up half my life. It’s not easy. You’ve always been more open than me, Al.”
“I know but you still need to try.” Al sucked in his lower lip, thinking. “Take Winry somewhere nice while we’re here and stop being a total ass to Snow. I’d appreciate it.”
Ed sighed gustily. “I’ll try but there’s something about her that I don’t trust.”
Al threw up his hands. “It’s supposed to be the mom who doesn’t think the girl is good enough for her baby boy. Now that I think about it, you’ve tried to fill in for Mom my whole life. Beginning to think you’re secretly a girl, Edward.” A hint of a smile touched Al’s lips.
Ed flashed him an obscene gesture. “Bite me, Al.”
Al rubbed his chin. “Hmm, I guess you did make like a fire hose on me an extraordinary amount of times back when Mom used to bathe us together.”
“Al!” Ed threw the pillow at him. “Can’t believe you remember that.”
“Why not?” Al caught the pillow and jumped on the bed, intending to smother Ed.
The brothers wrestled around, clothes going everywhere until finally they fell off the bed. Ed’s limbs clanked loudly on the floorboards. The fall did nothing to end the battle and Ed found himself on his belly, Al on his back with a pair of pants wrapped around Ed’s neck.
Art by Yoporock
A feminine giggle froze the war. Both brothers looked toward the door. “Alphonse, when you’re done killing your brother, please put the room to rights,” Gracia said, resting a hand on the doorframe. “We’ll be having dinner within the hour.”
Al dropped the pants. “Yes, ma’am.”
Gracia left it at that and Al rolled off Ed, laughing. Ed joined him before finally getting up, red-faced, to help his brother to his feet, happy that Al was strong enough now to do this sort of thing.
“Try not to torment General Mustang too much, Edward.” Al shook a finger at him.
Ed shoved Al lightly. “I make no promises.”
Al snorted. “And fair warning, I expect you and Winry to accompany me and Snow for part of the Icicle Festival.”
Al jabbed a finger into Ed’s chest. “And behave.”
“I will,” Ed repeated, knowing Al didn’t believe him. Smart, really since Ed rarely behaved. Now how to tackle the prospect of pretending to trust Snowdrop and more importantly, how to handle asking Winry out? How difficult could it be?
“Wonder who Madam Christmas has in her office?” Sitting on the barstool, Belle swung her feet back and forth.
art by Yoporock
“Someone important,” the bartender replied, a grin on her young face. “And handsome…exotic.”
Belle and Snowdrop exchanged looks and cried out together, “Roy boy.”
“You know him?” The bartender looked disappointed to not be in the know. Snow thought her name was Faye, one of Madam Christmas’ employees but not one of her ‘kids.’
“Oh, Roy is everyone’s favorite toy,” Belle said, running a finger through a wet ring on the bar.
Snowdrop kicked her ‘sister’s’ ankle. “Be nice.”
“I’ve heard that about him. Want more tea?” Faye nodded to the empty porcelain cups in front of the women. “Or something stronger?”
“More tea please,” Snow said, wishing she were in a better mood. Mother would pick up on her melancholy, Snowdrop didn’t doubt that for a moment. She didn’t like this job any more. Alphonse was the best man Snow had ever known, nothing like the cruel users her real mom used to keep around; nothing like the cheating fools who populated Madam Christmas’s establishments.
Snowdrop was hopelessly in love and if she told Madam Christmas, she’d be in so much trouble, but if she finished the job and Al found out, it would all be ruined. Why couldn’t he be more like his nasty-mouthed brother? Ed was loud and brash with a propensity for violence; exactly the sort of man Snow was used to. Ed hadn’t hit anyone that she knew of, yet, but Snowdrop knew it was just a matter of time. That’s how most men were but Al was different. She never expected to ever really love a man, but she knew that unfortunately, the unexpected happened.
She turned, hearing Madam Christmas’s door opening. Her foster mother shooed Roy out. He was grinning like an imp from the fairy tales Mom used to tell her, but that’s what Roy was always like, a wicked smile and dancing eyes belying the quick mind he possessed. She and Belle both swung off their stools and embraced him. “Roy!” they chirped in their best flirty voices lest someone guess they weren’t just more of Roy’s retinue of women. He draped his arms around them, grinning at a few jealous-looking patrons.
“When did you two get back into town?” Roy kissed each of their cheeks.
“Today. We need to talk to Madam Christmas but will we get to see you later?” Snow asked, brushing his errant bangs out of his eyes.
“Oh, I’m sure there’ll be time. I’m busy helping the president pull together a big celebration for the Icicle Festival. It’ll be different now.” Roy didn’t have to add now that their questionable Fuhrer was dead.
“That sounds important,” Belle cooed for their boozy audience and Roy puffed up appropriately.
“As always.” He put his hat on and flipped his scarf over a shoulder as if needing to cut a dapper image before heading out into the cold.
Snow watched her brother go then followed Belle back to Christmas’s office. Madam Christmas sat at her desk, looking at a notebook. To the casual observer, she seemed calm, but her girls could see the tension in her eyes. She hadn’t looked this stressed since she had sent Snowdrop and her ‘sisters’ to Xing at Roy’s behest. She lit up a cigarette and waved a hand at the chairs in front of the desk. When they were seated, Chris leveled a gaze at them. “You two haven’t been making much progress.”
“Al’s been ill. This is his first real trip to Central. So far, the only thing he has done in regards to consulting with the Xingese emperor is to receive documents. I photographed them and sent them to you,” Snow replied, feeling bad she had even done that much.
“Mostly it was just Xingese history and culture, not too helpful,” Chris replied, taking a long drag on her cigarette. “He seems to be familiarizing himself with the country’s culture.”
“I’ve asked him about what he’s doing but all he’s said is, he has a few friends who live back in Xing now.” Snow shrugged. “He’s not very talkative about it. The brothers can keep secrets well, apparently.”
Chris scowled. “And what about you, Belle?”
“I’m a waste in this mission,” the blonde admitted, her nose wrinkling. “I can’t even get Ed to talk to me. About the only time he does is if I go to meet him and his brother with Snow. These are squandered on him.” She pointed to her breasts. “He never even looks at me, let alone agrees to a date. He ignores that pretty blonde friend of theirs, too. A blind man could see she’s crazy for him and he never goes out with her, either. I think Ed is pipe smoker.”
Chris tapped out her cigarette. “Are you sure? The client seemed to think two women would be good for this job.”
Belle dragged a hand through her hair. “No, but if he’s straight, blondes aren’t his thing. The client is going to end up disappointed at this rate.”
Lighting another cigarette, Chris said, “I’m not that fond of the secrecy around this client to begin with. If you don’t make progress by the end of the Icicle Festival, I’ll scrap the mission.”
Snow and Belle exchanged unhappy looks. Snow could only remember one time her mother had scrapped a mission and that time the client had been working against Roy and his people. Mother had thought it worth the hit to her reputation to cancel out and, while she could probably easily weather another hit, Snow hated she might be the cause. She was a failure in her first face to face mission. She would be put back on book work research forever but, at this point, Snow wouldn’t mind it. Maybe her brother was right. Damn, Roy made flirting for information look so easy.
“We’ll get you something,” Belle promised, sounded as frantic as Snow felt.
Their mother just nodded. “I’ll let you get back to it. Snow, can you stay for a moment?”
She hesitated. “Of course.”
Chris waited until Belle was out of the room before turning her attention back to Snowdrop. “How are you doing with this?”
“It’s much harder than I thought,” Snow admitted. Chris was too sharp to lie to easily. “Alphonse is a very nice young man. I don’t like that I could end up betraying his trust.” She shifted uncomfortably under her mother’s hard stare.
“You knew that going in.” Chris’s face softened as she rested her hand on Snow’s. “You can’t get too close. Tell me now if I have to arrange for alternative ways to this young man.”
She shook her head, her hair flying. “No, I’m close to him…it’s just I don’t like this as much as I thought I would.”
Her mother nodded. “Roy might have been right. You’re better in research.”
“But I can do this. I just don’t like how it makes me feel.” Snow let her long hair veil her face. “I’m sorry.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry for. Everyone has different strengths. Don’t underestimate what research can do.”
Snow sighed, catching Chris’ sad look. She knew who her mother was thinking of. “Maes.”
“Yes.” Chris patted her hand. “You be careful.”
“I will.” Snow headed out to the bar, letting Belle talk her into a game of darts. It was too bad the game didn’t distract her from her worries.
Roy was surprised that Riza still wasn’t home from work when he got back from his mother’s bar. A glance at the Grandfather clock told him it was even later than he thought. What the hell could Olivia be having Riza do? Technically, Riza wasn’t part of the Fuhrer’s private personal security yet, but most of the talks the two women had were as if that detail was already in place.
With a flick of his fingers, he ignited the wood he had laid out in the fireplace before heading to the bar then turned up the steam heat for good measure. It would be nice to have a little warmth with how nippy it was outside. He had just finished letting Hayate back in from their fenced in yard when Riza came in the front door.
“Good even-” he started but his words were crushed away by the pressure of her lips on his. Roy hadn’t been expecting such a voracious kiss before he even had time to welcome her home. Riza tugged at his shirt, hiking it up. He managed to get a hand between them. “Uh, Riza, is something wrong? Not that this isn’t absolutely wonderful.”
“This day wouldn’t end. It made me want to shoot everyone in the meeting and then myself.” She shrugged out of her coat, letting it fall on the marble flooring. She pushed him down on the stairs. “I had one thought all day that kept me sane and it involves you with no cloths on.”
onto chapter three & four